DISCLAIMER: Not mine. I promise I'm only borrowing them and will return them to their rightful owners whenever they ask for them back. My imagination took a flight of fancy.....my bank account stayed empty. (Seriously, the cast of SG1 belong to MGM and I'm only borrowing them for some free daydreaming that I wrote down).
AUTHOR'S NOTE: No spoilers beyond passing reference to Heros – Janet survives but with injuries. There are two songs inspiring this fic but are never referenced, beyond inadvertent use of lyrics – bonus stocking fillers for anyone who spots them!
CHALLENGE RESPONSE: Submitted for the Passion & Perfection Xmas Challenge 2005
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

I'll Be Home For Christmas…
By ncruuk


Coming into the warm living room, Katherine Fraiser was disappointed yet unsurprised to see her daughter awkwardly curled up on the window seat, her face resting against the cold glass. Pausing only to check that the fire in the hearth was still roaring away to her satisfaction and grab the fleecy blanket that was resting across the back of a chair, she crossed the room to stand by her daughter.

"She'll come," she said, more to announce her presence than actually impart anything important. Draping the blanket around her daughter, she carefully sat down on the small edge of the seat that wasn't occupied by Janet Fraiser.

"It's snowing harder."

"It's a White Christmas."

"The forecasters are talking about it being several feet. Is that enough to stop commercial flights?" asked Janet in a small voice, sounding not unlike she did when, as a seven year old, she'd asked her father the same serious question from the same spot, only rather than her concern being for commercial flights, it was for Santa and his sleigh!

"I don't know honey, you're the Air Force Officer here!" teased Katherine gently, aware that she was supposed to keep bringing up Janet's commission occasionally, but also very conscious of the pained expression it always brought.

"Has she called?" asked Janet eventually, still seemingly mesmerised by the falling snowflakes.

"Not since that call three days ago…" Janet remembered it well

"I've got to go on a mission Jan…I'm so sorry."

"Who is it this time?" she asked patiently, bracing herself for a vague cryptic response, the only way they could talk about the SGC on a non-secure telephone line such as this.

"Someone I owe a favour to – I kinda crashed his brand new car a while back…." Explained Sam, knowing Janet would recognise the incident. Thor really hadn't been happy when she'd announced that the way to save the Asgard Home World was to deliberately blow up the partially built 'O'Neill'.

"How long will you be?" asked Janet wearily, knowing that with the Asgard involved, she may as well be asking how long was a piece of string. Missions involving Thor generally seemed to evolve into new missions as a matter of course far too often.

"Two days – any longer and I'm out of there, even if I'm still needed. I promise I'll back for Christmas, even if I have to steal a plane and fly it down myself…"

Looking out the window, remembering what her daughter had told her about Sam's intentions, Katherine couldn't help think that her words may yet ring true. The weather was really closing in and, even if the airport stayed open long enough for Sam's flight to arrive, it was highly unlikely that the roads would be passable. Maternal instinct however told Katherine not to say anything to her daughter…Samantha Carter was not a woman who would be put off by a bit of snow.

As the grandfather clock in the hall chimed 5 o'clock, the silence that had settled over mother and daughter was further intruded on by the ringing of the telephone. Ignoring Janet's muttered 'she's stuck on base and can't come', Katherine headed out into the hall to answer it, but not without first sending up a silent prayer to whoever may be listening. Sam had promised she would be here at 4pm….surely she couldn't be not coming now?

"Katherine Fraiser speaking."

"Good afternoon Ma'am, Lieutenant Rodgers here. I've just received radio instruction to telephone you. Colonel Carter would like to know if the horses are in the paddock?"

"Excuse me?" Katherine couldn't quite contain her shock at the random question coming from the young officer.

"Colonel Carter is in a helicopter en route to your location but would like to know if the horses are in the paddock."

"Oh, I see." She really didn't, but carried on anyway "No, they're in the stables behind the house. But there must be three feet of snow in the paddock by now."

"Yes Ma'am, but it's freshly fallen."

"That makes a different?" Katherine was struggling to keep up with the seemingly random course the conversation was taking.

"But of course. Thank you for the information, Colonel Carter is about five minutes out from your position."

"Five minutes….oh!" Katherine's brain finally caught up with everything that it had been told. Sam was coming to the paddock in a helicopter….right now.

"Have a good Christmas Ma'am," wished the Lieutenant before, as abruptly as he began, he disconnected the call, leaving a startled Katherine just staring at the now silent telephone receiver.

"Sam not coming?" called out Janet quietly from the living room a minute later, startling Katherine out of her daze. Rushing back into the living room, Katherine grabbed Janet's sticks from where they had fallen on the floor and began trying to coax her dejected daughter into activity.

"That wasn't Sam….is your coat in the hall cupboard?"

"Yes…Mother, what's going on?" confused, Janet obediently took her sticks and, with Katherine's help, carefully and painfully got to her feet. Moving wasn't the most pleasant task at the best of times now – moving after sitting in one position in a cold window seat for too long was torture.

"I'll get your coat for you and meet you in the hall," explained Katherine, deliberately not answering Janet's question. Sam's surprise arrival was too good a tonic for her broken daughter to spoil with a hint.

Taking care not to overbalance, Janet began her slow progression towards the hall, every small step advancing her a matter of inches rather than feet. The staff blast from that ever so friendly Jaffa on 666 (the irony of the name never failed to irk her – if Sam had been considerate enough to take the '13's and '69's out of the computer sequence to spare people's superstitions or dirty minds appearing in the briefing room, couldn't she have taken that particular number out of the system as well?) had shattered most of her pelvis and lower spine, leaving her with a nearly unrecognisable mass of pulverised bone and muscle where her skeletal structure had once been. It was only after a number of operations and careful use of the healing device by Sam and her father had she managed to get to this stage of mobility. On her good days, it was all worth it since it had stopped her being confined to a wheelchair for the rest of her life – on her really bad days, which admittedly were generally now only when Sam was bounced into missions which put her carefully booked leave in jeopardy, Janet sometimes couldn't help herself but curse the Jaffa for not hitting her more squarely in her chest and settling the matter of her life once and for all.

So caught up in her inner grumbles and intense focus on where she was putting her sticks and feet, Janet didn't pick up on the quietly growing roar that was beginning to cut through the otherwise quiet snowstorm. Instead, once she was finally by the front door and bundled up in coat, scarf and boots, she asked.

"Why the fuss?" in a despondent tone that caused Katherine's heart to break every time she heard it. She'd never understood exactly why Janet had been in such a position that a truck had fallen across her body, crushing her pelvis, the hot engine burning her badly, but she did understand the effect the continued disability was having on her previously active daughter's mental state. Fortunately though, the only known cure for that despondency was now visible on the horizon, assuming you knew the horizon well enough to recognise the aberrant black spot through the blizzard which was gradually getting larger and larger.

"The phone call? It was from a Lieutenant Rodgers…." Explained Katherine brightly, hoping to appeal to her daughter's curiosity, as well as passing the final few moments before Sam's arrival.

"She's not coming," repeated Janet gloomily. Ignoring her daughter, Katherine continued.

"…he wanted to know if the paddock was clear of the horses…." Blinking, Janet turned to look at her mother, waiting for her to continue.

"…didn't seem to mind about the snow…apparently it isn't a problem because it's freshly fallen?" asked Katherine, wondering what her daughter would reply with.

"Uncompacted fresh snow is disturbed by the vortex effect of the downdraft of helicopter rotors. If the noise of the helicopter didn't scare the horses, the swirling snow and sudden drifts would," explained Janet automatically, her years in the Air Force resulting in the easy explanation before she'd fully comprehended what she was saying….

"OH!" Startled by her sudden realisation, Janet looked once again at her mother, only this time with a hint of light in her eyes. Smiling at her daughter, Katherine opened the front door so that Janet could see the paddock and, in the distance, the gradually emerging silhouette of a helicopter, saying quietly.

"Good job you didn't join the Navy."

"You ready Colonel?" asked the man in charge of the winch. Not bothering to lower her headset's microphone so he could hear her, Sam Carter showed that she was with a firm thumbs up. Nodding in confirmation, he turned and readied the winch for her – at the last moment they'd open the hatch and drop the Colonel out. He was already resigned to the fact that he was going to get covered in snow but for the time being was happy to postpone that cold and slushy moment for as long as possible.

"Ready for you Colonel," he finally said when he was satisfied his winch was correctly configured for the drop that Sam was about to do.

Crossing the helicopter cabin carefully, Sam strapped her pack to her ALICE vest and automatically checked that all her pockets and leg straps were securely fastened. When she was satisfied that everything was secure, she waddled forwards – whilst the winch harnesses were vital, when you were loaded with your pack they made walking normally impossible. Seconds later, she watched as the winch man expertly connected her to the end of the winch line and checked all her straps and harnesses. When he had satisfied himself that Sam was indeed ready to go, he held out his hand for the helicopter headset that she had been wearing – the harness was from SGC stores so she would keep that but the headset belonged with the helicopter. Running her fingers through her short hair, Sam took a calming breathe before putting on her helmet and lowering the goggles in place. As she pulled on her gloves, the chin strap was securely fastened for her, followed by the seemingly ritualistic smack on the head by the winch man. She'd never really understood why it was necessary, although she did absently note that it wasn't as hard as she remembered when she'd been doing this more regularly as a Lieutenant. Catching sight of the guy's expression, she smiled in understanding – maybe rank did have its privileges after all.

Transfixed, Janet watched in delight but also nervous fear as the helicopter grew larger until it was soon close enough that she could feel the swirling winds the rotors generated. Glad that the horses were stabled behind the house, she never noticed the massive drifts now being formed at the edges of the paddock. Instead, her body braced against the door frame, in a motion as instinctive and familiar to the Air Force doctor as taking a pulse, she raised her hand to shield her face from the brunt of the air flow without obscuring her vision.

Receiving a final thumbs up from the winch man, Colonel Samantha Carter consciously relaxed as she felt the winch start up and begin to manoeuvre her out of the helicopter towards the ground. Swinging out of the relative protection of the helicopter, she felt for the first time the buffeting of the down draft and tasted the cold wetness of the snow whose gentle flight was disturbed by the helicopter. After a split second when she was just hanging alongside the cabin, she felt the winch start up in earnest and began to be lowered, slowly at first before gathering speed until soon she was below the helicopter, swinging slightly in the air. Instinctively flexing her feet, she prepared herself for 'touchdown'.

It was only the tightening of her lungs that made Janet realise that she was holding her breath, so focussed on tracking the progress of her lover as she descended to the ground. Making a conscious effort to take slow, deliberate breaths, Janet frowned as she lost sight of Sam seemingly a few feet from the ground, only for her expression to clear seconds later as she saw the cable begin to retract back to the helicopter – Sam was on the ground and obscured from her view by the snow drifts.

Watching as the cable rose, Sam thanked the laws of physics for the fact that she'd only landed in about a foot of soft, slushy snow that didn't seem to be too slippy. Crouched low to protect her face and upper body from the now lashing snow caused by the helicopter, Sam waited none too patiently for the cable to be fully stowed. After what felt like minutes but was only a matter of seconds, she heard the change in pitch of the helicopter's engines above the roaring wind as the pilot took the helicopter out of its hover and set off back towards the base. After waiting a full minute for the helicopter to move out of the immediate vicinity, she reached down to her right thigh and unstrapped her zat. Standing up, she aimed at the sizeable snow bank and, with a brief thought of thanks to Teal'c for suggesting this, fired three quick shots at the heaped snow. As expected, it disappeared, making her progress to the house much easier – so easy, she didn't need to climb the fence, the zat having removed that as well.

Make mental note – fix fence before the thaw comes thought Sam with amusement as she waddled 'through' the fence line towards the Fraiser family home, not bothering to take off her winch harness.

"Sam!" called out Katherine, crossing to the edge of the veranda.

"Katherine," greeted Sam calmly, her eyes already looking past her 'mother-in-law' to her lover. Smiling warmly, Sam came to a stop just in front of Janet. Taking a moment to unfasten her helmet, Sam dropped it carelessly to the floor beside her, now only interested in one thing. Leaning down, she felt warm fingers reach up and trace her nose and cold, chapped lips.

"Hello," whispered Janet, not really believing that Sam really was standing in front of her.

"Hello," murmured Sam against the soft fingertips, resisting the strong urge to playfully trap one curious finger between her lips.

"You're here…" observed Janet in wonder, unable to construct anything more complex than the most obvious.

Pulling her lover into a hug, Sam pressed a kiss to the auburn hair that always smelt of summer before easily picking up Janet and taking as big a step indoors as the heavy harness would allow. Never mind 'planes, trains and automobiles', it had taken helicopter, Stargate and Asgard ship to get Samantha Carter home for Christmas, but none of that mattered now…now she was home for Christmas…. and not just in her dreams…..

The End

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