DISCLAIMER: The story, and characters and anything and everything else concerning SG: SG1 belong to MGM, Gekko, Secret Productions etc, they are so not mine and no money is being made from this and no copyright infringement is intended.
SPOILERS: Alternate Season 7. Follows on in my AU: Meridian where Sam not Daniel ascended. This takes place a year after the events in Ghost 1-6.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

Ghost 7
The Price We Pay
By Celievamp

Janet sat at her computer in her office, her young daughter Sophia balanced on her lap. It was her partner Samantha's birthday in a few days time. The anniversary also marked a year since she had returned to them, a year of momentous changes, not the least of which was currently curled in Janet's lap playing with the zip on her fleece, her curious fingers marking the changes in texture from soft fabric to hard metal.

Janet typed the last few lines of her email to her other daughter, Cassandra, asking her to pick up a few things in Denver before she returned from University to Colorado Springs for the party they had planned at the weekend. A party that would hopefully be a surprise for Sam.

Sophia reached up and batted her cheek gently. "Mama," she gurgled happily. "Mama." Hanging on to the fleece with one hand she reached over and began pressing keys on the keyboard.

"So, you want to write to Cassie as well do you, Sophia?" Janet laughed. She let the little girl play on the keyboard for a few moments longer then gently disengaged the small hands from the keys and lifted the child down onto the floor.

"Just give me a minute to finish up, sweetie and then we'll get you some dinner, shall we?" She glanced at the door to make sure that it was firmly shut and there was no way that her adventurous daughter could escape out into the hallway. She was currently fascinated with the concept of stairs, to the point that she had nearly given Sam a heart attack a few days earlier when Sam had taken her eyes off her daughter for a few seconds only to find her crawling determinedly up the stairs, already at the level of the sixth stair. She had not yet found her feet, but Janet could already tell that her 11 month old daughter was going to bypass walking completely in favour of running.

Janet turned back to the computer and examined at the few lines of gibberish at the bottom of the email. She smiled. It almost looked like it should mean something, some equation that perhaps Sam would understand. She reminded herself to show it to her later. She topped and tailed it with an explanatory note to Cassie that it was a message from Sophia and signing off, pressed the icon to send it to her elder daughter.

There was a giggle somewhere behind her and a thump as something hit the floor. "Sophia?" Janet turned. Her daughter had pulled herself to her feet again over by the book case and was busy pulling out the books one by one, waiting for her mother to pay her some attention.

Colonel Samantha Carter signed off the last piece of paperwork in her in-tray with a flourish. The rest of the day belonged to her and the various exciting and potentially useful artefacts in her lab. Since her return to the SGC eight months earlier as Head of the Science Division she had not missed going off-world half as much as she thought she would. Truth was that she didn't want to leave Sophia and Janet for any length of time. Then again, it had just become too dangerous for her and for the rest of the SGC. The price on her head was huge when she was just the final host to Jolinar. As an ex-Ascended being it had grown to astronomical proportions. Even if the Earth-based authorities believed (or chose to believe) the cover-story about the long-term covert mission for the Tokra, the Goa'uld obviously knew the truth. And word was that Anubis himself had taken a personal interest in her. The warning had come from Aris Bok himself via the Tokra. O'Neill had joked over the fact that she had obviously stolen the heart of another alien male. Sam was too alarmed by the news to make any kind of retort. Osiris had been placed in charge of her retrieval. And Sam and Osiris already had entirely too much history between them.

Anubis was interested in her. That was truly scary. One of the things Sam had 'known' following her ascension was that Anubis's current host was an Ancient and had in common with the rest of his kind become the Ascended at some time in the distant past. Then he had de-Ascended as Orlin had done and had somehow become host to a Goa'uld. His powers and knowledge were incalculable. Her father, who to her knowledge had never backed down from a fight, had begged her to give up her active mission status. As had Hammond, O'Neill and then Janet when Selmac had filled them in on the latest intel on Anubis and his growing power base. The look of relief on Dad's face when she had agreed not to rejoin an SG field team and step down from active missions through the Gate almost broke Sam's heart.

Her promotion three months earlier had come as a genuine surprise to Sam. It made her by far the highest ranking female in the Mountain, one of the highest ranking in the Air Force as a whole, certainly for her age. She knew that Janet was also in line for a similar promotion, probably within the next six months though Hammond had sworn her to secrecy on that. Janet had been working part time back at the SGC since Sophia was six months old but now they had found a full time nanny for their little girl she would be working full time back at the SGC within the month. Much as she doted on her daughter and had loved the time they spent together, Sam knew that Janet was itching to get back to work properly.

Sam glanced lovingly across at the framed photograph placed prominently on her desk. The Carter-Fraiser household had decided to get some photographs professionally done a few weeks previously. This was Sam's personal favourite, though not the 'official' family photograph, which had pride of place on the living room wall at home. A smaller version of the same photograph was in General Hammond's office. He doted on Sophia, treating her as another one of his grand-daughters. In Sam's photograph, Janet was sitting with Sophia in her lap and Sam standing behind her, her hands caressing Janet's shoulders. One of Janet's hands was reaching up to touch her fingers, the other was wrapped firmly around their youngest daughter's waist. Cassie was sitting at her feet. Sophia was leaning forward, her hands buried in her older sister's long dark blonde hair and she had a wide grin on her face, displaying four tiny teeth. Both older women were laughing at her antics, meanwhile Cassie was trying to maintain a poised smile as befitting a sophisticated eighteen year old despite having hanks of her hair being pulled out by the roots by her enthusiastic sibling.

As if somehow divining her thoughts her cell phone rang. Glancing at the caller id she saw it was Janet. Sam smiled and activated the phone. "Jan? Everything okay?"

"He-ey, hun. Everything's fine, don't worry. I was just checking if you're still on course to be home around seven. You remember we have a table booked for eight at Antonio's?"

"I'll be home in time, don't fret," Sam smiled. "How is Sophi-girl?"

"Giving me more grey hairs than I care to think about. Her latest trick is to pull all the books out of the book case. The bigger and heavier the better. This is hysterical fun, of course. For her, at any rate."

"Now you know how I felt when she nearly did a header on the stairs the other day," Sam shuddered at the memory.

Janet's voice got momentarily fainter. "Hang on, she wants to talk to you. She keeps grabbing for the phone."

Sam knew that if anyone walked into her office just then they would see the huge grin on her face as she listened to heavy breathing and the occasional cooing noise from the phone. "Hi Sophi-girl!" she called. "I hear you're keeping your mama entertained. You be a good girl, you hear and I'll read you a bedtime story when I get home." There was a gurgle in response and what might have been 'Mama'. Both of her mothers were still intensely debating how she differentiated between the two women in her life – three, if you counted her big sister Cassie who spent as much time with her sibling as she could. There was another muffled sound and then Janet came back on.

"Ick, baby drool!" she laughed. "She's in the mood to communicate today. We've just written an email to Cassie to which she contributed. It was just gibberish as you can imagine but it looked like it should mean something, you know? I sent Cassie your love as well."

"She is coming home this weekend?" Sam asked, knowing full well that she was. Janet had something planned to celebrate her birthday and the anniversary of her return. She was savvy enough to keep an innocent face on, pretend that she had not overheard any of the plans for her surprise party.

"She'd better," Janet said darkly. "So, what are you doing today, my love? The guys still keeping you busy?"

"I've just finished all my paperwork so I'm looking forward to some quality lab time for the rest of the day," Sam said enthusiastically. "There's a whole bunch of stuff that SG14 brought back a few days ago from PX808V. We think one piece in particular is some sort of archival data system based on a crystal matrix but we can't get it to activate. I'm going to try to power it up. But first I need to check the storage medium and create some sort of buffering system. I don't want to accidentally overload or destabilise it or wipe it completely. I..." She paused. "Sorry, I went into tech-head mode again."

"Don't worry about it. You know I love you when you talk tech to me," Janet whispered.

Sam shivered at the seductive tone in her lover's voice. "Just hold that thought until I get home, okay." It was a good job that the emotional bond they had shared whilst Janet was pregnant had faded somewhat over the months. Sam hadn't been able to set foot in Starbucks since the day Janet had decided to test the bond. "Give Sophia a kiss and cuddle from me. See you later, okay."

"Better n'okay," Janet replied. "I love… Sophia Catherine Carter Fraiser - just you stop that right now! Oh no, sweetie... ( there was a protesting wail in the background) Sam, gotta go." The phone clicked off. Sam smothered a giggle. Janet would be glad to get back to working full time for the rest.

Janet soothed her daughter's hurt feelings. Startled when her mother had gifted her with her full name she had sat down with a bump, scaring herself a little, her delight in her game forgotten. Janet kissed the blond curls and held the little girl close. She had so many hopes and fears for this miracle child of hers. Conceived in mystery, from conception to birth in a month they had seen no manifestation that she was anything other than a normal little girl since then. Her growth rate was at the top end of normal for her age as was her development, but given her human genetic heritage that was to be expected. Janet knew from her parent's proud stories that she had walked and talked before she was a year old and from Jacob Carter's recollection, so had Sam. Sam had been something of a mathematical prodigy and had been put up a couple of grades at school as well as attending advanced sometimes university-level classes in maths and science subjects whilst she was still in her early teens. So if Sophia was a little precocious as well there was nothing to worry about. Nothing at all.

What genetic testing they had been able to do showed Sophia to be completely normal. She had neither naquada nor the Goa'uld protein marker in her blood – much to both women's relief.

She had Sam's eyes, and her hair was coming out a shade or two darker than Sam's but the shape of her face was entirely Janet. She had a vocabulary of about eight words – Mama (either of her mother's), Sass (Cassie), Unca (any member of SG1 or General Hammond) dink (drink), nana (banana), bear (her Winnie the Pooh stuffed toy), night (wanting to go to bed) and 'lo (hello) and of course 'no!' - at the moment but chattered away to herself or anyone within hearing in her own particular language all the time. She was very self sufficient, intensely curious and fascinated with anything vaguely technological. Sam had had to put the TV remote back together twice so far. Anything with a childlock was just a puzzle to be solved. Janet just knew that her daughter was going to be a holy terror once she finally found her feet. She found herself wanting to apologise to her own mother for all the grey hairs she had caused her in her own childhood.

A small hand patted her cheek, bringing her back to the present. "Mama," Sophia wriggled to be put down again. Janet set her daughter down on the floor and with a doting smile watched her crawl off in search of more mischief to commit. Janet realised that she was going to miss this so much when she went back to work full time.

The alien archive system succumbed to Sam's ministrations midway through the afternoon and successfully powered up and interfaced with a heavily customised laptop Sam handed it on to Daniel's team for further study and translation. She tinkered with her latest generation of naquada reactors for an hour and then glanced at the clock. Five pm. Better to knock off early and go now before she got distracted by something and had to rush at the last minute. Janet was one of the most forgiving people she knew but there was no sense pushing her luck. Not if she wanted to get all her presents. Sam smiled, thinking of some of the 'presents' in store for her. She was going to have so much fun unwrapping the little doctor.

Since Sophia had started to sleep through nights and had settled in her own room across the hall the two women had been, by their own admission, insatiable. Though the link that had been established between them when Sam gave Janet her life-energy to keep her alive had almost faded to nothing enough of it remained to give their lovemaking an extra edge and poignancy. Sam still knew when Janet was thinking about her though there had been no repeat of the 'solo orgasm' experience. Sam smothered a smile at the memory of that. It had been fun whilst it lasted. She had not realised that her lover had quite such a dirty and devious mind.

As Sam locked her office door she heard the unauthorised wormhole activation warning and froze. She had no real reason to go to the Observation Room. It wasn't expected of her any more. But old habits died hard. And she happened to know that no teams were expected back until much later that evening.

Sam had just entered the Observation Room when the noise began. It was some kind of transmission, warped out of their comprehension by the effects of the wormhole and the trinium iris. It sounded more like satanic whale music than anything else. Catching Simmons eye he slid over and let her take his station at the computer as the transmission ended and the wormhole shut down. Bringing up the decryption software she had designed for just this purpose she set the signal to run through it in a continuous loop, the programme changing modulation and amplitude until the signal was more recognisable. It was a voice transmission and she had managed to recover almost all of it. "It's Goa'uld, sir," she confirmed after a few minutes. "I can make a partial translation but..."

"I am here, Colonel Carter," Teal'c said from somewhere behind her. There was a pause and then he came out with the immortal line "Play it again, Sam."

There was muffled laughter around the room. "Of all the gin joints..." Sam whispered to herself, smirking, as she activated the recording. Casablanca had always been one of her favourite films. She had watched it with her dad more times than she could recall.

"You do know Rick never actually says that line, don't you, T?" O'Neill said.

"So you're responsible, are you, sir?" Sam smiled. "I might have known. Teal'c's introduction to American Culture has finally reached the collected works of Humphrey Bogart?"

"Too right!" O'Neill enthused. "About time we got him on to the classics. Okay, we any closer to hearing what our snakehead friend had to say?"

Sam felt Teal'c's presence behind her, his hand coming to rest on her shoulder as he listened intently to the cleaned up transmission. She felt the growing tension in his body. She strove to make sense of it herself.

A phrase leapt out at her. "Nagdaleth apis varo." She shuddered involuntarily, sitting back in her chair. The meaning tingled on the edge of her awareness. It was not good. Then she was fairly certain that she heard her own name and Jolinar's mentioned. Teal'c's hand tightened on her shoulder.

"Oh!" she said softly. Then without warning her mind was flooded with images from Jolinar's memories, one after the other, each more insistent than the last. When she could see again and was pretty certain that her thoughts were her own once more she was somewhat embarrassed to find herself crouched almost foetally on the floor of the Observation Room, her face to the wall, her fists crammed in her mouth to muffle her screams. Teal'c was still holding her his big arms protectively around hers as if he was trying to stop her from hurting herself. Sam took a series of deep breaths and tried to stand. She felt incredibly shaky but thankfully the feeling was passing. Teal'c and O'Neill helped her back to her seat. Graham Simmons handed her a glass of water, O'Neill supporting her trembling hand as the liquid threatened to slop over the side of the glass. General Hammond came down the stairs from his office.

"Colonel Carter – I heard what sounded like a scream - what happened?"

"You remembered something of Jolinar," Teal'c said softly. "Something concerning Anubis?"

"It was a flashback. Extremely vivid. I was in a room," Sam said softly, trying to control the trembling in her limbs. "I watched as Anubis tortured a Goa'uld called Hecate. She had information that he wanted. She knew I was Tokra. She could have betrayed me to save herself but she didn't." She shivered. "She gave her life for me – for Jolinar. I don't remember why."

"So what about the message triggered the flashback?" General Hammond asked.

"One phrase that was used - nagdaleth apis varo – and then I am sure I heard my name and Jolinar's."

"You are correct, Major Carter," Teal'c said. "I am surprised that you recognised the phrase though. It is a very archaic dialect."

"I recognised it, Teal'c, but I have no idea what it means, except that it scared the hell out of Jolinar," Sam said.

"I will work with Daniel Jackson to make sure that I have an accurate translation of the message," Teal'c said.

"Thank you, son," General Hammond said. "Colonel Carter – Sam - with respect, I'd like you to stop by the infirmary for a check-up and then if you're fit, I'll get an airman to drive you home. You've had a bad experience and I want you to get a good night's sleep."

"In other words, sir, I look like hell," Sam smiled. "I did promise Janet I would be home early tonight. I think she has plans."

Hammond smiled, recollecting the date. "Of course."

"I'll make sure she gets home," O'Neill said, helping Sam to her feet. "I'm heading that way anyhow to pick up Sophia. She's staying chez O'Neill tonight. Janet arranged it with me earlier in the week. Don't worry – I promised her no beer, only one slice of pizza and no TV after eight. We'll get on fine."

"I know, sir," Sam smiled. "She just loves her uncle Jack."

O'Neill grinned expansively. "Hey, what's not to love?" He tried to usher Carter out of the door but she turned towards Teal'c, her expression pensive again.

"Teal'c – nagdaleth apis varo – what does it mean?"

"The place of our beginning." Teal'c said gravely.

The quick check up in the infirmary had shown nothing out of the ordinary apart from slightly elevated heart rate and blood pressure. Sam was allowed to leave. She was lost in thought as Jack drove her home. She had rung Janet before leaving the base assuring her that no, she had not forgotten their dinner date and she was setting off now.

"You okay?" Jack's voice interrupted her thought processes.

"Not really," Sam replied softly. "I have a bad feeling about this, Jack. I haven't had a flashback since I came back. Why now? Why was my reaction to that message so strong?"

"I don't know. You've never had any inkling about this before, about you having a link to Anubis?"

Sam shook her head. "Never. The place of our beginning – what do you think that means?"

"Remember me telling you about that body the Antarctic team dug up – the girl that Danny fell head over heals with?"

"Aiyana – yes. You all caught some sort of virus from her."

"Yeah." Jack did not want to go any further down that memory lane. "Anyway, before they got sick, Janet and Danny came up with some pretty wild theories to explain her presence."

Sam smiled, remembering how utterly adorable Janet looked when she was excited about something. "I read in the mission report that based on the core samples around her she was about five million years old."

"Right, and from the way she looked and all – the Doc and Danny came up with this wild idea that what we are might not be the first time intelligent life evolved here. That we might be someone's second attempt."

"That would rock more than a few boats," Sam agreed. "I know Danny thought she was an Ancient."

"They spent a lot of time talking. She'd learnt English by this point. Anyway, she was pretty hazy on a lot of things but she said that a couple of times 'the place of our beginning'. Before Danny could ask her anything else about it, people started collapsing with the virus and he never did get to have another conversation with her."

Sam remembered the mission report and what Janet had told her. Everyone had got sick and Aiyana had somehow healed them but had collapsed herself before she got the chance to heal Jack.

He had been on the point of death when Jacob had persuaded him to accept a symbiote as a temporary measure – long enough to heal him and for the symbiote to make a mission report.

But as ever when SG1 were involved, it hadn't been that simple.

Janet was looking out of the window waiting for the car to pull up. Daniel had rung her to tell her that Sam had had a bad flashback and was still a bit shaky but that Dr Warner had cleared her and Jack was giving her a ride home. She debated whether to cancel their restaurant reservation but decided to wait and see how Sam felt. A relaxing evening out might be just what she needed.

"Dropping one off and picking one up!" O'Neill quipped as he came through the door. Janet pulled him to one side after a quick embrace with Sam, who still looked far too pale as far as she was concerned, as her partner went upstairs to get ready and asked him what had happened.

"You know better than I do how these things affect Carter," he said softly. "But I'd expect a few bad dreams on this one. It really shook her up. It was something to do with Anubis and a Goa'uld called Hecate who for some reason was protecting Jolinar."

"She never mentioned that Jolinar knew of Anubis never mind met him," Janet said. "I thought Anubis had been gone a long time."

"He has," Jack said, leaning back against the settee and holding Sophia at arms length above his head. "This must have been from before they threw him out." He blew raspberries at the little girl who kicked and crowed at him. "You know I can't get over how much princess here is a mix of the two of you. Carter's eyes and your smile – she's going to break some hearts when she gets older."

Janet smiled. "Well I'll expect you to still be around to vet her boyfriends just like you did with Cassie."

"Count on it, Doc," O'Neill smiled. He brought Sophia down to his level again and gave her a kiss on the brow, wincing as her fingers closed tightly on his ear lobe. "Well, I'd better make tracks with this one. You two have a good night." Janet handed him the bag with everything he would conceivably need for Sophia.

"Thank you again for giving Sam a lift home. And for taking Sophia for the night."

"Yes, thank you, Colonel," Sam said from the stairs. They turned to look at her and O'Neill gave a soft whistle of appreciation.

"You know, Carter, I always forget how well you scrub up."

A soft blush coloured Sam's cheeks as she walked downstairs towards them. Given the speed at which she had got ready, she did look stunning, wearing a loose silk blouse in swirls of different blues and purple and a tailored pair of dark blue trousers, her usual combat boots exchanged for delicate sandals that showed off her slender shapely feet. She had fluffed out her hair and sapphire earrings shone from her ears, a matching pendant at her throat. The set had been a Christmas present from her father, bought in some market on a planet on the other side of the galaxy – a truly out of this world gift.

"Thank you, sir," she smiled. She held out her hand to Sophia who took it, clutching at her fingers. Sam touched them softly to her lips and let her fingers run softly through the blonde curls. "Now you just behave yourself, okay Sophi-girl."

Janet put her arms around her partner. "We're going to be late," she said softly.

Regretfully, Sam let go of her daughter. "See you tomorrow, sir."

"Count on it," O'Neill nodded. "Ladies. Don't do anything I wouldn't do."

Janet choked back a giggle. "That doesn't leave out too many things, Jack."

O'Neill just shook his head. "We're really going to have to work on that insubordination thing when you get back to full time, Major."

"Just don't forget who has access to the big needles, sir," Sam grinned. "Thanks for the lift and see you tomorrow."

They watched him head off down the drive to his car, Sophia staring solemnly back at them over his shoulder.

Janet led Sam back inside and sat her down. "Are you sure you're up to this? We can cancel and stay at home if you'd prefer. You need to talk through what happened."

"Much as staying at home – alone," Sam emphasized the last word, "with you is extremely tempting, love, we've been promising ourselves this for ages. And we got all dressed up." She appraised the slender figure in front of her, the gold silk top she was wearing that left her arms and throat highlighting the light tan of her skin, the deep cleavage drawing Sam's eye. "Although you do look good enough to eat." She smiled in delight at the smoky look in Janet's dark eyes.

"I tell you what, you can have me for desert," Janet husked.

"And miss out on their chocolate torte," Sam shook her head. "Not a chance! But a midnight snack might not be out of the question."

Janet noted that her lover had neatly sidestepped the whole 'talking about it' issue. She would let it slide for now, but they would be having that conversation later.

The meal had been very pleasant. The staff at Antonio's knew both women well and Janet had tipped them in advance that they were celebrating Sam's birthday. Antonio had made a chocolate torte especially for the two of them with his compliments. As Sam's car was still at the Mountain, Janet had driven them. This meant that Sam drank most of the bottle of rather good Merlot they had ordered with their meal. It wasn't part of Janet's cunning plan to get her lover to talk about the flashback, but it all helped. Sam was an affectionate and loquacious drunk.

Sam giggled as she crowded behind Janet as Janet paused at the front door juggling cake box with left over torte in it and housekeys. Her hands traveled down Janet's body, cupping her bottom for a moment.

"Hey!" Janet let out a giggle as she was gently goosed. "Let's hold it together till we get inside the house please, Sam. I don't want the neighbours to get a free show."

"Not a second one, anyway," Sam's breath was hot on the back of her neck as she nuzzled Janet's ear. Janet's hands went numb for a second and she dropped the keys. Before she could do anything, Sam had bent down to pick them up. Somehow she was now between Janet and the door, the left over torte in grave danger of being crushed between them.

"Sam!" Janet pleaded. Sam ignored her, the hand that wasn't holding the keys curling around the back of Janet's neck, holding her close. Their lips met, parted, tongues clashing tasting chocolate and wine. Janet managed to get hold of the keys before Sam dropped them again and working on spatial memory alone managed to get the key in the lock and open the door, pushing Sam through into the hall.

"Alarm!" she hissed, depositing the cake box on the hall table. Sam reached up and tapped in the code with long, nimble fingers before the security alarm activated itself and deafened the neighbours and then resumed kissing her. Janet reached for the door and pushed it closed, then had time to draw the bolt and chain across before she found herself pushed up against it, Sam's hands busy under her top.

"Want you," Sam gasped. "Want you so badly. Want to unwrap my present. Now!" She lifted Janet off her feet. Janet was also caught up in the moment and wrapped her legs around Sam's slim hips, her arms around her neck.

"Come on then, blondie," she breathed, gently biting at Sam's earlobe and neck. "Show me what you got."

Janet never quite remembered just how physically strong Sam was for her build. She showed no sign of strain as she carried Janet upstairs to their bedroom and deposited her on the bed then stood back and smiled at her, excitement and alcohol colouring her cheeks. Janet stared up at her challengingly, the smile playing about her features calculated to drive Sam wild.

Sam pulled her to her feet again and began to walk around her, her hands and lips never leaving contact with some part of Janet's body. She felt Janet shiver beneath her touch. "Tell me what you want, Janet?"

"You're the birthday girl, Sam. Whatever you want, I want, my love."

Sam's hands were on her bare shoulders, their bodies only inches apart. Sam's hands were so hot they seemed to scald her skin however delicate her touch. "I want you, my Janet. Only you. Only ever you." Now Sam's fingers were tracking down her body, Sam obviously intending to fully enjoy the sensation of the woven silk of Janet's top under her touch. Janet raised her arms as Sam reached the hem, silently inviting her to take it off.

Sam smiled, lifted the garment up over Janet's head, discarding it carefully on the chair beside the bed. She let her fingers drift over the rise of Janet's breasts over the lacy demi-cup of her bra. "You are so beautiful. So perfect." Sam lowered her head to capture Janet's lips in a kiss, her hands now cupping her mate's full breasts, her thumbs stroking over the sensitive nipples feeling them strain against the fabric that barely contained them. Janet moaned into her mouth as they deepened the kiss and Sam let one of her hands follow the slim line of fabric round Janet's back so that she could unfasten the bra. Shortly afterwards it joined the discarded blouse on the chair.

Reluctantly relinquishing Janet's mouth, Sam lowered her head to kiss her way down Janet's throat, planting butterfly kisses along her collarbone, feeling Janet shiver under her touch, her narrow back arching. Sam flicked her tongue against one plump nipple and then took the peak in her mouth, laving her tongue around it, holding Janet securely as she felt the smaller woman begin to tremble. She loved to make Janet lose control like this. It was her privilege and pleasure to see the sensual side of her partner. Janet's hands were in her hair, her fingers combing through it as softly, wordlessly she voiced her approval of what Sam was doing to her.

One of Sam's hands had inched under the waistband of her skirt, deftly unfastening the button and Janet felt the garment begin to slip from her body as Sam pulled the zip down. As Janet undulated her hips, the skirt pooled on the floor and she stepped out of it and kicked it away. Sam's hands cupped her buttocks now, squeezing the rounded flesh as they kissed again, tongues parrying with each other. The rest of her underwear was now pooled around her ankles as well and balancing against Sam, Janet stepped out of them.

Sam lips were working their way down her neck again, one hand curved around a breast, the other still cupping one of her buttocks. Janet tried to undo the buttons on Sam's blouse, her fingers shaking too much to be effective at the task. She gave up, gave in to pure sensation as Sam's mouth tongued her nipples and then fastened on one, drawing the sensitive peak into her mouth, her tongue laving and swabbing around her nipple. Though she was no longer nursing, her breasts were still acutely sensitive and Janet knew that she would not be able to stand this for much longer. Her fingers tightened in Sam's hair and she gently but firmly pulled her head away.

"If you don't want me to spontaneously combust here and now, I'd try somewhere else for a while," she gasped. Sam smiled up at her, her blue eyes darkened almost to black and sank gracefully to her knees, kissing her way down Janet's sternum and over her abdomen, paying loving attention to her navel for a few minutes before burying her nose in the soft hair at her cleft. Janet felt her vision begin to fade, her bones turning to water, her breath quickening as Sam adjusted her hold on her, parting her thighs, bracing her against the willowy strength of her body as her tongue snaked out to taste the honey that was already collecting.

Janet realised that she was seeing stars, moving faster and faster as her lover brought her to climax with her lips and tongue and fingers. She screamed out Sam's name before collapsing almost on top of her as her body rebelled, preferring to bask in the waves of pleasure still thrumming through her rather than do anything as mundane as stay upright. Sam was cradling her in her arms now, her face buried in Janet's hair. Something cool and wet touched her cheek and Janet realised that Sam was crying.

"Baby, what's wrong," Janet asked, shifting until she was kneeling in front of Sam. "It's your birthday, you should be…."

"Happy? Oh, I am, believe me, my love, so happy that I can't…" Sam sobbed, curling up so that her head was buried in Janet's lap. "Hold me, please, just hold me."

Janet stroked her hands down the long back, feeling Sam shiver under her touch, waiting for her to recover her equilibrium. Since her return and Sophia's birth, Sam had been more comfortable with showing her emotions, especially in private.

It was a few moments before she realised that Sam was talking, her voice a tight choked whisper. "I did a lot of reading when I came back, you know. Stuff about the afterlife and angels and the things that might have happened to me. A lot of it was about Egyptian beliefs – this was from Danny's collection after all. Did you know that the Egyptian's believe that we have seven souls and the seventh and most precious was the Ab, the heart-soul that would be weighed on the balances by the Goddess Maat in the hall of Judgement. They pictured it as a tiny woman dancing, treading a constant rhythm in the middle of the body. You are my heart-soul, Janet, my constant. I don't want to lose you again."

"You will never lose me, Sam," she raised the woman's tear stained face to hers and gifted her lover with her most brilliant smile. "You just said it for yourself. I am your heart-soul and you are mine. However far apart we are we can never lose that connection, never lose each other."

Sam woke in the light. She was in the white place between worlds where the Ascended walked. Oma Desala smiled at her. "Well met, Samantha Carter."

She was not afraid. When death becomes an old friend, you know you have a problem. Her only regret was leaving Janet again. "Am I dead?" she asked.

"No, merely travelling. You can return to your mortal form whenever you wish."

"This is to do with the message, isn't it," Sam said.

Oma nodded. "Anubis is very close to finding something. If it falls into his possession the consequences would be terrible for everyone and everything. You must stop that from happening."

"Nagdaleth apis varo – The place of our beginning," Sam said gravely. "I know it has something to do with the Ancients, but that is all."

"She who is within you knows. Your friends, your family. Listen to their words. Between you are all the answers you will need."

She reached out, brushed a lock of Sam's hair back from her brow, smiling gently down at the young woman and for a moment her face became that of Sam's mother and then Oma's gentle face was back. Sam closed her eyes. Oma had given her something, but now was not the time to explore it. It was a resource to be used when needed.

Sam did realise something for the first time. "This is why you took me, after Kelnowna, isn't it. So that I would be ready for this. And Sophia…" Her eyes opened wide, dread and horror in them as she realised the path her daughter would have to walk one day. Oma reached out and touched her forehead again, then pressed her finger on Sam's lips.

"Not now. Not for many years to come and when her time is here she will have your wisdom and that of your heart's love to guide her. Remember that and nothing else. Now is not the time to fight that battle." Sam's expression grew calmer as Oma hid the knowledge of her daughter's fate from her once more.

"It is time for you to return now. Your mate, your child. They are concerned."

"Janet…" Sam whispered. She had not realised just how much she had missed this place until Oma had shown her it again. But however beautiful and peaceful and marvelous, it was nothing compared to the love for her she saw reflected in Janet's eyes or the weight of her child in her arms.

Oma kissed her on the brow. "Farewell, child. You will not fail, remember that. You carry all that you need within you."

Sam closed her eyes and let herself fall.

Jack O'Neill woke to the unfamiliar sound of a child crying. It took him a moment or two to remember that he had a houseguest for the evening – his honorary niece Sophia.

He had prepared in advance for her visit, childproofing the house, getting in everything she might need. His part of the baby monitor was on his bedside cabinet, the other attached to the travel cot he had set up for Sophia. He had tried to make things as inviting and child friendly as possible and Sophia was one of the happiest self-confident kids going but waking up in the middle of the night in a strange room must be scary no matter how serene your nature.

They had had a good time together before he put her down to sleep. It hadn't been too traumatic which was the one thing of which he had secretly been afraid. The only memories of Charlie that it had brought up were good ones.

But now she was crying. He got up and slipped on a sweatshirt before going into the spare room. She was standing up in her cot, her blonde hair all mussed up, fat tears running down her cheeks. "Mamma!" she sobbed. "Mamma gone."

Jack lifted her into his arms and she snuggled against him, her small fist fastened on his T-shirt. He stroked her soft hair which was so much like Carter's and froze.

The scene from his dream played back in his head. His II1C was chained to a wall, her face a mask of defiance, shouting something at him. No, not at him but at something behind him. He could not move, could not help her as someone, something moved through him as if he were a ghost, a dark robed, cowled figure with a ribbon device on his hand, menacing his friend, the mother of the child he held in his arms. Anubis.

A small hand patted his cheek. He looked down into ocean deep blue eyes, filled with misery. "Mamma gone!" she said again, and then buried her head in his shoulder. She wept softly, with a quiet desperation completely at odds with her usual nature and could not be consoled.

Janet woke with a start, thinking she had heard Sophia cry. She was half way to the bedroom door when she remembered that Sophia was at Jack's for the night. The bed beside her was empty, but Sam's robe was still on the chair beside the bed. Janet smoothed her hand across the wrinkled sheet which was still faintly warm to the touch.

… Sam chained to a wall, her clothing ripped and darkened with blood and sweat. But her eyes were open, her expression one of defiance. Janet could not move, she was a spectator, a ghost. Something moved through her and she felt a great chill. There was a figure between her and Sam now, hooded, robed in darkness. He raised a hand and a beam of intense light focused between Sam's eyes. If she had not been chained, she would have fallen to her knees. Janet tried to move to intervene to save her lover but she could not…

And then there had been just whiteness. "Sam?" she called. They were alone in the house, there was no need to be quiet. "Sam!"

Janet got up and wanting the comfort of the familiar smell slipped on Sam's robe rather than her own. She wandered around the upper floor checking the other rooms. There was no sign of Sam. She padded down the stairs. All was in darkness. The front door was locked, the chain was on. The French windows were locked and bolted as was the back door. Wherever Sam was she had not left the house by normal means.

The phone rang. Her heart stopped for a moment and then started again. Medically impossible she knew but it had happened all the same. She answered it on the second ring. "Sam?"

"No, it's Jack O'Neill."

"Jack… is there something wrong? Has anything happened to Sophia?" She could hear her daughter crying in the background.

"Well, she's crying, she's really upset about something and I can't placate her. I don't know whether it was a bad dream or waking up in a strange place or seeing my ugly mug but she keeps saying "Mamma gone"… why did you think I was Sam?"

"She's not here Jack… but there's no way she left the house if you know what I mean. Everything's still locked up tight."


"I don't know Jack." She could hear the panic rising in her voice. She wanted to hold her daughter. She wanted to hold Sam, with the memory of their lovemaking still so fresh in her mind, overlaid now by her nightmare. "I had a bad dream, so vivid. Anubis…"

"… she was chained to a wall. I couldn't do anything. He used a hand device on her…" Jack said softly.

"The same dream," Janet breathed. "Jack…"

"I'm coming over," Jack said abruptly. "Sophia's not going to settle until she sees you and I get the feeling you shouldn't be alone right now."

"Okay," Janet whispered, too close to tears to be strong or argue that she was fine.

"I'll be as quick as I can."

Janet checked every room in the house again whilst she waited, leaving all the lights on in her wake. She was curled up on the sofa fighting back her tears when Jack's truck drew up. Sophia had fallen asleep again, lulled by the engine noise but woke as soon as it stopped. Jack lifted her out of the car seat and carried her to the door where Janet met them, depositing the little girl in her mother's welcoming arms.

Her daughter's bright blue eyes were full of tears. "Mamma gone," she said quite distinctly, then buried her face in the nape of Janet's neck, one hand curled around a lock of Janet's hair. Janet soothed her quietly. They went inside. Jack closed the door behind them and followed her into the living room. Janet sat down on the sofa. Jack must have thought she looked cold (which she was) and reached for the thick comforter that was slung over the back of one of the chairs and tucked it around her and Sophia.

"You said Thor… I was thinking more of Oma," Janet said. "Jack – what really happened yesterday afternoon?"

He told her about the message, the fact that it mentioned both Sam and Jolinar by name and the severe flashback Sam had experienced.

"It really shook her up, doc."

"She hasn't had any flashbacks since she came back."

"That she told you about."

"She would have told me," Janet said fiercely. "We don't keep things from each other." She could feel that Sophia had fallen asleep again and gently disentangled small fingers from her hair before laying the tiny child down beside her on the sofa in a nest of blanket.

"But she hadn't told you what happened today… yesterday." O'Neill rubbed his hand through his short hair.

"She hadn't really had the chance. We were… busy celebrating."

Before O'Neill could make one of his customary off-colour remarks about the nature of their celebration there was a distinct thud from upstairs. They stared at each other for a long moment then went to investigate.

Sam was out cold, sprawled on the bedroom floor. She was breathing deeply and evenly and there was no visible sign of any injury. After Janet had done a cursory check, Jack lifted his II1C's body onto the bed, covering her with the duvet.

"Jack, could you go see to Sophia while I check on Sam," Janet asked, getting her medical kit from its home in the corner. He nodded and with one last concerned look at the still figure on the bed, left. Pushing down her emotions and terrors Janet began to methodically check over Sam. "Heart and pulse rate normal, good breath sounds, temperature a little low, blood pressure ditto," she muttered to herself. Pulling back Sam's eyelids, she checked pupil reaction which was a little sluggish, but okay.

A deep shudder ran through Sam's body, her face creasing with pain. She turned onto her side, rolling into an almost foetal position.

"Sam?" Janet crawled into bed beside her, wrapped herself around the taller woman. "It's okay. You're safe. You're home. It's okay."

The shivering calmed, slowed. Janet ran her fingers through sweat darkened hair, watched as the lines of tension and pain in her lover's face gradually eased. "Sam?"

"M'okay," Sam whispered. "Hurts. So small after… Takes getting used to. Sorry I scared you… Oma needed… needed me."

"Take your time," Janet soothed. "You're back now. You're safe. Take your time."

Sam raised her head, stared at her bleakly. "If that message and what Oma said to be are right, then we don't have time. We don't have any time at all."

The End

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