DISCLAIMER: Stargate SG-1 and Atlantis are the property of MGM, Showtime, Gekko etc. no infringement intended.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

By alastria7


The Letter

Part 1

For the hundredth time, Elizabeth took out the crumpled letter and read it. She looked around her room first, though, always feeling she was being watched doing this. There was no one. But reading it once was never enough, so she slowly read it through again.

Dear Elizabeth,

I know that you'll be going through the gate tomorrow and that there's little chance you'll return - to Earth, to me, to any of us. And I know that you and Simon are an issue, at least, if not still an item. But I have to say this before I burst.

I shall miss you.

There, I've said it. Well – I've written it, at least.

But maybe I should tell you why I'm going to miss you. That's the part that's hard for me to do. And, once I've done it, I'll probably be off-base tomorrow because I won't be able to look you in the eye. So I may be saying goodbye right now.

I care about you, Elizabeth. I don't know if anyone told you about me and Janet – who was our doctor here on the base until she got shot dead on a mission. Well, Janet and I were lovers, very much in love, and I thought that no one else in the whole of my life would ever mean that much to me again. That is, until I met you.

I fought it. I guess I'm still fighting it – otherwise I'd be standing in front of you, in person, telling you this, instead of playing safe and telling you the night before you're due to leave Earth forever. Yeah, I know I'm a coward. But I wanted you to know about my feelings before you left.

It's safe, you know, telling you now, because I'm not ready to act on these feelings yet. I don't know if I ever would be. It still feels disloyal to Janet, and you don't need to be saddled with how I overcome my past and move on. That's for me to work out.

But if you hadn't rushed so fast to get out of here… Well, who the hell knows? Anyway, it's said now… I think I love you, Elizabeth. It feels like love, to me, anyway. And I know what love feels like, believe me.

So - you take care, you hear? And know that I'll be thinking about you every day you're in the Pegasus system. Whatever concerns you encounter there, whatever frightens you, let my love give you the power and strength you'll need to overcome it. And if ever you feel sad, take the joy I have inside when I think of you, which I'll be doing a lot of.

You can count on it.

All my love,

Samantha Carter.

"Oh, Samantha – Sam," Elizabeth breathed. She held the letter to her cheek and rocked herself. "I knew what I was doing, leaving Simon, but I wish to God you'd given me time to react to this. More time, Sam. Or turned up to say goodbye. I might have stayed. For you."

Elizabeth carefully folded the letter and put it back in her drawer, safely.

It would be needed again.


The Reply

Part 2

Dr. Elizabeth Weir stopped to gather her thoughts. She'd been sitting in front of a camera, telling people back on Earth about the loss of their loved ones, and how bravely they'd fought and died. It was tough work and she was drained. But there was something else she needed to do before this recording was over.

"Can you give me a minute?" she asked Lt. Aiden Ford, working the camera.

"I'll be right outside."

"Uh, actually, for this next part… it's private. Can you show me what to do?"

"I can, but I'll get to see it later anyway, when I edit it. So…"

"Ah." Weir looked uncomfortable. "No way out?"

He shook his head.

She paused and thought about it. "Well, all right then," she decided. "Let's get started."

"You still need a minute?"

"Really, no. I know what I want to say. Although perhaps I won't say as much now." She smiled at him. "Maybe it's for the best." Weir looked at the camera and an eyebrow rose. "Are we going?"

Aiden actually hadn't stopped recording, but he pretended to set it going again and nodded to her.

Elizabeth smiled nervously into the camera. She straightened up and became serious. "This is a personal message, for Samantha Carter's eyes only." She paused, thinking that whoever got this on Earth would hopefully stop the recording now and go find Sam.

Elizabeth leaned forward with her weight on her forearms, staring at the small lens. "Samantha? Sam? Hi. I got your letter."

What could she say in front of Lt. Ford?

"I want you to know how happy I was," she emphasized 'happy', "to read every word of it. Although I wish you'd found some other way of delivering it - like in person?" She pulled a face and smiled. "But I understand the safety of dropping the bombshell and then getting out of there."

Elizabeth nodded to the operator. He stopped the recording. Except that he didn't. It just looked that way. "You want me to go?"

"No." Elizabeth was thoughtful. "I'm just wondering how much I should say here."

"If it's any help, mam, the others have just opened up – spoken from the heart. It couldn't hurt."

"You know something? You're absolutely right. I was never a coward and I don't suppose I should start now!" She wrinkled her face in a smile. "Carry on." A gulp of steadying air and she was ready to go again.

"Sam? I've gone over every word you wrote me, every sentiment, a hundred times at least." She paused. "Yes, I knew about you and Janet. Who didn't? But I also knew about you and me. I sensed it between us. And I want you to know that it had a lot to do with my decision to move away from Simon. I just knew he didn't figure in my life anymore. Not with you there. I wanted to say something, but I got conflicting signals from you. Now I know why. Because you were scared."

"And please, about you and Janet… I understand. Really. I know that she'll always be there, in your heart. And I wouldn't want her anywhere else. I felt there might be room for both of us, in you. Me and Janet. I wouldn't have minded. Does that surprise you?" A longer pause. "Well it shouldn't, because I love you too." She shot a self-conscious look at Ford, but he wasn't looking at her.

It was Aiden's way of helping. He was desperate to look at her because this was a love message - from Dr. Elizabeth Weir - to a woman! He didn't even know she was 'that way'… and he'd never have guessed - she'd sent a message to Simon, her boyfriend, earlier. But you live and learn.

Elizabeth knew, by looking away, he was giving her the only form of privacy he could. OK she thought. What does it matter what I say from here on in? He knows anyway.

She sat forward a little more and gave a piercing look into the camera. "I want you to know, Sam…If I could have sent myself through the gate, instead of this, I would have. Not to push you. Not to make demands. I'd do it to give us time. To find out." She looked at the table. Her eyes were clouding. "You know what?" She looked back up, at 'Sam'. "If I have a regret, it's that I never kissed you."

Lt. Ford couldn't resist. He turned back to look at his boss, just as a sad smile spread across her face. But, if she knew he was looking, it didn't stop her.

"I could have replayed that memory every day here – our kiss. Earth would have been that little bit closer."

"Oh, and I nearly forgot… you were right - your words have empowered me many times, just like you hoped they would – they've helped me face the challenges and worries of life here. I see you writing them, your face… the way it might have looked." She straightened up - the dreamy look being replaced by determination.

"Recording space is limited - so many others want to speak. I have to go. But I promise you one thing today, Samantha Carter. If there's any way, any way at all that I can ever come home, I'll do it. I'll come back to you. I promise."

She raised a brow and nodded into the camera, underlining her words. "OK, that's a wrap." She eyed Ford. "And I don't think I need tell you that I need your complete confidentiality here?"

"Of course."

She smiled at him and walked to the door, going through.


Halting, Elizabeth peeked back at him; her hand on the door frame. "Yes?"

"I hope it works out for you," he said genuinely. "I don't see how. But I really do."

Her eyes said thanks. Her voice slow to follow until, through a smile, she answered him.

"I hope so too."


The Reaction

Part 3

"Major Carter?"

"Yeah," snapped the Major, striding along the corridor. The fact that Atlantis has contacted the Stargate team had rattled her and she'd had a hard time concentrating on anything since. Right now she was looking forward to five minutes uninterrupted silence in her busy day. A nice cup of tea might do it. And the base was no substitute for fresh air - she might even take herself for a walk outside.

"There's a message for you, Major. On the incoming from Pegasus – Atlantis."

"Oh?" She tried to sound disinterested as her stomach knotted. "Know who it's from?"

"Yes. Dr. Elizabeth Weir. Says it's personal."

Oh God. "Patch it through to my office in 5, would you?"

"Yes mam."

She should have expected Elizabeth might try this - respond to her letter. But it shouldn't have been possible. "Hats off to ingenuity," she mumbled, nervously reaching her office. Her mouth was dry and the tea wouldn't wait. She still had 3 minutes.

Just as the cup was filled, the message was patched through, as requested. She glanced across at the machine. Elizabeth's face was there, a half-formed word on her stilled mouth, her face in frozen animation, waiting for Sam to start the recording.

Sam sat down slowly, almost cat-like in her stealth, holding her cup in both hands. Her eyes never left the large orbs looking back at her. What was it she saw there? Nervousness, awkwardness, anticipation, hope? Whatever it was she had no doubt that Elizabeth was looking right at her, right into her. Sam took a drink, still unwilling to begin the recording. She stared at Elizabeth's face. Without starting it, she could guess at a variety of subjects – possibly work, possibly not. Sam could dream, wonder. But once she'd heard the words… Another mouthful of drink and she found the courage to begin.

"Samantha? Sam? Hi. I got your letter."

"Yeah," replied Sam. "I figured that was what this was about." She grinned.

"… some other way of delivering it - like in person?"

Avoiding the next mouthful of tea, Sam replied, "I explained that," like Elizabeth could hear.

"…had a lot to do with my decision to move away from Simon."

"I thought as much." Then Sam heard the part where Elizabeth said, "You were scared." She stopped the recording and took another mouthful of hot tea. The words sank in like the beverage, deep inside her. "Damned right," she agreed. She stared at the eyes, captured by the pause - large and expressive - and climbed inside them. "Elizabeth, you petrify me," she told them, starting the recording again.

"…might be room for both of us, in you. Me and Janet."

"Wow!" Sam paused the recording again. Putting her drink down, she stared into the large eyes, trying to understand how anyone could be big enough to share someone's feelings with another person, albeit a dead person. Alive enough, inside, though. "Could you do it?" she asked Elizabeth's frozen features.

"Does that surprise you?" Elizabeth asked as the recording started again.

"What do you think?"

"Well it shouldn't, because I love you too."

"Oh, Christ." Once again the recording was stopped as Sam titled her head right back and closed her eyes. She held the pose as her mind shut off. Better not to think. If her eyes were closed she wouldn't see that Elizabeth was backing up her words with eyes that spoke volumes. But she'd seen Elizabeth's eyes before she'd closed her own. "She means it. She really means it," she moaned, grateful she was alone.

But she had to hear more and stared again at the screen. Rubbing a hand over her face, she re-started the recording.

"If I could have sent myself through the gate, instead of this, I would have."

"You come through I'm in the cupboard!" shouted Sam at the screen. "I'm not ready for this."

"Not to make demands."

Sam relaxed a little.

"I'd do it to give us time. To find out."

Again the recording was halted. Sam stared at the sincerity in the beautiful big eyes. They were almost pleading for a chance to find out what could be between them. Truth to tell, so was Sam – beneath her fear, anyway. And she was sure Elizabeth could allay her fears, if she was here. "Yeah, like that's ever going to happen," she snapped. It was probably never going to happen. The trip to Atlantis had been a one way ticket. They'd all known that. "Then why did she go, if she feels like this?" she asked the screen. "Maybe you ran away too," she told Elizabeth's face. "Is that what you did?" There was only one way to find out. She restarted the recording and watched Elizabeth stare at the table in Atlantis, thinking something through. Then her head came back up.

"You know what?"

"What?" Sam asked, interested.

"If I have a regret, it's that I never kissed you."

The recording was snapped off and Sam was across the room heading for the door before she realised what she was doing. The word 'kiss' had brought up a physical reality that she'd been unprepared to look at. Up until now, this thing with Elizabeth had been in her head. Oddly, she hadn't thought of more. Overwhelmed, she marched along the corridor, heading topside, needing that air right now. And it was a good place to run.

And run she did. In the grounds of the base, she broke into a run just as soon as she felt the grass beneath her feet. She tried to outrun her feelings. She tried to outrun her brain, get in front of it, switch it off, leave it behind. But it didn't work. Elizabeth's last words on the recording played over and over and over again, endlessly, until tears starting falling from the pale grey eyes. And then she tried to outrun her tears, faster, faster. But that didn't work either. Finally she stopped running and fell to the ground, hitting it with her fist. "Damn it. Damn it. Damn it," she said over and over again. "I'm sorry, Janet. I'm so sorry," she cried, letting fresh tears overtake her completely. For ages. And then she was exhausted. She sat cross legged and just stared out over the land.

When she thought she'd all-but purged it, the words floated back in, gently, quietly, without threat - "If I have a regret, it's that I never kissed you." She sniffed back her anger at the feelings inside her, because it had been her subconscious regret too. But she felt wrong to have wanted it. For Janet's sake. "Damn it," she said again. "Damn it."

"So… what? You're going to wait for me forever?"

"I wanted to," replied Sam to Janet's memory. "I really did. Before this."

"Baby, you have to go on living."

"With you, Janet. I wanted to do that with you, damn it!"

"As I did, with you. But the fates had other ideas."

"Screw the fates !" Sam yelled, putting her hands over her ears, like Janet's voice was coming from outside of them. "Damn them all to hell. This should never have happened. I was with you – for my whole life, I was with you. It should have been us - forever." She rocked her body back and forth slightly, still gripping her head. "Why wasn't it forever?"

"What's the point in asking why? This is how it is. You have to deal with it, Sam. And from where I'm looking, you're not dealing with it at all."

Sam looked up. "What am I supposed to do?" she yelled angrily. "Forget you?"

"No, of course not. But you've learned to live without me, Sam. You've managed that much. You think I expect you to live alone for the rest of your days? Would I love you if I asked that of you?"

Sam calmed herself, took her hand away from her ears and folded her arms tightly across her chest, gazing around the area in silence. "No, I suppose not," she answered. "But I…"

"What – you need my permission? Is that what this is about? Is it?"

"No!" Sam was bursting with hurt. "I don't need your damned permission!" But she did. It took her a minute to admit it. "Is it all right, Janet?" she asked quietly. "I mean, is it really all right? I feel so bad, feeling this way about her – about Elizabeth."

"Hey, girl," Janet's memory teased. "If she's willing to make it a threesome, I don't see your problem."


"Sam. Go for it. How stubborn do you have to get? You want me to tell you it's all right? Then I'll tell you. It's all right."

"But Janet…"

"No buts. I need you to be happy. Hear me, Sam. I need you to be happy."

And then the 'voice' was gone - surprisingly, so were the doubts. And so were the fears. And so was the need to run away from Elizabeth Weir. In fact she wanted to run towards her, until the next problem hit Sam. Elizabeth was in the Pegasus galaxy, very likely would die there, and there was no way they could ever… even if they wanted to. Then Sam remembered the recording. She got up. She took the face of Janet, still in her mind, and made it small enough to fit inside her heart, where she placed it lovingly. "Forever," she promised her as she went to find the woman of her present.

She got back to her office and restarted the recording, looking at Elizabeth with fresh eyes now. She wanted her, and it was all right to want her. Janet said so. She grinned at her thoughts and listened.

"…replayed that memory every day here – our kiss. Earth would have been that little bit closer."

Not long started, the recording was stopped again, Elizabeth's face frozen, bearing a look of loving and longing that melted Sam completely. She stretched out her fingers to the screen and touched Elizabeth's mouth. Then she put the same fingers to her own lips and kissed them, returning them to the screen. Then she sat back as she listened to Elizabeth telling her how her words had helped in Atlantis, how they'd given her strength to get through her days. She smiled at that. Then all too soon it was wrapping up.

"…I have to go."

"Don't do that," Sam objected. She sat closer.

"But I promise you one thing today, Samantha Carter."

"What is it, Beth?" Sam asked, briefly surprised that the new name had fallen so easily from her lips.

"If there's any way, any way at all that I can ever come home, I'll do it. I'll come back to you. I promise."

Elizabeth's eyes were so piercing, they shot right through Sam, who found her tears again. "I'll hold you to it," she answered and then smiled because her 'Beth' had just raised an eyebrow and nodded, as if she'd heard her. Then Elizabeth's head turned away before the screen changed and another member of the Atlantis team was sat there instead.

Three times more, Sam played the recording, without stopping it, before she had to get back to work. But later that night, before leaving the base, she downloaded several pictures from the recording, approving of Elizabeth's new, curlier hairstyle. She chose a look of determination, a look of hope, a look of sadness and three looks of pure love.

Her favourite picture of Beth would go in a frame.

Right next to the one of Janet.

The End

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