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ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

By Elfcat255


In a secluded valley the ancient gateway sprang to life as the watery horizon whooshed outwards in its opening plume. The surface of the blue puddle shimmied and rippled then steadied its movement only to move again as two figures emerged from its surface. They wore green camouflage and panned their weapons around them as they exited, walking down the earthen ramp to take a more relaxed stance at the end while both keeping an eye open for any movement in their immediate area.

The next thing to exit the horizon was a pair of front tires and slowly the rest of an ATV appeared as its rider accelerated slightly and rolled down the ramp, coming to a stop between the two Marines. The engine went silent and the rider shrugged her helmet off. "Okay, you two can head on back now. I'll be fine on my own."

The two men gave each other knowing looks and then one spoke, "Sorry, Ma'am, but we have standing orders never to leave you alone."

The doctor crossed her arms and glared at the huge Marines as the Gate horizon disappeared but even this failed and they ignored her. With a frustrated huff of breath she muttered, "I know a certain Major who is in for a serious talk tonight." After having failed to get them to leave her alone, even through usual threats of physicals from hell, Janet made herself comfortable on the seat of the ATV and waited for her escort.

Sometime later she heard the rumbling whine of a small engine. Standing up and balancing on the ATV's foot pegs, the doctor spotted a cloud of dust approaching them. As the cloud grew closer, Janet made out a trim figure in dusty clothes riding a small motorbike and she assumed it was Sam. Watching as the rider maneuvered around old logs and large rocks, the doctor saw the bike dip into a rut and then launch into the air as its rider powered out of it. It landed with enough spin still in the back tire to kick up a tail of dirt, causing the backend of the machine to fishtail slightly.

The machine was close enough to her position that Janet heard the rider's excited whoop as she regained control of the bike and came to a sliding stop next to the DHD. "Yes, that would be Sam," the doctor said aloud as she eyed the rider.

The dust covered figure dismounted from the motorcycle and stomping boot clad feet sent clouds of more dirt falling as she reached a hand up to tug down the goggles that covered her eyes. "Hi!" Sam Carter said with a smile that shown brightly on her dirt streaked face.

Ignoring the smile and cheerful greeting the doctor answered, "You're late. If you want test results today then you're out of luck." She turned around to retrieve something from the back rack of the ATV and turning back towards Sam tossed the object towards her. "You might want to wear that next time you decide to show off."

Sam caught the helmet, running a hand through her dusty hair she mumbled, "Oops…thanks."

Janet turned her back to the blonde as she adjusted one of the packs on the ATV. Sam gave the doctor's figure a confused look but moved towards the DHD and dialed the SGC. She waved the Marines away when the Gate came to life and once they vanished through closed the connection to their home world then turned around to face the doctor. "What's wrong?" Sam asked.

"Nothing," said Janet as she pulled her helmet on. Buckling it tightly she continued, "Let's hurry up and get to that site you radioed me about."

Sam watched as the doctor started up the ATV and sat waiting as the engine idled. Moving quickly the blonde pulled the helmet in her hands on and tugging the goggles into place, mounted the small motorcycle. Kicking the engine to life, she shook her head and grumbled, "Great, this is the first time we've seen each other in two weeks and she's in a bad mood already."

Sighing, she moved up alongside the ATV and, with a nod to the doctor, eased out and back the way she'd traveled, leading Janet towards the discovery she'd made, at a much slower pace, of course.

Keeping her distance from the other bike, the doctor let her eyes roam over the terrain they now traveled. The rocky hillsides and evergreen trees were so similar to Earth's that she would have sworn they were on the way to their cabin in the Rocky Mountains.

She saw Sam glance back occasionally whenever she slowed to maneuver around an obstacle. Shrugging her shoulders slightly, the doctor sighed. She knew she'd been curt with her partner but her nerves were beginning to grate. The treatment she still received from Sam and many others some four months after the incident on P3X-666 was starting to take its toll on her patience.

Slowing down to maneuver the big ATV over a fallen tree, the doctor's thoughts flashed through the nearly three months of recovery, not to mention daily therapy she'd been through and still endured; she would feel the aches and pains from the injuries for a long time. Ignoring one such twinge now, Janet gunned the engine and the ATV scraped bark off as the tires spun over the tree trunk. She grimaced but kept a steady grip on the handlebars as the heavy machine powered its way over the obstacle. Resisting the urge to rub her shoulder, the doctor steeled her jaw and continued on up the trail. If Sam saw that driving the large machine was causing her discomfort, she would soon become a passenger for the rest of the mission and she was not about to let that happen.

"Treating me like a china doll ends on this planet," the doctor said to herself. She'd been back on duty for over a month now and hadn't had to lift a finger other than to sign paperwork. This was only the third time she'd been off world and the first time without her own squad of Marines in tow. "Yes, we are definitely discussing a few things tonight, Samantha," she said, eyeing the dusty back of her blonde partner.

Glancing over her shoulder, Sam saw Janet slow down to climb over a tree she'd hopped over. Stopping the small cross between a scooter and a dirt bike the locals used for personal transportation, she watched her partner. Knowing maneuvering the large ATV had to be uncomfortable for the doctor, Sam was resigned not to ask her to stop. She'd overheard a conversation between Janet and one of her nurses about the eggshell treatment she'd been receiving.

With a slight upturn of her lips, the blonde knew she had been guilty of said treatment, on base and at home, but she knew her discovery would save them all from the small doctor's wrath. Once Janet tested the site out for herself, the only thing left from her near fatal injury would be just memories. Waiting as the ATV drew along side her, Sam then spoke in a loud voice over the engine noise. "It's only a couple of more miles and the rest of the way isn't so rough," she told the doctor and then added, "Oh, yeah, rockslides…we have to watch out for rockslides."

The doctor nodded her understanding and began to say something in return but Sam pulled away to move up the trail. Swearing softly, Janet followed after her. "Well, I guess I deserved that; it was only fair, I was short with her earlier," she said softly to herself.

They traveled at a steady pace for the next ten minutes then slowed down to traverse a section of the road clearly disturbed by a rockslide. The remains of large boulders and splintered trees littered the ground. Working their way through the debris, the pair soon found themselves in a heavily forested area and Sam slowed her bike down to a crawl as she looked for something. Janet assumed she found it as the blonde took off again, following a faint path through the trees. The doctor followed close behind as they wound around more trees to abruptly exit into a clearing where Sam stopped and cut off the engine of her bike. Janet came to a stop alongside her and did the same then asked, "Okay, where's this amazing discovery?"

Sam pulled her helmet off and motioned with her chin. "On up the hill. There's a cave set into the side of the mountain. The path isn't big enough for the bikes, so we have to walk," she answered.

"Of course," the doctor said as she removed her helmet, dismounted from the ATV and continued, "Well, come on. The quicker we get up there, the quicker I can begin my tests."

Sam held her tongue knowing Janet wasn't being short with her on purpose but just venting frustration. "Load me up my dear," she said holding her arms out. "Your pack mule awaits."

The doctor gave her a wry look and slung a backpack on her shoulders, hefting a toolbox from the ATV's rack, she walked past the blonde. "Help yourself to what's left, sweetie," Sam heard as her partner breezed past her and up the hill.

"Ouch," muttered Sam as she grabbed the rest of the equipment. Moving quickly, she caught up with Janet before she reached the cave entrance. "Is the entire mission going to be like this?"

Janet stopped and turned. "Like what?" she asked in a confused tone.

"Me trying not to get my head chopped off," said the blonde as she moved past the doctor and into the cave. Janet began to respond but didn't. Biting the corner of her lip, she just shook her head and followed Sam into the darkness.

Sam stopped a few feet inside the entrance. Resting in a carved niche in the wall there were several lanterns. She used a match to light two of the devices and when Janet appeared beside her, handed one to the doctor. Janet held up the lantern and gasped, the light from the flame reflected out of glass set with varied colored jewels. Its light cast smatterings of red, blue and green on the walls of the tunnel they now walked through. "Sam, are you going to explain all of this to me?"

"Yep, I'll tell you the whole story when we reach the campsite." The blonde answered from in front of the doctor.

"We're camping here…in a cave…tonight?"

Sam heard Janet squeak out the question and she repressed a laugh. "Don't worry, it's perfectly safe and besides, I have a pretty good camp rigged up." the blonde explained as they merged into another passageway.

A few more twists and turns later Janet found herself following Sam into a large cavern. She glanced around, noticing the two pools of water, both with steam rising from their surfaces. A faint hint of sulfur in the air let her know the pools were volcanic but there was also another scent, one she wasn't sure about.

The smell was quickly explained when Sam rushed towards a low banked fire. "Damn it! That wasn't supposed to burn," she said as she pushed away a foil covered pan from the fire with her foot, grumbling to herself the entire time she then placed the equipment in her hands down near a low table.

Turning around she found Janet watching her with an amused smirk on her face, "You didn't just get me here to cook for you did you?" the doctor asked as she shrugged off her backpack.

Sam moved towards her shaking her head. "No, I really do have something for you to check out. I had planned for us to eat a local dish for dinner but…" the blonde said as she shrugged and gave Janet a shy grin. Taking the equipment from the doctor's hands Sam set it with the rest and then the couple stood silently waiting for the next to speak.

"Sam, I'm…"

"I wanted…"

They both spoke at the same time which caused them to laugh and Janet held up a hand when Sam started to speak again. "Me first, I'm sorry for acting so cold towards you today. My nerves are beginning to fray, I think, what with everyone treating me like I'm made of glass," the doctor told her partner. "I know you all don't mean to do it but it's beginning to hurt more than actually being injured. It's like I'm trying to do my part but I'm not allowed. I'm a doctor for crying out loud and my staff won't let me near patients!"

As Janet continued she began to pace back and forth motioning with her hands as she vented to Sam all the things which had been bothering her over the last few months. Letting her ramble taper off, Janet gave Sam an apologetic look. "Sorry, I went off on a tangent there," she said.

Sam waved her hands in the air and shook her head. "Nothing for you to be sorry about. Frankly, I was wondering when you would put your foot down. I just wasn't sure if it would be on base or at home," admitted the blonde as she moved closer to the doctor and gathered her in a hug. "I'm sorry for treating you differently but can you blame me? I think pampering you for a few months and getting yelled at for it is much better than the alternative," Sam said into the hair of the head tucked under her chin.

The doctor squeezed her partner tightly. She knew there were other things they needed to discuss but for right now she felt better with that little let off of steam. "Okay. Now, where's this whatever you wanted to show me and it better be a real find not just some excuse to get me in a cave…alone…for the night, " Janet said and empathized the last few words with pokes to Sam's ribs.

Sam turned them until they faced the pools and with a flourish of her arm towards them said, "I present to you my dear Doctor the all healing waters of PX5-467."

Janet's face scrunched in confusion. "All healing waters…isn't that a little folksy sounding?" she asked glancing up at the blonde.

"Well, I decided to leave the fancy name up to you but I'm partial to the Carter Cure," Sam said, grinning at the doctor. "I've already run my tests but I wanted you here to double check everything."

"Sam, I can't just do field tests on something like this…" Janet began and Sam held up a finger stopping her speech.

"Just do the field tests and then I'll tell you how I found the pools, okay?" the blonde asked with a tilt of her head.

"Oh, all right, if you insist; I know you wouldn't have called me off-world on a wild goose chase. Let me get my equipment set up," the doctor told her as she moved out of her partner's embrace and picked up her backpack.

"Okay… you do that here on this table, and I'll try to find us something for dinner since my first choice bit the dust," Sam said, motioning towards the still smoking pan. Janet nodded in agreement and the couple set about their separate tasks around the campsite.

The doctor busied herself setting up her diagnostic equipment. Once everything was up and running, she took several test tubes and drew samples of the water from the pools. As she worked on a sample for the spectrometer Janet glanced over to where Sam worked on their dinner; her blonde partner held two packages in her hands and was speaking to herself. "What's wrong?" she asked the woman.

Sam held up the packages. "Beef stroganoff or pot roast?" she asked.

Janet's stomach flipped at the thought of MRE pot roast. "Stroganoff, please," she told Sam, who nodded and began opening the package. Glancing around the campsite, Janet could tell that Sam had been here awhile since the site looked very lived in. Along with a campfire and sleeping area, there were also other tables, some scattered with notebooks, others set up with various equipment, all powered by a portable naquada generator, which also powered a couple of standing lights. A line of laundry even hung in the back near an opening which let some sunlight into the cavern. "How long have you been here?" the doctor asked while she readied another test sample.

Sam dropped the empty package into a trash bag and, kneeling down, set the pan in her hands on the coals then turned to face Janet. "A week. I came up here with one of the locals to take mineral samples while the guys handled the diplomatic stuff," she told the doctor as she searched for a spoon to stir the mixture as it heated. Finding one she continued, "As for why I stayed up here so long, I think that needs to wait until after dinner or maybe after your tests are finished."

"Well, it will be sometime in the middle of the night or early morning before I'll have the results so I guess I can wait until after dinner to hear this story." Motioning with her head towards the opening at the back Janet asked, "Why didn't we come in that way?"

Sam moved the pan off the coals. Covering it up, she stood up and held out a hand to the doctor. "Come on, I'll show you," she said.

Glancing over the equipment, Janet made sure everything was running fine and then she took the hand held out to her, letting Sam lead her towards the back of the cavern. They ducked under the rigged clothesline and Sam came to a stop a few feet short of the opening. "This is why," she stated.

Janet looked down at the sheer drop in front of them, "A very good reason indeed, but it's a lovely view of the valley," she said to her partner as they stood a few feet from the edge.

A light breeze ruffled Sam's dirty hair. "Yeah, I've been doing a lot of thinking this week and this makes a good spot to contemplate things." She turned to face Janet and with a smile, bent down, placing a soft kiss on her lips. "I need to get cleaned up before we eat."

Janet cupped her partner's cheek, running her thumb over the dirt covered skin. She smiled and said, "Yes, you do."

With a grin and a shake of her dust filled hair, Sam moved back inside the cave leaving a sneezing doctor shaking a fist at her as she leaned against the side of the opening. Regaining control of her sinuses, Janet chuckled as she watched Sam strip out of her dirty clothes and slip into one of the pools. She began walking back to check on her equipment but when she ducked past a pair of pants on the clothesline she couldn't help notice the large rips in them. Shaking her head at the loss of another set of uniform pants, she glanced over the rest of the clothing, discovering more torn items and several with what appeared to be bloodstains.

'Blood…what in the world has she been up too? Surely if she'd been injured she would told me,' thought Janet as she fingered the material of a shirt; pulling it off the line, she walked quickly to where Sam now stood drying her body off. Holding it up, showing off the huge rip in the fabric across the chest she cleared her throat, catching her partner's attention.

Sam looked up, water still dripping from her wet hair. "Oh…I was going to explain that," she said, wrapping the towel around her body.

"Drop it," Janet ordered in a serious tone.

"Huh?" asked Sam with a confused look.

"The towel … drop it and let me look you over," Janet said as she moved closer to her partner.

Shrugging her shoulders, Sam pulled the towel away from her body and stood with arms outstretched as the doctor ran her hands over her tall frame, poking, prodding and asking if this or that hurt. "I'm fine, Janet, honestly I am," the blonde said, her voice sounding strained. "But if you don't finish soon I'm going to forget we're on a mission here."

Janet laughed softly. "It has been a long two weeks hasn't it?" she mused, finishing her examination. "Now, do you want to explain why I can't find a mark on you? I know your body too well, Samantha, and there aren't even any scars from old injuries," the doctor remarked, crossing her arms and raising an eyebrow as she waited for her partner to answer her.

Wrapping the towel around her once more, Sam moved over to where her gear was set out. Digging around in a backpack she pulled out new underwear, a clean t-shirt and BDU pants. "Okay, but we'll talk after food, I'm starving," she told the doctor as she dressed in the clean clothes.

As Sam dressed, the doctor remained silent until the blonde turned back around to face her. "And when was the last time you ate? I can tell you've lost a few pounds since I saw you last," Janet remarked.

Sam shrugged. "I've eaten…not a lot…." she answered, moving past the doctor towards the campfire where she turned back and added, "But I've eaten."

Janet watched as the blonde picked up the pan of food, moving to a table cluttered with notebooks and rock samples. The tall woman used her free hand to push some of the items over to the side, making room for the hot pan. She then moved to rummage around in a wooden crate and returned with a couple of bowls; turning back to her partner she spoke, "Okay…food's ready. Grab a stool and we'll eat then I'll explain all of this…"she waved a hand around the cavern, "When we're finished."

Sam dished up the food and placed a bowl before Janet who had pulled a stool up to sit on across from her. She watched as the doctor moved the food around in the bowl and then took a small bite. "And you get onto me about eating. I know it's not great but it tastes pretty good," she told Janet as she took a big bite of her meal.

Janet didn't reply to the comment but took a few more bites then pushed the bowl away. "I guess I'm just not hungry. You finish yours and I'll go check to see how the tests are going," the doctor said as she stood up and moved away from the table.

With a confused look on her face Sam watched her partner move away and pick up a clipboard, making notes on the different readings appearing on her equipment. Breathing a resigned sigh, the blonde took a few more bites of her meal then stood up and moved to stand behind the doctor. She wrapped the smaller woman in a hug from behind, resting her chin on Janet's shoulder. "Do you want to hear my story or do you want me to leave you alone?" she asked in a soft voice.

"I've been alone for two weeks, Sam. Just give me a few minutes to make sure this is running smoothly and then you can tell me the story," Janet replied in a monotone voice squeezing the hands clasped in front of her.

"Okay, I'll clean up the food then. Do you want me to save some for later?" she asked the woman in her arms.

Janet nodded her answer and she felt Sam's arms slip from around her waist but not before a soft kiss was placed just below her ear. The kiss sent shivers down her spine and she glanced over her shoulder at Sam's retreating form. The doctor couldn't help but smile at the way the blonde's kisses still made her feel, even after all these years together. Turning her head back around, she knelt to adjust the settings on her equipment. As she did this a loud rumble of thunder sounded from outside the cave and she looked at the rear opening to see the daylight had darkened, allowing lightening flashes to light up the outside world.

The doctor found herself staring at the opening, counting the seconds between flashes of light and the next rumble of thunder. So intent on this she didn't hear Sam's footsteps coming up behind her until the taller woman touched her shoulder. This happened at the same moment a particularly loud crash of thunder shook the mountain causing Janet to drop the clipboard and nearly jump out of her skin.

"Damn it, Sam!" she exclaimed clutching her chest and breathing heavily from the fright as she stood up.

The blonde backed away slightly with hands held high. "Sorry, Jan, I didn't mean to startle you," she said. "It's going to get loud in here shortly, though. I just wanted to let you know that." The doctor gave her a confused look and Sam continued, "This happens every night from what my guide told me last week. The atmospheric conditions this time of the year are perfect for violent thunderstorms; it's one of the reasons for the rockslides."

"Well, if that's the case why don't you wait until the morning to tell me your story about the pools and we try to get some sleep before it gets too much louder out there," Janet said pointing towards the opening where rainfall could now be seen in the flashes of lightening.

Sam shrugged her shoulders and nodded. "If that's what you want to do then, okay," she replied.

The doctor watched as Sam moved away from her and began adding wood to the campfire. She sighed and felt tightness in her chest that usually signaled a crying spell but taking a deep breath fought it off then knelt to pick up the clipboard she'd dropped. She wasn't about to break into tears while they were stuck in a cave on some distant planet.

Both women continued with their tasks as they prepared for bed. Once everything was finished they stood over the low cot that Sam had been sleeping on. Scratching her head the blonde glanced at Janet. "How do you want to do this?" she asked.

"It's not our bed at home but I think we can manage," Janet told her with a grin.

Sam laughed softly and then climbing onto the cot gave the doctor as much room as she could without falling off of it. Janet lay down on her right side and Sam pulled a blanket over them then settled her body close to her smaller partner's, one arm tucked under her head while the other lay across Janet's waist. "All snug now," the blonde said in the doctor's ear.

"Mm-huh," hummed Janet in return as she grasped the hand lying on her stomach with one of her own. She turned her head slightly and received a kiss from the blonde then turned back to settle under the blanket, trying to get to sleep before the thunderstorm kicked into full gear.

A loud crash shook the mountain causing Janet to startle awake. After a few seconds of orientating herself, she realized she had more space to move around. Sitting up on the cot, Janet looked around the campsite. The faint glow from the coals of the campfire gave off little light in the cavern but it was from the flashes of lightening which still sizzled across the sky outside that she made out her partner's form leaning against the wall a few feet from the opening at the back of the cave. Wrapping the blanket around her shoulders and slowly rising from the cot, she cursed softly under her breath at the stiffness in her upper body then made her way towards Sam's figure.

Feeling a presence behind her, the blonde quickly wiped away the tears from her cheeks and turned to look at Janet. "Can't sleep?" she asked.

"Of course not, I lost my heater," Janet remarked as she came to stand beside her partner.

Sam stared into the darkness and mumbled something. Janet gave her a confused look and asked, "What was that?"

"I said, you woke me up," she repeated, glancing down at the doctor's face.

"Why did you leave the cot, though? Did I kick you or something?" Janet asked with a small grin.

"No, you were dreaming," Sam stated and turned her head to gaze out the opening once again.

Quick flashes of white illuminated the tall woman's face and Janet saw the traces of tears left on it. "Sam, sweetie, what's wrong?" she asked letting the blanket drop and resting a hand on her partner's arm.

"You were dreaming about being shot again," Sam said in a low voice. "And I tried to wake you but you pushed me away."

Janet's eyes widened and she gasped, "Oh, Sam, I'm so sorry. I didn't even realize I was still having those nightmares. I don't remember that day clearly; just flashes every now and then and I don't know why I pushed you away." Looping an arm around Sam's waist Janet leaned into her. "Aren't we just a mess lately?" she said. "I'm mad and depressed about everyone treating me like china and you're taking the brunt of it most of time whether I realize it or not," the doctor commented.

"I think I can handle the mad part, hon. It's the depressed part that worries me, though. Sometimes I think I know how to handle that but when I try you just shrug it off and change the subject," Sam told her.

Janet pulled the blonde into a loose hug. "Aren't we the pair? Both of us masters at hiding our feelings to the point of driving each other crazy," she said laying her head on Sam's chest.

"All of this is part of the reason I wanted you to come here and run tests," Sam said. "Because I found a way for you to put the pain behind you and hopefully once that happens you'll be able to put all that happened in the past to rest."

Looking up into Sam's face the doctor saw the worried look and squeezed the blonde tight. "I think you need to tell me that story now, Sam," she said.

"Alright, but let's move someplace a little less breezy to do that," the blonde said as a cool gust of wind hit the couple.

Janet nodded and let Sam lead her towards the campfire but instead of sitting down beside it she continued on to one of the pools. The blonde turned around and took hold of Janet's other hand. "Do you trust me? Tests or no tests?" she asked.

"With all my heart, Sam," Janet told her.

Smiling at the doctor, Sam helped her to remove her clothing and then quickly did the same with her own. She slipped into the pool and held her arms out for Janet, easing the doctor into the steaming waters. Leading the smaller woman across the pool Sam turned and sat down, motioning for Janet to do the same. As she did, she made herself comfortable between Sam's legs on the seat carved from the rock then leaned back against the blonde's chest.

Cupping her hands, Sam lifted some of the steaming liquid and let it pour over the top of Janet's shoulders, letting the water flow across the exposed skin above the pool's waterline. She kept doing this as Janet sighed and spoke, "This isn't telling me your story, Sam."

"Patience, Jan. Let me pamper you for just a little bit," the blonde whispered into her ear.

Closing her eyes and mumbling an answer Janet let the sensation of Sam's hands skimming across her skin lull her into relaxing. The blonde's fingers traced over the scar tissue from the staff blast that had nearly cost the doctor her life. She continued pulling water up from the pool and letting it cover the evidence of the wound. After a short time of doing this she began to speak in a low voice near the doctor's ear.

"Do you remember the remains of that rockslide we had to traverse on the way here?" she asked. Janet nodded her head and hummed an answer. "Well, I was caught in that last week and almost died," Sam said matter-of-factly.

This caused Janet's eyes to pop open and she sat up, turning her body in Sam's grip to stare wide eyed at her partner. Sam just smiled and turned her back around, pulling the smaller woman to rest against her chest once more as she continued the explanation.

"My guide, Jolin, and I were coming up this way to take samples of ore from an old mine site when the rockslide happened. We were on foot, having left our bikes at the base of the mountain because we didn't want to start a slide but I guess it was just our bad luck. We tried to avoid the biggest pieces of debris but were swept down the side of the hill. I was knocked unconscious and came to later pinned between two boulders," Sam said, stopping for a minute she scooped more water up to lavish on the doctor's shoulders.

"Jolin was much luckier than I was. He only had a few bumps and scrapes but I could tell something was busted inside of me and I was loosing blood fast. There was no way I was going to make it back to the village in time," she said in a solemn voice. "I told him to leave me and see if he could get help but he refused. Somehow he managed to get those boulders away from me and carried me here."

Sam paused for a moment, waiting for Janet to speak but the doctor lay with her eyes closed. When Sam didn't continue she cracked an eye open and said, "Keep going."

"I woke up in one of the pools with no injuries. Jolin was nearby and helped me out then excused himself while I checked myself over. I knew I had several large gashes but they were gone and everything felt fine on the inside, no grating of ribs and I could breathe without that wet gurgling sound that I knew had to be a punctured lung," Sam said.

"But that doesn't explain why there are no traces of your old injuries, Sam," Janet murmured.

Sam gripped the doctor around the waist and sank lower into the water until they both were submerged up to their necks. "Ah, Jolin came back and explained the pools had been here for as long as anyone could remember and that the village held a pilgrimage yearly with all the ailing or injured folk making a trip to soak in the waters. As for why it heals old as well as current injuries, I have no clue. That's why I wanted you to run some tests," Sam told her.

"That isn't the only reason you wanted me to come here, though," Janet said softly.

Turning the doctor around until they faced each other, Sam shook her head. "No, that wasn't the only reason. Since it healed me I knew it would work for you, too, see," she said and pulled them both up out of the water, exposing their chests.

Janet looked down and gasped in amazement. There was no sign of the mass of scar tissue from the staff blast or of the huge scar that ran from her midline and up along her left shoulder, where they had opened her up during surgery. She scooted out of Sam's grip and stood up, raising her left arm and rotating the shoulder with no trace of the stiffness or pain she'd dealt with since being shot.

Running her hands over smooth skin the doctor smiled widely at her partner who was leaning against the edge of the pool with an equally wide smile. "It's gone. In the amount of time it took for you to tell me that story it disappeared. This is amazing!" Janet said in an excited voice.

"I know and it's our secret, Janet. I told Jolin I wouldn't tell the others about it," Sam told her. "The guys think I'm still looking for mineral samples."

"But the possibilities…" Janet began and then stopped when she saw the look on Sam's face. "You're right. Our government would monopolize this poor planet for all its resources, treaty or no treaty. But why have me take samples and run tests?" Janet asked moving back to sit beside her partner.

Gathering the doctor in her arms and, tracing a wet finger along the doctor's collarbone, Sam remarked, "Because I knew you'd want answers, you always do, sweetheart."

Janet looped her arms around Sam's neck and pulled the taller woman's head closer to her own. "You know something?" she asked in a soft tone.

"What?" Sam replied with a crooked smile.

"I'm so lucky to have you in my life. You've helped me heal, not only physically but emotionally as well," Janet told her.

Sam began to protest and Janet stopped her from speaking by covering the blonde's lips with her own. After several minutes of intense kissing, they broke apart and Sam grinned. "Maybe I should go back to school and get another degree," she said mischievously. "Maybe add a few more letters after my name."

The small doctor threw back her head, laughing loudly at her partner's comment. Looking back into Sam's twinkling blue eyes and still chuckling softly she remarked, "Sweetheart, I think there's only room for one Napoleonic power monger in our house."

Joining the doctor in laughter, Sam lowered their bodies, letting the pool envelop them as laughter was replaced by soft moans and gasps as the couple celebrated the healing the steaming water had provided to both their bodies and their souls.

The End

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