DISCLAIMER: I don't own any of these folks, duh. Nor do I own the original idea, which I blatantly ripped off from ST: TNG's excellent (yet somehow lacking in the final minutes) season 7 episode "Attached."
THANKS: as always, to Xander, who never fails to have new ideas that keep me going when I run out of steam. Also to Gail, whose keen eye reminds me that less can be more if done right. This thing took forever, so I owe both of them big!
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

By Harriet

Part Two

Janet reclined on the couch in the late evening, sipping from a glass of wine. She and Sam hadn't had much conversation today beyond their little flirtation, since she' d been busy with the daily grind and Sam had been involved in setting up a remote lab on P4X-757. However, she was bored at the moment, and was looking for something to take her mind off the silence of the house. Cassie was upstairs on the computer doing homework, but Janet didn't want to pipe up and annoy Sam too much while she was on a mission.

*Doctor Fraiser,* she heard in her head.

A smile lit her features. *Ye-es?*

*You should realize that hearing from you has been the only thing I've looked forward to all day.*

Janet's heart skipped a beat as a hot shiver spread through her body, making her skin flush with awareness even though Sam wasn't even present. *I didn't want to interrupt your work.*

*I'm not working. I'm inside my sleeping bag, praying this tent doesn't leak between now and the morning. If it starts raining on me I'm coming home no matter what we might discover here. A person can only put up with so much.*

*Are you cold?*

*Not exactly, but my hair is wet and it's making it hard for me to fall asleep even though I'm exhausted as hell.*

*Don't get sick out there, Sam.*

*I'm trying, Doc. I have things to do when I get home.*

At that moment, the emotional connection between them kicked in, flooding Janet with an all-encompassing warmth that stunned her. "God," Janet murmured. *I can feel you. It's like you're here, next to me.* She tried to keep from thinking it, but the words *inside me* echoed in her head nonetheless.

Sam didn't respond for a minute, but Janet simply basked in the feeling, relishing it, glorying in it. Eventually, Sam whispered silently, *I feel you too, Janet.* Eyes closed, Janet imagined Sam lying next to her on the couch, holding her, and the vision was so powerful she nearly missed the next words. *I love you.*

Instantly tears pricked the backs of her eyes. It was almost too much, this sensation of overpowering tenderness flowing through her. *I love you too, Sam.* Her stomach rolled, and suddenly she felt so lightheaded she had to sit up and put her head between her knees.

*Are you okay?* thought Sam, sensing a problem.

*Fine, just, God, it's so strong,* Janet thought. *It's never been this strong before.*

She could practically hear the smile in Sam's voice. *I know. I'm not cold anymore in the least.*

Janet lifted her head, the dizziness fading quickly. *Well that's something then.* Leaning back, she set her nearly empty wine glass on the coffee table. *Is there anything I can do to help you sleep?* She waited for the requisite flirtatious comment.

Chuckling, Sam responded, *Unfortunately you're a little far away for what I'd really like, but I have an idea.*

Eyebrow lifting, Janet replied, *Yes?*

*You have songs in your head all the time, old songs. There's one I like that you've been thinking about...*

Hearing the slight hesitation, Janet encouraged, *Tell me, sweetheart. Don't be shy.*

*What's the one about, um, seeing your eyes in stars above?*

Licking her suddenly dry lips, Janet answered, *'The Very Thought of You.'*

*That's it. Do you think, maybe, you could play that one, or hum it or something? I find it really... comforting.*

*Just give me a sec, I'll put it on.* Soon, Nat King Cole was crooning through the speakers softly, and she settled back on the couch and let the song fill her mind. *Can you hear it?*

*Yeah,* Sam sighed.

They listened together, with Sam humming along every few minutes as the disc continued to play. Eventually, Sam was quiet, and Janet realized she was sleeping. The powerful feeling was still with her, though, and she knew she'd remember the evening as one of the sweetest of her life.

Sam swung her P-90 back on her shoulder, cursing the rain for the eight zillionth time. "Sir, have we come up with a point to this mission aside from driving us all insane?"

"Danny did want to take a closer look at the ruins today, but I think even his enthusiasm has been dampened by this... uh, dampness. I think I'm about to call this mission a wash, if you know what I mean, and I think you do," he smirked.

"Thank God. My boots are just about done for, and I didn't bring my spares."

O'Neill radioed Daniel. "Yo, Daniel, are you done there? I'm getting pressure from the lady here to get the hell out of this rainforest and go home. What's the status of your investigation?"

The static was heavy, but Sam could hear Daniel's reply clearly. "I don't think there's much more to learn here. I'm getting the impression the inclement weather here is constant and has been for hundreds of years. I've translated some of the writings, and it appears that when the rains came, thousands of people were lost in flooding. We haven't spotted any sentient species, so my guess is that whatever group lived here most likely died off or departed well over two hundred years ago." The signal faded for a moment, but popped back in just in time for them to hear Daniel say, "--rain isn't stopping. I say we head home."

"Swell," Jack shouted. "You and Teal'c come on in and we'll start packing up."

Sam clapped her hands and zoomed toward the camp. *Janet,* she thought loudly, excitement swimming up inside her.

*Hey,* came the reply.

*I'm coming home!*

*What? I thought you weren't scheduled to come in till the day after tomorrow. What happened?*

*Exactly nothing. Plus I think the colonel is sicker than I am of the rain. We're packing up now. I figure in four hours I'll be back on base.*

*I am so happy to hear that, Major Carter, it's almost ridiculous.*

Sam grinned cheerfully. *That makes two of us. Keep me company while I take this stupid waterlogged tent down? Unless you're busy with work stuff...*

*Nope, not busy. I could use a break anyway. SG-14 just came in this morning, so I've been doing physicals since then.*

*Anything exciting to report?* Sam packed her gear as Janet chatted to her about nothing in particular, but it was nice to stay occupied with something other than the fact that most of her stuff would be going in the trash when she got back to base. Including her boots.

A half hour later, Janet was pulled away to do another round of physicals, so Sam reluctantly finished her packing on her own. Jack and Teal'c set off to haul equipment toward the gate, and Sam swung her pack onto her back and pulled her hat lower on her forehead.

Sam had been trudging solemnly for more than an hour when she glanced across a muddy field to the left, and from the corner of her eye saw a beam of some kind heading toward them. "Colonel, get down!" she shouted, and swung her gun into position. She dropped to the ground just as the colonel and Teal'c slammed into the mud, and quickly she removed her gear from her back. Rolling behind a tree, she searched for anything moving in the distance. *Shit,* she snapped internally. She fired short bursts blindly into the direction of the weapons fire.

*Sam?* Janet's voice was terrified.

Just then another beam shot out from the copse of trees to the right. *Trouble. Someone's shooting at us,* she shouted in her mind, adrenaline pumping through her.

Before she had a chance to do more, everything went black.

"Sam, Sam!" Janet cried, her eyes darting back and forth.

"Dr. Fraiser?" Lieutenant Hawkins said from the gurney, a concerned look on his face. "Hello?"

Janet threw the penlight on the tray next to her. "Dr. Warner!" she yelled, throwing back the curtain. "Finish Hawkins here. I've got to go, there's a problem with SG-1."


"Thanks." She ran out of the lab, paying no heed to the astonished reactions of the people around her. Blindly she raced off, and upon finding Hammond's door closed, she pounded on it, much to his assistant's surprise. "Sir!" she called, "I need to speak with you!"

"Dr. Fraiser," Joanne said calmly from behind her desk, "Maybe you should sit down--"

The door swung open. "What's the problem, Dr. Fraiser?"

"Something's happened with SG-1. They were heading back when they came under some kind of fire. I-- I've lost contact with Major Carter."

"You mean you were still able to communicate with the distance between you?"

"Yes, please, do something. I think they're in trouble. Sam may have been shot." Her stomach rebelled at the thought, but she pushed down the bile that rose up into her throat. "Please."

The General looked her straight in the eyes. "Doctor, are you absolutely sure there's a problem here, and it's not a product of your condition, possibly a hallucination?"

Janet tried to put as much conviction into her voice as possible. "I swear, sir. There is something terribly wrong. SG-1 needs help. Now. I wouldn't have come to you unless I was absolutely sure." She wasn't aware of exactly what had happened, but if Janet couldn't hear Sam anymore, she wasn't going to take any chances. Without doubt the major was injured, and it was pointless to allow more time to pass before sending in back up.

"All right. I'll send in a team. Go back to the infirmary and prepare for casualties. Dismissed."

Casualties, Janet thought, and she took a deep breath to try and control the adrenaline rush that made her stomach cramp. Once back in the infirmary, she ignored Dr. Warner's plea for an explanation and walked straight into her office to throw herself into a chair.

Minutes passed, and she didn't move. The phone rang, scaring her enough that she jumped at least three inches out of her chair. "Fraiser."

Hammond's voice boomed through the line. "Dr Fraiser, are there any details you can tell me that would indicate where the firefight may have taken place?"

She wracked her brain, trying to recall Sam's exact words. "From what I picked up, they weren't far from their original campsite when the first shot was fired." She glanced at the clock. "As of thirteen hundred hours, Sam expected to be back within four hours." That was supposed to get them home just in time to have dinner with Cassie.

"Thank you, Doctor." The line went dead.

Her stomach cramped again, and she leaned over to rest her head between her knees. It was nothing like the pleasant dizziness of the night before; this was pain, sharp and intense. Sam was in danger, and she was powerless to do anything about it.

She breathed carefully, in and out, in and out. Eyes closed, she searched for a sign of Sam's consciousness, but there was none to be found.

Don't freak out, don't freak out, Janet breathed. She felt ridiculous repeating Sam's name over and over in her brain, but she was frantic without the other half of her connection. She felt utterly isolated. Considering she'd spent days complaining about the invasion of her mind, she'd certainly changed her tune.

All she wanted was a single word, anything that would serve as evidence of Sam's survival.

Time dragged as she sat in her office, worrying.

One hundred thirty two minutes later, the klaxon blared, and Janet sprinted from her chair, medkit in hand.

She nearly barreled into Hammond as he stood before the pool of light shimmering in the otherwise dim room. Quickly she regained her footing, just in time to see Teal'c hauling O'Neill through the circle. Behind them, two members of SG-6 carried a litter that held precious cargo-- Sam. The last two soldiers in SG-6 came though holding up Daniel, who was walking, but clearly injured.

All of them were so brown with caked mud and filth she wouldn't have been able to tell they were human unless she'd known it already.

Instantly she was at Sam's side, checking her pulse and assessing her condition. "What happened here?" she demanded, her voice sounding shrill in the cavernous room.

"Major Carter was struck by some kind of weapon, and although unconscious, she is alive," Teal'c offered. "Colonel O'Neill and Daniel Jackson were also struck, but their injuries appear minor compared to hers."

That much was obvious; Sam's hands were burned, but fortunately they didn't seem worse than second degree. "To the infirmary, all of you," she yelled. Two minutes later she was cutting through the mass of dirty clothing stuck to Sam, while the other medics helped Daniel and Jack with their uniforms. Jack wasn't talking much, and Daniel just looked confused, compounded by the fact that his glasses had gone missing.

When she finally got a look at Sam, Warner hovered next to her and examined her as well. "We need to run ECG's on all three of them; from the burns on her hands, it looks as if whatever weapon did this is similar to an electric shock." Warner nodded and went to work.

Janet swallowed, brushing Sam's filthy hair from her forehead. Don't freak out, she whispered to herself.

Sam's tests came back fine; her heart wasn't damaged. In fact, aside from the burns, she should have been awake, but for some reason, she wasn't. Janet paced.

"Mom!" came a shout from behind her.

She whirled around. "Cass, what--?"

"The General called me," the girl said, and threw herself into Janet's arms. "I drove here. No speeding tickets either."

"Damn," she muttered, alternately irritated at the General for taking matters into his own hands, and gratified to have someone to hold on to. "I hope you wore your seatbelt."

"Are you kidding? I feel naked without it." Cassie clung tightly, her long body shivering in Janet's arms. "Is Sam okay?"

Janet pulled away. "I don't know," she admitted. "She seems fine, but she hasn't woken up."

Cassie stared up at her, eyes wide and terrified. "You're scared, aren't you."

"A little," Janet whispered.

"Don't worry, Mom," Cassie said, hugging her tighter. "She'll be all right. I know it."

Before she could stop herself, Janet buried her head in her daughter's hair, praying for her words to come true.

Sam jerked out of sleep, gasping for air. Her mouth was parched, and for some reason, her hands were bound to her sides. It was dark, and silent. She was being held captive. "Janet!" she shrieked, aloud and inside her mind.

She heard a ruckus, and suddenly a light came on next to her. "Sam!" Janet's brown eyes were enormous, red rimmed. They were like a beacon, calling to her.

"Janet," Sam cried, "what's wrong with my arms? Where am I?"

"Shh, shh," the doctor soothed. "We wanted to keep you immobile; your hands are burned. They'll probably start itching, and I wanted to prevent you from scratching in your sleep." Deftly she unhooked the belts from her wrists.

Sam watched her, and thought, *How long have I been out?*

No response. Janet looked at her strangely.

*I said, how long have I been out?*

A frown creased Janet's brow.

A cold feeling settled in the pit of her stomach. *Can't you hear me, Janet?*

One small hand pressed to her forehead, and Janet croaked, "Can't you hear me, Sam?"

Sam gasped for air again, stunned by the realization that their connection had been severed. She shook her head. Janet's nostrils flared, and she looked like she'd been punched in the gut. Though she hardly moved, she appeared to fold in on herself, and slowly she sank into a chair next to the bed.

Their eyes met, and Sam's gaze swam with unchecked tears. "I can't hear you. I can't feel you either."

Janet's hand rested on her forearm. "You're alive, Sam. That's what matters."

*But now I'm alone again,* she thought, to herself, since no one could hear her anymore.

Sam slept, much to Janet's relief. The devastation in Sam's eyes had actually caused her physical pain, and she needed some time to regroup. They'd sat together, not speaking, until Sam fell back to sleep. The good thing was that Sam had woken up, she told herself; that she appeared, for all intents and purposes, completely normal.

But they were missing something, and Janet mourned the loss of it.

Cassie shifted next to her on the uncomfortable gurney, resting a head on her shoulder. Janet stroked the blonde hair calmingly, steadying her breathing so as not to disturb her daughter. But her eyes never left Sam's bed, and suddenly she knew the woman was awake again. There was a tension present, a strain in her position that meant consciousness, though Sam's eyes remained closed.

Janet called out in her mind, but no there was no response. Slowly she eased out from under Cassie's slim form and crept to the bed. Jack and Daniel were both snoring noisily, so she pulled the curtain shut around them quietly, giving what little privacy was possible. When she turned around, miserable blue eyes were gazing up at her.

"How are you, sweetie?" Janet asked softly.

"My hands hurt." She sounded like a child.

Checking the monitor next to the bed, Janet flipped the pain meds in the IV to run a little more strongly. Morphine never agreed with Sam, so she'd tried to keep the dosage low. "That should help."

"Will Daniel and Jack be all right?" Sam asked blandly.

"I think so. They weren't, uh, as affected by the weapon as you seemed to be. Both of them seemed more disoriented than anything, but a night's rest should help. The Colonel was already back to insulting my 'diminutive stature' by the time he fell asleep, which I took as a good sign," she said with a half-hearted grin.

Seconds ticked by, and Janet waited for the bomb to drop.

"Janet," Sam choked, "what happened? Why can't I hear you anymore?"

Pressing a hand to her lips, Janet swallowed the tears that wanted to rise up at the plaintive tone of Sam's voice. She sat as close as the gurney would allow, resting her chin on her hand just at Sam's shoulder. "I don't know, babe. I wish I did."

"Did you... do something to me when they brought me through the gate?"

"What do you mean?"

"I don't know, something that might have broken it?"

"Sam, all I did was cut your clothes off, run some tests, wrap your hands and park you in this bed. My guess is that whatever weapon you were hit with did something that ended our link." She looked down at the blanket covering Sam's stomach, not wanting to see the pain. "I could hear you up until the moment, well... I knew something happened. You were yelling, and then it just, stopped. And you were gone."

"Did Teal'c carry me back or something?"

"Part of the way. SG-6 met up with you about an hour away from the gate, and they put you in a C-collar and carried you back. Daniel and Jack walked, but it took some assistance from Teal'c. He told me Jack was so disoriented he tried to turn back to the camp. I don't think he realized he'd been shot. Or something."

"What about who fired at us? I didn't catch even a glimpse of anyone."

"According to Teal'c, when he fired his staff into the trees, he thought he hit something. That was it, though; he didn't stop to check it out. His first priority was bringing you and the rest of the team back through the gate, to safety."

Sam frowned. "Wait, why did SG-6 come through to get us?"

Janet looked back up at her. "When I lost contact with you, I went to Hammond."

Her eyebrows lifted incredulously. "He sent a team because you said you couldn't hear me?"

Smiling, Janet answered, "I was very persuasive." She didn't say she'd have gone through the gate herself if he'd denied her request, and it struck her that Sam could no longer hear those stray thoughts. Sighing, her eyes slipped shut.

"Janet," Sam rasped, "I want it back."

Janet crushed her eyelids together, refusing to let the tears fall.

Sam awoke with a start, again disturbed by the sensation of gauze covering her hands. She squinted in the unnaturally bright infirmary light, trying to see what was going on. Across the room, Jack was sitting up, looking like he was about to be released. Jealousy gripped her; she wanted to be gone from this place, asleep in her own bed. Preferably with Janet snuggled up next to her

Then she remembered; the feelings she'd shared with Janet, the openness they'd enjoyed with one another, she could never experience those again. Only one night before, she'd felt Janet so deeply inside she couldn't imagine losing her, but now, she only felt alone. Her brain felt blank, silent. She turned on her side, curling up tightly.

"Carter?" Jack said. Sam ignored him. "Hey, Carter, you awake?" He came right up to the side of the bed, but she didn't move. A few seconds later, he left, and Sam pressed her face to the pillow.

Janet sat at her desk, head in her hands. It didn't bother her so much that she'd lost mental contact with Sam, but she'd gotten used to sensing waves of feelings from her on a frequent basis. She hadn't slept in 36 hours, not since Sam's last night on 757. That night she'd grasped the power of their mutual bond, and felt nothing could tear them apart.

But Sam hadn't spoken to her or anyone else since their short conversation the night before. She'd pulled into herself, and even though Janet had seen it half a dozen times over the many years they'd known one another, that didn't make it any easier. Janet wasn't completely sure of the extent of Sam's pain, and she'd had no success talking through the barriers she'd erected.

"Mom?" Cassie said, yawning in her doorway.

"Hi, sweetie. I hope you slept okay."

"Yeah, it was fine. How's Sam?"

Janet sighed. "I don't know."

Cassie came in and flopped onto the sofa facing the desk. "Don't know about what?"

"Her hands will be all right, and I don't believe she's suffering from any great physical side effects from her injury. But she's pulling away from me, she won't even talk to me." It bothered her more than she wanted to admit that Sam turned from her with such ease.

"Well sure. I'm not surprised."

Nonplussed, Janet said, "Pardon?"

"You two were connected in your minds, right? She always had you with her, even when she was asleep. Every moment, you were there, even when she wasn't paying attention. You felt what she felt, yeah?"

Janet nodded.

"So she's back to how it was before. It's just her own thoughts now, and it's probably pretty lonely. Sam like, isolates herself in work. I mean, she practically lives on the base half the time. Some weekends I won't see her, and I figured out that doesn't mean she's ignoring me. She lives in her head so much she forgets there's a world outside."


"Well this box does its thing, you bust into her brain, and all of a sudden there's more going on than just work. And she's not lonely anymore, because you're there even when you're not. But she gets herself shot and loses all that in like, a second. She did this when Jolinar died, and they were only blended for what, a day?"

Janet deflated. "Not even that long."

"Right. So, she's probably really miserable. And misses you."

"But I'm right here! It's not like I died!" Janet exclaimed.

Cassie stood and moved to sit on the desk. She placed a hand on Janet's shoulder, and Janet was struck by the memory of her own mother talking to her in just the same way when she was confused. "She'll figure that out, Mom, trust me. Just give her some time. I'll talk to her. We just have to be patient."

Janet wanted to trust in her daughter; she knew Sam as well as anyone, and occasionally had insights into her character that astonished Janet in their intricacy. "What do you think we should do in the meantime?" She was glad Hammond wasn't in the room to hear her ask a seventeen year old what to do about the mental health of a Major in the Air Force.

"Take her home and stay with her, so she doesn't feel alone." Cassie tilted her head till an audible pop was heard. "Ahh. Anyway, she's got an abandonment thing. Probably comes from when her mom died."

Janet paused even as the truth of Cassie's words hit home. "An 'abandonment thing?'"

"Yeah. Oprah's always doing shows about abandonment. Sam's a textbook case. I should know."

Standing, Janet embraced Cassie, wondering at the hard earned wisdom of her daughter. "You are something else, kiddo. Don't know what I'd do without you."

Sam didn't want to go home with Janet, but she'd been outvoted five to one. What she really wanted to do was go to her own house and sleep for three days. Somehow, she doubted Janet would go for that. Her hands itched, and she pressed her forehead against the window of the Cherokee. The glass was cool, and she imagined it could soothe the headache that wouldn't go away.

Her eyes were sliding shut just as they pulled up to Janet's house. Cassie hopped from the car and said, "I've got your bag, Sam."

Sam nodded. She followed Cassie in through the garage and slowly ascended the stairs to the guest room. She pulled her shirt over her head and left her loose pants on the floor before crawling into the bed.

"Hey," Janet said from the doorway.

Sam wanted to ignore her, but instead, she turned her head and said, "Hmm?"

"Do you want anything before your nap? Maybe some lunch?"

The soft tone of Janet's doctor voice reminded Sam of what they'd lost, and for a moment, she wondered what Janet was really thinking. "No thanks," Sam croaked, and turned over on her side. She wanted to pull the covers up over her head and disappear.

Her eyes shut tight, she winced when she felt a gentle hand sliding through her hair. "I'll just be downstairs if you need me. I want to change your bandages in a few hours, okay?"

Sam nodded silently, hating herself for not being able to respond to Janet with anything resembling affection. It felt like a great weight had settled on her chest, and nothing could lift it; not even the woman she loved.

"Okay, sweetheart. Sweet dreams."

There wouldn't be any of those, Sam was sure of it.

From her tense and uncomfortable perch on the couch, Janet was not happy to hear the doorbell ring. Slowly she pressed a hand to her mouth and took a deep breath. When she checked the peephole, she wasn't surprised to see Daniel staring back at her, his nose exaggerated by the curvature of the glass. Quietly she swung the door open and smiled at him. "Hey."

His eyebrows lifted. "Wow, you look awful."

Janet found his sincerity as amusing as it was annoying. "Nice to see you too, Daniel. What brings you to this neck of the woods?"

"I was just checking up on you and Sam. I take it things aren't going well."

Janet snorted. "They aren't going anywhere." Stepping back from the door, Janet waved Daniel in and showed him to the couch. "Sam's been sleeping since she walked in the door yesterday. She's not speaking, and I can barely get her to eat. It's going perfectly, thanks for asking." She couldn't keep the aggravation from her voice.

Daniel frowned in that charmingly confused way he'd perfected, and she slumped back in her chair. "Well, um, I guess I-- I don't know what to tell you, Janet. I was hoping she'd come out of it by now." He set a brown bag at his feet.

Rubbing her temple, Janet replied, "I know. I appreciate it. I'm at a loss. Sam's way of dealing with grief isn't like any I've experienced, but to be honest, I don't even know why she's grieving."

"Have you asked her?"

Janet looked at him as if he'd grown another head. "Have I asked her? What the hell do you think I've been doing, standing on my head? Yes, I've asked her. I've rubbed her back, I've fed her, I've pleaded with her to talk to me. And I get nothing--she rolls over and sticks her head under the pillow. What kind of an adult does that? I'm over it!" Janet stood to pace the room, and banged her knee on the coffee table. "Ah, goddamn fucking--"

"Hey, hey, calm down, Janet." Daniel took her arm as she hopped, tears springing forth from the pain combined with her frustration. "Sit. You need ice?"

She probably didn't need it, but she nodded to get him out of the room for a few seconds. He disappeared and was back far too quickly with an ice pack she always kept handy. Cassie had had enough strawberries from soccer practice that Janet learned to have a spare in the freezer at all times. Gently Daniel placed it on her knee, which she'd lifted to the couch. Sitting next to her, he placed a hand on her shoulder and looked into her face with sympathy.

Janet did the unthinkable, and burst into tears.

Daniel simply opened his arms and let her sob into his shoulder until it felt like she was out of tears. Finally, she sighed, so grateful for the comfort and contact it shocked her. She hadn't realized how isolated she'd felt until Daniel's arms had closed around her. Sniffling noisily, she leaned back against the arm of the couch. He handed her a tissue, and she blew her nose with a wry grin. "Thanks."


"I mean it, Daniel. I'm sorry."

He shook his head. "Don't be. I'm not."

"But you came to see Sam, and I ended up falling apart on you."

Daniel squinted. "Who said I came to see Sam?"

Wiping her nose, Janet blinked at him. "But you did, didn't you?"

"Janet, despite what you might think about how close SG-1 is, you're my friend too. I figured if Sam wasn't out of the woods that you'd need someone to talk to. That's why I'm here. I want to see Sam, of course, but she's done this before. You know she has-- you've seen it. But I sensed, I don't know, *something*. A change between you. The connection you shared, it made things different, didn't it?"

Daniel's perceptiveness stunned her briefly. "Yes."

"When things... change between two people, and one of them is in pain, the other suffers just as much."

Janet exhaled. "Yes," she whispered.

"So, I wanted to see how you were holding up. That's all."

She stared at him. "I'm not holding up so well, I think."

Daniel smiled. "You're doing fine, Janet. You'll both come out of this. You just have to have faith."

Janet gripped his hand, wanting to believe him. "I'm trying."

"I know."

Shutting her eyes for a moment, Janet let her head fall back. "God, I needed that."

"Glad I could be of service."

She looked over his shoulder at the clock on the wall. It was just after 2 in the afternoon, and she wanted a drink. It wasn't so bad drinking in the middle of the day if someone was there to share it, right? "I could use a beer."

"Uh, how about something a little frostier?" With a flourish, Daniel produced two bottles from the bag he'd brought with him: tequila and margarita mix.

With a broad smile, Janet shifted the ice on her knee and decided she was very glad, after all, that Daniel had rung the doorbell.

Sam jerked out of sleep when she felt a hand pull her shoulder till she was flat on her back. A figure laid down next to her, and Sam frowned and squinted when the lamp was clicked on. "What?"

"Hey," Cassie said from her supine position.

"God, what is it?" Sam groaned.

"Just thought I'd say hi. You've been here two days and I haven't even seen you."

"Hi." She closed her eyes and flung her arm over them.

"What are you doing?"


"Is it normal for a human to sleep for 48 hours in a row?"

Sam swallowed, surprised it had really been that long. "I've been up for some of them."

"Right. Half an hour a day to eat and pee doesn't count." Cassie turned on her side and chuckled for a moment. "You really missed out. Mom was seriously hungover this morning."

That's got Sam's attention. "What?"

"She and Daniel got wasted at dinner last night, and since you're up here, he had to stay on the couch."

"You're joking."

"I'm not. I've never seen Mom or Daniel so drunk. It was great. They were laughing so hard I'm surprised they didn't wake you."

Sam wondered the same thing. "I was tired, I guess." She felt disappointed that she hadn't witnessed it; Janet drunk was a sight to behold. Not to mention Daniel and his tendency to become an even more verbose philosopher than usual after one too many.

"Mom doesn't usually have more than one or two drinks front of me, you know. She's pretty upset, waiting for you to snap out of this."

Sam ground her teeth together. "There's nothing to snap out of. I'm just tired."

"You're moping around like someone died. I'll remind you-- no one died. Including you." Cass rolled over and kissed Sam on the cheek. "See you later."

After Cassie left, Sam stared at the ceiling some more before closing her eyes.

"I'm fine, Daniel, I swear," Janet said into the phone. "I'm questioning my intelligence about getting toasted in front of my seventeen year old daughter, but we all make mistakes."

"You have to be hungover," Daniel said, his voice a good half octave below normal.

"I am, but it's not too bad. You, on the other hand, looked terrible this morning."

Daniel groaned on the other end of the line. "Thanks for the compliment. I felt terrible. And I blame you."

"Me? I believe you were the one who showed up with booze already in hand."

"Yeah, but your blender makes the best margaritas this side of the Colorado River."

Janet grinned, grateful for Daniel's company, and his friendship. "Not my fault. But I still owe you, pal."

"Just wanted to clear that up. Are you doing okay? Mentally, that is."

Muting the television entirely from her nest on the couch, Janet replied, "Yeah, I think so. I've decided to wait Sam out. I'm hoping it won't be too much longer."

"Good. Just remember, have faith. I bet things work out sooner than you think."

"From your lips," Janet said. "Thanks, Danny. I mean it."

"It was my pleasure. This morning was not my pleasure, but everything else was great."

"Get some sleep."

"I will, Doc. Talk to you soon. Let me know what happens?"

"Sure. See you later."


She pushed the volume on the TV up and went back to watching her movie, relieved it was a school day and Cassie wasn't home to watch her laze around. For a moment, she considered going upstairs and seeing if Sam wanted to join her. Instead, she nestled back down under the blanket and rested her head on the pillow. Maybe later, she'd give it a try.

Opening her eyes, Sam drew herself out of the endless dream she'd been trapped in. Slogging through the mud for two days was difficult enough; she didn't want to have to dream about it after the fact. Wiping at her mouth, she was suddenly horrified at the state of her teeth. She hadn't brushed them for two days, and they felt gritty and disgusting. It was odd that having grimy teeth would be the thing to pull her from the bed, but it did the trick. She lumbered into the bathroom without turning on the light, brushing her teeth blindly and hoping she didn't leave a pile of toothpaste in the sink.

When she straightened up after drinking from the faucet for a full minute, her stomach growled noisily. She had no concept of the time, but realized it had to be night since the sun was down. Without enthusiasm she flipped the light on, and even knowing she'd most likely look terrible didn't prepare her for the face in the mirror. She was pale, her skin nearly grey in pallor. Her eyes were bloodshot, and her lips were as dry and chapped as they'd ever been. She needed a shower, as soon as possible. She started the water running, and while it warmed, pulled a towel from the closet. Quickly she removed her bandages, satisfied with how well her hands were healing. Now they just seemed sunburned; still warm to the touch, but not so painful.

As she stood in the shower, she thought about Janet. Janet cooking dinner for Daniel. Janet drinking too much and laughing too loud. Janet with a hangover, possibly eating greasy food, or drinking gallons of water and downing Advil to make herself feel better.

Life had gone on without her.

Fifteen minutes later, the color had come back into her cheeks, and her blood seemed to be moving better in her body. Rolling her shoulders, Sam told herself it was time to go downstairs and face the world again.

After a quick towel dry of her hair, she dressed in light sweats and a t-shirt. The face in the mirror looked a little healthier, or at least a little more awake. Her skin was pink, and after a healthy dose of lip balm, she headed for the staircase.

As she crept down the steps slowly, she heard soft music playing; one of those old songs Janet seemed to favor was coming through the speakers. It was a new voice this time, one she hadn't heard before. The family room was empty, and Sam thought she could hear sounds of movement coming from the kitchen. Through the doorway, she saw Janet standing at the sink, washing dishes. She was humming along to the song playing, swaying back and forth to the lazy tempo.

Suddenly, Sam couldn't remember why she'd been so miserable. Cassie's words echoed in her brain: "No one died, Sam. Including you." The powerful sensation of affection Sam had yearned for filled her belly and traveled up into her chest, but it wasn't coming from Janet as it had that last night they'd been connected. This was meant *for* Janet, and Sam wanted to give it all to her, right at that moment.

Sam strode forward and embraced Janet from behind, wrapping an arm around her belly and another across her chest. Janet grunted in surprise, dropping a dish into the sink with a splash. Burying her face in Janet's sweet smelling hair, Sam held on tightly and whispered, "I'm sorry." Soapy hands came up to grip her forearms, and Sam moved her lips to Janet's ear. "Please forgive me."

Janet turned her head to catch Sam's eye. "For what?"

"For being so foolish, and self-centered. I don't know what's wrong with me," Sam said, tears finally coming.

Turning in her arms, Janet looked up at her. "Sam, you suffered a trauma, and we lost... something that was becoming important to both of us. It's only natural for you to feel depressed."

Shaking her head, Sam disagreed. "That's it exactly, Janet. You lost it too, and I wasn't paying attention. I couldn't get past it, I got so twisted up I didn't see you anymore, even though you never left my side. We were so close, and then you were gone. It hurt so much to lose that."

Janet stroked Sam's cheek with a wet hand. "I'm right here, sweetheart. I still love you even if you don't feel it like before."

Sam blinked. "But I do feel it." Slowly, she leaned down to press her lips to Janet's for the first time.

Janet's eyelids slipped shut as Sam's face descended closer. Softly, Sam's mouth brushed hers, then again, barely touching with a gossamer kiss. Opening her eyes, she found Sam staring at her, seemingly gauging her response. Smiling, Janet lifted her face a little higher, offering her lips for the taking. Sam got the message, and they kissed fully this time, mouths coming together so sweetly Janet couldn't stop the moan that came from her throat. At the touch of a tentative tongue to her own, a jolt passed through Janet, and she slid both arms around Sam's neck to pull her closer. She couldn't get enough of the lips clinging to hers, the legs rubbing against her thighs, the hips pressing to her belly.

Janet had no idea how long they stood there, but it was long enough for her to feel dampness between her legs when Sam moved a slim thigh there. With a groan she pulled away, licking her lips. Sam's eyes were dark with arousal, nostrils flaring as she panted slightly.

"Maybe the kitchen isn't the best place for this," she whispered.

"Probably not," Sam whispered back. "Where's Cassie?"

"Upstairs, supposedly doing homework, but more likely on the phone." She glanced at the kitchen telephone, seeing the red light signaling that the line was engaged. "Yep."

"Um," Sam started, until she was interrupted by the rather noisy growl coming from her stomach. Looking down in surprise, she said, "Oh."

"Well at least your appetite's back," Janet said with a smirk.

Quirking her lips in a charming half grin, Sam retorted, "My appetite is very healthy right now, I can assure you." She kissed Janet again, until another growl distracted Janet from her task.

"I can't concentrate with all that racket. I left some chicken in the fridge for you in case you got hungry, would you like that? Or I have lasagna from last night. Which one?"

"Chicken." Leaning back against the counter, Sam said, "You made lasagna for Daniel?"

Janet stared at her in surprise. "How did you know?"

"A little bird gave me a talking to this afternoon. I think it was afternoon, anyway. She said you were feeling a little under the weather today."

Covering her eyes with her hand, Janet rested her back against the refrigerator. "That little bird has a big mouth." She was embarrassed for drinking too much, but she didn't regret letting herself relax for a change. Daniel was an excellent drinking buddy, his natural garrulousness providing more than one bout of hysteria.

"I'm sorry I missed it."

Sam's voice was tinged with regret, and somehow that gave Janet hope.

Janet warmed up the dinner she'd made earlier that evening, but it was difficult not to squirm under the intense gaze of the blonde at the kitchen table. Blue eyes seemed to follow her every movement, traversing her body and stopping at interesting locales along the way. The memory of a conversation came back to her, one that revealed Sam's distinct affection for a portion of her anatomy she'd felt self-conscious about. As she stood in front of the microwave, she surreptitiously undid a third button on her sleeveless top, wondering if Sam would notice. Seconds later, she took the plate and set it front of Sam, leaning over deliberately.

"I like your shirt," Sam said, her expression holding a glint of humor. Janet flushed, knowing she'd been caught. She shrugged her shoulders, feeling silly she'd done it. Reaching to button it again, Sam yelped, "Hey!"


"Leave it. Please."

"Okay." Grinning, Janet sat across from Sam. "Eat up."

Sam dove in voraciously, hardly taking her eyes from Janet's. The electricity between them was high, broken only when Cassie sauntered into the kitchen. Instinctively Janet leaned back from the table, running a hand through her hair and wondering if her face was as red as it felt.

"Hey, Sam," Cassie said, leaning into the fridge to get the orange juice. Janet narrowed her eyes when her daughter actually started to lift the carton to her mouth. "Oh, sorry," she said, and got a glass from the cupboard. "Did you two straighten everything out?"

Janet lifted an eyebrow. "What do you mean?"

Cassie gulped the full tumbler of juice continuously until it was gone. "You know, stuff."

Sam caught Janet's eye. "You could say that."

"Cool." She leaned down to kiss Janet, then Sam. "Remember, communication is the cornerstone to every solid relationship. G'night." In a moment, she was gone.

Janet was sure her flummoxed expression was mirrored on Sam's face. "Uh, what was that?"

Sam replied, "Either she knows about us, or she's been watching Oprah again."

Janet cracked up, but it suddenly struck Janet that they'd reconnected through a kiss, but they hadn't said much of anything. That could lead into dangerous waters. "Maybe she's right."

Stopping the fork as it headed for her mouth, Sam said, "About what?"

"We should talk." Sam nodded, but the light seemed to fade from her eyes. "Well, I'll talk, and if you decide you want to talk too, you can. How's that?"

"'Kay." Sam kept eating, but her attention was closely focused on Janet.

"Well, I... " Janet sighed. "This is a lot harder than I thought it was going to be."

Sam's eyes popped. "What? Do you not want to, um, be with me?"

Chuckling, Janet replied, "No, no, it was just a lot easier when you were just... there. In my head, I mean. I think I got lazy-- I didn't even have to try to talk."

"That's how I feel too!" Sam said excitedly. "It was so easy, hearing you, telling you things, because I didn't make an effort. You just... knew."

"Yes," Janet exhaled. "But now--"

"--It's hard. To talk, I mean," Sam finished for her.

"Yes. Exactly." They stared at each other. Janet bit the bullet. "I'm afraid you'll pull away again."

Sam sat back in her chair, pursing her lips. "Okay."

"I-- I guess I'm looking for a little reassurance that you won't bolt when things get difficult. I want to know why you wouldn't talk to me. You came back from 757 and shut down entirely, but I don't understand why. Was it...something I did?"

Wiping her mouth with a napkin, Sam pushed the plate away. "No, absolutely not. I don't know if I'll be able to explain it very well. All I know is that when I couldn't hear you anymore... it was like you'd disappeared. What we shared was so strong, and losing that, I suppose I didn't know how to cope. I felt like we were just beginning to grasp the power of what we could do together, and then it was over." Sam looked at the table. "I think it might have brought up a lot of stuff that happened when Jolinar died, too."

For some reason, that seemed to lift a weight from Janet's shoulders. "Cass and I talked about that. She mentioned your discussion."

Grinning, Sam replied, "Yeah."

"I didn't die, Sam. What happened with Jolinar didn't happen this time. I promise, I'm not going anywhere."

"I know. But I keep wondering, if I hadn't gotten shot, maybe if I'd been more aware of what was going on and less concerned about getting home so quickly I'd--"

"Sam, there's nothing you could have done. O'Neill said you were the one who warned him about the first shots."

"But if I'd fired back faster, or--"

"Or what? You couldn't predict what happened, or the effect it would have on you. Besides, you're in one piece. Your hands are burned, but your heart is still beating, your mind is working properly, you've got all your limbs. Believe me, sweetheart," Janet said, her voice cracking, "that is all I care about."

Sam gaped at her. "My God, when you lost contact with me..."

Nodding slowly, Janet swallowed back tears. "I did worry." About Sam, dying alone in the pouring rain on some faraway planet.

"I didn't think-- Oh God, Janet, I'm so sorry," Sam cried, sliding from her chair to kneel and embrace her. Janet drew the precious head close, trying to steady her breathing, trying not to fall apart. The feeling of utter terror came back to her, and she pushed it down. Sam's here, she thought; she's fine. Janet buried her head in blonde hair, lifting the strands to caress her face with the softness.

When the fog cleared, all that was left was Sam, gazing up at her with watery eyes. She was grateful. She sniffled a bit, running her fingers down the side of Sam's cheek. "Know what else Cassie told me?"

Sam shook her head.

"That if I was patient, you'd come around. And what do you know, here you are."

Sam took a huge breath. "I won't run from you, Janet. I love you."

Janet beamed, knowing it was the first time Sam had ever said the words to her face. "Love you, too.

Sam dried the last dish and set it in its proper place in the cupboard. Janet wanted to finish what she'd been doing before being interrupted earlier, so Sam offered to help out. They'd grinned at each other back and forth, until the music ended, and Janet left to put on a new disc.

When Sam joined her in the living room, she flopped on the couch and rested her head in Janet's lap. "I never knew you had such eclectic taste in music," she said, listening to the gentle trumpet filling the air.

Janet stroked her hair. "It's not eclectic."

"I haven't recognized one song or singer you've put on since I started listening with you. That means eclectic to me."

Grinning, Janet replied, "I like it because it's romantic."

Staring dreamily up at Janet's soft, smiling features, Sam said, "Then I like it too."

With the music filling the silence between them, Janet shifted and snuggled down with Sam, whose eyes drooped in anticipation. Soft breath caressed her ear as fingers tickled the other side of her neck. Desire filled Sam, but she didn't act on it immediately, preferring to let the tension build between them. She and Janet hadn't talked of the pace they wanted to take a physical relationship, but remembering Janet's reaction at Sam's pushing the week prior taught her a lesson. Letting Janet lead seemed like a good idea, and at the moment, Janet was leading quite nicely. A tongue traveled down the line of her neck to nibble on her collarbone, and Sam dusted the tips of her fingers along Janet's temples.

Time seemed to move in a haze of warmth as they explored one another, and it wasn't until the music stopped that Sam realized how long they'd spent on the couch. Janet lifted her head, and Sam's heart thumped heavily when she noticed the size of her pupils.

"Should we go upstairs?" Sam said, wondering at the throaty quality of her voice.

Janet's tongue sneaked out to lick the corner of her mouth. "Okay," she murmured.

They untangled themselves and quietly Sam followed Janet up the steps and into her room. She recalled the first time she'd slept in this bed with Janet only a scant few days before, and the memory of Janet baring her breasts in the moonlight rushed over her. If nothing else happened that night, it was going to take Sam a long time to fall asleep.

When Janet disappeared into the bathroom, Sam simply dropped her sweatpants to the floor and kicked them onto a chair. She made a mad dash to the other bathroom for a lightning fast brush of her teeth, and when she glanced up in the mirror she hardly recognized herself. Was it only a few hours before that she'd been grey and drained of energy? Now her cheeks were bright with color, her lips full and tender from kissing. She smiled and touched her face.

Quickly she finished her routine and shot back into the room as Janet was crossing to the bed. She closed the door and quietly clicked the lock into place. Momentarily she was gripped by a sensation of complete terror, but somehow, the simple vision of Janet pulling back the covers of the bed grounded her. It was, after all, just Janet, and there was nothing to prove or to be afraid of when it came right down to it. Though she and Janet were both flying blind when it came to sex with a woman, they'd done okay so far, and Sam knew exactly what she wanted to do to Janet when they made love. Everything.

She slid into the bed, and Janet met her in the middle. Their legs bumped, and Sam lifted a knee to wrap around a shapely thigh. Nudging closer, she rubbed her nose against Janet's.

"Maybe we should wait," Janet mumbled.

"Wait for what?"

"I don't know, just... something."

Sam paused for a moment. "We could kiss a little more." Right, Sam thought. That was like saying she'd eat just a little bit of ice cream when she had a whole hot fudge sundae in front of her.

Janet looked skeptical, even in the diffuse light coming from between the slats of the blinds. "Just a little?" she said.

"Sure," Sam replied, her voice low.

"Okay," Janet said, and rolled over to kneel above Sam in one effortless move. "A little," she whispered, leaning down for a kiss. "Did you lock the door?"

Sam managed a quick "Yes," before Janet latched onto her mouth with intent.

Supremely disappointed not to be able to use her hands very much, Sam made do with the rest of her body, paying close attention to how her wrists skimmed Janet's sides, the way the sensitive skin of her thighs rubbed against corded muscle. And her mouth, that was conveying all sorts of things, and suddenly she had a burning desire to know if Janet was this smooth and silky everywhere.

Janet seemed intent on kissing her senseless, but Sam wanted more, and realized she'd have to be the one to lift things beyond their current status. Careful with her too warm hands, she took the hem of Janet's shirt and started to lift it, so slowly the woman hardly noticed as it inched higher. But that didn't last long-- soon, Janet jerked up, unsure how to respond. Sam simply continued to raise it, until Janet lifted her arms as if in a trance, and the shirt was tossed to the floor. That wasn't too hard, thought Sam. She coaxed Janet forward gently, transfixed by the sway of her breasts in the shadows. She skimmed the outsides with her mouth, moving gradually, until Janet directed her mouth more centrally, and then she was pulling, teasing, sucking while Janet writhed above her. She used her teeth, and felt the jolt of sensation shoot through her lover, only to do it again with the same reaction.

Janet's breath was hot near her ear as her head dropped forward, and deliberately Sam turned them both over. Leisurely she trailed her mouth down the soft torso, the skin so smooth it astonished her. It was unusual to not use her hands, but intriguing, especially since Janet seemed absolutely attuned to every movement her mouth made. She dipped a questing tongue beneath the elastic of her underwear, and saw Janet's head come up.

"Ah," she breathed, a note of protest in the sound.

Sam rested her chin on the shifting muscles of Janet's belly and said, "I want this. You. Tell me to stop and I will."

"Are-- are you sure?"

Sure, Sam thought, that I want this, or that I'll stop? "Yes," Sam replied, hoping that would be enough.

Janet licked her lips and nodded frantically. "Yes," she gasped.

Exhaling in relief, Sam used her teeth to pull Janet's underwear down, even though it would have been easier to help out with her hands. Better to draw it out, make it last.

Janet was moving continuously, small motions that revealed her excitement despite her silence. Sam found herself nosing up firm calf muscles, nipping softly behind a damp knee, licking at the sheen of sweat forming as the minutes passed. By the time she reached the juncture of spread thighs, Janet's hips were lifting, asking for her touch. Sam smiled, and leaned down.

At her first taste, Janet jerked so hard it surprised the hell out of Sam. Janet panted heavily, her face twisted in what appeared to be agony at the head of the bed, so Sam used her arms to get a better grip. She tried again, and hearing the sharp intake of breath, moved closer, licking, inhaling the musk at the center of this woman she adored, the person in the world she'd do anything for. They found an irregular rhythm, and Sam moved with it as she heard Janet's uneven breathing above her. She kept on, licking a bit higher every few moments, till she focused all her attentions on one spot.

Janet went rigid, but it felt wrong.

"Ugh, ow!" came a grunt, and Sam pulled back, confused.

Janet sat up, reaching for her calf. "My leg, ow. I have a cramp," she choked, her breath so ragged Sam was actually worried. "I can't Sam-- it's, it's too much," she sobbed.

Immediately Sam curled her hands and rubbed the knuckles into the knotted muscle. She'd pushed too hard, moved too fast, and Janet was suffering for it. Fool, she thought. *Slow this down, or you won't get anywhere.* She kept the pressure firm, and was relieved when she felt the tense calf muscle begin to release. Janet flopped back to the bed and flung an arm over her face. "I'm sorry," she said, though the words were muffled.

"Shh," Sam soothed, slowly moving back up to nuzzle at Janet's throat. "We just have to calm you down a little. We're not finished yet. Relax, sweetheart." She kissed Janet's cheek, her temple, and nudged her arm back far enough to reach her mouth. This kiss was long and liquid; erotic as anything she'd already done to Janet that night. Eventually she moved lower, taking her time to explore every part she'd missed earlier. When she finally fastened on a nipple again, Janet's arms came up around her head, accompanied by an audible sigh of elation. That's more like it, thought Sam.

Eventually she found herself again nuzzling between Janet's legs, astonished at the wetness gathered there. She tasted her, more slowly this time, until they found another rhythm, this one more constant and smooth. She kissed and delved deep inside, until she found herself drawn again to that one spot that had caused the trouble before. Fortunately, the gasp that followed was clearly one of pleasure, and Sam drew out her strokes, longer and longer, until finally she felt Janet pause, her hips lifted, shuddering out her pleasure beneath Sam's lips. It was a perfect moment, and Sam continued to lap gently as Janet relaxed. Her own arousal simmered steadily, but for the moment, she was content to remain exactly where she was until Janet was calm.

Minutes later, Sam found herself pulled up, and she wiped at her chin with the back of her hand, grinning widely. But Janet looked tentative, worried, almost. Did that mean it was bad? The word "communication" flashed in her mind, and she gathered her courage. "Was it not, um, good?"

Janet's eyes widened. "Not good? Sam, it was... amazing, but I-- I didn't exactly make it easy for you," she said quietly.

Sam cocked her head. "Pardon?"

"Uh, tensing up like that. I don't know what happened. It was like it was too good-- I couldn't take anymore."

Sam felt the smirk form, unable stop it. Too good was something she could live with. "Janet, loving you, no matter what happens, is all I want. Loving you," she whispered, "was incredible." She leaned down and kissed Janet, who responded hesitantly at first, but soon let go of her reticence and returned the kiss with abandon. "You were like salt, and honey, like the ocean. My ocean."

Janet's eyes slipped shut. "I love you," she said.

"Love you too, gorgeous." This being open about her feelings thing was starting to have a positive impact on Janet-- the glint of her teeth showed as she grinned shyly in the darkness. Sam quickly shed her t-shirt and tossed it across the room, following it shortly with her panties. "You are, you know. Gorgeous."

"You are," she replied.

"No, you," Sam teased, nipping playfully at Janet's collarbone. Every inch of Janet appealed to her, and she was determined to make her believe that. Her own desire swelled, but she wanted to touch Janet again. She cursed her hands for their burns, but slid the backs of them down Janet's body to the pool of wetness between her legs. Groaning, Janet arched against her. She would make this happen, and it was going to be good, even better than the first. Straddling a thigh, she lurched down to capture an already kiss-swollen mouth, and rubbed her hand purposefully while Janet's leg shifted against her. "Oh, yes," Sam breathed, gratified by the direct contact.

When she rocked, Janet went with her, and soon they were moving in a slow, wet grind. Sam couldn't remember ever being so hot, literally and figuratively; she felt as though she were melting from the inside out. Janet was fire against her at every point they connected, and when she watched those brown eyes snap shut as her head fell back, Sam was ready to combust. Janet came again, pulsing against her knuckles, and Sam wanted to cry from the overwhelming joy of it all. She continued to move, unable to stop herself, till Janet pressed a nimble hand down and took charge. When fingers slid inside her, Sam bit back a yelp and tried to hold herself up.

"God, harder," she gasped; she was so wet there was hardly any friction. "More." She didn't know exactly what she meant by more, but she wanted more of everything, and soon. Janet took her literally, and four fingers found their place within her. Sam arched her back, feeling as though she was coming to a boiling point. Then somehow Janet's thumb curled in, and a whole hand pushed inside. She glanced down, and Janet seemed surprised to have gone so far, but Sam was beyond caring. She felt full, walking the edge of pleasure and pain--it was sharp, white hot. Words were gone, and when Janet pressed another set of fingers to Sam's clit, everything stopped. The heat inside her coalesced and she came with a burst of fire; like a weapon discharging, obliterating everything in its path.

When she opened her eyes, she was on her side. She'd lost seconds, if not minutes, and Janet looked about as shell-shocked as Sam felt. She lay facing Sam, knees touching hers, face damp with sweat. "Are you... okay?"

Sam heard the words, and felt the concern behind them, but couldn't quite get her tongue to work. "Uh huh," she managed. Her throat was dry, scratchy, and suddenly she was gripped by a terrible fear. "I didn't scream, did I?"

Janet was taken aback, but she chuckled softly. "No, no, nothing like that. But you sort of flopped over, and were so out of it that I was worried. Did I... hurt you?"

"No," Sam said with conviction. "I hope I didn't crush your hand, though."

Lips tipping in a half smile, Janet replied, "Those muscles are remarkably, ah, powerful. You'd think a doctor would know what to expect, but theory is slightly different from practice."

"As long as your hands are okay. I'd hate it if both of us were out of commission."

"Sweetheart, your hands might not be completely healed, but you are *anything* but out of commission."

With a great sigh, Sam leaned over for a kiss. "You should be proud, Janet. First time out of the gate, and you've already ruined me for anyone else." Sam meant it. She didn't want anyone else in her bed. Ever.

"That's a damned good thing, Carter. Because you're mine, from now on."

Janet turned over onto her back and opened her eyes. Her body felt warm, pleasantly sore in places that hadn't seen much excitement for quite some time. There was a twinge in her calf muscle as she stretched, and she smiled remembering how Sam loosened it, and what she did after. Glancing over to the other side of the bed, she saw Sam's long body curled slightly, face pressed into the pillow as she rested on her side. The sheet only covered up to her hips, but crossed arms hid her breasts. Janet inspected an open palm that rested next to her and nodded, satisfied with its healing process. A few more days and she'd be as good as new.

The rest of Sam, however, was in excellent shape. This was the first time Janet was able to cast a lover's eye on Sam, and she planned on taking advantage of it. Lightly, she tugged the sheet down over the sloping curve of a hip to reveal enough skin to make Janet's breasts tingle. It was remarkable, thought Janet, how genetics could bless someone so generously. Janet spent minutes admiring the way muscles and ligaments dovetailed together to form a spectacular specimen. Hours on the treadmill and in the field gave Sam the slimness of a runner, while light weights provided definition everywhere else. Her belly was firm but not overly cut, and Janet licked her lips as she eyed the light blond dusting of hair between her legs. Even the white blond hair of Sam's thighs drew her in, and Janet leaned over to investigate.

Apparently, the time they'd spent making love the night before had only whetted Janet's carnal appetites, because just thinking about having her hand inside Sam shortened her breath. She still couldn't believe she'd done it, almost without thinking. Sam had asked for more, and Janet obliged willingly, despite her lack of experience. Eyes drooping, she flexed her fingers and recalled the sensation of muscle enclosing her hand. Now Janet wanted more, whether Sam was awake or not. She pushed Sam on her back, pressing her legs open and settling between them. She heard Sam complaining about wanting more sleep, until Janet took a swipe with her tongue. Immediately Sam's body arched, and Janet used the motion to pull a thigh over her shoulder. Imagining what she would enjoy herself, Janet opened her mouth and gave everything over, learning tastes and sweet spots as Sam undulated above her. She didn't use her hands, worrying Sam was still sensitive inside from the night before, but it only took her minutes to bring Sam to what seemed like a powerful climax. When it was over, she found herself biting at the smooth thigh near her mouth, wanting to mark it as her own. Seconds later, Sam tugged at her hair to pull her up, and their lips met in a scorching kiss. Janet was already close, and straddling Sam, she ground into her belly and came after only a few mindless thrusts. Eyes closed, she fell on Sam and melted, feeling as though if she lay there long enough, she could slip inside her skin.

When she came to her senses, she was greeted by smiling blue eyes. "Morning," Sam said.

"Hi," Janet replied.

Seconds passed as they stared at each other. Sam murmured, "I didn't think I could love you more than that night... that last night I could hear you in my head."

Janet blinked. "Uh-huh."

"I was wrong."

Janet felt the same. The bond they shared had faltered when the connection had broken, but it seemed to have come roaring back. "I knew I'd love you more. Every day."

Sam tucked an errant lock of hair behind Janet's ear. "Seven years we've been friends, and I never really believed this would happen. I- I think I've wanted it for a long time, but I wouldn't let myself consider it." Sam grinned. "I was convinced you were straight."

Janet laughed. "Well, I would have to summarily state for the record that that is not the case." She rested her head on Sam's breastbone and traced a finger along her neck. "I always liked you a lot. More than a lot. But you were my best friend, and I wondered about you and the Colonel." She looked up at Sam. "He's hung up on you. I don't think that's going away."

Sam shrugged as well as she could with Janet's weight spread across her. "I've known that for a long time, but I assumed he'd let it go when nothing happened. Guys usually give up after a while, but Jack's too loyal for his own good. It makes him a great leader, but it's not helping out in his personal life." Leaning forward to kiss Janet's temple, Sam whispered, "I thought about it, a little. It wouldn't have worked though."

"Why not?" Janet asked, honestly curious.

"I couldn't love him enough. Not the way I love you."

Furrowing her brow, Janet let her insecurity surface enough to say, "Do you think that, maybe, the connection magnified your feelings for me?"

Sam wrinkled her nose. "You mean did the link make me fall in love with you?"

Janet nodded.

"You don't really believe that, do you? Is that why you're in love with me, because of that stupid box?"

Janet heard the irritation in Sam's voice, but she had to ask. The question had been bothering her for days, especially when Sam had withdrawn so much once their bond had ended. "No. No. But, when you came home from 757, you seemed... different. Like you were angry with me. That everything we'd become to one another had disappeared in an instant. I just," she faltered, "I wanted to be sure."

Understanding dawned on Sam's face. She took Janet's head between her hands gently. "The link helped me know you, Janet. I felt you, inside me, here." She gestured towards her chest. "When we lost that, I felt alone again. Old habits die hard, I guess."

Janet caressed her cheek. "You're not alone."

"I know."

Sam sat on the couch feeling like a new woman. She'd had sex. A lot of sex. Great sex. It was such a foreign concept she was convinced if she were in public everyone who looked at her would be able to tell she'd gotten seriously laid.

Fortunately she wasn't in public, since Janet had gone to the store alone and assigned her to sit and rest her hands (she'd need them later, Janet had said with a wink.) Sam flipped through the channels again, realizing she'd missed what half the shows were by daydreaming about the great sex she'd had the night before. And that morning.

She was drifting off into a daydream when Cassie flopped down beside her with a flourish. "Hey."

Sam smiled. "Hey."

"So, you and Mom?"

Sam's mouth twitched. "Me and your mom what?"

"Come on, Sam. I'm not eleven years old anymore."

Oh God, Sam thought.

"Believe me, I don't want details, but I wanted you to know I know."

Face crinkling in confusion about exactly what to say, Sam simply said, "Okay?"

Cassie nodded. "Yeah, it's okay. Me having two mommies isn't any weirder than me being from another planet, after all."

Sam broke up. "You brat!" she cried while smacking Cassie with a cushion.

Cassie giggled back and grabbed the pillow. "I've been waiting to use that line on you for a while. It took you two long enough to get it together."

Sam looked at her. "So this isn't a surprise? And how did you know anyway?" As soon as the words were out of her mouth, Sam wanted to take them back. Cassie was seventeen, but this had the possibility of being a bad conversation to have with a teenage girl that was as close to a daughter as she could get.

"No it's not a surprise, because you and Mom just seem to... fit, I guess. Like you're right when you're together. As for how I know, I'll never tell."

"Cassandra." Sam used the sternest voice she could.

"Hey, a girl's got to have some secrets, doesn't she?"


"Okay, it was a guess! You looked so blissed out just sitting there, so I guessed. I swear." Cassie looked at the TV. "And I saw you making out in the kitchen this morning."

Sam smacked her forehead and winced at the dart of pain from one of her burns. "Damn. Sorry."

"Hey, don't apologize. It should happen to every kid, you know. Catching their parents making out, I mean. It's never happened to me before."

Softness had come into Cassie's voice, and suddenly Sam was glad she'd seen them together. She wrapped an arm around the girl, who was staring at the screen with wide, suspiciously damp eyes. "I'll try not to let it happen too often, okay?"

Cass let her head fall on Sam's shoulder. "Okay."

Janet's cell rang as she was driving around the corner near the house, and she slid her earpiece on to answer it. "Fraiser."

"Hi, it's Daniel."

"Hey, you old soak, what's going on?"

"Very funny," Daniel drawled. "Wait a second... That *was* funny. You sound perkier than you did last time we spoke."

Janet tried not to grin. "I would have to say that I am in better spirits today than I was yesterday." She had to hold the handset away from her ear as Daniel whooped into the phone.

"I knew it! She came around, didn't she."

Janet ignored the evil voice in her head cajoling her into making a dirty joke. "Yep. Everything is going pretty well."

"And you?"

"I am... I'm great. Better than I have been in a long time." She pulled into the driveway and clicked the opener for the garage door. "I trust your hangover has worn off?"

Chuckling, Daniel replied, "Yeah, but it lasted way too long. Remind me not to let you talk me into drinking in the middle of the day, will you?"

Janet cleared her throat. "I'm going to pretend you didn't just say that." As she pulled a couple of the grocery bags from the backseat, the door to the inside of the house swung open, revealing Sam. Janet tipped her head and got lost in thought, imagining this scenario happening on another day, far in the future. Any day, really; as long as Sam was there, it was good.

"You on the phone?" Sam said.

"Yeah, it's Daniel, want to say hi?"


Janet unplugged the ear piece and held the phone out to Sam, who immediately got a cheeky smirk on her face.

"Hey Daniel. I heard you got my doctor drunk the other day. What was that about?" Sam waggled her eyebrows as she took a few of the bags in her free hand.

Together they hauled everything inside the house while Sam chatted on the phone. Janet exhaled a great sigh of pleasure as she leaned against the door. A refrigerator full of food, a clean house and good company went a long way. Top it off with two more free days and it was heavenly.

"Mom," Cassie shouted from upstairs, "Did you get Scooter Crunches?"

Janet smiled. "Yes, sweetheart. Don't forget to thank me."

"Thank you," came the disembodied voice.

"You're welcome," Janet said quietly to herself. Yep, heavenly.

Sam added a green apple to her tray and allowed her eye to follow Janet to the commissary table. She joined Daniel and Jack, so Sam assumed they'd be talking shop during this lunch break. Quickly she grabbed a bag of chips and headed to take a seat. She was starved; a morning bout of lovemaking had robbed her of the time she usually used to have breakfast, and the energy bar she'd eaten on the way to work hadn't lasted long. Not that she was complaining; it was an easy trade. She landed in her chair with an audible, "oof," and immediately dived into her sandwich.

"Geez Carter, hasn't Fraiser been feeding you?"

Sam stared at O'Neill with wide eyes and a full mouth. She was lucky she didn't choke. After she swallowed, she managed, "I've eaten plenty, Jack, don't worry about it." She glanced at Janet, who was deliberately avoiding her eyes and chewing on the inside of her cheek to keep from laughing. "I just missed breakfast, that's all."

"Ah," Jack said. "So, Doc, was it pure torture dealing with Patient X over the weekend?"

Janet allowed a small smile to tip her lips. "It wasn't so bad, sir."

"Right. I bet she complained constantly about being away from her lab, not being able to monkey with all those doodads she's constantly fiddling with, huh?"

Sam knew he was needling her out of affection, so she let it slide. She wouldn't mention the doodads she and Janet had been fiddling with the day before. "No comment," Janet replied diplomatically.

Their eyes met, and she knew Janet was thinking the exact same thing. Sam's eyebrow lifted, and Janet looked across the room, pursing her lips. Janet had the most expressive bedroom eyes, and considering this was their first day on the job after the First Time, they'd have to cool off. Later, Sam amended. Right now, she was feeling pretty frisky. When Janet looked back at her, Sam slowly, sensually bit into her apple, and grinned as she chewed. Janet chuckled, and Sam wondered what she'd have to endure when Janet decided to get back at her.

"Hey, I thought that psychic thing broke when you were shot on 757, Carter," Jack interrupted.

"Huh?" Sam said. "Oh, it was."

"Doesn't seem to have killed your ability to have silent conversations with each other."

Sam was surprised by the comment, but wanted to put an end to any speculation quickly. "I was just enjoying my apple, sir. I'm not sure I know what you mean."

O'Neill looked at Janet, who'd plastered on an innocent expression tinged with confusion. Sam was impressed. "I have enough trouble with the stuff you say out loud. Don't expect me to figure out... " O'Neill waved his hand vaguely between the two women, "This." 

"It's gone, sir. We can get back to normal now," Janet said.

Normal, Sam thought, recalling waking up pressed tightly against her lover that morning. I could get used to that kind of normal. She looked up at Janet again, and her eyes said the same thing.

Janet hovered behind Sam's shoulder, watching. The black box that had started everything was to be loaded and sent on its way to Area 51, and both of them had wanted to see it one last time. Knowing everyone's attention was on the object, Janet leaned her cheek against Sam's bicep for a moment, and felt a sigh answer the touch.

The box was forklifted into a wooden crate, and Janet was oddly reminded of the ending of "Raiders of the Lost Ark"-- would the box disappear anonymously among a thousand others, with no one knowing its true nature? She hoped not. It had given her a great gift, and she felt that even as an inanimate object (she assumed), it deserved more.

As two soldiers wrestled with the top of the crate to seal it, Janet had the insane urge to grab Sam and race to press their joined hands to the box's surface one last time, to regain the connection that had brought them together.

"We don't need it, Janet," Sam said softly. Janet's eyelids fluttered in shock at the words. Sam turned to meet her eyes and said, "I thought about trying to get it to work again, with us, you know? But I think it served its purpose. We don't need it anymore."

Janet blinked once, slowly. "You're right."

Finally, the soldiers hoisted the lid and dropped it on top of the crate, quickly nailing it shut as if worried that whatever was inside would try to escape. Janet stood with Sam till the last nail was hammered into place, and the crate was unceremoniously rolled off to its final destination.

"Okay, then," Sam said.

"Ready to head out?"

Janet saw the smile in Sam's profile. "Yeah. What should we do for dinner?"

Allowing a sensual note to creep into her voice, she replied, "I can think of a few things..."

Sam nudged her with a hip. "Stop. Save that for dessert. I'll need protein beforehand."

"Well, I can pick up a steak on the way home, and we can fire up the grill."

"Sounds good."

Janet slid her hand under Sam's elbow in the dark hall, and together, they went home.

The End

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