Summary: Neither truly want to be here yet neither could resist the chance that they might just see each other again
Sometimes, when she's standing with a drink in her hand and too many in her system at yet another Aaschen-Human reception as her husband schmoozes the room she will allow herself to think of her. She will see a flash of dark hair on a petite frame and then memory floods through her and makes her body tingle in a way that her husband does not.
She smiles and makes small talk with someone whose name she has already forgotten in response to some inane question about how different her life must be now. She doesn't need to listen. The questions always fall along the same lines.
"What do you miss most about the old days?"
And for a moment, for the first time in so long, she almost tells the truth.
Things did not fall apart when the Aaschen came. That was not the Aaschen way. Along with everyone else's, her life was carefully and systematically dismantled and rebuilt to the Aaschen model. The Aaschen approved her relationship with Joe Faxon. Any other relationship she might have had in mind would not have been sanctioned. The Aaschen thought that the previous regime's 'Don't Ask Don't Tell' policy was weak willed and indecisive. Of course in practice everyone was free to pursue whatever relationship their heart dictated. The Aaschen were not monsters. They could be very subtle when they chose to be. In practice, however they had little time and patience for those who did not conform to the Aaschen way. Doors were closed, bureaucracy imposed, career paths sidelined, lives put on hold. But not for her. She had been protected. Others had not been so lucky.
She had always been a good little soldier. For the Air Force, the Pentagon, the SGC and now for the Aaschen Alliance.
So what did she miss about 'the old days'?.
Her smile. The one that made the world a better place, the one that did more to ease her pain than any miracle drug. The one that was hers and hers alone. The sound of her name. Even the shortest form of it acquired extra syllables with that lilt. Her full name became a song. Even when she knew well that the gift of her full name usually meant she was in trouble, especially when it was prefaced by her military and scientific titles. Just thinking about it sent a shiver down her spine.
Being with her was one of the few times in her life she had felt like she belonged, like she was part of a family. Not even now, with a husband, with the hope of children of her own one day soon did she have that same feeling of... completion.
It had been... years since they had seen each other for any length of time, at least six years since they had been alone together long enough to have anything approaching a conversation. And as that had been at her wedding reception, the conversation had been stilted to say the least. Her former lover had neither approved nor understood her reasoning for the path she had taken.
She knew that however far her lover had distanced herself from the current administration she would be on the guest list for this reception. She had not tried to find out if she had acknowledged the invite, whether she would attend though it would have been easy enough for her to do so. For days she's been on her mind. For some reason in quiet moments she's been reliving every memory she has of the other woman, of how her dark brown eyes flashed fire when she was riled, of how she curled her fist under her chin when she slept, of how (when her hair colour was its native dark brown) the sun set fiery red highlights flaring in it). How they recycled the same arguments so often between them that it became a kind of shorthand, a private language. Of her concerns that a proper diet should consist of more than blue jello, coffee and the occasional illicit chocolate bar. Of how she could never drink her under the table. Of how they'd seen each other at their worst and their best. Of how they brought out the best in each other. Of how in the end it was not enough.
And the promises she made to take better care of herself, to sleep and eat like an ordinary mortal. Then there were the promises she didn't make, the words she didn't say. She remembered how they spent long evenings just talking. They thought they knew everything about each other. For a time they could not imagine ever being parted. Now she cannot think that they have anything in common any more.
Then the Aaschen saved them and everything changed. Only, as she had belatedly come to realize ten years on, it was not necessarily for the better.
She sips her wine and gives the room a once over. And there she is. Looking no older but curiously more brittle, certainly tense. Her years on the outside were showing, she was no longer so sure of herself, as comfortable in a room full of strangers. Last time they talked she had been full of conspiracies, suspicious of the Aaschen, their motives in helping Earth, accusing her of still keeping secrets. So much bitterness, so much pain. Was it her fault? She didn't know. But she hoped... oh, so many things.
Their eyes met. They started to walk towards each other. And none of it mattered anymore.
She tries not to hold on to the glass of wine too tightly knowing how much she's wound up tonight it would be rather embarrassing if she smashed the glass. She tries not to drink it either. She wants needs to keep a clear head. And whilst she could drink all comers under the table if it was shots, wine makes her voluble and vulnerable. And the last thing she needs to do here is say exactly what is on her mind in this room full of former friends and foes.
As for who is on her mind...
She is here, of course. The poster girl for the Aaschen Alliance. Always the good little soldier (well, nearly always a treacherous memory of long lightly tanned legs wrapped around her insinuates).
She takes a deep breath, holds it for a moment, centres herself. A flash of blonde hair sends her searching the room with her eyes but it is not her. Perhaps she will not be here. But she sees the Ambassador and knows that she will not be far away from him. The good little soldier is a good little wife. An Aaschen official gazes at her for a moment as if she was some kind of lab specimen and she goes cold inside. She doesn't know why she came. She hates this kind of junket. Hates having to make nice with the Aaschen. Tenth anniversary... what did she have to celebrate?
Even if she was here she was unlikely to have the time to spend more than a few moments with her. Their lives were so different now. With a sense of almost shame she realizes that is why she came here, to enemy territory. For that moment, for the chance of it. To hear her voice, to stand in the warmth of her smile one more time.
The way she says her name always sends a shiver down her spine, whether its needy or hurting or teasing doesn't matter. Two ordinary syllables transformed. Her smile, like the sunrise and those eyes... they said what words could not.
How did it get this way? She's still not sure. She thought they knew each other, not that they were predictable in any way but that she could see a future for them within the confines of the life and career that they both followed. It was difficult but it was possible and she had thought it was something that they both wanted. And she had allowed her self to begin to hope that one day... one day.
That she could never forgive, the destruction of her hopes. The trouble was she didn't know for certain whom she blamed her former lover, their current masters or herself. She thought that she knew her, knew her mind, her thoughts, her hopes and fears.
As it turned out, she knew nothing at all.
She used to hope that one day they would get back together that the tension, the uneasiness would be gone and she would be the recipient of that smile once more the one that warmed her to her core and made her toes curl.
She could forgive her the workaholic hours, her single-mindedness in the face of a new scientific toy. She could forgive her for being an adrenaline junkie, even that damned bike of hers, the military mindset for being her father's daughter. She could even forgive her inability to cook or remember dates, her fixation on 'Singing in the Rain'. She couldn't forgive her for not seeing the truth about the Aaschen, for walking them hand in hand down this path where her way of life had been made obsolete and her purpose had been obscured and she had begun to fear not so much for her life but for her soul.
No, there could be no forgiveness for that. In fact it was probably better if she avoided her all together there was no way, there was no... there she was...
Alone, back to the wall, people watching, watching her. She looked fine, wonderful in fact but there was something, a sadness, a loneliness that called out to her because she felt it too and without consciously willing it they were walking towards each other and she saw something in her face brighten and felt her own heart lighten.
They gazed at each other in silence for a long moment, then both opened their mouths to speak and their voices chimed together.
"Sam, it's so good to see you."
"Janet, it's so good to see you."
And the rest of the room could only stand and stare as the two women started laughing.