Disclaimer: I do not own anyone or anything except for my kids and I earned that right. But as far as this story goes, all the characters and everything else remotely related to Stargate: SG1 and Stargate: Atlantis belong to MGM, Gekko, Secret Productions and anyone else who has a stake in this lovely concept. No money is being made from this and no copyright infringement is intended.
Colonel Samantha Carter, USAF Retired, leaned back in her chair and propped her crossed legs on the porch railing of the house she had called home for a number of years. She watched as the twin suns of the planet edged further and further towards the horizon. A pair of strong arms wrapped around her neck, careful not to upset Sam's balance. Without warning, Sam slammed her chair down and pulled Janet around into her lap accompanied by a squeal. Brown eyes glared into blue and Sam couldn't stop the grin that crossed her face before leaning down and capturing Janet's soft lips.
She teased Janet's mouth open with her tongue and plundered already conquered territory until she felt Janet relax against her and begin her own assault. Back and forth they went, fighting for dominance until breathing became something of an issue for both of them. Trading nips, they finally separated slowly, eyes blinking open as an afterthought before they pulled back just far enough to gaze into one another's eyes. Janet smiled, brown eyes filled with so much love, Sam bit her lip even as her eyes reflected the same back to the woman she still cradled on her lap.
Janet reached her hand up, fingers gently tracing Sam's lip until her teeth released their hold. Then she teased the bottom lip and grinned when it formed a smile of its own.
"What was that all about?" she asked softly, referring to both the action that had landed her in Sam's lap as much as the odd expression she had just coaxed from Sam's face.
"I love you," Sam said softly, then hesitated as if she wanted to add more to it. She held Janet's gaze for a long moment before returning to her contemplation of the setting suns. Janet waited, but when there was nothing more forthcoming, she cupped Sam's cheek, turning her face until their eyes met once more.
"I love you too, Sam... so much. Is there a problem with that?"
"What?? No! Are you crazy??"
"Not that I've noticed recently, but when I look back, sometimes I wonder."
"Do you really?"
"Really what... wonder? Oh yeah... absolutely. C'mon Sam... don't you ever wonder if we were crazy?"
"Oh no... I'm pretty certain we were. We'd have never survived the craziness that was the Stargate program if we weren't all a little bit off. It was just too incredible to be anything but nuts."
"Then why the pensive look a minute ago?"
"I was just thinking."
"Oh... it takes you like that now, does it? I remember a time when you enjoyed thinking – constantly - to the point of staying locked up in that damn lab for days on ennnnnnnd... OW!" frowning fiercely and slapping Sam's shoulder before sliding it up behind her neck and tangling in the short hair while Sam rubbed the spot she had just pinched.
"No, it doesn't take me like that... not usually anyway."
"So what were you thinking about?"
"I was thinking about how lucky I am – how glad I am that you came home to me. I owe Daniel a lot for that. And how happy I have been since you did."
"I hope you know that works both ways, sweetheart. Is that why I ended up in your lap?"
"Um hmm... I was remembering the life we shared together."
"Tell me, Sam. What memories do you carry of our life together that make you bite your lip in uncertainty?"
This time a big smile lit up Samantha Carter's entire countenance before she looked down shyly. "Oh no, baby girl. That look had nothing to do with uncertainty. Sometimes," she went on, her voice dropping to a whisper, "sometimes I just feel so much with you – for you – that I have to kind of rein it in to keep from... it's just so...." She shrugged, not able to articulate exactly what she was feeling, but Janet understood what she meant.
It didn't take much urging before Sam bent her head and Janet kissed her passionately. "I know what you mean, sweetheart. Sometimes I still have to pinch myself to remind me that this is really real – that I'm not still dreaming. So what memories landed me here, may I ask?" arching an eyebrow but unable to keep the twinkle out of her eyes.
When Janet had stepped through the Stargate with an ascended Daniel Jackson, Samantha Carter had frozen. She had never expected to see Janet again... not after having seen the video of her death on P3X-666. Except for Daniel, people just didn't come back from the dead. She sat completely still, not blinking and not breathing, until Hailey unexpectedly blew hair in her face. Sam inhaled and blinked, turning her attention to Hailey briefly before looking back at the gate room where Janet Fraiser was being welcomed home by her friends and family.
"Ma'am... are you all right?"
Sam nodded mechanically, rising from her seat and moving down the stairs until she was running to the blast door. When it slid open, all she saw was Janet. It took all Sam could do – every ounce of her considerable concentration - to propel herself into the room, stopping just inside the perimeter of the gate room. That was all she could manage.
Fortunately, Janet had a little better grip on the reality that was unfolding around them and she stepped forward until they were touching and sharing their first kiss.
That had been the beginning.
Janet's return from the dead had been an ordeal – paperwork to be filled out; tests to be taken; questions to be answered. And despite their best efforts, neither General Hammond nor General Landry could keep Sam away from Atlantis for very long. The situation there had become critical with Elizabeth Weir's disappearance and she was needed in a leadership capacity.
Not for the first time, but certainly more than ever before, Sam resented the role the military played in her life. Once she had been all about the Air Force and serving her country and later the world at large. She wanted to put herself and Janet first for a change – to spend Janet's transition time exploring this new facet of their relationship.
But the powers that be had decided that her presence was imperative on Atlantis and Janet had yet to be released from Stargate Command.
"I don't know how much longer I can do this, Janet," Sam said as she recorded her personal journal. Sam had discovered that talking to Janet made her feel better, though nothing like she wanted to feel. "This used to be my life... it was all I had. And it was enough. Then you came along and we... we bonded. We were friends and companions and when Cassandra joined us, we became family and I finally understood that I could have more."
"Then you were gone and I fell back into my old habits – it was easy... you weren't there anymore. But now... knowing you're there and that we're separated because of bureaucracy...." She sighed deeply and shook her head in despair. "I don't know, Janet – I just don't know."
"You don't know what, sweetheart?"
The voice from the doorway made Sam whip around from the computer and stare, thankful for the first time that the blinds she'd had installed in her office were closed and offered her privacy for the mental breakdown she was sure was coming. She blinked slowly, but the vision in front of her didn't move... didn't change. "Are you real?"
Janet grinned and crossed the threshold, letting the door slide closed behind her. "As real as you are, Sam," remembering all too clearly their reintroduction three long months prior.
Sam didn't ask for permission this time – she simply rose from her place behind the desk and met Janet in the middle of her office. Then she wrapped her arms around the smaller woman, relishing the feel of her in her arms before bending her head and capturing the lips she had dreamed of forever.
Her tongue traced the contours of full lips, sighing into Janet's mouth when it opened willingly to her. Janet wrapped her fingers in the long ponytail, wishing Sam's hair was either shorter or loose. Still, after months apart, this would do for now. Then she lost herself in the sensations Sam was creating in her body and held on for the ride.
When they were both oxygen depleted, they pulled away slowly, gulping in air and blinking open their eyes to stare at one another. "Hi," Sam said softly after a long moment of silence.
"Hi," Janet replied as quietly, but with a huge grin on her face. "That welcome was certainly worth the wait. Where'd you learn to kiss like that, Colonel?"
"In my dreams, Janet – that's where you were."
"Oooh... you sweet talker you. Careful, Colonel... you could turn a girl's head talking like that."
Sam smiled, a cross between bashful and rakish. "The only girl's head I want to turn is already in my arms – how's that for incredibly lucky?"
Janet didn't respond verbally; she just tightened her grip around Sam's neck and urged her head down once more until their lips met again. This time she took control, pouring all the love and affection she felt for Sam into this single passionate embrace. Sam's hands clenched around Janet's waist, then slid down over her ass, eliciting moans from both of them. Only a knock at the door drew them slightly apart, breathing heavily and leaning their foreheads together.
"Guess I have to go be the boss," Sam muttered.
"It's probably Colonel Caldwell," referring to the commander of the Daedalus that had given Janet the intergalactic ride she'd needed to reach Atlantis. "I asked him to give me a few minutes alone with you before he came in. I'd say our time alone is up for the moment."
Sam blew the bangs off her forehead and dropped her hands from Janet's body. Janet stepped back, feeling the loss immediately, but knowing Sam still had to maintain an air of military decorum. She took a seat in front of the desk and Sam walked around to take her seat once more. She blushed when she realized the computer had recorded everything that had happened from the moment Janet had appeared at her door – including the moaning.
Another impatient knock got her attention and she called out, "Come in," even as she shut down her journal and encrypted the program. She looked up as Caldwell entered the room, then rose to meet him with her hand extended.
"Colonel Caldwell... what an unexpected pleasure. Please... have a seat."
"Colonel Carter... I assume Dr. Fraiser filled you in on why we're here."
"Um... no, actually. I was too busy being surprised, sorry. What can I do for you?"
Caldwell smiled. "Nothing, actually. I'm just dropping off a passenger on my way out to patrol. The SGC wants more information about activities out here, so we're on an extended tour of duty."
"Sounds like fun," Sam said dryly.
"Isn't it always?" came Caldwell's rejoinder.
"Wait," Sam said, turning back to look at Janet. "You're the passenger?"
"Yep – Landry got permission for me to be here," Janet said, but didn't say anything else. Sam cocked her head in question, but Janet didn’t add to her statement and Samantha understood she wouldn't get anymore explanation until they were alone.
"I do have several official communiqués from Earth and some less pressing missives for you as well as some of the rest of your team that I'd like to leave with you," handing over a thick package. "Otherwise, I need to head out. We're being sent out further than before and if I don't get started, I won't get home before my grandkids are out of college. We'll be in touch, Colonel."
"Thanks, Colonel. Good hunting."
"Thank you, Colonel Caldwell," Janet said, offering him her hand. "I appreciate the ride."
Caldwell nodded, then took his leave of them. Sam took Janet’s hand and together they exited the office. Janet had been ready to release Sam's hand before the door opened, but Sam held on tighter and Janet squeezed the hand she held and wrapped her free hand around Sam's bicep, smiling wildly when Sam's hand covered it.
"You're different here," Janet commented quietly as they walked through the corridors. There were still people around them and yet Sam never loosened her clasp of Janet's hand.
"Is that a bad thing?" Sam asked as she directed them towards her quarters.
Janet squeezed the hand she held again. "I don't think so," she replied honestly. "You're more confident in yourself, and less... concerned with strict military protocol," looking down at their joined hands before catching Sam's eyes again.
"Does it bother you?" ready to loosen her grip, only to feel Janet grasp even tighter... almost to the point of causing genuine pain. "I guess not," Sam added with a small smile, gazing into deep brown eyes that were filled with love just for her.
"Oh no, sweetheart... not at all. If it was up to me, not only would we be able to legally marry, we'd be able to shout it from the top of Cheyenne Mountain. But you were always so gung-ho military.... Sam, what is it? What's wrong?" Janet asked when Sam pulled them to a sudden halt.
"Marry?" she repeated, blue eyes wide as they met Janet's. Janet blinked and dropped her gaze from Sam's realizing she may have just stepped in shit in a very big way – only to have Sam cup her face and lift her chin until their eyes met once more. "Marry? You want to marry me?"
Janet covered the hand that was cupping her face. "In a heartbeat, Sam." Sam grinned and leaned down to chastely kiss Janet's lips. Janet understood why and didn't endeavor to deepen it while they stood in the middle of a busy corridor. Instead she pulled back after a moment and tugged on their joined hands. "You don't think I'm nuts for being so sure so quickly?"
This garnered her a full belly laugh from Sam and suddenly they were moving down the hallway again, faster than before. "Somehow I don't think ten years of friendship and almost that long secretly loving one another is moving that fast."
"Good point," Janet agreed, then they were entering Sam's quarters.
"That was the first time we made love together," Janet said almost reverently. "God, Sam...." closing her eyes and shivering slightly.
"I remember - it was so amazing being with you that way. If I'd known what making love with you would be like when I first realized I could fall in love with you, 'don't ask, don't tell' would have been a household policy for us."
"Oh yeah." She bit her lip and looked down. "Sometimes when I think about how much time we wasted dancing around each other...."
"No time to waste in regrets, love. We have too many good memories to waste time now wishing for the time we missed."
Janet smiled and tugged on the hair still tangled in her hands. Janet tilted her head up and Sam obliged by bending her head so they could kiss again. They took their time, relishing the intimate contact between them and savoring the exchange as though it was as precious as their first kiss. Finally, separating for air, Janet drew a deep breath and smiled into Sam's eyes. "How do you always manage to make things new again, lover? And when did you get so smart, Sam Carter?"
"*We* make things new again, baby girl... together. And I've always been smart even when I haven't been exceptionally bright. Remember when...?"
Despite the fact that Janet had traveled to the Pegasus galaxy under the auspices of the United States Air Force... despite the fact that Janet now operated in a civilian capacity instead of a military one - Sam was still a commanding officer within the ranks of the United States military. The fact that she and Janet were a couple and, while they made no effort to flaunt it, they made no effort to conceal it either didn't sit well with the higher ups in the government.
She’d known her assignment to Atlantis was temporary, but as Sam's EOS date approached, she was advised by the powers that be to accept retirement. Knowing with no uncertainty that she would be unable to advance and that any efforts to remain would be met with harsh resistance, she decided to talk it over with Janet. After all, any decision that she made would affect both of their futures.
"What do you want to do, Sam? Not what you think I want to hear or what your ranking officers expect from you – just what you, Samantha Carter wants to make of the future."
Sam bit her lip thoughtfully, focusing her considerable mind on the question. Her eyes stared unseeingly out the windows of her quarters on Atlantis, missing the sparkling beauty of the sunlight reflected off the water that separated them from the mainland. "I would love to stay with the Stargate program... maybe even go back to Earth in charge of the SGC." She grew quiet and Janet waited pensively, knowing it was Sam's decision to make. "They've always needed my expertise. Do you think I could change their minds about forcing me to retire?"
Janet considered her words carefully, keeping her back to Sam so Sam wouldn't be able to read anything in her expression if she chanced to look. "I think you can do anything you set your mind to, Sam... if you want it enough. How bad do you want it?"
"A lot," Sam replied honestly. "I like being in command and I'm good at it, Janet. Despite the old boys' network and all the government interference, I am good at what I do."
"Yes, you are." Janet kept her voice neutral, not wanting to influence Sam's decision.
"What do you want, Janet?" Sam asked, suddenly turning the full focus of her intense blue gaze towards Janet, only to find her back turned. "What would you do if the choice was yours?"
Janet shook her head. "I already made my choice, Sam. This isn't about me."
"No... but it is about us, isn't it?" She walked up behind Janet and wrapped the smaller woman in her arms, feeling the tension running through Janet's body as she struggled to hide her apprehension. "Sweetheart?" she queried softly, turning her around until they were face to face. Sam cupped her face with one hand, bringing their eyes level and keeping the other at the small of Janet's back. "Baby girl?"
Sam kept her eyes locked on Janet's, searching for the answers Janet refused to say aloud. Finally, Sam closed her eyes and shook her head. "Sometimes I can be so stupid. I can’t believe I forgot how much I resented being separated from you – how unbearable my life became without you in it." She bit her lip. “You’ve changed so much for me, Janet; I guess it was easy to overlook the things that drove me crazy with you here by my side making me so happy. I’m sorry, baby girl. I don’t know where that bout of stupid came from.”
Now Janet's hands came up to cup both sides of Sam's face. "No, lover... never stupid. A little slow maybe, but never stupid. The military has been the only way of life you’ve ever known and the Stargate program was the ultimate challenge they could offer you. You’re so brilliant you need that sort of challenge in your life to keep you focused and motivated. Sometimes that makes you miss the bigger picture." grinning as Sam's mouth turned up in a shy smile.
"I’m glad you’re here to keep pointing it out to me. I hope you never get tired of having to do that for me.” A beat. “I have an idea," Sam added unexpectedly.
"Really?" Janet replied, arching an eyebrow in question.
"How would you feel about a reception?"
Sam nodded. "How about instead of a retirement party, we invite our friends to a reception – our wedding reception?"
Janet smiled, the expression starting in her eyes and ending on her lips. “A Valentine’s Day wedding? That would be the anniversary of our first kiss.”
Sam’s brows scrunched in thought before her eyes widened comically in realization. “Oh my God... you’re right. I never even....”
Janet chuckled. “I didn’t either until I started doing all that damned paperwork,” wrinkling her nose in disgust. “I always hated that part of the job.”
“We all do, sweetheart. I think it’s become a warped right of passage. Otherwise we would have figured out a way to get rid of it by now,” smiling nervously before swallowing hard. “So... do we have a date for Valentine’s Day?”
“You bet we do, sweetheart, and we’ll sit down and iron out the details of exactly what we want soon. But right now, I think you and I have a date of our own... to celebrate your retirement and our soon to be marriage.”
Sam wasn’t stupid this time, and she wasn’t slow on the uptake. Instead she took Janet’s hand firmly in her own and led them into their bedroom. She planned for this celebration to take all night.
They smiled goofily at each other, their thoughts running along the same lines as they slowly returned to the present.
“I never thought we’d get it all done before Valentine’s Day,” Janet confessed quietly. “I’d never felt so pressured to make a deadline in my life like I did then, and since we'd spent most of our time in the Stargate program working under life and death deadlines, that’s saying a lot.”
“I wasn't worried about getting things done, except as it would make you happy. All I needed there was you. But I was glad to have all our friends bear witness, since we both know we'd have never have lived it down otherwise. And I did enjoy all the trappings."
There had been snow on the ground that Valentine's Day, but it hadn't mattered to Sam or Janet or those who had gathered at Cheyenne Mountain to witness their union. Teal'c had come in from Chulak and Jack had come with his family from Edora. Their SGC family was there as well, including Generals Hammond and Landry, Mitchell, Vala and Walter.
Daniel had been asked to marry them and he'd been thrilled with the opportunity to join them. So now he stood in front of the Stargate and waited for the brides to join him on the covered catwalk. They entered, one from each doorway, in crème colored silk carrying bouquets of their favorite flowers – honeysuckle, tiger lilies, daffodils, crocuses and forget-me-nots. In the center of each arrangement rested two red and one white rose.
Sam and Janet walked alone through the friends that had gathered and met at the bottom of the stairs. Their smiles were bright and blinding and caused echoing smiles throughout the gate room. They clasped hands and together mounted the stairs and up the catwalk to stand in front of Daniel. Ranks closed behind them with Jack and Teal'c functioning as their witnesses and best men.
The ceremony was brief – Sam had warned Daniel about going off on tangents and he knew Jack would cut in if he felt Daniel was dragging things out too much. They passed their bouquets to Jack and Teal'c, receiving a raised eyebrow from the big Jaffa as he accepted them and drawing genuine grins from both of them at his expression. They spoke the vows they'd written for themselves and exchanged rings Daniel had had made for them with ancient symbols on them not unlike the Stargate.
As Daniel pronounced them married to one another, Janet and Sam had turned to each other, embracing to the cheers and whistles of the company surrounding them. When their lips met, the sound grew exponentially until they had to separate because of the laughter it had caused to well up in them. They smiled at one another and blushed, then turned to their friends, causing another outbreak of cheering and applause.
The reception had been great fun for everyone – old friends gathered together for the first time in forever and celebrating the happiness of two of their own. Many expressed their displeasure with the Air Force for effectively dismissing Sam from the service, but she had made her peace with it.
"It's all right, guys," she said as she and Janet wrapped their arms around one another. "Really. It's like one part of my life is over and I'm opening a whole new chapter now. We are," motioning between Janet and herself. "There are so many things we want to do together and we've already lost so much time. I'm gonna need every moment I can get with this woman just to do half the things we want to."
"If you're sure, Carter."
"I am, sir. We both are."
"Besides," Janet added dryly. "We all know the minute something goes wrong with the Stargate, Sam will be the first call the SGC will make."
"And in the meantime, you've got a honeymoon to take. Where are you two headed?" Sam shook her head at Jack's question and Teal'c and Daniel managed to keep their expressions to a smirk at the look of outrage O'Neill wore. "Aw, c'mon, Carter – you can trust us."
"I don't think so, sir. But we promise to have a great time."
He glared. "Sometimes you two are no fun at all, you know that?"
"Maybe," Janet agreed with a smirk. "But I guarantee you I always have access to some pretty honkin' huge needles, General, and I remember how much fun those can be and how much you always seemed to appreciate them."
Jack took a cautious step back and smiled nervously. "Then again, maybe you two should get going. We wouldn't want you to miss your flight."
"Oh, I don't think that'll be a problem, sir," not adding that Daniel was giving them a ride to their chosen honeymoon spot. Then Sam stepped closer and wrapped her arms around his neck. "Thank you for coming, Jack – it means a lot."
"I wouldn't have missed it, Sam." He released her and reached for Janet, holding her much more gingerly. "Congratulations, doc. You two be good to one another."
Teal'c held Sam gently off the floor. "I wish you both much happiness, Samantha," he said softly before lowering her back to the floor.
She leaned forward and kissed him on the cheek while Janet leaned in on the other side and did the same. "Thank you Teal'c." Then in a flurry, they left their reception and headed out to begin their married life together.
"And what a honeymoon that was," Janet snickered, waggling her eyebrows.
"Definitely unforgettable," Sam agreed with a rakish grin. "But then we've never really gotten past that stage yet, have we?"
Janet urged Sam's head down to meet her lips and took her time exploring the mouth that met her own. "Not in some ways," Janet agreed. "Certainly we work to keep things fresh and new between us," licking up the side of Sam's neck and smiling at the rumble her touch elicited. "But we've certainly had our share of ups and downs too. Remember when...?"
Sam and Janet had remained in Colorado Springs after their wedding, certain that what Janet had told SG1 had been the truth. When they needed her expertise, they would call Sam in and they wanted to be close. Besides, it was home for both of them and they were comfortable there.
Janet worked in a civilian capacity at Cheyenne Mountain; she was still a leading authority on alien microbiology and diseases of both alien and human variety. Besides, it was much easier to continue the work she knew and loved as a civilian than being forced to rebuild her credentials in the world she had been dead to for a number of years – especially since she had no desire to reenlist in the military.
Sam taught at the Air Force Academy, noting with not a little irony that her orientation didn't seem to matter there, even though she and Janet still did nothing to conceal their marriage. It appeared that she could *teach* the next generation... she just couldn't *lead* them.
Of course, Sam did have several side projects of her own going in the interim and Janet understood all too well that Sam couldn't simply do nothing while waiting for the SGC to call. Her mind wouldn't stand for it. And that was okay with Janet; she had several hobbies to keep her busy too.
Surprisingly, neither missed the stress and demands that the Startgate program had placed on them before, happy to settle down into a normal life that involved nothing more taxing than rush-hour traffic, grocery shopping and doing laundry.
When the call came, it was as unexpected as it was startling. Sam was in the middle of a quantum mechanics lecture, and it took her a long moment to recognize the number on her phone. With a murmured excuse, she left her students with a complicated problem to copy while she made a call. When she stepped back into the room a moment later, it was to dismiss them early and gather her laptop so she could rush out the door and head to Cheyenne Mountain.
Her arrival didn't generate much interest except to garner greetings from a number of people she'd always spoken to when she'd been part of SG1. She returned them even as she hurriedly made her way to Landry's office.
A short briefing, and Sam was making her way to the gate room, remembering briefly what a huge part of her life the big ring had once been, and she realized that though she missed it, it was no longer crucial to her existence – not with Janet back in her life.
She couldn't honestly say what happened after that thought, because the next minute she was looking up at Daniel who was smiling sadly at her.
"Daniel? What are you doing here?"
"You're dying, Sam. I'm here to offer you the chance to ascend."
"No, Daniel, NO!! I'm not ready to die! I'm not going to die!!"
"No, Daniel!!! I refuse! I still have a lifetime to live with Janet. I won't let you take that away from me."
"And if it's your time, Sam...?"
"It's not, Daniel – Janet won't let it be. You watch...."
He nodded his head, knowing she spoke the truth. If Janet Fraiser had any choice in the matter, Sam Carter would be around for a very long time. She'd always fought hard for all of them, but especially for Sam. This time, though... she might not have the choice.
As soon as the call for emergency medical personnel went up from the gate room, Carolyn Lam had started barking instructions even as she had geared herself up to take care of whatever new trauma needed to be dealt with. She never saw Janet Fraiser rush out of her lab and head into the gate room, driven there by an instinct she couldn't explain but had learned long before not to ignore.
What she found caused the woman and wife in her pure terror; fortunately, the doctor part of her kicked in automatically, starting CPR and calling out orders even as the medical team arrived. Dr. Lam's eyebrows rose at the authority with which Janet spoke, but she didn't hesitate to follow the directives she was given.
"C'mon Sam... don't do this to me. Please! C'mon, dammit! Breathe, damn you, breathe! You can't do this to me, Sam! You promised me forever; we're not even close to forever. Dammit, Sam – BREATHE!!"
Carolyn was ready to call a time of death when Sam shuddered in Janet's arms and then they were rushing her to the infirmary.
For three days Janet sat by Sam's side as Carolyn assumed the majority of her care. Finally....
"Baby girl?" Her throat was raw and scratchy and her eyes bleary, but Janet smiled as tears filled her eyes seeing those blue eyes gazing back at her in confusion before they cleared and Sam grinned weakly. "I told Daniel," she croaked. "I told him it wasn't my time."
"No, Sam... it sure wasn't," caressing the hand she still held. Sam squeezed back, but there was no more conversation between them for a while. It wasn't necessary.
"Those were some of the longest days of my life," Janet confessed, tucking her nose into Sam's neck and relishing the light touch that ran up and down her spine, releasing the tension that always built up when she thought about that time in their lives.
"I'm not – wait... I am sorry it happened in that I never want to experience that sort of thing again. That was the worst...." She shuddered and Sam tightened her grip. Janet returned the embrace for a long moment. "But it made me realize how truly lucky we were. Not everyone gets a second chance – certainly not like we did."
"Sometimes, we get more than one. Remember when...?"
That Cassandra found someone she wanted to spend the rest of her life with wasn't a big shock – despite her alien heritage, both Janet and Sam had always hoped she would. What was surprising to both of them was the who she chose.
It wasn't Freddie or Hailey or any of the other people Cassandra had dated during college or into her residency. Instead, it was Dominic – the self same Dominic that Cassandra had dated in high school... that once Major Samantha Carter had castigated on the front porch of Janet's home after Cassandra had passed out while kissing him. He'd left Colorado Springs after graduating high school, and though he and Cassandra had kept in touch, neither felt a need to remain faithful to one another.
After college, he'd returned home and they'd fallen into their old friendship, sharing bits of their lives with each other casually. They'd complained about their jobs and school and moaned about the traffic; they'd drunk together at the same bar and cheered for the same sports teams. They'd attended concerts and lectures and shared the occasional lunch break. Eventually, casual became exclusive and Cassandra knew it was time to share with her parents.
"Mom... Sam... is anyone home?" She'd knocked then opened the door when they didn’t answer. She knew they were home – their vehicles sat prominently in the drive – and she knew that meant Sam had confiscated the garage for some project or another. Cassandra stuck her head around the door, but the house remained silent.
Her brow furrowed, but she opened the door wider and crossed the threshold, tugging Dominic in behind her. He walked in more hesitantly – he still remembered the reaming out he'd gotten from Cassandra's second mother and had no desire for a repeat.
"Cass...? I'm not sure...."
"Dom... relax, will ya? I promise it'll be fine. My parents already like you, despite what you think. And you're going to have to face them sometime – we're going to be family, remember?"
"I know, Cass... I'm just a little nervous."
She smiled at him and kissed him briefly before sending him towards the living room. "See if they're in the kitchen or out back. I'll check upstairs."
Dominic blinked, not wanting those images of his prospective in-laws in his mind. He nodded and took a deep breath before heading further into the house. Cassandra headed upstairs, only to rush back down when she heard Dominic's heavy footsteps come rushing back in her direction.
"We should come back later, Cass... we should definitely leave and come back later – much later. And call... we should call before we come back."
"Dom?" She put a hand on his face, wondering what had caused such a fever to flush his skin so badly. Then she blinked and shook her head. "They didn't...." She turned to head towards the kitchen. Dominic grabbed her hand and pulled her to a halt.
"You don't want to do that, Cass."
She covered her eyes with her free hand. "How much did you see?"
Dominic cleared his throat awkwardly. "Enough to know that we can leave and call before we come back again and they will never know we were here. God, I'm going to be embarrassed every time I look at either of them for a very long time to come... like say the rest of my life."
But before they could leave, Janet rushed in naked squealing with laughter, followed by Sam who was equally naked and incapacitated. Their only saving grace was that Cassandra had heard the back door open and rushed into the kitchen even as Dominic stepped back out onto the front porch. When Janet squealed this time, it was in a mixture of horror and fright. Cass stopped in the doorway and turned her back.
"Cassandra?" Sam asked after a moment to recover her bearings. She and Janet had gotten used to being the only ones in the house – it had been a while since they'd been concerned about running around naked in front of their daughter. "What are you... I mean, it's nice to see you, but I'm not sure your mom and I were prepared to be seen."
"No kidding," she muttered. "I don't think I'll ever forget to call first after this."
"So... after we go put a few clothes on," Janet asked with a smirk, "would you like to stay and have dinner with us?"
"Can I bring a guest? He's waiting on the porch."
Now Sam and Janet both blushed furiously, though Cassandra didn't see it since her back was still turned. They exchanged glances – Janet shrugged and Sam nodded. "Sure," Janet said after a long moment of silence. "Give us a chance to get upstairs, and then invite him in. You know where the wine and beer is. We'll just be a few minutes." She headed past Cassandra.
"Maybe a few more than a few," Sam confided. "I've gotta get the dirt off my back."
"Lalalalalalala," Cassandra sang loudly, sticking her fingers in her ears. "God, I did not need to know these things about my parents. I'm going to be scarred for life, you know," raising her voice to be heard upstairs. Then she headed back to the foyer to let Dominic back in.
To their credit, neither Janet nor Sam betrayed a hint of the shock and embarrassment they felt when they returned to the living room and realized that their unexpected visitor was Dominic. For his part, he managed to tuck the image he'd been exposed to into the recesses of his mind, never showing a trace of the mortification he'd felt earlier.
"Well, Dominic... what a pleasant surprise. How've you been?"
"I've been good, Dr. Fraiser. It was great to hear about your return."
Janet smiled. "The name is Janet, Dominic – we're all adults here now. And thanks... it was good to come home. Would you two like to join us in the kitchen? We need to start dinner."
"Actually, Doc... Janet... would you mind if Colonel Carter and I stayed out here? I need to speak to her about something."
Twin sets of brows rose into blonde and brunette hairlines and the two women exchanged a look. After a moment, Janet shrugged and Sam nodded and Janet headed into the kitchen with Cassandra in tow. Sam motioned Dominic to a seat before taking one herself.
"What can I do for you, Dominic?"
He cleared his throat awkwardly. "You can... you can say yes." Sam's brows popped right back up.
"I've asked Cassandra to marry me. I know you're not her dad, but you are definitely her second mom and you've always been... um, protective of her. So I thought I should talk to you about asking permission to marry her. Your opinion is important to her, so it's important to me."
Sam stared at Dominic for a long time and he held her gaze while she studied him. Finally... "Tell me about yourself, Dom. Tell me about the man I see in front of me right now."
"Cass was really nervous about that conversation, you know. I think she was really afraid you might say no."
Sam's blue eyes widened. "Really? Why? I'm not an ogre and Dom is a good man."
Janet scratched the back of Sam's neck, smiling when Sam relaxed immediately into her touch. "Um hmm," she nodded. "No... you're not an ogre, but you did put the fear of God into him... into both of them... once upon a time. She always needed your approval and teenagers are impressionable. It was important to her that you were happy for her and Dom."
"Wait til they have to tell us we're going to be grandparents."
Janet snorted. "I'm sure the child will be in kindergarten before we hear about it. It's definitely one of the downsides of being across the galaxy from them. I'm glad their permission came through to allow them to settle here, although I have to admit I was a little surprised that we were at the top of the list when it came to settling new colonies out here. Remember when...?"
They had both been surprised when the knock came on their door three years after Janet's return from the dead. It was even more surprising to welcome General Landry into their home as an official representative of both the United States Air Force and the Stargate program. Though Janet still worked as a civilian researcher and Sam remained on call for any and all issues that arose within Cheyenne Mountain, they had moved beyond the life they'd known in the military.
Still they invited him in and offered him hospitality while waiting for him to get around to the purpose of his visit. It didn't take him long, but when he did, what he said was the most surprising of all.
"I'm here to offer the two of you the opportunity to lead a team to a planet to establish a new colony." He held up his hands to cut off their questions before they could ask, wanting to give them all the information he had for them first. "We've done extensive surveys and it's got everything necessary to make it successful and we'd provide some manpower and materials to help get the project started."
Janet's question was valid and Sam waited expectantly for Landry's answer.
"You have the experience we're looking for – leadership capabilities, stargate experience, knowledge of alien culture, the ability to understand and deal with the unexpected on a regular basis and that is without even considering the scientific knowledge you both possess. You're perfect candidates."
"Who would be the colonists?"
"That would be up to you, Samantha... you and Dr. Fraiser. We'll give you a list of candidates and you'll get to pick and choose who you want as part of your team."
Sam and Janet exchanged glances. "Let us talk about it, General. When do you need an answer?"
"The sooner the better, Sam, but you take the time you need to make a decision you both can live with for the rest of your life."
"He wasn't kidding," Janet commented, remembering the months it had taken them to wrap up all their affairs on Earth and get their team in place to begin colonizing the world they'd been assigned to. "You have to admit – moving here was a hell of a way to spend our fourth anniversary."
"Not at all, sweetheart. It hasn't been all moonlight and roses, but I wouldn't trade one minute if it meant we wouldn't be together here now."
"Really, Sam – even the three years we were apart served a purpose, as frustrated and angry as they make me when I think about them. In the end, it was worth it. You're here, I'm here and we have a Valentine's Day anniversary to celebrate tonight."
For answer, Sam pulled Janet in closer and captured her mouth for a long moment, teasing the full lips until Janet relented under the assault, relaxing completely in Sam's embrace. After a moment, they pulled away slowly, relishing the feelings that pulsed between them. "You're right... we do," Sam agreed. "C'mon... share a shower with me?"
Janet uncoiled herself from Sam's lap, then extended a hand down. "Oh yeah – it's tradition. Remember when...?"
It had started with their first time together – on Atlantis. Despite their love and desire for one another, they were both still a little nervous about changing their relationship. Sam, ever bashful, had excused herself to take a shower, hoping with a bit of distance from Janet she could gather the courage she knew she had. Janet, however, decided they had waited long enough and followed Sam into the shower with almost grim determination.
Sam had started with the first light touch of skin on skin, then she turned to find Janet naked behind her, her fingers working a teasing path up and down her bare sides. Sam lifted Janet's chin until their eyes met, and had to suck in a breath at the burning lust burning in dark brown eyes. She bent her head even as Janet tilted her head further to meet Sam's lips in a passionate, possessive kiss.
Janet's hands clenched in reaction before she let them travel over Sam's torso, eliciting a gasp when she tweaked taut nipples. Then she curled her hands into Sam's long hair and pulled the taller woman more tightly against her. For her part, Sam allowed herself to get lost in the ardor she could feel between them, running her hands over Janet's ass and up her spine into short brown hair.
Their kissing went on so long that the water turned cold and Sam shivered in reaction when she became consciously aware of it. Janet pulled back just slightly, admiring the kiss-swollen lips before reaching around Sam and shutting off the spray. She allowed her face to graze Sam's breast and hip as she bent to reach the valves, then sucked against the smooth skin at Sam's hip as she straightened up. This time when Sam shuddered, it had nothing to do with cold water.
When Janet caught Sam's nipple between her lips, Sam moaned and leaned back against the wall for support – only to stand back up when the faucet gouged into her body. Despite the enjoyment Janet was experiencing, she felt Sam's pain and withdrew enough to place a kiss on Sam's collarbone and extend a hand to her.
"C'mon, lover... there is a big, soft bed in the other room just calling our names." She took a towel and dried Sam's body, the roughness of the material providing a counterpoint to Janet's gentle touch. Sam returned the favor, then led Janet to the bed.
That had been the beginning – and every anniversary... every Valentine's Day since then... Sam and Janet had shared a shower as a prelude to their celebration.
After their shared shower, which involved a lot of hot water and some serious foreplay, the two women separated to prepare for their evening together. Janet dressed in white, highlighting her dark hair and eyes and her tanned skin. Sam chose black to accent her lighter hair and skin tone and focus attention on her very blue eyes. This time, there was moonlight from twin moons and roses that filled the private room they had reserved at their favorite public restaurant.
They were a striking couple and being leaders of a successfully established colony drew even more attention to them, but on this evening especially, they only had eyes for each other. And when they arrived, they were ushered into the dining room with little fanfare and discrete attention from the wait staff.
Dinner was leisurely and they exchanged kisses even as they fed one another. When dinner was over, but before dessert was served, Sam extended her hand to Janet and they rose as one body then wrapped themselves around each other and swayed to the music that surrounded them.
"This has been a wonderful anniversary," Janet commented as they rocked gently. Sam smiled down tenderly at her.
"They always are with you, baby girl. Every day is just a little better than the last and every day I fall in love with you just a little bit more."
Janet smiled. "You're such a sweet talker, Samantha Carter. I think it's time we took this celebration home."
The eyes of every patron in the establishment followed them out the door, but they were oblivious to the attention. They were too busy sharing wordless plans for the remainder of their evening.
The candles around the room provided the only illumination, but it was all they needed. They undressed one another leisurely, relishing each new expanse of skin that was exposed. Touches became caresses and they fell into bed.
They loved one another slowly, thoroughly – touching and tasting until they were completely sated. Then they rested in the afterglow wrapped in each other's arms and covered in a sheen of sweat.
"Do you think it will always be like this for us?" Sam asked in a hushed tone, unwilling to disturb the peace that had settled over them. "Always magical?"
"I think we have learned to appreciate our time together as special and precious – we know all too well how quickly it can be taken away from us. So yes... in that regard it will always be magical," Janet replied and she traced the still firm body she was currently resting on. "I think we will always make our own magic and be able to look back and remember when. Happy Anniversary, sweetheart."
"Happy Valentine's Day, baby girl."
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