Pairings: Sam/Other, Sam/Janet
Category: Drama, AU
Sequel: to "Stranded I: I Believe."
Disclaimer: These folks don't belong to me. I stole them from MGM's toybox without asking their mommies for permission. I promise to return them more or less unscathed.
Archive: Yes, just let me know where it'll be.
Spoilers: "Fire and Water," "Singularity," "Legacy," "Serpent's Song," "Learning Curve," "Forever In A Day," "Jolinar's Memories," "The Devil You Know," "Pretense," "A Hundred Days," "Shades of Gray," "Maternal Instinct," "Crystal Skull," "Nemesis," "Small Victories," "Divide & Conquer," "Window of Opportunity," "Tangent," "2010," "Entity," "Rite of Passage," "Between Two Fires"
No Thank You In The World Is Big Enough To Accurately Portray The Thanks She Deserves: To Hl :D
Summary: With Janet gone, Sam is torn between moving on and staying faithful.
Thank you to Hl for the banners... Check out the poster in the Gallery!!!
Sam still slept at Janet's house, in Janet's bed. The party line was that she was simply keeping an eye on Cassandra, being the mother that she should be. But the truth was she couldn't bear to leave the house. If she went home or if she moved Cassie out, it would seem like a betrayal to Janet. The brunette loved this house; it was the first house she had owned by herself with no husband or family to help her. She maintained everything, replaced every fuse, fixed doors, found and corrected squeaky floorboards... it was a part of her. Sam would rather have died than to give it up.
Letterman ended and she turned off the television, running a hand through her hair. "Major Samantha Carter," she whispered to the shadows in the living room with a smile. "It has a ring. It has a definite ring to it..." She headed upstairs, pausing to make sure Cassie was safe in bed. The girl was curled up under her comforter, a teddy bear snuggled against her chest. Sam smiled and closed the door, blowing her daughter a kiss as the door closed.
As she turned, she felt something... odd. Someone was downstairs. She softly descended the staircase, keeping an eye out for movement. Nothing in the living room. As she passed the hall closet, she picked up an umbrella. She moved silently through the living room, craning her neck to look into the kitchen. No tell-tale flashlight beams on the wall...
The floor creaked slightly as she moved into the kitchen. Her position compromised, she said, "I have a weapon."
The intruder didn't reply. Sam flipped on the kitchen light and scanned the room. Nothing. She frowned, walking over to the stove and running her fingers over the burners. She could've sworn--
"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to wake you."
She jumped and spun around, releasing a sigh when she saw who it was. "Janet. Damn, you scared me." She dropped the umbrella and said, "I haven't seen you since... since my promotion two weeks ago."
"I've been busy."
"Busy?" Sam said. "What, are you leading an exciting life inside my head?"
Janet smirked. "Okay, then, fine. *You've* been busy. And the fact that the last time we spoke you tried to beat me unconscious. I kind of assumed I wasn't wanted or needed around here anymore."
Sam's shoulders slumped and she took a seat at the table. "I still feel bad about that."
"Your knuckles better?"
Sam chuckled and flexed her hand. "Yeah. Much better."
"Looks like your new doctor is pretty good."
"She's not my doctor," Sam said softly. "Well... she is. But she will never take your place in my heart. You're still out there. And I'm not giving up on you, Janet."
Janet nodded slowly and said, "Then I guess I'll see you later."
"Will you be back?"
"No, not for a while," Janet said, reaching out and touching Sam's hand. The caress was ghostly, just a memory of a touch that had taken place a long time ago. "You don't need me."
"Yes," Sam argued. "I do."
Janet leaned forward and brushed her lips against Sam's. "Bye, Sam." As Sam watched, her lover slowly dissipated and her body blended with the wood grain behind her. Sam sat back in her chair, crossing her arms over her chest and exhaled softly. She stood and went upstairs to the bed she had once shared with Janet and crawled under the covers.
"Pictures on the nightstand, TV's on in the den
Your house is waiting, your house is waiting
For you to walk in, for you to walk in
But you're missing, when I shut out the lights
You're missing, when I close my eyes
You're missing, when I see the sun rise
-- Bruce Springsteen
Sam checked the calendar and drew a red box around Wednesday. It was the fourth anniversary of Janet's abandonment off-world. Sam capped the marker and sighed. Four months and she was already considering seeing someone else. She left the bathroom, shutting off the light and tossing the marker onto the bedside table. The doorbell rang downstairs and Sam picked up the pace, grabbing her jacket and making sure the lights were all out before she went outside.
"Ready to go?" Kiera Morgan asked, tucking a loose strand of hair behind her ear.
"Yeah," Sam nodded, closing and locking the door. "I appreciate you giving me a ride."
Kiera shrugged. "Not a problem. They find out what was wrong with your car?"
Sam shook her head. "Not a thing. It's a '61 Volvo, so the list is probably miles long."
Climbing into the car, Sam fastened her safety belt. Kiera got in and leaned across the console, pressing her lips to Sam's. The blonde's eyes widened, turned downward towards the point where her body met the doctor's. Kiera brought her hands up, cupping Sam's face and holding her still. Finally, Sam was able to break away from the kiss and press her body against the seat, wiping her mouth on her sleeve. Kiera fell back into her own seat and Sam realized how rude she had been. "I-I'm sorry, Kiera. I... that was rude. I shouldn't have--"
"No," Kiera interrupted. "No, I shouldn't have done that." She fastened her own seatbelt. "I just... I thought I would give it a shot."
"Kiera," Sam said softly.
"No," Kiera repeated, putting the car in gear and backing out of the driveway. "Let's just, ah... forget it happened, all right?"
Sam looked out the window and began chewing on her thumbnail. 'Damn,' she thought. 'A gorgeous woman kisses you and you wipe your mouth on your sleeve. Classy.'
Kiera's scream cut right through Sam's body, from her head to her soul.
Jack O'Neill dashed to one side of the lab, grabbing a tool he thought would be helpful in getting rid of the buggies. Unfortunately, the tool was crawling with the gooey white sperms and several pressed their way into his pores. Jack threw the tool down and bit back a scream, shaking his arm as if trying to expel the invaders. Kiera was rubbing her arms frantically. "No," she gasped. "No..."
In the observation room, Daniel grabbed the mic and said, "General Hammond, B Haz Mat Observation right away!"
Sam didn't hear him. Her eyes were locked on the terrified green eyes of Kiera Morgan.
Sam knelt next to Kiera. "Kiera? Can you hear me?" She lightly slapped the redhead's pale cheek and asked, "Can we extract my blood and inject it into everyone that's infected?" Kiera wouldn't focus. "Damn it."
Warner, who had been called to the observation lounge, answered for her, "It wouldn't work. Your blood types don't match. You have to separate the protein from the rest of the blood."
"Okay," Sam said, standing up and facing the window. "How do I do that?"
The graying doctor thought a moment, then shook his head. "No. You can't. You don't have the necessary equipment there. Even if you did, it would take weeks."
"Come on, there's gotta be a way! We've got all this stuff!"
"I'm sorry, but you need to use high pressure liquid chromatography to separate and isolate the protein factions from the rest of the blood. That would yield thirty to forty proteins. Then you'd have to test each one of them to find..."
Sam waved her hands and said, "Okay! I get the point." Sam turned and looked at Kiera.
The doctor held her head in her hands and trembled, her feet scooting back and forth over the cement floor of the lab. "It hurts. It hurts. It hurts," she chanted. "God, make it stop, stop, stop."
Sam put a hand on Kiera's shoulder. "We're going to make it. Don't worry."
"No. No way, no way to stop it."
"I don't believe that," Sam argued.
Kiera shook her head and rolled away from Sam, curling into a ball. "No way. No way to stop it."
Sam stood. "It would take *weeks* to separate the proteins in my blood?" she said, just to confirm facts.
"Yes, Major. I'm sorry, but there's really nothing I can do. Even if we could, it would be far too late to save Teal'c."
Daniel straightened. "Wait a minute. Ma'chello was inside of my body for a while, right?" Warner turned, intrigued. "He was... remapped onto my mind for a short time. Couldn't something have survived that? Some... some knowledge?"
"It's possible," Warner said.
"I'd like to try to access it. Hypnotism, maybe."
Sam shrugged. "It's better than waiting weeks, I suppose."
Warner nodded. "I'll get MacKenzie. We have to hurry."
Kiera opened her eyes and looked around the room, trying to ascertain where she was. After a moment, she realized she was on the floor of the lab, her head cradled in Sam's lap. The blonde was pressing a damp rag to her forehead and smiling down at her. "Hello," Kiera said, her voice apparently being processed through a bag of mud and gravel instead of her own throat. She coughed and turned her head to one side.
"Hey," Sam replied. "You've been out for a while. I was starting to get worried."
"Is Daniel back yet?" she asked, trying to clear her throat between words.
Sam shook her head. "MacKenzie is still trying to hypnotize him."
Kiera nodded weakly, then closed her eyes. "I'm thi-thinking of straightening my hair."
This non-sequiter threw Sam, so she blinked and looked down at the woman in her arms. "You... uh, what?"
"Straightening my hair," Kiera said, reaching up and wrapping one curl around her finger. "I-I usually have it straight... but I changed it j-just before coming to the SGC..."
Sam smiled. "I think you'd look nice with straight hair," she noted.
"Mm-hmm." Sam glanced over her shoulder and saw that Colonel O'Neill was still muttering in the corner. She'd tried to give him a wet towel to help his headache, but he'd lashed out and punched her in the face. Her chin was still tender... After that, she decided it would be best to keep her distance (and keep him away from Kiera). "You want something to drink?"
"No," Kiera said. "I feel t-terrible."
"I wonder why you're just sick when everyone else seems to be going crazy..."
Kiera grinned. "Must be me strong Irish blood," she said, her voice thick with brogue. She laughed at her own joke, then coughed violently. Bloody saliva speckled her hand and she wiped it on her uniform with a shudder. "I hope McKenzie gets Daniel back soon," she whispered.
"Me too," Sam said. "Me too."
The doctor closed her eyes, then sighed, "I don't know why we don't just use your blood... just inject the stuff that won't be rejected."
Sam frowned and looked up. "The what?"
Kiera swallowed and shook her head. "Why c-can't we just take out the pl-plasma and the red blood cells? I mean, why try to isolate the proteins..." She coughed again, rolling her head to the side.
Sam looked up at the airman in the observation room. "Get Dr. Warner in here now!"
Kiera knocked on the doorframe of Sam's lab before entering. "Hey, Sam."
"Kiera, hi," Sam said, barely looking up from the keyboard. "What's up?"
The doctor leaned against the counter and looked at what Sam was working on. "Are those the schematics that Merrin gave you? For the, uh, naquadah reactor?"
"Yeah," Sam nodded. "It's incredibly complex... I can't believe she was able to *draw* this. I'm proud of myself when I draw a stick figure that has the right amount of limbs, but this..."
Kiera chuckled, then got to the point of her visit. "Listen, um... I was planning to go see a play in the park this weekend, and I happened to get three tickets. I was wondering... if, uh, you and Cassandra would like to go and see it with me. It's one of those... uh, sit on blankets under the stars sorta things."
"Wow. Uh, I'll ask her, but I'm sure she'll be up for it. What's the play?"
Glancing at her hands, Kiera said, "It's a play about Merlin, the magician. You know, the whole King Arthur spiel." She shrugged. "I guess I'm just a total sucker for that hokey fantasy stuff. Camelot and everything."
"Fantasy?" Sam asked. "I thought you'd read all our mission reports."
The redhead frowned. "I... I've read most of them. What are you talking about?"
Sam shrugged. "King Arthur. It's not a fantasy. He was a Goa'uld. Excalibur was a staff weapon. Lancelot and Gawain were Jaffa and Camelot was a pyramid ship."
"You're kidding," Kiera said.
A smile spread across Sam's face. "Yeah. I'm pullin' your leg."
Kiera slapped Sam's leg. "Don't do that to me! God, ya know how gullible I yam!"
"There's the brogue," Sam said.
Kiera blushed and lowered her head. It was then that Sam realized what was different about the woman. "Hey, you straightened your hair!"
"Yeah. You like it?"
Sam nodded. "Yeah, it looks outstanding. So, uh, what time is the play?"
"This Saturday. 1900." She winked. "I'll, uh... see you then?"
Sam nodded. "Sure. Sounds great." As soon as the redhead was gone, Sam stood and pulled a photo off her desk. She walked back to her chair, staring down at the framed photograph cradled in her hands. It was a photo of Janet, taken at her Air Force Academy graduation ceremony. She looked so peaceful, so young, so happy! Sam traced the lines of her lover's smile and felt a similar expression beginning to grow across her own face.
She hadn't seen the doctor in nine months. The last time she'd seen the avatar she'd created had been six months ago. She had built a friendship with Janet's replacement and had now accepted a date with the woman. Was she letting Janet go too easily? She sighed and leaned back in her chair, looking up at the ceiling, trying to rationalize her growing attraction to Kiera. Then, all at once, it hit her. During the first year of the Stargate program, she and Janet had discussed this very thing.
Janet walked into the bathroom and saw Sam perched on the edge of the tub, the shower going behind her. "Sam, honey?" the doctor asked, sitting next to the blonde and rubbing her bare back. "Did you forget how to use the shower again?"
Sam glared at the doctor, but smiled in spite of herself. "I was just thinking."
"Daniel," Sam said, her voice cracking. She brought one hand to her mouth and tried to push the sob back in, but it didn't work. She turned and let Janet embrace her. "I keep... thinking about leaving him behind."
Janet held Sam close and whispered into her hair, "It's not your fault, sweety. Shhh... Don't cry. Everything turned out okay, right? Daniel isn't dead. It was just a trick."
"I know. I know, but... what if he had really died? Or, God forbid, what if I were to die?"
The brunette tried to smile, but the pain in her eyes betrayed how scared she was of that. "You won't."
"You *won't*," Janet said. "You're too good. You're too important." Sam shook her head, refusing to accept banal comfort. Janet sighed and said, "Fine. You want to talk about dying off-world? It scares the shit out of me." Sam straightened a bit, unaccustomed to hearing such language from her lover. "It worries me every time you step through the Gate. I spend every minute you're offworld with a fist clenched around my stomach. I've thrown up so many times, I think I'm eligible to be an honorary supermodel. Sam, I cry myself to sleep every night you're late reporting in. Sometimes I can't even leave the mountain without knowing where you are. And I think about you dying every fifteen minutes at least, no matter *where* in the universe you are."
"How?" Sam asked, her voice low. "How can you... do all that and remain so calm?"
Janet smiled. "Because no matter what I go through, you always make it home. So tension eases... and I'm brought back to happiness for a while. It's like getting a fix."
Sam grinned and wiped her eyes. "If I do... get killed on a mission--"
"Sa-am," Janet sighed.
"*If* I die... I want you to know that I wouldn't blame you if you moved on to someone else."
Janet's eyes widened. "What?"
"I wouldn't want you to feel obligated to stay faithful. If I die, I want you to find someone else... someone who can help you raise Cassandra."
"Promise me," Sam said.
Janet bit her lip and looked at the floor. "I... guess it makes sense."
Sam stroked Janet's cheek and said, "I'm not planning to die, Janet. I'm just making sure that... everything will be taken care of if the worst does happen. I want you to be taken care of above all."
"Okay," Janet said, tears in her eyes. "Okay."
Sam kissed her lover and said, "I think I can take this shower now... under the supervision of a trained medical professional, of course."
"I can call the base. I think Warner is on-duty right now..."
Janet screamed as Sam fell backwards, yanking the brunette into the shower stall by the front of her blouse.
Sam sighed and replaced the photo in the drawer. "I'm sorry, Janet," she whispered. "I can't... I have to move on eventually." She shut the drawer on her lover's smiling face and hung her head, looking down at her clasped hands. "I'm sorry, Janet..."
Rather than getting dressed up for the play, Sam simply wore a pair of overalls and a white t-shirt, topping the outfit with a baseball cap and a pair of sunglasses. She gathered her things and put them all in an oversized bag (better than a purse, she always argued when carrying the behemoth) and went to see if Cassandra was ready yet. The girl was trying to decide between a blue blouse and a pink one. "C'mon, kiddo," Sam urged. "We're gonna be late."
Cassandra nodded. "I know! I know! Grrr," she growled. Finally, she grabbed a t-shirt bearing the glowering image of Marvin the Martian and tugged it over her head, smoothing her hair.
Sam went downstairs to the fridge, pulling three plastic applesauce containers from the fridge and finding three plastic spoons in the silverware drawer. She added three cans of soda before dumping it all in her big bag and heaving it over her shoulder. "C'mon, Cassie. Kiera's going to be here any minute."
"All right!" Cassie called. "I'm ready!" She came barreling down the stairs, tugging her jacket on as she ran. The girl's jacket reminded Sam of the weather report and she peered out the window. Black clouds, not a good sign when you're getting ready to see an outdoor performance.
The doorbell rang, disspelling her worries about the weather and bringing new worries to the forefront of her mind. Cassie ran down the short entry hall and pulled the door open. "Hey, Aunt Key!" Cass said, wrapping her arms around the woman's waist.
Kiera grinned at the nickname she'd been given and looked up at Sam. "Hey. You ready to go?"
Sam nodded, then pointed at the window. "Weather permitting?"
"If it rains out, they'll give everyone tickets to come back another night."
"Great," Sam said. "Let's get to it, then."
Thirty minutes later, the front door of the house burst open and Sam rushed in, followed by Kiera and Cassandra. The icy nails of rain had first started pelting the audience as the play began. By the time King Arthur made his grand appearance, it was a gale force. The actors had finally stopped the play, apologized and ran for their lives. The audience had quickly done the same.
Back in the safe harbor of their home, Cassandra held her hands out in front of her and shook them as she headed up the stairs to change. Sam brushed several limp strands of hair out of her face and called after her, "Try not to get water on everything in sight, okay?" She was answered by the slamming of the bathroom door. Sam turned to Kiera. "You okay?"
"Yeah," the redhead said, forcing a smile and tugging at the front of her t-shirt. "Yeah, I'm fine."
Sam chuckled and undid the straps on her overalls, pushing the bib down to her waist and untucking the shirt. "Turn around," she told Kiera.
"I'm going to take off my shirt," Sam said, smiling.
Kiera shrugged. "I've seen you topless before. In the infirmary."
"This is different. Turn."
The redhead rolled her eyes, but complied. Sam peeled off her drenched t-shirt, embarrassed by how transparent it had become in the rain, and pulled her jacket back on and zipped it up. "Okay," she said. "I'm decent."
Kiera turned and said, "I had a great time tonight." Sam raised an eyebrow and the doctor laughed. "No, seriously. It was nice to finally see you relaxed. You're always so tense at work and... well, the way we met wasn't exactly the most relaxing of circumstances." She clasped her hands and shrugged her shoulders. "I really enjoyed it... until the rain interrupted things."
"There's another thing," Kiera said, stepping forward. "You never, ever laugh."
Sam's smile faded a bit, but not much. "Well... there's very little to make me laugh at work."
Kiera nodded. "I understand. Completely. It's still nice. You have a pretty laugh. And you look so beautiful when you smile."
Sam's smile disappeared completely. "Kiera... I--"
"Shh," Kiera admonished. She reached up and touched Sam's cheek, lightly brushing her fingertips over the wet skin. "Shh," she repeated.
She lightly brushed the tip of her nose over Sam's and then tilted her head. The entire world took on a deeper focus for Sam. The rain on the roof and pounding the windows filled her ears. She could feel the neurons and electrons as they zoomed through her body. The raindrops that still hung on her eyebrows and eyelashes suddenly felt like they were weighted with lead... The flush that was growing towards her ears from the center of her face felt unbelievably hot. And when she touched lips with Kiera...
The doctor allowed herself a moan as her free hand came up. She brushed her knuckles against Sam's cheek and then moved it to the blonde's chin. She pulled gently, forcing Sam's lips open and slipping her tongue inside. Sam's eyes finally closed and she slumped against the wall. Kiera raised one hand to balance them both, pressing her body intimately against Sam's. The rain that had drenched them also served to glue them together.
Kiera pulled on the zipper of Sam's jacket, breaking the spell. Sam pulled back, shrinking against the wall and opening her eyes. "Kiera..."
The redhead stepped back, bringing one hand to her lips. "Right. You're right. I'm sorry. I shouldn't have--"
"That's right," Sam said. "You shouldn't have. But... that doesn't mean I didn't enjoy it." She went to the door and opened it, leaning against the frame and looking out at the downpour. "I think you should go," Sam softly suggested.
"Are you sure?"
Kiera went to the door and said, "I'm sorry I kissed you."
"I'm not," Sam said, eyes wide. "But... I'm not ready for anything further. Do you--"
"I understand," Kiera said, nodding. "Bye, Sam."
"Good-bye, Kiera. I'll see you tomorrow."
The doctor nodded and pecked Sam on the cheek before returning to the rain. Sam watched the other woman go, then pushed the door shut. Cassandra came downstairs, dressed in a pair of sweatpants and an old sweater. "Where'd Aunt Key go?"
"Oh. Bummer. Wanna watch a movie?"
Sam grinned. "Sure. Let's go see what's on..." She wrapped an arm around her daughter and went into the living room.
Sam pushed aside the thin curtain and stepped into the tent where she'd seen Daniel and Teal'c disappear a few minutes ago. "Guys? Is everyth--" She cut herself off when she saw what lay before her. "Oh, God..."
Daniel was laying on the floor, his wife in front of him. Daniel's face looked red, his eyes wide but unseeing. Sha're had a staff weapon blast to her stomach and Teal'c was holding the smoking gun, so to speak. Daniel rolled onto his back, eyes filling with tears. "Teal'c," she whispered. "What happened?"
Daniel was staring into his yogurt, the spoon hanging forgotten from his right hand. Sam sat across from him and smiled. He ignored the intrusion, so she softly said, "Hey."
He looked up at her and managed a weak smile. "Hello, Sam."
"Thinking about her?"
Tears filled his eyes and he looked up at her. "How did you do it?" he asked suddenly. "I know Janet isn't dead, but... how did you deal with the fact that... that she was lost to you?"
Sam looked down at the table. "It was hard. Extremely hard. For a while..." She looked around, then continued, "For a while, I actually had conversations with a Janet that only I could see and hear."
Daniel slumped in his chair. "Thank God. I thought I was going nuts."
He nodded. "She's sitting next to you right now."
Sam smiled and turned, examining the empty chair. "You do have an extra advantage that I didn't," she said gently. "You have me. I've been through this. I'm *still* going through this. And I'll help you get through this."
For the first time since Sha're's death, Daniel gave her an actual, true smile. Sam returned the smile, realizing that it was the first time since Janet's disappearance that she actually *felt* the smile. It felt good. Unfortunately, the good times - as is always the case - didn't last long at all.
First, came the bad news. Martouf arrived and revealed that Jacob Carter and Selmak had been taken captive.
Then, came the awful news. He was on an inescapable prison called Netu, which had been designed to resemble Hell.
Finally, there was the terrifying news. The only person who'd ever been able to escape Netu was Jolinar. The Tok'ra would need the remnants of her memories in Sam's mind to rescue her father.
On the trip to the moon, a Tok'ra memory device was used to assist Sam in accessing the part of Jolinar she still possessed. Her mind was flooded with images of the hellish prison, of rapes and attempted rapes in the cells, of murderous rises to power and terrible fights among the inmates. She saw children in shackles that had no doubt been born in this place and had known no other. She had watched people being killed as examples. She watched Jolinar betray Martouf and sleep with Bynarr in exchange for her freedom and felt him as thrust--
"God, stop!" Sam cried, pushing away from Martouf. The device stopped and Sam covered her face, hoping to erase what she'd seen from her mind. "She was tortured," she said, deciding to tell them only what they needed to know. "She was tortured... so badly..."
Martouf pursed his lips and turned away. Sam hugged her knees to her chest and rocked slowly on the bed. 'That's where Dad is, huh?' she thought. 'God help us.'
Teal'c remained behind while the rest of the team and Martouf traveled down to the surface of Netu in the escape pods. The plan had gone from bad to worse almost immediately. Sam, thinking Bynarr would be sympathetic to Jolinar, had told them that she was host to the deceased Tok'ra. That resulted in the team being thrown into cells that stank of brimstone, death and other things it was best not to dwell on. There, they found her father near death, naturally furious at them for coming to rescue him.
Sam had managed to get to Bynarr's quarters, hopeful that she could find a way to escape from there. She had seen the rings used to transport Jolinar away and she realized why Jolinar had slept with him to escape. He wore one of the operating crystals around his neck. She had used him, which explained his anger towards her. He had been about to murder Sam when Nao'nac, Bynarr's First Prime, had inexplicably killed him and returned Sam to her cell.
The team had then put into motion a daring plan to escape. They got out of their cell and, carrying Jacob along with them, made their way to Bynarr's chambers. The plan came crumbling down around them, however, when Na'onak appeared and revealed his true identity. Apophis was alive and well, and SG-1 had willingly placed themselves in his prison.
As Sam was dragged back to her cell, she thought, 'Janet, if only you could see me now...'
Whether it was a misplaced belief in equal opportunity, or if he just liked torturing women better, Apophis picked Sam to be his first subject of interrogation. Two beefy Jaffa carried her into the interrogation chamber, depositing her on the floor in front of Apophis. He smiled down at her, the steel embedded in his cheek glistening in the firelight. "Welcome, Captain Carter."
"It's Major Carter," she said, kicking herself for again correcting someone out to kill her.
"Major," Apophis nodded. He held up a bowl filled with red liquid and placed it on the table in front of one of his Jaffa. "This is the Blood of Sokar. It will make your mind more pliant to my will." He swept a cup through the disgusting liquid and handed the cup to his Jaffa. "That is, of course, if you do not wish to simply tell me what I wish to know..."
"Go to Hell," Sam hissed. One of the Jaffa grabbed her chin, violently pulling her mouth open. "NO!" she cried. The other Jaffa poured the contents of the cup into her mouth, immediately covering her lips with his hand to prevent her from spitting it out. She gagged several times, close to drowning on the slimy concoction he'd given her, but her throat took over and she swallowed the drug. She coughed, her shoulders going limp as the world around her because less solid and began to transform.
"Leave me alone..."
A soft hand rested on top of her head and she looked up, gasping when she saw Janet standing over her. They were on Sekhet-Aanru, the purple skies and air told her that. "Janet," she whispered.
"Hey, sweety," the doctor said. "You look tired."
Sam closed her eyes. "I am... so tired."
Janet stroked Sam's hair. "I know. I know, honey. Do you want to sleep?"
Sam put her hands on Janet's shoulders and said, "No... no, I've spent so long trying to find you, Janet. And I don't want to sleep away the time we have together."
"It's all right, sweetheart."
"The cloud will close again," Sam said. "You'll be trapped again. We'll--"
"Don't worry about that. If you're so worried... tell me how to open Earth's iris and you can sleep. I'll go home and you won't have to worry about me being trapped again."
Sam frowned, shaking her head. "What?"
"Give me your iris code," Janet said, a bit more forcefully. "You can sleep. I'll go home. And everything will be fine."
Sam blinked and the world around her shifted violently. She fought back a wave of nausea and whispered, "No..."
"Don't you want me to come home, Sam? I can come home if you give me--"
"--THE IRIS CODE!" Apophis screamed.
"NOOO!" Sam cried, jerking away from the Jaffa holding her. She launched herself at Apophis, but was brought up short by a fist to the middle of her back. She crumpled to the floor and felt a boot press against her throat. "No," she whispered weakly, her face pressed violently into the hard floor of Bynarr's chambers.
She expected to next feel the burn of a staff blast, expected to hear Apophis order her death, but he did neither. Instead, she heard his surprisingly soft and gentle voice close to her head. "You lost someone," he hissed. "Someone who meant... very much to you. She is lost. Where?"
Sam tried to spit, but succeeded only in getting her lips wet.
"Tell me where you lost someone. Perhaps... we can help each other..."
She rolled her eyes so she could see him better. Finally, she said, "Sekhet... Sekhet-Aanru."
Apophis stood. "Sekhet-Aanru." He paced across the floor. "I have heard of this place. It is surrounded by an impenetrable cloud. Ships... transport rings... nothing can pass. How did you lose someone on a world it is impossible to travel to?"
Sam closed her eyes, desperately wishing for a way out of this. But the Blood of Sokar was still in her system. It was like truth serum, she supposed... she felt the facts spilling out of her: Deshret, Janet, the beam, everything. She stopped herself, however, from revealing too much about the SGC. When she was finished, Apophis began to pace again. "You care deeply for this person who was left behind."
"Yes," Sam said weakly.
"And if I were to tell you that I had a method by which I could destroy the cloud protecting Sekhet-Aanru... would you repay me for my kindness with information?" He paused, then barked something at his Jaffa. The boot on Sam's neck disappeared and she sat up, rubbing the imprint of his boot. "It is your decision, Major Carter. The cloud around Sekhet-Aanru will be destroyed in return for..." He turned and gazed at the wall, apparently trying to think of something worthwhile. "The code necessary to open the Earth iris."
Sam closed her eyes. God, was she actually *considering* making a deal with this... this bastard? But... he was giving her Janet. Janet would be freed. She looked up and met Apophis' eyes. She saw the stubborn set of his jaw and the superiority in his eyes. Finally, she sighed, her shoulders slumped and she felt a tear rolling down her face. "I'll give you the location of the Tok'ra homeworld."
Apophis' eyes gleamed. "That was not the bargain."
"It's what you're getting," Sam barked at him. She sighed and relaxed her shoulders. "Take it or leave it."
"Major Carter... I believe we have a deal."
Sam hung her head.
The deal was set. Apophis took Sam to Delmak and they both met with Sokar. The Goa'uld had been impressed with Apophis' offer, but did not see the necessity to disspell the cloud around Sekhet-Aanru. "The people of that world are of no importance to us," the pale man said, drifting his fingers through the flame of a candle. "Why should I spend resources removing the cloud?"
"It will bring us the Tok'ra," Apophis asserted.
Sokar turned to Carter. "And why must your... friends be brought along to witness the freeing of Sekhet-Aanru?"
"They have to be with me. I only know a portion of the address for the Tok'ra homeworld. Colonel O'Neill knows another portion. Daniel, Martouf and my father... It's all of us or the information is useless."
"Two of them are Tok'ra. They would surely know the entire address."
Sam shook her head. "It's a very complicated system, trust me. You need all five of us."
Sokar sighed and leaned back on his throne, watching his fingertips get singed by the flame. "Very well," Sokar said. "Apophis, if you wish to secure your seat as my new First Prime, you will accompany Major Carter and the rest of her team to Sekhet-Aanru. You will then use their Stargate to travel to the Tok'ra homeworld and transmit their coordinates to me. You are dismissed."
Apophis bowed and turned, leading Sam out of the room. "You did well," he said, leading her towards the ha'tak they would take to Sekhet-Aanru.
"Go to Hell," she hissed.
He pushed her forward, causing her to stumble and fall. When she turned, he had a zat leveled at her head. "Insolent Tau'ri," he growled. The blue lightning arced out of the gun and shocked her, knocking her unconscious.
When she came to, she was laying in the corner of the cargo hold of the ha'tak, her hands bound behind her. In the front of the hold, she could see the fuzzy outlines of Colonel O'Neill, Daniel, her father and Martouf. She groaned, pushing herself upright and trying to shake the fogginess from her brain. "Sir," she coughed.
Both Jack and her father moved to her side, helping her up. She waved her father away, knowing he needed to help himself first. "Sam," he said softly, brushing her hair. "Where are we? What's going on?"
"Apophis brought you?"
O'Neill shrugged. "He zatted me, then beat the crap outta Daniel, but yeah, you could say he brought us. Where we goin', Carter?"
"Sekhet-Aanru. I-I told him I would trade the Tok'ra homeworld for the removal of the cloud around the planet."
The Colonel smirked, then said, "Uh... what?"
Jacob closed his eyes. "Sam, tell me you're not going to honor that."
She opened her eyes and looked at him. "What?"
"Tell me," Jacob repeated, his voice firmer, "that you are not going to reveal the location of the Tok'ra homeworld. No matter *what* he offered you in return."
Sam frowned, her brow furrowing. "You think I... No, Dad, I'm *not* going to honor it. Of course I'm not!" She glanced at O'Neill and saw relief on his face. "You thought I would have sunk that low?"
"Well... Carter," he shrugged.
"This is unbelieveable," Sam whispered, pushing herself off the floor and walking towards the front of the ship. "I got us off Netu. I got us onto a pyramid ship, which we've proven to be escapable." She crossed her arms over her chest and stared at the wall. "Unbelieveable."
Daniel stood. "Sam, as gung-ho as you've been about getting back to Sekhet-Aanru, it's not really that unbelieveable to think that maybe... just maybe under the stress of the situation you might not have used your best judgement."
"But you know *me*," Sam snapped, turning to face them. "You know *me* and you know I would never sell *anyone* out like that." She ran a hand through her hair and shook her head. "Let's just... get this over with. We need a plan."
Apophis stared out at the purple cloud that surrounded Sekhet-Aanru and shook his head slowly. Such a simple solution... all he had to do was destroy this cloud and the secrets of the Tok'ra would be his. He would then, of course, kill the rest of Carter's team. Perhaps he could use her as the host for his new queen. He closed his eyes. The loss of Amaunet still hurt, but he didn't have time for emotions. He ordered the Jaffa at the controls to retrieve the prisoners.
In a few moments, the cloud would be disspelled and he would have ensured his continuation as Sokar's First Prime. After that, all that remained was killing the pale-skinned bastard and assuming his place of power. Apophis smiled. It was really too easy.
Jack stepped over the unconscious Jaffa and raised his eyebrows. "Well, that was really too easy," he said, handing Jacob a zat. The Colonel had conveniently been standing to one side of the door when it opened. He watched the guards walk by, saw they hadn't seen him and managed to ambush them. Three seconds after they entered, the guards were unconscious. "Looks like Sokar sent the B-squad out with his apprentice First Prime."
Daniel armed himself and glanced into the corridor. "Clear. Guess Sokar didn't think this didn't require too much manpower..."
The Colonel shrugged. "Lucky for us. C'mon. Let's go to the glider bay."
"Wait," Sam said, looking down at the guard. "W-what about... the cloud?"
"I thought you said that was just a ruse," Jacob said.
Jack sighed. "Yeah. She was going to let him destroy the cloud before double-crossing him. Looks like that's not an option, Carter. We have a clear path to leave *now,* mission accomplished, let's move."
"Mission accomplished," he said. "Your father is all right. We're all safe. We've contacted Teal'c and he's on his way back to Vorash. We're going home." He shook his head and lowered his voice. "Saving Fraiser wasn't part of the plan. I'm sorry."
Sam brushed her face, then picked up one of the guard's zat guns. "The, uh... the glider bays should be down this corridor."
Martouf and Jacob took one glider, their destination being Vorash instead of Earth. Sam and Daniel also took a glider, leaving Jack alone in his. The three gliders arced out of the hangar, immediately drawing the attention of the ship's weapons. Apophis fired at them, but they managed to maneuver through the blasts without harm. "We're going to have to book it to beat that ship," Jacob informed them over the com.
"Skill and maneuverability beats size and speed every time," Jack said. "Let's give 'im a chase he won't soon forget."
The three gliders formed a triangle, with Jacob and Martouf in the lead. Apophis' ship came around, looking over them. The plan was simple but dangerous; fly the gliders directly at the cloud surrounding Sekhet-Aanru and shift direction at the last minute. Hopefully Apophis would be blind enough to let himself be hurled into the spider's web. Time would tell...
Sam was only half-concentrating on the plan; it was simple enough she didn't need to focus entirely on making it work. She was staring at the cloud ahead, the faint outline of three planets visible on the other side. 'Janet is right there... right on the other side of this cloud. And I can't get to her.' She punched in the command to angle sharply away from the cloud and fought back tears. "I'll be back," she whispered.
In the seat in front of her, Daniel pressed his lips together and focused on his part of the plan; namely, navigation. Jack broke away first, followed by Jacob. Sam turned in the opposite direction, pushing the speed to it's maximum as she sped away from the wall of the prison holding her lover.
Apophis, blinded by his rage at being tricked, didn't see the big picture until it was far too late. The ship looked as if it was trying to backpedal furiously, the front two sides rising higher than the back. It tilted to the left when one side penetrated the cloud. Sam watched as the ship seemed to shudder, the lights covering it's surface blinking out one at a time. Sam turned back forward and said, "They're dead in the water, Sir. Looks like we're home free."
"Well, yippie-ay-kai-yay," Jack said, looking at the stationary mothership. "Let's skedaddle."
Sam looked once more at the cloud, quietly promising Janet once more that she'd be back before setting the glider to take them to the closest planet with a Stargate.
Kiera parked in front of the Jumbo Burger, as she always did. She climbed out of the car and walked around to the side of the building, clutching her purse against her side as she scanned the small community park. This was where she and Sam and the rest of SG-1 had once spent a lazy Saturday playing. This was where she and Sam had been rained out of a performance of "Merlin." It wasn't right to be here again... not for *this.* She sighed and pulled her cap farther down on her face, blocking her eyes from anyone who might happen to look in her direction.
She was wearing blue jeans, cowboy boots and a white t-shirt under her suede jacket. Hopefully no one would pay too close attention to her. She sat on the edge of a wooden bench and looked across the park at the kids playing in the baseball park. Proud parents stood on the sidelines, waving for their kids to steal second or swing harder.
She had always enjoyed baseball, watching it and playing it. She didn't have the time to enjoy it anymore... not with her assignment to the SGC and her... her other responsibility.
"I like the Cubs," the man next to her stated, causing her to jump. She hadn't seen or heard him approach, let alone sit next to her. "Not that I follow baseball that much. I simply like watching the beauty of the sport. The elegance of one team trying to keep another from gaining dominance in their territory. Sort of... poetic." He glanced at her, then held up his snack. "Peanut?"
"No thanks," she said.
He shrugged. "Suit yourself. They're delicious." He popped a couple into his mouth, then asked, "Have you got what I want?"
She opened her bag and withdrew a manila envelope. Her fingers shook as she handed it over. He took the file from her and leaned forward, sticking it into his briefcase. "I appreciate this. The information you're providing is--"
"I don't want to do this anymore, Maybourne."
He froze and turned to look at her over his shoulder. "Really."
She closed her eyes. "I... I respect the people I work with, Maybourne. They go to the extremes, they give their lives for this country and this world and I'm betraying them by handing over this information."
Maybourne sat back. "You could also say you're protecting this country from invasion by pointing us towards some valuable weapons technology. You're doing your country a favor."
"I'm betraying my country," she argued.
Maybourne sighed. "Fine. If you want to look at it that way. But what will you do if I tell General Hammond what I know?"
Her lower lip trembled and she inhaled sharply. "I don't care."
"Ahh, ahh, I think you do," Maybourne said, smiling smugly. "You wouldn't have this cushy position without my assistance. And Hammond will drop you like a stone if someone mentions your past errors." He chuckled. "Not to mention handing over the secrets of the SGC. I doubt he'd take that too kindly." He stood and put his baseball cap on; a cunning disguise. "I'll see you in two weeks, Doctor."
Kiera stood. "I'm not doing it."
Maybourne froze and turned. "All right then. What if I informed Major Carter of your indiscretions?" Kiera turned away quickly. "Do you think she would trust you alone with Cassandra if she knew?"
"It was a mistake," Kiera whispered.
"Right," the Colonel nodded, lifting his suitcase. "And you're paying for it. I'll see you... when?"
Kiera closed her eyes. "Two weeks."
Maybourne grinned and nodded. "That's my girl. Have a safe trip back to the SGC."
Sam checked her watch and sighed, looking up into the night sky and holding a glass of champagne in her free hand. Cassandra hadn't wanted to come, had almost cried at the prospect, but it was something Sam had to do. On the ground in front of her, there was an untouched glass of champagne and a picnic basket. Sam lifted her glass to the heavens, searching for any star that appeared to be surrounded by a purple cloud. Sekhet-Aanru wasn't visible from Earth, but just maybe if she looked hard enough...
Finally, she said, "One year, Janet. I haven't forgotten you. I'll never forget you."
One year ago that day, Janet had been lost on Sekhet-Aanru. Sam sat and began to eat the dinner she'd packed. Hopefully Janet would be present to celebrate the two-year anniversary.
"Samantha," Narim said. "I hope you haven't been waiting long."
She smiled and shook her head. "No, not at all. Thanks for coming."
Narim returned the smile. "It is my pleasure. In fact, I am pleased that we can finally be alone together."
Sam winced. "Narim... I-I asked you to meet me because I need your help."
"Samantha... I have missed you," he said, apparently not hearing her,
"A lot's happened to me since I last saw you."
He nodded, looking at the ground in defeat. "There is another."
"No," Sam said, a bit too hastily. How to explain her romantic tangles? "No. Not in the way that you mean." What would be the easiest explanation? Finally, she settled on, "I was blended with a Tok'ra, and she died to save my life. I still have her memories and her feelings."
"And she is part of you?"
"Yes. I can't have a relationship with anyone until I'm absolutely sure whose feelings I'm...feeling. Do you understand?" She raised her eyebrows, hoping he bought that as a valid excuse.
"You are very wise, Samantha." He smiled and then said, "May I ask then why you sent for me?"
"It involves your phase-shift technology."
"Samantha," Narim began.
"No. I don't want you to give it to us. I just need to know if it's possible to phase-shift an entire ship. Like a Goa'uld ha'tak."
Narim pondered that, then said, "Even if we had something like that... what good would it do you? The curia would never allow you to use it."
"But they might let *you* use it. Please, Narim, it's important."
He looked up at the sky and then looked back to her. "No, Samantha, I am sorry. We have nothing powerful enough to phase-shift an entire ship."
Sam closed her eyes and turned away.
"You said there were two things we needed to discuss."
"Yeah," Sam said softly. "Teal'c and I have been following the Jaffa that came with the Goa'uld contigent."
After Ska'ara's trial ended happily for everyone (except for the Goa'uld, naturally), SG-1 was given three days downtime. Sam, dressed in a pair of pajama pants and a sweatshirt, curled up on the couch and turned on an episode of "Friends" she'd set to record while off-world. As the main credits began to run, the doorbell rang.
"Damn," she whispered, pausing the song and making her way to the front door. 'After midnight, in the pouring rain... who could possibly...' She opened the door, surprised to find Kiera standing on her porch. The doctor was weaving, her body swaying in the downpour. Her hair clung to her head and her clothes - just a t-shirt and jeans - were completely soaked through. A few ice-cold drops of rain hit Sam's pajama pants and she stepped back. "Kiera?"
The doctor turned and smiled. It was a weak, terrible smile that conveyed more pain than happiness. "Hiya, Sam," the redhead hiccuped. The beer bottle in her hand wasn't the only evidence she'd been drinking.
Sam hugged herself against the cold night air. "Why don't you come in? It's-it's freezing out there. Where's your coat?"
"Lost it," Kiera whispered.
"Come inside and we'll talk about it."
Kiera turned. "About what?"
Sam shrugged. "Whatever it is that's making you... like this. We can work it out together. Just... come inside."
"Oh. I thought you had already heard. I thought he already told you." She took another swig of her beer.
"Told me?" Sam said. "Told me what?"
Kiera drained the beer bottle and looked Sam in the eyes. It was a painful thing to see, the horror and sadness in those green eyes. It was a sadness Sam had never before seen in the other woman. "What happened?" Sam asked softly.
"I killed a little girl," Kiera breathed. "I killed a little girl and I let it get covered up."
Sam couldn't breathe.
'She didn't just say that, right?' Sam rationalized, letting Kiera enter the house.
"Kiera," Sam said, taking the empty bottle from her friend. "Let's get you out of these wet clothes..."
"Don't pretend I didn't say it," Kiera snapped, shaking her head angrily. "I killed a girl. Constance Marie Davidson. Ten years old. She had brown hair, blue eyes and a butterfly pendant. She wore a clip in her hair that was shaped like a duck. Her parents were James and Sarah Davidson."
She closed her eyes and let Sam peel off her t-shirt. "I'll go find something for you to wear."
While Sam was in the bedroom, digging through the closet, she kept thinking about what Kiera was talking about. Surely she... wouldn't have really *killed* someone. Least of all a little girl... She found an old sweatshirt she thought would cover most of the redhead and took it out. Kiera was still standing in the entry hall, dripping on the linoleum floor. "I've seen this one," Kiera whispered, indicating the frozen picture on Sam's TV.
"Oh, yeah?" Sam asked, looking at the TV as well, helping Kiera put on the sweatshirt. "Is it good?"
"Uh-huh," Kiera said. She tugged on the hem of the shirt, then stripped off her sneakers and jeans. She handed them to Sam, who carried them towards the laundry room. She hit play as she went by the VCR, sending Matthew Perry back into his normal antics. Apparently, Monica was sick and trying to get Chandler to have sex with her. Kiera dropped onto the couch and hugged her knees to her chest, watching the show without any real interest.
Sam came back into the living room after starting Kiera's clothes in the dryer. "So... you want to talk about it?"
Kiera shrugged. They sat in silence for a while, watching the show. Sam would snicker occasionally, but Kiera paid no attention to the jokes. Finally, Kiera whispered, "I messed up."
Sam turned the TV down and gave the doctor her full attention. Kiera swallowed and shook her head. "She... was only ten years old. And she had appendicitis. And I was her doctor. A simple surgery and it was going to go... so, so smoothly. But I--" She squeezed her eyes shut, but a few tears managed to escape from beneath her eyelids and roll down her cheeks. Sam sat next to the doctor and embraced her, holding her tightly. "I was drunk."
"What?" Sam whispered.
Kiera nodded. "It's why I stopped. AA, five years... down the drain," she indicated the empty bottle. Getting back to her confession, she said, "I knicked an artery. I didn't know until it was too late and... that poor little girl with the butterfly pendant and the duck in her hair bled out."
Sam couldn't hide the shiver that ran through her. "I told her mother and father. Her father... could smell the alcohol on my breath and he threatened to sue me, the hospital... everyone. So I quit. I threw in the towel."
"How..." Sam started.
"How am I here?" Kiera laughed mirthlessly. "That's part two of the confession. Y'see, I was in the Air Force at that time. Disgraced. Threatened with a law suit. Then a nice man in a crisp uniform paid to have everything... go away. Just," she snapped her fingers, "fixed everything. Cleaned up my record and my life. And all I had to do was sell him my soul." She leaned back and said, "You have any beer?"
"I have soda."
Kiera winced. "Five years without liquor and now I can't go five minutes." She sighed and ran a hand through her hair. "Anyway. I told him that I was in his debt. About a year ago, he collected."
"A year," Sam repeated. "The SGC?"
"Yeah," Kiera said softly. "The SGC. I was put at the top of the list for Chief Medical Officer. Another little favor from my new friends. In return, all I had to do... was keep my ear to the door and report what I heard."
"The NID," Sam breathed. "My God, you're a mole for the NID."
Kiera was crying openly now. She covered her face and shook her head. "I told them everything. Everything."
Sam stood and walked across the living room, wanting to distance herself from the redhead. "My God."
"I told him I didn't want to do it anymore, I told him I was done. But he wou-wouldn't take no for an answer. He said he would tell Hammond and the Air Force that I'd killed that little girl. And I know he would."
"He?" Sam said, turning. "He... Maybourne?"
"My God," Sam said. She ran a hand through her hair, then looked at Kiera. "I have to tell General Hammond about this."
"Please," Kiera said. "I... I want him to know. I just didn't want Maybourne to rat me out." She licked her lips. "You probably want me to go," she said, standing.
Sam blocked the door. "Your clothes are still drying," she said softly. "And you're wearing one of my favorite sweatshirts. You can sleep on the couch. We'll... figure everything out in the morning."
Kiera nodded. "Thank you, Sam."
The blonde nodded. "Well... don't thank me yet. We'll do what we can, but there's a very real chance you'll be going to prison for treason."
Kiera laughed. "Prison. I put myself in prison five years ago. One made of stone and metal will be a relief compared to the one I've been living in."
"Never trust a redhead," Jack said, circling his chair. "I always believed that. I never dated a redhead, so I should've trusted my instincts. Nothing but trouble."
"Sir," Sam said. "She made a mistake."
Jack stopped and leaned on the briefing room table. "She sold us out to the NID. Not my idea of a forgiveable sin."
Sam started to argue, but Hammond entered and cut them off. Kiera followed, looking severely dressed down in jeans and a buttoned shirt. Her hair was unwashed and she wore no make-up. "Have a seat, Colonel," Hammond offered. Teal'c and Daniel weren't present; this was a need-to-know situation if ever there was one. "It seems we have a bit of a conundrum on our hands."
"No conundrum," Jack said, glaring at Kiera. "Fire her ass. Throw her in the rankest, oldest, smelliest--"
"Sir!" Sam snapped.
"He's right," Kiera said. "I deserve it."
Hammond pressed his lips together. "All right. I've discussed the situation with the President and I've been thinking about it for several hours. I've come to a solution I think would be beneficial for all of us."
"When does her replacement arrive?" Jack asked, ignoring Sam's look of disgust.
"Dr. Morgan will remain in the position of Chief Medical Officer of this base with severe clearance restrictions. She's served this base admirably in her time here, despite her indiscretions, and she should be allowed to continue to do so. However, she is to be accompanied at all times by an airman. Her belongings will be searched before she is allowed to leave. Her home will be under periodic surveillance."
"So I am going to be in prison," Kiera said softly.
"Of a sort," Hammond said. "In time, restrictions will be lifted when trust has been regained." She nodded. "As for your covert meetings with Colonel Maybourne... they'll continue as planned."
Sam and Jack both looked up at that. "What?" the Colonel snapped.
"Dr. Morgan will serve us in the same way she served Maybourne... As a mole," Hammond explained. "She will feed false information to the NID, leading them on wild goose chases. We'll use her to discover who else, if anyone, is operating out of the SGC. Her help will be invaluable in cutting of Maybourne's line into this mountain."
Jack glared at Kiera. "You don't expect me to accept medical care from her, do you?"
"Dr. Warner will be her equal, rather than her subordinate. They'll work together. If you feel more comfortable with him--"
"I do," Jack snapped.
Hammond sighed. "Very well. Dr. Morgan, Major Carter. You're dismissed."
The two women stood, saluted and left. As they exited the room, they could hear Hammond berating O'Neill's behavior in hushed tones. Sam turned to Kiera, only to find the other woman on the verge of tears. "What's wrong?"
Kiera blinked. "Did you have anything to do with that slap on the wrist?"
Sam shrugged. "I... had a hand in it."
"I killed a little girl. I covered it up. I handed over secrets I had sworn to never reveal. And I get nothing?"
Sam put a hand on her friend's shoulder. "Maybe you do deserve more. But... as far as I'm concerned, you've punished yourself long enough, Kiera."
Kiera put her hand on top of Sam's and bent her neck to kiss the line where they joined. "Thank you," she whispered.
"Think nothing of it," Sam smiled. "I have a mission. Do you want to sleep on my couch or go on to your place?"
"I can stay at my own apartment," she smiled. "Have fun on your mission."
"I always do," Sam assured her. "I always do."
Sam stared at the Stargate in disbelief. This could not be happening. Not again.
The event horizon coughed and sputtered, flickered and finally died. "No," she whispered, turning and running from the room. She tossed aside her P-90 and took a seat next to Walter Davis. "Dial it up again."
"Dial it, Sergeant!" she demanded.
The Stargate began to spin and Sam watched, shaking her head slowly. "Wait... cancel the dial-up."
Davis glanced at her, then did as she asked. She stood and turned to face Hammond. "Colonel O'Neill went to help some villagers," she said quietly. "We waited until the last possible minute, Sir."
"I know you did," Hammond nodded. "We almost lost you."
Teal'c and Daniel joined them in the command center. "We must return immediately," Teal'c said. "Why did you discontinue the dialing process?"
Sam sighed. "That last meteor hit was right on top of the Stargate. You'd be walking into a firestorm. We have to wait..." she looked at Hammond, then said, "At least 24 hours before even trying to go back."
"I agree. If it's safe by tomorrow, you all go back."
Sam blotted her mouth on a handful of toilet paper, rising to her feet and leaning against the metal partition of the stall. "Sam?"
She turned and unlocked the door, stepping out into the ladies' room. "Kiera," she said, forcing a smile. "What's up?"
"I..." She looked down at her hands and winced. "I heard what happened."
Sam turned on the water in the sink and held her hands under it. "Happened? What happened? What are you talking about?"
"Colonel O'Neill. He's... he was left behind on Edora."
The Major flicked her hands at the sink, sending small droplets into the basin. "Uh-huh. Meteor shower hit. Nothing we could do." She smiled. "We'll find a way to get him back. No worries."
Kiera winced and said, "I heard you throwing up."
"Got ahold of some bad Jell-O today, I suppose. Really made my insides start acting up."
"Don't lie to me, Sam," Kiera said softly. "Not to me. I thought you and I were closer than that."
Sam shrugged and walked to the door. "I'm fine, Kiera. I'll be a-okay."
Two weeks went by without much fanfare. The Edoran Stargate was buried. Colonel O'Neill had been left behind. Sam sighed and went back to work on her schematics. All she had to do was recreate the particle beam Sokar had used when he was trying to convince them to hand over Apophis. That would be simple enough. Build a particle beam, shoot it through the Stargate and bring O'Neill back. Piece of cake. It was nothing like, oh, say, trying to get through an impenetrable cloud.
She took another sip of coffee, the drink that had become like oxygen to her. She didn't even remember who had brought this cup to her. She put it next to the keyboard and went back to her designs. According to this, the beam would take three months to build, at least. Unacceptable.
Carrying her coffee in one hand and some pens in the other, she walked over to the beam generator. She had already made the shell. She had hooked up a naquadah power source. All that remained was actually putting everything together and making it work. She sighed and sat down next to the machine, crossing her legs and digging into the guts of the dismantled machine.
The Major didn't even look up. Despite knowing the voice, only one person would bother her in the lab at a time like this. "Hi, Kiera."
Kiera crouched next to Sam, peering into the machine. "It's really coming along. How long have you been working on it?"
Kiera raised an eyebrow. "Wow. And, uh... how much have you slept in that time?"
Sam looked as if that were the most offensive thing anyone had ever asked her. "What? Sleep?"
"Yeah. You know, that thing we normal humans do. Involves a bed, jammies, maybe a teddy bear or a stuffed Snoopy. Sleep."
Sam turned back to the machine. "Sleep doesn't matter."
Kiera sighed and stood up. "Come with me."
"Come with me. You're going to get some sleep."
Sam shook her head and reached into the guts of the machine again, tweaking something into position. "I don't need sleep. I need coffee. I need peace and quiet. I need..." She hung her head and softly finished, "I need to rescue at least one person. All right? C-can you understand that? I just need to do this or I won't be able to sleep again, ever."
Kiera rubbed the spot of Sam's back between her shoulderblades and said, "I understand. Just... promise me you'll take a break sometime? See some daylight?"
"Okay, I promise," Sam sighed. "Can I get back to work now?"
Kiera stood and straightened her blouse. "Yeah. I'll see you when you need a refill on coffee."
Kiera looked up and saw Feretti in the door of the infirmary. "Doc, you gotta hurry. It's Carter."
The doctor dropped her chart, ignoring the clatter as it hit the floor. Thousands of scenarios, each more dire than the last, kept swimming through her brain. Had Sam become sloppy and electrocuted herself on the beam? Had something leaked from one of those naquadah containers? Could naquadah be fatal if inhaled? She followed Feretti to the elevators, where Siler was holding the doors open. She then saw two airmen inside, both of them helping Sam into a sitting position.
"Found her like that," Feretti said, catching his breath and putting his hands on his hips. "Just... collapsed."
Kiera stepped into the elevator, grateful the airmen were smart enough to move aside. She touched Sam's neck... strong steady pulse. She lifted her eyelids and shined a penlight in them. She sighed in relief and turned to the airmen. "She's asleep."
Feretti frowned. "She's what?"
"Asleep," Kiera said, standing. "Thank you, gentlemen. If you'll help me get her to her quarters?"
Sam slumped against the wall, still unbelievably asleep despite being manhandled down the hallway, as Kiera opened the door to her quarters. "You got her from here?" Feretti asked.
"Yeah. Thanks, Lieutenant."
"No problem," Feretti nodded and rubbed the back of his neck. "Hate to think what we'd do if anything happened to her. Take good care of her, okay, Doc?"
Kiera smiled. "I certainly will."
Sam woke up when Kiera turned on the lights in her quarters. "What..."
"Hey, welcome back to the land of the living. You remember what happened?"
The blonde squinted and let herself be led to the bed, looking at her watch. "I fell asleep. I-I was going to the infirmary. So you could make sure I slept and so you would leave me the hell alone."
Kiera smiled and untied one of Sam's boots, slipping it off her foot. "Phew. God... how long have you been wearing these boots?"
Sam shrugged. "Couple days."
"Okay," Kiera said, standing. "Let's get you in the shower."
Sam collapsed against Kiera. "Normally a girl would buy me dinner first."
"I'm not getting in with you," Kiera said, her face almost as red as her hair. "Just, uh... let me turn on the shower and you can get undressed and clean yourself off, okay? Then you can sleep to your heart's content. All right?"
Sam nodded and unzipped her jumpsuit as Kiera went into the bathroom to start the shower. When the hot water was going strong, she turned and saw Sam standing before her in a gray tank top and white panties. Although she'd seen Sam naked on several occassions, she still turned away and looked into the tub. "I... the, uh, water is... the shower is ready." She cleared her throat and cautiously lifted her eyes to Sam.
"Thank you," the blonde said softly. She walked to the tub and sat on the edge, holding her hand out in the stream like she was trying to see if it truly existed.
Kiera sat next to her and brushed her hair out of her face. "None of it is your fault." Sam looked into Kiera's eyes, the pain evident all over the blonde's face. "Janet being left behind... Colonel O'Neill being stranded. It isn't your fault."
Sam suddenly began to cry, tears flowing down her face as fast as the water was falling in the shower. She fell forward and Kiera caught her, holding her tightly as the blonde finally began to cry. Kiera pressed her face into Sam's soft, bare shoulder and became acutely aware of how close the other woman was to being naked. She carefully pushed away from her friend's embrace and used the pad of her thumb to dry the tears from Sam's cheeks. "I should get back to the infirmary."
"No," Sam said.
"I..." Kiera frowned. "I'm on duty."
"Stay," Sam whispered.
Kiera swallowed. "You're... asking me to stay? Here? W-with you?"
Sam replied by kissing Kiera softly, pressing their lips together gently. With one hand, Kiera reached back and turned off the shower. They stood together, pressing their bodies together intimately. Sam pulled back, lips wet and parted, and looked into the other woman's emerald eyes. "I haven't been with anyone... in a year. Not since Janet..."
"I understand," Kiera said. "It's been... a while for me, too."
Sam stepped back and led Kiera to the main room, kicking her discarded clothes aside as she made her way to the bed. She turned and pulled back the blankets, climbing onto the mattress and inviting Kiera to join her. Kiera put one knee on the mattress and paused, looking at Sam for a moment. The blonde was laying back against the headboard, her knees bent and pressed together. Her skin was toned, but a bit pale for want of sunlight the past few weeks. She'd been holed up in that lab for far too long. Her breasts were rising and falling rapidly under her tank top, her blue eyes wide and unblinking.
"I need you to tell me you want this," Kiera said quietly, taking Sam's hand in her own.
Sam sat up and tightened her grip on Kiera's hand. "I want this," Sam assured her. "I want *you*. Now."
Kiera bent down, kissing the corner of Sam's jaw just below her ear. She slid her lips along the soft line, pecking Sam's chin before raising her head and kissing her friend's lips. Sam moaned at the contact, her hand curling to cup the back of Kiera's head. She undid the doctor's hair and let it fall, cascading onto her back. Sam continued to play with the long strands, pulling and threading them through her fingers.
Sam reached down and untucked Kiera's blouse, tugging violently at the buttons. They helped each other, tugging and pulling with one motion, taking the time to make sure no buttons were lost as they discarded the uniform top. Instead of trying to navigate the skirt and Kiera's panties, Sam shoved the material up around the redhead's hips and tucked the hem into the belt. They then collapsed into each other again, their lips magnetically drawn to each other.
Their tongues moved independantly of their lips, swiping and exploring and scanning and tasting every contour they could find before moving on to new experiences. Sam moaned and dropped her arms to the mattress. Kiera reached out, linking fingers with the blonde and lifting herself over her prone body. She lowered her head, kissing Sam's breasts through her tank top and exciting the nipples with her tongue and teeth. Sam bit her lip and arched her back up, making her body into a bow.
Releasing Sam's hand, Kiera reached down and tugged Sam's tank top up and over her breasts, baring her nipples to the redhead's hungry stare. As Kiera gripped Sam's hand once more, a lock of hair fell onto Sam's chest. The red strands marked Sam's breast like a map and a smile spread across Kiera's face. Kiera straddled Sam's right leg, pressing her thigh intimately against Sam's panties. The blonde whimpered and Kiera tightened her grip on her hands.
Kiera's leg pressed harder against Sam's center, her hair brushing softly over the wet, erect nipples. Sam's teeth seemed close to tearing her lip open. Kiera lowered her head, her hair still resting on Sam's breast, and kissed the other woman's throat. She tasted Sam's sweat, several days old, and grimaced, but it didn't deter her from continuing. Sam tasted better than she would have expected...
Sam's entire body - hands, arms, stomach, thighs, face - trembled with the anticipation and terror of this moment. Her first sexual experience since losing the love of her life. She wanted to cry in passion, and cry out her shame. She felt like she was betraying Janet, but knew that the doctor would've understood. Sam wept, turning her head in the hopes that Kiera hadn't seen the tears or, if she had, had misconstrued their meaning.
Sam lifted and dropped her hips in time with Kiera's thrusts, adding her own pressure to the redhead's own center. They were both gasping by the time Sam pressed her head into the pillows. The tremors in Sam's lower body intensified, becoming veritable earthquake. Sam's teeth released her lip and she cried out in passion, wordless proclamations that issued from the pit of her soul to the edge of her spirit. Kiera kissed Sam's lips, trying to quiet her as she climaxed, but nothing would quiet the blonde's declaration.
"Janet, I'm coming," Sam hissed. The river flowed through Sam's body, head to toe, only a small tributary escaping through her legs. Kiera's entire body tensed as she waited for Sam's orgasm to finish, the blonde's face contorted in an expression of near pain.
Finally, they both collapsed to the bed. Kiera rolled to one side, looking up at the ceiling and trying to get her breathing back under control. She whistled and ran a hand through her hair.
"God," Sam whispered. "God, did I need that..."
Kiera smiled and finger-brushed her hair. 'Does she realize she called me Janet?' Kiera asked. Deciding to ignore the momentary lapse, she instead whispered, "I'm glad you enjoyed it."
Sam rolled onto one side and cupped Kiera's face. "I did. So much. God... you were so wonderful. Thank you."
The redhead kissed Sam's palm and sat up. "I hope you don't think I'm abandoning you, but I have to get back to work."
"Oh, God!" Sam gasped. "You're still on-duty! You could get fired for what we just did!"
Kiera bent over the bed and kissed Sam, something she'd wanted to do casually for months now. It felt... wonderful. "We can just say what we did was... experimental medicine."
"I certainly feel a lot better."
Kiera ran her hands down Sam's face and said, "Bye, Sam. I'll see you after my shift. Sleep for now, though, okay?"
"You got it," Sam promised.
Despite initial estimates that it would take at least three months, Jack returned to Earth six weeks after he was stranded on Edora. Six weeks for O'Neill, Sam mused. A year and five months and counting for Janet. She welcomed O'Neill back, accepted his thanks for the rescue and went back to her lab. The remnants of the particle beam generator were scattered around the lab and she kicked one of them across the floor. Kiera entered and hugged Sam from behind. Sam smiled and put her hands on Kiera's arms. "Hi."
"Hello," she said. They'd spent the night at her apartment the night before, but neither had gotten any sleep. "He's home."
"And Janet's not."
Kiera closed her eyes. "Honey... it's not your fault. We can't even connect the Stargate to Aanru. There's nothing you can do to help Janet. She's... she's trapped. Unless something happens on her end."
Sam shrugged and turned. "We should tell Cassandra about us."
Kiera nodded and kissed Sam softly. "Tonight at dinner?"
"Tonight at dinner."
Sam watched Kiera go and slid onto her stool. She looked at the desktop blotter and drew an X through the most recent day. "One year," she said. "Five months, two weeks and one day." She sighed and scanned the rest of the month, gasping when she spotted one day. "Oh, my God. That can't be right."
She jumped off the stool and hurried to the computer, flicking it on and looking at the time and date. "No," she whispered, looking down at her watch. "That's impossible. I-I couldn't have just..." But she didn't need to consult another calendar to know the truth. It was already staring her in the face. Janet's birthday had been a week ago and Sam had completely forgotten about it.
Sam tossed aside the blouse she had just folded, hurrying through the house to answer the doorbell. It was one of the rare weekdays that she was off-duty and she was doing the chores in Kiera's place. She was a bit amazed by the power of the blue squirty stuff (which she learned was actually called "409 Glass & Surface") to clean the stove and counters. She'd used up half a roll of paper towels on the kitchen sink alone.
Now, she was actually upset her laundry schedule had been interrupted. 'Janet, you wouldn't recognize me,' she thought as she pulled open the door. She was brought up short by who she was confronted by. "Mrs. Fraiser."
Janet's mother smiled and said, "Hello, dear. May I come in?"
"Oh. Oh, yes, uh-huh," Sam stepped aside and the woman entered, her purse clutched against her chest as she examined the living room. "What, uh, can I do for you?"
Marjorie Fraiser turned. "They tried to sell me a cock-and-bull story about my little girl's mission of mercy in... Africa or some such nonsense. But I know how close you were to her. I know that she loved you more than she thought possible. I also know that you're probably in on what really happened. So I want the truth from you. Is my little girl dead?"
Sam closed her eyes and softly said, "I can't. I'm sorry, but the situation is classified."
The older woman turned and dug in her purse, pulling out a small card. "Fine then. Here you are."
"What is this?"
"An invitation. I'm sick of holding out hope. I'm sick of praying for the best when I know..." She sighed. "My baby girl is dead and that is an invitation to her funeral. I'm sure... she would have wanted you there." She took a deep breath and said, "If you will excuse me. I can find my own way out."
Sam was struck dumb by the card in her hand and didn't think to stop Marjorie until it was too late. She slumped against the wall and shook her head. Janet was going to be buried... She closed her eyes and wondered why everything had to be so complicated.
Kiera was hiding in her office when Sam found her. "Hey. You all right?"
The doctor nodded, chewing on her thumbnail. "Yah, M'allreyt."
Sam smiled. "What did you just say?"
Kiera looked up, then closed her eyes. "Ah," she shook her head. "Speakin' all arseways... I said..." her voice suddenly lost all hint of it's Irish accent. "I said I'm all right."
Sam took a seat. "Hiding out?"
The doctor smiled. "Is it that obvious?" She pushed her chair around and rested her head on the top of her desk. "I started working as a double agent for Hammond because I was sick of betraying my fellow co-workers. Now... now I had to do it all over again with Makepeace. God... will it never end?"
"It's ended for the moment. Maybourne doesn't have an off-world team, the NID doesn't have an SGC mole anymore... you're off the hook. No more lying, no more clandestine arrangements. You're free."
Kiera sighed and brushed her hair out of her face. "Then why do I feel like such a jammy client?" She glanced at Sam and explained, "A fool. Why do I feel like such a fool."
Sam reached out and touched the top of Kiera's head. "I think I know something that might make you feel better." Kiera looked up and raised an eyebrow. "Meet me at my house, tonight. Around... eight-ish. Dress warm."
She'd taken Sam's advice, but the down jacket she'd worn was nowhere near enough to protect her from the bitter November night in Colorado Springs. "Sam," she said, hugging herself and wishing she'd brought her mittens. "Any idea how much longer it has to be?"
Sam looked at her watch. "Nine o'clock exactly," she said, turning and putting her armful on the ground in front of them. They were in the front yard of Janet's house, celebrating the petite doctor's birthday (a few days late). Sam lit the candles and handed Kiera a cupcake. Cassandra already held hers, using the candle to warm her hands. "Come on, Mom," she complained to Sam. "Can we hurry? I'm freezing my a-ahhhh..."
"Your what?" Sam asked.
"Not much better," Sam complained, then turned and lit her own candle. "To Janet."
"To Janet," Kiera and Cassie echoed, lifting their cupcakes to the heavens. Cassie continued, "We're still waiting for you."
Kiera smiled politely, looking down at her cupcake. She traced the perimeter of the cup with her finger, then looked at Sam and Cassandra. Sam had her arm around the teen's shoulders and was indicating the sky, laughing about something with her. Kiera smiled, licked the icing from her finger and quietly stepped back, walking towards her car. She was unlocking the driver's side door when Sam caught up with her. "Hey, Keira. Where're you goin'? We still have the big cake inside. Chips, dip... the whole shebang."
The doctor turned. "This... is a family thing. I don't belong here. Thanks... though, for inviting me."
"You can't leave... I mean, you haven't even had your punch yet. Come in and stay. We-we even rented a movie..."
"I don't belong," Kiera asserted. "Thank you, but... I would just be a third wheel." She turned and saw that Cassandra had already gone inside. "Tell her good-bye for me, okay?"
Sam pulled Kiera close and kissed her softly, pressing her fingers into the soft skin at the back of the redhead's neck. Kiera accepted, closing her eyes and tilting her head. Sam's mouth tasted like frosting and punch, a delectable mix with the blonde's own unique texture. When they broke apart, Kiera managed a smile. "I'll see you tomorrow. All right?"
"Can I call you tonight?" Sam blurted out, immediately looking embarrassed.
Sam looked down the street and shrugged. "I-I wanna call you. Sometime. Y'know, before bed. Just... just to talk." She shook her head quickly. "Forget it. It's stupid, it's... high school."
"No," Kiera smiled. "It's all right. I go to bed around eleven, is that okay?" Sam nodded, brushing her cheeks. Kiera wasn't sure, but she thought that the red there wasn't just from the cold. "Bye, Sam. Talk to you at eleven?"
"Sure," Sam said softly. "Eleven." She finally smiled and embraced the redhead, almost demolishing the cupcake in the process. "Talk to you then."
Kiera waved good-bye and got into her car, pulling away from the curb. Sam watched until the tail lights vanished around the corner before going into the house to finish the celebration.
After putting Cassandra to bed, Sam put on a pair of old sweatpants and a t-shirt, making her way into the bedroom. She dialed Kiera's number and laid back on the bed, playing with the pullstring of her sweats as she listened to the ring tone in her ear. Finally, Kiera picked up. "Hello?"
"Hi," Sam smiled. "It's me. What took you so long to answer?"
"I was in the shower," Kiera sighed. "Thought I could squeeze it in." She paused, apparently looking at a clock. "You're early."
Sam glanced at the bedside clock. 11:01. "No, I'm not. Your clock is slow."
"Yours is fast."
Sam sighed. "Let's agree to disagree and just synchronize our clocks later, all right?"
Kiera chuckled. "Deal. So... what did you want to talk about?"
"I feel like I'm in high school," Sam laughed. "We can talk about anything."
"Okay. How is Cassandra *really* accepting me?"
Sam paused. "What do you mean? Cass loves you."
"Yeah, she loves me when I'm there. But what about after I leave? When it's just you two? How does she feel then?"
Sam shrugged and looked at the bedroom door. "I guess she's fine. I mean, she hasn't really said anything either way about it. She doesn't roll her eyes in disgust whenever I mention you're coming over. And she knows you're not taking the place of Janet in our hearts, so..."
Kiera was silent for a moment, then said, "Which brings me to my next question. What are you and I going to do when Janet comes home?"
Sam looked across the room and spotted a candid shot she'd taken of Janet during their first weekend together as lovers. The doctor was standing on the front porch, wearing a robe off her shoulders and cradling a cup of coffee. The sun was coming up in front of her, so it was only a silhouette, but it was the best picture Sam had ever taken. She felt she owed a lot of it's success to the subject. Janet, in nothing but a thrown-on robe, hair uncombed, wearing no make-up and simply watching a sunrise. Sam felt a tear in her eye and remembered Kiera was on the phone. "When Janet comes home... we'll just deal with this. Okay?"
"No, Sam, it's not okay. I've been wanting to say this for a long time, but I guess it took a phone line to gather up the courage. You're sleeping with me, all the while working to save this other woman. This other woman you admit you are still in love with."
Sam closed her eyes, using her free hand to wipe away her tears. "I do love you, Kiera. I do. I'm not just using you, I promise. But... there's a part of me that will always, *always* belong to Janet. When she comes home, I'll have a very hard decision to make."
Kiera sniffled into the phone and then there was a long silence. Finally, Kiera whispered, "No, you won't."
"What?" Sam sat up. "What are you saying, Kiera?"
"I'll step aside when Janet gets back. And we should... probably stop seeing each other." She chuckled and said, "I guess I should've told you not to call, huh?"
"Are we breaking up?" Sam asked, voice ironically cracking on the word 'break'.
Kiera sighed. "I guess so. I... should go. I'm dripping on the carpet."
The thought that she was speaking to a nude, wet Kiera did things to Sam that were better suited to other conversations. "Wait, don't go. Let's... let's talk about this."
"Bye, Sam," Kiera said softly, the phone clicking in Sam's ear. "No," Sam whispered, looking at the phone.
After the break-up with Kiera, time seemed to propel Sam ever-forward. The sun rose, fell, rose and fell again. Daniel found the Harsesis, Daniel disappeared, SG-1 fought a horde of vicious bugs on Thor's ship and were stranded on an alien world. The SGC had no Stargate, since SG-1 had used theirs to escape the destruction of the Biliskner. So they, like Janet, had been stranded. That seemed to bring the rush of time to a sudden and complete stop. Sam pushed the toe of her boot through the loose mud, watching as O'Neill made another futile attempt to dial the Gate. Nothing happened when he pressed the center dome. Aborted attempt number 23.
"Well, looks like they're still setting it up."
"Probably need my help," Sam muttered, watching as Teal'c returned with firewood. She still couldn't believe he was growing a soul patch. O'Neill referred to it as a 'fuzzy caterpillar.' Sam couldn't believe the hair was *blonde*. Naturally golden blonde. "Hey, Teal'c. Find anything worth mentioning?"
"I discovered another grove of the banapples," he explained, dumping the tinder he'd chopped or found. Banapple was O'Neill's word for the peculiar red fruit they had found. It looked and smelled like a red banana, but the inside tasted like apples. Hence the witty name. "There appears to be an abundance on this world. Did you attempt to dial the Stargate?"
O'Neill nodded. "Yep. No go."
The Jaffa nodded and went to setting up camp.
"How long should it take?" O'Neill asked.
Sam sighed. "Depending on how long it takes to get the Gate ready for transfer, get it to Cheyenne Mountain, set it up... not to mention we have an *iris* welded to it. It could take up to a month."
Jack rolled his eyes and turned around. "Great. Just... peachy."
Sam stood and brushed off her ass, making her way through the woods. She found the spot they'd coined 'the ladies room' and dropped trou, leaning against the tree as she did her business. At least a month on this world, although it would most likely be more than less. She'd already thought about Janet and Kiera and Cassie far too much. She finished, using a leaf they had discovered was harmless (through O'Neill's pained experience) and pulled her trousers back up.
Kiera was... so kind. Beautiful, there was no doubt about that. She sighed and stepped over a log, dropping down and sitting on the decaying wood as her thoughts filled with the redheaded doctor. It wasn't the same as it had been with Janet. With Janet, Sam had felt a spark from the moment they met; something that told her to not let this one get away. She hadn't ignored it and this is where it got her. Alone. With her lover stranded somewhere across the universe.
There was also the timing aspect to consider. She and Janet had been lovers for a year and a half when the doctor disappeared on Sekhet-Aanru. She and Kiera had also been lovers for a year and a half. If she continued seeing Kiera, then she felt she would be betraying Janet somehow. Sam clasped her hands between her knees and rose off the log. O'Neill and Teal'c were probably wondering where she'd gotten to...
Sam stepped into the house, inhaling the fresh air. "Ahh, air conditioning," she whispered. "Ahh, bathroom. Ahhhh." She dumped her things on the entry table and took off her jacket, glad to be home. "Cass? Kiera? You guys here?" Jenny, their one-time babysitter, had moved to Georgia for college and left Sam without a babysitter. Of course, with Cassandra ready to turn fifteen, there was a distinct feeling of "I-Don't-Need-A-Babysitter-I'm-Old-Enough-To-Take-Care-Of-Myself!" permeating the house. Long-term missions, however, were a different story. Cassie agreed to have an eye kept on her and Kiera had taken over during Sam's three-weeks offworld.
The house, however, seemed empty. "Cassie? Kiera?"
Nothing. She stopped by the phone and hit the answering machine. "I'm calling to confirm an appointment for Cassandra Fraiser at--" Sam moved on. Cassie's dental appointment had been a few days ago. She played the second message. "Fraiser? Is Mike's last name Fraiser? Sorry." Sam deleted that one and moved on. "Sam," Kiera's recorded voice said. "If you get home, Cassandra and I are at my apartment."
Sam pulled her jacket back on and left the house.
Kiera opened the door, looking particularly dissheveled. Her hair was in a loose ponytail, several free strands hanging down in her face. She wasn't wearing any make-up and she was dressed in an old threadbare t-shirt and a pair of jeans ripped in several places. She had a blue streak on her cheek, running from the corner of her lip to the bottom of her eye. "Hey, Sam! You're back!" She embraced the Major, careful not to touch the blonde with her hands or face.
"What's going on?" Sam asked, walking into the apartment. All the furniture was covered and Cassandra was in the same state Kiera was in.
The doctor shrugged and sat on a bucket, prying open another can of sky-blue paint. "Well... you let me use your little slave and I needed my apartment painted. So I cracked my whip and put her to work."
"We had chili dogs yesterday," Cassie said over her shoulder. "Three of them! For lunch!"
Kiera looked up, face red. "That... was supposed to be our secret."
Sam leaned on the doorframe and said, "It's alright. Junk food is okay once in a while."
"Cool," Kiera said, pouring the paint into a pan. "Got you another load, 'Sandra," she said.
"What?" Sam frowned, looking between the two.
"Sandra," the girl said, walking over and taking the pan from Kiera. "Isn't it cool? Aunt Key calls me that."
Sam raised her eyebrows. "Sandra," she repeated. "It's... it'll take a while to get used to."
"I'll still answer to Cassie and everything," the girl promised.
Kiera chuckled and straightened, her eyes widening as she realized where Sam was standing. "Oh, my God, Sam, tell me you're not leaning on that."
Sam pushed away from the doorframe and turned, looking at her back. "Oh, my God!" A white streak was running down the middle of her leather jacket and over the center of the seat of her pants. She chewed on some notable curse words before spitting out, "This sucks."
Kiera pressed her lips together and said, "I should've warned you. Come on into the bathroom..."
She led Sam into the bathroom, flipping the light on and helping Sam out of the jacket. "Cass can't hear you now. You can get everything out now."
Sam cursed under her breath as Kiera examined the damage. "Eeewww-keeey," she said, which ended up sounding like an overdrawn 'okay.' She pulled a bottle out of the medicine cabinet and unscrewed the top. "I'll buy you a new jacket if this ruins it."
"Wait," Sam said, putting a hand on Kiera's arm. "J-Janet gave me that jacket. Don't ruin it."
Kiera raised her eyes and smiled. "I won't. I was just kidding." She smiled and held up the bottle. "Baby oil. Should bring it right out." She poured a little on and used a hand towel as a brush. To Sam's surprise, the white streak disappeared slowly but surely. When Kiera finished, she said, "You may want to use some saddle soap on it, too. Just to nourish the leather a bit." She turned, holding the rag in one hand and the bottle in the other. "Now bend over."
"What?!" Sam said.
"You got paint on your ass. You want me to get it out or do you want people to think you're a skunk?"
Sam smirked. "I think I can handle it. Thanks for salvaging my jacket."
Kiera shrugged. "Aw, just buy me dinner sometime and we'll call it even." Her smile disappeared and she added, "Not... like a date or anything."
Sam paused, her hand on the doorknob. "Kiera... I was trapped off-world for three weeks. And, as much as I've missed Janet over the last 18 months... this time I missed you more. I didn't think that our Stargate was out of commission if Janet was trying to dial home. I was worried that you might think I had died on Thor's ship. I think... I'm starting to get over Janet."
"She's not dead," Kiera reminded her.
"Yeah. I know. But... I think she would understand if I moved on." She turned on the sink and ran her fingers under the water until it got hot. "I'd love to try again." She brushed away the blue mark on Kiera's face, their bodies close. "Maybe tonight?"
"Johnny Carino's?" she asked, naming their favorite Italian restaurant. "Seven?"
Sam nodded. "I would like that. We'll take Ca-- We'll take Sandra, too." Sam closed her eyes and said, "Where did you come up with that, anyway?"
Kiera chuckled. "*She* really came up with it. We saw Sandra Bullock in 'Forces of Nature' and it just stuck in her brain."
"I'll get used to it. Dinner tonight?"
"Dinner," Kiera promised.
"That wasn't dinner," Sam commented, pressing her face into the pillow.
Kiera pulled her blouse back on, trying to line up the buttons. She brushed her hair out of her face and coughed. "No. No, I usually stay dressed for dinner."
"What happened?" Sam wondered, rolling onto her back and staring at the ceiling.
Two pairs of white cotton panties decorated the stereo. Kiera picked them both up, examining each one before determining the one on the left was the pair she'd been wearing. She pulled them on and turned. "You jumped me."
"You dragged me in here and tore my clothes off. We made love for," she turned her wrist and looked at her watch, "for three hours straight. And now, Cassandra is probably at my apartment calling the police because we never showed to take her to dinner. God, Sam, what were we thinking..."
"We were thinking that you looked great in that skirt."
Kiera smiled and pulled said skirt up her legs. "We missed our reservation at the restaurant."
"Domino's is still delivering," Sam said. "Call them to deliver to your apartment, then call and tell Cass and tell her to expect it and us." She sat up and found her dress, working the tangles out of her hair with her fingers.
"You look nice with long hair."
Sam scoffed. "I think O'Neill and Hammond are subtly trying to tell me to cut it."
Kiera checked herself in the mirror and said, "You have any make-up I can borrow?"
"In there," Sam motioned to the bathroom. Kiera disappeared and Sam picked up the phone, dialing the familiar Domino's number. "Hello, this is for delivery, please?" She gave the woman Kiera's address and ordered two medium pizzas with Canadian bacon and sausage on one. Sam wrinkled her nose and said, "I'd also like one with... uh, Canadian bacon and p-pineapple, please." It was Kiera's favorite topping and Sam couldn't stand it.
She got the total and hung up, immediately dialing Kiera's number. "Hey, this is Kiera Morgan. Please leave a message after the beep and I'll get back to you. Thanks! Beep."
"Cassie, honey, pick up. You listening?"
"Mom! Where *are* you guys? I thought you'd been abducted by Thor or sent on a sudden mission or--"
"BREATHE!" Sam commanded, shutting the girl up for a moment. "Cass, your Aunt Key and I got a little sidetracked. We forgot about dinner. Domino's is coming. Do you have twenty bucks left from your allowance?"
The girl replied, "Uh-huh."
Kiera came out of the bathroom and Sam held up a finger to make her wait. "Okay. Pay for the pizza if it gets there before we do. We'll pay you back. See you soon, sweetheart."
"Bye, Mom. Say hi to Aunt Key for me."
"Will do." Sam hung up and smiled. "Hi from Cassandra."
Kiera smiled and sat next to Sam. "Tell her hi back." She took the blonde's hand and said, "You ready to go?"
Sam wasn't listening. She leaned in and inhaled near Kiera's neck. She sat up and said, "That... th-that's Janet's perfume."
The redhead's smile vanished. "I can wash it off--"
Sam tightened her grip on the other woman's hands, keeping her where she was. "No," she said softly. "I like it on you." She kissed Kiera softly and asked, "You ready?"
"Yeah," Kiera said.
Cassandra, aka Cass, aka Cassie, aka Sandra, picked a piece of meat from her pizza and ate it, twirling the cheese trail around her finger. She swallowed, took a swig of soda, then said, "Are you and Aunt Key sleeping together?" she asked.
Kiera choked on a pineapple wedge.
"What?!" Sam asked.
Cassie put a hand to her ear, mimicking a phone. When she spoke, her voice was a deeper mockery of Sam's own voice. "'Yeah, uh, Kiera and I got sidetracked for three hours and couldn't call but we were just standing around talking and not doing anything bad.'" She sighed. "I know you guys. I know how you act and I know how you are with secrets. So... spill the beans. Let the cat out of the bag. *TELL* me!"
Sam looked at Kiera.
Kiera's shrugged and her eyes said, 'It's up to you.'
Sam cleared her throat and took a drink of her soda. Finally, she said, "Yes, Cassandra. Kiera and I are dating. She's my girlfriend."
There was a heavy pause in the room. The air felt like bricks on Sam's shoulder as she waited to see what her adopted daughter would do. Finally, the teenager - by now expert at change in life - shrugged and said, "Cool. Pass the breadsticks."
Kiera looked up, smiled a little, then looked back down at her chart. "Hi," she whispered.
Sam didn't reply. She walked to the couch and sat down, pulling one leg onto the cushion and resting her chin on it. After a while, she said, "I know you heard everything. I just wanted you to know--"
"There's nothing to explain," Kiera interrupted. "I... it's okay. I'm fine with it. Seriously."
Sam closed her eyes, "I know it must've hurt--"
"Hurt? I just found out that you love Colonel O'Neill, too. Between me, him and Janet, it's getting pretty crowded in your heart, Sam." She stood and walked to the file cabinet. "It's okay. You don't have to explain."
"I do," Sam said, standing up. "When we first met, I hated you for taking Janet's place. Now... now you've been here as long as Janet was. A year and a half. In a month, you'll have seniority over her. And, I guess I'm scared because you're starting to take seniority with me, too. There are days when I barely think about Janet. I never cry about her being gone anymore. You're helping me to heal and it scares me. Because I'm not sure I want to heal." She put her hands on Kiera's shoulders and said, "A small part of my heart will always belong to Janet," she said, lightly massaging the doctor's shoulders. "But you have the majority."
Kiera turned. "And O'Neill?"
Sam scoffed. "He's... a non-issue. He's my CO, a father figure. You don't have to worry about me jumping his bones any time soon." She brushed Kiera's cheek. "Okay?"
"Okay," Kiera said, finally allowing herself a smile. "Just... try not to fall in love with anyone else."
Sam rolled her eyes. "I'll try."
A week later, Sam walked into Kiera's office. "Hey. Have you heard about this time loop Colonel O'Neill and Teal'c are allegedly trapped in?"
A week later, Sam walked into Kiera's office. "Hey. Have you heard about this time loop Colonel O'Neill and Teal'c are allegedly trapped in?"
"Yeah," Kiera said, pushing the filing cabinet drawer shut. "I examined them earlier. Didn't find anything wrong with them."
A week later, Sam walked into Kiera's office. "Hey. Have you heard about this time loop Colonel O'Neill and Teal'c are allegedly trapped in?"
"Yeah," Kiera said, pushing the filing cabinet drawer shut. "I examined them earlier. Didn't find anything wrong with them."
"Other than the fact they know what'll happen before it happens and Colonel O'Neill seems to have started reading my reports."
Kiera chuckled. "Whether or not it turns out to be a time loop, something strange *must* be happening."
"Yeah," Kiera said, pushing the filing cabinet drawer shut. "I examined them earlier. Didn't find anything wrong with them."
"Other than the fact they know what'll happen before it happens and Colonel O'Neill seems to have started reading my reports." Sam frowned and said, "Whether or not it turns out to be a time loop, something strange *must* be happening."
Kiera looked up. "How did you know I was going to say that?"
Sam raised an eyebrow. "Have you ever felt deja vu?"
Sam rolled onto her side and held the pillow, clutching it to her chest and sniffling in the early morning cold. On the other side of the bed, she felt her lover stirring and she sat up, brushing her hair out of her face and watching the other woman walk to the bathroom. "You want to catch breakfast before the ceremony?"
The toilet flushed and Janet exited. "Sure," she yawned, unbuttoning her pajama shirt.
Sam watched, still amazed that the brunette was home. Ten years ago, the Aschen had arrived with big plans for Earth. They were willing to share their technology, they were open to negotiations. They were our salvation. Sam had finally gotten up the courage to ask Mollem about the cloud around Sekhet-Aanru. Three days later, the cloud was down and Janet was home. She'd grown attached to her friends on the alien world, but knew her place was on Earth.
Now ten years later, Sam was still refusing to take the doctor for granted. She climbed out of bed and knelt in front of Janet, hugging her tightly around the waist. "I love you."
Janet laughed. "I know. You told me last night."
Sam kissed Janet's stomach and said, "I'm never going to let you go."
"It'll be hard to get dressed like this," Janet noted.
Sam chuckled, but refused to let go. The playful struggle to release her lower body led to laughing, laughing led to collapse, collapse led to the ladies being late for the celebration.
Kiera watched as Sam and Janet entered the center arm-in-arm and felt a pang shoot through her body. She'd been crushed when Sam had told her about Janet's return. She had cried for three days straight after the inevitable break-up. Cassandra still visited often, but they were growing apart as well. Kiera took another drink of champagne - she'd fallen off the wagon five years ago when Sam and Janet had come out to their friends - and focused on the ceremony.
Sam avoided the redheaded doctor, but they occasionally made eye contact. Usually it was the guilt that made them turn away. Other times, someone stepped between them and when the obstruction was gone, so was the eye contact. Even after Janet's miraculous rescue, Sam and Kiera had been meeting secretly once or twice a month. Sam never stayed afterward; just showered, dressed and left.
The secret was threatening to drive a wedge between all three women, even though Janet remained oblivious to the fact that her lover was being unfaithful. Kiera had quickly started hating Sam for cheating on such a wonderful woman, which led to hating herself for enjoying their secret rendezvous, which led to Kiera's relapse into alcoholism. She finally made her way over to the SGC members and joined their little circle. "Hey. Is this a private party or can anyone join?"
Sam's smile wavered and she shrugged. "Please. Join us."
Daniel put an arm around Kiera. "We were just discussing where we could go for dinner. Any ideas?"
Kiera tilted her empty glass and said, "Someplace with alcohol, definitely."
Sam sat in the waiting area of the Stargate terminal, tears in her eyes as she stared at the massive ring. It was a few minutes past one in the morning on the day they were going to try to send a message back to themselves. Only a few hours until they would undo the last ten years. Kiera walked over and sat next to her, taking Sam's hand. "You okay?"
"I've been cheating on Janet for five damn years. No, I'm not okay."
Kiera winced. "Are you scared about what we're going to do tomorrow?"
"We're undoing the last ten years. Removing the Aschen from the equation. Condemning Janet to remain on Sekhet-Aanru for who knows how long. What if we never find another way to rescue her? What if the Aschen were our one chance?" She sniffed. "What then?"
"Then you and I can continue our relationship without worrying about doing something wrong." She took Sam's hand and said, "It's the right thing to do, honey. We have to do it tomorrow."
Sam nodded and squeezed Kiera's fingers. "Then I have to tell Janet about you and me tonight. It's the right thing to do."
Janet screamed. Janet tore Sam's blouse. Sam cried. Janet threw Sam out and screamed at her on the porch. Sam apologized. Janet cursed. Sam got onto her knees. Janet threw clothes into the lawn. Sam kissed Janet. Janet cried. They kissed again and Janet hated herself. Janet demanded Sam get out immediately. Sam said she loved Janet. Janet slapped Sam and told her to get out. Sam went to Kiera's and slept on the couch. The entire ordeal lasted less than thirty minutes.
The next morning, the erstwhile SG-1 ambushed the Stargate. Teal'c died first, followed by Jack and then Daniel. It was up to Sam. She rushed the Stargate and felt the beams shooting past her head. One of them pierced her right arm and she hissed in pain, almost collapsing. She grabbed the note from O'Neill's hand and tossed it through the Gate. A few seconds later, she collapsed to the ramp and prepared for the pain of death to take her.
Nothing happened. She raised her head, surprised to find the automated systems had stopped firing. On the walkway above the terminal, Sam saw two guards flanking a handcuffed Kiera. She'd done her part of the mission, but had done it too late and gotten caught. It had been her mission to disarm the security measures.
Sam raised her hands in surrender as guards surrounded her.
And then... everything changed...
Sam woke up quickly, bringing one hand to her head and feeling a fever burning. She went to the bathroom, dropped to her knees and threw up. After a few bouts of heaving, she felt something cold and wet on her forehead. "Kiera, go back to bed," she rasped.
"Shh," Kiera whispered. "You're burning up. You want some milk or--"
"No," Sam shook her head.
Kiera rubbed Sam's shoulders and sat next to her. "You been thinking about the note?"
Sam nodded. "Where did it come from?"
"It had Colonel O'Neill's blood on it... and he wasn't injured in any way. Daniel thinks it came from the future."
"Yeah," Sam said, her voice weakened by her illness. "He told me. I keep... wondering. If Janet was there in the future. If we finally found a way to rescue her."
"What if they had? Would you want to know how they did it? Would you want to see her? What would you have done if you knew Janet was home in the future?"
Sam rubbed her forehead. "I don't know. Nothing probably. It's just... it's like watching a sad movie or reading a sad book. You might ask someone if it has a happy ending but you don't necessarily want all the details. I just want to know if we have a happy ending."
Kiera brushed Sam's hair out of her face. "What if Janet never comes home?" she whispered. "What if you stay with me for the rest of our lives? Would that still be considered a happy ending? Because... because I would consider that a happy ending. We don't just get one chance at happiness in this life, Sam. I'd like to think I'm your second chance."
Sam covered Kiera's hand with her own and said, "I'm so sorry that it has to be this way."
"This way," Sam said, indicating the room around them. "I'm sorry you have to share me with someone who is a million light years away. I'm sorry. You deserve better than me."
Kiera brushed Sam's cheek and said, "There is no better than you."
She leaned in for a kiss, but Sam said, "Key, I'm sick..."
"I'm a doctor, I can kiss it and make it better." She kissed Sam, pushing the blonde against the side of the bathtub. Sam moaned and cupped Kiera's head. Sam undid the belt on Kiera's robe and flattened her palm against the redhead's stomach, sliding her fingers under the hem of her pajama pants. Kiera scooted up, putting Sam's fingers where she wanted them and deepening the kiss.
Sam turned her head and chuckled as the redhead kissed down her neck. "I must have awful breath."
"You smell wonderful," Kiera assured her, pulling Sam in for another deep kiss. "Make love to me."
"I'm sick," Sam reiterated.
"I don't care," Kiera told her, peeling the tank top from Sam's chest.
They kissed again and Kiera led Sam to the bed. They stripped, falling into each other. Each woman tried to pull the other closer as they became tangled in the mess of sheets and blankets on the bed. Sam sat up and held her hair out of her face, her chest rising and falling as she stared down at Kiera's naked body. They fell into another kiss and Sam said, "I love you, Kiera."
The redhead shuddered and rolled over, pinning Sam to the mattress. Pressing her hand between Sam's legs, the redhead demanded, "Say that again."
"I love you, Kiera," Sam repeated, gasping as the redhead added a finger. "I love you," she whispered, closing her eyes as Kiera began to thrust her hand forward. "I love you, I love you, Love you, I love ya, love'ya, love'y, love'y, love'y... KIERA!" Sam's body jerked and she sat up, wetting Kiera's hand with her juices. She rested her head on Kiera's shoulder and kissed her throat. They held each other, eventually falling back to the bed and pulling the blankets up around their nude bodies.
'I love you, Kiera.' Sam had never said those words with her name before. She'd said I love you. She'd said Kiera's name in bed before. But she'd never said anything that powerful. Kiera had a feeling that Sam knew she'd made a mistake the first time they were in bed; it had been haunting the back of Kiera's mind for months, every time they were together she remembered Sam calling out Janet's name.
She kissed Sam's feverish forehead and saw that the blonde was already asleep. "I love you, too, Samantha Carter. I love you, too."
It had been brief, it had been corrected, but Sam had been dead. She sat in bed and looked down at her feet, watching the blankets move as she curled and uncurled her toes. "What if she had come home to find out I died?"
Kiera came around the curtain. "You should be sleeping."
"What if Janet came home and I was dead?" Sam repeated. "Can you imagine what that would do to her?"
Kiera smiled. "What... about me? What would *I* have done, Sam? If you had died right in front of me. In fr-front of my eyes. God, do you know how much it hurt? To watch you flatline--" She turned away and shook her head.
"I'm sorry, Kiera," Sam whispered. "Come here."
They embraced and Sam said, "I'm sorry I scared you." Kiera chuckled. "Just don't let it happen again, all right?"
"I'll try not to," Sam promised. "Will you be here much longer?"
Kiera sat down and held Sam's hand. "Just until you fall asleep."
Sam closed her eyes and both women fell asleep together.
Sam picked up a balloon, cradling it against her chest and writing on the rubber surface with a magic marker. "TO JANET! WE MISS YOU!" It was the two-year anniversary of Janet being left behind. Sam could hardly remember the events leading up to the Stargate losing the connection to Sekhet-Aanru; events she had once run through her head seven times an hour. She held onto the balloon by it's string and turned to see the progress the others had made.
Daniel had written "COME HOME SOON!"
Jack wrote: "DOC! THE NEW DOC USES REGULAR-SIZED NEEDLES! TAKE LESSONS FROM HER WHEN YOU COME HOME!"
Teal'c had succinctly written: "JANET FRAISER."
Cassandra had sat on a rock, writing in small letters and keeping her message out of sight of everyone. When they were all finished, They got into a line in the middle of the field. Sam checked the wind and said, "On... three, two, one... release!"
Five balloons rose into the sky, darting across each other's paths as they sped towards the mountains in the distance. Sam put an arm around Cassie and kissed the girl's head. Back at the car, Kiera watched with a bittersweet detachment. She wasn't a part of this; she wasn't Janet's friend. She sniffled, knowing exactly what she would have written: "JANET. I LOVE HER NOW. PLEASE DON'T MAKE HER BREAK MY HEART."
Sam joined her at the car and clasped her hand for a moment. "Are you crying?"
"Allergies," Kiera lied. "You guys ready for ice cream?"
"The Colonel is treating," Sam said, climbing into the car. "Follow him!"
Sam peeked around the corner into the isolation room where Cassandra sat in the bed, staring straight ahead with her arms folded across her knees. Sam chewed her lip and turned, looking at Kiera. "No," the Major said. "She wouldn't have."
Kiera wouldn't look at her. "You talk to her," she said finally, sniffing. She had a bloody handkerchief to her nose, her eyes squeezed shut as she tried to keep the tears down.
Sam sighed and went into the isolation room. "Hey, Cass. Or should I call you Sandra? Which do you prefer?"
"I don't care," Cassie whispered, her arms crossed over her knees.
Sam pulled a chair over and sat down. "Are you going to apologize?"
"For what you did to Dr. Morgan."
Cassandra looked away. "I didn't mean to do it."
"She has two black eyes, Cassandra. You hit her with the chess board."
Cassandra closed her eyes. "It was an accident. I was getting the board set up and she came in and started talking about what we were going to do when I get out of here." She turned and glared at Sam. "She should know she isn't my mother. She never will be."
"Janet is my mother. My last name is Fraiser, not Morgan. She should know that."
Sam stood up, forcing Cassie to look at her. "Your last name isn't Carter, either. Does that mean you wanna hit *me* with a chess board? You call *me* mom. Why is that different?"
"Because you and my mom were married. Or... or you *should've* been." She turned away. "It doesn't matter who you're fucking now, Janet's my mom."
"CASSANDRA!" The girl shook her head. "Apologize," Sam demanded. Cassandra remained silent. "Apologize!" Sam snapped.
Finally, the girl turned and said, "No."
"Cassie," Sam continued softly. "I'm not just f... I'm... not just sleeping with Kiera. I love her. I love her an awful lot. And I thought you liked her, too. Because, you know... she really does love you, kid. She loves you with all her heart. And she's trying really hard to make everything easier for you. She doesn't want to take Janet's place, she just wants to make her being gone a little easier to bear. Do you understand?" That got the slightest of nods. "And you hit her with a chess board," Sam finished with a sigh, shrugging. "I don't know why she bothers."
She turned to walk out. She made it to the door before Cassie softly said, "Tell her I'm sorry. Please?"
"Of course," Sam said, "I'll tell her."
When she left the iso-room, she spotted Kiera leaning against the wall. Sam smiled and said, "Hey."
"Does it look bad?" Kiera asked, tears still on her cheeks.
Sam shrugged, then mock-weeped, "Now I'll never be a teen model." Kiera looked at her curiously and Sam coughed. "Brady Bunch. Marcia got whacked with a football, busted her... nose. Never mind." She embraced her lover and whispered, "Did you hear everything?"
"I did. Thanks for saying such nice things about me."
"No problem," Sam smiled, brushing her friend's hair. "Now... let's get you to the infirmary to have that nose looked at."
Sam wasn't invited.
No one else at the base was invited.
Cassandra and Kiera walked through the park, both of them waiting for the other one to make the first move. Finally, Cassie said, "I'm sorry you look like Robonose."
Kiera smiled around the brace that was taped to her nose. "It's okay, Cass. I think it adds an air of mystery to my persona. Besides, who would go see a doctor who had never been hurt? I know what they're going through now." She put an arm around the girl's shoulder and said, "I know you weren't exactly yourself when you did it, too."
"It was still a rotten thing to do," Cassie sighed.
"I won't argue with that." She looked around. They were in a clearing where a stone bridge crossed a small gentle stream. There were some granite benches flanking the stream, but they were covered with fallen leaves and twigs and various other bits of trash and debris. "What are we doing here?"
Cassandra sighed and sat down on a rock. "This is where Janet brought me a few days after I came to Earth. She told me that she was going to take care of me and be my mother for a while. She made sure I understood what had happened on Hanka and wanted to make sure I was okay with it. That was the day I accepted her as my mom." She shrugged. "I thought that if you wanted to be my new mom, I should come here and see what you had to offer."
Kiera smirked and sat down. "You're a brilliant kid, you know that?"
"I've been told," Cassie smiled.
Kiera took both of the girl's hands and said, "Cassandra. My momma died when I was a wee girl." She cleared her throat, all too aware of her accent coming out. "She died. Of cancer. And I moved through... I don't know, ten thousand foster care homes. I finally found one place that I absolutely loved. It was James and Lucy Morgan. They took me in, treated me like their own and led me towards this life. I loved James and Lucy, but as much as I loved them, I never ever forgot my true mother.
"I don't want to take Janet's place, hon. I wouldn't want to take your birth mother's place, either. No one could do that and I would hate to do that. But... I want you to know that I'll be right here if you need anything at anytime. I love you kiddo, and I want to make sure you have everything you want or need until Janet comes home. D'ya understand?"
Cassie smiled slowly and said, "I think you passed the test."
"Good," Kiera chuckled. "I was a mite worried about that." They embraced and Kiera said, "Whaddaya say we head up to the road, drive around for a while and see if we can't find ourselves a little snack or something?"
"Sounds like a deal," Cassie said. She slipped off the rock and darted up the trail, turning only to ask, "Can I drive?"
"You've been sixteen for a week!" Cassie held her hands out and Kiera tossed her the keys. "Don't tell Sam!"
Marjorie looked at the reflection in the mirror to see who had joined her in the bathroom. She smiled weakly and dabbed once more at her eyes. "I'm sorry."
"It was a beautiful ceremony," Sam said, for lack of anything more eloquent. "I'm sure... Janet would've liked it if she could've been here to see it."
"My daughter," Marjorie whispered. "Is dead."
"Ma'am, I'm sorry, but--"
She turned and said, "Stop. Samantha, do you know what hope can do to a person? It can eat them up inside. It can ruin lives. I could sit at the window every day... I could stare at the phone all day waiting for a call saying my baby was coming home. I could let it eat away at me. But that would be as good as crawling into that-- that empty casket and being lowered into the earth myself. I will welcome Janet back with open arms if by some miracle she finds her way home again. But I am not - I repeat - not going to let hope fester inside of me. I've made peace with Janet being gone. I hope you can too... because I would hate to see you through away your life waiting."
Marjorie put a hand on Sam's shoulder, squeezing it once before whispering, "Let her go, Samantha. She won't hold it against you."
Kiera looked up and smiled. "Sam. How was the memorial service?"
Sam walked up to Kiera and kissed her passionately. As she broke the kiss, she took her lover's hand and pulled her away from the dining room table and the notes she had been doing. "Wha-where are we going?" Kiera said, pulling off her eyeglasses.
"I'm going to take you to bed. I'm going to make love to you for the first time."
Kiera chuckled. "Hate to break it to you, Sam... but we've had sex before. What would you call that?"
Sam pushed the bedroom door shut. "Nothing compared to this. I love you, Kiera. I'm sick of living entirely in the past. It's time to embrace the present. The future can wait."
They embraced the present until well into the next day.
It happened on a Tuesday.
A Tuesday that fell almost three years after Janet got stranded on Sekhet-Aanru. On that Tuesday, an armed robber walked into a bank in Maryland and demanded money. In California on that Tuesday, a traffic accident backed up cars for miles on the Pacific Coast Highway. And on a faraway planet on that Tuesday, Samantha Carter accepted the means by which to bring Janet back to Earth.
Narim's world was being destroyed by the Goa'uld ships in orbit. The ion cannons were useless hunks of metal against this new and improved design. The Tollan were sitting ducks and had been used by Tanith in an attempt to destroy Earth. Narim was now leading SG-1 through the destruction. "You must hurry straight to the Stargate," he told them.
Sam frowned. "Aren't you coming with us?"
"My actions have forced my people in a battle we may very well loose. The least I could do is stay and fight with them."
Jack shook the alien's hand. "Good luck."
Jack, Daniel and Teal'c turned and ran towards the Gate. Narim put a hand on Sam's shoulder, stopping her from joining them. "Samantha. There is something I must tell you."
She closed her eyes. Not another declaration of love. "Narim... now isn't..."
"The curia made me lie," he said. "I have regretted it every day since you asked, but I must tell the truth now in hopes of atoning for what we nearly did." He placed a heavy metal box in her hands and sighed. "This is a phase-shift device. It is powerful enough to phase-shift an entire ship. It wounded me deeply to have to lie to you so long ago, but I hope telling the truth now helps you."
Sam's hands were shaking. "A... phase-shift device?" she said. "For a ship?"
"Yes." A courthouse exploded behind them; the same courthouse where Klorel had been put on trial. "You must hurry. Go!"
"I hope this isn't good-bye," Sam said, shaking Narim's hand before hurrying back to the Stargate. She clutched the device he'd given her to her chest so it wouldn't accidentally slip out or break.
O'Neill had already dialed the Gate. Teal'c and Daniel had gone through and the Colonel was waiting for her. "Come on, Carter! Move!" She picked up the pace and dove through the event horizon as another volley hit Tollana.
She rolled down the ramp, protecting the device with her body. When she finally stopped, a medical team was present. Kiera checked Sam's vitals, then looked at the box in the Major's hands. Before the redhead could ask, Jack said, "Where'd you get the box?"
Sam looked up at him, looked over at Hammond, to Kiera, then down at the box in her hands. "I think... we need... to have a briefing. Sirs."
Hammond turned the device over in his hands. "A phase-shift device for an entire ship? Could it work?"
"Possibly," Jacob Carter added. "There wouldn't be much call for one this powerful, but it could come in handy for navigating meteor showers."
O'Neill shrugged. "No worrying about slamming into a rock. Just phase-shift and--" he whistled, "--zoom right through. Coulda used one of those in the minefield last year."
Jacob nodded. "Also useful in penetrating impenetrable clouds. Like the one protecting Sekhet-Aanru."
Sam bit her lip and looked at the General. "Sir, Narim gave this to me to make up for what Tanith made the Tollan do. I think he wanted me to do this... to save Janet."
Hammond sighed. "I want testing of it first, to ensure it's safe. If you can convince me of that, I'll consider sending a search-and-rescue mission to Sekhet-Aanru. You're dismissed." Sam couldn't hide her smile as she stood and watched her father leave with General Hammond. They'd done it. Janet was saved.
Kiera sat in the dark office, staring down at her hands. They had planned for this. They had talked about this. The day Janet was rescued. And now... now that it was here... they hadn't talked enough. They hadn't made the *right* plans. She sniffled and brushed her face, her nose still sore from when Cassandra had broken it. She wiped her eyes and looked at the computer screen. Her words glared back at her. "Samantha. I love you with all my heart, but this is too hard. I won't force you to make the decision, so I've made it for you. I'm moving out tonight and ending our relationship. As much as it pains me to do this..."
She deleted the entire thing and put her head on the desk. Too hard. Too hard. Why did it have to be so hard? Finally, she got up and went to her locker, searching for the ring she'd stashed there so long ago.
She slammed the locker shut and left the office.
O'Neill walked through the wall of Hammond's office without knocking and smirked. The General's eyes widened, but he quickly realized what had happened. "I take it the test was a success?"
"Absolutely. Yes, Sir." They'd attached the device to the engine of one of the jeeps outside of the mountain and drove it through a garage door. "Should I tell Carter and the rest of the team to gear up for our little trip?"
"Not necessarily, Colonel," Hammond said. "I just got off the red phone."
O'Neill's eyes widened and he walked across the room. "Oh." He tried to sit, but the phase-shift device attached to his wrist was still active. His butt passed through the cushion and dropped him to the floor. He scrambled to his feet, removed the device and laid it on Hammond's desk. "How come that hurt when I hit my butt? How come I didn't fall through the flo--"
"Sit, Colonel," Hammond snapped, ignoring the questions. Jack did as ordered. Hammond sighed and said, "He gave me some... disappointing news just now. He feels the phase-shift device would be a handy invention to have and he's not willing to risk the only operable device we have on the mission to Sekhet-Aanru."
Jack frowned. "What are you saying, Sir?"
"The mission won't happen, Colonel. At least not very soon. He wants the device backwards-engineered and mass-produced before we take a risk with the one we have."
"Risk, General, what risk?!"
"I read your report on what happened to Apophis' mothership when it hit that cloud, Colonel. The systems were destroyed. The President doesn't want to risk losing what we have."
Jack was clenching and unclenching his jaw. "Sir..."
"He's made his decision and frankly, so have I. The device will be sent to Area 51 for further research and development. When a duplicate has been created, you will be allowed to travel to Sekhet-Aanru to retrieve Doctor Fraiser."
"With all due respect, Sir, your reasoning can go to Hell. I thought this command was more about people than technology. If we were so interested in harvesting all the tech we could, then we shouldn't have been so merciless tracking down Maybourne's NID guys. People always come first. I've *always* know you to believe in that."
Hammond stood. "That reasoning is exactly what led to this decision. Do you know what we've gotten from the Stargate to defend this planet against a Goa'uld attack? Two gliders. The Pentagon and the Joint Chiefs want more. They want results. And I can finally give them some and you're telling me no?"
"It's not like I wanna play with it or sell it on Ebay. We're saving the life of a person under your command. We're bringing someone home. Someone under your command who has been lost for three years, Sir!"
"This is not open to discussion, Colonel."
The Colonel stood. "Yeah... I kind of figured that."
Several hours later, Kiera found Sam sitting on a park bench, staring off into space. The redhead sat down, clasping her hands between her knees and looking at the blonde. "I kind of figured you'd be halfway to Sekhet-Aanru by now."
Sam frowned, then said, "Oh. You didn't hear." Kiera shook her head. "Hammond isn't allowing us to use the phase-shift device."
"What?" Kiera gasped. "Why?!"
"He's decided not to risk the one and only device we have on a mission that could end up destroying it. So... we're sending it to Area 51 and if they can come up with a duplicate. Maybe... we'll be able to get Janet back in a few weeks or a f-few months." She sniffled and shrugged. "I can understand their stance. I agree with it, actually. It's just hard that we have the *means* to bring her back, but we have to sit on our hands. It hurts."
Kiera rubbed Sam's back and said, "I'm sorry, honey."
Sam nodded and stood. "I think... I'm going to go home. I'll see you there later, right?"
"If you want me there."
"I do," Sam whispered. "I just need to be alone right now. Come see me later."
Kiera parked in Sam's driveway expecting to spend the night consoling a distraught friend. She'd brought a six-pack of Heineken (knowing it probably wouldn't be enough) and some extra Kleenex packages. She rang the doorbell and stepped back, waiting for a bundle of sobbing and wailing Samantha Carter to drop into her arms.
Her surprise was apparent, then, when the door exploded open and Sam stepped out, dressed in a pair of baggy cargo pants, a white blouse and a blue vest under a leather jacket. The blonde was smiling and patted Kiera on the shoulder. "Thanks for coming so quickly," Sam said. "You ready to go?"
"Go?" Kiera asked, trying to make sense of this.
"Yeah," Sam said, taking her friend's hand and leading her back to the car. "Cassie is at a friend's house and the night belongs to us. Let's get outta here."
"I remember when rock was young
Me and Suzie had so much fun
Holding hands and skimming stones
Had an old gold Chevy and a place of my own..."
Kiera shook her head as she took Sam's hand. "I can't believe I'm dancing to Elton John," she said, swinging her hips to the music. "I hate this song, you know."
"Ahh, Key, get into the spirit!" She started to jump up and down, putting her hands on Kiera's hips and prompting the redhead to join her. "C'mon!" she shouted, singing along to the next verse of the song.
"Well, Croc-rocking is something shocking
When your feet just can't keep still
I never knew me a better time and I guess I never
Reluctantly, Kiera joined in Sam's bouncing. "People are looking at us."
"We're a couple of sexy women dancing together in a non-gay bar. Of *course* they're looking at us!"
She pulled Kiera close and kissed her softly. A couple of people at a nearby table let out a wolf whistle. Sam laughed and threw her head back, still bouncing on the balls of her feet to Elton John's "La-la-la-la-laa..." chorus. Kiera, despite worrying that Sam was just in denial, found herself laughing along with the beautiful Major. Hell, she was even starting to enjoy herself.
After Elton, the jukebox began playing "YMCA." Sam and Kiera screwed up the hand gestures for the song, laughing at themselves as they joined hands and danced to the verses. Sam sang along (out of key, of course) to "Me and You and a Dog Named Boo" while Kiera insisted they had to dance to "Car Wash," much to Sam's horror.
Eventually, the rest of the patrons got control of the jukebox again and Sam and Kiera retreated to a booth, laughing and trying to slow the pounding of their hearts. "I haven't danced like that in a long time," Sam sighed, brushing Kiera's hair back. "Did you have fun?"
"Yeah," the doctor admitted, looking out at the bar and blushing. "We really made fools out of ourselves, didn't we? We can never show our faces in here again."
Sam chuckled. "You're probably right about that." She sat back against the red cushions of the bar. She sighed and ran a hand through her hair. "Thank you for tonight."
"I promised to be with you tonight. I'm just being here for... for a friend." She kissed Sam's cheek and said, "I'm happy to do it." After a moment, she asked, "How long do you think it'll take for them to... to copy the device?"
"Years," Sam scoffed. "It took them three years to retro-fit a death glider and it didn't even *work* right..."
"That was a recall device and it doesn't count," Kiera said, dropping her voice.
Sam brushed her eyes, surprised to find tears hiding there. "Earlier... I wasn't sad about being denied usage of the device. I was sad because of how I was feeling. I was feeling relieved. Maybe even a little... happy. Janet isn't coming home soon. I felt glad that I would have some more time with you. Because... because when Janet is rescued, I don't know what I'm going to do." She sniffled. "I love you, Key. Truly. I do. But... Janet was special to me. And... and I can't just ignore what we had. What we might've had. Our relationship was stolen from us. Does that mean we should just give it up? Say it's fate and call it a day?"
Kiera looked down at her hands, then pulled something from the pocket of her jacket. "Do you know what a claddagh ring is, Sam?"
"It's a bar in Boulder," Sam sniffed.
Kiera looked confused. "It is? Well... it's also a real ring." She held up her prize. It was a golden band with two hands formed around a center emerald. The stone was in the shape of a heart, surrounded by diamonds and topped by a jeweled crown. "Oh, my god," Sam whispered as Kiera put the ring into her hand. "This is a claddagh ring. It was given to me by my mom. I want you to wear it when you go to rescue Janet."
"What?" Sam breathed. "Kiera, I can't... it's too--"
"I want you to," Kiera said. "So... I'll know where your heart lies. Y'see, there's a story and a certain way to wear these rings. When worn on the right hand with the crown turned towards your body, your heart is unoccupied. If you wear it on your right hand with the crown pointing out, your heart is commited to someone. I want you to take this on the mission. Where it with the crown towards your body if you still... if you still want to love me. If you want to stay with me. But if Janet is still the one you desire, point the crown outward. I'll get the message and I'll understand, either way."
Sam slipped the ring onto her right ring finger. "It's beautiful, Kiera, thank you." She embraced the redhead and kissed her cheek. Their lips met and they slowly melted into each other. When they left the bar, they went back to Kiera's apartment and made love on her bed for the first time since their relationship started.
Six months passed before Area 51 called. They had successfully duplicated the phase-shift device and were sending one of the copies back to the SGC. Sam received the news in a briefing and felt her heart stop, her skin breaking out in a fine sheen. "Sir," she asked, once the initial report was over. "Does... this mean what I think it means?"
"It means that Jacob Carter is arriving in three hours to take you to Sekhet-Aanru," Hammond smiled. "I apologize for making you wait, but--"
"I understand, Sir," Sam said, smiling.
Jack smiled and stood. "Well. Looks like we finally get to close another chapter in this book," he winked.
Sam couldn't stop smiling. They had the means. They had the opportunity. Barring a disaster, Janet would be home before the weekend.
Sam fell asleep in the back of the tel'tac, her legs tucked against her chest and her head rolling along the bulkhead. When she woke, Daniel had eased her into a prone position and covered her with his jacket, placing a semi-soft pack under her head as a pillow. She thanked him and made her way to the front of the ship. She gasped when she saw the purple cloud hovering in the distance. "Is that--"
"Sekhet-Aanru," her father replied. "We're almost there. ETA is five minutes."
Kiera got out of the shower and wrapped a robe around herself, not bothering to blow-dry her hair as she walked through her apartment. Sam had left her leather jacket on the table. Kiera picked it up, draping it lovingly over a chair as she went into the kitchen. She sat at the head of the table and turned on her portable radio. The country station was in the middle of an old Willie Nelson song that reminded Kiera of her blonde lover. She began to cry as the red-headed stranger sang.
"Love is like a dying ember
And only memories remain
And through the ages I'll remember
Blue eyes crying in the rain..."
The cloud loomed now, as big as life itself. The viewscreen was entirely filled with the haze. Jacob stood and activated the Tollan device. "I hope this works," he said softly. "Tests are tests... I don't want to be abandoned out here without power."
O'Neill pointed at the ceiling. "Well, that's why your old buddy Aldwin is up there, right? Waiting to pull our fat outta the fire if this doesn't work?"
"Yeah," Jacob said, raising his eyebrows. "Assuming he doesn't think it's too risky and cuts his losses."
"Too risky?" Jack asked.
"Aldwin won't attempt a rescue if he thinks it will cause damage to his own ship."
Jack's face soured. "Ya know, I've been told that I'm too harsh on you guys... but you're *really* earning a bad reputation out here." He turned and ran his hands through his hair. "Everyone cross your fingers that this piece of reverse-engineered Tollan crap works..."
Sam crossed everything she could think of as her father activated the phase-shift device. He returned to the controls and took a deep breath. "Here we go. Preparing to penetrate."
"That sounds so dirty," Jack whispered.
The cloud loomed larger. On the opposite side, Sam could see the Sekhet sun shining brightly. The planet Sekhet-Aanru hung between it's two uninhabited neighbors. Jacob glanced at his controls and exhaled softly. "Three seconds until penetration. Two. One."
Sam closed her eyes.
An eternity passed.
"We're in the cloud," Jacob said. Sam exhaled a breath she'd been holding and sagged against the bulkhead. "Showing no signs of power loss. Continuing forward with no problems."
"God, my God," Sam whispered. Ten seconds passed. Purple whisps moved past the viewscreen. Sam's heart pounded as they moved through the veil. Suddenly, with no warning, they appeared on the other side of the cloud. Daniel reached down and deactivated the device.
"It worked," he said, a smile tugging at his lips.
"Next stop, Sekehet-Aanru," Jack said. "Hope the Doc has had a nice vacation..."
Sam hurried from the control room. She paused in the corner of the cargo hold, bracing her hands on two walls and pressing her head against their intersection. "Sam?" Daniel asked softly. "Is something wrong?"
"What... if she's dead?"
"She won't be dead," he promised, rubbing Sam's back. "You haven't worked this hard just to find her dead."
Sam turned and sagged against the wall. "Sha're died."
Daniel closed his eyes. "That's... different. Sam, this won't turn out badly. I promise you."
She closed her hand around his fingers and squeezed. "Thank you, Daniel."
"No problem whatsoever," he grinned. "Now, c'mon. Let's go watch your Dad land."
Sam squinted into the purple sunlight as she stepped off the ship and onto the firm soil of Sekhet-Aanru. The Stargate was a few hundred yards to her left and she was hit by a sudden vision of herself and Colonel O'Neill struggling on the platform. She heard herself calling to Janet, then watched as she fell through the event horizon. She shuddered and turned to examine the town. Few things had changed; one building was gone. The remnants of the laser beam still stood next to the Gate, but it had apparently been gutted for scrap parts. The roads were still dirt and there was still a distinct presence of garbage in the streets. She realized with a start that it had been a Wednesday on their first visit to this world. Small coincidences, she thought.
A small child ran around a building, the first sign of life they had seen. He pointed excitedly at them, jumping up and down. Following him was a familiar face in a brown tunic. His dark hair had been cut and he was no longer bleeding from the ears, but it was definitely Deshret, the scientist that had created the beam to disrupt the cloud in the first place. "Deshret," Sam said.
The man managed a smile. "Carter. Jackson. O'Neill. Teal'c..." he paused on Jacob.
"Jacob Carter," the Tok'ra said with a smile. "I'm their pilot."
"Ah," Deshret nodded. "I... was a bit surprised to see your ship arriving. How did you manage to penetrate the cloud?"
Jack whispered, "Penetrate."
Ignoring her CO, Sam said, "It's... a long story. Could we possibly see Janet Fraiser?" Her face felt hot at the very prospect of this being possible.
"Yes, yes, of course," Deshret said. He turned to the child. "Find the doctor. Tell her... tell her that I wish to see her in the square." The child hurried off and Deshret turned. "She speaks often of you. Her friends and family from another life. Tell me, is Cassandra still well?"
Sam grinned. "Yes. Cassandra is doing very well."
The child came running back around the corner. Sam closed her eyes. The next person she would see would be Janet Fraiser. She couldn't control her breathing. She couldn't stop her heart from pounding. She felt Daniel take her hand and squeeze, but her arms and legs felt numb. She was having a heart attack, she just knew it. She took a deep breath, exhaled and returned Daniel's squeeze.
She heard Jack O'Neill speak: "The prodigal doc returns... and my, what changes..."
Sam opened her eyes and couldn't withhold her gasp.
Janet was beautiful, radiant. Memories and pictures did her no justice. She was looking down at the child, smiling and laughing about something. She hadn't seen the ship yet. Her hair was long, cupping her face like a pair of hands lovingly caressing her cheeks. She was wearing an old brown tunic and an ankle-length skirt. She looked up, her smile fading and replaced by a look of confusion at what was before her. "Sam?" she asked, quickening her step.
But Sam couldn't answer. She was still trying to make sense of the change Colonel O'Neill had mentioned.
Janet was pregnant.
WHAT?! Oh, my God!
Tune in for the next part: Stranded, Book III: Worlds Apart!
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