Disclaimer : Characters and situations belong to MGM/Gekko and other people. I'm just taking them out of the toybox without permission.
Warnings : Sex and love between women.
Feedback : Constructive criticism and feedback, both welcomed at firstname.lastname@example.org
Authors Note: Set between Seasons 5 and 6.
Sam sat on the bench in front of her locker and bent down to adjust the strap of her boot. Just as she was straightening up, the door swung open and Captain Beverly Matheson hurried in. "'Scuse me, Major," she said as she brushed past. Sam stood up and followed Matheson into the shower area. She watched as the woman disappeared into a bathroom stall and winced as she became sick.
"Everything okay?" Sam asked. "We, uh... we're supposed to ship out in ten minutes."
"I don't think I'm going to make it," Matheson groaned, her voice echoing against the bathroom stall.
Sam tried to keep her sigh as quiet as possible. She closed her eyes and leaned against the wall. "Do you need a doctor?"
"No, ma'am. Just... I get really nervous before I travel, so... oh, God..."
Sam turned away as the captain got sick again. She shook her head and left the locker room to find Colonel O'Neill and Teal'c waiting in the hallway outside. O'Neill raised an eyebrow. "Let me guess. She's not going to be ready for the mission."
"It's highly doubtful, sir." He rolled his eyes and she rushed to defend the poor soldier currently throwing up behind her. "Remember, sir, Daniel used to have allergy attacks on every planet we visited. He got over that eventually."
"Yeah, just what I need. Break in a new geek."
Sam didn't comment on that. Captain Matheson was a highly-regarded linguist who had, unfortunately, spent most of her career in a classroom. She had been thrilled to learn her lifelong study of dead languages might come in handy, but was less excited when she learned how her knowledge would be supplied. She had fainted at the sight of the Stargate, and gotten ill at the first mention of why the Jaffa had a stomach pouch.
"She won't make it," Sam guessed.
"No, Major, I don't think she will." O'Neill pushed off the wall and checked his watch. "One hour and fifty-three minutes since Hammond told us she was our problem. Mark it down, Teal'c; looks like Captain Matheson is the current record-holder." He tapped his watch and walked down the hall.
Sam moved next to Teal'c and glanced up at him. "What do you think?"
He pondered the question for a moment and then said, "It would appear Daniel Jackson was an extremely unique individual. It will not be easy to find someone capable of filling the void he has left."
Sam nodded grimly. "Yeah. Well, I guess we should go tell General Hammond that Matheson won't work out."
Teal'c bowed and followed Sam down the corridor. The problem was they kept getting these newbie recruits assigned as possible new team members. They had all been soldiers or scientists who hadn't proven themselves in the SGC, let alone that they had what it took to be a member of the flagship team. She didn't feel that they were being elitist, they were being reasonable. They didn't just need new meat, they needed someone who knew what they were doing. Someone they were already comfortable with. As they stepped into the elevator with Colonel O'Neill, an idea began to form in the back of Sam's mind.
"Sir, could I request General Hammond hold off assigning a new member to our team?"
"You could request it. As for whether he would allow it..." He glanced at her. "Why?"
Sam shook her head. "I don't want to say anything until I've explored it further, if you don't mind, sir."
He shrugged and turned back to face the elevator door. "Hey, don't worry about me. I'm up for anything that keeps us from having another team member foisted on us for another few days."
Janet swung the door open, registered who was standing on her stoop, and immediately turned away without a greeting. She left the door open as she stalked back through the dining room. She called out, "And just because I agreed to it last time doesn't give you carte blanch. Do you understand me?"
Sam stepped into the house and caught a flash of furious teen girl storming past the kitchen door. Janet barked, "Do you understand me?"
"Yes! God! Fine!" This, followed by footsteps down the hall and a slamming door.
Janet turned and held both hands up by her face. She formed claws with her fingers, growled low in her throat and said, "Please tell me there's a horrible contagion on the base and I need to come in and start quarantine procedures."
"No such luck," Sam said. She shut the door and nodded her chin toward the back of the house. "Terrible Teens?"
Janet rolled her eyes. She was still in her uniform, but she had let down her hair. It hung in tired strands around her face, and she walked back across the dining room in her stocking feet. She sighed, pushed her bangs out of her eyes and said, "She spent the afternoon with William . Studying. All I know is that I didn't study until eight o'clock at night on a school night."
"Yes, you did," Sam said as stepped behind Janet and gripped her shoulders.
"Yes, I did," Janet sighed. She rolled her head back and leaned into Sam's massage. Sam gently kneaded Janet's tired muscles through her uniform blouse and the white T-shirt she knew was underneath. As she dug her fingers in and Janet began to turn to ooze, Sam kissed Janet's temple and quietly said, "Let's move to the couch, yeah?"
"Yeah," Janet said. They walked to the couch and Janet stretched out across the cushions, face-down, and rested her cheek against the pillow. Sam straddled her waist, cracked her knuckles and took Janet in her hands again. Janet sighed as Sam put her weight behind her hands.
As Janet proceeded to seep between the cushions, Sam said, "Hey. If you were suddenly transferred, would you be able to find someone to take over as CMO at the base?"
"Mm. Probably," Janet said. "Carolyn Lam is really good. Oh, a little to the left."
Sam kneaded the flesh a bit longer before answering. Finally, she said, "General Hammond is insisting on assigning a fourth member to SG-1. I was thinking I would suggest you."
Janet frowned, but kept her eyes closed. "Me? Why?"
"You're military, you're field-rated, and the team knows you. We like and respect you."
"I'd be under Jack O'Neill's chain of command," Janet said.
Sam smiled. "Hey, I survived it. Can I take this off?"
"Mm-hmm." Janet pushed herself up and Sam helped her remove her blouse. Janet twisted one way, then the other, and stretched out again on the couch. Sam pulled up Janet's undershirt and rubbed the tender flesh on either side of Janet's spine. "Oh, I like that," Janet sighed and moved her hand under her cheek. "You really think I would fit in on the team?"
Sam shrugged. "It would make sense to have a medical doctor on our team, given some of the villages we encounter. They barely have medicine, let alone a trained doctor to tell them how to use it. It would cut out a lot of back and forth if you were already on the planet with us. Your military training would mean you fit in at least as well as Daniel did at the beginning, probably better. And, like I said, the team loves you and we trust you. That's the most important thing. Colonel O'Neill, Teal'c and I already put our lives in your hands every day."
"I don't know..."
"You don't have to commit right now. If you agreed, you would come with us on our next mission. A trial run," Sam said. She dug her fingers into Janet's back, drawing a prolonged, "ahhh" from her lover. She bent down and kissed Janet's neck. "Come on," she whispered. "I always love being in the field with you. That black T-shirt..." She slid her hands around Janet to cup her breasts through her brassiere. She squeezed and Janet whimpered. Sam flicked Janet's earlobe with her tongue.
"You're an evil woman," Janet sighed.
"Mm-hmm," Sam whispered. "And when we're not on missions, you can still work in the infirmary like I do in the lab."
"Evil," Janet repeated.
"So, can I bring it up to General Hammond?"
Janet hesitated, and then said, "If he goes for it, I'm willing. I can call Carolyn tomorrow and see if she's willing to fill in for me in the infirmary."
Sam sat up and resumed her massage. After a few minutes, she said, "So. This Carolyn woman..."
The corners of Janet's mouth curled up into a grin. "Don't worry, she was before I even met you."
"So she is an ex?"
Janet moaned into the couch cushion.
Sam chuckled and moved down Janet's body. She kneaded the muscles of Janet's legs, her athletic thighs and calves. She bent Janet's leg and danced her fingers along the sole of Janet's foot. She pulled, circled and gently flexed Janet's toes, one at a time, and kissed her heel through the slick material of her stockings. She slid her hand back up to the back of Janet's knee and looked at the dark shadows where Janet's legs met, where her uniform skirt draped across her thighs.
"Can you walk, baby?"
"No," Janet murmured sleepily. Sam bent down and kissed the small of Janet's back. She got off of her lover, gathered Janet into her arms and Janet rolled herself until she was right-side up. She pressed her face against Sam's shoulder, eyes closed, and said, "Where are we goin'?"
"Bed," Sam said as she stood up.
Janet nuzzled against Sam's shirt, seeking out her scent. "Cassie's being punished."
"Okay," Sam whispered. She carried Janet down the hall and kicked their daughter's door. "Lights out! To bed!"
She heard Cassandra grumbling within, but ignored it. She carried Janet into the bedroom, kicked the door shut with her foot and lay Janet on the bed. In the darkness, Janet squirmed against the familiar softness of the bed as Sam's hands moved over her. She was quickly freed from her undershirt and bra, her skirt, her pantyhose. Sam left Janet's panties in place and lowered herself on top of her. Janet lazily accepted Sam's kiss, sucked the tip of her tongue and cupped Sam's breasts through her blouse.
"You're still dressed," Janet sighed.
"I know, baby. I have to go." She kissed down Janet's neck.
"That's not fair..."
"I know," Sam said. She slipped between Janet's legs and settled against her. Sam moved aside the cotton of Janet's panties, cupped Janet with one hand and started to move her hips in a slow, familiar rhythm. Sam crossed her feet at the ankles, two fingers inside her lover and kissed the flat part of Janet's chest. Janet's nipples were hard, her skin hot to the touch.
After a moment, Janet whimpered and said Sam's name. "Samantha," whispered into her lover's hair. Sam moved up and kissed Janet's lips, holding her until the tremors from her climax had faded. Janet was sprawled on the mattress, eyes closed, skin red from passion. She licked her lips and finally managed to focus on Sam, rising above her. "I owe you."
Sam grinned. "You do."
Janet reached out and touched Sam's face. "You sure you have to go?"
"Less now than I was five minutes ago," Sam admitted.
"It's been a long time since you spent the night."
"I know," Sam said. She brushed Janet's hair out of her face and bent down to kiss her forehead. She moved her lips to Janet's nose, her eyelids and finally her mouth. Janet lifted her head into the kiss and sighed when they parted. Sam brushed her knuckles over Janet's cheek and said, "Get some sleep."
Janet's eyes were already closed. "Mmm."
"Night, baby. I love you."
"I love you, too," Janet whispered.
Sam drew the blankets up and over Janet's nearly-naked body. She smoothed down Janet's hair, cupped her cheek for a moment and then left the bedroom. She walked down the hallway, paused and then went back. The crack under Cassandra's door lit up, and Sam knocked quietly. She heard a muttered "Shit" from the other side and Sam opened the door.
Cassandra was standing to one side of the doorway, arms crossed, furious expression on her face. She wore a pair of jean shorts and a white tank top that clearly showed her bra underneath. If this is what the girl had worn to study with a boy, no wonder Janet had been so furious. She raised her eyebrow at the outfit and then said, "So. What happened?"
"Quietly," Sam hissed. "Your mom is asleep."
Cassie rolled her eyes, but continued in a quieter voice. "Last week, Mom said I could hang out with William to study. I was at his house - with his parents there - until almost nine. I do it this week, come home at seven-thirty, and Mom has a shit-fi-- A, uh..."
Sam nodded her understanding. "You should've gotten permission to stay out again." Cassie's mouth dropped, her eyes widening at this betrayal. Sam cut off a rebuttal with a swipe of her hand. "It's only been a year since you nearly died," she said. "And for Mom, it was yesterday . She's scared for you. And when you stay out late without calling, her mind starts filling with all that shit again. You know? Bomb shelters, your heart stopping, then the Nirrti thing... she sees it all clear as a bell. She's trying to protect you from the outside world and..." she looked at Cassie's outfit again and added, "...and from making some of the mistakes she did growing up. So maybe cut her some slack. Use that cell phone she bought you, okay?"
"Yeah, okay," Cassie muttered.
Sam stepped into the room and kissed Cassie's forehead. "Now go to bed. You're still being punished."
" God ," Cassie groaned.
Sam wished her good-night and slipped out of the room. She walked down the dark hallway and made the rounds, shutting out the lights Janet had left on and closing the blinds. She left the house, locking the front door using the key Janet had given her. She stepped back and looked up at the dark house, feeling a pang of sadness that she was leaving Janet yet again. She was still horny from taking care of Janet, but if she had stayed she would never have wanted to leave.
The last time she had spent the night in Janet's bed had been almost two months earlier. They had worked into the night examining the Replicator android "Reese" to see how, exactly, she had been constructed. During the physical exam, Janet had casually removed the android's top to discover she was naked and anatomically correct underneath. They had both blushed, and then laughed, and then went about their work.
By the time they finished, however, both were well aware of an hour spent looking at a half-naked woman. Even if she was made of Replicator bits. They had signed out of the base and Janet had driven them to her house. They had fucked - there really wasn't a nicer word for it - in the front seat of Janet's car before resigning to the bedroom. Sam had eventually fallen asleep in Janet's arms, too exhausted to leave.
Before that, they had often shared a bed. Usually at Janet's house, because of Cassandra. Sam had found it easier to just stay when the night was over. But lately... when Daniel died, Sam had been knocked for a loop. She felt like it was necessary to hunker down, nest, make sure those she loved knew for damn sure her feelings for them. Instead, she was becoming a master of creating distance. Janet deserved better than that.
As she walked to her car, she made the decision to address her fears with Janet. They would talk it out and, if Janet had to tie her to the bed to make her stay the night, then that's what they would do. In fact, if Sam still had those handcuffs... She chuckled and got behind the wheel of her car.
She could still smell Janet's scent on her body - shampoo and perfume and sweat - so she sat with her eyes closed for a moment and enjoyed it. She swallowed, wiped her hand down her face and smiled at the thought of being on SG-1 with her best friend and lover. It might be the one good thing to come out of Daniel's death, and she hoped to God that General Hammond agreed with her.
She finally started the car and pulled out of the driveway. Just before she turned away from the house, she saw Cassandra's bedroom light come back on.
Sam shook her head, smiling to herself as she drove away from the Fraiser homestead.
"Fraiser?" O'Neill asked when Sam brought it up at the briefing. From the look on his face, Sam figured that he was envisioning Janet following him through the Stargate with a giant syringe at the ready. Teal'c looked to be considering the idea of the doctor joining the team. " Janet Fraiser?" O'Neill expanded.
Sam had recounted the same reasons she had given to Janet the night before... omitting, of course, the part about the sexiness of the little back T-shirt. General Hammond looked ready to consider the possibility. "Janet would be an asset in the field," Sam continued. "Her medical knowledge is second to none."
"Which is one of the reasons I'm inclined to deny your request, Major," Hammond said. "Dr. Fraiser is needed here on the base."
"I understand, Sir. But the times we have been in the field waiting for a medical consult... the number of times a doctor could help us make a connection with alien leaders just by offering antibiotics and a general physical..."
General Hammond considered it and said, "I'm willing to give it a chance on a trial basis, if it's all right with you, Colonel."
"Who is next on the roster?" O'Neill asked.
Hammond looked down at his notes. "Dr. Robert Rothman."
O'Neill shuddered and looked at Sam. "Tell Fraiser she has my blessing."
"And mine," Hammond added. "Her position will be temporary for the time being. She'll accompany you on the mission to P5C-921. Should Dr. Fraiser prove to be an acceptable fit, we'll make the necessary arrangements to make it permanent."
Sam nodded and smiled. "Yes, sir. Thank you, sir." She and O'Neill stood as Hammond left. She looked at her CO and said, "Sir, if you don't mind..."
"It was your idea," O'Neill said with a wave of his hand. "You should be the one to tell her."
Sam grinned, nodded her thanks to him and hurried to the elevators. On the ride to the infirmary, she thought of the best way to tell Janet the good news. The elevator doors opened and Sam entered the infirmary. Janet was standing next to a patient's bed, checking his vitals, and glanced up when she caught Sam's movement out of the corner of her eye. She mouthed 'hi,' and Sam gave her a thumb's-up. Janet excused herself and walked over to Sam. "What's up?"
"You're in. Tomorrow's mission to P5C-921."
Janet's eyes widened. "Oh. So soon. I didn't... I'm surprised they agreed to it so quickly."
"General Hammond and Colonel O'Neill both needed a bit of convincing," Sam admitted. "But they came around. All you have to do is try not to kill us and you'll be a shoo-in."
"No promises," Janet said. She took a deep breath and let it out slowly. "To be honest, I never expected them to say yes. I never let myself believe it was true. Now that it's happening..."
Sam's smile faded. "Do you want to say no? I didn't tell them I already ran it by you, so..."
"No," Janet said. She smiled and said, "No. It could be interesting. It will be interesting." She casually brushed Sam's palm with her hand and said, "Thank you for doing this for me."
Sam squeezed Janet's thumb as it passed and Janet ducked her chin. "My pleasure," Sam said.
Janet tucked her tongue into the corner of her mouth and raised her eyebrows, saying everything that needed saying about 'Sam's pleasure.' Sam laughed and released Janet's thumb. "Get back to work. I'll see you tonight for dinner?"
"Yeah," Janet said. She turned and went back to the patient's bedside. Sam backed away to keep from losing sight of Janet and finally turned a corner. She chuckled at herself and walked to the elevators with a spring in her step. She stuck her hands into her pockets and thought, I get to go to work with my girlfriend... She laughed out loud, startling an airman, and swept her ID card through the elevator scanner.
That night, in the aftermath of their lovemaking, Janet lay with her head on Sam's chest and whispered, "Stay the night."
Sam hesitated and then said, "I have to get to the base." Her breath feathered Janet's hair and she used her fingers to investigate the strands.
Janet kissed the swell of Sam's breast and said, "That's twice in a row you've turned me down. I might start getting a complex."
Sam grinned and kissed Janet's forehead. "You worried I don't love you as much as I used to?"
"That you don't what?"
"Love you," Sam said.
"Love you, too," Janet said. She smiled and moved her lips to Sam's nipple. She circled it with her tongue as Sam's chuckle turned into a low, drawn-out moan. "That does bring up an issue..."
Sam groaned, "No, no issues... sucking and kissing, no thinking..."
Janet said, "I can do both. I'm smarter than you."
Sam grumbled and ran her hands down Janet's naked back.
"Will this be a problem? If, against all odds, Hammond and O'Neill both agree to assign me to SG-1, will there be an issue with you and me being..."
"No," Sam said. She thought for a moment, shook her head and repeated, "No, it won't. I can be objective."
"About me?" Janet prodded.
Sam hesitated again. "It won't be easy at first," she said. "But I'll get used to it. We'll be Major Carter and Major Fraiser when we're on-duty. We'll be teammates, soldiers, and not women whose thighs have been... where yours is now."
"Where?" Janet asked. She bent her knee. "Here?"
Sam whimpered. She spread her legs farther apart and wrapped one around Janet's invading thigh. Janet sat up, her skin turned blue by the moonlight coming in through the open window. Sam ran her hands over Janet's stomach, cupped her breast and covered her nipples. Janet arched her back into the caress and moved her hands over Sam's body.
She counted scars, old wounds, mementos of violence that Janet had helped stitch up. "Honey," Janet whispered. She lowered her head and kissed Sam's shoulder, down to her breasts and her stomach. There was a thin line just to the left of Sam's navel, the first wound Janet had tended on her lover. The shadow of an injury that, had it happened a few inches higher or to the right, would have killed Sam before Janet ever met her.
She moved her lips to Sam's neck and sucked gently as she rocked against Sam. She moved her hands to Sam's hips to hold her steady and increased her movements. Sam's voice was a hushed grunt in Janet's ear, and she assaulted Janet's neck with her tongue and teeth. She bit down when she came and Janet hissed. She whispered, "Not so hard, baby..."
Sam murmured an apology and kissed the red flesh. She moved her lips to Janet's chin and eventually found her mouth. They moaned, hands roaming, and Janet finally slid away from Sam. She stretched out next to her lover, head on her shoulder again, and drew lines on Sam's naked stomach. She dipped her finger into Sam's navel and said, "I'm scared."
"It's okay." She kissed Janet's forehead and said, "Everyone is scared the first time."
"I've been through the Stargate before."
"As a doctor. Not as a member of a military team."
Janet made a non-committal noise and closed her eyes. "You really have to go back to the base?"
Sam nodded. "I can stay until you fall asleep, though."
Janet slid closer to Sam and closed her eyes. Sam stroked her hair, her back, down to the small of her back. "Sam," she whispered.
"I love you."
Sam smiled and pressed her hand against the small of Janet's back. "I love you, too." She settled against the mattress, her hand moving slowly across Janet's back, and stared at the ceiling until she felt her lover drift off to sleep.
Sam pushed open the locker room door and stopped dead in her tracks. Janet was standing between the bench and the locker wearing only her black uniform T-shirt and her socks. She had her back to the door, the tail of her shirt rumpled from being tucked in. She was rooting in her locker for something and didn't acknowledge when the door opened. Sam let the door shut and pressed her shoulder against it. "Well," she sighed. Janet jumped and looked over her shoulder. "I hope you make the team, just so I can enjoy this sight."
Janet turned back to her locker with a smile. "If you spent the night once in a while, you could enjoy it every morning." She turned again and noted Sam's mussed hair and the pillow lines on her face. "Did you just wake up?"
"That's why I spend the night pre-mission on-base," Sam said on her way to the shower. She stayed under the spray just long enough to get her hair and skin wet, passed a bar of soap from one hand to the other for ceremony, and quickly dried off. She blow-dried her hair, wrapped a towel around herself and went back to the lockers.
Janet had spent the time getting more clothes on. The pair of gray boxer shorts sticking out from under her shirt quickly vanished as she tugged the green BDUs up over her ass. Sam opened her own locker and gave Janet a quick once-over. "You look very good in that uniform."
"Thank you," Janet said. She removed her jacket from the locker and dropped it on the bench. Sam dropped her towel and Janet froze for half a beat, taking in the curves of Sam's body before she turned back to her locker. She reached inside and muttered, "It's going to be a problem..."
Sam said, "Did you say something?"
"I said it's going to be a problem. Working alongside you and not..." She cleared her throat.
Sam smiled and withdrew her underwear from the locker. "We manage to work on-base together."
"Yeah, but on-base you're not all... butch."
Sam laughed out loud. She pulled on her underwear and said, "I'll try to tone it down for you."
"I'd appreciate it."
Sam chuckled again. "Butch. So... when I'm on the base, I'm feminine?"
"Well, more feminine then when you're strapping on guns," Janet said with a sparkle in her eye.
"Says the woman who wears skirts and high heels to work." She looked at Janet, in her BDUs with a pair of combat boots sitting unlaced under the bench. "Talk about butch..."
Janet blushed and reiterated, "It's going to be a problem."
Sam covered up with her own black shirt, and bent down to pull on her trousers. "When you get accepted onto the team, we'll take Teal'c and Colonel O'Neill out to dinner and explain things to them. We'll tell them about you and me."
Janet turned. "Seriously?"
"It would take the pressure off. It would make it easier to shift between the two extremes, wouldn't it? If we didn't have to hide it."
"Yeah," Janet said. "I'm just shocked you're considering coming out."
"To Colonel O'Neill and Teal'c," Sam quantified. "I mean, we've been a team for five years. It's not going to be a world-shaking revelation to tell them I'm in love with a woman. As for you..."
Janet frowned. "As for me, what?"
Sam shrugged and said, "Well..."
"What?" Janet asked again. A blush rose in her cheeks and she said, "Do they know?"
" What ?"
"He asked me once off-world," Sam admitted.
"Was he... interested?"
"No," Sam said. "He was just curious about who on-base might be gay. You were brought up as a potential." She turned and said, "I didn't confirm or deny. But he seemed pretty convinced that you were."
Janet sat down and put on her boots. "Was he...?"
"Bisexual," Sam said.
"Huh," Janet said. She laced up her boots, stood and reached into her locker again. "Okay, I'll see you in the Gate Room."
Sam said, "Oka--" She stopped and laughed when she saw what Janet had just put on. "Who on Earth told you to wear that?"
Janet's eyes were large and innocent beneath the rim of her helmet. "Colonel O'Neill..."
Sam walked over, undid the helmet's strap and lifted it off Janet's head. She smoothed down her lover's hair and said, "It's not necessary on this mission. Only when we expect to be under fire."
"Oh," Janet said. "Well, then, what..."
Sam reached into the locker, rooted around and withdrew an olive green baseball cap. She plopped it on Janet's head and pulled the brim down over her eyes. "There you go."
"Thanks," Janet groused.
Sam chuckled and went back to her own locker. Janet adjusted her hat and carried her vest to the locker room door. "I'll see you in the Gate Room."
"Okay," Sam said. She waited until the door was closed again before she went back to getting geared up.
Janet felt self-conscious as she walked through the corridors of the SGC, her vest weighing on her shoulders and her boots heavy on her feet. She nodded to everyone she passed and felt like a fraud, a little girl playing dress-up in Mommy's clothes. It didn't help that the uniform was just slightly too big for her. She was worried about the sleeves falling down and covering her hands, completing the illusion.
Colonel O'Neill and Teal'c were already waiting in the Gate Room, and both turned when Janet walked in. The men looked as if they had been having a conversation that ended abruptly as soon as she arrived. "Major Carter is on her way," she reported. She stood next to Teal'c and looked up at him. "Morning."
"Good morning, Dr. Fraiser."
O'Neill said, "Not quite the same look as a lab jacket, but it'll do in a pinch."
Janet twisted her mouth in a rueful smile. "Gee, thanks, Colonel."
Sam arrived then and gave an apologetic nod to the control room. O'Neill said, "'Bout time, Carter. You're stepping on my tricks."
"Sorry, sir," Sam said. She stopped next to Janet and faced the Stargate as it began to dial. She looked down at Janet and said, "Any questions before we go?"
"What's P5C-921 like?"
"I'm guessing trees," O'Neill said from the opposite end of the line. "Lots and... lots of trees. Evergreens, most likely. Terraforming Goa'ulds loved evergreens. And why not, I say. If it's good enough for the car air freshener people, why not for the rest of the galaxy?"
Janet smirked and said, "I can't wait, sir."
The Stargate erupted and Janet looked at it with newfound awe. She had seen it dozens of times, but this time she was seeing it as an SG team member. It was like watching the thing with completely new eyes. O'Neill and Teal'c started up the ramp, but Sam waited to bring up the rear. "It's just like always," Sam said under her breath. "Nothing different." Her hand brushed Janet's as she continued up the ramp. She turned, backlit by the event horizon, and stepped through.
Janet took one last deep breath of Earth air and closed her eyes as she went through the Gate, the potential fourth member of SG-1.
As it turned out, O'Neill was wrong; there were no evergreens in sight. The land around the Stargate was sandy and dark, pockmarked in places with scraggly bushes. A few yards out of the clearing was the start of a dark forest of the sort written about in fairy tales. The bases of the trees were hidden by tall, thick grass that looked like stalks of wheat. The sky was filled with thickly-packed clouds that hung so low Janet felt like she could reach up and grab one. A warm wind blew against her, and she closed her eyes and inhaled the scent of the alien world.
When she opened her eyes, she saw that Colonel O'Neill and Sam were milling about the DHD. The MALP stood to one side, casting a dark shadow across the sand. Janet tilted her head to the sky to see where the sunlight was coming from and finally saw a pale yellow glow through the clouds. "Okay, folks. The MALP was met by a lovely young man named Tree-Knot--"
"Trenauck," Teal'c corrected."
"Right," O'Neill said. He looked at Janet for a long moment before he turned and gestured to what Janet presumed to be the west. "His village is about six klicks that-a-way... Now remember the rules. Don't feed the animals. Keep your limbs inside the car at all times, and don't taunt the rhinos."
Janet joined the rest of the team as O'Neill led the way down a winding path through the trees. Sam started out next to Teal'c, but soon fell back and started walking next to Janet. "Major," Janet said.
"Major," Sam repeated with a smirk. "How are you enjoying your first official mission?"
"So far, so good," Janet said. She looked at the backs of O'Neill and Teal'c and quietly said, "The Colonel seems unlike himself. Are you sure he's all right?"
Sam shrugged. "Seems fine to me. I'm sure he's just trying to come to terms with you being on his team. He's invested a lot into being afraid of you and your needles."
Janet chuckled and said, "Yeah, that's gotta be it."
Through the trees on either side of the path, they could see golden stalks of the grass forming a wall thick enough to look solid. The stalks occasionally rustled with the stealthy movement of creatures within, taking a peek at the new arrivals before disappearing back into the safety of their dens. "What time is it here?" Janet asked, trying to check the sky through the trees.
"We didn't get an exact reading on the MALP," Sam said, "but the positioning of the planet in the solar system suggests it has a seventeen-hour day. I'd say we're closing in on dusk."
Janet gave a mirthless chuckle. "Great. Just in time for all the night-crawling beasties to come out and play..."
Sam pressed her lips together and Janet knew the unspoken thought: "They'll have to get through me first, babe. Trust that." Janet nudged Sam to let her know the message was received. The followed a bend in the path and Teal'c held up a hand to stop their progress. His head was turned to the right, and he stepped slightly off the path.
O'Neill said, "T?"
"I believe someone is... singing, O'Neill."
They stood still and listened and, after a moment, they all heard what had caught Teal'c's attention. Teal'c stepped off the path and brushed aside the wheat stalks with his hand. On just the plant screen, they saw a man crouched over a smoldering pit. He held his hands palm-out over the embers, thin fingers spread to let the smoke feather between them. He was bare-chested and sweating, his long, thin face slack. His lips slowly formed the words Teal'c had heard, not a song but a low chant.
The man was young, but his hair was pure white and pulled back in a tight topknot. He seemed to be aware he was no longer alone, but he finished his chant before slowly opening his eyes. He turned and looked at the strangers on the other side of the clearing. He rose with pained slowness and stretched to work the kinks from his muscles. He stared at each of them in turn, his eyes hard with what Janet thought might be contempt or anger. "You are those from the other side," he said.
"Yes," O'Neill said. "Colonel Jack O'Neill, Teal'c... Majors Sam Carter and Janet Fraiser."
The man seemed uninterested in their names, focusing his attention on Teal'c. "I am Trenauck. I believe I spoke to your leader... a General Hammond? He informed me of your desire to visit our village. I have spent the time since in meditation."
O'Neill raised an eyebrow. "We made contact two days ago."
"Yes," Trenauck said. He stepped away from the fire and smothered it with sand. He gestured to the path and spoke in a resigned voice. "Please, allow me to escort you to our village."
As he passed between Teal'c and Sam, Janet noticed the man was almost dangerously emaciated and his skin was pale. That made sense, she supposed, for someone who had just spent two days meditating in a dark forest. O'Neill took the lead, following the man down the path. Trenauck wore only a pair of baggy canvas trousers. His bare feet moved confidently across the path, oblivious of the stones or twigs he stepped on.
They walked for what felt like ages, and Janet was afraid she would have to request a break. But finally, the forest began to tape off and she saw the village. The spaces between the trees began to grow wider until they came to a narrow strip of land that had been cultivated for crops. Despite the lateness of the hour, she could see a few workers still tilling the soil. "What's the name of this village?" Sam asked. Now that Daniel was gone, someone had to ask the sort of unnecessary-but-good-to-know questions.
"A'bayal," Trenauck said. His voice had a bit of grief in it, as if the town was a painful memory. Sam glanced at Janet to see if she had heard the undercurrent, and Janet nodded to confirm she had.
At the first house, the path suddenly became paved with cobblestones. Janet scanned the alien life all around her. People stood in doorways to converse with friends. In a row of three-story houses, two young men sat in second-story windows with their bare feet dangling out over the street. They leaned forward to talk, hands gripping the sills so they wouldn't fall. Every conversation stalled as the villagers became aware of the strangers in their midst.
O'Neill muttered, "Maybe he could have postponed his little meditation marathon long enough to warn these folks we were on our way."
By the time they reached the town square, a man dressed in what appeared to be a green robe approached them. He was balding, but still had two tufts of gold-white hair on either side of his head. He was rotund, like a beardless caricature of Santa Claus, and he held his arms out in greeting as he approached. He kept his eyes on Trenauck for a long, uncomfortable moment and then gave the team a quick once-over. "Whom have you brought to us, Trenauck?"
"They traveled through the ring from the other side," Trenauck said.
The robed man inhaled sharply and looked at the strangers again. "Well, that is quite a thing. Please, come... we have much to discuss." He waved for them to follow and started to walk away.
The team started to follow, and then O'Neill noticed Trenauck was backing away. "You're not coming with?"
The robed man tensed, but Trenauck saved him from refusing to invite him. "I will not. I have other responsibilities to attend." He bowed to the robed man in a way that seemed condescending to Janet. He straightened, turned to the team and brushed his fingertips across his forehead, then down to his cheek in a peculiar gesture of respect or dismissal.
The robed man watched Trenauck go with a measure of distaste, shook his head as if to clear it and then focused on the team. He forced a smile. "My name is Craw'uel. I am the patron of this village. Trenauck has told you the story of this village...?"
"Just the name," O'Neill said. "Ab... abseil."
"A'bayal," Sam corrected.
Craw'uel nodded and said, "He is correct. In an ancient tongue, it means 'gateway.' Only through this village can one access the distant ring. Many pilgrims have come to us, however they usually arrive from the opposite direction."
"No one has ever come here through the, ah, ring?" O'Neill said. He glanced at Sam and raised an eyebrow. "Goa'uld-free. Always a plus, in my book."
They reached a stone house tucked in an alley between two tall apartment buildings. The windows were painted bright yellow, and smoke rose from twin chimneys in the ceiling. Craw'uel opened the door for them and said, "Please, enter, enjoy our hospitality. We are quite eager to hear of life on the other side."
O'Neill doffed his cap as he stepped into the building. The ground floor was one room, separated by pillars into separate sections. On the opposite side of the room from the door, a long table was littered with what appeared to be maps and charts. Craw'uel hurried ahead and cleared the maps. Sam was able to see markings on one map, along with corresponding marks on a sheet of paper Craw'uel didn't take away. From what she could tell, he was marking the demographics of where the pilgrims the town had hosted had come from.
"Please, please, have a seat," he said. O'Neill and Teal'c sat at the corners, with Sam and Janet between them. Craw'uel pulled a chair from another table, placed it on the opposite side. As he lowered himself into the seat, he smiled at the newcomers. "I apologize, I have forgotten your names..."
"You never heard them," O'Neill said. He went through the introductions again, and then said, "We're from the SGC. On a planet called Earth, country called the United States of America, state called... Colorado. City..." He trailed off and cleared his throat.
Craw'uel nodded enthusiastically. "Yes, and what is this 'Earth' like?"
"Which part?" O'Neill said. "It's a smorgasbord, really... deserts, oceans - lots of those - forests. Not so many of those, anymore... You want it, we got it."
"'A land where your every desire can be met, and a land can be found for every need.'"
"Yes," O'Neill said. Then he frowned. "Wait, what?"
Craw'uel looked expectantly at Sam. "It is a quote. From the Book."
"Oh, joy," O'Neill said. "There's a Book. And that sounded like a capital B, right?"
"You do not know the Book of Abrilen," Craw'uel said. "Oh. It... it was discovered not long after we discovered the stone ring. It spoke of the power of the ring, describing it in such a way that we never dared attempt to operate it. It told of thriving civilizations... powerful, hungry for domination, and we did not wish to tempt fate."
"Probably wise," O'Neill said.
Craw'uel sighed and leaned back. "I apologize. It is late and I am tired. Perhaps we could discuss this in further detail in the morning when we have had a chance to rest."
"Sounds fine to us," O'Neill said. He pushed his chair back and stood, the rest of SG-1 rising with him. "If there's a place we can set up camp..."
"Camp?" Craw'uel said. "Ah! You wish for a place to sleep?" O'Neill nodded. "We would be honored to host you as valued guests of the city leaders. There are vacant rooms next door which you can make use of. Come, I will show you." He gathered his robe and led them back out of the meeting hall.
Outside, the sun had set. The sky was a mixture of purple and red, and a heavy moon was rising above the treetops outside of the village. Janet walked next to Teal'c with her eyes turned to the sky, and smiled when she caught him looking at her. "I don't get to see alien nights very often."
He smiled and tilted his chin in acknowledgement.
Craw'uel led them into the apartment building next to the meeting hall. The front hallway was wide, decorated only by a staircase that led up to a second and third level. Craw'uel gripped the railing and led them up. "There are only three rooms available; I hope that is acceptable..."
"That's fine," O'Neill said. "We can do boys and girls this time."
Sam smirked and said, "I'll finally have a roommate."
"You didn't sleep alone because you're a woman, Carter," O'Neill said. "You sleep alone because you snore."
Sam glanced over her shoulder and briefly met Janet's eyes. Janet knew exactly what Sam was thinking; she was thinking it, too. No, Colonel, she thought. No, she doesn't. But you wouldn't know that, would you?
Craw'uel stopped next to a door on the second level. He gestured to the door in front of him and the one next to it. "These two shall suffice, I believe...?"
O'Neill stepped into the doorway of one and nodded. "Yeah, looks okay. We appreciate it."
"It is our honor," Craw'uel said with a bow. "I will come retrieve you in the morning and we will discuss the Book of Abrilen in greater detail. Do you require sustenance?"
"We have provisions," Sam said.
"Very well." He brushed his fingers across his forehead in the same gesture Trenauck had used. Then he bowed, gathered his robe and stepped back from the door. "I wish you a long and dream-filled rest. Sirs. Ladies."
"Thank you," Sam said. They waited until the leader had disappeared down the stairs before they huddled between the doors of their rooms.
O'Neill watched the man sway from side to side as he went down the stairs and then he looked at Sam. "Well, this is a nice change of pace, dealing with friendly and accommodating aliens. I don't trust it."
Sam smiled. "I thought that was the point, sir. A nice, friendly mission to get Janet's feet wet."
"Oh, you mean all alien worlds aren't like this?" Janet said, feigning shock. "For a second there, I was starting to think all you SG teams were living it up like lords and then faking injuries to keep me busy."
O'Neill said, "We would never do that, Doctor. We're too afraid of your needles." He flipped open the cover of his watch and then flipped it shut again. "It's afternoon back on Earth... Carter, when is morning on this planet?"
"Just an estimate, but I would say we have about... four or five hours before sunrise."
"All right, well... might as well grab a nap while we can. Let's hit the sack. We'll let Cruella set the wake-up call. Sleep well, kids. Have a good first night off-world, Dr. Fraiser."
Janet smiled. "Thank you, sir."
They split up and went into their separate rooms. Janet went into the room first and unfastened her vest. The room was cramped; a dining room table stood next to the door, and two beds flanked a shuttered window. An open door revealed restroom facilities, but no tub or shower. Janet shrugged out of her vest and jacket and tossed them onto the bed. She was about to say something when Sam pressed up against her from behind. "Sa--" Sam's hand covered her mouth.
"Sh, sh," Sam breathed in her ear. They could hear O'Neill saying something to Teal'c in the next room. "The walls are thin," she breathed against Janet's ear. She moved her hand from Janet's mouth down to her breast. She caressed Janet through her bra and T-shirt and Janet closed her eyes. Her fingers skimmed down the smooth cotton and she untucked the shirt an inch at a time. When Janet's stomach was exposed, Sam slid her hand inside along the warm flesh.
Janet reached back with her hands, crossing her wrists behind her back and pressing her palms against the crotch of Sam's trousers. As Sam's hand trailed up under Janet's shirt, Janet eased down Sam's zipper. She worked her hand into Sam's pants and touched her. Sam gasped, her breath sharp and quick against the shell of Janet's ear. Sam's other hand went down to Janet's crotch and cupped her through her pants.
They rocked against each other, Sam pressed tight against Janet's back, fingers doing all the work. Janet turned her head and Sam kissed her hard. Janet moaned into Sam's mouth and Sam again admonished, "Shhh..."
"Sam," Janet whispered.
Sam's tongue brushed Janet's bottom lip as her fingers tightened between Janet's legs. Janet squeezed her thighs together, trapping Sam's hand as her own fingers pushed aside Sam's panties and found slick flesh. Sam grunted and Janet opened her eyes to see Sam's were pressed tightly shut. Janet sucked the tip of Sam's tongue into her mouth and pressed herself against Sam's hand.
Sam tightened her hand on Janet's breast when she came. She pinched Janet's nipple and Janet had to bite the inside of her cheek to keep from crying out. They kissed until Sam's breathing returned to normal, and then Sam peppered Janet's face with small, quick kisses. "Thank you," she whispered against Janet's cheek. "Did you come?"
"Yes," Janet lied. She didn't want to force Sam to return the favor; the idea of getting caught was a thrill, but she wasn't going to push her luck.
They separated and straightened their clothes. Sam took off her jacket and tossed it onto the bed. She sat down and bent down to untie her boots. Janet brushed her hands away and knelt in front of her. Sam leaned back and watched as Janet unlaced her boots and removed them with tenderness. She rolled Sam's socks down, kissed her ankle and then straightened. Sam brushed Janet's hair with one hand and whispered, "You want to tempt fate again?"
"No," Janet whispered. She kissed the inside of Sam's wrist and said, "I just always wanted to do that for you... taking off your boots after a long mission. Giving you a bit of relief. The real fantasy involved a foot bath, followed by a nice long massage, but..."
The tears in Sam's eyes glistened in the darkness. "Well, a fantasy to remember for later," Sam said. She brushed her thumb over Janet's cheek. "We should get to bed. Five hours isn't much."
"Said the woman who frequently tries to get away with only half that..." Janet grinned and kissed Sam's eyelids. "Night."
"Night," Sam said with a grin.
Janet stood and sat on her own bed to remove her shoes and socks. She pulled her arms into her T-shirt, undid her bra and pulled it off. She tucked it into her right boot and looked up to see Sam staring at her with a slack-jawed expression on her face. "What?" Janet mouthed.
Sam mouthed back, "I think I just came again."
Janet blushed and waved her away. Out loud, she said, "It's more comfortable sleeping without it." She straightened her shirt over her breasts and stretched out on top of the mattress. She crossed her feet and laced her fingers over her stomach. She stared at the ceiling and listened to the sounds of the alien village outside her window. Something popped a few streets over, followed by sounds of laughter. Wooden wheels grated over the cobblestones, like a stick being dragged down a washboard. The moon was bright, casting a peculiar red-orange glow into their borrowed bedroom.
Suddenly, she realized that she and Sam were spending the night in the same room but in separate beds. She turned her head to comment on this to Sam, only to discover her lover was fast asleep. Sam's hand was by her face, fingers curled next to her eyes. Her mouth was slack, the white of her teeth glinting in the darkness. Her eyelashes were dark against her cheeks. Janet just wanted to cross the room, get under the covers with her... hold her and feel her breath against her skin. But she wouldn't do that. She couldn't, not off-world.
She looked at the ceiling again and tried to sleep, but the strangeness of the alien world kept intruding on her mind. She heard voices and only when she heard her name did she realize it was Teal'c and O'Neill speaking in the next room. She slid across the mattress and focused on their words.
"--best candidate?" Teal'c was saying.
"I didn't say that," O'Neill replied.
"This mission has certainly been... easier than with any of the other possibilities."
She could hear Teal'c more clearly because of the timbre of his voice, and she thought O'Neill was in the bed on the other side of the wall from her. We only knew the walls were thin because we heard them, Janet realized. They didn't hear us, so they don't know. She thought about ignoring the conversation, but her curiosity won out.
"It's more comfortable, sure," O'Neill said. "But there's comfortable and then there's..."
"Do you not believe Janet Fraiser is worthy of a place on SG-1?"
"She fits in, sure," O'Neill admitted. "It's just the principle of the thing." A pause, and then O'Neill elaborated, "If she gets assigned, then half of the team would be made up of women. It's not a misogynist thing. It's a military thing. Leading a team with two women, even if they are both military... it's weird. Captain Matheson was bad enough, but she didn't have what it took anyway. Fraiser... Fraiser is competent. I think she could fit in here. It's just... ah, hell, I don't know."
Janet sank back against the pillow and closed her eyes. The conversation continued in the next room, but she didn't want to hear it. She was going to be rejected just because O'Neill didn't want two women on his team? She wouldn't have believed he had it in him if she hadn't heard it with her own ears. But that would explain his behavior around her. He didn't want her on his team and he couldn't think of a good reason to keep her off.
Fine. She would let him off the hook. In the morning, she would tell him that she was going to turn down any request to join an off-world team. She would cite loyalty to the infirmary, a dedication to remaining CMO. She wouldn't let herself be held back just because she was a woman, damn it. She rolled onto her side and pressed the pillow against her face to catch her tears.
Sam woke when the sun was still low in the sky and the room was filled with shadows. She sat up and blinked across the room at Janet. She was lying in bed, curled on her side and flicking a piece of blanket between her thumb and forefinger. "Morning," Sam said, her voice raspy. "Or, I guess early afternoon, Earth-time. Did you sleep?"
"No," Janet said.
"Hey, what's wrong?" Sam got off her bed and knelt next to Janet's. She felt her lover's forehead and said, "You're not sick..."
Janet sat up and brushed away Sam's hand. "No. I'm fine."
"Janet, what is it?"
"I'm not going to be a member of SG-1. I'll tell Colonel O'Neill today."
Sam frowned. "What? Janet, you're... you're fitting in. Is this about what we did last night?"
"No," Janet said. "Last night was great. But I don't... Colonel O'Neill will never recommend me. I want to get out now, on my own terms, before he has a chance to turn me down. It will look better on my record."
Sam nodded. "If you're sure."
"Thank you for the opportunity, Sam, and thank you for having faith in me," Janet said. "But I just... it's not going to happen."
Sam kissed Janet's lips softly and said, "Okay."
"I love you," Janet said.
Sam smiled. "I love you, too. Let's go wake up the boys."
Janet nodded and Sam stepped back to let her get out of bed. Sam combed her hair as Janet pulled on her boots, pausing to take her brassiere out of the one, and stood. Sam watched as Janet put her hands back inside her shirt and put the bra back on. Sam stepped behind her, lifted Janet's shirt and hooked the bra for her. "Just for the record, I enjoy un doing these better."
Janet smiled over her shoulder. "Yeah, yeah." She put on her jacket, but not her vest. She followed Sam out of the room and waited as she knocked on the door to O'Neill and Teal'c's room. She didn't know how she was going to face them after what she had overheard. The idea of spending the day with Jack O'Neill while he thought of ways to reject her. It would be like dating in high school all over again.
The door opened and Teal'c bowed a greeting to them. "Colonel O'Neill is still getting prepared."
"I'm ready, damn it," O'Neill said. Behind Teal'c, she could see his mop of graying hair as he pulled his boots on with a groan. He stood, hooked his jacket on two fingers and covered his hair with a cap. He blinked at Sam and Janet and said, "Ladies... I don't suppose you have a shower in your room...?"
"Sorry, sir," Sam said.
He exhaled and looked down the stairs. "Any sign of Crawl-Lou?"
"Craw'uel," Sam and Teal'c said simultaneously. Sam said, "Not yet, sir."
He pressed his lips together and said, "Well... let's go see if city hall is open for business yet. Hopefully there's a breakfast buffet..."
They went down the stairs and found that the ground floor of their temporary accommodations had transformed overnight. Tables were set up with flat snack cakes, small jars of spreadable jams, bunches of berries and grapes in wicker baskets. O'Neill paused an eyed the spread. A woman on the opposite side of the table said, "You are the visitors?" Her eyes were wide with awe, her lower lip trembling.
"That would be us. I guess," O'Neill admitted.
The woman gathered a handful of the spread she was selling and held it out. "For you. A gift. From the people of A'bayal."
"Well, thank you," O'Neill said. He took it and sniffed. "Smells of elderberries. Some of these crackers...?"
The woman gathered some crackers from the next station and handed them over. The crackers looked like pale cousins to the Ritz brand from Earth, only they were as large as flattened cakes and bore a passing resemblance to breaded DVDs. O'Neill thanked the woman and handed the crackers to Sam and Teal'c. He held out a third to Janet, who hesitated before she took it. He noted her hesitation and reluctance to meet his eyes. "You okay, Fraiser?" O'Neill asked. "Not hungry?"
"I'm fine, sir," Janet said.
He kept his eyes on her for a moment and then passed around the jar. They each applied a bit of the jam to their crackers using their fingers. O'Neill dipped his pinky into the jar when he got it back and tasted. "Hum. Not bad... not the Continental Breakfast at the Hilton, but it'll do in a pinch."
Teal'c ate his cracker, and Sam nibbled at hers citing an upset stomach, but Janet truly wasn't hungry. She also wasn't in the mood to eat something O'Neill had given her. She wrapped her cracker in a napkin, smearing the jam as she did, and tucked it into the pocket of her jacket as they left the lobby of the apartment building. The city seemed fully aware of the guests in their midst; pedestrians stopped in mid-stride across the street, and Janet felt countless eyes on them. "Is it always like this?"
"No," O'Neill said. "Sometimes there's gawking."
Janet didn't even crack a smile. She turned and spotted Craw'uel walking toward them in a new, purple robe. His white-blonde hair was standing up in tufts, his hands toying nervously with the belt of his robe. He smiled when he saw the team standing outside the hotel and lifted one hand in a nervous wave.
"Hey, Trenauck," O'Neill said. Janet turned and saw their guide from the night before was also walking toward them. He looked as if he hadn't slept the night before either, his topknot loose and spilling his white hair over his eyes. He was dressed in a loose-fitting brown jacket that was partially buttoned over his bare chest. He was carrying a book in one hand.
Craw'uel started when he saw Trenauck walking toward them. "What are you doing here, Trenauck?" he asked. "You were specifically told..."
Trenauck ignored the village leader and lifted the book in his hand. "The Book of Abrilen, Section Eight, Paragraph Three!" he shouted as he stalked forward.
"You will cease this!" Craw'uel shouted, a hint of desperation and fear creeping into his voice.
Trenauck continued as if Craw'uel hadn't spoken. He brandished the book like a weapon. "'The strangers shall come. Unholy visitors from the other side of the ring shall come, and with them... oblivion! Destruction! Death!'" He ripped open his jacket to reveal a flashing black box attached to his belt.
O'Neill and Sam immediately brought up their weapons. "There's always one," O'Neill muttered. He raised his voice and said, "All right. Calm down..."
Trenauck kept his eyes locked on SG-1, spittle flecking his lips as he snarled at them. "I have fasted... meditated, and I have come to determine that this is the correct course of action. I must cleanse this town before you destroy it."
"Hold!" O'Neill shouted. He gestured with the P-90. "I don't want to use this!"
"This world is not yours!"
"Trenauck, no!" Craw'uel rushed forward, getting between O'Neill and the white-haired man.
"Damn it," O'Neill said. He stepped forward and grabbed the back of Craw'uel's robe. "Get out of the--"
The concussion from the explosion hit Janet before the sound. She was knocked off her feet and felt Sam's body collide with hers. Sam's elbow dug into Janet's stomach and forced the wind from her lungs. Janet felt an intense heat on her face, followed by a wash of tiny pebbles. She hit the ground, her head bouncing off the cobblestones when she landed. Her ears were ringing and she was aware that Sam was a dead - no, not dead... just unconscious, please God - weight on top of her.
She put her hands on Sam's shoulders and, in the ringing silence, had a flashback to the many nights she had performed the same maneuver with Sam in their bed. She tenderly placed Sam on her back on the ground, fully aware of the blood marking her lover's cheek and forehead. But they had been farthest from Trenauck, they had suffered the least. She turned and saw Teal'c struggling to his feet through a cloud of red-brown dust.
Everything in the epicenter of the blast was gone. Colonel O'Neill... oh, God, no ... Janet quickly scanned the area and spotted a crumpled mass of blood-stained green that she recognized as an SG uniform. She got to her feet and ran a few steps before her legs gave out. She thought she called his name and half-crawled the rest of the way to his side.
Craw'uel - or rather, the blackened remains of Craw'uel - lay to one side, his robes still smoldering. It seemed he had taken the brunt of the explosion and protected O'Neill from a similar fate. Janet rolled the colonel onto his back and was stunned to see he was covered with blood. It caked his face and hair, soaked into his uniform. When she said, "Colonel!" she heard only the hollow echo of her voice. Her hearing was coming back, thank God. O'Neill opened his eyes - impossibly brown and white amid all the crimson - and focused on her.
"Where does it hurt?" she asked, and focused on his lips. She read 'right leg... arm, skull, right shoulder...' and said, "Anyplace that doesn't hurt, sir?"
The corner of his mouth twitched and he either said 'no' or 'nose.'
She felt a hand on her back and turned to see Teal'c standing behind her. "Check on Sam!" she told him. He nodded and disappeared. Janet took a moment to check the street. The survivors of the blast were shrieking; pandemonium reigned. Janet could hear a bit more now; the calls of survivors to those who may have been lost, the shrieks of pain from those caught in the blast... and above it all, sirens. She didn't know where they were coming from, but she hoped they were attached to ambulances.
She moved down O'Neill's side and let her hands search for anything broken. Nothing on his torso, his arms were all right. He could move his fingers and feet when she prompted him. She moved her hands down and gripped his thighs, skating her hands down to his calves. She had almost reached his right boot when his body jerked and he cried out.
Broken leg. Okay, no problem...
Janet turned at the sound of Teal'c's voice. She had no idea how long he had been calling her. He was crouched next to Sam, who still hadn't regained consciousness. Now positive that most of the blood covering O'Neill was all that remained of Craw'uel, she abandoned him and ran back to her lover. Her hearing was improving with every heartbeat, but she was starting to miss the silence. She stumbled on the cobblestones - which had been torn apart by the force of the explosion, and hit her knees next to Sam's feet. The knee of her trousers tore and she felt the numb sting of a cut on her leg. She ignored it and crawled up Sam's body.
"She is unresponsive," Teal'c said, his hand on Sam's shoulder.
"Goddamn it, Sam, don't do this..." She cupped Sam's head in her hand and used her thumb to lift the eyelid. "Teal'c, my kit! It's... fuck, it's upstairs in my room." Teal'c was on his feet and running as soon as she finished speaking. Janet, perched on top of Sam as she had been so many times before, cradled her head. She looked into Sam's slack face and said, "Don't. Do not do this. Do you hear me? I will not forgive you." Tears burned her eyes and she brushed her thumbs over Sam's cheeks.
Teal'c returned with her medical kit in record time and dropped it at Janet's side. She tore it open and, as she withdrew her gloves, she heard Sam's quiet murmur. She turned and looked down at her. "Sam? Sam, honey, are you there?"
"Head," Sam gasped.
Janet snapped her gloves in place and moved her hands around Sam's head. She felt for fractures, for open wounds, and found nothing. She did, however, find a rather large bump. "You hit your head," Janet reported. "What else hurts?"
Janet moved off of Sam's waist and examined her more thoroughly. She interrogated Sam about what hurt and what didn't, what was tender. She asked Sam if she knew her name and the year, both of which Sam answered positively. Her main fears assuaged for the moment, Janet said, "Sam, I have to go check on Colonel O'Neill now, okay? Honey? I'm going to leave you with Teal'c."
"Okay," Sam rasped. She moved her hand to Janet's and clutched it for a moment. "Love you."
"I love you, too, Sam," Janet said, fully aware of Teal'c at her side. A time like this, when death had gotten so close, she wasn't going to waste words being cautious. She bent down and kissed Sam's lips tenderly before she rose and put her hand on Teal'c's shoulder. "Keep her conscious. I'm fairly certain she doesn't have a concussion, but I want to be absolutely sure."
Teal'c nodded his understanding, apparently unphased by the kiss he had witnessed. Janet picked up her medical bag and dragged it back to O'Neill's side. She knelt next to him and said, "Hi, sir. How are you feeling?"
"Much... better. Ready to run, ugh..."
Janet smiled and said, "Just lie still, sir. I'll have this taken care of--"
The sirens that had faded into background noise suddenly exploded into a cacophony all around them. Janet straightened and turned toward the sound to find several metallic cars hovering a few feet above the surface. They kicked up the debris from the explosion in their wake and a booming voice declared, "Dissenters! Throw down your weapons and prepare to be taken into custody!"
Someone on the sidewalk shouted, and a beam of red light shot out from the hovercraft. The bystander was thrown back into the wall and fell to the ground as dead weight. The red beam appeared again, this time picking out victims seemingly at random.
Janet's heart pounded. She was suddenly aware that the only two people who had spoken with the team were now either dead or, apparently, vaporized. She called to Teal'c, "Get Sam into cover!" She didn't wait to see if he acknowledged or followed her directions. She moved to O'Neill's head and hooked her hands under his arms. "Sorry, sir, this is going to be rough."
She dragged him backwards across the cobblestones, ignoring his cries of protest. The hovercraft intercom said, "Cease attempts to escape. Lay down your weapons and prepare to be taken into custody."
Janet got O'Neill to the door of the building just as Teal'c arrived with Sam. They crouched in the lobby, Sam's face again slack with unconsciousness. Janet reached out and slapped Sam's cheek hard. Her blue eyes snapped open and focused on Janet with confusion. "Stay awake," Janet growled. "You hear me? Until I can determine whether or not you have a concussion, all right?"
"All right," Sam said weakly.
Janet caressed Sam's cheek where she had slapped it and turned her attention to O'Neill. She squeezed his right foot through his boot and said, "Can you feel that, sir?"
"Thank God for small favors." She lifted her head and scanned the room. The buffet was abandoned, the ladies who had served them obviously having fled the explosion. "Teal'c, the table... Break off the legs."
Teal'c rose and went to the table. He swept aside the food and broke off two of the legs with only a modicum of strain. He carried them back and Janet pulled a roll of gauze from her pack. "We have to work quickly. I doubt the people in those hovercrafts will wait to come after us." As she made a brace around O'Neill's leg, Teal'c returned to the former buffet. He gathered the tablecloth and made a bag out of it, filling it with crackers and bottles of jams. Provisions, should they need more food than was in their packs.
"Sam, can you walk?" Janet asked.
"Yeah..." Sam managed.
"Okay, Teal'c... you'll need to help the colonel."
Teal'c rose and took Janet's place at O'Neill's side. Janet went to Sam and helped her up. "Come on, babe. You can lean on me."
"Some romantic trip," Sam whispered as she slumped against Janet's side.
Janet smiled and strapped her medical kit to Sam's vest, since her own was still upstairs. "At least there are no mosquitoes."
Sam laughed at the reference to their summer trips to the lake, and settled her weight against Janet's shoulder. "Don't let me crush you..."
"Never," Janet said. She reached up and gripped Sam's arm, turning to make sure Teal'c was ready. "Okay. Come on."
"Where are we going?" Sam asked. "This building and the one next door are the only, if not safe, then familiar, places in town."
"Woods," O'Neill said.
"He's right," Janet said. "We have to get to the Stargate anyway; the woods will provide cover."
She led the way through the lobby and found a back door tucked in the shadows under the stairs. It was probably some kind of servant entrance; maybe where the buffet workers had brought the food in. Sam reached out and held the door open as she and Janet limped out into a narrow alley. It was dark, the sun blocked by thick layers of canvas stretched between their building and the next. Janet looked up and saw that what hid the sun would also hide them from the hovercrafts. The alley was clear of people, but she could see the locals running away from the town square on the connecting streets.
"This way," she said. Her heart was pounding. Sam was much heavier than she thought, and much heavier than she had been on other occasions Janet had carried her. Of course, those other times were a lot more enjoyable than... no, no time to think about that. She focused on the task at hand. "Okay. Come on..."
Teal'c brought up the rear with O'Neill, his hands full with his commanding officer on one side and his staff weapon in the other. Sam's P-90 was strapped to her chest, and she had a pistol and a zat strapped to her thigh. If necessary, either Sam or Janet could be armed in a heartbeat. Janet just prayed it wouldn't be.
They slipped from the alley with a quick look to make sure they weren't being watched. The hovercrafts had landed in the ruined square. Large men suited in orange-and-black uniforms carried guns through the still-circling dust, focusing on the injured and the dead. Two men knelt by the remains of Craw'uel as if there was a chance to save him.
Janet adjusted Sam more comfortably against her shoulder and turned in the direction opposite ground zero. They moved quickly through the streets, moving easily with the flow of people trying to escape either further explosions or the guards or both. Janet kept an eye on Sam's face, the streak of blood that was now halfway to her cheek. "I should have taken care of that," she murmured.
"There will be time later," Sam said. She brought her hand up and pressed it against the wound to stop the blood.
"How is he doing, Teal'c?" Janet asked.
"Peachy," O'Neill answered.
Another wailing siren began to lift, seeming to fill the town with its presence. "God, what now," Janet growled. She paused at an alley and looked down it as far as she could see. She wished she had spent more time paying attention to the village's layout when they arrived. She was fairly sure the Stargate was to her left, to the east, but she couldn't be absolutely sure. "Teal'c..."
"This way, Dr. Fraiser," Teal'c said. She turned and saw him slip down a second dark alley.
Janet followed him, grateful to be out of the role of leader for the time being. She had her arm curled around Sam's, their fingers laced together so Janet could have a better grip. But also so they could be holding hands, so Sam knew Janet was there with her. She squeezed and said, "Doing okay?"
"I know, baby. I'll take care of it as soon as I can."
They followed the winding alley through the town. Overhead, the canvas rippled with the passage of more ships searching for 'dissenters,' whoever they were. Teal'c paused at the other end of the alley and craned his neck to peer out, keeping his body to the shadows. Once he had determined the sky was clear and the orange-and-black-suited guards weren't in the street, he glanced back to make sure Janet was keeping up.
She was out of breath, sweating under her jacket, and her back ached under Sam's weight, but she nodded to him. He tilted his chin in response and slipped out of the alley. Janet followed and discovered they were on the street that led into town. Over the houses, she could see the canopy of the forest that housed the Stargate. Not far now , she thought. All they had to do was get to the trees and then... well, and then they would have to make it six kilometers without getting spotted.
Plus, there were creatures in the wheat fields of the forest. Can't forget that little factoid.
But the city was far more dangerous, they were infinitely more exposed. She hurried to catch up with Teal'c, but the difference in their size - not to mention the burden she carried - meant she could only hope to shorten the gap between them. Teal'c was careful not to lose her, though. He occasionally looked back to make sure she was staying with him. She felt a sense of pride that he never felt the need to stop and wait for her.
By the time they reached the edge of town, however, Janet had been pushed to her limits. She was panting, hunched over and her hand was shaking against Sam's. "Teal'c," Sam said. "Stop."
Janet shook her head. "No, I'm fine..."
"You're not," Sam insisted.
Teal'c stopped and lowered O'Neill to the ground. They were at the outer limits of the town, against the stone retaining wall of the last house before the land gave way to crops. Janet rolled her shoulders, grateful for the reprieve even if she was a bit resentful at being forced to stop. Sam and O'Neill were propped against the wall and Janet pulled her kit off Sam's vest. She unzipped it and quickly ran through a series of tests to check Sam's airwaves and cognitive functions. The wound at Sam's hairline had been caused by a chip of cobblestone. Janet used tweezers to remove it and placed a bandage over the cut.
When she was finished, Janet said, "The good news is I don't think you have a concussion."
"So you slapped me for no reason."
Janet raised an eyebrow. "At the time, I--"
"You slapped me for no reason," Sam said. "It's all right, I'm not mad. But I owe you one."
Janet sighed dramatically and moved to O'Neill's side. "How about you, sir? The leg?"
"I think I'm going to scrap this one. It's okay. Got another one. Like new."
"Well, we'll just see if we can't salvage them both, okay, sir?" She settled by his leg and gave it a more thorough examination. "It's broken, but it's not as bad as it could be. I don't think there's any internal bleeding. It'll be fine if you don't aggravate it, and if I can get you back to the infirmary for some real medical attention."
O'Neill grunted. "Great. My favorite."
Janet forced a smile and used a towel from her pack to finally clear some of the blood from his face. He had been sweating, which helped, but he still looked like he had been the victim of the make-up artist from a 'Braveheart' remake. She finished with the towel and said, "Your clothes will probably be tossed, if you can stand wearing them until we get home."
"What, you're not going to do my laundry for me, Doc?"
"Because a woman's rightful place is in the laundry room, Colonel ? Or maybe the kitchen, barefoot and pregnant," Janet said, a bit sharper than she had intended. She gathered her supplies and looked at Teal'c, ignoring O'Neill's confused expression. "How about you? You were in the explosion, too."
"As were you," Teal'c said. "I, however, have the benefit of my symbiote."
"Yeah, Janet," Sam said. "You don't look very good."
Janet pushed her bangs off her forehead, surprised when her hand came back wet with sweat. She shook her head. "I'll be fine."
"Teal'c... give her something to eat."
"No, I have..." She reached into her pocket and withdrew the napkin she had put there earlier. The cracker had been broken into several pieces and crumbs fell to her lap as she unfolded it.
"Dr. Fraiser," Teal'c said. He had a handful of unbroken crackers and a small bottle of jam he had liberated from the buffet.
Janet took them with a small degree of humiliation. "Thank you, Teal'c." She spread the jam on the cracker with her pinky and then sucked it clean. Teal'c handed out crackers to the rest of the team and took several for himself. Janet found herself to be ravenously hungry, sitting on her haunches as she ate the cracker. She reached down and squeezed Sam's calf, met her eyes and silently thanked her for forcing the rest stop.
In the body of the city, they could hear the battle still raging. Sirens blew, weapons fired... perhaps the guards had found dissenters or perhaps they were merely taking out their frustrations on whoever was handy. "What the hell was he thinking?" Sam said. "Trenauck. Why would he do that?"
"You heard him," O'Neill said. "That book of a brillo pad."
"Abrilen," Sam and Janet both said.
"Prophecies. Someone's crazy interpretation of some scripture or another. It's the number one motive for people getting blown up all over the universe."
Janet, who attended church services at St. Luke's every Sunday dipped her head at this comment, but didn't argue. She knew better than to get into an argument about religion with someone who had fought and killed several self-proclaimed gods. In his shoes, she would have lost a bit of faith herself.
"Okay. Fraiser, you good to go?"
"I'm not the one who asked to stop," Janet said, bristling at the idea she was being coddled.
O'Neill nodded slowly. "Yeah. Okay. But we should leave before someone thinks to check out here. Teal'c..." He held out one arm and Teal'c wrapped his arm around it. He helped O'Neill to his feet while Janet did the same with Sam. Janet and Teal'c, the smallest and biggest members of the team respectively, helped their injured compatriots away from the town. The stone ground gave way to tilled dirt and Janet led the way down one muddy track. Sam put her arm around Janet's waist, her fingers under the hem of Janet's jacket to touch her T-shirt. "It's all right, Sam, I have you."
Janet turned at Teal'c's cry. One of the hovercrafts had ascended higher than the tallest rooftops of the town and was changing trajectory toward them. "We have been spotted," Teal'c said. "Get Major Carter to cover."
Janet tightened her grip on Sam and began running. Teal'c lowered O'Neill to the ground to free both of his hands for his staff weapon. O'Neill lay flat on his back, his right leg stretched out in front of him as he prepared to fend off the approaching ship. The red beam of light that she had seen kill several villagers shot out again, kicking up a screen of dirt all around her. Janet ran as fast as she could with Sam's weight and quickly reached the trees. The wall of wheat started just beyond the trees and Janet lowered Sam to the ground inside the cover. "Will you be all right here?"
"Yeah," Sam gasped, her face pale from the exertion of running. She unsnapped her P-90 and handed it to Janet. "Take it."
Janet reluctantly took the weapon and said, "I'll be back." She turned and ran back to where Teal'c was preparing to open fire. She grabbed the collar of O'Neill's jacket and said, "Sorry, sir. You'll have to sit this one out."
"Fraiser!" he barked.
She had a moment of doubt, but then she heard his voice again, the awful things he had said in the middle of the night. " Half of the team is made up of women. It's not a misogynist thing. It's a military thing. Leading a team with two women, even if they are both military... " She ran backwards, dragging him like a rag doll. He cursed as his injured leg was jostled. Janet wished she could have been gentler, even if she was pissed at him at the moment, but she needed her other hand free for the gun.
The hovercraft was approaching now, close to the edge of town, and she could hear the voice over the loudspeaker. "Dissenters! You are engaged in illegal activity. If you do not wish to be officially--"
Teal'c fired his staff weapon at the ship. The bright yellow blast streaked into the overcast blue sky, missing the hovercraft entirely. Janet watched as the atmosphere tore at the energy beam and slowly dissipated it. Teal'c adjusted his aim and fired again, this time gaining a blow against the aft side of the vessel. It canted violently and black smoke began to pour from the damaged section.
Janet reached the woods just as Teal'c turned and ran to catch up. He laid the staff weapon across his left arm and turned his upper body to level another shot at the ship. The ship lurched again and began to sound a new, strident siren. A distress call. Janet dumped O'Neill next to Sam and crouched down to wait for Teal'c to reach them. The ship he had fired upon crashed into a house at the edge of the village with a horrific crunching sound. Janet prayed that no one was home as she turned away and faced the injured soldiers.
"Jesus, Fraiser," O'Neill gasped.
"I got you out alive, didn't I?"
"Dead or crippled for life... I didn't realize I would have to choose."
Janet's compassion overtook her anger. "Does it hurt any worse than it did before? Does it feel like anything's been..."
"No, no," he interrupted. "It's just... a little finesse would have been nice, that's all."
"You're one to talk."
He looked up, dark brown eyes meeting her. She read real confusion in his expression and wondered if it would be even worse that he didn't remember what he had said the night before. She shook her head and muttered, "Forget it."
"If you have a problem with me, let's address it," O'Neill said forcefully.
Janet looked at Sam, who was watching the exchange with confused curiosity. Teal'c joined them and said, "Other vessels are responding to the distress signal of the first." He noted the tension in the small, dark clearing and looked between O'Neill and Janet. "We should not delay."
"Right," O'Neill said. He let Teal'c help him up and Janet crouched next to Sam.
"What was all that about?" Sam whispered to her.
Janet shook her head. "Later."
The team rose as one, O'Neill leaning more heavily on Teal'c than Sam was on Janet, and they slipped through the high weeds of the forest as three more hovercrafts converged on the crash site of the first.
Six kilometers was just under less than four miles. It had seemed easy enough on the way to the village, but now all Janet could think about were the twists in the path, the distance between them and safety. It was still early afternoon, even with the planet's shortened days, but under the cover of forest it was prematurely dark. To avoid ground patrols, they stuck to the wheat, staying low and moving quickly. Teal'c was in the lead to roust out any indigenous lions, tigers or bears that might be hiding.
They quickly found that the ground was uneven, their boots slipping and skidding along loose piles of dirt and pebbles. Small skeletons lay half buried in the sand, making Janet shiver and again scan the area around her for predators. Sam moved her hand to Janet's shoulder and said, "Janet... I don't..." She collapsed to one knee and clutched her stomach.
"Sam?" Janet dropped next to Sam and checked her eyes. "Sam, what's wrong? What is it?"
Sam covered her mouth and turned away. She threw up, and Janet grabbed her hand and held it tight. "It's okay," Janet breathed. She rubbed Sam's back and turned to look at Teal'c and O'Neill. They were standing a few feet away, watching her. Janet looked back at Sam and stroked her hair. "Are you all right?"
"Nauseated," Sam rasped. She took Janet's canteen, flipped the top and took a long drag from it. She wiped her mouth on the cuff of her sleeve and said, "I thought the crackers and jam would... be all right, but..." She stifled a belch, closed her eyes and visibly fought down another wave of nausea.
"Are you weak? Dizzy?"
"A little. Both."
Janet looked at O'Neill. "She's sick, sir. We need to take a while to rest."
"An hour." She truthfully wanted four or five hours, but given the circumstances...
O'Neill nodded. "An hour." He limped on his left leg to the trunk of a tree and used Teal'c's arm to lower himself down. "I could use an hour myself, come to think of it."
Teal'c moved to a thick tree trunk close to the path, positioning himself so he couldn't be seen, and kept an eye out for security. Janet sat down and pulled Sam to her. Regardless of who was watching, she laid Sam's head in her lap and gently massaged her temples. "Get some rest. I'll wake you when it's time to go."
"Thank you," Sam whispered.
Janet kept her fingers moving in slow circles at Sam's hairline. Before long, Sam's breathing became steady, her muscles going limp with sleep. Janet rested her head against the tree and looked over at O'Neill. His cap was over his face, either asleep or feigning it so he wouldn't have to talk. Janet looked at Teal'c and saw he was watching her fingers where they lay against Sam's hair. He met her eyes and Janet said, "I love her."
"That much is obvious."
Janet smiled and looked down at Sam's face. "Obvious, huh?"
Teal'c's lips twitched in a ghost of a smile. "To me, that is."
Janet laughed. "That's a different story, isn't it." She brushed the backs of her knuckles over Sam's cheek, and she stirred in her sleep.
Teal'c said, "Your secret is safe with me, Dr. Fraiser."
She mouthed, 'thank you,' and left her hand on the side of Sam's head. She looked at O'Neill and kept her voice low so he wouldn't wake. "Teal'c. Your conversation last night with Colonel O'Neill. How do you feel about having me and Sam both on SG-1?"
He hesitated for a long moment. Finally, he said, "Had you asked five years ago, my answer would have been much different, Janet Fraiser. However, you and Major Carter have both proven yourself to be formidable warriors in my time with the SGC. I will gladly go into battle alongside either, or both, of you."
Janet searched his answers for indications he was just saying what she wanted to hear, but she felt that she knew him better than that. And he wasn't lying. "Thank you, Teal'c," she said.
He looked at O'Neill and said, "I believe he feels the same way. However, it is more difficult for him to admit it to you. Or even himself."
"I do not know. Take heart, Janet Fraiser. You need not worry about being accepted by this team. That is a hurdle you passed many years ago."
Janet closed her eyes and said, "Thank you again, Teal'c. For someone who doesn't speak much, you sure have a way with words."
He smiled and bowed his head. His smile froze then, and he moved his head to the side. Janet started to ask what he had heard, but he brought his hand up to silence her. Sam must have felt Janet's body tense and came awake. "What's wrong?" she whispered.
Janet shook her head and Teal'c dropped to a crouch. He tightened his grip on the staff weapon and peered through the stalks of wheat. Janet eased her way out from under Sam, who repositioned herself against the tree next to Janet's. Janet picked up Sam's P-90 and Sam pulled the radio from her vest and pressed it into Janet's hand. Janet nodded and moved quietly to Teal'c's side. He didn't acknowledge her arrival, but she knew he was aware she had moved.
Three men in orange-and-black suits were walking down the path, egg-shaped guns cradled in their hands. Janet swallowed the lump in her throat and looked to Teal'c for guidance. He glanced back at her and then looked pointedly at Sam and O'Neill. Janet knew what he was thinking; they couldn't let their injured teammates be discovered. Janet looked across the path to the other wall of wheat. She pointed at herself and then nodded at the other side.
Teal'c considered it, and then nodded. She would draw their attention, and Teal'c would take them down. She tightened her grip on her weapon and suddenly felt sick. Anticipating eye-level wheat whipping at her face, she pulled a pair of black goggles from Teal'c's vest and slipped them on. They were a little too big for her, but better than being blind. She held up three fingers and counted down. When she folded her ring finger against her palm, she ran from cover. She turned toward the security men just long enough to fire a burst over their heads and then ran into the wheat. She heard them shout and then give chase.
Janet quickly found that the ground on the opposite side of the path was just as untrustworthy as on the side she had just left. She stumbled and lost her footing before she got herself corrected. She found her feet under her and started weaving a haphazard path through the trees. She swept aside the wheat stalks with her hands, snapping against the black frames of Teal'c's goggles.
Behind her, she heard the quiet woof of Teal'c's staff weapon firing. The alien soldiers returned fire, their guns making hard little 'chuk-chuk-chuk' sounds. She didn't stop when the firing stopped, for she heard sounds of pursuit behind her. There was a burst of static on Sam's radio and Janet grabbed it. "Teal'c?"
"There is one in pursuit of you."
"I hear him," she panted. She released the radio and focused on evasion. Once she nearly collided with the wide, hairy back of some native creature that was crossing her path. She and the creature both shrieked at each other and Janet side-stepped while the creature backpedaled. She avoided it and continued on her path. She threaded between trees, running blind through a sea of yellow and ochre wheat.
Several times, her boots nearly slipped from underneath her. A nearby tree or a convenient branch kept her from falling flat on her face, but she knew she couldn't run forever. The farther she went, the more distance she would have to travel to meet up with SG-1 again. She would never outrun the security man, and he would never surrender. Her heart pounded, her breath coming in ragged waves. She had to end this.
Janet found a clearing and dropped to her knees. She brought the P-90 up and aimed it in the direction she had come from, her eyes wide as she waited for her target to appear. She was pouring sweat, her eyes stinging from it. She licked her lips, switched the gun to one-shot and tensed her finger on the trigger guard to make sure it wouldn't slip at the necessary moment. And then her finger went slack and she closed her eyes.
"I can't do this," she whispered, her cheek against the butt of the tool that was only good for injuring other human beings. "I can't kill."
It's to save your life, the lives of your team and the woman you love.
"That doesn't make it right. I'm a doctor."
Right now, you're a soldier first. Major Janet Fraiser. You were not ordered to do this; it's something you must do. You know that.
The wheat rustled. Janet tensed her trigger finger. Time seemed to slow. The world of the forest was dark all around her, the area she was focused on coming into stark relief. I can't , she thought.
You can , the other voice insisted. You have to. You will. For Sam. The way I did for Jack, for Sha're.
Janet's eyes widened slightly. Daniel?
Janet pulled the trigger just as the orange-and-black tunic appeared through the wheat. A blossom of red appeared on the front of the man's tunic and he spun, firing his weapon - 'chuk-chuk-chuk' - into the trees as he fell. Janet rose and stared at his body, then started to run. She did her best to follow the crushed wheat back to the path. She hit her radio and said, "Teal'c...?"
"You are to my right, Janet Fraiser." He stepped out of the forest just enough that she could see him. She ran toward him and ducked back into the relative protection of the wheat. He had removed the dead bodies of the other two soldiers and they were lying half-covered with fallen wheat stalks between two trees.
O'Neill was conscious again and glared angrily at her. He spoke as soon as she was back under cover. "What the hell were you thinking, Fraiser?"
"Sorry, sir," Janet said, her voice flat. "I should have woken you up and let you be the distraction."
He tightened his jaw, well aware he had no argument, and said, "It was too risky."
Teal'c interjected. "We must reach the Stargate, O'Neill. I believe those three were being sent to guard it. We would have been forced to deal with them eventually."
"Right," O'Neill said. He stared at Janet and said, "What happened to the third guard?"
"Dead," Janet said.
She didn't elaborate and, after a long moment, O'Neill realized she wouldn't. He nodded and said, "All right. Next time, you run all your dumb ideas by me before you go through with them, are we clear?"
"Yes, sir," Janet said.
"Good. Now, I think we've wasted enough time here. Carter?"
"I'm okay, sir," Sam said. "I can move."
"Sam, you threw up..."
"It was nausea, Janet," Sam said. "I would have thrown up regardless of whether I was in an explosion." She used the tree to push herself up and then clung to Janet's side. "We still have, what, four klicks to go before we reach the Stargate? You can berate me while we walk."
Janet settled herself more comfortably under Sam's arm and said, "It's a deal."
The women waited while Teal'c got O'Neill up and balanced, and then the team slipped away from their temporary camp and continued through the wheat. After they had been walking a while, Sam looked around and said, "Sir, where exactly did we meet Trenauck?"
"About halfway between the Gate and the village," O'Neill said.
"So about three clicks," Sam said. "That's about how far we've traveled already, wouldn't you say?"
O'Neill said, "Hold up, Teal'c." He looked around and said, "You think we could find the spot where he was meditating?"
"What would that tell us?" Janet asked.
"Maybe a clue as to why he blew himself up," Sam said. "Teal'c, do you think you could find it?"
Teal'c looked toward the path and then scanned the trees. "We have not yet reached it, O'Neill. I shall tell you when we are near."
"Good enough. Let's keep going."
They walked on in a straight line, wavering only to avoid a tree or a particularly steep pile of sandy dirt, until Teal'c said, "It was near this spot."
"Are you sure, T?" O'Neill asked. "How can you tell?"
Teal'c pointed to the path. "We made this curve not long after Trenauck began guiding us."
"Good enough for me. Let's keep our eyes peeled."
Sam put her hand in the small of Janet's back and nodded that she was all right to walk on her own. Janet released her so they could spread out, but she kept her eye on Sam for any signs that she was fading. A few minutes later, Teal'c called out, "Here!"
The women converged on his voice and found him with O'Neill in the clearing where Trenauck had been meditating. Teal'c stood in front of the fire pit, stirring the embers with the butt of his staff weapon. He looked up as Janet entered the clearing. Janet looked at the pit and then scanned the surrounding area for further signs of his religion. "He spent two days here," Sam said. "He must have left something behind."
"Yeah," O'Neill said. He was leaning against a tree where Teal'c had left him. "I just hope we don't stumble over his latrine."
Sam grimaced. "Thank you for that image, sir."
Teal'c knelt in the tall grass at the edge of the clearing and searched through the stalks of wheat. Sam looked up, in case he had stored his provisions in the trees to protect them from predators. She was about to give up when she spotted a gray satchel wrapped in a rope net. "There," she said. "Right there."
Teal'c followed her finger and moved to the base of the tree. A low branch offered a convenient step, probably how Trenauck had gotten his stuff up there in the first place, and Teal'c knocked the package down with his staff. Janet caught it before it hit the ground. Sam walked over and used her knife to cut the rope and release the bag. Teal'c got O'Neill and brought him over so he could explore the contents with them.
Sam untied the top of the bag and knelt to pour the contents onto the ground. O'Neill picked up a book and opened it to find the pages filled with tiny, jagged handwriting. He grimaced and said, "Geez. I wish Daniel was here to..."
All four of them froze, and Janet lifted her head to look at Sam. She was looking at a red bag filled with apples, but her eyes were focused on something miles away.
Finally, O'Neill cleared his throat and turned the book around to Teal'c. "Can you read that?"
Teal'c took the book from him. "I cannot."
"Can I see that, Teal'c?" Janet asked. He handed her the book and she squinted at it. She glanced at O'Neill, cleared her throat and said, "It's, um... it's in English, sir."
"That is not English," O'Neill said.
Janet read from the page it had opened to. "'...fifteen of them, I believe. There was no way of counting. I watched as they approached the church - sacrilege, but they shall pay for their sins - with a--"
"All right, all right. How can you read it?"
"She has doctor's handwriting," Sam suggested. "She can read anything."
Janet returned Sam's grin and handed the satchel to Teal'c. "I'll go through this and see if there's anything about his suicide bombing plan."
She moved to lean against a nearby tree and flipped to the back of the book. As she read, she occasionally glanced up to watch SG-1 work. More specifically, she watched Sam. She had spent almost three years as Sam's lover, almost six as her best friend, but this was a side of her that Janet rarely got to see. Sam the scientist, Sam the woman, and Sam the soldier. There were so many sides to her that Janet wondered if she would ever see them all. She turned the last page in the journal and made a silent vow that she would never stop looking.
Janet's reverie was interrupted when she read the last entry. "Whoa-oh, guys. I think I have something." She turned back a page and began to read out loud. "'Our numbers have grown and it is only a matter of time before we are able to lay siege to the ones in power.' There's a space," she said, "and then he picks up again: 'A sign, at last! Strangers are coming. This is what we have been waiting so long for. The status kwah-o...' Status quo, I think he meant... 'The status quo will be overturned. Craw'uel will be shown our true might and will know the strength of our convictions.'"
"Holy war," O'Neill said. "Great."
"It sounds like there was a difference of opinion concerning interpretations of the Book of Abrilen," Janet said. "Those security forces on our tail are of one belief, while Trenauck and his group were of another."
"Which ones are the good guys?" Sam said.
O'Neill said, "Does it matter? We're getting out of here as soon as we can get back to the Stargate. But if you need a label, just consider the bad guys to be the ones who are shooting at us."
"Works for me," Sam said.
Janet closed the book and tucked it into her jacket pocket. It could prove interesting to someone back at the base. She searched the clearing and said, "Anything else we need to take with us?"
"Nope," O'Neill said. "Come on. Let's get outta here before they check on those guards." He looped his arm around Teal'c's shoulders again.
Janet led the way through the Stargate, relieved to see the comforting gray walls of the Earth Gate Room once again. "Can we get a medical team in here, please?" She took off her cap and guided Sam down the ramp. Sam had reluctantly allowed Janet to start helping her again when she became winded on the way to the Stargate. "It's just a stomach bug," Sam insisted. "I must have picked it up from Matheson. I'll be fine..."
"You're pale, weak and nauseated. No matter what is wrong, you're going to the infirmary." Orderlies arrived with two gurneys and Janet let O'Neill take the first. She loaded Sam onto the second and explained the situation to one of her orderlies. Hammond arrived alongside the medical team and watched to make sure his team wasn't in desperate need of help. Janet, her patients handed off, ran the back of her hand across her forehead and nodded to him. "General."
"A difference of religious opinion," Teal'c said.
"We'll debrief in half an hour. Will Colonel O'Neill and Major Carter be joining us?"
Janet said, "Colonel O'Neill has a broken leg, and Major Carter has, I think, a stomach bug. I thought she had a concussion, but I think it was just a bump to the head. I'll check... I'll... have the infirmary check it out for certain, though."
"Good enough. Dismissed."
Teal'c handed his staff weapon to one of the soldiers nearby, and fell into step next to Janet. "Your first mission proved quite... eventful, Janet Fraiser."
"Ha," she breathed. "Yeah, you could definitely say that." Her back ached from carrying Sam's weight for so long, her eyes were sore and she was starving. Those jam-covered crackers, though big, didn't fill her up very much. Not to mention the fact she and the guys had been reluctant to eat any of them after Sam's threw hers up. "Do you want to get something to eat before the debriefing?"
"Thank you, Dr. Fraiser, but I believe I will take the opportunity to shower."
She smiled. "I'd like that." She brushed his arm and said, "Besides, I should check on Sam and Colonel O'Neill. Make sure they're comfortable."
"Very well." The elevator arrived and Teal'c stepped inside. He held the door open with one hand and said, "I believe you would be an excellent addition to SG-1, Janet Fraiser."
She smiled. "Thank you, Teal'c. That means a lot to me."
He bowed to her and pulled his hand back. Janet unzipped her jacket and turned to walk down the corridor when she realized someone was standing behind her. "Oh."
"Hi," Jonas Quinn said. He gestured at the elevator doors. "So, the, uh, long quest is finally over. SG-1 is getting their new fourth team member after all."
Janet smiled and shrugged. "You never know. But I wouldn't put money on it."
She smiled at his quizzical expression and walked away, eager to get to the infirmary to check on Sam.
Carolyn was busy across the infirmary, so Sam was alone within a half-closed curtain. She had stretched out, wrapped the blankets around herself, and had one hand over her eyes. Janet slipped up next to the bed and lightly brushed her fingers down Sam's forearm. "Hey. You okay?"
Sam nodded. "Stomach hurts."
"I'll get you some medicine," she said. She started to back away from the bed when Sam gripped her wrist and whispered her name. Janet stopped and said, "What is it, babe?"
Sam had taken her hand off her eyes and said, "I want you to know that I'm okay with whatever happens. If you're on SG-1 or not. I just... I wanted to give you the opportunity. I wanted to give you the chance."
"I know. I appreciate it, Sam. Without you, I never would have been considered for an SG team."
"I love you so much."
Janet shushed her. She stroked Sam's hand and whispered, "I love you, too, dear."
"You're... the first person since my Mom who could make me feel safe and taken care of."
Tears pricked Janet's eyes and she said, "Sam... I'm touched."
"Thank you for taking care of me."
Janet bent down and kissed Sam's forehead, letting her lips linger on the fevered flesh. "Always, Sam." Her breath brushed aside Sam's hair as she spoke. "Always."
General Hammond looked up and said, "Jack. How's the leg?"
O'Neill limped into the office and said, "Oh, it'll be just fine, sir, assuming I don't aggravate the injury further." He groaned loudly as he eased himself into the chair across from Hammond and extended his right leg carefully. "I anticipate many missions comprised of meet-and-greets where I can just sit at a table and sample the fine local cuisine."
Hammond smiled. "I'll see if I can adjust the mission schedule accordingly."
"Speaking of which, sir, I would like to take this opportunity to make a recommendation regarding the new member of my team. Janet Fraiser proved herself to be an exemplary addition to SG-1, sir, and I would be happy to have her."
"I'm not surprised, Colonel," Hammond said. "Unfortunately, it's become a moot point."
"Dr. Fraiser spoke to me in private following the mission briefing. She told me that she would not accept a field position in order to remain the Chief Medical Officer of this base. Sorry, Jack. The search goes on."
Jack sighed and sank against the back of his chair.
"All right, Fraiser, out with it." Janet looked up from Captain Gwendolyn Bowen's chart as O'Neill stormed into the infirmary. He was walking with a slight hitch to his step and stopped at the foot of the bed. "Is this about the..." He glanced at Bowen and adjusted his phrasing, "...the comment I made off-world?" She looked up in surprise. "Teal'c told me you overheard."
"No, sir," Janet said. She closed the chart and hooked it on the foot of the bed. She started to walk away, speaking to him over her shoulder. "The comment is why I didn't tell you directly. But it had nothing to do with my decision."
O'Neill followed her as she checked on another patient. "Look, I want you to know... I said what I said because..."
"I know why you said it," Janet interrupted. "You really don't need to explain."
"Yeah, I think I do. When I put the first off-world team together, do you know who I assigned? Ferretti, Kawalsky... military men. Daniel Jackson was forced onto my team. A geek, a scientist. I didn't feel I needed him, and I damn sure didn't want him. And now it's taken me six damn weeks to find a replacement for him because I don't want to admit he's gone. And Carter... another scientist. A woman. And do you think I could fill her place on my team with anyone on this base?"
"No, sir," Janet said. She was looking down at the bed, picking at the pattern in the blanket with her fingernails.
O'Neill was well aware of people in the infirmary watching them, but he didn't pay them any attention. He was focused entirely on Janet. "I like to think I've changed since then, I do. I like to think, in a large part, that Carter and Daniel helped me make that change. But I'm going to slip sometimes. I'm going to make dumb-ass comments. But that's not who I am."
"I know, sir," Janet said. She looked up and met his eyes. "I understand that now. I'm sorry."
"No," he said. "You have nothing to apologize for." He cleared his throat and said, "Dr. Fraiser, I would like to extend my sincerest apologies for what you overheard. I hope you can forgive me."
Janet smiled and said, "I'll see what I can do."
He nodded. "And would you reconsider the position on SG-1? Come on. If you say no, I'll have to take Rothman for a trial run."
He sighed. "Right. Well, I had to ask. You're the best candidate we've had so far. I was looking forward to what you had to teach me."
"I'll still be around," Janet said. "Any time you need feminine wisdom, you know where to find me."
He smirked and said, "Right. Now, if you'll excuse me... I've been serious for far too long. I have a syndicated week's worth of The Simpsons waiting on my Tivo."
Janet laughed. "Enjoy it, sir."
She watched him limp away and turned back to her patient. "Sorry about that... how are you feeling?"
Janet closed her book on her thumb and got off the couch at the sound of the quiet knocking on the door. It was half past eleven, and Cassandra was supposed to be in bed. Therefore, the only person who would be so considerate and would be visiting this late... "Hey, Sam," she said as she opened the door.
"Hey." Sam wore a denim shirt, either white or very faded blue, and black trousers. She had her helmet under one arm - the helmet she had hardly ever worn until Janet made her promise to never ride without one - and the collar of her leather jacket was turned up. She looked like a butch fantasy come to life, her short blonde hair standing up in spikes from the quickly-removed headgear. She gestured at herself and said, "This is what you call feminine?"
Janet smiled, put her arm on Sam's hip and drew her into the house. Her welcoming kiss, once they were behind closed doors, was slow and passionate. Janet stood on her toes, her body pressed tight against Sam's, and she reveled in the feel of Sam's rough clothes against her pajamas. When they parted, Sam rubbed her nose against Janet's and said, "Is it too late?"
"No, never," Janet said. She lowered her feet to the floor, as always slightly embarrassed by the difference in their heights when Sam wore shoes and she was barefoot, and led her into the living room. "Can I get you something to drink?"
"I'm fine," Sam said. She sat on the couch and held her hand out. Janet took it, and allowed herself to be pulled down onto Sam's lap. They kissed again and Sam slipped her hand into Janet's pajama top. Janet sighed and arched her back until Sam's warm palm found her nipple. "You're not wearing a bra?" Sam whispered.
"Comfort, remember?" Janet said. She moved her head and captured Sam's lips again. Sam moved her free hand to Janet's lap, easing it between her thighs. Janet's pajamas were so thin that she felt every brush of Sam's fingers, the bite of her fingernails and the warmth of her palm. She sighed into Sam's mouth and said, "Baby, you better hurry..."
"Why?" Sam asked, kissing the corner of Janet's mouth.
"It's late," Janet said. She kissed Sam deeply, moaned and said, "We can make it a quickie... get you home before midnight."
Sam cupped Janet's mound with her hand and Janet whimpered. "No," she said.
"No?" Janet breathed.
Sam shook her head. "I'm not going home tonight." She slipped her tongue into Janet's mouth.
"Mm?" Janet asked, her tongue too occupied with Sam's to form a word.
"Mm-mm," Sam replied.
When they parted, Janet undid one button on Sam's shirt and slipped her hand inside. She groaned when her fingers met cotton. "Undershirt... no fair..."
Sam smiled. "You can take your time taking it off of me."
"Yeah? Because you're... what?"
"Spending the night," Sam whispered. She kissed Janet again and said, "I'm spending the night with you. It's been too long."
"It was last week."
Sam said, "That was off-world. That doesn't count."
"No. It only counts in your bed, in your sheets... in the same bed, for that matter."
Janet smiled and said, "Well, we should get the night started then. Let's go to bed." She started to get up, but Sam tightened her grip.
"Where do you think you're going?"
Janet's smile wavered. "T-to bed?"
Sam stood up, cradling Janet in her arms. "Well, that's a given. But after you carried me six klicks through enemy territory, you think I can't carry you fifty feet to the bedroom?"
Janet bowed her head and kissed Sam's neck. "Well, you have been sick, sweetheart. I'm just thinking of your poor, delicate health..."
"Don't coddle me," Sam said, lowering her voice as they passed Cassie's bedroom.
Janet started to unbutton Sam's shirt as they went into the dark bedroom. She moved her mouth down and plucked at the neck of the white undershirt with her teeth. "It's a deal."
Sam smiled as she kicked the bedroom door shut.
Sam lay with her body curled, her knees drawn to her chest. Her head was on Janet's stomach, her lover's pubic hair tickling her face. Janet had her legs wrapped loosely around Sam's body, her ankles hooked together. Janet drew her fingers through Sam's hair, letting it feather out across her stomach like lace. Sam's eyes were nearly closed from the constant petting, not to mention the hour that had preceded it. "So, was this your plan when you came over?"
"No," Sam said. She slid her arms around Janet and pressed her hands into the small of her back. "I wanted to ask why you said no."
Janet said, "I don't remember saying no to anything tonight..." She felt Sam smile against her stomach. "You mean about SG-1."
"Yeah," Sam said. She sat up and rested her chin on Janet's pelvis. "The reasons you gave General Hammond. Were they the truth?"
"Yes," Janet said. "I feel I'm more needed as the CMO of the base, rather than just for one team. They need me in the infirmary. It's what I'm good at. It's what I'm meant to do."
"I can understand that," Sam said. She kissed Janet's stomach, then slowly slid up. She kissed between Janet's breasts, to her collarbone, and sucked her neck until Janet was squirming beneath her again. "But is that the only reason?"
"The United States military does not condone torture in the interrogation of prisoners, according to the Geneva... oh, fuck..."
"Was that a request?" Sam asked. She kissed Janet's chin. "If it's a request, it doesn't count as torture, prisoner."
Janet's eyes were closed. "I thought... we were having a serious conversation..."
"We can't have a serious conversation if my hand is right here...?"
"The hand... is fine," Janet breathed. "It's your finger that's causing problems..."
Sam chuckled and withdrew her hand.
Janet licked her lips and said, "A long time ago, I made a decision. Soldier or doctor. I ask people to refer to me as Doctor, not Major. That's who I am. When I got promoted from Captain, there was no big ceremony, just a different pin on my uniform. I'm not a soldier. I'm a doctor. That's where I'm needed, and where I belong." She drew Sam's face to hers and kissed her hard. When they parted, Janet said, "But thank you for seeing that I could be something more."
Sam ran her hand along Janet's flank and said, "You can do anything you put your mind to."
"Ooh," Janet said, squirming under the skim of Sam's palm. "Even that thing you said was too kinky?"
"What did I say was too kinky?"
Janet crooked a finger and Sam bent down. Janet whispered in her ear and then traced her tongue along the shell. Sam shuddered and lifted her head again. "You want to do that?"
Janet bit her bottom lip and nodded, eyes shining in the dark.
"We can definitely do that."
Janet's eyes widened. "Seriously?"
"I mean, not tonight. We'll have to wait for a night when Cassandra isn't home..."
"Oh, definitely," Janet said. "I didn't mean you had to jump up right now and go... no, but... just for future reference."
"Right," Sam said. "Consider it filed away." She smoothed her hands over Janet's stomach and said, "Do you still have the T-shirt I used to sleep in?"
Janet nodded and sat up, pressing her upper body against Sam's as she pointed. "Bottom drawer of the bureau."
Sam climbed off Janet and slipped out of bed. Janet rolled onto her side and watched as Sam rooted through the bottom drawer. She let her eyes linger on Sam's ass, then followed the curve of Sam's spine, the smooth skin stretched tight over the muscles of her back. Janet felt a twinge at the sight of the scar tissue across that perfect back, most of the damage visible only to her eyes. A cut that had gone too long before stitching here, a scrape that was almost completely healed there... evidence of her soldier's life.
"Here it is," Sam whispered. She pulled the shirt out, flipped it a few times to unfold it, and pulled it over her head.
As Sam disappeared into the cotton, Janet was suddenly aware of why she was so sure she didn't belong on SG-1. It was Sam's job to put herself into danger, to get cut and scraped and put her body on the line for the good of others. But it was Janet's job to mend her, to put her back together when the day was over. Janet's job was to protect Sam while she was protecting others.
Sam pulled the shirt into place over her breasts and walked back to bed. "United States Air Force Academy" was stretched across Sam's breasts, and the hem of the shirt ended just below Sam's crotch, and she pushed her hand against it as she crawled into bed. Janet held the blankets up for her and Sam put her body against Janet's. They kissed and Janet smoothed her hand over the back of Sam's head.
When they parted, Janet said, "Why did you stop sleeping here?"
"The truth? After Daniel, I was scared of losing you. Of losing someone so dear to me. I mean, if Daniel dying nearly kills me..." She moved her hand to Janet's cheek. "But I was going about it wrong. Shit happens. We both might have died in that bombing. And if we had... I never would have forgiven myself. If I'm scared of losing you, I need to make sure I've spent every possible second with you. In your arms, in your bed..."
Janet sighed. "Well, if it's something you've decided you must do..."
"I love you," Sam whispered.
"I love you, too," Janet said.
Sam moved her hand down Janet's back, drew her close... and then slapped her ass hard enough to make Janet squeal and jump back. "Samantha!"
"You slapped me for no reason when we were off-world. I was just getting even."
Janet's jaw dropped open in shock and then she pounced on the blonde. "I'll show you getting even," Janet promised as she tugged off the shirt Sam had just put on.
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