A/N1: This is the result of a prompt given to me by romansilence in this post.
A/N2: Special thanks to karathephantom for the quick beta.
Samantha Carter never knew how precious life is ’til she had lost Janet, the best part of her life. And it was her own fault.
All Janet tried to do was get her to get some rest and eat some food, to take care of herself. And what did she do? She yelled at Janet. She told her to leave her the hell alone, to let her finish her work, to rescue the colonel. Janet had said that if Sam wanted to be left alone, then that’s exactly what she was going to do.
Janet hadn’t stepped foot in her lab since then. But Sam didn’t even notice. She was so single-minded that it didn’t occur to her that Janet hadn’t been around, not even to see if she’d gotten any sleep. She didn’t notice Janet’s total absence, not only from her lab and life, but also from the base.
She only vaguely realized Janet wasn’t around when Daniel, Teal’c, and she waited at the ramp with the Edoran refugees. It wasn’t until they returned and had their post-mission physicals that she noticed Janet wasn’t around. She asked Dr. Peterson where Janet was, but he said he didn’t know.
Sam was so tired she didn’t risk getting on her bike. She went to her quarters on base and crashed. After 18 hours of solid sleep she felt pretty much human when she woke up. She dressed in civilian clothes and headed to the infirmary to see if Janet was working.
“Hey, Cheryl. Is Janet working today?”
Lt. Richards seemed a little hesitant. “Uh… no.”
“Okay, thanks. Have a good day,” Sam cheerfully called on her way out.
Then she rode her bike to Janet’s house. She was confused when she pulled up and saw a strange car in the driveway and the front door open. She clipped her helmet to her bike and walked to the front door.
“Janet?” she called out as she entered.
“Oh! Hello. You’re early, but come on in.”
“Early?” Sam asked as she eyed the brunette that was about her height.
“For our appointment. I’m Renee Lambert, the real estate agent representing the seller. You’re Mrs. Evans, aren’t you?”
“No, I’m not. You say you represent the seller – do you mean Janet Fraiser?”
“How long has the house been for sale?”
“Dr. Fraiser and her daughter moved a little over a month ago.”
Miss Lambert arched an eyebrow. If this woman didn’t know where her client had moved to then it wasn’t her place to say. “I’m afraid I can’t say.”
Sam sensed she wouldn’t get anything more from the realtor, so she left and raced to the mountain.
General Hammond looked up at the knock on his open office door. “Major? He was surprised to see her in civvies.
“May I speak with you, sir?”
“Come in.” He indicated for her to have a seat. “What can I do for you?”
“It’s about Janet– Dr. Fraiser.”
He leaned back in his chair. “We’ll definitely miss the major around here.” He sighed, thinking about a certain surly and sulky colonel. “We already do.”
“Yes. She received her promotion almost two months ago.”
“What do you mean?”
“Why did she leave? Where is she?”
He frowned. “Are you trying to tell me you don’t know?” he asked incredulously.
Sam simply shook her head.
“Well, her original posting here was up and she requested a transfer rather than extending her tour of duty. I tried to get her to reconsider, but she said she needed a change. She was going to resign her commission if necessary. Rather than allow the Air Force to lose such a valuable officer, I got her the transfer – it’s not like she hasn’t received scrutiny and interest from a number of important projects. Quite frankly, Major, I’m more than a little surprised you weren’t aware of any of this, especially considering your friendship with Dr. Fraiser and Cassandra.”
She dropped her gaze and nervously fidgeted. “I was… busy, trying to…”
He nodded. “Trying to find a way to rescue Colonel O’Neill.”
Cassie’s cell phone rang during dinner. It had been a thirteenth birthday present, but it came with a set of rules – it was only to be used in case of emergency, to contact her mother if she was going to be late for any reason, and never ever to be talked on at the table. However, out of habit, she snaked it out of her pocket before noting the look her mother was giving her. As she set it down she noted the caller ID on it.
“Mom! It’s Sam!” Cassie had really missed Sam over the last three and half months. She’d left a number of messages for her hero, but had never gotten a return call. Her mother had tried to explain that Sam was extremely busy at work trying to find a way to get Jack O’Neill back from where he was stranded. Cassie may have understood, at least to a point, but she was hurt by Sam’s total disregard for her… and for her mother. She had been sad for her mother when it became apparent that she and Sam were no longer together.
Janet nodded. “Okay, you can talk to her. But this doesn’t mean the rules have changed.”
“Thanks, Mom.” Cassie opened her phone. “Sam?”
“Hey, kiddo. How you doing?”
“Okay. I take it you finally rescued Jack,” the girl said. Neither Janet, nor Sam, missed the trace of bitterness in her voice.
“Yeah. And the Edoran refugees have gone home.”
“Listen, Cassie, I’m sorry ab–”
“You should be!” the young teen snapped, surprising both her mother and Sam. “I left you messages that you never returned. I called so many times, Sam, but I wasn’t important enough for you to even bother with a phone call. And neither was Mom. You were mean and broke her heart, Sam.”
Janet looked up with a frown but didn’t say anything.
“How could you? How could you turn your back on us like that? You don’t do that to people you love!” Cassie hung up and looked at her mom with large tears brimming in her eyes.
Janet’s heart broke for her daughter. “Come here,” she said gently, and enfolded the girl in her arms as she started to cry.
Cassie clung to her mother, conflicting emotions twisting up inside of her. She’d been happy to see Sam’s name on her phone, to finally hear from her ‘hero.’ But then all the disappointment and hurt of the past months came boiling to the surface and she got angry. She knew Sam had an important job, but she also knew that she spent more time than was really necessary at work – it had been the subject of more than one argument between her mom and Sam.
Sam looked at her phone in dismay. She didn’t think Cassie would ever turn on her like that. She thought back to the last time Janet had come to her lab, just to get her to eat something and to get a little sleep. Nothing unreasonable… Yet she’d yelled at Janet to leave her the hell alone. She’d been so focused on her task that she didn’t even realize it had been almost two and half months since that day. She’d done the impossible – again – to save Colonel O’Neill’s life, but–
No, that wasn’t right. She didn’t save his life. She only facilitated his rescue after three and half months rather than eight or nine months.
“He shouldn’t have to wait that long.”
That’s what she’d told Janet. And her family shouldn’t have had to wait three and half months for her.
But they didn’t wait for her! Anger flared, only to be doused with reality. If she were honest, she believed they would have waited if not for the way she’d treated Janet, the way she’d pushed her away, the way she’d completely ignored both her and Cassie.
All the times growing up when she’d wished her father would come home she had never once doubted that he loved her. Yes, the Air Force took him away, sometimes for long periods of time, but he always let her mother, her brother, and her know that he loved them. He called whenever he could. As much as she hated her father for letting work keep him from picking up her mother that fateful day she was killed, he’d never turned his back on his family… like Sam had done to hers. When she got older, she’d been able to make peace with her father; she understood it wasn’t his fault. But this… the fault for this clearly lay with her.
Every day, for a week, she called and left messages on Janet’s and Cassie’s phones. But then the numbers were changed. She had no way to contact them, no way to work things out, no way to know where they were. She’d tried asking the general, but he indicated Janet had been posted to another highly classified assignment. Sam had asked Teal’c, but he didn’t know where she was. He had said his goodbyes to her, but understood about her new assignment being classified.
Daniel didn’t accept such things at face value. He had pushed Janet about why she was leaving the SGC, and where she was going. The harder he pushed, the more tightlipped Janet had become, until finally she’d told him that if she wanted people to know where she was going she’d tell them. When she left the mountain that day it was for the last time.
Janet and Cassie were both tired. They’d spent all weekend looking at houses with their realtor. Renee Lambert, the agent that sold her house in Colorado Springs, had gotten an excellent price for it – actually more than Janet’s original asking price, so they were looking for a new house to buy in Frederick, Maryland.
After a dinner of takeout, they sat down and looked at all the pictures of the listings they really liked. Some were outside the city limits and had more land; others had smaller lots but were in great neighborhoods. All the ones Cassie liked had pools – a fact which didn’t surprise her mother at all. In the end, they decided on a house in town, but with a nice, large backyard… and a pool. Both were happy to be getting out of the temporary housing at Fort Detrick. If everything went according to plan, they’d be able to move in only a couple of weeks.
Work was also going very well for Janet. Even though she was working at Fort Detrick, she was not with USAMRIID (US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases). After all, she was Air Force, not Army. But she was part of the AFMIC (Armed Forces Medical Intelligence Center) working with other doctors and researchers from the Air Force, the Army, and the Navy.
The work afforded Janet a more stable and regular work schedule, which in turn made things easier at home with her daughter. As a single parent she felt it was important to be a stable presence in her daughter’s life. She’d already seen the effects on Cassie of having Sam retreat from their lives, and she was glad to not always wonder if she would be away from home for days at a time. She found the regular schedule enabled the two of them to grow closer, and a part of her wished she’d done something about her work sooner.
Cassie had the rest of the summer to get settled in before starting at her new school. The neighborhood their new house was in had a number of kids in her age range. It was mostly a civilian neighborhood, but with Fort Detrick as the largest employer in the county, there was an understanding about not asking too many questions of those who worked there. All in all, everything was going quite well for both mother and daughter.
Back at the SGC, the same could not be said for Major Samantha Carter. Colonel Jack O’Neill had shut out his teammates and gone undercover to catch the thieves taking technology from their allies. Afterwards, the soldier in her understood why he’d acted the way he did, but she had a hard time with it on a personal level. She’d felt betrayed by his callousness.
The next several missions didn’t go all that well. They were captured and tortured by the Bedrosians. The only reason they’d escaped was because of Nyan’s help. Daniel had disappeared while they investigated the pyramid on P7X-377 and she and Jack got sick from the muon radiation. Eventually they were able to ‘find’ Daniel, but if not for the help of his grandfather, he would have been lost to them forever. And then Thor showed up with the replicators.
As usual, it was one crisis after another. But it was different. Janet was not there to treat them and make sure they recovered. She wasn’t there to put the colonel in his place, or to take care of Daniel when his appendix needed to be removed. Janet wasn’t there to make everything seem more manageable. And she wasn’t there to share a home cooked meal, a smile at the end of the day, or warm arms to sleep in at night.
Two years later, General Hammond suffered a severe heart attack and had to retire. Colonel O’Neill, who was on the verge of losing his field status due to yet another knee injury, was promoted to Brigadier General and took over command of the SGC. Colonel Mark Chance was brought in as the new CO of SG-1. Less than a year after that, Daniel married and left the SGC. Dr. Chris Lively replaced him.
Sam didn’t get involved with anyone else for a long time, but eventually started dating a police officer named Pete Shanahan. They even became engaged. But a week before the wedding Sam, finally admitting to herself that she just didn’t love him like she had loved Janet, called everything off.
It had been almost five years since Janet had left, and Sam had never been the same. She had never stopped loving Janet. She often wondered what the petite doctor was up to. What was she doing? Where was she living?
Who was she loving?
Cassie was excited to go away to college. She had been accepted into the BS/MD program at George Washington University. Very few people were accepted into their accelerated six-year medical program. She didn’t think she wanted to be a virologist like her mother, but she had no doubts about wanting to be a doctor.
Janet took time off from work to drive her daughter to school in DC. She was pleased that Cassie didn’t choose a west coast school. With her an hour away in DC, Cassie was far enough away to feel independent, but close enough that she could come home when she felt like it. And truth be told, Cassie was secretly happy with the situation as well. She and her mother were very close. She also loved Karen, her mother’s girlfriend.
Karen Rivers had entered Janet’s life unexpectedly. Janet certainly had not been looking for a relationship, but Karen had almost inconspicuously entered her life, her heart, and finally her bed. She was a civilian contractor at Fort Detrick, a computer programmer. They’d met when Karen was brought in to diagnose and fix a problem when her section’s computer system went buggy. There had been an easy camaraderie between them from the moment they’d met. They became friends right away. Things had progressed from there and Janet rediscovered what it felt like to be truly loved and happy.
A couple of years after breaking things off with Pete, Sam, a lieutenant colonel, had been offered command of SG-1. It was something she’d always thought she wanted. But when the offer was made, she found herself suddenly overwhelmed by feelings of suffocation and dread. To General O’Neill’s utter astonishment, and her own, she not only declined the position, she also resigned her commission. She just couldn’t do it anymore. She didn’t love it like she used to. She no longer looked forward to going off-world, meeting new peoples, or discovering alien technology. She needed to escape.
So, Sam packed her things up and took a teaching position at Harvard University’s Department of Astronomy in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Teaching physics to graduate students helped Sam rediscover her love of science through the excitement of her students. Their eagerness and love of discovery reignited that which she’d lost somewhere along the way. For the first time in longer than she cared to remember she felt at ease with herself.
The party to celebrate Janet’s promotion to colonel was actually a dual celebration… because it was the same day the military had finally abolished the ridiculously stupid Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell policy. Of course, they didn’t have much of leg to stand on anymore, since the Supreme Court had declared all bans of same-sex marriage unconstitutional. So, they abolished the policy shortly after same-sex marriage became the law of the land.
Janet gave a short speech at her promotion party, in which she publically acknowledged her relationship with Karen for the first time. In truth it had been the look on Karen’s face that made her day so special, rather than the promotion.
Two months later Cassie came home from school to stand up for her mother as she and Karen were married. A little over a year after that they received the diagnosis – Karen had late stage ovarian cancer. She died only four months later, at home, with Janet and Cassie at her side.
The summer before Cassie’s final year at med school she didn’t go home. Instead, she had received a highly prestigious externship at George Washington University Hospital. It was fun, challenging, kept her busy, and gave her a real taste of what life after graduation was going to be like.
Cassie found herself with a completely unplanned free weekend. Usually she only had one day off at a time. After a nice, long, telephone conversation with her mother, she headed out to the Pentagon City Mall. It had been a long time since she’d had the time to just leisurely browse and window shop.
Around 2:00 on the afternoon, she went to the food court to get some late lunch. She had only been sitting at the table for a few minutes when she thought she saw someone she recognized, someone from the past. Before she even realized it, she stood and walked over to the blonde waiting in line at the Kabuki Sushi counter. Her hair was long, well below her shoulders, but it was her.
Sam turned at the sound of her name.
“It is you!”
It took the blonde half a second to realize who the young woman was. It had been a little over ten years since she’d seen her. “Cassie?!”
The two women hugged and spoke simultaneously.
“What are you doing here?” “How are you?”
Cassie smiled. “I’ve got my lunch over here,” she said with a gesture at her table. “Why don’t you join me when you get yours?”
“I’d love to.”
Cassie returned to her table and was joined by Sam only a few minutes later.
“So, what are you doing here in DC?” Cassie asked.
“I’m here for a symposium being held at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory. What about you? What are you doing here?”
“I’m in medical school here at George Washington. I start my final year this fall, but I got an externship at the hospital this summer, so I stayed here instead of going home.”
“You’re already in your last year? Wow. That’s impressive.”
“I got into a six-year accelerated program.”
“That’s great, Cassie.”
“So what about you, Sam? Are you still at the SGC?”
“No. In fact I’m no longer in the Air Force.”
“You’re kidding?! I thought you’d be in for life.”
“I did, too,” the blonde replied with a smile. “I’m teaching at Harvard in their Department of Astronomy.”
“Cool. You sound you like it.”
“I do. I’ve learned to love the science again.”
“I’m happy for you, Sam.”
The older woman started to pick at her lunch nervously. “Listen, Cassie, about what happened…”
Cassie reached over and covered one of Sam’s hands with her own. “It’s okay, Sam. It was a long time ago. I’m not mad anymore. In truth, I was more hurt than mad at the time.”
“I want to you know that I am sorry for the way I behaved. I don’t have an excuse – I never did.”
They shared another smile.
“So, how’s your mom?”
Cassie sighed a little. “She’s doing pretty good. She’s been keeping busier than usual with work since…”
“Since Karen died… ovarian cancer.”
“Was Karen her girlfriend?”
Cassie smiled. “They were married. But they were together a long time before that. Mom came out the day that stupid Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell policy was revoked. It was the same day she was promoted to colonel. It was a hell of a party. They were married a couple of months later. I miss Karen… I know Mom does, too.”
“I’m sure she does. I’m sorry to hear about Karen.”
“She was a really great person. You would have like her, Sam.”
“I don’t doubt it.”
“What about you, Sam? Are you married or involved with anyone.”
“I almost got married, but I called it off a week before the wedding.”
Sam shook her head. “Don’t be. It wasn’t meant to be. I knew I didn’t love Pete like I did your mother; I was just too stubborn to admit before then. But at least I didn’t go through with it.”
Cassie’s jaw dropped. “Pete?! I thought you were–”
“I am. I am,” the blonde said with a chuckle. “The most obvious reason it wouldn’t have worked.”
“Then why did you get engaged to him?”
“I can’t answer that, Cassie. But it’s in the past.”
“So, anyone in your life now?”
“What about you? Any special boy in your life?”
Cassie shook her head.
“A special girl?”
The young woman grinned. “No. No special girl either. I’ve been way too busy with school to even think about getting serious with anyone. I have dated, but nothing serious.”
The two women spent over four hours talking and catching up.
“Hey, Mom, it’s me.”
“Hey, Cassie. How are you?”
“I’m good.” She paused for a beat. “Mom?”
“Could you do me a favor?”
“It depends on what it is, sweetie.”
“Could you come down to DC tomorrow?”
Janet frowned with concern – they’d just spent almost two hours on the phone that morning. “What’s wrong, Cassie?”
“Nothing’s wrong. I don’t get to see you very much because of my schedule. I just want to spend some time with you. Can you come down?”
“Yes, I can.”
“Good. How about lunch at my place?”
“Okay. Are you sure there isn’t anything wrong, Cassie?”
“Everything’s fine, Mom. I promise.”
“Alright. I’ll see you tomorrow then.”
“Great. See you tomorrow.”
Cassie hung up and let out the breath she’d been holding. She dialed the number on a slip of paper.
“Sam? It’s me. Instead of going to lunch tomorrow, why don’t you come to my place?”
“Are you sure?”
“Yeah. I’ll fix lunch.”
Cassie opened her door and immediately hugged her mother. Janet returned the hug, but also wondered at the tightness with which her daughter seemed to be clinging to her.
“Hey, sweetie.” Janet kissed Cassie’s cheek as they finally parted. She looked hard into her eyes. “Now tell me, what’s going on?”
“Can’t I just miss you?”
She gently cupped her daughter’s cheek. “Of course, sweetheart. I miss you, too. I don’t know what I’m going to do when you graduate. I’m just afraid your residency will be on the other side of the country.”
“Not going to happen, Mom. I won’t take a residency too far from home.”
Janet felt her eyes water. “Have I told you lately how proud I am of you and how much I love you?”
Cassie smiled. “Right back at you, Mom.”
They hugged again before going into the living area of the tiny apartment. They hadn’t even had a chance to sit down before there was a knock on the door.
“I hope you don’t mind, but I invited someone else to join us for lunch, Mom.”
“Ah, so that’s what this is about.”
“Don’t be mad.”
“I’m not, sweetie.” There was another knock. “Now let your friend in.” Janet smiled to herself as she sat on the couch, thinking she was about to meet a romantic interest of her daughter… so she was literally speechless when she saw who followed Cassie into the room.
Sam came to a complete stop and just stared. She felt the world tilt and she had to put a hand on the wall to keep from toppling over. Her heart felt like it was going to pound its way right out of her chest.
“… mall yesterday. I thought it would be great if we all had lunch together.”
Sam missed some of what Cassie had said, but everything seemed to right itself when the petite brunette sitting on the couch smiled.
“Hi.” The air still felt a bit thin, but Sam didn’t feel like she was going to fall over anymore.
The three women had a nice lunch and talked, catching up on the last ten years.
“Cassie told me about your wife, Karen. I’m so sorry, Janet.”
“Thank you. We had six really good years together,” she was able to say with a smile since it had been about two and half years since Karen died. “What about you, Sam. Did you ever marry?”
“Came close, but no.”
Janet shook her head. “I still can’t believe you didn’t stay in the Air Force.”
The blonde shrugged. “It just got to be… It just wasn’t what I wanted anymore. I really love teaching and the science is fun again.”
“Then you made the right choice.”
“What have you been doing? Or can you not say?”
“When I left the SGC I was assigned to the Armed Forces Medical Intelligence Center at Fort Detrick.”
“I’m still there actually, only now as the CO.”
“Wow, I’m impressed.”
Janet shrugged. “It means a lot more paperwork and less time in the lab.”
Sam looked at the young woman who’d been sitting silently, listening and smiling, as the two older women talked. “And now Cassie’s following in your footsteps.”
“Yes, but not exactly,” Cassie said with a smile. “I’m not going to join the military and I’m going into a completely different specialty than virology.”
“What are you going to do?”
“I want to be a gynecologist, because…” her voice faltered and trailed off.
Janet reached over and covered her daughter’s hand with her own, giving it a squeeze. Sam didn’t miss the watery eyes of both Fraiser women.
“I want to help find a cure for ovarian cancer.”
“I’m sure you’ll do great no matter what you do,” Sam said softly.
At the end of a pleasant afternoon, after Janet and Sam exchanged phone numbers, Sam said her goodbyes and left.
Cassie turned to her mother. “It was really good to see Sam again.”
“Yes, it was.”
“So you’re not mad at me?”
“Why on earth would I be mad at you?” Janet asked, confused.
“Well, things didn’t end too well between you and Sam.”
“Oh, honey, that was a long time ago.”
Over the next months, Sam and Janet exchanged phone calls on a regular basis, building the foundation of a new friendship.
Cassie only had a couple of days off at Christmas, but she looked forward to going home. Pulling into the driveway, she was surprised to see another car already in the driveway, one with Massachusetts tags. Inside the house she grinned as she saw Sam sitting on the couch sipping some eggnog.
Janet entered the living room carrying a tray of fresh baked Christmas cookies and smiled at her daughter. “I invited Sam to join us for Christmas, I hope you don’t mind.”
“Of course not.” Cassie gave each of them a hug before taking her bag into her bedroom.
To Cassie, that Christmas felt almost like her first couple of Christmases on Earth. She saw, but didn’t comment on, the look she saw in the blonde’s eyes. Sam was still in love with her mother. She just didn’t know if her mother was ready for another relationship; and even if she was, she didn’t know if she’d want to get involved again with Sam.
Janet took Sam up on her invitation and took a few days off during spring break, visiting the blonde in Cambridge. They did all the touristy things and spent some time simply talking.
Janet felt comfortable with Sam, especially this Sam. The blonde was more laid back and relaxed than Janet ever remembered her being. And it was obvious she was much more comfortable in her own skin. It surprised her to realize that Sam was much better off out of the military. She had always thought of the blonde as a ‘soldier until the end.’ She had certainly known and embodied the word ‘duty.’ So it was ironic that she was the one still in uniform and Sam was the more carefree and spontaneous one.
Sam loved every minute she got to spend with Janet. Over the last several months, they’d spent a lot of time on the phone, and she was pleasantly surprised with the doctor agreed to come for a visit during spring break. She knew her feelings for Janet had not changed, even after all these years; but the friendship they were once again building was very special to her. She wasn’t going to do anything to mess it up.
Like come on to her.
Janet’s friendship was a big enough gift. And she knew from the past just how special a friend Janet could be. No one ever fought harder for her friends and loved ones.
“Hey, Cassie, why so glum?” Teresa Gary, a fellow med student, asked as she joined her in the cafeteria.
“I got offered more than one residency.”
“Well, duh! You’re the top of our class, Cassie. What did you expect?”
“I just don’t know what to do?”
“Well, where did you get offers from?”
“Here at GW.”
Teresa rolled her eyes. “I think that was a given considering. Where else?”
“Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles, Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas, and University of Chicago Medical Center.”
“Wow…” her classmate said softly. “I can see the problem, they’re all great hospitals. Which one are you leaning towards?”
“That’s just it, there’s really only one choice… here at GW.”
“Why only one choice?”
Cassie shook her head. “I won’t take a placing so far from home. I promised Mom I wouldn’t.”
Teresa looked appraisingly across the table at her classmate. “You really are that close with your mother, aren’t you?”
Cassie simply nodded.
“So why are you unsure about what to do? If staying close to home wasn’t an issue, which hospital would you want to go to?”
With a sigh, she softly answered, “Baylor. They’ve got a great gynecology department and Dr. Russell Myers is there – one of the country’s best in ovarian cancer treatment and research.”
“You know what I think?”
“I think you tell your mother and discuss your options with her.”
“Yeah, you’re right. I promised to call and tell her when I found out anyway.”
“Hey, Mom, it’s me.”
The colonel smiled. “Hey, sweetie. What’s up?”
“I’ve heard about my residency.”
“Oh? So, what’s it going to be?”
“Well, I got an offer here at GW.”
Janet smiled knowingly. “But that’s not the only place you got an offer from, is it?”
“So where else?”
Cassie told her about the others. “So, you see, GW is really the only choice.”
“Oh, honey, no. It’s not your only choice.”
“I told you, Mom, I’m not going that far from home.”
“I know. But let me ask you this: If all the hospitals were in the same city, which one would you choose?” She waited patiently as Cassie measured her thoughts.
“Well, Dr. Myers is at Baylor…”
“Yes, he is. And he’s at the top of the field of ovarian cancer research and treatment. You couldn’t do much better, Cassie.”
“I know,” she sighed. “But it’s so far from home.”
“Would you take it if it was say… only four hours away?”
Cassie sighed. “Probably. I know it’s not a close to home as I am now, but four hours would at least be reasonable.”
Janet smiled. “I think so, too. Which is why I think you should take it.”
“Huh? I don’t understand.”
“What if I took a posting at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio? It’s about four hours from Dallas.”
Cassie was speechless. “You’re serious?” she finally sputtered.
“Yes, honey, I am.”
“You can do that?”
Janet let out a chuckle. “Yes, I can.”
“Mom! That’s great!”
After her call with Cassie ended, Janet hung up and dialed the number she’d written down on a sticky note not 48 hours earlier.
“Brody,” barked the deep baritone voice.
“General, it’s Colonel Fraiser.”
The major general smiled as he leaned back in his high-back chair. “Colonel! How are you?”
“I’m good, sir. How are you?”
“Buried under a pile of paperwork that’s threatening to do me in.”
“Sorry to hear that, sir. I can always write you a doctor’s note so you can take the day off,” she joked.
He let out a bark of laughter. “Thank you, Colonel, but it would still be here when I got back.” He paused for half a beat. “So, what can I do for you, Colonel?”
“I’ve given some thought about what we discussed the other day.”
“I’ll take it. That is, if you still want me.”
“Want you? Hell, Colonel, you just made my day,” he said with a grin. “Start getting things squared away there at AFMIC. If necessary you’ll turn over temporary command to your XO, so go ahead and brief him, but don’t tell anyone else yet about your transfer.”
“Yes, sir. Any idea on how soon I’ll need to report?”
“Not sure, but it won’t be long.”
“Very well. I’ll get the ball rolling on this end, sir.”
“Excellent. And congratulations, Colonel.” General Brody’s smile was quite evident in his voice.
Janet knocked on the apartment door.
“Mom! I didn’t think you were going to be here until the day after tomorrow.” Cassie hugged her mother and ushered into the tiny apartment.
“I have a meeting at the Pentagon tomorrow. I thought I come down early and take you out to dinner… that is, if you didn’t already have plans.”
The young woman’s face fell a little. “Actually, I do. I’m getting together with some of the others from our class. But I can cancel,” she finished hastily.
“Nonsense. Go out with your friends and have a nice time. I’ll go back to my hotel room and enjoy some room service.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yes, I am. However, I would like a little of your time tomorrow.”
“Of course. What time?”
Cassie was surprised when her mother drove them to the Pentagon. “What’s going on, Mom?”
Janet gave her a small smile. “Just wait and see.”
She followed her mother through the check-in process and through the confusing hallways of the Pentagon. She didn’t know how Janet knew where to go, but apparently they’d arrived at their destination.
A master sergeant welcomed them when they entered the outer office. He picked up the phone and made a quick call before hanging up.
“Go on in, Colonel, the general is expecting you.”
“Thank you, Master Sergeant.” Janet turned to her daughter. “Come on, Cassie.”
They entered the inner office.
The general stood and came out from behind his office. “Colonel, it’s good to see you,” he said with a smile and shook her hand.
“General Brody, this is my daughter Cassandra.”
He gave the young woman a bright smile and shook her hand. “It’s nice to meet you, Cassandra. I hear you’re following in your mother’s footsteps.”
“It’s nice to meet you, too, sir. Yes, sir. I graduate from med school tomorrow.”
“I know. Your mother insisted we do this today so that she could be at your graduation.”
“Do what?” Cassie asked.
“Williams!” Brody bellowed.
The master sergeant entered. “Here you go, sir.” He handed a folder and small box to the general, then stood to the side.
“Ms. Fraiser, if you would be so kind as to hold this please.” Brody handed the small box to Cassie. He then opened the folder and read the enclosed orders… which promoted Dr. Janet Fraiser to Brigadier General and gave her command of the 59th Medical Wing.
Cassie’s eyes widened as she realized what was going on. When the general indicated it was time, she opened the box and saw the shiny, new stars. Cassie had tears in her eyes as she removed the eagles from her mother’s epaulettes and replaced them with the stars.
“Congratulations, General Fraiser,” Brody said with a wide smile.
“Thank you, sir.”
Cassie threw her arms around her mother. “I’m so proud of you, Mom!”
The next day, Janet put on her dress uniform (per her daughter’s request) when she dressed to attend Cassie’s graduation. She took her seat in the auditorium and waited for the ceremony to begin. Just like many of the other parents present, she took a number of pictures as her daughter crossed the stage and received her diploma.
Afterwards, as graduates and their families mingled, Janet was surprised to see Sam. The blonde hugged and congratulated Cassie. She then noticed the stars on Janet’s uniform.
“Janet! You’ve been promoted to general!”
The doctor nodded with a small smile.
“I didn’t think you were going to be able to make it to Cassie’s graduation.”
“I couldn’t miss this,” Sam said with a smile.
Janet felt uneasy. She hadn’t told Sam yet that she was transferring to Texas. She had mentioned it might be a possibility, but hadn’t said anything when it became definite. What’s wrong with you? It’s not like you’re dating. You’re just two old friends who talk on the phone. You can do that no matter where you’re stationed, she told her herself.
Sam silently watched as Cassie introduced her mother to her classmates and their parents. The pride the young woman felt was palpable. Janet was as graceful and charming as ever… and that uniform really did look fantastic on her. The last eleven years had certainly been kind to Janet. She was as beautiful as ever! She couldn’t take her eyes off of the petite doctor as she spoke with several other parents and their newly graduated children.
“I see the way you look at her.”
Sam’s heart stopped and she whirled around. “What?!”
Cassie smiled. “I see the way you look at her, Sam. You’re still in love with her, aren’t you?”
Sam found herself blushing and at a loss for words.
“It’s okay, Sam. But if you want things to change between you, you’re going to have to be the one to change them. I think Mom’s ready to have someone in her life again.” Cassie’s expression suddenly turned hard and fierce. “But if you hurt her again…”
Sam was surprised to note that the new doctor’s words and tone actually… well, they didn’t scare her, but… she certainly took them seriously. She swallowed. “I-I don’t know if she’d even be interested, Cassie.”
“And you’re not going to find out mooning over her from across the room. But don’t say anything if you’re not absolutely willing to give whatever is necessary to make it work. She’s just been promoted and is about to take command of a Medical Wing and the largest Air Force medical facility in the world. She’s going to have a lot on her plate and will need someone completely supportive, not someone who’ll make things harder for her.”
After celebrating with Cassie, the two older women left so the young woman could go out and party with some her friends and to say goodbye to them. No one from Cassie’s class was going to Baylor with her.
Janet and Sam decided to go out to dinner, but to make it casual. They each returned to their hotels and changed clothes. As agreed, Sam came to Janet’s hotel and knocked on her door. Inexplicably, Janet felt her heart skip a beat when she opened her door and saw Sam standing there in a pair of jeans and a white oxford shirt. She grabbed her wallet, slipping it into the pocket of her own jeans, and they headed out.
The evening was a relaxing one and both women had a nice time. It was after they returned to Janet’s hotel room – with a bottle of wine – that Sam finally broached the upcoming changes. They were sitting on the small sofa in Janet’s suite.
“So, Cassie tells me that you’re about to transfer.”
Janet nodded. “I’m taking command of the 59th Medical Wing, based out of Lackland.”
“That is great, Janet. I’m so proud of you.”
“It’s certainly going to be a challenge.”
“I have no doubt you’ll to rise to the occasion. You always have.” Well, it’s now or never… “Janet?”
“How would you feel about me coming out to Texas to see you?”
“Of course you’re welcome to. But I don’t know when I’ll have much free time; there’s a lot for me to get done.”
“Janet?” Sam waited until the doctor looked at her. She then leaned in slowly, allowing Janet time to pull away if she wanted to, and gently pressed her lips against Janet’s.
The kiss surprised Janet, but it wasn’t unwelcome. Sam’s heart skipped a beat when Janet responded to her kiss. She deepened the kiss, parting her lips to lightly run her tongue along Janet’s lips. Janet granted Sam’s tongue entrance; their tongues met and danced. After a few minutes of soft and gentle exploration they finally parted, both feeling a little lightheaded. Each drew in a couple of deep breaths as they rested their foreheads together.
“Shhh… it’s okay.”
“Sam… I’m moving to San Antonio.”
“I’ll come visit.”
“It’s a long way from Cambridge.”
“I’ll visit a lot.”
“Janet, if you’re willing to give me a chance, to give us a chance, I promise you won’t regret it.”
Janet gently cupped the blonde’s cheek and gazed into her beautiful blue eyes. “Long distance…”
“It doesn’t have to be.”
“We can give it a try and if it goes well… I’ll move.”
“I can’t ask you to do that.”
“You’re not asking me. I’m saying I’ll do it if things go well. Are you willing to give us another chance?” Sam waited patiently for Janet to decide.
Janet wasn’t sure what to say. She had already admitted to herself that she had feelings for Sam. In truth, they’d never really gone away. She felt conflicted. She hadn’t been with anyone since her wife had died, and she remembered how much she’d been hurt by Sam eleven years earlier. But people change, Janet – you have. And you’ve seen the changes in Sam. Bottom line, do you want to take a chance?
“I’d like to… but I need to take things slow, Sam.”
The blonde nodded. “I can do slow,” she said sincerely.
Over the next few months Sam made the trip to San Antonio at least once a month, sometime twice. Sam stayed with Janet, but in the guest bedroom. Janet didn’t get much time off at Christmas and New Year’s, but Sam still came to visit during her break from school.
Janet entered the house closing the door behind her, and literally sagged against the wall as she put down her briefcase and slipped her shoes off. When she drew in a deep breath she noticed a wonderful aroma wafting through her house. She pushed off the wall and walked out of the foyer and into the living room. “Sam?”
The blonde entered from the kitchen with a bright smile on her face. “Hey! You’re home.”
“Yeah. What’s that smell?”
“Dinner. Now, you go and take a hot bath and relax. Everything will be ready when you are.” Sam turned to go back into the kitchen. Janet started to follow but the blonde turned and stopped her. “Nope. You go take your bath, General,” she quipped with a gleam in her eye. She put her hands on Janet’s shoulders and physically turned her toward the hallway. “Go.”
After a hot, relaxing bath Janet stepped back into her bedroom. She was surprised to see a single red rose on her bed with a note next to it. She picked them up and sniffed the rose as she read the note. With a smile she put on her most comfortable, worn jeans and a t-shirt. With rose in hand she made her way to the dining room.
Sam was just lighting the candles when Janet entered. She smiled. “You’re right on time. Have a seat.”
“Do you need help with anything?”
“Nope. Just have a seat and relax.” Sam went into the kitchen and returned with a roast with vegetables. She opened a bottle of wine and poured both of them a glass before taking her seat.
Janet was almost speechless after she took her first bite of roast. “Mmmm, this is perfect, Sam!”
“When did you learn to cook so well?”
Sam let out a chuckle. “It’s amazing what one can learn when not tinkering with alien artifacts.”
Janet almost snorted the wine she was in the process of sipping.
After dinner the two women settled on the screened porch, sitting next to each other on the swing suspended from the porch ceiling. Sam poured them each another glass of wine from the second bottle opened that evening.
“Are you trying to get me drunk?” Janet asked.
“Not at all. I’m just glad you enjoyed the meal and like the wine.”
“It’s my favorite wine. How did you know?”
Sam grinned. “I asked your assistant, Master Sergeant Travis.”
“Hmm, I’ll have to have a word with her about sharing personal information about her CO,” Janet replied with mirth.
“Don’t be too hard on her. I told her I was planning something special for you.”
“And just what are your plans, Professor Carter?”
“Beyond wining and dining you? Nothing more than sitting here and talking with you, General Fraiser.”
“That’s a shame,” Janet murmured into her wineglass as she took a sip.
Sam reached and gently took Janet’s wineglass from her, setting it on the small table in front of them. She then caressed her cheek as she gazed into soft brown eyes. Their lips met in an exquisite kiss, a kiss that stole their breath and made their hearts skip. A soft moan escaped Janet’s throat as their kiss deepened.
“Sam…” Janet gasped as the blonde nuzzled a very sensitive spot on her neck.
“Sam…” She pulled the woman up from her throat and gazed at her with hooded eyes. “Take me to bed, Sam,” she breathed.
“Are you sure?” She didn’t want Janet to feel pressured. She really hadn’t planned on anything beyond their dinner and some conversation.
“Yes, Sam, I’m ready.”
In Janet’s bedroom they came together, wrapping their arms around each other, and kissed. Sam sat on the side of the bed, pulling Janet onto her lap so that she was straddling her legs. When she slid her hands up her back under her t-shirt she was surprised to find Janet wasn’t wearing a bra. Wanting more contact, Janet broke their kiss only long enough to pull her t-shirt up and off over her head. She sucked in a hiss when the moist warmth of Sam’s mouth closed over her nipple and began to suckle.
Sam twisted and laid Janet on her back on the bed. After spending long minutes fondling, kissing, and suckling her breasts, Sam kissed her way up and captured Janet’s lips once again. Janet pulled on the hem of Sam’s shirt, pulling it up and off, then unhooked the blonde’s bra for her. After shedding her bra Sam began to kiss her way down Janet’s torso. As she dipped her tongue into her navel she unbuttoned and unzipped Janet’s jeans.
Janet lifted her hips to help Sam with the removal of her jeans and panties. Sam settled on her knees beside the bed and slipped her arms around Janet’s thighs as she pulled her closer. Janet gasped and moaned as Sam placed fleeting, teasing kisses along her inner thighs.
The blonde smiled at Janet’s pleading as she ran her tongue along wet, engorged folds. Janet’s back arched as she let out a low moan, urging Sam to continue. She pushed her tongue between Janet’s folds and tasted the wetness seeping from her, then ran her tongue up to circle Janet’s clit.
Janet moaned again. Sam’s tongue felt so good. She let out a gasp when she felt two fingers push inside of her, filling her, stroking her. Then Sam circled her lips and sucked on her clit. Janet came with a loud moan, her body bowing and her hands sinking in blonde locks, and pulling Sam tight against her center. She collapsed bonelessly against the mattress with a sigh when her muscles unlocked.
Sam licked and kissed her way back up Janet’s torso until she claimed her lips in a deep kiss, sharing her taste with her. They both moaned into the kiss.
“You taste good,” Sam murmured with a soft smile before kissing her again.
Janet wrapped her arms around the woman on top of her. “You’re wearing too many clothes.”
Four hands worked at removing Sam’s jeans and panties as they moved to the center of the bed. They spent several hours rediscovering each other.
When Sam returned to Cambridge, she gave Harvard notice that she would not be returning to teach in the fall. For spring break Janet was able to take a week off and they went on vacation together to New Orleans.
“I wish we had more time.”
Sam stood behind Janet on the balcony of their hotel suite and slipped her arms around her waist. “It won’t be that long before summer break.”
“It’ll be nice to have you around all the time. But then you’ll have to go back in the fall.”
Sam took a deep breath and gave her a gentle squeeze. “What if I didn’t?”
“What if I didn’t go back? Would you like it if I stayed in San Antonio?”
Janet turned in the blonde’s arms, slid her arms around her neck, and gazed up into her eyes. “Yes, I would. I’d love for you to stay.” She slipped her hand to the back of Sam’s head and pulled her down into a deep kiss. Both were a little breathless when they finally parted. “Sam… I love you.”
Her blue eyes watered and her heart felt like it was about to explode. “I-I never stopped loving you, Janet. Pushing you away the way I did… it was the worst mistake of my life, and the only thing I truly regret. I love you.”
“Does that mean you’ll come to San Antonio to stay?” Janet asked as she gently caressed her cheek.
As they kissed Sam slipped her arm under Janet’s legs and scooped her up. She carried her into their room and laid her on the bed.
At the end of May Sam packed up her things and moved to San Antonio… and into Janet’s house. She took a job at the Southwest Research Institute in their Applied Physics Division. Four months after that, Sam proposed and Janet accepted. They waited until Cassie could take some time off from her residency to have the wedding.
Once again, Cassie stood up for her mother as she took the vows of marriage. And as her maid of honor, she proposed the toast.
“Before beginning, I’d like to offer my sincerest gratitude to Mom and Sam for allowing me to be part of this special occasion.
“In our lifetimes, we are gifted a small number of truly landmark moments. They start small enough, say, riding a bicycle or throwing your graduation cap high into the air. They grow in power and significance; some of you have seen the moment when a doctor tells you, ‘it’s a girl,’ or, ‘it’s a boy,’ and then hands you that perfect little life that you created. And it must be a perfect moment when you look into the eyes of a rediscovered love that was once lost.
“Khalil Gibran said, ‘And think not, you can direct the course of love; for love, if it finds you worthy, directs your course.’
“Love has indeed directed the path of both my mother and Sam and has allowed them to rediscover each other and their love for each other.
“A moment like this, and the commitment which follows, should be celebrated to its fullest. And so, I contend to all present that it is our duty to ensure that this moment in the lives of my mom and Sam does not pass unrecognized. And in celebrating their happiness we might just make this one of the landmark moments of our own lives.
“It is with great pleasure that I say congratulations to you both. May you share many warm days and many warm nights. Everybody raise your glass… here’s to love and rediscovery… here’s to Janet and Sam.”