-- Four --
Janet hung up the phone giving it a hard stare as she tried to figure out what Butler was up too.
Earlier tonight she had left O'Neill's house furious with Butler. But underlying her anger she had felt revulsion at her actions. The thought that she had actually struck Butler made her almost ill. But the nausea she felt at having struck Butler was nothing compared to what she had felt when Kathryn had thrown out the comment about bedding Sam. Janet had driven most of the way home in a fog. She had battled her jealousy of Sam and Butler for some time, but the reality of an actual relationship had stunned her.
Butler's comment had served to open Janet's eyes to her own folly of trying to be neutral. Trying to allow Sam time to readjust from leave had backfired with the appearance of Butler. For the first time tonight Janet had felt the fear that Sam might have moved on after her apparent lack of interest. She berated herself once again for her inability to talk to Sam. She had been caught off guard by Sam's admission of her feelings. She had retreated, unable to respond, afraid that they were induced by guilt from the previous jump.
Janet shook of her thoughts as she entered the kitchen to start a pot of coffee. She tried to imagine just what Butler wanted to talk to her about so late. She had barely had time to pour a cup of coffee when she heard the door chime. She put down the cup taking a deep breath before heading to the door. She stood for a second before opening it to find Butler patiently waiting on her step. "Come in," she said, stepping back.
"Thank you," Butler replied as she entered.
Janet closed the door quietly before following Butler into her house.
"Would you like some coffee, Colonel?" Janet asked as she returned to the kitchen.
"No thank you," Kathryn responded.
Janet picked up her cup and took a seat at the table. She surveyed the colonel over the rim of her cup as she took a sip.
Kathryn found it more difficult to speak than she had anticipated. She felt the weight of Janet's gaze on her as she sat down at the table. Kathryn cleared her throat to address Janet. "Doctor, I think our relationship has gotten off to a rocky start. I know that part of it is my fault. I have chosen to make comments about sensitive areas of your life. I apologize for that, there was no excuse." Kathryn paused.
Janet listened to the colonel's apology. She found it did little to relieve her irritation with her. "Is that all you wanted to say, Colonel?" Janet asked.
"You don't make it easy do you, Doctor?" Kathryn shot back with some irritation. "No, that's not all I have to say. I don't know exactly what is going on with you and Major Carter, but I do know you are the source of a great deal of emotional turmoil for her. I can see that she cares deeply for you. What I don't understand is where you get off acting like a jealous girlfriend when you are barely speaking to her. The way you treated her tonight was almost like she was someone you didn't like." Kathryn stopped as Janet shot to her feet.
Janet was furious with Butler's comments. "You have no right to make judgments about my relationship with Sam. None," she said shakily.
"You're right. Your personal relationship with her is none of my business unless it overflows into my life. Doctor, I think someone needs to hold it up for you to see. If you care so much about her why do you keep her at a distance? No never mind I don't care why. I just want you to know that I have no plans of walking away from her. I think after tonight she is coming to the realization that any future with you is unlikely." Kathryn stopped to watch Janet's reaction.
Janet felt a heat run through her body as her temper flared. "And exactly what brought you to that conclusion?" she asked evenly
"Doctor, I just want you to understand that regardless of any objections you have, I am going to continue to pursue Major Carter. I also want you to accept that any tension or difficulties in you relationship with her are of your own making. I am not your enemy, Doctor,"
Janet sat down heavily her anger dissipating with Kathryn's words. It was all her fault. She had made the wrong choices from the start. She fought back the tears that were threatening. She was still struggling for the words to respond when her door chimed again. She looked at her watch automatically. She rose trying to regain control of her emotions. She wiped an errant tear from her cheek as she opened the door. She was shocked to find Sam on the other side. She couldn't find her voice as she looked at her. "Sam?"
Sam stood outside of Janet's door for a few minutes before ringing the bell. She was angry after having intercepted a call from Kathryn's second in command. She didn't know why Kathryn had gone to Janet's, but she intended to find out. She felt her anger fade as she took in Janet's appearance. She was upset about something. "Janet are you alright?" Sam asked.
Janet felt a fresh rush of tears spring up at Sam's concern. She lifted her hand to hide her tears as she stepped back into the house.
"What is it," Sam continued as she followed her.
Janet waved her away as she turned her back. She couldn't find her voice at the moment.
Sam looked up to find Kathryn coming out of the kitchen.
"What are you doing here, Colonel?"
"I needed to discuss some things with Doctor Fraiser. I think I said everything I have to say. I am going to leave now." Kathryn said slipping between the two women as she exited.
Sam continued to stand there as Butler breezed out the front door. She was torn as she stared at Janet's back. She wanted to follow Butler out and demand an explanation, but she was rooted by Janet's obvious distress. The front door closed on the silence as Sam continued to search for a way to approach Janet. She was pulled out of her stupor as the gentle shaking of Janet's shoulders registered upon her. "Janet what is going on?" Sam asked quietly as she rested her hands on her shoulders.
Janet felt the gentle touch of Sam's hands break through her misery. She turned burying her face in Sam's shoulder as she wrapped her arms around her.
Sam went from concerned to alarmed when Janet turned burrowing into her shoulder as her tears increased. Sam slipped her arms around her trying to offer comfort. A muffled, "I'm sorry," barely reached her ears.
Janet drew comfort from Sam's surrounding as the pain from the last few days drained out of her. She pulled her a little closer as she remembered the conversation with Butler.
Sam was patient, waiting for Janet to reach a point where she would talk to her. They stood there for some time before her sobs subsided. She pulled away from Sam turning as she wiped her face of her final tears.
Sam felt the loss of warmth keenly as Janet moved away. She watched her closely as she wiped her face. She tried to catch her eyes as she turned her back again. "Janet?" Sam waited for Janet to respond.
Janet took a ragged breath as she finally turned to face Sam. "Sam... I am so sorry." Janet stopped, still unsure of what to say.
"Sorry for what?" Sam was still confused by the rapid change events.
Janet walked into the living room taking a seat on the couch. Sam followed her in sitting in an adjoining chair. "Sam, when you confided your feelings for me I wasn't exactly honest in my response. The truth is I was scared."
Sam felt herself leaning back in the chair as Janet spoke. She felt her stomach churning at Janet's words.
Janet looked over to Sam as she continued. "I was afraid that it wasn't real. You caught me by surprise and I wasn't prepared. I thought... No I didn't think."
Sam tried to follow Janet's train of thought but quickly found herself lost. "Janet what are you trying to say?"
"Sam, I have cared for you for a long time. Well before that last jump. I never had the courage to broach the subject with you. Then you blind-sided me -- on the base no less -- with your confession. I couldn't handle it and I tried to convince myself your feelings were rooted in guilt from the jump, that you were trying to find a way to alleviate your guilt." She took in the look Sam was leveling at her. "Sam, we both know you have a tendency to accept full responsibility for anything that happens around you. I could tell when we got back that you felt everything that had happened was your fault. You wouldn't talk to me you could barely stay in the same room with me. You go from that to telling me how much you care for me as more than a friend does. I had trouble coping with such a drastic reversal without doubting their foundation"
Sam looked down, suddenly finding her hands of major interest. Janet was right on that point she had felt an extreme amount of guilt upon their return. But it had not been the motivating factor behind her feelings.
"I thought there would be time. That I ... we could move slowly and give both of us a chance to adjust back to normal. Then if your feelings were that strong they would survive the wait." Janet stopped unable to find the right words to explain what had been going through her mind. She could tell by the look on Sam's face she was fumbling badly.
Sam's emotions had run the gamut from fear to anger with a brief stop on elation at Janet's words. Her final words had shed light on the reason behind this conversation. "What exactly was Colonel Butler doing here Janet?" she asked evenly.
Janet felt a new wave of dread roll over her at the question. She could already see where Sam was going with the question. A part of her wanted to dodge the answer but she had already made that mistake once before and she wasn't going to do it again. "She came to put me on notice that she was interested in you. She made it clear that I had thrown away my chance and that I was making you miserable." Janet paused as she saw Sam's face darken.
Sam felt her anger grow as she listened to Janet. She stood as she felt a wave of unreasonable fury sweep over her. "Is that what this is about Janet?" she asked coldly.
"Sam--" Janet was cut off before she could finish.
"Just when did you decide you wanted me, Janet? Was it when Butler became interested? I am not some prize to be fought over between the two of you." Sam stood, pacing agitatedly as she tried to maintain some sort of calm. She found it a lost cause as she let her frustrations of the past week out. "You have been putting me through the ringer, Janet. You have let me lay my feelings out for you without the courage to do the same. Then you act like I am committing a crime because I am spending time with Colonel Butler. One minute we aren't speaking, the next you're telling me...." Sam stopped, afraid she was going to say something she couldn't take back.
Janet didn't think she could feel worse than she had earlier. As Sam's words sank in she realized she was wrong. "Sam, please--" Janet stood trying to catch Sam's attention.
Sam didn't want to listen. She wasn't sure what to believe. Butler's avid pursuit followed by Janet's newly voiced feelings had left her off balance. She was afraid to believe Janet's declarations still raw from her previous treatment. She held out a hand halting Janet's approach. "I think I should go." Sam said.
"Sam no, please talk to me. I know what you are thinking. I've been there. Don't dismiss what I am telling you," Janet pleaded.
"Janet, I don't know what to think. All I do know is that I don't want to be here right now. I don't want to talk to you or Kathryn. I just want some time to think things out--" Sam stopped herself once again trying to keep her hurt in check.
Janet was at a loss knowing Sam was walking out. "Sam, please just think about what I have said."
Sam nodded as she headed for the door. She just wanted to get out of here as quickly as possible.
Janet followed her to the door, keeping a small distance. Sam barely registered Janet's request as she struggled to get out the door.
Janet watched as Sam refused to meet her eyes. A loud clap of thunder hit as Sam opened the door. Both women jumped at the sound. Sam looked out as the sky opened up and a sheet of rain started to fall.
"Sam, let me get you...." Janet broke off as Sam stepped out the door. She watched as Sam slowly walked through the downpour to her car. Completely drenched by the time she opened the door and slipped inside. Sam's car pulled away noiselessly as another clap of thunder shook the house. Janet stood in the doorway watching as the torrent of rain swallowed the receding lights.
* * * * * * * * *
Sam had finally arrived back at the base a few hours after leaving Janet's. She had been forced to pull over shortly after driving away. The pounding rain made sight impossible and Sam had decided to pull over and wait for the storm to pass. The time had allowed her to consider the events that had passed that evening. She was still angry with Janet and Kathryn for having made so many assumptions concerning her. She was especially angry with Kathryn for having visited Janet tonight.
Sam shook her head trying to push aside the thoughts. This would get her no where. She slipped into her bed pulling up the covers. She snuggled down wishing she could wake up and the entire night be gone.
* * * * * * * * *
Janet watched as Sam drove away, feeling a weight settle upon her. She could not believe the mistake she had made in dealing with her. She locked up the house and retreated to her room. As she slipped into her bed the events from the night once again rolled over her. The look on Sam's face when she had tried to come clean still pierced her. She had been a fool waiting so long to reveal her true feelings. She had left Sam in the Sam position of doubt that Janet had experienced a few weeks ago. She was unsure of how to proceed after tonight. She turned in the bed pulling the covers closer as she tried to figure out a way to repair her relationship with Sam.
* * * * * * * * *
SG-1 was finishing the briefing from P3X-2486. The planet had contained a relatively simple culture that had little to trade in the value of advanced technology. They had however developed many potent medicinal formulas from local fauna.
The team had managed to negotiate a trade involving agricultural technology with the natives as a trade. All in all, the entire trip had been successful as far as SG-1 was concerned. O'Neill finished outlining the negotiations to the General as Sam allowed her mind to wander.
The past few weeks had been a strain and it was beginning to show. The morning after she had returned to the base she had received a surprise visit.
* * * * * * * * *
Sam was roused from an uneasy sleep by a knocking at the door. She rolled over still quiet not awake as the insistent knocking penetrated her consciousness. She finally crawled out of the bed stumbling to the door. She pulled it open with a scowl on her face. Her irritation was temporarily stalled by surprise as she eyed Kathryn. "What can I do for you, Colonel?" Sam asked groggily.
"I wanted to talk to you about last night, Sam. Can I come in?" Kathryn asked.
Sam stepped back, motioning Kathryn into her room. "You could have waited until a decent hour," Sam grumbled as she switched on the light.
"It's ten o'clock, Sam. I thought that was late enough," Kathryn responded.
Sam felt a slight jolt at the mention of the time. She checked her watch, not believing she had slept this late. She sat down on the bed as she rubbed her face, trying to wake up.
"Sam, about last night--" Kathryn did not have a chance to finish as she was interrupted.
"Yes, about last night. Let's discuss just why you were at Janet's house," Sam said, standing angrily.
Kathryn was taken off guard by Sam's anger and it took her a few seconds to respond.
"Sam, I felt there were some things that Fraiser and I needed to discuss. Things had gotten out of hand at Colonel O'Neill's house and I wanted to clear the air before you ran into her," Kathryn tried to explain.
Sam stood trying to follow Butler's explanation but found herself completely lost. "What does any personal problem between you and Janet have to do with me?" she asked, confused.
"Sam, the only problem between Fraiser and me is you. Last night at O'Neill's Fraiser accused me of taking advantage of you in a vulnerable state and it really pissed me off. I told her maybe if she had let you into her bed when she had a chance you wouldn't be in mine," Kathryn admitted.
Sam collapsed on her bed, completely stunned. She finally took a deep breath realizing she had actually forgotten to breathe for a few seconds. "You told her we were sleeping together," Sam finally managed.
"No, Yes, Sam that's not what I meant to do, she was just so damn smug in her self-righteousness. I was angry and I wanted to say something to take the wind out of her sails--" Sam once again interrupted Kathryn.
"I cannot believe the two of you. Did either of you stop to even consider what I wanted before you started taking shots at each other over me. I suppose I should be grateful there hasn't been a boxing match yet with me as the purse," Sam said, her anger returning.
"Actually, Fraiser has a pretty good right," Kathryn spoke up before she could stop herself.
"Janet actually hit you?" Sam said shocked. "When?"
"Last night at O'Neill's after you had walked outside," Kathryn answered.
"Are you insane? How did you explain it to the colonel?" Sam demanded.
"Actually, it happened in the kitchen with no witnesses. It was my fault, I picked a comment I knew would make her really angry. I wanted to set the record straight. That was why I went over her house last night. I didn't mean for this to get so out of hand Sam. I was just angry watching you and how upset you were yesterday. I knew she was the source of your frustration and I let it get to me. I am really sorry," Butler said sincerely.
"Stop. I don't want to hear anymore. I am so tired of feeling like I'm constantly being pulled in two directions. I just want some time to think. I would like some space without you or Janet," Sam requested as she opened the door.
"Sam," Kathryn found herself staring back at one very pissed off Major.
"I mean it, Colonel. I don't want to talk to you right now," Sam said.
Kathryn nodded and turned her attention to the open doorway. She was brought up short when she came face to face with Janet Fraiser. Sam followed her gaze to see what had stopped the colonel. She froze when she saw Janet.
Kathryn and Janet exchanged cool looks as the colonel exited. Janet stepped aside to allow the colonel room to leave.
"Doctor," Kathryn said as she finished righting Janet.
"Colonel," Janet responded coolly.
Janet turned her attention back to Sam. The major was still rooted in the same spot. Janet waited a few moments, torn between her desire to talk to Sam and the distraction of Butler.
"I'm sorry, I know you wanted some time to think. I just thought I would check in and make sure you made it back to the base all right," Janet explained. She didn't bother mentioning that she had checked with the guard on duty last night to make sure Sam had checked back into the base before going to bed last night. She realized Sam still hadn't spoken.
"Well, if you decide you want to talk. You know where to find me," Janet offered, leaving Sam still at her door.
Sam watched Janet travel down the hall. She slowly closed her door making the short trek back to her bed before sitting down heavily. She flopped back wondering if everyone had these types of complications in their personal life.
* * * * * * * * *
Sam felt herself brought back from that morning by the call of her name. "Sir?"
"Major, I want you to prepare to jump to P3X-2869 along with Colonel O'Neill and Teal' C. The preliminary results indicate a large deposit of Naquida on the planet. I want you there to make a determination on its quality and whether or not extraction is feasible," General Hammond informed her.
"Yes Sir," Sam responded.
"Very well. I want you three to be ready tomorrow at 1600," Hammond ordered.
Daniel interrupted before the team could break from the briefing, " Uh General, I request permission to join the rest of the team."
"Dr. Jackson, SG-6 has requested your assistance on a second jump they will be taking tomorrow morning at 1000. Apparently, they have uncovered some artifact that they place during the rule of Hammaraubi in early Mesopotamia. They thought you would be of assistance in identifying some of the architecture housing their find," Hammond explained.
"Really, what exactly did they find, General?" Daniel asked.
"Well, Doctor, I have had the team's lead expert leave all available data in your office. He is also on call in the complex," Hammond answered.
"Really?" Daniel's voice trailed off as he headed for the exit. He was already focused on the artifacts in his office his teammates temporarily forgotten.
They teammates watched his exit with practiced tolerance. They had grown used to him wandering off when his interest was perked.
"Well, General, if that is all..." O'Neill said.
"Yes, Colonel, your team is dismissed, but I would like to discuss a few things about tomorrow's jump before you go off duty," Hammond responded.
O'Neill nodded as Carter and Teal' C exited the conference room. He followed Hammond down the hall into his private office.
Hammond closed the door after Jack entered. "Have a seat, Colonel," Hammond said as he sat down behind his desk.
O'Neill sat down, getting the feeling that the general had something else to talk to him about besides tomorrow's mission.
"Colonel, I am going to assign Dr. Fraiser to your team tomorrow. There is a particular plant native to the planet that has shown a great deal of promise as a toxin to the Goa'uld. I agreed to let her study the plant in its native environment. Her request has been on record for the last two months. This has been the first hospitable planet I have been able to feel a reasonable amount of security in granting her request," Hammond informed O'Neill.
"That's no problem sir. We'll take god care of her," O'Neill promised as he rose, assuming the general was finished.
""I am not done, Colonel," Hammond said as he watched O'Neill sink back down into his seat.
"I am assuming you like everyone else on the base has noticed the rift that seems to have developed between Major Carter and Dr. Fraiser?" Hammond queried
"Sir?" O'Neill responded as he raised his eyebrows.
"I know you're aware of what I'm talking about, Colonel. What you may not know is that Dr. Fraiser requested to see me yesterday. She discussed requesting a transfer out of the SGC," Hammond said.
"Sir?" This time Jack's surprise was genuine.
"Colonel, I do not know what is going on between Major Carter and Dr. Fraiser. I do know that I do not want to lose an officer of Dr. Fraiser's caliber because of a personal conflict. When you get planetside, I want you and Teal' C to give them as much breathing room as possible. I want whatever the problem is worked out before they return. Do I make myself clear, Colonel?" Hammond asked.
"Perfectly, Sir," Jack said as he stood. He was still reeling from the news that Fraiser was actually thinking of leaving the SGC. He was well aware of the fact that she had adopted Cassie and that she shared many of the parenting responsibilities with Carter. If Fraiser left, Jack could not see her breaking ties with the child, which would mean she would expect to take Cassie with her. Jack was also aware of the effect that would have on Sam.
He had watched the two of them from a distance for the past few weeks. Since the night at his house the distance between the two had seemed to grow. Carter had hid her distress well, but those that knew her could sense the turmoil beneath the surface. He had also caught the sadness within Fraiser's eyes during unguarded moments when the team would check in room jumps.
He had hoped that the two would manage to resolve the conflict that had driven a wedge between them. For awhile he had thought it was the introduction of Butler to their group, but since that night at his house Sam had barely spent a moment alone with the colonel.
He shook his head as he moved down the corridor. Fraiser's request had signaled just how desperate the situation had become. He knew that if one were to leave the SGC would lose the other. If not in body then in spirit. The mission the general had entrusted him with could prove to be essential to the continued smooth run of the SGC.
* * * * * * * * *
Janet finished writing out the last of her instructions for the lieutenant assigned to care for Cassie while she was away. She did not like having to leave her, but this mission had managed to draw both her and Sam as participants. The lieutenant had watched Cassie previously and all had gone well, which allowed Janet some relief. Of course the enthusiastic report Cassie had filed when she had returned previously went a long way in easing Janet's comfort as well. She smiled as she finished writing and sat down the pen.
She placed the instructions in an envelope and sat it on the counter. Cassie would still be in school when Lt. Sykes arrived and would have plenty of time to prepare for her young charge.
Janet walked through the house checking all the locks and turning off the lights before heading for the door. She picked up her small bag as she exited taking a moment to lock the door before heading for her vehicle.
She had been looking forward to having a chance to research the fauna SG-11 had originally stumbled upon. When the general had informed her of approving her request filed months previously she had been thrilled. A small part of her had wondered whether or not it had been an attempt on the general's part to sway her from her thoughts of leaving the SGC.
Her desire to follow the research into that plant and its properties had superseded that thought. She had been eager to get through the gate and pursue her research yesterday, but when she had found out SG-1 was the escort, her enthusiasm had been dampened. Truthfully, the nervousness she had first felt yesterday grew with every mile that brought her nearer to the base. She had barely traded a few sentences with Sam since that night weeks ago.
Sam had respected her privacy and rotated her days off so that her visits with Cassie fell when Janet was on duty. A part of her had been disappointed with the discovery but a larger part had been relieved. The only thing worse that Sam avoiding her would be a repeat of the awkwardness in Sam's quarter's a few weeks earlier.
Janet briefly closed her eyes trying to shake the thoughts. It had been these very thoughts running through her mind constantly, that had pushed her to approach General Hammond about a transfer. She had never imagined how deeply she would feel the withdrawal of Sam from her life. If she had been unsure of her feelings before, the past few weeks had firmly focused her on how much Sam meant to her. Trying to work and carry on a personal life without the Major had become a serious chore for her. The misery had reached a point that pushed her to seek alternatives to enduring the pain of being around Sam but unable to be near her.
Janet brought herself back to the present as she reached the gate. She flashed her ID as the guard waved her through. She found a parking spot and headed for the complex.
* * * * * * * * * *
Sam finished fastening the last of her gear as she contemplated the upcoming jump. When she had been informed of the addition of Janet to their group she had felt a wave of panic. She had managed to calm her nerves the previous night and now she found herself once again dreading facing Janet. After dealing with Kathryn right behind Janet a few weeks ago, Sam had retreated from any contact with either of them. She had been hurt and a little unsure of Janet's newly revealed feelings, not to mention Kathryn's certain advances.
The more she had distanced herself from Janet the harder she found it to bridge the distance. She was torn between believing Janet had true feelings for her and that her declaration had been a reaction to Butler's attention. The only thing she was sure of was that the past few weeks had worn on her and her weariness was showing. She wished desperately she could mend the rift between them and resume a normal life. But as the days passed it became more difficult to find a way to approach her.
Sam was relatively confidant that Janet would not attempt to make the first move in repairing the rift. Her reaction to Janet's last attempt of honesty had been enough to ensure that no second attempt was likely to follow. She leaned over retying her boots trying to hide the quick tears of frustration that had surfaced. She quickly regained her composure before her teammates noticed anything amiss. She stood following the Colonel and Teal' C out the door.
* * * * * * * * *
The team assembled in the gate room waiting for the activation order. O'Neill acknowledged Fraiser's presence before looking up to the command center to signal their readiness.
Jack turned back catching Fraiser and Carter studiously avoiding eye contact as they waited. Oh boy, he really had his work cut out for him. He thought as he allowed his gaze to lock with Teal'C's for a second before looking up the ramp at the gate. A few moments later, the gate activated and the room was bathed in a blaze of shimmering light. The team moved up the ramp, stepping through the gate one by one, quickly swallowed up by the liquid mass.
* * * * * * * * *
SG-1 stepped out onto the other side prepared for the world they were about to encounter. The previous teams had scouted the area and determined the best campsite for future missions. Within a few hours, they had located the most hospitable site and began setting up camp for their stay.
O'Neill directed Carter to secure an area for Fraiser and herself while he and Teal'C set up their own sleep area. A short time later, the camp was built and the team members were gathered in a loose circle going over the plans for the following day. O'Neill nodded as he leaned back on the closest tree to his location.
"All right, Doctor, Carter. The general wants me and Teal' C to scout out the surrounding area while you two take care of the mineral, plant thingy, studies," he said with a shake of his hand. "The area has been judged secure by the previous teams and the general thinks there should be no problem leaving you two on your own." O'Neill informed them.
Sam felt a momentary wave of panic at O'Neill's revelation. She thought she did a good job of masking it as she looked over to the colonel.
"I don't have a problem with that, Colonel. Actually, it will be much easier to conduct my research with fewer people underfoot," Janet assured O'Neill.
Jack looked over to Sam catching the momentary look of discomfort that passed through her eyes.
"Doctor Fraiser is right, Colonel. The fewer the personnel the easier our surveys will be," Sam informed him.
He caught the barely perceptible reaction within the Doc as she heard Sam address her as Doctor Fraiser. Actually he had been hard pressed not to react himself. It was the first time he could recall hearing Sam address Janet so formally in years. It was an indication of just how far their relationship had deteriorated. He hoped that it had not reached a point where salvage was impossible. "Ok, people, we have a long day ahead of us tomorrow let's get some sleep," O'Neill said as he stood.
Teal' C followed him as he headed to their tent. Janet and Sam lingered for a few minutes, drawing warmth from the dying fire. The heavy silence finally pushed Janet into action and she stood, bidding Sam a short good night before heading for the tent. She quickly stripped off her camies leaving herself in her shorts and T-shirt before slipping into her sleeping bag.
Sam sat out by the fire watching the steady flame drop down to bright embers. She forestalled entering their tent for as long as possible but finally her drooping eyelids forced her to retreat.
She entered the darkness, pulling off her gear and stripping down to her shorts and T before slipping into her rack. She found her eyes involuntarily straining to catch Janet's form.
Janet had lay in her rack unable to sleep as she awaited Sam's entrance. She had just given into the heaviness pulling at her eyelids when she heard a rustle at the tent entrance. She could barely make out Sam's form as she entered, undressing before entering her own bed.
Sam turned trying to find a comfortable position as her mind focused on the form a short distance from her.
Janet listened to Sam's restless turning as she tried to will herself back to sleep.
Both women eventually drifted into an uneasy sleep. Both tossed and turned inadvertently disturbing the sleep of the other. The night wore on, as each would drift awake, checking their watch then the other occupant of the tent as they wondered what had awakened them.
* * * * * * * * *
The following morning came all to quickly as Sam pried her eyes open. The restless night had left her fatigued and her body protested as she swung out of the rack. She was disappointed to find Janet's rack already empty as she reached over to grab her pants. She dressed slowly in no hurry to leave the isolation of the tent. She absently tapped the boots against the rack before slipping them on. Local pests tended to enjoy camping out in uninhabited boots. She had learned that the hard way on a previous mission. She tightened up the laces as she turned her thoughts back to the approaching day.
Hopefully, Janet's explorations would move her in a different direction than Sam. Just trying to endure the last twelve hours on the planet were difficult enough. Most of the feelings she had been able to keep at arms length the past few weeks had settled in full force. Her anger was gone and now the only thing left in its place was a sense that events had moved so far beyond her control that there was no going back. Sam rested her head in her hands for a few minutes before taking a deep breath and standing. The sooner she got moving, the sooner this jump would be completed.
* * * * * * * * *
Janet had forced herself out of bed after waking early and finding herself unable to fall back asleep. She had risen dressing quietly hoping she would not wake Sam. The early morning sun had clearly lit the tent. Janet had paused before leaving as she studied Sam's sleeping face.
She had resisted the impulse to reach out and smooth out the furrows. Whatever Sam was dreaming about wasn't exactly pleasant. She felt another wave of regret over the way things had progressed. She took a deep breath, pulling her gaze away as she exited the tent. It was too late to look back over what might have been.
* * * * * * * * * *
Sam exited the tent catching site of the Colonel and Teal'C sitting with their backs to her. She could barely make out Teal'C's question to O'Neill as she approached.
"Was it wise to allow Dr. Fraiser to proceed alone?" he asked.
"I don't want to place anymore restrictions than necessary on her. The Intel has this planet rated as non-threatening so I don't see any harm in allowing her to move around on her own."
O'Neill took another sip of his coffee before continuing. "I am hoping the general's plan works and she'll work out whatever is eating at her. I still find it hard to believe she actually approached the general about a transfer."
Teal'C nodded his head in agreement with O'Neill. Dr. Fraiser was extremely dedicated to her job. It was difficult for him to imagine the SGC without her presence.
Sam had been irritated to find out that the Colonel had allowed Janet out alone. She stood frozen as he mentioned Janet's request for a transfer. She felt like a weight had squarely landed on her chest and for a second she struggled for a breath.
Teal'C sensed a presence and turned to find an extremely pale Major Carter. O'Neill followed his look and silently cursed as he realized she must have heard his comments. "Carter, we are getting ready to head out. I thought I would wait until you were up before we left camp," O'Neill informed her.
Sam wondered if the colonel could see the distress she was sure was so plainly written on her face. "How long are you going to be gone, Sir?"
"Well, the general figured three days would be plenty of time for you and Dr. Fraiser to wrap up your studies. So we'll be back by nightfall three days from now. We'll return to the SGC the following morning unless you or Fraiser need more time," O'Neill answered.
"Ok, Sir," Sam answered, still reeling from the earlier comments. "I am going to get my gear and head out to the largest site of Naquida and get started."
"All right, Major. I already told Dr. Fraiser we'll do checks every four hours. That was at six so I expect to hear from you at ten. You know the drill," he finished.
"Yes, Sir," Sam ducked back into her tent, wanting to escape from view for a few minutes. She sat down on her rack unable to accept the thought that Janet might actually leave the SGC. If she left she would want to take Cassie with her. There was no way that she would be willing to leave the child behind. Sam felt a wave of panic roll through her as she contemplated losing them both in a transfer. This couldn't happen Cassie needed to be near the SGC in case anything ever happened. Her physiology was so different she would never have the experienced providers or equipment the SGC had at hand. Janet had to know it was a risk to move the child any distance from here on the off chance something could happen.
Janet had to be desperate to leave the command if she was willing to take such a drastic measure. Sam ran through the options looking for a way to reach Janet. Anything that could return their relationship to what it had been before. She felt helpless to stop the inevitable. Obviously Janet didn't feel they could both continue to function at the SGC.
* * * * * * * * *
For Janet, the day had passed quickly the passing time punctuated by radio checks with the colonel. She had enjoyed the opportunity to move at her own pace without someone at her shoulder urging her every step of the way. She stood slipping the last sample for the day in a heavily laden bag at her side. She would spend the bulk of the morning going over the various samples and their properties. She would scout out a new location tomorrow afternoon near the Naquida deposits to determine the variations in the plants in those locations.
She had put off that trip until tomorrow not ready to run into Sam alone just yet. She needed to discuss her transfer request with her and try to reach an understanding. It would be difficult especially with the consideration of Cassie.
Janet stood with a sigh as she oriented herself to the direction of the camp. It should only take her an hour to return.
* * * * * * * * * *
Sam finished stowing her gear in her pack. She had been distracted the entire day by thoughts revolving around Janet's desire to leave. She grunted in frustration as she slung her pack back over her shoulders and adjusted the straps.
She headed toward the campsite as she prepared herself to see Janet. She was sure she had come up with a solution regarding Janet's interest in leaving the SGC. She just needed to present it to Janet without her figuring out the motivation behind her choice.
* * * * * * * * * *
Janet had managed to make better time back to the camp than she had planned. She placed her gear on a work table and entered the tent to retrieve a few items as she stepped down to shorts and T. The stream they had chosen to camp near was only a hundred yards away. Janet put a move on wanting to get washed up before night fell.
Sam entered the camp eyeing the gear Janet had placed on the workbench as she did the same. She surveyed the area seeing no sign of Janet. Sam entered the tent, noting the clothes slung over a bush seat. Janet had already been and gone. She was probably down at the stream cleaning up from the day.
Sam shrugged out of her fatigues and headed in the same direction. She was eager to wash away the grime of the day. She gave a short wave to Janet as she passed her on the way up to the stream. She took her time washing up, thinking over what she was going to say to Janet.
She roughly ran the towel over her hair soaking up the water. She ran a comb through the wet strands smoothing out the tangles. Once everything was back in the bag Sam stood and made her way back to the camp. The fading light made the path more difficult to follow and Sam was glad that Janet had lit the lights they had set up last night.
She threw her gear on her cot and returned to the worktable where she had caught a glimpse of Janet. "So how did your day go?" Sam asked.
"Pretty well. I think I have everything I need from that area. I am setting up for testing in the morning. How about you?" Janet asked.
"It went well. I found the largest deposit the previous survey found and I think they were right in their estimate. It would be viable for the SGC to set up an operation for the extraction from that vein alone. I am going to check out the other two locations tomorrow," Sam answered.
Janet nodded as Sam spoke, hoping the easy conversation that had started would continue for the remainder of the trip. "So are you hungry?" Janet asked as she started rummaging through their supplies.
"No, not really," Sam replied, watching Janet's hands pause.
"Are you feeling alright?" Janet probed.
"I'm fine. The food we carry on these jumps just isn't the most appetizing thing I've ever had," Sam explained.
"Oh, I see," Janet responded as she pulled out a packet.
"Actually, Janet, I need to talk to you about something and I haven't been sure of how to approach you. With everything going on, it's been difficult to find a way to see you," Sam started.
"Oh." A pause followed as Janet returned to her seat. "Well I guess now is a good time. It's not like there is a chance we'll be interrupted," Janet said lightly.
Sam took a seat as she watched a faint frown cross Janet's features. "Janet, I've decided to take a position in D.C. It will place me in the position as liaison between the SGC and the Pentagon. It will allow me to continue my research on the Gate and I will be traveling back and forth, so I will still be able to visit Cassie." Sam paused, trying to judge Janet's reaction. "It's been offered to me before but I didn't want to leave SG-1. I wasn't ready before, but now I think I am," Sam finished.
"Why now?" Janet managed, finally finding her voice.
"I don't have the same feelings that I used too. Before every jump left me breathless and wanting more. I've lost the thrill and the motivation to continue as part of SG-1. I just don't enjoy being at the SGC anymore. I think it is time to move on," Sam answered, surprised at how true she found her words to be.
Janet was shocked to hear Sam's explanation. She had never thought she would hear the Major declare her job as unfulfilling. "How often will you be able to see Cassie?" Janet asked, still struggling to find something useful to say.
"I think she'll see me as much as before. I won't be at the base everyday, but when I am, it won't be for jumps. It should work out to be the same amount of time, maybe even more," Sam offered.
Janet sat there stunned. This was something she had never expected and she was unprepared. "If you're sure, Sam. I wish you the best of luck," Janet offered.
"I'm sure, Janet. I think this is the best choice for me right now. I wanted to let you know from me first," Sam said.
"When do you think you will be reassigned?" Janet inquired.
"I guess it just depends on the paperwork," Sam answered.
They both sat there for some time, a silence creeping over them. Janet found herself unable to formulate a coherent thought as she contemplated life at the SGC without Sam.
Sam allowed herself to sit in the silence holding onto the little time alone she could enjoy with Janet. There were so many other things she wanted to say as she considered the past weeks. But the apologies stuck in her throat and she pushed away the fleeting thoughts of what could have been.
Janet wanted desperately to ask Sam not to leave. Although she had been having the very same thoughts recently, the actuality of Sam being out of her life had not impacted as clearly as it was now. There were so many things left unsaid, but the past weeks had left a distance between them that Janet did not believe she could bridge.
"I am a bit tired Janet. I am going to get some sleep. I'll see you in the morning," Sam said as she stood.
"Sam," Janet said, rising with her.
Sam froze as Janet called her. "Yes."
Janet fumbled for a moment; "I need to survey those plants near the deposits. Can I tag along with you tomorrow?" she asked.
"Sure, no problem," Sam managed, trying to mask the disappointment she was feeling.
Sam entered the tent, sliding into her cot as her mind raced over the consequences of her decision. She turned and buried her face in the small pillow as the tears silently streamed down her face.
* * * * * * * * * *
Janet was too surprised to follow Sam back to the tent. Her thoughts were hopelessly tangled as she tried to understand Sam's decision. Sam's plan to leave the SGC didn't make sense. Despite her disbelief, Janet realized Sam's explanation had carried genuine emotion behind the words.
She had never thought Sam would ever walk away from her spot on SG-1. Of course a few days before she had been talking to the general about leaving a job she loved herself. But that was different. She knew she couldn't deal with Sam so close, yet unreachable. Leaving was the only solution that she could reach. She had no doubt after the past few weeks she had blown her chance with Sam. Janet's hesitation had pushed her firmly into the colonel's all too willing embrace.
Even dealing with Butler on a professional level had been difficult for Janet after that morning.
She could barely stand in the room more than ten minutes before fearing she would give into the desire to slap the colonel. She was finding, as time passed, the only regret she had about the night at O'Neil's house was that she hadn't hit the colonel harder.
Janet sat staring at the samples she had brought back from the day's excursion. She pulled out the various samples organizing them for testing tomorrow. Janet focused on the samples on the table realizing she had fallen back into her seat lost in thought. She looked over to their tent, wondering if Sam was asleep yet. She turned down the lamp at the table and placed a tarp over their gear, securing it against any possible weather flare-ups or curious animals.
Janet's eyes had grown accustomed to the night when she stepped into the darkened tent. She looked over at Sam's cot as she slipped out of her fatigues.
Sam was curled on her side facing away from Janet. The dull glow from the planet's moon managed to penetrate the thin walls of the tent. Janet moved closer to Sam's cot, reassured by the easy rhythm of her breath that she was asleep. She stepped closer, reaching out to gently brush the stray blond strands from Sam's face. She was surprised to find traces of tears staining Sam's cheeks. She found her body unconsciously kneeling down beside the cot for a closer inspection.
She knelt there for some time, unsure of what to think. Her fingers reached up to gently stroke Sam's cheek. She hastily rose, backpedaling to her own cot as Sam stirred.
Janet dove beneath the light sleeping bag as she watched Sam turn. Her heart hammered as she waited to see if Sam had awakened. She let out a breath as she watched Sam settle facing her.
Janet found herself wondering what could have caused Sam to cry herself to sleep. She quashed the thought fighting to the top of her list that possibly Sam didn't want to leave her. That was ridiculous when it was much more likely that the underlying cause had nothing to do with her.
Janet finally fell into an uneasy sleep as her mind continued to turn over the possibilities.
* * * * * * * * * *
Sam woke up with a start. She looked around registering her surroundings. It took her a few minutes to shake the remnants of the dream she had been wrapped in. She looked over at Janet's cot to find the doctor tossing in her bed. Sam swung out of her cot, grabbing her fatigues and quickly slipping them on. She looked over in time to find Janet's eyes upon her. "Good morning," she offered as she sat back down to pull on her boots.
"Morning," Janet responded as she crawled out from under the covers. The night had ended all to quickly and she was not ready for the early morning light.
The two officers managed to get ready for the day with a minimal exchange of words.
"You can follow me out to yesterday's site if you want," Sam said as she tossed the remaining coffee from her cup.
"That will save me the time of searching for it. Is the second deposit close by or will it be out of your way?" Janet asked.
"It's not that far. It won't be a problem to go by way of yesterday's route," Sam assured her.
Janet nodded, slinging her empty bag strap over her head so that it rested across her chest. She followed Sam's lead trying to keep up with her brisk walk.
"Hey, slow down," Janet managed a little breathlessly as she jogged to keep up.
"Sorry," Sam responded as she slowed her pace. "I'm used to keeping up with the colonel and Teal' C. You would think every assignment was a road race with those two," Sam explained wryly.
"I'll try and slip them a tranquilizer before the next jump so you can enjoy the pace for once," Janet joked as she watched a shadow cross Sam's face. Janet mentally kicked herself, remembering the conversation the night before. "So how did you sleep last night?" she asked, wondering where the question had come from.
"Just fine, and you?" Sam responded.
"Alright," Janet answered. "Sam?"
"Are you sure about taking the assignment in Washington? I get the feeling that you don't really want to leave," Janet probed.
"Janet, I think it's best that one of us leaves the SGC. I don't think it should be you because you have Cassie to consider. I think maybe that it should be me. As large as the mountain is, it seems to have become...." Sam raised her shoulders, shrugging as she increased her pace.
Janet slowed slightly, bewildered by Sam's answer. She felt a glimmer of a thought nagging at the back of her mind. "When did you first decide one of us had to go, Sam?" Janet called out as she jogged to catch up the Sam's retreating back.
"Does it matter?" Sam answered.
"Yes it does dammit. Slow down, Sam." Janet was feeling herself tire as she managed to pull alongside Sam.
"I don't want to discuss it. I've made up my mind," Sam replied firmly.
"I don't understand why you didn't come to me about this decision. Despite everything, you know this is going to have an impact on Cassie," Janet kept pushing.
"You're one to talk about consulting before making major changes, Janet," the words were out before Sam realized what she was saying. She threw a sideways glance in Janet's direction, seeing her comment had made a direct hit. Janet moved ahead and turned walking backwards so that she could see Sam.
"You know I discussed a transfer with Hammond. That's why you decided to leave," Janet challenged.
Sam nodded, not really wanting to discuss this any further.
"I can't believe he told you," Janet said as she tripped slightly before regaining her balance.
"He didn't. I overheard Colonel O'Neill discussing it with Teal' C." Sam responded as she watched Janet step off the path, stumbling through a thick bush.
Sam followed her, realizing they were going to have to finish this conversation before Janet broke her leg trying to talk while moving backwards. Sam narrowly missed falling as she grabbed the protruding branches. Directly on the other side of the foliage the ground gave way sharply.
"Janet?" Sam called out, not seeing the doctor anywhere. "Janet?" Sam called out louder as she gained her footing and moved cautiously down the slope.
"Down here," she finally heard a muffled reply.
Sam moved toward the voice at the end of the short slope.
"Be careful it drops off at the end of the slope," Janet cautioned her.
Sam eased her way to the end of the slope caught off guard by the sudden valley before her. It stretched almost two hundred yards long and one hundred wide. It looked to be close to three hundred deep. Where the hell was Janet? "Janet?" Sam called a sinking feeling settle over her.
"Down here, Sam," Janet replied.
Sam got on her knees, leaning over the ledge. Janet was directly below her. Her cargo bag had gotten caught on a thick branch protruding from the side of the chasm.
"Are you alright," Sam asked pushing down the slight panic of seeing Janet dangle over a three hundred yard drop.
"Just hanging out. How about you?" Sam heard a slight note of hysteria in Janet's voice. She couldn't blame her. The terror of seeing her predicament was enough to make Sam shaky.
"Don't worry, I'll get you up. Do you see any ledges or footholds around you? Anything that could help support your weight?" Sam asked as she looked around, trying to find something to anchor herself with.
Janet looked at the smooth surface she had slammed against. With the exception of the tree root there were few breaks in the wall. It was almost if it had been cleanly sheared off. She tightened her grip on the empty bag hoping the strap would hold until Sam came up with a plan. Stupid, stupid, stupid, she berated herself. She had been distracted by the conversation and never should have been backpedaling in the first place. She was lucky she wasn't lying at the bottom of this ravine. "I don't see anything Sam," Janet called back.
"All right, hang on I've got my climbing gear from yesterday still in my pack. Let me see what I can put together," Sam called back. She rummaged around the pack, pulling out odds and ends from yesterday. She drove two anchors solidly into the ground, running a length of rope through them. "Janet, about how far down do you think you are?" Sam yelled.
"Maybe thirty feet," Janet answered, trying to judge the distance to the top.
"All right, here's what I am going to do. I am going to lower my harness to you. Put it on and let me know when you're done." Sam directed.
Janet caught the harness and quickly buckled it around her waist and through her legs. "OK, I'm done," Janet called out.
"Ok, I am going to send down a second line. It has to metal grippers on it. When you slide them up the rope they release. When you pull down on them they grip. You're going to have to climb up the rope. I will do my best to help by pulling on your harness line. Do you think you can do it?" Sam hated the slight quiver that had nearly invaded her words. She knew that Janet was still not a hundred percent from her shoulder injury. She prayed that between the two of them Janet would be able to make it to the top.
"I think so," Janet called back as the second line reached her position. She took a moment to examine the two small devices hanging on top of the knot at the end of the new rope.
She slipped her hands into them, relieved to find they were not as uncomfortable as they appeared. She moved the first one up a short distance followed by a slow tug. She was reassured when the grip on the rope remained firm with most of her weight. "Sam?" Janet called out.
"Right here, Janet." Sam answered reassuringly.
"I think I'm ready if you are," Janet called back.
"Go ahead," Sam responded.
Sam felt some slack in the harness rope. She immediately eliminated the excess. A million scenarios ran through her head as she tried to maintain a shred of calm. She couldn't remember having been this scared in her life. 'No that's not true,' she thought as the previous jump flashed through her mind.
Janet struggled to continue her ascent as her shoulder began to protest. She couldn't believe she was hanging over the side of a cliff in the middle of nowhere. A part of her wanted to give in to the laughter threatening to surface. The analytical part of her mind chalked up her reaction to panic. She clamped down on the hysteria as she continued to fight her way up the rope. Sam was up there and she wouldn't let her fall. That thought managed to calm her and she repeated it to herself as the slow throb in her shoulder increased
Sam was relying on the anchor pins combined with her weight to hold Janet's weight. Her frustration mounted at her inability to haul the doctor up the cliff. For a moment she wished fervently that Teal'C was here. Even a sarcastic word from O'Neill would be welcome right now.
"Major Carter, this is Colonel O'Neill," Sam's radio crackled to life, nearly causing her to lose her grip on the line. She cursed O'Neill colorfully, her earlier thought forgotten. She regripped the line, swearing that if the man were here she'd deck him. She growled as she heard his repeated call. "Janet!" Sam yelled in frustration.
"What?" Janet called back, almost halfway up to the top.
"Can you reach your radio?" Sam called back.
Janet stopped momentarily confused. "Yes, why?"
"Turn it on and tell the colonel we're a little busy right now. We'll call him later," Sam ordered.
Janet reached over to turn on her radio, trusting Sam's hold on her harness. She caught the tail end of O'Neill's hail. "Colonel, this is Doctor Fraiser," Janet answered.
"Doctor, where is Carter?" O'Neill asked worriedly.
"Colonel, I'm a little busy right now and you are being very distracting. Don't call us we'll call you. Fraiser out." Janet ignored the radio sure that at the very least her words would buy them a little silence.
Sam couldn't help but smile as Janet's words came over the radio. She could almost see the look of consternation on the colonel's face. No doubt right this minute he was warring with his desire to call back or do as Janet ordered.
"Sam?" Janet's breathless voice called up.
"Right here, Janet," Sam responded.
"I'm about five feet from the top. I think I'm going to need help over the edge. My shoulder is giving out." A slight tremble ran through Janet as she pulled herself closer to the edge.
Sam looked around for somewhere to tie the harness line off. She felt the sweat rolling down her face as she braced her foot against one of the anchors. "Janet, I want you to hold still for a minute. I need to anchor this harness line so I can move to the edge," Sam informed her. She watched as the movement on the line ceased. She pulled another anchor out of her pack quickly driving it into the ground pinning the harness line. She drug her forearm across her face clearing the sweat.
Sam scrambled to the edge of the ravine, hoping she would be able to get Janet over the lip. As she peeked over she could see Janet was barely two feet down. "Janet," Sam called softly not wanting to startle her. She smiled as Janet looked up to meet her gaze. "Can you make it a little closer?" Sam asked as she reached out her hand.
Janet nodded, sliding her grips a few inches at a time until Sam was able to firmly grasp the back of her fatigues. She struggled up the rope as Sam pulled.
Sam strained as Janet scrambled over the edge. She continued to pull Janet back from the edge, putting as much distance as possible before coming to rest. She pulled Janet the rest of the way to her, wrapping her firmly in both arms.
Janet felt the muscle fatigue as slight tremors ran through her. She relaxed in the comforting embrace of Sam's arms as the slipped around her. She reached her hands up to cover Sam's. They lay there, catching their breath, each unwilling to break the silence.
"Doctor Fraiser," the radio crackled to life breaking the fragile silence.
Janet drug her hand up to key the mic. "Colonel," Janet drawled the title out before continuing, "I believe I said we would call you,"
"Well, Doc, your last transmission had me a little worried," O'Neill responded.
"We had some minor difficulties, Colonel. Nothing to be concerned about. Are you on schedule to return tomorrow?" Janet asked.
"Yeah, well, it's pretty dull out here. We might be back by early afternoon. How about you and Carter? Will you have everything you need by then?" O'Neill asked.
"I think we'll be ready, Colonel," Janet answered.
"All right, then. Tell Carter not to forget to check in again. I get a little concerned," O'Neill ordered.
"Don't worry, Colonel," Sam keyed in, assuring O'Neill she would check in on time.
They both fell silent as O'Neill signed off. Janet started to rise, but felt Sam tighten her hold. " Don't yet," Sam said softly.
Janet settled back, drawing comfort from the woman holding her. "I don't want you to leave the SGC," Janet said finally.
Sam felt her breath catch at Janet's words. "I don't want you to leave either," Sam confessed.
"I don't understand why you were even considering it," Sam continued.
"I couldn't stand seeing you and Butler together, Sam. Just the thought was enough to make it almost impossible for me to be in the same room with her," Janet explained.
"I don't understand. I'm not seeing Colonel Butler. I haven't seen her since that morning at the SGC," Sam said, confused.
"After our conversation at my house I was sure you would give in to her attentions. I was sure my mishandling of your honesty had eliminated any chance we hand," Janet said miserably.
"Janet, I wouldn't just run to Butler because I couldn't have you," Sam said firmly.
Janet felt a surge of relief flow through her at Sam's words. "I thought our conversation had pushed you into Butler's arms, Sam. I couldn't deal with it or my own idiotic choices that had caused it to happen. When you avoided me the past few weeks, I thought the damage to our relationship was irreparable," Janet said sadly.
"I wanted to talk to you, Janet. But after that night I just couldn't seem to find the right time. Then so much time passed I didn't know what to say. I was scared of what I had said and I was afraid that you wouldn't understand. I didn't know what to do and you didn't seem to want to see me." Sam managed with a slight tremor in her voice.
"I'm sorry, Sam," Janet said quietly.
"For what?" Sam asked.
"For everything. For being too scared to be honest. For being to blind to see what was in front of me the whole time. I have been such an idiot," Janet replied.
"I'm sorry too, for everything," Sam responded.
"Have you noticed that we keep having these really deep conversations because of some major mishap on a jump? We aren't going to have to wait until the next time one of us is hanging off a cliff to talk honestly, are we?" Janet asked lightly.
Sam felt a small laugh bubble to the surface. " God I hope not. I don't think my heart can take anymore missions like this, Janet," she said seriously.
Janet managed to turn so that she was facing Sam. The harness became tangled in the excess line that moments before had held her safely. She struggled to rid herself of the distraction grateful when Sam neatly hit the disconnects and the harness fell to the ground.
"Thank you," Janet said as she moved closer to Sam. She leaned over to lightly caress Sam face. "I've wanted to do this for weeks," she confessed as she leaned closer.
Sam felt Janet's lips reach hers a light touch at first. The kiss deepened and Sam reached up to pull Janet closer. Her fingers trailed up to rest lightly on Janet's neck.
Janet finally broke off the kiss, leaning down to rest her head on Sam's shoulder. She reached around to encircle Sam in a gentle hug.
"Feel better," Sam asked with a smile.
"Much, and you?" Janet asked.
"Much," Sam said, returning Janet's hug.
They lay there for a few more minutes before Janet finally spoke. "You know we are going to have to get up and finish our surveys. That is unless you want to explain to the colonel why we didn't finish," Janet teased.
"No, you're right," Sam said regretfully as she began to rise. "So can I trust you to be alone without some major catastrophe occurring?" Sam joked.
"I think I'll manage," Janet replied dryly.
They gathered the items on the slope, Sam quickly repacking them. They were careful to maintain their footing up the slope, both letting out a relieved sign once they reached level ground. They traveled a short distance before reaching the spot where they would separate.
"I'm almost afraid to let you out of my sight," Janet said as she looked at Sam.
"I'm not the one who's accident prone," Sam joked.
"No, I just.... We just seem to run into problems when left to our own thoughts," Janet said, voicing her fears.
"Janet, I've meant everything I said," Sam responded.
"I know, Sam. Just promise me that we will talk if there are any doubts. No more silences like the past few weeks," Janet requested as she moved in closer to gently cup Sam's cheek.
"I promise." They shared another slow kiss before regretfully parting.
"I'll meet you back here in six hours," Sam said firmly.
"Yes Ma'am," Janet's quick retort made Sam smile.
"I just want to get back while it's still light. I would prefer not to have a repeat of this morning," Sam said smiling.
"Six hours it is. I'll see you then," Janet promised as she turned heading for her area.
Sam watched her retreating back for a few minutes having trouble keeping the grin off her face. She finally broke away heading for her location hoping the day would pass quickly.