Lines in the Sand -- Part 1 by cheerful minion

Title: Lines in the Sand
Author: ocean gazer: quietoceangazer@yahoo.com
Date: 5 Nov., 2K
Rating: R ish for violence and mature themes
Category: serious angst
Archive: yes, if I�ve already given permission (otherwise, just ask)
Summary: after a traumatic event, Sam and Janet have feelings to sort out
Disclaimer: I wish I owned �em, but I don�t. The characters belong to some perfectly nice folks at MGM, Showtime, Gekko, etc. I�m just stealing them to work out my own demons and will return them as good as new. I do this for love, not money; I invite any of the aforementioned owners to steal freely.
WARNING: Refs to character assault and character rape, though nothing too explicit. Minor, minor, minor religious ref. If you are looking for sex or for a traditional happy ending, do not bother reading this story.
Notes: I have no idea any longer if this story has merit� it simply has demanded to be written. My apologies if it sucks. Criticism welcome as long as it isn�t flames; comments in general are helpful. I owe thanks to rutherford and Phil for conversations that helped me with some of the ideas; however all faults are entirely mine.

| Part 1 | Part 2 |

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Part 1

"Hey Doc!" Janet heard a note of desperation in O�Neill�s voice, and looked up quizzically as he burst through the door to her research lab. He skidded to a halt in front of her and she raised an eyebrow. "Sorry to barge in here like this, but I�ve got a bit of an emergency on my hands and need your help."

Janet shook her head in confusion. "Colonel, if you have an emergency, there is a full medical staff in the infirmary. I am off active duty for the next few days in order to get caught up on my backlog of research projects."

O�Neill waved her protest away. "Look, I need you. It�s about Carter and I don�t think she�s gonna let just anyone get near her right now. Plus, I kind of want to keep this off the record for the moment, until I figure out what�s going on and what to do about it."

Janet�s heart leapt into her throat at the mention of Sam�s name and she was on her feet without conscious thought. She hated it when anyone was hurt or in danger, but she particularly hated it when the person in question was a friend.

"What�s the problem, Sir?" she asked.

He glared at the wall behind her head. "The problem is that I don�t know what the problem is."

"Well that certainly clarifies things," she shot at him, knowing that sarcasm would steady him better than anything else she could think of. Upon closer scrutiny, she recognized that he was not nervous or scared, as she had first assumed by the tone of his voice. The Colonel was enraged, and barely containing the emotion.

His eyes were smoldering as he stared at her. "Well, I know part of the problem. You know who Mike Jacobs is?" Janet nodded in disgust and saw an answering grimace on O�Neill�s face.

Major Jacobs was the kind of man who made assholes look good in comparison. Every woman on base avoided him like the plague, given his overtly sexist attitudes. Most of the men avoided him as well, if for no other reason than his arrogance and his mercenary mentality. And no one could figure out how he had stayed in the military for so long.

O�Neill continued, "Part of the problem is that when Teal�c and I went looking for Carter--since she was half an hour late in meeting us--Jacobs was with her. I don�t know how the hell he found her; she was in that out-of-the-way, soundproofed lab you guys have for your science experiments. He was beating the crap out of her and it took both Teal�c and I to get him off of her. She had already broken some of his fingers and it didn�t slow him down any. I�d swear he was too drunk to feel any pain, but he doesn�t smell like he�s been drinking."

Alarmed, Janet grabbed her medical bag and led the way out of the room. O�Neill caught up to her and continued his story. "Carter won�t say anything about it. All is she says is that nothing happened."

Janet stopped in surprise and the Colonel nodded. "That doesn�t make any sense," Janet said. "Sam doesn�t talk much about anything personal, but something like this is different. I would have expected her to be putting Jacobs on report herself."

"Yeah, you and me both," O�Neill growled as he led the way down to the lab.

Janet could almost see the red flare of anger as an aura around his head. She took a moment to wonder why his feelings were so strong: though she knew he had been attracted to Sam in the past, she also knew (thanks to O�Neill�s effusive reaction to morphine) that his feelings had mellowed into the intense friendship that comes with being teammates in a dangerous line of work.

Then Janet took a moment to wonder precisely why O�Neill�s current depth of emotion was causing a surge of jealousy to rise in her own chest. It wasn�t like she and Sam were anything more than friends.

"I hate bullies," O�Neill stated flatly, as if he had read Janet�s mind and was answering the first part of her question. "I hate people who think their size and strength give them the power to do anything to anybody."

Janet patted his arm, in a clumsy gesture of sympathy, and then abruptly they reached their destination. Janet couldn�t resist a shocked gasp as she took in the scene. Teal�c was sitting on Jacobs, who was struggling to get out from under the Jaffa. Jacobs looked bad, with rising bruises on his face and small cuts lacing his arms. But Sam looked worse�her face bruised and scraped, blood streaming down from two nasty lacerations across her forehead.

As Janet stared at her friend, she fought to steady her breathing and snap herself into doctor mode. She noted almost absently that Sam�s clothes had been ripped in several places.

Sam sat stone-like on a tabletop, and didn�t look up as Janet approached for a cursory exam. O�Neill�s voice was dangerously calm as he asked, "So, Carter, what happened here?"

Sam regarded the floor with casual interest, but Janet had a hand on Sam�s arm and could feel the tension flooding the other woman. "Nothing, Sir," Sam said quietly.

From under Teal�c, Jacobs called out, "Like she said, Colonel, there�s no problem."

Janet looked up and saw O�Neill�s face set more firmly into a mask of disgust. Janet left Sam�s side and went over to O�Neill. "Sir," she whispered, "let me get Jacobs patched up and then you and Teal�c can take him somewhere else while I see to Sam. I don�t know that she�ll tell me what happened, but I think I�ll have a better chance than anyone else." He nodded and she moved over to Jacobs.

Teal�c climbed off of the man, but kept a firm grip on him as he forced Jacobs to sit on the floor.

Moving quickly, professionally, and none too gently, Janet did a brief exam, first examining the man�s bruises and then applying alcohol to the cuts on his arms.

"Dammit, Doc, that hurts!"

O�Neill muttered something that Janet was just as happy to not have heard.

Her voice crisp, she instructed her patient to "stop squirming and it won�t hurt as much." She then turned her attention to the man�s left hand. Three of his fingers were broken and Janet winced at the thought that even the pain of his hand had not slowed Jacobs down. O�Neill gave her an approving glance as she set the bones in one finger, wringing a cry from Jacobs.

Janet turned her attention briefly to Sam, to see what her reaction to his expression of pain would be. If anything, the sound seemed to have caused Sam to go even more rigid with tension, though she continued to stare at the floor with a carefully blank expression.

Janet hurried through setting his other two fingers, and then Teal�c and O�Neill stood Jacobs between them. "Ok, Jacobs," O�Neill said, as if he�d finally made up his mind about the situation, "we�re gonna go have a little talk before I drag your ass to Hammond�s office."

Janet gaped in shock as Jacobs snarled something nearly unintelligible, with only the phrase "that fucking bitch ruining my career" distinguishable. With a violent burst of energy, he threw Teal�c sideways and shoved O�Neill backwards. Both men landed hard on the ground, and judging by their expressions�they couldn�t believe Jacobs� strength.

Jacobs shoved past Janet, knocking her down as well, and then launched himself at Carter. Sam stared, frozen, at the man approaching her, and Janet found herself thinking of a deer caught in headlights. Janet heard the sound of a hand striking flesh, saw Sam knocked off the table into a heap on the floor, and watched in horror as Jacobs kicked Sam violently in the ribs.

Teal�c and O�Neill both regained their feet and nearly had a hold of Jacobs, when the man convulsed and collapsed, landing on top of Carter.

With no trace of concern for the unconscious man, Teal�c pulled Jacobs off of Carter and shoved him aside. Janet struggled to her feet and took the man�s pulse. It was racing and erratic, and spasms racked his body. "Get a medical team down here now!" Janet commanded Teal�c, who sprinted out of the room with more speed than she would have expected from a man his size. She fumbled for a syringe and injected the contents into Jacobs, noting that his convulsions slowed a little.

Then, she turned her attention to Sam, who remained in a heap and whose eyes were suspiciously glassy. O�Neill stood uncomfortable and helpless, and Janet told him to take Jacobs� pulse, just so he�d have something to do.

She placed a gentle hand on Sam�s shoulder, and squeezed very lightly. "It�s going to be okay, Sam."

Sam gave the barest of nods in response, and Janet turned back to the emergency happening in front of her. Teal�c ushered the medical team in and she gave them a brief over-view of the scene and the drug she had administered.

The medics hauled Jacobs out on a stretcher and Matthews, the doctor on duty, met Janet�s eyes. "I�m no expert in illicit drugs," he said, "but I�ll bet a year�s salary that his toxicology screen will show lots of them." She nodded her agreement, and then he gestured to Carter and asked, "Do you want me to send someone to help you here, or are you coming down to the infirmary?"

Janet shook her head. "We�ll come down to the infirmary in a little while. But I don�t need any help; right now I think the fewer people around, the better." He nodded and ran after his newest charge.

O�Neill gestured Teal�c to a guardian position at the lab door, as Janet reached out to help Sam into a sitting position. O�Neill squatted down in front of the women, so that he was at eye-level. "Look, Carter," he began uncertainly, "I think I know why you didn�t want to tell me what happened."

Janet had one arm around Sam�s back, and she felt the woman�s body go rigid with tension again at the statement.

O�Neill didn�t seem to notice as he continued, "Given how Jacobs was acting, I can understand that you would be worried about him taking revenge on you later for putting him on report. But I guarantee that he will not be at the SGC any longer to even have a chance at coming after you."

Janet didn�t claim to be a mind reader, but she was fairly sure that the thought of Jacobs taking revenge was not the main reason for Sam�s reticence. The emotions Janet was picking up from her friend seemed to be only distantly related to the actual physical assault�though Janet had no idea why she was so certain of that.

O�Neill glanced at Sam and said, "I don�t want to ask this, Carter, but do you have any idea why Jacobs came after you?" Sam swallowed hard and shook her head slightly.

Janet could tell Sam was lying with the gesture, and she jumped in to keep O�Neill from figuring that out. (Normally Janet wouldn�t have helped cover up a lie, but something about the fear in Sam�s demeanor overrode Janet�s conscience.) "Sir, with someone like Jacobs, does there have to be a reason? I mean, you know as well as I do that he is a nasty man�maybe Sam was just the first victim he came across when he decided to go out and beat up on someone."

She could feel a small part of the tension drain from Sam�s body as the Colonel nodded thoughtfully at her words. "You�ve got a good point there, Doc." He paused for a moment. "I think Teal�c and I will head down to the infirmary and then report to General Hammond. I�ll let him know that you�ll report to him as soon as Carter is a little more ready for a de-briefing."

Sam lifted her head and Janet could feel her struggle to keep her voice steady. "Thank you, Sir. I mean�for everything�"

O�Neill started to reach out and pat her shoulder, and then thought better of it. "It�ll be ok, Carter," he said, with unusual warmth, and then he and Teal�c left the women alone.

Janet helped Sam get off the floor and sit on the tabletop, and then she reached for her medical bag. Sam stared listlessly at the wall while Janet cleaned the lacerations on her forehead and probed delicately at the bruised face. But when Janet reached out to touch Sam�s ripped shirt the blonde jerked back as if she�d been struck.

"Sam, I know this is hard for you. But I need to check you out, to know how badly you�ve been hurt." Janet stood very still, watching a tremor work its way down Carter�s spine. She kept her voice soft and soothing as she continued, "If you�d be more comfortable, someone else can examine you�that wouldn�t bother me."

Sam kept her eyes averted, but gave a single, emphatic, shake of the head.

Janet studied the other woman for a long moment and when she thought it was safe, she reached out again. She felt a surge of gratitude that Sam didn�t pull away, and then a surge of concern because Carter was once again rigid with tension.

Gently, moving slowly, Janet stripped Sam out of her shirt. She couldn�t restrain a gasp at the livid bruises painting Sam�s exposed flesh. Her arms, her stomach, and her chest all bore numerous purpling marks.

There was something vaguely troubling about the pattern of the marks across Sam�s stomach, and Janet knit her brows as she examined the bruises. She leaned in for a closer look, gently unfastening Sam�s pants and easing them down Sam�s hips, and then Janet took a sharp breath as she realized just what she was seeing.

Janet felt a wave of nausea flood her body. "Did Major Jacobs attempt to rape you?"

Sam�s eyes screwed shut and she hung her head. Janet stood in front of Carter, unexpectedly furious with the other woman. "Why the hell didn�t you tell Colonel O�Neill? It�s bad enough that he thinks you�re covering up a simple unprovoked assault. Sam, this is serious stuff. Why the hell are you trying to protect an asshole like Jacobs?"

Sam opened her eyes and looked up at Janet. Janet winced at the bitterness reflected. Sam�s words came in a rush, as though she said more than she intended. "Maybe it�s me that I�m trying to protect."

Completely puzzled by the revelation, Janet rested her hand gently on Sam�s leg, just above her knee. Her anger faded and her voice reverberated with warmth. "Sam, please talk to me. Tell me what�s going on."

Carter bit her lip in indecision and her breathing quickened. Janet could tell from the woman�s reaction that Sam wanted to talk to someone, that Sam desperately needed someone she could trust. She could also tell that Sam wasn�t sure that someone was Janet.

"C�mon, Sam," Janet pleaded, "I�m your friend. There�s nothing you can say to me that will change that."

Sam closed her eyes again and Janet heard the curious bitterness reflected in her tone. "You�d be surprised."

Janet continued to stand with her hand on Sam�s leg, projecting reassurance as hard as she could. Just when she had decided Sam had turned mute, the blond spoke in a thin whisper, each word battling its way out of her mouth. "Yes, Jacobs did try to rape me. And yes, I know why he attacked me."

Janet burned with the desire to ask questions, but she feared the slightest sound would send Sam scuttling back into her shell. Instead she waited, spellbound, while Sam fought a battle against her silent fears.

Sam�s eyes popped open, fixed on an empty point in space, her voice still barely reaching Janet�s ear, each word measured. "I never told him, I swear I didn�t. But somehow he found out about me�found out I am�am�gay.

"I don�t know how�or who�I mean, it�s not something I talk about. Ever. I wouldn�t even confirm it when he accused me�but he said�he said that since I didn�t deny it, it was the same as if I�d told him." Her voice trailed off for a moment. "He kept after me, kept saying all I needed was a good�fu�fuck�from a real man. I wanted to report him, but�"

Janet spoke quietly, suddenly understanding Sam�s reticence, filling in the blank. "But with this policy of �Don�t ask, don�t tell,� how could you report him without getting yourself in trouble as well?"

Sam nodded, her hands unconsciously curling into fists. "I thought I�d scared him off the other day; I told him if he bothered me again, I would tell General Hammond, consequences be damned. I guess it just made him mad."

She took a deep breath, and Janet could see how her body trembled with repressed emotion. Janet moved closer to her friend. "God, Sam, I am so sorry." She wrapped her arms around Sam, half expecting Sam to pull away. To her relief and surprise, Sam rested her head on Janet�s shoulder, and her arms tightened around Janet�s waist.

The two hung in the embrace for what could have been decades. Janet could think of nothing, save the hurt woman in her arms, amazed and honored that Sam had actually opened up to her.

After a while, Sam loosened her grip and pulled away to look up at Janet. "I�m sorry," she began, "I didn�t mean�" Janet cut her off with a light finger on Sam�s lips.

"You have nothing to apologize for, Samantha Carter. The only person who should be apologizing is Jacobs." Janet weighed each word carefully as she spoke, wanting to make sure Sam felt her sincerity. "We�re friends, and I meant it when I said that nothing you could tell me would change that. I�m honored that you opened up to me, and that you told me what happened."

Sam hung her head, and spoke quietly, as if she hated having the words come out of her mouth, but needed to say them anyway. "I meant about the being gay thing. I shouldn�t have�"

Once again, Janet laid a soft, interrupting touch on Carter�s mouth. She cupped Sam�s chin very gently, mindful of the bruises, and coaxed Sam�s head up to meet her gaze. "I know what you meant, and you still don�t have anything to be sorry about. It�s not an issue for me. It doesn�t change the fact that you�re my friend."

She saw the relief flood Sam�s eyes, and Janet pulled her into another hug, feeling the tension draining from the woman�s body.

This time it was Janet who broke the embrace, saying, "As much as I hate to spoil the moment, I imagine Colonel O�Neill is waiting impatiently for me to bring you down to the infirmary. Besides, we really need to get you ice-packs for a couple of these bruises."

Sam took a quick breath, nodding her head. A trace of fear played under her words as she slid awkwardly off the table. "I don�t want this conversation to go on report."

Janet raised an eyebrow. "As far as I�m concerned, Major Jacobs attacked you for no apparent reason. You are in a state of shock, which is why you wouldn�t talk to Colonel O�Neill when he asked you what happened. And if Jacobs tells a different story, well, as we all know, the man is a liar."

She paused for a moment. "Besides, this is a confidential conversation between a doctor and a patient."

She helped Sam pull her shirt back on as she talked, and was caught by surprise as Sam grabbed her hand.

"Janet, I�I really feel better, now that you know. Thanks for�for being here for me."

The warmth those simple stuttered words raised in Janet�s heart caught her off-guard. She smiled at her friend, using humor to keep from drowning in the intense blue gaze. "Well, you know, it�s the least I can do for a woman who runs around routinely saving the universe and stuff."

Sam favored her with a soft laugh, and Janet grabbed up her medical bag and slid her free arm around Sam�s waist. "Lean on me, Sam. You�ve taken some hard blows, and I don�t want you fainting on me on the way to the infirmary. That would make me look like a pretty incompetent doctor."

Sam grumbled a little, but acquiesced, and the two made their way out of the room. Janet noted that Sam was leaning heavily against her, her face lined with exhaustion.

O�Neill looked up when they entered the infirmary, and Janet was struck by the grimness in his eyes. She looked around as she helped Sam into an empty bed, surprised to see that O�Neill was alone.

"Where�s Dr. Matthews? And what happened to Jacobs?"

O�Neill opened his mouth to answer, but the arrival of General Hammond and Teal�c closed it again. Instead, it was the General who spoke. "Doctor Matthews felt that the Major�s condition was too serious for us here; he accompanied Jacobs to the hospital. Given the amount of drugs in his system and our limited resources for such occurrences here, I allowed the Major to be transferred, though I am uncomfortable having him off base while this incident is under investigation."

Janet stared at the General, incredulous. "They can�t possibly have gotten the toxicology screen back so quickly."

He agreed, saying, "They didn�t. But one of your nurses has ER experience. He worked in a hospital that dealt with a lot of drug cases, and he is positive that Major Jacobs is high as the proverbial kite."

A muffled sound showed O�Neill�s amusement with the General�s choice of phrases. Janet felt the tug of a smile on her own lips, so she turned to Sam to hide the reaction.

Hammond spared O�Neill a long-suffering glance before walking over to stand beside Carter. O�Neill and Teal�c also moved in closer to the wounded woman.

While they flanked her on one side, Janet moved around the bed to stand on the other side. Sam looked uncomfortable with the ring of faces surrounding her, and Janet reached out to press her fingers against Sam�s wrist. She hoped fervently that no one would ask what Sam�s pulse was, since she didn�t have the slightest idea; her touch was intended solely to reassure the other woman.

The General spoke in a lower voice than his usual boom. "I realize this is not a pleasant experience to recount, but I need to know what happened."

Janet jumped in before Sam could answer. "This needs to be brief, Sir. She�s still in a state of shock. That�s why she wouldn�t say anything to Colonel O�Neill before."

Hammond looked irritated as he met Janet�s eyes. "I�m aware of that, Doctor," he said curtly.

Sam cleared her throat self-consciously, drawing all the attention back on herself. She gave a very brief account of what happened, following Janet�s earlier lead that Jacobs had attacked her without provocation. Lowering her head, Carter admitted that Jacobs had tried to rape her.

O�Neill slammed a fist against his own leg and muttered something to Teal�c that Janet couldn�t hear.

Apparently, General Hammond heard it because he shot an icy glance at him. "Do you have something to add?" Hammond challenged. O�Neill�s response was a quick shake of the head.

Janet watched as Sam sank back against the pillow, and she caught the General�s attention. "Sir, I really think it would be best if we continued this some other time. Sam�s been through a lot and really needs some rest."

A very young nurse chose that moment to burst through the door with a ringing cell phone, causing everyone but Teal�c to start in alarm. Faced with annoyed faces, the nurse stuttered, "It belongs to Dr. Matthews, the phone, I mean, and I don�t know what I should do about it, I mean, what would I say?"

"The usual option would be to answer it and say �Hello�," shot O�Neill as Janet walked over to the nurse, grabbed the phone, and answered it in a quiet voice.

She waved the nurse out of the room and turned her back on her companions, though she was aware of their curious glances.

"Well?" queried O�Neill, as Janet shut the phone off without saying good-bye. She turned to once again face the others.

"Well, that was Dr. Matthews. He called to tell us that Major Jacobs is dead. They are still waiting for the toxicology confirmation and will have to do an autopsy, but the doctors are certain it was a self-administered drug overdose."

For a long moment, no one moved. Janet wasn�t even sure anyone was breathing, aware only of an oppressive silence.

Oddly enough, it was Teal�c who broke the silence. "It appears matters have resolved themselves without the necessity of our intervention," he stated to O�Neill. The Colonel nodded and General Hammond turned to the two men, aggravation written across his face.

While the General gave them his lecture on going through channels, Janet returned to Sam�s side, her fingers once again seeking out the woman�s wrist. Sam looked up at Janet, her expression unreadable. Janet could see the pallor of Sam�s face even through the bruises, and cleared her throat to catch the General�s attention.

He broke off mid-lecture and turned to Janet. "Given the new circumstances, I don�t think we need to continue this at the moment. Major Carter�s unofficial statement will be sufficient for now, especially since I�ll pretty much have my hands full dealing with the hospital�s report on Jacobs. Will she be released from the infirmary by tomorrow?"

Janet nodded and said, "I�ll probably release her tonight; despite her injuries, there will be no real reason to keep her captive down here after I finish my treatment." Janet shot a fond smile at Sam. "I don�t know why, but everyone seems to hate spending time in the infirmary."

Sam�s expression didn�t change, but she cocked her head ever so slightly to the side in acknowledgement, and Janet felt herself warmed by the gesture.

His voice softened as he addressed Carter. "We�ll get your formal report tomorrow, and have your psychological evaluation. And then I am putting you on official leave for the next two weeks. Get yourself away from the base, and take some time to rest, and try and put this incident behind you."

Carter took a shaky breath and Janet could feel, through her touch on Sam�s wrist, that the other woman was less than pleased with the proclamation. Sam spoke steadily, though Janet could see what a struggle she had to keep her voice even. "Sir, I really think I need to work. I need something to keep myself occupied."

The General�s tone rang firm, but Janet noted that his gaze was kind. "Major Carter," Hammond said, "I understand that feeling, but I don�t really have any limited duty assignments that would keep a mind of your caliber occupied."

Sam chewed her lip and seemed to find her lap to be of intense interest.

Janet glanced at Sam and suddenly inspiration knocked her over the head. Janet would have completely agreed with the leave time, had the patient been anyone other than Sam. But Janet knew very well that simply sending Sam home would not achieve the effect the General intended. She caught Hammond�s gaze, and spoke quickly, even though she knew his last statement had been intended as a definite "no".

"Sir, if everything checks out with the psych evaluation, why not let Sam help me with my research projects? I�m off active duty for a few days to try and get my backlog under control, and her help would be invaluable. Medically speaking, I can keep an eye on her more easily if she�s here. And it would only be for five days, because then I am taking a week�s leave�"

She let her voice trail off and turned her gaze back to Sam, who looked up to meet her eyes. Janet could easily read the glimmer of hope in the blue gaze as the General considered the idea. Sam surreptitiously turned her wrist in Janet�s loose grasp and pressed her long fingers against Janet�s in a silent "thank you".

Hammond frowned as he considered her words. "Are you sure that�s a good idea, Doctor?" he queried.

Janet met his frown with one of her own, annoyed that the General had questioned her expertise. Her tone was hardened steel. "Sir, I know better than anyone the injuries Major Carter has sustained. I�m also not proposing that she do anything more complicated than sit at a desk and confirm research findings, which is probably more rest than she would get if she were at home. I realize this is not usual protocol, but I am of the opinion that it is in the best interest of my patient."

Hammond met Fraiser�s eyes, and he offered a brief nod. "If it�s what you think is best, Doctor, then I�ll let you be responsible for her care. She can help with the research projects, but I don�t want her around the SGC without your presence. She�ll simply have to take time away while you are on leave."

Janet felt the sudden urge to ask when her job description had been updated to read "24/7 babysitter" (as well as the urge to ask why they were discussing Sam as if she was not even in the room), but then she noticed O�Neill mimicking the General�s manner behind his back.

At the sight, her annoyance faded, chased away by a sudden urge to giggle. "Thank you, Sir," she said simply, afraid that her amusement could not remain contained if she said anything more complicated.

She glanced back at Sam and was pleased to see the ghost of a smile flit across the bruised face as Sam caught a glimpse of O�Neill�s antics. The blonde woman wrenched her attention back to the General. "Thank you, Sir," she echoed Janet.

The General moved forward and patted Carter�s shoulder kindly. "Get some rest, Major. I�m sorry this unfortunate incident ever happened. We�ll talk more tomorrow." She nodded and he left the room, calling out to O�Neill and Teal�c to report to his office as soon as was convenient.

O�Neill moved close in to the bed, Teal�c shadowing him. "Well, I suppose I�d better go see what General Hammond wants."

Janet gave a short laugh. "He probably wants to lecture you about doing public impersonations of him."

O�Neill gave a one-shouldered shrug. "Look, Carter," he began, "get yourself better. We�ll do our best to keep this thing behind closed doors."

Carter looked up at the Colonel. "Thank you, Sir," she said quietly. "I really appreciate everything you�ve done for me. I owe you big time."

Janet watched, grinning wickedly, as O�Neill squirmed under Carter�s sincere gaze; O�Neill hated displays of affection and sympathy and, well, emotion in general.

"No you don�t, Major," he said quickly. "Hell, Carter, I�m just trying to catch up for all the times you�ve saved all our butts. You know, all that science mumbo-jumbo stuff you pull out of your as�I mean�your hat. Well, anyway, if it wasn�t for you, I think the Doc is the only one who would be here, so it�s just strictly a returning the favor sort of thing."

Janet bit her lip, trying hard not to laugh aloud as Teal�c jumped in to save O�Neill from the embarrassing pit he was digging deeper with each word.

Teal�c said, "I think that Major Carter has sufficient grasp of what you are attempting to say. General Hammond is awaiting our arrival."

O�Neill flushed and turned quickly away, as Teal�c offered a brief phrase of comfort to Carter. The Jaffa put a hand on the Colonel�s back and propelled him out of the room.

The moment they left, Janet could no longer restrain herself. She collapsed against the side bar of Sam�s bed, laughing hysterically. Tears streamed down her face and she was only vaguely aware of Sam patting her back lightly. She managed to pull herself together, recalling Sam�s condition to the front of her mind. She stood and wiped hastily at her eyes with the sleeve of her shirt.

Janet looked down at Sam, relieved to see that a tiny smile creased Sam�s mouth. Still giddy with laughter, Janet said the first thing that came to mind. "God, it�s good to see you smile. You�ve given me a hell of a scare."

Sam exhaled quickly, and the smile faded into a grimace. Janet sobered immediately at the change in mood as Sam whispered, "You and me both." She screwed her eyes shut as if the images of the attack were dancing around in the empty infirmary air. "I thought�I thought�"

Janet reached out lightly and stroked a comforting path through Sam�s hair. She took it as a good sign when Sam didn�t pull away, and when Sam took a long, deep breath. Janet said softly, "I know." In truth, she wasn�t sure she did know, but she felt like the phrase needed to be spoken. "I�m just glad you�re safe," she continued.

Sam�s eyes popped open at that. The smile came back to dust her lips and Janet felt a warm rush of tenderness. She pushed that feeling to one side and with a last caress of Sam�s hair, reverted back to doctor mode. She busied herself with icepacks and then examined the lacerations cutting across Sam�s forehead. Janet tensed as she saw Sam wince under her ministrations, but Sam made no sound.

Janet gently probed the cuts, and then told Sam, "I�m afraid these wounds need stitches." Sam nodded her understanding. Janet lowered her voice to say, "I know you really don�t want to talk about this, but I need to know what he cut you with, so that I know what exactly I�m dealing with here."

Sam examined the far wall with studious care, but answered in a fairly steady voice. "He broke a specimen jar against the wall and used one of the pieces on me before I got it away from him."

Now it was Janet�s turn to wince, her imagination supplying more images than she cared to contemplate. Sam must have noticed her reaction; the Major laid one hand on the doctor�s arm.

Janet, caught off-guard, locked her gaze with Sam�s. She was surprised to see the depths of concern in Sam�s eyes, and the one corner of her mind that was still operating rationally found it interesting that their roles in the current drama had momentarily shifted.

Sam spoke quietly. "Are you okay, Janet?" It seemed to Janet that Sam wanted to say more, but didn�t have the right words.

Janet shook off her own reaction and covered Sam�s reassuring hand with her own. "This isn�t exactly how I wanted to spend the evening. But I think, under the circumstances, that I�m doing a lot better than you are."

Sam nodded briefly, accepting the statement as what Janet intended�a reprieve from reliving the emotions of the evening in too much detail. Both women seemed somehow aware that there was a whole untouched conversation ready to break forth that neither had the energy to begin, let alone finish.

Without another word, Janet gave Sam a surface anesthetic and proceeded to stitch up the ugly lacerations. Right as she finished, Dr. Matthews stepped through the doorway, a lot more jovial than Janet would have expected under the circumstances.

She raised an eyebrow and he winked at her. "Well, it appears that my initial diagnosis was correct. Jacobs had a lot of illicit drugs in his body. Frankly, the hospital doc is surprised he managed to run around as long as he did. And I�m sure you will both be pleased to know that everything is being handled off the record."

Janet gave a simple nod in response. He raised an eyebrow at her silence, and then did a visual exam of Carter. He turned again to Fraiser. "Thanks for patching up my patient," he said.

Janet laughed briefly at that. "Sorry, Matthews. She�s my patient now. You got to have Jacobs."

He shuddered in mock horror, not bothering to hide the contempt he had felt for the man. Janet took a moment to wonder if anyone would mourn the dead Major. She glanced at Sam, whose face indicated she was wondering the same thing.

Before either woman could get swept up in that train of thought, Matthews intervened, albeit unknowingly. "So, is your patient staying the night, or can I release her into your care? Given those lacerations, I don�t want her staying by herself for at least 24 hours."

Janet glanced at Sam, as if for an opinion. Sam licked her lips self-consciously. "I can just stay here. I don�t want to be any bother," she started.

That statement made up Janet�s mind. "You can release her into my care." She saw Sam�s mouth open to protest, and spoke quickly. "Sam, honestly, you won�t be any bother, and I think you�d be a lot more comfortable at my house than here. And General Hammond already has assigned you to my care."

Sam�s lips curved into a faint smile and Janet pressed her advantage. "Besides, Cassie is spending the next three weeks at the summer camp run by her school, so I need someone to look after." At that statement, a full smile lit Sam�s face, and Janet smiled in response.

Janet agreed with Matthews that Sam shouldn�t be alone, though her reasons had nothing to do with the physical injuries. Her sole concern was Sam�s emotional state. And she was pleased to note that the normally stoic Sam didn�t seem to want to be alone either.

Matthews, whose sensitive personality ranked right up there with Colonel O�Neill�s, was oblivious to any undercurrent of emotion. He gave Carter another brief visual survey, told Janet to keep Carter from doing anything strenuous, and then sauntered off to search for his young, wayward nurse.

The two women simply stared at each other for a moment, then Janet came around to help Sam out of bed. Sam clung awkwardly to Janet�s arm and said, "I feel like I�m made out of rubber."

Janet said helpfully, "Well, enjoy it while you can, since by tomorrow you�ll be stiff as a board."

Sam�s answering look had four letter words written all over it.

* * * * * *

An hour later, the two were curled on Janet�s couch. Sam lay on her side, eyes fixed on the fire crackling merrily in the fireplace. It seemed an odd time to have a fire, since it was nearly July, but Janet had decided she wanted the comfort of the flames. And now, watching Sam�s eyes filled with flickering light, Janet was glad she�d followed her impulse.

Janet took another sip of wine and then turned her attention back to the macaroni and cheese she was eating. She had made it for Sam, hoping to get some food into her. Sam had managed only about three bites before setting the bowl aside. Janet didn�t push the issue, knowing Sam was still in shock.

Hell, I�m still in shock, Janet thought, taking another sip of wine, noting absently that red wine went rather well with macaroni, using the latter observation as proof of the former.

She finished her meal, lying back against the arm of the couch, stretching her legs out and settling them on top of Sam�s curled legs. The blond jumped in shock at the touch, as if she had forgotten her companion entirely, then relaxed as she realized the touch came from Janet. Neither woman spoke.

Sam�s whole awareness seemed captivated by the fire. Janet found herself captivated by Sam. She studied the other woman, as if seeing her for the first time. In a way, she felt she was, given the new information she had learned from Sam earlier.

It wasn�t that Janet suddenly saw Sam in a different light because she was gay. It was just that a lot of things seemed to make complete sense to Janet for the first time.

There was the way Sam held everyone at arms length, even though Janet knew she cared deeply for those around her. There was the way she avoided any mention of relationships and family, the way she skipped past any questions about her personal life. Janet knew some of that behavior was simply Sam being a work-obsessed scientist, but now she could see that there was another reason for it. Janet realized, of course, that she was simply speculating, but she knew Sam better than most people and her new observations made perfect sense.

Janet broke away from her rambling thoughts when she noticed what felt like a mini-earthquake under her legs. She sat up as she realized Sam�s whole body was shaking: whether with emotion or with cold, Janet couldn�t tell.

Janet reached out a tentative hand to rest on one of Sam�s legs. The other woman jerked her attention away from the fire, glazed blue eyes staring guilelessly up at Janet.

"Are you cold, Sam?" Janet asked simply, her hand patting a soft rhythm against Sam�s thigh.

The blonde shook her head, her body still shivering. She managed to stutter, "Just�overwhelmed. Too many memories�"

Janet suddenly knew, with a certainty that left her willing to believe in psychic ability, that this was not the first time Sam had been attacked for the simple reason that she loved women instead of men. She stared into the open blue eyes, reading the layers of hurt that normally stayed hidden, seeing the twin flashes of fear and shame.

Janet kept her voice low and soft. "How many times has this happened, Sam?"

Another tremor shook Sam�s body, and she looked back to the flames, as if for guidance. "This is the�the second time I�ve been�assaulted�because of being gay."

Despite her own foresight, Janet felt the pangs of shock radiating through her body. And suddenly, she had to know�needed to know�what had happened the other time. She wondered why the need for knowledge was so intense, but tucked the question away since no answer was forthcoming.

She still had her hand on Sam�s leg in a soft caress, and she asked quietly, "Was the other assault this bad?"

The tiniest of laughs reached her ear. A long moment later, Sam answered, her eyes suddenly bright with the tears she�d been holding in all day. "It was worse."

And before her brain could even tell her it was a bad idea, Janet blurted out, "You were raped the other time, weren�t you?"

And then the flood of tears hit Sam; she broke into painful sobs, but still managed to nod in response to the question.

Janet felt her own tears welling up: she felt a sense of guilt for forcing the issue, but a sense of relief that Sam seemed to be releasing a few of her demons.

Not knowing what else to do, Janet reached out, and pulled Sam into a sitting position, and folded her in a tight embrace. She was surprised at how readily Sam clung to her. And, truth be told, she was amazed at being allowed to see Sam in such a vulnerable state.

They held onto each other as if they were the only tangible things in the universe, and Janet found herself crying just as hard as Sam, feeling a sense of grief that anyone had to endure that kind of pain, feeling a sense of anguish that anyone would be attacked simply because of who they loved.

When Sam�s sobs tapered down to small hiccups, Janet pulled back to stare deep into the tear stained face. The sight of the red eyes and the purple bruises tore at Janet�s heart. "I�m sorry, Sam," Janet muttered. "I didn�t mean to pry�"

Sam swallowed hard. "I�ve never talked about this before�"

She laid her head on Janet�s shoulder and Janet reached up to stroke Sam�s hair. "I can�t even begin to imagine what it�s been like for you, Sam. Simply being attacked is bad enough, but not feeling able to talk about what happened or why�"

Janet could hear the anger flaring in her own voice as her words skidded to a halt, not sure what else to say.

She opted to stay silent, and then Sam offered unexpectedly, "I never had anyone I felt I could trust, until now."

She snuggled tighter against Janet and the doctor felt the weight of guilt lift from her heart. Janet knew she had pushed harder than she should have, but she felt reassured that Sam had confided in her because she wanted to and not simply because she had been pushed.

For a long while, neither Janet nor Sam spoke, they just held each other and watched the fire die down to embers. Finally, Janet was struck by a sudden sense of fatigue. "I think maybe we ought to head to bed. Tomorrow is going to be hell if we don�t at least try to get some sleep."

She felt the motion as Sam nodded her agreement. "Janet?"

"Hmm?"

There was a slight tension in Sam�s voice as she asked, "Could I sleep with you tonight? I�well�if you don�t want�" Her words trailed off, as if she suddenly thought better of asking to share a bed with Janet after confiding in Janet that she was gay.

Janet felt a rush of sorrow as she recognized the reason for Sam�s discomfort, a rush of sorrow that because of that one little piece of knowledge, they were closer friends who suddenly had an awkward bridge between them.

She knew Sam well enough to know Sam would be tentative around her for a while, not wanting to offend her in any way. Sam might argue a lot and state her opinions clearly in her role as a soldier, but Janet had seen the sensitive side of the woman, and knew that Sam had an empathic streak a mile wide.

"To be honest, Sam, I was going to ask if you would mind sleeping with me. It�s been a fairly traumatic day all the way around, and I would feel a lot better just having you next to me."

Janet wrestled herself off the couch and held out a hand to help Sam up, noting the relief flickering in the blue eyes. She slid her arm around Sam�s waist, and was gratified when Sam let herself lean against her.

They made their way to the bedroom and Janet helped Sam get ready for bed. Once the blonde was tucked snugly under the blankets, and settled as comfortably as her injuries would allow, Janet went through her own preparations. She slid smoothly under the covers, and rolled onto her side to take a last look at Sam.

Sam had fallen asleep already, her face relaxing in slumber. Janet studied her for a long time, amazed at the sudden realization of just how attractive Sam was, bruises and all. She took a moment to ponder that, reaching out to brush a feather of hair off Sam�s forehead.

It wasn�t that she just suddenly noticed her friend�s physical beauty�even a life lived in fatigues and battle gear couldn�t hide Sam�s looks. Janet came to the somewhat startling conclusion that it was the sense of vulnerability and trust that she was attracted to. The two women had entered a very intimate space in the course of a single day, and Janet found that her feelings had intensified to the point that she could almost imagine herself falling in love with the woman lying next to her.

"Geez, Fraiser, get a grip," she whispered to herself. "You�re still in shock. There�s nothing between you and Sam other than friendship."

Giving herself a mental shake, Janet turned to her other side and turned off the light on the night table. She leaned back over and pressed a small kiss to Sam�s temple. "Sweet dreams, Sam."

Continue to Part 2

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