DISCLAIMER: See part one.

By romansilence


Chapter Eleven: Absolute Certainty

Four months later Samantha Carter remembered this dream. She was sitting on a bench like boulder close to the top of Cheyenne Mountain and looking up at the cloudy sky without really seeing the impeding storm gathering up there. She had spent the whole afternoon aimlessly roaming the countryside on the back of her Harley after a really nasty fight with Janet. The sun had just gone down and she was shivering in the early December night. The light jacket she had grabbed when storming out of the house earlier was no real protection against the cold wind.

Never being anything less than honest with herself, she admitted that she had blown things totally out of proportion, but it had hurt so damn much, seeing her lover in the arms of that man. She simply had snapped – and now she found herself on top of Stargate Command, alone. She knew she had no reason not to trust her lover, but it was as if she just could not help herself. She knew she had acted like a spoiled child; she knew she had risked the best thing in her whole life.

After their return from Gaia at the beginning of the new school year, it was as if a dream had come true.

Thanks to the inspired argumentation of Lieutenant Michaela Neddes, the psychologist in charge of Cassandra, she had been officially allowed to move in with Janet and Cassy. Mike, Michaela, had argued that Cassandra needed more than just one parent to be able to cope with the traumatic events of her kidnapping. General Hammond supported her recommendation – and surprisingly the Pentagon approved of the plan, very much to the dislike of Mackenzie, the chief psychologist of the SGC, who at the time had thought it too much beneath his station to care for the alien girl and so had her care transferred to his assistant, a decision he probably was regretting by now.

The whole of the SGC had pitched in to help and three days after the permission from the Joint Chiefs and the White House had been delivered to General Hammond's office all her stuff had been packed up and moved to Janet's house. Daniel and Teal'c moved into her house, the house her father had given to her after joining the Tok'ra. She didn't want to sell it, and this way she knew it would be well taken care of.

Samantha Gabriella Carter, air-headed genius, sharp shooter, Air Force Major, fighter pilot, and a born loner, finally had a family.

Her nights, and occasionally late afternoons and mornings with her small lover were pure bliss. She never before had been this deliriously happy. They were more than just a patchwork family – they really belonged together.

That night on Gaia, waking from the strange dream, she for the first time had been really sure of Janet's love. She had known with absolute certainty that she finally had come home, that her real home was the small brunette cradled in her arms and holding her tight – the military and its regulations be damned. It had been like an epiphany.

Samantha closed her eyes and suddenly her mind's eye brought up the bright ball of light. It was as if she suddenly knew what her lover was thinking and feeling at this very moment; as if she suddenly had become cognizant of a connection between them, a connection that had always been there. She instinctively knew that Janet was half ill with worry, but she also was angry with her for running off like this, without giving her a chance to explain and without her helmet.

She almost ran back to her bike. Janet needed her, and even if she had to spend some time in the doghouse, in the end it would be worth it.

Half way home it began to rain, the cold drops soon had her soaking wet; they were whipping against her face and quickly the rain turned into the first snow. She didn't even bother to put her beloved hog in the garage or under the car port but stormed the four steps to the wrap around porch. She already had her hand on the door knob when her courage left her and she froze.

Samantha had faced down Gao'uld and blown up a sun; she was able to fight seasoned Jaffa warriors in hand-to-hand combat and come out as the winner, but here she was standing on her own porch, dripping wet and half frozen stiff from the cold, afraid to face a slip of a woman.

Instead of using her key, the blonde Major rang the door bell. It seemed to echo through the house and for a moment she was afraid that Janet wouldn't let her in.

An eternity later, the door opened but it wasn't Janet. Instead it was the reason for the angry words she had thrown at her lover before running away.

"She's in the living room," the young man said when he ushered her in. He had dark blond hair with a hint of red in it and was about her height. His body told her that he regularly worked out, for strength not for bulk. He seemed to be in his late twenties.

"Thank you." Samantha answered while slipping out of the jacket and her shoes.

"Stephen, my name is Stephen. Better go in; she's been worried about you."

Samantha nodded and quickly took the few steps to the living room. Janet was sitting in her favourite armchair and was staring in the flickering flames burning in the fire place. The blonde knew that she had heard her coming back, but this time she wouldn't make it easy for her. One of the patented smiles, the smiles she only reserved for her lover this time wouldn't be enough to make it up to the doctor.

She stepped closer and for a moment stood helplessly in front of the other woman. Without conscious thought she dropped to her knees and took Janet's hands between her own.

"Jan, baby…"

"Don't you Jan-baby me, Samantha Gabriella Carter; don't you dare," was the angry retort, but at least she didn't try to take her hands away from the blonde's.

"I'm sorry that I hurt you, Janet. I acted like some insecure, jealous teenager. I'm sorry I'm such a dork. I didn't even give you a chance to introduce us. It hurt seeing you so comfortable in his arms. I'm sorry for not trusting you. Please forgive me."

Samantha tentatively looked up, a thick drop fell from her hair and hit the tip of her nose.

"You look like a drowned rat."

No Sammy or Sam, not even a Samantha, this was bad, really bad, the blonde thought.

Her head dropped and her eyes focused on the back of Janet's hands still being held by her own. She relaxed her grip with an effort, leaving it to the brunette to change their position. Janet withdrew one of her hands and Samantha flinched at the loss of contact. Then the hand was gently touching her left cheek; thumb and index finger under her chin made her look up.

"It was never a question of trust, Samantha. I know you trust me with your life and your heart, but I will not watch my every move just because you get it in your head to be insecure or jealous. I love only you and I expect that you have a better handle on your emotions next time. Stephen is a very good friend and he's family, nothing more. And now, get out of these wet clothes and take a long, hot shower."

Samantha turned her head and kissed the palm of her lover's hand. She murmured, "I'm sorry, my love. I'm so afraid to lose you, sometimes my brain just short circuits. I love you, Jan."

She closed her eyes and quietly remembered her dream and the two balls of light. Janet studied her face with a surprised smile.

"And I love you, Sammy, but when you first stormed away I really wanted to punish you for being this stupid. I wanted to make you bend over and put a strap to your behind."

"I would let you do it and thank you for every stroke, my love." The blonde whispered in response.

"No my big dumb fly-girl. It was hard enough to watch it once on Gaia. I don't want a repeat performance, ever." Janet drew her still kneeling lover closer and gently kissed her on the lips. "Go and take your shower, Sam, or I will have to ground you for becoming ill."

Samantha kissed her lover's small but strong hands and answered, "Yes, Madam."

Janet smiled at her and sent her off with another quick kiss. Her head turned towards the fire but her mind was wandering back to the day of Samantha's punishment on Gaia.

It had been the day after Sam's long and obviously deeply disturbing talk with Consort Xena. For once they were early at the training grounds. Janet had insisted on being at Samantha's side when the blonde told the weapons' master that she had decided to submit to corporal punishment, despite or rather because of her fears. That first and a couple of other conversations with the Queen had helped her to come to terms with the Amazons' strange juridical system but that didn't mean that she was happy with her lover's decision.

"Samantha Gabriella Carter, what do you have to say for yourself?" Master Niva asked as soon as the major had lowered herself to her knees.

"Nothing, weapons' master. It is true that I thought there would be no training because of the party the day before. I presumed – but that's no excuse and I accept full responsibility for my neglect of duty." The blonde answered with her eyes to the ground.

"Do you accept corporal punishment, warrior?"

"Yes, Master Niva." Samantha said, and despite her prior resolve she couldn't keep a slight tremble off her voice.

"I understand why you made the mistake you did, so, at this point I see no need for a public punishment. Report to my hut at sundown and we will take care of this. You're welcome to bring a witness.

"And now, let's train. Healer, I know, it's not your usual time, but it would be more convenient for me if you could rearrange your schedule." Janet only nodded.

"Warrior, from now on Larina will be your primary instructor. Obey her commands. She's not as lenient as I am."

Three candlemarks later, Samantha and Janet found themselves in the bathroom, sharing a shower, and massaging sore muscles. "Are you really sure you want to go through with this, Sam? Master Niva surely would understand. The regulations allow for other forms of punishment."

"Yes, Jan, I'm sure."

"Are you sure that this is really about the missed training session, Sammy? While you were with Xena, I could feel your distress, sometimes like a distant memory, sometimes like a bleeding wound. Are you sure that your decision has not more to do with whatever happened in the past then with our present?"

"I know you can sense my feelings, my emotions. I didn't want to burden you with all of this. One day soon, I will tell you what I told Xena. It's in the past and it should no longer have any impact on my life. However, in a way, it still does, but it also has nothing to do with this punishment. What I did then can't be paid for with a few strokes of a strap or a cane or whatever." The blonde answered with sadness tinting her voice.

"I broke the rules and I have to pay for it; I want to pay for it. I don't know how to explain it, but it's the right thing to do. I enjoy all the good and bright sides of life here. They share with us, have taken us in their hearts. It may sound nuts to you, but I really think that this is a way to give them something back, to show them that I really respect their way of life." Samantha smiled insecurely.

"No, Sammy, it's not nuts. I needed a little help from Queen Gabrielle to come to terms with this punishment thing, but now I have. Sometimes, I don't understand what makes you military types tick, but this I can understand."

"I hate to point it out, baby, but you're also a Major of the US Air Force. – No, don't tell me: it's different because you're of the nice and peaceful kind. – Will you be my witness, Janet?"

"I would be honoured, my love. And now, let's face the rest of the day; we both have a lot of work to do."

The whole day, Janet felt her lover's nervousness and growing apprehension through their link. Samantha had a hard time to concentrate on anything but the impeding punishment, and finally in the early afternoon hours gave up on getting any work done.

She searched out Cassandra who was happy to spend time with her other mother and eager to learn how to tree-walk. She wanted Sam to teach her and no one else, so she had resisted any attempts of her new friends to rope her into a lesson.

The young woman as always was a quick study. No surprise there, she was a straight A-student, tested way ahead of her age in any test thrown her way, was captain of the volley-ball team and had assured her team's victory more than once by her quick thinking and quicker reflexes. Tree-walking was just another challenge, and Cassandra loved challenges; she was as much an adrenaline junkie as her blonde mother and playmate or her uncle Jack.

Janet was relieved that her lover had succeeded in putting the evening's events out of her mind, but for a moment she feared that she also would forget about their appointment at the weapons' master's house.

She was about to go in search of her tall partner when the door opened and a sweaty and very relaxed Major entered their room. She kissed her soundly and whirled her around in unrestrained mirth until they finally ended in a heap on the bed.

"Your daughter really is something else, you know, Jan?!"

"And what, pray tell, did my daughter do?"

"We had a little race through the tree tops, and to make it more interesting we had a little bet going. She tried to distract me and it very nearly worked. She told me that when we were out hiking last year, you always stayed at the rear not because you were out of breath but to have a good look at my butt."

"The little imp! I was out of breath from looking at your butt, Sammy. The last day she came up to me from the side and asked me if I was enjoying the view. I blushed. I guessed I wasn't very subtle when staring at you." Janet answered with a smile. "So, what did she win?"

"Oh, she didn't win. It was her first day; I couldn't let her get too cocky. When we go back to Earth, she'll spend a weekend of our choice at Jack's, no phone calls, no friends of hers coming over; just you and me."

"Now, who's getting cocky, Sam? Want to share a shower with me? You really need one."

They were exactly on time when Samantha knocked on Master Niva's door, but they had to run part of the way.

"What's this beautiful smile for, Janet?"

Startled out of her reverie, the brunette almost jumped out of her seat at the sound of Stephen's voice. "I'm sorry, Stevie, I'm not the hostess I should be. Hey, you're all wet."

"I put the bike in the garage and wiped it down. Such a beaut shouldn't be sitting in the rain, but I suppose the beautiful blonde had more urgent things on her mind." He added teasingly.

"She's off limits, Stevie." Janet somehow got her voice to sound threatening, but her mischievous smile still gave her away.

"Oh, Janet, I'm wounded. You know that I'm only a tease. I'm a safe bet with the ladies. Besides, everyone who saw the expression on her face when she came back would know that she has eyes only for you." He answered with a smile that brought out his dimples and quickly changed the subject. "You know that I positively hate being called Stevie, except when you are doing it?"

"And why is that?" She asked genuinely interested.

Before he could answer a deeper voice came from the other side of the room. "Stephen, I apologise for my earlier behaviour. Any friend of Janet is also a friend of mine."

"Stephen, may I finally introduce Major Samantha Carter, my best friend, my lover, and the other half of my soul. Sam, this is Stephen Harrington, my former brother-in-law."

They firmly shook hands and Samantha said. "I hope you give me the chance to prove that usually I'm not a total idiot, Stephen."

She smiled at him, not one of her Janet-smiles, but close enough to one to make him begin to understand why the small doctor was so taken with her.

When Janet had first told him on the phone that she was in love with a woman and a fellow officer at that, he thought that she simply was lonely and needed the fantasy to keep her going. She adopted a child and they raised her together, and then a couple of months ago she had told him that they now were officially living together.

There had been so much joy in her voice and when she had opened the door a few hours earlier at his unexpected visit she literally had radiated happiness, a happiness quickly replaced by anger and worry when that tall blonde Amazon had yelled at her and stormed off.

His protective instincts had flared to life in a heartbeat but seeing her now, with Janet's arm possessively encircling her waist, he was willing to give her another chance.

So, he decided to goad her a little bit. "Hmm, I don't know. It might be true what they say about blondes."

This certainly got a reaction, but not the one he had been looking for. Samantha just smiled but Janet pushed herself in front of her taller partner, almost bristling with protectiveness.

"Sam holds a doctorate in astrophysics and philosophy, so don't ever say or think something like that again. I don't want you to act like your thick-headed, pea-brained brother."

"I give, Jan. It was only a joke, nothing…" He looked at the blonde, suddenly dumbstruck. "Doctor Sam Carter? The Sam Carter? Author of 'Theory of Wormhole Physics'?" Janet nodded. "Holy shit! It was such a thrill to read. I almost know it by heart. I dreamed of getting a chance to discuss it with you. There are so many things I wanted to ask you…"

"And guess what, Stevie? You'll get your chance. I have to pick Cassandra up and will bring some Chinese take-away for dinner. Meanwhile, you guys can talk shop."

Though his physique told another story, Stephen still was a nerd at heart and always would be, just like the scientist in her blonde lover more often than not took precedence over the soldier and even the lover.

"Be careful, Jan, it's still snowing out there." That got a scowl from the smaller woman but she also got a gentle kiss. Samantha's eyes followed her until she closed the front door behind her. "She's still angry at me," she stated.

"She was frantic when she saw you tearing down the road without a helmet." He simply answered.

"Oh damn, the bike. I left it out there."

He just managed to grab her by the hood of her sweater. "Easy. I put it in the garage and wiped it dry. Did you restore it? It's a real beauty."

"Don't tell me you not only know astrophysics but also love bikes?" He only smiled in answer. "Thank you for taking care of her. Yes, I sort of had to build her up from the frame. It was a challenge."

"But you just love a challenge, right?" Now it was Samantha's turn to resort to a smile. "Janet is stationed at the Air Force Academy Hospital, but what does an astrophysicist, what does 'the' astrophysicist do with the Air Force?"

"Deep space radar telemetry." Samantha simply answered.


"I have a nice, sunny office there, yes." She didn't add: 'A rarely used nice, sunny office.' Instead she asked. "And what are you doing for a living?"

"I was with ARIN, the Astrological Research Institute Nevada. I resigned when I found my lover in a storage closet with a woman."

"I'm sorry that you have been hurt, Stephen," she simply answered.

"Marc never offered me the forever-after, but I had expected better of him." If Samantha was surprised to find that his lover had been a man she didn't show it.

"Anyway," the dark blonde continued, "I thought I make a stop here before having to decide what to do with my life."

"You're welcome to stay for as long as you like, Stephen." Samantha reacted to the pain and defeat in his voice more than to his words. "The guest room is yours."

They then quickly delved in a discussion about quantum physics and wormholes. Samantha found that he not only had read the thick volume she had written while under the influence of the Ataniek armbands; he also was good enough to contest some of her theories, and she had to admit that without the evidence of the Stargate she would have been hard pressed to find them liable herself.

The arrival of Janet and Cassandra with their dinner put an end to their discussion, but by then the young man had promised to stay at least the weekend, so they would have other chances to talk.

It was late at night when they retired to their room. Janet snuggled close to her, her head on Samantha's shoulder and one of her arms wrapped protectively around her waist. They usually talked about their respective days before falling asleep or making love but this night the brunette just closed her eyes.

"Are you still angry with me, Jan?" Samantha quietly asked.

"You scared me, Sam." Janet answered without opening her eyes.

"I'm sorry, my love. Perhaps you really should punish me like they do on Gaia. I felt better afterwards."

Janet's mind once again snapped back to the evening of her lover's punishment.

They were exactly on time when Samantha knocked on the weapons' master's door, but they had to run part of the way.

Larina, the captain of the Royal Guard, let them in where Master Niva, Queen Gabrielle, and Consort Xena were already waiting for them. Samantha was slightly shocked; she had hoped that this would stay between them and the weapons' master, even though Xena knew about it. She quickly regained her composure and knelt in front of the three women.

"I am ready to accept my punishment with humility and gratitude."

"Samantha Gabriella Carter, daughter of Rebecca, grand-daughter of Catherine, you now will receive 24 strokes with a strap on your bare behind as punishment for deliberately neglecting your duty. Have you chosen your witness?" Niva asked.

"Doctor Janet Fraiser has consented to be my witness, Master Niva."

"So be it." Niva said and left the hut together with Larina and the Queen.

"Please strip and bend over the desk, Samantha. I will count the strokes; you just concentrate on holding your position."

The brunette abruptly sat up, startling her taller companion. "You know, there's been something about this whole punishment thing that's been bugging me for quite some time now."

"What is it, Janet? You admitted yourself that apart from the initial pain there was no harm done."

"That's not it. Xena is an expert; I'll never doubt that. What I can't figure out is why she did it and not Master Niva."

"We were her responsibility, Jan. She told us the first day that she would be the one to mete out punishments if need be. I shouldn't have been surprised to see the Consort at Niva's." Samantha answered.

"That's just it, Sam. She didn't, at least not with others, well, at least one other. A few weeks ago, Jennifer told me over lunch how she had screwed up one of your experiments with the energy shield just before you had to go off-world. She told me how angry you were and that she wished she could make things like this just go away by getting her behind blistered. She then told me that she had once been punished by Cameria for not being careful enough with one analysis or the other. The Consort had been told, but she didn't do it herself; she didn't even offer to do it herself."

"Perhaps it had something to do with the fact that I was the leader of our team, or Xena couldn't get away from whatever she had been doing when it was Jennifer's turn. It could be as simple as this, my love."

To Janet it seemed as if Samantha wanted desperately to convince herself that there had been nothing special about her punishment or the fact that the Queen herself had come to give them an ointment that would help her heal faster. The doctor let her head sink back on her lover's shoulder but she couldn't just shut off her thoughts.

The Amazons had welcomed all of them. The whole team had been treated like long lost family members, but only Samantha and she had developed a special relationship to the Queen and her Consort; perhaps due to their bond, their connection to each other that was so similar to what Gabrielle and Xena shared.

They all had formed strong friendships with the people on Gaia; in some cases even more than friendship, Janet thought with a smile. But between Samantha and Xena there also was more than friendship or some sort of mentor – student relationship. She couldn't pin it down but was sure that it went much deeper than this. The tone of her lover's voice, however, told her clearly that she was not ready to discuss this any further; and there also was something else she aimed to find out.

So, she once again closed her eyes and concentrated on the light in her mind, on their connection and for the first time Samantha answered, for the first time she got something back. The ball of light she usually saw was not only there, it was pulsing with an energy it never had before. This afternoon, when the blonde had come back and knelt in front of her, she had thought that she had felt her lover actively reaching out for her, but she hadn't been sure, not really.

Whatever had been left of her anger and disappointment at Samantha's unexpectedly immature and insecure behaviour disappeared at this discovery. Living with the woman she loved had been bliss, but this, the knowledge that their bond really was mutual, this finally made it real, real enough for every nerve ending, every cell in her body to understand and trust in it.

Janet almost unconsciously began to move the arm draped over her lover's midsection. She first circled the belly button. Her fingers then traced taut abdominal muscles and then moved upwards to her lover's breasts. Instead of gently caressing her partner's firm globes and teasing her until she felt compelled to take over, as was usually the case, this night she felt a sense of urgency that couldn't be denied. So, she began to knead and squeeze the blonde's smooth skin.

She quickly was rewarded by the sight of two very perkily protruding, very hard nipples though only one of them was actually receiving attention. Something that could easily be corrected; so, her left hand began to mimic the movements of her right. The blonde's breathing rhythm changed and a moan escaped her lips. She arched into the small physician's touch. Janet searched for her lover's eyes and found them dilated in arousal, and at the same time a spike of light roared through her soul.

As a rule, the brunette was perfectly contend to let Samantha take control in their bedroom; it simply was part of her character, but there were times when she needed something different, especially when she felt vulnerable, when she needed something more forceful without being outright aggressive or domineering.

The only question left to answer was if the blonde would accept it but that also turned out quiet all right. "Jan, Janet, plea…" She sealed her lover's lips with a kiss that quickly became passionate. The light of their love now seemed to pulse with the rhythm of their heartbeat. Their tongues began an intricate, very familiar dance.

Samantha continued to seek body contact and Janet happily obliged. She slowly rolled her body on top of the blonde's. She put as much of her body weight on her arms and still made sure that her breasts and nipples directly touched her lover's. All her instincts were telling her to take her partner hard and fast but another part told her that this would be too easy, too fast, for both of their sakes.

So, Janet lowered herself down on her elbows, trying to immobilise the taller woman who was starting to thrust up her hips. When she broke the kiss, she brought her lips close to Samantha's right ear and whispered.

"I love you, Sammy. Even if I'm angry with you, I'll always love you."

"Love you, too," the blonde whispered hoarsely back. "Please, take me."

"No, Sammy. I will not take you. You're mine as I am yours. I will not take you but I will make love to you." Samantha's wide eyes grew even wider at her words and the light intensified further.

Janet repositioned her right leg to rest between the blonde's thighs and pressed down. She could feel how wet Samantha was, and for a split second she imagined going down on her and bring her to a quick release with her lips and tongue. But this was not what she wanted this night to be about.

She once again sought her lover's eyes, and intensified the contact between their bodies. She kissed Samantha's throat and suckled the sensitive point just above the collar bone. Janet let the tip of her tongue trail over the soft skin as if she wanted to check out every single pore. She sought out the jugular vein and pressed the flat of her tongue against it. She relished feeling her lover's quickly beating heart, fast but not frantic; and concluded that she was ready for the next step.

The brunette shifted her weight back on her hands and arms, lifting her upper body away from Samantha's torso. She smiled slightly at the disappointed moan and kissed her lover, brushing lips against lips. She then turned her attention towards the blonde's breast, beginning with the soft, sensitive skin at their sides. Every once and again she let the tip of her tongue dance over one of the blonde's nipple to keep them hard.

She almost methodically kissed all around the base of the fleshy globes, leaving a trail of love bites. Samantha's hips began to move of their own accord but the small doctor somehow managed to hold her in place. The blonde spread her legs wider and Janet had to adjust her position to make sure that her nether lips stayed right on top of her lover's.

Janet stopped the ministrations to her partner's breast and established eye contact.

"Look at me, Sammy-baby, look at me. I want you to see what I do." She asked, knowing how difficult it could be to keep one's eyes open when other parts of her body insistently demanded attention.

The blonde's eyes opened even wider, and for a moment it was as if she had to gather all of her strength to offer a faint nod.

'O Goddess, she was so beautiful when she allowed herself to be open and vulnerable.' Her blonde, strong lover was never more beautiful than on these rare occasions.

Janet was almost painfully aware of her own arousal, but this evening was more about Samantha than her. She refocused her attention on the inviting breasts, determined to assuage at least some of the blonde genius' fears and insecurities she could still feel through their bond, now combined with a big dose of self-recriminations at her running away.

She suckled the taut nipples and enjoyed how the body beneath her squirmed in anticipation; Samantha was close, very close. "Please, Jan, please…"

"Come for me, baby. Let me see how you come for me."

The intensively dark blue eyes closed for the fraction of a heartbeat. Then Samantha captured the brunette's brown orbs. Energy was pulsing through them, making their muscles contract. Ever since returning from Gaia they had been aware of their connection like a golden thread between their hearts and souls, but now it suddenly flared to life, an explosion of light that enveloped them, drowned them.

Finally, Janet collapsed on top of her taller lover, and Samantha rolled them over 'til they came to their sides. She closed strong arms around the doctor's frame, whispered. "I love you, Janet, love you so much. You're my light."

"And you, my brave warrior, are mine, always." Janet answered with a bright smile. She stretched a bit and softly kissed the taller woman on sleepily dropping eyelids. "Sleep, my love."

She didn't receive an answer and hadn't expected one, knowing from experience that emotional stress took a greater toll on her usually self-reliant lover than mere physical exertion ever could.

Janet also was tired, but for the moment she felt energised by the explosion of light, by the all encompassing power of their love. Deep in her heart she knew that this day, this night had brought them even closer together, had strengthened their bond in a way they had yet to explore. Before falling asleep herself, she remembered her grandfather's favourite Shakespeare sonnet.

For thy sweet love remembered such wealth bringeth

That then I scorn to change my state with kings.

Her last coherent thought was that she wouldn't change what she had with the beautiful, brilliant blonde for anything or anyone in the universe.

Janet woke to an empty bed and a steaming mug of coffee waiting for her on the nightstand. She spared a thought to last night before grabbing it and smiled.

Samantha usually was the first one up and the coffee told her that her restless lover already had been out on her morning run and now was probably sitting in the kitchen with a cup of Chinese tea and the morning paper, her hair still wet from her shower. The brunette finished her coffee and decided that she would make pancakes for breakfast.

The paper was neatly folded on the kitchen table, but Samantha was nowhere to be seen. Janet checked the garage and the den and finally found her in the study, a small, sunny room the doctor used to do some of her paperwork. She was intently studying the computer screen and almost jumped when Janet suddenly appeared at her side.

"You performed a security check on Stephen? Why? I thought you like him."

"I like him, Jan, and he seems to be very good at his job. I spoke to the director of ARIN. They want him back. I promised to speak with him about it, but I also will offer him another option, now that the security check has come through clean." Samantha answered with one of her special smiles.

"At the base? Will General Hammond approve?"

"Since Coombs and Felger transferred to Area 51 my science department is a bit short-handed. We could use the help, and he's more than qualified." Samantha simply stated. "Do you think he would be able to stand the pressure?"

"Stephen is tough, Sam. When his parents found out that he was gay, they disowned him. He worked his way through College and still was Valedictorian. Neither his parents nor his brother were at the graduation."

"So, that's why my ears were ringing, talking about me behind my back." Stephen said from the door. "And Jan, you were there. That's all the family I needed."

"Thanks Stevie. Yes, we were talking about you. Sam might have a job for you if you don't mind working with the military."

His big eyes lit up but only briefly. "At NORAD? I once applied for a job there, but they told me to come back when I'm a commissioned officer. I don't think they have changed their policy about civilians. Not to speak about 'Don't ask, don't tell'. I didn't exactly make a secret of my sexual orientation."

"I let the two of you talk and get some breakfast going." Janet said and left the room with an encouraging pat on Stephen's shoulder.

"Take a seat, Stephen." The young man complied. "It wouldn't be at NORAD, officially yes, but not really. And 'Don't ask, don't tell' doesn't apply to you because you would still stay a civilian – as long as you keep your sex life out of work, there won't be a problem.

"I'm heading the science division of a facility under Cheyenne Mountain. You would be working for me, but there are a few things you'll have to know before you make any decision.

"First of all, I had a short talk with Professor Eagleton at ARIN. He wants you to come back and promised that your former partner would then be permanently transferred to night shift. He praised your quick thinking and your ability to improvise as well as your constant questioning and search for answers outside the box. That's exactly what we need at the base – but I have to warn you, it can get rather dangerous from time to time."

"I saw some of your scars when you were stretching before your run this morning, and one doesn't get a body like yours by sitting in a plush office. Deep space radar telemetry is only a cover story, right?"

"It's a cover story. I knew you were bright, Stephen. What we do is top secret. So, at the moment I can't tell you much more. It can be very dangerous, sometimes we get a lot of pressure from the brass and such, and we have to do things we don't like but it also is a wild ride, wilder than my wildest dreams."

"I'll think about it, Sam."

"That's all I ask. Take your time."

"I will. I'll go and help Janet in the kitchen. Do you mind if I ask her opinion?"

"Not at all; she's the Chief Medical Officer of the base. No one knows better than she does how dangerous our work can be."

"So, what do you want to know, Stevie?" Janet asked as soon as he came to the kitchen.

"I still can't get over it. She's 'the' Sam Carter! I lay awake half of the night, and I still can't get over it. I studied her theories even before the book came out. She's a legend in my field. Why does she let everyone believe that she's a man? And there also is no mention that she's an Air Force Officer."

"She told me that her identity was easy enough to find out if one really wanted to know. She thinks it's better for her work at the base when she's not in the public spotlight. So, will you go back to Nevada?"

"You never were one to beat around the bush, Jan. Tell me, is it really this dangerous?"

"It can be, Stephen. Every time Sam goes on an away-mission, there's a chance that she comes back injured or not at all. You would be working on the base, that's not half as dangerous, but in the past four years we have had some close calls. I'm sorry, Stevie but I can't go into any details as long as you have not been cleared by General Hammond, our commanding officer."

"Is it worth the danger and the pain, Janet?" The young man asked.

A barrage of images flashed through her mind, of all the occasions she almost had lost the blond soldier, of all the times she had to had stand by helplessly when one of her charges died.

"It can be hard and frightening, Stephen, but yes, it's worth the pain and the danger. We learn so much about life and the universe; we make a difference for our world."

They fell silent. Janet knew that she had told him too much, but still not enough to make an informed decision. Stephen leaned against one of the kitchen counters with an enigmatic smile on his face.

"I would be working with the Sam Carter, every day." He said almost to himself.

"Not every day, Stephen. I'll be gone more times than not and you would have your own projects to work on – but yes, from time to time we would be working together." Samantha answered from the doorway.

"Then my decision is made. I take the job, whatever it may be." He smiled like a kid in a candy store.

"Are you sure, Stephen?" Janet asked. "It really can be very dangerous."

"Jan, not accepting such an offer would be plain stupid. It would be like refusing to work with Einstein or Schroedinger or Heisenberg."

Samantha blushed up to her hairline and made a hasty exit by telling them. "I'll go and call the General."

"Did I say something wrong, Janet?"

"No, Stevie. Sam may be a card-carrying genius, but she also is very modest. She'll get over it. Don't worry."

Janet closed her eyes and tapped into their link. Last night had been special and she didn't expect any miracles, but when Samantha signalled her that she was all right a bright smile spread across her face.

She opened her eyes and continued. "She'll be all right, Stevie."

Less than a week later the science team of the SGC had a new member and Stephen turned out to be a very valuable asset to the base at Cheyenne Mountain. He was level-headed, resourceful, patient, and easy to work with. Samantha enjoyed working with him because she didn't have to dumb down her thought processes in order to get things done. He was a quick study, and at first had to be forced to leave the sanctuary of the lab for any length of time. The childlike wonder he had for the numerous new toys there reminded the blonde very much of a certain archaeologist.

The End

I know there are a lot of open questions and maybe a slight cliff-hanger or two. The sequel already has been started though I don't have all the answers yet. It's always easier to write something new if you know that there's someone out there appreciating what you're doing. And besides: I'm open for ideas and suggestions.

So, any and all feedback is welcome under romansilence@yahoo.de.

Flames will be answered with flames, but I'm thankful for constructive criticism (means: should you want to tell me that I suck – good, do so, I can take it, but also tell me why and/or how to make it better, to allow me to avoid it next time; rant at me that I'm too pro/contra … (whatever)… but be prepared for my answer).

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