DISCLAIMER: All characters belong to MGM and use of them here is not intended to infringe, nor to make any profit. This story depicts a loving relationship between women. If you have objections, don't read it. You have been duly warned.
SET: Season 2-3. Spoilers for Out of Mind, Seth, Fair Game
ARCHIVE: I'd be flattered. Just ask.
The Games We Play
Teal'c stood for some time in the SGC mess with his tray heaped high with food. He had intended to eat alone, as was his custom when the other members of SG1 were not present on base, but he spotted Major Samantha Carter sitting alone in a corner, looking at once as if she truly wanted to be alone and desperately desired company. SG1 was on stand down for a week and he knew that both Daniel Jackson and Colonel O'Neill had left the base and he had assumed that Carter had done the same. Teal'c's visceral response upon seeing her in the mess was surprise but, upon deeper reflection, he found it necessary to admit to himself that she had become increasingly withdrawn since her capture by Hathor and the events that had led up to her killing Seth. She was, as always, the consummate soldier, engaged scientist and trustworthy teammate, but the enthusiasm that she had always exhibited for their work seemed dulled of late. And so, he was not entirely surprised to find her still on base despite the time off that they had been allowed. He made his decision and moved forward, passing other SGC staff taking their meals at various tables, until he found himself standing before his teammate.
"Major Carter," Teal'c began, prompting Sam to look up from the intense focus she had devoted to pushing the food around on her tray, "I believe that prey is already dead."
"Uh, hey Teal'c," Sam replied, regarding the mountain of food on his tray and raising her eyebrows at his subtle humor.
"May I join you, Major Carter?" the Jaffa inquired.
"Of course," Sam answered as Teal'c took the seat across from her. "I didn't expect to see you here. Aren't you going fishing with Colonel O'Neill this week?"
"I am," he responded and began attacking the food before him. "We depart this evening."
"Oh," Sam muttered, turning her attention back to her own dinner.
"I did not expect to find you here either, Major Carter. I would have thought that you would welcome the opportunity for a brief respite from your work at the SGC."
"Yeah, well, you know...." she mumbled, hoping he'd leave the discussion there.
"No, Major Carter, I do not know." He regarded her closely when her eyes met his.
"That's just an expression, Teal'c," she countered, knowing full well that, after all this time, he was quite familiar with human colloquial language.
"But I do wish to know," he said softly, his eyes gentle and drawing her in. "We have killed Goa'uld before but the destruction of Seth seems to have affected you differently, Major Carter."
Teal'c watched the emotions play across his teammate's face and waited patiently to see what might emerge even as she turned again to spearing the uneaten food before her. Although he knew that Carter was a strong woman and had seen this strength in many difficult situations, he nevertheless felt very protective of her and her obvious distress disturbed him.
Vulnerable blue eyes met his and she stared for a moment. "I'm not afraid to die, you know."
While such a sharp turn might have confused another, Teal'c had become accustomed to the circuitous ways of the Tau'ri, particularly when it came to discussing their emotions. "You are one of the bravest individuals I have ever encountered, Major Carter. You have risked your life countless times to protect the people of your world, of other worlds, of your teammates. You have shown your willingness to lay down your life for me and, for that, I am very grateful."
Teal'c could see that Carter was moved by his words and he watched as she took a deep breath. "Thank you, Teal'c," she said finally.
"I only speak the truth." Getting no immediate response and still not quite comprehending the direction of the conversation, Teal'c returned to eating his meal and watched Sam play with hers. Teal'c could sense her gaze upon him from time to time and he waited patiently for the next round. He was soon satisfied.
"What I am afraid of," Sam began hesitantly, "is of never having really lived when it comes time for me to die." She paused, but when she started again, her pace was more like that of the woman he had come to know so well these past years. "It isn't that I'm not committed to what we're doing here or that there's any place else I'd rather be God, I love what we do and I know how important it is but, sometimes I feel the magnitude of what I'm missing."
Teal'c nodded slowly. "Although I have pledged myself to freeing my people and others from the tyranny of the Goa'uld and know that I cannot rest until this is accomplished, I nevertheless feel great regret at my separation from Drey'auc and from Rya'c. Their lives go on without me."
"They love you, Teal'c. Deep down, they know that what you do you do for them," Sam offered. He knew that she was sympathetic to the pain he had experienced upon finding out that Drey'auc had made difficult choices to provide for their son. "You have a family waiting for you." Sam sighed heavily and poked at her food. "I've got a string of mistakes, with Jonas Hanson at the top of the list."
"Indeed, he was most unworthy of you, Major Carter." Sam raised her eyebrows again to acknowledge Teal'c's understatement. "But, your desire to have a mate who shares in your work is an appropriate one." Teal'c could see Carter tense in response to his last suggestion and he wondered whether she thought it was O'Neill of whom he spoke. He could understand why she might imagine that this would be the case as he was aware that O'Neill had strong feelings for her. But, as much as he held O'Neill in high regard and considered him a true and good friend, he did not believe that Major Carter would be fulfilled in a relationship with the Colonel, nor that she desired one. No, her destiny lay elsewhere, and it lay within her grasp. "You deserve as much."
"I hope the day that you and your family are reunited will come soon, Teal'c," Sam said, her deep sincerity evident in her voice. "I'll miss you when the time comes," she finished softly.
"I shall miss you as well, Samantha Carter, but I will always be your friend. And rest assured that I shall come on a moment's notice if you should need me." Sam nodded and Teal'c could see that her eyes were moist with unshed tears, so moved by the sentiment and by his rare use of her first name. He turned his attention to finishing his meal to give her the opportunity to gather her thoughts. He suspected that she was imagining what it would be like once they had accomplished their goal of defeating the Goa'uld.
Sam pushed her tray aside, having given up on lunch and, looking up, her eyes met Teal'c's. "I think I'll head for the gym. Maybe a workout would do me some good."
"As you wish," Teal'c replied, placing the empty dishes from his try on hers and his empty tray below to consolidate their mess. They both stood and Teal'c paused for a moment, pondering how to lend momentum to Carter in this moment of searching. "I do not believe you answered my question concerning Seth's death, Major Carter, but I do wish to remind you that there are people who care about you and in whom you can confide."
"I know that, Teal'c," Sam smiled slightly. "And I really appreciate the talk."
"It is not a sign of weakness to open ourselves up to those we love, Samantha Carter, and it is unfitting a warrior of your stature to hide or to play games with emotions," he declared. His calculated blow delivered, Teal'c left her standing speechless and wide eyed.
From her comfortable place on the couch Janet glanced over at Cassie who lay on the living room floor in front of the roaring fire working on her math homework. While she didn't want to embarrass the teenager and hoped she wouldn't notice, Janet couldn't contain the smile of satisfaction that broke out on her face. She didn't need the warmth of the fire to make her heart swell with love for this refugee who had become so deeply entrenched in her life that she could hardly remember what it was like before Cassie arrived. Janet sighed and tempered her smile when Cassie returned her gaze briefly before continuing with her homework. Raising Cassie had become one of the most fulfilling aspects of her life and, at the same time, had created one of the more frustrating situations in which she had ever found herself.
Her brain having pursued this tortured line of thinking countless times before, Janet needed only to think the name and a thousand emotions tumbled forward. She shook her head in an attempt to clear it and force those emotions back down to the hidden recesses of her heart and a sense of relief washed over her as the doorbell rang, interrupting her consideration of the woman who had also worked her way deep into Janet's life.
She put her book aside, got up and opened the door to find the woman in question standing on her front porch. "He-ey," she said, a smile breaking out on her face. "I didn't expect to see you."
"Sam!" Cassie yelped, getting up and propelling herself at Sam.
Sam hugged Cassie and smiled at Janet. "We're on stand down for a week."
Janet closed the door as Cassie pulled Sam over to the couch. "I know."
Sam looked up, her expression serious. "And you didn't expect to see me?"
Janet perched on the arm of the couch and stared at her feet. "Things have been so crazy lately . . . I don't know . . . We haven't seen much of you . . . . It's just . . . ." She sighed, deciding to give up rather than continue the inane babbling.
Sam frowned, drew Cassie into a hug and kissed her head. "I'm sorry," she said softly. "Things have been crazy."
"But you're here now," Cassie said excitedly, pulling back from the hug. "And just in time to help me with algebra."
Sam smiled and let her young friend drag her down to sit before the fire. "So what's the deal?" she asked, glancing up to see meet Janet's gaze.
Janet hoped her face was unreadable but, since she couldn't be sure, she decided to absent herself while Sam helped Cassie with her homework. "I'll be in the study if you need me," she said quietly, meeting Sam's curious eye for a brief moment.
When Janet returned sometime later to begin what she knew would be a halting process of ushering Cassie up to bed, she had regained her composure. She found Sam and Cassie just finishing up the homework and Cassie sighed when she saw Janet.
"Aw, mom," Cassie whined. "Can't I stay up a while longer."
Janet inclined her head and raised her eyebrow, the gestures sufficient to get Cassie moving. She watched as Cassie bid Sam goodnight and bounded up the stairs. Slowly, she let her gaze move to her friend, who sat staring into the fire. **God, when did I become such a dork?** she wondered. **We're friends, best friends, and I've become a babbling idiot around her,** Janet thought, kicking herself mentally. She was startled out of her reverie when Sam suddenly rose to her feet.
"Um, I guess I should go," Sam said awkwardly. "Thanks for letting me barge in."
"Sam," Janet said, some of her usual calm and warmth seeping back into her voice. "Don't go, yet. Stay and have a glass of wine with me."
"I don't know," Sam responded, her voice wavering. "I'm not very good company just now."
Concern for her friend taking over, Janet stepped forward and grasped Sam's hand loosely, her thumb running along the back of her hand. "You don't have to be good company, Sam. We've been through too much to demand that of one another."
Sam remained silent, her eyes on their clasped hands.
Janet squeezed Sam's hand and whispered, "Stay. Please."
Sam nodded and took a seat on the couch while Janet disappeared into the kitchen to bring back some wine.
Sam watched Janet as she returned from the kitchen, two glasses and a bottle of red wine in her hands. The fire cast a glow, highlighting the warmth of Janet's brown eyes and Sam found herself mesmerized, hardly noticing that Janet had uncorked the bottle and poured glasses for both of them. The strange awkwardness that had gripped them earlier returned and both women sipped their wine and gazed into the fire.
Sam finally broke the silence, the nagging question at the back of her mind demanding satisfaction. "Why did you think you wouldn't see me while we're on stand down?"
"I don't know," Janet sighed, still looking at the fire, which had begun to die down. "You seem to be dealing with a lot after Hathor, Seth, Cronus. How could you not be?"
Sam didn't quite know what to say, Janet having identified part of the reason she had become so withdrawn of late.
Janet rubbed her forehead and sighed and when she began to speak, her voice was unsteady. "God, Sam, you were gone for three weeks, presumed dead. And then, without any time to recover, you were off to find Seth. . . ."
Tears welling, Sam tried to fight them back. "And I killed him," she ground out.
Janet looked up and studied her. "I thought that was the idea."
Sam took a gulp of her wine before responding. "I killed him with a Goa'uld ribbon device, Janet."
"And you healed with a Goa'uld device as well," Janet countered.
"Cronus," Sam shot back, disgusted that she had been forced to save the Goa'uld who had ordered Jolinar's execution.
"And you saved the world . . . again."
"I don't know who I am sometimes, Janet," Sam whispered, allowing Janet to take her hand once again.
"I can't imagine what it must be like to have Jolinar's memories inside of you," Janet responded sympathetically.
Sam shook her head. "I've sort of gotten used to experiencing feelings that aren't mine," she said, struggling to continue. "It's what those feelings make me realize about myself, about my life that's so . . . ."
"Sam?" Janet said softly.
"Jolinar's life makes me . . . Jolinar had everything," Sam finally got out. "She and Martouf shared everything love, commitment to their cause, passion and fun. Knowing this, experiencing it, leaves me feeling so damn jealous . . . and incomplete." Janet squeezed her hand and she felt suddenly incredibly exposed and afraid. "I'm sorry, I should go," she croaked and felt herself caught in Janet's grip when she tried to rise from the couch. "Janet . . . ."
"Why did you come here tonight, Sam?" Janet asked so evenly that Sam couldn't help but turn to look her in the eye.
"Why did you come here?"
"To see Cassie," Sam sputtered, having no idea of what Janet was after, but realizing that Janet had suddenly released her hand.
Janet nodded slowly, no longer looking at Sam. "I'll see you," she whispered.
Sam stood, looking back and forth between her coat and her friend, who sat staring at her hands. **Damn you, Carter,** she thought, **you're such a coward sometimes.** Sam couldn't help but remember Teal'c's admonition about emotional games and tears welled in her eyes. Before she could think, she found herself kneeling in front of Janet and felt her heart pounding in her chest. Taking one of Janet's hands in both of hers, Sam looked into deep brown eyes. "I came here because I wanted to see Cassie," she began, halted for a moment by the searching gaze before her, "and because I needed to see you. I need you in my life, Janet."
"You're the best friend I've ever had, Sam," Janet responded. "I am in your life."
"I . . . I want more," Sam said, lifting a hand to caress Janet's cheek. "I want you." Sam felt her heart skip a beat as Janet turned her face into the caress.
"Then have me," Janet whispered huskily as she leaned in to brush her lips across Sam's. The kiss deepened and Sam thought she would faint when Janet's tongue begged entrance. Her blood thundering in her ears, all Sam could think was **Oh, God, why did I wait so long for this?**
Sam opened her eyes and stretched languorously, unable to contain the grin that had plastered itself across her face. She was alone in Janet's bed and glanced at the clock, which made her figure that Janet was busy getting Cassie off to school. **I'm in Janet's bed,** she thought, the grin growing. **I'm naked in Janet's bed.**
A thought struck her and she reached for the phone, dialing a number from memory.
"Hey, Colonel O'Neill. It's Sam."
"What's up, Carter? Working hard on some naquada thingie on your time off?" he quipped.
"Not exactly, Sir," Sam replied, wondering if he could hear the smile on her face in her voice. "Listen, is Teal'c there?"
"Yeah, he's here," O'Neill replied. "We're about to head down to the lake, but I'll get him."
Sam glanced around the room as she waited for Teal'c to come to the phone. She smiled again, hardly believing her good fortune. Teal'c voice interrupted her reverie.
"Hey, Teal'c. Are you having a good time?" she asked, suddenly uncertain about her purpose in calling him.
"It has been relaxing thus far. The temperature is quite low, but O'Neill assures me that ice fishing is a worthwhile pursuit."
"Um, listen, I had some big speech planned out in my head, but now I . . . ."
"Where are you, Major Carter?" Teal'c asked, interrupting her.
"I'm at Janet's house, why?"
"I see," Teal'c replied.
"You do?" Sam asked.
"Indeed. There is no need to thank me, Samantha Carter. I was certain that you had the courage to take the appropriate action. I shall see you when we return."
The line went dead and Sam hung the phone up, amazed at the insight of her generally silent teammate. She looked up when Janet entered the room, dressed in boxer shorts and a t-shirt. Sam observed her lover as she crossed to sit on the edge of the bed, wondering how Teal'c could have known.
"Morning," Janet said, leaning down to kiss her softly. "Did I just hear you on the phone?"
Sam drew her in for another kiss and continued kissing her jaw and then making her way down Janet's throat. "Yep," she replied, inhaling her lover's scent.
"Don't tell me you have to get back to the base," Janet moaned.
"Nope," Sam said, smiling and pushing Janet down onto the bed. "I'm all yours."
"I like it that way," Janet replied, her smile matching Sam's until she saw her lover's expression turn serious. "Sam?"
"Sorry," Sam whispered, sitting up and dragging the sheet with her to cover her body.
"What's wrong, love?" Janet asked, sitting up as well.
Sam reached out to caress Janet's cheek. "Nothing's wrong. I swear." She pulled Janet into an embrace. "I was just caught off guard by how good it feels to have found everything I've been missing," she whispered.
"I know what you mean," Janet sighed, hugging Sam tightly. "So what was the phone call about?"
"I just had to thank a friend for pointing me in the right direction. I think I know where I'm going now," Sam said, flopping back down on the bed.
"Well, as long as it isn't anywhere outside this room anytime soon," Janet laughed.
"It isn't anywhere you're not, love," Sam responded and pulled her lover to her.
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