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ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

To Sit it Out or to Dance
By Celievamp

I can't believe it's been fifteen years. The graduating class of '87! I dug out the photo we got taken – the unofficial one with all of us sprawled on the grass outside the main lecture theatre. And me lurking at the back, doing my best not to be in the picture.

Jeez, I look so young, so innocent. We all do. On the back are all the names. It's so hard now to put names to faces. It was at the time. There was a reason it said on my report card all the way through school `Samantha does not relate well to her peer group.' I wonder how many will turn up? I wonder how many will remember me.

The invitation is back on the table. I'd binned it but Janet had dug it out of the trash again.

"It will be good for you to catch up," she said blithely as I glowered at the square of embossed card. 'Stop glaring, Sam. That thing's going to spontaneously combust.'

"Define good," I growled.

"Samantha Carter!" Janet's tone was softened by the smile lurking in her eyes. "I would love to have known you back then. All that energy. All those hormones."

"Janet, you know fine well that I did not have a life until I met you," I pulled her into my lap and kissed her, hoping to distract her from the invitation and all the social horrors that it implied. It did not work. My girl could be terrifyingly persistent when she wanted to be.

"So, what were you like back then?" she picked up the photograph and scanned it carefully, finally spotting me. "Sam, you haven't changed that much." I watched her finger trace my outline.

"Puleeze Janet, I hope I have. I was a nightmare! And you think Cassie gives you attitude – let me tell you she is a rank amateur compared to me! I could go for days - weeks! - without talking to anyone." I said, closing my eyes in pained recollection. "I hadn't a clue who I was or what I wanted – other than to join the Air Force and go into space. And I'd just figured I was kinda gay which made the wanting to join the military a bit of a problem as well. I was a bit intense for most people. Not to mention the whole scary genius rep. Let me tell you, biker geek had few takers.'

"Well you'd had to be self sufficient, deal with things that no child should have to deal with," Janet said, her hands gentle against my skin. "I think that's why you and Cassie relate so well to one another. That and the whole scary genius thing."

"I hope you're including yourself in that category," I said. "One of the things I first loved about you was that you didn't run away or glaze over the first time we spoke more than "Hi!" or "Isn't it cold?" You more than match me, Janet, you're more rounded for starters. You read and you're knowledgeable about music and art. And people like you." That was the clincher. Janet could start a conversation anywhere with anyone and within minutes would have a new friend.

"People like you as well, Sam."

I shook my head. "Not instinctively. When they get to know me, perhaps, but not straight away, like you. And of course they've then got to go through the whole getting to know me thing. And I know how easy I make that."

"I liked you straight away. So did O'Neill - okay, maybe not O'Neill - but Daniel did and Teal'c and Jonas Quinn. And Cassie of course. And then of course there's Sergeant Siler Lieutenant Simmons and…" I stopped her talking by the most effective method I knew. She was soon kissing me back with the same degree of urgency.

"You know why I really don't want to go," I said softly, breaking off at last. "Because I can't just waltz in there with you on my arm and introduce you as Major Doctor Janet Elyssa Fraiser, my beautiful wife and the love of my life and co-mother of our incredible daughter."

"Why can't you?"

It was a perfectly reasonable question. Outside the military, being gay was rapidly becoming nothing special. And it would make their eyes open. That the ice queen had thawed. And so spectacularly. And she would have the most beautiful woman in the room on her arm.
To sit it out or to dance...

"It's too risky," I said at last, a note of real regret in my voice. "A word in the wrong ear and… well, it could mean both our careers, Janet. I wish it could be different, but there it is."

'It says it's black tie. I would love to see you in a tux.' Janet leant in, her hand sifting through my short hair, coming to rest at the back of my neck. Our lips met for a long, mutually fulfilling kiss. Our foreheads touched for a moment as we came up for air. 'Think about it, please,' Janet whispered. She straightened up. 'Hell, I'd better get a move on before I have to break one or more traffic laws to get to the base on time. I'll see you later, okay?'

'Okay. Lucky me had the morning off, then a science staff meeting at 1400 preparing for the mission to M400x01 in three day's time.

I looked at the invitation again and smiled. So, Janet wanted to see me in a tux. Well, I couldn't disappoint my girl, could I? It was time to dance.

We decided to make a weekend of it, staying in the hotel where the reunion dinner was to be held. As I signed the register I noted a few names I recognised from the class of '87 and noted with surprise the disparate locations they had come from. We had obviously done well for ourselves. Janet was over by the gift shop looking for a postcard to send to Cassie and I took the opportunity to arrange for a few things to be delivered to our room later. Although this was `my' weekend, I wanted it to be special for Janet as well.

She hadn't shown me the dress she had bought for the dinner. She said she wanted it to be a surprise. I had brought a dress as well – and my own surprise. Getting the tux altered to fit me had been expensive but worth it. I showered first then left Janet to take her bath whilst I got ready.

It always took me ages to fasten ties, so I got my top half dressed first. The crisp white shirt felt cool against my skin, the heavy jacket draped just nicely. The black bow tie behaved and I got it just right at only the second attempt.

Janet came back into the room as I was just about to step into my pants.

"Oh my," she whispered. "You look amazing, Sam."

I turned to face her looking up at her from under my fringe, fiddling with my cufflinks. "The name's Carter. Sam Carter," I said, in my best Sean Connery Bond.

She was laughing so much that she fell on the bed, the towel slipping from around her. I swallowed as I saw her wet skin, still flushed from her bath. I crossed the room towards her and the laughter faded from her face as she saw the intent on my face.

"Kiss me, Sam," she whispered. "Kiss me."

I straddled her body, my hands touching her face, travelling down over her shoulders, her beautiful breasts. Her skin was soft and smelt of almonds and honey. I nuzzled her neck, kissed her nipples, my fingers skimming across the skin of her abdomen as she curled into me. I kissed her lips, tracing them with the tip of my tongue as she opened her mouth to welcome me. My fingers trailed down her body again, circling her sensitive navel and then down to the soft hairs of her mound. Moaning into my mouth she parted her legs for me and I let the pad of my thumb circle her clit whilst my fingers teased around her labia, touching but not penetrating her until she moved her hips against me. I could feel how wet she was getting and gently slid in two fingers, slowly moving them in and out. I raised my head so I could watch her face as I brought her to climax, her hands clutching tightly at my arm as she bucked against my hand, her cheeks flushed, eyes fluttering closed as her body let go. I kissed her brow, soothed her, letting her come down off it. She reached up, clasped her hands around my neck and pulled me down to her. She kissed me.

"Thank you," she whispered.

I grinned. "My pleasure." Despite myself I glanced at the clock. "We really should get ready if we don't want to be really unfashionably late. Or…"

"Or?" She quirked her eyebrow.

"We could just stay here, celebrate in our own way," I said. I was serious.

"We'll go down to the party. We can always come away early if it's too awful," Janet said. "You owe yourself this, Sam."

She was right. "Okay. Party it is," I said.

"We can celebrate our own way later. All night," she said, coming up behind me, her hands smoothing over my bare ass. "Now get dressed, woman mine before I change my mind."

Janet looked like a dream in a soft apricot coloured dress that brought out the warm tones in her skin. She showed a nominal amount of cleavage but the dress was just about backless highlighting the beautiful line of her spine and her flawless skin. The skirt was long and split to mid thigh on one side. Her high heels were the same apricot colour and her hair was held back from her face with jewelled combs. She looked a million dollars. And it was all for me.

"Breathe, Sam," she joked gently, pressing herself against me, her hands smoothing down the lapels on my jacket. "Now remember, they're just the people you went to school with. They're not Goa'uld or the President or the Tollan High Council. Just ordinary people."

"Ordinary people," I repeated obediently. I could deal with ordinary people, couldn't I?

Sam was running cold water over her bruised knuckles when I let myself in to our hotel room. She looked like hell. Her eyes were red where she had been crying and there was blood on her shirt – not hers thank god. It looked as if the sleeve seam on her tux was ripped which was a shame. I could tell by the look in her eyes as she stared at me that she thought I was mad at her for getting into a fight. Unfortunately the evening had exceeded all her worst expectations.

"Sam, thank god I've found you. Claire and I talked Wayne out of pressing charges. My threatened countercharge of sexual harassment and assault against him and Claire and a couple of the bar staff offering witness statements to that effect seemed to clinch it. As did his wife's temper and the threat of divorce papers. She says hi, by the way. Also no hard feelings and she wishes someone had put him down like that a long time ago. Now, how are you doing?"

"I let you down so badly, Janet. I'm so sorry." More tears threatened to spill from her as I walked to her side and moved to embrace her before I remembered how hard she had hit the pillar. Instead I reached up to cup her face in my hand my thumb stroking along her cheekbone, a gesture I knew that always soothed and reassured her.

"You objected to a drunken boor pawing at me as if I was some kind of sideshow exhibit," I said calmly. "You defended me when he didn't take no for an answer." I took gentle hold of her hand and gently kissed her bruised knuckles. "And he swung at you first if I remember correctly. And the truth is that if you'd been a guy no one would have batted an eye." I grinned at her. "You've been taking lessons from Teal'c, haven't you?"

She managed a faint smile at that. "Yeah, how could you tell?"

"Sam – he was twice your size and three times your weight and you put him down as if he was nothing. You have no need to be ashamed. You were my knight in shining armour." I fingered the soft satin lapel of the tux and stood on tiptoe to plant a soft kiss on her lips. "My James Bond."

Sam shivered, not yet willing to be convinced of her heroism, still too freaked by what had happened. I led her back to the bedroom, paused as I noticed the roses that lay on my pillow, the bottle of champagne in the ice bucket beside the bed.

She followed my gaze. "I'm sorry. That's all spoilt as well. I meant it to be a surprise for when we came back from the party. Janet - I'm so sorry."

"Will you stop saying that?" I reached up to kiss her again to take the sting out of my words. My hand touched her side and she flinched. She was hurting. I needed to take care of that. "It was a lovely gesture, Sam. And you didn't spoil anything. He did."

I loosened and slid off her bow tie and started to undo her shirt. "So I'm guessing there's some history between you and Wayne," I said. "Judging by the way he reacted. Was he one of the reasons you didn't want to come?"

"One of the main ones. I was actually pretty lucky. He didn't notice me until my final year. I'd put on a late growth spurt or something and my figure had kind of developed. Before that I had been sorta beneath his notice. He asked me out – I'm pretty certain some of his good ol' boy buddies dared him into it or he wanted to add me to his list of conquered virgins. I wasn't by then, but he wasn't to know that. And I turned him down. I thought he was going to pass out or something. I don't think it had ever happened to him before. I think he thought I should be grateful or something."

I nodded, unloosening the cummerbund around Sam's waist and gently pulling the shirt out of her pants. "Every where has got at least one of those guys. Hell, I can even think of a few at the SGC."

"After that he just wouldn't leave me alone. He taunted me for weeks at first for being a geek, and for being an ice queen and then he called me a dyke. I don't know, something in my expression must have given me away because that one stuck until after we graduated. He told everyone. I never said a word to either confirm or deny. To be honest I don't think I said a word about anything to anyone for the rest of the year. I did what I always do, threw myself into my work." She let loose a short, bitter laugh. "You know I just realised how long this 'don't ask don't tell' crap has been a part of my life."

I eased her jacket off and laid it on the bed and undid the sapphire cufflinks on her shirt. "So when did you lose your virginity, Miss Carter? I don't think we've had this conversation."

"In the back of my first car with the guy who was helping me renovate her. It was the only way he'd teach me what I needed to know… about fixing the car." A blush coloured her pale face. "His name was Ian, and he was nice enough but about half an hour after we'd 'done it' my dad came home and wanted a chat with him. I think dad put the frighteners on him. I don't mean that dad knew it had already happened he just wanted Ian to be certain that there was no way the assistant mechanic from the local garage was going to deflower his daughter."

"Oops," I smiled, easing her out of her shirt and wincing as I saw the colourful display of bruising across her rib cage. "Sam, these look really bad. You might have broken ribs."

"I don't think so, Jan. I kind of know pretty well how that feels now. This hurts bad, but not that bad. Just don't make me laugh, okay. Anyway, Ian was suddenly too busy to come round and help me after that but his older sister Monique was back in town and she was every bit as good a mechanic as he was. She offered to help. Two weeks after I slept with Ian, I slept with Monique. I knew right then which side I played for. We fooled around all that summer and I had it for her bad. Autumn came, I went back to school and she moved away again."

I was busy studying the bruising that marked her left side from beneath her breast to her hip bone, continuing around to her back where the mark the edge of the pillar had made as she was thrown into it was clearly visible. Up to Wayne's reappearance in her life Sam had looked to be actually enjoying her evening. She had begun to realise, I think that perhaps she hadn't been quite as unpopular as she thought. Either that or fifteen years had made people's memories a lot rosier than their actuality. No one was anything other than complimentary about her career path and the way she looked in her tux I got plenty of second glances when I was introduced as her partner but I like to think that was because of the dress. I looked particularly hot tonight and every time Sam glanced at me I knew that all she could think about was getting me out of that dress as quickly as possible as soon as we got back to our room.

We were seated with three other couples for dinner. We fell into conversation with a woman called Claire Nixon and her husband who was another Sam. Claire remembered my Sam well. Sam had given her some extra math tuition in return for help with her French and German. Claire was now a lawyer specialising in equal rights issues and Samuel worked for a housing co-operative in San Francisco. It turned out that he was a physics major before deciding on the career change and he had actually read some of Sam's early more theoretical works on wormhole theory and temporal physics. Within five minutes of them getting started I realised that Sam had a whole different definition of 'intelligent conversation'. Luckily Claire and I were getting on just fine.

Once the meal was finished we adjourned to the dancefloor, securing a table near the wall to continue our various conversations. I needed to go and freshen up and offered to order our drinks at the bar on the way back. I had just given our order to the bartender when I felt someone's hand flatten on the bare skin of my back. I shivered – the hand was overly warm and clammy and certainly did not belong to anyone that I wanted to touch me. I turned to see a very large, heavily perspiring man with reddish hair and a grin and alcohol fuelled look in his eye that was all too familiar from my ex. The look that said that he wasn't going to take no for an answer and that he had fastened on me to provide his entertainment for the evening. I had seen my ex husband give that look to many other women during our short marriage.

"Do you mind?" I asked in a tone that made Marines back off slowly.

He removed his hand, raised them in the air. "Sorry little lady. Didn't mean anything by it. To show there's no hard feelings… hey," he signaled over the bar tender. "Put the lady's drinks order on my tab, will you."

"There's no need," I started to say but he forestalled me.

"Please. And everyone calls me Duke."

"Thank you, Duke. If you don't mind, I'd better be getting back to my friends."

His hand closed around my forearm. "Plenty of time for that. Let's just get acquainted for a while, shall we?"

I glanced over to where the others were sitting and saw that they had realised something was wrong when the drinks had arrived and I had not. Claire saw me first and pointed me out to Sam. Sam turned in her seat and I saw all colour drain from her face.

"I couldn't believe it when I saw you with Redneck Central," Sam said softly. I had retrieved my medical bag and was carefully smoothing some analgesic gel over her bruises before I strapped up her ribs as a precautionary measure. I hadn't said a word of what I was thinking about but it must have been pretty obvious. And I swear Sam could read my thoughts sometimes.

"Not that I didn't think you could handle him. Hell, you face down marines on a daily basis and some of them are nearly as low life as Wayne. But then one of the others filled me in that Wayne was an even bigger sleeze than he used to be and I knew I had to do something. I mean, by then he had you cornered."

"I was getting a little uneasy about his concept of personal space," I admitted. "And then I saw the look on your face as you stood up. I knew at once that you knew this guy that you didn't like him, that the two of you had history."

Janet remembered how Sam had walked over to them. "Janet – is everything okay? You were gone such a long time. We were worried." Janet noticed that she did not look at Duke or even acknowledge his presence.

"Janet – no, I don't remember a Janet and I would definitely remember a pretty little thing like you," Duke said. He turned his attention to Sam. "Hey, I know you though. Still dykeing it, Carter?" The penny dropped and he let go of my arm as if I was contagious. "Ah, shit, you're not another one are you? Or is it just that you haven't found someone yet who can take care of you properly, sweet thing?" He was still looking at Sam, but his hand was traveling up my leg touching my skin. Sam realised what he was doing and could not hold back her reaction.

"Get your hands off her, Wayne," Sam said, her eyes narrowing, ice and iron in her voice. I figured that though Duke was a big man, he didn't look as if he worked out much. Sam could probably take him if it came to that. Probably.

"Make me, dyke," Wayne sneered. I realised that he had no idea what he was dealing with. "You wanna play boys games, see how you like… ooof!"

He swung at Sam but she moved out of his way and drop kicked him, hitting him high in the chest knocking him backwards to land on his butt, taking a table out with him. The sound of smashing glassware caught everyone's attention. Several bar staff started to approach as Wayne dazedly eased himself to his feet, thinking it was just another drunken brawl that they would break up if it looked like getting out of hand. They looked dumbfounded when they realised it was a woman who had floored the big man. Sam's whole attention was on me.

"Are you okay?" she asked. "He didn't hurt you, did he? If he…"

"You bitch!" Wayne shouted, coming for her again.

"Claire, Sam – get Janet out of here, please before this asshole hurts her," Sam shouted. Claire took my hand, tried to draw me away but I did not want to leave Sam. It was my fault that Sam got hurt. Her attention momentarily distracted she reacted too slowly as Duke shouldercharged her, throwing her back hard against one of the pillars. I don't know how she did it, but she managed to throw a punch at Wayne that landed sweet in the middle of his face, breaking his nose and knocking him flat on his butt again.

Blood was pouring down his face. A woman was bending over him, her expression furious and I realised that this must be the current Mrs Wayne. She glanced over to where I stood with Claire's arm around me her expression whilst not too friendly wasn't exactly angry either, and then she looked over to where Sam had been standing, but she had vanished.

"I have to find Sam," I told Claire. "She hit that pillar hard. She could be hurt."

She could be hurt. I finished spreading the gel over her bruised skin. "Have you been sick or been to the toilet since it happened?" I asked. I could feel how badly she was shaking. My big bad major was going into shock.

"Uh-nuh," Sam said somewhat indistinctly. "I just came back here. I couldn't stay. Everyone saw what I did, heard what he said…"

I helped Sam to sit down before she fell down and handed her two strong painkillers and a bottle of mineral water from the minibar. I knew that she had only had one glass of wine with her meal. "I'm going to strap up your ribs just to make you more comfortable and then I want you to try to sleep for a while, okay?" I watched her swallow down the tablets. They should begin to work their magic in a little while.

I helped her to take off her bra and carefully wrapped the length of bandage around her slender ribcage, giving her injured muscles and bruised bones some support. As I finished taping the bandage in place I realised that Sam's eyes were drifting closed.

"Okay, sweetie, lets get you undressed before you fall asleep on me. How's the pain?"

"Better," Sam slurred. "Janet, I never…"

I was loosening her trousers, letting gravity take them to the floor. I held her securely whilst she stepped out of them. "You never what?"

"I never got to dance with you." Cornflower blue eyes regarded me with a certain unfocussed sadness. "Not once."

"We have plenty of time for dancing, don't worry," I smiled. "Especially now that I've seen how good you look in a tux. Now, let's get you into bed."

Sam grinned. "Bed is good." She choked back a giggle. "Horizontal dancing!"

"Not tonight, I'm afraid, sweetie," I chuckled. Sam always got affectionate when she was woozy like this. It amused my nursing staff no end to see the usually prim and proper major so loose and puppylike. I sat her down on the edge of the bed and removed her stay ups, making her giggle again as I kissed the inside of her knees on my way down. I got her nightshirt out of our case and helped her into it. Sam curled up on her uninjured side, her eyes drifting closed again.

"I'm just going back downstairs for a few minutes, just to let the others know that you're okay." I had not told Sam that three or four people had come to me to tell me that they would have paid good money to see Duncan "Duke" Wayne taken down like that and to hope that Sam wasn't badly hurt.

"But you're coming back, right?" asked a small, slightly muffled voice from the bed.

"Half an hour, tops, don't worry," I bent to drop a soft kiss on her temple, ruffling her blonde hair.

Claire persuaded me to have one last drink with her and Samuel and to exchange contact details. Now that she had met Sam again she did not want to lose touch. As we were chatting the hotel manager came over and asked to speak to me.

"I trust Miss Carter is all right after the incident. We can send for a doctor to take a look at her if you think that is necessary."

"It's all right. I am a doctor," I explained. "She has some bad bruising where she was thrown against the pillar but other than that she is fine. She is more concerned with the disruption that was caused."

"Well, as you can see," the tall man gestured around the busy bar and dancefloor, "it has all been smoothed over now. My bar staff have made a full report to me and it is clear that both yourself Dr Fraiser and Miss Carter were the victims here. Miss Carter's actions were entirely in self defence. I am afraid that this is not the first time that Mr Wayne has caused us problems. I can only apologise. Neither yourself nor Miss Carter will be charged for your stay here and the repair bill for any damages to the bar area will be added to Mr Wayne's account."

"That's a very kind gesture, thank you," I said. "Now, if you don't mind, I'd better get back to Sam, make sure that she's okay."

"If you require anything at all, just call room service," he said, shaking my hand before leaving.

Claire and Samuel had been doing their best not to listen in. "Everything okay?" Claire asked. "Or are you going to have to get lawyered up." She grinned. "I offer excellent discounts to friends and family."

"Everything is fine. As far as the hotel is concerned the whole incident was precipitated by Wayne and his hotel bill is going to reflect that. Look, it was great to meet the pair of you but I really should be getting back to Sam. Pain killers make her a little… confused and she'll worry if I'm not there when she wakes up. We'll try and catch up with you tomorrow, I promise."

"We'll hold you to that, Janet," Samuel smiled. We said our goodnights and I headed out towards the lobby and the lifts. One more thing did occur to me and I made a quick detour to reception to enquire. Satisfied with the answer I headed back to our room.

Sam was sound asleep. I collected her tuxedo and shirt and hung them up in the hotel's drycleaning bag, leaving it outside on the hook by the door for room service to collect. The receptionist had promised me that they would be cleaned and the jacket repaired by lunchtime tomorrow. I didn't really expect Sam to be up and around much before then, especially if I got her to take another couple of pain killers some time during the night.

I undressed, carefully hung up my beautiful dress, and after a moment's thought, slipped on a robe and added the dress to the drycleaning bag outside the door. I really didn't want to wear it again if it had Mr Wayne's sweaty fingerprints all over it. And talking of things with his sweaty fingerprints all over … I had a long shower with the water at its highest and hottest setting.

Naked, still winding down from everything that had happened, I wandered around the room for a bit before I realised that Sam was awake and was curled up on her side watching me.

"Hey, how are you feeling?" I smiled, crawling up the bed towards her.

"A little funky," she admitted. "You look good." She reached out to run an elegant finger over my flushed skin. "All squeaky clean and smelling of jasmine." She inhaled deeply, closing her eyes. "You smell so good, Janet."

"Thank you, Sammie," she smiled at the stupid nickname I only called her when we were being like this. I leant over, kissed the corners of her smile and then her brow. "Do you need any more painkillers?"

"Nu-huh," was the mumbled response. She was three-quarters asleep again.

"You just go back to sleep sweetie. And don't worry about a thing. The hotel manager had a word with me whilst I was downstairs. We get to stay for free as an apology for what happened and that pig Wayne is going to get a huge bill. And lots of people stopped me to make sure you were okay."

We were lying face to face on the same pillow, only inches separating us. I reached out to stroke Sam's cheek, watching as my lover's eyes drifted closed again and her breathing deepened. I reached up and switched off the lights, slipping under the covers beside my very own hero. Sam reached out for me in her sleep and I settled in next to her, her hand resting on my hip. I closed my eyes.

In my dream Sam Carter held out her hand to me, looking sharp and sexy in her tux, her golden hair shining in the lights. An unseen band struck up an old tune, a tune for close dancing. Held firmly in her strong arms, my head resting on Sam's shoulder, we danced.

The End

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