Exiles Gate
By Elizabeth Carter

Chapter Four

These Our Memories

Janet pulled the blanket up over the tiny life of her youngest daughter. No matter how often she looked at the little girl, her breath was taken. There were times the girl so clearly reminded Janet of her wife, especially when confronted with a puzzle or her leaning games. Like Sam, Rebecca locked her entire concentration upon the enigma. She had far out grown the six piece cardboard puzzles deemed appropriate for her age group and was now putting together those of fifty pieces.

There were comments too, 'I can't come mom, my hands are busy'… of course like Cassandra before her, Rebecca had quickly picked up the apparent Carter favored exclamation… 'Holy Hanna.' There were looks that so oft reminded the small woman of her beloved. The way Rebecca narrowed her eyes when she questions something she was told. 'Mom?' It was almost the same as Sam's 'Sir?' So much said in a single word. Her eyes too were like Sam's blue orbs. Her beloved said so much with her eyes... it was like they had a voice of their own. They said things, when she spoke and they spoke volumes when Sam was silent. Rebecca was the same.

Leaving the bedroom, the ageless doctor padded down the stairs to the kitchen to put on the teapot, wanting something warm to relax with. She reached for the ceramic container in the cupboard and smiled warmly as she discovered one of Sam's little notes within. The envelope like the paper was of fine cotton linen that would have been extremely expensive. Her neat concise hand had scripted the words in purple ink, Janet's favored colors, next to Sam eyes blue.

'You are too precious to let go of, I will follow you to the ends of the earth, fight battles for you, conquer all your fears, just so that I can have you in my arms every day of my life. You have possessed my soul and body like no other I am yours for eternity.

I want to lay you down in a soft bed and touch you. I want to feel your bare skin beneath my hands. I want to caress your hair and face, slide my fingertips across your lips and let you taste the salt from my body. I want to stroke your neck and shoulders and arms. I want to feel your hand in mine, strong and willing. I want to touch your breasts.

I want to cup your breasts in my hands and look at them and want them. Massage them, moving my fingers closer and closer to your nipples. Finally brushing your nipples just once, then twice with my fingertips to fondle, rubbing them, pulling them until they are soooo hard. And then moving my hands down your stomach feeling how slim you are down your hips and around to your bottom taking the supple orbs in my hands and squeezing as I pull you to me. Stroking your thighs, first the outsides, then the tops, then gently spreading your legs apart and stroking inside.

Letting my hands excite you and tease you at the same time. Moving ever closer to your mound. And then running my fingers across your hair then back again until they find the opening they are looking for. Probing until I feel your wetness, and then stroking upward till I find your rosebud stroking you to move your hips under me to want so much more. Then keeping my fingers on your nub sliding my palm onto your heated spot and moving both at the same time.

And everywhere I have touched, I want to taste.

I want to taste your eyes, your lips, your mouth. I want to slide my tongue in your mouth and give you hints of what is to come. Kiss you with passion and longing. I want to brush my lips across your neck as I let my tongue slide in and out. Do the same to your shoulders and arms. Kiss your hands and take each finger in my mouth to suck and lick. Lay my head against your chest and feel your heart beating. Then move my mouth toward your breast licking as I go. Until I find your nipple, your hard nipple, that feels so good against my tongue as I move it round and round. Finally taking your nipple in my mouth and sucking.

There's more I want to do to you.

My mouth moves to your stomach kissing and licking and moving slowly down to your thighs. Kissing and stroking your thighs with my tongue and spreading your legs to lick the insides of your thighs and moving closer to where you want me to be. Finally kissing your hair. Finding the slit and probing with my tongue. Sticking it in and moving it up and down. Looking for your rosebud. Then sliding my tongue upwards, in and round in circles, flickering … teasing…and finally spreading you with my hands so that I can give you all of my mouth. I want to give it to you. Flicking your nub with my tongue, then sucking it, then rubbing my tongue round and round and then up and down. Letting your movements tell me which you like best. Putting my hand upon your heated flame while I am suckling. Making you want to cum so badly. Oh, Gods, you want to cum. And my mouth feels so good. Not stopping my hand rubbing against the flame spot below your belly button. Not stopping. Until your body convulses, and you cum in my mouth, and I drink your juices.

Welcome home my baby-girl

I love you

"If I smoked I'd have to light one up. Oh god Sam…you never cease to amaze me." Lifting the note to her nose, Janet imagined the long fingered hand that wrote such such words caressing her lips and her body as the letter suggested. "I love you too, my tall amazon."

The auburn haired doctor's attention was snapped away by the screaming whistle of the teakettle. Taking the pot off the burner she poured the steaming water into her cup and ducked the paper bag of Earl Gray, then added a dollop of honey. Stirring it she moved to the liquor cabinet to add a touch of rum. Breathing in the warm steam, Janet wandered into the living room.

A small contended sigh passed her lips as she thought of her lover, who would be returning in a few days. She with SG3 and the wing of Malakim warriors had gone to a fairly remote planet within the winged beings small empire to setup an outpost against the Goa'uld. SG1 was needed because the Malakim would allow no other then Colonel Sam Carter to touch soil of the planet first. The leader of SG3 had to relinquish his command to the more experienced commander. The strategic value of the planet was immeasurable for either side. For it was a neutral planet between the Asgard realm and the Goa'uld Empire and Tok'ra Rebellion.

The Malakim featured in many legends but it was said there were only legend despite so many cultures had winged guardians. The Virtues as they were sometimes called, were the galaxies wet-works…a black-ops team for those they deemed virtuous and honorable. They were so fiercely devoted to their duty not to suffer evil to live that when they had discovered that the humans fought against the Goa'uld they had willingly created an alliance. Once again this was due to Sam's intervention in saving their liege's life.

The Malakim would never surrender in a fight, nor allow themselves to be captured by the armies of the System Lords. Surrendering to them would be to dishonor the virtues. Death is preferable. They recognized a similar spirit in the ageless tall blonde. Because of this and their respect to Sam, they had pledged an allegiance to her and her cause to protect others against the Goa'uld hoard.

Janet thought of Sam's influence over the winged warriors was fairly remarkable considering to other humans there were rather arrogant and removed. Because SG1's ties to Sam, they had held her teammates in the same high regard as they would a fellow Malakim. It was almost ironic in a way that the doctor recalled that twelve years ago, Cassie's first movie she saw was Warriors of Virtue and now she was one, along with her beloved wife.

Wandering thru the living room, Janet passed by photos upon the mantel a few Sam had taken herself. With black and white film, she took several of Janet when they were first together, one of which Janet was wearing her long black leather trench coat, her hands in the pockets, it was almost a candid shot. Sam had called sweetly to her, as she was walking along the path in park near the house, Janet had looked up smiled seeing her beloved then snap the photo was shot.

There was another of Samantha when her hair was actually longer, well as long as she allowed it to grow it touched the back of her shirt collar and she had a lopsided grin upon her face, as if she was trying so very hard not to laugh. There was another of the two of them together, Sam stood behind Janet, her arms wrapped around the smaller woman, she was leaning down to kiss her as Janet had her neck craned behind to receive the kiss. Cassie had taken the photo upon an anniversary. It was as if the entire world had fell away leaving only the two and their devotion.

Janet traced a long delicate fingered hand across the photo thinking of her beloved's devotion to her. So much love it was unfathomable to Janet, for never had she been so utterly loved. The doctor could not help but smile as she thought of Sam's reaction when she was pregnant she was so protective, and almost overly caring.

Janet had felt like a bloated water buffalo for a month now. She was more tired then she normally was, found herself in the bathroom more often then not, and had the strangest diet. She ate what, Sam dubbed a peanut butter jellyfish sandwich, made out of peanut butter and tuna fish. Sam had turned green every time she made one for Janet, proclaiming loudly she would not kiss her until she brushed her teeth.

Sitting at her desk catching up on some paperwork that being the CMO required her attention, Janet barely noted the intrusion coming from the door. She didn't have to look up to know who it was.

Since their return from Chimera, Janet shared an empathic bond with Sam, how or why she couldn't in all her medical knowledge explain. But she had a distinct feeling that the Nox lad Nafrayu had very much something to do with it. Both women were learning the parameters of their connection and just what they could do with it. So far they were able to know exactly what the other was feeling, whatever emotion it was as if they were one. The bonding of their hearts allowed them to know where the other was. Even when Sam was off world their empathic bond at least allowed the other to know she was alive. Not wanting to explain away the wonder of it the two women resolved to know that their connection simply was, almost afraid that if they did explain it, it would go away.

Janet had other ideas what the bond allowed them to do. And she was about to put the theory to test. Last night She had taken a hot pan from the stove, as the water was boiling over, not thinking to grab a hot pad holder, the handle should have at least given her a 1st degree burn but there was no marring. Yet in the other room, she heard Sam hiss in pain, yet the blonde said nothing. Nor did she explain why she was putting aloe on her left hand.

Every morning they were together, periodically during the working day if Sam was in her lab and every night, the tall blonde would give Janet not only a backrub but also massage her ankles for hours until she felt like she was melted butter. Sam was so intent on trying to make Janet feel comfortable, that the diminutive woman had not the heart to tell her beloved wife that neither her back nor her ankles ached.

The only time that either her back or her ankles and calves hurt was when Sam was off world, and Janet began to hypothesize a theory. "Hey Baby-girl." Sam wondered over to the desk planting a soft kiss upon Janet's satin lips.

"Finally decided to pry yourself away from your lab?" Janet teased, her hands busying themselves with staking the folders splayed across her desk.

"Oh I had a few moments to spare."

"Then I should feel privileged, to be graced by your presence."

"You should." The blonde flashed a big toothy grin. The smile turned instantly to a frown as she looked down to her thumb. A think ribbon of red welled across the length of it. Instinctively she drew her thumb to her mouth nipping the blood. Pretending nothing happened she shoved her hand into her pocket of her olive colored jumpsuit.



"You have a cut on you're hand."

"Its nothing, love, just a scratch."

"But you didn't do anything to cause it."

Sam shrugged.

"Let me see, Sam."

Reluctantly the tall blonde ceded and pulled her hand away from her pocket and turned her palm upward allowing for Janet to inspect it. It was nothing more then a paper cut by the end of the day it would have a scab, the next day it would be nothing at all.

Janet tactically held onto her beloved's hand, kissing the miniscule wound. "How did this happen?"

Sam shrugged.

"You're lying."

"I didn't say anything."

"Sam…sweety you didn't cut your hand on paper, I did."

The blonde looked down to her hand cradle in her beloved's own.

"Sam…you've been using the link to take away my symptoms away from me haven't you?"

Sam shrugged, losing herself in the depths of chocolate pools. "I…want to help…to be there for you Janet. If I can take away some of your pain sweety, then I want to."

"Sam…" Janet reached up and touched the softness of her beloved's chin. "Your heart is in the right place, and I love you for it. The pain you feel in your back, your ankles your calves, the burn, the cut, the headaches, hell even my allergies, they aren't your pains and ills they are mine. I can't treat myself if I don't know what is wrong…and I can't treat you because nothing is wrong with you."

"But the pains of the pregnancy you shouldn't have to suffer them alone if I can do something about it." She protested quietly. "I told you I was going to be there for you, share it with you…I want to be everything I can for you."

"Sam you are." Janet pulled her beloved into a warm loving kiss. "You are the most caring soul, I ever had the privilege to know. Beneath all the bravado, the BDUs, the Blues, under all that knowledge that is sometimes above my ken, lays a heart of golden tenderness. No one has ever loved me as you, cared for me as you, do. You have to be the most wonderful soul on the planet."

Sam's face flushed immediately. Suddenly embarrassed by the profound love issued to her by her wife. "That's silly." She uttered trying to make herself less unsettled. "Have you met everyone on the planet?" There were times Sam's humor caused a super-nova of joy within Janet; it was as if she could brighten the direst of situations, or cloudy day or smooth an awkward moment.

Sitting down on the couch nearest the fireplace, the dark brown orbs fell upon the first picture taken of the four of the Carter-Fraiser family. Rebecca had come unexpectedly early, as she came unexpectant within the womb.

Sam had come back from a mission a bit beat up with bruised ribs...as her doctor Janet had told her a few days down time would be necessary if she wanted to heal properly. General O'Neill had agreed with the recommendation. So with a few days off, and Janet on light duty considering her pregnancy, they had time to relax.

Janet ran her hand over the photo locked away behind glass. Sam was holding her tightly even as Janet was cuddling Rebecca, Cassie nestled with them, smiling widely at the miracle of the new family.

They had gone to the Garden of the Gods; on Sam's instance that she would be okay… her ribs wouldn't suffer. Janet remembered the dubious thoughts of her medical mind racing knowing better, the strain on Sam was more than what was allowable. But solemnly her lover had promised no rock climbing, just picnicking, and site seeing, photo taking nothing more, they'd be alright.

Yeah right.

Sam's enthusiasm to wonder off trying to find the perfect rock formations in the right lighting to take photos had been far too tempting. She had left her beloved wife and daughter near the outcropping that twelve years ago had been the site of their first date. She had lost all concept of time, and had wondered further away from the camp, not realizing she had hiked seven miles from her family.

Janet clutched the photo to her remembering the moment Rebecca decided to make her premature presence known in that dire moment everything had changed.

Sam been running for what felt like hours; it had been a long time in fact; through the rocky tunnels, under ancient trees. Along the muddy banks that changed gradually to gravel and then to slick granite. She paused there for breath; one hand clinging to a crack between slabs of stone formations, feet slipping on the bank of a stream. She hurt, and she was tiring, it was beginning to be an effort to breath. But she couldn't give up. She crossed the stream and entered a low-ceilinged cavern, a shortcut full of crumbling dirt and fallen stone, came out in an abandoned granite tunnel, miles from any other. She descended more natural stairs...what felt like hundreds of them...and found herself facing a tunnel on the verge of collapse.

She looked at the overhead outcrop of god-made flying buttresses, measuringly, then shook her head and plunged on. She must get to her beloved; nothing must stand in the way of that. Dangerous as it was, it would hold together long enough for her to pass. There was mud all down her side; her boots squelched from the last minutes in the tunnel, where the water had risen to her knees. The walls were slimy with black mud, broken and bits of rock lay scattered everywhere.

In to the haze she crashed through thick underbrush, low scrapping trees limbs. Janet was in terrible danger; Sam dare not let herself think how dangerous her position. She drew in a deep breath, and then salmon leaped across a narrow ravine. Her boot scraped on granite; a ledge she felt rather than seen. Below her, surrounded by tall oak and fir trees castles. She was so far away though.

She had to reach Janet. It seemed as if the very elements stood with her. She skirted tall rock, leaped down to the next level, down again, coming out finally on the ground that sloped down to the bastion of stone. It was rock-strewn here, footing treacherous and she was exhausted beyond bearing. She drew a ragged, pained breath and began to run.

Cassandra was literally struck dumb at the moment, when Sam came charging into the cavern without mind to her injury, her brow beaded with sweat, her side laboring with each breath she took. Cassie unable to form another word, held speechless with amazement, disbelief, unexpected relief, reassurance, and not a little incidence of cold-sweat . . . fear. She didn't know how Sam could have known Janet had gone into labor. Their cell phone battery had died and she couldn't radio for help. Sam was miles away…how had she known? How?

Still, when Cassandra heard Janet's labored exclamation of Sam's name a second later, the young woman knew surely there was nothing whatever left to doubt or fear. Her mother's voice, calling her wife's name, resonated with total, complete, trust, and undying love.

Sam quit her place near their unexpected companion and came to Janet's side in one fluid, graceful sweep of obviously compelling devotion. Cassandra felt her heart undeniably swell with conflicting emotion at the sight of the astounding figure gently, softly, gathering the young mother in an embrace to her athletic body, kissing first her damp forehead and cheeks with eloquent reassurance, then accepting the sweet tenderness of her expectant mouth in a cherished and apparently familiar physical gifting that took Cassandra's breath away. She had to turn aside at that, her sympathetic spirit urging her to leave the two of them some momentary privacy in their relieved, intimate, acknowledgement of one another.

These were two souls who would live and die in the shelter of each other's love. There was no other conclusion for the young woman to draw from the moment. Janet became totally renewed in her wife's arms, speaking in a torrent of words she'd had no energy to form just a few minutes ago. "Oh, Sam! The baby…she's coming...its too early…oh God Sam…"

Long-fingered, hands, gently stroked back her disarrayed auburn hair from her ethereal face with love. That silken voice whispered understanding reassurances in a steadying rhythm of comfort. "It's all right, Janet. Our little one is simply in a hurry to be with us. We'll be able to help her along her way here. All that matters is that you both are safe." Then, with a truly penitent, downcast glance, she offered, "If there is blame to place, it is mine to accept. I urged us to go on this trip."

Another contraction swept over Janet even as her wife held her in her embrace. She pulled her close, lifted her arms around her neck, trying to draw her past her distress. "Don't be afraid, my love." Sam's eyes caressed hers, sought to will her strength. "Let me share this with you. Hold tight to me. Don't bear the pain alone – I'm here."

The relief, even in the midst of her pain, was undeniable, as Janet drew her trembling hand over the majestic, concerned features holding hers with so much sweetness.

"I would have done anything to be here for you," came the quiet reply that was unshakable in its commitment. Cassandra swallowed hard.

For a long, trembling instant, Janet was totally overwhelmed by the strengthening power of the natural forces within her weary and spent body. The chocolate eyes darkened with undeniable pain and anxiety, but then, somehow, she managed to give herself over to the soothing sound of her wife's voice, the comfort of her touch, and the trembling left her. Sam gently eased her back down to the stone floor, kissed her hand in her, and set it softly back onto their child.

"How far apart are the contractions?" Cassandra found herself being addressed by an unexpectedly assured voice.

"Maybe two, three minutes now. They've gotten longer, too." She couldn't help the anxiety seeping into her words. "They've been intense all along."

"Then we'll simply have to bring this little one into the world right here," came the matter-of-fact conclusion. Still, it was followed by a hopeful plea. "Cassandra, I could use your help."

The younger woman was close to speechless again, after being so pointedly, and trustingly, addressed. Any last vestiges of hesitation and uncertainty were instantly sent their way out of her spirit. "What can I do, Mama?"

"Give me a minute to get Janet a bit more settled, and I'll show you." Sam turned back to her wife.

At the quiet request, the young woman took a few steps further down the path, marveling inwardly at a presence that could take into consideration Sam took in her wife's modesty at such a chaotic moment. The part of herself that still was overwhelmed by the unreality of it all caused Cassandra to look back over her shoulder despite the request for space, as she sought to find some evidence that all this was indeed happening where it was happening, how it was happening, and to whom it was happening. Along with the fact that she herself had been thrust by Fate into the midst of it, yet, if Cassandra required some proof of the beyond reality of it all, she was offered nothing less than a purely beautiful, human, and, real, sight to ponder over: She beheld a wife, only a wife, bent over her laboring lover in tender, solicitous care.

Sam slid the folds of her heavy leather jacket from off her shoulders then swept it over Janet's weary form. She let the familiar scent of it soothe her, the warmth envelope her softly. With quiet patience, her wife slipped her leather boots off her feet, and then gently eased her out of her jeans. Her bare, coltish legs, beneath her own garment, were cold, and trembling, a sure sign of advanced labor.

A moment later, Cassandra was called back to the foot of the path. She noticed Sam obviously favoring her left side in her movements now, something that hadn't been apparent before. Cassandra felt compelled to ask, a sudden wave of unaccustomed sympathy for this remarkable figure washing over her. "Are you all right?"

A gentle, warm liveliness filled the breathtaking eyes, carrying them beyond evident pain. "I will be, as soon as this child is safely delivered."

The words were shaded with just the barest evidence of uncertain exasperation that Cassandra wasn't quite sure she'd actually heard what she had: The comment was that of any anxious-to-be, eager to get past the emotional onslaught of birth herself, nothing more threatening or unearthly than that.

"You know what you're doing then," came the automatic reply, born of Cassandra's own abundant frustration with the whole situation. Feeling she was completely useless to her mothers.

Sam looked up from where she held Janet's arm, taking her pulse, and read, at once, the apprehension in the other woman's face. She nodded in reassurance. "I've helped deliver a child before."

Cassandra flustered a moment at her obvious lapse of trust, but surprisingly, it was Janet who comforted her with gentle words. "I'm in good hands, Cassie, between the two of you."

Kneeling beside her then as well, the youngest Fraiser took heart. "What do you need me to do, Mama?"

Releasing Janet's wrist, the mythic blonde figure began to roll up the sleeves of her shirt. She settled one of those hands onto the pale porcelain of Janet's cheek. She received the caress with tender gratitude, turning her face into it. "I know you are beyond exhaustion, Baby-girl, but we'll need you to find some strength to push when the time comes." The words were gently urging and understanding.

"I'll try." The steady response took new strength.

"We'll need something warm to wrap the baby in." Cassandra realized Sam was ticking off aloud her mental preparation for one of life's more chaotic, uncontrollable events with cool professionalism. It eased her own colliding emotions, clearing her thinking. Taking note then that the heavy leather jacket was already in use, as was Janet's own coat, Cassandra drew off her jacket and folded it up into a nesting garment.

"Here, you can use this." Handing it over to the powerful figure now stooped over her wife's side, the younger woman was graced with another acknowledging look of grateful respect. The jacket was carefully set down on an edge of the leather garment. Cassandra's own sleeves then came up her arms as she rolled them out of the way, too.

"We'll need to make Janet's pushing as effective as possible. She won't be able to stand too much of it in her present state." Carefully lifting the young mother partially off the earthen floor of the forest, Sam resettled her into her companion's arms. "When she pushes, help her to raise herself up. She can grip my hands for leverage, and hopefully we can keep her focused and progressing. It won't be long now, I'm sure. She's fully dilated."

All Cassandra could manage to say was, "right," as she found herself marveling at what was obviously a situation Sam was completely capable of handling. There was nothing but trust in Janet's chocolate eyes, shining now from more than just sheer exhaustion and pain. The connection between her and her wife, unspoken and profound, was totally apparent at the moment.

Sam was pulling the shoelace from her heavy boot when the first expelling contraction coursed through Janet's body. Cassandra felt her stiffen in her arms, a ragged gasp releasing from her throat. Sam caught both her hands, small and slender, into her own.

"That's it, Janet, let your body do its work. Come on, my love. Find your strength."

Suddenly, the weary, frail body pulled itself fully out of Cassandra's arms, holding fast to Sam's hands in trembling exertion. Cassandra quickly shifted her position to support her.

"Oh, God!" She heard her exclaim at the onslaught of new sensations.

The youngest Fraiser suddenly couldn't bring herself to hold sight of the struggling mother. The sheer force of her overwhelming physical besiegement was more than she could bear. She closed her eyes and instinctively whispered a plea to the heavens for help, not exactly certain whether it was for Janet's benefit or her own. The unexpected realization that she might, herself, at some far future point in time, be sharing such an intimately terrifying, incredulous moment with her own lover urged her, however, to take heart. At least she'd be initiated into the unstoppable wonder of nature's most miraculous process, she thought in her defensive humor.

Forcing her attention back to the moment at hand, Cassandra felt Janet slump heavily against her as the contraction lessened its hold on her. That she'd even survived the onslaught to her now, seemingly, so frail body was beyond comprehension. Yet, there was an expectant, though weary, hope, shining through her eyes. Holy Hanna, Cassandra thought, she's not even letting this all terrify her anymore. She felt she discovered the elusive reason why when she let her gaze rest on Sam opposite her, still holding both her hands.

There was the unmistakable sheen of perspiration moistening the blonde's features, a barely discernible trembling coursing through her powerful form. She closed her own intense eyes and took in a deep, steadying breath . . . and Cassandra felt that, for all the world, Sam appeared as though she'd just actually, bodily, shared in her wife's pain.

The breath, though, promptly stopped Sam short in abbreviated besiegement of her own. It took a long moment before the eloquent face returned to a calm deliberateness. Leaning then close to Janet's exhausted form, she spoke softly to her. "That was good, my love. Rest a minute now. You're doing fine baby-girl."

A shaking, long-fingered hand took hold of her own on her wet cheek with the grateful abandon of a drowning woman being offered a passing branch just within reach that she could hold fast to. Janet drew strength from the contact, but Cassandra noted, in apprehension, that Sam's own body still seemed assailed by involuntary tremors of obvious distress.

The force with which the young mother had pulled herself up with her arms must have aggravated Sam's wounds, Cassie guessed, preferring to settle onto the most plausible explanation of what she'd just witnessed transpire between the couple before her. Cassandra was about to suggest that she should be allowed to become Janet's point of leverage, bearing the brunt of the physical exertion in her next contraction, and thus, save the injured blonde further strain on her obviously still tenuous state of health. But a clear plea for silence took hold of Cassandra's attention from the depths of those azure eyes.

They spoke an unmistakable appeal to keep her pain from her wife's awareness.

Cassandra never considered saying another word about it, stunned into silence at the selfless love exhibited by a beyond human being for an amber-haired angel in distress.

A moment or two later, Sam's own turmoil had been pulled under her control, finally, leaving behind little evidence of its passage beyond a continued tentativeness in her movements. Quickly she examined the baby's progress from the contraction, but as she was doing so, Janet was hit, full force, by another erratic spasm that tore into her body. "It's all right, Janet. Let it come. Take my arm, lover."

The seemingly fragile young woman heaved her until then limp form up to a near-sitting position by drawing herself forcefully onto her wife's right arm. Sam urged her gently, insistently, with her reassuring words: "Exhale deeply. Work with the force."

Letting the sound of her voice guide her, Sam centered her observation now on the new life working its way to join them. An almost incredulous acknowledgement announced her child's state. "The baby's crowning! You're doing fine, lover. Hold on as long as you can."

A sudden and unexpected sound -- pain, fear, exhaustion, broken by wonder filled -- relief -- pulled free from Janet's throat. She echoed her wife's words softly, in gratitude, "The baby's crowning." A look of blessed anticipation swept over her ravaged features.

Yet, while the sound of Janet's joy still filled her heart, Cassandra watched, in startled, panicked . . . horror . . . as the color suddenly drained completely out of Sam's face.

Janet collapsed back down against the young woman's embrace again, and Cassandra prayed a silent, grateful supplication of her own, for the fact she'd not apparently seen her wife's reaction to whatever it was she now had perceived in her, and the baby's condition, in plainly visible, desperate . . . fear.

"Cassandra, I need you here beside me. Now." The tone of voice was controlled and quietly instructing as a colonel's orders, giving nothing away, but the look on Sam's face about took Cassandra's soul from out of her being. The younger woman passed a worried glance to Janet as she set her down completely to the floor, but Janet's enveloping weariness had caused her to momentarily withdraw deeply within herself once more, mercifully so.

Sam's attention again became intent on what she was perceiving within the birth process of her child. She wouldn't simply trust her sight to give her the details she needed, having, at this point in the labor, to actually feel, gently, but anxiously, the baby's true position to confirm her conclusion. The long-fingered hands probed softly, and then she found herself swallowing hard at what she'd detected. The azure eyes closed an instant as she sought to steady her heart.

Coming to crouch beside the powerful figure that had called to her, Cassandra was shocked to find her hand grasped, insistently, and guided to beneath the leather jacket blanketing Janet's form. "Take gentle hold here, Cassandra. Even pressure," came the hoarse instructions the younger woman wasn't certain she understood.

Unsure of what was happening, but nevertheless acutely aware of the urgency in Sam's manner, Cassandra asked quietly, "What is it? What's wrong?" even as she felt the long fingered hand close her own fingers around . . . something . . . a quivering, warm, smooth, cordlike extension . . . of flesh.

Recoiling a moment at the unexpected sensation, she let go, but then felt Sam's powerful grip urge her own again around the cord. It was difficult for her to do, keep hold of the unfamiliar protrusion, as there seemed to be a great deal of tension on it, pulling it back away from her, and her own hand with it. There seemed to be barely enough give for Cassandra's two fingers and thumb to take gentle hold of it.

Looking up into the deep eyes now obviously shadowed with anxiety, Cassie sought an explanation wordlessly, knowing somehow already that Sam was attempting not to alarm Janet. Luckily she was still deep within herself at the moment: Cassandra doubted she barely still knew where she was, let alone was capable of hearing what was being said in hurried, anxious whispers between the two other women.

"The cord has prolapsed."

Seeing the bewildered look in Cassandra's face, Sam explained herself without the medical terminology. "The umbilical cord has dropped into the birth canal ahead of the baby. It usually simply trails out behind."

Cassandra felt the tension on her fingertips ease a bit as Sam's own fingers sought to follow just how the cord lay across the child's emerging body. Then came a further explanation, which the unlikely medical assistant could have done without. "It is impeding the progress of the labor, collapsing with every contraction."

A return of pressure came to her hand as Sam withdrew her own from her gentle probing. The pain in the Sam's eyes said everything she could not find the courage to say. Cassandra had to seek out the words, instead, which she fought to utter: "The baby's in trouble, isn't she Mama?"

Sam nodded slowly and Cassandra felt her heart snap in two when she caught sight of tears shimmering in the limpid blue eyes before her. "The compressions cut off the baby's blood, and oxygen, supply."

A nauseous wave of cold comprehension battered Cassandra at that instant, as the reality of the situation forced its way into her understanding. Every inch of progress the child was making towards delivery was being turned, instead, into a threat robbing the baby of its very life's breath.

"Can you do anything?" came the question that couldn't help but sound pleadingly.

Sam looked long at the spent form of her beloved wife, then closed her eyes and released an anguished sigh. "Ordinarily, if the impediment of labor is seriousness enough, a caesarean would be performed to take the child."

A surgical procedure here in the depths of the Garden of the Gods…in a cavity of a rock... Cassandra's own blood turned to ice at the obvious impossibility of that scenario. With quiet anxiousness Cassie questioned, "Is there something else that can be done?"

"We can try to keep the baby from entangling itself in the cord, help the blood flow from becoming compressed with the contractions." Another look of . . . desperate . . . anguish was lifted to Janet's exhausted form. "She is in so much pain with each spasm," Sam whispered, barely holding back the tears in her eyes. "The cord must be already quite shortened, without enough give. It is tearing her up inside."

For an instant, what was left unsaid reverberated with deafening horror against the stonewalls surrounding them. Both women sought to take hold of their respectively shattering hearts at the thought neither would voice: the fact that Janet could be in as much jeopardy as her baby.

"Sam!" Janet's hoarse, but insistent call pulled the other back from the overwhelming thoughts of impending threat that each was battling in her own way. In a moment, a besieged, coming to grips with the possibility of loss once again, came to kneel beside her cherished wife, taking her clutching hand and drawing it close to her heart.

"Sam, something's wrong, isn't it? Something's wrong with the baby." The soft, pleading voice took wrenching hold of her wife's heart.

"She's going to need some help, Janet. The cord has prolapsed" Before another word could pass between them; a startling slash of pain tore through the young mother's womb again, signaling yet one more attempt from her body to bring her child to birth. The agony was evident within the astonished chocolate eyes that bled tears echoing her pain, but Janet fought past her own anguish to make herself heard to her wife at her side.

"The baby's dying! God, Sam, I can . . . feel her . . . struggling! Please help her!" In total abandoned despair, the young doctor clasped her wife's arm with a death grip of her own, releasing a scream that echoed down the rock cavern and shattered into sobbing tears.

"Cassandra, try to keep a clearance for the cord!" came the urgent direction at Cassie equally anxious to be of some small measure of help. "Try to keep the slack from being taken back up. We must relieve the child." Cassandra immediately did as she was told, gently holding the pulsing cord as best as she could away from the compressing pressure working against it. She could feel the baby's body straining.

A moment later, the power of the contraction heaved Janet off the cavern floor. Sam took possession of both her shoulders forcefully. "Listen to me, Janet!" came the desperate plea that was barely heard over a mother's terror. "You must not push with this contraction. We have to try to let the baby free herself up."

The trembling young woman was frantic with fear. "Sam she can't breathe. I can feel it!"

Her wife shook her once, aching to turn her from her anguish. "Listen to me baby-girl! You have to absorb this contraction, Janet. Don't push!"

"I haven't the strength to hold it back," came the weary, whimpered confession, heavy with guilt. The tears were streaming down Janet's chalky white cheeks. She clung in panic to her wife's arms, barely able to withstand the forces of inhibited nature attempting wildly to pull free from within her. The pain convulsed her until she could bear it no longer, another scream of her own anguish her only release.

Still holding to the cord, trying to allow it some freedom of passage with her fingers, Cassandra was thrown into her own nightmarish confusion, as the tension working against her became tight enough to make the pulse in her own fingertips stand out throbbing. She could actually feel the baby's downy hair against the cord where she held it, evidence that the child's emergence was, at the very least, pushing right against its own lifeline. But there was nowhere that Cassandra could feel she could slip the cord past the baby's way. It was too tightly held back. "Mama, I can't free it up at all."

The powerful figure kept the slender, trembling form of her grief-stricken wife in a fierce embrace at the words. "You can do this, my love," she ordered her to believe. "Look at me!"

The pain-glazed eyes darkened with hopelessness, then somehow managed to latch on to the raw power of her wife's gaze. That gaze softened perceptively when she realized she'd gained her attention totally at last.

"Give me your pain, my love, please! Let me help you bear it." The words were cracking with emotion. A shaking nod of her head was her response.

Cassandra couldn't believe she was witnessing what she was, at the moment, either, her attention torn between the ever-tightening cord cutting off her's, and the baby's pulse, and the compelling, near-mystical drama being played out before her eyes: Sam locked her heartstopping gaze to her wife's, willing her attempt to diffuse the power of the contraction away from her distressed child. She was shuddering violently, gripping her shirt fiercely, but she held to her wife's intense gaze as she would to a lifeline, for both her child and herself.

After a moment, Sam's eyes slowly released Janet's. As they came completely closed, she watched the golden head drop wearily against her own sweat-drenched brow. Cassandra was transfixed at the exchange between her mothers -- The shuddering pain seemed to be visibly, in stages, drawing itself from the battered woman's body to find its way into the forceful figure of Sam.

The tense endurance left Janet's pale features slowly, as she felt the agony pull away from her battered body, to be replaced within her beloved's exotic, love-washed form. A soft warmth, instead, took its place, slowly, sheltering her. Her erratic breathing settled at last, as Sam's own became ragged. A gentle, besieged . . . peace . . . returned to her features as her wife's body fought to find strength to accept the burden she'd begged her to share with her.

After an eternity of a moment, Cassandra felt the tension of the throbbing cord ease back from her hand, and the baby's body. "It's loosening up," she announced, in exhausted relief herself.

Sam gently eased Janet back down to the cavern floor with trembling tenderness at the pronouncement. She cupped both her hands around her beloved face, the reality of what she had helped her endure evident in her strained features. Somehow she was able to at last form the words: "I can feel her heart again. She's okay. Our baby's okay."

"Yes . . . I can feel it, too," Sam sighed in total, grateful release. She took only a few seconds to attempt to gather herself back to the necessity at hand. Kissing Janet delicately on the forehead, she then pulled herself with evident painful effort back to Cassandra's side.

That young woman knelt, momentarily spellbound, at the display of empathic devotion she'd just witnessed. She couldn't have seen what she had; yet, there was no way to deny what had happened, concluding that there must be some sort of connection between the two souls before her.

My God! She realized in disbelieving humility: Sam had actually been able to draw within herself her Janet's physical pain. The two of them had even touched to the essence of their unborn child between them, Janet, as much as her beloved wife. Did words even exist for her to describe such a shared awareness of love?

Sam sighed softly as she again took in the baby's position.

"We'll need to cut the cord with the next contraction," she announced, almost reluctantly.

"Why not now?" Cassie couldn't help but ask, the thought of the struggling child sending her heart lurching. Why couldn't they just free the baby, now that they knew she was momentarily safe?

"The child hasn't progressed far enough to assure delivery without intervention. If we cut the cord before time, she can still slip back into the birth canal . . . and then she'd be left without her . . . lifesource . . . as well."

The quiet words were ones that Cassandra had never even considered, and she couldn't believe that Sam had found the strength to speak them aloud. It was still possible to lose the baby, no matter what they'd be able to do. Cassandra felt her throat constrict. They were God knew how far from another doctor, with only their wits and their courage left to offer a struggling new life . . . and they could still lose her. She found the tears beginning to sting within her own eyes, and she silently prayed that Sam would be able to do the right thing for the baby when the time came.

Cassie had little opportunity to contemplate just when that moment might be, because her reverie was interrupted by Janet's gasp at the beginning of yet another devastating contraction. This time Sam did not try to keep her from pushing with her natural instincts.

"It's all right, Janet. Let it come now," she called to her, without losing sight of what she was quickly, expertly in the process of doing: tying off the somewhat slackened cord between Cassandra's splayed fingers, in two places, with her shoelace. As the power of the contraction continued to gain its force, and the baby's emergent straining became apparent once more, Sam shut her eyes an instance, taking hold of her courage. Then, with the skill of a surgeon wielding a scalpel, she slit through the cord at the small place that had been freed of tension, with the sharp blade of her leatherman.

For a terrifying moment, the baby's tiny shoulders slid into, and then back out of, Sam's gentle grasp, but then the coursing muscle spasm of the contraction expelled the child freely at last. Sam took hold of the small body tenderly, and pulled the baby into her awaiting arms.

Janet's pleading came the instant she caught her breath enough to speak. "Is she all right? Is she, Sam?"

There was no response.

Dragging herself up to a sitting position, Janet reached out to cling to Cassandra's arm. Cassie immediately threw her embrace completely about her mother, drawing her to her body, in an attempt to keep her mother from seeing what she herself couldn't find the power to bear. But the young mother pushed herself forcefully, desperately, from her sheltering arms . . .

. . . To watch her wife gently unwrapping the umbilical cord from round their baby's neck.

It was the reason that the cord had been so tense and short during her labor: The length of it was looped around the child's throat.

Words, hoarsely whispered not to be believed echoed the devastation within a mother's heart. "No . . . God, no . . . You can't . . . why . . .God, why?"


Could a reason even exist to explain why yet another blow had been leveled at the besieged spirits, wife and wife that remained heart-shattered and stunned in a stone cavern? Was there actually a necessity that could be understood for ending a tiny life that spoke nothing but hope to those that had anticipated its arrival with so much love and joy?

Cassandra's shattered heart stumbled itself in its automatic attempt to reach a tiny bit of comfort out to her ravaged mother she sheltered in her embrace. But her conscious attention was riveted onto Sam…and the still, blue body of her child in her careful grasp.

It was a little girl.

A beautiful, tiny-sized little baby girl, with long strong limbs and an unexpected halo of downy, golden red hair. She would have looked like a little china doll, except that she was totally still, cold, and devoid of any sign of life whatever.

Slow, silent tears slipped down pallid face, etched with so much grief and pain it was physically unendurable to behold. For the longest moment, Sam knelt, staring down at the little body she cradled gently in her powerful grasp. Unable to come to terms with what she knew she was seeing. She gasped for breath at last, threw her head back to plead at the stone ceiling above them, and then simply closed her eyes in resigned, aching loss.

Another heartbeat stilled. Another beloved soul wrenched from her loving shelter.

This time she would let her own heart follow the tiny one into silence. Begged deaf heaven for it to follow. God . . . still mine too!

Why struggle to hope any longer? It had all only been an impossible dream. She'd believed her existence had at last been blessed by the peaceful fulfillment of love and humanity and gifting life, but the illusion had been snatched away.

And she didn't have the strength to fight the hopeless desolation any longer, a desperate weariness of her very soul taking hold of her and shaking her to her depths. She willed her heart to be still.

Then it would ache no longer.

But as she let her anguished spirit begin to pull away from the pain, slip silently into welcomed, crushing, oblivion, Sam felt an agony as intense as her own reach out to her, take possession of her heart, searching for release. It was Janet's pain, the profound reaches of her spirit infused with an anguish Sam couldn't believe was able to exist.

It was a mother's pain, and its depths reached so far within her cherished wife's essence that it stood ready to annihilate her very soul. Janet had lost her child, the life that she'd tenderly nurtured within her own body for seven months. The pleading ache, bereft of all hope, pierced her heart, drew her from beyond her own pain. She'd never known such loss, felt such devastation.

Janet would be drowned within it. At the empathic evidence of her wife's desperation, Sam willed her heart to pull back a breath from her own pain, sought to touch her soul instead with some tiny particle of relief. The blonde would not let her need for solace and rest rob her of Janet's care, of her chance to hold her heart to her in her need. She'd not let her surrender to desolation. Now was her opportunity to do the same for her. And in doing so, Sam acknowledged the fact that she might yet be able to reach life back out to the tiny soul resting in her arms as well.

Some guiding angel of heaven helped her to gather her besieged spirit back from its anguished reality, forcing it, instead, into a fervent, not-to-be-denied battle for life.

For all of them a whispered prayer brought her mind back into the practical responses her emergency training had, until a few moment before, helped her see Janet through the unexpected traumas of her labor ordeal.

There was still a chance. Only a moment or two had actually elapsed since she'd taken hold of her little one, though the anguish of heart of her apparent loss had made it seem like an eternity. She took a deep, mind-clearing breath, and casting a quick gaze about her, Sam caught sight of the handkerchief Cassandra had used to wipe the sweat from Janet's brow earlier. She knew what she could try . . . a little soul still would not let go of her hope.

Gently cradling the baby into the crook of her arm, she quickly wrapped her littlest finger on one hand with the cloth several times. Then she eased back the baby's head a bit and slowly slipped her finger into the little girl's mouth, using the fabric to wipe out the mucus that was still obstructing the child's airway.

With an unwhispered prayer, Sam then softly lowered her golden head to the baby's tiny form, covering her mouth and nose with her satin lips, puffing gently into the child's mouth, offering the baby her own life-giving breath.

Cassandra felt the tears race down her cheeks as she held tightly to Janet's spent, sobbing form in her arms. "Please, let her bring her back," She prayed fervently, with every fiber of her tested soul, knowing for certain that her plea was echoing that within both the other hearts there with her.

The little chest visibly rose and fell, but only in response to her mama's breathing. Sam continued her rescuing efforts undeterred, forcing her attention to remain focused beyond her grief and to the life-giving intervention she was attempting at hand. She offered her baby one small breath, then another, and another, feeling Janet's trembling soul hold to her in fearful expectation as well.

Then . . . finally . . . she felt the . . . miracle.

Her daughter's little heart clamoring within her own once more, as it had been so easily evident within her awareness all the months that Janet's body had sheltered her.

The baby spasmed in Sam's arms, she drew in a sharp, deep draught of her breath . . . and expelled it at last on her own, with the familiar, high-pitched, vibrating cry of a newborn.

Janet drew her head from Cassandra's chest at the sound; afraid to believe she'd heard it. But, as she raised her tear-blurred gaze to her wife, she felt the heartbeat within her, too, and saw, actually was able to gaze at, a shuddering little body that she cradled pulling itself, indeed, into the world of the living.

A mother's desperation was turned to grateful, ecstatic abandon with that heartbeat, and Sam blessed heaven that she'd been able to both draw her tiny daughter back to life as well as hold her beloved soulmate safe from anguish.

The baby's color began to brighten instantly, progressing from the terrifying purple to a soon noticeably flushed pink. Her cries, loud, insistent, and filling with energy, proved, too, her undeniable arrival into their midst. The tears streaming from Janet's eyes were a flood of joy that found an echoing kinship in those gently slipping from her wife's azure ones.

Quickly, long fingered hands carefully settled the little girl into a coat that would serve as her swaddling. But those same hands that had been steady as any neurosurgeon's at Airforce Academy hospital, only minutes before, unexpectedly trembled as Sam sought to retie her daughter's umbilical closer to her small body. Cassandra leaned over them both and knotted the shoelace farther up, without a word. A look of quiet gratitude passed from angelic features to the unashamedly concerned ones, then another, more steady attempt recut the child's cord properly with the sharp blade of the leatherman.

A tender kiss to a small, furrowed brow, and a new wrapped her youngest child up to stay warm, offered her the most hopeful words she could ever have imagined uttering at that moment: "Welcome, little angel."

The lung-expanding protests, voicing her displeasure at her rudely ushered entrance into the world, were the sweetest sounds created, to Sam's ears. Softly she placed her precious bundle into her true mother's awaiting arms, the reassuring touch of a long fingered hand over warm, silky baby fat, the warmth of a mother's familiar, sheltering body, quieting the child in a matter of moments. Brilliant, chocolate-cerulean eyes opened wide, in silent observation of her new surroundings.

"Oh, she's beautiful, Sam. Isn't she?" Janet asked in totally unobjective wonder, punctuated by both tears and joy.

"Just like her mother," came the softly voiced observation, equally tinged with tender awe. Sam came to sit beside her wife and child, then, gathering them both into her arms. She kissed Janet's auburn-crowned head.

"This little lady will count herself doubly blessed in life," Cassandra commented, reaching a hand out to the now robustly blushed cheek of the child she'd helped deliver. "She can thank both her birth mother, and her 'fathering' mother, for giving her life."

Janet took in the tender, acknowledging hope in her eldest words. "And she can thank her wonderful sister, too," she smiled. Sam nodded in agreement.

For a long few moments, the three adult souls did their best to gather their besieged wits about them, past fear, pain, and total, sheer, exhaustion. The soft cooing of another, smaller soul, sounded as balm to their tested spirits.

Janet set the photo of her small family down upon the coffee table, with a small smile of warmth. She hadn't known at the time what currency of courage she had during that time when Becky came or that she had been able to pay that tax of the soul. She knew that without Sam…she would never had been able to face it.

Now lying upstairs was a perfect Pre-Raphaelite child with a slender figure and a head of chestnut- golden hair to die for. It hung in tangle unruly ringlets, haloing her expressive features, and her eyes so impossible colored holding earth and heaven both. She is a precocious and solemn, but quick to laugh as well. Jenny told her often enough she let the child run too wild, but how could Janet explain to her old friend that Rebecca was apart of the wild, as surely as the Nox she was gifted from.

Sam doted endlessly on her daughter; a part of her was still terrified she would be like her father as a parent. To be like him as a solider was one thing, and she saw it as a good thing, but as a parent Sam wanted nothing more than to be less like Jacob Carter as she possibly could. And like Cassie before her, Becky began to see her blonde mother as a heroic figure.

Janet spent the rest of the night, relaxing. She spent a few hours on-line suffering the net. She bookmarked a site with paper-dolls that Becky had a fondness for and printed out several of the cardboard poppets. Went to Amzaon.com and found a few books she wanted to get Sam for her birthday next month, and found out of curiosity that her Beloved's book on wormhole theory was still selling well.

She had gone to her favored web sites and jumped into a communal chatroom to meet a few of her on-line acquaintances, as well as pulled into MSN messenger to speak with a few close friends who lived several states away. Several hot toddies later and at the eleventh hour Janet felt her eyelids drooping and refusing to stay open. Closing out of all the sites and shutting down the computer, Janet decided to call it a night.

For the past several nights she had been trying to stay awake as long as possible, for if she slept she dreamt. And the dream was always the same. This time she hoped the hot toddies would help her sleep without the dreams.

Dawn was barely perceptible, bleeding a diffused golden pink into the night sky. It was a tremulous light that merged, mist like, with the darkness. Out along the Colorado River, there were one or two old men that, had they been awake and watching, could have accurately predicted an unusually warm, unusually dry spring day. But they were not awake and neither was Janet Fraiser. She was sprawled wearing a flannel sleeping tee shirt, under a thick down comforter, and into her sleeping mind something crept. Its invasion was not as shy as the dawn's.

A dream. The Dream. Unfortunately, Janet's unconscious mind did not recognize that it was the dream and was therefore as vulnerable as a child playing in the street. If only she were able to predict, she often thought upon waking, if her sleeping self could only recognize the sting of it coming, she might be able to steel herself. Dread wears thin and images lose their power. Her beloved Samantha hunts the horror of humanity. She knew this. But no matter what her conscience mind did to prepare, the images struck her square in the face, as though she has never seen them before, nor ever imagined their existence. This being the circumstance the dreams were always bad.

She moans. She pushes the blanket that covers her, as though attempting to push away the captivating sleep. But there is no one beside her to see her distress, no one there to waken her, and so the dream goes on.

She sees a gathering in the distance and approaches it, curious. A group of people are clustered together– men, women. There is a bonfire, in a central pit, surrounded by wall of black cinder blocks. It isn't until she draws near that she notices something odd about the people. Their clothes, they are wearing red robes.

Then her eyes fix upon a single man. He stands apart from the cowed. He stands to one side, but that is not what stands him apart from the others. His skin jaundice, glowing Goa'uld eyes, his hair is worn long, white. His mustaches drooping on either side of his thin pasty lips like the tusks of a walrus. His white robe covered a skeletal frame. His bony arms raised in the air, high in praise.

And, then just as if it were the very first time, Janet's dream eye turns to fallow the dead gaze from the 'Summoner'. She sees Sam a prisoner. The fire. The pile of wood that fuels the flames is high and broad, an enormous bonfire. The flames rear up of their heads of the crowd. The she sees something in the flames, some matter, tall and dark, and it takes her a moment to categorize in her mind because, truly she has never seen anything like this before and the image will not register.

It's a six-eyed mammoth Goa'uld parasite. They weren't burning it. They were summoning it! Calling in from the bowls of Hell!

It struck her then: shock, horror, and guilt. She feels terrible guilt, although she does not know why. She's afraid, too, as she looks at it. She feels helpless and profane— it knows her deepest sin.

The serpentine head is thrown back in the flames; Sam utters a mute scream of agony to the sky. The serpent lowers its head and looks threw her. Its body unmarred by the flames. It laughs at her, white fangs gleam. It comes slithering towards her. Its black forked tongue flickers out laps at her face. She moans with repletion. Janet doesn't want to watch, as it is Sam's body in the flames. Her skin is melting. The Goa'uld serpent screams at her in fury. The flame roars, higher in the sky, the fire spreads out all around her, consuming a building of steel and glass. The flames lick out grasping at her. Sam turns runs, but it she isn't fast enough to out run the inferno. She flees, a pool. The water is her sanctuary. She drives. Its not water. Blood. Blood. The serpent is upon her, ravenous. 'The Blood! Blood!'

She awakes. The tangled sheets and blanket impeded her as she climbed out of bed, her head throbbing her eyes puffy from crying. As she looked upon her disheveled image in the bathroom vanity, she closed her eyes. Leaning on the sink's countertop. "Damn it! I wish this would end. The same god-damn dream the fourth day in a row…" She smoothed red-brown waves from her face, blinking her eyes, riding the heavy sleep still on the fringes of her mind. Suppressing a yawn, she rubbed the back of her neck, smoothing out the cramps gathered there from sending all night locked in nightmare realms.

She managed to make her way back into the bedroom, a little worried that her daughter had woken during her nightmare. But the child was still soundly slumbering little kitten snores coming from the tiny opened mouth.

Janet sat gingerly upon the bed; mindful her movements might wake the babe. Leaning her elbows on her knees she took in a heavy saturated breath of worry. Deep within her, the forever-young doctor knew the dreams were screaming at her a prophetic warning. Either Sam was in danger or she would be. In three and a half hours, she would have to report to base, but it wasn't soon enough…if she could just patch thru the communications array perhaps she could tell her beloved. Tell her what? A dream of a python sized Goa'uld larva swimming around in blood? God what did it mean. Did it mean anything at all?

Something was ringing.

Have dazed from the start of waking out of a nightmare, Janet hit the clock radio on the end table near the bed.

Something was still ringing.

The sleep-dazed mind, registered the sound and the small brunette picked up the phone to hear a dial tone.

Something was still ringing, very instantly.

"Mommy it's the door bell." A tiny fresh voice came muffling out from under the blankets.

Janet turned to the lump now moving under the covers until a little cherub of a child peeked out her hair a tangled mess of bed-head. Flashing an almost too false smile, the mother leaned over and kissed the girl's forehead. "So what would I do without you?"

"Be lonely." Came an unhesitated answer.

The doorbell rang again, motivating Janet into action. Grabbing her terry cloth robe she wanted from the bedroom, down the steps to the door. Who ever it was had better have an excellent reason to buzz the door at six-thirty in the morning.

She opened the door to see Jack O'Neill standing before her, garbed in full dress uniform, complete with highly glossed paten leather shoes. His face a darkened shadow of himself.

"General?" Janet narrowed her dark eyes; bafflement painted upon her face as the older man stepped in, taking off his brimmed hat as he did so.

"What's with the dress uniform?"

"Doctor…" Jack drew in a great breath of air. "Janet…"

Her face paled a dozen shades of white, her head shaking an emphatic no. "No," she protested sobbing the refusal several times. "I'm not...going to believe she's dead. She can't be dead…Sam isn't dead…Cassie isn't dead…they aren't dead Jack…" She blurted. For a moment she was paralyzed by a sense of appalling loss; helpless and total grief, both pain and a numbness that seemed to extend into an eternity of meaningless succession like a drab, purgatorial road without signposts, that she'd walk forever, alone.

Jack gathered her into his arms, pulling her against him. "A transmission came thru with SG1's marker, it took us three days to ungarble it. Janet…I am classifying SG1 and 3 as MIA."

The small doctor pulled away form the gray haired man, within her arose a horrified indignation that brought her sharply back to now. This was intolerable: not to be allowed. "MIA…" her voice shaking, quivering with tensed restrain.

"From what we can discern from the message, three Goa'ulds ships landed, they were under fire…Janet the Stargate was destroyed, and if there were survivors from the attack they are stranded. We have no way of communicating with them."

"I'm going on the rescue mission." Janet said her voice now stone. She would not be denied. "You are going to try…" this was an accusation, begging a confirmed yes.

"I already tried to reach Jacob-Selmec and the other Tok'ra hopefully they can send a small ship, and we might be able to commune with the Malakim homeworld. They will probably be willing to talk to you more than they would me considering your tie with Carter. But Janet…you might want to pre…"

"Don't even allow the words to slip past your lips. She's alive. I know it." Janet discovered she was shaking uncontrollably. Something in her was embarrassed and ashamed for her CO to know it. And another part didn't care because terrified or outright hysterical, she was going to go on the rescue party.

Jack O'Neill nodded. He had seen many extra ordinary things in his career with SGC, and one of them had been the connection shared between his top officer and his CMO.

"Janet…we will try our best to get them back, I'm not going to give up on them. No of us are. But you have to think of Rebecca, if you go the risks…"

"Are mine to take. What do you think I would do!? Just stand by and passively watch and wait? No. I can't do that. Becky can stay with my parents. Jack I am going. Sam is my life, without her there is nothing." She paused thinking a life without Samantha. One might try imagining living without air.

Part 5

Return to Stargate Fiction

Return to Main Page