Timeline/Spoilers: Set in approximately late season 9.
A/N: This is the result of a prompt given to me by ml_spikie.
For the tenth time Sam patted the pocket of her jacket to ensure the ring box was still there. She didn’t know exactly how she was going to do it, but there was no doubt that she was going to. If only there was a way to do it that didn’t involve hurting anyone. She’d done enough of that the past few years.
Now it was time to make things right… if that was even possible.
She took a deep breath, counted to ten, and opened her car door. Sam walked up to the house and knocked on the door. She felt her heart skip a beat when the door opened.
“Sam! Hey, baby. I thought you were still ‘busy’ with work.”
“I got back last night.”
“Come in, come in.” Pete closed the door behind them and slipped his arm around her waist as he ushered her into the house. “You’re just in time to check out the new paint in the living room and kitchen. I just finished.”
“I think you’re going to like the way it turned out.”
“Pete… we need to talk.”
“Yeah, yeah, but check out the work I’ve done.”
Sam took a deep breath and looked around the living room. “It looks good, Pete.”
“Wait until you see the kitchen.” Holding her hand, Pete led his fiancée into the kitchen and grinned with pride at his workmanship.
“It’s nice? It’s awesome!”
“Pete, we have to talk.”
He looked at her and saw the serious expression on her face. “Okay, sure. What is it, honey?”
Suddenly, Sam couldn’t look the man she’d promised to marry in the eyes. “I…” Unconsciously her hand slipped into her coat pocket and grasped the ring box. “I… I-I can’t do this.”
“It’s okay, honey; you can talk to me about anything.”
“No. I mean I can’t do this. I can’t…” She pulled the box out of her pocket and pressed it into his hand. “I can’t marry you.” She turned and ran out of the house, leaving Pete to stare dumbly at the diamond ring he’d given her.
Giving the ring back to Pete had been the first step… and the easiest. Now Sam had to let the general down.
“The general will see you now, Colonel.”
“Thanks, Walter.” Sam stood and entered the general’s office. She stood, spine ramrod straight, in front of his desk.
“Relax, Carter. You’ll give yourself lockjaw being that tense.”
“This is an official visit, sir.”
General Jack O’Neill sighed and leaned back in his chair. “What is it, Carter?”
She handed him an envelope.
Jack took out the paper within and looked up at Sam. “What the hell is the meaning of this?”
“I’m resigning my commission.”
“Yes, I can. And unless the government has started up the draft again, there’s nothing you can do about it… sir.”
“Dammit, Carter! Talk to me. What’s this about?”
“There’s nothing to talk about, sir. My mind’s made up.” She turned and exited the general’s office.
Walking away from the SGC, from the Air Force, had been very, very hard. But it was a necessary step on the way to making things right. Now for the hardest part.
It took Sam three days to drive to Cape Cod. It took her another day to get up enough nerve to go to the house. Her heart was pounding as she walked up to the door and pressed the doorbell. She didn’t recognize the man who opened the door.
“Hello, my name is Samantha Carter. I’m here to see Ja–”
“I know who you are, and she doesn’t want to see you.” He started to close the door.
“Wait!” Sam threw her hand up to block the door from closing. “Look, I know she’s mad at me, but–”
“Jeff honey? Who’s at the d–” Janet stopped at the hallway entrance, not believing her eyes.
Janet turned to go back into the living room.
“Janet, wait! Please. All I’m asking for is a couple of minutes. Please.”
With a heavy sigh Janet stopped and dropped her head. She was torn. Part of her never wanted to see or talk to Sam again – she’d been too hurt by the blonde’s actions. But a part of her would always be glad to see Sam. Both parts warred within her, making her feel like she was caught in a whirlpool. She was tired, so tired.
“Janet?” Jeff wanted to know whether to let the blonde in or not.
With another heavy sigh, Janet gave a slight nod before heading into the living room. Jeff let Sam in and then rushed to Janet’s side, helping her to the couch and making sure she was comfortably settled.
“It’s time for your medication; I’ll refill your drink.” He picked up Janet’s glass and glanced at the blonde. “Would you like something to drink?”
“No, thank you.”
Sam nervously glanced about the living room, noting the wheelchair in the corner, the walker next to the couch, and the bottles of medication on the end table.
Jeff returned with a large ice water and handed it to Janet. He bent down to speak softly to her. “Do you want me to stay?”
Janet smiled at him lovingly and cupped his cheek. “No, that’s okay. I’ll be fine.”
“If you need me just yell.”
They kissed each other on the cheek and then he left the room. Janet took some pills, washing them down with a mouthful of water, and then looked at the blonde.
“You may as well sit down.”
“Oh.” Sam sat in a chair adjacent to the couch.
“So, what do you want?” Janet asked flatly.
“I owe you an apology.”
Janet let out snort of derision. “You just now figured that out?”
“No, no. I’ve made a mess of things, of everything. I’m so sorry, Janet, I never meant to hurt you. I was just so… messed up by what happened.”
“You were messed up? What the hell do you think I was going through?! What Cassie was going through?!”
“No, you don’t. You didn’t stick around to find out. I realize we’d only been lovers for a week, but we were friends for seven years, Sam. Or at least I thought we were.”
“Of course we were. I’m still your friend.”
“A friend who walked out of my life two years ago.”
“And that was the biggest mistake of my life. You almost died and I… I didn’t know how to handle it.”
“So you didn’t even try.”
Sam hung her head in shame. “No, I didn’t. I ran.” She took a slow breath as she looked at up at Janet again. “I’m so sorry, Janet.” She sighed in defeat. “You hate me, don’t you? I don’t blame you.”
Janet bowed her head, closing her eyes and pinching the bridge of her nose. She sighed wearily. “No, I don’t hate you. I don’t have the energy to hate anybody.” She looked up at Sam again. “Neither do I have the energy to dwell on the past. What exactly do you want, Sam?”
“I want… I want everything to be the way it was. I want everything to okay again.” Her eyes welled and a tear slowly rolled down her cheek.
“But everything can’t be the way it was. Things are very different now,” she replied with a small gesture to her body, the medications on the end table, and her walker.
“But that doesn’t mean things can’t be okay… does it?” More tears rolled down Sam’s face.
It was several seconds before Janet spoke. “I don’t know… it’ll take time.”
“Time I got.”
“I’m not talking about a couple of days or even a couple of weeks, Sam. This isn’t something you can fix on vacation before going back to the SGC.”
“I’m not on vacation, Janet; I resigned my commission. I’m not going to back to the SGC or Colorado.”
“What about the fiancé I heard you have back in Colorado Springs?”
Sam looked away. “That’s one mistake I’ve already fixed,” she said softly. She took a deep breath. “Look, I realize that… we obviously can’t be lovers, but I really want us to be friends again.”
Janet stiffened. “Obviously,” she snapped.
Sam was surprised by the venom in the doctor’s voice. Before she could even think to ask about it Jeff entered.
He knelt next to Janet. “It’s time to go, Janet. Do you want to use your walker or the wheelchair?”
“Wheelchair it is.” He gently picked her up in his arms and carried her to the wheelchair. He looked at the blonde. “We have to go now.”
“Uh, okay.” She stood and followed them out the front door and watched as Jeff helped Janet into the front seat. As he put the wheelchair in the trunk, Sam moved to Janet’s window. “Would it be okay if I came to visit you again?”
Janet didn’t say anything, but she did give a slight nod.
To give Janet a little bit of breathing room, Sam waited three days before calling her and asking permission to come over. Jeff once again let her in and left them alone after making sure Janet was comfortably settled.
“Jeff seems really nice. He obviously loves you a lot.”
“I love him, too. He’s a good man.”
“How long have you and he…”
Janet simply arched an eyebrow, and Sam felt compelled to change the subject.
“She’s fine. She likes it at BU.”
“Is that why you moved here, because she chose Boston University?”
“No. She chose BU because it was close to home.”
“Has she decided on her major? Did she pick physics or premed?”
Janet shook her head. “She needs to follow her own path, not mine… or yours.”
Sam didn’t miss the rebuke in Janet’s words. Of course she wouldn’t want Cassie to follow Sam’s example – she had bailed when things got tough. The rest of her visit consisted of stilted conversation and uncomfortable silences. But Sam wasn’t going to give up.
Sam continued to visit Janet once or twice a week. In the interim she found a room in a boarding house and a job as a substitute science teacher.
It was six months before Sam found out Jeff was Jeffrey Fraiser – Janet’s baby brother – and another eight months beyond that for Janet to agree to go out to dinner with Sam… as friends.
It had taken a couple of years, but Sam was cordially invited to a special celebration at Janet’s home. Wine was poured and the two women sat on the back porch and watched the bonfire that had been built in the backyard.
“You know that the frame won’t burn – the fire isn’t hot enough,” Sam pointed out.
“I know, but it’s still satisfying. It’s been a long time coming.” Janet took a sip of her wine. “I know I should have donated it, but I needed this. I’m finally completely free of that damn wheelchair.”
“Well, you did donate the walker.”
“Yeah. Now it’s just me and my cane.” Janet gazed down at the intricately carved wooden cane Sam had given her and smiled. “My ‘fashionable’ cane.” She looked at the blonde. “Thank you.”
They sat in companionable silence as the fire consumed its fuel. It got chilly when the last of the flames dissipated. Sam toed the embers to make sure the fire was out before returning to the porch and offering Janet a hand up from her chair.
Janet took Sam’s hand and let the blonde pull up from her chair. She was surprised to suddenly feel her heart race as she looked up into bright blue eyes. She honestly didn’t think she’d ever have that kind of reaction to the blonde again.
Sam saw something in Janet’s eyes as they momentarily stood there toe to toe. “Are you okay? Is something wrong?”
Janet let go of Sam’s hand and took a step to the side to put some suddenly needed breathing space between them. “I’m fine. Let’s go inside where it’s warmer.”
Confused, Sam followed her friend into the house. She knew something had spooked Janet, but she had no idea what.
It had taken time, but Janet was glad she and Sam had rebuilt their friendship. It took Janet a few days to examine and analyze her reaction to Sam the night of the bonfire. It had taken her completely by surprise. The real question she had to answer was if she was willing to open herself up to possibly being hurt again. Sam had hurt her more than her abusive ex-husband ever had.
Janet sighed as she poured her morning cup of coffee. It might not even matter what she was willing or not willing to do if Sam wasn’t interested. She needed to find out exactly what Sam felt and wanted. Well, no use in putting it off any longer. It had already been over a week since the night of the bonfire. She dialed Sam’s cell number, getting her voicemail.
“Hi, Sam, it’s me. I was wondering you could come over after work today. We can have dinner.”
Dinner was simple but tasty. After dinner Janet and Sam settled on the couch with a bottle of wine.
“So how is Jeff doing? Does he like it in Vermont?” Sam asked.
“He loves it, and his business is really taking off. He’s always wanted to own his winter sports touring company. He got his helicopter pilot’s license a few years ago, but he put his plans on hold when he came to help and stay with me. I so glad his dream is finally coming true.”
“I’m glad to hear it’s all working out for him.” She put her hand over Janet’s and gave it a squeeze. “And I know he doesn’t regret for a minute the choice he made, Janet.”
Janet nodded, and silently said a prayer of thanks for her brother and his selflessness for the ten millionth time.
After a few moments of silence, Sam spoke again. “When I listened to your message on my voicemail, it sounded like you had something on your mind. Is there something you want to talk about?”
Janet took a deep breath before answering. “Yeah, there is.” Sam waited patiently as Janet gathered her thoughts. “What are your feelings… about me?” she asked, staring into her wineglass.
“You’re my best friend and I love you, Janet. I always will. I’m ashamed about what I did four years ago, but infinitely grateful that you gave me a second chance to be your friend.”
“Do you feel anything for me more than friendship?”
Sam set her wineglass down, slid closer to Janet on the couch, and with her hand, gently turned the doctor’s face towards her. “I never stopped loving you, Janet, but I know how badly I hurt you. I’ll never ask more from you than you’re willing or able to give.”
That answered that question.
Janet searched her heart… and decided to take a leap of faith. “Sam…” She reached up and gently caressed the blonde’s cheek.
Sam thought her heart was going to pound out of her chest when Janet’s soft lips pressed against her own. She couldn’t suppress the soft moan that escaped her throat. She had to catch her breath when they finally parted. She gazed into soft brown eyes, seeing a world of possibility. “Are you sure?” she asked softly.
“No. But I’m willing to try.”