DISCLAIMER: We all know I don't own 'em; since I'm not MGM, Showtime, Gekko, Double Secret, or anyone else involved. I'm borrowing them for my own demented entertainment and will put them away when I'm done playing. I do this for love, not money... any aforementioned owners should feel free to borrow at will.
SONG REF.: The song "Drive" is by Incubus (don't own them either… consider this a free plug for your CD… yeah, that's it…) Brief song quote (since it provided inspiration for the story…):
"Sometimes, I feel the sense of uncertainty stinging clear. And I can't help but ask myself how much I'll let the fear take the wheel and steer. It's driven me before, and it seems to have a vague, haunting mass appeal. But lately I am beginning to find that I should be the one behind the wheel. Whatever tomorrow brings, I'll be there with open arms and open eyes."
AUTHOR'S NOTE: This piece is very very very rough… it was written quickly with little revision. Critical comments welcome (no flames please)… because I know it needs work. Nice comments are also welcome. Thanks go to Barb for being encouraging.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

By ocean gazer



Sam Carter stopped dead in her tracks in the kitchen doorway as she heard the word fly from Janet Fraiser's mouth. A knife fell from the brunette's hand to clatter against the floor and Sam could see the swell of blood bubble up from the cut flesh.

She hurried into the kitchen, going straight to Janet's side as she moved to the sink. The doctor held her hand under cold running water and cursed under her breath. Sam stared at her lover for a long minute, noticing the way she refused to look at her, not acknowledging her presence even though they were standing close enough to touch.

Carter turned over several phrases in her mind, finally settling on, "What can I do to help?" It wasn't nearly as eloquent as she would have liked, but it scored points for being fairly non-pushy and non-threatening. Janet had been on edge and withdrawn for the past couple of days, and the last thing Sam wanted to do under the circumstances was aggravate her.

Janet didn't respond in words, but she did look up, haltingly. Pain sparkled in the brown eyes that had nothing to do with the cut on her hand. Sam met the gaze steadily, trying to project reassurance as hard as she could.

To say that the past few days had been difficult would have been a bit of an understatement. Janet had been amazingly quiet and moody, dismissing Sam's concerns and questions with a small shrug of the shoulders and a brief, "I need some space; I'll be fine."

And Carter, who could argue a point with and press for information from intimidating superior officers without thinking twice, found herself at a loss. She couldn't bring herself to push Janet—afraid of sending her lover into even more of a shell.

Sam freely admitted to herself that the emotional realm was in no way her specialty. She and Janet had danced around their growing attraction for months—until the doctor finally broached the subject. Carter had wanted to, but barely knew how, and found herself scared of the implications inherent in even asking about an attraction beyond friendship.

In the month or so that they had been lovers, Sam frequently felt like a fish out of water, discovering emotions that usually lay dormant and depths of passion previously unsuspected. She relied heavily on Janet's strength and patience to help her navigate the landscape. And now that she wanted nothing more than to be there in the same way for Janet—she found herself even more out of her depth, not sure what to do.

She let her fingers settle in a light hold on the underside of Janet's wounded hand, turning it to see the bloody cut. Sam looked at her lover—the woman stood stiff, her features set in an unreadable mask.

"Let me help you bandage this," Carter offered quietly, grateful when she received a curt nod in response.

She grabbed a handful of paper towels and pressed them over the wound, and led Janet out of the kitchen and into the bathroom. She wanted to say something—anything—to comfort the woman, not because of the physical injury but because of whatever was going on in her mind. But she couldn't find words, this time not just from uncertainty, but from fear—the fear that her bumbling attempts to help would drive her lover further away, fear that she would make things worse because she didn't know what was wrong.

She settled Janet on the edge of the bathtub, noting almost absently that the brunette was pliant as a paper doll. The woman watched as Sam dug out the first aid supplies, a fact Carter noticed by surreptitious glances in the mirror, but the unreadable mask remained in place.

Had the circumstances been different, Sam would have taken a perverse delight in the irony of the patient treating the doctor. As things stood, not even a faint trace of amusement existed in the back of Carter's mind.

She examined the cut, seeing that it didn't seem deep enough for stitches, though it was long and looked painful. With a short apology, she swabbed the wound with antiseptic; Janet winced, but didn't even offer an acerbic comment, or mutter curses under her breath.

Sam shot a worried glance at the other woman. The thought popped up unexpectedly that she ought to be angry or hurt over being completely shut out by the woman she loved, but she couldn't find it in her heart to feel that way. All she could feel was overwhelming concern and a desire to do anything she could to make things easier, to somehow find a magic cure for all Janet's ills, even if she didn't know what they were.

She knew Janet wasn't trying to hurt her by keeping herself closed off, and she understood all too well about walls and barriers: the doctor had crashed through every single one Sam ever had.

She knelt in front of the wounded woman, taking her time as she carefully cut a neat section off a roll of gauze, and then tore even strips off a roll of adhesive tape. She glanced up briefly to find Janet watching her with a flicker of interest in her eyes.

A surge of relief—so strong that it nearly caused her to topple over backwards—rushed through Sam; finally Janet seemed to be focused on something other than her own inner turmoil. She dressed the wound with efficient hands, sparing another glance to notice how Fraiser's gaze turned appraising as she continued to watch the bandaging.

Sam pressed the final bit of adhesive tape onto the smooth skin of Janet's hand, looking up in time to see a tiny smile crease the edge of the doctor's mouth. Sam felt her own lips quirk in a matching grin, knowing she had applied the textbook version of one of the many field dressings Fraiser had taught the various SG teams.

Neither woman moved, and then Janet locked gazes with Sam for a long moment before leaning forward to lay her head on Carter's shoulder. She scooted closer to where the brunette sat on the tub edge and wrapped her arms around the smaller woman in a protective embrace.

She felt Janet lean harder against her and heard a muffled sigh. Not sure whether she should intrude or not, Sam whispered as gently as she could, "Are you going to be ok?"

When Janet offered no immediate response, Sam berated herself for asking in the first place. She was still learning about the woman in her arms—still learning her responses and her needs, both in and out of the bedroom.

They'd worked together for a long time as friends before making the leap to lovers, but as they grew more intimate and dropped more of their facades, some of the ways they'd learned to relate to each other were not quite adequate. And Sam knew all too well that she did not always know when to do what, not because she was stupid or uncaring, but simply because she was still learning.

Janet's voice, quiet and slow, broke into Sam's thoughts. "I think I'll be okay."

Sam pulled away from her lover just enough to place a finger under her chin and coax her head up so that their gazes met. She let her hand cup Janet's cheek while her fingers stroked lightly and soothingly.

Still whispering gently, Sam offered, "I want to help if I can." She paused for an entire heartbeat and then said, "If the problem is me, or something I've done, and you…" She broke off to swallow hard against the sudden, aching lump in her throat before continuing slowly and carefully, "If you need me to leave for a while, you know, to give you some time and space… well… I… I just want to do what I can to help you… even if…" Tears welled in her eyes, as she hoped fervently that she was not the cause of her lover's distress.

At that broken sentence, Janet sat bolt upright, as if she'd been struck by lightening. The doctor's arms wrapped around Sam in such a tight hug that she thought vaguely that her ribs would end up bruised.

"God no!" Janet yelped, clinging hard to Sam. "That's the last thing I want. God, I'm such a selfish idiot; I should have known you would think this is somehow your fault."

She broke off, and Sam could feel her body shake with sudden sobs. She held Janet close and simply let her cry, not saying anything other than "just let go", petting her hair soothingly and rubbing her back lightly. Feeling her lover wracked with sobs never had been a big dream of Carter's, but she felt an intense sense of love and awe at being able to share in such a profound and personal moment.

After a long while, she heard Janet sigh deeply as the sobs tapered off. Sam tugged lightly and maneuvered Janet from her spot on the tub edge to a spot on the floor. She leaned back against the tub with Janet settled sideways between her legs and her head resting against Carter's shoulder. She wrapped her arms snugly around the smaller woman, and pressed a kiss to the top of her head.

Janet reached up and stroked a gentle path along the lines of Carter's throat. "Thanks, Sam," she said quietly.

Sam sighed deeply, feeling like something important had just happened, even if she had no idea what it was. She pressed another kiss to the top of Janet's head and said seriously, "I just want you to be okay."

The brunette mirrored her sigh. "I think I will be… now. You have no idea how much it helped to just cry and be held and let myself really get some things out of my system." She paused and Carter scarcely dared breathe, not wanting to break the mood.

Janet continued, her voice pensive and thoughtful. "It's just that I've been so scared recently by how intense my feelings for you are… and so uncertain about what the future holds. I didn't know how to tell you that, and I'm sorry I made you feel like you'd done something wrong. I feel bad for backing away from you the past few days, but I just needed some space to try and get a handle on my emotions." She added a dry disclaimer, "Obviously I managed that part really well."

Sam hugged the woman closer to her. "It's okay," she soothed. "It wasn't easy because I was worried about you, worried because I didn't know what was going on. And I didn't know how to ask… or even whether I should ask. But it's okay… I understand." And then, as if the first part of the sentence finally penetrated Carter's brain, she added, incredulity filling her voice, "You were scared?"

The doctor offered an emphatic nod. "Still am, truthfully. Don't get me wrong… I'm not planning on backing away from this relationship. You're the best thing to happen to me in a very long time. It's just that there are so many things that make our future… difficult… and when I dwell on them too long, I get scared."

Carter felt her heart break at the emotion underlying the words. She had relied so much on Janet's strength that it had not even occurred to her that her lover might be just as confused as she was. She murmured against the woman's hair, "I think I owe you an apology for being a selfish idiot. I've been totally blind to the fact that you were scared too."

Janet stretched up to kiss the underside of Sam's jaw. "Ok, so we're both selfish idiots," she commented dryly, "at least we're in good company."

Sam felt a laugh bubble up in her chest and she hugged her lover tighter. Thoughts raced through her head, and she fought to sort them into something coherent. "I wish I could tell you everything will be just fine with not a care in the world, but I can't. There're our careers, there's Cassie… there are all sorts of complications. All I can tell you is that I love you and that I'm here for you and with you, and that I don't plan on going anywhere."

She heard another sigh from the brunette. "Funny," Janet said thoughtfully, "I was going to tell you the exact same thing. I'm uncertain, and yes, I'm scared, but I love you and I want to be here with you."

Carter tilted the woman's head up to lock gazes for a moment. "I really think we can be okay if we just hold on to each other… and talk to each other… and trust in each other." She pressed a tiny, soft kiss onto her lover's lips before releasing her hold on Janet's chin.

The doctor snuggled her head onto Sam's shoulder again. "I do love you, you know."

Sam felt a sudden increase in her heart rate at the simple sentence. "I love you too," she breathed. "Let's just try to be here together today and let tomorrow worry about itself. And whatever happens, we face it together. I know it's not that simple, and I know it won't always be easy…"

Janet picked up where Sam left off. "But we'll do what we can to be there for each other."

Carter chuckled briefly. "You stole my lines," she complained without the slightest hint of rancor.

"Well," Janet began, letting her wounded hand steal up to caress Sam's face, "that seems pretty minor, considering that you stole my heart."

Letting the conversation lie fallow for a moment, Carter ducked her head down to share a long, sweet kiss with her lover. She still had no magic answers, and still had no idea what the future held, but she knew that it felt good and right to be with Janet in the present.

For now, that was magic enough.

The End

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