Champions Gate
By Elizabeth Carter

Chapter Two


"I think you had better take a look at this yourself, Boudicca." Pumah said from the Tactical Station of the Samantha Carter

Ever since Arion's exile Boudicca had taken the position as the captain. The other angelics took their cue from her until such time the Liege Commander was restored to them. Boudicca quickly bounded the three steps to the Tactical Station directly behind the Captain's chair. Her silver eyes scanned the readouts on the panel with some annoyance.

"Command Base sent out flyers to search for us." Pumah stated the obvious.

"You didn't actually think we would get away without them hunting us?" Boudicca looked up. "They will be relentless in their pursuit. However we can out fly, and out maneuver them. Our shields will protect us and the cloaking device will keep us hidden indefinitely. Flying through the Eldacar Nebula will have masked our trail and given them sensor ghosts."

"Yet they are hunting." Pumah pointed out.

Zaire who was stationed at Samantha Carter's opps station spoke. "Might they be performing a standardized sweep? Their search pattern indicates they have not located us, but are rather hoping we will reveal ourselves."

" I concur." Boudicca said stiffly. "Proceed with caution Malachi," the acting captain addressed the ship's helmsman. "But do not second guess yourself. I am confident we will reach out destination without disruption."

Boudicca looked again to the seven small scout ships that were engaged in the hunt. She tapped the wristcomm on her left hand. "Turel, I want you to vent the plasma relays. We are going to ignite them."

Turel had been given the office of Chief Engineer. Indeed she was a talented engineer, with skills to rival Sam Carter. Her monotone voice seemed particularly perturbed. "Boudicca igniting a plasma cloud inside a nebula is not advisable."

"I realize the ramifications, however what will cripple the other ships pursuing us, will not effect Samantha Carter. She is designed to withstand far more. Besides we are not blowing up a star, just a small cosmic explosion. Now comply with the orders. We must not tarry, if our plans to restore our Liege Commander are to commence. Our pursuer's vessels will take significant damage but they will not have casualties. I will not fire on friendlies. But we need to persuade them that hunting us is a futile endeavor, and very unadvisable."

The white winged captain settled upon the command chair. "Engage the procedure."

There was nothing more to be said.

The Samantha Carter had the distinct appearance of a stingray, a metallic orange stingray. She sailed lithely through the nebula like the sea-predator she resembled.

The nebula contained ionized gas; it would conceal ion weapons fire, as well as contain the explosion. The plasma vents opened on either side of the ship almost as if they were gills of the aquatic beast, and expelled into the nebula vaporous eerie green plumes of plasma.

"Target the gas and fire." Boudicca ordered Pumah.

The tactic officer's long fingers danced over the consol and fired the ion phaser banks. Blue energy pulsars shot out from the hull of the ship striking the green clouds. The reaction was immediate.

The entire ship started to shake in teeth-chattering vibrations. The intensity increased as the ship tried to shake herself apart. The bridge viewscreen flared brightly, as an enormous shock front approached, carrying with it rolling super heated gases and flaming chunks of debris. The bridge lights flickered, then pulsed blood-red as the ship's sensors detected danger.

Samantha Carter reeled and lurched to starboard. The angelics braced themselves in their chairs and watched the riotous ballet, a tumble of limbs in emerald shadow. The ship slowly rolled back to center and righted herself.

"Starboard thrusters. Turn her in to the wave! Hyperdrive now!"

The strategy worked. The ship bucked one final time, then righted herself.

The red glow of the ship reverted to normal illumination. For one instant the bridge was resoundingly still. Not daring to draw breath, Boudicca looked to her crew. Ruffled feathers apart, they seemed no worse for wear.

Damage report," Boudicca said, finding it odd to speak in a normal tone.

"Seem to be in one piece." Pumah reported behind her from Tactical. "We're checking all systems."

It took only a moment before all stations replied. The ship had withstood the test. Shields were only down by five percent. Indeed, she had been tossed about but she was undamaged. Not only had she faired well but also the shock wave had catapulted the ship several dozens of light-years along her course. Samantha Carter would reach her destination within the week.

Because of the incident with Rebecca, when her pet hamster had been mutilated by her pet cat, Janet was late for a briefing. Then she somehow managed to drop her keys into her cup of coffee on the way out the door. There was a muted ting as they hit the bottom. Pausing in mid-stride to stare in disbelief at the steaming ceramic mug, the thick stack of medical files she carried under her other arm slid smoothly to the floor. Paper clips and sticky notes scattered across the blue carpeting.

"Ah shit."

She checked her watch as she turned back toward the kitchen, cup in hand. O'Neill had called the meeting for O'900 sharp, which meant she had about thirteen minutes to make the fifteen minute drive, find a parking space and get her butt into a chair. Today was the day SG1 was gaining a new commander. Their first since Sam had taken a leave of absence.

SG1 had always had a bad habit of not taking their leave and so, during the three months since the return from Hy- Basil and Chimera, the other members had luxuriated in their time off. Teal'c had gone to see his son, daughter-in-law and wife in the Land of Light. Daniel had gone off to New York for a conference and to see old friends…Cassie had opted to go to Sturgis Bike Rally in South Dakota with Jennifer Hailey. All four of them had had a great vacation but were extremely ready to go back to work.

Janet herself had been utterly immovable from Sam's side during those three months. She was reluctant to leave Sam now, and she was going to be late.

Muttering darkly she hurried to the sink, feeling tense and angry with herself for not getting ready earlier. But today's unforeseeable death of the little hamster could not have been accounted for. It was the new CO, the new goddamn CO taking Sam's place. She dumped the mug and scooped up the warm, wet keys, wiping them off on a dishtowel as she hurried to the front door.

Sam came down the stairs at that moment and flashed a sympathetic smile to her wife. She had gathered the disarray of folders into a neat stack and had them at the ready when Janet came out of the kitchen. Janet placed a warming kiss upon Sam's welcoming lips. "Love you Baby-girl." Sam uttered softly and walked Janet to the door. "Don't be too hard on the new CO."

'Oh God Sam you don't know how hard it is go to the Base when I know you're not there…but at least I know you are safe at home…'

"Well if the new CO can't handle big needles they shouldn't be leading SG1." Janet winked. "I gotta go, I am late as it is." Placing a very quick kiss on Sam's lips Janet bolted out the door.

Janet stepped out into the early morning, breathing deeply. The scent of freshly cut grass and new rainfall was heavy in the sun-warmed air. Somewhere down the streets, a dog barked happily amidst the shouts of children happily enjoying their summer vacations. She hurried to the silver mustang parked by the front walk, forcing herself not to think of the new CO as she started the car and pulled away from the curb. Janet drove through the wide suburban streets of her neighborhood, window down, pushing the speed limit but careful to watch for kids and pets. There weren't many of either around. It was still early yet and most of them were gathered around the TV eating super sugared cereals watching this cartoon or that one. For some reason re-runs of Dragon Ball Z was a favored. Janet never saw the appeal of it, but Cassie had loved it when she was growing up, and now Rebecca liked the cartoon. Cassandra had even said one of the characters sounded a lot like Janet herself, but the doctor didn't think so. Her the voice of a cartoon character? Yeah right.

The sleek silver mustang shuddered as she accelerated up the ramp to Highway 101, the warm, moist air whipping her longish hair back from her face. It felt good, like waking up from a bad dream. The redhead sped through the sun-dappled morning, the shadows of the trees growing shorter across the road.

The med files next to her fluttered slightly, the top of the folder caught by the wind as if stirred by restless spirits. Janet swore to herself that she would and could handle the replacement of SG1's CO. She would look at it as a professional…she was a doctor, the CMO and a Colonel in the Airforce. She promised herself she would not be jaded against the new CO. But it would be hard not to see Sam in command. The redhead placed her right hand on the ruffled sheaf, stifling the gentle movement-and swore to herself, no matter what it took, she was going to accept the changes she was about to face.

"Yo Cassie!"

Cassie turned away from the soda fountain in the commissary and saw Hailey striding down the nearly empty mess toward her, a sloppy grin on her tanned girlish face. Jennifer was actually a few years older then Cassie, but looked like a rebellious teenager. Short blonde hair, a leather jacket, a tattoo of a red western dragon riding a Harley Road King on her right shoulder. (She got it years ago after the umpteenth time someone compared her to the then Major Sam Carter) She was also an excellent physicist, a fair mechanic and one of the best shots Cassie had ever seen next to her Mum.

"Hey Jen. What's up?" Cassie scooped her cup of soda from the fountain and glanced at her watch. She still had a couple of minutes before the briefing. She smiled tiredly as Jennifer stopped in front of her, blue eyes sparking.

Jennifer was carrying an armload of paperwork, obviously her mission report in the works.

"Just got out of SG7's briefing. Just thought I'd get a cup of hot before I start my report." She shrugged. "I heard SG1 is getting a new CO."

"Yeah the whole base is buzzing about it." Cassie frowned.

Jen placed a hand on the taller woman's back and tried to smile. "Hey they could always set you up."

"Pftt. Yeah right. I think O'Neill is going to put someone a lot higher than Lieutenant in command. A Major isn't even high enough for SG1 it will have to be a Colonel. Maybe not a full bird, but it's going to be a Colonel. Besides I don't have a lot of command experience."

"What about Teal'c?" Captain Hailey queried.

"Granted he's ex-First Prime, tons of command experience, military minded… but he is still, at least to this planet, a civilian. And Danny…no one wants him in command. He's good to have around to speak to natives, because he speaks twenty-two languages. And he's handy at reading ancient script, but he too is a civilian. No, it's going to be someone else."

"Cass, how is your Mum anyway?" Jen whispered.

Cassandra, since Sam and Janet had married, had chosen to use the more English version Mum for Sam and the more American term Mom for Janet, to distinguish the difference between the two. It also made the distinction easier for everyone else when speaking about the couple to Cassandra.

"Most days she's okay. Mom says she still has horrific nightmares almost every night since we got back. Mum tries to hide it especially in front of Little-bit, but you can see it in her eyes." Cassie looked down at the soda in her hands. "She tries so hard not to let her pain show…but what they did to her…God it was awful Jen. Arion let us see it…all of it. What they did to her it was unbelievable. If it wasn't for Becky, Sam would have withdrawn into herself so deeply I doubt Mom would have been able to pull her out. The last time she was like that was when Jolinar took over and then died inside of her."

Jennifer Hailey had for the longest time carried an unrequited torch for Sam Carter. But her love for the tall blonde was far above a crush; she admired and respected the Colonel. Sam had stuck her neck out for Hailey when she was still in the academe, and made sure she had a real shot at becoming a member of SGC. Sam also pushed Hailey to strive for bettering herself and reaching her goals. Hailey also loved the mild competition between them as both were very brilliant physicists. Jen thrilled to the fact whenever she was able to outdo Sam, which was never easy. And the Colonel encouraged it. Over time Jennifer had become fairly close to the family, often sharing the holidays with them as her own family now resided in England. Because of that closeness, Jen felt as protective over Sam Carter as much as Cassandra did.

"If there is anything I can do…tell me."

"How about getting me reassigned to SG7? I'd rather have you as my CO then whatever jarhead they are going to stick us with."

Jen snickered. Although only a Captain, she was indeed the CO of SG7 for the team was a Scientific Corps and Hailey was near her doctorate so she was considered extremely capable of handling its command. SG9 was once lead by the deceased Captain Jonas Hansen so having Hailey in command of SG7 was not extraordinary.

"You laugh but I'm serious Jen. The only person I want to serve under in SG1 is Colonel Carter, no one else."

"You're serious." Hailey stared.

"As anthrax."

"And if they put Teal'c in control?"

"Maybe him, but look Jen…I'm a pretty good engineer myself and I have medical training. Hell I am a RN you can use me." Cassie pointed to herself.

"SG7 isn't known for its injuries like SG1 or SG3." Hailey pointed out.

"Maybe not but it wouldn't hurt to have a nurse on your team…Naquaada can be volatile, a nurse would be handy to have around…SG1…has a medical doctor aboard."

"Look Cass, if, after you meet your new CO and work with them… you still feel this way, I'll talk to the General. But I can't s promise anything."

"Thanks Jen I owe you big time."

"Hey a year's supply of your Mum's soufflé and I may call it even."

Cassandra's watch started to beep insistently as the alarm went off. She hit the tab on the watch and looked up to her best friend and superior officer. "I am off to meet the wizard."

"The way you're talking…you make them sound like the Wicked Witch of the West." Jennifer laughed mildly.

"Hey in that case maybe I should exchange this soda for a cup of water to throw on them, see if they melt." Cassandra flashed a crooked smile.

"That'll get you thrown in the brig for sure."

"At least I won't have to put up with some wind bag trying to fill Sam Carter's shoes." Cassandra shot back before she retreated out the swinging doors of the Commissary.

"Not easy shoes to fill." Hailey muttered to herself, "Believe me." She offered an even more silent wish of good luck to the new CO of SG1, whoever it was they were going to need it. The members of SG1 were unshakably loyal to Colonel Carter; the change would not be readily accepted.

The door to the Briefing room stood open, the muted sounds of gruff male voices spilling out into the hall. Janet hesitated a moment, hearing Adjutant Colonel Paul Davies amongst them. Davies was the primary spokes person for the SGC. He had always represented the Stargate program with the finesse of a politician. And he had praised the efforts of SG1 under both O'Neill and Carter. Though with the latter one, he didn't have to sweet talk the Joint Chiefs as much, Carter's presence tended to do that for the Flagship team and the SGC.

What he was doing here, now…Janet could only guess he had his fingers in this pie as well as the other dozen he had toyed with. Janet shook her head, listening to Davies's greasy voice. Hard to believe he was able to go head to head with the late Senator Kinsey as often as he had and win. Maybe even harder to believe that he'd probably end up as one of the Joint Chiefs someday.

Yeah, well, Janet didn't like to kiss ass, and the Joint Chiefs didn't know how to have any other relationship. At least Davies wasn't a total incompetent; he'd done a great deal for the SGC early on. Janet pasted on a straight face and stepped into the small briefing room.

Daniel and Teal'c were at the far end of the highly polished cedar and walnut table going through a stack of papers and talking quietly. Cassandra was drinking soda and staring at the room's main computer screen a few feet away, a sour expression on her mild features. Across the room General O'Neill was leaning back in his chair, hands clasped behind his head, smiling blankly at something Colonel Davies was telling him.

"So I said, 'the planning stages for the offworld base have been in the works for a long time, if you are worried about the UN, and NORAD then perhaps offering to help finance the new base would give you more then a soft influence in the Stargate Program Ambassador Adin. ' And she says…"

"Doctor!" O'Neill interrupted the Adjutant, sitting forward. "Good of you to finally meet with us. Looks like we can stop wasting time."

Davies scowled in his direction but Janet kept her poker face. O'Neill didn't care for politicians either and didn't bother trying to be any more then polite in his dealings with them. From the glint in his eyes, it was obvious that he didn't care who knew it either.

Janet walked into the Briefing Room and stood by the long black and auburn table, near Cassandra. The two Fraiser women hadn't worked together on SG1 since Janet was two months pregnant. The forever-young doctor had retaken her duties in Med Labs. Even on SG1 Janet had maintained her position as CMO, but her expertise was needed sometimes on the planets to evaluate the medical benefits. More and more medical technology had been coming through the Gate since the initiative to place Janet on SG1 had happened. Half of The Joint Chiefs and Secretary of Defense clamored for more technologic weaponry. But with the Medical breakthroughs of the SGC, the President and the other half of the Joint Chiefs thought the program was now pulling its weight.

In fact many diseases had been curable thanks to Janet and the research staff of CDC and the SGC. Treatments if not cures for viruses, antibiotics, and new surgical procedures had all been introduced due to Janet's involvement in going off world. Her medical mind had been able to distinguish indigenous plant life for medical applications, as well as serums, and talking with other healers. It was something she loved and longed to do once more. Since Sam was now home with Rebecca, Janet's re-involvement in going off world was almost a guarantee.

Cassandra had seen her mother walk in looking a little scattered. Thinking her Mum must have had another bad night that Janet had nursed her through had gained her a bad start of the day. She took the opportunity and poured a cup of coffee for Janet and had it waiting for her when her mother sat next to her.

"Thanks Babe." She winked which was code for a motherly gesture she could not openly show on Base.

"Well now that we're all here I think its time to meet the new commander of SG1…" O'Neill started.

Just then the klaxon blurted out loudly. "Incoming wormhole. Off world activation!" Technician Walter Davies called out over the PA system. "Off World Activation!"

The briefing came to an abrupt end as the six rushed to the Observation platform.

The Titanium iris was closed over the event horizon blocking anyone from entering.

"There isn't a team due back." Cassandra pointed out.

From below a squadron of SF's rushed the gangplank, aiming Aries Predators, P90's, and M-249's as well as the workhorses of heavy weaponry-- the OICW/He rounds. The Objective Individual Combat Rounds fired 20mm explosives, which was enough to put a rather large hole in any death glider, let alone a platoon of Jaffa. As was the AT-4 antitank weapon, which was purely a devastating weapon with its 84mm rockets that would stop any enemy tank.

O'Neill looked over the comm.-system watching as the red blinking warning flashed across the computer screen. Walter Davies looked up to his CO. "Sir, transmission coming in. Sir it's the Malakim!"

Cassandra and Janet gave each other a look before they darted out of the Observation room down to the Gate Room proper.

Since her ordeal at the hands of Malphas, Sam had withdrawn from everything excepting Janet and their children. She had only gone to the SGC for her weekly counseling sessions. But Sam wouldn't go anywhere near the Embarkation room nor would she step near her lab. The closest she came was the Infirmary and only then to fulfill her medical obligation to get a physical. Sam Carter had been placed upon trauma leave until she and her doctors felt comfortable. The only reason she complied in going to a counselor was because Janet had begged her to go.

After the incident with Jolinar Sam had retreated so far into herself that only Cassandra had any success in reaching her. Sam had gone catatonic and fell into such a deep depression that Janet had grown exceptionally worried for her. And again, Sam had pulled so far into herself after her return from Chimera and Hy-Basil, that only Rebecca had any success in pulling her out.

Sam refused to go on any meds and Janet as the CMO agreed. After what the Calabim psychologists did to her, Sam had a complete mistrust of therapists. The first several sessions, the tall blonde demanded that Janet be there with her. Dr. Mackenzie had wanted to see Sam at the hospital, but the Colonel would have none of it. She would speak with Mackenzie in a place she felt safe…Janet's office. Mackenzie said she had become co-dependent upon Janet and the petite doctor had allowed it. For once Janet had wished for a Malakim to perform the same rite that Arion had performed so that the blowhard psychologist could see just what his alien counterparts had done to her wife.

Janet didn't see anything wrong in Sam's complete devotion on Rebecca, Mackenzie apparently did. He had said Sam was using Rebecca to cover the inadequacy that obviously the Colonel felt. Rebecca had become a crutch. Sam was using the girl as an excuse to hide from life, science, the SGC and her shattered spirit. The psychologist, who wasn't a parent, could not comprehend the fascination of a child. Even Jack O'Neill admitted that when Charlie came into the world, that he was addicted to his son and couldn't get enough of him. Often, he said, he felt he had fallen into a time-warp as he stared into the eyes of his son for hours.

Rebecca wasn't protesting at all of the attention her Mama gave her. In fact she basked in it. But the girl knew her Mama was hurting inside despite the fact she tried to hide it. But Rebecca, like her mothers', had an empathic bond with them. Most of the time she only felt their undying unshakeable love for her. But sometimes, just sometimes, she could feel the hurt. But a child didn't have to be empathic to know when their parents were in pain. So the five-year-old child had taken it upon herself to make all the bad-feelings and the sad-heart go away so that her mama would be better. She wanted her mama to love the stars again…like she used to.

Draped in the afghan her grandma knitted for her Rebecca crawled up on her mother's lap as Sam was sitting at her desk working at the computer. "Hey Little Bit I thought you where watching Dragon Ball Z."

"I was…I just wanted to be with you for now." Rebecca responded tucking her tiny body more comfortably into her mother's arms. "I stopped the DVD."

Sam felt her heart warm to the comfort of her daughter, whenever Rebecca who was normally independent and a bit willful became ill the girl wanted and needed the reassurance of cuddling. She was a lot like Janet in that respect. And like Sam she became very quiet and lacked a proper appetite. In fact it was almost impossible to get both mother and daughter to eat when they weren't feeling well. So much so that Janet had threatened to force feed Sam on more then one occasion if she didn't eat.

Rebecca pointed to the computer screen, "What's that?"

The program Sam was running was one she had been writing for a while for the SGC. The forever-young Colonel knew she could make the DHD device work. Granted, several years ago, the Antarctic/Russian DHD had suffered during Teal'c's saving when he was locked in the buffer of the Stargate. But Sam was confident she could make it work.

The Malakim had harvested the inoperative DHD on Chimera from the inoperative Gate. That particular DHD had also suffered damage from Goa'uld attack. However, by using components from both DHD's Sam knew she could make one of them operational. Not only would a DHD make dialing faster and more efficient, there would be more control over it. Sam also had to figure out how to make SGC's override system, as well as all the other security systems, compatible with the Ancient crafted technology.

Sam looked down to her daughter and smiled. "Well it's a scientific device…for NORAD."

"For the stars Mama?"

"Humum." The tall blonde tickled the child's tummy.

Rebecca giggled and squirmed a little at the touch but then she grasped her mother's left hand and held it. "Mama are you going to be a doctor for the stars again?"

Sam stopped typing with her free hand and looked into the unique eyes of her little girl. "I…well…. someday…right now I'm having a good time with you. Don't you want me to be here with you Little Bit?"

"I love that you're home Mama, but don't you miss the stars."

"Right now? No." Sam tried to show a reassuring smile for Rebecca's sake but she felt as if the gesture was somehow lying to her. "Besides we have the telescope outback. If I wanted to look at the stars all I have to do is go outside."

Even at five years old Rebecca's cognitive reasoning was very astute. She knew that looking though the telescope at home couldn't compare to what her Mama did at work. And she could feel something inside her Mama that was sad. But a moment ago Mama was almost excited when she had been working on the computer. Rebecca decided that the 'scientific device' was a good thing and Mama should be working on it more often. There was another thing she knew that always made her mother happy and that was to tell stories. One of Rebecca's favorites was to have Mama or Mommy tell about their wedding. They each told it a little differently yet it was the same story.

"Mama? Can we go snuggle on the sofa and you tell me how you and Mommy got married?" For good measure Rebecca flashed a very toothy grin, one she knew that would make her Mama fold. Rebecca had become resourceful to the extent she could mimic each of her mother's smiles, head tilts, eyebrow raises and stances perfectly. When dealing with one mother, all Rebecca had to do was mimic the other and she had them exactly where she wanted them. Well, most of the time. She couldn't get away with a lot of things, nor could she get herself out of trouble, but sometimes it softened the punishments when they came. The only easier marks were Uncle Jack and Papa (Grandpa Carter). Both men couldn't resist Rebecca, no matter how hard they tried, especially Uncle Jack. He was so easily persuaded to do what she wanted. Rebecca, even in her youth, knew Uncle Jack had special feelings for Mama, but Mama never felt the same for Uncle Jack. This was part of the reason Rebecca could get anything she wanted out of him.

Mimicking Mommy's smile had done the trick. Mama nodded and carried Rebecca to the sofa, rearranging her so that the child was enveloped in safe warm arms under her blanket. "Well Sweety that's a very long story."

"I know but it is my favorite'est." Rebecca responded taking one of her Mama's hand into her's tracing the back of it as she always did. It always made Rebecca feel safe and relaxed when she did so.

Sam kissed her daughter's forehead and closed her azure eyes thinking of her beloved wife. She pictured Janet's doe-eyes, the fantastic smile, and her petite frame that fit right under Sam's chin. Janet, since the moment Sam had seen her in Graystokes, had stolen her breath away and her heart. Samantha Carter knew she would always love this brilliant and passionate woman until she drew her last breath. And even then her love would be unending. Sam knew there was but one soul for her, the soul she had been born loving Janet's. There was no other for her, no matter what 'The Powers That Be' tried to do, there was only and forever Janet.

Kissing Rebecca's red-gold locks, Samantha started her tale:

"Well, you see Mommy and me, we loved each other for a long time. She means everything to me, just like you do. I don't think I could ever imagine my life without her. And there were a few times we nearly lost each other…but we always found each other.

"Mama…you and Mommy couldn't get married because of the old laws right?" Rebecca said.

"Yep…but then they changed the law. Even though your Mommy always felt as if we were together, even married, we weren't. But I wanted to change that.

"Mommy says she didn't want to let you go either. That she wanted you for always and always. If you hadn't asked her to marry you she would have asked you."

"Hey Little Bit whose telling this story you or me?" Sam chided with a smile as she ruffled her daughter's hair.

"Sorry Mama…go on."

"Well see…one day about seven years ago…"

"Hey Carter!" Jack O'Neil belted out from across the corridor.

Sam stopped mid action in the calling of the lift that would take her up eighteen floors before she had to switch elevators to rise to the surface.

"Sir?" The tall young blonde asked.

"Where you going?"

"Home sir." She narrowed her eyes frowning slightly. "Why?"

"Home? You?" Jack did a double take in disbelief. "You have a life outside this place?" He actually sounded stunned.

"Yes sir." Sam didn't think she liked where this conversation might be headed. But nonetheless she flashed a hesitant but friendly smile.

"Wait…you're leaving your lab!" Jack was in utter disbelief

"Yes sir."

"You have two full days off and you're leaving the lab?"

"Sir…. Is there something that needs my attention? Something up?" A golden eyebrow lifted into unruly sun touched hair.

Jack shifted nervously as he rubbed the back of his neck. "Well no…"

Sam sighed heavily. "Let me guess…you bet on my personal life once again with, Teal'c and Jonas, whether or not I'd leave the lab on my downtime. And you lost a hefty sum, am I correct?"

"Well…" Jack tried his best to flash a boyish and charming grin.

"Don't you have anything better to do?"

"Come on Carter, it was a sure thing. Well normally it is. So what's so special it has you rushing out of here at warp-speed?"

Sam was the one now nervous. "Not saying, Sir!" She looked down to her black combat boots then back up to the dark eyes of the General. "I want to watch the meteor shower…tonight …" Even though two months ago, the Supreme Court had authorized the emancipation of gays and lesbians, not only in the public eye but also in the military, it was still hard not to fall back on old habits. Sam's first instinct was to deny what it was she was rushing off too, or that she had a date tonight with Janet. Although Jack O'Neill had known of her relationship with the gorgeous doctor for two years now, it had never been a topic of discussion. Now that President Hillary Clinton had passed a bill, that allowed lesbians and gays in the military without the 'Don't ask, Don't tell policy, Sam and Janet were free to express their love without fear. But Sam's gut reaction was still to hide any affiliation that might construe her as being in a lesbian relationship with another officer.

"Hot date tonight?" Jack nudged her with his shoulder.

"Sir?" Sam tried to play dumb. But when you had one of the highest IQ's in the world it didn't always work. In actuality it rarely worked.

"Come on Carter you and the Doc…Something special planned?" He gave an encouraging smile. It had been difficult for Jack to accept that Carter's heart belonged to another. That it had since the beginning belonged to another. There had been so many alien males chasing after Carter… Narim, Orlin, Martouf, among several others. Jack had always held a secret belief that if Regulations could be changed…or if he could convince Carter…no Samantha to just keep their relationship under her hat, he would have a chance with her. He was in love with her. He dreamed so often of her. He longed to make a life with the wonderful woman…but it was not to be.

Not only was Sam not into men, she wasn't into Jack O'Neill. She was into Janet Fraiser, and she had been for seven years. Seven years the two woman had had a secret relationship behind everyone's back. What everyone else had seen as a platonic sister/ best friend relationship had in truth been a near-marriage.

"Carter…come on you just cost me fifty bucks…at least you can tell me why." Jack pressed.

"Meteor shower tonight. I simply wanted to see with Jan."

"Fine don't tell me, but I'll interrogate the Doc in two days." He winked. "Something to with what today is?"

Sam felt her heart rush in dread. Once more she had to remind herself that her relationship with Janet was no longer illegal. They were not in danger of losing their jobs or worse. She smiled thinking of the plans she had for the night and couldn't help the glow that spread about her. "Lets just say I don't want to jinx the night." She felt a large smile come across her sculpted face for she could not contain her enthusiasm.

"And here I thought you two might be celebrating your birthday."

"Oh!" Sam looked relieved. "Er, yes sir."

"Getting up there Carter." Jack nudged her with his shoulder. "Pretty soon you'll be going gray around the edges."

Carter flashed him a half smirk. "Give me another ten years sir, then maybe the silver will becoming in." The smile grew wider.

"Well anyway Happy Birthday, Carter…Sam. Have a good one."

"Thank you sir." Sam's charming smile became a full fledged grin. "I hope tonight is very special."

Jack had an inkling of what it was Sam had planned for the night. 'God Janet Fraiser you're one hell of a lucky woman. Damn…Samantha…is going to ask you to get hitched. She really will be off the market then. God she slipped right through my fingers…well good luck to you both. The fantasy was fun while it lasted. I still can't help but be in love with you Samantha Carter…at least you're with someone deserving of your heart. I'll say it again you're one hell of a lucky woman doc. You take care of her.'

Sam had tried to leave the base before she was caught again by her teammates. She had so little time to set everything up before her Janet came over. She managed to slip out without getting caught again. Her silver mint vintage 61Volvo sped down the freeway towards Trader Joe's grocery. Here she picked up a bottle of sweet Merlot, as it was Janet's favorite wine. She picked up several bags of groceries, having previously called in her order, then left for home.

Once home, Sam got out her trusty cookbook and started her preparations for tonight's dinner. It was true she couldn't cook, but she could follow directions and cooking was a bit like chemistry so she had that going for her.

The first thing she made was steamed oysters. She then started on the Consommé Olga in cream of Barley, all for hors d'overs. She also prepared roast duckling, with applesauce, creamed carrots, boiled rice and cold asparagus vinaigrette. For dessert Sam had planned to make peaches in chartreuse jelly.

Over the years Sam had learned what Janet favored. When they would go out to eat at a classy up-scale restaurant or bistro her beloved would occasionally splurge. Most of the time neither woman went all out because the high- uppity-up wasn't their scene. Both preferred to hang out at Graystokes or O'Malley's. But there were times when special meals were called for. Like tonight.

It had taken three hours to prepare the dinner but Sam was pleased with the results. Betty Crocker had come through after all. The next preparations would take only an hour. Going to the hall closet the tall blonde took out a box that contained a queen sized inflatable mattress and the double artic sleeping bag. Both she carried outside to the roof. There was a ladder hidden in the bush that would be propped up against the eves of the roof.

She then picked up the box that contained the mattress and the sleeping bag and carried them up to the flat roof over the garage. Inflating the mattress Sam set up the sleeping bag to snuggle up into, as they would watch the meteor shower.

Going back in, Sam jumped into the shower for a five- minute wash and started to get ready for her beloved's arrival. Knowing Janet would be coming straight from work, Sam didn't want to overdress as she knew it would make her lover feel bad for her own state of attire. So she opted for her black 550 Levis, the pair Janet loved, as well as her orange silk shirt. Orange was Sam's favored color…but, thinking better, the blonde disrobed the shirt and put on her purple silk blouse as purple was Janet's favored color.

"Mommy came home and you surprised her with the dinner huh?" Rebecca commented.

"Yes she did…" Sam answered. "It was my birthday and I had tried to make the night special for her. And yes Mommy was very surprised."

"When Mommy tells the story she says she cried in happiness because she wanted to treat you special but you beat her too it Mama. She say's you made everything perfect for her. You don't even like oysters but you made them for her. Mommy says she loved you so much for that."

Sam smiled warmly. It was true she wasn't into oysters, even though she liked sushi. She could never stomach the mussels. But knowing Janet enjoyed then, Sam had prepared them for her.

"So then what happened Mama?" Rebecca knew the story well but still she loved it deeply.

"Well after dinner I took Mommy to the roof so we could watch the meteor shower."

"Falling stars." Rebecca grinned.

"Right." Sam nuzzled her little girl, loving the sweet fresh baby-powder smell of the child. "I wanted to make everything extra-special for your Mommy."

Sam sat with Janet between her legs, leaning her back against the other's chest. The tall blonde's arms were wrapped around the woman she loved with all that she was, all that she could be.

"I love you Baby-girl." Sam leaned forward whispering in Janet's ear.

Janet turned. "Sweetheart today is your birthday and you've gone out of your way to make it special for me! God I love you. I should be the one showering attention on you, should have made dinner for you, your favorite things not mine. You're even wearing my favored color."

"You noticed." Sam giggled. "So? What if this is the way I want to spend my birthday, making the woman I love feel special?"

"I do feel special my Samantha." Janet turned so now she was upon her knees facing her beloved. Tenderly, passionately she kissed her. "You have always made me feel that way."

"Always?" Sam raised her golden eyebrows into honey colored unruly bangs.

"Even when we have a row, even when I am so mad at you I could spit…yes you make me feel special. I have someone in my life…that loves me deeply with all of her heart."

Samantha Marie Carter smiled so broadly that her alabaster face lit up as brilliantly as the stars that were falling overhead. At that moment the radio in the living room and its echo in the bedroom had chosen to play a song scribed by Sir Elton John:

I can't light no more of your darkness
All my pictures seem to fade to black and white
I'm growing tired and time stands still before me
Frozen here on the ladder of my life

Too late to save myself from falling
I took a chance and changed your way of life
But you misread my meaning when I met you
Closed the door and left me blinded by the light

Don't let the sun go down on me
Although I search myself, it's always someone else I see
I'd just allow a fragment of your life to wander free
But losing everything is like the sun going down on me

I can't find, oh the right romantic line
But see me once and see the way I feel
Don't discard me just because you think I mean you harm
But these cuts I have they need love to help them heal

Don't let the sun go down on me
Although I search myself, it's always someone else I see
I'd just allow a fragment of your life to wander free
But losing everything is like the sun going down on me

Don't let the sun go down on me
Although I search myself, it's always someone else I see
I'd just allow a fragment of your life to wander free
But losing everything is like the sun going down on me.

"Janet Elizabeth Fraiser…don't let the sun go down on me…I love you more then I can ever tell you in a dozen lifetimes. I want a lifetime with you. I want a hundred thousand life times with you."

"Sammy…" Janet felt her eyes fill with tears of such happiness she had never known.

"Janet I have never been more sure of anything in my life as I am now. Marry me, Janet. I give you my heart. My soul. All that I am, all that I could be, I give you, freely. I never want to lose you. I could not survive that. I love you. I have always loved you. Janet the light of the last star will burn out before my love for you fades. I want to be your wife as you are mine. Marry me."

"Oh God!" Janet cried out. Her arms wrapped around her beloved. And for what felt like eons she simply held Sam close to her warm body.

"You already have my heart, and my soul. I will never allow the sun to go down on you Sammy. For you would never lose me. God yes, I'll marry you!"

Samantha stared. She said nothing. She stared.

Janet flared into full doctor mode.

Sam started to hyperventilate.

"Baby…easy…easy…take slow deep breaths…" Janet cooed. "Honey…easy…its okay…shhhh…its okay…its okay…" the doctor pulled her lover into her arms rubbing her back, knowing it would calm Sam down. The blonde finally managed to collect herself in a modicum) of self-control. Her heart was beating fast and her breath was still coming in gasps, but at least she was calmer.

"Oh my God…" Sam uttered… "Oh my God! You said yes! You said yes!"

Janet was smiling broadly. "Yes."

Sam did the one thing Janet, in the seven years she had known her, had never seen her do. Samantha Marie Carter fainted.

"Mommy…woke you up with a kiss didn't she?" Rebecca asked.

"She sure did." Sam blushed at the thought of what that kiss had lead to.

"And all night you held each other and cuddled huh?" The unique eyes of the child twinkled thinking of her mothers snuggling close together.

"Oh yes. " that was the G-rated version. The truth was the lovemaking was intense. Extremely intense, for they had given each other multiple orgasms...and all upon the air mattress on the roof. Later, their lovemaking had migrated into the living room…the stairs going to the bedroom, and finally the bed somewhere around three in the morning. In the morning, or more accurately in the late afternoon, when both had wakened from their deep slumber, their bodies hurt, and muscles protested. The lovers spent the majority of the afternoon in each other's arms basking in the love.

After, plans for the wedding ensued. Several months in fact…Marjorie Fraiser, Janet's mother, was a godsend to both women. She had flown up from Oklahoma to spend time with her daughter and soon to be daughter –in-law. Marjorie, or rather Kate (her middle name being Kathryn, approved of Samantha more then she had ever approved of Richard, Janet's ex-husband. Kate had in truth never approved of the man, in fact she hated the man, he was never good enough for her first born. Kate never thought anyone was good enough for her Janet until Samantha Carter. She adored Sam. She was proud that her second daughter, like her first born, was also a doctor and a colonel in the USAF. The tall blonde was worthy of Janet as much as Janet was worthy of Samantha. There could never be a more perfect pairing then these two women. Kate believed this with all her heart.

Kate took Sam under her wing and for the first time since Rebecca, Sam 's mother, had died, the tall blonde had a mom in her life once more. Knowing that Sam's mother had died, Kate did all she could for her second daughter. Kate was warm and fun loving just as much as Janet was. Though like Jameson, Jan's father, the petite doctor was self-contained.

Sam and the three Frasier women, as Cassie was apart of the planning as well, dove in to the preparations for the ceremony. Legal…real and solid. The Government could never say neigh on the union. The military could never interfere. This Marriage was sanctified in all eyes that mattered.

Cassandra…both women wanted her as their Maid-of-Honor, so it was settled she would be the only Maid-of-Honor. And each woman would have a best man as well. Samantha had asked Jack to stand up for and Janet had asked Teal'c (the colossal man would never openly admit it but he'd had quite a crush on the tiny doctor since he had first met her. So much power in such a tiny body. He also thought her brave, resilient and full of heart and spirit.)

Both men in their own way grieved it was not they who would take the hand of the women they loved. And yet both men never felt more honored then to be the Best-Man in the wedding. And both Jack O'Neill and Teal'c thought if the women they loved were to belong to another it would be hearts they had chosen.

Jacob Carter had finally been reached and he wept when he learned that his daughter had decided to take the great plunge and marry. He like the Fraiser parents never thought anyone was good enough for his little girl. Then he met Janet and he thought her most worthy (as did Selmac).

Cassandra could not have been happier and in fact had thought the wedding long over due. When she found out Sam had fainted when Janet said yes…she couldn't stop laughing. The brave, indomitable, formidable, intelligent Samantha Carter had passed out. Cassandra was beside herself in hilarity at the very idea of it.

Jameson Fraiser who was ex-Army and Jacob Carter ex-Airforce got along famously, both talking shop, comparing notes…loving the pool table in Sam's Basement. Jameson and Jacob both had chauvinist tendencies that both daughters barely tolerated.

Scott Jameson and Jeffery Sutton Fraiser didn't know what to make of their big "little " sister being married again, mush less to another woman. Mark Carter had a larger problem with his baby sister coming out of the closet and marrying Janet Fraiser. The Fraiser boys seemed to take it in stride but Mark wouldn't bend.

Janet made a special trip out to California to confront Mark when Sam was offworld. The petite doctor told the younger Carter male that it would mean so much to Samantha if he put aside his petty bigotry and came to the wedding. More so because Sam had so little family, as it was only her and Mark. It would mean everything to Sam if her niece and nephew were present. Janet also told Mark to get over himself and do something for his sister. He had taken off just after their mother died leaving Sam to fend for herself. That had hurt her bitterly…but Samantha had forgiven him for abandoning her, just as she had forgiven Jacob for neglecting to pick Rebecca up, unfortunately resulting in her death.

Several months after this confrontation…Mark Carter would make an appearance at the wedding. Sam had been ecstatic her big brother and sister-in-law had come with her niece and nephew in tow. Janet was pleased herself. Mark and his wife still had difficulties with his baby sister being a lesbian but he admired Janet for sticking up for Sam. Janet's confrontation with the man had been the only reason Mark came to the wedding in the first place.

It wouldn't be until little Rebecca was born that Sam would learn of Janet's trip to California and the discussion she had had with Mark. Samantha thought the gesture remarkably romantic and wonderful and she loved Janet all the more for it. Sam knew exactly what her beloved was capable of if she was pushed hard enough. Janet Fraiser could become quite formidable when she wanted to, she was definately not a woman to make angry. And she was definitely pissed off that Mark would treat Sam the way he had. In no uncertain terms Janet had made it known Mark's actions were intolerable.

Jacob Carter had fronted a hefty sum of cash for Sam and Janet to use for the wedding, as did Jameson and Kate Fraiser. Granted both young women could pay for their own wedding but the parents wanted to do this for them, especially Jacob. His savings account had earned him quite a dividend, as he never touched it since becoming a Tok'ra. Knowing that his little girl had finally found her happy life, Jacob blessed the union. Of course Selmac had a lot to say on the matter. For Jacob's knee-jerk reaction was to repel the idea his daughter was gay. But when Selmac asked him if Jacob wanted his daughter to be loved by the best soul possible, the most generous of hearts, the most indomitable sprit, a person of keen intelligence, the answer was yes. That description was Janet Fraiser. She was everything Jacob wanted for his little girl. He also started to see the merits of Sam's relationship to Janet, as most fathers were loath to see their little girls touched by another man.

Kate took both younger women shopping for the wedding. Janet had already done the bit with the white dress, lace, and sequence, and she didn't think she would wish to don the same sort of dress again. Sam who actually liked to wear the occasional frock after living in BDU's most of her adult life didn't know if she wanted to go for the Belle-sort of wedding dresses with a bustle or hoop-skirt either.

"Mommy tricked you didn't she Mama?" Rebecca asked.

"What do you mean Sweety?"

"She had Jen ask you what you wanted to see Mommy dressed like in the wedding. And you said…Glad'rail."

"Do you mean Queen Galadriel in The Lord of the Rings?"

"Yeah…in the movie she had a very pretty dress."

"It was. Actually it wasn't Mommy who tricked me, it was Jen and Sassy who tricked your Mommy and me. See they both went to us separately when we had an engagement party. And found out what we wanted to see the other in."

"And you said Lady Gald'rail's dress. And Mommy said she wanted to see you in a tuxedo with tails. Because she said you look very nice in it." Of course nice was the G-rated version of 'very sexy,'

Sam giggled at her daughter's take on the conspiracy that Cassandra and Jennifer Hailey had cooked up. Finding out what the other wanted to see their lover in proved to be a good tactic. A seamstress was found who would make the gown in the like of Lady Galadriel during the mirror scene in the movie. In fact the gown was dubbed the Lady Galadriel.

Lady Galadriel's front was made of off white satin with delicately embroidered gold lace with white and golden hand woven silk brocade, which had a fine layer of transparent ethereal silk chiffon flowing over it. The material covering the breasts were made of a hand beaded and embroidered satin silk overlaid by delicate gold lace. This gown itself was in a gentle flowing satin silk, which was both fresh and elegant. The sleeves repeated the same pattern, having puffed chiffon over the silk brocade, with the transparent chiffon caressing the rest of the arm. This dress had an open back, which was graceful and slimming and was finished by delicate lace trimmings. The Lady Galadriel had been fully lined with a light silk to give it a cool silky comfort. There was also the ethereal detachable silk chiffon train, which added a faery like quality to this dress. Along with all these aforementioned exquisite fabrics the dress was decorated with delicate ivory braids, laces and gold and pearl antique buttons.

Sam, with Jennifer and Cassandra's help, found a tailor who would make a silk tuxedo, as Janet was allergic to wool. The cummerbund and bowtie were gold satin to match the gold in the dress, which Sam would not see until the wedding day. Of course Janet had been kept completely in the dark as to what Sam was going to wear. The two younger women had the doctor believe Sam had opted for a quiet off the shoulder gown.

When Kate found out that her daughter in law was opting for the tux she gave a mild protest. "But Honey it's your wedding too. You are a bride just as much as Janet."

"I know." Sam smiled. "But I want to make this so special for her. Her last wedding wasn't what she wanted, and he was a complete ass to her…"

"So you're trying to out do her ex-husband?" The older Fraiser woman softly asked.

"I guess." Sam shrugged.

"Honey you already did that miles ago." Kate Fraiser hugged her soon to be new daughter. "Sam, I don't think Janet would be upset at all if you wanted to wear the white dress as well. I can help you out."

Sam shook her golden locks. "I am not missing out on anything. I have Janet to gaze at in her dress and if I can make her flash that brilliant smile…hey I am all for the tux."

Kate laughed. "Boy you have it bad for her, don't you."

Samantha smirked. "Yep. Better call the doctor." She raised and lowered her golden eyebrows making her mother-in-law spurt out in a fit of laughter.

"No wonder she's head over tails in love with you. You're good for her."

"No…she's good for me. Janet lets me know what it means to be alive. Before she came into my life there was nothing but schematics, astrophysics, and quantum mechanics and nothing else. I didn't make room for anything else. I was so lousy at relationships that I decided to cut them out of the equation of my life. Then I met Jan and she changed all of that in one fell-swoop I just knew…that I wanted to share a life with her, devote my heart to her, give my life for her's. Kate she's everything to me. Before Janet there was only blackness, a shell of a person driven only by science. Then she came into the equation and brought with her light, and such love I have never-ever known could exist. If it is in my power I'll do anything and everything I can. And if I cannot do it, I'll find a way, build it, or invent it so that I can. Janet is my soul, without her there is nothing."

Kate's large doe-brown eyes welled in tears in the hearing of Sam's testimony. The mother knew the words had been spoken not only from the heart, but from the deepest part of Samantha's soul. Kate knew she would never have to worry about her little girl being hurt as she had been with Richard. Janet had been married three long years to Richard before she wised up and filed for a divorce. It was one of the best things in Janet's life, to unload that pile of crap that had called himself a husband.

Samantha Carter was the polar opposite and then some. Hell Sam wasn't even from the same planet as Richard. And Kate was never happier to know that Janet had Sam in her life and as her love. "You're pretty special there Sam." Kate grinned. "I am pleased Janet has you in her life. I don't have to worry about her any more."

Sam ducked her head and blushed. She was never quite good at taking complements. She simply smiled bashfully and shrugged.

Time was consuming itself rapidly. Hours would separate the reality of Janet becoming wife to Sam. A bride. A remarkable reality, sweet, unreal and befuddling. Wondrous joy and inhibiting fear would fill Sam, the emotions a turbulent storm were not her's alone.

All too soon the wedding day was upon them. The ceremony itself was held at Janet and Sam's new house. The outside yard was gorgeous, blooming with roses, lilacs and daises, mums, and carnations. White wooden chairs had been set up on either side of the red carpeting runner each filled with friends from Graystokes, and the SGC, as well as family members. The path lead up to a white wooden whicker arch where Lynn who was to officiate would stand poised to wed the two hearts. Lynn was a druidic priestess and since Sam was predominantly agnostic, and Janet hadn't practiced her own religion they went for a more secular official. Lynn (Stacey's girlfriend, who was also a jockey. Lynn always gave them a disposable camera at Christmas as a stocking stuffer, and would at the reception give a disposable camera to each table so pictures could be taken by the guests and given to Sam and Janet latter.) could legally marry people and she would keep her own faith out of the ceremony but could bless it nonetheless.

"Carter!" Major General Jack O'Neill snapped, stopping the tall blonde. "You are going to be fine…"

"Fine?" Sam breathed in deeply. "I am not fine…I am a nervous wreck."

"You know you weren't this skittish when we were going to meet the President after we blew ol'Snake head Apophis out of the sky. Or the President after we…"

"Sir they were only the Presidents." Sam slipped back into the comfortable mode of military protocol. When she did that you knew she was anxious. "In a few hours…" She stopped gathered her breath, and then tried again. "In a few hours it will all be legal…recognized. What…what if the President decides to change the law…at the last moment… and … we are up there taking our vows and then you know the authorities show up, arrest us…and then we're …court martialed and drummed out of the service for...acts unbecoming…."

"Carter!" Jack was smiling widely, he was completely amused by the blonde's babbling, but he took pity on his friend. "The law isn't going to change…not anytime soon, if ever. Hell the Military finally got their collective head's out of their asses and admitted that gay's in the military isn't a bad thing…"

"Of course it isn't!" Sam snapped forgetting for a moment who it was she was talking to or rather that who she was talking to was on her side.

"Exactly." Jack shoved his hands in his pockets, his face bright with his boyish smirk. "So no need to go into a full blown panic attack, right? I mean you are supposed to be a genius…I think you're smart enough to figure out, that SGC needs you, and your CO isn't going to let you, or the CMO for that matter, go." He balanced on the balls of his feet. Then pinned her with a look that spoke of love and concern. "Carter…. Sam… don't worry you'll be fine…up there…trust me…once you lay eyes on your…" He paused for a beat then started. "Once you see your bride walking up to you…the whole world falls away and she is the only one in it… I remember seeing Sara as she walked up the aisle…God I thought my heart would stop…It will be the same with you once you see Janet."

Sam looked down for a moment then back up to her friend who was also her Best-man. "This is real…it's really happing…" She took in a great breath of air, shocked almost to find that the corners of her eyes were damp.

"Hey…you're going to get raccoon eyes Carter." Jack cracked gaining a full belly laugh from the beautiful blonde before him. "That Napoleonic doctor will jab me with a really big needle in my next physical…if I let you go out there looking like Ricky the Raccoon."

That got Sam laughing all the more harder. "Can't have that…so already trading on my connections I see."

"Lay markers wherever I can…Hammond told me that the day I took over SGC."

"Humm." Sam was absolutely glowing. "Sir…Jack you have no idea what it means to me to have you stand up with me today."

"Oh I think I do." The gray haired General warmly flashed a smile, mentally beating down the slight case of jealousy that it was Janet Fraiser and not him that was taking Samantha Carter to love and to hold. But his happiness for her outweighed the darker emotion by more then half. Gingerly he hugged her to him, closing his eyes forcing himself to hold her as platonically as possible "Sam, I really am happy for you, that you found a perfect love…I hope you and Janet have a really long and very happy marriage. I really do. You deserve a lot of happiness and love, and I am truly glad that Doc can give it to you."

Sam knew Jack O'Neill's feelings for her and his admission of his heartfelt wish for her happiness was absolutely perfect, more so because Jack was not one for heart felt sentiments. "Thank you sir…"

"Crying out loud Carter it's your wedding day, you know you can take a break from the Sir for once…" He pushed her from his arms chiding her with his boyish smile. Of course for eight years that was all Sam Carter ever called him. Sir…it was safe…sound…and distant…

"Yes Sir…er …Jack." The sound of his name forever sounded alien upon her tongue. He never understood how Sir, could hold more warmth then his given name as she said it.

"Well look, I am going to scoot and send Cassie in here to help you get ready…" He patted her on the back as he would any one under his command. "I gotta save up all that emotional meaning of life stuff for when you walk down that aisle to meet Doc. And a word of advice…once you see her all dolled up…don't forget to breathe… I nearly passed out when I saw Sara…because I forgot I need oxygen." He winked.

"I won't forget to breathe … I am worried about hyperventilating though."

They shared a laugh. "Fortunately your bride is a doctor and can resuscitate you." then with a very quick hug he added. "God…Carter you're getting married…who knew…and here I thought no one had a chance in hell to win you over."

"No one could Sir...Jack…Only Janet." She whispered.

"Lucky gal."

Cassie came in a moment later, smirking. "You got Uncle Jack all teary-eyed, what did you say to him?"

"We just spoke about today." Sam smiled. "I had a minor meltdown and he helped me out."

"Mom isn't doing any better. Grandma is walking her around outside. She had a full-blown panic attack. Muttering about what if you changed your mind because she was married before and it didn't work out."

"What!?" Sam yelped. "Why would she even think I'd leave her at the altar…!"

"Mum it's just nerves. You two have been together for like, what? Eight years, how come all of a sudden it's a big deal?"

"Because this is real…I mean yes we lived together, even committed our hearts to each other but somehow this is a little different…I don't know how to explain it. But Janet…she can't go on thinking…I'll run away. I have to go to her."

Could they accept the new life that was about to descend about them? The welcomed joy filled them, competing with the questions of what was real. Could they allow themselves the truth of their dream? It was far too late to have doubts of what might be, of what could be. Yet, if doubts persisted, perhaps it was better to put an end to it, before the vows had been taken.

"Mum she can't see you and you can't see her. According to Earth's customs it's bad luck…"

"Janet and I make our own luck." Sam bolstered. She was still dressed in her robe when Sam sprinted out of the room, down the hall and rapped on the door of the room Janet was in.

"Baby-girl!" Sam called out. "Babe let me in."

The door opened, but it was Kate who opened the door with a wide bright smile. "Samantha you know you're not supposed to be here. You two are not supposed to see each other."

"Cassandra said Janet was in distress. You really expect me to let her hurt?"

Kate thought the play between the two women adorable.

"Sammy?" Janet came out of the bedroom. Sam pulled Janet into her arms and held her tightly. "What…are you doing here?"

"Cassie said you were upset." Sam pulled back from the embrace just enough so that she could look into the beautiful brown eyes of her lover. "Baby-girl you know I'd never cut and run out of fear."

"Yes of course I do." Janet frowned. "Sammy I was just rambling. I panicked."

"Cold feet Sam, it's common." Kate said as she came up to her daughter and soon to be daughter. "Now run along and get dressed…or we'll all be late."

Sam looked to Janet as if to confirm the fact Janet was emotionally settled. Janet's answer was to reach up and kiss Sam fully upon the lips causing the tall blonde to momentarily forget where she was. She moaned her desire and deepened her own kiss.

"Enough you two. I swear you're like a couple of hormonally driven teenagers. Sam scoot and let my daughter get ready!" Kate gently scolded them. "And you get yourself ready for her!"

Sam hung her head a little, her eyes hidden by the forever-unruly bangs. It was one of many expressions Janet found adorable in her blonde lover. Cupping each side of her cheeks Janet reached up and kissed her beloved soundly. "I love you for charging in here like you did."

"I had to." Sam reasonably explained. "You were in pain. I couldn't let that go"

"Aww I knew there was a reason I fell in love with you doctor." Janet smirked.

"Okay…" Kate pulled the two apart knowing if she didn't pull a "mom" neither woman would be ready on time. Nor would they likely part company. God was she ever so in love? "I am serious now…Sam scoot."

Sam placed a fleeting kiss on her beloved then hightailed it out of the bedroom and returned to her own. Sam found her own heart swelling with the knowledge that finally, after everything she and her beloved had gone through earlier that morning, and even before this day, their doubts and misgivings, she and her bride had found a peace.

The prospect of having a life together was almost unreal. Finding it hard to believe, wanting to believe, they had at a time, never dreamed it and yet known that their love could not be questioned. Despite their pain, fears and guilt, Sam and Janet overcame the overwhelming sense of futility that had encompassed them. They no longer questioned that this was right for them. Their lack of speed today was based not on their reluctance to be wed, but rather, simply the two women feeling the prospect of what today would bring. A great river had been forded and rest assured the love had. Janet and Samantha had their Center of peace, and truth.

Janet and Samantha absolutely had refused the traditional wedding march, and in lieu of it, the Air Force orchestra with seven months of diligent practice would play as beautifully as any Philharmonic Orchestra, as they began Gregg's Wedding Day at Troldhaugen. The music of refined elegance and playful melodies.

At the behest of Kate's cue the entire gathering rose to its' feet. All faces turning to the light of the courtyard, to the image shrouded therein. The entire arena of the yard filled with audible wonder. No more than a few dozen feet away, a sight of angelic splendor. The chamber would hold its breath for the astounding transformation they held before them. A murmur of dazed appreciation, lingered in the air as notes of a soliloquy. Some faery princess, or angelic maiden held the arm of Jameson; they came out of the mist into the solid reality of candlelight, to walk passed them to her beloved.

Coming from the opposite end of the courtyard was the radiant Samantha Carter. Her golden locks were feathered about her porcelain face. The pristine white tuxedo gave her the air of soft power. She was absolutely stunning in the shining white silk. The distinguished aura was beyond words. Sam's austere presence dwarfed almost everyone around her, taking their breaths away. She seemed to walk on air as Jacob guided her to the center aisle where she would meet her beloved.

The sweetheart neckline eloquently accentuated by the ivory rose in the center, dipped provocatively low to Janet's cleavage that had been accentuated with a form fitting bodice. The capped sleeves hung pleasurably off the shoulders then tapered to the backs of the hand, down to the middle of her fingers. Janet was a stunning vision. Daniel and Jack both stumbled over their own breath as they tried to formulate the words to describe the vision before them.

"She's ...she's . . .beyond reality.

"An angel." Daniel grabbed for the word.

Sam felt her heart surge, her spirit fly, she felt her strength abandon her, Jacob and Jack rushed to hold her up as she staggered to remain upright in the view of her bride.

"A goddess." Samantha uttered in a whisper almost lost to the music of the wedding. Unable to stay her place, Sam stumbled forward, pulled by magical wonder. "My Enchantress."

The imperial blonde met Jameson halfway in the aisle, controlled by impulsive love she gathered Janet in her arms. Her slender hand rose to touch her blushing cheeks.

"A goddess." Janet uttered in a whisper lost to the music of the wedding. Unable to stop her heart from pounding, Janet found herself drawn into the pull of magical wonder. "My Knight."

Janet couldn't keep her breath steady as she gazed upon the amazing site of Sam in the silk tux. The smaller woman grinned widely as she saw the tails, something she had always liked about tuxedos. "Samantha. . .?" Janet was able to utter out, before she found herself kissing her the gorgeous vision in front of her. Janet's soft lips came to Samantha's, tasting her, searching her mouth. Sam's two slender hands moved up to Janet's delicate shoulders, her azure eyes holding the dark brown orbs. Deep in Janet's eyes Samantha saw the love, the tenderness, the commitment. Janet kissed Sam's mouth, looking at her through half-closed eyes. The corners of her rose lips curled into a smile.

Teal'c, in absolute befuddlement, turned to Jack. "Is she permitted to do that . . .? I am positive they have vows yet to make . . .is not the embrace after said promises? This is not how it was done in rehearsal, I am sure of it."

"You wish to stop them?" Jack offered.

The colossal man looked upon the couple in the center of the chamber, still locked in their embrace. "No I would not."

"You are real?" Sam whispered. "This is real?" How could this not be some heavenly dream? How could her bride exist outside the realm of dream for surly she was a faery creature of such a land, not mortal at all. How could Janet be flesh and blood? Her heart beat fast and free, the fire of faery passion. There were not words to describe her, all would fail. Janet was sublime.

Her little faery, an entity born out of myth, dream, fire, lilac blossoms and raging flood waters.

"Real." Janet echoed. "Oh yes, I am as real as you are, my love." The doctor's lips met Sam's once more.

Jameson and Jacob both grinned as they urged the women forward, their eyes locked onto one another had not wavered. They merely stepped as directed.

Sam's azure eyes soaked in the fine details of her beloved, the slightly blushing porcelain skin lightly dusted with faint freckles, her doe shaped eyes holding the color of deep chocolate. A deep coffee brown you could lose your soul within. Janet's heart, her sprit, captivating and bewitching Sam in a spell of delightful reality. Faery-beauty found in an earthly woman.

Two hearts beating as one forever dancing, forever pledging love, pledging themselves for all time to come. How had there been anyone in Samantha's life, other than her Janet. How could she had loved anyone else? There was only her. Only her touch that was meant for her. The sound of her name upon her lips caressed her soul.

'I've so long waited for this day . . .' Sam would wonder releasing Janet and running a gentle finger along her cheek. The glow of contentment and love that enfolded Sam as the answers came to her. "You are everything I want in a lover."

Janet touched Sam's delicate mouth with her hand. 'There will never be any doubt in my heart Beloved.' Janet had heard herself whispering. Her eyes still locked onto Sam's deep blue eyes. She rubbed her hand against the top of the golden head. "I won't ever give you cause to doubt me." "You are my Beloved. My Janet." Samantha's words, uttered softly just as the musical prelude came to an end, had been loud enough for the congregation to hear every syllable, yet soft enough to Janet, that it was as if Sam has whispered it to her alone.

The stillness of the grove was pregnant with baited breath. Only the sound of the breeze through the trees before them gave any utterance of sound, or was the thundering sound the beating of twin hearts? Their Spirits held as tight as the hands that linked them together gave the brides silent reassurance to one another.

Janet was unable to rest her eyes from her beloved fiancée. No, Sam was no longer her intended, but she was wife. The mythic hero of a dozen dreams was here now, alive and standing before her, about to pledge her life to her. The thought was epically overwhelming. Never had Janet seen Sam so enthralling, so bewitching. Samantha was the glowing radiance of an angelic queen, a mythic knight. She was her Samantha. Her love. A powerful graceful figure of legend was her reality. And in this moment Sam's power, was almost vulnerable. A hero felled by great beauty.

Lynn methodically straightened her Druidic robes; she had recalled them back to the matters at hand, the official ceremony of the day. The vows of the marriage had yet to be said in public affiliation. What was pledge in the soul must now be made in public voice.

The rest of the guests found their seats once more, leaving Jameson, Kate and Jacob to stand. In their hands the Celtic wedding knot that would be used to fasten the hands of the brides in long steeped tradition.

Lynn's voice, stuttering no longer, rose into the air with priestly confidence. "I would ask who it is that presents this couple to our world?" Her voice eloquently and heavily accented by her Welsh heritage.

"We do." Jameson, Kate and Jacob said in unison. "We would present to all, the daughter's of our hearts. We give them to one another. And we will ask that all those present today see and acknowledge the love between two hearts, between two souls. Let us give them joy, support, and our own love, for all time to come."

"And so shall it be. As mother and fathers of these two hearts, it is for you to bind them."

From the inside of Jameson's black tux he withdrew a wide clothe of embroidered Celtic knotwork designed with interlocking hearts, similar to the pattern on Sam's wedding band. With Kate and Jacob's aid he gently coiled the cloth around Janet and Sam's hands, in cherished tradition. After they had finished they retreated to the first row of the audience. None of them could lift their eyes from the exceptional reality standing before them.

Janet, nor Samantha, would ever again be alone. Each of them, had finally allowed themselves to do what they had never dared before. Be in love. Love someone with every fiber of her being, and to accept that love in return. There were no more little glimpses for Sam to see in Janet; and no more for Janet to see in Sam, nothing could ever be hidden from her again.

Lynn's voice once more lifted loudly, "The hand fasting, an outward symbol of the Bond existing in the heart and soul of these two young lovers. To show what their hearts have always known. They are in true love's thrall. The dark bitterness of aloneness will never again be theirs. There can be no aloneness when the heart is forever bonded. Human hearts were never meant to live life alone. They must part from their mothers and fathers and find their true love. To render their hearts unto one another and find their joy to become one. Marriage is the greatest of all vows made, for it is a promise that will last for all eternity."

In a world where compassion and trust was the foundation of its creation, two souls had found the truth of love. No two people deserved to be loved more. No two people deserved such bliss and joy. No two people deserved such freedom to dream.

Janet and Sam were absolutely compatible; their alike spirits yearned for a love that had once been deemed impossible. Fear had kept them apart; fear had driven unbelief into their hearts, yet they would not be so easily conquered. They would not yield to the denial of what could be. Instead, they had dared one another, as they had dared all those who would condemn them, that they had not only a right to be together, but also a right to love. They had a right to hope.

Lynn smiled as she touched each brow, before she took the wrap from their wrists. "Today we hear the vows that would be made. Today let us fill ourselves in the love that Janet and Samantha carry for one another. Let their love inspire us and renew our own spirits."

She nodded to both Teal'c and to Jack, who would step from their places to a hidden place amongst the roots of the great oak. They took up a hand blown glass vase of delicate crystal and a deep red rose, the petals of which were a perfect match for Janet's tresses. Returning to Sam and Janet's side, they walked forward to hand over the items, the vase to Janet, the rose to Sam.

Neither Janet nor Sam had moved, in complete awe of the love they carried. The intensity of their dream, becoming real was before their eyes. The crowd vanished, as their eyes, and hearts were only for one another. Sam's fingers traced over the lines on Janet's hand, her heart reaching out to her to join her spirit even as Samantha held her. How could this be possible, that she could have never known the power of Janet's love? In one tragic instant she might have lost her, for all time. But she was here now, in her life, Janet was the only reality before the tall blonde.

Janet lost herself in the depths of her lover's blue eyes. The touch of Sam's hand upon her's drew Janet back to her first dream of Samantha, after she had found her. Sam was with her but she was alone; that was no longer true, for certain. How could Janet have ever questioned the truth of Sam's heart? How could this be possible, that she could have never known the power of her love? The perfection of Sam's love would have gone in one presumed vision of false belief. But Samantha was here now, in her life, Sam was the only reality before the good doctor…

Once more Lynn voice officiated in its softness. "This is a day steeped in tradition, a time when we are surrounded by symbols: something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue. Today, Janet and Sam begin a new tradition, a custom which now becomes uniquely their own."

Sam's hand reached up to touch Janet's face, her eyes sparkling. She kissed her forehead, her heart thundering in the blonde's chest. "I do not speak lightly of love, especially before an audience. Love is a profound and powerful force, one that is private and personal. But today I declare myself in public, Janet. I announce my feelings to our families and friends. In front of all the people who are most important to both of us, I say, ' I love you Janet. You are my heart, my soul.' Because a public promise seems somehow more important and more binding than a private one, I want all to hear it. Janet, I promise to do all in my power to keep our love as fresh and strong as it is today. I will be faithful to you both with my body and in my mind. I will try always to put the good of our marriage first in my life. In a life filled with happiness, this is my happiest day."

Janet's face lit with that breathtaking radiant smile. Her entire face glowed in beguiling radiance. Sam's hand once more brushed across her face, her unexpected pledge had stolen the very voice from Janet. Sam felt the surge of their love floating into her heart, her own rosy lips pulled back into a smile.

Janet's hand traced Sam's mouth, the angular lines of her jaw. She was completely enthralled by Sam's magnificent presence. "Samantha . . .you are my heart.. I have never known a love such as yours. Before you, I had never known trueness of love. I believe in its power. I believe that love is the single most potent force in the universe. It is the source of all joy, the unifying strength that links spirit to spirit. The capacity to love is our great chance for happiness. On this wonderful day, my heart overflows with feelings of love. I love my family and my friends; but most of all, I love you Samantha. I believe so strongly in love's great power that I now promise to spend the rest of my lifetime with you."

The entire wedding ceremony had taken a twist. Nothing was going as they had rehearsed. Sam and Janet were locked together in the soul-bond virtually unaware that they had an audience, or anything else that was around them. They were already broadcasting the love they had for each other, affecting all who were in the garden.

Pulling back into herself, Sam marveled at the ease with which their bond was flowing. She wanted nothing more than to hold Janet to her. She only knew that Janet was before her. That she wanted to forever love her Janet. She was trembling at Janet's touch, the heat of her hand pressed against her skin. It took every effort to pull her mind away from Janet just enough to take the rose from Jack.

"Janet, beloved. I give you this rose. Because it grew from a tiny seed, becoming stronger and larger until it burst into a flower, it symbolizes the way my love for you has grown." She handed Janet the blossoming white rose, her hand lingering as Janet took the flower from her. The redhead's thumb traced the pattern of Sam's supple skin; she enjoyed the softness of this hand against her translucent ivory skin. The touch of her love just as soft in her heart.

"Each year on our wedding anniversary, I will give you another rose. In so doing, I'll remember this day and renew the vows we have made."

Janet turned to Teal'c, her hands trembled as she took the fine glass vase. The huge Jaffa gave her an encouraging tilt of his head, that seemed to say that she was doing fine. The smile on Janet's face only became brighter, and more heartstopping as she turned back to her beloved. Holding the vase to Sam, the blonde beauty took hold of it, as Janet spoke. "Samantha, my love, I give you this vase of water. Because water is the one element without which we would perish, it symbolizes the importance of your love in my life. Each year on our anniversary, I will refill this vase, offering it to you as a symbol of my ever renewing love."

Janet took the rose she still held, and with great poise, she placed the beautiful blossom in the vase, and together they held the vase before them. Their eyes never wavering from one another, falling back into the dream of one another.

"Without water, the rose would die." Sam whispered.

"Without the rose, the vase of water would not be beautiful." Janet responded, her own voice shaking. Sam leaned closer to her, her breath hot upon Janet's skin.

"My gift is enhanced by yours, just as my life is enhanced by yours." Sam uttered her words catching in her throat.

Janet's heart thundered loudly in her ears, or was that Sam's heart she felt? "My gift is lovely because of yours, just as my life is better because of you."

Together they handed the rose and vase to Lynn. "On each anniversary, as you give and receive the rose and the water, remember with joy this day when you pledged your love and your lives to each other. May this be only the first of many cherished traditions in a home filled with happiness.

"Now let the whole of the world know of the love you have. As love encircles your lives in a mystic force, a circle of gold will become the tangible symbol of that love. Let it symbolize your unending devotion from this day onto eternity."

At that moment it was Cassandra who, in being the only Maid of Honor, held aloft the satin heart shaped pillow upon which two identical rings were safely nestled. She untied the satin lace that held the rings then offered them to her mothers.

It was only then that Janet and Sam tore their eyes from one anther to the angel before them. Sam complemented Cassie as she gathered Janet's ring with the tips of her fingers. Taking Janet's left hand gently into her own, resting it upon the flatness of her right hand she slipped the ring onto Janet's long finger, locking it with the band of her engagement ring. It looked so perfectly natural upon her finger. Everything was right. There was a perfect peace settling over Janet's heart in the profound reality the ring had brought. The intertwined power of love had destroyed any doubts that might have lingered. Their destinies had bonded themselves so completely, with a finality that could never again be questioned. Yes there was rightness to this, total and complete.

Janet lifted the ring she was to give Sam, but before she could slip it on, she marveled at the wonder of Sam so willing to display to all, that she was somebody's wife. The accepted reality of her receptive heart stole Janet's breath away from her. Their love was eternal, their love was now, openly recognized, absolutely embraced in its fullness.

Locking eyes upon her wife once more, Janet slipped the ring easily past her knuckle to rest on her finger locking with Sam's own engagement ring. "For all my life and forever." Janet whispered. "I love you, Babe. You are my heart, my happiness. My everything."

"As you are mine Baby-girl, little rose. You are my life, Janet. I am in love with you."

The tall blonde held her close, nearly losing herself in Janet once more. Their hands clasped, as their hearts intertwined to one another. Two hearts beating as one, forever dancing.

Lynn placed a hand upon both Janet and Sam. Her clear voice taking the attention once more. "You have witnessed the bonding of hearts between Janet and Samantha. What we have witnessed here today was the blessings that come with love. A pledge of love, of devotion, of care and of trust. Here in our sight a new family was created. Let us rejoice in this marvel. And may heaven herself look down upon this union and give it the richest of blessings. Here in our midst is the purity of promise, of dream and reality. Welcome now this new family, Samantha and Janet you are recognized by your loved ones, by devoted friends, and by the forces of heaven above you are wife to wife, may it forever be so." Lynn finished. She smiled, as Janet and Sam drew closer to one another. "Now as in rehearsal Sam you may kiss your bride. As Janet you may kiss your bride."

A few voices chuckled from the guests, most cheered, but neither sound registered on the ears of Sam or Janet. They were drawn together by love's grasp. Sam clutched Janet to her, her powerful arms wrapping around the trim athletic body. Sam found herself staring at Janet's extraordinarily arresting beauty, surly there could be no other woman alive or dead that was as beautiful as her little faery, her Janet, her wife. With every heaving breath Janet took, Sam was pulled in by her glamour, bewitched by Janet's faery magic. For the tiny redhead could not be human. Nothing so amazing, so glorious could be simply human. Sam ached to love her, to take her in her arms and know Janet's touch. What wonders they had left before them. Tonight was filled with promise.

"My wife. How loved you are." The blonde's slender hands cupped Janet's cheeks, her lips seeking the red-head's once more, drawing Janet in with her love. She felt her heart flutter at the maidenly blush rising to the smaller woman's cheeks, invitingly covering her exposed translucent pale flesh of her chest. Then there was that smile, the smile that caught Sam forever in her spell.

Lead willingly by love's power, the blonde lowered her rose lips onto the sweet mouth, taking Janet once more, with all the passion that had been building in her heart. Sam's finger's interlocking in her longer locks, loving the silkiness. Janet melted in the power of Sam's love. She was her breath, her very heart. She fell into Sam, pulled by their love's calling. Without regard of those who watched she pulled Sam deeper into the kiss, her tongue gently flicking out, tasting the softness in her wife's lips, knowing the reaction it caused. Sam in turn nipped at her throat with her teeth, causing Janet to shudder in pleasure against the taller frame.

"Ah! There we have it the marriage sealed with a kiss. There it is. And I believe that there is a feast to attend too." A great round of cheering and applause followed this announcement.

When finally Sam and Janet drew apart, Janet could feel her body suddenly go weak on her, forcing her to rest her weight against Sam. The young woman had become the very icon of a swooning bride. Janet was thankful that her wife was there to hold her up, that she had lent Janet her strength. The curious expression on Sam's face showed that she was a bit proud she had the power to affect her wife in such away. Sam's hand easily slid around the narrow waist guiding her past the guests who embraced them all with well wishes and grand sentiments. She never stopped smiling, the blush never fading. Sam had never felt more protective . . .more possessive of Janet than she had upon this day.

Part 3

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