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.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: One of the images that inspired this fiction was Rocketchick's "Cityscape". Thanks as always for the inspiration.
SPOILERS: Up to the end of Season 7. PS. She ain't dead.
SERIES: This is the sixth story in the Grace series.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author
The Only Constant is Change
I felt the burn begin in my back and shoulder muscles as I went into the third set of exercises. Sweat dripped down my back. It was a strange sensation, feeling it slide slowly down my heated skin until it reached that area that was still a blank to me. Four operations, months of therapy and several sessions with Sam or the Tokra healer Shenara and the healing crystal and I was still largely numb from the waist down, particularly on my left side. I had some sensation and voluntary movement in my right leg but my left was a vacancy.
I had already endured one physiotherapy session on my legs that morning to keep the muscle tone going and help me make the most of what movement and control I had. This afternoon was about building up my upper body strength and was part of my own personal regimen. Sam and Daniel had both expressed their concerns that I was pushing myself too hard. Cassie had not said anything directly but I knew she was worried about me. As were Jack O'Neill and General Hammond. But all of them were busy with their own lives, the political machinations of the new Presidency, the urgency of taking the battle to Anubis before he came looking for us. And when I was feeling vulnerable like this I preferred my own company. Mostly I still had my inner bitch to talk to anyway.
Somehow Teal'c just stayed close. He always managed to be in the gym at the same time as I was, bowing his head to me in that way of his as I wheeled myself in but otherwise staying out of my way.
I got ready to hoist myself off the bench and into my waiting wheelchair. My centre of balance was just at a crucial point when my sweaty palm slipped and I fell awkwardly to the floor.
I screamed, more in frustration than in pain. There are some benefits to having an incompletely working nervous system. Teal'c was beside me within a couple of seconds, his strong hands holding me. It didn't stop me hitting him. Hard. Again and again. I was hurting, hating myself more and more for my uselessness my inability to rise above what had happened to me. I wished not for the first time that they had never brought me home. This had to be the bottom of the curve, I told myself. Things could not possibly get any worse.
Teal'c just absorbed it all, the blows the tears the incoherent curses until I had let everything out. I clung to him, enveloped in his strong arms for a long moment, one of his hands resting on the back of my skull as I gradually pulled myself together again. He sensed my return to some form of sanity and sat me up again.
"Are you injured, Janet Fraiser?" he asked.
"Only my pride," I replied. "Thank you, Teal'c."
"Can I assist you further?" he asked.
My choice. I could let my inner bitch and inner child have their way and let him watch me struggle to get my unco-operative legs positioned correctly so that I did not put my hip out or just go straight back down in an undignified heap when I pulled myself to my feet or I could let him help me and get myself off the floor in about a third of the time. I swallowed my pride, told inner bitch and inner child to take a hike.
"Please," I whispered.
He helped me get myself back into my chair with the minimum of fuss but did take the time to check my knees and ankles for any bruising or abrasions. I seemed to have escaped further damage. This time. I shivered, the nerve damage to my legs meant that the feel of his strong dark hands passing over my skin was intermittent, ghosting in and out.
"Teal'c can I ask another favour?" I asked.
"Of course," he said. "You may ask anything of me, Janet Fraiser."
"Don't tell Sam about this. She worries enough about me as it is. If she finds out I had a fall, she'll never let me out of her sight. And what she's doing right now is too important for her to be distracted."
"I will not inform Colonel Carter of what has occurred. But in return you must promise something to me."
"You will not give up. You did not let me give up when I was injured. You gave me back my strength when I despaired. Now I return it to you."
Sam had told me how strong Teal'c had been for her in those awful four days when she thought that I was dead. How he had sheltered both of us with his body when we came under fire during the escape. How he had watched over both of us when I was in the coma. I would never be able to repay the kindnesses he had shown to Sam and myself.
"I won't give up, I promise," I said. And in that moment I meant it. Part of me imagined that moment held it, visualising that promise stretched and suspended gossamer thin over all the years of my life, hoping it would last forever.
Six Months Later
Sam was driving, singing to herself. I tried not to laugh at her. It wasn't that she could not sing, actually Sam had a pretty good voice. It was just well, you had to be there, trust me. "Tell me again why I agreed to come on this trip with you?"
"Because you adore me," Sam grinned.
"There is that," I smiled, letting my hand rest on her thigh. I began to caress her skin through her jeans, gradually moving higher and higher up her leg knowing what this did to her, remembering what it used to do to me.
"Janet trying to concentrate here" Sam said, but her dimples told me the true story.
"Multitask for a couple of minutes," I grinned. "You know you want to."
"You have no idea," Sam's voice was a throaty growl totally different from her normal speaking voice. I continued to move my fingers slowly up and down her thigh, each pass travelling a little higher until my fingers grazed her mound. Sam kept her gaze firmly on the road ahead but the growing pinkness in her cheeks told its own tale. Her nipples were outlined against her shirt and her breathing had grown appreciably faster. Yep, I still had it.
"So, are you going to tell me yet exactly what you have planned for me this weekend?" I asked, demurely clasping my hands in my lap. "I mean, from what you did say you will have finished lecturing by lunchtime tomorrow so we have the rest of the day and all weekend to ourselves."
"My lecture starts at ten so I should be all done and dusted by 11.30, noon at the latest if they ask a lot of questions. And then baby, I am all yours. I have everything arranged, don't worry. The city is ours."
I just smiled and let her concentrate on her driving.
Strategic Military Planning if you needed to know how much C4 to plant to bring down a wall or open a door or just to provide a handy distraction for the bad guys the newly minted Lieutenant Colonel Samantha Carter is your woman. If you wanted someone with the ability to think two or three steps ahead of the enemy to have multiple scenarios worked out in detail and still able to switch-hit with the best then Sam was your gal. Need someone to project manage a series of ground breaking experiments on the energy potential of super heavy naquada look no further than Dr Samantha Carter.
However if you wanted Sam to organize a social function, a holiday or basically any type of leisure activity that was not absolutely spur of the moment then you'd better head for the hills. It wasn't that she was disorganized. Far from it. My love had a tendency to overplan, to schedule down to the nth degree and the nearest second and real life just did not work like that. Sam meant well, but
I took a deep breath. This could be a wild weekend.
The hotel was wonderful, our room magnificent, our bed large and comfortable and our ensuite had a Jacuzzi as well as a shower. After several hours in the car I was feeling uncomfortably stiff and Sam took it as a personal mission to make sure I was taken care of before we did anything else. And by the time she finished I felt like I was made of taffy held in shape only by my skin. I clutched the pillow as she kissed her way down my spine.
"Sleep for a while," she suggested. "I'll get us unpacked and set up. Do you want me to order room-service or do you feel up to going out for dinner?"
I was tired and my back and legs ached more than I would like to admit even to myself. But then it had been a big day I had done more 'walking around' than I had since P3X-666. It would be great to have a night on the town but I knew I needed to pace myself. "Room service will be fine," I said. "I don't really feel up to getting dressed all over again." Her gaze slid over my bare flesh to the items of clothing she knew I really meant and she nodded.
"Okay, Janet. Is there anything else you need?"
I puckered up and she laughed, reaching down to brush her lips over mine. Her hand feathered through my hair and I saw that almost lost look in her eyes again.
"Hey blondie, I ain't going anywhere without you, remember?"
"I remember," she said softly reaching down to kiss me again, this time on the brow. I fastened my robe around me and got myself comfortably propped up on the bed.
Sam ordered dinner and then sat at the small table and opened her laptop, going over her lecture notes one more time. I admit to having a nap. I just closed my eyes for a moment, I swear and then I could feel someone's lips brushing softly against mine. "Hey, sleepyhead, your dinner's here."
I opened my eyes, looked into those deep clear blue eyes that meant the world to me. "I'm only going to wake up if you're my dessert."
She grinned. "We can do that."
The pasta she had ordered for us both was very good, the sauce not too garlicky the little parcels of meat cooked to perfection. I surprised both of us by clearing my plate. My appetite has been non-existent at best for months now. I allowed myself one glass of wine from the bottle that Sam had requested. I was still on way too many meds to safely let myself loose on alcohol, no matter how much I wanted to. And talking of meds Sam's PDA in her jacket pocket beeped and she went across to the small suitcase on the dressing table, taking out the long slim box. "Here you go," she said.
I opened the box and took out the little baggie that contained my evening meds, arraying them on the tray in front of me. Sam poured me a glass of water. Twelve tablets in the morning, twelve in the evening. There was the promise that if my condition continued to improve these would taper down to ten maybe nine within a couple of months but I knew that some of these drugs were going to be a long term friends maybe even a rest of my life thing. But at least I had a rest of my life.
I dutifully took my tablets, washing them down with the water. There was a mango sorbet for the official desert but I could only manage a few mouthfuls even though it was delicious. My stomach was almost painfully full and the cold desert made it gripe a little. "Sam, I need to "
She nodded, lifted me into her arms and carried me through into the ensuite. I still found this painful not just passing anything but needing help to do even the most basic of things. As long as it was Sam who was with me it was okay but she could not be with me 24/7. As much in love as we were with each other I knew that that degree of co-dependence would ultimately destroy us. So I worked hard at being self-sufficient and at the same time in accepting help from people to do those things that were always going to be beyond me now. And concentrated on not being a complete bitch to them just for doing their job. I had thought that life was poorly designed for people who were only five feet two. I was only just beginning to realise how little is designed for those whose viewpoint is suddenly a foot lower.
"You're still very tense," Sam said softly. "I didn't realise how much this trip was going to take out of you. Maybe "
"I'll be fine," I said softly. "It was time to try something new. Some place new. I'm not going to sit back and let things happen to me, Sam. I've never been that type of person, you know that. And that hasn't changed. It might just take me a little longer to " I gasped. The relief was tremendous. Another day that proved the internal injuries to my bowel and intestines were healing properly. Another day that took me further from the hated colostomy bag. "Get there!" I finished triumphantly, smiling.
"Better?" she asked, handing me the supplies.
"Much," I nodded, attending to myself. I flushed, managed to pull myself to my feet again using the handrails and shuffled the one step necessary to reach the sink. I could feel Sam's presence a foot or so behind me ready to catch me should I fall as I washed my hands.
Thirty seconds on my feet and the pain in my hip and back were starting to build past the capacity of the painkillers I had swallowed less than half an hour before. "Sam?" Before the word had passed my lips she was there, holding me, her careful grip shifting as she lifted me easily into her arms. For some reason her strength still surprised me every time she did that. She made it seem so effortless. There would inevitably come a day when she could not do this for me but I hoped for both our sakes that that day was far into the future.
She lowered me onto the bed and I scooted myself back against the pillows, straightening myself up. Sam picked up my feet one by one, massaging them gently, checking for pressure sores on the soles and the back of my heels. I have a little feeling on my right side but it does not extend to my feet. The calipers I wear during the day help to keep everything in alignment but I need frequent physiotherapy to make sure that my underused tendons don't start to pull my feet inwards and that the calipers don't rub.
"Your feet are cold," Sam said absently. "Are you warm enough? I can turn the heating up a notch or so."
"I'm fine," I said. "The bathroom floor was cold."
"True." Her long fingers finish with my toes and she runs her thumbs over the sole of my right foot, digging into the tendon and muscle. My knee twitches. She stops, looks at me. "Did you feel that?"
"Maybe," I kept my voice guarded. It could have been a rogue reaction. My nervous system was still communicating with my right leg however erratically. But this was the first sign that there was any response from below the knee. If it wasn't coincidence.
She repeated the movement and my knee twitched again. I hadn't exactly felt it but I knew without looking when she released the pressure. She was smiling to herself as she continued massaging the skin around the back of my ankle where the Achilles tendon was anchored.
"It's a good sign, nothing more," I said at last. "It doesn't mean that I will get any more feeling back."
"I know," she said, moving to massage my left foot. "But it makes doing this for you all the more satisfying. Knowing I'm helping in your recovery if only in a little way."
A little way? "Sam without your support, your love well, I think I'd be in a pretty sorry place," I said before I could stop myself.
She blushed again and I could see that there were tears in her eyes. "Hey," I whispered. "You promised me dessert, remember?"
She nodded, wiped away the tears from her cheek with the heel of her hand. "Anything particular you had in mind?"
"Short of dipping you in chocolate?"
"Mmmm chocolate," she grinned.
"Just get up here, missy."
She relinquished my foot but not before gently kissing each toe and then began to crawl up my body like some great tawny lioness. I unloosened the belt and buttons on the fly of her jeans as she straddled my abdomen, smiled as she reared up and took off her t-shirt, her hair emerging in full dandelion mode. I will never get enough of how beautiful she is. I let my fingers dust across her smooth gently sculpted abdomen feeling the muscles twitch beneath the skin playing for a moment with the decidedly non-regulation piercing in her navel before smoothing up her strong sternum to her breasts cupping their fullness in my hands. "Beautiful," I told her solemnly and as she had the first time I touched her the first time I told her she blushed, the flush passing across her skin like a sunrise. She shifted so that she could shuck off her jeans and boxers without squashing me and then arched over me again, rubbing her centre against mine, careful to keep the majority of her weight off me.
"Tell me what you want, Janet?"
"I want to taste you."
She nodded slowly, the pink tip of her tongue showing between her lips. "Mind if we eat together?" Taking my assent for granted she turned herself so that she was facing my feet and shuffled herself backwards. I wrapped my arms around her thighs and raised my head a little, extending my tongue to trace lightly along the inside of her thigh.
I still had a lot of sexual sensation for which I thanked the gods every day. Much experimentation over the last couple of months had led to Sam's increasing confidence in not only touching me without being afraid that she would hurt me but in not holding back. I am not and never have been a china doll. Thank God all that military training meant that she followed orders without question. As a result she knew exactly how to please me, how to tease me. I shivered as she blew gently across the hairs at my core. I caressed her clit with my thumb and felt her shiver in response. I pulled on her hips and she lowered her pelvis a little further. I ran the flat of my tongue from the base of her perineum to her clit and then began to explore her at my leisure. Sam was suckling on my clit, two fingers filling me moving in and out and round, her other hand supporting her weight.
Her thumb replaced her lips and tongue on my clit as she kissed her way along the inner thigh of my right leg I felt every touch of her lips, the soft scrape of her tongue and rasp of her teeth as she nibbled then laved my flesh. With my altered perceptions it was as erotic to me as anything else we had done. As I extended my fingers into her, I could feel that she was getting close to her climax and knew that if she did that to me again my own climax would not be far behind. Reaching the limit of her endurance in holding herself above me carefully she rolled us onto my right side, her fingers stroking the length of the scar that curled from the centre of my back around my rebuilt left hip and half way to my knee. She kissed her way back up my inner thigh again and pressed her tongue into me, curling and lapping at my juices as they began to flow. I shuddered again, the instinct to buck my hips to raise my pelvis stillborn. I only moved when she moved me. But at least I could feel.
The next day
Midday came and went but there was no sign of Sam. I sat in the hotel lounge where we had arranged to meet and contemplated my second cup of coffee. Sam did not often get the chance to mingle with the rest of the scientific community. Her paper on wormhole theory would certainly have raised a lot of interest. And it would do her good to get her face and name known a little bit more. It was good that the SGC were letting her keep her options open one more thing I had to thank Elizabeth Weir for.
In the six months since she had taken over from General Hammond she had overseen the beginning of the end not only for the Goa'uld but also for NID and Senator Kinsey. He had retired 'on health grounds' from not only the Vice Presidency but also public office shortly after the battle against Anubis. A battle we won but at great cost. I missed Jack every day and I know that Sam did as well. Her command of SG1 had been made official a month or so earlier though she had been de-facto commander since Jack's disappearance. With it had come her much deserved promotion. We had hopes that the Asgard could help but they were being elusive. We were beginning to fear the worst had happened in their war against the replicators.
One o'clock. Sam had let slip that morning whilst she was getting ready that she had made lunch reservations for one o'clock. I hoped that the maitre'd was understanding otherwise we were not going to get fed. I shifted uncomfortably. The seats in the lobby were plush and soft but were not doing anything for my back and hip. I had missed my usual therapy session that morning and was not as limber as usual as a result. I was going to have to get up and walk around for a bit.
A young waitress who had served me coffee earlier came towards me then paused, unsure of whether she should offer her help or not. I looked up, met her gaze and nodded. She came towards me. "What should I do?" she asked quietly.
"If you could just anchor me until I get my bearings," I said, handing her my crutches and pushing myself to my feet and as usual wavering dangerously half way. Her proffered arm steadied me as I straightened my back feeling my leg braces lock into position. I took one crutch from her and then once I felt I was secure, the second crutch. I smiled up at her. "Thank you."
"Janet, I am so, so sorry!" Bright blue eyes regarded me anxiously. I could tell that her lecture had gone down well and my love was still coming down off an adrenaline high. I smiled, pulled her into a one armed hug.
"It went well, then."
"Yes, but "
"That's really good, Sam. I'm so happy for you."
"But I made lunch reservations for us and now I've "
"Sam, it doesn't matter," I laughed, wishing I could reach up and touch her cheek in our old gesture of reassurance. But I couldn't, not without running the serious risk of overtoppling. My disability meant we were still in the act of creating a whole new silent vocabulary for ourselves. "There are a thousand places we can go and get something to eat. And I must admit I would like to get some fresh air. It looks as if it's a lovely day."
My helpful waitress paused in clearing away my coffee cup. "I can recommend a good deli a couple of blocks down. Why don't you go and buy yourselves a nice picnic lunch and go to the park for the afternoon. All the paths are disabled-friendly so you shouldn't have any trouble getting around out there. Friday afternoon's there's usually some sort of band playing."
"It would be nice to get some sun," I said wistfully. It would mean taking the chair. No way could I manage walking that far on my calipers and crutches. One day maybe. Remember babysteps, I could hear Jeannie my physical therapist say. A little more each day.
"Are you sure you're up to it?" Sam asked. I could tell by the slight tension around her eyes that she wasn't absolutely sure about it herself but if I wanted to do it then she would too. She was still feeling guilty about the restaurant.
"I'll be sitting down, remember?" I grinned. "You'll be doing the sherpa act."
"I knew there was a reason you kept me around," she said teasingly.
"Always." Our eyes met and we forgot who and where we were for a long moment. The waitress came back and handed a scrap of paper to Sam with the name of the deli and directions.
It was good to see public money being put to good use. The park was clean, well cared for and above all used. Even though some areas were quite crowded we found a quiet spot, a bench and a view. We had eaten well, there was a jazz band playing Cole Porter somewhere on the other side of the trees behind us and the sun was out.
"So?" I grinned.
"So?" Sam paused in the act of biting into an apple.
"It went well?"
She grinned, ducked her head in that unknowingly cute bashful way she had, a blush heating her cheeks. "It went well," she admitted.
"You knocked their socks off, didn't you?" I reached over and clasped her hand between mine.
"Pretty much," Sam giggled. "There were so many questions afterwards and then I got approaches from two different journals. One wanted to publish the text of my lecture and the other wants to commission me to write a series of science articles, basically on whatever takes my fancy." She shook her head, her eyes wide. "It's just so "
"Damned exciting?" I teased. "You're a recognized name in the field, Sam," I reminded her. Not to mention a highly attractive photogenic woman and a decorated war hero. "They'd be idiots not to approach you."
"I'll have to run it by Elizabeth when we get back and probably the Pentagon as well."
"It's something to think about though," I said. "Another string to your bow for when "
Things change. The only constant as Sam told me the first day we met. With Anubis gone and the remaining System Lords in disarray we had won the war for now. The new administration, the new leadership preparing to make the Stargate public. Having Sam out in the science community more could be a good move for the SGC as well as Sam herself. A public face for the Stargate.
"I have two more years " Sam said. "They will want me to sign on for another tour."
"A year ago I would have said yes without hesitation," Sam said quietly. "A year ago "
Things change. Sam had had three near misses in the last year. The raid on Anubis's supersoldier base to destroy the Queen, the Prometheus incident and then the raid on the Beta site where Sam had somehow survived the explosion and being hunted for three days by a supersoldier intent on her death. All these had taken their physical and emotional toll on my beloved. Exacerbated by the fact that we had separated during that time. And then there was P3X-666. I had died. For four dark terrible days Sam had had to deal with the fact that I was dead. And it had almost destroyed her.
As with many other laws of physics we rewrote the laws of death. Or rather Anubis and his sarcophagus did. But I was left partially paraplegic. It was highly unlikely that I would ever get back full mobility. I was on medical leave preparing for a full medical discharge in a matter of weeks. Other than staying as near to Sam as I could I had not made any definite plans for my future. I had been offered a consultancy post at the Academy Hospital working for the SGC, also a research post at Groom Lake. The salary for that one was half again as much as what the SGC was offering but money did not matter. Family did. And after Sam and Cassie, the SGC were family.
After all I had my namesake and god daughter to think about. Airman Wells had asked both Sam and myself to act as godparents to little Janet, along with Daniel. All three of us had gladly accepted. It was wonderful to see something positive come out of that terrible day.
I could see Sam's thoughts were along similar lines to mine. She had half turned to watch a couple of kids messing around with a kite. The balance was off and it kept ditching into the ground. I could see that she was just itching to go and help them out. Whilst she was distracted I nicked her apple taking a large bite out of it.
"Go, teach them a few things about aerodynamics," I said around a mouthful of apple. "You know you want to. I'll be fine on my own for a while. It'll give me a chance to get some rays." I stretched out my arms to demonstrate. I could not remember ever being so pasty. I really had spent too much time inside recently.
"If you're sure "
She reached across to kiss me, then leapt up and started to walk across the grass to the group of kids. Within minutes she had them spellbound, within half an hour the kite was flying so high that it was almost invisible against the clear blue sky. I watched it for a while longer then my eyes closed and I just let the heat soak into my bones. Getting back to basics felt so good, the complications that made up my life just falling away. I was here. Sam was here. We were together. The sun was shining. Life was good. The future was bright.
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