DISCLAIMER: Still don't own 'em. They are the property of MGM, Showtime, Gekko, Double Secret, and a whole bunch of other nice folks. I'm just borrowing them for my own demented amusement. I do this for fun, not money; aforementioned owners can feel free to steal at will.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: I want to thank stargazer for her in-depth comments; she gave me some insights into how to fix some things I wasn't terribly happy with in the original version. As always, comments are welcome and feedback is very much appreciated. Hope you enjoy!
SPOILERS: Urgo; may be tiny spoilers for anything through season three. There's also a tiny spoiler for Upgrades, despite the fact that this occurs before that episode <g>.
SEASON: three … set during and just after Urgo.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

By ocean gazer


"So, what did he say?" Janet Fraiser could hear the impatient edge of curiosity in her own voice as she stared up expectantly into Samantha Carter's face. She'd been dying to ask that question for hours now, and could hardly wait for the answer.

"Ouch!" was the immediate and unexpected reply.

"He said ouch?" Janet shook her head briefly, trying to decide if she was suddenly hearing things or if her friend was suddenly making no sense. Given that Colonel O'Neill had been complaining at great length about the invisible alien's talkative nature, she couldn't imagine that Urgo had said something as simple and monosyllabic as "ouch." Then again, she'd been blessed with the inability to hear the man, so what did she know about his speech patterns?

"No, I said ouch. You're hurting me, Janet." Sam's voice was soft, but the rebuke in her tone was clear.

Janet dropped her attention from the deep-pooled blue eyes back to the bandaging job she was doing on the other woman's arm. No wonder her friend had cried out – she had managed to get adhesive tape stuck to a corner of the livid burn marring Sam's pale skin. Nice move, Fraiser, she chastised herself; it wasn't something likely to get her into the Caring Professionals Hall of Fame anytime in the near future.

Murmuring the appropriate apologies, she carefully peeled the tape off the injured skin, wincing at Sam's barely audible groan. She quickly and efficiently re-bandaged the area, mentally cursing her own clumsiness all the while. It wasn't like her – not at all – and she knew exactly what, or rather who, was the cause. And it wasn't Sam, despite the fact that the major's mere presence seemed to send butterflies dancing in Janet's stomach. At least the butterflies didn't cause her to forget everything she'd learned in Bandaging 101. They just left her hormones feeling carbonated.

"So what did he say about me?" she queried again, smoothing her hand soothingly over the now-neat edges of the bandage, enjoying the soft feel of the skin under her fingers.

She looked back up in time to see Sam cock her head to the side, studying the doctor intently. "What did who say?"

Janet offered a brief laugh, totally devoid of mirth. "Him … that annoying little man that only SG1 can see." She paused for effect, feeling her mouth curl in distaste at the mere thought of the name. "Urgo."

Sam's answering sigh was little more than blowing breath out between her teeth. "Annoying is a vast understatement," she complained emphatically. "At least you haven't had to listen to him." The blonde shook her head, as if to erase the memories like she would an Etch-A-Sketch drawing, before continuing. "He's said a lot of things about you, Janet; he's talked practically non-stop since he's been here. When do you mean?"

Janet let her fingers drop away from Sam's arm, not because of the statement, but because she was suddenly conscious that the gentle massage had no medicinal value. And it had gone on long enough that the other woman might actually pull her head out of its usual home in the theoretical stratosphere and notice the physical contact. If she noticed it, she might actually ask about it. And explaining her own "more than friends" fantasies to her friend was just not on her list of top ten favorite activities for the decade. It didn't even crack the top hundred.

As far as she could tell, Sam was straight, celibate, and not interested in any relationship other than her love affair with astrophysics.

Janet shook her head quickly, trying to clear out all those distracting thoughts, forcing her mind back to the question and answer game they were playing. She could do this … she really could. She reached up to comb her fingers quickly through her hair, trying to remove the tactile memories of Sam's soft skin.

Finally able to let her curiosity get the better of her, Janet clarified her original question. "When General Hammond and I ran into you in the hallway, Urgo said something about me and you told him it was rude. What did he say?"

Sam sighed again. "Oh that."

"Oh that?" Janet echoed. Parroting people wasn't her usual conversational tactic, but given that her voice was about an octave above its usual tone, she figured it was clear she wasn't just repeating things.

Sam's eyes narrowed in concern as she gazed intently at the doctor. "Are you okay, Janet? You seem even more on edge than we are. And you can't even see or hear Urgo."

She smiled at the caring written across Sam's cherubic face, and felt herself relax at the sight. She managed a chuckle and folded her arms across her chest as she leaned back against the wall. "Let's just say it's a very good thing I haven't been able to see your little friend … or I'd be able to strangle him." Not that she would ever be able to make good on that threat, but there were times when she wished her innate prohibition against harming other people wasn't so damn strong.

She saw a flash of amusement in Sam's eyes; it wasn't the first time Janet's evil thoughts about exasperating people had managed to entertain the other woman. She rolled her eyes at her friend and put on her best martyr's voice. "General Hammond has been hounding me for days for answers to the questions of how to get rid of Urgo and of whether or not you all were sane. Not one of the easier times in my life, to be sure."

She thought, but didn't add, 'Not to mention the sinking feeling I got every time I looked at your brain scans and realized that there was nothing I could do to remove the devices implanted in you.'

Sam looked completely sympathetic, almost as if she had read the unspoken thought. "Well, as far as I can tell … the EM pulse worked, so with any luck this whole nightmare is finally over. I mean, I haven't seen or felt Urgo since I activated the pulse."

Now it was Janet's turn to sigh. "I just hope it was that easy." She was a realist by nature, and in her experience, nothing was as easy as it sounded when it came to the SGC … and SG-1 in particular. They had some of the most miraculously good luck imaginable, but it was balanced by the ability to land themselves in situations that proved Murphy's Law to be optimistic.

"You don't think it worked." It was a statement, not a question, and there was no rancor in Carter's tone. It was part of the give and take the duo had in their working relationship … that ability to voice objections or raise doubts without either taking it personally.

Janet unfolded her arms and pushed away from the wall as if the minor bit of activity would help her thoughts fall into some semblance of order. "I don't know," she admitted, coming to stand beside Sam. "I'm just afraid it's too soon to tell for sure … after all the EM pulse could simply have disabled the system temporarily."

Sam's face crinkled into a frown. "I'm afraid of the same thing. Daniel and the colonel were ready to celebrate right after I activated the pulse and Urgo disappeared, and I told them, 'We'll see.' I just don't know enough about the alien technology to be sure. I just hate having to wait, not knowing if my efforts have been all in vain or not."

Janet put a reassuring hand on Sam's shoulder, massaging gently. "I know just what you mean … I've been incredibly frustrated because I don't know enough to be able to help you." She knew the qualifier was actually an understatement, but there were limits to how well the English language could express strong feelings.

Sam smiled at the doctor. "At least you've taken us seriously and didn't rush to the conclusion that we're insane. And you've done the best you can, given the circumstances."

Janet felt her face curl into a smile to match Sam's. She'd been feeling inadequate for days now, and she didn't realize how much the reassurance meant until she actually heard it. "Thanks … that means a lot." Suddenly realizing that her friend could probably use some kind words of her own, she added, "So have you, y'know. The fact that you even came up with an idea for how to get rid of Urgo is pretty incredible. I'm always amazed by how intuitive and brilliant you are."

She saw the fierce blush that lit Sam's face at her words, and saw the way the other woman squirmed slightly and stared resolutely down at her feet. Janet felt her heart melt at the incredibly endearing sight of a suddenly shy Samantha Carter. God, the way the other woman made her feel.

"Uh … thanks." Sam's voice was thick with embarrassment. Janet wondered just why the other woman was so off-kilter about that particular compliment. O'Neill had practically turned "She's way smarter than the rest of us" into a catch phrase that everyone used when talking about Carter. So she couldn't quite figure out why she'd gotten this reaction from her friend. Maybe she should have just borrowed the colonel's stock phrase instead of coming up with her own polysyllabic version.

She was still pondering that when Sam finally stopped scrutinizing her shoes and looked back up at the doctor. Janet felt her heart catch as she saw a flash of unreadable and intense emotion in the big blue eyes. "I think you're pretty amazing yourself, Janet."

Well, that wasn't exactly what she'd been expecting to hear, and she felt the heat rise in her own cheeks. It wasn't just from the spoken words, but from the sudden sense that there was a whole other meaning lying under the surface … one that hinted at some more-than-just-friends feelings on her friend's part. And she couldn't quite decide if Sam really meant something else by the words, or if she was just hoping that she did.

It was Janet's turn to stutter "thanks" and glance down at her feet. Yep, they were still there, attached to her legs like always. She peeked up at her friend and found Sam staring at her. She wasn't too surprised when the blonde swallowed hard and turned her head away, apparently embarrassed about being caught staring. There was a long, awkward moment of silence.

Janet cleared her throat slightly, still off guard by the compliment … and by the fact that her friend had been staring at her. She decided maybe it was time to get back onto more neutral ground before she went ahead and made an idiot of herself by telling Sam just how she felt about her. Besides, she reasoned with herself, you only think that there was something more in those words because you want to be more than friends with her. More likely than not, it was just a simple compliment. She knew as well as anyone that while Carter could explain the most esoteric ideas at length – great length – the woman was much less confident talking about more mundane matters … and that included anything from the emotional realm.

Forcing a deep breath into her lungs, Janet forcibly pushed her inappropriate thoughts and fantasies back to the red light district of her brain. Looking straight at Carter, who still had her eyes averted, she said in as normal a tone as she could manage, "I do hope your idea worked because I know Urgo has been driving you all to distraction. And I think Colonel O'Neill is going to actually lose his sanity if he has to stay cooped up in the SGC any longer."

Sam laughed briefly, her gaze swinging back to Janet's. There was an obvious note of relief in her voice at the change in topic. "Daniel and I are getting lots of work done, but the colonel and Teal'c don't do well with this extended downtime. They've already destroyed half the equipment in the gym." She paused for a moment, and then leaned forward as if to whisper a secret. "General Hammond happened to walk into the gym during one of their more … destructive sessions. Daniel told me he could hear the reprimand all the way in his office."

Janet chuckled, having heard about the incident from one of her nurses. "Well, with any luck, Urgo is gone and the devices in your brain have deactivated themselves. I just need to run a full set of tests on you and the guys to see what's going on inside your heads."

At that statement, Sam levered herself off the exam table, as if trying to make her escape. Janet raised a stern eyebrow and refolded her arms. "And where do you think you're going?"

Sam chuckled and swatted Janet's arm playfully. "I'm not trying to escape, but I did promise General Hammond that I would de-brief him on what exactly happened with the EM pulse after I got my arm looked at." She must have seen the doctor's dubious reaction to her statement because she gave a martyred sigh. "Besides, I know better than to try and escape when you have your mind set on torturing us."

Janet rolled her eyes. It wasn't the most elegant expression in the world, she was certain, but it was about the only suitable one she could come up with. She didn't tend to stand around practicing facial expressions for possible future use. Her verbal comeback was much sharper, honed as it was from frequent sparring matches with O'Neill. "You'll just have to be last then. It'll give you more time to dread what's coming."

Sam laughed, and there was genuine affection in her eyes. "You're going to have to try a lot harder than that. I know the guys quake in their boots at these exams, but you haven't ever managed to scare me."

Janet raised her eyebrow so far it felt like at any moment it might disappear into her hairline. Trying to come up with a suitable retort, her tone was dry as burnt toast. "Guess I do need to try harder so I have you at my mercy. Maybe I'll just have to get a little rough when I examine you."

As soon as the words left her mouth and she heard them in her own ears, she wished fervently that she could call them back. It wasn't like she and Sam never traded borderline flirtatious comments before, but this was so far over the line that she expected a resounding slap across the face at any moment … a well-deserved slap.

She steeled herself to see a hurt look on her friend's face and waited for some verbal rebuke. She knew that Sam had a history for being involved with manipulative and emotionally abusive men, and she was afraid she'd tapped into some bad memories for the other woman with that comment. The response she actually got surprised her to the point of speechlessness, and showed her a side of the other woman she had never really seen … one that she rather doubted Sam was entirely aware of herself.

"Ah, but what if I like that?" the blonde said in a playful and suggestive whisper. Janet saw another flash of intense and unreadable emotion in those blue eyes. It only lasted a moment before it was replaced with an amused twinkle, and Sam flashed an impish smile as she swept out of the room, leaving the doctor alone and flabbergasted.

It wasn't until several minutes later, after she'd summoned O'Neill, Daniel, and Teal'c to the infirmary for a round of tests, that she realized Sam had completely sidestepped her original question.

A Week Later …

Janet Fraiser looked up from the bevy of test tubes in front of her, as if the incessantly drumming fingers of Samantha Carter were a summons. Looking across the barrier of the worktable, she raised an eyebrow as she regarded the blonde woman. Normally, Sam was an asset in the lab, not a potential threat to the safety of the various glass vials and microscopes and other such fragile things.

Carter at least had the grace to look chagrined. As the doctor watched with a raised eyebrow, Sam quickly pulled her fingers off of the surface she'd been tapping, the abruptness of the move knocking over two – thankfully empty – containers. Janet felt her eyebrow rise even higher on her forehead as she watched her friend's deft fingers rescue the containers from an ignominious death on the floor. "I'm sorry, Janet. I'm just a little anxious to find out the results of the second set of tests."

Janet indulged herself in a smile at her friend. She knew perfectly well that had either Daniel or O'Neill been the person displaying such obvious impatience, she would have been far less tolerant. But she couldn't find it in her heart to be annoyed by Sam, even though her answer was laced with the subtle sarcasm that she had been told on more than one occasion was her strong suit.

"Well, y'know, if you had waited to come down here until AFTER I'd actually gotten the results, you wouldn't be nearly as distracting."

Not that she could find Sam anything other than distracting, since the mere sight of the cheerful blonde head made Janet's breath catch. But that was a different kind of distracting, one that the doctor was still coming to terms with herself.

She watched the other woman's face crinkle in thought as Sam scrutinized her, trying to decide whether or not she was really annoyed. She tried hard to look as inscrutable as Teal'c, but the other woman must have seen some trace of her amusement because instead of bubbling over with apologies, Sam only flashed an abashed smile.

"It's just that I'm going stir crazy in my quarters. And my lab is no better … I'm going stir crazy there too." As if to illustrate the point, the woman stepped away from the workbench and started to pace … a delightful and oh-so-productive habit that she'd picked up from Colonel O'Neill.

Janet glanced down back down at the tissue samples she was working with, and tuned out the clump-clump of the other woman's boots. She was almost finished with the last of the tests she was performing, and wanted to get it finished before she allowed herself to be sidetracked into a conversation. It wasn't a crucial test, by any means, since she'd left those in the hands of her very capable lab technicians. If it had been, she wouldn't have let Sam into the lab in the first place.

She wrote down her results, placed the samples back in the storage unit, and then stood up straight and stretched. Throughout it all, she remained well aware that the other woman was still intent on wearing a tread into the floor. Now that Janet's preoccupation with her work had lifted, she became fully aware of the last thing Sam said.

Frowning, she had to replay the sentences in her head three times to make sure she'd heard correctly. Sam? Stir crazy? Somehow, the thought just didn't quite compute, and she could clearly hear the disbelief standing out in her tone as she spoke. "You're bored? I figured you'd relish every second of time you had to work on transcribing your lab notes or running tests on naquada or working on that book you've always wanted to write on wormhole physics."

She fully intended to stop there, to not let her half-resolved feelings for Sam spill over, to not add any sense of guilt to the abundant wellspring the other woman already had. But the words were out of her mouth before she could think about them, her ignored feelings hijacking her rational mind. "After all, you rarely come over to see Cassandra and I anymore … you're always busy with your projects when you aren't working. I guess I just figured you would love having all this time to spend on them without having any outside distractions."

She wanted to slap herself at the sharp, bitter note in her voice. A part of her knew that no matter how true her observations were, she didn't have any reason to feel as strongly about things as she did. After all, it wasn't like she and Sam were married or committed to each other in any binding way. But in that moment she became unequivocally aware of the fact that her feelings for Sam were making her jealous – painfully jealous – of all the things that pulled the other woman away from her. She had a right to feel that way to a small extent, she knew, since Sam wasn't exactly the most attentive friend on the face of the planet. But she had no right to be as overwhelmingly resentful as she felt – despite her wishful thinking Sam was not her lover, and feeling jealous on that level was not at all fair to the woman.

She opened her mouth, wanting to say something – ANYTHING – to erase the sting of her words and make things right again, especially since Sam had turned away as if struck. But before she could find any words, Carter spoke quietly. "I guess I deserved that."

The denial was on Janet's lips, but Sam turned back towards her and caught her eyes, and once again there was intense, unreadable emotion in those liquid blue eyes.

The blonde waved the denial away, her eyes locked on Janet's face. "I know I haven't been around a lot, and I should have known you would be hurt by that." She paused, and Janet got the impression she was choosing every word very carefully. "It's just that I didn't want to wear out my welcome. I really … enjoy … the time I spend with you … and with Cassie … and I guess I was afraid I was taking advantage of you and that you would get tired of me being around all the time."

"Never," Janet breathed, a flutter in her heart at the little confession, happy beyond rational thought that Sam enjoyed their time together, even if just as friends. She took a step forward, closing the distance between them. "We both love having you around."

They stared at each other, a long moment of silence swirling in the space between them, unspoken words stillborn on the air. And then, in perfect, unplanned chorus, they both burst out with, "I'm sorry; I've been an idiot."

And then, once again in perfect synch, they burst into tension relieving laughter.

Several deep breaths later, Janet was still chuckling slightly as she said slowly, "We can be idiots together. At least that way we'll be in good company."

Sam's voice was quiet, more for herself than for Janet, as she whispered, "Damn it; why did he have to be right?"

Janet didn't even have to ask whom the other woman was talking about; she knew instantly that it was the invisible menace known as Urgo. And that suddenly reminded her that Sam never had answered her earlier question about what he said. Given that her brain was perhaps still oxygen deprived from laughing so hard, she couldn't resist her curiosity. She walked around the edge of the table and stood directly in front of her friend.

"So," she drawled slowly, "what did he say?"

To her great surprise, Sam turned slightly away, leaning back against the table edge. Thankfully, the table was bolted to the floor, so she couldn't further endanger any unsuspecting glass pieces. Janet was even more surprised when the other woman cupped her head in her hands and shook it slightly. "No … it's not like that," she moaned. "I mean, what he said is not what I meant … and, oh god … you really don't want to know." Carter once again moaned dramatically. The display might have softened Janet's resolve if she wasn't insanely curious about not only what he had said about her, but also what he had said to make unflappable Samantha Carter so completely flustered.

"Yes, I do want to know."

Sam moaned again. "No, you don't."

Janet didn't really feel like playing that verbal game any longer, so she grasped for a way to sidestep it. Not an easy chore, considering that her friend was nearly as stubborn as she was, and even better at keeping her mouth shut when she didn't want to talk about something. After a long moment of silence, during which Sam kept her head in her hands, Janet said reasonably, "How do you know that I don't want to know? I know you think you know what I want to know, but this time you don't know because I really do want to know."

That convoluted sentence snapped Sam's head upright, her face like a jigsaw puzzle as she tried to decipher what Janet had just said. The doctor couldn't help herself; she smirked for a moment as she watched the wheels turn in the brilliant mind across from her. It wasn't often that she could throw her friend for such a loop, and she rather enjoyed the sight of it.

Sam looked up at her, but before she could even get her mouth open, an insistent knock came at the door, even as it was pushed open. Doctor Warner appeared in the doorway, a thick sheaf of papers in his hand and a sheepish expression on his face. "Am I interrupting?"

"No," both women chorused, and he walked over to the dynamic duo. He nodded at Sam, acknowledging her presence, before devoting his full attention to Janet.

"Since we've got a little time before the full test results come back from SG1, I thought maybe I could talk to you for a minute about the long term prognosis for Captain Conners. He's healing quite nicely from the surgery, given the extent of the injury to his shoulder and arm, and there are some further treatment options I'd like to discuss with you. But if this is a bad time …"

Janet made a vague gesture towards the table and her semi-forgotten test results, fully intending to ask Warner to come and talk to her later. It wasn't so much that she had any work left to finish as that she wanted to finish the conversation … but it seemed like a convenient excuse. But before she could actually verbalize the sentiment, she realized that Sam had not only managed to get away from her, but was already half way out the door. 'Oh brother', she thought to herself, 'this whole avoidance thing is getting really old.'

She was careful not to let any of her exasperation show in her tone as she asked gently, "Major?"

Sam paused, a guilty look crossing her face as if she were entirely capable of reading Janet's mind. "I … well … you're busy and since you don't have our test results back … I'll just go now … uh, I've got work to do. I'll be back later."

And before Janet could muster a single verbal response, the other woman took off as if attempting to disprove the notion that humans are incapable of moving faster than the speed of light.

A couple hours later, Janet was back in her office with SG1's test results in hand. She was reading through them for the second time when Sam made her reappearance. Detachedly, the doctor found it highly amusing that the other woman had managed to pull herself together and was now in her best professional mode. Not that she found it amusing that Carter was being so impersonal with her, but the shift in mood held a perverse sense of entertainment.

"Well … everything looks normal. How are you feeling?" The question was actually irrelevant, given that she'd already talked to Sam and knew perfectly well how she was feeling. Well, how she was physically feeling, anyway. The question was more just to put Sam at ease, to try and help her regain the composure she'd lost earlier.

Unfortunately, the tactic didn't quite work. Sam's response was polite and deflective as she said, "Great. I just want to get back to work."

Janet mustered up a quick smile, and then turned her attention back to the test results and tried shifting gears a bit, still trying to help her friend relax.

"Well, assuming you are cleared by next weekend, Cassandra and I are going to the lake and we are going to rent a rowboat. Would you like to come along?"

Her heart warmed as a genuine, beatific smile lit Sam's face, and the other woman responded with an enthusiastic yes. Janet felt her own face split in an answering grin; she'd managed to get things back on an easy footing between them and managed to get herself a date of sorts with this woman she adored. And since Urgo seemed to have gone on his merry little way, things seemed to be finally going right.

She dismissed Sam with the request to send Daniel down. Watching the blonde leave, Janet was surprised to hear her singing, "Row, row, row your boat." And then she felt a familiar sense of Urgo-induced horror as she heard three male voices chiming in. She looked up at the video monitors that were linked to the cameras installed in the quarters of SG1 in order to keep a constant eye on the Urgo-infected people. Yep, sure enough, Sam's teammates were singing … or, in O'Neill's case, attempting to sing. That sort of synchronization could only mean one thing; Sam's little experiment hadn't worked.

The only thought she could muster was the exhausted, 'Oh, shit, not again.'

Urgo was FINALLY gone. Janet wasn't sure who was more relieved by that fact – herself and General Hammond, or the members of SG1. The team had gone back to the planet where they acquired their little "friend", gotten rid of him, and then came back with a nice case of temporary amnesia – thinking they had just stepped through the gate moments before and having no memory of what had happened.

Daniel had actually accused Hammond and Fraiser of being nuts. Oh, he didn't use that precise phrase, but he made it clear in his gently wordy way that they were – perhaps – delusional. It wasn't until Janet showed them some of the security tapes where they were interacting with an invisible presence that the memory came back into their minds and they could debrief the general as to what happened to Urgo. Needless to say, O'Neill was decidedly less than thrilled with Janet for giving them their memories back in such clarity.

They'd all been eager to get back to work – so eager, in fact, that both Jack and Daniel seemed to have forgotten the concept of caution, which wasn't Daniel's strong suit under the best of circumstances. On their first actual mission, every member of SG1 was injured: Jack, from a less than friendly encounter with the local version of a jackal; Teal'c, when he rushed in to rescue the colonel from the creature; Daniel, from a less than friendly encounter with the local villagers; Sam, when she rushed in to rescue the archeologist from the mob. The injuries were nothing life-threatening – just enough claw marks and scrapes and bruises and knife wounds to ground the whole team.

O'Neill, expectedly grouchy at this development, promptly decided to haul his team, Janet, and Cassie up to his favorite cabin on the lake for a fishing expedition. Cassandra was thrilled at the prospect of getting to go on another outing so soon after getting back from the rowboat excursion with Sam and Janet. Daniel and Teal'c were not nearly as thrilled, but they felt like humoring Jack.

The women's reactions, on the other hand, were decidedly less than enthusiastic. In fact, some of them were downright unprintable. Sam hated fishing with a passion, and Janet's opinion was that it was one of the most boring hobbies ever taken up by humans. In the end, they'd finally conceded and gone on the trip. They both insisted it was because the bribes were so good … they didn't have to fish, Daniel had brought gourmet coffee and Belgian chocolates, and the colonel was paying for everything.

Neither woman mentioned Cassie's earnest and incessant begging.

The afternoon sunlight streamed in the window, creating a pool of warmth in the living room of the cabin. Janet sighed blissfully, soaking up the rays like a cat, well aware that she spent entirely too much of her life underground. Despite her reluctance to even come on this trip, she had to admit to herself she was glad she had. The guys and Cassandra spent much of their time out on the lake, leaving her and Sam alone to watch videos or read books. It was nice. It was more than nice. Nothing like having several hours alone every day with the woman she adored.

Janet looked across to the other side of the couch, as she absent-mindedly massaged the feet that were lying in her lap. Sam was stretched out with her nose deep in a book, the title and subtitle of which contained enough twenty-five dollar words to scare off any casual reader. Janet was impressed with her friend's studious nature, until she suddenly realized Carter hadn't turned a single page in the ten minutes she'd been watching her. Further furtive examination revealed that Sam's eyes were locked in one spot, rather than moving across the page.

'Ok, either she's completely stumped by one of those big words, or she's not actually reading,' Janet mused. She chose the latter option, figuring that Sam was well acquainted with an invention known as a dictionary.

"He-ey, Sam," she said softly, wincing as even the low whisper caused the other woman to start. Quickly she continued, "Are you okay? You seem like you're a million miles away."

Sam started to deny that anything was wrong, her features settling into a falsely pleasant look. Then she seemed to come to some sort of decision, sighing softly and letting a troubled look hover in her eyes. "I was just thinking about Urgo."

Janet could not stop herself from giving an extremely dramatic sigh. "Why is it that he's still here, even though he's gone?"

She'd already walked Carter through several conversations about the annoying little man, since Sam was not sure they'd done the right thing by returning him to the planet. The doctor could hear her own exasperation as she started, "You did the best you could to deal with a new and sentient life form, especially since …"

An interrupting hand landed gently on her leg as Sam put her book on the coffee table and sat up, scooting close to Janet. "No, not that," she offered succinctly.

Janet was all too aware of the heat of the other woman's fingers, and she found herself mourning the loss of that simple contact when Sam moved her hand away. Then, she became aware that her friend had draped her arm over the back of the couch … and her hand had dropped absent-mindedly to rest on the doctor's shoulder. At least she assumed it was an absent-minded gesture since Carter was staring off into the distance as if trying to collect her thoughts from the corners of the living room.

Janet felt like she was holding her breath as she waited for the blonde to speak. Sam's words came slowly. "I was thinking about something he said to me."

After a long, breathless pause, the woman swallowed hard and Janet could see that her muscles had tensed, as if she were bracing herself to speak. The continuation of the sentence came in a rush, as if Sam couldn't get the words out any other way. "He said that you feel the same way about me that I feel about you … that you're as attracted to me as I am to you … and that we would make the perfect couple. He kept nagging me to talk to you … to tell you that I care for you as a lot more than just a friend."

Janet's heart stopped beating for a minute or twenty as she replayed the sentence backwards and forward and sideways to make sure that she'd heard it correctly. Was Sam actually saying what she thought she was saying? Or had she just suddenly slipped into an alternate reality? Maybe someone had slipped her some drugs and she was hallucinating. Cautiously, she glanced around to see if there were any talking pieces of furniture or some cartoon creatures to show that she was completely imagining things.

Before Janet could kick-start her mouth into forming words and doing something other than hanging open in a gape, she felt the other woman pull away from her. She looked up as Sam levered herself off the couch, seeing a fierce red blush spread across the pale features, the blue eyes averted from Janet's face.

Sam was trying to stumble backwards and away from the couch, her movements hampered by the fact that the coffee table was in the way. "I … I'm sorry … I shouldn't have said that … I uh … uh … um … sorry, Janet …"

The doctor wanted desperately to reach out a hand to stop the hasty retreat or to say something to let Sam know that the feelings were very much mutual. Unfortunately, her body and brain seemed stuck on pause. Fortunately, fate chose that moment to play a hand in the little drama.

Sam was making her way backwards when she banged her heel on the leg of the coffee table. She pulled her leg forward in an instinctive reaction to pain, which caused her to lose her balance, try to correct her balance, and finally topple over in a completely ungracious heap on the floor.

Mindful of the various bruises and stitched cuts on Sam's body, Janet's doctorly instincts took over, unfreezing her as she bounded off the couch and landed on her knees at the fallen woman's side in roughly 2.2 seconds. "Oh god, Sam … did you hurt yourself?"

The blonde had her eyes screwed tightly shut; Janet couldn't decide if it was from embarrassment or pain. Her suspicion that it was the former was confirmed when a tiny voice said, "No new injuries except to my pride and dignity."

The blue eyes remained tightly shut, as the doctor looked her friend over anyhow, reassuring herself that none of the wounds had been reopened in the fall. Janet was starting to say something, when Sam's faint whisper cut her off.

"I'm really sorry, Janet. I shouldn't have listened to Urgo. I didn't mean to offend you … I … never wanted to make you uncomfortable or damage our friendship."

Janet felt her heart lurch. God, if her friend only knew. "I don't feel that way, Sam. Believe me."

The response made it quite clear that Sam was listening to her own internal doubts, rather than to what Janet was saying. "I just was hoping that maybe you felt the same way. I … I'm sorry."

Janet rolled her eyes, though the gesture was lost since Sam still hadn't opened her eyes. "Trust me, it's really ok. It's more than ok."

She paused for a minute, not quite sure how to proceed, especially since her friend was clearly having a field day berating herself. She wasn't entirely sure she could get the message across with mere words. After all, while she was undoubtedly more experienced in the romance department than Carter, she was not precisely a Don Juan. Or would that be a Dona Juana? After careful consideration she said quietly, "Sam, look at me."

The blonde head shook emphatically. "Ouch, that hurts." Her eyes remained tightly closed.

Janet tried again, even stroking the underside of the woman's chin with a gentle finger, and coaxing the blonde head around. "C'mon, Sam, please look at me."

There was no response, and Janet felt suddenly at a loss. While she felt certain denial had its place in the world, she remained unconvinced that it was all that useful at the moment. Especially since they didn't have all day to play this particular game of cat and mouse. The guys and Cass would be back in another hour or so, and she knew that it would look just a tad bit strange if they walked in on this tableau. Unfortunately, as she knew, Sam was an expert in denial.

As she racked her brain for how to proceed, her instincts took over and she bent down and kissed her friend. It wasn't a friendly little kiss on the cheek, but rather a soft, searching kiss on the lips. After a moment, she felt Sam's mouth moving slowly against hers. When the kiss finally broke so that the two didn't pass out from oxygen deprivation, Janet saw that she had accomplished her goal: the other woman's eyes were open wide and she was staring at her.

Sam's question was uttered in a voice as thin as a ghost. "Janet, is that what I thought it was?"

Despite the new and discomforting territory they'd just rushed into, Janet could not resist a soft laugh at the complete uncertainty in the other woman's voice and at the complete absurdity of the question. "Well, if you thought it was a kiss, then it's what you thought it was."

Sam just stared up at Janet for a moment, apparently trying to decide whether she was hearing things correctly. The doctor reached out cautiously and lightly stroked the blonde's cheek, and was rewarded with a sunny smile.

Sam's expression and tone were both dreamy. "It was a very nice kiss." She set her hands on the floor and pushed up into a sitting position, her face growing thoughtful.

Janet could almost see the actual thoughts forming in the other woman's head, and she spoke quickly before Sam could say another word. "And yes, I meant to kiss you, and yes, I've wanted to kiss you for a long time, and yes, I'm attracted to you." She could see the relief spread over her friend's features and added quietly, "And I think we're very overdue for a very long talk."

"Oh yeah," Sam breathed, "I'd say we have a lot to talk about this evening …" She paused, as if reminding herself where they were. "After everyone else is in bed, that is."

They sat for a moment, just staring at each other, and there must have been an infectious sparkle in the blue eyes, since Janet could feel herself grinning like a fool, and unable to keep from grinning.

Sam reached out a tentative finger and traced the contours of Janet's face, then cradled the doctor's cheek in her hand. Janet leaned into the soft caress, amazed not only at her own impulsiveness and Sam's impulsiveness, but at just how right it felt to be touched this way by her friend.

Still lightly caressing, Sam said quietly, "I want you to know that I've been attracted to you for a very long time … so this isn't something new. I just wasn't ever sure that you would be open to the possibility … and I didn't want to put either one of us in an uncomfortable situation, given the whole 'don't ask, don't tell' culture we work in."

Janet nodded emphatically. "Ditto."

That word caused a soft chuckle to escape Sam's lips. "I can't tell you how relieved I am that you feel the same way … I'm not sure I could have lived with the embarrassment otherwise." She paused briefly and then offered, "At least one good thing came out of the whole Urgo experience."

It was like the curiosity switch in Janet's brain flipped on at that sentence. In a subtle shift in mood, she sat up straight and fixed Sam with her best "I'm not taking no for an answer" look. Besides, she reasoned with herself, they needed something to lighten the mood before everyone else came back. They would have plenty of time later to talk about their more-than-friendly feelings. They'd waited months to even admit them to each other, so waiting a few more hours to talk about things would be like no time at all.

"So, if Urgo thought we would make such a perfect couple, why did he say something rude about me in the hallway? And WHAT did he say?"

Sam's face had that unmistakable "deer in headlights" look. She dropped her hand away from Janet's cheek and moaned dramatically. "You're not going to give me any peace until I tell you, are you?"

"Nope," came Janet's best voice of placid inflexibility.

"You really don't want to know."

Janet rolled her eyes at that. "If I didn't want to know, why would I keep asking?"

That did the trick—offering something even Sam's incredible penchant for logic couldn't refute. The blonde gave a martyred sigh. "He said something rude because he was bored and jealous of my feelings for you and a little hurt that I was trying to find a way to shut him off. It wasn't really anything personal. As for what he said …". She paused, and then reluctantly leaned forward to whisper the words in Janet's ear.

Janet sat shock still as the whispered words burrowed in to her brain. How dare he say that? She couldn't restrain her indignation and burst out with, "That's incredibly rude! God, I really didn't want to know that."

There was just the faintest trace of smugness in Sam's voice as she countered, "I told you so."

The End

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