DISCLAIMER: Stargate, etc-yada-etc are property of MGM, Showtime, Gekko etc and so on. In other words Not Mine. Iím just playing in their sandbox while kick-starting my own muses.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: This is A/U, since I havenít seen all ten seasons and donít have a clue as to how things turn out with the Ori. Fix-it-ficness Ahoy!
CHALLENGE: Written for the 48 Hour Halloween Challenge.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
SPOILERS: Up through mid-season nine.

Another Break in the Wall
By sHaYcH


Once, Daniel Jackson had lectured the rest of SG-1 about the fact that Halloween was viewed as one of the liminal days of the year – in other words, a time when the walls between one world and the next were thin enough that people and other things could pass through them. From this belief, many fairy tales and myths had sprung.

To Samantha Carter, Halloween was just another day. Granted, there were years when that day was filled with joy and delight. Cassie's first time trick-or-treating, for instance, was one of the colonel's best memories. In her wallet, Sam kept a photo of that day that captured the moment when Janet had presented her newly adopted daughter, costumed and ready to head out into the dusk, to the members of SG-1.

Cassie's eyes were large with anticipation. Her small hand clutched at Janet's even while a smile fought to erupt. Dressed in a set of BDUs that General Hammond had specially ordered for the child, Cassandra was the picture-perfect replica of an SG team member ready to step into the event horizon of a wormhole.

By contrast, Janet Fraiser easily resembled an escapee from an 80's rock video. Big hair, spandex top and shredded jeans that were just shy of indecent were topped off by a face covered in a thick layer of make up and glitter.

Sam had absolutely loved it. The guys were stunned into silence until Daniel had cracked, and fallen off the couch. His laughter had sparked a round of giggles that had sent Cassie out into her first Halloween with a giant smile on her face.

That time had come and gone, though. Years and tears later, Colonel Samantha Carter was still a member of SG-1, still working for the government on the semi-super secret Stargate project – Because how secret can a secret be when you have civilian oversight? – and fighting to save the galaxy.

Most of SG-1 was off world, facing who knew what, while she stayed behind to nurse herself through a mild but annoyingly debilitating bout of the flu. The CMO, who was not Janet, and would never be the woman who wore glitter and spandex as easily as scrubs and latex, had rightly kept Sam grounded until she was healthy.

The bunk in the colonel's quarters wasn't as comfortable as her bed at home, but at least it wasn't a bed in the infirmary. Sam lay back and stared at the ceiling, trying to imagine constellations in the lumps and bumps overhead. It was Halloween, and she should have gone home to dole out handfuls of sugar to miniature ghosts and goblins, but she couldn't bring herself to face them.

I don't want to see what might have been in their eyes. Cassie was away at college now, studying so hard that Sam was proud of her success while at the same time being fearful that the young woman would burn out and grow disillusioned with the process.

It was Halloween and the walls between worlds were thin and for Sam Carter, those walls were just fragile enough to reveal unhealed pain from a loss she had never quite faced.

Janet Fraiser, Cassie's mother, Sam's best friend, the CMO of the Stargate program, had died while doing what she did best – using her hands to heal the wounded. As many times as the members of SG-1 had faced and defeated death, there was nothing that could be done for Janet. One rogue staff blast mixed in with a jumbled mass of bad relations with their supposed allies, and Janet Fraiser's death was a fact ground in stone.

Brass and granite marked the spot where Janet's family had watched their daughter laid to rest but for Samantha Carter the solid evidence of her friend's absence was depicted not in stone, but in silence. Where once family nights would have been filled with laughter and joyous ribbing, only silence reigned as both Sam and Cassie struggled through their loss.

Rubbing her eyes, Sam pushed away the memories and dragged herself out of bed. There was a table at the far end of her quarters and upon it sat a variety of candles. Each one had a name painstakingly graven into the wax – a ceremony Cassandra had initiated that first Halloween after Janet's death.

"To remember," the young woman had said. "We make fire to show our loved ones that we remember the warmth and light they added to our lives."

Calmly, Sam set about lighting each candle. For her mother, a pink taper that rose high above the others. A short, squat, drab green candle for her father took two tries before she was able to set the wick aflame. Two candles, twisted about one another, bore the names of Jolinar and Lantash, together in death as they were in life. Other names for other candles began to melt as Sam came to the last, the final memorial with a name scored in wax.

This was Janet's candle. Myriad colors swirled and danced throughout the taper. Closing her eyes, Sam briefly stroked the wax and then whispered, "I still miss you." With shaking hands, she struck a match.

"Unscheduled off-world activation!" blared through the loudspeakers. Almost simultaneously, Sam's cell rang.

"Shit." The colonel blew out the match as well as the other candles and then answered her phone.

Five minutes later, she was waiting in the gate room. Sam's gaze was fixed on the shimmering, watery disc of the event horizon. The sight had never grown old for her and today was no different. If any had bothered to look, they would have noticed a bright tightening to Sam's eyes that belied her calm exterior. Behind her, several rigged out marines awaited the order to fire upon any emerging threat but no such command would be given.

Above them, in the command center, General Landry, Dr. Lam and the Asgard Thor awaited the arrival of their guest.

If Sam hadn't heard the story from Thor himself, she would not have believed it.

Janet Fraiser, the once and possibly future Chief Medical Officer of Stargate Command, was alive.

Cassie's gonna kick my ass, was all Sam could think as she watched the diminutive form of the not-nearly-as-dead-as-they-thought-she-was doctor step through the gate.

Later, much, much later after there had been debriefings of debriefings and Dr. Lam had certified in every way humanly possible that the woman with Janet's face really was Janet Fraiser, Sam was back in her quarters, sitting on her bed and staring at the table of partially melted wax. In her hands was the unlit candle with Janet's name carved into it.

This is too easy. Nothing I've ever wanted has been this simple.

Somehow, it was still Halloween, and though there was not much left of the day, the walls were still thin enough that Sam felt years of grief battering at her heart.

Anger boiled close to that grief and suddenly, she lashed out, and chucked the candle across the room. It struck the wall with a soft thud and fell to the floor, breaking into hundreds of multicolored chunks.

There was a knock at her door and with a clarity of thought that broke through the anger and grief, Sam knew who awaited her on the other side. Slowly, she stood. A quick flash of memory accompanied the motion.

Step – "We deeply regret the actions of a rogue member of the Asgard High Council." Thor's voice, so calm, and yet every word was no less shocking to those in the room than the images being uploaded onto their computers.

Step – "Once temporal stasis had been achieved, a clone was inserted to take Dr. Fraiser's place. Again, you have my most humble apologies, but it was the only choice I had, given the circumstances."

Sam snorted. The Asgard scientist, Odin, had babbled on and on about paradox and time rifts and a thousand other terrible things but Sam knew what he was really trying to say was that he had leaped upon a golden opportunity. Using what had worked for the Asgard before – primitive thinking combined with high technology – Odin, in concert with Dr. Fraiser, had worked for years to try and solve the alien race's problem with reproduction. It was only when Heimdall, another of the Asgard, had discovered them, that he was stopped.

Her hand was on the doorknob now. The cool metal under her fingers warmed slightly.

Twist – "Every test I've done indicates that this is, indeed, Dr. Janet Fraiser." Dr. Lam spoke as though Janet weren't standing less than two feet away from her. Sam was hard pressed not to burst into a combination of tears, laughter and cheers as Janet's face clearly showed her distaste at being spoken of so dismissively. "And I don't see why she can't be allowed to resume her normal life."

As if someone who had been dead and buried could just return to life like a vampire from a penny dreadful. But Generals Landry and Hammond were working to make it happen. Something about changing the records from "Killed in Action" to MIA and then Found Alive, though Sam wasn't really clear on the details.

The Asgard had departed, and Odin's pleas for forgiveness had echoed in the Sit Room for the long moments of quiet that had filled chamber until Janet had stood and excused herself.

Click – "I have a phone call to make." A few blank stares around the table caused Sam to add, "Her daughter, Cassandra. She needs to know."

General Hammond nodded. "Of course. Make it happen, Sam."

The colonel had understood the silent, get her here quickly, command that lay beneath Hammond's words. A friend of a friend owed Sam a favor and in a few hours, Cassie would be escorted into the mountain.

The door opened and through a haze of quickly gathering tears, Sam faced her long-lost friend.

Janet gazed at her for a long time before speaking. "Colonel now, hmm? I guess I have some catching up to do."

Sam's laughter caught in her throat as the tears spilled over. She was amazed to see that her friend's face had become similarly wet. "I'm sure it's just another formality," she said, her voice harsh with her grief.

Then they were hugging and it was like nothing else. This was Janet – Janet – in her arms. Her family, her friend, returned whole and healthy like an escapee from some ancient elven underworld.

It was Halloween and the walls between worlds were thin and sometimes, the origins to myths and fairy tales were truer than told.

"Cassie will be here in a few hours," Sam said sometime later. They were sprawled on her bunk, staring at the ceiling after having filled the room with soft chatter about trivial matters.

Janet's quick, juddered hiss of indrawn breath caused Sam to turn and face her friend.

"Is that okay?"

Brown eyes wearily closed. "Okay? God, at this point, okay is relative and all right is somewhere in the stratosphere of future normality."

Sam chuckled. "Well, this is the SGC – shouldn't we be used to weirdness by now?" The question was spoken as if the colonel were seeking her own comfort in Janet's answer.

Opening her eyes, Janet stared at her friend and sighed. The years in Odin's company had done much to rob her of any easy ability to connect with another human. Shared failure or success with the Asgard prompted neither celebration nor sorrow, and only reinforced his drive to continue. The alien scientist was cold and living in that icy environment had stolen Janet's ability to read people.

She remembered, though, that once upon a time, the woman perched beside her was a friend who might be more than friendly. Or maybe it was Janet who was more than friendly. It really didn't matter any more because she had forgotten how to know those answers.

Shrugging, Janet said, "Weird is as relative as anything else, Sam. From my perspective, right now is weird." She looked down at her hands. "Normally, I would be in the lab, watching over yet another one of Odin's experiments."

Sam reached out and touched Janet's chin, drawing her gaze back upwards. Rewarding the doctor with a smile, Sam said, "Trust me, Janet. Weird is okay."

"Yeah?" Suddenly Janet wanted, more than anything, some physical reminder that she was alive and warm. That it was Sam who was there, and smiling so sweetly, only served to ignite a flurry of emotional echoes in the doctor. Between one breath and the next, Janet surged upward and kissed her once-and-hopefully-future best friend on the mouth. It was easier than anything she had done in years.

Momentarily stunned, Sam's brain nearly shut down from shock until her heart jumped into the fray and took over. Losing herself in the kiss, Sam ignored the tiny voice in her head that screamed dire warnings that this was a bad idea.

Janet's lips were softer than she ever imagined, though Sam was quite certain she had actually never thought of kissing her best friend. It didn't matter, because the actuality of the kiss was far better than anything she might have considered, even if she had been given to those kinds of daydreams.

Kissing Janet Fraiser immediately became the one perfect thing Sam had done all day. Then the kiss ended, and Janet quickly pulled away, muttering incoherent apologies.

"No," Sam said.

Bemused, Janet's babbling ceased. "No?"

Quirking her lips into a wry smile, Sam said, "I can't forgive you, Janet."

Janet's eyes widened and she scrambled to stand, only to be trapped by Sam's solid grasp.

Drawing the doctor into her arms, Sam said, "There's nothing to forgive. God, Janet – you can't just kiss me like that and then run away."

"I – no – I suppose not," Janet replied hesitantly. She was shaking, though, and Sam realized that the next few minutes would determine a whole lot more than whether or not she would ever be kissed like that again.

It was Halloween when the walls between worlds were thin and in the miracle of that night, the universe had given Samantha Carter a gift.

Lying beside Janet Fraiser, their lips still tingling from a kiss that was as unlikely an event between them as the fact of Janet's very much alive and breathing state, Sam considered what she could say that would set their feet on the course they both wished to travel.

Strangely, it was Janet who spoke first.

"You know, I never thought I'd actually do it," she said, a thread of an amused chuckle piercing the words.

"What?" Sam looked down at Janet in confusion.

It was Janet's turn to smile and the gentle, bemused expression wrapped itself around Sam's heart and squeezed.

"Sometimes, a girl dreams of things that can never be, Sam." Janet reached up and sifted her fingers through the ragged fringe of hair that brushed the colonel's neckline. "Sometimes, those things are so unlikely that all they will ever be are dreams. For me, kissing you was one of those things."

Sam experienced what felt like a bonfire igniting in her belly. Every nerve seemed to come alive and tingle with an urge that she could neither ignore nor resist.

"Does that mean you're going to do it again?" she asked coyly.

The fingers tugging at her hair stilled and then curved around her neck, drawing her down to Janet's waiting lips. Around a smile, around laughter that threatened to shake them apart, the doctor said, "Yes."

It was Halloween, when the walls between Sam's world and her heart thinned and shattered and Janet Fraiser came home.

The End

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