Summary: Sam temporarily moves in with Janet after the arrival of Cassandra.
Five days. Not even a full week has passed since my life was turned upside down and inside out.
I still find myself amazed by the sudden shift in my life. Four days ago, I was a single woman living in a huge house, content to keep to myself and live my life. That all changed with Cassandra.
Cassandra. Her frightened brown eyes still haunt me when I find time to sleep. She's so small, and yet has caused so much turmoil in my life.
I sound silly, complaining about the changes in my life when I think about this poor child. Her family, her friends, her entire *civilization* destroyed. Her own body used as a Trojan Horse to destroy people she never knew existed. A pawn in an intergalactic game of one-upmanship. When I think about my new life, it scares me. When I think of why she has a new life... it sickens me. So, regardless of the inconvenience to myself, I now have a daughter. I'm a mother. Talk about scared to death.
I knew it going in. I was fully aware when I agreed to take the girl under my wing that she wasn't coming alone. The moment that child stepped foot on Earth, Samantha Carter was attached at the hip. I felt myself growing uneasy as the moment came to move Cassandra in, but I managed to keep myself busy by tidying up the guest room. I made the bed that no one had slept in since I moved to Colorado Springs and arranged the photos on the walls. I had framed a half dozen pictures displaying some of the best Earth had to offer - the Grand Canyon, a lake at sunset, pictures of myself with SG-1, mountain ranges and the like - and hung them around the room. Oddly, I felt as if I were enticing a visiting foreigner to remain in the country. I smiled and adjusted a frame, momentarily glancing at the photo within.
The picture was a candid shot, a picture of Samantha Carter in the back of Colonel O'Neill's truck at the recent Fourth of July party. She had been up since five that morning and eventually crawled into the bed of the truck for a quick nap. I had climbed onto the wheel in search of a cooler of coke when I discovered the sleeping beauty. Her face had been covered by a baseball cap and her jeans and denim shirt were partially hidden by a blanket. I had snapped the picture on a whim, the flash of which had caused the blonde to jump a mile high. She had blushed and ordered me to destroy the film, but... I couldn't bring myself to destroy any image of the beautiful woman.
I stroked the glass covering the photo, wishing I could feel her warmth against my fingers. I sighed and stepped back. They would be here soon and I had a lot to get done.
Sam opened the door, climbing out of her car and moving around the back to pop the trunk. As she unloaded the suitcases, she noticed the passenger side was still occupied. She shut the trunk and placed the suitcases on the sidewalk, walking to the front of the car and knocking on the side window. It rolled down slightly and Sam smiled. "Hey, kiddo. This is it."
Through the glass, Cassandra peered at the house. She remained silent, as she had during the entire car trip, then cautiously opened the door. Sam stepped aside and allowed the girl to exit the vehicle. "You ready to see your new home?"
Cassandra kept her eyes on the house and whispered, "This is mine?"
Sam chuckled and knelt. "Well, not *all* of it. You have to share it with Janet... although, you might want to try calling her Mom."
Cassandra was silent, blinking slowly before she turned her gaze to Sam. "Why can't I stay with you?"
The blonde closed her eyes, sighing deeply. "I know you want that. I want it, too. But... it just wouldn't be possible. I work way, way too much to give you the attention you need. And my house is so small, I get the feeling we'd be running into each other and stepping on each other's toes so much it..." She brushed the girl's hair out of her eyes. "It wouldn't be possible, honey."
Behind her, she heard the front door of the house open and glanced over her shoulder. Janet was standing in the doorway wearing an oversized dress shirt that was buttoned crookedly and a pair of faded jeans. Sam smiled and waved before turning back to Cassandra. "I'll be here for you... Teal'c is keeping my home safe while I stay here, but it's only for a month. Okay?"
The girl nodded slowly, still looking extremely sad. Her eyes brightened at the thought of having Sam nearby, if only for a little while. She wrapped her fingers around Sam's hand and said, "Let's go."
I heard the car approach and headed downstairs, wishing I had dressed for the occasion. I was still wearing the same clothes I had cleaned in. I paused, glancing at myself in the hall mirror and grimacing at the sight that greeted me. My hair hung around my face in ribbons, my face completely devoid of makeup. I worked a little with my hair and finally clasped it with a bobby pin. That would have to do. I rested my hand on the knob, taking a deep breath as I tried to convince myself that I was ready for this, then unlocked the door. I pulled it open, stepping onto the front porch as if I were entering a firing range. Sam was kneeling on the sidewalk, one hand on each of Cassandra's shoulders. The girl had her eyes locked on the house.
Sam apparently heard me and turned, smiling one of her million-watt smiles and waving. I returned the wave and leaned against the doorframe. The girl looked so frightened... so lost. Sam stood and Cassandra took her hand. I felt a moment of panic rising from my gut and I forced myself to choke it down. This wasn't any child; this child was horribly traumatized. I had my work cut out for me.
Cassandra stepped onto the porch, keeping a watchful eye on me. I felt like the enemy. I knelt and smiled. "Hi, Cassie. Remember me?"
The girl frowned, then looked at Sam. "Who's Cassie?" she asked.
Sam grinned, then chuckled, "You are. Cassie is short for Cassandra... like Sam is short for Samantha."
"Oh," the girl said, her brow still slightly furrowed. She reached out and loosely gripped the fingers of my right hand, pulling it out and shaking it uncertainly. "Hi, Janet." She glanced quickly at Sam, then said, "Mom."
I was shocked at the name, then said, "Uh... Cassandra, you don't have to call me Mom if you don't want to."
She nodded and looked over my shoulder. I stood and stepped aside, motioning that it was okay for her to enter. "C'mon. You can check out the house if you want." Nervously, she glanced at Sam for confirmation before stepping into the entry hall. I smiled, then looked at Sam. "Hey."
"Hi. Hope you don't mind putting up a boarder for a few weeks."
"Are you kidding?" I chuckled. "I doubt she'll want anything to do with me for a couple of days..."
Sam sighed. "Don't say that. You saved her life... You're the hero here, not me."
I turned, nervously looking into the house. Cassandra - Cassie - was still standing in the front hall looking up the stairs. I grinned and suggested, "Maybe we should give her the guided tour." I stepped inside and moved towards the girl. Sam entered the house behind me and closed the door. I turned at the sound of the lock clicking, my eyes widening. Locked in a house with Sam Carter, a pre-teen girl the only thing between me and her... I swallowed and said, "W-what about the rest of your luggage?"
She smiled. God, that smile would be the end of me. "I think it can wait until later. C'mon, let's show Cassandra her room." She moved past me, lightly brushing my upper arm as she passed. I shivered at the minimal contact, trying to hide the redness in my cheeks. She placed a hand on the girl's shoulder and said, "Hey, let's check out your new room. Uh... where is your new room?" she asked, turning to me.
"Oh... oh, uh... at the top of the stairs to the left. It has a sign on the door that says 'Cassandra.' Can't miss it."
They started upstairs and I followed, trying to avoid the inevitable view of the beautiful blonde's hindquarters. I sighed and ran a hand through my messy hair. One month and she'd be out of the house. A safe distance away... a casual acquaintance. I could handle that...
Sam opened the door to my guest room, Cassandra's bedroom, and ushered the girl inside with a quiet gasp. "Wow... look at this." She turned to me and winked. "Christopher Lowell, eat your heart out." She stepped inside and eyed the rest of the room. "Very nice, Janet. Very nice."
I stepped into the room behind her and said, "Christopher who?"
Sam chuckled. "Christopher Lowell... he's an interior designer on one of those cable channels. Very fun to watch. He's one of those gay interior designers, so it's fun to watch him dance around."
I cringed, trying to see how serious she was. She and I had never really had a conversation about our sexual orientation, but I guess she just assumed I was as straight as she was. She did know I had been married to a man... I sighed. "Oh. Well, uh... this isn't from any magazine or TV show. I just threw a bunch of stuff together." The bed was made with a soft blue comforter, placed in the middle of the wall opposite the door. I had also placed a dresser next to the bed to house a small CD player and a clock-radio. Cassie didn't have any musical tastes yet, but as soon as she started liking bands I would fill the player with their discs. I just hoped she didn't go for those insipid boy bands.
Sam moved to the bed and sat on the edge. "Very soft." She looked up at the walls and said, "Ooh, and pictures." She stood, examining them. "Wow, you got-you got Mount Rushmore, and the Grand Canyon..." She turned to the girl and chuckled, "Of course, you don't know what either or those landmarks are, do ya?" She turned back to the wall... and her smile vanished. "Uh, Janet?" She took the picture of herself down, pressing it against her chest. "What, uh... why'd you hang this picture?"
I frowned and took the picture from her. It was the candid shot of her in the back of Colonel O'Neill's truck at the Fourth of July party. "What's wrong with this picture?"
Sam's face was a deep crimson. She blinked quickly, turning her back to Cassandra. "Why... I thought I told you to destroy this. Why did you develop it?"
"Sam," I said, trying to determine why she was acting so upset. "It's just a picture of you sleeping. What's the big deal about that? I think it's cute."
Cassandra had moved to the bed and was testing the mattress. She gingerly touched one of the pillows, then turned her attention to the pictures on the wall. Sam brushed a hair behind one ear. "Janet... I wasn't asleep."
I didn't understand. I looked down at the picture. Sam was laying in the bed of the truck, her hair mussed and her denim clothes half-covered by a blanket. Her left arm was sticking out at a 45-degree angle, poking against the blanket. Her lips were parted in a startled gasp and the other hand was pressing the blanket to her chest. I shrugged. "Well... then what were you doing?"
Sam lowered her voice and stepped closer, speaking through clenched teeth. "Call it... stress relief."
"What?" I whispered back. "I don't... What kind of stress relief?"
She closed her eyes. "Jack was traipsing around in speedos, Daniel was wearing some baggy trunks and it was the first time I'd seen Teal'c with his shirt off... I was a-a little overstressed and I was trying to get some relief." She raised her blonde eyebrows and indicated her beltline. "A little... relief?"
I blinked, trying to stifle a gasp as I realized what she was referring to. "I... Oh. I-I didn't know. Oh, geez, I... if I had known, I... I... Oh, God, Sam, I'm..."
She smiled, trying to hide her unease. "It's okay. I was just curious why you thought this picture would be appropriate for Cassandra's bedroom." She shook her head. "Or any bedroom. Where have you been keeping this since you took it?"
I suppose 'next to my bed' would make her a little more uncomfortable. I told the first lie of many and shrugged, "Actually, I couldn't find a place for it. I've been keeping it in a drawer."
"Thank God," she sighed, taking the picture from my hands.
I reluctantly let her take it, then said, "Uh... I could make sure it gets destroyed for you." Or pretend it's been destroyed...
Sam shook her head. "I'd like to take care of this personally, if you don't mind. It's a little embarrassing to realize it still exists after all this time."
I swallowed and nodded. She didn't trust me. "Ah... yeah. Okay." She pulled the photo from the frame and folded it, sliding it into her belt and handing the empty frame back to me. I took it and looked longingly at the empty brown frame that had once housed the captain's visage. Sam sighed and clapped her hands. "Well... that little trauma is over. Who wants pizza?"
Cassandra looked up, suddenly interested in the conversation. "What's pizza?"
That night, we rented "The Wizard of Oz" and ordered pizza from Dominoes. The pizza guy arrived with a steaming hot pizza and a semi-cold 2-liter of soda. Sam paid the man, offering him a two dollar tip and headed into the dining room with her the box balanced on one hand like a tray. As she passed through the living room to the kitchen, Cassandra's head tilted towards the blonde and she sniffed twice. "What's that smell?" she asked. "Is that the... p-pizza?"
She stumbled a bit over the word, but I felt insanely proud that she had gotten it right. "It sure is, Cassie. Why don't we let Sam make a couple of plates and you and I can watch a little bit more of the movie?"
The girl ignored me, climbing up off the floor and hurrying into the dining room after the captain. I stifled a sigh and stopped the tape, following the enticing aroma of the pizza box. Sam had set it on the table and Cassie approached carefully, her eyes widening as the smell became stronger. Finally, she placed her hands on the cardboard, popping the top open. She smiled down at the cheesy concoction, tentatively touching one pepperoni. Eagerly, she grabbed one slice by the crust and picked it up. Before I could stop her, she had taken a large mouthful and was chewing thoroughly.
She froze in mid-chew, her eyes widening as the heat of the pizza caught up with her. Her bottom lip slowly dropped, quivering as tears began to form in her eyes. I grabbed a paper towel off the roll, knocking the roll to the floor in the process. Placing the towel under Cassie's mouth, I said, "Spit it out, honey... just spit it out." She complied, leaving me with a handful of soggy, half-chewed pizza. I wadded the towel up, tossing it in the garbage as Cassie began to cry. I placed my hands on her shoulders, lowering myself so we were eye-to-eye. "You okay? You want some water or a soda?"
Cassandra turned, ignoring me completely and dashing into the kitchen where Sam had disappeared. I followed, beginning to feel like little more than a lapdog. Sam was already hugging the girl, whispering comforts as Cassie told her what had happened. Sam smoothed the girl's hair and pulled back, offering a small grin. "You won't let this turn you against pizza, will it? It's really good."
Sniffling, Cassandra said, "I guess not... but only if you eat a slice first."
Sam laughed. "Deal. Now, why don't you go back in there and your Mom and I'll bring out some plates."
"Okay," Cassie relented. The tears in her eyes were already gone as she brushed past me.
I sighed and shook my head, running a hand through my hair. "God... That was fun."
Sam turned back to the cupboards, pulling three plates from the dish cabinet. "Could've been worse," she shrugged. "Why didn't you stop her? I mean, you knew the pizza was hot."
I frowned. "Stop her? I didn't realize what she was doing until the pizza was already in her mouth."
Sam pulled three forks from the flatware drawer and turned to face me. "You should've been watching her more carefully. What if she had gotten burned? What if she didn't want to eat because of that? Really, Janet... you have to keep an eye on them every second."
"Wait... this is *my* fault?!"
Sam blinked, then said, "It's no one's *fault,* Janet. Nothing bad happened, there's nothing wrong with her other than being a little scared. Just be more careful next time."
I could hardly contain myself. "Wait, wait, wait one second. Where do you get off telling me to be more careful?"
"Janet," the blonde said, a bit taken aback by my outburst. "I'm not the enemy. I'm just saying that Cassandra is new to this corner of the woods. We have to keep our eyes on her, twenty-four, seven. It's not your fault that she took a bite of the pizza. It's just..." She sighed, leaning against the counter. "You should've known that hot pizza would've burned her mouth. Wasn't it obvious how hot the pizza was?"
I stepped up to Sam, lowering my voice so Cassandra couldn't overhear. "Don't talk to me like I'm a five-year-old who let her brother play with matches. She took a bite of hot pizza. She burned the roof of her mouth. Big deal. We've all done it. Don't try to condescend me. I am supposed to be her mother, you are the houseguest. Don't tell me how to raise her."
Sam turned. "Why are you so angry?" She was leaning on the counter, keeping an eye on the door that led to the dining room. "Is it because she ran to me instead of you? Are you jealous or something?"
I glared at her, ready to rip her a new one, when I realized I had absolutely no argument. I released a breath and felt myself sagging. "I'm supposed to be her mother, Sam. When she burns her mouth, she's supposed to run to me." I brushed my hand across my cheek, then said, "I suppose it'll never be that way, huh?"
"Don't say that," Sam breathed. "I can tell she wants this. She wants life to be normal again. And normal doesn't constitute a mother who's constantly running off-world and staying away for days at a time. She doesn't want a mother who willingly puts herself on the front line of a war. She wants a loving, caring, emotional, there-for-her mom. That's you, Janet. It'll just take her time to realize that."
As I felt the heat of my anger dissipating, I found a new feeling replacing it. I wanted to be able to share this moment with Sam as more than a friend. I bit my lower lip and said, "Cassie's probably waiting for the plates. I'll grab the glasses."
Sam smiled and whispered, "Okay." She slipped past me and through the swinging door of the dining room. As soon as she was gone, I fell against the counter and covered my face with both hands. Holding back the tears I felt coming, I splashed my face with a little water and checked my makeup in the glass of the window over the sink. "Sam is your friend," I whispered to the ghostly image of myself reflected in the window. "Sam is your very heterosexual friend. Sam is never going to be your lover." Although my voice cracked on that final thought, I felt capable of containing myself for the length of one measly meal. I smoothed one hand over my blouse and pulled three glasses from the cabinet before slipping back into the dining room.
Sam looked up, smiling as she saw me. "Ah, there's the special lady."
My heart was pounding a staccato rhythm against my ribcage as I placed the glasses on the table and unscrewed the lid of the soda. I poured a glass and sat it in front of Cassandra, smiling and gently saying, "It's okay to take a drink of this right away. It won't burn you."
The girl smiled and took a sip. The fizz tickled her nose and I saw her smile at the sensation. As she placed the glass back on the table, she looked at me and shyly said, "Thanks, Mom."
My breath caught in my throat and I blinked. Mom. I composed myself and poured a glass of soda for Sam. As I set the glass down, she put her hand on top of mine and squeezed. I looked into her eyes and she grinned, mouthing 'Mom.' I smiled back, biting my lip as I poured my own drink. As I sat, Sam served two slices of pizza onto each plate and informed Cassandra of her options to eat with or without a fork. Once the explanation was done and the girl had opted for the silverware, we began to eat.
I was halfway through my first slice when Cassandra looked up and matter-of-factly asked, "If Janet is my Mom, does that make Sam my Dad?"
The problem with being the only doctor present was that I couldn't give myself the Heimlich.
I slumped into the only chair in my bedroom, the kind that had four wheels in a cross formation and a manueverable back. The back of the chair tilted as I leaned against it, allowing the spine of the seat to comfortably accommadate my position. I had left the overhead light off and sat in the darkness, contemplating Cassandra's seemingly-innocent question. Sam had answered with a patronizing smile. "No, honey, I'm not your Dad. I couldn't be your Dad because... well, your Mom and I are both women. Parents don't work like that here." Cassandra informed us that on Hanka, a child belonged mostly to a group of people who took responsibility for the upbringing of a child. I was a bit intrigued by this method of rearing an offspring, but was able to push it aside by focusing on my pizza.
Later, isolated in my bedroom, I was able to fully appreciate the benefits of this method of parenting. There were, of course, drawbacks. Like how could a girl, raised by an entire community for twelve years, adjust to the fact that she only had one parent, let alone adjust to obeying a single parent? How could I possibly compete with a town, for cryin' out loud?! I blinked and made a mental note to pick up a copy of "It Takes a Village" the next time I stopped at Borders.
My ergonomic chair was positioned in front of my mother's antique rolltop desk. I drummed my fingers on the curved face of the desk for a moment, then rolled over to my bedside table. The keys rested next to the novel I was halfway through and I picked them up before pushing myself back to the desk. I unlocked the top and pushed it up, clicking on the little desk lamp I kept inside. This desk was my last area of privacy, my sole fortress of solitude. Several blank sheets of paper lay in front of me, framed by an assortment of empty candy wrappers. Feeding my addiction, I dug into one of the drawers and produced a Mr. Goodbar.
As I unwrapped it with one hand (a skill I was unusually proud of), I pulled a sheet of paper from one of the shelves. I had folded it three times the night before and placed it on the secure shelf before going to bed. I broke off three squares of my candy, placing the remainder on the open wrapper as I unfolded the note I'd written to myself. Unlike most doctors, my handwriting was notoriously neat. I wrote in clear script... when I wanted to.
The note bore last night's date. I nibbled on my candy as I read the words I'd written almost twenty-four hours ago. The note started the same as all of them, the same opening since I was sixteen.
"I made it through another day. "Althought this one, I assure you, took some of it out of me. The girl we've been fighting to save will - miraculously - live. The item placed within her chest has dissolved to nothing and should remain harmless as long as she is kept away from the Stargate. She seems to be adjusting extremely well to life on Earth, considering what she's been through. Jack O'Neill purchased a puppy for her and, after many hours of debating, agreed to keep it at his house for the time being. I have enough houseguests as it is without complicating things. "Oh, I haven't told you about that, have I? It seems that in volunteering to take Cassandra under my wing, I've also invited Samantha Carter into my home. She promised me the duration of her stay will be one month and not a minute longer. How will I manage to survive this torture? Since my infatuation began, I've told myself that I will be fine as long as I only see her at work. I can handle it if I only see her at work. It won't be a problem as long as I only see her at work. "Why didn't I think of a Plan B?"
I sighed and refolded the note, preparing to add it to the pile of already finished notes. Unfortunately, that stack had taken up most of the alloted space. Sighing, I slipped it onto a new shelf.
I pulled a clean sheet in front of myself and picked up a pen, wetting the nib on my tongue as I began to write. "I made it through another day." As I finished writing the familiar phrase, I heard a gentle tapping at my door. I turned and saw Sam Carter peeking into the room. Her hand was over her eyes and she was smiling. "Are you decent?"
"Hardly ever," I chuckled, "But I am dressed."
She took her hand away and sighed, "Darn. Well, I guess I'll look anyway." She winked and continued, "I just wanted to tell you that dinner and the movie were both wonderful. I had a great time tonight."
Why was she doing this to me? "I had a-a great time, too."
She was leaning against the door, one hand on the knob and trying to think of something to say. I noticed her eyes drifting to the crinkled wrappers that littered the surface of the desk and quickly look away. My secret candy stash had been discovered. I leaned back in my chair and smiled. "Anything else?"
"Yeah. Um... the sheets in my room."
I nodded, waiting for her to continue. She didn't. I prodded, "Yeah?"
She shook her head, running a hand through her hair. "Uh... you know what? Forget it."
I was out of my chair and across the room before she could close the door. "No. What's wrong?"
Pursing her lips, she closed one eye and leaned against the door frame. I was close enough that I could've reached out and brushed away that hair that had gotten caught on her left eyelash. I could've. But I didn't. I stuck my right hand under my left arm and quietly began popping my knuckles to keep from succumbing to temptation. Sam finally relented. "Okay, uh... the sheets are white."
I gasped and stepped back. "Oh, my God! Why-why didn't you *say* something?!"
She smirked at me and said, "Ha. Ha. I know, it's stupid."
I chuckled. "What is it?"
"Ever since I was a kid, I've slept on-on blue sheets. It's no big deal, it's just... the only time I *don't* sleep on blue sheets is when I'm in the hospital or-or sleeping with someone else. Not that being in a hospital is a bad thing, you know, it's just..." She sighed and decided to forgo all explanations. She blinked and said simply, "I was just wondering if you had any blue sheets." She quickly added, "I mean, if you don't, that's fine, I just..."
I winked and said, "I have blue sheets on my bed. Wanna sleep with me?" I wished I had the dexterity to kick myself in the ass. It was impossible to gauge in the dim hallway, but I could've sworn Sam was blushing. I added, "Or, if that's too uncomfortable, we could switch sheets."
She winced. "I don't want to cause any trouble."
"No trouble. We have a little while before lights out anyway. I'll be happy to trade."
Grinning happily, Sam said, "Great. I hope you don't think I'm being an impossible house guest. It's just--"
"I totally understand," I assured her. "We'll get Cassie to sleep and then we'll do the trade-off. I'll even help you make the bed."
She smiled. I forced myself to look anywhere but her mouth. I failed. God, her smile.... She turned and disappeared down the hall, practically skipping down the stairs. I rested my head on the doorframe and grit my teeth. "I have blue sheets on my bed," I hissed, mocking myself. "Wanna sleep with me?" I closed the door and moved back to the desk, throwing myself into the seat. I clicked the pen three times, set it down, then picked it back up and clicked it open once more. Finally, I put the pen on the desktop and lowered the cover. It was the first time in almost fifteen years that I hadn't written a note to myself.
One of my favorite all-time movie scenes is the part in the movie when Elliot's mother is about to discover ET hiding in his room. She goes into the closet and scans the rows of his toys and the cutest ugly alien in the galaxy is stuck in the middle, trying his best to look like a doll. That's how Cassandra looked on her first night in her new bed... well, except for the ugly part, of course. Jack and Daniel had gone a little overboard trying to make the girl feel welcome and their various gifts lined the bed like an army of plush protectors. Sam had to lay a few on the floor to have room to sit. She brushed Cassandra's hair out of her face and said, "Are you sure you want 'em all on your bed like this? Might get a little crowded."
Cassandra snuggled up to a large brown bear. "I like them. They make me feel safe."
Sam smiled. "Okay. How's this? Tomorrow, we take one away... and the next day we take another one away. We keep doing that until you're left with your very favorite and he can keep you company as long as you want."
The girl smiled, then asked, "Well... what if I change my mind and want a different toy?"
"Then we switch protectors." She winked. "After all, everyone needs a night or two off." She kissed the girl on the forehead, then said, "Say goodnight to your Mom, 'kay?"
She stood, allowing me to occupy the vacant spot on the mattress. I felt like a second-string quarterback being called in to kick the final field goal. I smiled at the girl, then said, "I'm gonna be right down the hall, okay? If you get scared or need *anything*, just give me a call and I'll come running. Okay, honey?"
"Okay," Cassie said softly. "I'd like that." I was up off the bed, ready to celebrate my first real victory in parenting, when Cassandra said, "But... Sam will be closer, right?"
The question was like a million bee stings in the back of my neck. I half-turned, patting the girl's barely-visible hand. "Yeah, honey. Sam'll be closer." I blinked, then forced a smile. "You s-should probably just call for her."
I moved quickly to the door and slipped into the hall. Behind me, I heard Sam wish Cassie sweet dreams and the click off the light switch before I was aware of her joining me in the hall. The gentle click of the bedroom door alerted me to the fact that we were separated from her, so I released a breath I had been holding. Sam placed her hand on the small of my back and whispered, "Hey."
I turned, blinking away tears. "God, Sam... she'll never see me as her mother. It's useless." I felt something tickling my nose, right next to my eye. I didn't want to cry in front of the captain. I did *not* want to cry in front of the captain. I swallowed a lump in my throat and then, against my wishes, I began to cry in front of the captain. "I... Maybe she should just move in with you. I could be her nanny or something."
Sam stepped forward, threading her arms under mine and placing her hands on my shoulderblades. She pulled me against her, cradling me to her chest as she whispered, "Shh... it's okay, Janet. Everything will be fine." She brushed my hair and I felt myself calming. As the hurt faded, I became painfully aware of how close I was to the object of my affection. I stepped back, sniffing and brushing my hand against my cheek. Sam whispered, "It's only the first day, sweetheart. She'll come around. Notice she doesn't call *me* Mom?"
"Cause that's what you told her to call me," I said. The sharpness of my accusation was softened by the smile I wore. I sniffled once more, then said, "Thank you for your help. This would... would be hell without you."
She took my hand, rubbing the flesh between my thumb and forefinger with the pad of her thumb. "You know what I do in these situations?"
I didn't know when she'd ever been in a situation like this, but out of curiosity I shook my head no.
She smiled. "I trade sheets with my best friend."
I laughed, covering my mouth. I had completely forgotten about the blue sheets/white sheets situation. "Okay. No problem. Just, uh... go strip the bed and I'll bring my sheets in."
As she moved to the door of her bedroom, she rested against the door and struck a comicly seductive pose. She pursed her lips and said, "Ees ze bed all ju vant me to strip, Meester Bond?"
Despite myself, I chuckled. "Very funny, Anita Hotmuffin. Just get in there." I heard her laugh as she disappeared into the bedroom. I went into my own room and began to bundle the blankets up. The first day was almost over, I reminded myself. Twenty-nine to go...
I carried the sheets down the hall in a bundle over one arm. It had been a long time since I'd been up this late and I was on duty in about seven hours. I tapped on the door of Sam's room and slipped inside, immediately regretting the decision. The blonde had her back to me, turned towards the window. She had stripped out of her clothes and stood before me in a pair of cream-colored panties. She pulled an oversized t-shirt over her head and turned, tugging it into place. She smiled and said, "Ah, the blue sheets... I really owe you for this, Janet."
I moved towards the bed, forcing a smile as she removed the pillows and blankets, laying them on the floor next to the bed. I glanced back at her and noted her bare legs, hardly ever visible behind her countless uniforms, jumpsuits or jeans. "Ya know," I said, praying I sounded casual as I pulled the offending white sheets off the bed, "you really have great legs. You should wear more dresses."
She looked down at herself, then shrugged. "Really? I don't know... I've never really been a dress sorta girl. And what about you?" she said, indicating my own bare legs. I was wearing the boxer shorts I sometimes slept in and suddenly felt self-conscious. "You're one to talk about great gams."
I blushed and said, "I wear dresses all the time. Uniform, remember?" I stood and handed Sam the blue sheets. She began to dress the bed and I stepped back, using her distraction to admire her form as it moved under the tshirt. I decided a change of subject was in order. "So, is this what you sleep in off-world?"
She laughed, then straightened, looking down at her body. "Yeah, right. The guys would *love* that." She finished tucking the sheet under the mattress reached for the pillows. "There was one world that I nicknamed Sauna Planet... I took everything off and covered myself with a loose jumpsuit. But that was the night I slept away from the camp. Teal'c thought I was endangering myself, but--"
"You would've been in more danger sleeping next to Jack O'Neill."
Laughing, Sam pointed at her nose and said, "Exactly." I picked up the blanket and threw it on the bed, straightening the edges. When I finished, Sam sighed and said, "Well... I suppose I will see you in the morning... Mom."
The word still sounded weird to me. "Actually, you'll see me in the afternoon. I'm on duty at six."
"Ouch," she winced. "Well... have fun. I may do some cleaning since I'll be cooped up inside all day. Maybe show Cassandra around town and get her comfortable."
The thought of the two of them having free reign of my house felt a little uncomfortable. Not that I didn't trust Sam, it was just something I wasn't used to; coming home to someone. I raked my fingers through my hair and sighed, looking over the bed we'd made together. "Well, it won't pass an inspection, but it's good for sleepin'." I winked and said, "See you tomorrow, Sam."
"Night," she said. "Sweet dreams."
I waved over my shoulder as I slipped out of the room, closing the door behind me. I slumped against the doorframe and exhaled softly. When I got my legs back underneath my body, I made my way down the hall and returned to the sanctuary of my bedroom. The clock read 11:34. Day one was still a half-hour from being over. How could I possibly survive a whole month?
My sleep had been filled with unbidden fantasies starring Samantha Carter. I tossed and turned most of the night, constantly waking myself after the tremendously erotic dreams reached their - pardon the pun - climax. At a quarter of four, I climbed out of bed and stripped out of my sweat-soaked nightclothes. Nude, I walked to the bathroom sink and turned on the vanity lights, examining my tired visage in the mirror. I brushed my hair with my fingers, attempting to loosen curls and straighten knots that I had acquired during the sleepless night I had just endured. I straightened, holding my long hair on top of my head with both hands and turned to examine myself in profile.
My skin was glistening in the dim light, an side effect of the passionate dreams that had roused me from slumber. The fact that my nipples were standing at attention indicated another by-product of the fantasies. I let my hair fall, watching as my face was obscured by the too-long locks. I smiled at myself from behind the bangs, then moved into the bathroom for a shower. Any hope for sleep was gone.
I pushed aside the smoked-glass of the shower door and climbed inside, instantly turning the cold knob all the way on. Frigid water pounded against my flesh, chilling me to the core. I sighed and rolled my head on my shoulders, closing my eyes as I turned my back to the faucet. The water felt so good... heavenly. Absently, I turned and caught some water in my hands, gently rubbing my breasts.
Soft hands pressed against my back and slid upward, resting on my shoulders as a familiar voice whispered, "Would you like me to do your back?"
I pressed back into Sam Carter's nude body, feeling the weight of her breasts against my skin. "That would be great," I whispered. Her hands slipped under my arms as they had in the hallway, only this time she was reaching from behind. She held my large breasts in her hands, the pebbled nipples pressing into her palms. I smiled and arched my back, filling her hands completely. She squeezed. I moaned.
She released me with one hand and I felt her fingers traveling down to my stomach. My heartrate began to climb, reaching astronomical levels. As I felt her hand rest upon the patch of brown hair between my legs, I became aware that my face was very cold. I pushed the thought away, wondering how that could possibly be prudent now that my dreams were all coming true. My eyes opened. All my dreams, coming true?
I was sitting on the small stool built into the shower stall, my legs spread and my hand resting between them. The water pouring down from the faucet was splashing coldly against my face and I grimaced, reaching over and turning the spray off. My fingers and toes were all pruned and I was shivering in the cold bathroom. Rubbing my face, I pondered standing and leaving the bathroom, toweling off and heading downstairs. But I knew that any attempts to get ready would be thwarted.
Defeated, I leaned back and rested against the cold wall of the shower as my hand returned to it's task. Minutes later, I needed another shower.
A few hours later, I was safe behind my desk. SG-6 wasn't due to report in until 1300, so I had some time to kill while I waited for the inevitable physicals that were necessary to clear them. At least today didn't have anything SG-1-related. I tried to relax myself by filling out mundane reports, examining the results of several tests I'd run, then checked my watch. Still an hour before the team's scheduled return. I reclined in my chair, contemplating raising my feet onto my desk. No, I told myself, that would be too relaxed and I would risk falling asleep once more. After the excitement with Cassandra, the hassle of moving her in and the unwanted dream marathon last night, I was seriously worn out.
I kicked off the dreadful shoes they made me wear on duty and crossed my legs, pulling my foot up and gently massaging the sole. I closed my eyes, allowing the wonderful sensations my fingers were making to lull me into a sort of stupor. My fingers trailed up along the line of my toes and then down to tickle the firm flesh of my heel. I sighed, using the thumbs of both hands to rub the middle of my foot.
"Would you like me to rub higher?"
I jumped, looking down at the blonde kneeling before me. "Sam?! What are... what are you doing here? I thought you were home with Cassandra?"
Sam rose so that we were face-to-face. "I couldn't stay away from you, Janet," she whispered, her voice husky with desire. She stroked my face, tenderly tucking a strand of hair behind my ear. She leaned forward and said, "I need you." Her lips briefly met mine and she moaned, "I need you... now. Dr. Fraiser. Dr. Fraiser, I need you."
My heart was pounding. "Call me Janet," I pleaded.
"Okay," said the confused orderly standing in the door of my office. "I need you... Janet."
I sat up in my chair, eyes immediately popping open. Shit! How much had this guy seen? I straightened my clothing, happy to see that my foot had returned to the floor after I fell asleep. I blinked several times, trying to make my office come into focus, then rubbed my eyes with the heels of my hands. "Okay, uh... what's the problem?"
"SG-6 came back early with injuries. Captain McIntire is hurt pretty badly."
I exhaled slowly and pulled my shoes on. "Thanks... I'll be there in a minute." He started to disappear, but I called after him, "And go back to Dr. Fraiser!" He waved his assent through the window as he hurried back to the infirmary. I fell into my chair, slumping over and resting my head on the desk. One month. Four weeks. Thirty days. However you phrased it, it was an eternity.
I dropped my keys on the desk next to the front door and released a heavy sigh. It appeared as if SG-6 had stumbled upon a Goa'uld trap. Captain McIntire had eventually died from his injuries and the leader of the team was under observation in the infirmary. Then, during the drive home, the heavy black clouds that had been hovering over Colorado Springs began to deliver fat raindrops on my windshield. All in all, an awful day in my private little world. Sam's motorcycle hadn't been visible in the driveway, so I assumed she and Cassie were off doing something together. Hopefully somewhere indoors, judging by the weather. I poked my head into the living room, making sure I was alone. The vaccum cleaner stood in the center of the room and I recalled Sam's offer to clean a little while she was 'cooped up all day.' I wasn't sure whether to appreciate the offer or be offended by the need for her to offer. I decided that appreciating it caused me less work.
I untucked my blouse from my skirt as I headed up the stairs, wishing I had some sort of elevator or escalator to take me to my bathroom. Stairs were just too complicated for situations such as this. I had the top two buttons of my uniform blouse undone when I pushed open my bedroom door... and froze. My heart stopped beating. The color drained from my face. Time slowed to a standstill as I tried to comprehend the scene in front of me.
The front of the rolltop desk - my santuary - was rolled up, exposing my privacy.
The candy wrappers that I had collected on the desktop were all gone.
And Samantha Carter was sitting in my chair. My personal, private chair.
And she was reading my notes.
The notes that described my love for her. The notes that I had poured my heart into. The notes that I used to express my inner most thoughts. The notes that I had never meant for anyone other than myself to read. She was reading my *notes*. I somehow found my voice and managed to snap, "Sam?!"
She looked up, blue eyes wide as she realized she had been busted. "Oh."
Time stood still for that moment. I had two options; turn and run, pretend that I had never been here and ignore this had happened. Or, I could stay and see this crisis through.
Against my better judgement, I stayed.
"Oh?!" I snapped. "That's all you have to say?" I stormed across the room and pulled the notes from her hand, using my fingers to crumple them. "How dare you invade my privacy like that?!"
She stood, her eyes wide with fear. "Janet, please... just-just let me explain, okay? Last night when I came in here and asked about the sheets, I noticed all the candy wrappers on your desk. I thought since I was cleaning up anyway, I might as well tidy this up, too." She looked down at her hands, nervously wringing them together. "I honestly didn't think you'd be mad."
During her explanation, we had danced in a circle. She was now closer to the bedroom door and I was standing guard in front of my desk. "You didn't think I'd be... how did you find the key?"
Her brow furrowed momentarily. "K-key? It wasn't-wasn't locked. I... I didn't need a key."
I kicked myself. The chaos last night around Cassie and the whole sheet fiasco had distracted me. Damn it, all those months of being careful and I throw it all away on the first night it was at risk. I decided to do damage control and took a deep breath, closing my eyes. "How much did you read?"
"Just the first couple," she assured me. "I swear, just those two or three you have in your hand. I saw how disorganized it was... I wanted to tidy it up a bit."
I was seething, but eager to see how much she had discovered. I lifted my hand to my lips and anxiously chewed on my thumbnail. "Could you... leave me alone for a while? Please?"
She nodded quickly and backed out of the room, closing the door behind her. Once I was alone again, I dropped into my chair and began pouring over the notes I held. The first was safe enough, describing my first day at the SGC and the wonder I had felt upon seeing the Stargate in operation. No big deal. I tossed it aside and read the next one. I gasped; the first note about Sam. I turned my chair slowly around and placed it flat on the surface of the desk. I swallowed, the sound loud in my ears as I began to read what Sam had just learned.
"I made it through another day. "After the initial shock wore off, I was amazed to discover the utter *normalcy* I was encountering. People were laughing, gossiping, eating dinner, telling jokes just levels away from where a portal across the galaxy was opening and closing. People were acting as if this was *normal*. Yesterday I had learned that this was a spectacular place; little did I realize how spectacular the people working here had to be. I mean, to be entrusted with knowledge of this magnitude?! It's awe-inspiring. "And speaking of awe-inspiring, I forgot to mention that I think I may have met the person who will be the death of me. Eyes I can feel I could swim in forever... a smile that makes me go weak in the knees... I've never had this kind of reaction to someone upon meeting them; always been a firm believer that love at first sight was something of fairy tales. I mean, I had never really felt my heart flutter at the sight of Michael, but I suppose that's why we're exes, huh? But... there's something special going on here. I can feel that this is different. I guess I can only hope this is a simple infatuation. It's a little crush that will pass with time. "I'm hoping..."
I took a breath and reread the entire note. Nothing incriminating. I hadn't written her name or even her hair or eye color. I hadn't inadvertantly mentioned her gender or rank. I turned the page and began to read the third and final note. The one that would decide my life and death. I swallowed and began to read...
"I made it through another day. "And what did I learn today? It's not a simple infatuation. My mind was centered on one thing and one thing only today. I actually told Colonel O'Neill that his period was overdue. He had a good laugh at that; I didn't. If I can't be trusted to keep my mind straight, I may just have to request reassignment. Of course the thoughts wouldn't stop. It would just make the unattainable seem all the more romantic. So I can't just... run away. There has to be an easier answer. "Of course, I could always go back to Michael and do the 'homemaker, barefoot-and-pregnant' thing that he was so fond of. Yeah, right. And maybe I'll sprout wings out of my butt and fly to Abydos. "I have to deal with this. This relationship - however right it may seem in my head - is impossible, inconceivable, out of the question, unthinkable... Maybe I can have some sort of-of a placebo relationship. Find someone I can have a relationship with and get my jollies there. The consequences would be less and I wouldn't have my mind filled with all these other thoughts. "But do I have the right to do that with someone? Not to sound conceited, I doubt anyone going out with me would be able to be completely emotionless about it. Do I have the right to play with someone's heart like that, just because I'm a little uncomfortable? "The answer is no. It won't be so bad, I guess... After writing all of this, I think that I'm actually starting to free up some of my higher brain functions. No more unwanted thoughts swimming through, no more fantasies. As long as our contact remains strictly professional, this will be a piece of cake. "Give me six months, this whole thing will be a relic."
I leaned back in my chair, exhaling sharply. I had been in denial. That was the only possible conclusion for leaving out her name or sex. Thank heaven for little favors. I pulled all the notes from the shelf (Sam was right, it *did* look bad) and refolded them, slipping them into a small, locked drawer. I placed the keys in my pocket and closed the front of the rolltop desk. So... Sam hadn't discovered my dark little secret and I had just yelled at her and thrown her out of my bedroom. Damage control was necessary. Slowly, I pushed myself up and moved to the door of the bedroom.
Sam was sitting on the couch, her long legs pulled up underneath her. Her hands were laying palm-up in her lap. The overhead light was still off and she was sitting in the silence, staring down at her hands. I approached slowly, trying my best to look appropriately contrite. I cleared my throat, then weakly smiled. "Hey, Sam."
She folded her hands together and looked up at me. Her blue eyes appeared to be fighting tears as she said, "Janet. I am so... so sorry."
I lowered myself onto the cushion next to her, tucking one leg underneath myself. "Don't worry about it. I was just... No one other than me has ever read those letters. No one even knew they existed. I was just shocked to see you reading them." I took her hand and squeezed. She winced, turning her gaze down to our hands. "It's okay, honey. I'm not mad."
"N-No... it's not that. My hand..." I released her hand and looked down. Three red lines ran from the base of her thumb to the bottom of her middle finger. I gasped, eyes widening as I gazed at the pink flesh surrounding the narrow cuts. "Oh, my God! What happened?!"
She smiled shyly, then pulled her hand back. "W-when you pulled the letters away. It kinda... gave me a little papercut." She shrugged, smiling painfully. "It's no big deal. Just stings a little."
I stood, gripping her wrist. "Come with me... I have some antibacterial in the bathroom."
She tried to pull away, but I had a small advantage since she was sitting. She was on her feet and following me out of the room by the time she finally said, "It's no big deal. I'll just put a Band-Aid on it when I get the time."
I spun around, fixing my best doctor face on her. "I am a doctor. I am also now a mother. And I caused this injury." I smiled sweetly and said, "I win. C'mon... let me make up for yelling at you. Please?"
She sighed and looked at her hand. "It's really not that bad."
"Ha!" I said, leading her up the stairs. "A trio of inch-long papercuts on her palm and she says it's not that bad. You, Samantha Carter, are a doctor's nightmare." And this particular doctor's wet-dream. I blinked. Who let *that* thought in? I pulled her up the stairs, hearing her chuckle as she was pulled by her arm like a five-year-old. I turned and smiled. "Making a patient laugh through the pain. The sign of a great doctor."
The captain's voice was soft when she said, "You are a great doctor." I paused and she said, "Every one at the SGC is glad you're here. I mean... we're not glad that Dr. Lee died, but we're glad everything worked out for the best. You're great at what you do and you make everyone feel a little safer. Before, you couldn't drag Colonel O'Neill to the infirmary for his pre-mission exam."
I slowly pivoted on my heel to face her, my eyes wet with tears. Finally, I found my voice and said, "Why... why did you just tell me all of that?"
She shrugged. "You should hear it every now and then." She looked down at her hand and inhaled sharply. "And I look forward to some of that TLC... it's starting to throb pretty badly."
The tender moment aside, I remembered the 'emergency' at hand, so to speak, and led my patient into the bathroom. I pulled open the drawer and she asked, "Since I said all those nice things about you, will you leave out the part where you pour the stinging hot alcohol on my hand?"
Laughing evilly, I cocked one eyebrow and said, "Hardly."
I pulled the tall brown bottle from the cupboard and set it on the sink, patting the countertop and motioning for Sam to jump up on it. She obeyed and settled in, leaning back against the mirror. As I unscrewed the cap of the alcohol, she said, "My mom used to sing to me when she fixed my owies."
"Owies?" I asked, wetting a cotton ball. "What did she sing?"
A shrug. "Songs."
"A wisegal," I muttered. I sighed, and placed one hand on my hip and held the cotton ball up. A smile crept across my features as I lowered the ball to her cuts. Trying desperately to stay in tune, I sang, "Ring, my friend I say you call Dr. Robert."
Sam smiled and closed her eyes as I touched the cotton ball to her cut. She joined in, "Day or night, he'll be there any time at all, Dr. Robert."
Together, we continued to tortue John and Paul's tune as I cleansed the wounds. Sam completed the verse herself as I lifted her hand, gently blowing across the palm. She shivered on the countertop as I blew across her hand, prompting unwanted images to pop into my head. I lowered her hand, keeping it flat as I pulled a roll of gauze out of the cupboard. I tore the sterile wrapper off and gently applied it to her hand, wrapping it around the heel of her palm and using a square of tape to hold it in place. She looked down, smiling at my care. "Perfect," she said. "And it didn't hurt a bit."
"I'm saving the painful medical care for the infirmary." I winked and said, "Hop on down, you're finished here."
"Thanks, Doc," she said, "I owe ya my life."
I winked and flicked an imaginary cigar, doing my awful Groucho Marx impression as I said, "Your life? That's nothin' compared to what I charge."
Sam chuckled, raising an eyebrow. "First the Beatles, now Groucho... isn't there a law against destroying two classics in one day?"
Shrugging, I said, "I won't tell if you won't."
We stood in the bathroom for a moment, Sam tenderly rubbing the white material covering her cuts. "Thanks, Janet. It already feels better." She leaned forward and brushed her lips across my cheek before she slipped out of the bathroom. I blinked, trying to tell myself it was an innocent little peck. Just a sign of affection between very close friends.
I fell against the sink, my hand gravitating towards my cheek. The spot of skin her lips had touched was now burning, as if touched by a match. I felt like a schoolgirl with a crush on her best friend. I composed myself before I left the bathroom, resisting an urge to touch my cheek again.
I woke suddenly from my dreamless sleep, shaken out of unconsciousness by a sudden clap of thunder that sounded like it was right outside my window. I sat up and rubbed my eyes, looking around the bedroom before I realized that - despite the darkness - it was still early and I hadn't eaten dinner yet.
I changed into a pair of faded jeans and an old Air Force Academy sweatershirt before going back downstairs. As I returned to the living room, I noticed the lights were on and Sam was standing at the window, peering out onto the lawn. The outside light was also burning, illuminating the heavy drops as they pelted the green grass of my lawn. She shivered and turned, smiling when she saw me. "Mornin', sleepyhead," Sam joked. "I was thinkin' about what we could do tonight." She motioned over her shoulder and lamented, "Looks like anything outdoors is out of the question. What should we do with ourselves?"
She had also changed clothes; she was wearing a pair of blue sweatpants and what appeared to be an old uniform shirt. I swallowed, eyeing the bare flesh I spotted between the buttons of the blouse and turned away. Trying to explain why I had averted my gaze, I motioned at the stairs and asked, "Well... shouldn't Cass get a say?"
"Actually," Sam said, "Cassandra isn't here. Colonel O'Neill and Daniel came by a few hours ago to get her for the night. The colonel said he was gonna teach her about real things like baseball and fishing before we turned her into too much of a girl."
"The nerve of that man," I sighed, faking irritation. In truth, I was glad to have the night off. The rigors of raising a pre-teen had been a bit much for me. I could use the extra night to myself for regrouping, make a fresh start in the morning. "When will she be back?"
"We're due at the mountain at six. He'll probably drop her off then, if he's even awake."
I hooked my thumbs in the belt loops of my jeans and stretched, rolling my shoulders back and unconsciously stretching my breasts against the material of my sweatshirt. "Well... the night is young. What do you suggest we do?"
Sam's eyes twinkled. "Beer, Chinese and a movie."
"You've been thinking about this, haven't you?" I accused.
The shy smile told me I was right. She shrugged and said, "I've been thinking about it since the guys came and picked Cassie up. So, whaddaya say? Want me to call Tokahana's and order in or do you want to go out?"
Go out... in other words, drag my tired ass back upstairs, get dressed *again* and leave the house for something FAR too much like a date for comfort. "Why don't you call Tokahana? Make sure to get me two eggrolls and the Number Ten." I started towards the kitchen. "I'll grab the beers from the fridge." We passed each other as Sam moved towards the phone and I hazarded a glance at her hand. The gauze was wrinkling slightly in the palm and would be impossible to bear when the usage chopsticks were involved. "Whoa, hold on," I said, stopping her.
She turned, raising an eyebrow as I lifted her hand. I tenderly peeled away the white material and gazed at the pale flesh below. "Does this feel all right?" I asked, pressing slightly on the blonde's hand. She shrugged and nodded, so I pulled the rest of the bandage off. "It'll probably be a little tender, but I think it'll be easier when it comes to eating." I smiled and said, "Now, order. Two eggrolls, Number Ten."
I slipped into the dark kitchen, pulling open the door to the fridge and salvaging two of the remaining five Budweisers. As I straightened, I noticed Sam had appeared in the kitchen. I smiled, leaving the fridge door open so we weren't completely engulfed in darkness. "Hey, there. You already call Tokahana?"
She stepped closer. "No," she whispered. Her voice was strangely husky.
"Are you all right, Sam?"
She shook her head. "I haven't been all right since I met you, Janet Fraiser. I read those wonderful things you wrote about me in your notes. I've felt the same way for so long... I can't hold myself back any more. Take me, Janet. I want to lay you down and make sweet love to you until dawn." She licked her lips. "I'm sorry I didn't say anything sooner, sweetheart. It's just that I can't believe... you wanted me, too eggrolls."
I frowned. "What was that?"
"I said I can't believe you wanted two eggrolls," Sam said, suddenly transported all the way back to the doorway of the kitchen. She was holding my wireless phone in her hand. "I *hate* those things."
My mind was reeling. I closed the door to the fridge and walked towards her. "Right, uh... I guess they're just an acquired taste." I handed her one of the beer bottles and went into the living room, glancing at the clock as I passed. 9:43. "Wow. Does Tokahana's deliver this late?"
Sam shrugged and lowered herself onto the couch. "Apparently. But we should probably give the poor kid a pretty good tip." She indicated the storm outside the window. I momentarily considered taking a seat across the room, but decided I was being silly and sat next to the blonde captain. She rested her head on her hand and said, "So... you seemed lost in thought in there. What were ya thinkin' about?"
"Nothing. Just trying to remember where the other bottles of this vanished to," I explained, waving the bottle of beer.
She smiled sheepishly. "Oh. That... I drank one around three and gave a couple to Jack and Daniel for later. Hope you don't mind."
"Not at all," I said. "I was just worried that Cassie might've taken them."
She laughed out loud at that, covering her mouth with one hand. "Oh, my God... can you imagine General Hammond's face?! 'Well, Sir, the second day of my guardianship, I became aware of Cassandra's alcoholism.' He would tear us both a new one if that happened." She brushed her hair out of her face and sighed, examining her socks. After a few minutes of silence, she said, "This is really nice."
I nodded slowly. "Yeah."
Silence again. If Sam were male, I know exactly what I would've done in this situation. Passionate kisses, forgotten Chinese food, shedding clothes to the sounds of the rain on the roof... making love until we collapsed from exhaustion. I watched her as she watched her feet, letting my eyes feast on the gentle slope of her forehead, the moist curve of her lower lip, her eyelashes that seemed almost feather-light as they drifted downward. Sam cocked her head to one side, propping her arm on the back of the sofa and resting her head on her fist.
Finally, I decided to break the silence. "Did they say how long it'd be?" My voice sounded unusually jarring in the tomb-like silence of the living room.
Sam checked her watch. "About fifteen more minutes," she said. "'Course, you gotta give him a few minutes for the rain."
"Right," I nodded. Before allowing silence to reign once again, I sighed and ran my fingers through my hair. "This is nice."
Sam smirked. "I already said that."
Busted. I shrugged and said, "Well, one of us had to say *something.*" I leaned back against the sofa and stared at the ceiling. "Cassandra is going to think she was adopted by the most boring family in the galaxy."
Sam laughed at that and said, "No, she won't."
"Of course she will!" I joked. "We can't even wait for Chinese food without running out of things to say."
I felt Sam's hand on mine and I looked down at it, eventually looking up into her eyes. She smiled sweetly and said, "I actually kind of thought it was one of those 'comfortable silences' I keep hearing about. I know I never had one with Jonas or... anybody." She grinned, pressing her tongue against her teeth before continuing. "But I feel comfortable not saying anything with you."
I smiled and patted her hand. "I feel comfortable not saying anything with you, too." I chuckled at the strangeness of that comment, then settled in against the cushions.
We sat there for a few minutes, simply waiting in silence. The old house creaked several times under the assault of the storm, several rafters in the attic moaning like elderly men as they adjusted. The rain steadily slapped against the window and I could see the constant stream flowing through the beam of the back porch light.
As I followed the advice of an old song and listened to the rhythm of the falling rain, I thought back to my fantasy of Sam in the kitchen. If the fantasies started surfacing while I was awake, I was done for. Of course, this really didn't count as I was utterly exhausted. I decided to only worry if it happened after I had gotten my full-night's beauty sleep.
A dripping, irate, soaked to the bone eighteen-year-old appeared on my doorstep a half hour later, holding three bags with the word "TOKAHANA!!" marked on the sides. He handed over the bags, then said, "Total comes to $17.54, plus tip."
Ballsy little jerk, I thought, pulling a twenty from my wallet and handing it over to him. Against my better judgement, I pulled another five out and handed it to him. He handed over the food, his eyes momentarily brightening when he saw the size of his gratuity. He pocketed it and headed down the steps, turning his collar to the rain. I carried the food back through the house, smelling the wonderful aroma of steaming hot shrimp, rice, chicken and broccoli. The scent was more than enough to make my mouth water as I placed the bags on the table in front of the sofa.
Sam eagerly sat forward, pulling open the closest bag and removing a small styrofoam holder. She popped it open and placed it on the table, proclaiming, "Eggrolls."
We had both gotten the Number Ten, as it turned out, so I just handed her one of the white boxes and kept one for myself as I headed to the kitchen. "You want a plate or a fork?"
A moment passed as she considered, and then, "Both, please."
I slipped into the kitchen, returning an instant later with two plates and two forks. Sam hungrily popped open her container and found her chopsticks, apparently deciding to forgo the fork until later. I, on the other hand, immediately employed the silverware and speared a steaming wedge of chicken. I inhaled the sweet, sweet scent before popping it into my mouth. As I rolled the succulent meat around on my tongue, I realized I hadn't eaten since... God! Since the pizza last night! I hungrily found three more hunks of chicken and shoveled them into my mouth.
Sam smiled at me as she slowly worked her chopsticks around a pale piece of shrimp. I caught her stealing glances and muttered through a mouthful of food, "What?"
With a quick shake of her head, she said, "Nothing. It's just that," she swallowed whatever she had just taken a bite of and dabbed her mouth quickly. "Under any other circumstances, I'd consider this a date. A very successful date, but a date nonetheless."
I was speechless. My mouth dropped open. I couldn't believe what she had just said. I could still feel the food on my tongue, which meant I must've been quite a sight.If she could've seen me, there's no doubt she would've laughed. But seeing me wasn't a problem... the storm had just knocked out all the power to my house.
We were in the dark.
Sam was reclining on the couch, her head resting on her arm and her knees bent. I was facing her in the same position, our feet lining up on the center cushion. Sam's half-empty beer bottle rested on the back of the couch and I was balancing the styrofoam container holding my eggrolls on my lap. Four vanilla-scented candles sat on the coffee table, the flickering light dancing across Sam's face. I recalled her earlier comment about this being like a date. A "successful date," in her own words. Any man who treated me like this would definitely end up in my bedroom.
I mentally slapped myself. Stop thinking like that, Fraiser.
She was wiggling her toes in the socks, the motion making her brush against my feet. Playing along, I brushed back with my bare toes. Sam chuckled and covered my feet with her own, taking a sip of her beer. "Thanks for staying up with me," she said, wiping her mouth on her sleeve. "I've just never liked going to bed when the electricity is off."
"Well... can only sleep on blue sheets, can't sleep without a night light... I'm learning all kinds of things about you."
She laughed and said, "I didn't say anything about a nightlight, Janet. It's just... the room will be absolutely dark. No ambient light, no... anything. I can't sleep in absolute silence and absolute darkness." She shrugged. "Sometimes I play the radio until I fall asleep. Stuff like that."
I nodded. "Well, when we do finally decide to call it a night, I have a little battery-powered radio that you can borrow."
My eyes were suddenly drawn to her hand. She was holding the beer bottle steady with one hand while the middle finger of her was tracing the mouth. She completed a few circles around the lip and then dipped inside, gently probing before extracting her finger and raising it to her lips. She slowly licked it dry, swirling the tip of her tongue around the fingertip before repeating the process. The motion of her finger reminded me of something else she could be doing with that hand... using the same motions.
I swallowed sharply, looking into her eyes. She was staring intently at the flickering candles on the table. She seemed hypnotized by the dancing flame, unaware of what she was doing with her hands. I licked my lips and cleared my throat. "So, uh... any interesting developments with missions?"
She shrugged. "Daniel is inspecting some ruins tomorrow on a new world. If all goes well, we may get called for a short mission." She looked up. "Oh... that would be okay, right? I mean, if not, I could tell Colonel O'Neill that--"
I held up a hand to stop her. "It'll be fine. Assuming I don't cause Cassandra to run away in your absence."
Chuckling, she patted my foot. "You are going to be fine, Janet," she promised. "In fact, maybe my leaving will show her how much she'll have to depend on you."
"Have to," I scoffed. "Glad to know we're forcing her."
Sam sombered. "Janet, of all the people who have the clearance and of all the people who might offer to take the girl in, I can't imagine anyone who would care more for her than you. You love that girl more than life... which is pretty 'Mom,' if you ask me." She reached across the couch and took my hand. "She's having kind of a rough time adjusting. After a couple of weeks, she'll realize just how much you care for her. Everything will be fine, Janet."
I blinked, wondering why I was crying. "Thank you, Sam," I managed.
We sat in silence, staring at the candles. It was odd how hypnotizing they were; the dancing of the flame, the curling ribbon of the smoke ascending towards the ceiling, the liquidation of the wax surrounding the wick. Sam began speaking quietly, "I remember when I was seven... my family was staying in a cabin in Toronto. The electricity was a luxury that Dad said we didn't need, so every night we would eat by candlelight." A vague smile crossed her face. "The last night... the last time we went up there with Mom, she forced Dad to pay the extra money for the electricity. He gave in and we had lights and," she laughed, "that was the most god-awfully ugly cabin I'd ever seen."
She covered her face, falling back against the couch. "I mean, it didn't seem so bad in daylight because-because there weren't many windows. But when we turned on the lights, that place was so *drab*!" She wiped her eyes. "That night, we ate dinner with candles anyway. It felt right... normal." She picked at the edge of her sweatpants. "After Mom died, we stopped going up there. Just... too painful."
I was awestruck. Samantha Carter, spilling the beans about personal history. I blinked and said, "Wow. I-I didn't know your Mom died early. I'm so sorry."
She shook her head. "It... was a long time ago," she smiled, staring into the candles. "I'm kinda glad the power went out. The candles bring up good memories."
With a shrug, I said, "Well... we could keep them lit for the duration of your stay. It would sure cut down on my electric bill for the month." I rested my head on the back of the sofa. "Truthfully, I am a little surprised that you shared so much about yourself. Usually, you're all business."
The blonde avoided my gaze, looking instead at the darkness surrounding us. Finally, she whispered, "I felt I owed you something. I mean, I invaded your privacy and learned some... intimate things about you, so I thought it was only fair."
Damn it. I could've gone the entire night without her bringing up those damn letters. Hell, I could've gone the rest of my life. "Don't worry about it. I looked over what you read and... there was nothing *too* incriminating in them." I winked. "I didn't start writing about my *real* secrets until later."
"Well..." She looked like a kid who was about to reveal she had gotten a bad grade in school. "I think I actually might have read something important."
My heart began to pound. "Oh?" I managed.
She turned to face me. "Look, I-I know it's none of my business, but I think you should go for it." I was confused, but she didn't give me any time to question. "This-this attraction you have. I know how it feels to go absolutely nuts for someone and always wonder what they felt. It may be hard to actually bring it up... but it's torture to never know." She looked down at her hands. "W-when you ask, you have closure. You know one way or the other. If you keep it inside, it pops up every now and again and nags at your conscience. Trust me."
I couldn't belive her candor. Turn off the lights and her soul becomes attached to a faucet. "It's not exactly that simple," I whispered. "There are rules involved. Regulations that would be broken."
"Aw, to hell with regulations!" she snapped. "Love is love and regulations are regulations. Never the twain shall meet. Let me ask you something; are you close with this person?"
"Extremely," I said, telling the truth both physically and emotionally as one of her hands was still resting on my foot.
"And is there a chance he feels the same way about you?"
*He,* I mentally grumbled. "I doubt it."
Sam sighed. "Janet, it's me." My eyes widened. Did she know?! "You can tell me anything." I held back my sigh of relief as she continued, "You're gorgeous. You're intelligent. You're fun to be with... Hell, I pretended to worry about Cassandra just so I could move in with you for a month." She winked, letting me know she was kidding on the last point. "Any man at the base would be lucky to have you."
But would any *woman*? That was the question. I pulled the eggroll carton off my lap and said, "Well... I think I'm gonna head on upstairs to bed. Do you need anything before I go?"
"No, I think I'll join you."
I winced. God, why did she have to make this so *hard*?! I headed up the stairs, acutely aware of the blonde following close behind. When we reached the landing, I turned and smiled. "Have a nice night, Sam. Sweet dreams." She leaned forward and gently pecked my cheek. I bit my lip, turning my head so she couldn't see. I hated how casual the kiss was between us... I wanted to press her against the wall and pin her body with mine as we explored each other's mouths with--
Erotic thoughts not helping, I decided. Sam turned and disappeared into her bedroom. I turned and slowly crossed the hall to my bedroom, glancing back once before I moved into the darkness.
At first, I wondered if I was awake or not.
The clock radio across the room usually broke the darkness by informing me of the time. The television had a red stand-by light that was visible from my position in the bed. Neither was shining in the darkness. Eventually, however, my eyes began to adjust to the darkness and I could make out the vague silhouettes of my furniture. I sat up, pulling the pillow to my chest to avoid the chill in the air. Damn air conditioning wasn't working due to the blackout. I tapped around on the nightstand until I found the small Indiglo clock that I had for these occasions and pressed the button. 2:15.
Having deciphered everything about my environment, one last mystery remained. What had pulled me from my first dreamless slumber in almost a week? I scanned the room, but nothing seemed out of place. I listened intently, but heard nothing that would indicate someone moving around downstairs. Finally, I threw the blanket aside and threw my legs over the side of my large bed. As my feet hit the floor, I heard the sound again. I froze and listened, but the sound had stopped once more. I rose off the bed, trying to be as quiet as possible as I moved to the closet and withdrew my robe.
I was only wearing a faded tank top and a pair of pajama pants, therefore wouldn't present that much of a threat to any intruder. A search for a weapon would take too long and be too noisy in the quiet, so I quietly opened my bedroom door and stepped into the dark hallway empty-handed.
Nothing moved downstairs. No flashlight beams danced across the walls. Halfway down the stairs, I decided that if Colonel O'Neill was playing a prank on me, I would find a reason - any reason - to give the man my most thorough physical. Thoughts of revenge dancing through my head, I slipped into the living room. The candles stood on the coffee table, still lit and melted down to almost nothing. I quickly moved to them and blew them out, worrying about a fire. As I straightened, I realized the error; if there was an intruder, they definitely knew they weren't alone.
Moving quickly but silently, I crossed between the couch and the coffee table and knelt next to the recliner. Nothing was moving. Whoever it was, they were sneaky. Rain was still falling outside, drops spattering against the window. For a moment, I considered that the sound that had woke me up was as innocent as a clap of thunder. But I had gone too far; no way would I be able to get back to sleep now without completely checking this out.
I walked to the door of the kitchen, stepping into the room and boldly asking, "Who's there?" I was surprised; my voice was strong even though my hand was trembling. No one answered. Of course they didn't... what would they say, 'Oop, you got me! I was just going through your valuables, but I can see I'm busted. Please, use my cell phone to call the police.' I walked to the counter and pulled open one of the drawers, pulling out a large flashlight. In addition to being a steady light source, it was big enough to cause a concussion if used against a bad guy.
The bright beam of the light caused me to wince. I swept the light across the kitchen, not confronted with any horrible monsters ready to pounce. No men clad in black sweaters and masks lurked in the corners. Finally, I turned and left the kitchen, flashlight hanging at my side. As I headed for the stairs, I lifted the tool and used my fingers to gauge the size. Hmm. If it didn't do it's job as a weapon and if I didn't need any light... it was just about the right size to be useful in another way.
Eager to get back to my bedroom where I could employ the device, I hurried down the hall. I was almost to the door when I froze. The sound. I heard it again, a little louder this time, but definitely a human sound. I turned, my breathing quick as I scanned the hallway for the lumpy outline of a burglar. None presented themselves. Then, I realized the only possible place the sound could've come from. The only thing behind me. Sam's room.
I moved to the door and pressed my ear against the wood. After a few seconds, I heard her yelp quietly and the mattress squeaked as something heavy shifted on it. She was in trouble! I turned the knob and dashed in, swinging the light around the room. "Sam?! Is everything okay? I thought that I heard-- I heard-- Oh, shit."
Sam sat up, blue eyes wide with shock. Her blonde hair was plastered to her head, her skin sheened with sweat. She was wearing an unbuttoned pajama top, her pale-yellow bra visible below the gaping material. She was laying on top of the blankets, bare from the waist down, her legs spread. She immediately pulled the blanket out from beneath herself and wrapped her lower body with it. I could tell that she was breathing heavily and I didn't need the flashlight to know she was blushing. The hand holding the flashlight wavered and I finally stammered. "Oh... I heard a noise. I thought that-that someone was in trouble--"
Trying to catch her breath, Sam gasped, "Hey, uh... you could leave any time, ya know."
I realized I had to be staring, so I quickly backpedaled out of the room and closed the door behind myself. I flicked the flashlight into the off position, engulfing the hallway in darkness once again. It didn't work; I could still see Sam's bare thighs spread on the mattress, her hand working between them, her mouth agape in shock and pleasure. The image was burned into the back of my retinas. I turned and moved to my bedroom, ducking into the room as quickly as possible.
Earplugs. I simply must invest in earplugs.
You try sleeping with that stuck in your head.
I finally just gave up and showered in the darkness, suppressing the urge to picture my houseguest as I soaped up. When I finally turned off the water, I stepped out of the stall feeling a great sense of pride that I had controlled myself. Maybe this was a good sign... a sign that the rest of the month might not be so hard after all. I left my hair wet, deciding to let the air dry it as I dressed in a sweater and some jeans.
General Hammond had arranged it so that either myself or Sam was off-duty at any given time. That meant that, if Daniel had found something interesting and SG-1 was given a go, someone else would be giving the blonde captain her physical. Thank God for little favors... I couldn't imagine examining Sam's half-naked body after what I saw last night. Well, I mean, I *could* imagine it, I was just making a conscious effort *not* too.
As I left the bedroom, a quiet hum began. Before I had a chance to determine the origin, the hallway light flickered on. The power was back. I smiled and headed downstairs, checking my watch as I descended. 4:30. Colonel O'Neill was due to drop Cassandra off around six. No problem... I could kill an hour and a half...
I moved into the living room, pausing to turn on the lights as I passed. The VCR clock was flashing 12:00. I knelt in front of it, picking up the remote control and setting the clock using my watch. As I stood, I heard a noise behind me and glanced back, telling myself not to search out the source of this commotion. I didn't have to. Sam was standing in the door of the living room, rubbing her eyes with the heels of her hands. "What time is it?" she mumbled.
The sight of her shocked me so much, I almost didn't answer. "Oh, uh... half past four." She was still wearing the pajama top she had been wearing the night before, but now she was wearing a pair of silk boxer shorts. Her alabaster legs stretched on forever, crossed at the ankles as she leaned on the wall. "I'm sorry if I woke you up. I was just-- I couldn't sleep." Because I kept picturing you on the bed, hand between your legs, eyes closed in ecsta... STOP THAT!
Stifling a yawn, she ran a hand through her incredibly sleep-mussed hair. "No, I should wake up anyway. I have to leave for the base by six, so..." She motioned at the stairs and said, "I'm gonna take a shower. Is that okay?"
"Yeah, fine. I already took mine." I grinned. "I just hope there's some hot water left."
The captain chuckled. "After last night, I'll need a cold shower." She turned and started trotting up the stairs, taking them two at a time.
Every joint in my body was frozen. What did she mean by that? There was a myriad of possibilities that I wasn't able to - or unwilling to - put into words. I moved slowly into the kitchen, walking to the stove and pulling a pan out of the cupboard. My hands were shaking, the tile cold against my bare feet. I wiggled my toes and sprayed the pan with non-stick spray before I went to the fridge and withdrew three brown eggs. I didn't know how Sam ate her eggs, but I decided not many people would turn down scrambled. I tapped the shells against the side of the pan and halved the shell, pouring it into a bowl and carefully whipping it with a fork.
That done, I poured the bowl into the pan and turned on the heat. I rested against the counter as I waited for them to cook, finally allowing myself to think about the scene I had stumbled upon last night. She had looked so beautiful; her body shining even in the darkness, her blue eyes half-lidded with passion. Realistically, I knew it was probably the closest I'd ever be to seeing her in the throes of passion. Unfortunately, my heart didn't understand 'realistically.'
I prepared the rest of breakfast as if on autopilot. By the time Sam came downstairs, I had made two plates overflowing with scrambled eggs, bacon, hash browns and a tall glass of orange juice. I was thrilled none of the food had spoiled during the blackout and even had hope of salvaging the ice cream in the freezer. Sam had changed out of the pajama shirt and was wearing a powder blue tshirt, but the silk boxers remained.
Her eyes lit up as she saw the food and she unconsciously licked her lips. "This for me?"
"Of course it is, silly," I teased. "What, you think I made all this food for myself?"
She laughed and turned her plate so that the eggs were front and center. "Wow. I've never had anyone make breakfast for me. Well... other than my mom, of course."
"Aw, c'mon," I teased, toying with my bacon. "No guy ever woke up and made you a fabulous breakfast as a thank-you?"
"A thank-you for sex? How good do you think I am in bed?" Don't answer. Don't answer. For the love of all that is good and holy, do not answer. She continued, "I've heard rumors of guys who make breakfast in bed or at least order in... unfortunately, with my luck in the man department, the most I ever got was a 'you were great' before he rolled over and fell asleep."
"Ouch," I winced. "I'm sorry. You deserve better."
She shrugged and ate a large forkful of eggs. "Oh, wow," she muttered around the yolks. "This is fabulous!" She hungrily speared some more, shoveling it into her mouth.
I chuckled. "Samantha Carter, the epitome of breakfast etiquette."
She looked up, cheek bulging with food. She smiled sheepishly, swallowed, then said, "Sorry. I just... this food is so wonderful. I normally don't pig out like this. I guess I was just a little out of shape for the aerobics I was performing last night." She winked at me.
Why did she keep bringing it up?! I sighed and looked down at my food. Might as well put an end to it. "Look, ah... about last night. I'm sorry to have just-just barged in like that. I'm really embarrassed about it."
She smiled and reached across the table, patting my hand. "It's no big deal, Janet. The house was really quiet and I've been told that I can get quite... vocal... during sex. Even if it is with myself."
Maybe if I started choking on bacon she would stop talking about this.
"There's really no reason for you to feel embarrassed. I was on top of the covers, I was making a lot of noise... I should've been more careful. And look at it this way; when Cassandra is here, I'll know to either be quiet or lock the door when I'm masturbating." She casually ate a piece of bacon. "Sometimes, off-world, I'll get the urge and disappear into the forest to work out my frustrations." She chuckled and said, "Did I ever tell you about the time Teal'c stumbled upon me when I was in the middle of it? I think he was more confused than embarrassed."
If I threw myself at the window, I think it would break and I'd be free. At the very least, she'd have to stop the story to call 911.
She sighed and shrugged. "I mean, you do it, right? Every now and again, I'm sure you get a little... itch... and you have to go someplace private to scratch it. Right?"
I shrugged. "Sure." Don't go down this road, Janet Fraiser! "But... even though everyone does it, I can imagine how it would feel to have someone barge in on you. And that's what I'm embarrassed about."
"There's nothing to be embarrassed about!" she reiterated. "Look, I grew up in a houseful of nosy people. And I've lived most of my adult life on Air Force bases with pretty open-air quarters. I've gotten walked in on several times. I mean, did you notice how long it took me to cover up?"
God, did I notice.
She chuckled and ate the last of her eggs. "God, these are so good! You'll have to give me your recipe."
Of course. Just crack three eggs, cook on high, fantasize about a beautiful woman masturbating and viola! I grinned. "I really don't do anything special."
"Ooh-ho, modesty." She picked up her plate, carrying it to the sink. After she rinsed the plate under the spray for a few seconds, she turned and walked towards the door. She pointed at her boxers and explained, "I think I'll go finish getting ready and head for the base. I'll call if it turns out we have to go on a mission." She slipped out of the kitchen.
Finally alone again, I slumped down in my chair and ran a hand through my still-damp hair. What was that I had recently said about this month being easy? I would be lucky if I got through a week...
Sam and I stood on the porch, trying to stay awake as we waited for Colonel O'Neill to show up. She was wearing khakis and an old blouse, an early morning outfit that would most certainly be changed as soon as she arrived at the SGC. The sun had barely started to rise and the street was tinted orange and gold by the beginnings of the new day. Across the street, my neighbors were getting ready to leave as well. It was a husband and wife, their children probably still fast asleep. I watched as the wife pulled her robe more tightly around herself as she followed her suit-clad husband to his SUV. He turned at the car and kissed her sweetly, cupping her face before wishing her farewell.
I sighed as I watched them, wondering what it would be like to give Sam a good-bye kiss. Would her lips be as soft as my previous female lovers? Or would she be firm and demanding as she is in most aspects? Would she or I be the first to introduce tongues to the equation?
I looked down the street, forcing my mind to pursue other mysteries... like where the hell the colonel was.
The SUV pulled out of the driveway and turned, quickly disappearing at the corner. The wife watched him go, then apparently noticed Sam and I standing on the porch of my house. She waved and started across the street, her bare feet probably protesting against the hard, cold asphault. "Hi!" she called.
I waved, trying to be friendly. "Good morning."
Sam was wincing into the sun, watching the road for signs of her ride.
The woman was close enough now that I could make out the design on her robe. Bunny rabbits, how positively droll. She extended one fine-boned hand and said, "I don't think we've actually met. I'm Abigail Tierney. My husband, David, and I moved in about three months ago. You must be... uh..."
"Janet Fraiser," I said. "Dr. Janet Fraiser. This is Captain Samantha Carter."
Abigail's eyebrows shot up. "Ooh, doctor. Captain... I take it you work with the airlines."
Sam frowned. "Air Force," she said simply.
I glanced at the blonde. It was odd that she was acting so coldly to this woman.... maybe I was just imagining things. "We're both Air Force, actually. Stationed at Cheyenne Mountain."
"Wow, really?" she asked, using the tone of voice that people tended to use when they had no interest whatsoever in the topic. She crossed her arms and said, "Well, I hope you won't mind, but David noticed the little girl that arrived recently--"
I nodded. "Her name is Cassandra."
"Aw, that's a beautiful name!" Abigail said, her voice sickly sweet. "Anyhoo, David and I were wondering what agency you two used to get her."
Sam tensed. "Agency? What do you mean?"
Abigail shrugged. "Well, David's brother is gay and he and his partner have been desperate to adopt. So, I told him I'd ask you two what agency you went through to get--"
Oh, God. Why wouldn't my mouth work?! What was this woman implying?
"Whoa," Sam said, stepping forward. "We're not gay. We're-we're not a couple, if that's what you're implying."
The woman looked shocked. "Oh. Well, I saw you arrive with her and several pieces of luggage. I just assumed that-- well, you *are* living here together."
Sam stepped forward. "The girl is Janet's niece. I'm just staying here for a month until she gets used to everything."
Abigail smiled. "Okay. Not a problem." She reached out and took my hand again, timidly shaking it before she said, "I'm sorry. We just... jumped to conclusions. I apologize."
I stepped forward, finding my tongue and forcing a smile. "It's no problem. I'd like it if we could become friends, forget this awkward first meeting."
She smiled. "I'd like that too." She checked her watch, then sighed, "Well, I have to go get the kids ready for school. Have you enrolled your Cassandra yet?"
"No," Sam said. "We're giving her a chance to become situated first."
Abigail eyed Sam coldly, then said, "Okay. Well, it's been fun, Dr. Fraiser. I hope we meet again sometime." She gave Sam one final wary glance before returning across the street. She was halfway across the road when Jack O'Neill's 4x4 pulled up in my driveway. My neighbor looked over her shoulder, eyeing the attractive man in the driver's seat before disappearing into her garage.
Jack climbed out of his truck, his clothing wrinkled and his short hair mussed. "Someone want to tell me why we're going to the base at this ungodly hour?" He pinched the bridge of his nose and muttered, "I swear, if Danny didn't find something and Hammond just sends us home, I swear I'm gonna..." His voice trailed off and he looked behind himself, eyeing Abigail's garage. He motioned at the now-shut garage door and asked, "Who was that?"
"Some woman," Sam said, ice dripping from her tongue. "Where's Cass?"
He motioned to the truck. "Zonked out in the passenger seat. Got her just awake enough to wrap some clean clothes on her and get her downstairs." He smiled at me as Sam went to retrieve the girl. "How were things here last night?"
Where do I begin? "Great. Did the lights go off at your place?"
"No," he said. "But my house was wired *after* the 1800's, so I didn't have that problem."
I pointed a finger at him and warned, "You watch what you say about my dream house, colonel. I *can* and I *will* hurt you in ways you can't even imagine."
He held his hands out, palm-up. "Whoa, whoa, I know better than to piss off a doctor." He winked and called over his shoulder, "C'mon, Carter. We gotta go. Runnin' late."
She led a half-awake Cassandra from the truck and transferred a tiny hand to mine. As she knelt to adjust the girl's hair, Sam muttered, "Yeah, who's fault is that?"
I chuckled and said, "You better go. I'll see you this afternoon, hopefully."
"Yeah," she said, walking back to O'Neill's truck.
As she climbed in, Jack waved good-bye and pulled out of the driveway. I sighed and looked down at my new daughter. Her eyes were half-open and she looked utterly exhausted. She collapsed against my side, fingers wrapped tightly around my hand. "Where's Sam goin'?" she asked.
"Sam has to go to work, hon," I explained, kneeling before her. "She may have to go off-world, and then you'd be stuck with just me. Would that be all right?"
The girl yawned loudly, then said, "Okay. I like you."
She fell into my arms in what I thought was a hug at first. As I wrapped my arms around her, I realized she had fallen asleep. I smiled and lifted her, ignoring the protesting of my lower back as I carried her into the house. 'Okay. I like you.' Those four words were music to my ears...
The call came at about three in the afternoon. Cassandra had sat down beside me when I turned on the afternoon news and had decided to take up the fine art of channel surfing once I introduced her to the concept of a remote control. She was still sitting on the floor in front of the television, eyes staring at the pictures that flashed in front of her. I was in the middle of a load of dishes when the phone rang. I picked up the phone, soapy water dripping from my hands and arms as I precariously balanced the receiver on my shoulder and managed to say, "Hello?"
"Hey, Janet. It's me."
Uh-oh. This didn't sound good. "Daniel discovered something?"
"Yeah, apparently there's another one of those huge meaning-of-life thingies buried on the world, so we're going to go see if we can dig it out." She sighed. "For every Goa'uld attack, there's a world waiting where I'm just gonna sit on my ass." I could almost hear her roll her eyes. "He seems to think that it'll take at least four days, maybe a week, before we show any progress. So... I guess what I'm saying is--"
"I'm on my own for this week?" Inwardly, I could hear myself screaming bloody murder. "Great. I'll just dye my hair blonde and make sure she only sees me from behind."
Sam chuckled. "C'mon, Janet... as soon as she looks at you, she'll know you're not me. Unless, of course, you've grown five inches since breakfast."
"Ha, ha," I said, my voice monotone. "Really, Sam... I think it's too early. She's still extremely attached to you. I think that an absence might cause her to relapse to silence."
The captain sighed. "I really don't have much choice, Janet. Just tell her that I'm sorry and I have to work. If all else fails, it'll show her who she can really count on to be there for her." She was silent for a moment. "You're the steady one," she said, her voice slightly shaky. "I'm the wild card, the one nobody can count on. Cassandra will grow to love you because you'll-you'll never leave her alone. You'll be there to calm her after a nightmare and fix her breakfast and ground her for stealing the car. You're the strong one."
I leaned against the counter, dishes forgotten. "Sam? Honey, is there something you want to talk about?"
She sniffled, then said, "I have to go. We're leaving in-in five minutes."
"Wait, Sam... when you get back, I want to talk to you about this. All right?"
I wasn't sure she was going to answer at first. I was about to ask if she had heard me when she said, "Yeah. Okay."
She hung up without saying good-bye. I stared at the receiver for a moment, a little confused by Sam's outburst, then replaced it on the wall. I shook my head, deciding any examination could wait until Sam got home. I turned and saw Cassandra standing in the doorway. I put on my best smile and said, "Hey, sweetheart."
"Sam's not goin' to be home, is she?"
I walked over to her, kneeling so that we were eye-to-eye. "No, honey. She had to go on a mission off-world, so she won't be back for a couple of days." My hands were still wet from the sink, so I didn't try to embrace her. Instead, I asked, "What do you want to do today? Maybe... look around your new world? Visit the town? Would you like to do something like that?"
She shrugged, then looked over her shoulder. "The program is back on," she said, sounding very mechanical.
I took her by the hand as she started to walk off and said, "Cass... I want you to know that-that I love you very much. You know that, right?"
A quick nod.
"Okay. Go watch the rest of your show." I straightened and ran one hand through my hair before I realized it was still wet. I sighed and looked at my soapy fingers, then walked into the living room. "Hey, uh... I got an idea."
The drive was well-worth it. Cassandra was practically buzzing with energy as she dropped onto the steel bench. I followed behind her, pulling off my sunglasses and settling in next to her. Her eyes were wide, reflecting the crystal-clear blue sky that was visible through the open air of the arena. The smell of salt water was strong in the air, reminding me of vacations at the beach with certain significant others that were better left unmentioned. These unpleasant memories made me realize that Cassie had no such connection to the scents and sounds and sights that surrounded her. Everything was new to her.
I embraced her, squeezing her shoulder slightly. "Having fun?"
She nodded enthusiastically. "This is wonderful!" she breathed. The water was shimmering in front of us, a huge tidepool that seemed untouched by the gentle wind that blew across my bare shoulders. I'd changed into a sleeveless turtleneck and a pair of cargo pants, my hair pulled into a ponytail that was sticking out of the back of my Colorado Rockies baseball cap. My eyes were hidden behind a pair of RayBan sunglasses that reflected the pool. I smiled and said, "Just wait, hon. It gets better." I had purposely chosen a seat near the front; it was a childhood experience that very few people should do without.
A booming voice came over the intercom. "Ladies... and gentlemen! Welcome to the zoo's daily Aquatic Show!!" A male and a female trainer wearing identical blue outfits appeared on the side of the pool, moving into position. The voice continued. "Please, welcome the stars of our program! Say hello to ACE and JASPER!" The surface of the pool was broken by the sleek bodies of two dolphins. The aquatic creatures arched gracefully into the air, their tails flapping before the headed back towards the water. Both of them emitted chirps and squeals that sounded like an attempt at saying hello. When the two dolphins splashed back down, Cassandra and I were both hit by a wave of water.
Cassandra tensed, gasping as she was soaked, and I tightened my embrace around her. "Hon? Are you okay?"
She ignored me, staring at the water. Ace and Jasper were visible just below the surface, swimming in enthusiastic circles near their trainers. Finally, Cassandra brushed some wet strands of hair from her face and gasped, "What were those?"
I smiled. "Those were dolphins," I said. "We don't get many around here; this is a special place where we keep animals from the wild for everyone to enjoy."
She frowned. "You keep them here against their will?"
Dangerous curves ahead. "Well... since the animals are usually bred in captivity, they can't really survive in the wild."
Cassandra's eyes followed a trio of seals waddling along the edge of the pool, but her tone was still serious. "So... you take them away from their homes... and make them live somewhere else? Just... like me."
Definitely *not* how I expected this to turn out. I brushed her cheek. "Cassandra, honey? Look at me." She looked into my eyes. "There are things out there that hurt dolphins. Things that hate them... and when they're brought to places like this, the dolphins are kept clean... and safe... and well-fed. We take the dolphins from someplace dangerous and put them someplace where they can live without worrying. See? Ace and Jasper don't worry about sharks... or eels or..." Or whatever the hell were enemies to dolphins. I stroked her hair. "Do you understand, sweetheart? Your home wasn't safe any more. We had to bring you here so I could protect and take care of you."
Jasper popped out of the water, moving backwards with only his tail in the water. When he finished the stunt, the male tossed him a fish. Cassandra's eyes were sparkling once again. For the rest of the day, she didn't bring up her home or her forced relocation... but I noticed that she held my hand a little tighter when I offered it.
After the dolphin show, I took Cassandra to see the Cat Habitat. She seemed intrigued by the orange and black patterns on the tigers, keeping her eye on the largest as it moved from one side of the cage to the other. When the big cat roared, Cassandra shrieked and covered her ears, falling backward. I swooped behind her, cradling her in my arms and setting her feet back on the ground. I straightened her overalls and said, "You okay?"
"Yeah," she nodded. "Just a little scared." She looked at the tiger. "Good thing Sam wasn't here. She thinks I'm very brave."
I stroked her cheek. "Honey, the cat scared you. That doesn't mean you're not brave. Any time you're scared, like that time, just tell me. I'll be there to catch you, like I was just now."
Cassandra looked at the cat and stepped forward. She stuck her tongue out in the universal symbol of rebellion, then said, "You don't scare me. My mom says I'm still very brave."
The cat curled it's lip, then turned and strutted back to it's cage.
Cassandra turned, her eyes wide. "It left!"
I smiled and winked. "Showed that cat who's boss. He'll think twice before scaring any little girls." I took her hand and said, "How about some cotton candy? Or a corn dog?"
"A corn dog? Is that like the kind Jack got for me?"
I chuckled. "No... a corn dog is a dog you eat." At her horrified expression, I clarified, "No, honey, it's-it's a figure of speech. It's not an actual dog. C'mon, I'll show you what I mean." Hand in hand, we headed for the large, outdoor cafe that the zoo provided.
On the ride home, Cassandra felt obligated to inform me of everything she had seen and done at the zoo although I had been by her side the entire time. I smiled, keeping my eyes on the road as I listened to her enthusiastic storytelling. As she reminded me of our time in the dolphin arena, I realized that Sam had barely been mentioned the entire day. I turned to her. "Looks like you'll have a lot to tell Sam when she gets home... she's only been gone one day and look how much you've seen and done."
She paused, then said, "Yeah. I guess so... Oh, you should've seen this tiger! I mean, it roared and it scared me, but remember that you said I was still very brave? Well, I told that dumb old thing that I was brave and he turned around and went away." She beamed up at me and said, "Me and my mom aren't scared of any dumb ol' tigers."
I chuckled and said, "Not you and me, babe."
I had a theory. A day spent with a 12-year-old didn't become exhausting until the 12-year-old went to bed. I sunk into the plush cushions of my couch, hugging a pillow to myself and suddenly noticing the throbbing behind my eyes. Cassandra had wanted corn dogs and cotton candy again for dinner, but I had substituted a McDonald's Happy Meal instead. Turns out I was transforming a sweet, innocent little girl into a junk food junkie. Tomorrow, I swore, would be the start of her healthy eating. Full meals, four food groups, the works. I could handle healthy... I still had my candy stash upstairs.
Thinking of the candy stash reminded me of my personal notes. I hadn't written a new one since Sam discovered them. I sat up, staring blindly across the living room. It was odd, how I had simply forgone the tradition. Could the streak really have been broken that easily? I considered going upstairs and writing one out, just to keep in practice, then realized I had nothing much to write about. Going to the zoo with Cassandra was great, but... how would I put my feelings into words? Pride? Enthusiasm? Motherhood?
Cassandra wasn't a girl I was babysitting for a while. Her mother wasn't going to arrive on my doorstep and say 'Thanks for looking after her!' I was Cassandra's mother. She was my daughter. I was responsible for her upbringing. Teaching her right from wrong on Earth. Saving for college. Making sure she was ready for college. Keeping her away from boys until she was in her thirties. Keeping her room clean, writing out chores, scolding her for leaving dirty dishes in the sink....
I don't know whether it was the junk food I had consumed or the thoughts I'd been having or a combination of the two, but I soon found myself stationed in my bathroom, leaning against the toilet and breathing heavily. I wiped my mouth and closed my eyes, trying to keep my stomach still. I failed. I threw up a few more times before I finally dragged myself into the bedroom and climbed under my down comforter.
Two days after our trip to the zoo, it happened. Sam had been gone for two days and Cassandra seemed at ease without her. I had gone to bed that night after tucking Cassandra into her bed and reading her a bedtime story. Everything had seemed perfect for those 48 hours... I was the mother, she was my daughter, no aliens threatened to destroy our perfect piece of the universe. I should've known it would never last.
You get feelings.
It's happened since the day I was born; discomforting thoughts lurking at the back of your mind that let you know that something somewhere is amiss. Something is wrong. Those thoughts were never clear, at least not when you were searching for them. One ominous sign was painfully obvious; my shoes were far too tight. I could feel the leather squeezing my big toes and my heels as I walked down the corridor of the SGC. No airmen got in my way, no absent-minded officers side-stepped at the last second to avoid stepping on me. The base felt utterly desolate.
I recognized the hall I was in; I was going to the Gate Room. But why?
The doors slid open without being presented with a keycard. No soldiers stood guard outside the large sliding door, keeping the unauthorized out. I walked unhindered into the giant room occupied by the Stargate and stared up at the massive ring. It stood silent before me, standing as tall as a mountain before me. If I had felt dwarfed by the planes I'd seen at other bases, this thing made me feel positively insignificant. The blue event horizon was shining, bathing me in the cool blue glow. No guards aimed guns at the blue pool, which meant we knew who was coming.
The room was empty, save for myself. I started up the ramp, my high heels making loud sounds on the steel of the ramp. As I approached the vertical wall of water, the surface shimmered and Sam stepped out. She was wearing her brown camoflague, her hair hidden by a large helmet. She smiled at me, pulling off her goggles and stepping forward. "Hello, Janet. I came as soon as I heard."
Heard? The event horizon was broken again, only this time is was Ace and Jasper who appeared. They tittered and squealed a few times before they dove back into the 'water.'
Sam was only a few inches from me. "Well, Janet? Isn't there something you've been wanting to say to me?"
I turned. The control room was vacant. We were entirely alone. I turned back to Sam, my heart racing. I wanted to tell her everything; how I loved her, how I longed to be with her, how my life was meaningless without her... but I said nothing. I reached out to touch her, but she was just out of arm's length. Her smile slowly and she looked down at her boots. "Oh. I guess there's nothing." She turned and began walking back to the Stargate.
As she turned her back to me, I gasped. The back of her uniform was ripped and shredded, blood marring the material from her shoulders to her knees. The skin below was black and charred. I stepped forward. "Sam!"
She paused, keeping her back to me. Finally, she stepped through the Stargate and disappeared.
I woke with a scream trapped in my throat. This time, as I ran to the bathroom, there was no question as to why I was nauseated. I hugged the toilet, expunging everything I had eaten during the past week. When I finished, I pulled myself onto the side of the bathtub and hugged myself. I was wearing a pair of pajama pants and a tank top, so I simply threw my leg over the side of the tub and turned the water on. The cold spray hit me, soaking me through my thin clothing as I tried to wash the remnants of the dream away.
I got out, stripping out of my wet clothes and returning to bed nude. I crawled under the warm sheets, wrapping myself in them and resting my head on my cloud-like pillows. In the morning, everything would be fine. I wouldn't be sick, Sam would be fine, the SGC would be wonderful... and everything was going to be normal.
Later examination of the display on my CallerID informed me that I received the call at precisely 4:44. A superstitious friend of mine in college had once told me that she distrusted triplicate times like 2:22, 3:33, 5:55, etc. I was about to agree with her whole-heartedly. I rolled across my large bed, my mind numb as I reached blindly for the telephone beside my bed. There was no need to check to see who was calling; it could only be one place this early in the morning. I mumbled a greeting, then let my head fall back to the pillow as I waited for the caller to make their business known.
General Hammond's voice was crisp and to-the-point. "SG-1 is in trouble. We're expecting injuries, so I need you here as soon as possible."
As I dressed, I prayed that - for once - my dream of Samantha Carter wouldn't come true.
At least one part of my dream wasn't coming true. The SGC was abuzz with activity. Apparently, SG-7 was also missing on an unrelated mission. A rescue team was being assembled, but Hammond was reluctant to send more troops out when so many of his officers were already in dire straits. I entered the infirmary and instantly transformed into my CMO persona. Heads snapped in my direction and I barked orders like an expert boot camp sergeant. The airmen and orderlies that were assigned to the infirmary immediately disappeared, following their orders.
Cassandra clutched my hand tightly, watching the flurry of motion surrounding her. I kept one hand firmly on her shoulder and the other was wrapped tightly around her hand. I led her directly through the maelstrom of the infirmary and finally made it to the sanctuary of my office. I led her to the couch, sitting her on the cushion. "Okay, honey... I've got to work now, but I'll come back and check up on you, okay? You just get some rest right here on the couch and when everything's settled down, we can go see what is being served for breakfast in the commissary, 'kay?"
She nodded. As I stood, she wrapped one hand around my forearm and drew me back down. I knelt in front of her once more and smiled, trying to hide my own fears. "What is it, baby?"
The girl bit her lip, then leaned forward and wrapped her arms around my neck. "Sam'll be okay."
I patted her on the back. "She sure will," I assured her, my heart breaking that she was still so dependant on the captain.
When Cassie pulled back, she put her hand on my cheek and said, "I don't like to see you sad. Just keep tellin' yourself she'll be all right." She smiled. "And when she gets back, we can all go to the zoo together."
"I would like that, Cassie. I'd like it a lot." I kissed her on the forehead and said, "I have to go now. They need me. I'll be back just as soon as I can."
She laid down, pulling a blanket over herself. I walked to the door, leaving the desk lamp on in case she woke up and was frightened by being in a strange place. As I was about to leave, I heard the girl whisper, "I love you."
I froze, turning and using the doorframe to steady myself. "I love you, too, kiddo. Now get some rest." I left the office and headed back to the insanity of the Med Center. Beds were prepared. Crash carts were full. I checked a First Aid kit, then slung it over my shoulder on the off-chance that someone came home while I was there. I grabbed the nearest doctor and said, "I'll be in the Command Center getting briefed."
The man nodded and went back to one of the patients that had appeared in the past day. I slipped out of the infirmary heading for the elevators. Sergeant Siler exited the car as I arrived, and I was alone for the trip to Level 28. I took the opportunity to compose myself and take a few deep breaths. Dreams seldom came true in real life, I assured myself. My dream had just been a result of nerves. I was nervous and anxious and stressed... The elevator doors slid open and I stepped out, heading up the few stairs and finding myself in the Control Center. I stared at the Stargate through the bulletproof glass, trying to picture all the times I had seen Sam and SG-1 return from impossible odds with nary a scratch. Despite my best efforts, all I could see was Sam's torn and bloodied form re-entering the event horizon.
Putting aside my doubts, I turned and headed for General Hammond's office.
General Hammond looked up as I entered his office, nodding towards the seat directly across from him. I nervously took the seat, placing the First Aid kit in my lap. He finished reading over some form, then handed it to his adjutant before looking at and addressing me. "Dr. Fraiser," he started, his tone somber. "I know how close you are with Captain Carter and all of the members of SG-1... especially now that Cassandra has become your charge."
I nodded. "Yes, Sir?"
He sighed. "This morning at approximately two am, a massive quake rocked P43-621. The MALP seems to report that the epicenter of the disturbance was within the temple being explored by SG-1. We're not sure if they triggered the response or if it was just a case of bad timing... either way, we've been completely cut off from them. I've been sending messages via the radio on the probe, but we haven't heard from them as of yet."
I swallowed. "Sir, does it seem plausible that SG-1 is alive?"
The general took a lengthy pause, then steepled his fingers. "I won't lie to you, Doctor. It looks pretty bad. But if I know Colonel O'Neill, he won't give up without a fight. If our scans show the tectonics of the planet to be stable, I'll authorize a rescue team. Until then--"
"Understood," I said, rising and adjusting my lab jacket. "If that's all, Sir, I'd like to begin treating some of the patients in the Med Center."
He nodded. "I'll let you know of any changes regarding SG-1's situation."
I smiled, then walked from the office. The elevator was empty once again. As I stared ahead at the blank, gray doors, my mind was racing. I pictured Sam, trapped below thousands of pounds of rubble, buried in the ancient structure with no way out. I could practically see the light from her lantern as it illuminated a wall of crushed rocks, wavering as the battery slowly died. In my mind's eye, her uniform was torn on the knees and elbows, her hair hanging limp in her face and blood marring her beautiful features.
As a doctor, I wanted to make sure she was in one piece, wanted to hold myself together so I was strong enough to examine her when she finally got home.
As a friend, I wanted to throw myself against the wall and sob like a baby.
I rubbed my eyes, trying to push aside all the personal feelings running through my mind. I had to be professional; if Sam came through that Stargate and - God forbid - she was injured, I wouldn't do her any good crying over her hospital bed. I had treated friends hundreds of times and even operated on a lover... my first female lover had come to me when she had appendicitis. I finally opened my eyes... and saw I was no longer alone in the elevator. I blinked at my companion, then whispered, "Sam?"
The captain was watching the numbers count down to the infirmary. She remained absolutely silent. Suddenly, I remembered countless stories of people being visited by the ghosts of their loved ones, having visions of someone who had died hours ago. Was this a supernatural visitation from my deceased crush? If so... didn't ghosts have better things to do with their time than watch an elevator count down? The elevator bell rang and the doors slid open. I was at the infirmary. Sam turned and smiled. "This is your floor. I have to get to a briefing."
"But..." I looked out into the hallway. No witnesses to see me talking to myself. "What about your injuries?"
Sam laughed. "I'm invincible, Janet. You should know that by now."
Feeling better, I stepped out of the elevator and turned to wish the Sam-apparition a fond farewell. I gasped at what I saw. Her entire right side was destroyed, her uniform charred and her skin burned away. With one decimated hand, she reached up and pressed another button. The doors closed on the horrific sight. I closed my eyes and turned, steadying myself. 'Don't let your imagination lie to you,' I ordered myself. 'Sam isn't invincible, but she's stronger than anyone I've ever known. She'll make it.'
I closed my eyes and pictured Sam's dying body once more. Slowly, I mentally drained all of the color from the image. Blood red turned to slate grey. Flesh turned to an almost white color. When the image was completely colorless, I began to shrink it. The sides moved in first, followed by the top and bottom. I bit my lip, shrinking the image until it was only a speck on the horizon of my mind. I opened my eyes and no longer saw an after-image of my fantasy. I smiled and headed directly for the Med Center.
During my absence, the hurricane had downgraded itself to a tropical disturbance. Dr. Warner was examining something in the far corner, so I once again walked past the occupied beds and made my way to my private office. Cassandra was sitting on the couch, wrapped in the blanket. Her eyes were open, staring at the diploma that hung behind my desk. I slipped into the room and immediately saw her gaze shift to me. "Hi, honey," I whispered. "You were supposed to be sleeping." I sat next to her on the couch and took her hand.
"Something's wrong," she said. It wasn't a question. There was no doubt in her voice.
"Yeah, honey. Sam's.... Sam is in a little bit of trouble. But she's been in trouble before and she always seems to get out of it." I stroked her hair. "And when she gets back, we'll take her to the zoo and let her get splashed by Ace and Jasper. Would you like that?" A gentle nod. "Honey? Are you okay?"
She blinked rapidly, trying to dry her tears, then wrapped an arm around my waist. I embraced her, rocking slowly on the edge of the sofa. As we sat in silence, both holding back our tears, inspiration struck. A quick glance at my watch told me it wasn't too late. I stood and said, "C'mon, honey... I wanna show you something."
The night air was crisp, cooling our faces as we stared upward. The sun was visible peeking over the edge of the foothills of the Rockies, but the stars were still visible high above us. Day was invading... I had to hurry to salvage this plan. I knelt and pulled Cassie against my side. "Hey... you see those three stars right there? The ones that kind of look like a triangle?" A nod. "Well, the one in the middle - the brightest of them - is being orbited by the world where Sam is. She's right there, trying to come home to you and me."
I doubted that this was actually the star. I doubted the system that Sam was currently trapped in was even visible from Earth... but Cassie needn't know that. "It's a planet called P43-621 and it can't be the world that Sam doesn't come back from. Ya know why?" She shook her head negatively. "Because Sam will never lose to a planet whose name is a bunch of numbers and letters. She's gonna fight because she loves us and it's not her time to go."
Cassandra looked up at the trio of stars. They were slowly disappearing against the yellow-orange sky of the morning. "It doesn't look scary," she whispered.
"Of course it doesn't," I assured her. "It's just another dumb ol' planet that happens to have a Stargate. No Goa'uld, no Jaffa, not a thing to stop her from getting back to the Stargate other than a few rocks. It's just another rough mission that Sam'll come home from with a few bruises and scrapes. I promise you."
Cassandra hugged me, squeezing me tight. As I returned the embrace, I realized that while trying to calm her, I had also assured myself. I looked up at the now-invisible dot that symbolized the sun of Sam's world. 'You come home to me, Captain Carter. Don't make me a liar to this little girl.' I cupped the back of Cassandra's head, then said, "You wanna go try and get some rest, honey?"
She looked at me, grinning mischievously. "Actually, I was wondering if I could check out the labs."
"Oh, no," I mock-groaned. "A girl after Sam Carter's heart." I rolled my eyes and said, "Let's go find Sergeant Siler. He'll show you all the neat stuff in the labs." I took her hand and led her back into the mountain.
SG-7 was found a few minutes past 0800. Apparently they had gotten into a scuffle with some Jaffa and their equipment had been destroyed. The only thing they had been able to salvage was a GDO, which their major had MacGyvered into working order. The entire team sported minor injuries from their fight, ranging from a broken arm to a black eye. I was grateful for the distraction, noticing that while I was bandaging and setting bones that my mind seldom returned to Sam Carter. I sent away the last of my patients, staring at the door. I felt bad to think this, but I was desperately wishing for a sudden influx of wounded. Nice thinking for the CMO of a military base.
I walked to my office, not bothering to turn on the lights as I moved towards the sofa. Cassandra was still following Siler around like a lost puppy, so I had a few minutes to myself. I pulled off my shoes, audibly sighing as my feet were once again exposed to oxygen. I wiggled my toes inside my pantyhose, reclining against the side of the couch. I felt myself falling asleep, but didn't have the strength - or the desire - to stop myself. I stared at a blank space on the wall across from my position on the couch and suddenly remembered the first time I had ever seen Captain Samantha Carter. I smiled at the memory, my eyelids slowly dropping as I tried to arrange myself comfortably on the sofa cushions.
Overwhelmed would be an understatement. I had been the administrating doctor at the Air Force Academy Hospital when I received word that one of my colleagues had been murdered by an ill officer. To top that off, he had been assigned to a top-secret military project and I was being named as his replacement. I barely had time to pack my things - assured by the airman that I would be able to divide my time between my new post and the hospital - before I was rushed out the door.
They led me to a large sedan, packing me into the backseat where General Hammond was waiting with an "Eyes Only" package in his hand. My heartrate climbed as I realized what I was getting into. He handed me the packet, saying only that I should brace myself for some incredible reading.
I hardly recall the scenery from the hospital to Cheyenne Mountain. I read the entire packet disclosing the existence and purpose of the Stargate. When I finally put the envelope down, I stared at the bald man across from me and whispered, "Is this for real?"
He smiled. "I assure you, Dr. Fraiser. Every word of that document is fact. I had to see it for myself to believe it as well."
The car had stopped. Before I knew what was happening, we were escorted from the car to a well-guarded elevator. A remote mountain base, a top-secret military project, a doctor killed under unusual circumstances... yeah. Pretty much the beginning of every horror/conspiracy story I'd ever read.
The next few hours were a blur as I was introduced to my staff, shown through the infirmary, made myself comfortable with the layout of the base and getting acquainted with my new commanding officer. Finally, he turned to me and asked, "Are you ready to see it?"
My heart rose to my throat. I nodded dumbly and made my way through the corridors, staring at the wide back of General Hammond as I tried to prepare myself to see something I thought only existed on science-fiction TV series. The large door slid open and the general stepped inside proudly. "Dr. Fraiser, I present to you... the Stargate."
My eyes were wide, unblinking as I stared up at the monolith before me. The area within the ring was filled with a shimmering blue pool, quietly fluxuating as if being blown by an unseen wind. I could hear a faint humming sound, thought I wasn't sure if the sound was coming from the actual Stargate or if it was from the myriad of computers that ran it. Strange symbols were carved into the inner ring, the outer ring devoted to seven locking clamps. The only thing I regretted about my initial introduction to this proud relic was my vocal reaction to seeing this impressive stone ring. "Holy shit."
After my tour was over, General Hammond informed me that SG-1 was scheduled for a routine, pre-mission examination and that they were probably in the infirmary waiting for me. I thanked him for showing me around and bid him farewell, my own sense of self-pride telling me I could make my way back to the infirmary without his guiding hand. Forty-five minutes later, I proved myself right when I finally found the Med Center again. I checked my watch. According to Hammond, SG-1 was probably getting a little antsy.
Dr. Warner informed me that one of the team was waiting in Exam Room 1. He had already cleared the commanding officer of the unit, Colonel O'Neill. That news disappointed me slightly. I had been looking forward to meeting the man. I picked up a chart and glanced briefly at the name. "Carter, Cpt. Sam" was scrawled in the heading. I grimaced; I hated abbreviations in official reports. I had my first gripe and I hadn't even been here two hours. I paused and used my own ink pen to write above the name: "Carter, Captain Samuel." That done, I found Exam Room 1 and pushed the door open.
Needless to say, the ass I was then presented with didn't belong to a Samuel. The crisp, blue gown was untied in the back, revealing the woman's entire rear side to me. Perfect, round, alabaster globes bisected by a perfectly vertical line. The smooth back was also impressive, displaying an area of faded scars and beautifully radiant skin. I blinked several times, trying to compose myself, then said, "Oh... I'm terribly sorry." She turned, looking up at me and apparently unembarrassed by her revealing state. "I'm looking for Exam Room 1. I'm supposed to examine a Captain Carter." I averted my gaze,
She nodded, moving towards the bed. "I'm Captain Carter."
I looked down at my chart. "Captain Sam... antha. Right." I smiled sheepishly and said, "Sorry about that. I assumed and... well... What say we get you examined?"
She hopped onto the bed and said, "About time. What's the matter, was it hard to see over all these giants we got walking around?" I ignored her, instead placing my hands below her jawline and applying gentle pressure. "Probably pretty hard being a munchkin around all these big, macho Air Force guys, huh?"
I stepped back. "That's enough, Samantha." I purposely didn't use her rank. I wanted us on even ground for this. "I don't mind the occasional short joke from friends, but you're just being rude. I won't tolerate it. My height has nothing to do with my abilities as a doctor. I'm late because I got lost in this maze you call a base."
She looked appropriately cowed and nodded. Then, she did something that would probably cement my attraction for her for the rest of my life. She reached out and tenderly touched my hand. "I'm sorry. I get uncomfortable during these exams and... I sometimes get carried away." She smiled. "There are few enough women stationed here; I'd hate to think I've already alienated someone I may one day consider a good friend."
Try as I might, I couldn't hold my stern face. I finally allowed a smile to appear and said, "Okay. But you're buying me lunch when you get back from this mission."
"Deal," she smiled. "Oh, and... if you call me Samantha again, I have a whole repitoire of Wizard of Oz, munchkin land, Lollypop Guild jokes I can smack you with."
I just smiled at her and said, "Oh, be quiet and shut your robe. Your ass is hanging out."
No matter what had transpired between us that day, I always delighted in the fact that I had made Sam Carter blush.
I hated falling asleep in odd positions. As I woke, I realized that one of my legs was on the couch, curled behind me in an attempt at the fetal position. The other one was draped over the edge of the couch, my toes brushing against the hard cement of the floor. I had one hand next to my face and the other resting on my stomach. I blinked my eyes open, trying to wake up a little before I began the slow process of waking up. The office was still dark, but my desk lamp was on. I didn't remember it being on when I fell asleep.
I tried to focus on something, then noticed a large blue object sitting across from me. It was seated behind my desk, in the chair I usually sat in. I stifled a yawn and said, "Cassandra?" Who else could it have been?
The object moved as I rubbed my eyes. I heard fabric rustling and a quiet moan. "Oh... no, Janet. It's me."
Sam?! I opened my eyes and locked onto the blonde. She was standing now, rubbing her eyes with her hands. She was wearing a clean blue jumpsuit that was unzipped low enough to reveal she probably wasn't wearing much below. She leaned on the edge of my desk and said, "I was trying to wait until you woke up, but I was so exhausted..." She stretched, her breasts pressing against the stretched material of her jumpsuit. I could clearly see the impressions of her nipples against the material.
The captain groaned and looked at me, smiling devilishly. "Of course, watching you sleep is never boring."
I looked down at myself. The position of my legs had caused my dress to ride up into no-man's land - pardon the pun - and almost reveal my privacy to the world. I tugged it down, then looked up at Sam. She was watching me adjust my clothes, a smile playing on her lips. I realized what this must be and groaned. "Oh, God." I fell against the sofa. "Not another dream." I rubbed my temples and said, "Sam is off-world... Sam is off-world." If I could convince myself that this was impossible, maybe she would disappear and I would wake up.
Sam crossed the distance between us and sat on the arm of the chair. "We got back about an hour ago. Daniel apparently stepped on a booby trap and caused some kind of earthquake. We finally found an escape route through an old tomb and made our way back to the Stargate unscathed." She chuckled. "Actually... Daniel may not be as unscathed as the rest of us. Last I saw, Colonel O'Neill was chasing him with a scalpel." She shook her head. "How's Cassandra doing? Adjusting well?"
"Uh-huh," I nodded. "Seems to be adjusting to life without Sam. I took her to the zoo a few days ago and showed her all the animals. She's been having a wonderful time."
Sam smiled, then said, "I'm glad she's bonding with you."
The words were sincere, but I could detect a hint of sadness underneath them. The purpose of this month was to make Cassandra separate herself from Sam. I had never thought of this whole situation from the blonde's point of view, but could only imagine how heartbreaking it would be. I moved closer to her and covered her hand with mine. "She's having fun with me, but she will always have a special place in her heart for you." I rubbed her knuckles with my thumb. "The whole time, she was telling me what you would say, what she wanted to tell you and show you... She's accepting me as her mom, but you'll always be her hero and best friend."
Sam looked down at her boots, trying to hide the wetness in her eyes. She finally managed, "Thank you."
We were silent for a long time, both trying to wake up. Finally, Sam cocked her head to the side and looked in my direction. "So. You have dreams about me?"
"Uhh.... uh, what?" I asked.
Sam grinned. "When you saw me, you said, 'Not another dream.' So... you have dreams about me?"
This was the whole masturbation discussion all over again. I mentally scanned my office for things that would distract her from this line of questioning. I came up empty. "I... well, I mean... it's like dreaming about close friends. I have dreams about Colonel O'Neill and Daniel, too..."
She laughed. "I was kidding, Janet. I have dreams about you, too. Everyone has dreams about people they know." She stood and looked down at herself. "Now... if you'll excuse me, I have to go change into something a little less comfortable."
"Less comfortable than a jumpsuit?" I asked. They usually complained about the inconvenience of wearing the outfit, especially when it came to using the bathroom.
"Oh, yeah. Have you ever worn one of these things with *nothing* underneath? Very free. Like walking around naked."
I tried not to picture that. I failed.
She continued, "So... you heading home soon?"
I checked my watch and saw that it was well into Dr. Warner's scheduled shift. "Uh... yeah. I guess so. I'll check with Warner and see if he needs me to stick around for anything. If not, I'm free."
"Great," she grinned. "I'll hitch a ride with you, since Colonel O'Neill drove me up here the other day. I'll take you and Cass out for dinner. How does seafood sound?"
My eyes widened. I was picturing the scene where Cassandra realized what she was eating and remembered Ace and Jasper's stunts. "Uh... no seafood. Cassandra wouldn't... well, she wanted to tell you herself. But I *really* don't think seafood would be a wise decision."
Sam frowned, then said, "Okay. Would... pizza be too traumatic?"
I wrinkled my nose. "We had pizza less than a week ago."
She sighed and leaned against the door of my office. "Wow, you're a picky eater." I smiled as she pondered her next option. "We had Chinese the night after we had pizza..." She chewed her lip. "Okay, then... your choice."
I pondered my choices, then finally said, "How about I cook something? Spaghetti or something easy like that."
"Great," Sam said, beaming. "But tomorrow, I'm thinking we get some kind of greasy burger from McDonald's. We can introduce Cassie to the wonders of a Happy Meal and... Oh! We can eat at the restaurant and she can play in the Playland."
Deciding not to mention that I had already introduced Cassie to a Happy Meal, I pointed at Sam. "You mean *you* can have an excuse to jump in the ball pit."
She grinned sheepishly. "Guilty as charged. Okay... so where can I find our girl?"
I pointed over her shoulder. "You won't have to look far."
Cassandra was coming up the hallway, Sergeant Siler following close behind. Cassie brightened immediately upon seeing the captain and broke into a run, dashing the rest of the distance between them and diving into Sam's arms. I waved a thank-you to Sergeant Siler and he left, returning to work. Sam lifted Cassie and swung the girl around in a strong hug. "Ooh, I missed you, kiddo! I swear, you've grown two inches in three days. What have you been up to since I left?"
The girl smiled and said, "I'm not two inches taller," she argued. "Mom took me to the zoo and the aquarium and we saw two dolphins named Jasper and Ace and they were diving and the kids were giving the dolphins some fish for every trick they would do and the dolphins would splash me when they went back into the water but it was okay, cause Mom made me dress in something called 'dress-down clothes' and it didn't matter if they got wet so it was no big deal and OH! we saw some things called walruses that had big teeth sticking out of their mouths and--"
Sam cut the girl's sentence off. "Whoa, honey. Take a breath there. So I assume you had a good time while I was gone."
"The *best*!" The girl smiled. Quickly, she added, "Not that I only have fun when you're gone. It's just that Mom is fun, too."
I was smiling like an idiot. She had called me 'Mom' three times in five minutes. I could feel my pride growing. "Honey, I think we're going to be having spaghetti and meatballs tonight. Is that okay?" I realized I was talking to an alien child who had arrived on Earth not even two weeks before. "Oh. Um... Spaghetti is long, tasty noodles covered with red sauce and meatballs are... balls of meat." I felt like an idiot.
Cassie just smiled. "Sure. Sounds good." She wrapped her hand around Sam's and said, "When're we leaving? I want to show Sam the picture I got at the zoo."
"Just as soon as I find Dr. Warner and tell him I'm leaving. Then we can get home and show Sam everything you've been up to."
After the spaghetti debacle had ended, I retired to my bedroom. Sam had demonstrated spooling the noodles around a fork and then spearing a meatball on the end before eating it. Cassie had tried and almost choked on the amount of food stuffed in her mouth. Sam and I had patted her on the back, helping her to get it down. Finally, when she could breathe again, she looked up at us with a red face, eyes wet with tears... and smiled. "I like spaghetti," she said. Sam and I had both laughed, falling back into our chairs. Cassie just looked at us like we were insane.
I unlocked my rolltop desk and raised the front, immediately pulling a candy bar from the drawer. This time it was a KitKat. The blank sheets of paper were still front and center, so I picked up my pen and unwrapped my chocolate. I grimaced as I noticed the chocolate was melted and was transferring to my fingers. I sucked my index finger into my mouth and began to write.
"I made it through another day. "I've made it through several days, actually. It's been a while since I actually put this pen to paper. My candy bars are in desperate need of either replacement or refrigeration. Probably the former. Sam came home today after several tense hours of waiting. I fell asleep in my office and had a dream about the first time I saw her. Those memories always make me smile... But how long can this go on? Secret crushes are great for a while, but eventually I have to move on, right? I can't keep lusting after her for the rest of our lives. My feelings would only grow, right? It would be harder and harder to do my job, and then everything would be shot to hell. "What if she distracts me to the point that I neglect my duties as the chief medical officer of the SGC? Is it possible that one day, when lost in a daydream, I won't notice something odd and a Goa'uld will slip through our defenses? I won't allow that to happen. One way or another, I'll have to put an end to this infatuation soon. "But how will I--"
The knocking on my bedroom door interrupted my train of thought. I turned in my chair and said, "Come in." When we had gotten home from the base, I had pulled on a pair of jeans, but was still wearing my uniform blouse. It was unbuttoned, but not low enough to be indecent.
The door opened slowly and the object of my affection poked her head in. "Hey," she said softly. "Can... I come in?"
"Sure," I said, turning to face her. I made it a point to leave my desk open, a subtle hint that I had forgiven her for her minor indiscretion in reading my notes. I folded my hands in my lap, forcing myself not to gape when I saw her outfit. She was wearing a pair of pink panties and a baggy tank top that hung open enough to reveal she was wearing a matching bra. What *was* it with this woman and revealing nightclothes? "Something bothering you?"
She moved towards my bed and perched on the edge of it. "Um... kinda." She pulled her legs up onto the mattress, hugging them to her chest and rocking slowly. "I moved in here to help you with Cassandra... but it seems like I've been making you do all the work. I mean, you stay home with her, you take her to the zoo, you do her laundry." She shrugged. "It's just that I feel like I'm only making more work for you."
Her voice was a distant echo to me. All I could think of was "Sam is on my bed wearing panties. Sam is on my bed wearing panties." I felt like an immature, hormone-crazed teenager, but... well, Sam was on my bed wearing panties! I nodded dumbly, only partially understanding what she meant. "I totally agree," I muttered.
She looked shocked, but continued. "Well... I was thinking about how unfair that was to you. So, tomorrow, it's Janet Fraiser Day."
"What?" I asked, finally looking up. "I'm sorry, I... wasn't really paying attention. What did you say?"
She repeated her cause, then smiled. "Tomorrow, you get to do things for yourself. Go shopping, see a movie, get your hair done... go on a date! It'll be like a day off!"
I stood and walked into the closet, pulling off my uniform shirt. "Sam, I'm trying to be a mother to Cassie. Mothers don't get days off."
"Of course they do," Sam said, standing and following me into the closet. "They hire a babysitter. Of course, you would just have to pick up the phone and give me a call. I'd be here in a heartbeat."
I was a bit nervous about changing in front of her, but finally decided to go ahead. I tossed my uniform blouse into the hamper and leaned against the wall, unbuttoning my pants. "Sam... I wouldn't feel right about leaving you alone to deal with everything by yourself."
She scoffed, "Like I left you for three days?"
"Touche," I said, sliding the denim down my legs. Sam was in panties and I was now down to panties and a bra. In a perfect world, this would be heaven. A thought struck me and I wondered if it was too risky. What did I have to loose? I mean, in my note, I had just written that this had to end one way or another... why not push my luck? I cleared my throat and said, "Um... I've never been comfortable sleeping in a bra. You mind if I..."
"Ah, no, go ahead," Sam said, completely calm with the whole situation. "You've seen me in the all-together before." I found the clasp between my breasts and released it, dropping the flimsy material to the floor. I was topless in front of an underwear-clad Sam Carter. The sudden tingling between my legs informed me that this plan was beginning to backfire. I grabbed a t-shirt off a hanger and pulled it over my head, quickly covering my nipples before Sam realized how erect they were.
I tried to change the subject. "So, this 'Day of Janet' you speak of," I said, going back into the bedroom. "Are you sure it's not just an excuse to spend more time with Cassie?" I raised an eyebrow as if I were Columbo and had just stumbled upon my prime suspect.
She smiled. "Nothing of the sort," she assured me with a sly wink.
I sat on the bed. "I guess it'll be fun. I'll see what's playing at the cineplex and get back to you in the morning. 'Kay?"
"Sure," she said. "Try to see that new Brad Pitt movie... tell me if it's any good." She moved towards the door and stopped to pull down the front of the rolltop for me. It was halfway down when she paused, looking at something on the desk's surface.
Oh, no!! The note!! I stood and said, "Uh... Sam..."
She ignored me, reaching down and picking something up. "Janet?" she said.
"Yes?" Was this it? Was this the end of everything?
The captain turned, a dripping slab of KitKat in her hand. "I think you need some new candy. This melted all over your papers." She dropped the melted candy in the wastebasket and began to lick her fingers clean. Distracted by the erotic sight, I turned my attention to the note on the desk. The top sheet was marred by pools of sticky brown liquid. I swallowed sharply and said, "Thanks. I'll, uh... probably have to get some kind of cooler for them. They never seem to last long enough."
Still sucking on her thumb, Sam slipped out of my bedroom, wishing me a good night as she went. I closed the desk, turning the key in the lock. Finally alone again, I allowed myself to release a sigh of relief. What a night...
I grumbled as I sat up, brushing my hair out of my eyes as I picked up the alarm clock. 1:32. Damn. I dropped the clock back onto the nightstand and fell back onto the mattress, pulling one pillow out from under my head and clutching it to my chest. Nothing seemed to help me get to sleep. My bouts with insomnia had been far more frequent during my marriage and my ex had devised a way to get me tired. I'd already tried the solo version and it wasn't working.
Finally, I gave in and threw my legs over the side of my bed and slipped my feet into a pair of slippers. Might as well get something to eat and see what was on the boob tube. I yanked the terrycloth bathrobe off the back of the closet door and pulled it on. 'Who needs sleep,' I asked myself, reciting the lyrics to a song off the last CD I bought. 'I should be happy with what I'm getting... There's a guy who's been awake since the Second World War.'
I yawned loudly - wondering why I was yawning if I couldn't sleep in the first place - and left the bedroom. As I approached Sam's door, I heard a quiet moan coming from the other side. I winced and forced myself to keep walking. It was bad enough I had to share a house with the love of my life, I had to listen to her 'vocal orgasms.' I had started down the stairs when I heard the words loud and clear coming from the blonde's bedroom. "No... no, stop..."
No matter how vocal, those aren't words of passion. I turned and placed my hand on the knob, pressing my ear to the door. Silence reigned within. I heard the bedsprings squeak and a sudden intake of breath from Sam. She began sobbing loudly, then said, "No!"
I cleared my throat. "Sam? Sam, I'm coming in..." Not bothering to wait for an invitation, I burst into the room. Sam was curled in the fetal position, blankets wrapped around her legs and spilling onto the floor. The sheets were pulled apart and her pillow had been tossed across the room. She had changed from the tank top to a t-shirt, apparently losing the bra in the process. The plain white shirt clung to her body, making the intimate parts of her anatomy more apparent. I wondered how long she had been dreaming. "Sam? Sam, honey... wake up, sweetheart." I grabbed her shoulders, keeping her from thrashing against me. "Sam. Sam, you have to wake up, sweety."
Her blue eyes flew open and she looked up at me, panting in fear. I rubbed her shoulders and assured her, "It was a nightmare. Just a bad dream."
She tried to pull herself out of my grasp. "Where's Cassie? Cassa--"
I covered her mouth, hoping her screams hadn't already woke the girl. I pulled her to my chest and began rocking slowly with her in my arms. "Shh... it's okay, Sam. Cassandra is okay. You're okay. It was just a nightmare, sweety." I stroked her sweaty hair and heard her quietly begin to cry against my shoulder. "It's okay. You'll be fine."
She sniffled, then pulled back slightly. She pressed her forehead to mine and whispered, "I was dreaming I was back there. Back at the silo." She ran her hand under her nose and blinked rapidly. "I dreamt that we left her there, Janet. And the... the bomb went off." She collapsed into my arms and held me tightly. "Don't leave me, Janet. Will you stay with me tonight?"
"I'll be right here," I promised. "I won't leave you alone." Sam pulled me closer, forcing me into a reclining position on the bed. I wrapped an arm around her, resting my hand on her hip. "How long have you been having these dreams?"
She was quiet for a moment. "Off and on... since that day."
Her head was resting on my shoulder, her breath hot against my flesh. I reached up with my free hand and closed the top of my robe. "You should've told us, Sam. This is a big problem. You shouldn't have had to go through this by yourself." I squeezed her closer. "I'll be right here for you. Just as long as you need." My inner voice screamed at me to stay quiet... telling Sam that I would stay with her in her bed - or that my bed was always open - was *not* one of the ways to get over my crush. I smoothed her hair against her head and said, "Go to sleep, honey. I'll stay right here and keep you safe."
The captain's fingers curled into the material of my robe. The military woman that I had stitched up after so many battles had disappeared, replaced by a frightened little child. She was asleep in seconds, her tears still dripping onto the terrycloth of my robe. I pulled the blankets and quilts up over our tired forms and adjusted the pillow behind my back.
How do I get myself into these things?
She muttered in her sleep. Whispered words that seldom made any sense. I could make out snippets of conversations with someone named Mark, giggling at a private joke and whispering what I believed to be orders. When I finally allowed myself to fall asleep, she was in the middle of humming a song I could only vaguely remember.
I woke dreading the situation I knew I would find myself in. I had never been a calm sleeper and I doubted Sam would be able to remain still. I slowly opened my eyes and examined the damage. The belt had come loose on my robe, both halves hanging open and revealing my thin t-shirt and my panties. Sam had one leg hooked over my waist and one hand was just below my left breast. Our faces were inches apart and I could feel her warm breath washing over my cheek and down my neck. I never wanted to leave this spot, but knew it would never last. I finally nudged Sam with my elbow. "Sam? Honey, we have to wake up."
She murmured something, but her hand and leg shifted to release me. I slipped off the side of the bed and pulled my robe closed once more. I could hear her shifting and sitting up on the other side of the bed. "God... Janet. What time is it?"
"Uh... quarter to seven."
The blonde groaned and stood, walking across the room to her bureau. She yawned loudly, stretching her arms over her head. "Janet, I want to thank you for last night. You're a real friend."
I smiled. "Not a problem."
I turned to face her... and was greeted by an amazing sight. As I had turned, Sam had crossed her arms in front of herself and grabbed the hem of her tshirt. She pulled it up and over her head in one fluid motion, tossing it across the room. I watched, dumbstruck, as she worked her panties down her hips and kicked them off the toe of one foot. She turned to me, smiling, apparently unaware of her nude state. "So... what do you have planned for today? It's all you, remember."
She was standing a few feet away, her breasts rising and falling with each breath. I had been in this situation so many times before... as a doctor examining a patient. During those situations, I always knew what to look at and what to avoid. If her elbow was injured... well, if her elbow was injured, she probably wouldn't be naked. I rubbed my face, then realized I'd been silent far too long and faked an answer, "Ooh, sorry, I'm still waking up. What did you have in mind for me to do today? This *was* your idea, after all."
She turned back to the dresser, pulling open the top drawer and removing a cotton brassiere. "Well... I was thinking I'd look for a tutor. You know, for Cassie, so she can start regular classes next year. It'll have to be someone from the base, someone who knows all about the Stargate and would understand why Cassie doesn't know who Abraham Lincoln is."
I nodded, then got an idea. "What about Catherine Langford? She and Ernest have been doing refresher courses to get him up to speed on current events. It wouldn't hurt for Cassandra to sit in with them." Her fiance, Ernest, had been rescued by SG-1 on a recent mission after being stranded for forty years. He had been the first man through the Stargate in ages and his disappearance had led people to assume he had died. Now, he was back and trying to pull himself back into the flow of life.
Sam grinned, pulling on a slate-blue sweater. I couldn't help but notice she was still bare from the waist down. Was this payback for my bra stunt last night? "Sounds great. We've given Cass a mom, an older sister, and grandparents. We're doin' pretty good."
"Not to mention Jack, the fun uncle, Daniel the stick-in-the-mud brother and Teal'c the... Teal'c. What is Teal'c?"
Sam wiggled her way into a pair of too-tight jeans without bothering to put on panties. "Uh... Hmm. Teal'c is just... there."
"The strong older brother, right?"
Sam chuckled. "Yeah." She turned, buttoning her jeans. "Well... I'll go wake Cassandra up, we'll all have breakfast together, and then you get to go... to the mall. Shop for that new CD you've been talking about. Maybe catch a movie." Her eyes brightened. "Maybe get a manicure... or your hair done." She dropped onto the bed next to me. "Then, maybe you could go to a bowling alley or--"
"Wow!" I laughed, cutting off her itinerary. "I haven't even agreed to go yet."
Sam rubbed my shoulder. "You have to go," she said softly. "You can't stay cooped up in this house forever. Go. Enjoy the day. Pamper yourself. You deserve it." She leaned forward and lightly kissed my cheek. "Now go get ready. I'll have breakfast waiting when you get downstairs." She left the bedroom, leaving me to digest the new information I'd been given... not to mention the image of a nude Sam that I had bouncing around my skull.
I slipped my arms into the sleeves of my wrap blouse, pulling the two ends together and tying the strings on my left side. I adjusted my chest in the outfit (it always made me look a little too busty) and smoothed my hands over my black slacks. I eyed myself in the mirror, adjusting my hair into the same kind of bun that I normally wore to work. I was putting on my make-up when Sam slipped into the room, walking up behind me and looking over my shoulder. At first I thought she was looking at her own reflection in the mirror, then noticed she was staring at me. Her hair was still standing on end, since she hadn't had a chance to take a shower this morning. She smiled and said, "You look great."
"Thank you," I smiled, putting the finishing touches on my lipstick before I turned to face her. "Is breakfast ready?"
She nodded slowly, then stepped forward. Her fingers lightly brushed my cheeks as she reached past my shoulders and cupped the back of my head. I swallowed. "W-what're you doin'?"
She tilted my head down and began working her fingers in my hair. Finally, the bun came undone and my hair tumbled around my shoulders. She stepped back, allowing me to look up and began to fluff my hair. She smiled and said, "You always look stunning with your hair down." She cupped my cheek with one hand, resting the other on my shoulder. "You should wear it down more often."
I was trying to determine whether or not this was a dream. "Uh... is Cassandra up?"
Sam smiled and released me. "You know what it's like trying to wake up a twelve-year-old. Alien or not, it's like she's handcuffed to the mattress." She moved towards the door, sniffing the air as she moved. "I'll try again... the smell of bacon has wafted upstairs. That always got *me* out of bed." She left the bedroom, leaving the door open a crack. I moved quickly to the door, peeking out to see if she had vanished without a trace like most dreams.
The blonde was standing with her back to me, lightly knocking on Cassandra's door. "Cass, honey. Breakfast."
I stepped back and returned to the mirror over the sink. Touching the strands of hair that were now resting on my cheeks, I decided that if it was good enough for Sam... I pulled a pair of eyeglasses out of the drawer under the sink and quickly stuffed them into my purse. Sometimes at the movies, I found myself squinting at the screen. Sam had never seen me with the specs, so I was being subtle about them since she had moved in. I took one last look at myself in the mirror and smiled at the reflection. I turned, examining my profile. "Chief Medical Officer, mother... one hot chick." I laughed and left the bedroom. I had a long day of goofing off ahead of me.
I kissed Cassandra good-bye, told Sam to behave herself and slipped out of the house. By the time I made it to the door of my car, I was feeling guilty about leaving Cassie. I climbed into the car, gripping the steering wheel and trying to force myself into leaving. I could just see Sam's face when I barged back into the living room. She had made such a big deal about this being totally about me, but I would've had to be blind to miss her real reasons. She missed being Cassie's guardian, her mentor. Our little mission wouldn't be affected by one day off, would it?
Finally, I decided to go back inside and deal with Sam. I had just lowered my foot to the pavement of the driveway when my cell phone began ringing in my purse. I frowned, wondering who would be calling me, and answered. "Fraiser."
"Go," Sam ordered through the small speaker. "Have fun. Spoil yourself."
I sighed. "You're really going to make me do this, aren't you?"
"Let's put it this way. If you come back in this house, I'll throw you over my shoulder, drive you to the mall and abandon you in the parking lot. It's really your decision." I could practically hear her smile over the phone line.
Relenting, I said, "Fine. I'll see you around... six?"
"Nine," Sam argued.
Sam paused, narrowing her eyes. "Midnight."
I rolled my eyes. "Nine."
She chuckled. "That would be fine. I expect a report at the end of the night, do you hear me, Dr. Fraiser?"
I held up my free hand in defeat and said, "Okay, okay! You win!" I pulled my foot back into the car and slammed the door. I held the phone up to the ignition as I turned the key and let her hear the engine start. "You hear that?" I said, bringing the phone back to my ear. "I'm going. I'll see you tonight at nine, okay?"
"Have fun, Janet. I'll see you."
We disconnected and I returned the phone to my purse. I backed out of the driveway, feeling a little better about leaving 'the girls' for the day. Cassie was in wonderful hands.
The Brad Pitt movie that Sam had mentioned was "Seven Years in Tibet." I headed to the mall cineplex, but the earliest showing was three hours away at noon. I went ahead and bought a ticket for the noon showing and looked around the mall with a sigh. Since the last time I'd been there, several stores had been changed, reworked and simply replaced. I adjusted the purse strap on my shoulder and headed for the nearest Waldenbooks. I had a discount card there, but I had no idea whether or not it was actually still valid. The last time I'd actually bought a novel had been before I moved to Colorado.
I made my way to the display of bestsellers on the wall and began perusing the titles. Several authors I recognized had new novels out, so I carefully began examining those book jackets. I was halfway through the description of 'Remote Control,' the new Stephen White book, when I noticed her. She was moving, wraith-like, through the shelves of books. Her red hair was curled slightly at the ends, framing her face in a sea of strawberry-colored strands. She was wearing a blue blouse, her legs revealed by the short black shirt she wore. Finely manicured fingers traced the spines of several books before she looked up. Eyes that were more violet than blue locked on mine and she smiled.
Busted. I returned the smile, then went back to my book jacket. I had just finished when I realized the woman was next to me. I stopped myself from jumping back in shock, deciding to simply look up at her and return the smile from earlier. "Hello," I said. My voice sounded oddly strained, weak. Thank God Jack O'Neill wasn't here to see his Napoleonic power monger now, trembling at the proximity of this beauty.
She eyed the book in my hands and said, "I was wondering if you were planning to buy that." Her voice was lightly accented, British or Australian, maybe... "The cover, it's intriguing, and there are no other copies. Could I perhaps read the plot?"
I handed the book to her, mentally chiding myself for being so tongue-tied. As she began reading the inside of the book jacket, I decided to say something. "You know what they say about books and their covers." She looked up, one eyebrow cocked. Great move, I scolded myself. "Well... uh, you said the book had an intriguing cover. They say you shouldn't judge a book by it's cover."
"Who says that?"
Just walk away, I told myself. Walk away, leave the bookstore, leave the mall and RUN! "W-well, a lot of people. It's a very well-known saying."
She smiled. "I know. I'm just givin' you a hard time." She finished reading the summary, then looked up again. "Were you planning to buy this?"
I shook my head. "Uh, no. Go ahead. I'll either wait for the movie or see if it shows up at the library."
She tucked the book under her arm and grinned. "Well, then. I suppose this is good-bye. Enjoy your day." She started to walk off, then turned and said, "By the way... the accent is Aussie. Call me a Brit and I'll hurt you." The threat was softened by her smile and the playful wink she offered before walking the rest of the way to the counter. She handed the book to the clerk and began digging in her purse for her wallet. As the teenager began ringing up the purchase, the woman turned and smiled at me.
Realizing how stupid I must look just standing here, I waved shyly and moved into the maze of bookshelves. First Sam, now this mystery redhead... "One crush at a time," I quietly ordered myself.
After aimlessly wandering the bookstore and several clothing retailers, I finally decided it was close enough to showtime to head for the theater and pick a seat. I followed a large man in a flowered shirt through the now-crowded corridors of the mall's second level, passing the food court and ignoring the smells of freshly cooked pizzas and pretzels. The neon lights of the small franchises beaconed me to come and sit for a while. I checked my watch. Still over half an hour to the movie. If I didn't eat now, I'd be starving by the time it was over.
I weaved back through the crowd and bought a ridiculously over-priced (and over-sized) pretzel from one of the vendors and carried it to one of the picnic-like benches that filled this particular area. I took a bite of my pretzel, content to people-watch for a while. Dozens of college and high-school students filled the other benches and I spotted one or two groups of elderly power-walkers who stalked the corridors of malls across the US. Their blue and green windbreakers indicated they were all together, like a sporting team or a cult.
Continuing to scan the crowd, I spotted a sea of red curls sitting atop a blue torso. I craned my neck, trying to get a better look, but my view was blocked by a young couple more interested in each other than their food. I stood and moved to the other side of my table and looked again. The redhead had her back to me, but I was certain it was the same woman from the bookstore. She had a Waldenbooks bag sitting next to her on the floor and the Stephen White novel was open in front of her.
Biting my lip, I gathered my purse and moved across the food court. I found another empty bench and lowered myself to the seat. This postion gave me an excellent view of her face. Her brow was furrowed slightly as she read, a half-eaten salad sitting forgotten in front of her on the table. She neared the end of her page and her right hand floated her her mouth. The pink tip of her tongue darted out, wetting the pad of her finger before she lowered it to the corner of the page. She finished the sentence and quickly flipped the page.
Her confusion wasn't a mystery; I had read several of White's books and he had a habit of throwing the reader into some weird, unknown area before explaining what was happening. She glanced at her watch and closed the book, using the sales receipt as a bookmark and slipped it back into her bag. As she was standing, her violet eyes seemed to find and lock onto mine in the sea of faces. I felt as if I had been caught with my hand in the cookie jar. She smiled and offered a shy wave before gathering her trash. She dumped the remnants of the salad in the garbage can and headed towards the escalators.
She passed the flight of mechanical stairs and continued forward, close to disappearing around the corner. If she turned, she would be heading straight for the theater, which meant I had a legitimate excuse if she turned and thought I was following her. It was only twenty minutes until the movie began. I stood, tossing my pretzel into the nearest trash can and hurried to catch up with my mystery woman.
'One crush at a time,' I had told myself. What if this could solve two problems? I could approach this woman, make a move, ask her for her number and there would be no repercussions if she said no. And if she said yes, then I'd have something to take my mind away from Sam. This day at the mall could be the very thing that I had been hoping for! I turned the corner, scanning the crowd for my strawberry-haired Venus.
She had vanished!
"Damn," I muttered, examining the backs of dozens of heads before I allowed myself to believe she had disappeared into thin air. I walked quickly down the row of stores, glancing into each one for a glimpse of the mystery woman. I didn't see her anywhere, and I had a movie to get to. I wasn't about to throw away the eight dollars I'd spent on a ticket. I flashed the small piece of paper to the usher that was letting people in and he indicated a door down a darkened hallway. I pocketed the ticket, knowing that the woman would most likely have left the mall by the time the movie was over.
Pity. Just when I had put everything together, she slips out of my fingers.
The theater was already packed. I waited until my eyes adjusted slightly to the darkness and began looking for gaps in the never-ending sea of bodies. Countless silhouettes filled most of the theater, speaking in hushed tones. I finally spotted a bank of empty seats about halfway down. It was closer to the screen than I generally cared to sit, but judging my options, I decided I'd better grab whatever I could get. I hurried down the aisle and slipped down the row, whispering apologies to the people whose feet I stepped on or whose popcorn I had displaced. Finally, I found a vacant seat and dropped into it.
I had an empty seat on either side of me, so there would be no fighting over the armrests. I relaxed into the plush lining of the chair and slipped my shoes off. Whether they were marketed as 'comfortable' or not, shoes got damned painful after walking for three hours. I sighed and brought one foot to my lap and began to massage it.
As I rubbed the big toe, an accented voice to my right said, "It begins in a snowstorm. Very confusing, but I think I'll enjoy it."
I looked over. My redhead! Uh... *The* redhead, rather, was sitting next to me, an amused smile on her face. She had a bag of popcorn in her lap and her arm was propped on the chair between us. "Um... what?" I said, proud of myself for making such a snappy comeback so quickly. I could have patted myself on the back if I wasn't already kicking myself in the ass.
"The book," she explained. "It starts in a snowstorm, and it's very confusing. But I'll give it a fair chance before I pass judgement." She took a handful of popcorn and began eating. I was about to ask this beauty for her name when the theater darkened dramatically and images began to flicker onto the screen. I turned in my seat, glancing at the woman out of the corner of my eye. This could work for me... I'll bring it up after the movie... see how she'd feel about going out for lunch and take it from there. I took a deep breath as the previews started. Just a few short hours. Not long at all.
Sam held the door open, welcoming Ernest and Catherine into the house. She smiled and embraced the older woman. "Samantha! How are you doing?"
The blonde smiled. "Wonderful, Catherine. How about you two? You have forty years to catch up on, you know."
Catherine smiled, wrapping an arm around Ernest's waist. "You wouldn't believe how many things he's absolutely obsessed with. Just the other night, he watched all three of the Godfather films, and tomorrow he plans to watch the entire Star Wars trilogy." She chuckled. "And he doesn't even know what Star Trek is!"
Sam raised an eyebrow. "Wow. At least you're focusing on the important stuff, eh?"
The old man chuckled. "I spent forty years alone, dealing with numbers and facts and figures. Now, I'm focusing on entertainment, fun and the company of a beautiful woman." He winked. "Or, in the case of today, *two* beautiful women."
Catherine laughed loudly, playfully slapping him on the chest. "Honestly, Ernest! I think some of those alien texts at Heliopolis were devoted to the lascivious! Now... before he gets us into any more trouble, where is the lovely little girl we've heard so much about?"
Sam stepped aside, motioning for the elderly couple to enter. As he passed, Ernest leaned forward and said, "The girl... she's really an alien being?"
The captain paused. "Well... she was born on an alien world. But her ancestors were taken from Earth, so she's basically human." She smiled, then realized the trepidation on her guest's face. "Is something wrong, Ernest?"
He adjusted his shirt, then said, "No. I... Well, I've never met an alien before."
"That's not true," Sam grinned. "Teal'c is from a world called Chulak."
Ernest nodded sharply. "Yes, yes, but I spent no time with him. This child will be my first sit-down meeting with someone from another world. How should I act? How should I speak? I'm so nervous I can hardly contain myself."
Sam patted him on the shoulder. "Whether she was born here or not, she's a twelve-year-old. You don't have a thing to worry about. It's just nerves. And, besides... she was raised with tons more respect for her elders than children here. And there aren't very many people older than you, are there?"
Ernest's eyes regained their previous twinkle. "Why, Samantha... I can still do all the things I could do at twenty. Most of them better." He winked and rested his hand on her shoulder. "Thank you for pointing out how silly I was being. Now, point me in the direction of the little boy's room and we can get down to business."
How long was this damned movie?!
I glanced at the nameless woman a few more times during the course of the film, but her attention always seemed focused on the story unfolding before us. Every so often, she would take a handful of popcorn and slowly feed it into her mouth a kernel at a time. I was amazed at how precise her hand movements were; the fingers were arranged so that none of the popcorn could fall out, but a space was left open with just enough space for her to retrieve some when she wished. She raised the fist to her mouth again, pressing her mouth to the opening between her index finger and thumb. Her tongue snaked out, fishing for an elusive kernel. It was an arousing caricature of what I wanted her to do to me.
Unsuccessfull trying to put the gorgeous redhead out of my mind, I turned back to the movie.
As the credits rolled, I stood and made sure not to let the redhead slip away. I picked up her Waldenbooks sack and held it out to her. "Hi. I was wondering, since we have a habit of running into each other anyway, what do you say I buy you lunch?"
She paused, considering my offer, then smiled brightly. "I would love to, but I'm as busy as a little bee." She cocked her head to the side and pursed her lips. "It is a shame, though. To allow such a wonderful invitation to go to waste. Maybe I could... take a rain check?"
I nodded. "Sure, sure. It was... just a suggestion really." I handed her the sack. "I hope you enjoy the novel."
The redhead smiled, accepting the bag and adjusting her purse on her shoulder. "I am sure I will. Thank you for the enjoyable - if unintentional - company during the day." She leaned forward and lightly pressed her lips to my cheek. I thought I could feel her lingering, but couldn't be sure. She pulled back and said, "Another time?"
"Yes," I managed. "Another time."
She was out of the theater before I realized we'd never exchanged names or numbers. The rain check was an excuse to get rid of me. I dropped back into my chair and covered my face with both hands.
Rejection... it'd been so long since I'd actually made a move on someone, I had almost forgotten what it felt like. Eventually, the ushers arrived to clear the debris before the next showing, so I slipped out of the theater and made my way back to the main corridors of the mall. As I walked, I dug through my bag until I found my cell phone. Dialing a familiar number, I leaned against the wall next to a grunge-rock clothing shop and listened to the rings of my own home phone.
After several rings, I heard Sam Carter's breathless voice. "Hello?"
"Hey, Sam," I said. "Me."
"Janet?" I could tell she was checking a clock. "You're not ready to come home already, are you?"
I rolled my eyes. "You were kidding about midnight, weren't you? Honestly, my feet are killing me and I think spending any more time in this mall would make my toes scream in terror. I'm not sure I can take any more relaxing." I glanced at the people coming in and going out of the shop next to me. Several had piercings all over their faces and most had tattoos visible on their faces and necks. I could only imagine what their stud-lined leather clothing was hiding. "I could come home and just sleep."
Sam was silent, then said, "Look, I'll tell you what. Eat a big lunch, go to O'Malley's and play some pool, drink some beers and come home sloppy drunk. Go to the base and finish some paperwork. Of course, if you *do* get sloppy drunk..."
"I know, I know. Call you or call a cab, I got it," I smiled. "And the base? You're the one who thinks of work as a vacation, Carter. Why are you so adamant about getting me out of the house?"
For a moment, she didn't answer. "I'm getting a little jealous of you and Cassandra. I didn't expect her to attach to you so quickly and I... I miss being her hero." She chuckled quietly. "I sound like the biggest fool in the world, don't I? I practically forced her on you and now I'm feeling left out."
"You didn't force her on me, Sam. I love her. And I love you." God, tell me I didn't just say that out loud. "You'll always be a part of her life because you're a part of *my* life. If I'm lucky, she'll love me as much as she does you. But I don't for a second believe she'll love me more. I'll find something to do for the rest of the day. You have fun with Cassandra."
"Well... until five, I'm still sharing her with Ernest and Catherine. They came over for a quick lesson with her. At the rate they're going, she'll have all she needs to know to be enrolled next semester."
I grinned. "Good. Well... I guess I better get shopping. I'll see you around noon tomorrow."
She laughed and wished me good luck before hanging up. I slipped the phone into my bag and pushed off the wall. I was about to walk on by the grunge shop when inspiration struck. I turned and walked under the jagged red letters that spelled out, "Hot Topic."
Leather outfits that looked like rejects from every bad biker movie ever made hung on the walls, the smell permeating my nostrils and making me wonder how many cows had died to fill this storefront. A glass counter ran along one wall and I paused, looking down into the display case. Dozens of different metallic studs were displayed, each one subtly different from the next. Curiously, the wall behind the counter displayed shirts advertising classic TV shows like "Dukes of Hazzard" and "Starsky and Hutch." I looked down at the ear, tongue and nose studs, carefully examining each.
A teenager with green hair slowly ambled his way to the counter and slouched against the glass. His spindly arms were marked with an artistic version of a nude woman straddling a cobra. He looked at me from below his heavy eyelids and took a moment to examine my decidely suburban attire. "C'n I help you... Mrs. Cleaver?"
His coworkers guffawed. I smiled, keeping my lips in a firm line. "Yes, I was wondering if you sold temporary tattoos and fake tongue studs?" I glanced at the wall and said, "And a shirt... 'Dukes of Hazzard,' please."
I left the mall and headed for the nearest bookstore to pick up a copy of 'Remote Control.' I hadn't really been completely interested in it, but now that I knew that my nameless crush had it and was enjoying it...
As I left the Barnes & Noble store, I almost turned back as I handed the clerk my twenty dollars, but decided what was done was done. I carried the novel to my car and thumbed through it, noticing for the first time how long the thing actually was. Before I pulled out of the parking lot, I forced myself to read the first couple of pages. It was confusing, a mishmash of images and half-seen faces, followed by a gunshot. I tried to make sense of the plot, but gave up after a few minutes.
Marking my page with the sales receipt, I laid the book on the seat next to me and turned the key. Sam had suggested O'Malley's, so O'Malley's was where I would go. My watch told me I still had a few hours before Sam would allow me into the house. As I left the parking lot, I realized I had spent more of the day obsessing of the nameless redhead than I had thinking of Sam. I smiled. Hopefully, this was a good sign.
I tapped my cue on the edge of the table and tried to remember some of the lessons Sam had given me. I knelt, eyeing the cue ball and lining up my shot. I bit my lip and eased the cue forward, lightly knocking the white ball forward. I straightened... and watched as the cue ball rolled towards the red ball I had aimed at... and directly past it into the side pocket. "Damn," I muttered, laying the pool cue across the pool table. I turned to my opponent and smiled sweetly. "Maybe I should sit the rest of the game out. I'm sure there's a more worthy opponent here."
He smiled and said, "Sure thing." He picked up my cue and tossed it to his friend. "How 'bout we make you feel better about your pool skills by getting you a couple drinks?"
Great. Of all the pool halls in all the world, I had to walk into Casanova's. "Uh, no thanks. I'll take a rain check, though." As I walked past him, I realized I had used the same brush-off the redhead had used on me. Way to turn rejection around, I told myself. I moved towards the bar and climbed onto a stool, resting my head on the cool wood.
As I was trying to forget my problems, a soft voice next to me said, "Well... If you're going to be *this* persistant..."
I looked up... straight into the beautifully violet eyes of the redhead. My eyes widened and I felt a smile spreading across my face. "You."
"Me," she said, smiling. "Melissa Larrikin. Mel, actually, to my friends."
The beauty had a name. I nervously extended my hand. "Janet Fraiser. My friends call me..." I smiled. "Well..."
Mel smiled, looking around the bar. "Are you, ehm... are you drinking alone?"
"Unfortunately, sadly, heartbreakingly... yes." I smiled and indicated the stool next to mine. "Have a seat."
She accepted, climbing up and motioning to the bartender. When he arrived, she asked for a bottle of whatever I was having. I tapped the glass and said, "Budweiser."
She raised one eyebrow. "Ooh. Wonderful!" She adjusted herself in the seat, then propped her chin on her elbow. "So what were you doing today, other than following me?"
Her beautiful violet eyes were sparkling and I wanted nothing more than to tell her how I felt. Instead, I grinned. "I wasn't exactly following you... although I'm glad it turned out that way."
Mel's drink arrived and she took a sip, licking her lips and whispering, "Excellent drink..." When she replaced her drink on the coaster, she turned to me and said, "Promise you won't let me drink too much. Most of the time I can hold it, but sometimes American beer... Just don't let me get too drunk."
"Uh... uh. sure. Sure," I promised.
She and I spent the rest of the evening laughing, drinking and sharing stories of our lives. I told her I had adopted my sister's child and had practically been forced to have a night off by my friend and she offered me a salute. She told me that she had just moved to Colorado from Australia and was busy trying to make her way through the strange new world. I offered her a salute for that and we drank again. I checked my watch and realized it was past eight. I started to slip off my barstood and turned to Mel. "I have'ta call my friend. Tell 'er I'll be late."
Mel's hand covered mine and she leaned forward, her eyes glazed by the alcohol. "How late you wanna be?"
I could feel my heartbeat quicken in my chest. "Mel, I..."
She assisted me back onto my seat, keeping one hand on my forearm. She raised an eyebrow and said, "I 'ssume you're lookin' for some company. The way ya talk about this Sam bloke, you need a little relief." Her finely-boned fingers began to stroke my arm through the sleeve of my blouse. I could barely breathe, let alone speak. "I can be just as good as a man... better."
I leaned forward and brushed my lips across hers. The move was barely noticeable and I doubted anyone in the bar saw. Besides, I was too drunk to care. I whispered, "I don't want a man. I want you." I felt like my entire chest was about to explode outward. "Just let me call and-and tell Sam I'll be late." Mel allowed me to slip away and head for the bank of payphones next to the bathrooms. My knees were shaking and I found I could barely hold the quarter still enough to slip it into the slot. I even had to think to remember my home phone number.
If I'd been thinking at all, I would've remembered I had a cell phone in my purse.
Sam nervously tapped her foot on the floor, hugging herself tightly. "If anything's happened to her, it's my fault," she whispered. "I told her she couldn't come home, so she stayed out and got hurt. It's my fault."
Jack turned, leaving his post by the front window. "No, it's not. Nothing happened to the doc, so nothing is your fault."
Sam nibbled on her thumbnail. Cassandra had gone to the park with Daniel after Janet was an hour late. Just in case it turned out to be a bad sign, Sam didn't want the girl to hear the bad news. Sam had called the colonel when Janet was an hour late, now he was standing guard at the front door while Sam kept watch by the phone. She was about to break into another rendition of 'It's all my Fault' when the phone chirped. she answered quickly, nearly dropping the receiver as she said, "Hello? Hello, Janet? Janet, is that you?"
"Slow down, Sam," the doctor slurred. "I just got a little drunk is all... I'm at O'Malley's."
Sam closed her eyes and breathed a sigh of relief. "You need someone to come get you?"
"No, no... it's all right. I met someone and I think we'll be... spending time together."
A smile spread across Sam's face and she looked up at O'Neill. "The honorable Dr. Fraiser gets drunk and heads into the night with an anonymous guy she meets in a bar."
O'Neill's eyebrows were suddenly buried in his hairline.
Janet snickered. "I'll be home soon, Sam. Hopefully before sunrise. Kiss Cassandra good-night for me." She giggled once more before hanging up.
Sam returned the receiver to it's charger and smirked. "Well, well, well. The good doctor has urges just like the rest of us. Who'da thunk it?"
Jack shook his head. "The one night I'm not at the bar..."
Cigarette smoke and the smell of cheap beer hung around us like a curtain, fogging the windows of my car. Our bodies were pressed so tightly together that I could feel her heart pounding against my flesh. Eager hands tore at clothing until every stitch was either removed or out of the way. My skirt had been pushed up around my stomach, my panties torn and tossed aside. I think they had landed somewhere in the front seat, but I didn't really care at that moment. Mel's hands were roaming over my breasts, pulling at my bra as I was working to unclasp hers. The hook was in the back, forcing me to embrace her while her hands were busy in my cleavage.
I pulled back slightly, peering into her smoky, lust-filled eyes before pulling her into a deep kiss. I hadn't had a lover - male or female - for over 14 months; Mel was getting the full force of my excitement. Her hair had seemed long before, but I soon discovered that it was being held in a clip. I squeezed the small piece of plastic and hurled it to my right. Hair streamed out from the beautiful Aussie's head, her face obscured by the falling locks. I brushed them aside, leaning down to kiss her once more.
Her tongue probed my mouth hungrily as she finally released my breasts, her fingers skimming across the pale flesh and finding my erect nipples. She pinched them painfully and I yelped into her mouth. She eased up, gently kneading them as she plunged her tongue into my mouth.
The material of the car seat squeaked beneath her as she moved to slip out of her skirt. I glanced down, forcing myself to take deep breaths as her crimson panties were revealed to me. She wiggled her legs in the confines of the backseat, trying to remove the material from her feet. I released her face, trailing my hand down her large breasts, over her flat stomach and finally allowed my fingers to rest over her heated mound. I could feel her wetness through the material of her underwear. I leaned back and said, "I'm going to rip your panties off."
"Yes," she gasped.
I grabbed the flimsy material and pulled, baring the patch of trimmed red hair. I parted my lips, eyeing the moisture that was accumulating on her upper thighs. I brushed my fingers through her short hair, feeling her juices on my fingers. I brought them back to my mouth, keeping eye contact with her as I licked the digits clean. Mel was breathing heavily, her face sheened with sweat. Finally, she bit her lip and whispered, "I want you inside of me."
Giving my fingers one final lick, I lowered my hand and began to probe around her entrance. She gasped, sitting up in the seat. I grabbed her hip with my free hand, turning us both so that her back was to the door. She moved down onto her back, stretching out on the upholstrey and hooking one leg over the front seat. I was amazed by how limber she was, but put it out of my mind as I arranged myself between her beautiful spread legs. I found her clitoris and began to gently massage it, poising my index and middle finger at her center. She was pressing herself down into the seat, moaning loudly as I massaged her sensitive netherlips.
Finally, I pushed my fingers into her to the first knuckle. She gasped loudly, rising up off the seat. I hooked my free hand behind her head and drew her in, melting our lips together in a seductive dance. I closed my eyes, picturing Sam Carter on the other end of my tongue. I threw one of my legs over her right thigh, pressing my warm core against her soft flesh. She moaned into my mouth and lifted her leg to press against me. I began to writhe on her leg. She moaned, moving her lips from mine and beginning to trail kisses along my jawline and down to my shoulder. Two of my fingers were firmly within this beauty's vagina, her inner muscles pressing against the intruders as if trying to suck them deeper.
I buried my face in her hair, inhaling the scent of her strawberry shampoo. "Janet, Janet," she chanted. I could feel her hot breath washing over my shoulder and down to my breast. Using her tongue as a guide, she worked her way across my smooth flesh until she found my nipple. I moaned as she wrapped her lips around it, gently suckling on the nub as I thrust my hand against her core. Gentle nips and loving sweeps of her tongue were pushing me towards the edge.
Determined not to climax before this beauty, I added a third finger to my assault and found her clit once more with my thumb. She gasped loudly, moving her lips away from my nipple. This exposed the saliva-wettened flesh to the air and a not-unpleasant chill passed through my body. I was close. Very close. I pulled Mel's face to mine and we exchanged tongues in a frenzied kiss. When she pulled back, she hissed, "I'm cumming, Janet." She bit her lip, moaning loudly as I felt the first gush of juices against my palm. I kissed her lips, her nose, her eyes, before I began to explore her throat and shoulders.
The sound of her climax, mixed with the sounds of satisfaction she was emitting, pushed me over the edge as well. I began to flood over her thighs, whimpering in that way that I hate. I pressed my lips to her forehead and practically wept, "I'm sorry."
She brushed my hair out of my face and said, "Sorry? For what?" The accent almost threw me. Despite the hair and the eyes, I had almost convinced myself this woman was Sam.
I sniffled, brushing my hand under my nose. We were laying on top of each other, all-but nude, smelling of cum, in the middle of a crowded parking lot. This was *not* the time for pillow talk. "I'm sorry I whimpered. I hate it when I whimper." I was resting my head on her breast, the material of her bra pushed down to expose her nipples. "My ex-husband loved it though... he thought it meant he was putting me in my place." I sat up, pulling my clothes back on.
Mel sat up, too, fixing her own clothes. "Yeah. My husband usually keeps me in the house during the day. Cook, clean, spread my legs." She rolled her eyes as she searched for her panties.
I glanced at her. "You... mean your ex-husband. Right?"
She looked at me. "No. I-I thought you knew." She held up her left hand, presenting the suddenly blinding wedding band. "I'm married."
I couldn't believe it! I was 'the other woman'! A part of me - the part influenced by O'Neill, no doubt - was proud of that achievement, but the larger part felt dirty. "You... cheated on someone just now?"
Her violet eyes were sparkling. "Yeah. So what?"
Stupid, stupid, stupid. "I'm just a one-night stand, aren't I? Just a quick little... fling... before you go back to your husband?"
She placed her hand on my thigh. "Look, Janet, I thought we were just... having a harmless little fling. I didn't know you planned a relationship for us." She pulled her bra back up, covering herself before she worked her arms back into her blouse. "I'm sorry if I misled you, but... this was just about sex."
I felt so used... like a cheap hooker. I turned to her, hiding the tears in my eyes. "Could you please leave the car?"
Mel looked so hurt, but damn it... I didn't care. She made sure nothing was showing and opened the door on her side, carefully climbing out into the parking lot. I wiped away the foggy glass and watched her walk to her car. She opened the door slowly, subtly glancing back before she got in. A few minutes later, she was gone.
I sat in the car for a long time, wearing only the sleeves of my wraparound blouse and fingering the material of the skirt that was bunched around my stomach. Finally, after the windows started to clear, I got dressed again and climbed into the front seat. My panties were hanging on the gear shift, a ripped, moist reminder of the night that should never have been. I picked up the torn material and stuffed them into my purse. Sam had made me promise to call a cab if I got drunk but... I couldn't let anyone see me in this condition. I had driven drunk before... now wouldn't make a difference.
As hard as I tried, I couldn't hold back my tears as I drove home. What a rotten day this turned out to be.
The front of my - our - house was completely dark by the time I pulled up in the driveway. I knew my headlights cut across every window on the street-facing side of my house, so *someone* knew I was home, but I didn't really care. I couldn't face them right now. I wrapped my hands around the steering wheel as I stared at the dark front door.
'Sam isn't your lover,' I told myself. 'She won't think you're unfaithful. She'll only be happy that you got lucky... just leave out the part about the horrible end and the fact that it was a woman... everything will be fine.'
I had commited adultery. Try as I might, I couldn't get that idea out of my head.
As I turned my attention back to the steering wheel, I thought I saw the front door move slightly. Looking back, nothing was out of place. I blamed my intoxication for the tricks and closed my eyes.
Charlie Chaplin - called The Little Tramp before that became an insult - once said that laughter is 'the tonic, the relief, the surcease for pain.' Who am I to argue with that logic? I fished around the floor in front of the passenger seat until I found the bag marked 'Hot Topic.' My bag of pranks when I thought I would be home at five rested and relaxed. What a day. I quickly slipped out of my blouse (noticing the tell-tale stains of Melissa's make-up on it and grateful that I had bought a new one today) and pulled out the 'Dukes of Hazzard' t-shirt. I slipped it over my head in the car, preparing to make Sam forget all about asking how my day was.
Sam was wearing pink boxer shorts with white hearts on them, the pair that Jonas had given her as an engagement present. She was also wearing a nearly sheer tank top with no bra, her nipples sticking out against the material. A bag of freshly popped popcorn sat on her lap, warming her bare thighs in the semi-dark living room. The only light came from the flickering screen of the television.
The show was one of her favorite guilty pleasures; a scifi show that seemed to subscribe to the theory that the universe was inhabited by buxom, half-nude space nymphs who were waiting to pleasure whatever explorers happened along. The lead was, of course, a male with amazingly coiffed hair that never got knocked out of place as he attacked hostile aliens and protected the damsels in distress.
"We... don't mean you harm," the male lead said, his muscular chest heaving as he spoke with halting diction. "We... wish only to... explore and share the wonders of the universe with you!"
The alien, being the drooling behemoth that it was, didn't listen. It retorted with a sophisticated "Reeoeerrahh!!" and pounced on the team. It went directly to the most attractive female member of the team and immediately slashed it's claws across her chest. Her tunic fell open, revealing the red Wonderbra she wore.
Sam rolled her eyes as the creature began to tug at her clothing. "Men. They're alike no matter what planet you go to."
Headlights cut across the living room and Sam immediately turned off the TV, pulling herself up and placing the bag of popcorn on the coffee table. 'Finally!' she thought. 'Where has she *been* all night?' She plucked a robe off the back of her chair and hurried down the hall, tiptoeing on the tile so as not to wake up Cassandra.
The captain pulled aside the curtains on the window cut into the front door, smiling at the silhouette of her favorite doctor. She watched for several minutes as Janet remained still, then frowned. 'Maybe she got a little too drunk.'
She was about to hurry outside and see if her friend needed help when the brunette began to wiggle around in her seat. It looked like she was undressing. But why? Sam stepped back and decided to let this play out on it's own.
I pulled the tshirt down over my breasts and paused to examine myself in the mirror. One of my nipples protruded against Bo Duke's forehead. I tugged at the hem, moving the image slightly so that Daisy's beautiful image was gracing my chest. The bump my erect nipple made in the fabric was located directly on her lips. I grinned and continued to dig in the bag.
The tongue stud was hard to figure out, but I finally got it to stay in place. The final touch was the false tattoo. I lifted my arm, tilting it so I could lavish the skin with my tongue. Finally, the flesh was wet enough and I applied the artwork. The cartoon was of a devil poking an angel in the rear with it's pitchfork.
The clerk had talked me into several other 'additions,' such as a spiked dog collar and several hanging earrings in the shape of swords and daggers. The final touch was a bracelet made of heavy-duty chains. I put those on as well, deciding that I might as well go all out.
Satisfied that my transformation was complete, I climbed out of the car and started up to the house. I only wished I had bothered to redo my makeup and hair; give myself the totally trash look. I stepped onto the porch at the same time Sam turned on the porchlight and pulled the door open. Her eyes flashed as she took in the sight before her, her smile slowly fading and her jaw dropping. I gave her a half-turn, making sure she saw the tattoo. She finally found her voice. "Janet?! What... happened to you?!"
I grinned. Mission accomplished. "You told me to get crazy. I got crazy." I stuck my tongue out at her, the metal stud glistening in the light. She stepped back, struggling to find the right words. "What? Don't you like it?"
"Oh, yeah," Sam said, playing along. "I love it. I finally get to meet the real Janet Fraiser."
I smiled and pushed her into the hallway. "Is Cassandra asleep?" I asked, kicking the door shut behind myself.
Sam looked confused, but the smile never left her face. "Yeah... couple of hours ago. What are you getting at, Janet?"
"No, no," I said, shaking my head. "I'm not Janet Fraiser anymore. It's time you met my hard-rock persona." I frantically searched for a fake name. "Electra Indigo."
The captain laughed, still leaning against the wall next to the front door. "Well, it's a pleasure to meet you, Ms. Indigo. How may I be of assistance?"
"We heavy-metal stars demand certain treatment," I said. I felt as if I were watching myself from outside my body, unable to control the actions of the puppet I had become. "If I feel a little... randy... I need to have my needs met, ya know?" What was I doing?!
Sam now had her back against the wall, one eyebrow arched. "Oh, really? What 'needs' are you talking about?"
I pressed myself against her body. I could feel her heat through our clothing and cupped her ass with both hands. "You know what needs, Carter." I gently pressed my lips to her cheek, carefully sliding my way towards her lips. My heart was pounding louder than a timpani, my mind reeling. Suddenly, I felt her hands on my shoulders and I was being pushed away. GOD! So close! It wasn't *fair*! I opened my eyes and said, "Sam? Everything all right?"
Her face was flushed, her eyes half-closed. "Yeah. We just got, ah... a little carried away with the whole thing. Almost went a little too far."
"Right," I said. "I wanted to get you back for making me stay out all day. I've been planning this since noon." Right, noon. More like six months. "Sorry if I got a little carried away."
She laughed. "It's not problem. But... no offense... you need a breath mint. How many drinks crawled down your throat and died?"
"Ex-CUSE me!" I said, keeping my voice to a dull roar as I remembered the young girl upstairs. "WHO was it that told me to go out and get quote, sloppy drunk?"
"Guilty as charged," Sam admitted. She glanced towards the living room and said, "You wouldn't want to, ah... stay up with me? Watch some bad scifi on TV?"
I frowned. "Don't you have a mission tomorrow?"
She grinned sheepishly. "Yeah. S'pposed to be some boring environmental survey, but the MALP showed signs of a civilization. Maybe we'll get to play with some locals." The large toe of her right foot was playing with the fuzz of the carpet. "Sometimes, nights before a mission, I sleep like I'm dead. Others... I can't sleep a wink. This is one of the latter."
I looked at my watch. Twenty minutes to one. "I *am* on duty tomorrow, you know. Not many people want an exhausted, hung-over doctor working on them."
Sam nodded. "Oh. I guess I'll see you tomorrow then."
She started towards the living room and I grabbed her arm, chuckling. "I'm not on duty until one. I can hang out with you for a little while. What's on TV worth watching?"
I tiptoed down the stairs, having removed my punk rock memorabilia and changed to a sensible nightgown. The soft blue cotton stretched to my mid-thigh and left my arms and upper chest bare. I had a robe pulled loosely around myself and made a feeble attempt to cinch the belt as I entered the living room. Sam was curled up on one end of the couch, remote clutched firmly in one hand. I arranged myself on the opposite end of the sofa, pulling my legs up underneath myself and turning towards the TV. A bag of popcorn sat between us.
Despite the amount of alcohol I'd consumed, I barely felt the buzz a night of drinking usually left me with. Sam had a very sobering effect on me... not to mention our near-miss kiss. I licked my lips, pretending I could taste her on them.
The TV was tuned to a scifi movie where the hero was more Fabio than Jack O'Neill. In a pinch, he could've used his own chin to carve a statue of himself in the town's square. After the third or fourth narrow escape from death, Sam turned to me and asked, "So... it sounded like you were pretty wrapped up in something when you called. Didn't go as planned?"
I rolled my eyes. "Worse date ever. We're making out in the backseat of my car, getting pretty hot and heavy and, all of a sudden, there it is. Plain as day. A little golden circle on the left ring finger."
Sam winced. "Ouch. I assume you kicked 'im right in the keister?"
Him. Why did she always assume it was a him? "Yeah. Kinda ruined the mood."
Sam smiled and turned her gaze back to the TV. Not much time had passed before she said, "Although... if you want to talk about bad discoveries during sex..."
Do I dare sit through a story of Sam having sex? I turned to her, hugging my knees to my chest. "Oooh? Do tell."
She blushed slightly in the dark, then turned to me. "Okay... but this story does *not* leave this room. I know this story, Jonas knew this story and you are about to. It ends there. Promise me."
I nodded, crossing my heart over my robe.
"Okay," the blonde sighed, running a hand through her hair. "When Jonas and I were engaged, we started sleeping together. So... one night, Jonas comes home and is feeling spectacularly randy." I decided I really didn't want to hear this story, but couldn't think of a polite way to stop her. "We start fooling around and he blurts out that he has no condoms. I run into the bathroom, nude, feeling my own juices slide down my thighs--" Please stop. Or shoot me. Either or. "--and I grab what I think is a tube of contraceptive jelly. I squeeze some out, rub it into my vagina as I remembered from reading the instructions earlier and returned to Jonas' side.
"So, we're going at it, but before he enters me, he wants to give me a little oral action." My arousal trumpeted into the room like a pink elephant, dropping right next to us on the couch. I pulled my legs tighter to my chest and hoped Sam didn't notice my flushed skin. "He starts to... give me a good tongue lashing, when suddenly he looks up and tells me that my pussy tastes minty."
I frowned. "Minty?"
She nodded, flashing her teeth. "Minty. So I reach down, rub myself and have a taste." Oh, mental images, leave me alone!! "Sure enough... minty. I had tasted myself on many occasions. With other lovers, on my own fingers, on toys--" Stop listing things! My mind was racing with enough as it was. "Never had I tasted minty." She laughed. "Turns out I had accidentally grabbed a tube of Crest toothpaste instead of the jelly." She was laughing so hard now that tears were streaming down her face. When her giggles finally subsided, she sighed and wistfully said, "I think... that was really the last time we were happy."
I sighed. "Really, Sam... contraceptive jelly?"
She shrugged. "I don't like the pill, he was out of condoms and they stopped making the Sponge."
"Toothpaste. The world's most unappreciated prophylactic."
This started a new burst of giggles from Sam. She covered her face and shook her head. "Oh, God! I would be mortified if Jack O'Neill found out about that! The jokes, the gags... all the missions off-world! I would die! Truly, totally die. You can*not* tell anyone!"
I held up two fingers. "Scout's honor. I swear, it's you and me."
She shook her head, her cerulean eyes cold. "No. I want blackmail material. We're sharing secrets, I want something to hold over your head." She winked, smiling broadly. "Besides. It'll be fun. I almost came just remembering my story." I inadvertantly glanced down at her crotch and tried to cover by looking at the TV. "C'mon, Janet. The most embarrassing sexual-related story you got."
"Give me a minute," I said, smiling. "I don't keep them vaulted, waiting to spill the beans. I've blocked quite a few." Then, I thought of it. I just had to change all of the she's to he's and it would be perfectly acceptable. I cleared my throat. "Okay. When I was in med school, I had a course as a teaching instructor. I had this *gorgeous* teacher and eventually we... started a little fling. You know the kind... academy flings that are basically just about sex, sex, sex." She nodded.
"One night, we're setting up for an early class in the back of the lab when we just start tearing at each other. Beakers shattering on the ground, test tubes exploding underneath us and giving us little cuts and scrapes... We made love all night on top of the sterile black countertops--"
Sam scoffed, "They weren't sterile anymore!"
I continued, glaring at her. "--the now *un*sterile black countertops and finally fell asleep in each others arms. Unfortunately... we woke up two minutes before the first class started." I chuckled. "Oh, my God. Dr. Statler got dressed so fast I thought I was watching a fast-forward recording. I was still getting dressed when the class started coming in, but Statler was already presentable and headed out to cover for me. It was *such* a close call... and a couple of students complained about an unusual smell coming from the lab." I winked. "They said it smelled like sex."
Sam laughed, holding her stomach. "How did you make it through the day?"
"It was a very... uncomfortable... endeavor. You see, in our passion, my clothes had gotten ripped. I wore a lab coat and nothing else during the entire days classes."
The blonde's eyes widened and she covered her mouth, tears welling in her eyes. "Okay... okay, you win! That's worse than my toothpaste story."
"Of course it is. At least Jonas got fresh breath from your mistake."
Sam cackled, then covered her mouth. She leaned forward, resting one hand on mine. "God, I forgot what it's like staying up late with someone else in the house. I feel like a naughty little girl who snuck downstairs after her parents went to sleep."
Naughty little girl need a spanking? I mentally slapped myself. Exhaustion made me think weird things. "I know what you mean," I whispered. "I think I'll go up to bed... get some rest for tomorrow. Will you be all right by yourself?"
She sighed. "I may head up, too. Gettin' a little tired."
I kissed her on the cheek as we helped each other stand, resisting the urge to slide my lips a little to the right. I recalled last night's screaming-fest and held tightly to Sam's arm. "I'll sleep with you again, if you want. In case there are more dreams."
The blonde chuckled and said, "And here I thought you were the one friend I wouldn't have to worry about trying to get into my pants." She laughed, but if she only knew how much the joke stung. "I'll be fine, Janet, but thanks for the offer. I'll see you tomorrow... Electra Indigo." She winked and headed upstairs.
Alone again with my thoughts, I went into the kitchen, putting dirty dishes in the dishwasher and putting away food that had been left out. Several history books were sitting out on the dining room table. I closed them and put them in a neat stack before going upstairs. The house was silent. I heard Sam in the bathroom and slipped into my own room, closing and locking the door behind me. I quickly stripped out of my robe and nightgown, going to the window and pushing the glass up. The cool air washed over my nude body, teasing my nipples to erection and making me weak in the knees.
I stepped away from the window and moved to the bed, sitting on the edge of the mattress and resting my head on my hands. I don't know when or why I started, but before long, tears were dropping onto my bare thighs. I laid down on the bed and wrapped a blanket around myself. I wept, staring at the smooth surface of my ceiling. I picked up Radar, my teddy bear named after my favorite character on MASH and cradled him to my breast.
I remembered my first time with another woman. It had been awkward and clumsy, but more rewarding than any sex I'd ever had with a man. She had explored every contour of my body, never once moving between my legs until the penultimate moment so she could taste me as I came. I could still recall every touch, every taste, every sight and every sound that I had experienced that night, from the cotton of my underwear to the silk of her sheets.
My experience had always been that on nights I had sex, I seldom felt the need to masturbate. Tonight, however, was the exception. I touched myself to images of Sam's minty vagina, our near-miss kiss leading to all-out exploration, wonderful things I could've done to her with my fake tongue stud and memories of my virginal encounter on my first female lover's sheets. I didn't think about Melissa at all, putting her out of my mind.
When I came, I pictured Sam's face floating in front of me. I opened my eyes, actually seeing the ghostly visage dancing along my ceiling. I inhaled sharpled at the sight of her, then said, "I love you, Samantha."
It was the first time I had said the words aloud and they were accompanied by a gentle quaking in my thighs... I felt a warm trickle across my fingers. I arched my back and continued assaulting myself. Quietly, I chanted, "I love you, Sam... I love you. I love you..." I fell asleep tangled in my sheets, legs hanging over the side of my bed. Radar was held tightly to my breasts and my mouth was hanging slightly open.
Had I known what the next day would bring, I doubt I would've forced myself out of bed in the morning.
I made Cassandra breakfast, but succeeded only by going through the motions. My hair stood in all directions, my face was devoid of makeup and I wore only an oversized t-shirt. Cassie happily ate her scrambled eggs and toast, drinking her orange juice without complaint (even though it had pulp) and finally devouring her bacon. Sam - the damned morning person she was - came skipping down the stairs in the standard black-green ensemble. She skipped. In love with her or not, I wanted this beauty skinned. She dropped into the seat across from me and raised an eyebrow. "Geez, Janet. You look like hell."
Glaring at her, I held up my hand. "Hangover... plus three hours of sleep... equals Grumpy Ugly Janet. Get used to it." I forced a smile and laid my head on the table. "I couldn't get to sleep. Headache was so bad."
Suddenly, Cassie was next to me. She brushed my hair away from my face and kissed my temple. "It'll be okay, Mom. You want me to get you some medicine?"
I sat up slowly, blinking away the tears. I glanced at Sam, who appeared equally touched. I stroked Cassie's cheek and said, "Sure, honey. I'd like that."
She hurried out of the room and we heard her steps on the floor above our heads. Sam and I just stared at each other. When she returned, she plopped two aspirin into my hand and said, "Take these. You'll feel better." She grinned and said, "You got to be my doctor, now I get to be yours."
I sniffled, looking at the two pills in my hand as if they were pieces of the Holy Grail. "Th-thank you, baby. Are you really going to take care of me?"
She looked at my hands. "You're my mom. I couldn't help my real parents so... I wanna help you."
There was no stopping the tears at this point. I wrapped my arms around the young girl and squeezed her tightly. "Thank you so much, baby. I love you so much." I felt Cassie returning the hug and felt my heart swell to twice it's regular size. My headache was gone. All that remained was warmth. I chuckled and said, "My headache is all gone, sweety. Thanks to you... You took my mind off of it."
Cassie smiled. "Ah, I didn't do anything."
As Cassandra climbed back into her chair, I turned to face Sam... only to find she had left. Her chair was vacant and her plate was left barely touched. I felt guilty; all of Sam's concerns about losing Cassandra and whatnot. Sam cherished her, but it just wasn't in the cards for her to be the girl's mom. Nonetheless, the transition was taking it's toll on the captain. Maybe I'd talk to her about it later. If nothing else, Cassandra considered the tall blonde to be a savior and a big sister.
After dropping Cassandra off at Ernest and Catherine's estate, I left to begin my shift at the SGC for the day. Sam and SG-1 had just left on their 'hum-drum' mission and weren't expected to report back in for a few days at least. When I arrived in the infirmary, I saw that Colonel Makepeace was once again sitting on one of my beds. I sighed and shook my hand, planting one hand firmly on the curve of my hip. "Makepeace... if you're allergic to peanuts, don't eat cashews!"
He grimaced at me, but nodded in accordance. I moved closer, sticking my finger in his face. "Next time I may hold off on treatment until you turn blotchy and itchy. It just might teach you a lesson and it would be a lot of fun to watch."
I left Makepeace stewing and headed for my office. As I was unlocking the door, one of my medics rushed in and said, "Dr. Fraiser! SG-1 is back and they're requesting at least three medical teams! ASAP!"
Oh, God. Fingers trembling, I finished unlocking my office and hurled my briefcase and coat at the couch before rushing off after the medic. Three medical teams? What in the blue blazes could have happened to require *three* medical teams?! As I entered the elevator and watched the doors slide shut in front of me, I selfishly prayed that none of the teams were for Sam.
Relief flooded my mind when I spotted Sam Carter walking into the infirmary under her own power. She was leaning on a gurney, eyeing the man laying on it and checking to make sure he could still breathe. The man wasn't a member of the SGC; I assumed something had happened offworld, but had no idea what would constitute bringing wounded back here. There was quarantine to think about, viruses to scan for... Whether or not Sam was injured, I had my hands full with this. I began to examine the first refugee I could get my hands on, trying unsuccessfully to pull him from his silver suit.
The suits looked like outfits worn by actors in science fiction movies; silver, all one-piece and no zippers. Small devices were attached to the material, but I couldn't make heads or tails out of it. I sighed and looked for Sam. She was nowhere to be seen. Just as well; I didn't need any distractions. I grabbed a stethoscope and began to order the medics around. Let O'Neill call me a Napoleonic power monger if he wanted. This is where I got my chance to shine. General Hammond had to defer to my judgment in this situation and so did the rest of the base. So what if my head swelled a little?
From what I could tell visually (and by the location and sound of internals), the aliens were human. I motioned to one of my medics and ordered a blood test done on the man I was currently working on. He had black hair and a large nose, the rest of his face bland by comparison. As I often did, I wondered what had led this particular man to be in my infirmary. Usually, I had enough background to satisfy my curiosity. Now...
I turned to examine another patient when I realized Sam had returned, flanked by Colonel O'Neill and Teal'c. I approached them, frowning and awaiting their explanation. Finally, O'Neill said, "Hammond wanted us checked out, but we're fine. A-OK."
I fixed a solid glare at him and said, "I'll be the judge of that. Dr. Warner, could I have a hand here?"
SG-1 was dismissed with a clean bill of health. The alien refugees, on the other hand... So far, all I had learned was they were from a world designated P3X-7763 and that one of them had warned Sam not to help them. General Hammond wanted me to monitor them for at least 24 hours, which meant a nap on the couch and taking advantage of the clean uniform hanging in my locker. Sam assumed she would be ordered to keep an eye on the planet and told me she wouldn't be making it home in time for dinner. Which left me with the problem of what to do with Cassie.
I called Ernest and Catherine during a lull in the exams and told them that Cassandra may have to stay the night. They agreed to watch her and assured me that I wasn't putting them at a disadvantage. I asked to speak to Cassie and she seemed utterly ecstatic to be staying at the large house overnight. She said that she missed me and I promised her I'd take her home tomorrow. After we hung up, I sat back in my chair and took advantage of the sudden quiet.
I imaged myself at twelve, immersed with schoolwork and parents and the various trappings of being a child. I tried to imagine a possibility of having everything - *everything* - ripped away from me in one fell swoop. And then, two weeks after the destruction of my family, to have adapted so far in so little time. Sure, there had been her quiet period, but that hadn't lasted very long. Would I have been so trusting to people who appeared out of nowhere? People whose words I had to take as truth because I didn't have anyone else to turn to? I highly doubted it. I definitely wouldn't have been calling my caretaker 'Mom' so soon.
My reverie was interrupted by a young medic sticking his head into the office. "Dr. Fraiser? One of the aliens is awake."
His name was Omoc, and he was not a happy camper. Even laying in his bed, he seemed to carry an air of authority about him. After a brief, albeit terse, conversation with General Hammond and SG-1, Omoc had furiously demanded that everything taken from them be returned. I approached his bedside with caution, filling his bedside table the various devices removed from his uniform. As I was laying them out, I felt his ice-cold eyes fix on me. He asked, "You are the one of authority here?" His voice was as gruff as his exterior.
"I am," I said. "Dr. Janet Fraiser."
He seemed unimpressed. "I believe I asked for all that was taken to be returned. Did I not?"
I frowned. "Everything is here. What are you missing?"
He rolled up his sleeve, indicating a small red scar in the crook of his elbow. "I believe one of your people removed blood from my body."
"Oh." I looked at the small pinprick, wondering how I could finesse my way through this. "Well, we had to run tests on your blood to make sure you didn't have any bad reactions to our medicines. Putting the blood back in would... would not be a very good idea. I'm sorry. I can't return it."
The man sighed, crossing his arms over his chest. He muttered, "I see," and turned his attention elsewhere. Several of the other aliens - they were called Tollans, I discovered - were waking and sitting up. All of them seemed confused, but most of them seemed healthy. I moved to the closest bed and began to explain the situation to this man as well.
I opened my eyes, embarrassed that I had actually fallen asleep on the porch. Ernest and Catherine were probably still awake... it was only nine-thirty. The day that the Tollans arrived had been spent mostly examining them and making sure they weren't carrying any kind of viruses that would cause the base to revert to prehistoric cavemen and women. The second was devoted to tests making sure they weren't susceptible to any airborne or contagious Earth diseases. Last thing we needed was for alien refugees to start dying of the chicken pox.
Colonel O'Neill and Daniel had dropped by once or twice, checking on the survivors. Daniel spent most of his time speaking to the large-nosed, black-haired man while O'Neill seemed focused on making the female Tollans feel comfortable. I had no idea what Teal'c was up to that day, but the technological gossip mill was buzzing with Sam's new hobby. In order to successfully monitor the atmospheric conditions on the Tollan homeworld, she was developing an aerial UAV that would fly through the wormhole and zoom over inhospitable landscapes. She assured us it would be ready for launch tomorrow.
When the General had finally cleared me to go home, I drove directly to Ernest and Catherine's. During the drive, I had felt my adrenaline slowly dipping until I could barely keep my eyes open. I pressed the doorbell and my eyelids immediately dropped.
The porchlight came on, waking me immediately. I straightened in time to see the large door swing open and an attractive woman step out. She was either Catherine's assistant or secretary, or possibly a maid. She was relatively new, as Catherine's previous maid had been forced to leave when her husband was offered a better job. The first maid had been okay, a little bit 'over the hill,' but still nice looking. This one, however... everytime I saw her, I made a mental note to visit the house more often. I smiled an exhausted smile and said, "Hello. Are they still awake?"
She smiled sweetly. "No, I'm afraid not. But Cassandra is. She made me promise to let her stay up until eleven, just in case you got off duty."
"Thank you," I said, wishing I could remember the girl's name. Could it be Melissa? The very thought made me shiver, remembering the 'low-rent rendezvous' I had unfortunately shared three nights ago. At that moment, Cassandra appeared in the doorway, dressed in her pajamas. Her eyelids were drooping as mine were, but she brightened upon seeing me. "Hey, Cass. Why don't you go get your stuff?" She disappeared again, eager to get back home.
Home... was she thinking of it as home yet? Or was it still 'Janet's house'?
I smiled up at the secretary/assistant. "I hope she wasn't too much trouble."
The girl smiled. "It wasn't trouble at all. It gave me an excuse to put off paying a few bills." She leaned on the door. "I hate the post office." She rested one hand on the doorknob, absently twisting it first one way, then the other as we waited for Cassie. I noticed her shoes were off and her feet were bare on the hardwood floor. I wondered if she lived her in the main house or in some sort of cottage in the back. I tried to imagine for a moment living with such wealth that I could not only afford an assistant, but to pay for her housing as well. "So, hard day at the office?"
Oh, yes, I mentally replied. We saved a small group of aliens from a devastated planet light years from Earth. Instead, I just said, "Yeah, we got some kind of weird flu bug going around. Inoculations for everyone."
"Yikes," she said, her nose wrinkling as she squinted.
God, she was cute. Could she possibly be... I cut myself off and looked down the hall. "I wonder where Cassie is."
As if hearing my question, my new daughter came down the hall with a bookbag slung over her shoulder. She was also carrying a small teddybear by it's right arm. I knelt and smiled at her. "Well... looks like you have a new friend."
Cassandra held the bear up and smiled. "Ernest gave it to me. He said that it was to keep the monsters away when I'm asleep." She looked up at me and said, "Can I keep him?"
I laughed and stroked Cassie's hair. "Of course you can, sweetheart. We'll just have to find room for him in your menagerie. Have you given him a name yet?" She shook her head no, so I offered, "Well, we can just call him Teddy until you can think of something that's just perfect." I smiled and stood, looking at the maid once more. Very, very cute. She couldn't have been more than nineteen, twenty at the absolute most. "Thanks again."
The girl smiled. "No problem, Dr. Fraiser. I hope to see you soon, Cassandra!"
Cassie hugged the maid around the waist and said, "Bye, Rita."
Rita! Ah, Rita. The beauty had a name. I took Cassie's hand and bid farewell to the girl once more, this time using her name. As Cassie and I headed back to my car, I heard an old Beatles ditty running through my head: 'Lovely Rita, meter maid, nothing can come between us. When it gets dark you tow my heart away-ay!' I smiled and squeezed my daughter's hand. "So... what did you learn today?"
"Presidents. Johnson, Kennedy, Nixon, Carter, Reagan, Bush, Clinton." I was pretty sure that was wrong, but was too tired to argue. After a moment, Cassie said, "Hey, Mom? How come Sam was president and you weren't?"
I chuckled. "James Carter, honey. Not Sam. Sam was a bit too young to be president at that time." I loaded her into the passenger seat, making sure she was secure in her seatbelt before making my way around to the other side. I climbed in, digging in my pockets for the keys. I started the car, turning to look at Cassie as I did so. She was leaning against the door, her face pressed to the cool glass of the window and her eyelids slowly drifting shut. Lucky her.
We were halfway home when it happened. Cassie sat straight up, breathing heavily. I glanced over, not wanting to take my eyes off the road for too long. "Cass? Honey, what's wrong?" She didn't answer, scaring me half to death. I immediately pulled over and turned in my seat to face her. Her skin was flushed and a thin layer of sweat had formed on her brow. "Cassandra?" I touched the forehead with my hand. "Are you okay, baby? Tell me what's wrong."
The only person I felt sorry for was the poor dry cleaner who would have to get the vomit out of my uniform.
I walked down the hallway barefoot, wearing a Garth Brooks concert tshirt that reached to my knees. I folded the wet hand towel three times, making a rectangle and patting it against my palm to make sure it was just moist, not soaked. I quietly entered Cassie's room, sitting on the edge of the bed and touching her shoulder with my dry hand. "Honey? Are you feeling a little better?" A head shake informed me that she wasn't. "Do you need to throw up again?" Another negative shake. "Here... let me put this on your forehead."
As I placed the towel over her eyes, I touched her cheek with my free hand. She was burning up. I bit my lip and watched her as the towel cooled her face. With the members of the SGC, I could run tests... shoot them full of drugs, make them take two aspirins and call me in the morning. But Cassandra had a slightly alien make-up and I was cautious about giving her any form of antibiotics. The last time I'd done what I thought was best, I had created the catalyst for a bomb to begin forming in her chest. I wasn't about to make that mistake twice.
I felt her hand on mine and looked down at her. Her eyes were covered by the towel, so she was basically blind. Her lower lip was trembling. "Mommy?"
My heart went out to her. I wanted to cry. "I'm right here, sweetheart. What do you need?"
I saw tears inching down her face. "Will-will you stay here with me?"
Tenderly, I cupped her face. "I'll be right here, all night. If you need anything, I'm right here." The exhaustion from my triple-shift was gone. I would stay up for hours for this girl. I squeezed her hand and said, "Go to sleep, sweety. Mommy will be right here when you wake up."
Cassandra nodded slightly and I noticed her breathing become a bit more shallow. I slipped my hand from hers and moved to the chair next to her desk. I could still make it to her side in a matter of seconds, but I needed a more comfortable perch. I crossed my legs, hooking my tshirt over my knees and watched my daughter sleep.
I escorted her to the bathroom three more times that night, holding her hair back as she threw up. After she fell asleep a third time, I wondered what had instigated this illness. Something she'd eaten? Something innocent, such as being outside with no coat? For all the innocent possibilities, I was reminded of the 'War of the Worlds.' The invaders from Mars had been impervious to our weapons and caused massive damage... only to fall prey to the common cold. Try as I might, I couldn't stop thinking about that damn story.
At 5:30, I called the base and told them I wouldn't be in for my shift at nine. After a brief explanation, I was given the day off. A few hours later, General Hammond was informed of my absence and the reasons for it and called me back, telling me to stay home tomorrow as well. I thanked him and, against my better judgment, asked him what had changed overnight in regards to the Tollan. He had informed me that Sam was gathering information from one of them and was preparing the launch of the UAV shortly. I thanked him once again and hung up.
My day consisted of helping Cassie to the bathroom to expunge the contents of her stomach and managed to keep up a steady flow of orange juice and water to keep her hydrated. I also managed to feed her a little cereal that she managed to keep down for several hours. Around noon, I caved in and gave her some children's medicine that I hoped was mild enough to keep from harming her. If this worked, I would try something a little stronger the next time she was sick. The next time... I shuddered at the thought.
In between our little trips down the hall, I decided to read to her. I examined my bookshelf and skipped over most of the Joan Collins and Stephen King (too much sex and violence, respectively). I was about to give up and head for the library when I spotted the still-wrapped birthday present sitting on the top of the bookshelf. It was a gift for my nephew who lived in Arkansas. He had turned nine a few months back and I'd never had a chance to give him the gift. I pulled the wrapping paper away and saw what I had purchased: 'Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.' Good enough.
I sat in the chair at the foot of Cassie's bed, keeping a close eye on her to make sure she didn't look too uncomfortable or close to vomiting again. I thumbed the book open and, without bothering to tell her what it was about, I began to read. "Chapter One," I said. "The Boy Who Lived. Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much." By the fourth chapter, I was amazed to discover that I was actually enjoying it. Cassandra also seemed engrossed in it, though she seemed more amused by the voices I used for each of the different characters.
In fact, I enjoyed the book so much that I was a little disappointed when I discovered I had read the last page. It was dark outside and Cassandra was looking a little better. I asked her if she enjoyed the book and she nodded enthusiastically (a move that, a few hours before, would have sent us rushing to the bathroom). I looked at the cover, then shrugged. "Maybe one day they'll make it into a movie." My watch informed me it was not only dark, it was past ten. Before saying goodnight, I gave her another dose of the medicine. Her nausea had diminished dramatically since her first dose, so I figured a second wouldn't hurt.
After accepting her medicine with more maturity than most kids I'd seen, I asked if she wanted me to stay with her again tonight.
She kissed my cheek and said, "You need sleep too, Mom."
I smiled and said, "Sweet dreams, honey. If you need anything tonight, anything at all, I'll be right down the hall. I love you, kiddo."
"I love you, too, Mom."
Five words and my heart broke into five million pieces. I left her nightlight on and slipped out, heading down the hall. Almost 72 hours with extremely little sleep. Hopefully, I could make one last phone call before allowing myself to pass out. I went to the phone and dialed the base number, using the extension for Sam's office. Twelve rings and no answer made me nervous, so I hung up and phoned Daniel's extension. He answered after three rings. "Daniel Jackson."
"Hey, Daniel," I said. "It's Janet. What's going on?"
"Oh. Uh, hi, Janet. Not a whole lot, really. The UAV results saw that the Tollan homeworld is unliveable. A lava flow is headed right for the Stargate so... we're stuck with some guests for a while, I suppose."
I groaned. "What's Hammond plan to do about it?"
"Look for another world to transplant them to. Jack and Teal'c are off-world right now, talking with Tuplo in the Land of Light. The Tollan will have to agree to wherever they go, so it might be harder than it sounds. That Omoc guy doesn't seem to be very... what's the word?"
"Accepting? Friendly? Accomodating? Helpful?"
The archaeologist chuckled. "All good words. I'm kinda starting to doubt he's even human as brash as he is... If you hadn't done the tests yourself, I would doubt the accuracy."
I smiled, my pride swelling with the knowledge that I had impacted this man so quickly. "I was just wondering... do you know where Sam is? She's not answering in her office."
There was a pause, then he chuckled quietly. "Sorry, Janet. I don't know where Narim is."
Na-who? "No, Daniel, Sam. Captain Carter. Do you know where she is?"
He laughed. "I heard you. It's just that... well, one of the Tollans is named Narim and he apparently has a thing for Sam. They've been attached at the hip all day today. She even took him to the surface and explained some of our customs to him. Can you believe he's never seen an animal?"
An alien... had a thing... for Sam? I wanted to know what this Narim ass looked like so I could rip him apart. "Oh. Uh... okay. Well, if you see her, tell her that I'm looking for her. Nice talking with you, Daniel."
"You too, Janet." He hung up without another word.
That night, I tossed and turned in the throes of a horribly wonderful dream.
I was standing in the center of a large ball room, faceless revelers swaying all around me. Soft, classical music played in the background as a glitter ball spun lazily above our heads. My position on the dancefloor placed me directly under the massive chandelier. I was dressed in an elegant, low-cut gown that left my tanned shoulders bare. Countless suitors attempted to ask me to dance, but I dismissed each of them with a slight wave of my gloved hand. I knew who I was waiting for. My princess would come soon.
As if on cue, the doors across the room were blown open and Samantha Carter entered through a haze of smoke. She was wearing a sheer black dress that hugged her figure, her nipples standing against the see-through material. I could see every inch of her beautiful body below the transparent outfit and my mouth was watering at the sight. I parted my lips and gently wet them with the tip of my tongue. Her hair was longer than I had ever seen it, resting lightly on her shoulders. We moved towards each other, all the other dancers moving out of the way as we neared.
Finally, our bodies met with a cataclysmic explosion, the sound like thunder in my ears. I lost my breath as I held her, our eyes locking as we began to sway along with the music. I took her bare hand in my gloved one, guiding her along with the music. I could feel her breasts against mine, her heart pounding in her chest. Could she feel mine, I wondered? I pressed myself tighter to her, closing the miniscule distance between us and ensuring that she could feel it. Sam smiled down at me, her beautifully white teeth flashing in the darkness of the ballroom.
The tempo of the music began to speed up, and our dancing increased to match it. Before we could digest what was happening, we wear easing each other out of our clothes. Before long, our nude bodies were pressed together as we continued to dance, our beautiful gowns laying in forgotten heaps on the floor. The spectators oohed and aahed as our bare bodies writhed together in tune to the music. The touch of her skin on mine was overwhelming. The feel of her erect nipples lightly brushing mine was unbearable. I looked into her incredibly blue eyes and said, "I want to kiss you. I want to make love to you. I love you, Sam."
My words broke the spell. Sam was rocketed away from me, thrown into the arms of a faceless alien in his bland silver uniform. He spun Sam away from me, soon disappearing with her into the crowd. As I tried to find her among the countless dancers, I spotted another familiar face; Melissa, dancing with her husband. He, too, bore no visage, but I knew who he was. Mel saw me and smiled, then began kissing her husband where his lips would have been.
The dance continued. The music went on, uninterrupted. I stood alone, naked and vulnerable, in the corner. I couldn't even cover myself because I could no longer control my arms. I wanted to cry, but tears wouldn't come.
Unfortunately, as I woke from the dream, I realized that an inability to cry had been entirely in my head. My pillow and cheeks were dripping with tears. I brushed my face and sat up, allowing myself to sob a little before going to the sink and splashing any water on my face. I was about to stand and go into the bathroom when I heard the gentlest of knocks on my door. Remembering my promise to Cassie, I wiped my face and said, "C'min." My voice cracked.
Cassandra pressed her face against the crack in the door, eyes wide. "I heard you crying. Can I help?"
I motioned for her to come in and she rushed across the room, immediately wrapping herself around me. Her legs were draped over mine and her arms hung off my shoulder. I knew if I stood, she would remain where she was, just like a little monkey. Despite my sadness, I chuckled. "Thank you for the hug, sweety. That helps more than you'll ever know."
We stayed like that for a long time, just holding each other. I wanted Sam more than anything, that was true. But as of this moment, I had everything that I needed right next to me. I stroked Cassie's hair until she fell asleep and then I allowed her to stay in my bed with me. I didn't have any more dreams that night.
I didn't talk to anyone from the mountain for two days. Cassandra and I spent all of our free time together, laughing and talking about the most common things. I told her about growing up in Oklahoma, finding my brother kissing his girlfriend in the barn and teasing him about it for months. I even revealed to her that I had cried for three days when Bambi's mother died. This revelation, of course, led to the inevitable question of what was Bambi.
Cassie, in turn, told me about life on Hanka. She told me that she officially had two brothers (offspring from the same mother), but she hadn't seen either of them in years. I was again struck by this community method of child-rearing. It would certainly be easier and less stressful on the parents knowing that everyone in town was responsible for the children... but as I looked at this beautiful, auburn-haired girl that looked at me with such love, I couldn't imagine sharing her with anyone. Maybe I'm selfish, I don't know...
When I put Cassandra to bed that night - the eighteenth night of Sam's month - I checked her temperature and, with a bright smile, declared her to be officially cured. She frowned, looking down at her sheets. "I'm not sick anymore?"
"No, honey. You're all better," I assured her, brushing her hair away from her face. "Aren't you happy?"
She picked at her blanket, cuddling a green bear that Sam had bought for her. "Yeah. I guess. I mean, I hate feeling bad in my stomach, but... if I'm not sick any more, then you have to go to work again, right? And I'm stuck with babysitters."
My heart went out to her. "Cass, I know I work a lot... but I'm going to talk to General Hammond about my hours. I think I can convince him to let me scale back. And Sam and I won't always have overlapping shifts." We weren't supposed to have overlapping shifts now, but leave it to the US Government... "We'll always be here for you. I promise." I traced an X over my left breast and said, "Cross my heart."
Cassie frowned at me and questioned, "What?"
I chuckled, picking up her hand and repeating the gesture over her own heart. "It's an old human thing. If you really, truly mean something, then you say 'Cross my heart, hope to die, stick a needle in my eye'. Of course, most people shorten it when they become adults."
She raised a skeptical eyebrow. "Hope to die? Needles in eyes?"
I sighed, shrugging. "Hey, we're the people who sing nursery rhymes about babies falling from a cradle that's up in the tree. Maybe that's why so many of us turn out messed up."
She still wasn't smiling, but I noticed her face was considerably brighter than it had been. Picking up the Harry Potter book and extending it towards me, she asked, "Can you read me some more of the book?"
I took the book from her hands, running my hands over the cover. "We finished this one, remember? I'll read it again, if you like." She nodded enthusiastically and I opened to the first page. She cuddled into her bedsheets as I began to read aloud. "Chapter One. The Boy Who Lived..."
When Cassandra was finally asleep, I dialed the base. After unsuccessfully trying Sam, then Daniel, then Colonel O'Neill, I began to get worried. Finally, I dialed the Med Center. Warner answered on the fourth ring. "Infirmary, Dr. Warner speaking."
"Thank God," I sighed. "I was about to think the damn base had been evacuated."
"Dr. Fraiser," he said, sounding surprised. I could almost see him pulling his glasses off. "How are you this evening?"
I hated his propensity towards chit-chat. "Fine. Just fine. Listen, are Daniel Jackson or Captain Carter around there? I kinda need to talk to one of them..."
Warner paused. "Hmm... I think last time I saw Carter, she was heading towards the Tollan... uh, camp site, for lack of a better word. Hammond had them set up in the multipurpose room on Level 5C. Want me to check on that for you?"
"If you would, please," I said, leaning against the wall of my kitchen. The light filtering in from the living room cast an amber glow on everything around me. Before picking up the phone, I had placed a CD in the machine and was listening to the dulcet tones of Chris Isaak as the phone line hummed in my ear. I wondered if Hammond could be persuaded to install music for people on hold. Maybe some classic oldies like the Beatles or... God, what was taking Warner so lo-- "Alrighty," he said, cutting into my gripe. "Colonel O'Neill and Captain Carter are speaking with the Tollan at the moment. Daniel Jackson just left General Hammond's office. Which would you rather speak to?"
"Daniel." I was surprised. Why didn't I want to speak to Sam? As he connected me, I twisted the phone cord around my finger and paced as far as the curled wire would allow. Finally, I heard Daniel's voice on the other end. "Hey, Daniel. It's me."
"Hey, Dr. Fraiser. Janet. What's new?"
"Not much on this end. You? How are the Tollan doing?"
He sighed. "Well... they've been moved to the multipurpose room for the duration of their stay. Their leader, the guy named Omoc, pulled some kind of vanishing act and got out of the mountain. We went and got them back, but... it only enforced his idea that they're prisoners. Although, it should've been obvious they were coming back... Narim left his cat."
I remembered Narim from our previous conversation... Sam's new friend. "He had a cat? I thought you said he'd never seen an animal before?"
"Oh, he hadn't. Which is why Sam brought him a new pet. An orange cat named Schrodinger."
I rolled my eyes. "Cute."
Daniel chuckled. "Apparently, it was a joke wasted on the Tollan. But Sam is gaining his confidence. He's revealing things to her like... well, like why they don't share technology with other races." I recalled the insistence that we return all of their devices and questioning if we had tried to steal any. I asked for clarification and Daniel explained everything about the destruction of Sarita and how it had led directly to our meeting with Narim's people. "So, anyway, I assume that's why you're calling... the fact that Sam hasn't left the mountain in about three days."
"Yeah... Cassandra's starting to think she's been abandoned," I half-joked. Cassie wasn't the one feeling abandoned. It was Day 18 of Sam's month-long stay. Sure, Cassie was bonding with me, but I had planned for a full four weeks of Sam Carter in my house. I felt cheated.
He sighed heavily. "Well... the Land of Light has been denied as a potential new homeworld. We're checking out a few more possibilities, but I doubt Omoc will accept any of them. Too proud and too suspicious of 'primitive cultures' that he's saying no to pretty much everything we throw at him." I heard him rolling something around on his desk. "The thing is, I think there's a perfect world out there, we just-just can't *get there.*"
"The Nox buried their gate. Otherwise, I think the Tollan would accept it as a homeworld... or maybe the Nox would even have a way to get them home! I just wish there was a way to contact them or-or get to them."
I chewed on my lip. "You'll think of something. If not you, then Sam."
"And if not us, the Tollan themselves." He laughed. "Do you want me to find Sam for you?"
For some reason, I had to think on that for a moment. Finally, I decided, "No... no, just tell her I called. Tell her Cassandra says hello. I'll talk to you--"
"Oh!" Daniel said, nearly shouting in my ear. "Don't hang up yet!" I heard him rustling through some papers. "We got a new guest here at the SGC. A Colonel Harry Maybourne from the NID."
"NID?" Great. Last time they showed up, they wanted to take Teal'c away for dissection. Good thing I hadn't been assigned to the base yet... Of course, if I *had* been assigned then, odds are I would be dead by now. Morbid thoughts aside, I said, "Who do they want to dissect this time?"
He snickered. "The Tollan, apparently. Their minds, at least. Life in a prison with all the ammenities in exchange for all of their science and technology. Fair trade, eh? Anyway, General Hammond wanted to make sure you didn't spill the beans about their health; Maybourne still thinks that the Tollan are in quarantine and can't be cleared until you get back on duty."
"I come back tomorrow."
"Yeah. Which is why there's kind of a ticking clock attached to this rescue mission."
Did I hear that right? "What rescue mission?" There was a long pause. From the hum on the line, I assumed I had been disconnected. "Daniel? Are you still there?"
"I'm here. I-I shouldn't have said that, but Jack wants to try to help the Tollan before Maybourne has a chance to get to them. I'll give Sam your message and see you tomorrow. Okay?"
"Yeah, all right. I'll talk to you tomorrow, then." We hung up and I moved into the kitchen, searching the fridge for something to eat. All I had was leftover Spaghetti-Os and some bread that looked to be on the green side of moldy. Deciding I wasn't very hungry after all, I headed into the living room and dropped onto the sofa. Flipping the channels turned out to be exceedingly mind-numbing, so I eventually turned the set off and closed my eyes to momentarily rest them.
When I woke, it was just shy of six am.
It was day 19 of Sam's month, day eight of the Tollan Invasion.
I arrived at the SGC at 8:15, dropping Cassandra off at Catherine and Ernest's on my way. I hated saying good-bye to the girl, but she was soon enveloped in the arms of her newly adopted grandparents and I was all-but forgotten for the day. I straightened my uniform, fingering one ivory button. As I waited for the elevator doors to open, the button popped off, pinging off the concrete wall and falling, invisibly, to the floor. Even with my buttoned collar and tie, the missing button caused my shirt to gap directly over my cleavage, causing me to look like a reject from a military B-movie. 'But, Colonel,' I imagined my busty film counterpart saying, 'how can we stop the aliens if sex is the only weapon?'
Okay, okay, this was an exaggeration... but I still felt exposed. I turned, muttering a curse as I scanned the floor. I held my blouse shut with one hand, keeping my exposure to a minimum.
Behind me, I heard the elevator doors ding. Damn... The Airman on duty didn't seem to notice my plight or he simply didn't care. He never took his eyes of the report sheet he was busily filling out. I stepped into the elevator as the doors were closing and pulled my jacket over my breasts. I buttoned all of the brass buttons and smoothed the material, looking down at myself. Acceptable, until I was able to get to the locker room to change.
I exited the elevator and headed directly for the lockers, noticing that the door marker was changed to Women. I slipped inside and headed for my locker, pulling my jacket off and beginning to undo my blouse. I had the crisp, blue material off my shoulders when the door burst open behind me. I turned, expecting to see an irate female officer... only to be confronted with a very angry, rather ugly, man. A colonel, juding by his uniform. He spotted me and my plain cotton bra and froze, eyes wide as he tried to determine who had done something wrong.
Slipping my blouse back on, I turned and faced him. "Excuse me, Colonel," I said, keeping my voice appropriately subordinate but snappish, "but this is the ladies time in the locker area. You would have known that had you bothered to look at the door. Please, remove yourself before I'm forced to report you to General Hammond."
He straightened, finally managing to find my eyes. "I... apologize, Captain..."
"Doctor," I corrected him.
"DOCTOR," I insisted.
The man glared at me. "I apologize, *Doctor,* but I'm not exactly thinking straight at the moment." He balled his fists and turned, storming back out of the room. I started to slip out of my blouse again when the door was once again swung open. I jerked my blouse back up, wondering if I had accidentally entered the voyeuristic locker room. This time, the intruder was Sam Carter. I blinked, surprised at the sight. I hadn't seen her in almost four days.
"Sam," I said. "Hi."
"Hey, Janet!" She smiled. "Was... that Colonel Maybourne I just saw running out of here?"
Maybourne... the colonel Daniel had mentioned. I filed away the name and face, knowing it was someone I would end up disliking. Not many people came through here just once. I'd keep this colonel in mind for future avoidance. "I guess so. He came in without bothering to check the door." I finally got my blouse all the way off and tossed it in my locker. "So.... anything happen over night?"
I thought I saw a hint of blush on the Captain's cheeks, but she turned her head away before I could verify. "Not a thing," she finally replied. I don't know whether to call it woman's intuition or just attribute it to the fact that I had known the captain so much more intimately lately, but I was almost positive she was lying.
She stripped out of her blue jumpsuit, down to a pair of panties and her black tshirt. She turned to me and glanced at my open locker. "Do you have any shampoo? I'm out and I positively reek... barely had time to shower since Narim showed up."
Narim, I noticed. Not the Tollans, not the aliens... Narim. I fished my bottle of Herbal Essences from the top shelf of my locker and handed it to her, resisting the urge to tell her that this 'organic experience' was on me. Images from the commercials ran through my mind, but I forced myself to quash them. "So... this Narim guy? Do I get to meet him?
She smiled, popping the top of my shampoo and inhaling. "Actually, that's why Maybourne was so pissed. Daniel contacted the Nox and the Tollans are on their way home as we speak. Oh, you should've been in that control room! Maybourne promised to court-martial Daniel, but it's hard to court-martial a civilian... damn near impossible." She chuckled, pulling her tshirt over her head. I turned away, pulling on a fresh uniform. There ought to be laws governing that beautiful women should wear bras around other women who had secret crushes on them. I found myself chuckling as I realized how ludicrous that sounded.
I turned back to Sam and leaned on my locker door, allowing myself to examine her body closely. If she didn't know I loved her, then there was nothing wrong with an innocent gawk, right? "You know, Sam," I said, trying to keep the tremble from my voice, "you have a truly spectacular body." Her pink nipples were standing erect against her breasts, the flesh around them flushed. I noticed a faint line of freckles that marked her cleavage, something I'd never noticed in exams. Another thing was the tiniest of moles just a few centimeters above her right aureola. I licked my lips. "I'd kill for a body like that."
Sam looked at herself in the mirror, arching her back and cupping her own breasts. I closed my eyes. 'God, kill me now.'
"You think so?" she asked, tweaking her nipples. "I've always kind of admired your body."
I raised my eyebrows. "My... body?"
She turned. "Yeah. You're gorgeous... full-figured, beautiful face. I'm not alone, either. Hundreds of women would kill to look half as good as you." She looked me up and down, making me feel a bit self-conscious. "You know the other night... when you undressed in front of me in your bedroom?"
"Uhm... yeah." God, did I ever... "But technically, it was over a week ago."
Her eyes widened. "Damn... oh. Well, anyway, I remember it very well because it was the first time I'd seen you naked. You look great in your uniforms and your jeans and sweaters... but you look phenomenal naked."
Moving with extreme care and moving as casually as I dared, I took a small bit of the flesh on my left forearm between the index finger and thumb of my left hand. "You don't say?" I pinched hard enough to make me wince. Not a dream. "Well, thank you very much. That's... quite an ego boost."
"I've made you uncomfortable." She grinned, slamming her locker shut. "Thanks for the shampoo... I'll put it back in your locker when I'm done." With that, she slipped off and disappeared into the showers. I paused for a moment, debating whether or not I should offer to help her shampoo her hair, then decided that was a recipe for disaster. I buttoned up my uniform shirt and slipped out of the lockers. I had one more stop to make before heading to the Infirmary.
Much later, I realized that Sam hadn't asked once about Cassandra.
I wanted to punch him in his damned smiling face. "This... is good news to you?" I asked.
Daniel shrugged, sitting back. "I'm happy for her. You know how Sam is in the love department. I just wish I hadn't interrupted. She deserves a little happiness."
And you deserve a punch in the face. "So... they're just in the Control Room, all by themselves... and this alien dude is holding her in a liplock? I don't get it. Seducing aliens seems so... Captain Kirk. So..."
"Like Jack O'Neill," the archaeologist smiled.
I pointed a finger at him. "Hey, you're the one who got married on your first mission."
He held up his hands in defeat. "All right, all right... I'm just saying is there are worse things than Sam kissing some alien guy."
Easy for him to say.
I got home around eight PM that night. The infirmary had been utterly dead all day and no one was due back for at least three days. Warner assured me that he would keep an eye on the place and I headed home. Cassie and I had changed for bed at eight-thirty and I was now standing in front of the sink in my favorite blue terrycloth robe (the one with the cotton clouds sewn onto it) and running water over the dinner dishes.
Cassandra was sitting on the kitchen counter as I did the dishes, eagerly relating the results of her day with Ernest and Catherine. She had apparently learned about Watergate and was eager to fill me in on the details surrounding the scandal. As she was explaining to me the roles of Woodward and Bernstein, I heard the garage door opening and the roar of Sam's motorcycle in the driveway. Moment of truth, I decided. I finished wiping off a plate and turned to her.
"Cass, baby... how about you go upstairs for a while and look over that book Catherine gave you? I'd kind of like to talk to Sam in private."
She slipped off the counter and said, "Is it about me?"
A lie began to form on my tongue, but I decided the truth would be best. "Indirectly... yes. But nothing bad." I stroked her hair. "I just want everything to be good for you. Okay?" She nodded and left the room, already thumbing through her book. Sam entered as the girl exited, her hair messed up from the ride. I glanced at her and turned my attention back to the sink. "No helmet again? A little reckless, doncha think?"
The captain shrugged. "I like the wind in my hair... especially after we help a race like the Tollans. Makes me feel alive."
Placing a handful of silverware in the dishwasher, I asked, "You know, you can get the same thrill and the same wind by travelling through the Stargate. And you can't fall out of the Stargate and break your skull on the asphault. Just wear the helmet, all right?"
Sam nodded and began searching the fridge. When she discovered an unclaimed can of Sprite, she turned and leaned against the counter. "Is Cassandra home?"
I clapped my hands together and turned to face her. "Congratulations! I had a little bet with myself that you would remember her name. Looks like I won."
"Remember her... Janet, what's wrong with you?"
This had been so much easier arguing with my steering wheel. My steering wheel didn't ask hard questions. It was a good arguing partner. I wished I had my steering wheel right now. "What's wrong is... that you went an entire week without so much as calling Cassandra. What's wrong is that I talked to you this morning and spent the entire day on base with you and this is the first time you've so much as brought her name up. Did you know that Cassie had pneumonia earlier this week? That I stayed up with her all night and held her while she threw up... wiped her tears when her head hurt? Did you know that she loves Harry Potter?" I had a death grip on the plate I had been washing. "Do you even care about her at *all*?!"
Sam looked horrified and pissed off at the same time. "I *love* her, Janet. How dare you accuse me of not caring?"
"It's easy!" I said, throwing my arms up. "You haven't seen her in over a week. And it seems like you could care less about how she's doing unless it fits into your schedule."
Sam stepped forward. "You're wrong, Janet. I love that girl. I'll love her until--"
"The next alien comes along," I interjected. "You find an alien girl, hold her hand, comfort her, give her a nice home and convince her that you love her. Then, BAM! Another little lost alien comes through the 'Gate and you toss her aside like last week's flavor." I was spinning the plate in my hands, turning it like a steering wheel. "First Cassandra, now Narim... good thing he left, though. His feelings won't be hurt when you move on to the next one."
I'll never forget what happened next. Sam closed the distance between us, anger burning in her eyes and her jaw set in an indestructible line. With no thought, no warning and no chance for me to retaliate, she raised her right hand and brought it across my face. I felt the sting of the slap before I heard the sound her fingers made on my flesh. My head jerked violently to the left and I stumbled slightly, my eyes tearing at more than the pain. Sam's lip was quivering now, her eyes brimming with tears. "How dare you?" she whispered. "I love Cassandra. And I'll be damned if I let you say I don't." She looked at her hand, rubbing the now red palm. "Fuck you, Janet. And fuck the month," she cursed. "I'll be out of your hair tomorrow." She turned, storming out of the kitchen.
After she was out of sight, I heard her sobbing. A few minutes later, that was followed by the sound of her bedroom door slamming. I grit my teeth and howled in frustration, lifting my arm high in the arm and hurling the dish in my hand to the floor. Pieces of the china exploded everywhere, skittering across the floor in a strange dance. I allowed my eyes to pour forth and I fell against the counter, crying like I had never cried before. I slid to the floor, hugging myself as I realized the consequences of what transpired here tonight.
Not only had I lost the possibility of Sam as a lover... did I now have to count her out as a friend?
It was shaped like a half-moon, an extremely small representation of the satelitte, but passable. Small craters were visible on the edge of it, imperfections that had once been invisible to the naked eye, now standing exposed. And, unlike our one-of-a-kind moon, there were millions of pieces exactly like this one littering the tile floor all around me. The shards from the destroyed china plate lay still against the light grey floor of my kitchen, waiting for the bristles of some unknown broom to sweep by and remove them.
Laying all around my half-moon shard were thousands of tiny, see-through glass shards that were impossible to detect unless you were looking extremely closely. After I had cried myself out, I had laid down on the floor and decided to look at the incredibly interesting piece of dishware for a long time. How long, I have no idea, but it seemed like an eternity before I stood and brushed off my robe. Tiny pieces of the dish had remained clinging to the terrycloth and they tinkled to the floor as my fingers brushed over them. It sounded vaguely like windchimes as they landed.
I moved through the mess like a soldier negotiating a minefield. Instead of an AK47, I had chosen a long-handled broom as my weapon of choice. Blinking away the wetness in my eyes, I declared battle on the millions of shards that surrounded my socks and began to accumulate them all in the center of the floor for a mass extermination. I rolled my eyes, wondering if I had been hanging out with too many military types lately. I found a dustpan and transfered all the small glass remnants to it, carrying them to the trash can. As I dumped them - noticing that the sound was exactly the same as it had made when I initially broke the dish - I muttered, "Here's what I think of your peace treaty, China."
Now it was certain. I *had* gone mad, it was just a question of when. Had it been when I had yelled at Sam and provoked her into slapping me? No, before that. Long before. Was it while having sex with a total stranger in the backseat of my car... or maybe when I had burst in on Sam when she was masturbating? Ah, yes... I think we have a winner. Psychologists say that trauma can cause mental illness... so that was a viable impetus for my insanity.
Or was that just a symptom of my illness? Perhaps it had started the day I let Sam move into my house. Allowed her to sleep just down the hall from me. 'Stop it,' I told myself. 'You've been half crazy since you saw Sam's ass for the first time in that open gown.' I ran a hand through my hair, looking at the kitchen floor. I'd broken enough dishes to know there were pieces hiding somewhere, just waiting to slide under the skin of someone's foot and cause an insane amount of grief. I would wash the floor in the morning, I decided, before Cassandra had a chance to wander in and get her first real Earth injury. Well... not counting the bomb she had in her chest...
I turned off the kitchen light, checking my watch as I headed towards the stairs. Just past nine... Cassandra was in bed and I doubted Sam would want to come downstairs to watch Letterman, so I turned off the living room light as I passed. I slowly ascended the stairs, using the handrail as I slowly moved towards the second story of my house. With the hallway light off, I could see an aura of light around Sam's bedroom door. I stopped in front of it, looking down at the knob. 'Keep walking,' I ordered myself. 'Deal with it in the morning. Let her see how wrong she was, let her sleep on it, and then deal with it. There is nothing to be gained by aggravating her further tonight.'
The door was open before my common sense could call me an idiot. Sam was sprawled facedown on the bed, fully-clothed, her face buried in the pillow. Her shoulders were rocking with the sobs that she quieted as soon as she heard me enter. "Sam?" I said quietly, leaning on the doorframe. "Can... I come in?"
She pulled herself up and sat cross-legged on top of the blankets. She kept her face turned towards the window, though all she could see was a whole lot of curtain. She raised one hand, either to wipe her nose or her cheeks, then said, "Sure. It's your house."
I closed the door and started across the room. "No, it's not. Not anymore. It's *our* house. Mine and Cassandra's and yours. For the month you're staying here, at least." I used the toe of my sock to move a discarded shoe out of my way. "You *are* staying... aren't you?" She didn't respond, so I continued. "The fact that I share this house with Cassie means that... that I look out for her benefit. When someone that she loves breaks off contact for, for more than a week, I tend to get a little upset. Be that as it may, I had no right being so harsh with you tonight. I'm sorry."
Sam half-turned. I could see the glistening trails of tears on her cheeks. "You're... sorry?"
As I sat on the bed, I reached out and flattened my palm against her back. I felt the clasp of her bra, wondering how much of a movement I would need to unhook it. Holy... *so* not the time for those thoughts! I placed my hands in my lap and examined them as if they were the most interesting things on the planet. "It doesn't make up for it, I know, but..."
The captain turned quickly, facing me fully and raising her hand to my lips. Three of her long, elegant fingers rested on my lips and she shook her head. "You... have nothing to be sorry for, Janet. *I'm* the one who is sorry. Sorry for... abandoning Cass and for being so dense and for - GOD! - for hitting you!" She shook her head, a fresh wave of tears hanging to the corners of her eyes. "I don't see how you could ever forgive me."
I took her hand, moving it from my lips. "It's too late. I've already done it."
Sam blinked her tears away, nervously tugging on her shirt. "When I was sixteen, I went out on a date with an older boy. Football player, senior... I was in heaven. The date went fine, but at the end of the night he started pawing at me. I told him that I didn't want to do anything and said good-night. He seemed to take it well, but... but the next day, he had told everyone at school that I had jumped him. Forced myself on him. Overnight, I became the slut. Sam 'Spread My Legs' Carter. So I found him at football practice, called him over and gave him a bloody nose. I think I chipped one of his teeth, too." She smiled at the memory, then shook her head. "Daddy told me that I shouldn't use violence to solve what words can heal just as well."
"Your father?" I asked. "The big tough Air Force man?"
She chuckled. "Yeah. I shouldn't have hit you. I was angry because... because you were telling the truth. It's been eight days since I've seen Cassandra. Over a week since I've even talked to her. If anyone deserves to be hit, it's me." She rubbed her face, then continued, "I don't want to leave tomorrow."
"And I don't want you to," I assured her. "Stay. Finish up the month or-or longer, if you want. Just... don't leave like this. I don't think Cassie would want it that way. I definitely know that I don't."
Sam nodded. "I'll call General Hammond tomorrow, see if I can get a couple weeks on minimal duty. Of course, if SG-1 has a mission--"
"We'll deal with that. A mission is a mission... just try not to be so distant when you're actually on Earth." I stood and she followed suit. I pulled the blankets back and exposed the blue sheets, allowing Sam to lay down before I draped the comforters back over her. She snuggled in, nice and warm, smiling up at me. I straightened the blankets, then leaned in over her head. "Anything you need before night-night? A glass of juice? A bedtime story?"
Sam giggled. "I haveta go potty," she said.
"Wet the bed," I glared. I kissed her forehead lightly and whispered, "Sweet dreams." My hand brushed her cheek, feeling the wetness that remained from her tears. I placed a second kiss on her cheekbone, letting my lips slip downward and momentarily glance over hers. My heart froze in that moment. Every inconsequential thing became sacred; the feel of the blankets under my hand, the carpeting under my feet, the hum of the air conditioner, the gentle light of Sam's bedside lamp. My lips were poised perfectly over hers for a split second that lasted for eternity.
When we finally separated, I felt my heart rising to my throat, taking up residence alongside my jugular. Sam was smiling up to me, apparently viewing the kiss as a reassuring gesture between close friends. Best friends. I straightened my robe and found my voice. "Good night, Sam."
"Night, Janet," she said, sleepily, curling up and pulling her pillow to her head. I was almost to the door when I heard her quiet voice say, "Janet?" I turned, expecting her to mention the kiss. Instead, she just furrowed her brow and said, "I'm still fully dressed and it's 9:30. Why am I going to sleep?"
I leaned on the door. "Well... you could get out of bed, come downstairs, watch TV for a while and then we can repeat the whole 'bedtime ritual' thing." Not that I'd mind recreating that kiss. "It's up to you."
Sam smiled. "No, that's okay. I'll just get up early tomorrow and cook you breakfast. As a peace offering."
I nodded, starting to close the door before I remembered, "Oh! Be careful in the kitchen. I kind of... broke a plate." I grinned sheepishly and finally closed the door on Sam's room. I released a slow breath, bringing my hand to my lips and feeling them. Hmmm... Sam-kissed lips felt the same as regular lips. Interesting. I closed my eyes, remembering the texture of her mouth. For a moment, I allowed myself to wonder how it would feel to sweep my tongue across them, how amazing it would be to feel her open her mouth and allow me entrance...
Putting aside all Sam-related thoughts, I headed down the hall and lightly tapped on Cassandra's door. She was curled up on her bed, reading a comic book. "Hey, baby," I whispered. "Lights out."
She looked up, flipping the comic shut. "Hi, Mom." Yep, it still got me. "Are you and Sam still mad at each other?"
"No, sweetheart. We kissed and made up." Good one, I chided myself. I walked across the room, helping her under her blankets as I had Sam. When I finished, I smoothed her hair away from her forehead and kissed it gently. "Good night. Sleep tight. Don't let--" I paused, reconsidering the old rhyme. Better to not explain the concept of bed bugs to her just yet. "Don't let yourself get sick again over night," I improvised. "And if you go into the kitchen, wear shoes or slippers. There might be shards of glass around that you can hurt yourself on."
She nodded and promised she would, so I stood and turned on her nightlight. I wished her sweet dreams again and turned off the overhead, leaving the room guarded by a smiling, incandescent visage of Scooby-Doo. I watched her as long as I could before the door cut her off from my view. Alone in the hallway once more, my lips began to tingle with the memory of the all-too-brief kiss I had shared with Sam.
I walked down the hall, running my tongue slowly over my bottom lip and then my top. They didn't taste any different, either... but what did I expect? That Sam would taste like vanilla, only better? That by merely touching our skin together I would know how she would taste when she came? I blinked, shaking my head and ridding myself of that image. Not conducive to getting a good night's sleep.
Several minutes later, I was in my pale pink tank top and panties, sitting on the edge of my bed and thumbing through the Stephen White novel I had purchased recently. I recalled a line from a song I had heard once... 'I don't buy everything I read, I haven't even read everything I bought.' I opened the book to the first page and read a bit - halfway through the first chapter - when there was a gentle knocking on my door. Though barely dressed, I muttered, "Come on in."
I turned in time to see Sam enter, leaving the door open an inch behind her. "Hey."
"Hi," I said, marking my page with a scrap of paper and replacing the book on the bedside table. "What's up? Can't sleep?"
She shrugged. "I was about to fall asleep when I realized you had tucked both me and Cassandra in and... well, I was feeling a little guilty that no one would tuck you in." She was looking more at her feet than at me.
"It's fine, Sam," I assured her. "I've gotten used to tucking myself in over the years."
Nodding, she said, "As have I... but be that as it may, it still feels good. So... here I am. Get into bed, I'll tuck you in."
This was not happening. I carefully stood, wishing I had chosen a pair of silk boxers over panties. I felt so... exposed. And what was that she had said earlier about admiring my body? God, if I got wet right now, there would be no possible way to hide it. I slid onto the mattress and lay down, watching as Sam approached the bed. She gently plucked the blankets up and drew them over my prone form, making sure that they were tucked under the mattress and making me as cozy as possible. That done, she smoothed my hair and smiled down at me. "There we are. Sweet dreams." She bent down and kissed my forehead, then kissed my cheek.
My heart skipped a beat as I felt her warm breath slide over my skin. Was she doing what I thought she was doing?! Within seconds, her lips were upon mine and we were sharing a second kiss. I considered parting my lips. Would she draw back, ask what the hell I was doing? Would it matter? She had instigated this kiss, I would simply be following her lead. And if she happened to offer her tongue to me, well...
I decided too late. As I was parting my lips, she pulled back and smiled down at me. She brushed the hair from my face and repeated, "Sweet dreams. I'll see you in the morning, all right?" She moved towards the door and turned. "Scrambled eggs, right? With, uh, bacon and sausage?"
"Yeah," I said, finding myself fortunate for being able to come up with that much. My groin was on fire, itching for my attention. "That'll be fine. But remember--"
"Shards of glass," she said, winking. "Right, right. Always the doctor, huh?" She left my bedroom and closed the door behind herself. A moment or two later, I heard her bedroom door close as well. I immediately freed myself from my lovingly tucked-in blankets; sleep would have to wait a bit. I had something more... pressing... to do at the moment.
I whimpered as I finished, allowing my body to relax against the mattress and trying to get my breathing back to normal. I hated whimpering as I climaxed. It made me feel as if I were succumbing to my partner, even if my partner in this case was my own hand. It made me feel as though I lost something in the flow of juices between my legs, something that I would never regain. It was a habit I had tried hard to break; unfortunately if I tried to stifle the whimper, it just came out in a low, drawn out whine.
My mission complete, I withdrew my hand from my panties and extracted myself from the massive jumble of blankets that had wrapped snake-like around my legs and torso. I walked across the room, shedding my sweaty tank top and stepping out of my wet panties. As I headed for the bathroom, my reflection caught my eye... the room was absolute dark, save for the moonlight filtering in from the window. My skin had acquired a sheen of sweat during my masturbation, so I was like a ghostly image moving through the bedroom. I turned, admiring how the low light accentuated my curves, especially in the small of my back. I'd had several lovers who had nuzzled me there and I, in turn, had nuzzled that spot on others.
Finished with my personal, one-woman show, I slipped into the bathroom and turned on the sink faucet. The shower would be too noisy and attract unwanted attention, so I began searching for a handtowel to give myself an impromptu spongebath. Unfortunately, all the handtowels were in Cassandra's bathroom. I bit my lip, glancing at the clock and deciding it was late enough to duck out and duck back in without being spotted in the all-together. I hurried across the room, never thinking to throw on a robe. I peeked outside, looking down the hall before finally stepping out.
I entered Cassie's bathroom without turning on the light, pulling open a drawer and finding several neatly folded handtowels. I grabbed a handful and slammed the drawer shut, wincing at the noise it made. Holding the towels in one hand, I made my way back to my room and closed the door.
Whew... duck out, duck back in... easy as cake.
Sam looked out her bedroom window, her knees bent and legs spread as wide as the guest bed would allow. Her fingers were tracing lazy circles over her bare thighs, occasionally dipping to the apex of her legs to tease her trimmed, blonde hair. She wanted to masturbate - it was a ritual of sorts after long, drawn-out missions to release her tension in such a manner - but she couldn't think of anything worth cumming to. The street outside Janet's house was unarousing, as were most of her memories of recent events.
Narim, possibly? She considered that, briefly cupping her sex with one hand and picturing the tall, dark-haired alien as she massaged herself, then put him aside. The kiss had been great and the recording she had experienced through his small 'emotions' device had been incredible, but she couldn't picture herself pulling that silver suit off of him. He wasn't sleepover material.
She was about to give up when she heard water running. The pipes in Janet's old house were noisy and it was unmistakable with nothing in the background to drown it out. She sat up... maybe Janet had thrown up and was flushing? She threw the blankets aside, worried about her friend, but then decided she was being silly. Maybe it was just a final pee break before sleep...
Then she heard Janet's bedroom door open. She stood, moving towards the door. She was nude - she seldom slept in any clothes - but wrapped her blanket around herself. Carefully, she opened her own door just as she heard a loud bang coming from the bathroom. She looked into the hallway in time to see a truly magnificent sight; a completely nude Janet Fraiser, moving quickly down the hall, covered in sweat.
The doctor's hair was hanging down, something it hardly ever did, and her asscheeks moved with a hypnotic rhythm as she hurried back to her room. Sam found herself captivated by every inch of her friend's nude body, watching the muscles play beneath the toned flesh as Janet slipped back into her room. No! Sam wanted to scream. Her show had ended; the bedroom door was shut.
Sam shut her own door, leaning against it for a moment as she recalled a word Narim had taught her: Sher-Mal. She smiled and returned to bed, shucking the blanket and resuming her activities. Though she had never thought of other women in a sexual way, she nonetheless had a fantasy now. She closed her eyes and pictured her best friend's bare ass hurrying down the hallway.
A day of new beginnings. That's what it was. Day 20, only ten more days until Sam left the house, returned to her own home and only stopped by for the occasional visit. Of course, this kind of relationship could only end one way in most situations; the visits got shorter and farther between. Soon, she was just the fun aunt you saw at Christmas and sent you ten bucks on your birthday. I wouldn't let Sam become a peripheral force in Cassandra's life; no way, no how.
After my shower - extended to twenty minutes rather than the standard ten - I slipped out and spritzed myself with the expensive perfume I used only for extremely special occasions. The last time I'd worn it was to deliver the final divorce papers to Michael. Pausing for a few minutes to put curlers in my hair, I eventually walked across my bedroom in the nude. I gripped the curtains and threw them open without giving a damn about the neighbors. Let them look. Let them say what they wanted. I felt good this morning. Scratch that. I felt *great*.
I pulled on a slip, deciding at the last second to wear panties below as a matter of comfort. I found a silk skirt that reached a decent level on my leg and pulled on a navy blue blouse. The outfit was one I normally wore to parties or funerals... today, I was wearing it to breakfast. New beginnings.
Dressed now, I moved to the sink and arranged my make-up. Cosmetics... on a day off. I was going all-out. I draped a towel over my blouse to keep the powder from marring the color and began to paint my face. For years at the SGC and even before then, make-up had been regulated to the bare minimum. I wasn't going to cross the line to 'lady of the evening' eyeshadow, but Sam was definitely in for a treat.
I removed the curlers, fluffing my hair. I stepped back to admire my form. This type of look was typical reserved for movie stars at gala events. "Why, yes, Joan Rivers... I'm wearing Donna Karan and I paid five times what your last face-lift cost." I pursed my lips and smiled at myself.
Finally, I worked my way into a pair of flesh-colored pantyhose and stood, examining myself in the mirror. Turning first to the left and then to the right, I made a decision and undid the top two buttons of my blouse. I spread it, noticing the tanned flesh beneath was enough to be arousing but not enough to make me look slutty. Perfect. I stepped into a pair of low-heeled shoes and took one final look at myself in the mirror. Damn. I looked good...
Without a doubt in my mind, I spoke to my reflection, "This is the day. In a few minutes, I tell Sam everything." I winked to myself. "Wish me luck." I turned, swaying my hips as I walked out of the room. I felt ten feet tall. I was invincible.
I could hear the sounds of breakfast preparation in the kitchen and smiled. This was it. Eat breakfast, ask Catherine to take Cassandra to a movie to get her out of the house... and then spill the beans. And then, God willing, a day of romping between the sheets with me and my new lover Sam Carter. I had decided to take the plunge last night as I toweled the last of my juices from my thighs. Now or never, do or die, seize the day... those became cliches for a reason, right? Why not accept the inevitable? I could go on pining for her forever or I could do something about it.
A pan clattered as I neared the kitchen and I smiled. Sam, the inept though beautiful cook, strikes again. Taking a deep breath, I pushed my way through the swinging door and into the kitchen.... and felt my heart drop to my knees.
Daniel Jackson was transferring two sloppy scrambled eggs to a plate, wincing as several clumps of wet egg landed on my counter. The front of his "Kiss The Chef" apron was covered with the remains of previous attempts. Colonel Jack O'Neill was sitting at the table, one foot raised onto the top of the table as he watched his teammate struggle with the eggs. A newspaper - my newspaper, I realized - was draped over his lap. He laughed at Daniel's travails, popping a piece of bacon into his mouth. Teal'c stood stoicly in the corner, watching everything with a detached look upon his face.
In the center of it all stood Sam Carter, holding a cookbook. Her brow was furrowed and her lips moved as she read, trying to figure out some of the complex instructions that went with cooking breakfast. She was the first to see me. She raised one hand to her forehead, brushing aside a loose strand of hair. "Janet."
The maelstrom halted. Daniel looked up in mid-pour, allowing his under-cooked eggs to spill over the side of the plate. Jack turned and I saw his posture immediately improve. Teal'c... well, he didn't really show much reaction other than raising his eyebrow. But, for Teal'c, that said as much as an epic poem. I watched the team, the fabled SG-1, as they tried to fumble their way through an excuse. I finally held up a hand to stop their explanations and offered a weak smile. "No, it's fine... uh... go ahead. I just have to go change."
I slipped out of the kitchen and closed my eyes. "Change... and shoot myself in the head," I muttered. Amazing how plans could go down the drain so immediately. As I trudged up the stairs, I reminded myself there were still nine whole days left to woo my friend.
Red and blue combined to make purple schmutz. I balled the napkin up in my fist and leaned forward, dabbing at my make-up with the once-white ball and removed the final hint of eyeshadow from my face. With my eyeshadow and liner gone, I looked like a raccoon; I was still wearing my blush and lipstick. I pulled a new napkin off the roll - an unblemished white surface that was about to become as colorful as anything Picasso had ever done. As I was wetting it under the faucet, a gentle knock came on my door. "If you're a member of SG-1, stay out."
Sam peeked her head in. "Even if I came to apologize?"
I turned off the sink, shaking my hands over it to rid them of excess wetness. I had already changed, discarding the blouse as I entered the bedroom and shucking the skirt as I headed for the sink. I was now wearing a pair of sweats displaying the name "Boston College," though I had never gone there. As far as I knew, I didn't know anyone that had ever been there. I rubbed my hands on my thighs and turned. "Apologize? For what? Trying to make me a good breakfast? I'm fine, really."
Sam bent down, picking up my blouse and running her hands over the material. "I... don't think it is, Janet. You got this dressed up for breakfast and I have to invite the guys over... At first, it was just going to be Daniel because the big, fat liar told me he knew how to make any kind of eggs. Looks like scrambled slipped his mind... But he had to call Jack and tell him why he'd be late and Jack was giving Teal'c a ride from my house, so--"
I looked up, confused. Then I remembered the Jaffa had been house-sitting for the captain during the month. I started to tell her it was nothing again, when I was struck by something. Teal'c? As a housesitter? Everything suddenly began to coalesce... Why would she pick him? "Sam... I just realized something."
"What's that?" She placed my blouse in the hamper and leaned against the wall, turning to me.
I chose my words carefully. "Are you... and Teal'c..." The rest of the question was posed using hand gestures learned in high school and never forgotten.
Sam watched as my slender index finger slipped into the ring made by the index finger and thumb of my other hand. Her eyes widened as she caught my meaning and she gasped, "What?! NO! God, there's absolutely *no* truth to that."
I held up my hands. "Okay... okay, just making sure." That's a load of my mind...
The captain shuddered, hugging herself. "What would make you say something like that?"
"Well," I shrugged, "I was just wondering why you would pick Teal'c of all people to look after your house. It's not exactly like he's Goldie Hawn." Off of her completely lost look, I explained, "She was in a movie called 'Housesitter.' She... played the housesitter... Anyway, I was just curious as to why him."
She shook her head. "He expressed an interest in seeing how humans lived. He picked up my mail, watered my plants and mowed the lawn. A month in suburbia. Of course... I cleared out all my toys and underwear before he moved in, so he's not sitting around getting his jollies."
Toys? Underwear? If she cleared them out, that meant they were... here. I swallowed sharply. "Okay... so, just for the record, I'm absolutely fine with the guys being here for breakfast."
"And I'm not fucking Teal'c," Sam said.
My eyes widened. "Samantha Carter!"
She giggled and slipped out of the room, leaving me to ponder what we had just spoken about. She had been extremely adamant about not being in a relationship with Teal'c... or with any man? That kiss last night had started as a fluke, but *she* was the one who carried it farther. She had come to me and she was the instigator. I walked back to the sink and began washing my face again, taking in all the information I'd gathered. Could it be possible? Could Sam possibly be... the same way I am?
Why did the guys have to show up? Maybe if I was really sneaky, I could make them think the Goa'uld were invading Earth and tell them Sam had to stay here with me. Protecting Cassie and all that jazz...
My face clean, my sweats comfortably draped over my small form, I turned and walked out of the bedroom.
Jack O'Neill looked up from the sports section as I re-entered the kitchen, his shoulders visibly sagging as he saw my change of outfit. "Roll up your tongues and replace your eyes in their sockets, boys. The Fraiser we all know and love is back."
I forced a smile and said, "Well, I wish I'd known we had guests. I would've dressed up."
The colonel smirked and went back to the newspaper. I walked over, extracting the comics and tucking them under my arm. He started to protest, but I held up a finger. "My paper, my kitchen. Ergo, my funnies."
He relented and allowed me to walk to the stove. Daniel had two plates of bacon made, but he was being held up on the eggs. Sam dropped the cook book and said, "These books tell you everything you need to know about souflee, but not a word on scrambled eggs!"
I took the spatula from the archaeologist and said, "Julia Child assumes that anyone with opposable thumbs can make scrambled eggs. How many of my eggs have you slaughtered in this fool's errand, Daniel?"
He looked down at his hands, then said, "Four."
"Could you hand me a couple more? I'll show you how this is done." I took the carton from him and pulled a mixing bowl from the cabinet. I handed Daniel the comic pages and he carried them back to the table.
Sam put her hand on my forearm and said, "Janet, I... I wanted to give you breakfast in bed. That doesn't work if you're the one cooking breakfast."
I smiled. "Relax, Sam. If it makes you feel better, I'll start the eggs and then go hop back under my covers." I cracked two eggs on the side of the bowl and spilled the contents in, disposing the shells in the wastebasket.
The colonel looked up and said, "Wait a second... breakfast in bed?" He raised an eyebrow. "Is there... something going on between you two?"
Oh, God. Not this early in the morning.
Sam wrapped an arm around me and said, "Yes, Colonel. Janet and I are lovers. You've found us out. Whatever shall we do about this, sweetcheeks?" She swatted me lightly on the ass.
I forced a smile. "Gee, I dunno. I guess if we start a rumor about the colonel and Daniel, it would take attention away from us. Then we could have sex in peace."
Daniel blushed a deep crimson. "How did *I* get involved in this?"
O'Neill, sufficiently cowed, looked back to his paper. I turned back to the bowl, finding a wooden spoon and using it to mix the two yolks together. Sam's arm was still draped across my shoulders, her forearm burning my flesh through the material of my sweatshirt. With every breath, I felt her breasts brushing against my side. I swallowed, trying to ignore the sensation of being so close to her, but found it impossible. Finally, I turned to her and said, "Um, Sam... this is a little hard with you hanging on me."
"Oh!" she said, stepped back immediately. "Sorry."
She leaned against the counter, watching as I poured the two eggs into the clean pan that Daniel had just gotten out. "Okay, boys," I said. "Watch and learn how to cook scrambled eggs a la Fraiser. Prepare to be amazed!"
Cassandra came downstairs a few minutes after everyone else started eating. I stood and showed her the different preparations of eggs that the others had and asked her which looked the best. After much consideration, she picked over-easy like Daniel had. I took her into the kitchen to prepare her breakfast for her and left SG-1 alone in the dining room. I lifted her onto the counter and pulled the egg carton out, carrying two of the eggs to the stove. She swung her legs off the counter, kicking them back and forth as all kids do... must be a universe thing. "So what're they all doing here?" she asked.
"Good question," I muttered. "Sam invited them over to help her cook breakfast. Although it turns out that too many cooks spoil the broth."
"I thought you said these were eggs."
I snickered, remembering to watch the colloquialisms around her. "It's a figure of speech, honey. It means that everyone ended up getting in each other's way." I turned on the stove and cracked the eggs into the pan, then turned to face her. "So, what did you want to do today? I had planned to take you to a movie, but I don't know what's playing... what do you wanna do?"
"Can we go over to Jack's and play with the dog?"
"Ah, the dog," I smiled, remembering the colonel's present. "Sure. Sure, we can do that, as long as--" I was about to say if it was okay with him. Had *he* asked permission to come over here? "I'll take you over around lunch, all right? And maybe we can think of something to name him today. Kind of weird just calling it 'the dog.'"
Cassandra was examining a piece of overcooked bacon. "Oh, Sam already named him. Pavlov. It's supposed to be funny."
I laughed. "Pavlov's dog... cute." I also recalled something about a cat she had named Schrodinger.
We talked about her lessons with Ernest and Catherine for a while, then I served her the eggs. I helped her carry them into the dining room with a glass of orange juice. Jack and Daniel were hunched over the comic pages, examining the two panels that made up "Find Six Differences In This Picture." Sam was giggling as she watched Teal'c spear a sausage link on his fork and examine it before popping it into his mouth. I sat back down, allowing Cassandra to jump onto my lap. I put her plate in place of mine and held her steady as she ate.
O'Neill looked up and smirked. "Best seat in the house... can I make reservations?"
Cassie looked up at me, confused. I just rolled my eyes and shook my head, indicating that she should keep eating. Once her eyes were downward again, I glared at O'Neill. "Sir, Cassandra and I were thinking about heading over to your house to see the d-- Pavlov. I was thinking maybe you could take her for the day and Sam and I could--"
He cut me off. "Hey, that's perfect! I just got this DVD player that I've been dying to show Carter. You and Cass and Sam can come over and we'll have a mini-marathon." He picked up his plate and stood, heading for the kitchen. "I don't have many movies, but we can stop by the video store on the way.
I sighed and closed my eyes. Why is it that, when you finally decide to do something, everyone around you is bound and determined to keep you from seeing it through? I rubbed Cassie's back and said, "Eat up, honey. We're goin' to Uncle Jack's when you get done, 'kay?" She nodded, her mouth full of eggs. I glanced at Sam. She was watching me and Cassandra, a faraway look in her eyes and a vacant smile on her lips. I returned the smile and waved with my free hand.
Sam blinked and looked down at her plate, embarrassed that she had gotten caught staring. I wanted to grab her by her shoulders and shake her, scream at her that I loved that she stared at me, that I dreamed of her staring at me... but not with the guys around. I sighed. The dining room was deathly silent, the sounds of Colonel O'Neill rinsing his plate drfiting out of the kitchen.
Daniel looked up and blurted out, "The dog's tail!" Sam, Teal'c and I frowned at him and he indicated the newspaper spread out before him. "Six differences... the dog's... tail isn't... never mind." He slumped in his chair and awaited Jack's return.
"Bathing suits?" I repeated. The word conjured images of barely-there spandex, wet and glistening skin, revealing all... Why was he telling me where the bathing suits were? I couldn't think of an answer, so I posed the question to O'Neill.
He pointed to the back of his house and said, "I've got a pool out there that I haven't used in about six months. We finally have temperatures that happen to be above freezing, so I'm takin' advantage of it. If you and Carter wanna be wet blankets about it, don't change. We'll have all the fun." He winked. "If you decide to join us, the changing room is right through there. Sarah left some of her stuff behind, so feel free to use some of her suits." He pointed to a door just off the entryway and disappeared into the living room, leaving me alone with Cassie.
Cassandra looked up at me. "What's a pool?"
"Well, it's a big... thing... filled with water that people swim in so they can cool off." I remembered our trip to the zoo and said, "Remember the thing that Ace and Jasper were swimming in? The dolphins? It's kind of like that, only I doubt it won't be anywhere near as big. What do you say? Do you want to go swimming?"
She shrugged. "I don't know how."
"It's okay, I'll teach ya," Sam said, entering from the living room. She was already beginning to unbutton her blouse, revealing her white cotton bra. My heartrate quickened slightly and Sam locked eyes with me. "Unless, of course, you'd rather be the one to teach her."
I straightened. "No, that's fine. I don't think I'll even change for the pool."
"What?" Sam said, looking crestfallen. "You mean, I'm going to be the only one the guys are ogling?" She shook her head. "Oh, no, missy. You're changing into a swimsuit if I have to rip those clothes off of you and force it onto your body."
Ooh, God, the mental images!
I rolled my eyes. "Oh, for the love... okay. I'll swim. But only to distract from you." I struck a pose and said, "After all, why look at you when they have such a beautiful specimen before them? They'd ogle me even if I were fully dressed."
Sam winked and slipped into the colonel's changing room using a door that led away from the entry hall. I followed, asking Cassie to wait for us in the living room. I promised to come and get her when it was time to change into her suit. I closed the door to the changing room, which turned out to just be a glorified pantry. Sam was slipping out of her blouse and was working on her belt. "God, I love swimming," she said, sounding incredibly enthusiastic about the thought of being in a pool. "Just the feeling of being weightless... how often do you get to be weightless?"
I shrugged, "Going through the wormhole?"
She paused, kicking her pants off. Her panties were white with small pink hearts on them. I paused, examining the underwear. I'd never seen her with decorative underwear before... of course, most of the times I'd seen her in this advanced state of undress was a figment of my own imagination, so... I pulled off my own shirt and nodded at her. "Nice panties." Oh, my God. Am I a *complete* idiot?!
Sam smiled and straightened, hooking her fingers in the elastic. "Yeah... normally I'm a stickler for plain, white, cotton... but sometimes I just like to feel playful." She giggled. "I have some with Snoopy on the back."
Of all the conversation topics in all the world, I had to pick this one. "Sometimes - and this is only once in a while," I said, holding up a finger, "I like to wear boxers under my skirt in the infirmary."
Sam's eyes widened. "Really? Wow... And all those times I couldn't find pantylines, I just thought you were going without."
The captain giggled and slipped her heart-decorated panties down her legs. Oh, God, this was torture. I turned my back to her, stripping off my skirt and panties with one quick movement. I picked up a suit that I hoped would fit me and then realized what Sam had just said. I turned and said, "Wait a second... what do you mean when *you* couldn't find pantylines?"
She tucked her breasts into a suit, pulling the straps onto her shoulders. She had picked a one-piece, light blue number that complimented her eyes - and every other flawless inch on her body - and left very little to the imagination. She winked, straightening her hair, and walked out, brushing close to me as she exited. "Oh. Did I say me?" She playfully squeezed my bare ass and slipped out of the room.
Was she joking? Was this just a continuation of the game from breakfast? No... Colonel O'Neill wasn't here. But that didn't mean anything, did it? Maybe she was subtly trying to tell me that she knew about my feelings. Maybe she was trying to let me know that she felt the same way.
Or maybe I just thought too much. I worked my way into the suit, wishing there was a little more room in the chest area, and wrapped a towel around myself. I slipped out of the changing room and went to find Cassandra.
"CANNONBALL!!" Jack cried as he lunged at the pool, tucking his knees to his chest. The resulting tidal wave pushed Daniel and Teal'c against the far side of the pool and cascaded onto the wooden deck where I was sitting with Cassandra. I still had the towel wrapped around myself, tucked under my armpits. I wasn't going to give the guys a peep show, that's for sure. If Cassie wanted me in the water with her, I'd leave the towel behind then and not a second before. Not with Colonel Jack O'Neill on the premises.
Sam exited the house with two glasses of soda. She was a bit braver than I was; she only wore a transparent scarf around her waist that only added to her appeal. She lowered the sunglasses from the top of her head, lowering herself into the chaise lounge next to mine. "Hey, Janet," she said.
"Hi," I responded, watching as Teal'c tried to find a way onto the inflatable rubber raft that Daniel had tossed into the pool. He flipped it over several times, ending up more determined to mount it than ever. It had gone from a playful day at the pool to a battle of wits between a Jaffa and a slab of rubber.
Sam adjusted herself on the seat and said, "Ya know, if you just sit on the deck all day, you'll have a very weird tan line."
I shrugged, then leaned closer to her. "This suit is a little... snug. I'm afraid that if I got it wet, then the guys will really get a show."
The captain chuckled and sang, "One, two, three, four, tell the people what she wore."
I raised an eyebrow, glancing at my companion. "What?"
Sam laughed. "The song. 'Itsy Bitsy, Teeny Weeny, Yellow Polka Dot Bikini.' The little girl was afraid to leave the locker, she sat on the bench in a towel and then was afraid to get out of the water." She laughed. "You're the little girl!"
Cassandra sat between us, turning her head to whomever was speaking like she was watching a tennis match.
I sighed. "I am *not* the little girl. The little girl was self-conscious. I just don't want the guys to get a free show if I slip out of my suit. So I'll just sit here, watch everyone else swim, and if I get hot I'll get in." I motioned at the water. "Why don't you take her and teach her a little?"
Sam stood, extending her hand to Cassandra and leading the girl to the edge of the pool. "Okay, guys, calm down!" she called, causing Daniel and Teal'c to pause in their aerobics. "We got a novice in the pool!" She pulled off her scarf and tested the water with one toe.
The next few seconds passed before I could think of doing anything about it. As Sam moved her foot to and fro in the water to test it's temperature, I realized that Jack O'Neill had vanished from the scene. My heart quickened, the doctor in me worried he had gone under with all of his horsing around. I half-stood, ready to dive in and find him, when I realized that Daniel had a signature look on his face: The look that said he was amused but sorry. Oh, no. I turned in time to see O'Neill, clad in his swim trunks, lunge at me from behind my chair. I yelped, holding both of my hands up to protect me from the charging colonel, but it was too late. He slammed into me, forcing me backwards as he pulled the towel away from my body.
His powerful arms swept under my legs and heaved me into the air. Supporting my weight, he lurched towards the pool... not realizing Sam had stood up. I saw his eyes widen and he screamed, "Carter! Get outta the way!" But it was too late. Sam and Jack collided, with me in the middle. He released me and I rolled out of his arms straight into Sam. Flailing for something to hold onto, I got a handful of Sam's left breast.
The captain's position on the edge of the pool was precarious at best and her left foot shot backwards, trying to support the surprise weight I had added. Her toes came down on water and she lost her balance, falling into the pool with me on top of her, my hand still firmly squeezing her breast. And then, silence. Peace. Serenity.
Water surrounded us on all sides, pressing against us and holding us in it's quiet embrace. We floated, our bodies completely and utterly weightless, spinning through the eternal quiet of the pool. I stared into her eyes, watching as small bubbles rose from the tear ducts in search of the oxygen at the surface. Larger bubbles rose from her nose and the corners of her mouth. I released her breast and ran my fingers through her now-waving hair. It was just like a dream come to life, an image too good to be true. My heart was racing and my lungs were on fire... although the latter was probably due to lack of oxygen. Reluctantly, I allowed my feet to touch bottom and propel myself up to the surface.
The explosion of sounds as I surfaced was almost deafening. I brushed the hair out of my eyes and shook my head, water rushing through my ears and making it difficult to discern more than muttering sounds. I spit several times, taking deep breaths of air. Sam was bobbing up and down next to me, shaking her blonde hair. Jack was at the poolside, extending a hand to us. "Geeu Pu Seeufeyed un ewe uh..." I blocked out the rest of his garbeled words, tapping the side of my head lightly to release the water caught in my ears. Suddenly, his words were clear. "--I had known Carter was standing there, I wouldn't have done that. You okay, Doc? I just meant to scare you."
Daniel was at my side, making sure I was okay. I waved him away, assuring him I was fine. Luckily, my fears had been unfounded and my bathing suit top had held. I adjusted the top anyway and waded to the ladder, pulling myself out. Blinking the remainder of the water from my eyes, I picked up my towel and dabbed my face with it. Oh, no... the water in my eyes wasn't just from the pool. Damn it. I held the towel in front of my face and said, "I'm going to go, uh... change." I wiped my face and said, "Cass, stay here and let Sam show you some basics, okay?" I hurried back into the house, halfway to the bathroom before I started to cry.
I closed the door behind myself and moved to the bathtub. I climbed in, not wanting to drip on the colonel's floor, and turned the water on. The chlorinated water was washed off my body as I sobbed, wiping at my eyes. Why the hell was I crying? It was just a stupid prank, something that's practically required at pool parties: The spoilsport gets picked up and tossed into the pool. Normally I would've just laughed it off, given O'Neill my 'your ass is mine during the next physical' routine and went back to my chair. But here I was, in the bathroom, crying my eyes out.
There was a gentle knock on the door and I cleared my throat. "I'm naked," I said.
The door opened anyway and Sam entered, hand over her eyes. "Janet? Please, tell me you're all right."
I turned off the water. "I'm not really naked," I admitted. "You can look." She lowered her hand and closed the door, taking the precaution of turning the lock. I sniffed and wiped my eyes once more. "I'm sorry. Did I ruin the party?"
Sam stepped forward. "No, honey. You didn't ruin anything." She picked up my towel where I had dropped it on the floor and wrapped it around my shoulders. "The colonel is really worried that you hate him, though." She brushed my wet hair out of my face, her hands soft and gentle against my skin. God, this felt so good. "Are you really okay?"
I nodded. "I was just... embarrassed. Embarrassed that he had made me look so stupid in front of Cassandra and in front of... of you. I felt awful," I sniffed.
"In front of me? You don't have to worry about what I think of you, Janet. I love you no matter what."
My God, couldn't she have said something else? Anything else? Couldn't she at least have added 'like a sister' or something? I decided to accept what I was offered and said, "I love you, too, Sam." It wasn't the context I wanted to say it in, but it was probably as good as I was gonna get for a long time. Unless... I looked into her beautiful blue eyes and said, "In fact," my heart was pounding, my skin was flushed... Logic was watching from the nosebleed seats as my emotions stepped up to the plate. The phrase 'now or never' kept running through my mind. "I've loved you for a long time."
The hand I had resting on her shoulder slipped up her gorgeous neck, finally landing on her cheek and cradling her head in my hand. "And I've been wanting to do this for a long time." I stood on my tiptoes, using my other hand to cup the back of Sam's head and tilt it down. I could see her blue eyes widen in shock as our lips touched, my tongue sliding across her mouth, entreating entrance. My hand on her cheek moved down and around, flattening against her back as I closed my eyes. I was finally kissing Sam, my tongue playing against the firm line of her mouth. Nothing could make this moment more perfect; nothing could be better than right here, right now.
And then, wonder of wonders and miracle of miracles, her lips parted and allowed my tongue entrance.
My hands floated to Sam's face of their own accord, trembling fingers alighting on her flesh and cupping her beautiful face. I tilted my head to the side, opening my mouth wider in case she wanted to add her tongue to the equation. So far, I was the sole explorer. My knees felt weak and my mind was reeling. The rest of the world ceased to exist; nothing else mattered. Finally, I pulled back without ever experiencing Sam's tongue. Our lips came apart, a thin line of saliva connecting the two of us. I licked my lips, severing it as I looked up into her eyes, flattening my feet on the tile of Colonel O'Neill's bathroom floor.
Sam had kept her eyes open throughout the kiss, but now had them closed. I stroked her face, trailing my fingers through her wet, blonde locks. "Sam? Was that... wrong?"
She licked her lips, swallowed hard as she hugged herself. "No," she managed to choke out. "That was-- that was just fine."
"Talk to me," I whispered. "Do--" The moment of truth had, after all this time, finally arrived. "Do you feel the same way about me?"
Her eyes flashed open and locked onto mine. "Janet... we're both women. Women in the military. You... have a daughter to think of. It's not a matter of who feels what; it's a matter of regulations."
I stepped forward, leaving my hand on her shoulder. "That doesn't answer my question. Three weeks ago, you told me that regulations don't matter when it comes to love. I am so in love with you, it hurts sometimes. I think of you all the time, Sam. At work, at home, when I'm asleep..." Fresh tears were rolling down my face. I felt as if I had destroyed some inner wall and everything I had ever kept hidden was surging forth. "I want to go to sleep next to you and wake up in your arms. But if you don't want that, then... then I guess you have to tell me to move on."
Sam was looking at our bare feet on the tile. "If we got caught... they'd take Cassandra away."
"We don't know that. And besides, who says we're going to get caught?"
The captain was crying now, too. "I can't take the risk, Janet. I am... so, so sorry." She pulled my face to hers in a final, probing kiss in which she actually allowed me to taste her tongue. The kiss was everything I had ever imagined and more, so much better than any fantasies. I slid my hands around her waist and pulled her to me, our breasts mashing together in our swimsuits. Sam moaned, but didn't pull back. I felt Sam's hands in my hair as I moved my hands to cup her ass. My fingers slipped under the material of her suit and kneaded the firm flesh below.
Sam arched into my body, then pulled back. She licked her lips and whispered, "I'm sorry, Janet. I... think I should go home. Tell Colonel O'Neill that I-I got sick or something." She sniffed and wiped away a tear. "I love you so much, Janet. But I don't think we're right... not as a couple." She pulled the door open and slipped out. I followed her, grabbing her by the shoulder and spinning her around. "Sam," I hissed, hoping everyone else was still by the pool. "Don't leave me like this." My voice sounded like a sob, my vision filled with tears.
"I'll stay for the rest of the month... for Cassandra. I... hope you can move on." She stroked my hand, then turned and headed for the front of the house. I leaned against the wall, hugging myself. I had kissed Sam. I had revealed all to Sam. And she had shot me down. I had imagined incalculable pain... the burning of a million suns in my chest. But oddly, all I felt was numbness. I rubbed my upper arms until I got my strength back, heading outside to rejoin the others.
Cassandra begged to sleep over at Jack's house and I happily gave my permission. I spent about a half hour convincing Jack that I wasn't mad at him (which was sort of true) and I wouldn't take my revenge during his next physical exam (which was sort of not true). I finally got them to release me and I went to the pantry/changing room to find my clothes. As I dressed, I discovered that Sam's clothes were still piled on the shelf; she must have neglected to change when she left. I sighed and gathered them up, borrowing a garment bag from the colonel's laundry room to keep them in.
I passed the deck on my way back to my car and bid everyone farewell once more, telling Daniel to keep a close eye on O'Neill for me. He laughed and agreed.
I stopped at a place called Larrikin Deli and bought a salad, eating it at one of their few tables. I was avoiding home, that much was obvious. Depression was starting to sink in as I allowed myself to realize today had really happened. It wasn't a fantasy, it wasn't wishful thinking... I had kissed Sam. I had revealed *everything* to her. I speared a tomato and spun it through the ranch dressing I had spread over the salad. The tomato and the ranch were both unbelieveably bland; I had hardly tasted anything since I had started eating.
As I ate my taste-free food, I pictured Sam sitting at my house, contemplating her luggage and wondering whether or not to pack them. I chewed my lip. Eight more days in the month and I had blown it. We could've avoided this... awkward phase, been at ease with each other... but I had to open my big mouth and press it against Sam's. My appetite was lost, so I pushed the plastic plate away and stared at the remnants.
"Is everything okay here?" the waitress asked.
I looked up, acknowledging her presence. "Yes, it's-- my God. It's you!" Standing at my table was the gorgeous redhead whom had been my one night stand a week or so ago. She was dressed a little different and looked younger in this light, but there was no doubting it.
The waitress frowned at me, her brow furrowed. "Me? Uh... Do we know each other?" she asked.
I blinked. "A-Aren't you... didn't we meet at the mall about a week ago? We saw 'Seven Years in Tibet' and we went out for drinks after...?"
She stared at me as if I had asked her if she had a third eye growing out of her ass. Finally, she turned and called over the counter. "Mom? I think one of your friends is out here." She smiled down at me, then continued to another table. The door to the kitchen opened and there she stood: Melissa, my one-night stand. I looked at the napkins and discovered that the deli was called "Larrikin's." Of all the diners in all the world...
Mel moved around the counter, eyes widening slightly as she saw me. I'm not sure which of us blushed more, but I think that she would win a photo finish. She lowered herself into the chair across from me, keeping her eyes locked with mine. Finally, she broke the silence with a shaky, "Hi."
I smiled. "Well. Nice to see you again. I wouldn't have said anything, but--"
Mel nodded, motioning over her shoulder. "My daughter is my spitting image. I can't tell you how many times her boyfriends have snuck up on me and copped a feel." She sighed, then lowered her voice. Her tone changed as well. "What're you doing here? If you're looking for a repeat of the other night--"
"No, definitely... definitely not. That was... what it was." I picked up a lettuce leaf from my salad, then shook my head. "I'm here to avoid home... and the people there."
I blinked, surprised she had remembered all this time. I nodded, "Yeah, Sam... but it's not what you think. Sam is short for Samantha."
Mel raised an eyebrow. "Ahh... the plot thickens. As I recall, you said you were Air Force. I assume she is as well?" I nodded. "Then you're in quite the pickle, aren't you?" She drummed her fingers on the tabletop. "Why are you avoiding her?"
This was ludicrous. I was pouring my heart out to a woman I had merely shared an orgasm with... other than that, she was an absolute stranger! But... who else could I talk to about this? "I kissed her today. I told her that I loved her and... we kissed. She gave me the brush-off."
Mel quirked her lips, then said, "If I remember correctly, *I* gave you the brush-off at our first meeting. It didn't exactly stick." She winked. "What excuse did she give?"
"That it would be too hard," I scoffed.
Mel slapped the table, then said, "I want you to listen to me, Janet. Go home, find Sam. Kiss her again. Then let her say she's too scared to do anything about the situation." She smiled. "If there's one thing I remember about that night we shared, it's that you are an absolutely incredible kisser." She covered my hand with her own and said, "I know you regret our night together - it wasn't exactly the classiest thing in the world - but take my advice and let something good come out of that error. Make this work, Janet."
I looked at the salad, then said, "If, uh... the deli thing doesn't work out, you could make a fortune as a psychiatrist."
Melissa just laughed.
The house was dark when I got home; never a good omen. I pulled into the driveway and turned off the engine, taking a moment to listen to the silence of the night. I finally got out of the car, locking it behind me and setting a leisurely pace to the porch. With any luck, Sam was inside the house waiting for me; waiting to either talk about or ignore our kiss. Cassandra wouldn't interrupt us. O'Neill and Hammond were nowhere on the horizon. Just she and I, until dawn. Regardless of what happened, this ended *tonight*. I was scared out of my mind.
I unlocked the front door and went inside, dropping the garment bag of Sam's clothes in the foyer. A lamp was on in the living room, but a quick inspection revealed that the room was empty. "Sam?" I called, wondering if she was in the kitchen or upstairs in bed already. When I received no reply, I turned and headed up the stairs, taking them two at a time. I passed Sam's door and knocked quietly. Nothing. I went into the bedroom. No lights, no music, nothing. The bed was still made from that morning. I returned to the hall to see the bathroom door was open and there was no light inside. That left only one place in the house she could be.
Knocking on my own bedroom door felt incredibly strange to me. I quietly turned the knob, sticking my head inside. Sam was sitting at the rolltop desk, bent over the surface. Her elbows were propped on the edge and she was using her hands to shield her face as she read one of my notes. The only illumination in the room came from the lamp on my desktop. "Sam?"
She didn't respond right away, finishing on the note she was reading before she looked up. Her eyes were red and her face was streaked with tears. She picked the letters up off the desk, holding them in trembling hands. "These... these were all about me?"
I stepped forward. "I'm sorry, Sam," I said, my voice little more than a whisper. "But I couldn't talk with anyone about how I felt and... I figured it would be best if I got my frustrations out through notes to myself." I felt my eyes beginning to water. "I should've burned them after I wrote them, but I... I just couldn't. I apologize."
"Apologize?" Sam breathed, standing. She turned back to the desk, gathering all of the notes she had read during the day. Every one had been lovingly refolded and stacked. "You have a habit of saying you're sorry when... when you've done absolutely nothing wrong." Cradling the notes to her chest, Sam turned her back to me. "These notes... are the most beautiful things I've ever read. I-I can't believe anybody feels this strongly about me. Especially you."
Especially me? What did that mean? "I do, Sam. I love you with all my heart. I've tried to move on, but... I think you may be the one for me." I blinked, remembering the words to an old Vince Gill song and repeated them aloud, "I've been trying to get over you, but it'll take dying to get it done." A single teardrop rolled down my cheek, tracing a path across my face and dripping onto my blouse. I could feel the tickle in the back of my throat that indicated a good, long cry was on the way. I bit my lower lip. "You don't have to say you feel the same way, Sam. Just... promise me we can still be friends, despite this." The dam burst and I sobbed, "I couldn't live without having you in my life."
Sam turned, seeing my tears. She was across the room, notes fluttering to the ground, before I could get a single sob out. I felt my knees starting to give out and felt her strong arms wrap around me. Slowly, she helped me to my knees and let me use her body for support. I leaned on her, crying against her shoulder. The captain was also crying openly now, stroking my hair as we embraced. "God, Janet... I-I never knew you felt this strongly. I never knew anyone could feel this strongly."
I pulled away from her, gazing into her gorgeous eyes. "Sam, those notes... are just words on paper. They don't even begin to convey what I truly feel for you in my heart. I would die for you, Samantha Carter."
She sobbed, taking a hand away from my shoulder to wipe her cheeks. "Janet... I have a confession to make." My pulse quickened. She bit her lip and continued, "Lately, when I've watched you with Cassandra, I felt so... empty inside. Like something was being taken from me. I let you assume that I was worried about losing Cassandra, but that's not it. Or, it's not *completely* about Cassie. When you think I'm upset about-about Cassandra loving you more than me... or Cass bonding too quickly with you, it was just that I was afraid I was being replaced in your heart." I started to reply, but she cut me off. "No, let me finish. I moved in here to make sure you didn't forget me. I was jealous of a twelve-year-old girl. And all this time, I assumed I was just afraid of losing my best friend."
"And now?" I whispered.
The blonde didn't answer right away. She ran her thumb over my lower lip and my eyelids dropped. She raised her hand, brushing my bangs out of my face and caressing my cheek. Finally, she sighed, "I'm not too sure what you are to me now. You're definitely more than a friend, but I've never considered being... I mean, I've never been sexually attracted to another woman." I leaned into her caress as she added, "Until now."
"So... what do you plan to do?"
She pressed a kiss to my forehead, then took the time to kiss each of my closed eyelids. "I want to make love to you, Janet."
I couldn't breath, could barely *think.* I was light-headed, my fingers were numb. I opened my eyes and searched her face. She was serious; her lips were parted, her skin flushed with arousal. I could see the passion burning in her eyes. She licked her lips, obviously waiting for my consent before she began undressing. I whispered, "God, this can't be a dream... don't let this be a dream."
Without speaking, Sam leaned forward and kissed my lips, swiping them with the flat of her tongue. I moaned as I parted my lips, feeling the weight of the intruder flutter past my teeth. She withdrew the tongue quickly, then sucked my bottom lip into her mouth and bit down on it. I pulled back with a quiet yelp, bringing my hand to my mouth. No blood, but still painful. "What was that for?" I asked.
"I pinched you... making sure this wasn't a dream." She rose onto her hands and knees, leaning forward. "My way is better than just pinching."
I smiled. "Yes, it definitely is." I had barely spoken the final word when Sam and I were locked in another passionate embrace, our lips and tongues speaking volumes as we moved each other to the floor. I wound up on my back, pressing into the carpeted floor of my bedroom as I was pinned by the athletic blonde. I felt her powerful legs on either side of my stomach and slid my hands up to cup her beautiful breasts. As she sat up, I breathed, "This is everything I ever imagined... and so much more!"
"You've imagined?" Sam asked, unbuttoning her blouse.
I reached up, pulling her hands away from the buttons and ripping the material away. She wasn't wearing a bra, her pink nipples standing at attention. The skin around them was flushed with arousal, begging to be kissed... caressed... loved. "I've dreamed of this since the moment I met you, Sam. I've always wanted you."
She shrugged out of the blouse, leaning down so we were face-to-face. She flattened her palm to my cheek and whispered huskily, "Call me Samantha." She held her lips slightly over mine, a hair's-breadth from kissing.
Panting, I moaned, "Sammmm-anthaaaa..."
Sam whimpered - my whimper! - and brought our lips together. I found her nipples with my hands and pinched them, feeling a lurch in my stomach as I actually touched Sam's naked body in a decidedly unprofessional manner. I could feel the heat radiating from within her chest and felt her warmth on my stomach as well. Sam broke our kiss and began to cover my cheeks and jawline with delicate lip-touches; she never actually kissed my flesh, simply skimming it with her mouth. I released her breasts and raised my hands, cupping her head and allowing her hair to thread through my fingers. I pressed my lips to the soft skin below her ear and whispered, "You are a perfect woman, Samantha... never let me go."
Sam raised her head and kissed me again. Our tongues dueled for dominance and I finally allowed her to win, letting her plunder my mouth as I had done to her in many dreams. She rose up, lips swollen from kisses and eyes half-lidded with passion. When her fingers moved to my collar, I realized that I was still fully dressed; I was still wearing my shoes! Not a word passed between us as she slowly undid every button of my shirt, her breath catching when she realized I wasn't wearing a bra either. She placed her hands in the valley between my breasts and slid her palms across my aroused flesh, pushing the two halves of my top open and revealing my torso in all it's glory.
Her breath caught in her throat. "Janet, you're gorgeous." She lowered her head and nibbled on my shoulder, using her tongue to trace a path to my throat and down into my cleavage. I balled my hands into fists, clutching at the carpet as she encircled my nipple. Damn, but this woman was a maddening lover! She finally completed circumnavigating my tit and closed her lips around it, suckling on it like a hungry infant.
My impatience getting the best of me, I lifted one leg and hooked it over her hip. I planted my foot in the small of her back and pulled her lower body against mine. I whimpered, "Please, Sam... take me."
She raised her head, blonde bangs hanging over her eyes and impeding my view of them. "All in good time, my love." She switched to the other breast, nibbling on it before she lavished this nipple with the same attention she had given it's twin. I was in heaven. I had never felt this level of ecstasy, my groin was burning with wanton desire. I needed Sam to touch me where I needed it most... foreplay was great, but I couldn't contain myself. I didn't want to cum in my pants with the woman of my dreams perched over me with her breasts hanging free.
I bit my lip and held onto her shoulders, forcing her down. She glanced up, smiling at me as she encountered the catch on my jeans. She raised up and inhaled. "Mmmm, Janet... I can smell you. You're so wet."
"Yes," I murmured. "Yes, I'm dripping, Sam."
Quietly, she corrected me, "Call me Samantha when we make love."
I shivered; the way she said it made me anticipate more encounters... I could hardly wait for the next time, though the *first* time had barely even begun.
She scooted down my legs, allowing her hands to trail along the denim of my pants. Her fingers burned my skin through the material, like ten scorching dancers performing a primal ballet down my thighs. Sam finally reached my feet, taking the time to carefully undo each lace and slip the sneaker off my foot. Moving with excrutiating precision, she peeled the top of my sock down and rolled it until it fell off the edge of my toe. She wrapped her fingers around my foot, squeezing and massaging the poor toes. "Poor babies," she whispered, kissing the big toe. "Trapped in that shoe for so long." She engulfed the toe in her mouth and sucked it lovingly.
"Sa-ammmantha," I groaned. I decided to take matters into my own hands and reached down, unbuttoning my jeans and lifting my hips off the floor. After rescuing my other foot from my shoe and tossing it aside, Sam grabbed the material over my thighs and tugged down as soon as I had the catch loose. My pants slipped down my tanned legs easily.
The blonde captain worked the pants off my legs and looked down at my panties. The plain, white cotton was now marred by a large wet spot. Sam's eyes widened at the sight and she licked her lips. "Is... is that because of me?" she asked.
I smiled up at her. "Yes, Samantha... please... Make love to me."
She hooked her fingers in the elastic and pulled, sliding them along the smooth skin of my thighs. She blindly worked the cooton over my calves and off my foot, her vision focused on the brown curls she had just uncovered. She tossed my underwear away and, without further ado, she spread my legs and positioned herself between them. She skimmed my hips with her hands, reaching around me and curving her hands around my buttocks. As she lowered her head, her hands pushed my lower body up and our flesh met halfway. I yelped as I felt Sam's warm breath blow across my core, teasing the trimmed brown hairs between my legs. My entire body was an arch; my head and feet were the only parts of my body touching the floor. Sam circled my clitoris with her tongue, expertly teasing it from it's hood and suckling it as she had my nipples.
I felt an electric shock pass through my body as she abandoned my nub, her tongue slowly sliding down the left fold of my vagina. I was wet, my juices covering my inner thighs. I closed my eyes as I tried to comprehend the fact that Sam was tasting my... I couldn't bring myself to *think* it, let alone comprehend it! When she reached the lower half of the lip, she paused as if contemplating going further along my perineum. She discarded that plan and continued up, wetting my lips with saliva even as she was cleansing it of cum.
That was the thought that did it; the thought of my cum on Sam's tongue. I felt the tidalwave approach, my stomach clenching. I closed my eyes and cried, "Samantha, oh God... oh, God, I'm cumming, Sam!"
Her grip on my ass tightened and she rearranged her mouth so that she would be in a position to taste it all. I began to cum strong, filling her mouth with my cream as I humped against her face. Every bit of energy I had - from the tips of my fingers to the top of my head, even from the tiniest nerve ending in my little toe - seemed to redirect itself to my crotch and explode into Samantha Carter's waiting and eager mouth. I felt several streams of my warm juices trailing out, moving along my thighs and down onto the floor.
When the assault ended, I fell back to the carpet. The sounds of the world slowly returned to me. I became aware of a quiet beeping that was coming from outside - a garbage truck in reverse a few streets over, I assumed - and the ambient sounds of traffic on the street outside my house. Correction... our house. The air conditioner hummed in my ears, the cool air filling the room and cooling the sweat on our bodies. My breath came in sharp, short gasps. I could hear my heart pounding in my ears. Sam laid down next to me, pulling a blanket she had tugged off the bed over our bodies. She snuggled against me, resting her head on my breast. For once, I felt like the taller person in the relationship. I smiled and stroked her hair.
The silence was comfortable; neither of us felt the need to say anything. As I clung to her, I realized that for the first time in my sexual life, I hadn't whimpered during climax. I kissed the top of my best friend's head and whispered, "Thank you."
She looked up at me, her cerulean eyes twinkling in the dim light. "So... I was okay for a first timer?"
I laughed so hard I almost cried.
"'What do you see when you look in the mirror?'" Cassie read, handing the book over her mattress to me. I was sitting on the foot of her bed, already wearing my nightgown and cloud robe. Sam was on the floor leaning against the bed, eagerly hanging on every word.
I took the proferred novel and turned it so the writing was right-side up. Upside down, sideways... I'd read this book enough, it hardly mattered. I found the place she left off and cleared my throat, using my Dumbledore voice. "'I? I see myself holding a pair of thick, woolen socks.' Harry stared. 'One can never have enough socks,' said Dumbledore. 'Another Christmas has come and gone and I didn't get a single pair. People will insist on giving me books.'"
I finished the paragraph and handed the book to Sam, smiling slyly. "Hmm... Maybe we oughta start buying Sam socks instead of books..."
Sam smirked, finding where I had left off. Whereas Cassie and I had been through the book cover-to-cover several times, Sam was still new to the Potter phenomenon. She licked her lips and read the final paragraph of the chapter. Her hair was still wet from her shower and was held back in a clip; she looked absolutely gorgeous. Good enough to eat. I smiled as I reached across the bed and took the novel from my new lover. "Okay, Cass... twelve chapters. That was the deal. We'll finish tomorrow."
I picked up the bookmark I had bought at Barnes & Noble to mark the page. The mark bore - who else? - Harry's smiling image. The book - and the kid with the lightning scar - *was* getting a bit tiresome, but I preferred him to whatever the flavor of the month happened to be in the teen dimension. I placed the book on her nightstand and leaned over, kissing her good night. "I love you, sweetheart."
"Love you, too." She smiled, leaning into Sam's kiss. "What're we gonna do tomorrow?"
Sam straightened. "Maybe go to the park. Run around with Pavlov a little."
I nodded, adding, "And maybe we can go to the bookstore. Our literature on this world is a little more far-reaching than young, English magicians."
Cassandra firmly said, "Wizard, Mom!"
I chuckled. "Okay, okay, wizard. But tomorrow I'm going to introduce you to some other wonderful characters: Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Linus..."
Sam gasped, "Ooh, I love 'Peanuts'!" She faked a shudder and said, "Eew, I've been kissed by a *dog*!" I laughed along with her, then noticed that Cassandra was watching us with a blank expression. Sam cleared her throat and said, "Promise, honey... that'll make sense after you read some of the comic."
Cassie smiled. "Cool. I love you guys."
I smoothed her hair and said, "Rest up, now. You don't want Pavlov running circles around you tomorrow." Sam clicked on the night light (Scooby Doo had been replaced by a hard-to-find likeness of the wonderful Mr. Potter) as I turned off the overhead lights. We wished her sweet dreams and slipped into the hall, the motion-sensor light clicking on to greet us. I leaned against Cassie's door and looked at my beautiful blonde companion. It was Day 29 of her stay; according to the original plan, it was just one more day before she'd be leaving. Of course, that had been the original plan... "What did he say when you told him?"
Sam chuckled. "Teal'c loves my place. He doesn't mind another month. And General Hammond just assumes it's taking a bit longer to get Cassie adjusted to life on Earth. No one suspects... anything."
I nodded. "Good." There was an awkward pause where we just stared at each other. Finally, I said, "You do understand, right?"
The captain smiled, nodding quickly. "Of course. It's actually a very good idea. It's just that... well, the fact that it's very good doesn't make it easy."
"You can say that again," I sighed. As hard as this was on me, I could hardly believe it had been my idea. I had suggested, after our initial tryst, we would hold off on any more sexual relations until we went through an acceptable period of courtship. Dates, first kisses, the whole nine yards. And that meant no sleeping together. I tapped my foot on the floor, then sighed. "I guess we better get to bed... and I'll see you in the morning."
Sam sighed, rolling her head on her shoulders. "God... a whole month. How am I going to manage?"
I smiled. "That's exactly what I said twenty-nine days ago."
The captain raised an eyebrow. "And *you* didn't make it."
"Touche," I said. "Let's just have the thirty days as an outline," I suggested. "Just to keep us from jumping each other too early."
Sam looked me up and down, biting her lower lip. "It's gonna take a *lot* of willpower." She leaned forward, chastely kissing my lips. "I'll see you tomorrow, sweetheart."
I stroked her cheek and she clutched my forearm with her hand, holding it in place. We looked at each other for a long time, just holding each other's focus. Finally, we separated and said our final goodnights. I walked to my room and Sam, to hers. We turned in the doorways, and Sam brightened. "Oh! Hey, I've been meaning to ask you. Do you still have that get-up from a couple weeks ago? The, uh... the tongue-ring and the tattoos and the dog collar?"
I leaned against my door. "I think so. Why?"
Sam winked. "I was just thinking maybe we could introduce Colonel O'Neill and the guys to Electra Indigo."
I snickered at that, covering my face. "Oh, my God... can you imagine?!" I bit my lip, then said, "Good-night, Sam. I'll see you in the morning."
"Good-night, Janet." She sighed. "I'll be seeing you in my dreams all night."
"Ooh," I whimpered, "Keep talkin' like that, missy." I smiled and we wished each other one final 'sweet dreams' before going into our respective sleeping quarters. The hallway was silent, and still. After two minutes of stillness, the motion-sensor detected we were gone and the light turned itself off, engulfing the upstairs hallway in darkness.
It was four days before I invited Sam to my bed.