Sam Carter and the two Frasier women, Janet and Cassie were travelling home after a long week spent at the SGC. A week in which Cassie had been near to death, and a week in which Sam and Janet had been near exhaustion. The timely intervention of Niirti had allowed the recovery of Cassie, and the chance for Sam and Janet to re-evaluate their lives. Unbeknownst to each of them, the three ladies had spent the last few hours deep in thought, each coming to a similar conclusion. Sam and Janet knew they had to talk to each other, while Cassie knew she had to be the interfering brat she had always fancied being.
Look at all this mess. I'm glad Cassie decided on the picnic idea; at least there's no washing up. Pizza and soda was a good idea too, I'm pleasantly full.
Cassie is rattling on about one of her social studies topics, Demographics, the study of human populations using statistics! She reckons we only need one more child to be a perfect family. Apparently, in the UK, the average family is Mom, Dad, and 2.4 children. She says the dog counts as 0.4 children! Janet had laughed out loud at this point, and we'd both looked at her in amazement.
Cassie says, "Do you know, Sam, Mom did that earlier today but wouldn't tell me the joke."
I laugh and say, "Come on Janet, spill the beans, we are both old enough you know!"
Janet grins at us, "Earlier today I had a vision of Sam yelling at Dominic on the night you collapsed. I quote, 'you kissed her,' with such venom, I swear Dominic must think Sam's your Dad. So you now saying we only need one more child to make a perfect family, brought the vision back to me. I'm sorry Sam, but that just makes me laugh."
We all laugh at this point and I couldn't be happier, my daughter and my secret love, chatting away about nothing of importance. No one would know we nearly lost our daughter if they could see us now. I wonder if Janet says our daughter, rather than my daughter. Maybe I could ask her, as a way of leading into my feelings.
Cassie jumps up. "I'll clean this up and make you two a coffee," she says.
I watch her leave the room and then glance at Janet. She too is watching Cassie with a proud look on her face. This is my family. This is all I want. How can I tell Janet without losing her friendship? I look at Janet again and she's got that look on her face again. She smiles and I wonder exactly what that smile means.
"Penny for them," she says.
"What?" I reply
"You look deep in thought. What's the matter?" she asks.
"Oh I don't know. I was just thinking about the last week and what we would have done if we'd lost Cassie." Her face changes, but she doesn't comment. Cassie comes back into the room putting our drinks on the coffee table.
She says, "Mom, Sam, do you mind if I call it a day? You two said you needed to talk, so now you can." She walks over to Janet and hugs her. I hear her whisper, "Love you," and see Janet's happiness at that single remark.
Janet murmurs, "Me too. Now get some rest. I've invited Dominic over tomorrow, I thought I ought to apologize for how I treated him when you collapsed."
The look of surprise on Cassie's face is priceless. She hugs Janet again saying, "Thank you." She turns to me, "Sam, will you see me to bed, please?"
I look at her and think, you're 16 now Cassie. You don't need a bedtime story. She must have read my mind, because she says, "I don't want a story silly, I just want a chat with my Daddy!"
Janet and Cassie both giggle and I can't help but smile at my women's' obvious amusement. I roll my eyes, wink at Janet, and reply, " Come on then little one let's go."
While Cassie gets ready I wait on her bed and remember earlier in the evening. We were all just chatting about mundane everyday things, but eventually we all fell into a comfortable silence, and for a time we were all deep in thought.
Me? I was just wondering 'what is going on'? Something seems to have changed in our relationship. We seem even closer than ever before. Janet was looking at me with such open eyes that I'm seeing things I've never seen before. Or is it me? Now I've realized what I feel, am I seeing what I want to see, rather than what is really there?
My thoughts are cut off at this point as Cassie returns and climbs into bed. I stay on the bed next to her and look at her closely. She looks well, thank goodness; back to the bright-eyed teenager I love.
"Sam," she says, "What's the matter?" I tell her I'm just pleased she's back with us and everything is going to be ok again. I add in a quiet voice, "Cassie you do know we all love you don't you. Janet more than any of us."
Tears fill her eyes and she whispers, "Yes Sam I do know, and it's Mom, not Janet." I grin pleased that every thing is back to normal. She continues, "I think I said some nasty things when I was ill, but I couldn't wish for a better family in my life. I loved my real Mom and Dad so much. When they were killed, I never thought I would be this happy again, but you and Janet have become my new Parents. I know Mom was only joking when she said you're like my Dad, but in a way you are. Mom's kind and sweet and always there for me, no matter what, and Sam, I think she's there for you too, you know. While you Sam are strong and resourceful, my protector, there when I need you. When we need you, because Mom needs you too, just like this week. Does this make sense?"
I'm too choked to answer her, she realizes it and continues on. "What I'm trying to say, is you are my family: you and Janet. I love the time I spend with you both, but do you know what would make it better? If we actually were a family ... I mean.... If we lived together, shopped together, played together.... You know, everything! Do you know what I mean?"
I nod and smile gently, wondering if she knows the enormity of what she's saying. If she knows something I don't? If she realizes I wish the same thing more than anything else on this world.
She leans forward and hugs me, whispering in my ear, "I think you and Mom feel something for each other, I see it in your eyes, so why can't my wish be true?" This time it's my eyes that fill with tears and I stutter, "It's not that easy Cass."
She smiles sadly and looks deep into my eyes, "Nothing in this world is easy, Sam. Just talk to her, please. This week has shown us all, I think, how much we mean to each other, and how much we all need each other. Please Sam just talk, be the strong parent I know you are!"
I laugh and say, "Ok matchmaker you, I'll see what I can do. When did you grow into such a knowledgeable young woman? That Dominic's a lucky young man. You take care of him, and send him to your old Dad if he gives you any trouble!"
She giggles, suddenly like a little girl again, saying, "Night Sam. Love you."
I hug her tight, and say, "Me too, see you tomorrow. I'm looking forward to getting to know Dominic." As I leave her room I look back once before heading downstairs to join Janet.
Janet's sat on the floor in front of the couch sipping a glass of wine. I take a minute to just concentrate on her features. I want to be able to remember them if anything goes wrong in the next couple of hours. Janet looks up and spots me stood in the doorway. I see something in her eyes that makes me smile.
"Hey, I poured us a glass of wine, thought we needed it after the week we've had," says Janet.
I sit behind her on the couch and swing my legs up under me. I'm not brave enough to sit next to her on the floor. Not just yet, maybe later. Meanwhile Janet chats away. I'm not really listening but I hear something about being frightened of losing Cassie, and never realizing four years ago how much she would come to love Cassie.
No, I never realized, four years ago, that me, Sam Carter, the 'play it by the rules Air Force officer', would come to love the both of you. She is gorgeous; I can't believe I've never said those words before. The way her hair shines and hangs around her shoulders. I tend to forget how good her hair looks, probably because her neck usually distracts me. One day I will kiss that neck, I will! Jeez, she's still talking and I'm definitely not listening now. It doesn't matter; I love just sitting here being with her.
"Sam!" she raises her voice slightly.
"What?" I grumble. Then notice I'm trailing my fingers through her hair and stroking the nape of her neck. She must be horrified. No, she looks quite comfortable and seems happy.
"Are you listening to me? No, don't answer that you're obviously not," says Janet.
"Sorry, I was just thinking what a lovely neck you have!" I say, all embarrassed. God, where did that come from. If I'm not careful here I'm going to lose it.
"Thank-you Sam and please don't stop, unless you want to, I kind of like it," she whispers.
She likes it. Wow! Why? What do I say now? I'm touching her neck for goodness sake. As a friend, I don't think so. Normally I can talk for America, yet here I am all tongue-tied. How do I tell my best friend I've fallen for her? I'm quiet again; I can feel Janet looking at me.
She says all concerned looking directly into my eyes, "Talk to me Sam. Something is obviously bothering you. Tell me what's on your mind."
I think, Sam just talk. Ask her something important, ask her anything, just talk. She continues to look up at me all expectant. I eventually stutter, "Is that how you really see me Janet, as Cassie's Dad?"
She grins saying, "Well, no, not really." Oh no, she doesn't see me as part of their family, I was wrong all along, what shall I do now. Wait, she's turned round and grabbed my hand.
"Sam, you're too much of a woman to me, to be Cassie's Dad, but you are her other parent," she urges. Is she saying what I want her to say or is it just wishful thinking?
I reply quietly, "I want to be Cassie's other parent so much Janet. This last week has scared me too. You see I was listening to you earlier. Not losing Cassie as such, I sort of knew you would cure her, but...."
"But I couldn't Sam," she interrupts, "If Niirti hadn't shown up we would have lost her."
I put my fingers to her lips and silence her. "No!" I insist, "You would have solved it. You love her too much to lose her. But do you know what really scared me, thoughts of losing you both, my family. That's what you are you know, my family. Janet, I'm scared to death, that when Cassie goes, as she will soon, to college, or Dominic, or something, I'll lose you too."
"Sam! I...." interrupts Janet, and again I silence her with my fingers.
"Let me finish," I murmur, "I need to ask you this. If I'm Cassie's other parent, what am I to you? What will I be when Cassie goes?"
She looks surprised and struggling for words. "You'll always be my best friend Sam, whatever happens," she finally says. My hand drops away from her lips and I know my face drops. I want to be so much more than that. How can I tell her that? Wait she's still talking.
She grabs both of my hands in hers and holds them to her chest, saying, "No Sam, listen. You are my life, my reason for being, my partner, my spouse, my soul mate, my... oh, I don't know what? God Sam, you're the other half of me. How could I ever let that go?"
I'm stunned but manage to utter, "What?" She ignores me and carries on talking.
"If you don't feel the same Sam, you'll still be my best friend and that's what I meant just now," she finishes so gently I almost miss what she says. "I'm sorry if I've upset you or said too much Sam. It's just this last week I've come to realize that if I don't say anything now I never will. I want you in my life always. No, more than that, I need you!"
Silence sits around us as I try and digest what she is saying. I'm her partner, her soul mate, her other half. That means she loves me doesn't it? Doesn't it? Ask her Sam. She needs me? How much? I realize Janet is waiting for me to say something but the words still won't come. She looks terrified.
Suddenly the words tumble out. "You haven't said too much Janet, maybe not enough. You need me? How much? Enough to let me live here all the time? Enough to let me come home to you always? Enough to have me 24/7. That's what I want Janet, to be with you every single minute that I'm on earth! I think I'm in love with you." There I've said it, what will she say now?
She has tears in her eyes as she replies in a whisper, "I don't think, Sam... I know. Yes I want you here 24/7 but are you sure? Are you sure its not just nearly losing Cassie that's making you say this? What about Jack?"
I can tell it hurts her to ask that question, and I'm not sure how to convince her. Abruptness is my only answer, "What about Jack? Do you mean that silly incident with Anise?" Then I find the words to at last put her fears aside and maybe to eventually lay my thoughts to one side too. "I do care for Jack but only in a platonic sense. He's the closest male friend I have ever had. We hold each other's lives in our hands every time we go through the gate. But I feel for Daniel and Teal'c in exactly the same way. I think I fooled even myself it was a sexual thing because that's what everyone else wants."
"Not me Sam, never me," she entreats.
"I know Janet, I think I've always known. You were so upset and distant for months afterwards, I didn't know what I'd done wrong or how to solve it. Then, after nearly dying at the hands of that entity, I woke up and saw your eyes. I think I realized at that moment that you cared for me. It's just taken this long for me to finally admit it to myself," the words continue to come.
"I have to be honest with you Janet. I think I fell in love with you all those years ago when we fought off Hathor. That's why I was more than happy when you offered to adopt Cassie. I've only admitted this to myself today. Can you forgive me for wasting so much time?" my words eventually fade out and I look away from her.
She turns my face back to look at her, "Oh Sam, time with you is never wasted. We've shared so much already. I admit we could have shared so much more, but I don't regret even one minute of our time together so far. But, and there has to be a but Sam. How can we do this? We're in the Air Force, we're both women, we're both officers, we're in the frontline. God Sam, I could go on. We've been best friends for four years, and everyone knows that. How can we suddenly change the way we act together?"
"I don't know Janet, but we have to try. What about what we want? What about what Cassie wants? She wants us to be a real family you know," I beseech.
Then it comes to me, I say, "Maybe we don't have to change at all? We're already very close. How about we have a courtship? We could let the others see slowly how our relationship is changing. That's if they want to see, Janet. You know the guys as well as I do. They can be a little slow on the uptake." I know I'm rambling now, but I don't care, I want to give this a try.
"Sam! I don't want to lose you," she cries, "If the others suspect anything at all, one of us could be transferred out of here. Probably me, you're much too important, and then what would happen to Cassie? How can we have a courtship to let people know? They're not allowed to know. I don't want them to know."
She looks into my eyes and must see the regret there; "I don't mean that as it sounds. Sam, I want everyone to know I love you, but I dare not let them know how I feel. You know, 'Don't ask, don't tell.' We dare not risk it"
"Janet, I'm scared too. Not enough to not give us a try though. I don't believe you are too scared either. Not someone who stands up to a system lord without their CO's permission. Not someone who had no hesitation in protecting my backside when she hadn't held a gun in years," I enthuse. I see her eyebrows rise at that last comment, and continue on begging with all my might, "No Janet, you're braver than I am any day. I have the guys with me; you do it on your own. Please let's give us a try. Just say yes!" I'm grinning like a fool as I finish begging I can feel it.
"Ok, ok," she eventually says, "You win. What did you say? Let's have a courtship. So Samantha Carter, will you go..."
I don't give her time to finish before I say, "Yes. When? How about tomorrow night?"
She's laughing again now and suddenly the mood has lifted, no longer serious. My doubts begin to recede. "Yes, yes all right. I'll pick you up at Seven. Wear something nice," she says with a wink. "Now how about we get some rest, I'm shattered with all this soul searching."
"Yes, sleep that's what I need. I need my strength if I've got to court you Janet Frasier," I agree.
She rolls her eyes and takes my hand at the same time, pulling me off the couch. "Come on," she says.
I hold on tight to her hand as she guides me up the stairs. I can't stop grinning as she pushes me through the guestroom door. I turn to her and place a chaste first ever lip-to-lip kiss on her beautiful mouth. A fleeting gesture, but I see the love shining in her eyes and I know tomorrow cannot come quickly enough. "I really do love you Janet," I whisper.
She touches my face and whispers back, "I love you too. Night Sam. See you in the morning"
I take one last look at her, and she turns into her room, out of sight.
I am in Heaven.
Continued in Apologies
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