Two months after Sam’s return from Fort Collins where she had helped Cassandra to control her resurfaced telekinetic abilities and had mended fences and hurt feelings over both of their decisions after Janet’s death, Sam was summoned to an emergency briefing. In a rare show of unity the International Oversight Committee and the Joint Chiefs had decided to destroy the time ship they had used to get the ZPM out of ancient Egypt.
The time ship would be brought to Abydos where a Stargate without a DHD was the only testament that the planet ever had been thriving with lif. Even the naqada deposits had been destroyed in Anubis’ attack; so there would be no possible chain reaction to worry about. SG-1 would blow the ship up, SG-9 would install the naqada generator to allow a manual dial-out and a representative of the IOC would observe everything.
Easy and straight forward. Sam’s impassive face didn’t betray the turmoil in her heart and head. The existence of the time ship had been her one hope to one day get Janet back; she just had to find a way to operate it without the Ancient’s gene – and she had already made great progress in that direction. So, from her point of view, the decision to destroy the ship had been the worst thing that could have happened. It forced her hand because suddenly it was now or never. And suddenly she would not be able to do it on her own.
Sam needed help, the help of General Jack O’Neill. So, just before sunset she rang his door bell.
“Carter, what brings you out of the mountain? Did your lab catch fire?”
“I need your help, Jack.”
“Come in. Would you like a beer, Sam?”
“No, Jack, but you might need something stronger than that.”
The commander of the SGC looked at the serious face of the leader of SG-1 and obediently poured himself a whiskey.
Sam waited until he had taken a seat on the couch. “Jack, I need your help to steal the time ship and bring Janet back.”
He jumped up. “Are you completely out of your mind, Carter?”
“No, Sir, but this might be my last chance to get her back. Ever since the time ship was towed off to Area51 I have waited for a chance to get my fingers on it. The interface that would allow me to fly the ship without the gene is almost ready, but now, now I’ll need your help.”
Jack stared at Sam as if she had just grown a second head and took a big gulp of his drink.
“So, you want me to fly this thing to the past and keep Janet from going to 666 or something?”
“No, Sir, as much as I would prefer it that way, no, too much of what has happened since her death would be changed. Losing Janet changed all of us, and if we take this loss out of the equation things might not happen as they did.”
“What exactly are you talking about?” Jack asked.
“Using the Ancient’s device at Dakkara to try to defeat the replicators was a suicide mission. With Janet still in the picture I actually might have cared if I survived or not and would have tried to find another way. With Janet alive I never would have agreed to this fool’s venture to fly the time ship as far back as ancient Egypt, Sir.”
Jack was surprised at her stark honesty. “Alright, I’m not saying I’ll do it but hypothetically speaking, what do you have in mind?”
“As the base commander you can assign yourself to fly the time ship to Abydos. I will go along to make sure the explosives are ready. The rest of SG-1 stays on Earth. We take the time ship to the past and bring it to P3X-666. Janet gets shot. We get her out. I use the healing device and bring her back. We return to our own time with Janet, just a second after we left, and no one will be the wiser.”
“And Janet’s body?” Jack asked.
“I took the recording Daniel made of the whole incident and tweaked it a bit. It now looks as if Janet ascended. We’ll only have to exchange the original tape with the new one and everything will be fine.” Sam said.
“Seems as if you thought of everything, Carter. What about the IOC representative?”
“Military regulations don’t allow civilians in the proximity of live explosives, Sir.”
“You know that we’ll probably get court-marshalled for this, right?”
“I have a contingency plan should it come to that, Sir,” Sam said softy.
“Which probably consists of you taking all the blame and ending up in Leavenworth.”
“Being locked up in a small cell can’t be harder than having to live with the knowledge that she’s dead, Jack.”
“Do you also have a plan on how to get the healing device out of the armoury without arousing suspicion?” He changed the subject to escape the raw pain in her eyes.
“We won’t have to. I made a short side trip to Hanka when SG-1 was baby-sitting the dig on M5Z-783. I found a healing device and a couple of other gadgets in a hidden compartment in Nirrti’s lab. I have been training how to use the healing device more effectively ever since.”
“How long have you been planning this, Carter?”
“Since the day after the memorial service, since Daniel convinced me not to resign my commission.”
“But we only found the time ship months later.” Jack objected.
“Yes, I know, Sir. The first few months I worked on developing a program to predict solar flares. The guys at NORAD are pretty excited about it but it’s only accurate in eighty percent of the cases. The time ship is the better option.” Sam said.
“Carter, you’re definitively too smart for your own good. Now, go home. I need my beauty sleep if I want to steal a time ship.”
“Yes, Sir, thank you, Sir.”
“Good night, Sam.”
Jack poured himself another two fingers of whiskey and tried not to think about everything that could go wrong with Sam’s plan.
But nothing went wrong: Wolsey, the IOC representative, reluctantly agreed to stay at the Gate with SG-9. Jack flew the time ship out of sight and brought them to the past. The internal Gate controls of the time ship let them gate to P3X-666. They cloaked the ship and waited for Janet to get shot. Jack zatted Daniel and Sam exchanged the video disk of his camera. They carried Janet to their cloaked ship and Sam began to treat her with the healing device and another strange looking contraption.
Both women soon were enveloped in a blinding light and Jack gated back to Abydos as soon as Anubis’s soldiers and Jaffa had been gone. When Janet opened her eyes after what seemed to him like hours Sam slumped to the deck of the ship, bleeding from her nose and ears. Janet immediately snapped into doctor mode.
“Colonel O’Neill, we have to get Sam to the infirmary. She needs oxygen and an MRI to discern if there’s any brain damage.”
Jack rose from his seat and dragged an enormous back pack out of a wall compartment. “Sorry, Doc, you will have to do with what we have on board. Sam said that you would find all you’ll need in there.”
Janet opened the back pack and found a portable EEG and a defib unit as well as a small oxygen tank and a mask. “She knew what I would need.” She whispered.
Janet hooked her lover up on the EEG and soon relaxed. “A normal rhythm. Blood pressure and breathing are also normal. For now we’ll wait until she wakes up on her own, and meanwhile you can tell me what happened. Last thing I heard from you was that you had been hit, and the last thing I remember is pain in my back and abdomen. I was hit, but I don’t feel any pain now. That’s what she did, right? She brought me back with the healing device. But how? She was too far away and with you out of commission, as your XO, Sam was in command.”
“In a nutshell: Yes, you were shot on 666 and were DOA in the Gate room. Carter tried to bring you back with the healing device but it was already too late. She spoke at your memorial service. Anubis is as dead as some half-ascended being can be. Carter and Selmac defeated the replicators, for good we hope. We found the lost city of Atlantis in a neighbouring galaxy and have an international team of scientists working there. Carter now is a Lieutenant Colonel; they made me Brigadier General and put me in charge of the SGC. General Hammond has still not retired but heads Homeworld Security in Washington. Cassandra is in Fort Collins at the CSU, studying physics. We found a ship that allows us to go back in time and we used it to bring you back. You see, nothing to it.”
Janet looked at him with disbelieving eyes and finally saw the shining star on his desert BDUs. “Are you sure that this is not an alternate reality, Co… General O’Neill?”
“As sure as I can be. That’s more Carter’s thing, you know.”
“How long?” Janet asked tonelessly without acting on his effort to make light of everything.
“Eleven months, twenty-two-days and sixteen hours.” Sam said after she had removed the oxygen mask. She stared at Janet and tentatively stretched out her hand as if unsure if her lover was real.
The small doctor sensed Sam’s insecurities and decided that her questions could wait. She opened her arms and Sam flew into her embrace like a frightened child.
Jack decided that it was time to check the perimeter on the deserted planet. Like the rest of SG-1 he had known about the true nature of their relationship. They had told him early on but the two women had always kept it very low key at the base. Yes, there had been rumours, not as many as about Sam and him, but they had been there.
Jack sat down in the nonexistent shade and leaned against the outer hull of the time ship. After Janet’s death Sam had completely retreated behind her professional mask. She had become more aloof and more focused on her work. With Cassy in Fort Collins she had rarely left the mountain, and if not for Daniel and Teal’c nagging her about it, she probably would have starved by now.
The rumour mill had taken her increasingly distant behaviour, added it to the gossip about Sam and Janet being lovers and came up with the opposite of the truth. They came to the conclusion that Sam could never be this aloof had she really lost a lover in Janet. If only they knew. SG-1 and a few others knew. They knew about her lack of sleep and the nightmares, saw it in her dull eyes and her forced smile.
But what he had seen the night before and just now in the ship had told him about the true extend of her feelings. She never before had allowed herself to show so much vulnerability. Jack didn’t know if he should admire her for her composure or curse her for not letting her friends, her family know. They might have been able to help. No, he immediately corrected himself, the only remedy for Sam’s pain was right behind him in the ship, Janet Fraiser, M. D.
“I missed you,” Sam whispered.
Wounded blue eyes looked up at the smaller woman holding her.
“I know you probably won’t understand, but without you…”
“The Co… General filled me in on the basics, but I don’t need to know what happened to see your pain, my love. I’m here, and I won’t leave you again.”
Janet’s gentle, reassuring words were too much to take and Sam burst into tears. She had thought that she was cried out after the intense talks she had had with Cassandra, but feeling Janet’s arms around her brought everything back.
Some part of Sam expected to wake up any moment and find that this feeling was nothing but a dream, just as it had been countless times before. But this time it was real.
Janet was back and as if she had read Sam’s mind she bent her head and kissed her. Janet’s soft lips pressing against her own and her tongue demanding entrance finally making it real.
“There’s so much I need to tell you, Jan. So much you need to know, and I fear when everything is said that you will never speak with me again.”
“I love you, Sam. Nothing you could have done in the months I was… gone could ever change that. My death apparently didn’t make you love me any less, and there’s nothing that could make me love you any less.” Janet said, keeping eye contact with Sam.
“I failed Cassy. I buried myself in the mountain. I didn’t stop her from leaving Colorado Springs for Fort Collins. I was not there when she needed me. She nearly failed the term when she searched comfort and acceptance with a gang of bikers. I failed your daughter, again.” Sam rushed out the words and didn’t dare to look Janet in the eyes.
“Look at me, Sam.” The blonde slowly raised her head and found only love and understanding in the brown orbs facing her. “I love you, Samantha Carter. I have from the first moment we met at the infirmary. We will help Cassy, together, and if she has to repeat a term, well, the world won’t end because of it.”
“Oh no, she won’t fail the term, it was close but Billie called me in time. We were able to clear the air and talked a lot. I smoothed the ruffled feathers of a few of her professors. I think she will be fine now, but that does not change the fact that I was too self-centred to help her with her pain.” Sam said.
“Oh, Sammy! You always were too hard on yourself. You lost as much as she did, baby, and you were not even allowed to show it, except to a few friends. Cassy is alright now, and together we will make sure that it stays that way.”
For a few moments they just enjoyed the feeling of the other’s body, then Janet asked, “How do we explain my sudden reappearance? I suppose using this ship was not exactly an official mission.”
“No, not really. As soon as we bring the ship back to our time, it will be destroyed. The powers that be decided that it’s too dangerous to use it and that its existence alone poses too great a temptation. This was my last chance and a temptation I couldn’t resist.
“If everything goes as it should the whole SGC will think that you ascended when the staff blast killed you. And we will tell everyone that you reappeared when the time ship exploded according to plan. If Daniel can ascend and descent more than once why shouldn’t you.”
“What could make them believe that I ascended, Sam? Did you let the Daniel of my present in on your plan?”
“No, that would have been too dangerous. Remember the recording he made of Airman Wells.”
“Of course, did he make it?” Janet asked.
“Yes, he did. You got him stabilised the moment before you got shot. He’s the proud father of a beautiful baby girl. He named her Janet.”
“Janet? He named her after me?”
“Yes, baby, he named her after the woman who saved his life and gave her own. Daniel’s recording also showed how you were shot. We exchanged his original tape against another one I doctored when we retrieved you. The new version shows your ascension.”
“So, everyone thinks I’m some kind of super-being? Won’t this also change their perception of my death?” Janet asked. Internally she was still struggling with the fact that everyone she loved had thought her dead for almost a year while to her it was only a few hours.
“Yes, it probably will, but you don’t have to fear that anyone will expect you to show any special abilities or something. Daniel doesn’t remember his time with the Ascended, with the Ancients; so, you can say that you don’t either. Ascension was the only answer I could find to explain the absence of your body, Janet, but though I tried to think everything through, there’s no way to tell what really changed by my interference until we’re back in our, in my time. We’ll have to play it by ear.”
“Alright, my love. Let’s call the … General O’Neill back, general, it will take some getting used to. I want you in my arms somewhere private as soon as possible.”
This scenario, however, turned out to be wishful thinking. Mister Wolsey looked at them with cold calculating eyes when the three of them returned to the Gate after Sam had blown up the time ship.
Back on the base Janet was spirited away to the infirmary for a complete physical. She feigned disorientation and had Sam stay at her side. The torn and bloody BDUs from the battle field were ample evidence that she really had been shot but her body showed no sign of a recent trauma. More than that, even her old scars were gone and her blood work was as close to perfect as humanly possible. In Doctor Warner’s eyes both points confirmed the ascension/de-ascension story.
“If it were up to me, Doctor Fraiser, you could get back to your old job immediately. I’m tired of training new CMOs who don’t stay on long enough for the name on their office door to dry.”
“Why didn’t you take the job?” Janet asked.
“I don’t want the headache. I’m a surgeon, but to deal with all of these whiny marines and cranky airmen without them being under anaesthesia, one has to have the fortitude of a circus director. No, I’ll happily let someone else be the CMO.”
“You said that there was more than one? It should not be this difficult to find someone with similar qualifications to mine.”
“Janet, gods, I’m happy that you’re back.” Daniel rushed through the door and engulfed the small doctor in a breathtaking bear hug. “I saw you get shot and then you were gone, and I feared that Anubis’ Jaffa had taken you, and then I saw the recording. Gods, I’m so glad that you are back.”
“It’s good to see you too, Daniel, but to me it is as if only a few hours have passed since I gated to P3X-666. So, I hope you didn’t keep my replacements too busy.”
“I did my best, Janet, but you know me. I won’t dread having to come here as much now that you’re back. And as for your replacements; they did their best but it was not enough for the SGC. The first one turned out to be an NID spy, the second had been in a lab all his life and panicked every time someone came in with something as simple as a flesh wound, and the third one resigned the day before yesterday, citing that she could not work in a madhouse such as the SGC. We all are really glad that you’re back, Janet.”
There was one exception to Daniel’s statement, Mister Wolsey, the IOC representative. He openly confronted them in the conference room and his accusations came very close to the truth. Jack, having just ended his phone call with the President, came in before either Janet or Sam had a chance to answer.
“I just talked to President Hayes. He welcomes you back among the living, Doc. Your records will be amended to missing-in-action. You’ll receive back-pay for the last year and will be promoted to Lieutenant Colonel, effective next week. That’s how long it takes to cut through all of the red tape. I assigned Colonel Carter to facilitate your return to life, consider yourself off-duty for the next ten days. Dismissed!”
Sam and Janet saluted their commanding officers and left. Both were relieved at not having to deal with the obnoxious man.
“Was there anything else you wanted, Mister Wolsey?” Jack asked with emphasis on the ‘mister’.
“I want the truth, General O’Neill.”
“Are you calling me a liar, Mister Wolsey?”
Despite his usual bravado the slightly smaller man physically backed away, but only for a moment.
“In my eyes it’s just too much of a coincidence that Doctor Fraiser reappeared out of nowhere just now. Just when one of her closest friends, namely you, and a woman who appears to be much more than just a friend, are alone with the time ship, and when said friend is one of the few people actually capable of flying the ship, Doctor Fraiser miraculously reappears. Yes, General, a little too convenient.
“Lieutenant Colonel Carter, despite her stellar career, and you, General, have a long history of doing things outside of the book. Is it so unreasonable to think that you both used this one chance to get a valued member of your team back?”
“You’re skating on very thin ice here, Wolsey. If either Colonel Carter or I would have entertained such an idea we would have run it by our Commander-in-Chief. After all Doctor Fraiser was and now again is an irreplaceable part of the SGC, as the track record of her many replacements should have shown you over the last months.
“So, put a lid on your overactive imagination. Doctor Fraiser died from a staff wound and ascended. Doctor Jackson recorded it and we all saw it in that damned documentary.”
“What we saw on that video could as well have been weapon’s fire from a staff weapon.” Wolsey objected. “Besides, what reasons could the ascended have to ascend Doctor Fraiser and then send her back less than a year later. It’s not logical.”
“They sent Doctor Jackson back twice, but I’ll make sure to tell him to ask Oma Desala should she decide to ascend him a third time. I don’t presume to understand what goes through the minds of some know-it-all energy beings. Perhaps they are more human than we give them credit for and sent Doctor Fraiser back because she is needed here on Earth. Perhaps they will let you ascend when you die, then you could ask them yourself, Mister Wolsey.” Jack said with a feral glint in his eyes the IOC representative was smart enough to take as a warning.
Six hours after their return from Abydos Sam drove Janet home.
“You kept the house?”
“I didn’t want Cassy to lose another home.” Sam answered. “It was hard enough that she lost you. So, I moved in and left my own house to Daniel and Teal’c.”
Sam opened the front door and guided Janet to the living room.
“Don’t get me wrong, Sam, but this room looks exactly like I left it, including the blanket on the couch.”
“I put the book you were reading on the shelf in your study.” Sam said with a slight blush. “It just hurt too much to change anything, especially with Cassy in Fort Collins. Without both of you the house was just too empty. I couldn’t stand it and fled to the base and my lab.”
With blank honesty she added. “I tried to pretend that nothing had changed, that you were just on an extended off-world mission but it didn’t work. The first night was the worst.
“After the wake SG-1 had been the last to leave. Cassy had fallen asleep on the couch and Teal’c had carried her upstairs and I tucked her in. Soon after the guys were gone I climbed the stairs to the bedroom. I even got into bed but my pretence didn’t work. The bed was too empty. As long as Cassy was with me I made believe. I retired to the bedroom but I either slept on the floor or in the chair by the window.”
“I tried to sleep.” Sam answered with a smile that didn’t reach her eyes and high-lighted the still lingering pain.
Janet closed her arms tight around the slim form of her partner. “It’s alright now, baby. I’m back and you no longer have to pretend. I love you, Sam.”
“I need you, Janet, I need you more than air to breathe. Without you the world was grey even on a bright sunny day; everything tasted bitter. With Cassy gone I came here once a week to clean and air the house, but there’s nothing in the fridge and I killed your plants and the garden is a…”
Janet silenced her beloved with a kiss.
“All of this is not important, Sam. Let me prove to you that I’m real. Take me to bed, Sammy.”
Sam was still nervous when she opened the door to the bedroom. “I changed the sheets three days ago, but we can remake the bed if you want to.”
“You regularly changed the sheets on a bed nobody used? Oh, baby, I’m sorry that you had to go through all of this. Let’s take a shower, my love, I need to feel your skin under my fingers.”
Sam only nodded and preceded Janet to the bathroom where Janet’s favourite shampoo, two fresh fluffy towels and two tooth brushes attested Sam’s inability to let go. They quickly undressed and under the shower Janet studied the taller woman’s body with doctor’s eyes.
“I know I lost a bit of weight, Jan. It’s nothing of consequence.”
“You’re nothing but skin, bones, and muscles, Sam. Muscles I don’t remember being this defined.” Janet said.
“Teal’c decided that I was in need of an outlet for my emotions and dragged me to the sparring ring once a day.” Sam answered with an embarrassed smile while she fiddled with the temperature setting.
“And you didn’t eat enough.”
“Daniel and Teal’c made sure that I didn’t starve. They either escorted me to the commissary or brought a plate and stayed until I had at least eaten half of it. They also made sure that I got enough rest.
“One night, I must have worked for about two days straight and had waved both of them off more than once, Teal’c decided that a more hands-on approach was warranted. Before I had a chance to react he had thrown me over his shoulder and carried me to my quarters. Daniel has it all on disk and whenever I refused to rest since then he threatens to put it on the base intranet.” Sam said with a real smile.
“It seems as if I’ll have to thank them for taking such good care of you. Bend down, I want to wash your hair.”
They stayed under the shower until it ran out of hot water and then climbed into bed. Sam was asleep with the smaller woman wrapped in her arms as soon as her head hit the pillow. Janet studied her with loving eyes before she turned off the light and joined her in sleep.
The next morning they made love with each other as if for the first time. Sam was relearning her lover’s body, comparing every detail to her memory as if to make sure that Janet was really herself. She probably would have studied her all day had Janet not had other ideas. There still was a modicum of fear and insecurity in Sam’s expression and Janet made it her mission to chase it away by reclaiming the blonde’s body, repeatedly. The raw need in Sam’s eyes slowly abated and by early afternoon they were back to the playfulness that always had made their relationship special.
Early afternoon they drove to Fort Collins to tell Cassandra that her mother was back. It was the first time that Sam encountered a difference to her original time line. Here Cassy had always been convinced that one day her mother would return. Sam had introduced her to Billie and her family right after she had decided to study at the CSU. Cassandra and Sammy had become good friends, haunting the mall together. The twins adored her as a new ready-for-almost-everything playmate. Cassy had never hung out with Rover’s gang of bikers and Sam had never revealed the secrets of the Cheyenne Mountain Complex to her friends. And though Billie and Will exchanged doubtful looks when they told them that Janet had only been MIA and had been in a coma for the last year without her caretakers knowing who she was, she still accepted the bogus explanation.
Sam looked at all of them sitting in Billie’s living room, talking as if nothing special had happened and a bright smile stole on her face. Finally, after endless months of misery all was right with her world. Janet sensed what her smile was for and gave her quick kiss on the temple.
End of Part II
To be continued in “When you feel longing, sing of women in love”
|Genres:||Established Relationship, Hurt/Comfort|
|Series:||Beauty Is Nothing But The Beginning Of Terror|
|Summary:||Sam gets a once in a lifetime change to bring her lover back.|