| Part 1 | Part 2 |
"Doctor Fraiser, you're needed in the Gate Room. Prepare for jump in ten minutes."The voice that came over the phone was eerily calm, though Janet Fraiser felt her own heartrate accelerate noticeably as she listened to the command. She'd been just about to go off duty when the call came, and now it looked like she wasn't going home anytime soon.
"What's the situation." She heard her own voice as if from a distance. Only a week on duty in her new posting, she'd only had a couple of training jumps to friendly worlds in order to get used to the sensation, so she wouldn't be too disoriented if it was ever necessary during an emergency, but this was the first time a real situation had come up.
"Medical emergency, Ma'am, on P3X-595. SG-1's had trouble."
Her stomach tied into a familiar knot that only intensified as she realized the team in trouble was the same one that General Hammond had assigned her to stick with during her brief training jumps. The colonel in charge -- O'Neill -- had been gruff and acidic, but self-mocking enough to take the sting out of his biting humor, while his second in command, Samantha Carter -- who Janet had already met during her physical -- the woman was apparently the only person on base responsible enough to show up without being nagged into submission -- had been downright kind, joking gently to ease Janet's fears. The other two had been largely silent, the huge alien focused on his job, while the Egyptologist had simply ignored her. Still, she'd met all of them, seen their faces and heard their voices. That made it more personal. "Any idea what I should expect?"
"No, Ma'am. Colonel O'Neill just said there was trouble and asked specifically for you."
That revelation drew a small frown. She was mildly surprised he remembered her name. He didn't strike her as a man who paid much attention to the rear guard that he viewed as little more than pencil pushers. "I'm on my way. There's a field kit on standby, but I'll need you to keep the gate open while I assess whether or not I need additional supplies or personnel."
She barely paused to hang up the phone before running for the locker room.
* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *~ *
"What happened?" Fraiser demanded the moment she stepped through the gate and saw Colonel O'Neill waiting for her. She shook herself in an effort to throw off the last of the disorientation left over from gate travel. She was never going to get used to that.
O'Neill was sitting stretched out on the bottom several steps that led up to the gate platform. He straightened and pushed to his feet, tipping his chin down and eyeing her over the top of his sunglasses, his hands relaxed where they rested on his MP5. "Um," he exhaled.
Janet reached up, adjusting the padded straps that were already cutting into her shoulders, the heavy weight of the field kit making her feel like she might tip over backward at any moment. "Colonel, can you outline the situation? Command said there'd been a medical emergency." New to the project and well aware that she wasn't exactly anyone's image of the ideal soldier, she knew she was probably overcompensating on the professionalism front, but she was guessing that was better than going too far the other direction.
"Right," he said cautiously, his eyes running over her and taking in the heavy backpack, flack jacket, and helmet that dwarfed her small frame. "That would explain all of the ... uh..." He made a small gesture with one hand, indicating her outfit, "equipment."
"Yes, sir," she confirmed a little blankly, wondering why he wasn't in more of a hurry if someone was in danger. "Standard requirement under the circumstances." Which he would know if he read the memos, which was probably a silly idea now that she thought about it. Instinct told her Jack O'Neill wasn't a man big on memos. "However, I need to know more about the situation in case I need additional supplies or personnel."
"Right," he said again, looking discomfited. He glanced up at the still open gate. "Don't worry, you won't need any of that. They can ... uh ... they can just go ahead and close the gate." He scratched the tip of his nose. "No reason to delay that ... really ... none at all."
She frowned at his odd behavior, her professionalism demanding more information before she cut off her line of supply "You still haven't told me what happened. Who's hurt and how badly?"
He gestured toward the road. "You won't need any more equipment or help. I'll explain the situation during the hike back."
She shook her head. "Colonel, with all due respect, you're not qualified to decide what I will or will not need," she said firmly, more than a little impatience leaking through in her tone. She had a patient out there and the last thing she wanted to do was play twenty questions with anyone, even a superior officer, but she also didn't want to any delays because she didn't have what she needed on hand. "I'd appreciate some information."
He winced, looking even more uncomfortable. "Well, it's just a little ... er ... difficult to explain ... and it's not exactly a medical emergency."
Janet's frown deepened along with her confusion. "Then why am I here?"
His eyes lifted skyward as he appeared to consider the question, having a brief, silent discussion with himself before answering. "Because you seemed like the best person to deal with the current ... situation."
"Which is?" she prompted, frustrated by his lack of answers and worried that he wasn't telling her something important. There was definitely something odd going on.
He tapped his ear, indicating the earpiece of his two-way radio, then pointed at the gate. As long as the gate was open and the two-way radios were on, the SGC could hear every word spoken between them if they chose. Janet frowned, getting edgy now. After all, the Goa'uld could take possession of a human body and the memory that went with it, then play the role of the conquered person so well that neither friends nor family could tell the difference. She hadn't seen it in person -- yet -- but the reports had been enough to send a chill down her spine. She hadn't spent much time around the colonel, not enough to know him well, but his behavior was definitely not what she would classify as normal.
He hooked a thumb toward the gate and mouthed, "Tell them to close the gate."
She shook her head, but followed his example and mouthed, "Why?"
He made a face. If that was a Goa'uld, she wasn't sure she was all that impressed with the impression. Certainly, he was doing nothing to alleviate her suspicions. He pointed at the gate, mouthing, "It's better if they don't know what's going on."
Fraiser's brows rose and she rested her hand lightly on her sidearm, undogging the holster and thumbing the safety off. "Why?" she repeated without making a sound, her expression pointed.
He made another face, his irritation with her showing in the way he screwed up his expression. He couldn't believe she'd just readied her sidearm. "Just do it," he demanded, continuing the bizarre silent conversation.
She shook her head. "Not until I know what's going on," she said, still not making a sound.
His made a small growling sound in the back of his throat. "It's Carter, okay? Now, tell them to close the gate and let's go." He was used to having junior officers simply follow orders and her stubborn refusal to do so was getting on his already frayed nerves big time.
Janet felt her stomach sink with worry. She'd liked the captain. The woman had been kind in the face of her obvious nervousness. "How badly is she hurt?" she demanded, forgetting for a moment to stay silent.
"Doctor Fraiser, is there a problem on your end?"General Hammond's familiar Texas drawl came over the tiny speaker tucked into her ear. Obviously he was listening in now, though it was impossible to tell how much of the vocal part of their conversation -- or the ensuing silences -- he'd actually heard.
Janet pinned a hard gaze on the colonel, knowing he'd heard the request for information just like she had. The message was clear. No more games or delays. He could either tell her what was going on, or she could notify the general to send more personnel.
"She's drunk," O'Neill mouthed after a short beat and held out his hands in a gestured that bordered on supplication.
Russet brows shot up. "Drunk?" Janet repeated, once again forgetting to maintain radio silence.
O'Neill winced even as Hammond's voice echoed in her ear. "Doctor, what's your situation?"
Janet made a face, teeth clenching together momentarily before she gathered herself to respond. "Everything's under control, sir. It looks like I'm not going to need any additional equipment or personnel." She noted O'Neill's relieved expression as she spoke. "But the techs need to check my transceiver when I get back. It seems to be cutting in and out."
"Do you want us to send you a new one?"
"I don't think that'll be necessary, sir. I'll be with SG-1 and my unit seems to be working again." She rolled her eyes at the lameness of her own excuse. She'd never been much of a liar.
"If you're certain."
She looked at O'Neill who nodded. She was anything but, but she answered her superior, "Quite certain, sir.".
"Very well then, Doctor. Notify us when you know something."
"SGC out."A moment later, the watery look of the stargate disappeared, leaving it simply an open ring once again.
"Thanks, Doc," the colonel said, sounding relieved. "It's only about a mile to the main city." He turned and started walking, only to pivot back as he realized she wasn't with him. "Doc?" She was fumbling with the chest strap on the heavy backpack. As he watched, she popped it and dumped the pack to the dirt, working her shoulders now that they were free of the heavy load. "What are you doing?"
"I'm not carrying that any farther if I don't need it," she answered and stripped off the kevlar helmet, ruffling her hair where it had compressed against her skull. "Do you have any idea what that thing weighs? I can barely stand up when I'm wearing it." She grabbed a pair of dark sunglasses from her breast pocket and slipped them on. Trying to wear them with the helmet had been nearly impossible since it kept jamming the bridge too far down on her nose, but if there was no emergency, she didn't need the helmet, and if she didn't need the helmet, she saw no reason not to trade it for a little protection from the glare.
"Well, you can't leave it here," he pointed out. He wasn't entirely certain why not since P3X-595 had proved to be remarkably crime free, but there had to be a regulation somewhere.
"That's true," she agreed cheerfully, "which is why you're going to carry it ... and while we walk, you can tell me what happened and how Captain Carter wound up drunk."
He sighed, noting the stubborn set of her shoulders, then marched back and slung the pack up, grunting under the weight. "You put lead weights in here or something?" he complained.
Janet smiled a little too sweetly and latched her helmet to a loop on the side of the backpack. "Of course, sir. Knowing all of this was going to happen, I threw in an extra hundred pounds."
He frowned at her mocking tone. "I just asked," he muttered defensively.
"Now, sir," she eyed him from head to toe, "can you tell me why you needed me to deal with an inebriated officer since I can't imagine that you don't know as much or more than I do about the side effects of alcohol." She was more that a little ticked that he'd scared the hell out of her for something that minor, and the adrenaline rush was demanding to be burned off.
He flushed, settling the backpack more comfortably and gesturing toward the road. "Yeah ... well, this isn't exactly a normal situation."
She cursed under her breath, her ongoing frustration threatening to turn into a temper tantrum. She'd always had a problem on that front and O'Neill was only exacerbating things. "Will you just tell me what the hell is going on and why you got me here under the pretense of a medical emergency." Obviously, he was leaving out some details and she'd had it with that trend.
"I never said it was a medical emergency," he insisted defensively. "I just said you were needed. They must have assumed it was an emergency."
"How shocking," Janet said tartly. "You asked for the CMO and they assumed there was a medical emergency."
He glared at her. "You know, you have a very sarcastic side."
Janet rolled her eyes and demanded very slowly and deliberately, "Colonel, will you just tell me what's going on ... please?"
He winced, looking even more uncomfortable. No avoiding it any longer. "Well, it was a sort of a celebration ... you know, one of those, drink to our continuing friendship' things, and Carter did ... and then she drank some more because it was kind of hot.... And then at some point, she got happy ... really happy."
"I see ... and you didn't just either deal with it or bring her back to the SGC because...."
He gnawed on his lower lip, then finally answered, "Because when she got happy, she also got a bit ... uninhibited."
Janet looked blank, her expression questioning. "Meaning?" She found herself wondering if he was always this sparing with details. If so, it was a wonder General Hammond hadn't shot him somewhere along the way."
"Apparently she was still feeling hot ... and decided to cool down ... by removing her clothes."
Janet's brows shot up and her mouth dropped open. "Sir?"
"We got her back to her quarters before it got too bad, but ordering her to get dressed didn't seem to do much good ... actually, it kind of seemed to have the opposite effect." He shrugged a little helplessly, then mimed hurling things in either direction.
"So, what you're saying is...." Janet sounded a little like Alice must have when she stepped through the looking glass.
Jack nodded. "That by now she may be wearing nothing more than her dogtags and a smile?" he offered helpfully, then answered his own question. "Yep."
Fraiser didn't know what to say. Her brain had gone completely on the fritz. She did at least finally understand why O'Neill had been so hesitant to share the details. She wasn't sure she would have known what to say if she'd had to describe the rather reserved woman she'd met throwing her clothes this way and that. It wasn't an image easily contemplated, much less shared.
"Now, you see why I figured it would be better if you go in and get her dressed than if Teal'c, Daniel or I do ... cos sooner or later, she's gonna sober up, and I just don't think the aftermath of that would be good for team morale."
She nodded. "Yes, sir ... I-I think I can understand that." She reached up to massage her temple. It was beginning to occur to her that the Stargate made for a whole lot of situations that had never been covered in med school.
"Personally, I think I deserve some praise for being so thoughtful," he mused out loud. "And believe me, it wasn't easy." A lazy smile curved his lips as his look became distant.
Janet peered at him over the top of her sunglasses. She really could have done without that mental image. "Too much information, sir."
He shrugged as if to say, "Have it your way," and continued walking.
Neither spoke much during the hike, though Fraiser asked a few pointed questions and learned that the locals were apparently quite friendly, their culture a simple, but fairly wealthy, agrarian based economy. They had only limited knowledge of the Goa'uld -- a few ancient records of the system lords, but little else -- though they used the gate to trade with several other worlds for assorted luxury goods. They'd been friendly to the newcomers and more interested in trade than military information. According to O'Neill, SG-1 had been given guest quarters in an elaborate complex of buildings that housed the local government as well as hosting facilities for offworld visitors.
As they reached the outer walls of the governmental center, Janet's brows lifted. It was decorated and painted with trim that reminded her eerily of Victorian gingerbread. "Different," she murmured.
"Yeah," O'Neill agreed, his gaze following hers. "Not what you'd call the land o' subtle architectural d�cor."
She chuckled softly and nodded, falling silent as a small group of men and women appeared, their clothing cut along simple lines, but heavily trimmed and dyed in a mix of vivid and subtle hues, doubtless all plant dyes, judging by the shades. O'Neill made quick work of the introductions, naming each of the local administrators for the doctor, while they in turn were polite and obviously well aware of the captain's condition. Janet got the distinct impression they found the situation mildly humorous.
Finally, O'Neill pointed out that they needed to get back to their people, said his goodbyes and urged the doctor ahead of him, crossing a broad courtyard and entering a an open fronted building. They traversed several long corridors, finally turning into a shorter one.
Janet noted Daniel and Teal'c sitting on the floor and leaning against the wall next to a brightly painted door. "Captain Carter's room?" she questioned O'Neill.
He nodded, his tone wry as he confirmed, "Carter's room?" Then he looked at his teammates. "Any news from the front?"
Daniel shook his head. "Except for a brief bout of 'Row, Row, Row Your Boat,' she's been quiet."
Jack considered that for a moment, then shook his head and reached out, resting a hand lightly on Fraiser's shoulder and urging her forward. "In which case, I think it's the good doctor's turn to deal with things." He didn't sound at all depressed by the notion of relinquishing responsibility for his second in command.
"Doctor," Daniel said simply as he rose, dusting himself off and clearing the doorway for her.
Teal'c simply found his feet, stepping aside as he inclined his head ever so slightly, while Janet reminded herself that she still needed to get both men in for complete physicals. She'd sent several notices, but the timing hadn't worked out so far. Having read the reports, she was particularly interested in learning more about the Jaffa's biology; how his body accommodated the infant Goa'uld, and how it in turn protected him.
O'Neill dumped the red-cross marked medical backpack to the floor with a groan, the sound interrupting her thoughts.
Frowning, Janet pivoted to glare at him. "There's delicate equipment in there."
He shrugged and offered a mocking smile. "Then why would you trust it to a grunt like me?"
Grumbling a curse, she stomped back, grabbing the pack by a strap and slinging it up over one shoulder, groaning under the weight. "We've got to figure out a way to lighten this thing," she muttered under her breath and pointedly ignored O'Neill's muted snicker.
He was all innocent smiles though, when she turned to glare at him. He gestured to the pack. "You really think there's anything that'll do much for a soused captain?"
Fraiser shrugged. "Well, I can at least give her a B12 shot and some aspirin for the hangover." Other than that, not really.
He was still chuckling as she stepped up to the door and turned the knob, feeling the rasp of tumblers. Her movements cautious, she stepped into the dully lit room. "Captain Carter?" She pushed the door closed in her wake. "Captain Carter?" she called again. Several ornate pillars blocked much of her view of the room, so she settled the backpack on the floor next to what appeared to be a haphazard pile of Carter's discarded clothes. Finally, Janet stepped forward, peering around one of the large columns. She noted a boot next to a nearby column, tossed as though it had been removed there and forgotten, and then its mate discarded next to another column some distance away. "Captain?" she called again.
A soft giggle drew the doctor's head up as she stepped forward and her eyes went wide as a pair of very shapely, very bare legs appeared to dangle from the ceiling over her head. That was when she realized that the pillars were holding up a platform of some kind directly overhead. She glanced into the main part of the room, noting a set wide, curved stairs leading up to it. "Captain Carter?" she repeated. Suddenly, the legs pulled back up and a moment later, Carter's face appeared in their place, dangling over the edge of the platform.
"Doctor Fraiser?" The captain sounded surprised, then she grinned broadly, showing white teeth. "What are you doing here?"
Fraiser shrugged, noting the overbright quality of the captain's eyes. Definitely not sober. "Colonel O'Neill called me."
"This is so great," Carter said happily and then her head disappeared before her legs swung over the edge again. "You're gonna love this place," she added and suddenly, those legs were plummeting downward in a controlled fall. Janet snapped her eyes shut before she caught a glimpse of anything more revealing than bare thighs, social training overcoming any medical training for a shocked instant. A beat passed, then she heard the soft slap of bare feet landing lightly on the marble floor. Given the timing, Carter must have swung down and dangled from her hands for a moment before dropping the last foot or two to the floor. Which meant she was probably standing there, wearing nothing but O'Neill's proverbial dogtags and a smile. She'd already seen Carter in that very costume, but for some reason, the notion of doing so outside of her nice, reassuringly sterile infirmary was uncomfortable at best. She didn't have time to muse on that fact before the blond interrupted her thoughts.
"Doctor?" Sam questioned, her tone polite, the nearness of the sound marking her position as no more than a foot or two away now. "Why do you have your eyes closed?" She sounded curiously young, almost hurt.
"Ahm ... well," Janet began and cautiously slitted one eye, peering through thick lashes, ready to snap it shut instantly depending on what she saw. Carter's face, smiling but a little worried and then.... She opened her eyes fully, heaving a sigh of relief. The blond was still wearing shorts and a black sports bra. "Just ... uh.... How are you feeling?" she questioned, deciding that abruptly changing the subject was her best option since there was no graceful way to answer the question.
Carter's mouth split in a wide grin. "Feelin' so good," she drawled.
"Right," Janet said, stretching the word out. "Had a little bit to drink, did you?" Carter wasn't falling down drunk by any means. In fact, she'd probably had enough time to sober up some, but there was still an unfocused, overbright quality to her gaze and she was visibly wavering ever so slightly on her feet. Janet leaned a little closer, peering into the other woman's eyes. Her pupils were the size of pinpoints and the room wasn't terribly well lit. That had her worried. Getting Carter into her clothes was suddenly the least of her problem.
Sam made a small, annoyed sound in the back of her throat. "Is that what the colonel told you?" she demanded, her tone carrying a healthy trace of petulance.
"Well, I do have eyes." Janet stuffed her hands in her pockets, still studying the other woman carefully. "But, yes, Colonel O'Neill mentioned something about how much you had to drink--"
Sam smirked. "Yeah, like he's never been drunk." She rolled her eyes and folded her arms across her chest. The notion of Jack O'Neill getting on anyone's case for having a drink or two was so unfair.
Janet couldn't really argue, so she opted for the professional approach instead. "Be that as it may, Captain Carter, you've clearly overdone it ... and I'd like to check you over and make certain the only thing in your drink was alcohol."
Frowning as she considered the request, her fogged brain taking longer than usual to process things, Sam tapped one foot randomly, clearly wanting to refuse, but at the same time well trained to obey orders. "All right," she mumbled at last, though she sounded distinctly unhappy with the notion.
Janet noted the response with a raised brow, reminded of a brief stint in the pediatrics wing during her internship. Sam had the exact same look as any number of children about to get vaccinations. "Where would you like to do this?" she questioned, deciding that her best bet was to get Carter to play along if possible.
Carter suddenly brightened. "Upstairs," she said decisively. "You've got to see the sleeping area." And then she hurried off, footsteps light, if a little uncoordinated, as she bounded up the broad curving stairway to the next level.
Sighing softly, Janet went back, slung the shoulderstrap of the backpack over one shoulder, lugging it along with considerable effort. Once she was past the pillars, the room opened up, the main area easily twenty feet high from floor to ceiling to allow for the second story sleeping area over the foyer. She trudged up the wide curving staircase to the partial second story, one eyebrow lifting as she noted a couple of discarded items of clothing on the way. Pausing when she got to within a few steps of the top, Janet felt her breath catch at what she saw on the second level. A bank of tall, narrow windows ran along one wall to allow light in, illuminating a wide, deep area dominated by the round bed that sat in the center, the sheets shimmering in shifting shades of pink and white, like good silk. The floor was wood, buffed to a high sheen and laid in alternating colors of rust and sand in a parquet pattern, while the walls were lined in a rich, creamy marble veined in gold and pale pink. A few pieces of black lacquered furniture trimmed in bright gold inlay were artfully placed around the room and a rock fountain against the back wall completed the picture. No, Janet corrected herself mentally as her eyes fell on the scantily clad figure stretched out on her stomach on the bed, her legs kicking idly in the air, the expression on her face one of giddy expectation--
"Toldya it was great," Carter inserted into the thought.
--Samantha Carter completed the picture. And very sybaritic picture at that. The sort of thing usually found in harem paintings designed to keep any viewers in a constant state of sexual excitation. Janet shook that thought off as ridiculous almost instantly. Clearly, the captain, in her Air Force issue underwear, hardly blended in with the lavish surroundings. "Not exactly what I expected," she admitted, still a little awed. She suddenly realized that a rock lined channel ran away from the fountain like a small, artificial stream, carrying the water to the top of another fountain. She turned, noting that fountain fed what looked to be a small indoor pool on the ground floor. "Unbelievable," she said at last and climbed the last few stairs. There was no railing and she carefully stepped away from the edge, the heavy pack making her feel unbalanced.
Another wide grin curved Sam's mouth and she nodded. "They traded for all of it with other worlds. It's amazing to think what the Stargate can offer when it's not used for conquest." She sounded thrilled by the idea, as though nothing beyond the scientific or military value of the gate had really occurred to her before.
"Ah." Janet made a small gesture, indicating the room. "Which is how they wound up with guest quarters that look like one of the rooms at the Madonna Inn." Sam looked blank and Janet found herself explaining, "It's a hotel in California. They have all of these fancy theme rooms." She shook her head and rolled her eyes, sounding vaguely embarrassed as she admitted, "I spent my honeymoon in the Caveman Room."
"You're married?" Sam murmured, sounding almost disappointed.
Janet looked down, frowning. No, that didn't make sense. Why would the captain care if she was married or not? It was probably just a reaction to her oh-so-thrilled tone on that subject. "Happily divorced actually," she said with a shrug, then suddenly remembered the heavy backpack and slid it off her shoulder, oddly grateful to have something to do rather than discuss that particular bit of bad judgment. She unzipped the front of her tac vest, and unbuckled the attached belt and side arm, dropping the entire rig to the floor beside the pack, more than a little relieved to be rid of it. Her jacket followed a moment later, leaving her in a black t-shirt that was far more suited to the moderate temperature. Stretching her shoulders in relief, she knelt down and began digging through her supplies.
"I guess he was a creep then?" Sam questioned, sounding worried by the prospect.
Still sorting through the pack, Fraiser didn't look up, just shrugged. "No, we just wanted and needed different things from the marriage. He wanted a free cook and housekeeper and I needed an adult." She'd reeled off the line a hundred times at least and knew exactly how to time it to get a laugh. Carter was the first one who didn't find it the least bit humorous, instead staring at her with a solemn expression.
"Sounds like it hurt," the captain said softly. "Must've felt like you failed somehow."
Brown eyes lifted. "Yes ... it did." Janet was surprised by Carter's drunken understanding. Most people never got it. They thought any remaining bitterness or anger stemmed from her ex's behavior rather than her own sense of inadequacy. Not that there was no anger where he was concerned, but she still reserved the lion's share for herself for being dumb enough to get into the situation in the first place.
"I hate failing," Sam continued, her voice low. She looked up then, eyes glossy and slightly unfocused. "Nobody ever forgets when you fail." A tiny, bitter laugh escaped her lips. "Or forgives."
There was definitely a story there. Janet considered asking only to decide against it. In her experience, drunk and depressed was bad enough, add in an alien world and old traumas, and god only knew what would come of it. Better to go the mindless cheering-up route. "Oh, I dunno," she offered by way of comfort as she stepped over to the bed, what she'd need in hand, "I've managed to overcome a few really disastrous choices in my life."
"Yeah, right," Carter disdained the entire notion, distracted from her own darker thoughts as she studied the doctor through bangs that tended to fall across her eyes. "I read your record when the memo went across my desk that you'd joined the SGC. You're almost as much of a geek as I am." Which was not something Carter would normally have said, something a distant part of her brain pointed out even as the words left her mouth. It didn't seem to stop her though. "I'll bet you've never even been drunk." She pushed into a sitting position, watching carefully as Fraiser took up a position on the edge of the bed.
"You'd lose that bet," Janet murmured. She set her things aside, then caught Sam's wrist in one hand, fingers resting along the pulse point while she kept track of the seconds on her watch. At Sam's tiny, disbelieving cough, she continued, "For your information, I spent the first year and a half of college on academic probation, hoping to get thrown out because then my parents couldn't make me go." She paused for a moment as the memory caught up with her. "I was in a garage band and we were convinced we were hot stuff." She rolled her eyes, her tone making it clear they'd been anything but. "And my weekends were spent partying and doing things that make alcohol look positively responsible."
"No way," the blond disagreed. "You're making that up." Fraiser ... a band. Oh yeah, that was a likely story.
Janet shook her head and crossed her heart, then retrieved the blood pressure cuff to wrap it around Carter's upper arm. "Scout's honor. Sang and played guitar ... had my own strat ... not to mention hair teased out to here," she held her hands a considerable distance from her head, "and spandex in some very interesting colors. As for any of the more ... unique substances I may have used ... well, I confessed all to the very nice DOD officer who ran my last several background checks. Thankfully, he couldn't have cared less." She'd lived in terror when she'd told him, but decided it was better to admit everything than have it come out later and look like she'd lied.
"You really wore spandex?" Sam questioned. Fraiser in spandex. She pushed up on her elbow, eyes running over the other woman's petite frame, taking in what she could see of her build and trying to imagine those curves in form fitting lycra. It was doubtful she even heard the rest of the doctor's comments.
"In jewel tones no less." Shaking her head at the memory, Janet tucked the stethoscope's chestpiece under the edge of the blood pressure cuff, settled the ear pieces into place and began pumping up the cuff. "However, in my defense, it was the eighties, and that was considered attractive at the time." She shuddered in remembered horror. Thankfully, like parachute pants and jackets with multitudes of useless zippers, that style was a thing of the past. As annoying as uniforms could be, they had their good points when compared with the whims of fashion.
Sam never noticed. Her mind was busy with other propositions. Like jewel tones -- exactly what did that mean -- and of course, "Spandex?" she said again. "So, was this an entire wardrobe choice or just an item or two?" She couldn't decide which idea was more disturbing. The doctor leaned a little farther forward, her change in position, pulling the t-shirt more firmly against the front of her chest. Sam calculated what that view might look like in spandex and quickly decided spandex might not be so bad after all.
"Shh," Janet hushed softly, her eyes on the dial attached to the cuff. "And it was the whole enchilada. Head to toe. There wasn't a natural fiber to be found anywhere on my body." It wasn't something she was proud of, but at least it seemed to be yanking the captain out of her depression.
Blond brows rose at the mental image that painted, though Sam was still working on the jewel tones part of it. She started to ask another question, but trailed off as she was shushed again. She winced, turning her head to glare at the pressure cuff as it compressed uncomfortably on her bicep. "I really hate those things." Another hush from the doctor and Sam sat uncomfortably until finally, the cuff was removed. She flexed her arm, working out the leftover soreness. "So, are you really a doctor, or did a rock musician just check my blood pressure?" she asked, flinching when gentle fingers tucked under her chin and a bright light was shined in her eyes. She was none too fond of that either.
"I'm really a doctor," Janet assured her, her tone making it obvious she didn't take any offense from the question and was well aware that Carter was joking. She made a thorough study of each eye before snapping the light off, allowing Sam to blink in relief. "I was well on my way to failing biology -- turns out it takes quite awhile to get kicked out due to academic probation and I was getting impatient, so I was really working at it -- when I suddenly realized it was absolutely fascinating. I've never been good at self-motivating when I'm dealing with something I hate, but if it interests me, I obsess." She shrugged. "Next thing I knew I was on the dean's list and applying for med school."
Carter still looked doubtful. "So, were you any good?"
Russet brows drew together in a frown. "I like to think so." Fraiser sounded hurt by the question. "I don't think I'd have gotten this position if someone didn't think I was reasonably competent."
"I meant the band," Sam clarified.
"Oh ... that. No ... actually, we were awful. Truly, hideously awful. An old friend of mine sent me a videotape of one of our performances a couple of years ago." Janet shuddered at the memory. "You could have used it to torture small animals. Play that sucker for the Goa'uld and they'd tell you anything you wanted to know."
Carter smiled at the faint blush staining the other woman's cheeks, enjoying her obvious embarrassment. "Couldn't have been that bad." She tried to imagine the doctor in spandex, strutting on a stage and screaming into a microphone. It didn't compute, but at the same time, she liked the image.
"Oh yes, it could," Janet disagreed. "Trust me on this. As a rock star, I make a very fine doctor." She laughed softly, then quickly diverted Carter's attention to get away from her own more embarrassing youthful foibles. There were limits to how many confessions she was willing to make, even when serving them up as a verbal anti-depressant. "So, were you one for the drunk tank in college?"
Sam shook her head and made a disgusted sound. "No ... I was younger than everyone else ... didn't party much." She looked down at her hands, weaving her fingers together to distract herself from the accompanying memories. "Besides, I always really enjoyed my studies ... and ... well ... I was kind of socially awkward."
Janet almost responded, 'As opposed to your current suave, smooth self,' only to note the look on Carter's face and decide against it. Unless she was mistaken, there were old wounds there and now was hardly the time for opening them. "Smart choice," she said instead, "I wish I'd been so wise."
Sam looked up, startled by the unexpected praise. Most people she'd met, particularly in the military, tended to mock her need to understand everything she encountered. Sam suddenly realized that the doctor had managed to tie a tourniquet around her arm without being noticed and was taking a blood sample when she felt the prick of the needle against her inner arm. She turned her head to stare at the rapidly filling vial. "It wasn't wisdom," she said a little sadly, thinking of all the times she'd wished she could be more like everyone else. "It was just who I was ... who I am. I'd rather figure out how something works than go to a bar or something like that." Slim shoulders dipped in a tiny shrug. "It's not discipline or anything. It's just what I enjoy." She'd gotten so much praise for her diligence over the years when it was nothing of the kind. She just found precious little temptation in what others seemed to enjoy, even when she wished it was otherwise.
Janet froze, staring into intelligent, if somewhat bleary blue eyes, startled to see sadness and something akin to shame there. She didn't know what to say. Here was this beautiful, and clearly brilliant woman and she seemed defensive about the very differences that were an integral part of her abilities. She suddenly realized that the test tube had finished filling, and concentrated on pulling it loose, then sliding the needle free of delicate flesh, before loosening the rubber tube tied around Sam's arm.
Sam watched as Janet taped a cotton pad to her inner elbow to soak up the tiny stream of blood still dripping from the vein. She frowned uncertainly, suddenly not entirely certain how much she'd just said and how much had been nothing more than idle thoughts. The alcohol made it hard to separate the two ... or, more correctly, harder, since she'd always had a hard time tracking what she merely thought and what actually came out of her mouth at times. "I think I am a little out of it," she admitted.
"Just a little." Janet guided Carter's forearm up so it was pressed tightly against her bicep, pasting on a professional mien to cover her own uncertainty about what to say or do. "Keep your arm like that for a minute or two until it stops bleeding."
"So, am I gonna live?" Sam asked dryly, trading in the depression in favor of faking a level of irony she seldom came close to pulling off.
"Yes ... though you may not think that's such a blessing in the morning." Janet rose, tossing things back into the pack and sealing the blood vial before placing it into a padded carrier. Finished, she stripped off her gloves and tucked them into a side pouch set aside for disposables. She folded her arms across her chest as she pivoted back. "How are you feeling?"
Her mood shifting again, Carter grinned. "You want the truth?"
"I probably shouldn't, but I still feel really good." She couldn't contain a giddy giggle and had to fight the sudden urge to hop off the bed and do something completely outrageous ... if she could just think of something. Outrageous wasn't her strong suit. "And I'm not goin' back yet." There was a mutinous challenge to her tone and expression that a person would have to be blind to miss.
Janet saw it all too well and considered several responses before settling on the relatively neutral, "In which case, I need to go speak with Colonel O'Neill for a moment."
Sam pushed up onto her knees. "I mean it," she reiterated stubbornly. She was no fool. Even drunk, she knew why the doctor was there. "I'm not going back yet." She was having fun for once by defying expectations, and the notion of going back to taking orders did not appeal at that moment.
"I got that," Fraiser reassured her. "However, I still need to let the colonel know what's going on." She stepped back over to the bed, resting a hand lightly on Carter's shoulder. "And I'd like your word that you'll stay right here until I get back."
Carter pursed her lips and folded her arms across her chest, on the verge of refusing.
"Please," Janet asked sweetly before Sam had a chance to speak.
Sam found herself agreeing before she quite knew what hit her. There was just something about the doctor's easy smile that made refusal almost impossible. She began musing drunkenly on the phenomenon as Fraiser slipped back down the stairs.