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: In answer to Spooged1's challenge to write something around Ascension quite a few months ago now.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
SPOILERS: set around "Ascension"

Just Because You're Paranoid
By Celievamp

Almost a week had passed since Sam had stormed out of her office and there had been no word from her. O'Neill mentioned in passing that he had had a more cryptic than usual conversation with her outside the men's toilets on level 23. He hadn't been paying that much attention though he thought she said that she had seen her invisible friend again.

It was the first time in their relationship that they had not been speaking for so long. And it was beginning to hurt. Cassie had noticed as well.

"Janet – is Sam okay?"

"She's very busy at the moment, Cassie. She's working on a very important project."

"Have you had an argument?"

Damn but she was perceptive. And Janet couldn't lie to her no matter how much she might want to. "Yes, we had an argument. I had to revoke her active clearance – she's not ill as such just overtired and a little anaemic. And well, we think she had a hallucination. But she didn't take it too well."

"But she's coming over soon, isn't she? Saturday – she always comes over on Saturday."

"I don't know, Cassie. If I see her I'll ask her but she's working through some things at the moment… Sam needs some alone time at the moment. We may just have to wait until she's ready to talk to us again."

Sam damned herself for her intellectual curiosity. It had bitten her in the ass again. The Colonel had told her not to turn it on. So of course – and then when it wouldn't activate she had investigated further and discovered that the power core was missing. And then all her lights had gone out as well.

And to compound her error it seemed as if she had picked up an alien hitchhiker on P4X636 and brought him back through the Gate with her. One that only she could see.

And no one believed her. Not the General. Not the Colonel. Not Teal'c. Not Daniel.

Not Janet.

Janet had told General Hammond that she was unfit for duty. Sam was told to go home, to relax, to `take it easy'.

The one thing she wasn't much good at.

Normally if something like this had happened the one person knew she would be able to talk to, the person she knew she could rely on for a sympathetic ear and sound advice, would be Janet Fraiser.

But Janet had done this to her. And Sam knew she was being childish and short-sighted and probably downright stupid but she could not seem to get past it.

They had been seeing each other whenever their schedule allowed for about eighteen months. A strong attraction cemented by having Cassie in their lives had blossomed into romance. They enjoyed each other's company. They were good together. The sex was, well, incredible. But neither woman had made any moves towards commitment. Janet didn't seem to want that complication in her life. And Sam… Sam stared at her hands, trying to relax her fingers from the fists they were curled into, so tightly that her short nails were cutting into the skin of her palms. Maybe she did need to relax a little.

If she was honest with herself, Sam was just waiting for the other shoe to drop, for Janet to disappoint her in some way. Everyone else had. If she didn't allow herself to get too close to the other woman perhaps it wouldn't happen. Things were good as they were. If it ended now well, it would hurt, but there wouldn't be the devastation.

She had enough on her plate at the moment without worrying about her relationship with Janet. Simmons – she had to stop his people from reactivating the weapon on Velona. She had come up with some crap about weather conditions affecting the weapon but she was running on empty as far as ideas were concerned. And Orlin…

Much as she had resolved not to get involved, he was getting to her.

Why did he have to be so damn nice?

She had promised Orlin that she would be home early. He had `plans'. He still seemed intent on pursuing this `relationship' with her, even though he knew that she was with Janet.

Except that she wasn't. Not really. Not anymore. Perhaps Orlin had unwittingly done her a favour. She was used to people letting her down after all. She had thought, had hoped Janet would be different but her instinct had been right all along, her expectations of failure in this relationship had come to fruition. Now she knew. Now she knew.

She glanced at her watch. Half past four. Well, she was supposed to be taking it easy. She shut down her computer and turned off the rest of her equipment and headed for the door. Just as she put her hand on the handle someone tapped lightly on the other side. Sam opened the door. Janet jerked backwards not expecting her to be there so promptly.

"I was just on my way out," Sam said. "What can I do for you, Janet?" She hardened herself against the hurt look that flared briefly in the other woman's eyes.

"Cassie was wondering if you were coming over this Saturday. She misses you. We both miss you."

Janet sounded as if she meant it. "I… I wasn't planning to, but okay, I can come over," Sam said. She realised that she sounded less than gracious. "I miss both of you as well."

"Sam, when I grounded you it was a work thing not a personal thing – you do understand that, don't you."

"I'm not completely dense, Janet," Sam bit down on her temper. Janet had done nothing wrong. And she had lost consciousness for a –

as far as Janet and everyone else was concerned – unexplained reason. And some of her actions since had not exactly inspired confidence in her mental well-being.

She remembered Janet's words: "Okay, at least consider what you've been through the last few years. You have had a Tokra symbiote die in your brain, your memory has been stamped, and then your entire consciousness has been transferred into a computer then back again… and that is just for starters. Eventually it has to take its toll."

"I'm sorry. You're right. I'm being an ass," she sighed. "This whole situation is just…"

"It's okay, I understand. It can't be easy having Simmons sniffing around."

"It's not. He has an agenda here." She shrugged. "The General's doing the best he can."

"But they still want to activate the weapon. And you don't think that's a good idea."

"No." She couldn't tell Janet what she knew and how she knew it. "A hunch."

"I trust your hunches," Janet smiled. "Cassie owes her life to one of your hunches."

They stood in comfortable silence for a moment or two. "I have to go," Sam said at last. "I'm supposed to be taking it easy."

"Doctor's orders," Janet ducked her head, smiling. "I'll let you get on." She leant against the wall as Sam locked her lab door, setting the security system. Sam's hand brushed hers for a moment and then she started to walk away. "Sam!"

The taller woman turned. "Yeah?"

"You don't have to wait until Saturday you know, you're welcome any time."

She was graced by a smile for that which she had not seen for far too long. "I know. Thanks, Janet."

The next time she saw Janet was as she was coming back through the gate from Velona in restraints, Colonel Reynolds and the rest of SG16 flanking her. Orlin was… no longer on their plane of existence. Whether that meant he was dead or back among the Ascended she did not know.

General Hammond, Colonel Simmons, O'Neill and Janet were waiting at the foot of the ramp. Simmons looked ready to order the SFs to shoot her. Hammond was angry, Jack inscrutable and Janet… Janet looked disappointed.

Rather than being held in the brig as Simmons had been ready to insist, Hammond ordered that she remain in the infirmary in the secure unit for observation.

"Tell me about him."

Sam glanced up at her, intensely uncomfortable with the idea of discussing Orlin with anyone, especially Janet. "I don't know whether I can, not yet. It's all still so mixed up."

"You did your best, Sam."

"Did I? Orlin is…" She was not sure. None of them were. Dead… descended. Out of her life, certainly. Which was not necessarily a bad thing. It would have been difficult to continue any kind of relationship with Orlin mooning after her all the time. Corporeal or not.

"Perhaps talking about what happened will help you sort things out."

"You're not going to let this drop, are you?"

"Sam. You're going to have to talk about this to someone. To me, to the Colonel, Daniel…"


"It might have to come to that."

"Or what… you'll keep me off active duty!" Sam got up, walked around the room. "When can I get out of this place? General Hammond's already said that no official charges are going to be brought against me."

Janet closed her eyes, counted silently to ten. "Sam. Don't do this again, please. You know how it has to be. You can talk to me as a friend, or as a doctor. Either way all that anyone else will know is that we have talked."

"Okay. We'll talk – but not here."

Janet considered the wisdom of what she was about to suggest for about thirty seconds. "All your test results are clear so you can be out of here as soon as you get your stuff together. Why not come over to my place tonight? Cassie's dying to see you anyway – she'll be thrilled – especially since you missed Saturday."

Sam nodded. "Okay. About seven?"

"Fine. I'll cook spaghetti."

Even though she had no appetite at all when she sat down, Sam managed to eat a plate of spaghetti. Janet's cooking as always, was great. Cassie kept her from brooding, filling her in on all the details she had missed since her last visit. Janet, however, was quiet. At last Cassie was packed off to do her homework and the two women sat down in Janet's lounge.

"Okay, so I suppose I should start talking," Sam said quietly as Janet handed her a glass of red wine.

"Only if you want to, Sam. But it will help, I promise. And as I said, all anyone outside the two of us will know is that we talked."

Sam nodded. "I know. I wasn't worried about that. I trust you, Janet." She sighed, took a sip of wine and then stared into its depths for a moment or two, swirling the glass slightly.

"When I collapsed on Velona it was because Orlin had tried to merge with me. He overloaded me. He was fascinated by me initially because we were the first people he'd seen in a couple of hundred years and secondly because I'd figured out what he'd done to sabotage the weapon. So he hitched a lift back through the Gate with us and then came home with me. I think he'd linked himself to me in some way.

All evening I kept getting the oddest feeling that someone was watching me. I thought it was because I was so tired and still jumpy from what happened on the planet and back at the SGC. And then the next morning he just appeared to me. I went out to get the paper and there he was, standing in the road just looking at me." She giggled. "I actually asked if he was from around here. Anyway we had this weird inconsequential conversation that really freaked me out and then I came back into the house. I rang Daniel just to check in, you know and then – he was just there, in my kitchen. I had locked the door, I swear. He was just there! Then he told me he had been in my house all night watching me sleep…" Janet shuddered, Sam nodded silently in agreement then continued. "He had read some of my books and watched TV to learn about us – humans I mean. Apparently he was invisible at the time. He took human form so that we could 'relate'."

"So he didn't always look like that?" Janet had seen the surveillance photos.

"I'm not sure. Orlin said that he used to look that way before he ascended – but whether that meant he was humanoid or he looked exactly as he did when he came to me, I don't know. Then he told me that he had come back through the Stargate with us. And then to prove his incorporeality he walked through my kitchen table. And I just ran for it. You know what happened next…"

"Code 3 teams, surveillance systems, round the clock monitoring…"

"And no sign of an alien, invisible or otherwise," Sam sighed. "By the end of it I was beginning to doubt myself. I could quite see why everyone else thought I had burnt out."

"Two chevrons short of a gate address was one of the more colourful comments I got."

"That was the Colonel, right…" Janet nodded.

"Then we discovered that the object on 636 was one of the Colonel's `big and honkin' weapon's after all. Daniel translated the monument and we started to piece together what had happened."

"They took out the cameras and I went through the psychological assessment. When I came home from that he was waiting for me. I was so angry. That's when he explained to me what he had done to me on Velona…

"My kind is capable of a level of communication that shares the innermost essence… an exchange of spirit."

"That's why I passed out. I wasn't prepared. But he managed to `read' me anyway." She smiled faintly. "It was corny, what he said, but kind of sweet at the same time."

"You're a good person. Your heart is pure. That on the inside, your spirit is a beautiful as you are on the outside."

"He wanted to try again. He thought that if I was prepared… receptive, that it would work that he would be able to do this exchange with me."

"You took a hell of a risk, Sam," Janet said gently.

Sam shrugged. "He promised he would go if I let him try. By that point I would have tried anything."

"Open your mind to the possibility of an existence not governed by the science which you hold so dear."

"What did you have to do?" Janet asked.

"Just close my eyes and relax." Janet tried not to smile. "I know!" She shivered. "What happened next – well, I don't think I'll ever have the words to describe it. I was aware of a bright light all around me and when I opened my eyes he was just floating in front of me. I could make out his face, his eyes, but nothing more. Do you remember how Daniel described the being Oma Desala that we met on Qeb?" Janet nodded. "Well I think that Orlin was the same… species, I suppose."

She sighed again, rubbing her fingers through her hair. "It was a moment of perfect peace, I suppose. And happiness. To be totally known. There was a kind of innocence…" she paused, frowning. "There's more, but I can't put it into words. I don't know if I'll ever be able to."

Janet reached towards her, "You had an incredible experience," she said softly. "Anyone could see that. But you can see why we were all so concerned about you. You were acting so out of character and now you're telling me that you – what, did some kind of Vulcan mind meld with this Orlin. At the very least you should have mentioned it in your medical exam."

"You did an MRI anyway. If merging with Orlin did any damage to me it would have shown up then, wouldn't it?" She was getting defensive again. Ignoring Janet's frown she put down the wine glass and got up to pace around the room trying to get her anxiety levels down to a level where she would not say something she would later regret. "And merging with him was a beautiful thing, Janet, possibly the most beautiful thing that ever happened to me. What `damaged' me was the fact that no one trusted me – not you, not the Colonel, not my team, not my superiors. None of you trusted me… After everything…" She wiped away a tear with the back of her hand. "I'm sorry. I have to go. I can't talk to you about this now."

"Sam, please!"

"I'm sorry, Janet. Really sorry. But I have to go!"

The door slammed shut. Janet sat back down on the couch and buried her face in her hands. For the first time she realised time she realised that she might have lost Sam for good.

"Look, Carter, here's the bottom line… no one is seeing what you've seen. And until that happens, we're all gonna think you're NUTS!"

Every piece of wiring in her house had been fried by what Orlin had done. Not to mention the fact that she needed a new toaster to go with the new microwave she had bought earlier in the week. Her front door needed replacing and she was seriously considering just selling up and moving somewhere else. Possibly a different state if not a different country. Maybe even a different continent. Hell, perhaps she should just have stayed on Velona.

The scale of the mess defeated her in her present state of mind. And if no one else was watching her now, her neighbours certainly were. That `nice Miss Carter' was now an international drug dealer or a terrorist or something like that. Ordinary decent folk did not have SWAT teams and crack military squads breaking down their door in the middle of the night. Ordinary decent folk did not have (currently inoperable) hyperspatial portals in their basement.

The team from Area 51 had taken it away before she had had a chance to study it. Orlin had meant it as a one-time use only but perhaps she could have retro-engineered it.

She tried to think if there was any other way she could have handled it, but came up blank. Perhaps that was because the fault was not in her but in her superiors. She had kept nothing back from them and they had secretly watched her, had ignored her judgement and her recommendations about the weapon on Velona and had questioned her sanity and her loyalty. Simmons had a lot to answer for and she knew that she had made an enemy there, one that would bear watching.

But the attitudes of her own team, her immediate superiors and her best friend had also caused her sleepless nights. She now knew how Daniel must have felt when they had all accepted McKenzie's diagnosis of schizophrenia when he had been infected with Machello's Goa'uld killer.

Maybe she it was her fault. She had got too close to them, got used to depending on them. Maybe it was a wake up call.

Yet Orlin had told her that the fault was within her. That she should trust her heart for a change. And her heart had told her from the day that they first met that Janet was the one.

There was a knock at the door. She looked up, realising that she had been sat in thought for nearly two hours. She got up to answer it and found Janet standing on her doorstep.

"I couldn't stand the way we left things," she said. "I need to make things right with you."

"Things are fine with us, Janet," Sam said. "Please – I'm probably not very good company right now." She felt horribly awkward again, almost as bad as when the Colonel and Teal'c had turned up on her doorstep with pizza and a movie the first night that Orlin became fully corporeal. She could just imagine the `deer in headlights' expression on her face. In all probability it was there again right now. "And the house… it's such a mess. I really need to get started on fixing it up."

"Then I'll help you," Janet said. "Two pairs of hands… gotta be better than one, right?" Janet looked up at her friend expectantly. "Come on. Let me help you with this. Please."

Sam nodded, stood aside, letting the smaller woman into the house.

Janet walked into the hallway, paused and looked around, taking in the broken table, the panel missing from the study door, the electrical box hanging off the wall at the top of the stairs leading down into the basement. Paper littered the floor of the study, books had been overtopped from bookcases. Computer disc boxes were empty, their contents missing.

"Oh my god, Sam. They made such a mess. Is the rest of the house this bad?"

"Actually the rest of the house is worse," Sam said.

"I can't believe no one offered to help you clean up. This is disgraceful, it really is. You can't possibly stay here."

"I'll be okay, really. I just need to…" Suddenly it overwhelmed her. Sam slumped back against the wall, her arms wrapped around herself. The feeling of dislocation, of abandonment was physically painful. "I don't know what I need to do. I don't… I didn't…"

Then Janet's arms were around her.

"You didn't believe me, Janet! None of you did! Daniel at least backed me up against Reynolds and Simmons but the rest of you…"

"I'm sorry, baby, really I am. After what happened with Daniel and Machello I know we should be more open to these things but what with you collapsing as you did all the evidence pointed to some kind of burn out. And you have to admit that with the hours you've been putting in and the things you've put yourself through the last couple of years that you're a prime candidate."

"I know. I know. You were doing your job. I recognise that. And I know that you're my friend and my… my lover as well." There. She had said it. "I do love you, Janet. Really. The last few weeks apart from you have been horrible."

"Then come home with me now. Stay – a few days, a few weeks, as long as you like, Sam. Forever, if you want. Don't run away from this, from us. Please." Janet nuzzled at her, reaching up to place an almost chaste kiss on her lips then a second that was far from chaste. "Please. I love you, Sam. Everything that's happened just… I don't think I could stand to lose you."

This house would never be the same for her, Sam realised. Perhaps it was time to move on. To move in. She was almost surprised to find that the idea of living with Janet, of sharing every aspect of her life with her did not repel her.

"Thanks… I'll stay, a week or two at least, until I decide what to do with this place," Sam said, her voice a little husky. "I don't think I can live here any more… not after… First Orlin and then…" It didn't feel like her home anymore. Too many other lives had impinged upon it, trampled through it.

"Then grab what you need and come home with me. We'll come back tomorrow, get the rest of your things together and start to clear up."

Sam accepted another kiss and walked through into her bedroom to pack an overnight bag. Trust her heart, Orlin had said. And in her heart she knew that this was the right thing to do.

The End

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