Pairings: Janet/Sam, Janet/m
Category: Drama, AU
Sequel: to "Stranded I: I Believe" and "Stranded II: You're Missing"
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.
Notes: This involves a Janet/m relationship. Readers will be warned beforehand if they wish to avoid m/f sexual situations.
Thanks: To Debbie for the medical info she so graciously provided.
No Thank You In The World Is Big Enough To Accurately Portray The Thanks She Deserves: To Hl :D
Summary: Stranded offworld, Janet must learn to survive as she awaits her rescue.
Janet winced and knelt in front of the little girl, smiling as she examined the girl's bleeding ears. "Hey, sweetheart," Janet said softly. She touched the girl's cheek and lightly probed her earlobe. "Can you hear what I'm saying?"
The girl nodded. "Good, good," Janet said. "My name is Janet. What's your name?"
"Wow, what a pretty name," Janet said, pulling out a swab and clearing the girl's ear canal. As she worked, she felt something tugging on her shoulder. Aani was playing with her radio. Janet chuckled and unhooked it. "You like this, huh? You wanna hold it?" Aani snatched it, looking at the black plastic like it was the most precious thing she'd ever seen. "I'll want it back eventually," Janet said. She stood, leaving Aani's side and disappearing into the next room.
There was a burst of static through the radio, which made Aani jump and drop the radio on her lap. "Fraiser! Fraiser, do you read me?" A pause, then, "Doctor Janet Fraiser, please respond!"
Aani hit the side of the radio and the voice went silent. "Cap. Cap. Cap-p-p-p-phhbbbt." Aani said, pushing the radio to one side.
Janet reappeared in the doorway, looking for someone. She finally rested her gaze on Aani and smiled. "Did you say something, sweety?"
Aani shook her head no. Janet brushed the girl's hair and went back to her latest patient. "You'll have to keep this on for three days, do you understand," she told her patient, holding up three fingers. "Three. Now--"
"JANET! JANET!" The voice had come from outside, from quite a distance.
The doctor turned. "Sam...?" She walked to the door of the hospital, stepping outside. The sky had gotten a little darker, the clouds looking a bit more ominous. She spotted the team at the Gate, then noticed the Gate was active. "We're leaving?" she asked.
Daniel and Teal'c were already gone, but Sam and Jack seemed to be fighting each other. The event horizon was failing. God, what had happened? Janet broke into a run. She was halfway to the Gate when the two officers fell backwards, collapsing through the Gate. Janet saw Jack's feet sticking out of the event horizon, his lower body in danger of being amputated. He scrambled, his boots disappearing through the wall of water. A few seconds later, the wormhole coughed and died.
Janet hurried to the DHD and quickly dialed Earth's address. She pressed the center dome... and nothing happened. "What," she breathed, redialing and pressing down on the center dome with all her might. Still nothing. "God... God, God, God, what happened..."
Deshret appeared, breathing heavily and looking at the Gate. He turned to Janet and frowned, then realized what her presence meant. "Oh, my God. You're still here..."
"Yes," Janet said, looking at the dormant Stargate. "What happened?"
Deshret sighed. "My... my laser apparently only parted the cloud for a short time. It's closed again. I tried to warn your friends in time, but... did they all get through?"
Janet looked at the DHD. "Yeah. All but one..."
She returned with Deshret to his laboratory where he explained the hand-held device that had warned them of the cloud's imminent return. "I didn't notice until it was too late," he said softly. "I thought that I had succeeded... the cloud was gone and we were visiting with people from another world. It... seemed too good to be true. I didn't even think that I could be wrong." He picked up the schematics and said, "I'll begin working on it immediately. Perhaps I can duplicate the effects."
"I'll keep my fingers crossed," Janet said hopefully. Deshret looked at her oddly and she explained, "It's means I'm hoping for the best."
Deshret nodded. "I see. I shall... keep my fingers crossed as well."
Janet sighed as he left the lab. Meanwhile, she still had patients in the hospital she had to deal with. The deafness was beginning to fade, as Deshret showed, but the blindness was going to take a bit more time. She checked her watch and headed towards the wooden building that she had turned into her workplace.
As night fell, casting purple shadows and indigo reflections of dying light, Deshret returned to Janet's side. "The laser will not be completed tonight. If you wish, you could sleep at my home and I can continue in the morning."
"That would be great," Janet said, a bit disappointed that she'd have to spend the night without Sam. "Sure. Let me just finish up here and you can show me where your house is."
She began packing up the supplies she had managed to lay around during the day and put them into the pack she'd worn through the Stargate. "You helped many people today."
"Yeah," Janet said. "To their disappointment, it seems. Your people seem..."
"Close-minded," Deshret chuckled, escorting her out of the building. "It is true. For centuries, there have been debates about our origins. Some believe we were brought to this world by Osiris, others believe it is our birth world. Your arrival here reveals the existence of other worlds, as well as the function of the Stargate. The believers in Birthright find you to be a threat to their ideals."
"I'll keep an eye out then," Janet said. "How long do you think work on the laser will take?"
Deshret looked at the ground. "I-I could not say. From scratch, it took most of my life to build." He saw her disappointed look, then said, "However, that involved much trial and error. I now have a working schematic to work from. I need only a few minutes of power to send you home safely. It will be done before you know it."
"I hope so," Janet smiled.
Deshret pointed to an old wooden cabin. "This is where I live," he told her. It wasn't much to look at, but she could tell he had spent a lot of time making it livable. Two posts held a plank over the front porch, shading the front door from the sun. All the windows appeared clean, as well. He opened the door, inviting Janet inside as he lit fires in the lamps hanging in the windows. "I hope this is not too rustic..."
"Of course not," Janet said, looking at the wooden walls with a grin. "I live in a renovated farmhouse, so I feel right at home here." The inside of the house consisted of three rooms; the main room was apparently the living room. It was backed by two rooms; a bedroom and a kitchen. The toilet was an outhouse a few yards away from the house. "Where will I sleep?" she asked.
Indicating the long couch-like seat built into the wall, Deshret said, "I shall sleep here and you may take my bed."
"No, I wouldn't feel--"
"Please, Janet. The least I can do to make up for this is to make you comfortable."
She sighed. "I wouldn't feel right taking your bed."
"I wouldn't feel right making you sleep on this bed," Deshret argued as he indicated the couch. "Please, Janet. It would give me peace if I knew you were sleeping comfortably."
Janet finally relented and put her pack down in Deshret's bedroom. The bed itself was huge; covered with a patchwork quilt and seven pillows piled near the headboard. A window was set into the wall in front of the bed, looking out over a field. Janet pushed aside the curtains and looked up into the hazy purple sky. 'I'll be home soon, Sam.'
Once she had discarded her contamination suit and boots, Janet returned to the kitchen. Deshret was cooking noodles and adding what looked like rice. He saw her and said, "This is terrypijn soup. Would you like some?"
"Please," she said, not looking forward to eating her MREs so quickly. Who knew how long she'd be here? She took the bowl from him when the noodles had softened and he turned off the fire, returning to the living room and sitting on the couch. Janet sat on the opposite end, tentatively tasting her meal. It was actually quite delicious. Licking her lips, she said, "Do you use terrypijn in everything?"
Deshret laughed. "It does seem multi-purpose. It is mostly used for food, but the husks of the plant can be sewn into clothing. Do you enjoy it?"
"Very much," she said, taking another bite to prove it.
"Your friends," Deshret said, stirring his soup with a wooden spoon. "They will also be attempting to rescue you, I assume?"
Janet nodded. "Almost definitely. I can't foresee a situation where Sam wouldn't go to all lengths to get me back."
"Sam," Deshret said. "The blonde woman? She cares much for you?"
"Yeah," Janet said, smiling wistfully. "She does. She and I--" Oh, what could it hurt? Who would this guy tell? "In fact, Sam and I are in love. We live together on Earth, we're raising a daughter together."
Deshret smiled. "That is wonderful. I... was betrothed for a time." He looked out the window and worked his jaw. "She... passed suddenly a few seasons ago."
Janet winced. "I'm sorry."
"It was not your fault," he smiled. "She simply went too far into the river. She attempting to find footing on a slick stone and lost her balance. The current swept her away." He sniffed and rubbed the back of his neck. "Do you wish for more soup?"
"No, no thanks," Janet said. "In fact, I think I'll turn in early tonight. Get an early start." She smiled and said, "Thank you for offering your home to me."
He nodded. "It's the least I could do. Sleep well, Janet."
"You too," she said, going into his bedroom. Normally, she slept next to naked. This, however, was not a normal night. She stripped out of her pants, letting her t-shirt cover her underwear as she searched for something in her pack to wear.
She gasped when she realized Deshret was standing in the doorway, his eyes turned away and his face noticeably red. "I apologize," he said, holding out his arm. "My wife's nightgowns. She was small in stature, much like you. I thought... you might find them useful tonight."
Janet took the nightgowns and said, "You don't have to look so embarrassed... it's just my bare legs."
This seemed to make him blush even more. "Yes. I will... see you in the morning?"
"In the morning," Janet said, trying not to laugh at his discomfort. "Good night, Deshret."
"Good night, Janet," he said, finally looking up and meeting her eyes. He smiled and left the bedroom.
Sekhet-Aanru was the name of the planet. The name of the town itself was Tuat. Across the town from Deshret's home, a small bar by the name of Sesen was still burning candles in their window boxes. A small group of men were hunched over the bar, their whispers not carrying farther than the first table. "She's no good. She keeps asking about our bodies; how we breathe and hear and work. The strangers came and left her behind to do their dirty work."
"Her arrival was heralded by blindness and deafness. Blood poured from our ears. That must be a sign."
The bartender scoffed. "From who? Osiris? I thought you didn't believe in that nonsense."
"I don't," the man said, puffing his chest out. "But p'rhaps there's *some* truth in it. Mebbe these people came through long time ago pretendin' to be Osiris and started all the rumors."
"That's true. What should we do with this woman they left in our midst?"
The bartender rubbed his bearded chin and said, "Ignore her. Give her time to realize she's not wanted. She'll leave."
"And if she don't?"
The bartender shrugged. "Who'll care if a stranger ends up dead or disappears?"
Janet woke the next morning confused as to where she was. She sat up, rubbing her eyes and trying to figure out why the room was purple. It came back to her in a flash and she groaned, wondering if she could just stay in bed all day. Finally, she slipped out of bed, pulling at the nightgown and stumbling towards the kitchen. She opened the door and rubbed her face, jumping when she heard something break. She looked up and saw Deshret kneeling on the floor and cleaning up the remains of what looked like a clay pitcher.
He looked up, his face red again. "I... just..." He coughed. "For a moment, I thought you were my wife."
"Oh." She knelt and helped him with the shards. When she looked up, she noticed he still had some dried blood in his whiskers. "Did you get a chance to wash up yesterday?"
"Pardon?" He touched his face and said, "Oh. Oh, no I didn't."
She stood and said, "Come here. Let's get you presentable." She picked up a towel and wet it from the basin on the sink. She turned his face and brushed the towel through his whiskers, getting rid of all the blood he had missed. She then looked at his masses of dark brown hair and frowned. "When was the last time you washed this?"
He smiled. "It has been some time."
"Sit," she said. "I'm going to give you a haircut. How short do you want it?"
"I... my hair has always been this long. Or longer..."
Janet smiled. "Well, we'll see. Scissors?" He pointed towards the table and she retrieved them. "Thank you. Now, let's see what we can do with this. Eef you don't luke good, Ve don't luke good."
"What?" Deshret asked.
Janet chuckled. "Never mind. Old TV commercial."
She rolled her eyes. "Just... never mind."
When she finished, she brushed off the back of Deshret's neck and ran her fingers through his hair. "There. Nice and short." She held up a glass for him to examine his new look. The hair wasn't exactly 'short'... it still hung to his shoulders, but it looked much nicer than it had. "If you have a straight razor, I could shave your face."
He smiled. "I think I will try to get used to the shorter hair, first. Thank you, Janet."
"It's not a problem." She swept up the hair and said, "I should probably see if anyone else needs my help in the hospital. A couple of people wanted to stay overnight until they could see better." She smoothed her nightgown over her stomach and said, "I should go change into my clothes."
Deshret stood. "If you wish, you could wear some of my wife's clothing. I mean... that is, if you want to wash the clothes you arrived in."
"Thank you, Deshret. I may take you up on that." She smiled and went into the bedroom, leaving Deshret admiring his new haircut in the reflection from the glass.
"Thursday," Janet said as she woke up on Day Three.
Surely they would come and get her by Thursday. That was three days away. She was positive Sam would have thought of *something* in that time... She and Deshret had spent the previous day telling about their respective planets. Janet told him about the SGC, the Air Force, Cassie, her family, everything. Deshret explained the politics of his world, the rift between the believers and non-believers (as well as anyone could explain something like that) and told about his deceased wife and their life together. They had spent the entire day talking and finally retired late in the evening.
It was now a few hours after dawn; it was impossible to tell the exact time as there seemed to be no way to measure time on this world. She sat up in bed and threw the blankets aside, climbing out of bed and pulling on her trousers. She had washed her clothes in the river the day before and then hung them up, allowing them to dry during the evening. They felt a little crisp, but it was as close to a washer-dryer as she could get on this world. She pulled on a blouse belonging to Deshret's wife and examined herself in the mirror. Both her pants and the blouse were green and she decided she looked pretty damn good in them.
She went out to find if Deshret had started breakfast yet. The couch didn't look like it had been slept on and there was no sign of Deshret in the house. His moccasins were also missing. She pulled on a jacket and left the house, crossing town to Deshret's laboratory. The sun was barely up, but several people were already making their way to work.
There was a distinct smell that went with certain times of day on Earth. Morning was almost always wet and dewy; the sun spreading gold across the ground as it started it's ascent. Strangely, alien worlds seemed to follow the same rules. Janet inhaled deeply, smelling the dew glistening on the terrypijn plants that surrounded the town. She also noticed people were crossing the street rather than confront her. She watched several of them as they averted their gaze, saw as they whispered to each other without moving their lips.
She hugged herself, keeping her head low. She felt incredibly conspicuous, out of place. She just wanted to go home. She knocked on the door of Deshret's lab and went inside, finding him hard at work on a component of the laser. "Hey," she said. "You missed breakfast."
He looked up. "Pleasant morning, Janet. I ate," he indicated a plate with a half-eaten sandwich on it.
"What are you doing?"
He pulled something from the laser, looked it over, and set it aside. "Attempting to learn why the laser failed to work properly. It was meant to dispel the cloud, not break it for a few minutes." He sighed. "Have you attempted dialing the Stargate?"
"Not today. I was just about to try on my way to the hospital."
He nodded. "I will keep my... my fingers..."
"Crossed," Janet smiled.
"Yes," Deshret nodded. "My fingers crossed."
Janet wished him a pleasant morning and headed for the Stargate. She pulled the GDO from a pocket on her pants and looked at the numbers. "Okay. Let's see if this works." Tucking the GDO under her arm, she pressed the address for Earth into the giant pedastal of the DHD. She pressed the final digit - the point of origin for Sekhet-Aanru, which looking like an outstretched hand - then closed her eyes and pressed the center dome. Nothing. She felt her shoulders sag and she shook her head. She turned... and saw a young boy leaning against the wall of the store watching her. 'Good thing I didn't say the word I was thinking,' she thought. "Hello," she said out loud.
The boy turned and ran away.
"Yeah," Janet whispered. "Nice to meet you, too."
"Deshret," a booming voice proclaimed from the door. The scientist looked up and then back down at his work. The visitor was Khepresh. The egotistical man wasn't the official nomarch - town leader - but he was as close as they had. He ran everything, either as a figurehead or from behind the scenes. Either way, nothing happened in Tuat without the obese man knowing. His skin was pale, what remained of his black hair smoothed across the top of his skull. "How are you this fine day?"
"Busy," Deshret said, attaching a new component to the laser.
Khepresh nodded. "I see, I see, I see. You are attempting to part the cloud again?"
Deshret sighed. "Yes, Khep. I wish to send Janet Fraiser home as soon as possible."
"Yes, yes, a noble effort. But have you considered all the consequences of opening the sky again? This woman and her companions arrived mere moments after you succeeded. What if you open the sky again and *more* aliens come through?"
Deshret frowned. "I do not believe that will happen. Janet told me of... of computers her world uses. It is because of these computers that they were able to find us so quickly. Other worlds do not have this ability and would therefor pose no threat to us. I simply want to send her home."
"As do we all," Khepresh sighed. "We do not like her being here among us. But we cannot allow you to part the cloud again. It is simply too dangerous."
"You don't want Janet here, but I cannot open the Stargate? What are you suggesting, Khep?"
Khepresh stuck his hands in his pockets and peered out the window. "One option is to send her to Bakhu or Manu."
"You cannot be serious," Deshret smiled, turning around. Bakhu and Manu were the two mountains that, according to legend, held up the sky. They were supposedly where the sun rose from every morning. "Fairy tales. You do not believe in them any more than I do. What, do you also believe she will be protected by Aker, the lion god?"
Khepresh sighed and ran his hand over his nearly bald skull, making a map of the bumps that he found. Grimacing, he said, "I notice your hair has been cut short."
"That is a crime now?"
"No, no, indeed not." His smile vanished. "I have also noticed the alien wears clothing that once belonged to your wife."
Deshret grit his teeth. "She did not plan to stay. She had but one pair of clothing. It was the least I could do--"
Khepresh interrupted. "You are very close to becoming an outcast, Deshret. Being so vocal with your beliefs... the laser causing deafness and blindness in all who witnessed it, temporary as that was. Now allowing an alien into your home and allowing her to wear clothing of your beloved? I have even heard rumors that this woman sleeps in your bed!"
"I sleep elsewhere. We are not--"
"Quiet," Khepresh hissed. "I do not care whether you are joining this woman. It does not concern me. But there are several factions in this town who are frightened. And frightened men are dangerous, Deshret, you know this to be true. Do you recall how frightened you were when the drought threatened your wife's health? Do you remember when terrypijn seeds became so scarce a man would have to... steal in order to produce medicine for an ill loved one."
Deshret's face burned red. "That is in the past. I did what I had to do to--"
Khepresh held up one finger to silence the scientist. "I will not bring up past transgressions. What was done was done and you were punished for it. All I ask is that you understand how your neighbors feel about this woman."
"I will not send her to exile," Deshret said.
"Frightened men," Khepresh said, his voice a threatening whisper, "do frightening things. I suggest you consider sending this woman where she will be safe before someone gets too... frightened."
Deshret turned back to his laser. "I have work to complete," he said.
Khepresh smiled and walked out of the lab, whistling quietly. He got to the door and turned. "Frightened men, Deshret. All around you... frightened men." He continued whistling and stepped into the street.
"Sunday," Janet said when she woke up on Friday. Definitely they would have found a way to get her home by Sunday.
On Sunday, she didn't bother to give them another deadline.
She had been stranded on Sekhet-Aanru for a week when she decided to officially start calling herself the town doctor. She didn't hang out a shingle and she didn't hire nurses, but she started going to the 'hospital' every day just in case someone showed up. During the day, when no one would show up, she wrote long, detailed notes of what she was doing to Sam, folding each one when she finished and sliding it into her pocket. The first day, no one arrived. Same on the second and third days.
On the fourth day, the door opened slowly and a woman peeked in. "Hello?" she asked, nervously looking around the makeshift emergency room. She had dark black hair and brilliant blue eyes. She clutched a bag with one hand and was covering her left eye with the other.
"Yes," Janet said, standing and moving to the front of the room. "How may I help you?"
The woman appeared nervous, biting her lip and looking around. "I... I'm not sure you can."
"Are you ill? Have a seat, ma'am," Janet indicated a stool and took a seat opposite the patient. "What's your name?"
She nervously sat. "I-I... I am Neith."
Janet smiled. "I'm Dr. Janet Fraiser." She took the other woman's hand away from her eye and looked at it for a moment. She smiled and said, "I bet you're suffering from dry eyes. Your eyes are tearing up more than usual. Your eyelid is swollen, you feel like you have something in your eye but you can't rub it out. Am I right?"
"Pinkeye," Janet said. "It's extremely common on my world. I could give you a bit of antiviral medication, but I only have a small supply with me. Do you want the medicine, or do you want to wait for it to go away by itself?"
Neith touched her cheek, probing the tender skin under her eye. "How long will it take to just go away?"
"Seven days, up to ten. Just try to stay away from crowds and it should be fine. And don't touch it."
"T-thank you," Neith said. She stood and left the hospital, glancing back a couple of times before she finally walked out of sight.
Janet returned to her desk, where she was composing another letter to Sam. 'Not exactly staff blasts and Goa'uld infestations... but it'll do for now.'
Neith moved into the bar and lowered herself into one of the booths. Khepresh looked up from his meal and blotted his lips on a napkin. "Yes?"
"It is something she called pinkeye. She told me it was not dangerous and would disappear on it's own."
Khepresh pursed his fat lips and tapped one wide finger on the table top. "I see. You had symptoms before her arrival here?"
"I did. According to her, it will go away by itself soon."
The fat man sighed and wiped his palms on the front of his shirt. "Not enough time to blame the outbreak on her."
Neith sighed. "I agree with you; her arrival here is not the best thing that could have happened. But I actually spoke to her. She was kind. Why are you so eager to destroy her?"
"She is dangerous. She lends credence to crackpots who believe an all-powerful race of ascended beings watch over us. If we prove her to be dangerous or a fraud... then people may abandon their beliefs. It will be a powerful day here."
"So everyone can worship *you*?"
Khepresh's face darkened. "You should watch your tone, Neith." He wiped his hands again and said, "I am full. Do you want this?"
The thought of eating from the same plate as this behemoth disgusted the woman. "No."
He pushed the plate away and stood up. "You said she was kind to you. Perhaps you could befriend her and keep me apprised of what she is doing."
Neith stood up. "I said she was kind. She is still... a stranger. I do not wish to spend more time with her for you, or for anyone else."
"Fine," Khepresh said, holding his hands up in defeat. "Fine. Forget I suggested it." He tossed his napkin in the trash and left the bar, leaving Neith alone and confused. She finally sighed and followed him from the building. She couldn't just let him leave by himself... he was her father, after all.
Janet returned to Deshret's house a few minutes after night fell. The evening journey was much the same as her morning; people avoided eye contact, ignored her presence and refused to step out of her way. Luckily, this city was nowhere near as densely populated as Colorado Springs, so she was able to make her way easily through the obstructions. She dumped her supplies on the table in the living room and straightened, looking into the kitchen. "Cooking again?" she asked.
"Yes," Deshret said. "The hunters will return soon with their spoils... hopefully there will be an abundance of meat this season."
Janet took the bowl from him and said, "If not... I wouldn't really mind. I mean, I'm really starting to like terrypijn soup."
"Say that in three weeks," Deshret said, his smile vanishing as he realized what he had said. "Assuming..." he added, "you are still here in three weeks."
"Yeah. Assuming that," Janet said, looking into the bowl. She touched a seed floating in the broth and sucked her finger. "Thank you, Deshret."
"It's is my pleasure, Janet," the scientist said.
They ate together and Janet wished Deshret sweet dreams again as he laid down on the couch. She went to the bedroom, dressed in a flowing nightgown and climbed into the large bed. 'Say that in three weeks,' Janet thought, remembering the awkward silence that had fallen over them at dinner. 'I probably will still be here in three weeks. If Sam hasn't found a way to get back by now...' She closed her eyes, trying to shut off that train of thought.
She rolled onto her side and softly cried herself to sleep.
In the living room, Deshret heard her crying. It took all of his willpower not to go comfort her. This was his fault. He was to blame for her sadness. But he did not move. He simply looked at the lavender moon through the window and willed himself to be deaf to her tears.
The moon was high when they came. Janet had fallen asleep, her tears silent. The door to the house opened quietly and a group of men - moving as silently as the moon rose - entered and approached the sleeping scientist. A hand covered his mouth and he woke, a scream frozen in his throat. He was pulled violently to his feet and ordered in a hushed whisper to put his shoes on. He did as he was told and the men led him from the house.
He was taken to Dromos, the main avenue of the town. They pushed him into the meeting hall, slamming the door behind themselves. He was about to complain about being taken from his home in the middle of the night, but he quickly quieted his outrage. Khepresh was sitting at the head of a long table, eating a large plate of greasy objects. No matter what the time of day, it was never unusual to see Khepresh with a plate in front of him. The two men who had abducted him, he could see now, were Bennu and Saff, two of Khepresh's lackeys.
The rest of the room was filled with people who owned businesses and bars in Tuat. The entire economic backbone was present in this clandestine meeting.
"What is this?" Deshret asked, although he had a damn good idea what was going on...
Khepresh sucked the tips of his fingers and said, "Glad you could join us, young man. Have a seat."
"No." Deshret crossed his arms, determined to remain where he was until he got some answers.
The fat man chuckled. "Fine. Stand. I could care less. We're here to determine a course of action regarding the lovely alien in our midst. Before your arrival, several people here have already agreed to refuse service to her. She's using the storage building without permission, we could forcibly remove her from it. Then she would have no place to work. The only thing keeping her here, then, would be the fact that she has a nice warm bed to come home to."
Everyone turned to face Deshret. "I am not forcing her to leave my home. I will not do it."
Geb, a tall thin woman with a pillar of a neck and a dangerously thin face, said, "You must. We cannot have an... an outsider living among us."
"I owe her shelter. It is because of me she's trapped here."
"Yes," a small oval-shaped man said with a quick nod of his head. "It *is* because of your intervention that she is here. Causing these problems." He looked at Khepresh. "Perhaps we are persecuting the wrong person..."
Khepresh chuckled. "I would much prefer to turn against an outsider than one of our own people, Naos. The only question is... who will Deshret choose to side with? His brethren... or a stranger?"
Deshret looked around. "Janet is as welcome here as any of us. She is the *same* as us. She's far from home; frightened and alone. And this is how she's treated? I'm ashamed to call you my brethren." He turned and started towards the door, but Khepresh's voice stopped him.
"You are leaving us no option."
"What do you mean?"
Khepresh finished his meal and pulled another serving towards his place. "Well... your presence here was a mere formality. We are going to do something about this woman. We simply thought we would give you the option of having a say in what we do." He slurped up something that looked utterly disgusting and shrugged. "You refused exile. You're now refusing debate. You now have no say in what happens."
Deshret clenched his fists. "You will not hurt her, Khep. Or you will answer to me."
Khepresh wiggled his fingers. "Good-bye, Deshret. Enjoy your evening."
With one last look around the people gathered, Deshret left the meeting hall and returned to his home. Sleep, however, was no longer an option.
The next few days, Deshret didn't leave Janet's side. He went with her to the hospital, slept on the floor outside her bedroom, kept a watch on her when she bathed in the river - although he made an effort to not actually look *at* her. Khepresh may have been a fat, overbearing blowhard, but Deshret knew he had his hand in several shady operations. He wasn't going to let Janet suffer for the closed minds of his neighbors.
Janet wrapped a long robe around herself after her bath and walked up the shore, rejoining her bodyguard. "Deshret? I'm ready."
He turned and smiled. "Okay."
"Why are you attached to my hip all of a sudden?" she asked as they walked back to his cabin. "It's very odd... you haven't even been to your lab in a few days."
Deshret shrugged. "I am simply concerned for your well-being."
Janet stopped walking. "Why should you be worried about my well-being? H-have I been threatened?"
Deshret stopped as well, leaning against a tree. "I did not want to say anything. A few nights ago, I was removed from my home and taken to a clandestine meeting of town leaders. They're frightened of your arrival and what it means for our people. It's a historic occasion, with the power to change everything we know about history... which means they want to suppress it at all costs." He started walking again. "I won't let any harm come to you. I promise you that..."
Janet smiled at him and touched his hand. "I appreciate that, Desh. Truly, I do."
He blushed and turned away. "We should go."
She followed him back up the path, smiling at how nervous he was.
It was almost a full week before the covered wagon rattled into town. Janet saw it coming from the hospital, but didn't know what the big deal was. As she didn't have any patients, she left the hospital and followed the wagon's shaky trail. People came out of their businesses, eager to catch up with the wagon. Finally, it rolled to a stop in the middle of town. A man jumped down from the front, his features hidden by a thick beard and low-riding hat. The second man, disembarking from the passenger side, was... ugly was a harsh word, but he certainly deserved the distinction. His nose seemed to be the lowest point on his face; every other feature seemed to slant in towards it. His eyes were bugged, his lower lip bulging out from his whiskered jowls.
The men unhooked the sheets covering the sides of the wagon and the coverings fell away. Janet gasped at the dead eyes she saw staring at her from the back of the wagon.
'Deer,' she thought, but they weren't exactly deer. Their legs were muscular, their upper bodies more developed than the deer on Earth. They all looked the same dead, though. She assumed these were the hunters Deshret had mentioned. She joined the crowd that had surrounded the wagon, trying to remain inconspicuous. The hunters ignored her, removing their spoils from the cargo space and loading it onto slabs provided by a business owner.
A fat man she had heard called Khepresh approached, waddling and trying not to drool as he eyed the kill. "Welcome back, boys."
The pinched-faced man grunted something and dropped a deer-thing onto a slab. Janet felt a hand on her back and turned to see Deshret standing behind her. He motioned with his head and she followed him away from the crowd. "What's going on?" she asked, indicating the spectacle behind her.
"The meat has arrived. Animals rarely travel to this region, so hunters are sent to Sais in order to find meat. Otherwise we must eat terrypijn year-round. They slaughter the beasts and then divide the portions up among the town. There will be more hunters who are due to arrive soon," he said, indicating the mountains to the east. "Come on. You do not wish to witness the slaughter."
She wrinkled her nose. "You're right about that."
Deshret led her away and left her in the hospital. Assured she would be safe, he returned to his lab and waited for the portions to be distributed.
Geb accepted her portion of meat with a small smile, thanking the hunter as he wrapped it in paper and handed it over. Deshret was the next in line. The hunter - the one with the beard and hat, not the pinched-face - handed Deshret the same amount he had been alloted after the previous hunts. Deshret thanked him and headed for the door, but Bennu and Saff stopped him before he could leave. "What is this," Deshret sighed. "What do you want? What'd I do now?"
"Not a thing," Khepresh said, approaching from the far side of the room. His lackeys remained silent. "Not a thing. It's just that the meat is a bit scarce this season. The Apis bull seems to be evading capture. So... we'll have to be prudent in our rationing."
Deshret shook his head. "Meaning?"
Khepresh shrugged. "It's nothing much. It's just that I noticed you have continued to be alloted enough for yourself and... your wife. Even though she died many seasons ago. It's too much for a man such as yourself."
"I usually share with neighbors who do not have enough," Deshret explained, knowing exactly where this was going.
"And very decent of you to do so. Very decent. However... however, you cannot question the need we have for this meat."
Deshret turned to face Khepresh head-on. "I know exactly what you mean. You think I'm going to share this with Janet."
Khepresh frowned and looked at his lackeys. "Janet? Is that what the alien calls herself?"
"If you're going to start cutting down rations, why don't you start with your own? Or is there a reasonable explanation for why you receive five times everyone else?"
The fat man glanced at his lackeys and said, "I accept more than everyone else because I provide an important service--"
"You're full of garbage, Khep," Deshret snapped, interrupting the fat man. "You eat more because you're fat. You've gotten used to a fat lifestyle and you only know fat." He poked the stomach of the most powerful man in town. "Maybe *you* should start thinking about these rations, huh? God knows you could use a few more servings of terrypijn."
Khepresh was obviously seething, the anger evident in the way rose blossoms appeared in his cheeks and his eyes widened. He looked like an embarrassed frog. He raised one arm and knocked the bundle of meat from Deshret's hands, sending it skittering across the floor. The uncooked meat seeped through the paper and into the dirt, ruining the ration. "Enjoy your terrypijn, Deshret," Khepresh growled. He turned and left the building, flanked by his lackeys.
Deshret laced up his boots and stood, searching for a suitable weapon to take with him on his hunt. He was loathe to leave Janet alone, but he had no choice. They needed meat and the rations were apparently closed to him. He could make it to Sais in a day's time. He had no idea how long it would take to find, capture and kill an Apis bull... and returning home with it would slow him down. Could he trust the people of this town long enough to leave Janet alone for at least two days? It was a chance he'd have to take.
He loaded himself down with weapons, sharpened spears and arrowheads that would pierce the hide of the Apis. He was about to leave when Janet arrived, smiling at him as she deposited her medical supplies on the table. "Hello, Deshret. You going somewhere?"
"Yeah," he said, unaware he was using a word he'd heard Janet say several times. "I must go to Sais to find meat."
Janet hid a smile, deciding he didn't need to know he sounded like a Neanderthal in some old Hollywood films. "I... I thought the hunters brought more than enough."
"Enough for the town. Not, however, for us."
Janet's smile vanished. "Because of me."
Deshret closed his eyes. "Do not blame yourself, Janet."
She took his spear and said, "Come with me."
He followed her from the house, unsure of what she planned to do with his spear. "Janet... Janet, there is no food here to kill. If you are planning to threaten Khepresh and his friends, you are only enforcing what they think of you."
"I'm not going to attack or threaten anyone," Janet promised him with a smile.
Confused, Deshret followed her down the path to the river. She bundled her dress up, pulling it high on her legs. She held it high enough to reveal her pale thighs. Deshret was surprised by this sudden flash of nudity and turned quickly away. Janet waded to the center of the lake and searched the sparkling waters. Suddenly, she jabbed the spear down into the stream and swept it back up with one smooth motion. Wriggling at the end of the stick was a beautiful, glistening fish that strongly resembled an Earth bass. Janet took it from the spear and tossed it onto shore.
Deshret jumped back and stared at the flopping monstrosity at his feet. "What do you plan to do with *these*?" he asked.
Janet searched for another one to spear. "Eat them, of course. I thought you said there were no animals in this region."
"No *edible* animals," he clarified, wrinkling his nose in disgust. "You actually plan to *eat* these things?"
She jabbed another one. "Hell yeah," Janet quipped. She tossed her latest prize to shore and immediately began looking again. "I felt them swimming past me yesterday. When I was a little girl--" she jabbed, missed, and continued looking for the next victim. "--my Daddy and brothers used to do this all the time. Said it made fishing into a real sport." She smiled, then shrugged. "I mean, they're not poisonous or anything, right? We eat fish on Earth all the time. Certain kinds are insanely expensive." She jabbed the spear and missed, nearly losing her balance. "Damn. They *aren't* poisonous, right?"
"No. No, they are just... no one eats these... 'fish,' Janet. They are slimy, they are disgusting, they... they live in the waters we use for bathing! The very thought of devouring one..."
Janet sighed and leaned on the spear. "It's either fish or starving. These look relatively like the fish we have back home. What do you say you let me cook for you tonight and we'll decide after you taste them."
Deshret looked down at the growing pile at his feet and sighed. "If you insist."
"Good boy," Janet said, trying to spear another fish.
"I really wish we had some tartar sauce," Janet said, serving Deshret his filet. "And some lemon. But this is better than nothing."
He raised an eyebrow and poked it with his wooden fork. "It does not... look as bad as I expected."
Janet sliced off a corner of her own filet and took a bite. "Mm. I think this may be even better than what we have on Earth. Go ahead," she prompted, using her fork to cut off part of his fish and hold it out to him. "Have a bite. Give it a try."
He reluctantly took a bite, chewed it thoughtfully, then shrugged. "It is... decent enough."
She rolled her eyes and smiled. "My God. This is worse than getting Cassandra to eat her broccoli." She leaned back in her chair and looked out the window. "Cassie. She must be worried sick about me by now."
"Cassie is...?" He said slowly. He knew she had explained the girl more than once, but he couldn't recall specifics.
"My daughter. Adopted daughter... I'm raising her with Sam, my-my girlfriend. She's almost a teenager, a terror to deal with sometimes." She smiled and said, "I've been missing her like crazy. Her and Sam both." She swallowed, suddenly realizing what subject they were on and deciding to change it. "So... why do you get so embarrassed when you see my legs?"
Deshret turned red again and looked around, smiling nervously as he poked his fish. "I... uh."
Janet giggled and said, "It's quite all right. I was just curious. Maybe if I knew why it bothered you so much, I wouldn't tease you." She stood and tugged her dress up to her knee.
"All right!" he said, looking at the walls. "All right." She dropped her dress and sat down. Deshret sighed and looked up at her. "It's... not right for men to see the bare legs of a woman that is not his wife. It is why the dresses here are to the ankle. Every time you... you reveal your leg to me... well, it's as if..."
"As if I'm ripping my blouse open and showing you my chest?"
If Deshret had been red before, he was now positively maroon. He smiled and looked down at his plate and said, "The fish is actually delicious, Janet."
She chuckled. "I'm glad you're enjoying it." She took another bite of her fish and watched as Deshret nervously avoided looking at any part of her body during dinner. She chuckled again and finished her meal.
The day after their feast of fish, Deshret left Janet alone and returned to work on the laser. He had become convinced that Khepresh's threat had been empty and the fat man would do nothing to harm her. Had he, however, remained vigilant that day, he could have prevented the terrible events that would follow. Had he decided to follow her for one more day, everything would have gone smoothly.
As Deshret worked in his laboratory, Janet left the hospital and walked towards the edge of town, craning her neck to see the how far away the forest was. The forest was all that stood between the town and the fields of terrypijn plants. It was at least a half-hour walk. She wanted to experiment on the terrypijn to see what kind of medicinal properties it had to offer. She looked over her shoulder and saw that no one seemed to be heading for the hospital. The only thing in the distance was a wall of clouds that looked vaguely ominous.
She was pretty certain she would be to the fields and back before the storm hit, but it didn't really matter if she wasn't. A little rain had never killed anybody...
Deshret looked up as the rain began to pound his laboratory. There had been no advance warning for this, but he wasn't surprised. Flashstorms were notorious for giving no warning. He stood and went to the door of his lab, intending to pull it shut. Suddenly, he spotted the dark hospital and realized he had never warned Janet of the dangers of flashstorms. For a moment, he considered the possibility that Earth suffered the dangerous rains as well... but he didn't think he would be that lucky.
He grabbed a shawl and draped it over his head, dashing into the street. "Has anyone seen Janet? Hello!"
No one answered. They were all inside, protecting themselves from the storm. Smart of them...
Deshret went into the hospital and shook the deadly rain from his shawl. He desperately searched for any sign of where Janet could have gone, the wind blowing through the open windows and mocking him as he searched. Finally, he found a piece of paper on the desk that Janet had been using and turned it so he could read it. At the bottom, she had written "The terrypijn that these people use for everything from clothing to spice may have some interesting medicinal qualities. I plan to get some plants to experiment on."
"The fields," Deshret whispered. He wrapped his shawl around himself and grabbed a spare from the closet. If only he had warned Janet, she could have taken this before she left the hospital. He only prayed he wasn't too late.
The flashstorms were deadly, and he'd never known anyone to survive being exposed to one for more than a few unprotected moments.
Deshret, even had he known who Superman was, would've missed the similarities between him and the comic book hero at the moment. He ran towards the edge of town, his sandaled feet barely touching the ground. His shawl whipped the air behind him like a cape as he ran, covering his face as he pushed himself harder than he had ever pushed before. Once, when he had been a child, he had been chased by a group of bullies that included Bennu and Saff. He had run then, too... kicked up dirt and put an admirable distance between himself and his attackers in a matter of heartbeats.
He only hoped he wasn't too late to save Janet.
The flashstorms came once or twice a year. They were vicious, deadly storms that crossed the continent, searching for something to destroy. The rain came down in torrents, the droplets containing enough acid to eat through flesh in an instant. They had shawls that were apparently - for reasons no one really knew - impervious to the acid. Lightning kissed the ground every few minutes, dancing along the dirt before retreating back to their homes in the clouds. There was no protection against the lightning strikes.
Deshret had seen his friend hit by a lightning strike and been unable to save him. The sight of the mangled, charred body had haunted him for years. He didn't know how he would survive if he found Janet killed in that manner.
He was halfway to the terrypijn fields when something made him scan the edge of the forest. At first, he saw only trees and darkness. He was about to turn away, force himself to focus on the mission at hand, when he spotted movement. Janet was cowering in the crook of a tree, her legs bent at an odd angle to keep her position. Her tunic was over her head and she was trembling violently in the cold.
"Janet!" he called. She didn't look up; just kept her head against her chest and trembled.
Deshret ran to her, covering her back and head with the extra shawl he'd taken. Janet looked up and Deshret felt himself gasp. Dozens of red marks ran down her face, like crimson tears. She had been caught unprotected and paid the price. "Are you... can you walk?" he asked.
Janet just shook her head. Deshret looked up at the clouds, then took off his own shawl and said, "Keep your head tucked down and your body as compact as possible." He took her into his arms and covered her with his shawl, cradling her to his chest. The first drop hit him in the back, a finger of pain and fire starting at his shoulder and digging through his skin. He grit his teeth and turned, running as fast as he could to get Janet home.
Rain hit the shawl covering Janet's body and splattered, hitting Deshret in the chest. He hissed with each new hit, but forced himself to run on. A wall of lightning came down in his path, skittering across the normally dry land before being sucked back into the sky. He altered his course slightly, hoping to avoid the charred trail the lightning had left behind. The air stank of ozone and steam. Deshret hunched his back and continued running. He wasn't going to die in this rain. He wasn't going to let Janet die in this rain.
His back ached furiously. He closed his eyes, forcing himself onward. His arms burned from the weight of Janet in his arms. His knees felt like they were going to buckle. Since he was trying not to breathe too deeply (in order to keep from inhaling any of the acid rain), his lungs were burning. He was within a few yards of his house when his knee decided it was done and he fell to one knee, holding Janet to his chest. He couldn't stand. It hurt too badly.
"Just a bit more," he told his aching joints. "You've done worse. C'mon... eight steps. Just... eight steps."
With a growl that sounded inhuman even to his own ears, he managed to lift both himself and Janet with one not-so-smooth motion. He lurched forward, every connection in his body complaining. His brain was on fire. His limbs were numb. His eyes were the only thing that weren't in pain... they were focused on his destination. He grit his teeth, forced himself forward. "Come on," he told himself. "Come on."
He finally collapsed, relieved to find himself - by some miracle - inside of his house. The door was open and Janet was laying across his chest, but they were inside. He embraced Janet, safe in her shawl cocoon, and closed his eyes. He was in excruciating pain... a little nap wouldn't hurt.
Janet woke to find herself in bed, her clothes gone and replaced by a plain white gown. She sat up, touching her face and feeling the tender spots where she'd been burned. "Deshret?" she asked, her voice hoarse and painful. She climbed out of bed and made her way to the door, a task more difficult than it had been a few days ago. Deshret was in the kitchen, leaning against the wall and staring out the window. The rain was still falling. He had scars all over his face, hands and probably his back. She remembered - vaguely, she had been in and out of consciousness - him arriving and covering her with his shawl.
"You're awake," Deshret said upon seeing her. He straightened. "Are you well?"
"I'm fine, thanks to you," Janet said, her raspy voice hurting even her own ears. "Are *you* okay?"
He touched his face. "I will be fine." He pointed at the window. "Flashstorms. I should have warned you. They come without much warning a few times every year. Acid in the rain and lightning that seems determined to kill. I wish I would have warned you."
"Don't worry about it," Janet said. "If I had to introduce you to Earth, I'm sure I'd miss a couple of dangerous things. The important thing is you risked your life to come looking for me." She looked down at her gown and said, "Speaking of which... how did my clothes get changed if you're embarrassed at the thought of looking at my legs?"
Deshret smiled. "I dressed you with my eyes closed," he promised. But Janet thought she detected a bit of a redness around his ears. Maybe it was a burn from his encounter in the rain... or maybe not. Janet touched his face and turned him back to look at her. "I really do appreciate what you did. Thank you." She softly kissed his lips. He didn't close his eyes. He didn't cup the back of her head. He just stood there, accepting the kiss with a healthy measure of shock and appreciation.
Janet pulled back and smiled. "Would you like fish for dinner?"
"Fish would be wonderful," he said. "I am glad you caught what you did the other day, however. The river probably won't be good for anything for a couple of days thanks to this rain. In fact, that is one of the reasons why it is unheard of to eat from the river... we assumed anything living in such a dangerous environment would be dangerous itself."
He continued to explain their food customs as Janet prepared their dinner. Several times, however, she caught him touching his lips. She returned the smile he gave and told him to go about setting the table for dinner.
That night, Deshret threw his blanket over the couch. He put both palms in the small of his back and arched his spine, feeling a satisfying pop. Janet, who still hadn't changed out of the white gown, watched him from the doorway that led to the kitchen and bedroom. "You know, that seems to be getting worse."
"What?" he asked.
"Your back," she said. "You keep popping it. Plus it couldn't have been easy carrying me all the way here. Why don't you take the bed and I'll sleep on the couch tonight?"
Deshret sighed. "Janet... I-I..."
"I know," she sighed. "But really, I don't mind sleeping on a couch. I can rough it."
"I cannot let you. I apologize, but I... just cannot."
Janet sighed. "Fine. It's a big bed... we can share."
Deshret froze, slowly looking up at her. "Share... as in sleep in the bed together?" He smiled nervously. "No, Janet. I could not do that. No, I couldn't."
"C'mon," Janet said, walking over to him. She raised her right hand and crossed her index and middle fingers. "I promise to keep my legs covered at all times." She sighed. "Look. I'm just offering to share the bed. I'm used to sleeping with someone next to me and the bed is more than big enough... I hate making you sleep on this couch." She laughed and covered her face. "I can't believe I'm actually *begging* someone to go to bed with me."
Deshret sighed. "Fine. I will share the bed. Are you satisfied now?"
"Very," Janet admitted.
Deshret lay in bed that night and stared at the ceiling. Even after Janet rolled onto her side and started to quietly snore, he couldn't bring himself to relax. He was in bed next to a beautiful woman who had kissed him... He exhaled and looked over at her back. She was gorgeous... there was no doubt about that. He finally covered his face with a pillow and closed his eyes. Eventually, he managed to fall asleep.
When Janet woke, she checked her reflection in the makeshift mirror she'd made from a partially-rusted steel plate. There were pink streaks on her cheeks and forehead, but they were already fading. She'd been lucky Deshret had been able to find her... She sighed and dressed in her old SGC clothes (how long had she been here that she'd already started thinking of her SGC stuff as 'old'?) and headed for the hospital, kissing Deshret's forehead before leaving. She brushed his hair, smiling down at him for a moment before finally walking out the door.
She was more than a little surprised about her feelings towards the man. After all, she'd only known him a handful of weeks. She shook her head and continued through town. She paused by the DHD, as she did nearly every morning, and dialed the Earth Gate. When it refused to connect, she didn't sigh. She didn't try again. She just continued walking towards the infirmary. It was like playing the lottery... you get used to buying and scratching the tickets, but after a while you stop expecting to win.
On her way to work a few weeks later, she decided to stop by and see Deshret for a few minutes.
Janet entered the lab in time to hear something shatter against the far wall. She raised her eyebrows, eyeing the wreckage before her gaze lingered on Deshret's anguished form. He was rubbing his face with one hand, the other resting in front of him. "Deshret?" Janet asked, looking at the wreckage. "What happened? Are you okay?"
He turned and brushed at his cheeks. "Fine. I am fine. What do you need?"
"Nothing," Janet said, looking at the wreckage in front of him. "Are you working on the beam?"
Deshret nodded slowly. "I cannot fix it. It is... it is beyond my grasp."
Janet smiled and put a hand on Deshret's shoulder. It was then that she noticed why his hand was resting on the table. "My God," she hissed. His hand was split open from the base of his middle finger to the fleshy part below his thumb. Blood was pooling in his palm. "What happened?" she asked. She turned him around and knelt, groping in her medical bag.
He sniffed and said, "I... grew frustrated with my progress and hit the laser casing."
"Ahh," Janet said. "The scientific approach." She grimaced. "This is going to need stitches... Can you stand a little pain?"
"I am in a little pain," he pointed out, smiling slightly.
Janet grinned and said, "Besides... everyone has dry spells and bad days. Just give yourself some time. I am sure that if you got it working once..." Deshret winced and Janet stopped dabbing his wound with alcohol. "Did that hurt?"
"No, it is what you said," he whispered. "I am a fraud."
"What do you mean?"
Deshret hissed as she began to stitch him. "I... did not build the laser."
"But you told Sam--"
"I lied," Deshret growled. "I was... trying to take the credit for bringing you here. The truth is... I simply stole it. After my wife died in the river, I attempted to find her body. I followed the stream for... for a long time. Days, nights... I finally stumbled upon an old shack in the woods. It had been decimated by the flashstorms, but the trees around it had been untouched. I explored and found the various components and blueprints for the laser. All I did was... connect the pieces according to the schematics and aim it at the sky." He closed his eyes as Janet wound a bandage around his hand. "I am a fraud."
Janet smoothed the bandage and looked up at him sadly. "Deshret, I've never blamed you for my being here. I never hated you or felt it was your fault. You don't *have* to rebuild the laser because..." She closed her eyes. "Look. I'm not ready to claim my life is here now. But you can't kill yourself over this. If I'm meant to get home, I'll get home. Don't kill yourself like this."
Deshret closed his eyes. "I must do everything I can to get you home."
"And you are!" Janet insisted. "Promise me you'll work on other things, please? For my sake?"
Janet indicated the lab. "Well... look at all this stuff. Don't you have other things you could be working on?"
Janet smiled. "Good. Get to work on them, then. Come to my office in a few hours so I can check out that hand, okay?"
"Very well," Deshret said, finally allowing himself to smile. "Thank you, Janet."
"Consider it payback for all the meals you cooked for me. I'll see you tonight." Deshret held his hand and watched her go. When she was out of the lab, he turned and scanned the multitude of half-finished and cobbled-together devices. He sighed and pushed the pieces of the laser aside.
It was another eight months before anything worth mentioning occurred.
Janet lived, ate, laughed and slept with Deshret (although sleeping was all they did). Deshret became more relaxed around her. More and more of the women of the village seemed to accept Janet, if they didn't exactly like her. Patients became a more regular occurance and Janet was eager to have her skills put to use. When the hospital wasn't too busy, she would volunteer at the school nearby, helping the children with paintings and introducing the teachers to the concept of recess.
People no longer crossed the street when they saw her coming, but they didn't go out of their way to greet her. During all this time, Khepresh was watching and waiting for an opportunity to take advantage of. He despised the woman and everything she stood for. A messenger came from the capital city of Philae, asking if the rumors of an alien woman living in the town were true. Khepresh had managed to weave a tale for the messenger, who returned to the Royal Nomarch. It was a high crime to lie to a leader of his stature, but Khepresh expected the 'alien woman' to be gone before too long... one way or another.
He finally got his opportunity a few weeks before winter. Another flashstorm bellowed through the region, this time causing several deaths. Janet took on the job of medical examiner, preparing the bodies for their funerals. Several of the women helped, making sure Janet abided by their rituals. Khepresh's daughter Neith was among the dead, but he told no one. He deposited her body by the stream and put his plan into motion.
"Hello, Deshret," he called, approaching as fast as his weight allowed. "Hello! I am afraid I am in need of your assistance!"
Deshret looked up, brow furrowed. "What do you want, Khep?" Since Janet's proficiency in catching fish, Deshret had not needed to go to the hunters for his rations of meat. Finally, they had started delivering the packages to his home, rations large enough for both of them. Deshret, one. Khepresh, zero.
"I am in dire need of your help," Khepresh panted. "My daughter... she was killed by the flashstorm."
Deshret's face softened. "I am sorry for your loss..."
"Yes... yes... I discovered her body by the river. I need your help... please tell--" He fouled his face into an expression of disgust. "Tell your 'friend' that I expect Neith's body to have a decent burial. Tell her where to find poor Neith's body. Then come to me and help me tell my wife of our loss."
Deshret looked skeptical, but he nodded. "Yes. I will. Give me a moment to find Janet and tell her this." He hurried towards the hospital, leaving Khepresh behind.
Janet looked up as Deshret ran towards her, calling her name. "What is it?" she asked, leaving the table to the nurses she had deputized. She looked at her hands and saw they were bleached white by the natron salt the women used in preparing for burial. She brushed her palms against her apron and approached Deshret. "What's wrong?"
"Neith," he said, panting. "Her body is by the river. Her father says she was killed in the flashstorms."
"Oh, my God. No one's gotten her body yet?"
He shrugged. "I guess not."
She nodded. "Okay. Okay, thank you." He turned and started running again. "Where are you going?"
"Khepresh is waiting for me," he said. "No time to explain."
Janet frowned. Khepresh? What business would Deshret have with Khepresh? She wiped her hands on her blouse again, grabbed her supplies and headed towards the river. She had to get to Neith's body before anything happened to it.
Neith had been beautiful. Her skin was pale, but her hair was jet black. Her blue eyes were piercing, blue even through the purple cast that the sky gave everything. Now, she was a mass of muscles burned black by the lightning. Janet felt tears in her eyes as she approached the corpse, setting her medical bag on the ground next to her. As she was kneeling, she heard a noise behind her. She didn't register it as a footstep until it was too late. She half-turned in time to get slammed in the forehead by a thick pipe.
She was thrown violently to the muddy ground, sliding a few inches before a rock lodged itself in her back. Her attacker picked her up and threw her onto her stomach. She felt a boot on the back of her neck and fought to regain her senses. There was another man approaching from the west, walking through the river to get to the attack. Due to exposure to films and TV for most of her life, she half-expected taunts from her attackers; warnings or clues as to who they were. These guys, though, had never seen those movies. Instead of taunting or speaking, one of them kicked her in the ribs.
The world spun and she felt herself pressed face-first against a tree. She felt large hands groping her and closed her eyes. 'Don't let these bastards rape me,' she thought. 'Anything but that...'
Instead of tearing her clothes away, they pushed her to the ground. She got a faceful of mud and coughed, spitting out what had gotten in her mouth. The two men descended on her; kicking, punching, gouging and pounding with everything they had. Janet swung at them, but the mud had blinded her. She felt a few of her wild punches connect and scratched whatever flesh she felt. Finally, one of them threw her into the mud again and pressed her face into the thick concoction.
It took her a moment to realize she was suffocating. She flailed wildly, trying to free herself to no avail. Suddenly, the men pulled her up and pressed her face against the rough bark of a tree. "This will happen again," a man's voice whispered. "Not tomorrow, but one day. And then it'll happen a third time. And a fourth... Deshret doesn't care anymore. He's worried about his standing in the community. He told us you'd be here."
He kicked her in the back and she crumpled, her eyes still caked with mud. The man's threats continued. "Don't turn around. And don't tell anyone about this. Who would care?" He pressed her face against the bark hard enough to leave a mark, then turned. She heard them splashing through the river and heard their laughter fade as they disappeared into the woods. She remained where she was, hugging the tree and trying to control her breathing as she regained control of her body.
Finally, she rose and headed towards Deshret's cabin. She didn't bother wiping the mud from her eyes; the tears were doing a decent job of cleaning them...
Deshret heard the door open and smiled. "Janet!" he said. "I've created something." He picked up his 'creation' and put it on a plate. "Two pieces of bread and a fish. I call it a sandwich of fish." He looked up to see her reaction and dropped the plate. The ceramic shattered, but he didn't notice.
Janet was standing in the door, covered head to toe in mud and blood. The tracks of her tears had blazed a way through the mud on her face. Her tears started again when she saw Deshret. "What happened?" he asked, his voice strained.
"Did you do this?" Janet whispered.
Janet's voice was firmer. "*Did* you *do* THIS?" she screamed. "Did you tell those jackasses where I would be? T-that I would b-be alone? Did you do this?!"
Deshret's hands were shaking. He was pale and frozen to the spot. Janet then knew he would be incapable of this. She closed her eyes and hung her head. "I'm sorry," she whispered. "I'm sorry. I know you didn't do this."
"What happened?" Deshret asked, tenderly cupping her face to look at the cuts.
She sniffed and explained what had happened. Deshret's face got stormier with every word. "That bastard Khepresh. He did this. He lured me away and... he *tricked* me! Using his own daughter..." He closed his eyes. "That son of a bitch. That bastard. I will kill him."
"Deshret," Janet whispered.
He stepped back. "No. I swear to you Janet, for this... for *this* that man will pay dearly."
Janet stepped forward and cupped his face.
"He hurt you. He... he hurt you so bad," Deshret said, tears flowing from his eyes. "I just want to hurt him, too. I want him to be beaten. I want him to bleed."
"I know," Janet whispered, pressing her face against Deshret's throat. She kissed his pulse, then raised her head and brushed her nose over his. "I need to clean off this... this mud," she said, her voice shaky.
"Soon," Deshret whispered. He kissed her then, not soft as they had kissed before. There was no mistaking this kiss.
Janet moaned into his mouth and ran her hands up his chest, gently pushing him away. "My lip..." she said. It had been cut in the fight and was now sore to the touch. Deshret nodded and said, "Do you have your supplies?"
"Damn," she hissed. "They're down by the river."
"I'll go get them," he promised. "Stay here, out of sight. I'll be right back."
She nodded and watched him go, wondering how she could've thought he was involved in the attack.
He cleaned her wounds and carefully washed the mud away from her body. Though she was stripped down to her bra and panties, Deshret didn't show any of the discomfort he'd shown earlier. He even tended to several scrapes above the knee without flinching. Janet thanked him and resigned to her warm bath, filled with water Deshret carried in from the outdoor pump. As she bathed, she heard Deshret leave the house. He returned about an hour later and woke her with a knock. "Are you all right?" he asked.
"Yeah," she said sleepily. "I fell asleep in the tub." She climbed out, noticing her fingers and toes were wrinkled. She wrapped a towel around herself and left the bathroom, smiling sleepily at Deshret. "I'm going to go to bed."
"Sleep well," he whispered. "I will try not to wake you when I come to bed."
She smiled and kissed his cheek, ignoring the twinge of pain in her lips.
A few hours after falling asleep, she woke to find Deshret next to her. She bit her lip, weighing all of her options. Finally, she rolled over to face him and pressed herself against his back. She kissed his shoulder and rested her hand on his hip. She fell asleep curled up with him, feeling safe and protected.
While Janet was curling up with the man she was growing to love, while the men hired to beat fear into her were drinking to their victory in a bar, while Deshret was pretending to sleep as he enjoyed the feel of Janet's body pressed against his...
While the world continued to spin, Khepresh died, blood oozing from a neck wound inflicted by a blade he'd kept on his mantle. The blade, smeared with his blood, now lay a few feet away. Khepresh's eyes blinked as the last ounces of life fled his body, as if his soul had merely been awaiting a chance to escape. He died alone on the floor of his office, the murderer long gone.
News of Khepresh's death spread quickly. Janet Fraiser heard of it only when the Officials of the Ennead came to arrest Deshret for the crime.
Deshret woke the next morning, carefully extricating himself from Janet's arms and made his way to the kitchen. It was here, in the middle of preparing bread with terrypijn jam that the doors opened and the Officials entered his house. Deshret turned and saw the uniforms, the familiar gold and blue, and put the terrypijn spread back on the counter. He walked to the door and allowed them to lead him to their transport. By the time Janet woke, Deshret was halfway to Philae for his punishment.
Janet woke and assumed that Deshret had just gone to work early as usual. She took the bread he had been making and stuck it into her pouch, slinging the leather bag over her shoulder and leaving for the day.
The first sign that something had happened was the people; the street was lined with citizens, all talking quietly and trying to avoid her gaze. Finally, curiosity got the better of her and she went into the first establishment she saw; a bar. Conversations halted when she arrived, but she didn't allow them to make her self-conscious. "What happened?" she asked the room. A man at the back of the room coughed and finished his beer.
Janet spun around and walked out of the bar, searching the street for Deshret. Finally, a man exited the bar and looked across the street. "A murder," he said, his voice soft.
"What?" Janet asked, turning towards him.
"Look to the street," the man hissed. When she was again looking away, the man continued. "Khepresh was murdered last night in his home. Deshret has been taken to Philae for the murder."
Janet couldn't believe this, but forced herself to remain silent. The man stepped away from her and started walking down the street. Janet caught up with him and he glanced at her like she was an annoying gnat that wouldn't leave him alone. "Where is Khepresh's house?"
The man didn't answer.
"Where did they take Deshret? Has the body been moved yet?"
The man's jaw remained firm. Janet pushed the man against the wall and hissed at him, "Look. I was attacked last night. My only friend in the world has been arrested for murder and I will get answers from you. Where does Khepresh live?"
"In the large house... outside of Tuat." The man looked down the street, desperate to get away from the alien woman before anyone he knew saw them. "They took Deshret to Philae, but he must return here to face the family of his victim."
"When will he be returned?"
"Three days," the man sighed. "They'll return so the family of his victim can pass judgment on him and see it carried out."
Janet released the man and brushed her clothing. "Three days," she whispered. She started towards the edge of town to find the house where Khepresh had been killed.
Hedjet was a dangerously small woman, her blonde hair cut close to her head and her black eyes wide with fear as she watched Janet approaching on the path. Janet held up her hands as she came near, smiling and trying to look as friendly as possible. "Hello. I don't want to cause any trouble... I just want to talk to you."
The small servant turned and looked at the house, then whispered, "You must go."
"I just want to see where Khepresh died."
Hedjet's eyes darkened, her brow furrowed. "Why do you want to see that?"
Janet shrugged. "I don't believe Deshret did it. I want to prove his innocence."
"His wife is not home. She is... visiting a friend... and will not be home for several hours." The girl pursed her lips, then said, "You may go in and look, then come out. Inside, down the hall, third door on the left. Quickly."
"Thank you," Janet said. She was careful to give the servant a wide berth and stepped through the open door of the house. No matter what the exterior was made of, the inside of all mansions was the same. Splendor. Expensive decoration. Janet stood for a moment, awed at this level of beauty in this world, but continued to move through the building. She found evidence of Khepresh's faux-importance (or maybe it was just self-importance) everywhere; medals, portraits, vases that would probably have been in a museum back home.
She followed the hallway to the door Hedjet indicated and stepped inside the study. A tall desk stood in one corner of the room, underneath a window the stretched from floor to ceiling. Janet walked around the desk and choked back a cry of alarm. Khepresh's body was still present, sprawled out exactly as he had fallen. Janet fought back the urge to throw up and steeled herself for the coppery smell of his blood.
Walking around the massive corpse, she knelt and gingerly touched his face. Ice cold, as she had expected. His brown eyes were still open, staring directly at her. She pushed the eyelids down gently before reluctantly turning her attention to the fatal wound. One look at the wound and Janet knew without a doubt that Deshret was innocent. She scanned the room and spotted the murder weapon; a knife, five inches in length, was a few feet away from the body. Blood coated it's blade and dotted the floor around it.
Janet bit her lip and stood, examining the entire scene. "Suicide," she whispered. She turned and left the house, determined to get to Philae and prove that Deshret wasn't the murderer.
It took her SGC jacket and three baskets of terrypijn, but Janet procured transportation to the capital city. The people driving the wagon refused to speak to her, so she was unsure if Philae was the capital of this continent, this country or the entire world. She guessed she would learn when she got there. They rode for what felt like forever. Janet remembered times on Earth she could just look at a clock and think 'thirty minutes for that trip' or 'ten minutes from here to there.' Now, after all the time she'd spent on this world, it seemed very odd to know exactly how long it took to do something.
They arrived in Philae by twilight. Janet climbed off the back, gathering her supplies and looking around at the city. The buildings were taller and there seemed to be more people, but other than size Janet could see no difference between this town and Tuat. She slung her bag over her shoulder and started wandering, hoping someone would eventually ask her what she needed. After all, no one here knew she was an alien...
Finally, two men in blue and gold uniforms approached her. "Miss, is there something we can help you with?"
She smiled. "Yes. I traveled from Tuat today in search of someone you're holding for a crime. His name is Deshret."
The men seemed to tense slightly. "We know him. What do you wish with the prisoner?"
"Just to speak to him," Janet promised. "I want to talk to him about the crime he allegedly commited."
"Allegedly?" the man on the right asked.
Janet closed her eyes. Obviously no criminal justice system here, divided in two equal parts or no. "May I see him?"
"Are you blood-related?"
She almost said no, but then reconsidered. Perhaps only blood relatives could go in... "I'm not," she said, telling a half-truth. "But I am his wife."
One of the men turned, the other managed a smile. "Very well. Come with us, ma'am."
The police force was known as the "Ennead." Their headquarters was a squat, ugly building nestled between one ugly building and a disgusting building. She followed the officers in and was directed to a featureless room with one chair sitting against the wall. They told her to wait and she took the seat, putting her bag on the floor between her feet. After a few minutes, she stood and started pacing. After a half hour, she was getting angry. After two hours, she began to worry that maybe this was a cell and *she* had been arrested.
Finally, the door opened again and Deshret was pushed in. His face was bruised and bloody, his hair cut short to his head. He looked terrible. Janet embraced him gently and said, "Are you alright? What happened?"
"I am fine," he said, returning the hug. "What are you doing here?"
She sighed. "Your world seems intent on punishing you for this murder even though you didn't do it. I thought I would bring a little bit of Earth justice to the mix." She smiled. "I know you didn't do it."
He smiled. "Your confidence is welcome, but..."
Janet shrugged. "Tell me where you went last night. After you learned I was attacked."
"I went to Khepresh's home. I fought with him." He smiled. "Do you still think my hands are clean?"
"Absolutely," Janet said. "Keep going."
Deshret shrugged. "I told him that you were under my protection. That I wanted no more harm to come to you. I hit him several times and I left. He was alive when I left, I swear to you."
"You said that you went to Khepresh's house that day, when I was attacked. It was how they made sure we were apart. What happened during that time?"
He sighed. "We spoke to his wife. She was distraught, as anyone would be if their daughter died. She was proud of her husband for putting on a brave facade, but she knew he was dying inside as well. And it was true... It was the first time I'd ever seen sadness in that fat bastard's eyes." He shook his head. "I left them to grieve in peace."
"Khepresh *was* distraught," Janet said. "He killed himself."
Janet stood and walked to the door, knocking for the guards. Two men came in, different than the ones who had escorted Janet through town. "We need to speak to someone in charge. I have some evidence to share."
~ NIGHT IN PHILAE ~ (Scene contains graphic m/f situations. If you'd prefer not to read, continue to ~ TRIP TO TUAT ~)
The trip back to Tuat was postponed until morning. Janet refused an offer to be escorted to the equivalent of a motel and asked if she could remain with Deshret. The Officials reluctantly agreed and Janet was led to another featureless room. She embraced Deshret as soon as they were alone. "I'm glad you're alright," she said.
"I am," he assured her. "But you did not have to stay here. You did not have to *come* to Philae. Thank you for everything. I owe you so much for this."
Janet laughed. "Said the man who has let me live in his house and sleep in his bed for almost a year? You don't owe me anything."
Deshret leaned down and kissed her lips, softly tracing her mouth with his tongue before he pulled back. "I have been wanting to do that for a long time, Janet."
She smiled and stepped back. "It was nice. It was very nice." She turned and said, "Let's get some rest, okay?"
"Yes, of course. We have a long day tomorrow."
She knew that look in his eyes. Rejection. She closed her eyes as he climbed into bed. She wasn't rejecting him... a jail cell wasn't a place for any kind of romantic love-making. She climbed into bed next to him, a move so normal that she didn't think twice about it. Deshret settled against the pillows, closing his eyes and preparing for sleep. "Deshret?" she asked. He didn't respond. He was either hurt about her pulling away or embarrassed by the kiss.
How was she supposed to explain this? 'Sorry. I want you, but I don't feel comfortable enough to HAVE you yet.' She sighed. She wasn't ready to 'go all the way' as (she thought) kids were saying nowadays. She looked over at him, then examined his body. He was a very attractive man... Finally, she made a decision. If it didn't count in high school on Earth, it probably didn't count in prison on Sekhet-Aanru.
She rolled onto her side, running her hands down Deshret's chest until she found the seam in his tunic. She pulled gently, parting the two halves and baring his hairless chest. He whispered, "Janet?"
"Shh," she whispered. She kept parting the halves until the tunic was entirely opened. She smoothed her hand over his belly and slid down, tugging the waistband of his trousers down and revealing the flaccid penis hidden within. Deshret's eyes were still shut, but his lips had parted. Janet watched him inflate, licking her lips and gently wrapping her fingers around the shaft.
Deshret made a sound that resembled, "Ahhkjath..."
"Shhhh," Janet whispered, chuckling. She kissed his stomach and then pressed her face against the flesh between his pecs. She kissed his nipples, flicking them with her tongue and making him squirm. She giggled and began to stroke him, tightening her grip as her hand moved up his erection. She brought her free hand around and cupped the heavy sac between his legs, squeezing gently. He brought his knees up and spread them, lifting his butt of the mattress to meet her stroke. She pressed him gently back down and kissed his navel.
He opened his eyes and looked down, panting. "Janet," he managed to say before he came on her fingers. He spurted several times, but Janet didn't make a move to release him. Finally, he closed his eyes again and laid back, trying to catch his breath. Janet licked her fingers clean and then did the same to his cock. He moaned and hardened again in her mouth. She smiled around the mouthful and began to orally manipulate him. He thrashed on the mattress and came again, almost immediately. She swallowed what she could, then pulled his trousers back up. She rewound the seam running up the side of his chest and laid her head on his shoulder.
Janet smiled. "Shh," she repeated.
Deshret closed his eyes and laid his head back against the pillows.
The Officials came to get them at dawn. Janet and Deshret were loaded into the back of a wagon, strapped in and given an armed guard. Deshret couldn't bring himself to look at Janet; every time he caught a glimpse of her, he pictured her as she had been the night before... her lips and hands working wonders on him. He blushed and chuckled nervously, keeping his head down. Janet couldn't keep a smile off her face, either. The guard thought they were the happiest pair of prisoners he had ever been asked to watch.
~ TRIP TO TUAT ~
Deshret finally let his head rest against the side of the wagon and looked up at the ceiling. "I apologize for the long trip," he said. "It is... extremely tedious."
"I remember from yesterday," Janet said, tucking a strand of hair behind her ear. "I wish there was a radio or something..."
Janet nodded. "Yeah. It's a... a receiver that plays music. Takes some of the tedium out of long car trips."
Deshret leaned his head back again. "Yes, a radio would be nice," he agreed. "Do you know any songs?"
"Oh, no," Janet laughed. "You do not want me to sing."
He put one hand on hers, the entire range of movement allowed by the straps holding him down. "Please?"
She closed her eyes. "Okay. But don't make fun of me or the song... it's-it's my favorite song, okay? Oh, and by the way, a rainbow is something that comes out after it rains on our planet; a strip of colored light across the sky." Deshret nodded and Janet began singing in a quiet voice.
"Why are there so many songs about rainbows?
And what's on the other side?
Rainbows are visions
But only illusions
And rainbows have nothing to hide..."
Deshret closed his eyes and listened to the rest of the song. On the high notes - "I've heard it *too* many *times* to *ignore* it" - her voice cracked a bit and she blushed. But she sang it straight through. When it was done, Deshret applauded. The guard tilted his head and peered to the front of the wagon, but didn't say anything else. Deshret finally smiled and said, "That is a song where you're from?"
"Yeah," Janet said, dabbing at her eyes.
"Who sings it?"
Janet laughed. "A frog named Kermit."
Deshret raised an eyebrow and said, "Does this Kermit have any other songs?"
"Let me think," Janet said, glancing at the guard. She smiled, cleared her throat and began to sing again.
"It's not that easy being green
Having to spend each day the colors of the leaves
When I think it would be nicer
To be gold or red or blue...
or something much more colorful like that..."
Janet was asleep when they got back to Tuat. The Officials unloaded the prisoners from the wagon outside of Khepresh's mansion, causing a stir in the neighborhood. Janet followed Deshret into the house, were they were led to the corpse. Someone - probably Hedjet - had taken the time to cover it with a sheet. Janet grimaced at the smell, glad to see that the men were just as - if not more - affected by the stench.
"Ma'am, you can prove Deshret didn't do this? I'd like to see how."
Janet stepped into the room. "It's easier on Earth. We have... fingerprints. Forensics. Crime scene investigators have their own television shows." She knelt and peered at the carpet, then stood. "Khepresh and Deshret weren't friends. That much was obvious. Khepresh's wife wasn't faithful to him and he wasn't faithful to her. But there was one person he did love. Neith."
"She was his daughter," Deshret said. "Of course he loved her."
"So why wasn't he devastated when she died in the flashstorms last weekend? He used her death to his own advantage. So... what was his motive?"
Deshret glanced at the Officials.
"When Khepresh discovered his daughter was dead, the one person he loved had died, what did he do? Grieve? No. He moved the body and put a plan into action. He tricked me into walking into a trap. He arranged for two cronies to beat me up. Why would he use his daughter that way? Because it was only part of the plan. He attacked me not because he thought I'd leave. He knows better than that after a year.
"He assaulted me because he knew it would make Deshret angry. Angry enough to confront the fat man. Khepresh was expecting to die in his encounter with Deshret. But Deshret isn't a killer and he only threatened, spit, punched and screamed. Then he left. So Khepresh was in a bind. He wasn't going to die. If only Deshret had killed him, he wouldn't have to live with the death of his daughter and Deshret - my only friend in town - would be taken to Philae. I would be alone, which would..." She closed her eyes. "Without Deshret, I would be lost.
"But his plan had fallen apart. He was alive, Deshret was gone. So he did the only thing he could think of; he killed himself." She turned and indicated the corpse. "He picked up this knife and slit his own throat."
The Official looked unimpressed. "How do you expect to prove this?"
Janet approached the guard and said, "You and I will be examples. You're a few inches taller than me." She indicated Deshret. "And Deshret was a few inches taller than Khepresh. So, you be Deshret and I'll be Khep. Use your thumb like a knife and pretend you're cutting my throat."
"Janet--" Deshret said.
"I know what I'm doing," she said, stretching her neck for the man.
The guard glanced at his partner, then slid his thumb across Janet's throat. "There. What did that prove?"
Janet smiled. "Everything. You went *up* towards my ear." She turned and pointed to the fleshy throat of the corpse. "This goes down and fades... he was losing strength by this time." She walked around to the other side. "At the start of the cut, there are three smaller scrapes." A guard joined her and saw the small slashes. "He hesitated before he started to cut."
The guard shook his head. "He found his daughter dead and used her death against the two of you? Why?"
"Khepresh couldn't live without his daughter. He didn't even want to try. So..."
"No, no. Why did he hate you so much?"
Janet glanced at Deshret. "He felt," she said, "that I wasn't welcome in the town. He didn't like me and that... was that."
The guard looked from Janet to Deshret and finally sighed. "You've stated your case." He growled as he undid Deshret's handcuffs; he didn't seem to like the idea of letting a prisoner go. "You're free to go."
Deshret and Janet walked out of the house with the guards. As the Ennead Officials climbed back onto their wagons, Deshret took Janet's hand and began to walk towards his house. Finally, he said, "Thank you, Janet."
"I couldn't let you pay for what someone else had done," she sighed. "I'm glad you're safe."
Deshret stopped walking and pulled her around in front of him. "I don't think you understand. On Sekhet-Aanru, if the Ennead declares you guilty, you are guilty. It is a fact of life. When you arrived yesterday, they were preparing me for death."
Janet's eyes widened and she managed a weak, "No..."
"It is why I was so... eager with you last night. I thought it may be my last night to live."
'And I pushed you away,' Janet thought. "I can't believe that," she said. "They were going to kill you?"
"You saved my life, Janet. I owe you everything." He bent down and kissed her softly. This time, she didn't push him away.
(Author's Note: M/F in this scene. Go on to Chapter Five if you don't want to read it.)
When they got home, they went directly to the bedroom. Deshret carefully undid the loops holding her clothing up, removing each piece and laying it aside as if it was sacred. When he chest was bared, he ran his hands over the swell of her breasts and pressed his hands against them. Her nipples hardened into his hands and he leaned in, kissing her softly. He knelt and undid the belt holding her slacks up and smoothed the material against her thighs, feeling her muscular legs as he pulled them down.
He pressed his face against her lower body, sliding his hands up the insides of her legs. He tickled the insides of her thighs and the backs of her knees, making her laugh and put her hands on top of his head. He brought his hands up and separated her folds with the tips of his fingers, his tongue darting out and tracing the line of her sex. She gasped and arched her back, lifting her shoulders and throwing her head back. She'd been dry for almost a year... she needed this. Badly.
Janet pulled him up, kissing his lips as she laid beneath him on the mattress, spreading her legs for him. He kissed the insides of her thighs, a move that made them both tremble. She remembered his reaction to seeing her bare legs and smiled, closing her thighs around his head. His whiskers burned as he moved his lips to different spots, but she didn't care.
"Your other lover," he whispered, nestling between her legs. "Samantha..."
Janet closed her eyes. "I don't... want to think of her. I'm here with you, Deshret."
"Yes, but... you have had men before? In the past?"
Janet smiled. "Yes, Deshret. I have." She reached down, gripping him as she had last night. He closed his eyes and grit his teeth as she guided him to the entrance to her body. She gasped and whispered, "Slowly. It's been a while since a man has... just go slow."
She hooked her ankles behind his back and he began to gently thrust his lower body against her. She dug her fingernails into his shoulder blades, riding along with each buck of his hips. "Yes," she whispered, kissing his stubbly cheeks. "Yes, Desh, yes... make love to me..."
He brushed her hair out of her eyes and panted as he came inside of her, spurting his seed after several moments. Janet kissed his throat as he filled her. He moved one hand between her legs and whispered, "My wife... once requested that I do this." His fingers found and manipulated her clit, causing her to press herself into the pillows. She came, coating his fingers and the mattress beneath with her juices. They remained motionless for a moment after her climax, during which time they tried to catch their breath. Finally, Janet kissed his nose and pushed herself up. He rolled to one side and pulled her to him, holding her tightly. "I love you, Janet," he whispered.
Janet touched his hairless chest and closed her eyes. "I..." She closed her eyes and finished, "will always keep one part of my soul separate for Sam. But I love you, too, Deshret." She kissed him gently and rolled on top of him. They made love several times that night, their lips soon kissing scars old and new as they explored each other. After a time, Janet slept and Deshret sat awake, watching over her from any dangers that might still wait for them in the night.
After their first night together, Janet and Deshret grew close to inseparable. Janet initially thought Khepresh's death would ease the tension towards her, but people thought she might've threatened the Ennead. After all, Deshret had been taken away. Why would he have been brought back unless the alien had used some kind of mind powers on the Officials. So instead of just being wary of her, they were also terrified of her.
People stopped visiting the hospital for treatments and Janet was plunged back into the tedium she had experienced soon after her arrival on Sekhet-Aanru. She resumed her notes to Sam, though she stopped addressing them. It became a sort of diary of experiences. One early morning, she looked up and saw a small child standing in the doorway of the hospital. His curly hair stood out away from his chubby face. He was watching her with wide eyes, his lower lip trembling. "Hi," Janet said. "How are you?"
The boy pointed towards the town and mumbled something.
Janet stood. "Pardon? Do you need help?"
That was all she needed. "Show me where she fell," she said. The boy turned and ran off. Janet followed him, keeping up with the child even though he seemed to be possessed by the spirit of cheetah. Finally, his winding path led them to the small building where children were watched during the day; the Tuat equivalent of day-care. The boy pointed to the 'playground' area and Janet saw her; Geb, the harsh-faced woman who ran the daycare.
Janet rolled the woman over and checked her pulse. "Oh, my God..." She searched for someone, anyone, to help her, but all she saw were the children. "I need help," she told the curly-haired boy. "Get Deshret. The scientist. Get him. Get anyone else you can. Tell them..." She hesitated, then said, "Tell them Geb needs their help."
The kid scurried off again. Janet looked down at Geb's pale face, knowing it was far too late and wondering if this world had an official coroner.
After Geb's burial, there was an uproar. The first concern had been about who had been discovered over the body. What if 'the alien' had caused Geb to die? Cooler heads prevailed, fortunately, without Deshret being forced to step in. The larger - and more relevant concern - was what would happen to the children? Geb had worked alone. With her gone, no one would be available to watch their children.
Nemes finally said what no one had been willing to say aloud. The alien woman had very little to do during the day, as no one truly trusted her with their medical concerns. The children seemed to trust and like her, however. If she were willing, she would be the ideal replacement. Several of the old-timers, friends of Khepresh, were vehemently against this situation, but eventually agreed there was no other option.
A contingent went to Deshret's house and told him what they had decided. He promised to tell Janet the idea as soon as she woke up. She had been napping.
That night, they celebrated with a feast of fish and a private ceremony held in the bedroom.
"Can you see naked women with that?" Janet asked.
Deshret looked up from the telescope he'd been working on and he smiled. "I do not believe so, Janet. However, if you wish to test it..." He straightened his back and said, "You cut your hair."
Janet touched the extremely short bangs, smiling. "Yeah. I kind of had to. One of the children put terrypijn mud in my hair." Terrypijn mud was a kind of candy that resembled bubble gum. She shrugged and said, "I like it."
Deshret stroked the close-cropped hair, smiling and bringing his hand down to cup Janet's neck. "I think it is extremely attractive." He kissed her lips and asked, "Did you wish to speak to me about something?"
"Yes, actually," Janet said, stepping away from him. "Over in the corner there... are those transmitters?"
He shrugged. "They are supposed to be something to that effect. However I do not have the ability to manufacture many of the components needed. I have given up on them for the moment."
Janet pursed her lips and picked up one of the microphones. "If you had a working transmitter to work from, would it help?"
"Immensely," Deshret said. "Unfortunately, there are no working transmitters on Sekhet-Aanru."
"There's one," Janet said. She pulled a long, thin device from her pocket and wiggled it. "This is a GDO. You can take it apart, see how it's supposed to look and try to create your own components."
Deshret frowned and took the device. "I was under the impression this was important to you."
"It was," Janet nodded. "I need it to open the iris over the Stargate on Earth."
She held her hand up and stopped him cold. "This is my decision. This GDO isn't doing anyone any good sitting on my night stand. But if you use it to create a transmitter, well... well, imagine the possibilities! I have to do this, Deshret."
"But if I take this apart and I am not able to fix it... what if you open the Stargate?"
"I'm going to stop dialing." Deshret was shocked. His jaw dropped and he stepped back. "Before you talk me out of it... I've been here for two years now. Think about that! It's been over *two years*, Deshret! I've fallen in love with you. I've managed to become friends with... well, one or two other people. I have a purpose here. A man on Earth named Ben Franklin once said that a person living on hope dies of hunger... or-or something like that. If they find me... I'll have a choice to make. But I'm done holding out hope for a miracle. I'm done thinking that what I left behind is better than what I have right in front of me. Can you understand that, Deshret?"
He nodded slowly. "I understand," he whispered. "It... touches me that you think so highly of me."
Janet laughed. "I do love you, ya know. And... and I think you love *me,* right?"
"I do, Janet." He smiled.
"Then that," she said, "is all that matters." She wrapped her arms around his waist and said, "Here's to us and however long we have," she toasted, kissing him softly.
Opinion of the alien watching their children rose and fell with every passing day. Eventually, it was accepted as a fact of life that had to be dealt with. Janet had seven children in her care, combined with whatever medical maladies people came to her with. Her life was finally filled with responsibility. She was happy. The little curly-headed boy who had summoned her to Geb's final moments was named Sepat. He stayed at Janet's side all day long, but hardly ever spoke a word.
Janet welcomed new children occasionally, but it was usually her and her 'seven dwarves.' During the day, she played with the children and tended to various wounds and injuries of the townspeople. At night, she shared her day with Deshret and went to bed with him. They made love more often than not, sharing their bodies and then talking until the early hours.
One morning, Janet woke up with something stirring in her stomach. She headed for the outhouse, but didn't feel the urge to throw up. Something was happening. She swallowed, took a few deep breaths and straightened her back. She was still nauseated, but she could ignore that. She brought her hands up and probed her breasts through her nightgown. She winced and then looked down at her stomach. "My God," she whispered.
"Janet?" Deshret asked, coming out of the house to find his missing lover.
Janet's face twisted into a smile and she broke out in tears. "I-I think I'm pregnant."
A few weeks later, there was no 'think' about it. Janet stood in front of the mirror in the kitchen and touched her swollen belly. "I'm pregnant," she told her reflection. "I'm going to have Deshret's baby. I guess... that seals it." She looked down and giggled, stroking her stomach as had become her habit.
Janet and Deshret sat in front of the window during the next flashstorm, watching as the lightning danced in front of them. It was really quite a beautiful sight if you weren't stuck out in it. Janet sipped her drink and said, "Michael."
Deshret cocked his head. "Michael," he said, trying it on for size. "What does it mean?"
"I do not know for certain. I think it means 'like God.'"
"I do not believe so. Perhaps Nut?"
Janet wrinkled her nose. "Definitely not."
She held her hands up. "It doesn't matter. It has a distinctly different connotation on Earth."
"Very well." Deshret took a drink of his water and looked out at the storm. "How do you know it will be a male child?"
Janet chuckled and touched her stomach. "I know."
"I hope you are correct," he said, leaning in and covering her hands with his own. The baby - maybe Michael but definitely not Nut - kicked against his parents. Janet began to cry and Deshret held her, rocking gently as the flashstorm roared around them. He kissed her ear and softly said, "Why are there so many songs about rainbows?"
Janet laughed and hummed the melody as he continued the song she had taught him so long ago. Halfway through the song, Janet was considering naming the baby Kermit.
Janet's hair grew; she kept it straight and it curled in naturally towards her chin. She had clothes specially tailored for her, rather than wearing hand-me-downs from Deshret's deceased wife. She was sitting in the middle of what the kids called Play Room when Sepat came into the room and grabbed the hem of her dress, tugging at it. "Hello, Sepat," she said, pushing him away politely. He grabbed a handful again and tugged harder. She turned and waved a finger at him. "Sepat, you know the rules. No playing rough."
"What?" Janet asked. "What about him?"
"Wants to see you."
Janet stood. "Where is he? The lab?"
Sepat shook his head. "No." He turned and ran out of the building, leaving Janet no choice but to follow him.
"Sepat! Wait!" She ran after him. He turned a corner, going towards the center of town and Janet followed, finally getting within arm's reach of him and taking his hand. "Gotcha! What does Deshret need that's so... important..."
The sight in front of her didn't make sense. A Goa'uld ship, parked in the middle of the town's square? Was this an illusion? She slowed, making her way towards the ship. She felt her heart beating in her throat when she saw the group standing around the hatch of the ship. SG-1. Jacob Carter, who was still in his Tok'ra garb... he had just been joined with Selmak when she had been stranded.
She approached and eyed them all, tears welling up in her eyes. "Doc," Colonel O'Neill said, his voice sounding like a dream in her ears. "Nice to see you again." He embraced her and she finally felt the tears begin to fall. She hugged the muscular man, hoping it would prove to her that he was real. When he released her, Teal'c was the next person she saw.
He bowed, then wrapped both powerful arms around her petite form and pulled her to him, lifting her off the ground. Janet squealed, kicking her feet until he put her down and bowed again. "It is good to see you well, Janet Fraiser."
She turned to her left and gasped, laughing. "Daniel!" she said, hugging him tightly. "Your hair!"
"Yeah, uh, a couple of months after you left, actually." He touched his hair. "Good to see you again, Janet."
Finally, she turned to Sam Carter. The one-time love of her life. She saw there were tears in the blonde's eyes as they hugged, holding each other tightly. Janet pressed her hands against Sam's back, nestled her head in the blonde's throat and basically tried to refresh every memory she had of the blonde; how she felt, how she smelled, how she looked... She stepped back, blinking through tears as she looked at the team. "We have a lot to talk about," she said, speaking mostly to Sam.
"Yes, that we do," O'Neill agreed. "So... Deshret... you guys have any steak houses around these parts?"
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