Spoiler/Timeline: AU (and extended) version of S3E17 – A Hundred Days
AN: Written for the sam_janet_ficathon. Special thanks to k_icker for the beta.
Captain Janet Fraiser, M.D., the Chief Medical Officer of Stargate Command loaded up her medical pack and headed to the gate room. General Hammond had heard from SG-1 on P5C-768. They were already in negotiations for naquadah which was in the planet’s mineral-rich soil. The people of the planet lived simple, agrarian lives. They had a healer, though no hospital, and basically relied on home remedies made from local plants and herbs. So Hammond had authorized Janet to join SG-1 and see what she could do to contribute.
With a ‘good luck’ from the general, she walked up the ramp to the gate and stepped through to another world. Major Samantha Carter was waiting for her with a bright smile.
“Hey, Janet. Welcome to Edora.”
Janet returned her smile. “Thanks, Sam.” She stood for moment atop the stone dais and looked around. “It’s beautiful.”
“Yes, it is. Come on, I’ll show you to the village.”
The two women walked side by side while Sam brought Janet up to speed on the current negotiations. “Some of the villagers are very wary of us, which is understandable, but most of them seem to be quite open and friendly. We were dealing mainly with a woman named Laira, but a close friend of hers who’s been sick has taken a turn for the worse. So, she’s halted the negotiations for the moment to be with her friend. The local healer says there’s nothing more he can do. Maybe you can help.”
“I’ll do what I can.”
They arrived in the village.
“Hey, Doc!” Colonel Jack O’Neill bellowed in greeting from the doorway of a house several houses away.
Janet simply gave a wave to acknowledge him, but restrained from yelling back. Only when she was a few feet from him did she say anything. “Hello, Colonel.”
“It’s about time you’re here. Laira’s friend is real sick.”
“Any idea what may be wrong with her?”
“No. They haven’t allowed us in to see her. Laira’s real upset since Talmar, the local healer, said there’s nothing more he can do.”
“Where is she?”
“In here.” O’Neill stepped aside and allowed Janet and Sam to enter the small house. He then knocked on a closed bedroom door. “Laira? Our healer, Dr. Fraiser, is here. She may be able to help your friend.”
The bedroom door opened and an attractive brunette looked out.
At the woman’s dubious expression, Janet introduced herself. “Hi, I’m Dr. Fraiser – Janet. Will you let me take a look at your friend? I might be able to help.”
“Okay.” Laira admitted Janet into the bedroom, closing the door behind her.
Janet moved to the bed where her patient was. “Hi, my name’s Janet. What’s your name?”
“Neva,” the sick woman replied softly.
Jack jumped to his feet as soon as Janet exited the bedroom. “Doc?”
“I’ve taken a blood sample and a throat culture to be tested back at the SGC, but I’m pretty certain it’s a staph infection.”
“So you can treat it, right?”
“I’ve already started her on an IV and antibiotics. Unless something really unexpected shows up in the test results she should be fine.”
“Great! I knew you could do it, Doc.”
“With your permission, sir, I’ll head back with the samples.”
“You’re coming back though, right?” Laira asked as she exited the bedroom. “You should see the fire rain.”
Janet smiled at the woman. “I’d love to see it, Laira. I should be back in plenty of time.”
“Good. Fair day and be well, Janet,” she said in their traditional manner.
“Fair day, Laira.”
Janet left with samples in hand.
Jack loudly clapped his hands together and bounced on his heels. “So, what’s this fire rain you talked about?”
“It’s a beautiful thing to see – fire rains across the night sky. It happens every year at this time.”
“I look forward to seeing it,” he said with a smile. “What time should I pick you up?”
“Pick me up?”
“What time should I come by to escort you to where we can watch the fire rain?”
“Oh. We can meet at Downer’s Hill. The view from there is particularly nice.”
Even though O’Neill would have liked to ‘pick Laira up’ and have the evening be a date, he nodded and left.
The tests result came back just as Janet had predicted. Neva would be fine with the course of treatment she’d already started her on. When Janet returned to Edora, she was surprised to find Laira waiting for her at the gate.
“Laira, is something wrong? Has something happened with Neva?”
“Oh, no. In fact, Neva is sleeping comfortably. Thank you for treating her.”
“You’re more than welcome; I’m glad I could help. Just make sure she continues to take the pills as directed.”
“So, was there a reason you were waiting for me?”
Laira smiled. “I just wanted to. And I wanted to make sure you didn’t miss out on the fire rain. There’s really nice place to watch it from on Downer’s Hill overlooking the lake.”
Janet smiled. “Lead the way.”
As they walked the two women talked, getting to know each other a little better. Laira told Janet about her son, Garan, and Janet told Laira about her adopted daughter, Cassie. Even though Janet had only been a mother for a couple of years, she had much in common in the experience of motherhood with Laira. And since she didn’t have to lie about Cassie being from another planet, she felt more at ease than usual when discussing her daughter. Laira found Janet intriguing and funny.
They were the first to arrive at Downer’s Hill. They sat on the ground next to each other and leaned against a large tree. They were laughing about a story Laira had told about her son when SG-1 arrived.
“Sounds like you two are having a good time,” Jack said.
“Just sharing a few motherhood stories, sir,” Janet replied.
A silence fell over the group as each member of SG-1 took a seat on the ground.
“So, Laira… when’s the big show going to start?” Jack asked.
“Soon, be patient.”
“Oh, I’m patient. I’m nothing if not patient.” He paused for a couple of beats. “When’s it start?”
“Is he always like this?”
It was Teal’c who answered, “Quite frequently.”
Daniel and Sam both snickered.
“Thank you, Teal’c.” Jack sounded proud of himself.
“Laira, we haven’t seen anything you could call ‘fire rain’ these past few nights,” Daniel pointed out. “How come you’re sure it’s going to fall tonight?”
“It begins this night each year.”
Sam’s eyes widened. “Whoa. The same night every year? That doesn’t make sense… I mean unless the planet’s orbit travels through a debris field like an asteroid belt, in which case–”
“Please, don’t suck the fun out of this,” Jack said, interrupting her.
Laira explained to the whole group, though she was looking at Janet when she spoke. “When I was a child, my father told me that the fire rain was the tears of our ancestors longing to be reunited.”
A star streaked across the sky.
Laira pointed to it. “See? There.”
“A falling star, that’s what we call ‘fire rain’ where we come from,” Janet said. She leaned her head closer to Laira’s and softly added, “In our culture, you’re supposed to make a wish.”
Laira looked into Janet’s eyes and smiled. “Then I know what my wish is.”
“Don’t tell anyone,” Sam said. “If you tell your wish won’t come true.”
“On Chulak we call it tel’pac’rai.”
“Which means, uh… falling star,” Daniel translated and smiled.
“What do you think, Jack?” Laira asked. “Was it worth the effort?”
“Oh, yeah. Yeah, I’m a big fan of fireworks.”
Suddenly a large meteor shot across the sky so close that flames were actually visible.
“Whoa… Carter, how close was that?”
“How big?” asked Daniel.
There was definitely concern in the astrophysicist’s voice. “I was… rather concerned for a minute there, sir.”
“I don’t understand,” Laira said.
“Laira, that was what we call a near miss,” Sam explained. “If that meteor had struck the ground instead of bouncing of the atmosphere…”
“And this happens every year?” Janet asked. Though not an astrophysicist, she had eyes and saw for herself how close the meteor had come.
“Yes, though it grows more spectacular every year. By tomorrow evening the entire sky…” As Laira took in everyone’s expression her voice trailed off. “What’s wrong?”
Sam addressed the colonel rather than Laira. “I’ll make some more observations tonight, sir.”
“I’m going to check the uh, geological record in the morning,” Daniel added.
“I’ll… make a wish,” said Jack.
A heavy silence settled over the group.
In the morning, Laira and Janet went to check on Neva, who was already showing improvement. Afterwards, they were having a really nice talk back at Laira’s house when Sam tracked them down.
“If you have a few minutes, Laira, I have something I’d like to show you.”
Sam opened up her laptop computer. Janet was sitting next to Laira at the kitchen table as Sam stood behind them. She reached over their shoulders and tapped a key, starting a Power Point presentation.
“See this bright dot? It represents your world, Edora. It orbits your sun in a big circle like this and crosses through an asteroid belt up here at its widest point. Now, as you pass through the millions of tiny rocks and particles, some of them burn up in Edora’s atmosphere.”
“As fire rain.”
“Exactly. The problem is, the asteroid belt isn’t uniform, so certain orbits in certain years must pass through a denser debris field. Can you ever remember the fire rain striking the ground?”
“Not in my lifetime, nor in my father’s… but there is a tale of the ancestors that on the second day of the fire rain, there was a distant thunder and the horizon burned as though the sun never set.”
“How long ago was that?” Janet asked.
“Many, many years ago.”
Jack stuck his head in from outside. “Morning, campers! Who’s going on our little geology fieldtrip?”
“Sir, I’d like to go back to Earth and input the data I collected from last night’s observations into the base’s mainframe.”
“Garan?” Laira called out to her son.
The teenager came out of his bedroom.
“Garan can show you the way to the caves. He and a young girl go there from time to time, though I don’t know why,” she said with a knowing smirk.
“Fair day, and be well,” Laira said to the parting group. Once they were all gone, Laira turned to Janet. “You haven’t seen much of our world since you’ve been here. Would you like to go for a walk, Janet?”
“I’d love to,” Janet replied with a smile.
Daniel was examining the strata exposed in the walls of the caves. “I figure the decay rate differential between the layers of naquadah is about 150 years, give or take, so–”
“What’s naquadah,” Naytha, Garan’s girlfriend, asked.
“A mineral substance,” Teal’c answered.
Daniel ran his hand along the wall of the cave as he explained. “You see the farther down these striations we go the further back into Edora’s past we travel. You see these layers are different. They represent naquadah dust thrown up by impact events.”
“Cool.” Garan hesitated when he saw the look on Daniel’s face. “Uh… J-Jack says that.”
All eyes turn to Jack where he sat in a corner playing with a yo-yo. The sudden silence made Jack look up at the others. “What?”
Daniel cleared his throat. “Anyway, I’m not really sure that cool applies to this, Garan. You see, something like this happened on our world millions of years ago and nearly wiped out all life.”
“That’s what’s going to happen here?” asked Naytha.
“Well, we only know that it has happened, uh… in varying degrees of destruction every 150 years or so.”
“And it appears that is precisely the amount of time since the last impact.” At Daniel’s warning look, Teal’c added, “I see no reason to withhold the truth from these people, Daniel Jackson.”
“Is there anything we can do to stop it?” asked Garan.
“No,” Daniel said sadly.
Sam went to speak with General Hammond after she ran her calculations through the base computer.
“Sir, according to the observations I made last night, the near miss we experienced was just the first of hundreds of car-sized asteroids directly in the path of Edora – P5C-768. The night sky is full of them.”
“We can’t evacuate an entire planet, Major.”
“As far as we know, these are the only descendants of a race brought to Edora by the Goa’uld thousands of years ago. There may only be a small number of strikes locally. If that’s the case, we can send them home in a few days. If not, we’d be saving the last of a people, sir.”
Janet and Laira walked onto a small bridge where a man was pulling his traps out of the water.
“Paynan, this is Janet.”
“They say you’ve come through the stone ring. Hard thing to ask a man to believe.”
Janet smiled. “Believe me, I know just how you feel.” She nodded at his trap. “Any luck?”
“There’s nothing more than meets the eye here – our fields, those few buildings, our children. What we have, we need.”
“We’re only interested in fair trade, sir.”
Paynan dismissed the women without another word and threw his trap back over the side of the bridge. Laira and Janet continued on their way.
“Many of my people are most curious to know what it is we have that you could possibly want.”
“Well, from what Sam told me you have something we don’t.”
“Something in our soil.”
“It’s a mineral called naquadah. We don’t have it on Earth, and it’s very important to us.”
“And in return for taking this naquadah from our soil?”
“Well, there are a lot of things we could help you out with – technology, education,” she smiled, “medicine.”
“So we’d become friends.”
“We’re already friends,” Janet replied.
“Closer friends?” Laira asked hopefully.
Janet gave the beautiful woman a coy smile. “My mother taught me to be wary of people wishing to be closer friends.”
They stopped walking and faced each other.
“Well, if you’d like, I’ll remove myself from the negotiations, that way there’d be no conflict of interest…”
Janet gazed into blue eyes that looked at her with hopeful want and felt her heart skip a beat. No one had looked at her like that in years. “Laira, there is no conflict of interest between us. I think we’re interested in the same thing.” She was rewarded with a soft smile.
They were inexorably drawn toward one another. Their almost-kiss was suddenly interrupted by fiery meteors streaking across the sky, even though it was broad daylight.
“I’ve never seen the fire rain in the light of day,” Laira said with concern.
A particularly large meteor blazed overhead, clearly larger and closer than any previous meteors. Janet keyed her radio. “Did anybody else see that?” she asked.
“See what, Doc?” O’Neill replied.
Sam had just returned through the gate in time to see the ominous meteor. “This is Carter. I saw it. It was the largest and closest meteor yet… and I think it’s just the beginning, sir.”
While Jack spoke to Sam on his radio, Daniel bent and picked up an artifact in the cave. “It’s a cooking utensil. Which probably means at some point a number of people spent time here.”
“Perhaps this cave provided a means for a small number of Edorans to survive the last meteor bombardment,” Teal’c surmised.
“The ancestors!” Garan said excitedly.
As soon as Jack finished speaking with Sam he addressed the group. “Alright, campers, back to the village ASAP.”
Back in the village, Laira, Janet and Sam had gathered the villagers so Jack could address them.
“Folks, we think the fire rain is going to start hitting the ground pretty soon. As a precaution, we’d like to take you all back to our planet, until the threat is over.”
“There is no threat,” Paynan barked belligerently.
“If just one big meteor lands within a few miles of here, the resulting explosion could wipe out the entire village,” Sam explained.
Paynan wasn’t convinced. “Year after year, the fire rain comes, goes and harms no one. Do you not see what they are doing? They want us gone so they can claim our lands for themselves.”
“That’s not true,” Daniel insisted.
“If you go with them, you will never see your land again,” Payton sneered.
Jack lost his patience. “Oh, for crying out loud, there’s always one like you in a crowd. You want to stay… stay.”
Laira spoke up, “I have come to know these travelers,” she couldn’t resist a glance at Janet, “and though their world seems far, it is only a step away. I will take that step in good faith. If you wish to follow, join us at the stone ring. And if you do not, may the ancestors protect you.”
“You need only take what you can carry. There’ll be plenty of food and water where we’re going,” Janet added.
Another large meteor streaked overhead and crashed somewhere off in the distance.
“Okay, folks, train’s leaving. Let’s move,” Jack ordered.
Laira was rushing around her home, packing the bare necessities and a couple of priceless mementos. “Garan? Don’t forget the prayer chain that your father gave you. Garan?” Getting no response she walked to his bedroom door and opened it.
He wasn’t there.
“Oh, no.” When she ran out of the house she practically ran Janet over.
“Laira, what’s wrong?”
“Have you seen Garan?”
Janet looked around and saw Daniel. “Daniel!” she called out to him. “Did Garan come back with you?”
“Yes.” A sudden thought occurred to him. “The caves! We were talking about how previous generations survived. They must have gone back there.”
“Okay. Make sure everyone gets to the gate. We’ll get the kids and catch up.”
Before Daniel could object Janet and Laira took off running for the caves.
Daniel went through the gate to the SGC with the first group and helped others as they came through.
Sam stood in front of the gate on Edora and helped people walk through as small meteors were beginning to impact the ground. “Don’t be afraid; the others are waiting for you on the other side.”
Teal’c and Jack arrived with the last of the villagers willing to leave their world.
“That’s the last of them. The rest are going to stay,” Jack said.
“Approximately one-third of the village,” Teal’c responded.
“What?! We can’t leave them behind, sir! We’re getting multiple strikes; their entire village could be destroyed.”
“I know, Carter,” Jack growled. “But we can’t forcibly remove them from their homes.” He looked around. “Where’s Daniel and the doc?”
“Daniel went through with the first group and to help the others as they arrived.”
“Daniel said she went with Laira to the caves to get Garan and Naytha.”
“What?!” Jack slapped the back of his hand against Teal’c’s stomach. “Come on, we’ll get them. Carter, you go on through and let the Edorans know everything is alright. We’ll be on your six.”
Janet and Laira arrived at the caves.
“Garan! Naytha!” Laira called out.
The two teenagers came from deeper inside the cave they’d entered. “Mother! This is where the ancestors survived. We brought food, and some water.”
“Garan, we really need to go,” Janet insisted.
Suddenly there was a large explosion that shook the ground. Rocks began to fall from the ceiling of the cave and a torch was knocked from its holder.
Teal’c saw what Sam did – a large meteor headed straight for them. “O’Neill!” He grabbed Jack’s arm and dragged him to the gate where he threw his arm around Sam and dove through the gate, saving both of his teammates.
In the SGC, General Hammond rushed down from the control room and stood next to Daniel. “Report.”
“Dr. Fraiser went to help some villagers. We waited until the last possible moment, sir,” Sam responded.
“I know you did. We almost lost you – the wormhole was losing stability.”
“General, we need to return immediately with a search party,” Jack insisted.
“You can’t, sir. That last hit was right on the gate, you’d be walking into a firestorm,” explained Sam.
Teal’c scowled. “I am willing to take that risk.”
“So am I.”
Hammond shook his head. “I’m not willing to let either of you take that risk.”
“We can wait 24 hours and send a MALP through, sir.”
“Major Carter’s right. If it’s safe by tomorrow you’ll all go.”
Janet stood at the mouth of the cave watching rain and ash fall. She could see several fires lighting the landscape as explosions from meteor impacts continued. She tried her radio one more time. “Colonel? Sam?” She paused, listening for an answer. “Daniel? Teal’c? Can you hear me?” Just as with her previous attempts there was no response. She hoped it meant the team made it back to Earth safely.
With a sigh, she turned and went back into the cave to join Laira, Garan, and Naytha. She rechecked the cut on Naytha’s forehead where she’d been hit by a falling rock. “You’ll be fine. Even minor head wounds bleed a lot.”
Janet sat on the ground and leaned against the wall of the cave. “It’s still pretty hot out there, we should stay put. But there is some good news – it’s raining. It should put out at least some of the fires.”
“Could you see the village?” Laira asked.
“No.” She looked at the boy. “We had a plan, Garan. Why–”
“Daniel said there was nothing you could do.”
“We were afraid,” Naytha added.
Another explosion, not far from the cave, rattled everyone. “Me, too,” Janet replied.
Laira moved to sit next to the doctor, slipping her arm through Janet’s. The teenagers, wrapped up in each other, didn’t notice the closeness of the two women… or the looks they shared.
General Hammond and all of SG-1 gathered around Sgt. Walter Harriman as he dialed Edora.
“Chevron six encoded… chevron seven locked. Wormhole established.”
“Thank God,” said Sam.
“Standing by for MALP deployment, sir.”
The general nodded. “Send it through.”
“The MALP should reach Edora in four, three, two, one. We should be receiving telemetry now, sir.”
There was nothing but static coming over the speakers and snow on the monitor.
“No signal. Environmental reports no telemetry… communications no telemetry.”
Sam shook her head. “The MALP must have been destroyed as soon as it reached the other side. There’s no other explanation.”
“Shut it down,” ordered Hammond. He looked at Sam, “Until you can provide me with answers to this problem, the rescue mission is scrubbed.” He turned to Jack. “Inform our visitors they’ll be staying with us until we can make a proper assessment of the situation.”
Teal’c and Daniel followed Jack out of the control room. Sam stared at the gate for several seconds. How was she going to tell Cassie she’d left Janet behind on Edora? She had to figure out a solution; it would crush Cassie to lose Janet… it would also crush her.
Janet, Laira, Garan and Naytha had to stay in the cave for over five days. But, finally, the meteors stopped impacting and they ventured out. The village was still there… or at least some of it was. There were a number of burned and knocked down houses. When they saw Laira’s home still standing, Garan rushed ahead and opened the door. There were several people inside, some were injured. When Janet entered with Laira, following Naytha, she immediately went into doctor mode.
“Garan, see if my medkit is still here.”
The boy found it and Janet went to work cleaning cuts and scrapes and treating burns. Laira assisted her. The man who’d been so rude to Janet had a broken arm which Janet splinted.
With a dazed look he told her what had happened. “One struck Talmar’s home. Three families were inside. We are all that are left.”
“Why did you stay?”
“On the third day we could take no more. We fled to the stone ring… where it used to be…”
“Used to be?” Having finished with her patients, Janet ran out of Laira’s house and to the gate. All she found was a large trench with gravel and dirt where the stargate once stood. She looked around, realizing that she had no way home, no way to get back to her daughter, her friends, her family.
Laira joined her, also stunned by the absence of the stargate. “It’s gone. I’ll never see my people again. They can never come home.”
With tears in her eyes, Janet shook her head.
Laira started to reach out, to comfort her new friend. “And you…”
Feeling too vulnerable, Janet walked away from Laira, kicking at dirt and rocks. Sadly, Laira left Janet to her grief and returned to her home.
It was after dark when Janet finally left the clearing and returned to Laira’s house. All of the remaining villagers had decided to eat dinner together.
“Thanks be to the ancestors that we live and have a roof to shield our heads. Thanks be to the ancestors that we have food to sustain and nourish us.” Laira had just said the dinner blessing when Janet entered.
Paynan glared at Janet as soon as she opened the door. “This is all that remains of our people because of you!”
Naytha was near tears. “My mother and father…”
“You took them away through that thing, and now it is gone!”
Janet, full of her own grief, snapped back. “That thing probably saved their lives! And if you’d have shut up and listened to us in the first place, this wouldn’t be the situation!” Janet took a couple of steadying breaths and looked at Laira. She then turned to leave.
Laira immediately stood and went to Janet, stopping her with a hand on her arm. She glared at Paynan, “This is my home,” then looked into Janet’s eyes, and spoke gently, “and you are welcome here. You need to eat.”
Sliding her hand down the doctor’s arm, Laira took Janet’s hand in own and led her back to the table, and the seat next to her own.
SG-1 and General Hammond were again looking at an active stargate, after sending another MALP to Edora and again receiving no telemetry.
“No signal from the radio transmitter, sir,” Walter reported.
“If the Edoran stargate were truly buried, how then was a wormhole established?” Teal’c asked.
“The meteor hit while the wormhole was active,” explained Sam.
“So?” asked the colonel.
“So it’s possible that the molten naquadah hardened just above the event horizon.”
“Like an iris?” Daniel asked.
Hammond sighed, “Sergeant, shut it down.”
“That was our last shot, people. I’m calling this one. As of right now, I’m officially calling Dr. Fraiser missing in action.”
“General Hammond, perhaps Edora can be reached by another means.”
“That’s right,” Jack agreed. “The Tok’ra could send a ship.”
“Or, or the Tollan…” Daniel suggested. “Let me at least contact those of our allies that are capable of interstellar travel, see if they’re willing to help.”
“Very well, Doctor.”
Janet washed her face in a basin. She was physically tired and emotionally wrung out. As she dried her face Laira approached her and handed her a shirt.
“I thought you might like a clean work shirt. I’ve never worn it; I made it just the other day.”
“There’s a chance the stargate is just buried…”
“We have to rebuild before the harvest and… there are very few of us now.” Laira felt so bad for her new friend, but knew there was nothing she could do. If she’d been cut off from her son, she’d have been inconsolable too. She laid a gentle hand on the doctor’s shoulder. “You need to sleep, come to bed.”
“I will, shortly.”
Laira was asleep by the time Janet laid down on the bed. She, however, was unable to sleep all night.
Sam couldn’t give up – not on Janet. She wracked her brain until an idea formed. She went to see the general.
“Wormhole physics – a field, Major, that you pioneered – states that under these conditions ordinary matter won’t even reintegrate on the other side. There’s no way to overcome that.”
“I think there is, sir. And I’m not the one who thought of it – Sokar did.”
“Yes, sir. When he tried to breach the iris by bombarding it with a particle beam, subatomic particles, barely small enough to reintegrate, produced energy as they decayed.”
“Which caused the iris to heat up.”
“Exactly. Now, if we could do the same thing, we could melt the hardened naquadah barrier just above the event horizon and create a pocket of super-heated gas.”
“Then all we have to do is open the gate again, sir. The unstable vortex it normally generates would then be allowed to expand into that pocket and create and even larger cavern. One person might be able to go through, sir, and dig it out.”
“I think we can safely assume Teal’c would volunteer. But…”
“We don’t have a particle beam generator, sir. We’d have to build one.”
“Then you’d better get started.” Having Sam’s not inconsiderable intellect working on the solution made Hammond feel significantly better. They would get Dr. Fraiser back.
Janet, of course, rolled up her sleeves and went to work helping the survivors rebuild and prepare for the harvest. However, she was not able to give up the hope of ever getting home. She couldn’t bear the thought of never seeing her daughter again. As a mother, she’d do anything she had to, to get back to her daughter. So, after the day’s work, Janet grabbed a shovel and went to where the stargate used to stand and began to dig.
Garan came looking for her. He removed his hat and held out a small bundle. “You, uh, missed evening meal. I brought you something.”
“Well, you got to be; you worked all day in the fields.”
“I’ve got a couple of hours of good light left.”
“I’m sorry,” the boy said softly.
“You can’t go home… it’s my fault.”
Unable to remain angry at the remorseful teenager, she sighed. “No it’s not.”
Garan, not believing her denial, put his hat back on and walked away as Janet continued to dig.
Daniel walked into Sam’s lab and watched her working on her computer. He set a mug of his special coffee blend on the workbench next to her. “You working through the night again?”
“Yeah. Lot of work to do.” She picked up the mug of coffee and took a sip. “Thank you.”
“Look, Sam, there’s no doubt you’re going to solve this, but you have to accept the fact that it’s going to take time.”
“Yeah, well, if I think that way it could take months!” she snapped.
“The Tollan could have a ship in the vicinity of Edora sometime early next year.”
“Janet shouldn’t have to wait that long… neither should Cassie,” she added softly.
Daniel regarded his friend and teammate for a couple of moments. “You miss her.”
“Yeah. Of course I do, she’s my best friend.”
Daniel realized, whether Sam did or not, that there was more to it than that. “Is this a problem?”
“No, no… of course not.”
“Okay.” He gave her shoulder a squeeze. “Good night.”
Janet was sitting on the bank of the lake; every so often she tossed a stone into the water and watched the ripples. It was getting dark and the stars were just coming out.
Laira approached. “Many of us fear the fire rain will come again. Do you?”
“No. If Daniel and Sam were right, and they usually are, it’ll be another 150 years before that happens again. It’s a long time.” Janet leaned back on her hands and looked up at the first few stars of the night. “I was kind of wondering which direction home was.”
Laira pointed down a pathway. “It’s this way.”
“No, I meant–”
“I know what you meant.” Laira knelt next to Janet and held her hand out. “Come, I’d like your company.”
Janet’s eyes watered. “I don’t even like my company right now.” She wasn’t used to what she was feeling. As a doctor there was almost always something she could do, something she could try. And while she didn’t win every fight, she at least went down fighting for her patient. The feeling of total helplessness about her current predicament was consuming her.
“You will again. Loss is that way. I mourned my husband for a hundred days. I never left my house; I never spoke to anyone.”
“I left my house and I spoke to people. Walk with me,” she said gently.
Janet finally took her hand and they stood. They walked, hand in hand.
Even though Janet and Laira had been sleeping in the same bed, their fledgling relationship did not progress to anything beyond hand holding and a few kisses. A part of Janet felt as if taking that step would have meant giving up on the hope of ever going home. And Laira didn’t push. She knew Janet had to come to acceptance on her own. In the meantime, they lived and shared a simple life for nearly three months.
Laira found Janet on her knees in the new garden, tending to the just sprouting vegetables. Janet was wearing homemade Edoran garments.
Laira held a canteen out to the kneeling woman. “You left this at the house.”
Janet sat back on her knees and wiped the sweat from her forehead with the back of her hand. She smiled up at Laira. “Thank you,” she said as she reached for the proffered canteen. She took a long drink and then used some of the water to rinse the dirt from her hands, wiping them dry on a rag. She then took Laira’s hand and stood. They slowly walked together down the path.
“The garden looks wonderful. You’ve worked so hard on it.”
Janet shrugged. “Gardening is something I’ve always enjoyed.”
“Paynan asked about you today.”
Janet arched an eyebrow.
“And he’s invited you to evening supper.”
“Why? He doesn’t even like me.”
“And yet you’ve planted and tended his garden,” Laira said with a knowing smile. “He’s very grateful for all the help you’ve given him.”
“Just helping out like everyone else.”
“Still, you’ve worked very hard. Thank you.”
“Anything I can do.”
Laira stopped walking. “There is something.”
Janet looked at her expectantly. “What?”
Laira gazed into her dark brown eyes. After a few moments she brought her hand up and lightly brushed her fingers through Janet’s hair. “It’s too soon… but you’ll know when the time comes.”
Janet knew exactly what Laira meant. In fact, it had been on her mind quite a bit recently. Laira had been so patient and understanding, she’d held Janet when the sadness overwhelmed her at night, and yet she’d asked nothing in return. Laira was the only bright spot for Janet on Edora.
So, Janet moved closer to Laira, gently took her face in both her hands, and placed a tender kiss on her lips. “Yes, I will know when it’s time,” she said softly when their lips parted. They resumed their walk – arm in arm.
After cleaning up at the house and changing clothes, Janet and Laira went to Paynan’s for dinner, followed by a rather lively party.
Paynan poured Janet a cup of some homemade brew. She took a swallow and then coughed and wheezed. The man grinned.
“So what do you think?”
“Absolute rotgut!” But she held her cup out for some more, earning her some overdue respect from the surely man.
Janet made sure to only sip her drink after that. She and Laira sat next to each other as a few people played some music and several of the villagers danced. She watched as Naytha was blindfolded and spun in circles. Dizzy, she swayed as she moved and ended up in front of Garan where her blindfold was removed.
“What just happened?” Janet asked.
“The ancestors guided her to the one they wish her betrothed.”
“She was peeking!” Both women laughed.
Suddenly Janet was pulled from her seat and blindfolded. Hands spun her around several time and then gently pushed her. Strong arms encircled her waist as she almost stumbled into the person she ended up in front of. She reached up, took the blindfold off, and gazed into Laira’s understanding eyes. Janet pressed against Laira and kissed her cheek as they began to dance.
Arm in arm, Laira and Janet entered her house. Janet was a little tipsy, but in control of her thoughts and actions. She felt good for the first time in 89 days. She was living in the moment and had enjoyed the camaraderie of the villagers and their utter lack of judgment about the closeness, and obvious attraction, between her and Laira. She closed her eyes as Laira took her in her arms and kissed her, making her head swim.
“Garan?” Janet asked when their lips parted.
“It’s just us tonight,” replied Laira. She brought her hand up and caressed Janet’s cheek. “I wanted to be patient. I wanted to wait until you had let go of the life you left behind… until you knew that you belonged with us. Tonight… I see it in your eyes.”
“Laira… you should know… a part of me is never going to let go of what I left behind. I’ll never forget my daughter.”
“I would never ask you to. I only want the part of you that can be happy here.”
Janet felt something inside let go. She could be happy on Edora – it wasn’t at all like her life on Earth, but she could be happy there… or at least a part of her could be. So she replied with a kiss.
Their kiss deepened and without spoken agreement they moved into the bedroom. They slowly undressed each other and lay down on the bed in each other’s arms. Janet allowed herself to just feel and enjoy the moment, and what Laira was doing with her hands and mouth felt so good. As Laira kissed and licked her way down her body and nuzzled her inner thighs Janet brought her knees up and parted them. She sank her fingers into soft, curly hair and moaned.
After Janet climaxed, Laira moved up and kissed her, letting the younger woman taste herself on her lips and tongue. Once Janet caught her breath, she pushed up against Laira and rolled her over so that she was on top of her. She kissed her way down to her chest and took a hard nipple into her mouth. It wasn’t long though before she abandoned Laira’s breasts and settled between her thighs. Laira came with a loud moan.
They fell asleep entangled in each other’s arms that night.
Despite not feeling the best the next morning, Janet left the house and returned to Paynan’s garden, to finish with the weeding.
Paynan, who was obviously much more hung-over than she was, came out and handed her a cup. Janet accepted it but eyed it warily.
“It’s just water.”
“As long as it’s not whatever we were drinking last night.”
“Tolka.” He winced. “It has a bite to it.”
She gave a small nod. “Oh, yeah. That it does.”
Paynan just stood there grinning at Janet.
She eyed him and arched an eyebrow. “What?”
“She’s a fine woman.”
Janet didn’t even pretend to not know what he was talking about. “Yes, she is.”
“Took you long enough to see it,” he said with a smirk before going back inside.
Teal’c was with Sam and the general in the control room as Walter sent a MALP through the stargate.
“MALP should be arriving at the Edora gate in three… two… one. Receiving telemetry– No, wait. We lost it; there’s no signal.”
“What happened?” asked Hammond.
“The transmission was interrupted at the source, sir.”
“Play back the visual,” Sam ordered. The sergeant did so. “Whoa! There – see?”
All three stared at the paused playback. On the monitor was the image of an underground spiral of some sort.
“The gate is horizontal, as you thought, Major Carter.”
“The MALP just slipped back through the event horizon. It means the vortex will have dug part way to the surface. Teal’c, you’ll need to secure yourself above the event horizon as soon as you’re on the other side and you’ll have to carry everything you need.”
The general looked at him. “I hope you do, son, because if you fail to dig your way to the surface, this will be a one-way trip.”
Teal’c was in the gate room preparing for his mission. Since the gate on Edora was on its side and he needed to anchor himself above the event horizon, he hefted a large harpoon and fired it through the wormhole.
Once on the other side with both himself and his equipment secured to the ceiling of the cavern he keyed his radio. “General Hammond, I have secured myself on the other side.”
“I will begin immediately.”
Janet was returning to the house when she saw Laira come out carrying a basket. As they neared each other she saw the contents of the basket – it was all her SGC stuff except for any medical supplies.
“Going somewhere with that stuff?”
“I just thought you might not need these things anymore.”
“Well, wait… some of that’s pretty good. The jacket is…”
“Does it remind you of home?”
Janet took a deep breath and closed her eyes a few moments. It had been 101 days since she’d been stranded on Edora, 12 days since she and Laira became lovers. She opened her eyes. “Toss it.”
“Are you sure?”
Teal’c was trying to drill through the ceiling of the cavern.
“What’s your progress, Teal’c?”
“It is most difficult, O’Neill.”
“The gate will shut down automatically in 60 seconds,” Sam informed him. “At that point we won’t be able to open it again from this side. The vortex would vaporize everything within the cavern.”
“You may want to wish me ral’tor’kee.”
Daniel nodded. “Good luck, Teal’c.”
Laira was at the water’s edge as she started to go through the contents of the basket, when she picked up Janet’s radio she turned the dials out of curiosity. However, she was more than surprised to hear Sam’s voice come through it.
“15 seconds ’til shut down… ten seconds ’til shut down… five seconds…”
That evening at the dinner table Janet was explaining something to Garan when she noticed Laira silently staring at the table and not eating.
“Is something wrong with the food? Did I overcook the meat?”
“No, no.” Laira couldn’t look at the woman who’d stolen her heart in the eyes. And despite the pain she knew she was going to experience, she was too honorable to hide something from the younger woman. Besides, if Janet’s people could return to Edora, so could her people. She took a steadying breath. “When I was taking your things away today… I thought I heard a sound come from this.” She brought her hand up from her lap. In it was Janet’s radio. “Perhaps it was a voice…”
Janet snatched the radio from Laira’s hand and headed out the door. She grabbed the shovel she’d used previously when she was tried to dig up the gate several weeks earlier. “This is Dr. Janet Fraiser, come in?”
“Dr. Fraiser!” Teal’c replied.
“Teal’c! Where are you?”
“Attempting to reach the surface. Little oxygen remains, Dr. Fraiser.”
Janet arrived in the clearing and turned another dial on her radio. “I’ve got you on R.D.F. signal!” The radio was emitting beeps, their frequency guiding her to the correct location. “I’m right on top of you!”
Janet started to dig as Teal’c continued to chip through from below. Garan, who had followed Janet with another shovel, arrived and started to dig alongside her. Out of the corner of her eye she caught a glimpse of Laira as she arrived at the clearing. Janet stopped and looked at Laira. They held each other’s eyes, communicating silently.
I know… I understand.
Janet continued her digging. In only a few moments, the combined efforts of Janet, Garan, and Teal’c created a hole. Janet dropped to her knees and looked through the opening. She couldn’t resist sticking her hand down and making physical contact with the Jaffa.
“Teal’c! Are you ever a sight for sore eyes!”
“I am pleased to see you as well, Dr. Fraiser.”
Once Teal’c was up and out of the cavern, Garan ran back to the village to let people know what was going on and to get help. Everyone worked together to uncover the stargate and DHD. Under Teal’c’s guidance they worked through the night and managed to rig some timbers and ropes and pulleys to upright the gate.
The relief was evident in Hammond’s voice when he answered Teal’c’s radio call after dialing the SGC. The members of SG-1 were the first to arrive through the gate, followed by all the villagers that had evacuated almost three and half months earlier.
Janet, still in her homemade Edoran clothes, stood by and silently watched as the Edorans were reunited with their families and friends, while Jack was busy patting Teal’c on the back for a job well done.
“… the MALP sent back just a few seconds of telemetry, we knew the gate or horizon… tal… and…” Sam trailed off when she realized her best friend wasn’t listening to her and was silently staring past her, over her shoulder, at someone.
Janet walked past Sam and Daniel.
“Is she alright?” Sam asked.
Daniel sighed. “I’m sure she is, Sam. But I just don’t think she was expecting to go home again.”
They turned to watch as Janet approached and spoke to Laira.
Laira’s heart was breaking, she knew Janet wouldn’t stay. In truth, she couldn’t really blame her. And besides, all of their long lost friends and family were home. She met Janet’s gaze with sad, but understanding, blue eyes.
“You must be very happy to be going home.”
“No, I’m not.”
“You can stay.”
Sam, who overheard them, was unable to listen or watch any longer. Daniel watched with concern as Sam walked away.
“I can’t. I have to go home to my daughter,” Janet said. “Come to Earth.”
“I belong here… just as you belong on your world.”
Janet’s eyes welled with unshed tears; she’d never meant to hurt Laira.
“Don’t forget me,” Laira said softly.
“I could never forget you.”
They embraced, holding tight onto each other.
“Fair day, and–” Laira’s voice cracked as her tears began to fall, “… and be well.”
“Fair day and be well,” Janet replied and kissed her cheek.
As soon as they let go of each other Laira turned and left. She couldn’t bear to watch Janet leave. Janet wiped the welling tears from her eyes before turning back to the others. Someone had already dialed the SGC, so Janet simply walked past everyone, Edorans and SG-1 alike, and went through the gate. Daniel was the only one to see her leave since the others were busy talking with the Edorans.
General Hammond was waiting as soon as Janet came through stargate. He welcomed her with a big smile. “Welcome home, Doctor. You’ve been sorely missed.”
“Thank you. I need to speak with you, sir, in private.”
He nodded. “Come with me.” Once in his office Hammond sat behind his desk and regarded his CMO. “Now, what do you need to talk about, Dr. Fraiser?”
“I need some time off, sir, a month, maybe longer.”
His surprised showed on his face. “I fully expected you to need some time off, a couple of weeks to reacclimate, but a month?”
“Permission to speak freely, sir?”
“I just spent the last three and half months thinking I’d never see home again – never see my daughter, my parents, my brothers. I know how difficult it’s been for me and I can only imagine how devastating it’s been for Cassandra. It’s going to take more than a couple of weeks to help my daughter deal with this. And if you can’t see your way to give me that time, then I respectfully resign my commission, sir.”
Hammond was genuinely surprised by the doctor. It was obvious she was absolutely serious and wouldn’t think twice about resigning. “There’s no need for you to resign, Doctor. You have the time, beginning as soon as you’re cleared through medical. However, I expect you to keep me advised of your whereabouts.”
“Thank you, sir. I intend to take Cassie to see my parents. I’ll inform you if we go anywhere else.”
“Very well.” His demeanor softened as he stood. “I’m very glad you’re back safe and sound, Doctor. We’ve all missed you.”
“Thank you, sir,” she replied a little less stiffly. “If I may, I have a small favor to ask.”
“What is it?”
“Could you not tell anyone where I’m going?” At his questioning look she explained. “I’m not ready to deal with everyone… I just need some time.”
Hammond nodded. “Very well. I’ll do my best to keep Colonel O’Neill and the rest of SG-1 from tracking you down and bothering you.”
“Thank you, sir.”
“You’re welcome.” He paused for a moment. “And, Doctor, we would not have abandoned you. We contacted our allies about sending a ship to rescue you.”
She gave him a nod and left.
Janet passed her physical and sped home, where Hammond’s daughter met her – with Cassie in tow. Mother and daughter hugged and cried. Within half an hour, they had packed and were on the road, driving to her parents’ place. She deliberately left her cell phone turned off.
It was time for SG-1 to go home. But they had promised to return for a celebration of the Edorans’ homecoming. And there was still a treaty to negotiate.
Jack looked around. “Where’s Doc?”
“She, uh, she already returned to the SGC, Jack,” Daniel answered.
“Oh.” He was clearly surprised, as was Sam.
When SG-1 returned, they reported for their post-mission physicals. They then started looking for Janet. It was when they met with the general that they found out she’d left.
“A month?!” Jack exclaimed. “We just get her back and she takes off?”
“It may be longer.”
“Where did she go?” Sam asked. She couldn’t believe Janet left without saying a word to her about it.
“She asked me not tell anyone.” Hammond held up a finger and continued, cutting off whatever Jack was going to say. “And I’m ordering you, all of you, to respect her wishes. Do not attempt to track her down or contact her in any way. She’ll be back and speak to you when she’s ready. Am I clear?”
It took Janet and Cassie a couple of days to get to her parents’ place. Kate and Jameson were pleased by the unexpected visit, but they also sensed their daughter’s underlying discomfort over something.
About two weeks after their arrival, Kate pulled Janet aside to go for a walk so they could talk. “What’s going on, Janet?”
“What do you mean, Mom?”
“I mean, something has happened – tell me what it is.”
Janet sighed. “I can’t.”
“Then leave out the classified part and tell me the rest,” Kate said, not letting it go.
Needing to talk about it, Janet looked around. Spying a nice large shade tree, she sat down and leaned against the trunk. Kate sat next to her.
“There’s a lot I can’t tell you.” She gathered her thoughts. “Recently I was sent on an assignment, a routine medical aid assignment. It was supposed to be for a just a few days, but…”
“But what, Janet?”
She took a deep breath and slowly let it out. “But due to a natural disaster, we were cut off with no contact, no way back, and no way for anyone to reach us.”
“How is that possible? I mean, we have planes and can make air-drops.”
“I can’t tell you why that wasn’t possible because it’s classified, but we were completely cut off.” Janet looked down at her hands which were nervously fidgeting in her lap. She clenched them into fists in an effort to still them. “But I can tell you we were stuck for almost three and half months!” Tears threatened to spill. “Just me and some of the villagers… for almost three and half months I thought I’d never see Cassie again… or you and Dad, or Scott and Jeff…”
Kate took her daughter in her arms and held her close. Janet clung to her mother as the damn broke and she cried, giving full vent to her emotions. Her mother rocked her and whispered soft assurances until she finally settled down.
“I’m so glad you’re home safe and sound, sweetheart.”
“I honestly didn’t think I would ever come home, Mom.”
“That must have been very scary.”
“What were the villagers like?”
“You said it was just you and some of the villagers.”
“For the most part they were really nice. There was one man who seemed to think that everything that went wrong was my fault.”
Janet nodded. “I know. He seemed to forgive me eventually, after about three months.”
They sat in silence for a few minutes, Janet’s head on her mother’s shoulder. Kate eventually broke the silence.
“There’s something you’re not talking about. What is it, Janet?”
Janet lifted her head from her mother’s shoulder and quietly sighed. She shouldn’t have been surprised her mother was so perceptive. It was one of the things she admired about her.
“I…” She wasn’t sure how to begin. “There was someone…” Janet pulled her knees up and wrapped her arms around her legs, unconsciously pulling herself into a ball and making herself smaller. “I met someone… one of the villagers…”
“What was her name?”
Janet whipped her head round and gaped at her mother. How the hell did she know?!
Kate correctly interpreted her daughter’s expression. She put her hand on Janet’s back and gently rubbed circles between her shoulder blades. “I wasn’t born yesterday, you know. And I’ve known you your entire life, dear.”
“I’ve always known. It was one of the main reasons I never really approved of your marriage to Nelson. I never said anything about your preference because you didn’t seem open to talking about it, so I figured it wasn’t any of my business.” Her throat tightened as she thought back to when Janet finally filed for divorce. “I wish now I’d said something then – if I had, maybe I could have prevented him from hurting you.”
Janet leaned over and kissed her mother’s cheek. “It wasn’t your fault, Mom. I knew I shouldn’t have married him; it was destined to fail.”
Kate looked at her daughter and remembered her pain and anger when she’d found out what that bastard had done to her little girl. “I still wish I’d said something. If I’d known he’d hurt you like that…”
“I know, Mom. He was the apple of Daddy’s eye, and none of us knew what he was capable of. But it’s over and done with, and you can rest assured I’d never let anyone like that be part of my life again.”
Kate gave Janet a watery smile and they hugged. She wiped her eyes as they parted. “So, tell me about this woman you met,” she said, trying to lighten the mood.
“Her name was Laira. She was the only bright spot about the situation. I felt a connection to her almost from the moment we met. We… got involved a few days before the rescue,” she finished softly.
“Will you see her again?”
“Surely you can go visit her.”
Janet carefully considered her words for several moments before she replied. “I don’t know that I would, even if it were easy to do.”
“As much as I was attracted to her, and as glad as I am we met, I couldn’t have ever been really happy there with her. I don’t think I could have given her everything she was willing to give to me.” Her mother remained quiet as Janet tried to find the words to explain. “Even if we’d met under different circumstances… I think we’d have had a nice time together, but… I don’t think it would have worked in the long term.”
“Because of the military’s rules?”
“No. If it ever really came down to it, to a choice between being with someone who really makes me happy and staying in the Air Force…” She shrugged. “I’m a doctor, I can practice medicine anywhere.” She took another deep breath and slowly let it out. “I will tell you though, that it was nice to not have to hide or worry about saying the wrong thing. None of the villagers thought it the least bit odd or unusual for us to be together. The only comments I heard were nothing more than light teasing, made out of friendship and acceptance.”
“This village sounds like a nice place.”
“It was… but it wasn’t home.” Janet closed her eyes. “I think I learned something while I was there.”
“That life’s too short. That we should be thankful for what we have and for the people in our lives. That we shouldn’t deny ourselves a chance at happiness.”
Kate slipped her arm around Janet’s shoulders and gave her a squeeze. “I’m glad you feel that way, I’m just sorry you had to go through what you did to learn that lesson.” Janet laid her head on her mother’s shoulder again and Kate kissed the top of it. “You do know that your father and I want nothing more than for you to be happy, right?”
“Thanks, Mom, for everything.”
The two Fraiser women sat under the tree for a while, simply enjoying each other’s companionship.
A couple of days later, Kate and Jameson went with Janet and Cassie to Florida and spent a few days at Disneyworld, Universal Studios, and SeaWorld. Janet was able to let go and play like a kid with her daughter.
By the time Janet and Cassie got back to Colorado Springs the month Hammond had given the doctor off was almost up. She had three days to get settled back in at home and prepare for her return to the SGC. The previous weeks had done wonders for Cassie and in helping them reconnect. She was doing so well that she was finally willing to spend some time away from her mother. On their first full day back home, Friday, Cassie asked to go visit her friend, Lisa. Janet smiled and gave her permission.
After Cassie left to go see her friend, Janet rolled up her sleeves and began to clean the house. It was a few minutes after noon when there was a knock on her front door. She wiped some sweat from her forehead and opened the door.
The archeologist smiled. “Hi, Janet.”
“What are you doing here?”
“Uh, can I come in?” he asked as he glanced over his shoulder a little nervously.
She stepped back from the doorway and let him enter. “Can I get you something to drink? I haven’t done any grocery shopping, so all I can offer you is water or a diet Coke.”
“No, no thanks.”
“So, what’s on your mind, Daniel?” she asked as she sat in the recliner and Daniel took a seat on the couch.
“Well, we heard you were back, and uh… well, the general ordered us not to contact you, so Jack and Sam couldn’t come by. And Teal’c, well, he…” He took a breath. “Anyway, we want you to know that you’ve been missed and we’re glad you’re back.”
“Janet… I know you’ve had a lot to deal with, but uh… I think there’s something you should know.”
“You don’t know this, but Sam worked night and day to make your rescue possible. She singlehandedly conceived of, designed, and built a particle beam generator – something no one on Earth has ever done before. She worked for over three months straight with no more than two or three hours sleep a night, if that. Any time we tried to get her to take a break, she’d shake her head and say she couldn’t take a break as long you were trapped off-world. She didn’t have to do that, Janet, because the Tollan were willing to send a ship for you, although it wouldn’t have gotten to Edora until next year. To Sam that was completely unacceptable.” He finally stopped to catch his breath. “Anyway, I just thought you should know.”
“You’re right, I didn’t know all that. Thank you for telling me.”
Daniel leaned forward, resting his elbows on his knees. “Janet…”
“What is it, Daniel?” she prompted when he didn’t continue.
“Are you okay?”
“Yeah, I am. Certainly a lot better than I was a few weeks ago.”
“Do you think you’ll go back?”
“What? To Edora?”
He nodded. “To see Laira,” he said gently. “I, uh… I noticed how close you seemed to be.”
She took a deep breath and let it out. “No,” she finally said. She looked away. “We did become close, but…”
“But ‘don’t ask/don’t tell’?”
Janet looked at Daniel, and didn’t see any judgment from him. “I care about Laira, a great deal, but I’m not in love with her. And, if I ever do fall in love ‘don’t ask/don’t tell’ isn’t going to dictate what I do in my private life.”
Daniel nodded in understanding and then stood. “Well, I’ll leave you alone now. If you need anything, don’t hesitate to call.”
Janet stood and walked the archeologist to the door where they hugged. “Thanks, Daniel. And you can let the others know I’ll be back to work on Monday and I’ll see everyone then.”
“Alright, and welcome home, again.” Daniel left.
When Janet finished cleaning, she took a shower, got herself a large glass of ice water, and turned the stereo on low. She settled down on the couch and started looking through some photo albums. She had become a bit of shutterbug since she’d adopted Cassie. There were pictures Cassie by herself, Cassie with SG-1, and Cassie and Sam. There were pictures of her and Cassie. Those were, of course, taken by Sam because Janet had never really mastered the timer on the camera to take them herself.
And then, there were pictures of the three of them – Sam had mastered the use of the camera’s timer. Janet turned the page and froze. She didn’t remember ever seeing the picture staring up at her. She peeled back the static film holding it in place, turned it over and found her daughter’s handwriting:
My moms – July 4th, 1999
Cassie must have taken the picture during the last Fourth of July picnic, almost a year ago. Janet replaced the photo and stared at it. She found herself running her fingertips over the images of the picture. She seemed to be looking at someone off camera; however, Sam’s bright blue eyes were clearly locked on her. She felt her heart clench at the look in the beautiful eyes – such naked want – directed right at her.
“Oh, God… Sam…”
She went back to the beginning of the album and reexamined each photo that had both her and Sam in it. In almost every single one Sam’s eyes were on her and filled with obvious love and desire. Why hadn’t she seen it before?
Because you weren’t ready to see it. You weren’t ready to drop your walls and let anyone in… not until Laira.
Janet closed her eyes. She mentally reviewed the last two and half years – every action, every word of the blonde astrophysicist (and herself) – and saw everything in a whole new light. She suddenly had an epiphany and realized why she’d found Laira’s blue eyes so beautiful.
God, I’ve been so blind.
So what are you going to do about it?
Even though it was her day off, Sam was in her lab going over some equations when her cell phone rang. “Carter.”
“Sam, it’s Janet.”
“Listen, Sam, I was wondering if you had some time to talk.”
“Sure. What’s up?”
“No, I meant in person. Would you mind coming over to my place?”
“Okay. I’ll be there in about half an hour.”
“Good, I’ll see you then.”
Janet opened the door and smiled. “Hey.”
The women hugged. “Come in, Sam. Can I get you something to drink?”
“Only if you want a diet Coke. I haven’t been to the grocery store yet.”
Janet retrieved the cold sodas and joined Sam on the couch.
“So, what did you want to talk about?” the blonde asked.
“Well, first off, I want to thank you, Sam, for everything you did to get me back from Edora. I know you’re the reason I’m not still stranded there. So, thank you.”
Sam’s stared at the can of soda in her hand. “You know the rule – never leave anyone behind.” She paused. “You seemed to make some friends on Edora,” she added softly. It still hurt to think of Janet wanting to be with someone else.
Janet realized she was going to have to take the bull by the horns. “Yeah, Laira and I became close friends.”
“Looked like more than friends to me,” Sam murmured before she could think to stop herself.
“We were more than friends,” Janet confirmed, eliciting a surprised look from Sam. She took a deep breath and slowly let it out. “I admit there was an attraction as soon as we met… but nothing happened until a few days before Teal’c arrived.” She tried to gauge the blonde’s reaction. “Have I shocked you?”
“Surprised me, that’s for sure.” She finally looked at the doctor. “I never knew you were… I mean, you were married, you have an ex-husband.”
“Are you going to turn me in?”
Sam’s eyes widened. “What? No! I would never do that!”
“Then are we okay? Are we still friends?”
“Of course we are!”
“I’m glad; you mean a lot to me, Sam.”
“You mean a lot to me, too.”
Janet hesitated a moment, but then forged ahead. “How much?”
“How much do I mean to you, Sam?” At the blonde’s confused look, Janet continued. “I know how hard you worked to make it possible for me to come home, but like you said, ‘Never leave anyone behind.’ What I want to know is, is there any chance there was something else, something more, that drove you to push yourself so hard?”
Caught off guard by the direction the conversation was taking, Sam tried to find her emotional footing. “W-what do you mean?”
Janet set her soda on the coffee table, leaned over and placed a soft kiss on Sam’s lips.
Sam’s heart skipped a beat and she all but sighed into the kiss. But then she suddenly pulled back and jumped up from the couch. She ran a nervous hand through her hair as she began to pace on the other side of the coffee table.
Janet watched Sam, more than a little surprised by her actions… and a little fearful. Had she just ruined everything?
“No, no, no. I can’t do this.” Sam looked at the doctor for a few moments as she kept pacing.
“Sam?” The pain in the blonde’s eyes was heartbreaking.
“I can’t do this. I can’t be a rebound, Janet. It never works; I’ve been there and it hurts.”
“You fell in love with Laira on Edora and didn’t really want to come home. I can’t be a substitute for her.”
Janet got up and walked around to where Sam paced. She reached out and grabbed the blonde’s shoulders to stop her pacing and then took her face in her hands, looking into her eyes. “You are not a substitute for Laira, Sam. If anything, she was a substitute for you.”
Sam didn’t understand. “What?”
“I’m not in love with Laira, I never was. She was there… when you weren’t. Sam, it’s you… it’s always been you.” She pulled the blonde into a kiss, trying to convey all her feelings in that one kiss.
Sam heard each word, but it took a few moments for their meaning to really sink in. Janet’s kiss took her breath away and she felt her knees turn rubbery. She wrapped her arms around the woman she’d been in love with for such a long time.
Janet’s heart skipped a beat the moment Sam relaxed into the kiss and fully returned it. She slipped her arms around the taller woman’s neck and deepened the kiss. Eventually a lack of oxygen made them part. Sam looked at her, her heart on her sleeve and her emotions clear in her blue eyes. She tenderly caressed the blonde’s cheek.
“Yes, this is real.”
“I love you, Janet.”
“And I love you.”
They kissed again, long and deep, finding themselves breathless and wanting more. With quiet whispers, they agreed to climb the stairs and retire to Janet’s bedroom.
With reverence and tenderness they slowly undressed each other, kissing and touching smooth flesh as it was revealed. Lying down in each other’s arms, they came together at last, whispering their love with soft caresses and low moans.
Janet reveled in Sam’s arousal, thrilled that she had such an effect on the blonde. She suckled on a hard nipple as she gently pushed her fingers inside Sam. She matched the subtle rhythm of Sam’s slowly rocking hips. She kissed and licked her way down the lean body, memorizing what made the blonde moan and whimper with want and need. She dipped her tongue into her bellybutton then settled between her legs.
Sam arched up off the bed when Janet’s tongue pushed between her folds. The combination of the brunette’s velvety tongue and her knowing fingers still moving in and out of her was enough to send Sam over the edge. She could taste herself on Janet’s lips and tongue when she moved up and kissed her. Sam rolled them over so she was on top of Janet. With the meticulousness of a scientist she explored every inch of Janet’s skin.
The doctor let out a moan and fisted her fingers in short, blonde hair when Sam took her in her mouth. Sam was driving her mad, taking her to a point just shy of orgasm but backing off, and then doing it again… and again. Finally she couldn’t take any more and begged Sam to make her come.
Afterward, they snuggled together and drifted off to sleep.
When Janet opened her eyes she found herself looking into big, blue eyes. “What?”
“I’m glad you think so.”
Sam reached out and caressed Janet’s cheek. “I’ve loved you for so long…”
Janet placed her hand over the hand on her cheek. “I’m sorry I didn’t see it sooner. But in truth, I wasn’t ready for a relationship before now.”
“Is that what this is? A relationship?”
“If you want it to be. I know I do.”
Sam’s eyes watered. “There’s nothing I’d like more.”
They sealed their future with a heart-stopping kiss.