| Part 1 | Part 2 |
Christopher Plummer, Janet realized suddenly. Prime Scientist Veegor Draschak was a dead ringer for Christopher Plummer. He had the same perfect posture, the same patrician features, and the same courtly old world manners Plummer had had while playing Count Von Trapp in The Sound of Music. After several days of hearing every suggestive remark imaginable from his younger colleagues, his quiet, unintrusive manner was a welcome relief, especially in view of the turmoil left over from the previous night.
The meeting went smoothly, though it was considerably more low key than most they'd had. Apparently, even the Oneurisi were subject to hangover if they imbibed a sufficient volume of alcohol. Other than Teal'c and Draschak, who appeared to be somewhere in his early 70's and had appeared only briefly at the party with an attractive man his own age -- his partner by the look of things -- then disappeared for the night, she was probably the most chipper one at the table. By the time the meeting ended, it was quite clear that no one on either staff was going to be worth a damn for the rest of the day and both she and the Oneurisi Prime Scientist released them from their duties, though Janet suspected her people weren't the only ones due for a lecture later.
As the meeting room emptied, Janet rested her head in one hand, massaging her temple to assuage the tension headache throbbing there.
"Here," the Prime Scientist's warm voice surrounded her as a glass was held in her view. "You look like you could use this."
Janet eyed the glass suspiciously for a long moment. "Um, not to put too fine a point on it, but what is this?"
Veegor chuckled softly as he hitched his hip against the table next to her. "And here I thought you'd managed to resist the charm of the local wines."
Janet shrugged and offered a wry smile. "Oh, not wine," she muttered without looking up.
"Ah," the older man sighed understandingly. "There does seem to be rather an epidemic of that going around."
She was surprised to hear him sound mildly disapproving. It was the first time she'd heard an Oneurisi sound annoyed with some of the more colorful activities of the night before.
"Normally, my people really aren't quite so...." He paused to hunt for the right word before finally settling on, "voracious...but certain of your society's less desirable sexual mores have become known, and I think it's spurred them to a certain degree of outrageousness." He shrugged as if to say, 'Hey, they're young.' "They find your belief that love can be immoral quite...well...immoral," he added by way of explanation.
Janet kept massaging her temple. Well, that explained a lot. Ironic to learn that the Oneurisi disapproved of the Earther's sexual morals nearly as much as some earth leaders would have disapproved of the Oneurisi's.
"I will say that they have at least behaved themselves around that young penitent of yours."
"Penitent?" Janet repeated in confusion.
"Yes, the young blond. Major Carter, I believe? I gather one of the young men noticed her behavior early on and realized her sincere devotion. I know the staff has worked quite hard to make certain her needs have been met. They actually had to put considerable effort into finding a storage closet small enough to serve as her room...and several were quite worried that her mattress was far too comfortable."
Janet had to force down the urge to laugh hysterically. She didn't even want to know why they'd gotten that particular misconception, but all things considered it was too funny for words. "Oh, damn," she exhaled, then chose her words carefully. The Oneurisi were a much needed ally, and she had no desire to risk the compact, but at the same time she had to know something. "Can I ask you a question?"
"I'm a little worried about something I drank," Janet said softly. "That it may have been some kind of drug."
He frowned. "If that's the case, Doctor, I assure you it will be dealt with. That's totally unacceptable."
"I'm just afraid it was an aphrodisiac of some kind."
He shook his head. "I'm sorry, I don't know the term."
Not too surprising. Without the name of the goddess Aphrodite to serve as a base for the word, they probably had a different word. She explained in halting, embarrassed terms and saw his eyebrows lift.
"I've never seriously heard of a drug that can do that," he said after a beat. "Oh, there are a few that try to claim they can, but they don't work." He tapped the side of her head. "As a doctor you should understand the mind-body connection well enough to know that."
Janet sighed softly. He had a point. But.... She reached into the valise at her feet, drawing out the bottle she'd brought with her. There was writing on it, but it was in one of the local languages she couldn't read, so she was still in the dark. "Would you mind telling me what this is then?" she requested as she handed it to him.
He took a moment to read the label, then looked up. "Fruit juice," he said gently, sensing that the doe-eyed young woman in front of him was looking for a different answer. "It does have something of a stimulant effect ... and it can reduce inhibitions quite a bit ... particularly when mixed with alcohol." He saw her pale another shade and correctly read that she wasn't relieved by the news. "But I assure you, it's not an ... aphrodisiac."
"Are you certain?"
Veegor nodded. "Quite." He studied her carefully. "I'm afraid whatever you did...you did." He shrugged. "This might have given you the freedom to make choices you wouldn't otherwise, but any reactions or emotions were your own," he informed her gently, then frowned in confusion. "However, I was under the impression that your various pursuers weren't having any luck in the chase."
Janet shrugged, not answering the question and the elderly man frowned, struck by the sadness in her eyes. The thought that one of his people had put it there stiffened his spine. The rather mindless passion going on between any number of cross-world players was one thing, hurting someone quite another. "Tell me who played games with your emotions," he grated, "and I assure you, it's a mistake they will not repeat."
She looked up, startled by his assumption. "No...no, it's not like that. It's not even one of your people. It's...um...just something I'm going to have to figure out." She massaged her temple slowly. Well, she could definitely attest to the lowered inhibitions; starting with their little exit from the balcony, she and Sam had pretty much blown any inhibitions they'd ever possessed straight to hell.
Still peering at her curiously, he rested a hand lightly on her shoulder. "I gather there are difficulties?" he asked gently.
"You could say that." She pinched the bridge of her nose tightly. "It's complicated...very complicated...and I'm not sure how I feel right now," she murmured, wondering why she felt so safe dumping with this man. Maybe it was his totally non-judgmental air. "Realistically, the wisest thing I can probably do is forget that any of this happened." She sounded profoundly unhappy with the idea. "Any other path could do so much damage."
Veegor eyed the young woman in front of him sympathetically, saddened by what he knew of her world and the attitudes that went with it. "I know your world considers some love immoral," he said very softly, "But here, we believe the only immoral love is that which you deny."
Janet looked away, her tone uncertain when she finally spoke. "The problem is that I don't know that this is what you'd call love...it was somewhat more carnal in nature."
He tucked a hand under her chin drawing her head up until their eyes met, easily diagnosing her as someone for whom the two subjects were not so easily separated. "Funny thing about love," he offered by way of advice, "It has the most fascinating habit of appearing where and when you least expect it."
Janet sighed softly, sincerely hoping he was wrong. Because she had no idea what she was going to do if he wasn't.
* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *~ *
Jack O'Neill was feeling quite proud of himself. He'd found the closest thing to beer available on Oneuris. It was a little tangy for his tastes, but not half bad. Good enough to help him figure out what had been bothering him during the two days since the night of the big party. It was Carter and Fraiser; the two had always been good friends, hanging out together and using words with meanings he couldn't even begin to guess at, while generally being way too intellectual for his tastes, though he had to admit the image they presented whenever they were standing close enough at least gave him something to look while his brain wandered. But for two days, it had been like they couldn't stay far enough away from each other. During a day full of meetings, they'd sat as far apart as possible, avoided each other during breaks and meals, and hadn't even gone into even one of their little synergistic conversations where he found his eyes glazing over as they traded suggestions back and forth, getting more excited with every passing moment. Something was definitely up on that front.
As he watched, Fraiser appeared around a corner as if summoned by his musings, her hands moving animatedly as she talked with one of the Oneurisi scientists � a tall guy with perfect hair and bulging muscles, who didn't look like he could be much more than twenty-five. The guy was carrying a heavy case in each hand and didn't appear to be working up a sweat as he trailed after the doc, clearly hanging on her every word as they headed toward Fraiser's quarters. Remembering the visitor he knew she'd had the morning after the party, he couldn't restrain a smirk. Well, good for the doc. He hadn't even known of her to date since she'd joined the SGC. A randy affair with a younger man would be good for her.
He was still musing on Fraiser's sex life � probably in a somewhat more detailed fashion than was entirely appropriate � when Carter rounded a corner and came to a halt so fast she nearly left skidmarks when she got a look at Fraiser and her young flame. O'Neill's eyebrows rose as he saw Carter tense, a frown abruptly marring her expression, then she backed up several steps, hiding out of view, but where, from his vantage point, it looked like she could still watch the doc and the guy she was with.
Jack took another long slug of his drink as he carefully watched Carter watching Fraiser. So, that was the problem, he realized in a lurching moment of insight. Yep, he understood it all now. It was as plain as the nose on his face. He should've realized before.
They were fighting over a man.
Specifically, the big blond guy walking with Fraiser by the look of it. Jack's mouth pursed in disapproval. Looked a little too pretty to him, but then women went for that, judging by the following that Leonardo DiCaprio dork had. Fraiser and her guy disappeared around another corner and Carter stepped out of her hiding place, her expression twisted with what looked like jealousy to him. Probably saw Captain America there at the party and decided she wanted him, only to have Fraiser get there first. Actually, considering the Oneurisi, it was possible she'd even gotten there herself. Fidelity didn't seem to be a big concept on Oneuris and they definitely liked the more sensual pleasures. He smiled as he remembered his own experiences so far. He was still musing on the situation when Carter disappeared in the same direction as Fraiser. He was still considering the problem when Teal'c and Daniel suddenly showed up.
"Yo, Daniel...Teal'c," Jack murmured between swallows as he waved the two men over.
They came to a halt in front of Jack, Daniel with a quick response, "Yeah?" while Teal'c inclined his head ever so slightly.
"You wished something, Colonel O'Neill?"
"Have you noticed how Carter and Fraiser've been avoiding each other?" Jack questioned, still mulling over what he'd seen. He never noticed the cautious note that entered Daniel Jackson's voice or the way Teal'c raised an eyebrow.
"You think?" Daniel murmured while Teal'c simply stood silently watching.
"Well, yeah," Jack muttered sarcastically. "Sheez, Daniel, don't you pay any attention? The problem's obvious."
Daniel waved to the bartender to bring him a drink to gain time. "It is?" he exhaled when he looked back at Jack.
"I see no problem you need worry about, Colonel O'Neill," Teal'c added, his tone bland.
O'Neill nodded. "Plain as day," he insisted. "They've been freezing each other out the last coupla days...every since the party the other night--"
"I really haven't noticed--" Daniel started to say, his tone faintly nauseous, but Jack didn't notice. The colonel was too involved in his own thoughts.
"Before that, they were close as two peas in a pod."
Daniel grabbed the drink the bartender brought and took a long swallow, frowning as he found it totally devoid of alcohol. Well, damn. He had a funny feeling he was going to wish it was something stronger. A lot stronger.
Even Teal'c looked a little tense. Not that Daniel or Jack noticed. They were both too involved in their own thoughts.
"Always working together and hanging out...but during the last coupla days of meetings, you can hardly even shove 'em into the same room together...."
"Really?" Daniel said faintly.
"Really," Jack confirmed. "And I finally figured it all out."
The Jaffa's eyebrow lifted another notch, but said nothing, since nothing seemed the best choice at that moment.
Daniel, meanwhile, found himself wondering if it was too late to order something stronger. He glanced at Jack. If he'd figured it out, something stronger was going to be a necessity. "You did?" he croaked.
Jack had another swallow of his drink. "Mmm...it's some guy...kinda girly lookin' blond the doc's hanging with."
"Huh?" Daniel couldn't think of any other response.
Teal'c eyebrow proceeded to get absolutely as high on his forehead as was possible, even for the Jaffa.
"Yeah, that has to be it," Jack explained patiently. "The doc hooked up with somebody the night of the party. I know all about it."
"You ... do?" Daniel was really getting confused, because either he had some details very confused or Jack did because he was comfortably certain there hadn't been any girly looking blond guy in Fraiser's bed that morning.
"Yeah, I stopped by her room for some...um...medical advice the next morning, and she had some guy there. Real nervous type. And then just now, she was with some blond guy -- big studly, beach bum type...my guess is it's the same guy. They were headed toward her room."
"And you think Sam was also interested in this...guy?" Daniel tried not to let his voice crack on the last word, he really did, but he was far from certain he managed the trick. Luckily, Jack was far too involved in his end of the discussion to notice.
"Well, yeah," Jack muttered as though it was completely obvious. "Carter came around the corner 'n' saw the two of 'em together," he shook his head in disapproval, "lost all color and looked like she'd lost her puppy." His mouth twisted. He couldn't believe two women as sensible as Carter and Fraiser were fighting over a guy, especially one who looked like he belonged in one of those boy bands Cassie was always mooning over. "See, what I figure happened is that Carter was attracted to the same guy � and we both know how open she isn't with her emotions." His mouth pursed unhappily. He'd had a few thoughts about hooking up with his second in command at some point, only to realize that she was even more emotionally stunted than he was � no small feat. "So, she's interested in this guy, but he winds up with the doc. Next thing you know...voila...chick fight."
Teal'c simply frowned. Obviously, there were still Tau'ri words and concepts he did not comprehend, since he failed to understand what a fight between domesticated baby fowl could possibly have to do with the situation between Carter and Fraiser.
Daniel just stared at the colonel for a long moment. And he thought he hadn't known what to say before. He took a long drag on his drink to gain some space to process Jack's words. "Chick fight?" he croaked at last.
"Well, not literally, of course," Jack allowed, sounding disappointed. Throw a little mud and a couple of bikinis on that thought and it could definitely make a pleasant diversion on a lonely evening. He shook off that thought, concentrating on the problem at hand. "But, y'know, a totally nonviolent, fair and unbiased, politically correct sort of chick fight."
"Right," Daniel exhaled, struggling against the image that appeared in his head. Somehow, he didn't think politically correct mud-wrestling was even possible. Not that Jack had mentioned mud-wrestling or anything like that, but...well...after several years in O'Neill's company, he knew how the man thought.
"So the question is," Jack said decisively, "What are we gonna do about it?"
Daniel Jackson's eyebrows rose, and he had to snapped his mouth closed when it occurred to him that his jaw was hanging open. Do? About? It? Run away? Hide his head in the sand? Close his eyes, stick his fingers in his ears and chant, "Oom shanti rama," at the top of his voice? "I...um...I really think we should stay out of this one, Jack," he muttered at last, staring at his drink as if he'd be happier if he could just climb in.
"I concur," Teal'c spoke softly, his deep voice low and insistent. "Nothing will be achieved by careless interference."
O'Neill shook his head sharply. "No way. It screws up the whole chemistry of the team if they're not doing their voodoo science stuff." Besides, if their friendship stayed in the icy zone, his fantasy life was going to get a whole hell of a lot less interesting real fast. He might actually have to start paying attention at meetings. "We gotta do something."
Daniel found himself dreading what Jack O'Neill would come up with to 'do.' He really doubted it boded well for any of them. And if Carter or Fraiser found out he'd been involved, they wouldn't even be able to identify what few body parts were left when they got through with him. He shuddered in stark terror at the thought. "No, Jack," he said in a small, but insistent voice, "we really don't."
"Dr. Jackson is correct," Teal'c agreed. "Neither Major Carter nor Doctor Fraiser is likely to appreciate any interference in their..." Teal'c paused for no more than a heartbeat before continuing, "relationship."
"Don't be such a coupla wimps," Jack complained and took another long swallow of beer. "What's the worst they can do to you?"
Considering their respective skills, that was a question that did not bear answering as far as Daniel Jackson was concerned. He had no desire whatsoever to find out what they could come up with when it came to revenge, since he had a very bad feeling it would be creative. "Leave it alone, Jack," was his only verbal response.
"Sorry," O'Neill apologized insincerely, "no can do. Somebody's gotta fix this mess."
Anybody, but you, Daniel couldn't help but think, unaware that Teal'c was having almost exactly the same thought.
Jack set down his drink. "And, obviously, it's gonna have to be me," he decided out loud as he rose. "It's time somebody just sat those two down and gave 'em a good talking to. Tell 'em their friendship's not worth throwing away over some guy." However, he had one or two concerns he needed to attend to first. "After I hit the restroom. Whatever this is, it's going right through me."
As Jack wandered off, Daniel reached up to massage his temple, then glanced over at Teal'c, who was frowning � though, admittedly, it was hard to tell with Teal'c. The Jaffa looked over at Daniel, his expression subtly worried, and suddenly it struck Daniel. The look in his eyes wasn't questioning; there was knowledge there. "You know," he exhaled after a beat.
Teal'c's frown deepened and he knew instantly what Daniel was referring to by the sound of his voice. "You are aware as well," he said softly, "that Major Carter's and Doctor Fraiser's relationship has ... changed."
"Mmm, yeah, changed," Daniel muttered, thinking that hardly began to cover it. "That's one way of putting it."
Teal'c turned to stare in the direction he'd last seen Jack. "He is right. They have been distant since."
"Yeah, and if Jack helps, they'll probably wind up losing their careers and killing each other and everyone else for miles around." Diplomacy wasn't Jack O'Neill's strong suit.
"Agreed," Teal'c said grimly. "Perhaps we should attempt to stop him."
Daniel lost what little color had remained in his cheeks. "Jack can be very determined when he wants to be," he muttered unhappily as he searched for something that might dissuade the colonel from a chosen path. Chances were they'd just wind up in the line of fire.
"Indeed," Teal'c admitted after a beat. "I fear this will be one of those times."
"Maybe we should just run away ... deny we know anything," Daniel agreed, "because if we get involved, they're gonna kill us."
"And I suspect it will be quite painful," Teal'c observed, completely deadpan.
* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *~ *
Janet Fraiser studied, Andrelus Corvin, the young scientist who'd volunteered to carry the heavy cases back to her quarters for her with a raised brow, leaving the front door open in the hopes of curbing any amorous intentions he might have. Not that she was in any way intimidated. He was actually a rather sweet boy, and Veegor had approved his voluntary act when it was obvious that the cases were a bit much for her, but she preferred to avoid embarrassing either of them. She'd already had enough embarrassment on this trip to last several years.
"You should get one of your people to help you when it's time to leave," he pointed out helpfully and offered a shy smile.
"Don't worry. I'm sure I can get a marine to lend a strong back," she assured him.
He nodded, but showed no sign of moving toward the door. Janet sighed softly and folded her arms across her chest, bracing herself to offer yet another gentle let-down. She was getting good at them. He drew a deep breath, nerving himself up to speak. "Actually, I have to admit," he began haltingly, "that I didn't offer to carry your things just to be nice." He shrugged a muscular shoulder. "I was also hoping to speak to you privately."
"I was afraid of that," Janet sighed. "And I'm sure you're very sweet, but I'm really not interested in getting involved with anyone right now." She'd found the letdowns went more easily if she just cut straight to the chase.
He looked up, brows drawing together in a frown. "You're not.... Oh, you thought I meant.... No," he said after a moment of confusion. He offered an embarrassed smile. Now, he was the one with the expression that went with letting someone down gently. "You're a very attractive woman, I'm sure," he said quickly, though he didn't sound entirely certain. "But not really my type." He appeared worried she might take his refusal as an insult.
"Oh." Janet really didn't know what else to say. Open mouth, insert foot, shove hard. She sighed heavily. She'd been doing a lot of that lately. "Then what?"
He looked down at his clasped hands. "Actually, I was going to ask if you could introduce me to one of your colleagues ... Colonel O'Neill," he clarified at her blank look.
Janet just stared for a beat. "C-Colonel O'Neill?" she croaked at last, her voice lifting in question. She definitely hadn't seen that one coming. She should have, she supposed. After all, both genders on Oneuris seemed to be quite comfortably bisexual as far as she could tell, but ... well ... Jack O'Neill. No, she definitely hadn't let her brain go there. That was just a scary visual place.
The young man nodded. "I find him very attractive and I was just wondering...." He trailed off nervously.
Janet could feel her brain threatening to implode at the mere thought of setting up this very nice young man with Jack O'Neill. Oh, that would not be good. "I really...I don't...I don't think that would be a good idea," she got out at last as an image of O'Neill having a massive myocardial infarction ran through her brain. No, not good at all.
Andrelus' face fell. "Oh ... well, I guess, I can understand ... he's obviously a very intelligent and powerful man ... and I'm just a junior researcher--"
"It's not that," Janet assured him quickly as she drew closer and rested a hand lightly on his upper arm. "It's just that Colonel O'Neill is ... well, he's ... it's hard to...." She looked up at the slightly flummoxed, hopeful look on the young man's face, correctly diagnosing a nasty crush. Apparently, he was one of the few Oneurisi who hadn't heard about Earth's sexual mores, or maybe he had, and was hoping they wouldn't apply to true love. "You're a very sweet man," she said at last. She slid her hand down to catch his in a loose hold. "But Colonel O'Neill is ... well, you're just not really his type."
"Is it because of my age?" he asked sincerely. "I know I'm much younger, but I thought--"
"No...no, that's the least of it," Janet murmured, wondering distantly how she got herself into these things. "It's just that--"
"Not good looking enough?"
Janet's eyes ran over Andrelus' six foot frame, taking in broad shoulders, a narrow waist, glistening blond hair, a square jaw, and brilliant blue eyes. "No. You're a very handsome man--" she began after a long beat.
Someone gasped behind them and Janet spun just in time to catch a flash of someone disappearing out the front door. "Oh, damn," she hissed and had a sudden burst of intuition about who had overhead her last words. She ran to the door and stuck her head out just in time to catch a glimpse of Sam Carter before she disappeared around the end of the building.
"Doctor...Colonel O'Neill?" Andrelus called after her, clearly confused.
She ran a hand through her hair. No more time for subtlety. "The colonel only dates women. Sorry, gotta go," Janet responded before taking off at a jog. Dammit, Sam must have thought.... She didn't finish the thought as it occurred to her that she'd been standing there telling a large, good looking man how handsome he was while holding his hand. Who could really blame her for thinking what she'd probably thought. Janet redoubled her speed, but Sam had disappeared by the time she rounded the edge of the building. She cursed softly as she came to a halt. The path led in a dozen different directions and she had no idea which way Carter might have gone. She grabbed a passing porter by the sleeve, quickly demanding, "Do you know where Major Carter's room is?"
He looked at her blank-eyed, apparently not recognizing the name. "I'm sorry, I don't know--"
"The religious penitent ... short blond hair, very pretty. I think they put her in what's usually a storage room--"
"Oh, her." The porter pointed toward the nearest building. "Quite fervent in her beliefs, I understand--"
"Yes, yes," Janet snapped impatiently before prompting, "Her room?"
"Around the corner, third door to the right. The number on the door is One-seventy-five."
"Thank you," the doctor clipped and hurried off.
She found Sam's room easily enough. The door was locked and there was no answer when she knocked. Feeling foolish, she pressed her ear against the door, listening for a moment until she was certain she could hear a faint rustling inside. She knocked again, calling out, "Sam ... Sam, I know you're in there." She glanced around, making sure there were no SGC personnel anywhere close. "And I'm not going anywhere until you let me in." She knocked again, hard enough to leave her knuckles bruised. "Dammit, Sam, we need to talk--"
The door whipped open and she found herself face to face with a flushed Carter. "I don't want to talk to you," the major clipped angrily and slammed the door again before Janet could say a word.
Janet hammered on the wooden door again. "Sam, I meant it when I said I'm not going anywhere." She glanced around herself again, noting a member of her staff somewhere in the distance. "And chances are, sooner or later, somebody's going to notice and ask why I'm screaming like a maniac outside your door. Do you really want me to answer that question."
A moment passed, and then she heard Sam's voice, muffled through the thick door. "You wouldn't."
"Try me," Fraiser shot back, glancing over and noting her staff member ambling her general direction. She wondered if she'd really have the courage.
The door swept open again. "Get in," Sam ordered angrily and stepped back to allow Janet to enter.
Fraiser banged her knees against the bed and nearly stumbled as she stepped into the narrow walkway next to the mattress in order to shut the door behind herself. Sam really hadn't been kidding when she said the room wasn't much larger than her bed. She estimated just over a foot of room on two sides of the bed was all that existed in the way of free floor space. "Sam--" she started to speak, but Carter spoke first, her tone icy.
"Don't bother. I got the message loud and clear. You're straight...he's gorgeous. The other night was a mistake. I'm sure you'll have a wonderful time together. Now, if you don't mind, I need a shower." She spun away, intent on fleeing for the bathroom, though moving quickly proved something of a challenge in light of the fact she had to climb over either her duffel bag or the foot of the bed to get there.
"All things considered, I'm not sure straight's the right term for me, and I'm more than certain it's not the right one for Andrelus � that's the gorgeous young man you saw in my room." The words were out of Janet's mouth before she even knew what she was going to say.
Sam froze poised atop the lumpy mattress.
Janet took a deep breath and let it out in vague hopes of releasing some of her nervousness. They'd already let this conversation wait longer than they should have, and she had absolutely no idea what she was going to say. If she was smart, she'd use Sam's misunderstanding to get out of an entanglement that could only complicate both of their lives. But she couldn't do it. "I was just trying to tell him--"
"How handsome he is," Sam bit out, her anger slipping past the cold mask. "I heard."
"Yes...but not because I'm interested. He was asking if I'd set him up with someone, and I was trying to let him down easily."
"Yeah, right," Carter muttered doubtfully without looking back, though she made no further effort to flee.
"It was Colonel O'Neill," Janet said flatly.
Sam twisted to stare at Janet in open mouthed shock and lost her balance, promptly tipping onto the bed and landing in an ungainly sprawl.
"Well, at least that got your attention," the doctor observed dryly.
Carter frowned. "Did you say Colonel O'Neill?" her voice cracked in the middle of her commanding officer's name.
Janet nodded. "Andrelus has quite a crush. He was hoping I'd introduce him--"
"You didn't actually agree to that, did you? Because the colonel'd blow a gasket if you--"
"Of course not," Janet assured her instantly. "In fact, I was just explaining to him why that wasn't a good idea when I realized you'd overheard part of it."
Sam looked uncomfortable, not quite knowing what to say, and still uncertain whether or not to let go of the jealousy she shouldn't even be allowing herself to feel. "So, you're not interested in that guy?" she questioned hesitantly as she pushed up on her hands.
Janet felt her heart clench at the overwhelmed, vulnerable look on her friend's face. She'd been planning this little chat for two days, telling herself firmly how it had to be. They had to agree that, as pleasant as things had been, it couldn't happen again. It had just been sex; good sex � actually, fantastic sex � but just sex. They had to go back to just being friends. Only now that she was standing there looking at Sam, instead of anywhere else, nothing was so simple. There were emotions; lots of them. None of them simple or easy, and there was no way she could lie to make it easier. It just wasn't in her. "Not even a little," she admitted honestly and saw Sam sigh with relief.
The blond thrust to her feet, straightening her shoulders as she struggled to remember the situation and put a bland mask in place. She folded her arms stiffly across her chest. "Well, that's good," she muttered tightly. "You'd just get hurt in the end if you..." she stumbled verbally for just a moment, then continued unsteadily, "if you had an affair with some local guy."
"Well, it's really not an issue." Janet sighed softly. She didn't know what to say or do, but she seemed to be in better shape than Sam. "I've only had one affair here." Her look was pointed and Carter flushed. "What do you want me to do?" she questioned at last. "Over the last two days, I've gone over everything in my head ... and, logically, I know that we should just forget what happened." Her heart clenched again and she saw a flinch ripple through Sam's lean frame. "But I don't know if that's what I want to happen ... but I also know how hard anything else would be ... I guess what I'm trying to say is that whatever you want ... I'll go along with it." She swallowed hard in an effort to break the cramp-like tightness in her throat. "It's up to you." She wouldn't push for something Sam didn't want, and wasn't sure she could walk away if Sam was interested in pursuing a relationship.
Sam looked away. "It can't happen. You know that," she said haltingly. She was just trying to be realistic and not let her emotions get involved, because if they did.... If her emotions got involved, there'd be no going back. She'd figured that much out. What she wasn't quite as sure about was how she was supposed to do about how involved her emotions already were.
Janet let out the breath she hadn't been aware of holding. "Yeah ... I guess I do." She sighed sadly, amazed by the sense of loss that washed through her. She started to turn away, only to turn back, staring at Sam's slouched shoulders and sad expression with a look of profound regret. The major was clearly ashamed and castigating herself for what had happened. Despite the hurt it caused her, Janet offered what little comfort she could. "If it makes you feel better," she sighed, "that bottle of juice we drank, it was apparently some kind of aphrodisiac, so you can let yourself off the hook." She moved to leave and even had her hand on the doorknob when Sam's voice froze her in place.
"No, it wasn't," the blond said softly before she could think better of it.
Janet's head came back around, her dark eyes luminous. "What?"
"It wasn't an aphrodisiac," Sam said quietly, and Janet swallowed hard at the look in her eyes. "I asked ... it was a mild stimulant and mood enhancer, but that's all." She pinned a hard gaze on the doctor, silently searching her expression. "But then you already knew that, didn't you?" she muttered as an afterthought. Sam ran a hand through her hair, scraping her bangs back from her face. "I guess it would be simpler if it were more than that," she sighed. "But we both know it's not."
"I just thought maybe it would be easier if you thought...." Janet didn't bother to finish the sentence. There really wasn't much to say. She looked down at her hand where it rested on the doorknob. "The last couple of days ... I've missed you ... and ... I don't want to lose our friendship."
"You couldn't," Sam assured her quietly, but Janet was too caught up in her own emotions to see the raw pain in the other woman's eyes.
"I should go now," Janet choked and blindly turned to leave, not wanting Sam to see the tears that were suddenly threatening to spill onto gently rounded cheeks. This was for the best and she knew it, but dammit, it wasn't supposed to hurt so much.
"Janet, wait," Sam said quickly and Fraiser froze in place. Carter stood paralyzed, with no idea what she was supposed to say, only that she couldn't let Janet leave when she was obviously in so much pain. It didn't occur to her that she was hurting just as much and that the cause was much the same. She didn't intend to move, certainly didn't intend to wrap her arms around her friend from behind. But then she'd been doing a lot of things she didn't mean to of late, and the smaller woman felt so right ensconced in her hold. The doctor turned to face Sam, wrapping arms around the taller woman's waist and burying her face in her shoulder. Carter sighed softly and just held on, resting her cheek against dark auburn silk. "You know all of the reasons this is a bad idea," she whispered near Janet's ear, her breath ruffling baby fine hair. Even knowing she should run away as fast as possible, she couldn't ignore the way her heart was pounding in response to their close proximity.
"I know," Janet whispered, her voice muffled against Sam's shoulder. "I'm just not sure I care," she admitted, still holding on tight. "But I'll abide by whatever you want."
Sam ran a gentle hand over the doctor's hair, sifting through the delicate strands, the rhythmic stroke a comfort to both of them. She pressed a soft kiss to the other woman's head, murmuring into her hair, "What if I want all the wrong things?"
Janet nuzzled into the curve of Sam's throat. "I don't know," she admitted huskily.
Sam curved long fingers along Janet's jaw, drawing her head up until their eyes met. Her look was searching as she gently stroked the smaller woman's cheek. "I don't know what to say or do," she admitted after a long moment. She'd never been any good at emotional situations. No wonder it had taken several days in hormone central, plus the equivalent of a couple of shots of whiskey with a Gatorade chaser to get her out of her shell. And now a part of her just wanted to crawl right back in, except there was also the part that had gotten out and was enjoying the freedom. And it was a holy mess of a fight between them.
Janet reached up to stroke the line of Sam's jaw. "Then maybe you should just do what feels right."
Sam couldn't contain a tiny sigh. "That's the most dangerous idea of all."
"Oh, Sam," Janet breathed, leaning into her body as she trailed her fingers up the blonde's cheek. She was just reaching to brush back silky bangs when she suddenly felt herself unbalance slightly in the narrow space and tried to adjust for the shift in weight. Unfortunately, her calf ran into the edge of the bed and suddenly, she was even more unbalanced. Janet instinctively flung her arms around Sam's neck to try and catch herself as she started to topple.
Sam experienced a brief thrill as Janet grabbed at her, but she couldn't get her feet braced more firmly in time, and suddenly, she felt gravity yanking her forward. A moment of freefall and then she heard a woof of air as she landed on something warm and yielding ... and very breathless.
"Elbow," Janet gasped as she shoved at Sam's arm, struggling to remove it from where it was planted in her solar plexus.
"Sorry," Sam apologized instantly and pushed up on her other hand, while Janet rolled onto her side, wheezing and gasping for air. "You okay?"
The change in position put Janet half under Sam, her back and shoulder pressed against the taller woman's chest, while Sam's arms were braced against the mattress on either side of her body, and one leg was thrown across Janet's thighs. "Just a little winded," Fraiser panted, then frowned as she became aware of the lumpy mattress underneath her. "Dear God, have you actually been sleeping on this?" she groaned between heaving breaths. It was hard to decide which was worse, the wheezing inability to breathe or the way her body was torqued by what felt like a random collection of cement chunks and scrap metal underneath her.
Sam shrugged, a hint of a smile pulling at her mouth. Janet couldn't be too badly hurt if she was noticing the mattress. Her fingers pressed against the solid lump. Then again.... "Sort of," she admitted.
"Ow," Janet groaned, her breath still coming in rough gasps. "This is awful."
Very aware of the warm curves sprawled against her own, Sam found herself inclined to disagree. "It's not so bad," she muttered distantly, the temptation to touch making her ears ring. She knew she should move away, but she found herself settling in instead, her body sinking against Janet's back, her arm still draped around the smaller woman. "In fact, at the moment, it feels pretty good," she husked, her voice ragged with need.
Her breathing still uneven, Janet nonetheless heard the note of desire in Sam's voice and felt her body react, heat radiating outward from her center. "Sam?"
"Mmm?" Carter groaned, her head swimming as she flashed on a scene from the night they'd spent together, remembering the sensitive erogenous zone she'd found at the base of Janet's neck, right where it curved into her shoulder ... only inches from where her mouth was poised at the very moment. She swallowed hard as she resisted the temptation to find out if the other woman was as responsive to those caresses as she remembered.
Janet turned her head until their gazes locked and held. "Sam?" she whispered again.
Sam didn't know what to say or do. She knew what she wanted to say and do, but that was completely different from the whole should argument. "Janet," she breathed and lifted her hand from its braced position on the bed to tenderly stroke Janet's cheek, once again struck by the softness of her skin. Memories of their night together making her body weak with want, she could feel her heart hammering in her chest, the temptation to find out if the connection between them had been as incredible as her memories would indicate overpowering any kind of common sense. Sam saw the heat and awareness flare in Janet's eyes with a hunger to match her own and leaned across her, even as the smaller woman arched upward. Their lips met halfway, shaping and moving together in a flow of warm velvet. Janet's breathing had slowed to something approaching normal, but it quickly accelerated along with her pulse as Sam's tongue stroked her lips, then pressed inside. Their mouths dueled in a leisurely kiss while Sam's hand floated over soft curves, randomly caressing and relearning the shape and feel of her friend's body.
Minutes passed as they traded heady kisses, passion thickening the blood in their veins and driving both woman to strain closer. With Sam's knee sprawled across thighs and their mouths bonded, Janet gradually turned into Sam's body, sinking into the mattress.
And let out a dull cry. "What the hell?" Fraiser gasped as she broke the heady kiss, rolling her shoulder up from the mattress.
"Wha'?" Sam groaned dazedly, flushed and breathing hard, her pupils dilated by passion.
"I think it's a mattress spring," Janet growled in frustration as she twisted, trying to get a look, while Sam pushed up on a hand.
"Probably, " Carter admitted on a tortured groan. "There are a few of 'em."
"I can't believe you've actually been sleeping on this bed," Janet muttered, concentrating on the immediate problem in an effort to avoid the larger one for a moment. With the mood broken, some small measure of sanity had returned, leaving them both questioning all of the same things they'd been questioning several minutes before.
"Sleep is a relative term," Sam sighed. "Truthfully, I've mostly been lying awake or tossing and turning--" And not because of the bed either, though she was reminded that it hadn't exactly helped her slide off into dreamland as her thigh hit a particularly cement-like lump.
"You too, huh?" Janet sighed. She shifted her upper body enough that she could relax into the mattress and not come down on the bedspring, though there were still assorted lumps pressing against her back and hips. She'd have to assure Veegor that the staff had found a mattress more than uncomfortable enough to guarantee any penitent a spot in heaven. Of course, that would involve explaining how she knew that, so maybe not.
Sam shifted to lie on her side next to Janet, careful to avoid the worst of the lumps and sprung bedsprings that she'd already mapped out mentally, her head resting on one hand, while she started to rest the other on Janet's midsection, only to change her mind and let it hang loosely in the narrow strip of space between their bodies. Both women were silent for a long moment as they lay studying each other, searching for answers that didn't come easily. No more excuses of diminished capacity, alcohol, drugs, or even passion. It was just the two of them. "Are we doing this?" she asked at last.
Janet reached out to wrap delicate fingers around Sam's hand where it hung between them, massaging the other woman's palm lightly with the pad of her thumb. "I think so," she admitted breathlessly, well aware of the way her body still vibrated with sensual awareness.
Sam nodded slowly, silently accepting that she couldn't run away from this. For the first time in a long time, the thought of losing someone was worse than the risks, both practical and emotional, of following through on the relationship. Janet's hand was still twined with hers and she lifted it to press light kisses across her knuckles. More time passed as they lay there, content to simply be together for a little while and not worry about anything beyond the moment. "Scared?" Sam questioned at last.
"To death," Janet admitted. "You?"
"Oh yeah." Sam pressed more delicate kisses onto Janet's knuckles. "But only in the very best way." Then she leaned across Janet, finding her mouth in a kiss that was more sweet than passionate, at least when it began. Gradually, their mouths warmed, molding together and moving in unsteady strokes. Tongues met and tangled, then backed off again, before pressing deeper once more.
Janet hooked her free hand into Sam's collar, tugging her closer and deepening the kiss, exploring her mouth with hungry sweeps of her tongue, finding the textures of warm silk, sharp teeth, and sandpaper roughness.
Caught up in the mating of their mouths, Sam arched over Janet, working on instinct as she eased her knee between slim thighs, pressing slowly. She drank in the soft groans the sweet caress brought, moving more firmly as her blood heated, flowing like melted lead through her veins.
"Oh, Sam," Janet groaned through the meeting of their mouths, while she trailed tapered fingers down Sam's chest, gently stroking the outer curve of a rounded breast. Then the timbre of her voice changed. "Ow...Sam!"
Carter pushed up on her hands, groaning low in her throat. "Not again," she moaned desperately as she felt Janet push up on her elbows and glare over her shoulder at the mattress.
"Again," Fraiser hissed in a voice thick with dislike. She was fast developing a real hatred for the lump and spring ridden mattress. "This isn't working."
"Believe me, I noticed," Sam whimpered and rested her forehead against Janet's shoulder.
Janet couldn't restrain a smile as she pressed her cheek against the top of Sam's head. "The good news is that I have a perfectly good bed just a couple of buildings over," she reminded her.
Sam pushed back on her hands, frowning as she stared deeply into dark brown eyes. "And just what is the story with that?" she demanded wryly. "Why did you get the Taj Mahal while I'm stuck in Joe's thirty cent a night flophouse?"
"Raw charm," Janet answered lightly and Sam's gaze sharpened.
"Okay, so who's trying to get inside your uniform?" she demanded, a possessive light flaring in her eyes.
Janet chuckled and shook. "Well, aside from nearly everyone I've met on this planet..." she teased, her grin broadening a notch at the stormy glower on Sam's face, "no one. Actually, my quarters are pretty spartan compared to what some people got--"
"Excuse me," Sam muttered and gestured to her surroundings. "This is spartan--"
Janet couldn't help it, she giggled despite her best intentions. "Actually, this room was probably the most effort for the staff of all of them."
Sam's face fell. "So, who'd I piss off?" she grumbled, trailing off as Janet pressed light fingers over her lips.
"No one," the doctor explained, her mouth still quirked in an elfin grin. "Apparently, someone decided you're some kind of religious penitent...hence the rather monastic quality of your quarters...according to Veegor, they were quite concerned that your mattress might be too comfortable to guarantee you a spot in heaven."
Sam just stared at Janet for a long moment, assessing whether or not she was getting the real story. "They needn't have worried," she drawled after a beat. "Are you serious?" she asked after another moment passed.
Her smile a little embarrassed now, Janet nodded. "Yeah...I found out a couple of days ago...after we...well...after...and I probably should have to told you--" she babbled in halting syllables, feeling profoundly guilty that she'd left Sam sleeping uncomfortably when she could have done something about it, but...honestly...it had never occurred to her that Carter's accommodations were this bad.
"But we weren't exactly talking much at the time," Sam filled in.
"Something like that," Janet confirmed.
"So, they think I'm some kind of nun or something?" Sam groaned. Well, that explained why she was the only one on the mission who hadn't even gotten any offers. Not that she wanted to find herself fending off anyone and everyone, but...well...not even getting asked had been starting to dent her ego a bit.
Janet shrugged a slim shoulder. "Apparently, your preference for working late in the lab rather than mingling over drinks with either sex was remarked upon. I gather Jack may have also made a few comments that added to the impression--"
"He's so helpful, that way," Sam grumbled. Somehow, the notion that everyone thought she was some sort of monk grated on her nerves. Maybe it was the way Janet's eyes were sparkling with humor over the idea.
A tapered finger lifted to stroke the arch of Sam's brow. "I dunno, I think I owe him a note of gratitude. If they thought you were on the market, I'd never have fought my way through a crowd of six foot tall Oneurisi all on the make."
Sam snorted. "Somehow, I doubt there would have been that much competition."
Janet's brows lifted in polite disbelief. "You really don't have a clue, do you," she murmured thoughtfully and combed her fingers loosely through the hair at Sam's temple, "just how beautiful you are?"
"Yeah, right," Sam mumbled, flushing with embarrassment.
"Yeah ... right," Janet said, turning Sam's sarcastic statement into an affirmative one. She dropped a small kiss on the tip of the other woman's nose, then winced as she found a fresh lump in the mattress. "However, may I suggest we retire this conversation to my quarters...I'd like to get out of here while there are still a few unbruised portions of my anatomy."
"What...and give up these luxurious surroundings?" Sam raised an eyebrow. "How fast can we get there?"
Janet pressed a soft kiss onto Carter's lips. "As quickly as we can get up," she eyed their respective uniforms, which were showing the effects of their grappling efforts, "and ... um ... maybe straighten up a bit."
Sam's mouth spread in a knowing grin. "Not too much, I hope," she murmured dryly, a grin teasing her lips as Janet caught on to the obvious double entendre.
"I don't think you have to worry about that happening," Janet said through a low chuckle.
Several minutes later, both hair and uniforms were straight enough to pass muster, while any stray lipstick stains had been carefully removed.
Fraiser smoothed her hands the breadth of Sam's shoulders, brushing out the last of the wrinkles she'd put there. "Maybe we should take different routes and meet back at my place," she suggested, uncertain she could keep from looking at Sam Carter the way she definitely wasn't supposed to be looking at any woman as long as she was a member of the USAF.
Sam grinned and waggled her eyebrows. "Ooo ... sneaky."
"I have my moments."
Moments later, Janet found herself wandering away in the opposite direction from Sam and barely resisting the urge to look back and see if the rear view was as appealing as the front. Which was a silly question, really. She'd seen Sam from behind plenty of times. A sensual smile curved her mouth. It was just that she'd never looked with quite the same kind of interest she was feeling now, or if she had, she hadn't even admitted it to herself at the time. Her lips still lifted in a winsome smile, she hurried along a wending walkway that was bordered by thick trees, grass, and some kind of blossom that vaguely resembled frangipani, but in dark blue violet The flowers smelled like a mix of citrus oil and heather, a sweet-tart smell that she found more than a little pleasant. She had a sudden mental image of drawing one of the velvety soft petals over Sam's skin, and her grin broadened a notch. She was still considering the erotic possibilities when one of her junior officers stopped her with a question. Thankfully, the younger doctor was involved in her own problems and never noticed that her superior couldn't stop grinning the whole time. By the time she finished, she was running later than she'd intended and worried that Sam might think she'd changed her mind.
Redoubling her strides as she started off again, she hurried in the direction of her room, eager to be back in Sam's company. Janet rounded a thick bower of dark blue-green vines, turning onto the short walkway that led up to her door.
And pulled up short.
"Colonel O'Neill," she yelped, any smile instantly wiped off her mouth. Her eyes touched on the two people standing opposite O'Neill, "Daniel...Teal'c," then flicked back to the woman sitting next to the colonel on the low planter next to her door. "Major Carter," she said, careful to keep a professional distance in her tone.
"Doctor Fraiser." Carter flashed a brief look at Janet from under thick lashes, but also kept her tone as professionally disinterested as she could manage while fighting the urge to go into a full-bore adrenaline-charged panic. She had no idea what was up, but it was obvious O'Neill had something in mind. That was almost never good news.
Jack glanced back and forth between the two women during the brief exchange, incorrectly reading their efforts to seem uninvolved as continued hostility. He clucked his tongue disapprovingly. "Nope, this isn't gonna cut it," he pronounced.
Carter and Fraiser risked quick glances at each other, then turned equally questioning gazes toward Teal'c and Daniel. Daniel shrugged and rolled his eyes, while the Jaffa just looked like he'd like to be somewhere else ... possibly anywhere else by the look of it.
O'Neill stood, reaching out to grab Janet and pressed her to sit on the planter next to Sam. "Sit," he barked when both women seemed about to move apart.
Sam swallowed hard, sweat beading at the small of her back as a sudden wave of nervous tension washed over her. She risked a sideways glance at Janet, who had lost all color and was staring at O'Neill. It was obvious they were both thinking the same thing. The colonel had found out about them.
O'Neill continued to pin a hard gaze on the two women as he began the lecture he'd mapped out � albeit loosely � in his head. "Now, I realize that we're on an alien planet where a lot of our society's morals are pretty much shot to hell, however, you two are both Air Force officers and certain codes of behavior still apply--"
"Sir, I can explain--" Sam broke in, hoping that if she spoke quickly enough she could at least protect Janet. She didn't know how O'Neill had found out, but it seemed obvious he had.
"There are no explanations, Major," Jack cut her off sharply. "Not under the circumstances--"
"Sir," Janet interrupted a little desperately, "if I could just--"
"You're just as much at fault as she is ... maybe moreso." O'Neill shook his head, his tone chastising as he leaned back on his heels, pinning both women in place with a hard look. "I cannot believe the two of you, acting like this."
Unnoticed, Daniel tried to subtly shake his head, but no one noticed. Teal'c's gesture was so subtle that even he didn't know he was doing it.
"Well...it wasn't something we planned, sir," Sam stammered uncertainly.
"It's never happened before--" Janet added.
"I should hope not," O'Neill exploded. "I mean, the two of you, colleagues ... friends ... comrades in arms even--"
"It's just that--" Sam began.
"Things got a little out of control--" Janet finished.
"There was this juice and--"
O'Neill never noticed they'd spoken. "Fighting over a man like a coupla high school girls."
Sam skidded to a verbal halt as the remainder of his sentence sunk in. She slanted a quick look at Janet whose mouth was hanging open, her expression confused. "Sir?" they said at the same time.
"I expect better of the two of you," Jack continued, completely oblivious to their confusion. "Now, I want you to get in there," he nodded toward Janet's door, "and I don't care if it takes the next two days, I don't want to see you again until you've worked this out between you. No guy is worth trashing your friendship."
Sam blinked. It was the only response she could think of. She glanced at Janet, who was sitting perfectly still, a slack-jawed expression on her face. The major took a deep breath, struggling to kick start her brain, then flashed a glance at Daniel and Teal'c, both of whom looked like they'd like to sink into the woodwork. Sometimes being a fly on the wall isn't nearly as much fun as you might think. Finally, after another deep breath, she rose to her feet, straightening her shoulders as she faced her commanding officer. "You're right sir," she said smartly, "no man is worth throwing our friendship away." She heard Janet's tiny gasp behind her and glimpsed Daniel's startled look over O'Neill's shoulder. She reached down, clamping a hand on Fraiser's shoulder, using her grip to draw the smaller woman to her feet as she looked over at her. "Wouldn't you agree, Doctor?"
Janet was momentarily at a loss for words, and then she nodded. "That's right ... Major ... no man is worth throwing our friendship away," she parroted uncertainly.
O'Neill folded his arms across his chest, his look forbidding. "Nice try," he growled, "but I'm not buying it--"
"Sir?"both women managed to speak in perfect unison again.
The colonel waved a hand, indicating both of them. "The whole 'we've already patched this up,' innocent routine," he clarified. "Nice try, but you're not foolin' me. You're just trying to get me off your backs. You two are still totally tense with each other, so I'm ordering you to get in there and work this out...understood?"
Once again the only response Sam could think of was a blink. When she'd arrived at Janet's place to find O'Neill and the guys already waiting, she'd pretended she was just passing by, only to have O'Neill order her to sit down and wait with them. It had been obvious that something was going on in her superior's mind, and she'd sat there waiting with her heart in her throat, convinced he'd found out, and praying that she was overreacting, that it was something related to the negotiations. In all of that, this scenario had never occurred to her.
"Y-you're right, sir," Janet managed at last, her voice far less steady than she would have liked, though it wasn't even close to shaking as hard as her knees. "Major Carter and I have several things we really should discuss ... in some detail."
"That's the idea," Jack praised and shoved them both toward the door.
Eager to be out of the situation before she couldn't contain giddy giggles over the surreal nature of events, Janet fished in her jacket pocket for her room key, finally finding it, though getting it in the lock was a little difficult the way her hands were trembling. She made the mistake at some point of glancing up and meeting Teal'c's ironic gaze and nearly broke down, which only made his eyebrow climb higher on his forehead. Amazing how the man could have so many expressions with just one facial tic.
"'N' I don't wanna see you again until you've got your priorities in order and are ready to put your relationship ahead of any man," Jack ordered them briskly. "Got that?"
"Yes, sir," Sam said instantly. "Whatever you say, sir." She kept her spine ramrod straight and didn't dare risk a look at Daniel. Somehow, she was sure that wouldn't help at all. "No coming out until we know to put our relationship ahead of any man."
Janet felt the key slide into the lock and tumblers roll under the pressure. They were almost home free. Which meant, of course, that it couldn't be that easy.
"Oh no." Janet winced as she recognized the voice. She did a slow pivot, frowning as she saw O'Neill glowering at her. "Andrelus," she kept her tone light and friendly for the benefit of the handsome Oneurisi coming up with walk, while the colonel's eyes narrowed in disapproval.
Before the doctor could say another word, O'Neill swung an arm across the young man's shoulders in what might have looked like macho comradery had it not been for the tight grip he maintained and the hard set of his jaw. "C'mon, kid," he growled, "the ladies have matters to discuss between them and they really don't need our help." This kid had already caused enough problems between two of his officers, he was now officially off limits to both of them. He could already see his mere arrival causing problems from the way Carter's lips pursed and her expression flickered with more than a hint of jealousy. "You can show my buddies and I the town." He fully planned on keeping the younger man well out of the path of Carter and Fraiser, if he had to keep him underfoot until they all went home.
Andrelus positively glowed.
"Ahm ... but ... sir...." Janet held up a hand as her superior began dragging the young man away down the walk.
The colonel looked back over his shoulder. "Look, Fraiser, I told you, he's not worth your friendship, so consider this one over as of now. You had your fun...now you've got more important matters to attend to." He nodded toward her quarters, indicating she should enter.
"Now!" the colonel snapped impatiently.
"You heard the man," Sam added surprisingly cheerfully and gave Janet a healthy shove through the door, following close behind her.
"Come on, Daniel...Teal'c. We're gonna get the town tour from junior here and leave Major Carter and the doc alone to sort things out."
"B-but, Jack..." Daniel said uncertainly, while Andrelus stared adoringly at O'Neill.
"There's a wonderful club I know of," the young man informed the small group as they disappeared around the corner. "I'm sure you ... and your friends," he added hurriedly, "would enjoy yourselves."
"Yeah, sure," O'Neill murmured distractedly, his attention reserved for flashing his hardest command look at his retreating officers.
After one last peek after her friends, Sam pushed the door closed and threw the lock.
"You do know who you just sent Colonel O'Neill off with, don't you?" Janet demanded.
Sam grinned as she pivoted to face the other woman. "The man you called handsome?" she offered innocently.
"The man who wants to date Colonel O'Neill," Janet corrected archly. The two women stared at each other for a long moment, then did a slow motion dissolve into giggles. "Oh god, what just happened," Janet gasped through the laughter as she leaned against the door.
Sam threw up her hands. "I haven't the foggiest. I kept thinking I knew what was going on, but I was wrong every time."
"I think he thinks we've been fighting over Andrelus," Janet mused out loud. That was the only thing she could come up with that made any sense.
Sam grinned. "Then I guess he'll just have to keep him out of our way," she said, sounding thoroughly satisfied with the idea.
"Sa-am!" Janet burst out and slapped Carter's upper arm lightly. "I told you there was nothing between me and that boy. It's O'Neill he's interested in ... and talk about things you never thought you'd be saying." She shook her head, still reeling from the whole situation. She suddenly looked worried. "You don't think the colonel would hurt him if he found out, do you?" O'Neill could be more than a little macho, and men could get a little flaky on the whole subject.
"No," Sam dismissed instantly, then her lips lifted in a catlike grin as she envisioned the look on her superior's face if the young man made a pass. Now that would be worth seeing. "Might shake him up a bit, but he's not going to hit anybody."
"You're sure?" Janet checked after a long beat.
"Quite," Sam assured her, then leaned her head back against the door. "Y'know, I gotta say, this is one of those days my mother didn't warn me about," she sighed.
"I don't think my mother has any idea that days like this even exist ... and that's probably for the best. I don't think she'd handle it well if she did. I know I wouldn't in her shoes," Janet murmured thoughtfully. A long moment passed while they both silently leaned where they were, lost in their own thoughts, the aftermath of the adrenaline rush leaving them both breathless, distracted, and more than a little uncertain. The interruption had broken the mood and reminded them of the risks inherent in what they were contemplating. Finally, Janet turned toward Sam, one shoulder still braced up against the door, her arms folded loosely across her chest. "Sam?" she whispered very softly and, in response, blue eyes lifted and turned her way. Their gazes locked and held, sensual heat rekindling in the shared moment. Risks or not, it was something they both wanted. A long moment passed, and then Janet unfolded her arms and held out a hand to Sam, silently willing her to reach back.
Several more seconds ticked by, and then Sam lifted her hand, resting her palm against Janet's upturned fingers, struck by the softness of her touch as they made contact. "Yes," she exhaled almost inaudibly.
Full lips lifted in a smile and Janet straightened away from the door, using her loose hold on Sam's hand to tug her along, while the taller woman trailed after her more than willingly. As they reached the bedside together, Janet turned to face Sam, lifting her hand between them to press soft kisses across her knuckles. She felt a tremor slide over the other woman's skin, and saw the uncertainty in her expression. "Nervous?" Janet questioned, contrasting the confident eager lover of their first night together with the hesitant woman standing in front of her. What a difference a few sips of alien fruit juice could make.
"Oh yeah," Sam gasped on a small, giddy laugh. This was harder with her normal inhibitions back in place. A lot harder. No wonder they'd never gotten to this point before. Actually, no wonder they'd never even contemplated contemplating getting to this point before. "You?"
An ironic smile touched the doctor's lips. "A little," she admitted breathlessly, then shrugged, her smile broadening an embarrassed notch. "Maybe more than a little."
Sam wished she had some idea what to do next; wished she was some perfectly smooth fantasy lover who knew all the right words and actions. Unfortunately ... well ... she just wasn't. Back in her own room, she hadn't had time to think about things and panic � or maybe she'd just instinctively known nothing was going to happen with the practical chaperon of a mattress so full of lumps and springs that a person had to coil into an uneven figure-eight to even begin to avoid the worst of them. Now, she was up against the scary reality, and she was all on her own. Janet's hand tightened on Sam's, her warm grip oddly comforting. Well, not quite alone. Actually, if she had been alone, things would have been much simpler. It suddenly occurred to Sam that her thoughts were getting nearly as fractured as her words. "I want to be with you," she whispered through the sudden tightness in her throat, afraid that maybe Janet thought she wanted to back out. She felt a flush crawl across her cheekbones. "I want you to know that."
Relief flared in dark brown eyes, and Janet let out the breath she hadn't been aware of holding. "Thank you," she exhaled. She kissed the back of Sam's hand again, then looked up from under thick lashes. "Lie down with me," she invited, her voice low with desire.
Sam felt her breath catch as a band seemed to tighten around her chest. Fumbling, she reached for the buttons on the front of her uniform with her free hand, but Janet wrapped slender fingers around her wrist, stopping her. "But I thought...."
"We have plenty of time," the smaller woman whispered, her own tension visible in her eyes. "And I think right now, maybe we both need to take it easy."
Sam heaved a sigh of relief and suddenly realized she was shaking ever so slightly. "That would probably be good," she admitted, "since I seem to be on the verge of total panic."
An ironic smile touched full lips. "You aren't the only one, you know," Janet allowed. "But we can take things as fast or as slow as we want ... it's totally under our control."
The softly uttered reminder calmed Sam's nerves slightly, and she took a deep breath, letting it out slowly and releasing some of the tension with it. "It is, isn't it?"
"It is." Janet kicked out of her shoes and stripped off her jacket, tossing it carelessly aside. "We can do as much or as little as we want."
Sam paused a brief second, then did likewise before allowing Janet to draw her down to the bed until they lay facing each other, bodies close, but not quite touching.
The doctor reached out, twining slender fingers with Sam's and massaging the taut cords across the back with the pad of her thumb. "You have the most fascinating hands," she mused as she studied the complex play of bone and sinew. "I've always liked watching you work in the lab ... they're so graceful and controlled."
A dull flush crawled over the blond's cheekbones. "They're just hands," she muttered, embarrassed by the softly uttered praise. She looked away. "Nothing special."
Janet disengaged her loose hold on Sam's hand, reaching up to sift gentle fingers through the silky hair at her temple. "No ... they're beautiful ... just like the rest of you." She shivered as she remembered what those fingers had felt like as they slid over and inside her body.
"I'm not," Sam mumbled, fervently wishing for a subject change, but Janet was too intent to be dissuaded.
"In anyone else, I'd suspect false modesty," Janet whispered, still combing her fingers rhythmically through pale blond hair. "But everything about you is real." She sounded mildly amazed by the concept.
Sam shook her head ever so slightly. "Not really," she muttered. "Everyone has their false fronts."
"So, what's yours?"
Sam shrugged. "That I know what I'm doing all of the time ... that I don't get scared ... or uncertain ... that I know everything."
A piquant grin lifted the doctor's lips. "You mean you don't?" she teased gently. "I'm so disappointed. I thought you were perfect."
Her expression still deadly serious, Sam sighed softly. "I'm not, you know ... not by a long shot." Her eyes slid closed and she reached out to blindly brail Janet's hand where it rested against her temple, fingers just barely making contact as they traced the complex network of bone and muscle. "I don't even know what I'm doing right now," she breathed. Her eyes slid open again, the expression on her face embarrassed. "I don't exactly have a lot of experience," she admitted after a long moment. "Just a couple of relationships ... of the disastrous variety ... with men ... and now I'm thinking that maybe that was part of the disastrous part." She sighed heavily and rolled her eyes back in disgust. "And now that you think I'm the single most socially retarded human being on the face of the planet...."
"Oh, I wouldn't be too sure about that. At least you didn't marry any of your disasters," Janet drawled with a touch of humor. "And you're not the only one thrown for a bit of a loop here." She turned her hand into Sam's, clinging to the warm contact.
Sam took a breath, calming her nerves to quietly ask, "Have you ever...." She blushed deeply. "Well ... with a woman before?" God, she couldn't even say it. "I mean other than ... me?" Smooth. Oh yeah, very smooth. Why was it Goa'uld attacks never occurred when she could have used one?
She was startled when Janet nodded, her expression serious. "When I was in college ... it was intense, but it didn't last long. I joined the Air Force shortly after it ended ... and ... well ... that part of myself wasn't a place I could afford to go mentally." She had locked that part of her nature away behind some very high walls. Well, those were rubble now, and there was no getting around the fact that. And if she was honest with herself, there'd always been a quirky undercurrent of energy between she and Sam. They probably could have both lived in a state of cheerful denial if they hadn't gotten that little push, but there was no going back now.
"I've had crushes," Sam breathed, while Janet just listened silently, letting her say whatever she needed to. "But I never let it get past that ... you can avoid a lot in a lab, you know."
"I know," Janet breathed. A soft smile touched her lips as she studied Sam. She was such an innocent in some ways. "But we're not in a lab now."
"No ... we're not," Sam agreed, her voice low and intense. She reached out to stroke Janet's lips, tracing the full cupid's bow with the very tip of her finger. "We're lying on a bed together," she whispered, breathless with nervousness. "Do you know you're one of the few people that I've always been comfortable with?"
Janet pressed a soft kiss to the finger stroking her lips, then smiled at the tiny shiver that slid through Sam. "I'm glad ... because I've always felt that way about you." She edged her leg a little closer to the taller woman, stroking the top of her foot very lightly with her big toe, smiling as yet another shiver slid through Sam. The temptation to touch was fast overcoming inhibition as she remembered the scent, taste, and feel of the other woman. "Tell me what you're thinking," she commanded gently.
Carter shrugged, a hint of a smile touching her mouth. "I can't quite believe I'm here ... with you...." She caught Janet's hand in her own, lifting it to press small kisses to the gracefully tapered fingers. A tiny, nervous laugh slipped unbidden from her lips. "That we're ... about to...."
"To make love?" Janet filled in, and Sam nodded. She drew her toe higher on Sam's leg, stroking the slender curve of her ankle lightly. "Do you know what I want right now?"
Sam shook her head.
"I want to be with you ... learn everything about you," Janet admitted breathlessly, amazed by the rush of arousal burning in her veins. She'd never wanted like this before in her life and had no idea what she was going to say as she kept speaking, words tumbling unrehearsed from her lips. "I want to talk ... listen ... touch ... God, how I want to touch you ... and I want to hold you ... listen to your breathing ... feel your heartbeat. I want to know all everything about you that I never knew before."
Carter's breath caught, sparks of raw emotion flaring in her eyes in response to the softly spoken admission. She nodded unsteadily, swallowing hard as she struggling to find her voice again.
A knowing smile flickered across Janet's mouth as she watched expressions quicksilver across her lover's face. "You like the sound of that?"
Another quick nod. Sam swallowed hard, struggling to find her voice. "More than I can even begin to say," she choked out at last.
"May I kiss you?" Janet questioned formally, humor dancing in her dark brown eyes.
"Please," Sam whispered, grateful to Janet for taking the lead this time. She wasn't sure she could have managed it. Left to her own devices, she probably would have just lain there and stammered all night as she tried to make her brain work.
Her mouth lifting in a smile, Janet pushed up on one elbow, reaching out with her free hand to stroke Sam's cheek very lightly as she leaned closer. Warm breath played across the blonde's cheek and then velvet lips tasted her mouth, delicate kisses tracing the shape of her lips in tiny butterfly flutters. Sam melted into a puddle right then and there, lifting a hand to slip long fingers into Janet's hair, molding them to her head. The soft brushes melded into a warm kiss as their lips meshed and moved together, adopting a slow, sweet rhythm.
Sam did a slow roll onto her back, drawing Janet with her, until the smaller woman was lying half across her upper torso, one hand pressed into the mattress, the other still resting along the gentle curve of Sam's cheek. Their lips never parted company, the kiss deepening as they lost themselves in each other, desire dancing like a wildfire through their veins and driving them to press closer.
Her hands trembling gently, Sam found the front buttons of Janet's blouse, prying them free until the lightweight cotton dangled open in front, then sensitive fingers slipped inside to brail sultry curves, quickly relearning everything she'd discovered only days before. As she touched, she could only distantly wonder how she'd thought she could give this up. Long moments passed and she felt her own clothes loosened, then peeled off and tossed aside while she returned the favor. Finally, they lay breast to breast, smooth curves neatly dovetailed, legs scissored together so that smoothly muscled thighs rode against overheated flesh.
Janet grinned down at Sam, a shiver sliding over her skin as the astrophysicist spread graceful hands against the narrow plain of her back. "That feel good?" she panted.
"Good doesn't even begin to cover it," Sam groaned, her voice trailing off into a soft gasp as Janet's mouth dropped to the hollow at the base of her throat.
"Let's see if we can make it feel even better," the doctor drawled, and Sam almost screamed as the warm, sandpapery roughness of Janet's tongue slid down her chest, toying with sensitive flesh. Teeth rubbed lightly, drawing a groan from Sam, then slid on, brushing and stroking a warm mound before trailing lower.
Needing to communicate some of the pleasure she was feeling, Sam found silky hair with one hand, while the other brushed loose strokes along her lover's shoulder. "Jus' keeps getting better," she gasped as Janet dropped tiny kisses along the curve of her ribs, then outlined taut abdominal muscles.
"Mmm, love that six-pack," Janet teased, fingers stroking Sam's upper thighs as her lips danced still lower.
Sam's breath caught, whimpering very softly as Janet's lips brushed her upper thighs, then trailed to her inner thigh. Moments later, the blond's head snapped back into the pillows a tiny cry escaping her lips as the sandpaper warmth of Janet's tongue explored her most sensitive flesh. Her back was bowed, breath coming in rough pants, her hands clenched in the sheets, she groaned weakly, "Please ... I want to kiss you ... be with you...." She tangled long fingers in the doctor's auburn hair, tugging gently to urge her back up. Delicate kisses trailed the length of Sam's torso as Janet climbed back up her lover's lean body. Their lips met and tangled, fingers sliding over smooth curves and into slick heat. Sam tasted Janet's whimpery groan as her fingers found and played with the center of her pleasure, stroking and circling as she felt the swell and pulse of her arousal. Their mouths still bonded, Sam pressed her fingers inside and kept up the stroking rhythm with her thumb even as she felt her own body entered and caressed.
They found a rhythm, thrusting in a native point-counterpoint that needed no planning or explanation as they moved together in a full body caress that created the sort of friction that could light a body on fire. Instinctively straining for completion, their blood burned hotter with every passing second until Janet suddenly cried out, hips thrusting to meet Sam's hand as she clung desperately to her lover's lean frame. She tasted Sam's answering groan and felt the hard shudders that ripped through her. Seconds passed as they hung onto paradise by a thin thread, shocks and aftershocks rattling through their twined bodies. And when they came down again, it was to collapse, limp and spent into the mattress and each other.
Janet couldn't contain a giddy burst of laughter as she buried her nose in the curve of Sam's throat, breathing in the scent of her lover's skin as her hands slid over pliant flesh. "Mmmm, did we actually think we could resist this?" she groaned weakly.
"I think we had some vague idea along those lines," Sam admitted through a dazed laugh. She lifted a hand to toy with sweat damp, auburn hair as she nuzzled Janet's temple tenderly. "Clearly, we were out of our minds."
Janet eased to one side, lying sprawled against Sam's side as they went on trading lazy kisses, bodies humming pleasantly in the aftermath. "Mmmm, completely insane," she agreed between kisses, surprised to find her body already coming back to life. It was completely different from the driving physicality of their first night together ... the passion untouched by external pressures and instead coming from within.
"In more ways than one," Sam sighed, spreading her hand against Janet's naked back and stroking gently. She shook her head sharply, throwing off any threat of grim worries or more pensive thoughts. She turned onto her side so they were face to face, blue eyes meeting brown. "But no matter what else, I'm glad I'm here."
A pleased smile curved Fraiser's mouth and her eyes glinted with a hundred different emotions neither of them was ready to look at too deeply. "Me too," she breathed, surrendering happily as she felt Sam draw her into a fresh round of kisses. She reached out to toy with several strands of blond hair. "Whatever happens, I want to be with you."
Sam nodded silently, her expression glowing with shared emotion as she held Janet close, the passion rising between them once again. For the moment, they were here and together, and she could worry about everything else later.
* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *~ *
Two Days Later
"This is not funny," Jack O'Neill growled at his still chuckling team as they all stepped through the stargate together.
"Yes, it is," Daniel disagreed cheerfully, while Carter could barely contain a giggle, and even Teal'c appeared to be smirking ever so slightly.
O'Neill glared at the others balefully, which only increased their humor. Fraiser was the only one of the final group of officers returning to earth who didn't appear to find his predicament humorous, and he had an awful feeling that was only because she was better at hiding emotions than the others. "Look, how was I to know that kid thought we were ... I mean...." He didn't finish.
"Dating?" Daniel helpfully filled in.
"Oh, shut up," Jack growled.
"That's not what you were saying when Andrelus planted that kiss on you, Jack." Daniel was enjoying this way too much. After any number of Jack's jokes at his expense, it was nice to have something on the colonel.
"Ah, jeez, Daniel, could you just shout it a little louder?" O'Neill hissed, then pulled up short as he noted General Hammond standing in the entrance to the gate room, his eyebrows lifted in inquiry. "Ah hell," the colonel grumbled, "none of this is what it sounds like," he explained to his superior. "I had no idea what that kid was thinking--"
Hammond just held up a hand. Assorted SG teams had been returning for close to twenty-four hours and he was fast discovering more about their various sexual misadventures than he had ever wanted to know. Frankly, the experience had left him on the queasy side. "Please," he cut the younger man off sharply, "I'm sure it's not," he muttered. He wasn't really, not after the things he'd heard over the last hours, but it was better this way. The harsh reality was that the SGC presented some very unique challenges to the teams ... sometimes very, very unique. And a normal approach to regulations just wasn't always applicable. He massaged his temple, hoping to relieve a headache growing there. As the CO of the SGC, he couldn't afford to know about certain things, because the project couldn't afford to lose any of these people, and he couldn't afford the heart attack or the ulcer the stress was rapidly threatening to bring on.
"Oh," Jack mumbled, suspecting his superior didn't believe him, but hesitant to push it. After all� Actually, the less said ... or thought ... about that, the better.
Hammond just held up a hand, his tone curt as he pinned a hard look on Fraiser and Carter where they stood just behind the colonel � as civilian employees, Teal'c and Dr. Jackson were none of his concern, but, like O'Neill and the others, the two women were still bound by Air Force regulations � noting they were both flushed and looking a little uneasy. "And is there anything you two would like to deny?" he snapped impatiently. He'd just as soon know now what it was he didn't want to know.
"Hah, them?" O'Neill barked. "No, sir. They both worked like demons ... well ... except for the fact that they got in a small tiff over some guy ... but I made 'em work it out-" He was still rather proud of himself on that front even if it had sorta backfired on him.
"By stealing the guy, so it really wasn't a problem anymore," Fraiser deadpanned, a hint of a smile touching her mouth as she watched the general's mouth drop open. She was comfortably confident Hammond would never really believe it, but the idea of tweaking the colonel warmed the cockles of her heart.
"Yep," Sam agreed blandly, "just took him away from both of us."
"I did not!" O'Neill burst out, then turned a desperate gaze on his superior. "Really, sir... we just went to a bar or two and a couple of sports things--"
Daniel clapped the colonel on the shoulder. "It was Greco-Roman wrestling, Jack--"
It was hard to tell at that point who looked more nauseous, O'Neill or the general.
"Well, he didn't call it that. How the hell was I supposed to know--"
Hammond held up a hand. "Not one word...ever ... I don't ever want to know anything � not even a flicker of a detail � about any of this." He glared at all of them, hoping he didn't sound like he was begging as he muttered, "Just go ... please. All meetings are delayed until tomorrow." Chiefly so everyone could sober up and come up with vaguely believable excuses. "Go home." He suspected he was starting to whimper.
"C'mon, Jack," Daniel grabbed the older man by the shoulder and pushed him toward the doors. "Time to get past your conquests and on with life."
Janet and Sam both snickered, while O'Neill spun to thrust a finger in Fraiser's face. "You oughta be thankful to me. That guy clearly didn't have honorable intentions ... all things considered."
"Yes, sir," she agreed blandly. "I appreciate your efforts to protect my virtue... though I do hope you let poor Andrelus down easily" She almost held the giggle back, but couldn't quite do it.
Sam didn't even bother to try, just snickered softly.
"He'll live," O'Neill muttered, a dark flush crawling over his cheekbone as he stomped out, grumbling under his breath, "Nobody appreciates me."
"I dunno," Daniel chuckled as he followed after the colonel, "I got the feeling Andrelus was more than a little appreciative."
"Yeah ... well, I probably oughta consider it if this is how I'm gonna be treated around here," O'Neill growled.
Teal'c paused for a moment, carefully studying the two women before shaking his head and following the other two men out.
Carter and Fraiser shared a look, nearly breaking into exhausted giggles, then suddenly realized the general was still there as he cleared his throat.
"Waiting for something?" their superior demanded with mock courtesy.
"Whousno," Sam responded all in one word and grabbed Janet's shoulder to push her toward the doors.
Hammond slowly shook his head as he watched the two women exit. Clearly, he was getting too old for this sort of thing.
* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *~ *
Later That Night
Recently satiated bodies lay twined together amid the tangled blankets normally tucked neatly around Janet Fraiser's bed, skin damp from their shared exertions, muscles still quivering gently in the aftermath.
"Oh ... my ... god," Samantha Carter groaned as she tipped her head back into the thick pillows.
Janet ducked her head, trailing her lips along the smooth curve of her lover's shoulder. "You like?" she questioned and nibbled at a sensitive cord in Sam's throat.
"Mmmm," Sam groaned and lifted a hand to the back of Janet's head, threading her fingers into silky dark hair, "way beyond like ... you've got to teach me how you do that."
Chuckling softly, Janet arched up to press a soft kiss over Sam's lips. "You want me to give up all of my secrets?" she teased.
Lifting strong hands to Janet's waist, Sam rolled her lover beneath her, then twined their hands together as she pushed up on her elbows and stared down at the smaller woman. "Every last one," she breathed seriously, then leaned down to share a slow kiss. They'd spent most of their final two days on Oneuris � parting only for previously arranged meetings � wrapped up in each other's company, either making love or talking quietly about anything and everything. With most people, a few hours was all it took for Carter to be bored out of her skull, but she was amazed to find that the better part of two days hadn't even begun to sate her desire to know this woman inside and out. She'd always liked Janet and been fascinated by her agile mind, but she'd never guessed at the depths to the woman until now. "I want to know everything about you," she whispered intently, "every detail large or small."
A slow smile made its way across full lips. "That could take awhile."
Sam nodded. "We have all the time in the world."
Janet slipped one hand from Sam's loose hold, reaching up to trail a finger along the line of her lover's brow. "You do realize I could fall in love with you, Sam Carter?"
Something flickered deep in the blond's eyes and it wasn't displeasure. A smile touched her mouth. "Dareya."