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: Originally Written for the Femslash Advent Calendar Dead of Winter 2005.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
SPOILERS: Set during Season 7 "Grace".
She hadn't worn her hair in pigtails since she was twelve.
It was that which made Janet Fraiser realise that she was dreaming. That and the fact that she was staring at a yellow brick road that wandered into the distance of a heat hazed afternoon between fields of green and gold. The warm air was filled with the scent of wildflowers and the sound of birdsong.
"Well, we're not going to find her standing around like this," a familiar voice said from behind her.
Janet turned. Two figures lounged and one stood rather stiffly a few feet away. Jack O'Neill pulled a piece of straw from his hair and stuck it in his mouth at a jaunty angle. Teal'c's dark eyes regarded her with some bemusement through the jaws of the lion mask he was wearing with his Jaffa armour and Daniel Jackson picked disconsolately at a rivet in his collar. The rust was making his skin itch.
Janet looked down at herself. Just checking. One blue gingham pinafore dress. One pair ruby slippers. Shit. She hated dreams like this. Maybe if she just clicked her heels she could wish herself awake.
Hail Dorothy. No such luck.
"Find who?" she asked.
"Why, Samantha, of course."
Her beloved Sam was on the Prometheus which was four days overdue for check-in. She remembered, remembered how helpless she felt in the face of the vastness of space and the smallness of one little ship, remembered how she clung to hope. Sam was alive somewhere, she couldn't be dead, not Sam. Not her Samantha. Since word had come down that there was a problem she had buried herself in her work, staying on the base and volunteering herself immediately for any retrieval mission through the Gate. She had barely slept since though the last thing she remembered was sitting at her desk in her office looking at the picture of Cassie and Sam she kept by her computer.
"So we're off to the Emerald City to see the Wizard are we?" she asked. And damn Jack O'Neill for indoctrinating all of them into that particular film. The flying monkeys had terrified her as a child and she had no real desire to see what her psyche could summon up now.
There was a distinctly rusty squeak as Daniel opened a compartment in his chest and pulled out a stone tablet. He squinted at it, his lips moving silently as he deciphered the text. "It just says its Lost, doesn't say anything about Emeralds."
"And the Wizard?"
"Oh, he's around somewhere, little grey butt and all," O'Neill drawled. "Hoping he might zip by, give us a lift." Suddenly he raised his arm, stiffly pointing out towards the horizon, more straw protruding from his cuffs, chaff drifting to the ground. "In that direction Hell of a walk otherwise."
"The Lost City is in fact in that direction, O'Neill," Teal'c ground out indicating with his staff weapon the right way to go. The Jaffa ducked as O'Neill swung round again to point in the opposite direction. His lion mask fell down over his eyes and with a long suffering sigh he pushed it up out of the way.
This could degenerate very quickly, Janet knew from previous experience. "Let's just get on with it, shall we. Sam's missing out there somewhere. We need to find her, to bring her home."
"Dor Doc's right. T you take point."
Janet went to walk beside the Jaffa leaving the other two to bring up the rear. She could hear them squabbling over the squeaking of Daniel's rusty bodyparts. After a time they walked into the middle of what could be called a village, the houses small, thatched and just about blending into the landscape. A small man emerged to stand in the doorway of one of the houses, his clothing looked as if it was made of bark, his hair interwoven with leaves and what looked like moss. Janet recognised him from SG1's mission reports as a Nox.
"Follow the yellow brick road," he announced.
"Come on Antaeus you can do better than that," O'Neill said. "Do you know where Carter is?"
A small boy appeared from behind Antaeus, smiling beatifically. "Carter "
"Follow the yellow brick road," the Nox repeated. He reached up, pulled an ear of corn from O'Neill's sleeve. "Our ways." Jack snatched it back from him and stuffed it back up his sleeve glaring indignantly at the diminutive alien.
Janet had had enough. She stalked off leaving the other three to follow her. Or not. This was her dream after all.
The forest was suitably dark and mysterious. Teal'c took point, warily aiming his staff weapon at every rustling bush, every creaking branch. Jack was muttering darkly about the chances of them walking through a bloody forest again and Daniel clutched his woodsman's axe and tried not to screech too loudly as he walked. He needed oiling badly.
The rustling sound grew louder all around them taking on an almost metallic quality. "Replicators!" Teal'c shouted as he spotted the first of the metallic spiderlike creatures heading towards them.
They started to run but the Replicators soon caught up with them. There was a girly scream. "Jack! Jack! Save me!" Daniel, hampered by rust and stiff joints had fallen behind and the Replicators swarmed over him beginning to disassemble the archaeologist. Then there was a flash of bright light and the Replicators fell to dust. A woman's face appeared out of the light. Bright streamers of light wound their way around Daniel's body leaving him shiny and new and distinctly pink cheeked.
"Hi Oma," Jack said. "Look, thanks for the help there but we're really "
"What is found was never really lost," the Ascended One said cryptically.
"Probably not, but " Janet said.
"The bringer of fire will return." Her glowing tentacles caressed Daniel Jackson rather intimately once more causing the archaeologist to squeak and then she disappeared, the flash of light shooting up into the cloudless blue sky.
Janet considered Oma's words. What is found was never really lost. The Bringer of Fire will return. So Sam was just temporarily misplaced and the Prometheus would come home. Or something. She felt slightly better. "Let's get out of here," she suggested.
The forest ended as abruptly as it had begun and they were walking through a field of poppies so thick that they could no longer make out the road beneath their feet.
"The air smells sweet," Teal'c stopped, looking around him. He was grinning. Teal'c rarely if ever smiled. He stooped, picked a flower and brought it to his nose. Janet watched him curiously as, hampered by the lion mask he tried to tuck the flower behind his ear without notable success. Daniel sneezed, clanking to a standstill , blinked and sneezed again. Jack opened the panel in Daniel's chest, taking out a box of Kleenex this time and solemnly handed it to him. Daniel blew his nose loudly.
Janet realised that things were getting a little hazy. And she was tired. Teal'c was already sitting amongst the flowers and as she watched he lay back, cradling several crushed blossoms to his chest. Within a few seconds he was snoring loudly. It seemed strange to want to go to sleep when she knew fine well she was already asleep and dreaming but then that did rather go with the territory. Settling back she closed her eyes.
Her cheek rested against cool metal. Her head hurt and she felt very fuzzy, quite unlike her normal focussed self. It was almost liberating, in a profoundly scary way. Time was a concept she had lost track of. And she was feeling very alone, despite the visitations from her colleagues and her father. And the little girl of course. Twinkle Twinkle The ship was so empty, the groaning of the tortured bulkheads deforming slowly under the corrosive influence of the nebula gases loud and strange. There had to be something she could do but it eluded her. Mind you if they left her alone for five minutes so that she could rest it might help the effects of her head injury were getting worse. She would just close her eyes for a couple of minutes, until the world stopped waltzing around her. Janet was going to be so pissed Janet maybe if the others left her alone Janet would come, make her feel better, kiss her headache away why couldn't she hallucinate that? Janet kissing her, holding her, touching her. That special touch Such a nice thought to drift off to
You must wake up!
Janet opened her eyes at the feel of cold snow landing on her cheek as Sam's voice echoed in her head the same words as she had shouted to Sam to wake her out of a possibly dangerous loss of consciousness given her head injury. The flowers were dying, the frigid air and thin layer of snow crisping and darkening the fragile petals, their narcotic spell broken. Her friends were also wakening, shivering in the sudden cold.
"We have to keep moving," Janet said, her teeth chattering. Blue gingham frocks and ruby slippers were not adequate protection against this killing cold. They struggled on through the mounting drifts until suddenly it stopped. Somehow they had kept on the road, patches of the yellow bricks showing through the thinning snow, then there were more bricks than snow, then there were just bricks and the snow a distant memory.
And ahead of them was the Lost City.
They stood before the ruined gates of the long abandoned city. There was no life here only relics of a long distant past, old glories dimmed by desolation. Janet reached up to brush aside trailing ivy from the statue of a woman. She looked like the Sam who had come through the quantum mirror with her long hair and her limpid eyes full of sorrow.
"Oh Wizard!" Jack shouted suddenly, shattering the silence. "C'mon little grey buddy! Don't leave us hanging around like this."
"He can't help you find her. None of them can," a voice said. They all stared as a strange figure approached. It was male, but where its face should be was a screen. The face on the screen flickered and changed every few seconds. With a start, Janet recognised Narim, Martouf, Jonas Hansen, Orlin. Men who had loved Sam Carter. Men who had died. Because of these men Sam had been tagged `Black Widow' by those who did not know her well enough to know how much that hurt her, not just the name but the reason for it. That these men loved her and she could not love them. The gestalt creature regarded her coldly. She had stolen Sam from them after all. For all their charms and entreaties it was this woman that their beloved loved and not them.
"Do you know where she is?"
"The Witch has her safe. Chained in the darkness of her own making. Nothing you can do. You might as well give up, go home."
"Not gonna happen. You guys are yanking our chain here," Jack said. "You guys are definitely a couple of chevrons short of an address if you think we're just gonna leave Carter."
"You will achieve nothing. She does not love you either." The creature raised its hand, made a fist. A bolt of lightening flew towards Jack, igniting the straw that was stuffed into his shirt. The others immediately leapt to his defence putting out the flames before they could take hold. In the confusion, the gestalt creature disappeared.
Janet could not help but wonder on the identity of the Witch. There were any number of candidates from Hathor and Ammonet to Osiris, Nirrti, Linea and even Freya/Anise. "What do we know about this Witch?" she asked.
"She's wicked," Jack said.
"Of course she's wicked, Jack. She's a witch," Daniel said.
"Wicked is an interpretation of action," Teal'c said. "Without knowledge of her motivation "
"Daniel's right, T. She's a witch, the Witch so she's wicked," Jack shrugged. End of story as far as he was concerned.
"Her castle is to the south of the City. It is said she is well guarded by creatures of her own design," Teal'c told Janet. "I will endeavour to get you through them."
"Thank you, Teal'c. I know you'll do your best " Janet said. "Let's get to the " A set of horizontal stone circles suddenly rose up around them and a bright light formed.
The rings disappeared. They were in a courtyard. Ahead of them a forbidding dark stone edifice rose into the sky. There were no external windows as far as they could see and only one door, left invitingly ajar. There were no sign of any guards. Not outside anyway. It was the most obvious of traps.
Janet did not hesitate. Sam was in there somewhere and Janet needed to be with her. Whatever danger Sam faced, they would face it together. There could be no other way.
They found themselves on a balcony overlooking a large octagonal room. On a dais below them a dark figure wrapped in a hooded robe stood. Before the figure stood serried ranks of soldiers. Another rank filed in behind them. And another. And another. The figures moved in perfect unison. Hundreds of apparently identical soldiers stood in unmoving silence. Then with one voice they declared their fealty to the Witch.
The soldiers were the Kull Warriors they had studied a few months previously. Deadly, dedicated to one cause, the will of their Master, or in this case, Mistress. The figure that controlled them stepped forward, the cowl of the robe slipping back to reveal her face, the cap of bright hair.
Janet gasped. "Sam!"
Even though her voice was pitched at little more than a whisper, the sibilance's echoed around the chamber. The woman's head turned to face the source of the noise, the ranks of Kull warriors mirroring her movement. Vivid blue eyes burned into hers then glowed silver. "Bring them before me," she commanded.
They were seized, brought down into the chamber and forced to their knees before the transformed Sam Carter.
The arrogance gave her away. "Jolinar " Janet breathed.
"I wondered if you would recognise me, Janet Fraiser. The situation is greatly changed since the last time we met. Then I was your prisoner." Long fingers clad in the gold and crystal of a hand device caressed her cheek for a moment. "Nothing is forgotten, doctor. Nothing."
"You died. You gave your life to save Sam," Janet said. "Why are you doing this? Where is Sam?"
"Within. Lost. Obscured by doubts, as ever," Jolinar laughed harshly.
"She'll pull through, she always does," Jack said confidently.
"She's afraid that one day she won't. She's afraid that this is that day," Jolinar said gravely.
"I wish I could let her know how much I love her," Janet said. "I wish I could talk to her, if only for a moment."
Jolinar smiled. Janet shivered. It was and was not her Sam's glorious smile, close enough for that ache of familiar pleasure, unlike enough to cause a shiver of apprehension. Janet remembered the folly of wishes. This was a dream after all.
"As you wish " Jolinar said softly. Janet was dragged to her feet and brought before a mirror. The surface reflected Janet, her blue gingham dress sadly bedraggled, her face smudged, her hair falling out of its braids. The ruby slippers still shone however.
Her reflection rippled and she was looking at Sam. Her lover was sat with her back to a bulkhead, her head bowed, her arms resting on her knees. She looked exhausted and ill and very alone. Then she looked up, gave a shy, sad smile and started to talk to someone.
"I was wondering when you were going to show up " There was a pause as if she was listening to a reply. "Too tired, Sir " Janet stared at her, at the glassy almost defeated expression in her eyes. This was a Sam she had rarely seen, someone at the end of their resources. Janet had a fair idea who Sam thought she was talking to. Her Colonel. "Old habits, sorry," she whispered. "I'm tired I just don't know what to do right now."
Janet felt overwhelming compassion for the battered soul. She could not imagine the series of events that had laid her love so low and even as she tried to do so reminded herself that this was all a dream. It would do her no good to read too much into anything that happened here. Yet still she wanted to reach out to touch the mirror as Sam gave a tremulous heartbreaking smile. "Came to give me a pep-talk?" Then her face grew shadowed. "Friends "
Janet felt turmoil. There had been rumours about Sam and Jack O'Neill for as long as she had known the couple for as long as she and Sam had been a couple. Not that the outside world knew that last part. At Sam's insistence they kept it low key. And she agreed with the reasons: for the sake of their careers, for the sake of the Stargate Programme, for Cassie's continued security.
"What if I quit the air force? Would that change anything or is it just an excuse?" Sam lifted her head, staring intently at whoever she was hallucinating. Her mind obviously did not supply the answer she sought. "Because you don't feel anything for me? I'd let you go right now if I knew."
Janet turned to Jolinar. "What did she mean? What's going on? Is this some kind of trick?" She looked back to where Jack O'Neill knelt in front of the dais but his expression betrayed nothing. She couldn't believe that there was anything going on between them. Sam was too honourable. And she truly loved Janet. Janet believed that with all her heart and soul. She was reading too much into this half-conversation, Janet was certain. She had to believe that.
It wasn't over. "I didn't say it would be easy I'm trying " The look of hopelessness on her lover's face made Janet want to cry. "As long as I'm thinking about you, setting my sights on what I think is unattainable, there's no chance of being hurt by someone else."
Unattainable. That was certainly a good description for what they wanted. Certainly in the current political climate. And the likes of Kinsey did not need any further ammunition in their phoney war against the SGC. But was their relationship a placemarker for something else? Someone else? If she was honest with herself hadn't Janet sometimes felt that her relationship with Sam did not always have the woman's full attention.
Jolinar laughed. "Intriguing, isn't it. How quickly the doubts grow. Are you sure you want her back?"
"Knowing that she may not truly love you?"
"If I only have a piece of her heart then so be it," Janet said. "It's better than nothing. I came here to rescue Sam. That's still what I want to do."
"Very well," Jolinar said. "But there are always consequences, remember that."
The scene still played out. "So what now?" Sam asked, close to tears. And then the picture rippled. Jack O'Neill was there with Sam. They leant in towards one another, shared a kiss. A sweet, sensual kiss, the kiss of two people who knew each other, a kiss with passion but where passion was not the be all and end all. "One last thing " Sam said softly. A goodbye kiss?
Janet felt her heart miss a beat, impossible though that was. The mirror darkened and then she could only see herself again. But this time she could see herself as she really was, sleeping in her office, her head pillowed in the crook of one arm.
There was a bright light and a slight fizzing noise behind her. Her three companions disappeared in a column of white light. She guessed the Wizard had finally arrived. "Remember the Ruby Slippers" Daniel shouted as he disappeared. "Remember there's word."
Janet Fraiser sat up with a jerk, brushing her hair out of her eyes. Daniel smiled sympathetically down at her, a veteran of many a night sleeping at his desk. "There's word, Janet. The Prometheus they're fine, got into a spot of bother but it's all sorted now."
"Sam?" Janet remembered the hopeless ravaged face in her dream.
"She was a bit battered, but she's going to be fine. She saved the day apparently," he shrugged, as if anyone expected anything else from his colleague and friend. "They'll be back in Earth orbit in about twenty hours look, are you okay?"
"I'm fine. Weird dream," Janet said. "Left me a little disorientated "
"They can be like that sometimes," Daniel agreed. "I remember the one Shifu gave me," he shuddered. "Still, the news is good."
"Very good," Janet managed a smile genuine enough to persuade Daniel that she was okay. "Sam's coming home."
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