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Time Waits for No One
It had been a routine mission for SG1, so ordinary that Carter chose to ignore that nagging feeling that someone left the stove on as soon as she exited the event horizon. She took her glasses off and rubbed her eyes to refocus on a slightly off-kilter landscape. PSX34 was an uninhabited planet the last time they came to map the abundant naquadah deposits along what Jack christened Missionary Ridge. Sam Carter took in the double hill in the distance. The man's mind was a cesspool but she could see his point. Only last month, the aforementioned couple seemed more prominent and the colors less intense. Today, the range appeared to be collapsed in post-coital bliss. The scientist absentmindedly licked her lips, kissed by the dust-laden air kicked up by the heavy equipment parading through the gate. It even tastes different from last month, she thought as she squinted through the fine red mist. The terrain reminded Sam of Sedona, albeit with lush plant life. It was like taking a photo from a different angle through a filtered lens but the barrage of tests and geological mapping confirmed that they had arrived at the right address despite the significant erosion. There must have been a hell of a storm here in the interim, the scientist thought as she reached far into the logic portion of her brain. Radio contact back to the base was filled with interference, which was surprising given the clear skies, lack of electromagnetic fields, and fully functioning gate readings. Yet, enough information returned from base to decipher that soil samples sent back had failed to arrive. Unusual. Probably a glitch in a program caused the anomaly. A tiny little voice joined her thoughts to whisper, science isn't everything. As usual, she dismissed it with a series of equations pushing the blaspheming doubt right out of her train of thought. That made things less unnerving. Everything computed. It was the right planet.
She wasn't the only one that felt on edge. Teal'c set up extra sentries at the perimeter of the camp after sweeping the entire valley. He settled in for the night in full combat gear, staff at his side. Even O'Neill appeared concerned about the erratic readings that were being recorded. He skipped his MRE to set up a security alarm that would trip with the slightest motion into the camp. All the little incongruent nuances of the first day were worse than a pea-sized rock in a boot to the command crew, but, "what the hell," Jack drawled nonchalantly, "the rest of the planet will be scouted in the morning."
The weapon that nudged into Sam's side was unlike any regulation military issue or alien device she'd seen. In the last hour, they had found out that it was more than a little erosion that changed the topography. There was a subterranean mine complex below the mountain and a deserted complex hidden in a nearby valley that had not been there six months ago. Furthermore, PSX34 had a name. It was called Etrona and had been a mining operation for over half a century. At least, that is what was gleaned from the snippets of conversation between the men that invited them out of their beds in the middle of the night. A very well trained military force subdued them and had them on a transport before Col. O'Neill was able to get a word in edgewise.
Sam Carter shifted to take the weight off her hands bound behind her. Her massive companion was leaning against her, sedated and snoring. He had been less than cooperative with the escort out of the camp. Three corpules buried into muscle had him sleeping like a baby.
"Hey, could you get him off of me. I'm getting crushed here."
The guards looked over impassively.
"Come on, Jack, I know you pushed him over to my side."
The SG1 leader feigned compunction. "Sorry, Carter, but he was cutting off my circulation to a very important body part."
"If you don't get him off, I'll loose a few of my own. You know won't be happy about that." Sam grunted as she braced herself to lean against Teal'c's upper body.
"Hey, Dickhead. Could you get this gorilla off the lady? Have a heart. Would you want her squished like road kill before we find out what the hell is going on?"
One of the guards motioned and two others stepped up and lifted Teal'c from the bench.
With surprising speed, Sam and Jack relieved the guards of their weapons just before the suddenly animated giant threw them into the wall. In unison, they pivoted to train the weapons on the final guard only to find four more barrels trained on them.
"Well, it was a good plan before these guys replicated," Jack wisecracked.
"I suspect that they have surveillance devices that we can not detect," Teal'c intoned.
"No shit, Sherlock." Jack grimaced as the guards bound him. "Hey, watch the fingers. They're my only friends since my last breakup."
The guards were much more careful with Teal'c. More soldiers entered with heavy-duty bindings that slipped into metal slots in a thick leather belt securely fastened around his massive trunk. The bindings crisscrossed around biceps cutting into flesh as the cinch was pulled home with the aplomb of a Japanese bondage expert.
"Jesus, Teal'c, you really look like Kong now, in the freakin' Macy's Parade." Jack watched as the group held the leads pealing off the leather cocoon that encased the quiet warrior. "You guys know what that is don't you? Thanksgiving turkeys, pilgrims, Indians with maize "
Teal'c answered, oblivious to the Lilliputians surrounding him, "You are referring to that movie that we saw last week?" He turned to Carter. "Should this be considered an insult? According to the sensitivity seminar that we went to last spring, this could be much like the example given in the short film."
"Stop listening to all that PC crap. You are big and strong and can beat the crap out of everyone. And you get the girl. How is that an insult?"
"I am not at all hairy."
Carter rolled her eyes. If the situation had not been so dire, she would have joined in, but she was too busy trying to think of plan B. It seemed obvious that their captors were taking great care not to harm them. They were human, spoke English, and wore uniforms with insignia reading Earthforce. The walls of the oddly shaped transport's fuselage shimmered in the early morning light. She could swear that she saw it move. Teal'c noticed it as well. He mentioned that it appeared to be breathing. His symbiote had been aware of living biomachines such as these, but this particular model was unfamiliar. O'Neill barely had a chance to make a couple of bad puns before the trip ended and the trio was escorted out to a heavily guarded building and into an office.
The commander lifted her eyes from the pad on her desk and inspected the SG1 crew with a measured curious bend. Sam struggled to read anything from the woman's face or body language but came away with very little other than obsessively neat appearance and severely styled hairdo.
Jack whispered his first impression into Carter's ear, "Well, I guess we've made our way to Cell Block H."
In total congruence with her demeanor, her voice matched her appearance. It was measured, contained, and void of emotion. Curiously, it was an octave deeper than she expected and contained more force than a presidential address. Yes, this soldier understood authority and wielded it with consummate expertise. She was sure that not many people crossed this woman.
At that moment, another aide entered with a message. "The mitochondrial scans confirm, Captain."
"Release them." She rose and stood at attention. "I regret that these measures have been necessary to confirm your identity but you must understand that one cannot be too careful. Col. O'Neill, Major Carter, Teal'c, I am Captain Susan Ivanova of Earthforce; and, we are in the year 2070. You must have entered a temporal rift coming through the jumpgate. You call them stargates, as I recall. This particular one began to malfunction and has been decommissioned for years. Your group coming through was a miracle of sorts. We still don't know how it was activated but the mining operation at Enem, the next range over, noted your arrival. I was sent here to investigate the anomaly. Our scientists have been scanning the data for the answers to what, undoubtedly, is a difficult question: how to get you back to your time."
"Whew, that was a mouthful. 2070?" With an impish grin he added, "Do the Cubs ever win the pennant?" O'Neill rubbed his wrists in relief, sighed, and glanced about like a kid with ADD.
Teal'c was still being extracted from the heavy leather latticework. "That would explain the initial readings that you were concerned about. The question is: are we in the same reality or have we entered a type of quantum mirror?"
Jack grimaced as he ran through the numerous other situations they had been caught up in involving alternate realities. It made his head hurt. "I hate those damn things. If we can rule out the mirror thingamajigs, I'd be thrilled."
"I could devise some questions to relate to your known history in our data crystals. However, as you may suspect, that information should be delved out carefully. We hope to send you back in time, as soon as possible." Ivanova said sympathetically.
Her stiff exterior softened slightly as she turned to address Carter, "It is truly a unique honor to meet the author of one of my basic texts in quantum physics. May I ask what date was it when you left earth?"
"2002." Carter was deep in thought as she had been since hearing the Captain's initial statement. "May eighth, 0800 hours."
"Unfortunately, sending you back through our system, sends you back in our time."
O'Neill slapped the newly unpeeled Teal'c on the back and exclaimed, "We'll just have to return the way we came."
"I would not recommend that." Ivanova's voice was filled with gravity. "The last crew that left through that gate arrived in pieces."
"It looks like we've got our work cut out for us," Carter answered by rote. She was really thinking about how worried Janet and Cassie would be. That happened a lot now in these unplanned prolonged absences. Belonging to a family was something Sam had wished for from afar. She never had that type of comfort with her own family growing up. In the Frasier home, she felt attachment and devotion within their sphere.
"Well, now that we've gotten that out of the way, how are we to confirm that you are who you say that you are." O'Neill craned his neck to look at the monitor, pursed his lips, and added, "Looks like we got ourselves a conundrum."
"The data crystals confirm your initial visit in 2002 and the establishment of a mining colony on this planet; but I suppose you'll just have to trust us." Ivanova recalled an early lecture on the Stargate program and decided that history did not do O'Neill justice. She could not wait to get him into a bar and get him talking. His easy humor masked a mind running at light speed. He appeared to be a disinterested but that did not fool Susan one bit. She had been known to use the self-same tactics.
Sam started to shake out of her thoughts and murmured, "The readings I got when we returned- I thought it was an anomaly caused by a neutrino storm but a temporal rift could create a similar pattern. May I use your computer?" She didn't wait for an answer, as she brushed past Ivanova intent on confirming the theory.
Pushy bitch, but brilliant, Susan thought as she stepped aside in the wonderment of living, breathing history grazing past her. Prettier than she thought. She'd always pictured Samantha Carter as dowdy and dour, hair in a bun, frazzled, spectacled. Now she realized that she'd mixed up her scientific heroes. She'd been thinking of Marie Curie. It was difficult to contain her excitement, but ever the professional soldier, she masked the emotion within. It wasn't often that one could meet a hero, long since buried decades before.
"You wouldn't happen to have some grub, would ya?" Jack asked with hope.
It was several hours and 5 servings later consumed by Teal'c and O'Neill. The Jaffa retired to his quarters leaving Jack to order more food and bounce a ball off the far wall. Thankfully, Sam was accustomed to her CO's irritating habits. It was sort of like having an eight-year-old brother around. She ignored her meal and his never-ending rhetorical questions focusing solely on the console provided by their former captors finally coming to a foregone conclusion. "It appears that we are indeed in the future. I am not sure but I think that it is unlikely that we can return to our time, at least, until I can figure out what sent us here in the first place."
"At least, we are not fighting for our lives. The food is much better than PJ348, and there is a lake not too far from here. I think that I'll get some fishing in. The Captain assured me that the bass here are fighters." He suddenly slapped his thighs as he stood up, startling Sam. "Let me know when you've figured out how to get home, Carter." When he got to the door, he turned and quickly retreated to the desk eying Sam's untouched meal. "You gonna eat that?"
The words and numbers on the screen bumped and collided but Sam didn't stop working until they actually overlapped. She sat back rubbed her bloodshot eyes and decided to call it a night.
As she exited the office, a guard materialized to escort her to her quarters. One thing about the future, it seemed damned efficient. The night air hit them like a cold slap in the face until the walkway led them through a garden, fragrant and strangely comforting. Sam wondered about the properties of the flowers that they were strolling through when they came upon a figure sitting on a bench. The guard came to a rigid halt and saluted. The person rose and spoke, "You are relieved, Lieutenant. I'll escort the major home."
"It's a bit late for stargazing?"
Smiling, Ivanova answered, "Even on solid soil I have a bit of insomnia. Hour of the wolf my father called it."
"Genetics. Tough to beat."
A comfortable silence ensued as they made their way through the maze of shrubs.
"The flowers, do they have medicinal purposes?" Carter finally broke the stillness of the night walk.
"Precisely the reason this garden exists. The combination is specifically designed for combating depression. Everything in urban planning the last fifty years is centered around productivity in outlying colonies."
"Which is why you lurk out here." Carter decided that she rather liked the stern captain.
"Touché, Sir. I have been known to be a bit moody but nothing that a two carbon chain can't fix."
Sam let out an involuntary chuckle. The Captain was definitely not what she appeared. "It appears that the most things remain the same."
"Major Carter, may I buy you a drink? There still is no substitute for a fine chilled Ikon vodka."
"You know, I'd love one. Russian? That is your background, isn't it?"
"Yes, born in St. Petersburg."
"Lovely city. I've been to several convocations there. Though, I regret that it was all military related and I was unable to see the sights."
"That's a shame. It has always been a beautiful place. Most of our historical buildings have been carefully restored. I suspect that the central old city is much the same as when you visited. Here we are. Please accept my apologies at the untidiness. I haven't had guests in quite some time. We are in port infrequently and I'm not the entertaining sort."
Sam laughed, "Yes, all that patrolling of the universe. I do know a bit about that." With that, she paused and added, "Look is there a reason that we are being so formal other than I'm old enough to be your great-grandmother?"
"Ah, but you don't look like one." The look was appreciative and decidedly unfamilial.
Against her better judgment, the blonde continued to let her guard down. "Call me Sam," she said with a soft smile.
"Although I am aware that I have picked up a few nicknames along the way, Susan will do just fine." Ivanova uncharacteristically relaxed. It usually took months for her to let anyone in, but Carter's vibe was addictive and she hadn't had a female friend to talk to since the Babylon 5 days. That part of her life seemed to reach as far back as Carter's reality had before stepping through this universe.
Once in Ivanova's suite, by half a pint, a casual observer might think that the two had been friends for eons. Susan knew that they had a lot more in common in the lost relationship world that negated being separated by a lifetime. Starved as she was for intelligent female companionship of the beautiful blonde variety, she welcomed the view, however untouchable.
The two women gave each other the short version of their career paths. Susan embellished her military resume with anecdotes of her reckless past, careful not to let out the particulars of the wars and her role within the campaigns. She was in rare form and she soon had Sam roaring at her more amusing stories involving Garibaldi, her friend and practical joking rival.
For her part, Carter recounted the adventures of SG1 that ended up with misunderstandings and somewhat embarrassing situations that never made it in Susan's history books. Ivanova was going to love going drinking with Jack to get his version of these stories.
Carter couldn't remember ever being this charmed by anyone. Her initial assessment of Captain Ivanova was that she was a by the book, linear thinking bureaucrat. She could see that she was dead wrong. Everything about the lively, witty woman conveyed a complex intelligence and a natural capacity to motivate, in short, a born leader not unlike Jack. She was that sort that inspired hyperbole in the retelling of exploits, a legend in her own time, Sam was sure of that. In the gaps between the lines there were surely hellfires that this commander had stepped through with a willing following. The biggest difference between her and Jack was the hint of fear that the Russian could muster by a simple glance. Sam was glad that she was on their side.
Before long, the fifth was nearly emptied and Carter was having trouble focusing. "No matter what they tell you, I have never eaten a man's liver raw," said the two Susans that wavered back and forth, laughing heartily like a hologram gone awry.
"I guess a woman in command invites all sorts of embellishment. Is it still the old boys club?" Sam blurted out a little too quickly and this caused an aftershock of undulating echoes. She blinked and decided that perhaps she should get herself to her quarters before she passed out. On the other hand, Ivanova appeared as sober as a Southern Baptist at a church service.
"Old boys club? I don't understand the reference."
"Well, you know, it's a man's world and all that," slurred Sam.
Still, no recognition lit Susan's face.
Exasperated, Sam explained, "Back in my day . in your history books, prior to my time, how many Nobel prizes were won by women?"
"I get it. You were from that time? I didn't realize that you were ancient." Susan's lips curled in a mischievous grin. Samantha Carter was quite cute drunk on her ass.
"You are pulling my chain. You don't know me well enough to do that."
"I just can't help it. It is not everyday that an icon walks into my life, a virtual interactive teaching vid. I studied your SG1 campaigns in military school."
"Now, you are embarrassing me. We made lots of mistakes."
"But how you got out of them was our true lessons."
Carter started to get uncomfortable with the focus on her notoriety. She never expected or wanted attention for her work. She shifted the focus of their conversation. "So, Susan, what made you choose this life?"
"It was the military or prison. I always had a bit of an unruly temper. It's a long bitter story that I won't bore you with. Then, there was this Great War that took my brother. It gave an avenue for me to channel my anger. I couldn't wait to sign up. Broke my father's heart."
"What about your mother?"
"Yeah, well, that's the long, bitter, boring part. She died when I was very young."
Sam could have sworn she felt an actual wall shut down in her companion and decided not to pry. "Sorry, I understand great loss. Perhaps, I should get myself to my quarters. I've been working all day and I'm frustrated at not having a clue about finding our way back."
"How insensitive of me. You must be frantic to get back to your family and here I am getting you smashed in my quarters."
"I could just crash here on the couch."
"That might not be the best plan. My men gossip more than old women in salons. I've read stories about your better half. I don't wish to be drawn and quartered later. I've got the advantage of reading your biography. That's the main reason that I'm being such a gentleman. Otherwise, a woman as enchanting as you are would not be safe here alone with me."
Sam's mind stopped short. What if she wouldn't be able to solve this problem and she'd be stuck in the future? She might never see Janet Frasier again. Her chest tightened and the breath drug through it like molasses. Janet. Did Susan know about her? She said family and that is sort of what Cassie and Janet was to her. Next, she registered that the beautiful captain just told her that she was a lesbian. That was out of left field and, frankly, unnerving. Maybe I won't correct her about having a lover. I don't think that I can handle her hitting on me. That was definitely a come-on. I don't have anyone. I'm going to have someone? Jesus, I am alone with a very attractive woman and she's making me anxious. I haven't felt like this since Janet and I got smashed on cold duck and sangria that first New Year's eve we took in Cassandra. I need to sober up. My insides feel like jello. Janet. If Janet were here, she wouldn't have let me get this pissed. After that hangover, we made a pact. God, I miss her. It would be so much easier if she were here.
Susan's telepathy kicked through past her blocks and Sam's emotional confusion and anxiety seeped through. Ivanova realized that what she knew about the famous CMO of the Stargate Program and Carter had not yet come to fruition.
"Sam, really, you can relax. I'm not propositioning you. It's not my style to make advances on my friends and I consider you that in the most sincere way possible." Sam Carter would never know just how amazing this declaration was for Susan. For her to feel this connection to another person, in less than a day's time, was nothing short of a miracle. Not that she believed in miracles, she was pragmatic as all get out. But hell, she rather liked the humble scientist who affected Earth's history more than any other researcher in the last century, all while looking fabulous in fatigues. "I'm looking forward to our next visit. I'd love to hear about the campaign against Apothis." She nearly lifted the rubber-legged blonde off her feet as she steered her out the door. "Fascinating stuff. I'm sure that there is a lot that was left out of the telling. For now, you need some shut eye."
It became a routine. Carter accepted that she was not going to be ravaged by the stunning woman that she had grown to respect and admire. She looked forward to relaxing with her after her days of calculations and sending probes through the stargate that ended up everywhere but Cheyenne Mountain 2002. Carter ended up having supper and a nightcap with the entertaining, wildly wry Russian, a telepath that couldn't help reading that the brilliant scientist/soldier had no idea that she was in love with her doctor friend back home that she talked incessantly about.
"Hey Carter, glad to see you out of your cage. The lieutenant here is giving us a lecture on the finer points of hunting bezerkers. You should take a break and join us on a hunt this afternoon."
Teal'c had taken up the dangerous but manly hobby of bezerker culling. The creatures had no natural enemies and had overrun the planet. They were voracious and gnawed through everything, quite a problem in the mines as they were responsible for at least 10 significant injuries each cycle. There had even been a few deaths. These tenacious animals refused to let go once they had a piece of flesh in their powerful jaws. The lieutenant went through the motions of hunting 101 with Jack who preferred prey a little less nasty. However, he was making an effort to return the favor of accompanying Teal'c, his long-suffering fishing partner. Today, he was looking to pull Carter into the fray. She had been working too hard. Damn it, she needed a break. His train of thought soared with an indignant flourish at the end the chorus in his head. He was going to keep her here for as long as he could.
After the animated discussion, Carter nonchalantly asked the lieutenant. "Why do the men call the Captain, Bezerker?" He looked around before answering in a most conspiratory fashion. "Don't tell anyone I told you this story, especially her. We were on a hunt and an especially nasty bunch had a few of us cornered without crossbow arrows. We couldn't use live ammo because the atmosphere was too unstable in the shafts. Any sparks and the place would be incinerated. Anyway, the damned things had wrecked the main tunnel and cut off the air supply shaft. They are not only vicious but smart buggers. They knew they had us beat and only had to wait us out. Ivanova caught up with us and found us surrounded. She picked out the biggest of the pack, stared, growled, hauled off and kicked it right in the mouth, then beat the tar out of the rest with a pike. Drove off the bunch of them with nothing but a ranger's stick. Told us she'd kick our butts if we ever made her come down a fucking shaft to save our asses again. She hates the dark and one of the fuckers pissed on her leg. Worst than cat piss that urine. Took us weeks to get it out of her trousers."
"So the men heard about the story and she got the nickname?" Jack suggested.
"Hell, no. She'd have our asses in a sling if any of us there had leaked that. I told you that story because that is what she's like in a fight. And the men have seen her in combat. The similarities are striking. You don't want to piss her off. No way."
Carter rose and politely took her leave. "Well guys, I think I'll leave the hunting to you big strapping men. I prefer to fight with numbers." Jack pleaded, "Come on, Carter. One afternoon without equations? I'll give you chocolate. I have a stash."
"No way. I won't risk the Captain having to come to our rescue. But be sure to have fun boys. I'm going to send some probes out."
Janet left the infirmary and stopped at Dr. Annoying's lab as she had every day since Carter's disappearance on PSX 34. There was no success in reopening the gate on the other side. She was now getting worried. If Sam were here, she'd figure it out. She was on a planet with limited resources. It was a mining camp. But her Sam could do just about anything, even with the most primitive tools. She'll find a way. In the meantime, her biggest hope was this pompous ass. God help me, if he asks me out again I'll strangle him with my stethoscope.
She popped her head through the door. "Any luck today?"
"My dear, luck has nothing to do with it, I will solve this and get the team back." He leaned back with his pad. "Just today, I've noted that there are identical interruptions in energy spikes at certain times that coincide with high neutrino levels. If we can match the patterns of that day, we may be able to send a probe through."
"It hasn't worked yet. Hammond tells me that every probe gets back damaged." And I am not your dear, asswipe.
Well, I haven't worked out all the kinks yet. But I'm close. By tomorrow, I'll have a team through there intact before you can say Shazzam. I AM the most brilliant mind since Einstein."
"The second." She couldn't stand the arrogant bastard standing there with his self-satisfied expression plastered on his pale, doughy face. She totally shut out his argument supporting his claim and bit her tongue. Carter could stand with any of history's minds and she didn't have audacity to suggest it to anyone. The thought that she'd be stuck with this chief science officer for a moment more drove her to distraction. Carter had to get back to her job here, near her. Because the work relationship was all she could hope for. Long ago, Janet accepted Sam Carter as a personal loss. It was not like her affection would ever be reciprocated. Samantha Carter didn't know she existed past baking, planting, and mothering. She was her friend, helping her with parenting Cassie, and a shoulder to lean on, nothing more. Janet tried hard enough-significant looks, flirting shamelessly, opening opportunities galore, to no avail. Frasier learned to deal with unrequited love. Sam, when they did talk about relationships, could only talk about how she and Jack were never on the same page. Of course, Janet thought that it was much too convenient. She figured that either Samantha Carter was the most latent homosexual that she'd ever come across or, more likely, it was just that the quiet, boringly maternal, short woman wasn't her type and she didn't want to hurt Janet or their friendship. So Janet took things at face value. Their two dimensional life together was better than nothing at all. And the loss of that was just as devastating as if she'd lost a lover. She never told Sam why she got divorced. She didn't see the point of telling her that she was gay because it would create all sorts of discomfort. Sam was no good at illogical things like feelings and emotion.
She blew out of the office, ignoring the awkward invitation forming by McKay to join her for coffee, hightailing it straight for Hammond's office. She had to convince him to send her with the recovery team through the gate.
Hammond was quiet as he reeled from the passionate pleas from his CMO to lead a team through to PSX34. "As many probes have been damaged, so might the need for immediate medical care", she finished.
"You are much too essential to this program to risk." He finally ended up getting out. He knew the depth of what Sam was to Janet. That she had discussed leaving Cassandra with Daniel was evidence that she knew the risks. In taking that risk and possibly leaving an orphan behind was the nail in the coffin for him. His CMO was losing her ability to hide her personal feelings for his CSO. In a field operation, this could be fatal. The day he'd been dreading was here. It was time to confront Janet. "I've chosen to ignore your special friendship with Carter up till now you've been discrete but I can't have this put up in neon lights. Janet, get a hold of yourself."
"General, with respect, you don't know a damn thing about our friendship. There is nothing untoward between us. I admit that I may care for Sam more than anyone else here but we are not lovers and the very suggestion could get me discharged."
"No one is going to be discharged under my command for bullshit. I know what you feel and I don't need a classified dossier to tell me that you love Major Carter."
"There's a dossier?"
"Before you were sent here."
"So you know about, Major Weston?"
"More than a commanding officer should ever know about anyone's private life. It makes no difference to me. All I care about is how one does their job. I wanted the best here at this command."
Janet paused and let the fact that her life was an open book to her CO in front of her. She visibly shrank inside her lab coat. Before she started to speak again she took a deep breath that started in her toes and made her fill the space around her ten-fold. The doctor was back and kicked insecurity out on its ass.
"Sam doesn't think of me in that way, General. It's a one-way street. But I have to be more involved in the mission to retrieve them. I am a part of the SG1 team. I have never let my personal feelings cloud my professional judgment, and I don't intend to start now."
Hammond let his chin rest on the folds of his fleshy neck. If it was his Martha, he'd be just as anxious to put himself in harms' way. But this could not be an emotional decision. "That will be all, doctor. I will take it under advisement." He stopped her before she left the office. "Just think of how the loss of Sam and you would affect Cassie. Would you want that on your conscience?"
"General, every time I step through the vortex, I take that risk. Cassie knows it too. It's my job. She knows that I have contingency plans; we have had them since I took her in. She's a young woman now; she nearly has a degree- living on her own. The possibility of losing parents is, unfortunately, already part of her reality."
With the click of the door, the General conceded. The life of a soldier was not their own. Every family was painfully aware of that sad fact.
Back to the Future
Carter nearly bleated with joy over the success of a radio transmission with McKay. He was full of himself but the slimy bastard was smart. They were unable to send probes back but were able to send equipment through without disruption. It was now time to send a team in for help in finding a solution to the return problem. As the group materialized through the iris, Sam's eyes teared with hope and absolute joy as she saw Janet step through at the end of the parade of scientists and machines. She carefully composed herself as she lined up beside Captain Ivanova who was making a statement and introductions to the arriving contingent.
It was an eternity before everyone was given orders and assigned to temporary quarters. Carter gathered Janet at dismissal and gave her arm a squeeze. "You'll bunk with me. I am so happy to see you. How is Cassie? Does she need help with physics? I could send radio messages through now . Or Nathan from SG7 could help," she rambled breathlessly.
"Hey, slow down. She's fine. We're fine. She's acing all her tests and I'm not a slouch when it comes to science, thank you very much." I missed you too.
"Sorry, I just was about to give up hope of getting back for a while. And, now everything is possible again. I tell you if it wasn't for the Captain, I think that I would have been too discouraged to work as hard as I needed to."
"Yeah, the Captain seems very commanding." And beautiful and tall and definitely not boring. And gay as a summer's day is long, in Lapland.
"We have become good friends. She is an amazing woman. I can't wait for you to meet her."
As Sam continued to sing the praises of the military genius that was her new best friend, Janet felt each adoring phrase assault her, stinging with each eager complement. Sam had a crush on someone that she couldn't possibly compete with. She had legs for days-long, thick auburn hair that just begged to whip around like a shampoo model. She looked like she could do push-ups for hours.
"We'll meet at 1800 hours for dinner. She can't wait to meet you. I've told her all about you and Cassie." She talks about me. Probably like you'd talk about your sister. Janet stole another glance at her competition before they turned the corner. This is the sort of woman that would turn Sam's head, a female equivalent to Jack. The dread of having to hear the more intimate details of their budding friendship bit at Janet's gut. All that bull that Sam served about O'Neil never had that excitement that Janet heard from the first mention of the Russian captain. A strong scent greeted her at the turn into the garden. "What's that? It smells like St. John's Wort."
Dinner was a stilted affair. Janet was all restrained politeness sizing up the warm intimate camaraderie that the captain and the major shared. In the years that she had with Sam, this level of coziness had never been reached. And Ivanova was witty and engaging. Fuck her, she's perfect. Goddamnit, I'm not going down without a fight.
"Doctor Frasier, I'm curious, how did you figure out the way to combat the virus on Ir'on? The texts are not clear if it was the vector that gave you the answer or the fact that it affected rats differently than humans?"
She had to hand it to her; she did her research. "Well, actually it was serendipitous. An assistant dropped the serum into oil by mistake and decided to try it on the test subjects anyway. They got better. She fessed up to the accident. So no brilliant answer, just luck."
"Yes, just like finding the recombinant RNA that made the difference in the plague of Tur'an. You are my friend Franklin's hero. He went into xenomedicine because of you."
Janet cast her eyes down. She wasn't altogether comfortable with all the attention focused on her. It seemed as though Ivanova was talking her up.
"Janet saved my life more than once. Too many times, in fact." Sam beamed as she related her near death experiences, which ended in the doctor snatching her from the jaws of death.
"It seems that you are lucky to have each other," Susan said with a soft smile. "With that, I'll leave you two to catch up. I'm sure that you have a lot to talk about without me as a third wheel." She gazed at Janet. She knows, Janet thought. She's on my side. I'm a goddamned idiot. She's trying to help me. It's almost like I can hear her in my head. That's ridiculous, she can't read my mind . or can she?
"Good night. I hope that your accommodations will be more than sufficient. And, please, call me Susan. I can't have the most enchanting woman on this planet reminding me of my duties on my own time." She kissed her hand like a nineteenth century knight.
Motherofgod, she is fucking amazing. My chances with Sam are friggin' burnt toast. "Good night, Capt , Susan. And thank you for everything."
"You are very welcome. Come over, anytime."
Sam grinned like a madman with a secret as they walked back to their quarters. She had her favorite person in the universe with her again and her anxieties vanished. She impulsively pulled Janet into a cross between a hug and a shake then immediately let her go. Janet had always been uncomfortable with physical shows of affection so Sam was careful to avoid invading Janet's personal space. Tonight, she just couldn't help herself. The warmth of Janet's small frame radiated straight through Sam's skin; she felt the familiar tingle she had missed so much these last few weeks. Sam, suddenly overwhelmed with emotion, needed to compose herself because she realized that she needed to suppress the urge to kiss her companion. Instead of following her instincts, Sam switched gears. "I told you she was great."
Weeks went by. Janet's field infirmary was fully operational and Sam spent her days corresponding with McKay working on the problem of the malfunctioning gate. Teal'c manned the investigation of the ancient mines underneath the gate looking for the control panels and power sources. O'Neill joined Captain Ivanova on her occasional scans of the quadrant; and, when in port, they generally raised a ruckus together. The two of them could have been separated at birth if not for the time and space quotient. Each evening, Janet seethed as Sam waxed poetic about Susan this, Susan that. In the meantime, each evening ended with the cheery goodnight and a roll on the side.
Meeting at the mines
Janet's brow furrowed as the tenth of Teal'c's men was admitted with fever, myalgias, a suppurative cough, and a bad case of paranoia. A shaft had collapsed and a metallic dust covered them. Now the area was cartoned off for an infectious disease team to investigate the mysterious retrovirus that infected the men and women. Teal'c led a group to the area and found a shaft that led to a chamber that was filled with guano like substance that proved to be the excrement of bezerkers. Very high levels of energy were detected as well as a panel of crystals that had been disrupted by the nest. Sam was elated that this could be the breakthrough that they'd been waiting for. The week would be filled with the grunts cleaning up the mess and sanitizing the area to work in without coming down with the disease caused by the guano which O'Neill remarked gave new meaning to bat shit crazy. With a batch of techs working on the vaccine, Janet felt that she could take a break. As she rounded the corner in the administration building, she nearly ran into Ivanova.
"Whoa, Nelly. In a hurry?"
"Just trying to get to the gym before mess. I've been neglecting my exercise regimen here in the future."
"I was just going there myself. How is the epidemic going?"
"Making progress. Got a vaccine in the works. I hope to test them by 0900 tomorrow."
"Good. Teal'c and his Hazmat team are near clearing the chamber. It appears to be near the relay station under the gate. This could be the answer to fixing the gate. Carter is working on the schematics now."
Janet's face flattened. She had seen very little of Sam, so driven and focused on finding the answer to their exile. Sam spent way more time with her new best friend who was certainly worthy of it but it still irked Janet.
"You know, Janet, I am not interested in Sam."
"My type is the emotionally cold, icy person with a dash of megalomania, bonus points for bigotry. That's the general person that usually sets it off for me."
"I don't know what you are talking about. The major and I are just friends."
"Look, I know that this is against protocol, but you two are killing me. History right? I KNOW that it is more than that."
Janet had to stop in her tracks. It was far too tempting to test Susan's take on Sam. "Sam has never been with a woman; she would have told me."
"She obviously loves you. Believe me, I can tell these things. Helen friggin' Keller could see it. Besides, the data crystals state you were a couple."
"Yeah, it would seem so from the outside; everybody gets it but her."
"So you are pitching but she's not catching?"
Janet nodded. "I guess you shouldn't believe everything you read in history books. Sam is not at all interested in me that way."
"I beg to differ. Let's just say I'm very intuitive and Sam is incredibly naïve for a genius."
Janet felt that same weird feeling about Susan's being inside her head as their first meeting. She believed that Susan was being straight with her, in a manner of speaking. Maybe she did have some sort of psychic in with Sam. Maybe Sam did have some latency issues. Maybe there was a chance for them. Maybe history got it right. "Something tells me that you have a plan and it involves hitting Sam in the head with a brick."
"Ah cultural reference Felix the cat? One of my favorites."
Much Later That Evening
Janet, freshly showered and coiffed, was checking her makeup as Sam entered the room.
"Where you going? It looks like you have a date."
Sam's face fell as she realized that her off hand comment had actually hit on reality. Janet was stepping out.
"Susan's taking me to Xtapa for the weekend. It's celebratory R&R due to the vaccine's success. There is a great spa and wonderful restaurants; she thought that I could use the break."
"Where are you going now?"
"She's asked me over to plan the weekend. She's got vids of the suite that we'll be sharing."
Nervously, Sam exclaimed, "Sharing? You aren't staying in the same room as her?"
"Not exactly. It's a suite. Besides, it doesn't really matter."
"On the contrary, I think that it does. Janet there is something that I don't think you are getting. Ivanova is gay."
"I am perfectly aware of that fact, Sam." She looked at her friend incredulously. "I case you haven't noticed, Susan is a very charming and desirable woman." Janet looked back at the mirror and started to touch up her makeup. "We've been spending time together lately and, you know, you've been so right about her. She's interesting and fascinating company and seems to be interested in me. I haven't been laid since I started the Stargate Project. It's gotten old."
Sam laughed a little too loudly. "You're really pulling out the stops today. Really, you can cut the game now."
"I'm not joking. I happen to like women; you know that."
"No. I don't know that. You aren't gay; you had a husband." Sam started to panic.
"Had is the operative word. Figured out what was missing and did the right thing. Come on, you mean you didn't know? I think even Teal'c knows my story."
Sam sat on the cot, mind racing and stammering, "No, I never realized. You don't exactly look the part."
"The part? And what is that supposed to mean? So I'm not butch and in your face but, Jesus, Sam, don't you know that a good many of the women you work with are queer?"
"Never really thought about it. Besides, you never talked about this with me. I'd think that you would have told me something so important Christ, you are my closest friend."
"I thought that it went without saying. When did you ever hear me talk about men or date one in all the time we've been together?"
"Well, you are so busy with the infirmary, research, and, not to mention, Cassandra."
"Well, I don't know what to say. I never hid who I am from you. I figured that it made you uncomfortable. So I didn't discuss my love life with you. Besides, no one advertises too much what with the current feeling in the rulebooks. But there is plenty of entertaining off base. Where do you think I go on Friday nights?"
"You said you were going to your sewing circle."
"Sam, it's very well known slang." Janet let out a heavy sigh and shook her head. "For a genius, you are quite thick sometimes." She finished her lipstick touchup and smiled. "Don't wait up. I may get lucky."
Sam's heart plummeted; she felt her throat tighten. Janet was going to sleep with Susan and she couldn't do anything about it. Why should she care? Janet deserved to be happy. But it wasn't going to go anywhere. Janet was going back, with her, to 2002. She'll just get hurt. Ivanova was clearly a player. Sam's heart skipped a beat as she thought, what if she stays?
Breakfast With My CO
Jack sat with Sam at the mess hall. "Carter, yesterday, you looked like shit. Today, it's warmed over. What the hell is going on?"
"There's nothing going on, Sir."
"Is it that retrovirus? Didn't you get vaccinated?"
"I'm not sleeping well, that's all."
"You know, when you call me Sir, I know that you're hiding something from me."
"Don't be ridiculous. I'm not being evasive."
"You see, I'm right. You are so not telling me what's gotten up your butt. As your commanding officer, I demand that you tell me what has gotten your panties in a wad."
"Jack, I am not going to get into my sleeping habits with you."
"Well, perhaps, you should be at the infirmary right now. Or is who's at the infirmary that is the problem? I'm here if you want to talk."
Sam looked at Jack with suspicion. "What are you inferring? It better not be what I think it is."
"Well, if that means that your roommate has been spending a great deal of time with Captain Ivanova Oh hell on it, did you guys break up?"
"What Janet Fraiser does on her own time is none of our business. What do you mean, break up?"
"You two. Living together. Cassie has two mommies."
"It's not like that. We are just good friends. I am not gay. And don't go all Connie Chung on Janet's reputation."
"Look, if anyone wanted to out Janet, it would have happened long ago and far away. It's an open secret."
"Am I the only one that hasn't been aware of her orientation? Because this is news to me."
"Maybe McKay, he doesn't seem to get anything that doesn't revolve around himself. Damn Carter, we all thought that you two were, you know, an item."
Horrified, Carter looked around her to see if anyone was listening in. "Jack, I can't believe that. Why would you think that?"
"OH, COME ON, Carter. She's all you ever talk about when you aren't talking about work. And it's the way you look at her."
"There is nothing like that going on between us. What do you mean by how I look at her?"
"Like a puppy. That should be followed by the fact that you are acting like a jealous teenager now that she's seeing someone else."
"Jack, that's not what's happening."
"I think, Sam, that it is. I know you. You aren't sleeping, barely eating, and your eyes are redder than dirt on mars. You, my dear, are in love to anyone with eyes to see. It's just not a formula that you recognize because you haven't been there. I have."
"Is that why we never ?"
"When I first met you, I couldn't think of anyone but Sara. As soon as Fraiser showed up, you had your head so far up her ass that we all assumed that she was it for you."
"We do get along well. I could see how you could misinterpret."
"Yeah, but Janet's a big ol' lesbian. And she clearly has turned down half the women in the service. She hasn't been shy about telling her would be suitors that she's taken. That's until now."
"The captain is extremely attractive."
"You could say that again."
Sam pushed her food around on her plate contemplating her next query carefully. "Why hasn't she hit on me then? 'Cause she hasn't, not once."
Jack snorted, "Good God, Carter, you are clueless. I have personally witnessed Janet flirting with you countless times; you always left with her and we all imagined you two having wild monkey sex together."
With that, Sam punched Jack right in the kidney, "You did not talk about us that way, with Daniel, Teal'c?"
"Teal'c is the worst. He always wants to throw you both anniversary parties. He can't understand the need for secrecy."
"I can count the number of times that I have been intimate with someone and you people think I'm a harlot. And you call yourself my friends? Jesus, sex with Janet? I wouldn't know what to do."
"Actually, I've seen a few videos. I could give you a few tips."
"Jack, stop it right now. You are not helping. You are forgetting that I am not a dyke."
"And I never liked escargot. Until I had it."
"Come off it. You can't possibly think that I'm gay?"
"Sam, if you barely get any sex now, maybe it's not the sex you need or want."
Sam turned on her heels with a snort and dismissive wave, but it didn't stop O'Neill's words from playing in her head all day long. There was some truth in his words. Begrudgingly, she remembered having spent a lot of energy in her life denying feelings that she had as a teenager and sublimating them. But it was normal adolescent confusion that she failed to resolve at a critical time in her life. All the special schools and accelerated classes conspired to arrest her emotional growth. She understood the psychological impact of it all. To someone looking on, she could see how one could think she was acting like a broken-hearted teenager in love. She couldn't help it if her friends had dirty minds. Despite all this, she hated thinking about Susan and Janet and what they could be doing up at all hours these last two nights.
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