DISCLAIMER: Stargate SG-1 and its characters are the property of MGM, Showtime, Gekko etc. No infringement intended.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
By Michelle Davison
She stood before them, wondering exactly what they wanted from her, what they expected her to be able to pull from her now dead world. Bowing her head slightly, she realized that this was nothing like how she pictured it, death would somehow have been preferable, but she would tell them what she could. Sitting down quietly beside the dying fire, Janet Frasier gazed up at the alien world, and the stars that would never be hers. She wondered if they ever would feel as familiar as they once had. Taking another, steadying breath, she began her tale.
Sam had told her what had transpired on the bitter planet that had taken the tall woman's soul; she had spoken softly as the two of them lay dying inside their cement grave. Each word had required a painful gasp of air, and drew them both closer to death. At the time, Janet had looked at it as a necessary evil, listening to what was left of her lover die. Closing her eyes as she listened, the brunette had laid completely still so as to slow the already pounding blood spilling from her chest. Letting herself drift into an almost coma-like state, Janet had lost herself in Samantha Carter's story.
Three Months Earlier
Picking through the somewhat cluttered campsite, Major Carter looked out across the snowy landscape. Jack and Daniel were a few miles off, digging around in the ice after long buried artifacts, the younger man's excited pitch carrying out across the white drifts. This seemed to set the mood for most of their missions, scratching around in the dirt for whispers of civilization and long lost technology. On most worlds Carter would be able to lose herself somewhat in the beauty of the untouched nature surrounding them, but in this instance, all she could see were sheets of deadened ice for long miles.
Sighing softly, the Major went back to one item of solace she had in these instances; astronomy. For almost every planet they had charted, Samantha had insisted on mapping the skies above them, hoping to create numerous reference points for the star charts back home. As the team worked steadily during the day, Carter would come alive as the sun would set and pear avidly into the night sky, her imagination taking her as the cameras did their work. Afterwards, in the very early mornings, she would sit huddled in front of her laptop, painstakingly piecing together the numerous shots of stars and unnamed constellations.
But for the moment, she was forced to simply sit and wait for night fall. Keeping a steady eye on the unwavering white around them, she sat unmoving by their main tent. Time ticked by, almost without measure or conscious tracking, until Daniel's excited yelp of discovery caught her attention. Rising slowly from her seated position, long legs shook out their lingering stiffness. Strong, steady hands plucked her waiting pack from the snow, while she took off to her team mates' positions in easy strides.
Excitement prickled along her spine, the scientist in her already spinning ideas as to what had sparked Daniel's interest. Samantha could almost feel her mouth watering in anticipation; few things caught her attention like new discoveries. But as she jogged onward, her mind drifted to the only thing that eclipsed even that. A sweet smile whose owner was oblivious to the way such a simple gesture made Sam's heart ache wantonly for a woman that would never be hers And in that moment, like all the others in which Carter allowed her mind to wander, a deep sadness rattled her heart. She was tired of wanting, and tired of loving a friend who knew nothing of what Samantha wished so desperately to offer. Sighing, she put the pitiful thoughts from her mind, instead focusing on the thing that should have mattered most.
Finally reaching her team mates, Samantha stared down into the five foot square hole that seemed to materialize randomly inside the densely packed snow. Peering down hesitantly, she called out loudly. Distantly placed voices answered back. Mumbling softly, long legs carried her down the crudely chiseled steps that descended into the frozen world.
Slipping slightly on the gathered frost, she finally entered the central room where her colleagues stood huddled over some glazed lump of snow. Glass enveloped all the fixtures, giving them the impression of winter encroaching even on such an ancient place. Cavernous and cold, everything about the room appeared dead and desolate. Random bits of silver technology glittered teasingly through the crystalline surface as her eyes raked the hieroglyphic walls.
Moving closer to her friends, her eyes narrowed in curiosity, Sam craned her neck to peek over Teal'c's brutish frame. An agonized artificial face laid captured in ice, a steely hand reaching out as if in supplication, begging for release. The sight made Carter's heart clench in compassion. The featured looked tortured and lost, the eyes wide with soul eating fear. Turning away, bringing her hand to her mouth, she fought the need to flinch as if struck. With dread she realized the image would stick with her for several long nights.
Moving towards one of the many low-slung, darkened consoles, delicate fingers moved over the quiet surfaces. The light crunching of approaching footsteps made the questing hands pause. Without having to look back, Carter recognized the quick and short stride of the team's resident anthropologist. Curious clear eyes framed with rounded spectacles peered over her shoulder.
"There's something over here you might find interesting. Looks like some sort of technical diagram for our friend here."
Turning, her brow quirked in interest, she followed Dr. Daniel Jackson without comment. A larger metallic sheet stood off to one side, following the contour of the room, acting almost like a wall separated a completely new work area. Sam wondered idly if this was the alien equivalent of a cubicle farm. The two team mates slipped behind the partition and were presented with a detailed diagram of a humanoid shaped mechanical object, obviously a relation to the creature frozen only a few feet away.
Brushing aside the glittering frost, Samantha bent took a closer look. As her eyes squinted in effort, she felt the air beside her shift as Daniel mimicked her. Reaching out hesitantly, his fingertips traced the elaborate symbols littering the glass sheet, his mind already internally translating what it could. The grooved patterns immediately shimmered to life and the sound of splintering ice accompanied the suddenly awake console.
Ejecting the clip with a flick of her wrist, the canister whirled away with a metallic twang. Snapping another in its place and readjusting the M4 with practiced agility, she took quick aim. The smattering of rifle fire echoed out around her as she emptied another magazine, the rifle reverberating off her locked shoulder. Reaching around, her fingers closed around the last clip strapped snugly to the small of her back. Glancing over at O'Neil's crouching figure, Samantha idly wondered how her team mates were fairing in the way of ammunition. Daniel's startled yelp brought the blonde's attention back to focus squarely on the mechanized creature.
It had somehow cornered Daniel, his voice cracking with stress. "Ummm, guys, little help?!"
Taking the low-lying console she had used for cover with ease, her movements almost feline in their smoothness, Carter catapulted herself at the hulking form. Her chest slammed heavily into corroded metal, Sam's arms locking around what should have been its neck in reflex. Moving her right hand to bat searchingly at her vest, she tracked Daniel easily as he slid away, firing into whatever parts were available to him. Sam's fist finally closed around the baseball sized device she had been fishing for. Her lips peeling back into a savage grin, she shoved the grenade down into the shoulder plating immediately below her chin.
Dropping with a thud, the lean frame scrambled upright, yelling at the others to flee. The concussive force of the exploding grenade sent them all flying, while introducing Sam to the nearest wall. Groaning softly, Carter peeked up at the surrounding damage through tousled bangs. Instead of the smoking wreckage she expected, she was faced with a rather unhappy robot that seemed to be spitting with rage. Well fuck. That could have gone a little better.
Jack's baritone voice called out to the barely conscious others. "I think we may want to get out while the getting's good people!"
The three soldiers, and archeologist, stumbled to their feet, each hesitant with their movements. Mechanized eyes followed them wearily, the robotic creature inching forward after them. Backing up towards the uneven opening leading up and out into the icy air, Daniel exited first. Jack and Teal'c followed closely, each man's gestures taunt with stress. Sam was the farthest away and reached it several minutes later. Moving with agonizing slowness, she inched closer to freedom. Miraculously, something behind it caught the monster's attention, forcing it to click away to stare unblinkingly.
Continuing, cold sweat prickling her face and shoulders, Major Carter sped up fractionally. The doorway was only feet away, her team mates worried eyes shining in the darkness. It turned with preternatural speed, its chassis clicking with the movement. Freezing, Sam tried to make her lengthily limbs smaller and less noticeable. She failed. Synthetic eyes scanned the suddenly empty room and focused squarely on the sole occupant. Rage bubbled darkly behind its back-lit eyes, and something inside Sam snapped into place. Instead of being careful, she simply bolted, knowing that stealth was no longer an option.
She barely cleared the pale steps and into the arms of her team mates when she heard the thunderclap of sound that accompanied the creature's hulk landing solidly against the small doorway. It fought to clear the opening, giving SG-1 precious minutes to scramble away to the relative safety of the dusk filled air.
It would be a short-lived reprieve.
Teal'c limped heavily towards the Stargate, his left knee refusing to bear any of his massive weight. The fight with the creature had forced an icy shard to lodge itself two inches deep in the meat above his canvassed knee, making any movement excruciating. To look at the dark man's face however, you'd never tell. His dark eyes were serene and calm, his body relaxed. Teal'c was the embodiment of the coolly contented solder. At his side, O'Neil looked more than a little harassed, his voice clipped and tense.
"Let's get the hell out of here. I think we've overstayed our welcome on this one kids."
Teal'c's gentle, yet beefy hand brushed the Dial Home Device as he reached it first. Without glancing back, his fingers brushed the symbols quickly, calling up Earth's destination address with practiced speed. The Stargate's ring spun smoothly, the chevrons locking with a satisfying thud. Exploding outward with a thunderous cry, the event horizon shimmered to life. Teal'c limped forward first, his eyes scanning the blindingly white scenery suspiciously. Turning, he helped Daniel stagger up the antique steps, the two of them disappearing quickly. Jack was next, with Sam taking up the rear. Her commanding officer slithered through the pool of light with a half-smile. Smiling to herself in response, Samantha shuffled forward.
She felt the wormhole tease her skin as the event horizon fizzled closed, the watery blue bubbling into nothingness. Confusion nibbled at her mind, but she forced it aside and looked back to see the creature's arm imbedded elbow deep in the DHD. Weak sparks sprayed the gathered snow at its base. Dark eyes bored into her and without a second thought, Carter took off into the blindingly white horizon.
Several minutes later, breathing hard, the gasps of air frosting almost instantly against her lips, the tall woman's stride started to stumble. The sickening click and whirl of machinery drifted towards her as Sam fought to keep her balance. She was unfamiliar with the slippery terrain; the sea of ice glared painfully up from the twin moons reflected above, blinding her. With an audible crack, her foot hit a small sized ditch, forcing her ankle to turn and break cleanly. Stifling a startled yelp of pain, Carter fought to stay upright.
Gasping at the pain that flared deeply in her right leg, she jerked her head sharply back, desperate to pinpoint her pursuer. It was less than a few yards away and closing easily. As she turned back, her teeth clamped hard against the sensation of splintered bone grinding queasily. After a few more staggering steps, and without warning, she stumbled into empty space.
Her body crashing into the barely covered ravine, Sam twisted frantically to meet her attacker. Raising an unsteady arm, the tall woman emptied her sidearm into the charging form in front of her. Absorbing the bullets with ease, the mechanism launched itself into the sprawled woman. It landed with brutal force, forcing Samantha's pelvis to shatter, sending shards bursting outward and through her skin, seemingly to attack the creature on top of her. Her screams were cut off abruptly as it reached forward.
She heard a distinctive crunch as its fingers closed, her mind wondering vaguely why her eyes exploded brightly and went dark.
She could hear panicked sobbing. She assumed it came from the bespectacled man to her right; Daniel. It had taken her longer than she would have liked to recall the name. Her mind was drifting easily, almost without tether. She vaguely felt the grated walkway scrape beneath her useless feet, the grooves in her boots catching slightly. She felt the strong hands of her team mates carrying her as gently as possible, their fingers digging into her bruised shoulders. But through all this, she waited patiently. Waited for the soft, yet unyieldingly strong voice of their resident medical doctor. Suddenly it was there, strong, confident, and sure. And just as quickly as it rang out, it faltered.
Janet Frasier's hands were on her face suddenly, cupping her chin and gently tilting her battered face up to the fluorescent lighting. A soft, startled gasp filled the dying woman's senses. It was that single sound that filled Samantha with fear. Dr. Frasier was everyone's rock, the woman that people turned to when soothing comforts were needed, when broken bodies needed mending, and tough soldiers needed to let fear reign. They turned to the small woman with dark eyes and an infinitely gentle hand whose composure never wavered. Yet now that composure broke ever so slightly, letting fear twinge menacingly at edges of the Major's mind.
Sure hands brushed over her body, cataloging injuries and hurts. The doctor's voice was short and clipped, her own fears making those around her nervous. And just as suddenly, the hands were gone, replaced with the detached efficiency of her nurses lifting the lanky form onto a stretcher. As her body met the rough canvas, pain screamed along every nerve ending, causing Sam's mind to darken in agony. Finally letting go of her surroundings, the broken woman slipped away eagerly.
Several minutes later, or hours, she was no longer sure, Sam found herself cradled in the arms of Dr. Frasier. Taking a moment to simply appreciate the kind embrace, something she could never ask for in life, however much she wanted it, Carter almost smiled to herself. Warmth bled through Janet's uniform clad arms and chest and into Samantha's cold body, the tall woman's shivering limbs stilling slightly at the contact.
Hot fingers brushed at non-existent bangs, sending sharp notes of heat spreading out along Carter's overly cool face. Warm, but sweet smelling breath brushed her eyelids, making them twitch in reflex. Janet's worried, yet professionally clipped voice called out suddenly.
"Get me more blankets! Her eyelids are turning purple, and where's my saline IV? Let's move it people, we haven't got much time!"
Soft fingertips returned to her cold face. Gently pulling back each eyelid, blindingly white light played across the slowly dilating pupils as Frasier checked for autonomic responses. Leaning closer, her breath again teasing the unconscious woman's skin, the doctor spoke softly.
"You can't leave me Samantha. You can't. I need you too much."
Busy hands suddenly tugged at her, and out of the grasp of the small woman. They lifted her gently onto something yielding and soft, her aching body protesting only slightly. Those same busy hands began cutting away the torn and bloodied canvas that had once been her uniform, exposing her wet skin to the overly warm air around her. Every touch burned with warmth. Every shift of the moving bed sent splinters of pain up from her ruined legs. Agony filled the edges of her world, but Janet's soft, soothing voice kept it easily at bay.
"Prep her for surgery; we need to see how extensive the damage is. Get me an ultrasound of her pelvis area as well. And get me the MRI results NOW!"
Several long minutes passed, Dr. Frasier's voice filtering in and out of her awareness. And then just as suddenly, everything was quiet and intent. Alcohol burned her battered and bruised limbs. Sam tried to put herself as far away from the SGC as she could. Distantly she heard Janet's calm voice rising above the various sounds of monitors and equipment nestled around the operating table. How could Janet know that Samantha was awake and aware? Feeling the sudden pressure of the small doctor's scalpel, Carter willed herself to drift.
Breaking away from the disorienting stream of half-memories and feverish dreams, Sam fought to break the surface of consciousness. Small, yet strong, fingers brushed slowly down her arm, pausing to check her pulse at the tender point in her wrist, while gentle strokes brushed at the hair sticking to her damp forehead. Without having to really ponder, the mangled woman knew immediately who touched her with such familiarity. But try as she might, outward signs of consciousness alluded her.
Samantha wished desperately to whisper her thanks to Janet, to acknowledge the fact that her friend had cared enough to stay close. Instead she had to be content with cataloging her gratitude, to flood the doctor with it later when she was able. No matter how hard she concentrated, Carter had no way of knowing how much time had actually passed. No one spoke of how many hours or days had slipped past the prone woman. No one acknowledged the marching of minutes. She simply counted the rotations of Janet's visits and tried basing a mild estimate on that. Using that, she guesstimated it as nearing a month of her lying helpless.
The small doctor moved away, her lab coat brushing along the length of Carter's bed as she passed. Whispers of conversation lilted teasingly across her field of hearing. Too weak to properly center her attentions, she was only vaguely aware of what was actually being said.
" can't explain it, General. I've never seen someone regenerate like this "
"Any idea what could have has she been checked is she a danger?"
" I feel nothing has shown up exposure to the technology perhaps "
Gritting her teeth in frustration, the reclining woman tried to marshal what little strength was available to her to concentrate on Janet's softly soothing voice. The words themselves held little interest; it was the sound itself she craved. Realizing the voices were getting closer, Sam tried hard to break the maddening paralysis that gripped her. Fighting to curl her fingers, move her legs, anything to signal awareness, Janet moved closer. And almost as if she had conjured the gesture from thin air, the doctor's slim fingers brushed slowly across Sam's brow.
As was becoming her habit, Frasier traced the still eyebrows and cheeks with reverent sweetness. Completely unobserved, the small woman had taken to dusting the Major with simple adoring gestures. A part of her hoped the contact would strengthen Sam's resolve, or bring her miraculously mending body to consciousness.
Sighing softly to herself, Janet moved to bundle herself into one of the visitors chairs situated caddy-corner to Samantha's bed. Staring silently, Frasier soon drifted into slumber, her body aching for rest. Long hours passed, the two women only feet apart, but miles away.
Flinching against the fluorescent lighting that bathed the small on-base infirmary room, Carter looked around groggily. Nothing seemed to stay focused, everything possessing a blurry edge that made the newly awake woman's stomach clench queasily. Finally her eyes settled on the huddled brunette curled tightly inside one of the visitor's chairs beside the hospital bed.
The barely uttered word was raspy and almost unheard. Jerking awake, Janet stared mutely. Tired blue eyes glittered beneath lowered lids while their owner's lips quirked into an exhausted smile. Janet fought the sudden flood of emotion that crashed solidly against her chest, knocking the wind out of her. Small hands trembling very slightly as Janet reached out for the blonde woman in front of her.
"Janet." The single word was infused with so much emotion that they both froze for the briefest of moments. Finally Sam continued. "You look like crap, when's the last time you got a decent night's sleep?"
With a bark of delighted relief, Janet hugged the reclining woman gently.
"Don't ever do that to me again Samantha Carter. Ever."
Closing her eyes tightly, Sam whispered her promise softly as Janet reached over to thumb the call button. Within minutes the room was a crowded pool of chaos.
Frustration made her voice clipped and agitated.
"Janet, I've been here for three weeks! Three bloody weeks! When can I leave?"
Turning to look at the visibly seething woman lying with her arms crossed in stubborn defiance, Dr. Frasier smiled with affection. She couldn't even muster even a hint of frustration.
"Sam, you know why you're still here. We just want to be sure, absolutely sure, that nothing has been missed."
Rubbing at her eyes wearily, Samantha's voice took on a tired edge. "Janet, I've been poked, x-rayed, scanned, and had biopsies of everything I own. I swear Janet; the woman came in here with a three-ring hole punch from Office Depot! And if one more nurse comes in here looking for a skin scraping, I'm going to shove my bedpan so far up their ass " Her voice trailed off into a growl. "I'm tired and I'm getting stir crazy. They won't even let me down to the lab to work!" Glancing over, Janet had to stifle a snort of laughter. Sam sat there unconsciously pouting, her face scrunched into a surprising semblance of a toddler not allowed her favorite toy.
Moving to sit down gingerly on the bed, her feet barely touching the floor, Dr. Frasier's voice took on a soft, soothing tone. "Sam, we honestly have no idea how you were able to recover this quickly, or completely. It goes against everything we've ever encountered." Without realizing it, Janet raised her hand to brush aside unruly blonde bangs.
"All that anyone on the base sees is their favorite physicist make a full recover, and beat the odds without breaking a sweat. All the top brass see is someone who was captured off world and missing for days. And suddenly, the second she gets back, she's back from the brink." Sam's face lowered, she hadn't missed the brunette's voice tighten in sadness as she spoke.
"Be patient Samantha, if for no other reason then to keep my staff from slashing my tired. Okay? Just a little longer?" The Major sighed and opened her mouth to speak. "Janet, I " Before she could finish her sentence, Dr. Warren poked his head through the open doorway.
"Hey Dr. Frasier? The General's looking for you."
Nodding, she got up to leave. Squeezing her friend's fingers in goodbye, Janet smiled.
General Hammond's office was sparsely decorated, the bear of a man liking to keep his work space simple and uncluttered. The burly man sat calmly behind his huge mahogany desk, his features kind yet stern. He surveyed the standing woman with a carefully schooled expression.
"Dr. Frasier, please, have a seat, this shouldn't take too long."
Sitting slowly, Janet's eyes scanned the man in front of her for any clues s to what might be coming. Leaning back against his tall leather chair, the General began quietly.
"Major Carter has officially requested that she be released from the base infirmary."
Janet sighed softly; she had hoped to keep Sam under wraps for just a little bit longer. Annoyance tickled her senses; Carter could be so maddeningly stubborn.
"I know you don't want to hear this Dr. Frasier, but someone's going to have to keep an eye on her. She's made a miraculous recovery; one that even you said wasn't possible. The higher ups are worried, and rightly so. She can either stay here, carefully guarded and restricted, or I can tell my superiors she's under the personal observation of the station's Chief Medical Officer. Which would you prefer?"
Frasier could only imagine the hellishness that would ensue trying to keep the tall, willful, and gorgeous blonde stationary and behaving inside the painfully small infirmary. She could already hear the groans and protests from her staff if she decided to keep Samantha where she was, and mutiny would not be unheard of in such an extreme case.
Dark eyes eyed Hammond with resignation. "I'll go get her things."
A curious head poked out from above the fridge door, brown eyes tracking the statuesque figure. Catching barely concealed curves out of the corner of her eye, Frasier swallowed convulsively. Her voice slightly rougher than usual, she spoke quickly.
"Did you remember the pasta sauce?"
Wincing slightly, a frown marring her forehead, Sam upturned the empty bad. Laughing softly, Janet patted the taller woman's lower back in reassurance. Squinty slightly in thought, auburn brows knitted, she thought quickly.
"We have a few canned diced tomatoes in the cupboards; we can make a pasta sauce out of that. We'll just throw in some chopped onion and garlic maybe a dash of olive oil " Rambling off mostly to herself, the brunette set to work quickly, leaving Sam to reach the pesky cans. Sliding in behind the woman working quickly at the larger cutting board, Samantha reached up to flick open the cupboard in question.
Turning with her hands full of garlic, Janet found herself pinned between the slim frame of her friend and the hard granite countertop. Grunting softly, Sam continued to reach valiantly for the cans just outside her outstretched fingertips, seemingly oblivious to the way her abs dug deliciously into her trapped friend. Biting her lip to the point of drawing blood, Janet tried hard to keep the almost uncontrollable whimper trapped inside her throat.
Pushing aside the urge to lean forward and suck lovingly at the long pale throat inches from her lips, Janet cleared her throat noisily. Startled blue eyes glanced down at the flushed woman beneath them. Only then did Samantha take notice of how her body molded easily with Janet's, hips sitting snug while breasts brushed tantalizingly.
Scrambling backward, her cheeks flaming red, Sam collided heavily with the dining room table directly behind her. Cursing loudly, her body having knocked the vase of flowers over and onto the hardwood surface, Samantha stared sheepishly at the brunette in front of her. Humor danced openly on elfish features, Janet's face breaking out into a bright smile.
Looking down at table, Sam's voice was sheepish but teasing. "It's like walking around a hobbit den; everything is so small and low to the ground!"
Janet laughed, while trying to look offended. "And what does that make you, an Int?"
Laughter filled the kitchen, and continued to do so throughout dinner. The two friends reveled in each other, trying to forget how easily they had almost lost their steadfast bond. Long, happy conversations carried them through the rest of the night. Talk of Cassandra, work, and hobbies filled the time. And all too quickly, it was time for bed.
Sighing softly with exhaustion, Janet finally stood up stiffly from the well-worn kitchen table. Reaching out, she urged Sam upright, smiling hugely at the staggering woman's attempts at walking. Laughing once again at the strangely uncoordinated Major, Janet eased them up the stairs and to the bedrooms above.
Ink black eyes stared at her with hatred. Cringing away in horror, Samantha fought to scurry away from the robotic face inches from her own. Instead, it loomed closer still, its cold breath frosting her pale cheeks.
Carter jerked awake with a dull scream trapped inside her aching chest. Closing her eyes tightly, she pressed a fist to her mouth, stifling her sudden sobs. Curling up tightly, Sam mumbling reassurances to herself in coarse whispers. Slowly her body's tension eased. Her tears slowed and soon dried. Taking a deep, painful breath, she lay there listening to the unfamiliar house around her.
Tossing aside the vaguely damp sheets, her body fidgeting in the strangely humid air, Sam shuffled around her room. Her fingers and eyes fluttered over everything, her attention refusing to stay focused on any one thing. Her thoughts kept drifting back to the woman who was soundly sleeping only a handful of feet away. Sighing in frustration, long legs strode quickly from the room and out into the dimly lit hallway, and paused. Sam's body seemed to carry her along without destination or thought.
Following the restless footsteps, Janet lay quietly in her bed curled up around the pillow she wished desperately was Samantha. She heard the tall woman's tread take her to Cassandra's room and pause. She could almost see the lanky woman peek her head in slowly, checking that the teen was indeed snuggled away and safe. The footsteps continued down the hall and towards the stairs. But instead of treading quietly down the carpeted path, they paused and turned back the way they came. They moved past the sleeping girl's room and towards Janet's own.
The small woman froze, her breath strangled in her chest. Closing her eyes tightly, she tried desperately to feign sleep. The shuffling footsteps moved closer, pausing every few seconds as if their owner was unsure of the destination. Almost without intention, they stopped at her door.
"Janet?" The hesitancy in Sam's voice was heartbreaking, but Janet refused to move. Refused to acknowledge the need that trembled inside them both. The footfalls entered the room, still more hesitant and fearful than they had been in the hall. Janet tried hard to curl tighter around the unusually flat pillow in her arms, willing Sam to feel her conflicting wants and leave.
Instead the bed depressed and shifted with the tall woman's unexpected weight. Without waiting for acknowledgement or consent, the blonde moved to curl up sweetly against Janet's back. Her body tight as a violin string, Janet stayed absolutely still; unable to move for fear that Sam would be startled away like a young wounded animal. Long breathless moments passed, neither wanting to move, yet both aching for something more. Taking a steadying breath, Janet finally turned.
Intent blue eyes waited, staring unflinchingly into Janet's dark brown. Lifting a finely boned and unsteady hand, small fingers brushed slowly down Samantha's sharp cheek. As if possessed, sudden courage pooled warmly in Frasier's chest, filling her with an unfamiliar resolve. Shifting closer, small legs tangled lazily with their counterpart's. Thighs parted and slipped around each other, pressing possessively into the adjacent body.
Trembling, the smaller woman's touch grew steadily firmer. Her thumb traced the blonde's lower lip, only to move and caress the faintly scarred chin. Samantha's breath came slow and steady, belying the thundering pound of her heart. Janet leaned forward hesitantly, her lips brushing Carter's jaw line with whispery caresses. A whimpering moan filled the small bedroom, neither sure whom the sound had come from.
Finally moving, Carter mirrored the doctor's simple touches. Long, slightly calloused fingers brushed slowly down Janet's face, cupping her cheek. Turning, Frasier kissed the digits sweetly. As her breath tickled Samantha's palm teasingly, both women smiled at the surreal gestures. Neither could have imagined the other in such a way, neither having the courage to act.
Reverently brushing her hands over the smaller woman's collarbone, Carter moved to slip Janet's shirt up and over her head. Sitting up, strong hands removed the offending garment, baring the small woman's athletic build to the late night air. Shivering, the brunette moved to press possessively into the larger frame of her bedmate. Elegant hands tugged playfully at Sam's long-sleeved shirt, insistent and impatient.
Husky chuckles rumbled the blonde's chest, forcing Janet to laugh in tickled response. The rest of their clothing was ripped away quickly, hunger making them move with speed. Finally flushed skin met with mirrored whimpers. Samantha's strong hands pulled Janet beneath her, her long body fitting easily between the brunette's thighs. Reaching up to trace the jaw above her, Frasier's voice was a bare whisper. "I need you." Whimpering softly, Janet laced her fingers with Sam's, bringing them both down to the smaller woman's aching center.
Gasping as their fingers met wet warmth, Samantha took the lips beneath her hungrily. Lifting her hips, she urged Samantha deeper. Kisses began again with gentle intent, each woman wrapping themselves eagerly in the other.
A week passed, each night spent the same way. Dinner was filled with humored banter and friendly, contented chatter; followed shortly by sweet touches and desperate release. They hovered strangely between friendship and love, unwilling to name the new emotion between them.
Saturday found Samantha's head pillowed against Janet's breast, both women dozing quietly in the early morning sun that streamed from the tall bedroom window. The loud clamor of Frasier's phone startled them both, causing both to jerk upright while Janet reached blindly for the headset.
"Frasier residence? Oh, hello sir." Janet peeked over at Sam with a teasing half-smile. "Yes, Major Carter is still here." As she spoke, the small woman felt strong, tapered fingers dance lazily down her thigh, causing goose bumps to spring up in their wake. Shivering, yet trying to keep her voice even, Janet reached out and captured Sam's teasing fingers with.
"We'll be right in. Yes sir. No, I don't think so, but I can run another examination when we get back to base. Yes, thank you sir."
Turning, she pinned her bedmate with a thoughtful stare. "Hammond wants us to come back to base. They need you to take apart the creature they found with you." Shrugging with indifference, Carter spoke quietly. "Then let's go. The sooner we get done, the sooner we can get back." Untangling her long, limbs, Carter rolled out of bed to look for her long forgotten clothes. With her back to the bed, she missed Janet's startled expression at her indifference.
Staring down at the form that had caused her so much raw panic and agony, Samantha's voice was strangely detached as she began the dissection. Reaching up, she clicked on the autopsy microphone hanging above the steel table.
"It appears to be some form of Ancient technology. The alloys are a sort of metallic based weave, adding to the tensile strength of the chassis."
Barely listening, Janet instead watched the huddled blonde dissect the mechanism before her. Her motions were steady and sure. There was never any hesitation in their gestures, which seemed to extend to other avenues as well. Blushing slightly, Janet smiled down at the working woman. Her mind drifted for a few moments over the night before, and those very fingers as they had brushed over her body before
"Wherever you are, can I come?"
Snapping out of her thoughts with an almost audible pop, the small doctor turned to look at the man leaning casually against the door frame. Smiling sheepishly, she moved away from the observation window that wrapped around the science lab.
"Sorry Colonel, I didn't hear you come in."
The older man shrugged, his posture lazy and fluid as he moved closer to the windows. Turning to look fully into the lab, Jack's attention seemed riveted to the woman below them. Watching him, his pleasure at gazing uninterrupted as Sam so evident, Janet felt a fierce pang of jealously. It was common knowledge how O'Neil felt for his second in command, he had hidden his intentions poorly.
Turning away from him, the urge to slam her fist into his slightly glazed eyes welling up inside her, she moved for the door. Without glancing back, Jack's voice trickled over to her.
"Be careful with her."
Her head snapping back, Frasier's gut clenched with sickened worry. "What are you talking about?"
A long sigh traveled back to her. "She's never looked at me the way she looks at you, no matter how hard I've wished for it."
Finally the Colonel turned, his face hard. "And I mean what I said. Be ever so careful."
Nodding shakily, Janet bolted.
The thick circle landed on her desk with a deep crack of sound. Startled, Dr. Frasier glanced up from her post-mission medical reports to eye the tall woman with interest. "You know, you're just as bad as a child when it comes to flinging your stuff everywhere."
Smirking, Sam slid into one of the chairs opposite the doctor's. "I found that imbedded in the exoskeleton of the robotic creature we brought back. Look familiar?"
Leaning forward to take a lengthy look at the oddly grimy bit of armor, Janet quirked a curious eyebrow. "Let me guess, new car stereo?"
Laughing, Sam and gave the brunette a slightly exasperated, but amused look.
"Nope. It looks to be a smaller version of the quantum mirror. I'm not sure if it actually transports the user to a parallel universe or simply through space, but it's made of the same materials."
Quirking a curious brow, Janet spoke softly. "And you're simply walking around with it?"
"Nope, I'm on my way to the mirror over at Area 51 to see if I can do a comparison on the two mechanisms. If it is a smaller version, it raises the question of why. Why would you need an ultra portable version?"
Janet looked thoughtful for a few minutes before shaking her head. "No clue, but if anyone's going to find out, it's you." Winking at the tall blonde, the small doctor stood to gather her papers. Walking towards the door, she started shooing the Major out of her office. "Now out some of us have to work!" Laughing, the two women left the infirmary smiling and content.
Long strides carried the Major towards the floor's elevator, intending to head back to her lab in order to package up the disc for shipment to area 51. As she got within view of the double steel doors, she faltered. Dread prickled at her spine, traveling upwards to sit stiffly beside her heart. Shaking it off with effort, she punched the elevator's call button.
As the doors opened, a squat metallic creature crouched quietly in the cabin's center. Fear punched Samantha squarely in the gut as her mind refused to believe her eyes. Standing slowly, it's mechanisms whirling with a sickening series of clicks, the creature stood to face her. Unable to comprehend exactly what was taking place, Carter backed up until her back hit the cement wall behind her.
As it stepped forward, Sam felt her eyes bulge in horror. Her one coherent thought was to alert the rest of the base, to warn Frasier. Turning to scan the eerily empty hallway, she looked for some measure of escape. Her chest tightened in raw fear as she heard it click closer. Turning her head shakily, Carter turned to face the grotesque face inches from her own.
Rounding the corner, Janet's fingers flipped through the various charts in front of her. Chuckling as she thumbed through a report of the marines' basketball game turned wrestling match, she walked absently. Glancing up at the sound of the elevator doors closing, the brunette barely caught a fleeting glance of Sam's horrified features as the doors shut with a click. Blinking, the doctor gaped in confusion.
Jerkily, she eyed her sparsely furnished on-base quarters. With hurried motions, Sam rummaged through the footlocker that sat at the base of her nearly empty closet. Clutching desperately at the gun cabinet that lay inside, she dragged the box to the lone desk. Shoving aside the cluttered papers and silent laptop, the tall blonde dropped the box with a clatter. Her hands shaking hard, her fingers slipping at the locks, she tore it open. Nestled inside was her personal .9mm Glock. Her hands unsure and sweaty, she could barely load the ten round clip.
Turning and staggering from the room, Samantha limped weakly out into the hallway. Her threadbare control was slipping quickly. Whimpering softly, she crammed her empty fist into her already bleeding mouth. Stifling her moans, she walked slowly towards the waiting lifts and the control center for Stargate Command.
The doors opened with a swish of well-oiled practice. Walking calmly past the various admin offices and conference rooms, she continued on. Her grip continued to slip uneasily on the small firearm dangling limply at her thigh. Finally she neared her target, the metallic whirling and clicking maddeningly loud inside her brain.
Thundering up the metal stairs, her combat boots clamoring, Major Carter staggered into the Stargate control room. Her face was flushed and sweaty, her uniform starting to stick against her soaking chest. Turning in curiosity, the two technicians eyed her with mild expressions. Without saying a word, Carter's hand twitched up, her finger pulling at the pistol's trigger. Blood and brain matter spattered the sparkling control panels as the technicians slumped heavily in their chairs.
Shoving one of the dead, slumped figures aside, the blonde sat heavily. Wiping clean the keyboards in front of her with sweaty fingers, she worked quickly. Sirens began to sound as systems shut down one after another. Sweat poured from her feverish face, splashing silently against the backlit screens in front of her. Closing her eyes, Carter's face contorted in mental anguish.
"Samantha?" Janet's voice was hushed and scared.
Sam turned slowly. Her brow was splattered with blood, her eyes feverish. A sickened smile pulled at the Major's lips. "It's so loud. Can you hear it too?" Stepping forward slowly, Janet raised her hands in placation. "Hear what? What is it you hear?" As she spoke, the small doctor continued to shuffle closer. "Samantha, look at me. Let me see you sweetheart."
Light danced across the chiseled cheeks, her eyes wide and manic, pulsing with their own internal fire. Her blonde head tilted back at a sickening angle, cocking slightly as if listening to a painfully loud symphony. Carter's hand hovered over the iris control, the fingers strumming with effort.
"No!" Janet's voice cracked in panic, the two women freezing momentarily at the sudden loss of control. "Sam, you don't have to do this. You've fought these types of things before; you're too strong to give in! Please "
Ice cold eyes turned to look at the smaller woman, catching and meeting the frightened woman's darker gaze. A sickly sweet smile broke out across the strong features. "Yes, I do."
Slamming her hand onto the iris control, Samantha's voice broke into almost hysterical laughter, and before Janet's heart could explode in terror, the world around her turned to chaos. Her gaze tearing away from the beautiful woman who stood twisted with madness, she turned to stare unblinkingly through the blast windows into the Gate Room. The Stargate burst open with a wall of light and sound, the event horizon bubbling over with sudden movement. Hundreds of forms began pouring out of its center, all duplicates of the twisted wreckage lying dormant in their science lab.
Janet was too horrified to look away. The soldiers that sped forward to repel the attackers were rent apart, blood spattering the walls in haphazard displays of brutality. Turning to face the Major, the small woman dove at her, her fingers clawing at the tall woman's neck. Vicious and feral, the doctor's fingers clamped around the suddenly limp throat. As Janet pinned Samantha to the faltering control panel, her only thoughts swirled around the daughter who would die along with the rest. Hate bubbled corrosively to the surface, eating away the love her heart had experienced so shortly before.
Samantha merely looked on, her hands resting dead against her sides. And just as quickly as her hatred had sparked, it faded. Crumpling, Janet lay sprawled against long legs; sobbing for all that she had gained and lost so easily. Resting her forehead against Samantha's camouflaged shins, she fought to blank out the terrified screams of those around her. She tried to forget the fact that the woman she had loved for so long had been responsible for their deaths as well as her own. Unmoving, that same woman stood stoically against the carnage, not so much as batting an eye at the turmoil around them.
Janet would never know how or what had sparked the explosion, but as she lay huddled, the world fell apart, taking her and Samantha with it.
Her mouth was filling with something hot and thick. The taste was solid and coppery, forcing Janet to gag in recognition. Turning away from the blood pounding into her barely conscious face, she fought for air. Feeling trickled slowly into her limbs, making her realize in dread that she was pinned beneath something warm, yet unmoving. Bringing up her shaky hands; the small doctor brushed them over the form that was lying sprawled on top of her. Her questing fingers found short cropped hair matted with something sticky and warm. She recognized the person immediately and distress triggered her heart rate.
"Samantha?" Struggling to turn, to shift her aching body out from under the painfully dead weight, she called again. "Sam, sweetheart?"
Silence answered her.
Falling back once again, her body strained and exhausted, Janet tried to focus on the sounds around her. She could hear the faint crackle of machine gun fire, and the muffled screams that accompanied them. Closing her eyes, she started counting. There were at least six or seven distinct locations the sounds were coming from, but none of them appeared to be coordinated.
Opening her eyes once again, teeth gritted in determination, Frasier tried once more to move the body above her. With a growl, she pushed, and was rewarded with Sam sliding slowly to her right. As the weight shifted, Janet was able to take a truly deep gasp of air. Pain skittered sharply along her chest in response, forcing her breath to catch in surprise. Slowing her breathing, the finely boned doctor patted herself down carefully. Things definitely hurt, but to what extent she wasn't sure. Everywhere she touched, Janet's fingers came back overly warm and sticky, the scent of blood was wet and heavy in the air.
Sighing, Janet focused once more on Samantha. Her hands traced the contours of the body next to her, searching for damp patches of blood. She found many. Janet began patting her uniform down for anything that could illuminate the oppressive space, only employing her sense of touch was greatly hindering her. As Frasier searched her pockets impatiently, a small groan brushed her ears.
Another groan answered, along with the shuffled and cramped movements of her broken companion. Reaching over very slowly, her fingers twitching with terror, Janet brushed Samantha's wet cheek. As she worked to ease the taller woman into consciousness, she realized the air was taking a distinctly stale taste. Cold fear stabbed her already aching chest. Gradually the Major came-to, but her movements were sluggish and uncoordinated.
Sam's voice slurred slightly as she spoke. "What happened? Where are we?"
Janet's voice was flat. "Something exploded inside the Gate Room and took out the conference room and observation windows. We're buried, and judging form the quality of the air, we're buried pretty deep."
"Can you see anything? I can't seem to keep my eyes open for very long."
Frasier growled softly in frustration. "I can't."
"Wait," Sam's tone brightened marginally, "I think I can help with that." Sliding up her left shirt cuff, Carter exposed an iridescent watch dial that immediately lit the two women. They both flinched away from the sight that greeted them. Blood pounded from an open gash above Sam's left eye, which disappeared into her suddenly orange hair. Janet's own face was puffy with bruising, both eyes blackened by the force of the blast. Nothing but cement surrounded them, reminding them that they were truly alone. "Samantha," Janet started, but the blonde cut her off sharply.
"I remember. It kept the memories from me to protect itself." Closing her eyes tightly against the pain that radiated in dull sheets across her lungs, Sam took a slow, steadying breath. "I was working on astrological charts "
The story poured from her, interrupted only by painful wheezing. As Samantha spoke, the two women moved into a morbid caricature of their earlier embrace, the blonde head pillowed against the smaller woman's shoulder. Long, terrible moments passed where the only sound was the whispering tone of Samantha's story. Finally, her tale staggered into the present.
"I would have the strangest dreams at night as it peeked into my mind, waiting." Samantha closed her eyes tightly. "It would whisper to me in the dark."
Janet eyed the dying blonde with a sudden sharp note of unease. I'm trapped underground with a possible lunatic. Fabulous. Janet flinched slightly. A lunatic I've been sleeping with.
"Sam." Shadowy blue eyes opened slowly to gaze at the woman beneath her. "What did it say to you? What does it want from us?"
"It wants what it cannot have." Gasping at the effort, Sam tried again. "It wants the acceptance that every child is endowed with from birth." Choking slightly, pale eyes pinned Frasier's. "It didn't understand that it was only designed to be a tool, nothing more."
Cupping a bloodied cheek, Janet's voice was soft and soothing. "Why has it attacked us? We didn't build it."
Shaking her head slightly, the motion causing her neck to crack stiffly, Sam's voice rasped weakly. "Not sure. All I sensed from it was hatred and madness. I can't fathom what could have twisted something like this."
Suddenly clumsy fingers fumbled with one of her pants pockets, Sam's face hard with concentration. Janet tracked the movement with detached curiosity. Finally the taller woman gave a grunt of triumph, presenting a small circular disk to the dim light. Dark brown eyes narrowed in vague recognition.
"What are you doing with that?"
A slow smirk broke out across Sam's lips. "Thought it might come in handy some day."
Smiling, the faint light illuminating bloodied teeth, Carter pressed the device hard into Janet's cupped hand. "Take it. I need to know you're safe, no matter where that happens to be." Struggling against the woman, Frasier's face took on a panicked edge. "No! Do you hear me Sam? I won't leave here without you!" Smiling sadly, Sam's thumb brushed lightly against the outer edge of the disk. "You don't get a choice." Pressing her lips to Janet's own, she whispered softly. "I love you." Her voice dropped to an almost pleading octave. "For all that's happened, don't forget that. Please."
Sharp light crackled along Janet's vision, the sudden onslaught forcing the small woman to wince and close her eyes tightly. With a whirl of motion and sound, she fought the all-encompassing need to be ill while reaching out blindly for the blonde major. Feeling as though the ground against her back was shifting queasily, her fists closed around empty air. With little warning, the sensation stopped with a sudden thud.
Opening her bruised and bleeding eyes slowly, she took in the desolate white snow. Realization hit her in the chest like a physical blow. She was all that was left of her world. Rising up on unsteady legs, the small woman started walking.
She had walked for what felt like days, the scenery never changing or altering to acknowledge the passage of distance, until finally, she simply dropped. Knees buried in powder, Janet teetered forward onto her outstretched hands. Droplets of blood splattered the pristine snow, forcing the surrounding ground to turn an iridescent pink. Clutching the painfully cold ice, her breath came out in scared gasps. She was wearing nothing but a set of summer style BDUs, her thin canvas pants were already soaked through with blood, while her shirt caked to her in sticky blotches. She would freeze to death very shortly, and strangely, Janet welcomed the thought. Better to freeze to death against a backdrop of quiet cold than to hear Samantha's agonized choking.
Dropping to her side, she curled up, trying to imagine the lanky form lying there beside her, protecting her against the bitter wind. Closing her eyes for long moments, she felt sleep tug teasingly. Sighing softly, Janet gave in and allowed herself to pass into blissful slumber and into a dead woman's arms.
Agonized needles of awareness stabbed at her eyes and limbs. Jerking upright with a scream, Janet fought against the hands that submerged her in fire. Flailing weakly, something that felt suspiciously like water splashed her overly sensitive skin, causing more misery. Her brain was slow to make the connection; she was being submerged in a tub of lukewarm water. The contrast between freezing cold and minor warmth was burning her nerve endings into some semblance of functionality. Agony was too weak a word to describe her pain. Just as her eyes filled with helpless tears, beautiful blue eyes filled her vision.
"Janet, stop!" It was the same voice that had called to her as she had arched in pleasure, the one that had whispered its owner's love as they had lain curled together. Stilling immediately, Janet latched onto the voice and eyes framed with white blonde locks.
"S Sam?" Confusion made her mind all the more sluggish. Long fingers traced her lower lip, cupping her cheek and steadying her chattering jaw. Again, the eerily beautiful voice jangled against her ears. "Janet, it's alright, we found you. You're safe."
Reaching out with swollen blue fingers, Frasier twisted her hands into Samantha's uniform jacket. Her eyes searched the gentle face, desperate to find any hint of malice, any hint of the insanity she had witnessed earlier. Nodding to herself in reassurance, Janet allowed herself to drop slowly back into the awaiting water.
Cracking open a painfully puffy eye, Janet peered out at her surroundings. She was in a sparsely decorated tent that seemed to be lined with wall-to-wall heaters. Across from her lounged Samantha, her nose buried in a stack of transparencies, her expressive face reacting pointedly to whatever it was she was reading. Smiling timidly, the gesture pulling at her still achy facial muscles. Frasier fought the urge to lean forward and kiss the wrinkle above Sam's nose, the one she got whenever she was concentrating. Affection flooded her, and without realizing it, a small hand snaked out from under the pile of covers enveloping her to rest gently on Carter's uniformed knee.
Jerking at the unexpected touch, pale blue eyes snapped up to meet Janet's. For a split second, they both sat breathless, unsure what guardian angel had blessed them both. Smiling hesitantly, Sam's voice was a whisper of kindness.
"Hey there. You had us worried for a very long time Dr. Frasier." Merriment danced easily across Samantha's face, her lips quirking into a natural and teasing half-smile. Janet's heart skipped a charmed beat.
Clearing her throat slightly, Samantha sat forward to bring her face a little closer to the bundled woman.
"I know you're tired, but I wanted to ask a few questions if that's okay with you."
Janet merely nodded, unsure of whether or not her voice would crack with fatigue and misuse.
"We found your dog tags, so we know you're some iteration of Janet Frasier, but we're not sure where you're from or what brought you here." Sam suddenly looked uncomfortable, sorrow tingeing her light eyes. "Our Dr. Frasier died a few years ago while off-world."
Janet blinked, her brain taking a few moments to churn the information over in her mind. She had obviously slipped into another parallel universe, one in which her counterpart had perished. If she were honest, Frasier had been suspecting this since she had laid eyes on Samantha's unblemished face.
"Maybe I should tell all of you at once." Her voice was hoarse and painful. "There's no sense in repeating myself until I have to." Offering up a somewhat broken smile, Janet looked up into the familiar, yet alien face above her. Closing her eyes tightly, she fought a wave of nausea.
Janet had stopped looking at her listeners hours ago, instead finding the surface of her now cold cup of coffee far more interesting. Her words ground to a halt, the story seeping from her like blood from an open wound. Huddling closer inside her massive parka, she fought to hide her wet eyelashes. She felt painfully exposed, the silence from the others almost like a screaming judgment. But as she finally lifted her eyes, all she saw was compassion and sadness in those around her. Biting her lip, Janet once again faced her mug.
Closing her eyes, she wondered vaguely if she would ever feel comfortable in this strange world, if she would falter or stand strong. Turning back, she spotted curious blue eyes. They were not the loving, yet manic eyes she was accustomed to, but she still felt a hint of something indefinable there. Hope teased her heart with lazy strokes.
Perhaps Sam had saved her after all.
Three Years Later
Inhaling deeply, sleepy brown eyes fluttered open. Sitting up slowly, Janet wondered what had woken her from such a deep slumber. Standing and draping a long silken robe over her narrow shoulders, she moved out of her bedroom and into the darkened hallway. Running her fingers absently down the cream colored walls, her fingers brushing over the vaguely uneven paint, she stopped at Cassandra's room. Leaning against the door frame, she scanned the empty bed. The young woman who had lived here had gone to college years ago, vacating the small house and taking a great deal of its frantic energy with her.
Smiling softly to herself at the thought of their daughter, the auburn head turned back to the end of the silent hall. Easing quietly down the carpeted steps that lead to the first floor of her home, she noticed the dull yellow light from the kitchen. Treading softly, Janet peeked in around the door frame, eyeing the single occupant of the room curiously.
The blonde head sat bent over a paperback, and Frasier stood watching Samantha for several long minutes. Clearing her throat very softly, she caught Carter's attention. Watery blue eyes greeted her. Her forehead wrinkling with worry, Janet moved to sit down next to the lanky woman. Without preamble, the blonde spoke in a whisper, her words tinged with hurt.
"Do you love me or the Samantha you fell in love with?"
Reaching up, her thumb tracing the perfect lower lip of her love, Janet's voice was unusually soft. "I love you. That Samantha is dead and gone. Her dying breath took my love with it. You two are so dissimilar it confuses me sometimes. How can two people share so much and turn out so differently?"
Intertwining her fingers with Sam's, Janet's voice turned rough with need. "Come to bed Samantha. Come to bed and let me show you how I love you."
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