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Standing in the doorway of the den, Janet shook her head and smiled as she watched her daughter decorate the tree under the close supervision of her lover. Sam had insisted Cassie learn the proper way to string the lights on the tree as well as how to space out the ornaments to achieve perfect symmetry. Now, the two were discussing the technique for placing the silver icicles on the branches.
"Aw, Sam. Why do I have to place them on one by one? Can't I just throw some in the air and let them fall where they may? That's the way it happens in the real world," Cassie complained to her other mom.
"You mean, that's what happens outdoors, but we're inside so we have total control over the elements you speak of. C'mon, let's do this the right way; I'll even help you," Sam offered in the way of a compromise.
Sighing, Cassie replied, "Okay, but you have to put the ones on the top. I don't think I can climb up that ladder again."
Sam chuckled and agreed, "Deal. Now, let's get the icicles separated." Janet quietly retreated back into the kitchen to prepare a snack for her hard working decorators.
Upon her return, Janet found her family sitting on the sofa admiring the lit tree. Cassie was slouched down so low, she could slide to the floor with ease, and Sam was leaning against the armrest, critically eying their finished product.
"Hey, who wants hot chocolate and cookies?" Janet asked, stepping further into the room. Cassie's posture immediately straightened, and she jumped from the couch to assist her mom with the tray.
Sam stood and detoured toward the tree to move an ornament a half a centimeter to the left before she joined her family back on the couch. Taking a sip of her drink, she smiled and said, "Hmm, this is wonderful. There's nothing quite like sitting in front of a decorated tree, drinking hot chocolate with family."
Muttering around a piece of chocolate chip cookie, Cassie replied, "Yeah, this is nice, and you were right, Sam. Taking my time on the tree made a big difference; it's beautiful."
A brief silence ensued before a grinning Sam offered, "Just so you know, I'm waiting for you to get back from your ski trip before taking it down." Janet laughed aloud when a pitiful groan was emitted from Cassie.
Patting the teen on the leg, she suggested, "Why don't we go ahead and open the gifts before you leave instead of waiting until after?"
Excited, Cassie asked, "You mean it?" She anxiously glanced back and forth between the two adults, hoping that her mom wasn't teasing.
Sam shrugged and replied, "I don't see why not. Why don't you go get your gifts while your mom and I pull yours from under the tree?" The teen catapulted from the sofa and raced out of the room before her moms could change their minds.
"You were right about the waiting to broach the subject of opening the gifts early, Janet. Cassie's been dead set against it until now. I think she's finally over feeling guilty about not being here for Christmas. You're good, my dear," Sam said, standing and moving toward the tree to retrieve her daughter's gifts.
Smirking, Janet replied, "I've always been good, sweetie. Just you wait until Christmas Eve to see how very good I can be." Sam immediately dropped the packages she had just picked up, and Janet was very thankful that none of them were fragile.
The small family sat on the den floor opening their presents, and Cassie realized she'd been set up the minute she pulled her ski jacket from the wrapped box. "Hey, how was I supposed to wear this jacket on my trip if I didn't open it until I got back?" Sam and Janet just shrugged, and Cassie laughed, "Good one guys, good one."
A couple of days later, Cassie left for her trip, and the two lovers were making romantic plans for the first Christmas they would spend alone. Everything was going according to plan until
On her way to the infirmary, Sam inched down the corridor to tell her lover the bad news in person. Quietly, she stepped into the room and watched as Janet typed on the computer keyboard with her back to the door. Sam sighed and nervously ran her hand through her hair, dreading the upcoming conversation.
Even without turning around, Janet knew the moment Sam had entered her domain, and judging from her lover's hesitation, she also knew Sam was here to tell her something she wasn't going to like. Janet made the decision not to avoid the inevitable any longer, and she swiveled around in her chair to face her partner.
"How do you do that?" Sam asked, stepping further into the room.
"What?" Janet responded in confusion as her lover continued to walk toward her.
"Know when someone is in here. I made sure I was in the stealth mode, and you still knew I was behind you," Sam offered, glancing over her shoulder to note that they were indeed alone. Taking advantage of the rare moment, Sam gave Janet a quick peck on the lips before pulling away and moving back to a respectable distance in the event someone should suddenly walk in on the couple.
Smiling, Janet replied, "Only with you Sam, if it had been anyone else, I would have been totally oblivious to their presence. You're different though; it's as if I can sense you."
At first Sam was shocked by Janet's words, but she soon became almost cocky with the knowledge. "Oh, really; so you're saying I exude some special vibe that only you can pick up on?"
Pleased that Sam was out of her funk, at least temporarily, Janet pushed the reason for her lover's visit into the background, and responded, "I don't know if I'd describe it as a vibe per se, but I'd go so far as to say you and I are definitely on the same wavelength. Hmm, maybe it's a vibe after all."
"Maybe," Sam agreed just as the alarm sounded on her watch alerting her that she only had thirty minutes to get to the gate room. This was not how she wanted to explain to her lover that she'd been assigned to accompany Daniel on a fact finding mission for the next five days, especially with tomorrow being Christmas Eve.
"Um, Janet? I've got something I need to tell you," Sam offered in a nervous tone. Stepping closer to her lover, she opened her mouth to explain the situation when Janet beat her to the punch.
"You're going off-world, aren't you? How long will you be gone?"
Suddenly finding her feet quite interesting, Sam replied, "Five days." Hesitating, she added, "I'm sorry, Janet. I'm going to miss our first Christmas together.
"Hey, we've been together at Christmas plenty of times," Janet explained, trying to ease her lover's obvious guilt over a situation she had no control over.
Sam glanced up and stated, "With Cassie, yeah, but this was going to be our first Christmas *together.*"
The irritating alarm once again sounded, signaling twenty minutes until departure time. Knowing that she could no longer postpone the inevitable, Sam took Janet's face in her hands and held nothing back as she kissed her lovingly. Pulling away, she said, "I've got to go. I'll see you in five days."
Janet recovered from the kiss in time to see her lover turn and walk from the room. Touching her lips reverently, she smiled and returned to her computer to finish her research. The kiss was definitely worth chancing someone walking in.
That afternoon found both women moping around their respective planets, Sam on PX3-217 and Janet on Earth. Sitting in front of her desk computer, Janet muttered, "Get a grip, Jan; she'll be back in five days. You can celebrate Christmas with her then."
In a galaxy far, far, away, Sam and Daniel continued to dig and scrape along the walls of the dimly lit cave. Frustrated at the lack of light, Daniel said, "I'm going to go get another lantern from our supplies. I'll be right back." Turning, he walked toward the cave's entrance.
Left alone, Sam sighed and whispered, "Five more days. You can do this, Sam. You can celebrate Christmas when you get back." Daniel's return cut off her private speech, and the two picked up right where they left off, chiseling at the dense wall. Soon, they had discovered some sort of ancient text, and Daniel was on cloud nine.
Soon afterwards, darkness fell, and Sam asked to take a break. Exiting the cave, she stretched and headed for her other colleagues, but more importantly, a bit of refreshment.
Meanwhile, Janet decided to call it a night, and she walked to the elevator and the long ride to ground level. As the doors opened, she was immediately met by security, and after exchanging greetings, she headed for the exit.
The diminutive doctor made her way outside of the main gates and found herself in a nearby clearing instead of the parking lot. Gazing at the sky, Janet found the first star of the evening. Closing her eyes, she wished, "Starlight, starbright, first star I see tonight, I wish I may, I wish I might, have the wish I wish tonight. That always may your love be shining bright, just like that first star that I see tonight."
On Planet PX3-217, Sam walked a good distance from the others, and looking to the heavens, she made the same exact wish. Sighing, Sam cursed her assignment to this particular mission; she was not one bit happy about this situation especially since her expertise had not been needed after all. Daniel was the only one who could decipher the ancient text, and her role had turned to the equivalent of a spelunker and secretary. In Sam's mind, anyone could have filled this particular duty.
"Hey Sam, I need for you to record this new information," Daniel called out from his position at the entrance of the cave.
Glancing one last time at the sky, Sam made a quick wish that she could somehow be with her lover on Christmas. She gripped her notebook tightly and turned back to join Daniel just as the ground opened up, sending her tumbling into the previously hidden tunnel below.
A slight beeping sound was the first thing Sam became aware of. Slowly opening her eyes, she scanned her surroundings and found a bedside table and a monitor of some kind. Realizing she was in the infirmary, she started to call out to whoever was nearby when she spotted her lover sound asleep in the chair next to the monitor.
"Jan? Janet?" Sam whispered in the direction of the doctor.
"Huh?" A sleepy Janet responded without opening her eyes. Changing positions, she settled into the chair for a longer catnap, and Sam couldn't help but smile at the image Janet provided.
Finding only a couple of leads attached to her body, she gently removed them and eased herself from the bed. Pleased that she was feeling no pain or dizziness whatsoever, she slowly made her way to her lover.
Holding the back of her gown together so that she wouldn't accidentally moon anyone, she leaned forward and gently kissed Janet's lips. Her lover smiled at the contact, but still did not open her eyes.
"Janet, wake up sweetie," Sam said in a louder voice, and Janet stretched in her chair and slowly opened her eyes.
"Sam! What are you doing out of bed?" The doctor scolded her lover as she quickly rose and escorted the patient back to the bed in question.
"I'm fine, Janet. In fact, I feel fantastic," Sam replied; although, she did climb back into bed to pacify her lover.
"Well, I'll be the judge of that. Now, lie still while I check you out," Janet ordered the prone woman. "And wipe that smirk off your face; I'm talking of checking you out in strictly medical terms."
Lying perfectly still, Sam allowed her lover to poke and prod her, and she didn't even flinch when Janet insisted on taking some blood samples. An hour later, Janet could find nothing wrong with her lover.
"I don't understand it. You don't even seem to be suffering from a concussion, but you were unconscious for almost four hours. There's got to be something wrong; I just can't figure out what it is," Janet supplied in a confused tone.
"Hey, let's don't look a gift horse in the mouth. All I know is that I turned to head back to the cave, and then everything went black," Sam explained her last memories before waking up in the infirmary.
"Hmm, that's what Daniel said. Well, along with a bunch of other stuff, too. I almost strangled him when he started telling me all about this ancient text he had found instead of explaining what had happened to you," Janet replied, pulling the chair closer so that she could sit next to her lover.
"He translated some of the text?" Sam asked, surprised that Daniel had made some headway on their find.
"I don't know. He was talking foolishness. He said there were some carvings in the cave that showed two people looking up at the stars from locations which appeared to be galaxies away from each other. This drawing seemed to be connected to another series nearby. Daniel's interpretation was that they were soulmates, and when they wished upon the stars at the same time that they always reunited," Janet recalled from Daniel's earlier conversation.
"You're right, that is weird," Sam agreed. Fidgeting with the covers, she asked, "Um, Janet, since I seem to check out okay physically, do you think I can be discharged to go home? It is Christmas Eve you know, and I can be closely monitored by a real, bona fide doctor."
"Oh, really. Is it someone I can trust?" Janet teased, reaching out to take her lover's hand.
"I think so, and she's a real looker, too," Sam replied with a grin.
Chuckling, Janet rose from her chair and said, "Let me call General Hammond and fill him in on our plans. I'm sure he'll be happy to find out that you're awake and good as new."
When Janet returned to her lover's side, Sam had already taken the liberty of changing into a pair of sweats as she had every confidence that Janet would be able to make the general see reason.
Settling Sam into her car, Janet walked around and climbed into the driver's seat. "General Hammond said he doesn't want to see either one of us for another three days unless there's some sort of emergency," the doctor reported as she backed out of the parking space.
"Great. Let's make sure there aren't any emergencies then," Sam replied. Taking her lover's hand, she added, "Hey, Janet. You want to hear something funny? Right before I blacked out, I remember looking up at the stars and wishing I could be with you on Christmas. Pretty weird how my wish came true don't you think?"
"Yes, but there's something even stranger. From Daniel's report of the incident, I figure I was standing in the clearing wishing the same thing at the exact same time as you," Janet explained as she turned right onto the highway.
Both women glanced at each other and smiled. Squeezing the other's hand, they simultaneously uttered one word, "Soulmates."
The rest of the ride was filled with silence as each woman had a new appreciation for the ancient text Daniel had translated, but whatever the reason, they were going to be spending Christmas together, and in the end, that was all that mattered.
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