I CAN SEE AGAIN
It was a Saturday night. Janet sat on her sofa with a mug of chocolate, preparing to watch the movie she had rented. Cassie was at a friend's sleepover and she hadn't been able to reach her friend Sam to arrange drinks, so she found herself in with a video. Alone. Not that she minded, to be perfectly honest, the movie Janet had chosen to rent was one of her favourites, Bound. She had declined to buy it for herself for risk of leaving it out for anyone, especially Sam, to stumble across. Instead, she had to resign to rent it whenever she was alone.
About twenty minutes into the film, she was interrupted by a knock at the door. 'Damn it!' she thought, 'just when it was getting to a good bit!' She turned off the video, and went to deal with whoever was calling. She was surprised to see Sam standing on her doorstep in casual jeans and her biker jacket.
"Hey Sam, what's up?" Janet asked, trying desperately to remember where she'd left the video case.
Sam looked confused, "I was going to ask you the same question - there was a missed call from you on my phone?"
Janet quickly invited her friend in, "I was going to ask you out for a drink tonight, but I assumed you were busy," she motioned to her set up in front of the TV, "camped up with a video instead." She added with a self-depreciating grin.
Sam followed Janet into the kitchen.
"Would you like a beer?" Janet asked her.
Sam nodded. "So whatcha watching doc?" she asked, as she went over to sit on the couch. Janet tried to beat her to it, but trying to keep up with Sam's long strides, she failed miserably. Sam picked up the video box and read the spine. "Bound." She read aloud, "Is it any good?" Inwardly she was grinning, because she knew EXACTLY how good this movie was. She had a copy hidden under her bed! Knowing that Janet had chosen to watch it gave Sam the tiniest glimmer of hope that Janet was the same way inclined as she was. On the other hand, Janet could have rented it in complete innocence of what one of the main storylines was - but she'd have had to be blind to miss the picture on the front. Either way, finding out was going to be fun.
At Sam's close perusal of the more-or-less blank video store case, Janet could feel herself going redder and redder. She hoped the half-light in the room would hide it a bit. "I don't know if it's your thing." Was all she could manage, mentally kicking herself for making an even bigger deal out of it than it needed to be.
Sam just plopped down on the sofa and swigged from her bottle, "I'll give it a go. I might like it." She said, deadpan, and keeping her gaze fixed on the snowy TV screen. She watched Janet's reaction out of the corner of her eye. Yup, this woman knew EXACTLY what this movie was about!
As Janet pressed play, she tried to make it look like she didn't really know what the movie was about. Luckily she had left it in a place where the two lead actresses were not in a compromising position. As the movie progressed, she found it hard to breathe, and with the movie's main lesbian sex scene just minutes away, she was dreading Sam's reaction. As one of the two characters on the screen climaxed by the other's hand, Janet grabbed the remote and flicked off the video. Feigning surprise, Janet yelped, "Oh my! Well! I didn't know that scene was in there!" She walked over to the wall to switch the lights back up, "Oh dear! That's not really my thing at all, I.."
"I can see again." Sam said quietly.
Just as she expected, Janet whirled round to face her. "What?" she asked, the flushed cheeks now very obvious in the light.
Sam still kept it deadpan, giving herself ten out of ten in the process for acting skills. "You put the lights on. I can see again."
Janet accepted her excuse, passing it off as a mere coincidence that that happened to be one of the next lines in the movie. "Oh. Right, yeah the lights."
Sam found she couldn't keep teasing her best friend any more, "You didn't think I was reciting the next line off of the script were you?" Sam was laughing before she had even finished the sentence.
Janet cocked her head on one side and narrowed her eyes at Sam. "What did you say?"
Sam just smirked and tried, unsuccessfully, to suppress a giggle.
"How many times have you seen this movie, Major?" Janet asked her.
"Thirteen." Sam replied. "You?"
Janet knew she had been busted, "Eight."
The two of them embraced each other in a hug. Both of them relieved that the other knew their deepest secret. Sam broke away from the hug, "How 'bout we grab that drink anyway? Its only half nine."
Janet nodded. "Gay bar?"
SHOULDA, WOULDA, COULDA
As Sam watched Janet sip her drink across the table, it occurred to her that she had never really noticed Janet's sexual orientation. From the evidence she had, it was no wonder though - Janet had been married; which screamed 'straight' at Sam. Then there was the way she was with Cassie. Janet seemed to fit the role of mother so easily. There was the fact that Sam had never seen Janet date anyone, but then she had attributed that to the busy workload of the SGC and Cassie. Or had she ignored it to put her own feelings for the doctor aside? She watched as Janet appreciatively eyed up a tall blonde woman who looked remarkably like Sam.
"So this is the real Janet Fraiser?" Sam asked her. The woman disappeared out of sight, much to Sam's satisfaction.
"Huh?" Janet replied, jilted out of her thoughts. She had been thinking that Sam dressed a lot like some of the women in here and wondered how she had not managed to set off her own 'gaydar'. Probably the fact that she didn't want to think of her intelligent, attractive, witty friend as anything but unavailable. "Sorry Sam, what did you say?"
"I said, so this is the real Janet Fraiser! Eyeing up the chicks!"
Janet giggled, "I was not!" covering her mouth with her hand in mock embarrassment.
Sam smiled, "It's good to see you relaxing. I glad we shared this with each other."
"It's not like you gave me a choice, Sam!" Janet retorted with a laugh, "But yeah, it's good to know we have more in common than we thought."
The two fell into a silence and both seemed to regard the other with curiosity. For a couple of seconds they just stared into each others eyes, both wondering if the other had been secretly interested before this revelation. The moment was broken when Janet suddenly jumped up from the table, "Another drink?"
"Er, yeah sure." Sam replied, confused as to Janet's sudden jumpiness.
As Janet waited at the bar, she processed what had just happened. She was sure that under between the lines, they each harboured feelings that hadn't been allowed to surface until now. Janet knew that she herself had feelings for Sam, but wouldn't allow it to affect her work, and couldn't allow it to affect their friendship. Now she didn't know what to feel. She ordered a large jug of cocktail for the two to share.
"Wow!" Sam exclaimed, as she saw the size of the jug, "What are you having Janet?"
Janet playfully smacked her on the shoulder after she set the heavy jug down. She was pleased they were still laughing and joking, even if there was an undercurrent of new tension between them.
After a couple of glasses of cocktail, 'Sex on the beach' Sam noted from the taste, she had plucked up the courage to probe deeper into the doctor's private life. They were best friends, but had both managed to keep a huge chunk of their lives hidden from the other. "So, Janet," Sam started. Janet looked up from her cocktail, but didn't remove her mouth from the straw. It gave her the appearance of looking rather childlike. "How long have you been batting for the other side?"
Sam's candid approach almost made Janet spit out her drink. This wasn't a conversation she ever expected to have with Sam. "Er. I guess all my life really."
"But what about your marriage?" Sam probed.
"Yes, I was married. I knew I was gay then, but I guess it was my own way of denying it to the world. He was a nice, decent man, but when the relationship just turned to a friendship on my behalf, he knew something was wrong. He was hurt that I'd kept it from him, and felt a bit used, but we split amicably. Just lost touch over time." She paused to regard the situation; "I never thought I'd be having this conversation with you Sam!"
Sam was quiet for a second, "You really didn't suspect I was gay? Did I really not set off your gaydar?!" She laughed at Janet's innocence.
"Well, looking round the bar, I suppose I can see it a bit clearer. I didn't want to." Janet suddenly stopped herself. The drink was loosening her tongue.
"Didn't want to what?" Sam asked. She knew the next bit must be about her by the way that Janet suddenly stopped herself from whatever she was about to say.
"Nothing." Janet replied. 'Oh, great' she though, 'Make yourself look guilty for the second time tonight'.
Sam raised her eyebrows, prompting Janet to continue.
Janet sighed, she had been busted. "I didn't want to think of you as anything but straight, because I didn't want notions like that affecting our friendship, or everything we had worked for in the military."
Sam was secretly pleased to hear Janet's confession, because it was exactly the same as she had been feeling about the situation. Still, she couldn't help pushing - she found Janet's embarrassment adorable at the house. "What notions, Janet?" Sam asked, in the same innocent, deadpan way she had done regarding the movie.
Janet growled in frustration, "Notions that you would ever be interested in me, ok?" Her voice rose a bit higher than she had intended, eliciting a few raised eyebrows from the other people in the bar. Her face flushed as red as it had earlier, but instead of finding it adorable, it made Sam feel quite guilty that she had pushed her.
She covered Janet's hand with her own, "I'm sorry."
Janet was getting quite distressed now. "See? Even now you know, it's still complicated!"
"Janet, I feel the same way you do. I kept it quiet for the same reasons you did."
Janet looked up from their hands.
"I am interested in you, in us." Sam continued, "but I'm as scared as you are about messing up our friendship and careers as you are."
Janet's face slid into her professional doctor mask, Sam knew she was about to hide her feelings. "Well then it's obvious what we should do. We leave things as they are. We keep our friendship and our jobs and we lose nothing."
Sam cast her eyes down and nodded. She would have loved to give it a try, and she suspected Janet would as well, but she knew Janet spoke sense. Indicating their near-empty jug, Sam asked her, "Should we drink up and go?"
Janet looked at her watch. "I suppose. It'll be chucking out time soon."
As they stood out side and waited for a cab, Janet turned to Sam, "You wanna take the spare room at mine? You can't really drive your bike home."
"Sure." Sam replied, "Thanks".
The cab ride was made largely in silence, except for the radio playing quietly. When the driver realised they were not saying much, he turned up the radio. A few songs passed, until there was one that caught both of their attentions.
People say that together we were both sides of the same coin That we would shine like Venus in a clear night sky We thought our love could overcome the circumstances But my ambition wouldn't allow for compromise
I could see in the distance all the dreams that were clear to me Every choice that I had to make left you on your own Somehow the road we started down had split asunder Too late to realise how far apart we'd grown. How I wish I, wish I'd done a little bit more
Now " Shoulda woulda coulda," means I'm out of time Coz "Shoulda woulda coulda", can't change your mind And I wonder, wonder, wonder what I'm gonna do "Shoulda woulda coulda" are the last words of a fool
People ask how it feels to live the kind of life others dream about I tell them everybody gotta face their highs and their lows And in my life there's a love I put aside, cause I was busy loving something else So for every little thing you hold on to, you've got to let something else go
How I wish I, wish I'd done a little bit more Now " Shoulda woulda coulda," means I'm out of time Coz "Shoulda woulda coulda", can't change your mind And I wonder, wonder, wonder what I'm gonna do "Shoulda woulda coulda" are the last words of a fool
[words from Beverly Knight's 'Shoulda Woulda Coulda']
Janet and Sam deliberately avoided each other's gaze, though both knew the other was examining their feelings about the song's message. It was a very subdued Sam and Janet who exited the taxi a few minutes later.
"Would you like a drink before bed?" Janet asked Sam.
"I'll just grab a glass of water, thanks" she replied.
The silence between them was not uncomfortable, but there was an air of something there - not quite tension, but it was clear that the thoughts filling their minds were identical. Janet turned the lights out as she followed Sam up the stairs. "Goodnight Sam" she said as they reached the top.
They went their separate ways across the landing. As Sam reached her door, she turned round to see Janet in a similar position outside her own door. Sam called quietly across the landing, "Janet".
Janet turned round, with a look of conflict on her face. Sam slowly walked up to her, "Y'know, Shoulda Woulda Coulda.."
Janet interrupted her, and said whilst nodding, ".are the last words of a fool."
"I." Sam started to speak, but didn't quite know what to say.
The two stared into each other's eyes for just a brief second, before leaning in to share a slow kiss. It was more exploring than passionate, which at the moment, conveyed their current relationship perfectly. As they pulled away, both had a dazed expression.
"Well, er, goodnight again Janet."
Both actually made it to their separate bedrooms, but each feeling easier and with small smiles of contentment.
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