Dr. Janet Fraiser, ranking physician at Stargate Command, stepped out of the shower, feeling cleaner, but no less tired or worried, than when she had stepped in 15 minutes before. Sam was in trouble, and the doctor couldn�t help her.
From the first, Janet had been leery about using SG-1 as guinea pigs for the ancient Atanik armbands. But the Tok�ra scientist Anise had convinced General Hammond and Colonel O�Neill that it was important to determine if the devices, which she had discovered, really did give their wearers superior speed and strength. And Anise�s host, Freya, had assured the men that every safety precaution would be taken.
Since Teal�c�s symbiote precluded his wearing an armband, only Jack O�Neill, Major Samantha Carter, and Daniel Jackson had been fitted with the devices. The bands had quickly proved that their powers were more than a myth. The three test subjects had become stronger and faster, bench pressing hundreds pounds, running at incredible speeds, reading lengthy books in seconds.
Anise had been pleased with the results, but Janet had grown increasingly concerned about the toll the alien devices were taking on her patients� bodies. Performing her own tests on the members of SG-1, the doctor had discovered that their temperatures had risen significantly, indicating the presence of a virus. She had confronted Anise, who admitted that the Atanik armband released a virus into the wearer�s system to access his or her physiology. Angry that the Tok�ra had been keeping vital information from her, the doctor had barely managed to keep her temper. How dare the woman put Sam and the others at risk!
Armed with this new information and her own observations, Janet had been able to convince General Hammond to halt the experiment until they could learn more about the virus�s side effects. Carter, O�Neill, and Jackson�s strenuous objections to the order to remove the armbands had been disturbing but not surprising. As Janet informed them, she had already suspected that the virus had a narcotic-like effect. Neither that comment nor any of the doctor�s other medical concerns had swayed the members of SG-1. Still, they hadn�t been ready to disobey the general�s direct order and had tried to comply. The bands wouldn�t detach.
Despite intensive hours of testing and study, neither Janet nor Anise had discovered a means of removing the alien devices. Then it had occurred to the doctor that they should get Sam�s input. The major was not only an outstanding military officer, but a brilliant scientist as well. So Janet had gone in search of her colleague, whom she had found working on a book.
The major had flatly refused to help. With the device, Sam had pointed out, she was accomplishing things she�d always wanted to, including writing a book on wormhole physics. She had produced a thousand pages on the subject in less than two hours. Why would she voluntarily deprive herself of that kind of ability?
Janet had left, disturbed by her friend�s uncharacteristic arrogance and self-centeredness.
Eventually, Janet and Anise had been forced to postpone further tests until the next morning. Concerned about SG-1, the doctor had arranged for her adopted daughter, Cassie, to stay the night with a friend�s family while Janet stayed in quarters on the base.
Now, as she dried off after the shower, Janet worried about how much worse things were going to get for Sam. And Jack and Daniel, too, she reminded quickly herself, I�m concerned for all of them.
She wrapped the towel around her torso, then stood before the mirror to comb out her wet hair. Of course I care about all of them; I�m their doctor and their friend. Still Janet had to admit that, almost from the beginning, she had felt a bit more protective of Sam than of the others. Because she�s a woman? Janet questioned, then dismissed the thought. Samantha Carter was a decorated officer, a veteran of the Gulf War. If the doctor should be concerned about the abilities of any particular member of SG-1, it ought to be Daniel Jackson, who was trained as an archaeologist, not a soldier. But it wasn�t Daniel who caused Janet �s stomach to churn when SG-1 didn�t return through the Stargate at the designated time.
Of course, Sam held a special place in Janet�s life: They were essentially raising a daughter together. Cassie�s initial bond had been with the major, who had found the girl during a mission and brought her back to Earth. Though Janet had adopted Cassie, Sam frequently spent free days and holidays with them. The three of them were a family in many ways�more so than Janet and her ex-husband had ever been.
And there was something else about Sam. Beneath the major�s military toughness, in the depths of those blue eyes, Janet sometimes glimpsed a vulnerability that tugged at her heart.
The doctor sighed and slipped into a robe. She was too exhausted, both emotionally and physically, to make sense of anything tonight. Flicking on the drier, she made a few passes over her hair to get it mostly dry before she crawled into bed. Finished at last, she opened the door to the darkened bedroom and clicked off the bathroom light. That was stupid, she thought after she walked into a chair. I should have turned on the overhead first.
"Need a light?" came a teasing voice out of the darkness, then there was a click and low light from a desk lamp bathed the room.
Janet gasped but fortunately recognized her intruder. "Sam!"
Dressed in black leather jacket, red turtleneck, and fatigue pants, a somewhat disheveled Major Carter sat on the desk. She was smiling at Janet, but there was a nervous energy about her and her blue eyes appeared almost feverish.
Alarmed, Janet stepped forward to place a hand against the other woman�s face. "What is it, Sam? Are you feeling all right?"
The major captured the hand and brought it down to rest against one thigh. "I told you before, Doctor," the title was given a drawling emphasis, "I'm fine. I just heard you were spending the night on base and decided to pay a little visit." This last was accompanied by a teasing grin.
The doctor frowned. "What's going on?"
Two blonde eyebrows rose. "Can't I come by to say hello to my friend?"
Janet started to speak, but then felt a whisper of movement against the back of her hand and glanced down. Sam's thumb was lightly caressing it.
Startled, the doctor's eyes jumped back to her unexpected guest, who was watching her with an almost predatory look.
"Janet?" A teasing lilt.
Then the smaller woman felt a slight tug, which caused her to stumble forward between Sam's legs. The major�s arms caught her.
"Whoa, you okay?" Laughter tinged Sam's voice.
Janet glared at her friend as she struggled to regain her footing. "That wasn't funny. What's gotten into you?"
Now there�s a stupid question,the doctor realized immediately. The virus was obviously continuing to wreak havoc.
Sam just smiled slowly. "I finished that book on wormhole physics, you know."
Janet tried to push away from the other woman but found herself held firmly in place. Sighing in exasperation, she decided to humor Sam until she calmed down.
"That's great. You can check it off the list of things you've always wanted to do."
"Yes." Again that rakish grin. "You know what else I'm going to check off my list?"
Janet met the blue eyes. "No, Sam," she said in a determinedly patient voice, "what else?"
Janet's lips were captured in a passionate kiss. Shock held the doctor immobile at first. In the moments that followed, she became aware of a kaleidoscope of sensations: the firm softness of the mouth moving over hers, the warmth of the body against her own, the strength of the arms around her. And it felt� right.
The last thought drove her to push Sam away, and this time the major let her go.
Janet backed up several steps until she ran into the single bed and sat down abruptly. She stared at Sam, who, like Janet, was breathing heavily. The grin was gone.
The doctor raised a trembling hand to brush back several strands of slightly damp hair. "Why�why did you do that?"
"I wanted to. I have for a long time." The reply was low and intense.
That statement shocked Janet almost more than the kiss itself. Could that possibly be true? Then another thought: Do I want it to be true? Janet gazed at Sam, who seemed to be holding herself to the desk with both hands while she waited for a reaction to her confession.
Janet allowed herself to really look at the other woman for a few moments. She is beautiful, the doctor acknowledged. Yet Samantha Carter was much more than that. She was intelligent, caring, and brave, a person of great conviction and responsibility. What man in his right mind wouldn�t want her? Or woman? Janet asked. Even one who has never consciously been attracted to other women before?
This is no time to be reevaluating your own sexuality, Fraiser, Janet chastised herself. Nor was it a time when she could accept any of Sam�s statements at face value. Not while the other woman still wore that armband.
"Major," Janet began, hoping the formality would make her friend listen, "your thoughts and feelings are being distorted by the virus. It's causing you to act in ways you wouldn't normally. You should go back to your room and try to get some sleep."
Sam said nothing, her eyes examining Janet intently. The silence stretched between them, and Janet grew increasingly worried. What should she do next?
Then the major said carefully, "You think what I'm feeling isn't real."
Relief washed through the doctor. If her friend was willing to listen, they could get through this. Then tomorrow Janet and Anise would find a way to get those damned bands off, and everything could return to normal. Janet felt a twinge at the thought but pushed it aside. The stakes were too high to play out what was probably nothing more than one of Sam�s casual fantasies. Didn�t a lot of women find the idea of a lesbian relationship titillating at one time or another?
"Yes, it's just the virus."
The blonde moved with all the speed granted her by the Atanik devise. In seconds, Janet was lying on her back on the bed, robe torn open, with all 5'9" of Major Samantha Carter pressing down into her. One fatigue-clad thigh lay between the smaller woman's legs and the soft leather jacket rubbed against her bare breasts.
"This is very real, Dr. Fraiser." Sam's warm breath caressed one ear. Then soft lips kissed a heated trail down Janet�s neck, and fingers stroked one breast, lightly pinching the nipple. Janet gasped. Sam captured the sound with her mouth, which slid over Janet�s, tongue gently but firmly demanding entry.
Oh, God.Janet�s lips parted in a silent groan, her body welcoming the invasion even as her mind struggled with itself. A part of her wanted desperately to let this play out, to find answers to the questions raised tonight�to discover what making love with Sam would be like. But another part, the more responsible part, insisted that she end this. Sam wasn�t herself, and when she recovered, she was all too likely to regret these actions.
Janet pulled her mouth away. "Sam, stop!" She pushed against the other woman�s chest.
The major rose slightly and looked down. Her face was flushed, and desire burned deep in those blue eyes.
"Why?" She asked huskily.
"Because I don�t want this!" Janet said, trying to put as much conviction into the statement as possible.
"Are you sure?"
The doctor gasped as Sam�s thigh pressed firmly against her center.
"Are you sure?" Sam asked again, voice low.
To her dismay, Janet discovered that it was taking all of her will not to arch into the woman above her. She couldn�t think clearly, a condition that worsened as Sam hips began moving rhythmically against her.
The major lowered her head, lips again at the other woman�s ear. "I�ll stop if you tell me to, Doctor."
Oh, God, did she want this to stop? Janet no longer knew.
"Or do you want me, Janet? Like I want you."
A hand slipped down between the women�s bodies and over Janet�s center, fingers slipping through folds now slick with arousal.
Janet moaned at the touch and clasped Sam to her, hips moving to match the other woman�s rhythm.
Fingers paused at Janet�s entrance.
"Yes," she answered and groaned as Samantha Carter entered her.
Janet awoke alone. A glance at the luminous numbers of the bedside clock revealed that it was just before 5 a.m. She had another few minutes before she had to get up.
She lay on her back, staring into the darkness. Had it been some wild dream? No, the satisfying soreness of her body was proof that her friend�her female friend�had seduced her and she had responded. God, had she responded. Janet groaned and rolled over to bury her face in the pillow. More, if she were honest, than she ever had with any male lover.
Sam had been both gentle and forceful in their lovemaking. The gentleness had been reassuring. The doctor knew better than most just how strong those armbands had made SG-1, since she had had to treat the broken arm and concussion of a soldier Jack O�Neill had tapped in friendly greeting.
Sam�s forcefulness�Janet�s response to had been a self-revelation. She had never liked that characteristic in a man, but in this woman it had taken her breath away and fueled her desire.
So,Janet thought wryly, there�s no use denying that I enjoyed Sam�s touch.
But did that mean she wanted something more?
And what did Sam want? It was clear that she, as well as Jack and Daniel, had been intoxicated by the alien virus. Lots of people became aroused when they drank and sometimes fell into bed with the most convenient partner. Or with someone considered forbidden.
Janet remembered a friend in college, Linda, who had carried on a titillating flirtation with another female student for months. Linda thought being bisexual was cool, but she�d never had the desire to go to bed with another woman until she�d met this openly gay classmate. "She�s different," Linda had confided to Janet. "Soft spoken, pretty, not butch at all, you know." Finally, one night, Linda had gotten drunk and seduced the other woman. But when Linda sobered up, she hadn�t wanted anything further to do with her gay friend. "It was fun and all, exciting at the moment," she explained, "but it�s not really for me."
What would Sam decide once she "sobered up?" That it wasn�t really for her? Might she even be angry with Janet, knowing Janet didn�t have an alien virus to excuse her actions?
And if Sam didn�t want anything other than friendship, wouldn�t that be for the best? After all, they were in the "don�t ask, don�t tell, but we�re going to hunt you down and toss your ass out anyway" military. Was it worth the risk for something so uncertain?
Some 24 hours after Sam had appeared in Janet�s quarters, the doctor sat at home sipping wine and wondering what to do.
Carter, O�Neill, and Jackson were free of the armbands, which had disengaged during an unauthorized mission that day. Janet closed her eyes, remembering the panic she�d felt when General Hammond had informed her of SG-1�s actions. They�d already been reprimanded for sneaking off the base the previous evening and getting into a fight. (No wonder Sam had appeared disheveled when she�d come to Janet�s quarters.) Now they were off on a highly dangerous and unauthorized mission to destroy a Goa�uld battleship. These actions had only really enforced the doctor�s conviction that Sam had not been in control of herself when she�d seduced Janet.
Thanks to luck and the help of the one unaffected member of SG-1, Teal�c, Sam and the others had returned from their mission intact. Janet and her assistant had examined them and had been relieved to discover that the team members� bodies were quickly recovering.
Janet had left the major�s examination to her assistant. Not once had she and Sam spoken since their tryst, and it had been clear that the other woman was avoiding eye contact.
Is this how they would handle it in the future? Just avoiding each other?
The doorbell rang, and she jumped. She glanced as her watch as she rose�10 o�clock.
A glance through the peephole revealed the figure of Major Samantha Carter. Janet felt her heart begin to race and leaned her forehead against the wood as she tried to calm herself. Moments passed, then she straightened and opened the door.
Sam stood awkwardly on the doorstep, looking ready to bolt. She ran a hand through her hair, pushing blonde locks away from her face.
"Could we�talk?" she asked hesitantly.
Silently, the doctor led the way into the livingroom and indicated the sofa.
"Can I get you something to drink?" she asked once Sam had seated herself.
Janet nodded and sat in the chair across from the sofa. In different circumstances, she supposed, it could almost be amusing, watching as the normally sure and controlled major sat nervously picking at a spot on the sofa, obviously unable to decide how to begin. But it wasn�t amusing.
Sam finally lifted her head and looked at Janet. "I�m sorry." Her voice trembled. "What I did last night�it was unforgivable. If I could change it, I would. But all I can do is say I�m sorry and hope that I haven�t lost you� your friendship."
There was such pain in the other woman�s face, in her voice, that Janet wanted to go and comfort her. But she wasn�t certain Sam would allow the touch. Janet leaned forward. "Sam, you were under the influence of the virus. It affected your judgment, as it did Daniel's and the colonel's."
"But neither one of them sexually assaulted anyone!" came the harsh rejoinder.
"You didn�t assault me." Janet responded firmly.
"No?" Blonde eyebrows rose. "Then you must have a different definition for it than I do. I came to your room uninvited, forced you into bed, and refused to listen when you said 'no.' That�s assault in my book."
Janet took a breath. In a way, everything Sam said was true. Except that somewhere along the line, Janet had changed her mind, had invited Sam�s touch, a reality the other woman had chosen to ignore. Perhaps she should, too. Perhaps it would be better for both of them if they could write the whole incident off. Janet could give her friend the absolution she obviously needed by reiterating that the virus had been the culprit, not Sam.
But how would Janet account for her own behavior? Unlike the major, she had been stone-cold sober. Her only intoxicant had been Sam.
Looking over at her guest, Janet was struck again by something she had thought last night. This was a special woman, beautiful, brave, vulnerable, and tender. An intoxicant Janet wanted very much to taste again.
She rose and went to kneel in front of her startled friend. She took the other woman�s hands in her own and looked up at her.
"I realize that what you did under the influence of the virus might not be something you would do sober. But I want you to remember that, in the end, I said 'yes' to what you offered. And if you were to ask me, right now, I would give you the same answer."
The major looked shocked. But as brown eyes held blue, that emotion slowly gave way to hope, and Janet�s heart gave a little lurch.
Tentatively, Sam reached out and touched Janet�s cheek. The fingers were trembling.
The doctor smiled. "Yes," she said, then reached up to meet her lover's lips.