Summary: Five times Janet was surprised to see Sam.
Info: Title and section headings are from Josh Ritter songs. In particular the songs (in order of usage): Here at the Right Time, Best for the Best, Good Man, The Temptation of Adam, Still Beating and Thin Blue Flame.
The wake was beginning to wind down, following Colonel O'Neill's little outburst with the hockey stick. Janet was debating whether to stick around a little longer when someone lightly touched her shoulder. She turned and took a step to the left, assuming she was blocking part of the buffet. "Oh," she said. "Hello, Captain Carter."
"Please, it's Sam," the blonde said. She glanced at the table, seemed to discount what was on display, and looked back at Janet. "You're... Jamie, right?"
She smiled. "Janet, actually."
"God, I'm sorry..."
"No, don't be," Janet said. "Whole new base of people to get used to. And..." She gestured at the room around them. "Kind of a hard time to be remembering names..."
Sam nodded and looked down into her beer.
"How are you doing?"
"I'm... as well as can be expected." She looked out the window and squinted at the sunshine. She swallowed and said, "You know, the most shocking thing about the Colonel attacking the car like that? I can see myself doing that. Or something like that. I'm just so..." She shook her head and took another sip of her beer. She made a face and said, "I also never drink this stuff." She put the glass down, but then didn't seem to know what to do with her hands.
"Are you talking to anyone about it?" Janet asked softly.
Sam shrugged as if she disagreed but didn't want to argue. She said, "The reason I came over... I wanted to thank you for the other day, when we got back."
"Why can't I stop shaking?"
"You're still in shock, Captain. It's all right. You'll be all right."
"I was just doing my job," Janet said.
"Yeah," Sam said. "But you were kind. I... appreciated the kindness."
Janet nodded. "You're very welcome. If you ever need anyone to talk to... someone who isn't a psychiatrist."
"That would be nice. Thank you. Janet." She said the doctor's name as if setting it to memory. She stepped back and Janet turned slightly toward the window to give the blonde a chance to escape the conversation.
After a while, Janet looked back to see Sam on her way to the front door. She was walking with Teal'c, and she assumed that Sam was his ride. Sam said good-bye to Hammond at the door and then turned to scan the room. She met Janet's eyes and lifted her hand in a shy wave. Janet returned the wave and turned away before Sam went out the door.
She breathed a sigh of relief. She had been on too many bases where the women were either asocial ladder climbers or ice-cold bitches. Maybe Carter... Sam... was just suffering from shock, but Janet didn't think that was the case. She may have lucked out; an amazing assignment with a high-ranking women that she might actually be able to be friends with.
One could always hope.
Janet speared a tomato and was bringing it to her lips when she realized someone had stopped next to her table. She looked up and blinked in surprise. "Captain. Um, Sam."
"Janet, right?" Sam said. She wore a white blouse open at the neck and tight blue jeans that hugged her hips very nicely. Janet straightened in her seat and Sam said, "I don't want to interrupt... I just wanted to stop and say hello."
"You're not interrupting," Janet assured her. "Please, sit. Unless... are you with someone?"
Sam took the seat across from Janet. "No. Party of one tonight." She folded her hands in front of herself and looked down at Janet's salad. "You wouldn't happen to know what's good here, would you?"
"No," Janet said. "I ordered the house salad and the trout."
"How have you been?"
"I've been well," Sam said. "Since we discovered Daniel was still alive and we really weren't losing our minds, it's been smooth sailing."
"I'm glad to hear it." Sam turned to look at the rest of the room, and Janet took the opportunity to admire the Captain. She was slowly relaxing, getting used to the idea of being a member of SG-1. She was beyond proving herself; everyone at the base knew what she was capable of. When Sam turned back around, Janet quickly looked down at her salad. "So," she said. "What's next on the agenda?"
Sam lowered her voice, despite the fact they were in a mostly-isolated corner of the restaurant. "We're going to PX8-987 tomorrow to view a black hole during an eclipse."
"Wow," Janet said. "Sounds impressive."
"Yeah," Sam nodded. "SG-7 has--"
A waitress had approached the table with a pad in hand. Sam straightened and held up a hand to stop her. "Oh, I'm not... I'll get another table..."
"No, please," Janet said, hoping she didn't sound as desperate as she felt. "Stay. I'm enjoying the company. Please. I insist."
Sam hesitated, but then seemed to read something in Janet's face. Janet looked down at her plate and Sam settled back into her chair. "All right. Um... I guess I'll take the house salad and, um... trout."
"Rainbow trout," Janet said.
"Rainbow trout. And an iced tea."
The waitress nodded and assured them it would be right out. Janet pushed the leaves of lettuce around on her plate and said, "Thank you for staying. I really hate eating alone, but since the divorce..."
Janet nodded, but kept her eyes down to avoid having to elaborate further.
"Well, it's my pleasure," Sam said after a moment. "I hate eating alone, too. I can't tell you how many dates I've accepted just so I could eat out for a change."
Janet laughed and covered her mouth with one hand. "I've been there."
Sam smiled and said, "You have a great laugh."
Janet blushed and cleared her throat. She pierced another tomato, swept it through the dressing and popped it into her mouth.
"Any time you feel like having dinner with someone, give me a call."
"Yeah?" Janet said, looking up.
Sam smiled. "Yeah."
Janet returned the smile and went back to rearranging her salad.
Janet woke with her face against the pillow, and the roll onto her back was aborted by someone holding her. She shifted inside the circle of their arms, rubbed her face and squeezed the bridge of her nose. She wiped the sleep out of her eyes and focused on Sam's tousled blonde hair on the pillow behind her.
Chills ran through Janet's body as she remembered the night before. Six months of not-dates, raising Cassandra together, and Janet had never had the guts to try and make it more. But then a tragedy of sorts. First, the SGC was going to be shut down. People were packing up, making plans to transfer to a different base. Janet was stunned; something as spectacular as the Stargate, and they were closing up shop? Of all the bureaucratic bullshit she had seen in her service...
And just when she thought things couldn't get worse, Sam had gone AWOL with the rest of SG-1. They had taken gear and stormed the Stargate, going on one final mission that Janet, apparently, didn't have the clearance to know about. All she knew was that the people in charge assumed the team wouldn't be coming back alive.
Her reaction to her friend's death was much more pronounced than Janet would have thought. She had kept it together around Cassandra, but once the girl was in bed and Janet was alone in the dark living room, she had sobbed.
Miracle of miracles, SG-1 had returned. Alive and well, and without the threat of court-martial. Apparently saving the Earth from invasion cleared the board of all indiscretions. The team had gone out to celebrate and Janet had found herself hanging around Sam. To her surprise, Sam had been hanging around her.
They had gotten slightly drunk and Janet had excused herself to go home before it got too late. Sam offered to walk her out and took Janet's hand in her own. In the parking lot, they said good-bye at Janet's car door and then Sam had bent down to kiss her. They kept their lips closed, eyes open, but Sam wrapped her arms around Janet's waist and pulled her close.
Janet made a weak sound low in her throat and put her hand on Sam's neck. When the kiss broke, Sam said, "I almost died. I could have died, the world could have been invaded and destroyed and... and all I could think about was what it would have been like to kiss you."
"Oh," Janet managed. She swallowed and slid her hand up into Sam's hair. "W-what did you think?"
Sam closed her eyes and rested her forehead against Janet's. "I think I'm in trouble. A lot of trouble..."
"Why?" Janet asked. She was shaking. "Are you going to kiss me again?"
"Yes," Sam said, her lips already closing against Janet's.
"Good," Janet moaned into Sam's mouth. She let herself be leaned against the side of her car and ruffled Sam's hair with her fingers.
After that, it became a mad dash to the closest house they could reach. Janet called Catherine and asked her if Cassandra could spend the night. Catherine had, of course, agreed and Sam and Janet had been given the entire night to explore the new aspect of their relationship. They made love the first time on the floor of the hallway between Janet's kitchen and living room. Janet's pants were around her thighs, but she was otherwise fully dressed as Sam used her fingers on her. They managed to get to the bed for round two, and for Sam's first orgasm of the night. When both were finally undressed and both had come, Janet kissed her way down Sam's body and pressed her cheek against her friend's warm stomach. She closed her eyes and, apparently, had fallen asleep.
Sometime in the night, they had spooned. Sam was pressed against Janet from behind and both were still naked. The bed stunk of sweat and sex, but it was such an unfamiliar scent that Janet didn't mind it. She ran her hand down Sam's arm and the blonde stirred. "Hey," Janet said quietly.
Sam blinked at her.
"You stayed the night."
"I kind of had to," Sam said with a grin. "You were on top of me."
Janet smiled. "You still could have left."
Sam shrugged. "I suppose. Should I have?"
Janet pulled Sam close and pressed her face against Sam's collarbone. "Nope," she said. She felt Sam's hands on her back and felt wrapped-up, safe, protected. She kissed Sam's chest and said, "Nope. You stay right here, Captain Carter."
Janet opened the door with wallet in-hand, fully expecting the pizza boy to be standing on the stoop. Instead, it was Sam lit up under the porch light, motorcycle helmet set aside on the porch swing. Janet opened her mouth, hesitated and then said, "Sam."
"Can I come in?"
"Cassie... we-we ordered pizza..."
Sam nodded. "I guess since I'm not invited to dinner anymore..."
"No, it's not... you're more than welcome to join us."
Janet looked down at her feet and tapped her wallet against her thigh. She was about to speak when a pea-green sedan pulled up in front of the house. Sam stepped aside when the pizza boy came up onto the porch. Janet awkwardly paid him, took the pizza and said, "Cassandra! Come get the pizza, please."
The girl came running, but stopped short when she saw Sam. She looked at her mother and said, "Sam. Hey."
Cassie took the box and hesitated. "Are you guys broken up?"
"No," both women said. Sam looked into Janet's eyes as Cassie retreated. "I have to admit, I'm glad to hear that."
"It's complicated," Janet said.
Sam nodded. "You don't want to be with me because I almost died."
"No!" Janet snapped. There were tears in her eyes. "No, Sam, God. I... come inside." She grabbed Sam's hand and pulled her into the house. She shut the door and leaned against it, lowering her voice. "You think that's why I've been acting like--"
"--like I have," Janet said, ignoring Sam's interjection. She swallowed, hugging herself, and looked at the floor. "I'm ashamed."
Sam frowned. "Of us?"
"No," Janet said. Her voice cracked and tears finally broke. She closed her eyes and shrugged. "You were brain-dead, Sam. Your living will... I... you were being kept alive by machines." She sniffled and clasped her hands tighter against her upper arms. "I was ready. General Hammond said we should prepare for the worst and I told him... I told him we should... I was ready to disconnect the machines, Sam. I would have. I would have killed you. Five damn minutes."
Sam took a step forward, hesitated, and then closed the distance between them. She pressed Janet's face to her shoulder, and Janet sobbed into the leather. "I'm sorry. I'm so, so sorry," Janet said. She clung to Sam's jacket, using her to keep from falling. "I haven't been able to look at you. I'm so ashamed of myself, Sam..."
"Shh," Sam whispered. She stroked Janet's hair and closed her eyes. "It's okay, sweetheart. Nothing happened. I'm fine. I'm just fine."
"If I had killed you..."
"You wouldn't have killed me," Sam said. She stepped back and cupped Janet's face in her hands. "No matter what happened. The Entity was to blame, do you understand me?"
Janet nodded and turned her head to kiss Sam's palm.
"I love you." She kissed Janet's forehead, her eyelids and then her cheeks, salty with tears. When she kissed Janet's lips, they parted and Sam touched the tip of her tongue to Janet's upper lip. Janet moaned and slid her hands to the middle of Sam's back.
When they parted, Janet sniffled and wiped her eyes. "God..."
"You look beautiful," Sam assured her.
Janet scoffed and looked up into Sam's eyes. "Do you want to stay? We got a large..."
"You sure there's enough?"
"Yeah," Janet said. She took Sam's hands in her own and kissed her knuckles. Sam smiled and wrapped one arm around Janet's shoulders.
They walked into the kitchen, where Cassandra was busy filling three plates with pizza slices. She looked up and shrugged. "I just figured."
Sam smiled and said, "Smart kid. You must take after your mother."
"Yeah," Cassie said. "Both of them."
Janet laughed and slipped out from under Sam's arm to help Cassandra serve the food.
"Sam? Sam, what are you doing here?"
Sam didn't want to wake up. Didn't want to move. She felt grass under her back, and the sun was so warm on her face. She felt a soft touch on her cheek, and then a brush of lips across hers. Then the voice again.
"Sam. You have to get up. You're not supposed to be here."
"let me rest"
"No, Sam, I can't do that."
Water was lapping against a shore somewhere to her right. She could hear ducks.
"are we at... your... grandparents cabin"
There was a pause, and then the voice said, "Maybe. That's not important right now."
"i told you... i loved you here"
"That's right, baby," the voice was softer now. Gentle. "It was the first time. I cried."
"you were gentle with me"
"Yes," Janet said. "But now I have to be firm, okay? Because Sam... you have to get up. Right now. Okay? Get up. You're not supposed to be here yet."
"but you're here"
"I know. I'll wait for you. I promise I will, as long as it takes. But it won't be today."
"i miss you"
"I miss you, too, Sam. And I see you every day. I'm watching over you."
"i can feel it"
"I know," Janet whispered.
Sam was crying now. "there's someone..."
"Shh, Sam. It's not important."
"i'm cheating on you"
"No, you're not. You need someone like Jennifer in your life to keep you grounded. Okay, Sam? Sam? Jennifer needs you, too. Don't do this to her."
"she knows she's not the... love of my life... it was you. Janet."
Janet kissed Sam's lips again, and then whispered, "Please, go back, Sam. They need you."
"i need you"
"I'll always be here for you. I promise. Haven't I always been there for you?"
"Just like you were always there for me... just at the right time, right when I needed you."
She put both hands over Sam's heard and leaned down. The air was fresh with summer, and Sam could smell the water now. Janet's skin, wet from the lake and naked but for a skimpy swimsuit as they made love in the grass. Janet bent down and kissed Sam's cheek. She moved her lips to Sam's ear and said, "By the way... Sam..."
Janet pressed her face into the long, blonde hair flowing out across the grass. "I love the hair."
Sam smiled, and then cried out as Janet shoved both hands into Sam's chest. Sam's body jerked with the force of the assault, and suddenly the world exploded into light and sound. She heard Jennifer calling for people to clear, and then heard the monitor beside her bed began to sound. "We have a rhythm. She's coming back to us."
Sam came to with the orderlies still swarming around her bed. She watched events in rewind, it seemed, and Jennifer's mouth never seemed to catch up with her words. She bent over the bed and shone the pen light in Sam's eyes. "--nel?" Jennifer asked. Her voice was hollow, echoing. "Colonel, can you hear me?"
"There was a system overload. The bypass you were standing by exploded and you were thrown a pretty fair distance. Can you follow my finger?" Sam did so, and then answered Keller's questions to make sure her mind was in proper working order. Sam closed her eyes once the doctor was confident she was going to be all right.
She was on Atlantis, lying on a gurney in on of the labs. McKay was nervously pacing a few feet away, possibly the reason she had been unconscious in the first place judging by the look of guilt on his face. She focused on the facts that were swimming forward now.
She was a full Colonel, not the Captain she had been when she and Janet went to the lake. She had been seeing Jennifer for about three months now, but they had yet to sleep together. Maybe it was time. She looked through the window at the spires of the city, glowing in the sunlight. She could see the water where it met the sky and, even though she was far too high to hear it, the sound of waves lapping against the shore filled her ears.
I'll wait for you. I promise I will, as long as it takes.
Sam closed her eyes and smiled.
Whatever might happen in the future, whatever fate had in store for her... Janet would be waiting. That was enough to make whatever happened okay.
Author's Note: Thank you for reading! Please check out my website for information about my novels!