DISCLAIMER: Stargate and characters are the property of MGM, Gekko, etc. No infringement of copyright intended.
NOTES: This story is not quite as happy, or as perfect, as my Christmas fics. The other night, Granger said something to me about Sam/Janet fiction being *too* perfect. For some reason this idea came to my mind and I had to write it. It was supposed to be a drabble but once again my words ran away with me.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

Demons Away
By Debbie

It's New Year's Day and for the first time in ages I'm perfectly sober and so is my best friend Samantha Carter. This year, the team of SG1 has agreed to go their separate ways, on the understanding that next week we are having a 10th of January party to welcome the New Year. Cassandra has taken the opportunity to spend the night with Dominic's family, Jack has taken the opportunity to go ice fishing, Teal'c has gone home to Chulak, and Daniel is visiting Ernest and Catherine. Which leaves me and Sam lots of time to have a quiet get-together.

The major is now in my garage tinkering with her Harley. Which allows me time to think, something I'm not entirely happy about. I'm known as the energizer bunny, always on the go, never stopping to relax, and that's because I work to forget. So, standing here looking out of my window, coffee in hand, listening to the sound of Sam at work, I'm too still. I unfortunately have time to remember. I'm reminded of New Year's Day not all that long ago, although I suppose it's now the whole of ten years past. That year I was still with Tony, my ex-husband. Like Sam, he was often to be found doing exactly the same thing on his days off, tinkering with his, our, Harley.

Thoughts of Tony lead to thoughts of heartache, and thoughts of…. No, I'm not going there, the hurt is still, amazingly, too raw. Now, when I'm finally beginning to think that something good is happening to me, thoughts helped by the tall blond in my garage, these bad thoughts are re-surfacing. I wish Sam would come inside so we could sit and watch something totally absorbing on the TV. Infuriatingly, I feel a tear begin to slide down my cheek. Before I know it I'm sobbing. Why now? Why now am I so upset?

Suddenly, I feel strong arms gather me in. A gentle voice inquires, "Janet, Janet, what is it? Come and sit down. Please, tell me what's wrong."

I'm guided to the couch and sitting down, I melt into Sam. It's so good to be held once again, to smell the faintest hint of oil and gasoline mixed together, to feel the soft denim of Sam's normal clothing, to just feel safe. I can't speak at first, as the sobs continue to rack my body, but gradually, the soft petting of my bangs, and the sweet nothings being murmured in my ear, begin to ground me and I'm able to say in halting words, "Sorry Sam, I didn't mean for you to see me like this. It's just this is the first New Year I've been on my own for years, and it, just…"

My words falter, I'm really not sure I've the strength to tell Sam my story, for lots of reasons, the main one being, my dear friend is true military through and through, and I'm not sure she would understand.

Then I hear, "Hey, Janet! It's me, Sam. You're not on your own. I'm here. You can tell me anything, you know. I won't run, I promise."

Sam's gentle words of encouragement are my undoing. As a medic, I know that unburdening the soul every once in awhile is cathartic, and Sam is my friend, of that I'm sure. The words begin to tumble out.

"Oh, Sam, it's this time of year when I always think of Tony. We called our relationship off on New Year's Day ten years ago," I begin, only for Sam to interrupt immediately.

"Tony? Is that your ex-husband?" seeing my nod she automatically reacts as I knew she would, "He's still hurting you, that son-of-a…"

I stay her words with a gentle hand; I really can't let things meander along as I've done. It's time my best friend knew the truth, "Stop, Sam, please. Tony was, is, a good man. I loved him dearly. Still do, if the truth is known. It's just. . . things changed."

I can see Sam is shocked. It seems, to my shame, I've played the bad husband card too well. If only the second part of my story was easier to tell, the pretense of a bad husband wouldn't have been necessary. I've started now, so I guess I'll continue. "I didn't stop loving Tony, Sam, I just fell in love with someone else. My new love was everything I'd been searching for, and Tony began to take the brunt of my indecision. That New Year's Day I admitted all to him. He was heartbroken, Sam, and begged me to stay. But to stay would have denied me all that I wanted, so it was me that left. I joined my lover and we moved away immediately. Leaving Tony remains one of the hardest things I've ever done."

Sam looks at me with some degree of confusion and I know what question is coming next. The question I'm dreading answering. Sure enough, the question comes out in a mumble, "Janet? If you left someone you love for another, where is that other now? I know you Janet; he must have been something special to do what you did. Where is he, Janet, where?"

"Let me finish my story Sam, please. This next part is the hardest for me to tell you. So, just let me talk, huh? Maybe hold me a little, but no talk, please," I plead.

Seeing her answering nod and feeling her grasp my hand tighter, I begin. Haltingly at first, but with much more conviction as I realize I've nothing to be ashamed of, and that I might gain the solace I so desperately need from Sam's acceptance. "That's just it, Sam, there is no *he*. I fell in love with a woman; Alice. She was one of my nurses and oh so beautiful. It was as if we were meant to be together; it was just so right. Sometimes, like today, I love her so much that it hurts."

Looking quickly at Sam I don't see any disgust, just lots of questions. "So, 'where is she?' I can hear you asking again. Well, here's the bummer of it all. Alice and I had six blissful months together before she was posted. Then tragedy struck. My dear, sweet, Alice was killed on so-called active duty. Do you remember September 1994 and the deployment of a U.S. led Multinational Force into Haiti? No, not many folks do. Well, my lover never got there. She was killed on the journey. 'An unfortunate accident during military practice' was what her parents were told. Me? Of course, I was told nothing. I'd no support whatsoever. How could I have, Sam? Things were even worse then than they are now in regard to same-sex relationships. I was heartbroken, but who could I turn to. Not to Tony. I'd hurt him too much. I just threw myself into work and eventually landed up here at Stargate Command."

I risk another look at Sam. She has tears in her eyes, too, and that opens my floodgates once again. She pulls me to her and we both sob uncontrollably for what seems like hours. Eventually, Sam quiets and I hear her ask another question. "Why did you never say anything, Jan? All these years you have held this in. All these years you have listened to me getting maudlin about my mom, and you, you have lost someone just as precious. Why did you never tell me the truth? Oh Janet!" Wiping the tears from my cheeks, she holds my face so gently between her long fingers. "Tell me, Jan."

"Because for once in these long years I've found a substitute family to care about. At Stargate Command, I finally found a group of people I could have fun with, I could miss, I could worry about, and yes, I could love. Then, when you gave Cassandra to me, I was saved. I finally had what many "real" moms call 'the love of my life', I had a daughter that needed me to be strong and, yes, happy. And I am, Sam. Once again, I am happy." With that admission I finally manage a smile.

Sam looks amazed. "This team has been your salvation. Oh Janet, you poor thing." She grins in the way only she can, and I have to laugh. Caressing my cheek, she murmurs, "That's better, much, much better. You're beautiful when you laugh."

I look at her face and am surprised to hear myself continue. Now that they've started, my words just won't stop. "Do you know something, Samantha Carter? It's my friendship with you that has made me beautiful again. Your friendship has been my true salvation. I have never had a friend as dear as you in all my years. Sharing Cassandra with you is the thing that has kept me sane for the last seven years, and if that is too mushy for big, strong Major Carter, I don't care. I love you, Sam, and can't think of anybody I would rather have here with me right now."

For some reason, the Cheshire grin that appeared on Sam's face as I started that spiel suddenly drops from her face. She whispers, "Not even Alice?"

The question shocks me. I wonder why she is worried that I might need Alice to be with me more than her, but fail to consider my words too carefully. For some reason, right now, it's important to me that Sam knows I need her more than anything. "Alice was different, Sam. She was my lover; I was in love with her. You are my best friend and I love you no matter what. There is a difference. At this point in time, you are the only person I want to share my life with."

Suddenly, I wonder if I've said too much. I know I'm beginning to have feelings for this wonderful woman but I'm not in love with her. At least, not yet. I know Sam cares for me too, but I've no idea if she would even consider that sort of relationship with me. So, I wait to see how she reacts to my spontaneous declaration.

My answer, it seems, pleases Sam because once again her easy smile returns, and she laughs out loud. "In that case, my friend, stop your maudlin and get your ass out in this garage with me. I need somebody to pass me my monkey wrench, and you, dear doctor, are the perfect candidate. You must have some skills from your turn in the O.R."

Swatting her backside, I too laugh. Following her out into the garage I marvel at how well she has taken my admission. I know I will probably have to explain more at another time, and that we might have to talk about us, but for now I'm happy in the knowledge that 2004 is starting on a happy note. I get the impression that my friendship with Sam has become the most important thing in both our lives, and that can only be a good thing, right?

The End

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