"How's it going?" Janet asked.
Sam jumped. Looking over her shoulder, she saw Janet leaning against the doorway, a half grin on her face. Sam felt sheepish as she held the transducer from Janet's portable ultrasound in one hand. "Uh, I borrowed your machine. And the docking station."
Chuckling, Janet replied, "I can see that, and you're forgiven. Is it helping at all?"
"Not really," Sam said, pushing her hair away from her face. "The images are all blank. For the life of me I can't figure out what this thing is."
"Are you sure you should even be fiddling with it?"
"Probably not. But if I don't have a look at it now, it'll just end up gathering dust in a warehouse in Area 51. There are hundreds of items stored there that we don't understand, but I just couldn't shake this one."
"You do love a mystery," Janet drawled.
Sam grinned. "Pretty much."
"It just looks like a giant box, though. Where's the mystery in that?" the doctor said, stepping closer to have a better look.
"Don't know, really, but it's gotta be more than a metal cube. I'm sure it opens, but I can't find a latch." Sam ran her hands over the top of it, unable to decide if it was a really advanced filing cabinet or something more interesting.
"Well let me have a look," Janet said, and she laid both hands on the charcoal gray surface. The second her hands touched the box, electricity arced out, exploding with sound and light.
"Sam," Janet croaked, lifting her head from the cold concrete. Her brain seemed to be still vibrating from the impact with the wall, and her fingertips were tingling with a kind of energy she'd never experienced before. She assessed herself with a possible concussion and who the hell knew what else. Her limbs moved upon command, and she sat up gingerly, hoping it wouldn't ache as much as she expected.
Oddly, her head cleared the moment she saw Sam lying motionless across the room. Unwilling to take chances with walking, Janet crawled across the room, sneering at the box which had caused her such trouble.
She rested her fingers at Sam's wrist and exhaled in relief when she found a sure and steady pulse. The pain had receded dramatically as she pressed a hand to the side of Sam's face. "Sam? Major Carter? Can you hear me?"
She tried again, then pulled herself upright to pick up the phone and call for help.
"I don't know what happened, Lieutenant, but send a med team to level 19 stat!" She slammed the handset down. For such a high security facility, they certainly didn't grasp the true meaning of the word "emergency" very quickly.
"Hurts," she heard Sam mumble from her position on the floor.
"Hey, Sleepy," Janet said, keeping her voice as soothing as possible. Keep her calm, no sudden movements, she thought.
"I *am* calm, but an anvil fell on my head." Sam said, and Janet frowned. "What happened?"
"Your trusty little alien device knocked us both across the room." She raised one of Sam's eyelids without asking, and Sam smacked her hand away with a smirk.
"I'm okay, Janet. My head's not so bad as it was a minute ago."
"Major Carter, you most likely have a concussion, and who knows what else is wrong with both of us. Let me check you out. Please?"
Twisting her mouth irritably, Sam nodded once. There was a strange whisper in the back of Janet's mind that made her pause for a moment, but she shook it off. Slowly she examined Sam's pupils, surprised to see no evidence of concussion. "Huh," she grunted, sitting back on her heels. It occurred to her that somehow, Sam looked beautiful even with mussed hair and black dust smudging her cheek.
Sam's eyes widened. "What did you say?" she said, lifting a hand to the side of her face.
Janet's mouth dropped as the door burst open. Med techs swarmed the room, and armed airmen swarmed in after them. Staring at Sam, she found herself at a loss for words. *She heard me, she heard me,* she repeated in her mind, completely astonished.
Over the din, Sam called, "Yes, I heard you!"
*Oh shit,* was Janet's next thought.
Her eyes met Sam's as the soldiers stood around aimlessly, looking for something to shoot. *I heard that too,* Janet heard in her mind, loud and clear. If she hadn't been watching Sam so closely, she'd have thought she was sitting right next to her, speaking into her ear.
She covered her mouth with a hand. *So maybe this box of yours actually does something after all.*
Sam nodded. "I think you're right."
Sam sat on the floor while being poked and prodded by the med techs. The armed airmen watched the box in the middle of the floor, and Sam made sure to say loudly, "Stay away from the artifact, everyone. We're not sure what it does, but it definitely does... something." She glanced at Janet. *This is the most bizarre fucking thing that has ever happened to me. And that's saying something.*
*Jesus Christ, you can really hear me,* Sam thought again, and smacked her hand against her forehead. The med tech grabbed her arm and pulled it down to take her blood pressure.
She was amazed to be able to hear Janet's doctor-speak racing through her own head as the nurses checked her out; it was sort of like background noise, but different in a strange way. Dark brown eyes met hers, and she didn't have to wonder what she was thinking. She heard it.
*I don't understand what's happening.*
*Me neither,* Sam thought, *but at least we're in it together.* The resulting smile warmed every cell in her body, and Sam wondered if Janet could feel her emotions too. The smile slipped a little, and Janet looked away, focusing her attention on the person taking her pulse. *Hey,* Sam thought loudly, *look at me.*
Janet turned her head slowly.
*We'll get through this.*
As they made a beeline for Hammond's office, the cacophony in Janet's head was driving her nuts. She had her own thoughts, then what felt like another layer of thought on top, making a racket she couldn't escape. Sam appeared oddly unperturbed by the noise. She seemed more concerned with Janet's level of anxiety than anything else.
She could take no more. "God, Sam, do you have to think every second?" Janet snapped, causing three of the accompanying airmen to look at her very oddly.
"Uh, here we are," Sam said. "Thanks, guys."
*Just relax, Janet. We'll figure this out.*
"Easy for you to say. It doesn't even seem like this is affecting you!" Janet said sharply, and winced at the hurt look in Sam's eyes.
*You don't have to shout,* Sam thought softly. *I'm right next to you.* The thread of thoughts blending with her own became darker, and tears of frustration gathered in Janet's eyes.
"I'm sorry," she said. "I'm not handling this very well."
"It's okay. It's not every day that... well, that this happens. Whatever it is." Sam knocked on the door, and Janet was charmed by the way she made it a point to stand a little straighter. She was suddenly flooded with a sense of complete faith and trust as the major shifted her focus on Hammond. Janet was beginning to believe she could feel what Sam felt.
"Can you?" Sam asked.
"I... I'm not sure."
Sam watched her for a moment, until Hammond called from behind the door, "Come in!"
They stepped through in unison.
Around the briefing table, Hammond finished explaining the situation to the rest of the team.
"You're telling me you can hear Carter's innermost thoughts," O'Neill said doubtfully.
Janet fought a smile, trying not to visualize the lurid scenarios she suspected he was imagining. *Hey!* Sam's voice echoed through her mind, and she bit her lip.
It was easier to weed through the mass of noise with the team present, but only because her mind was more focused. Sam's brain, on the other hand, was racing a mile a minute as she tried to pick apart the reasons behind their apparent mind-meld.
"I wouldn't say innermost thoughts, Colonel," Janet said.
*I would,* Sam thought.
*Shut up, I'm trying to talk here.* Janet continued, "I'm not sure if I'm experiencing exactly what Major Carter is, but it's like the running commentary that an average human hardly notices thinking. Except there's another commentary above my own, so I'm having a little trouble concentrating on what's going on around me."
Daniel looked fascinated. "But you two can communicate directly?"
Janet nodded in tandem with Sam. "There's a general buzz in my head all the time, but there's definitely a difference between that and, er, when she thinks something at me, I guess." *Right?*
Sam agreed. *Right.*
"What about you, Sam?" Daniel asked.
"I can hear Janet's, whatever she called it, commentary, but it's not bothering me the way it is her."
"How do you know it's bothering Janet?" Daniel interjected.
Sam tilted her head. "Daniel, I can hear what she's thinking. It's pretty hard to censor thought the way we do speech."
Janet dropped her eyes to the table. *I'm sorry, it's just... hard.*
Sam's voice in her head was smooth, softer than she could ever remember hearing. *It's all right, Janet. It's not your fault.* It comforted her, and she held on to the feeling.
"Anyway," Sam continued, "I'm not having any kind of problem differentiating between my thoughts and hers. It's just sort of like conversation that doesn't stop when we finish speaking." *Um, if it's okay with you, I'm going to leave out the feelings stuff, especially since we're not sure exactly what's going on with them.*
Janet looked up at Sam and thought quietly, *Okay.*
Sam responded, *I wish I knew why I'm not picking up on yours.*
*Maybe we'll figure it out. Or maybe this will fade, it might be temporary--*
"Ladies," Hammond said, shocking Janet's attention back to him. "Sorry to interrupt your private conversation, but we need to figure out what to do about this situation, right now."
Janet took a deep breath. "Well, sir, I think we should both be relieved of duty for the moment. I doubt I'd be much good if a patient came in and I couldn't concentrate enough to help, and the same could be said for Sam and gate travel."
"Agreed. I suggest the two of you stick close to the base for the time being and investigate your conditions further," Hammond recommended. "I know it's a difficult situation you're in, but we'll be able to come up with a solution given time. Dr. Jackson, I'd like you to check out the object that's the cause of all this. Major, you said the box didn't affect you until Dr. Fraiser touched it the same time you did?"
"That's correct, sir."
Daniel became visibly excited. "Maybe it's similar to the device Machello created for the two of us to swap minds. Bodies. Whatever."
"Very good, Dr. Jackson. But whatever you do, don't touch the thing with another person anywhere near it, is that clear?" Hammond said.
"Yes, sir. No problem there."
"Okay. Keep me posted on any further advancement. Dismissed." They all stood, and Hammond said, "Dr. Fraiser, can I have a word?"
"Of course, sir." Sam caught her eye, and Janet responded, *Be right with you. Maybe you won't be able to hear me through the door.*
She heard Sam's laughter in her mind, oddly more intimate than she expected. For the first time, it seemed reassuring instead of invasive. "Yes, sir?"
"Dr. Fraiser, this team has experienced events such as this one in the past, and I want you to know we will do everything in our power to correct what's happened."
"I know that, General."
"I want you to keep the faith. If it had to happen with anyone on this base, I believe you lucked out with Major Carter. Imagine if it had been Colonel O'Neill."
She heard Sam's laughter even louder this time. *Oh, God, Janet, thank goodness it was you,* her friend said in her head.
Janet cracked a smile, trying not to chuckle in front of her commanding officer. "I absolutely agree, sir... as does Major Carter."
"Ah, yes, right. This will undoubtedly be a little strange for the both of you, but we'll get through it. Just do your best to cope, and we'll come up with something."
"I know you're right, sir. Thank you."
Hammond placed a hand on her shoulder, and nodded to her before stepping back. Janet turned to exit, and as soon as she hit the hallway, fell into step with Sam.
*So I guess it works through walls,* Sam thought.
Janet smiled weakly. "Looks that way."
Sam tried to assess Janet's state of mind, listening in for anything that would indicate her emotional well being. *Are you doing all right?*
"Yeah. I'm just... getting used to having your voice in my head all the time." Janet frowned. "I don't understand why you're having such an easy time with this."
"Well, I wouldn't call it easy. I mean, I hear your voice, but it's a low level buzz, as if you were talking a few feet away." *But it's kind of comforting, you know?*
Janet looked over at her. "Really?"
"Yeah. And there's the song in your head. It's like a radio on all the time."
That frown line Sam loved appeared between Janet's brows. "What song? I don't have a song in my head."
*Yeah you do,* Sam thought. *It's there right now. There's a line, something about a being a gate and swinging.*
"Oh!" Janet exclaimed. *I didn't even notice it was there! How did you pick that out?*
*It's been playing on a loop since this happened. What is it?*
*I was listening to Dinah Washington on the way in. It's a song from Guys & Dolls.*
"Is that a movie?" Sam asked.
O'Neill interrupted from behind them. "This is the weirdest conversation I've ever eavesdropped on."
Sam stopped to face him. "What's so weird about it?"
"The fact that you're only saying every other sentence out loud. It's... unnerving."
"Well maybe that means you shouldn't be listening." *Maybe, in fact,* Sam thought, *we should continue this conversation elsewhere.*
*Good idea,* Janet replied.
*Huh, this could be kind of fun. Don't you just love the look he's giving us, like he swallowed a bug? Oh yes, this could have some advantages. We could drive him seriously crazy.*
Janet's most evil grin appeared. "Absolutely," she said aloud.
Jack's mouth pursed, and he nodded his head. "Cute, Wonder Twins. Catch you later. I'm going to try not to think about whatever you were just thinking."
Janet's smile mirrored Sam's.
"You have a lot of numbers in your head."
Sam looked up from the computer screen. "I do?"
Twirling a pencil across the backs of her fingers, Janet nodded. "Yep. Knowing theoretically how smart you are and actually listening in on how your mind works is pretty amazing." Sam blushed a little. "Don't be shy, Sam, you're brilliant."
"I--" she started before stumbling over her words. *No more than you are. When we were getting checked out in the infirmary before I only understood about a quarter of the stuff you were thinking.*
Janet leaned back and kicked her feet up on the desk. "I'm glad it seemed smart to you, because right now, I have no idea what's happening to us. I feel like I should be up in the lab, waiting for our tests to come back."
*Warner said he'd call as soon as they come in,* Sam thought.
To Janet's amazement, Sam's next thought was a vague one about the supple curve of her calf muscle as it rested on the desk, but it only lasted a moment before Sam turned away. Janet sat up a little straighter and heard Sam starting to chant prime numbers in her head.
*That was a surprise,* Janet thought, and Sam looked back at her, a little fearful.
"It's okay, Sam. I just said it was a surprise, not that I was offended."
"Well, there's no point in denying that you're an attractive woman, Janet. I mean, you just are, there's no two ways about it. That's all it was. Just, you know, that." Sam went back to chanting prime numbers, staring at her screen.
As Janet leaned in to prod Sam a little more, the phone rang, and Warner said their tests were in.
Five minutes later, Janet stared at her CAT scan, pissed as hell. "It looks completely normal!" she complained.
"Did you really think it would be anything other than that?" Sam asked.
"Yes!" She pointed at the picture. "I can hear your voice in my head, Major Carter. I'd like a little evidence to back up that I'm not totally out of my mind, or that we're suffering from some shared hallucination." She sighed. *Hell, I was hoping Urgo just happened to have reimplanted himself in both of us.*
"Urgo. Wow, I hadn't even thought of that."
*Well I did. But he's not here. Nothing is. Whatever's wrong with us is invisible.*
As Janet strode off alone into her office, she heard Sam mumble in a wounded voice, *Wrong with us?*
She pulled her lab coat off to throw it across the room. *Yes, wrong with us! I'm not supposed to be able to communicate with you psychically, Sam. I don't like it. I have no privacy, I can't focus, hell, I feel like I can't even think for myself for a moment. It's impossible to shut this off and I'm terrified I'll never be able to.*
Though she was alone in the room, she heard Sam clear as day. *Okay. I'm going up to the lab. Maybe if I get far enough away from you, I won't bother you so much.*
Janet stared at the door in shock. "Oh, God," Janet said, laying her head on the desk. *Sam, I'm sorry. I really am. I'm dealing with this so poorly, I shouldn't take my frustration out on you.*
All she could hear were prime numbers, multiplying quickly as Sam counted higher.
She closed her eyes and focused on the numbers instead of the confusion reigning in her own mind.
Sam was surprised to find that the Janet buzz (as she'd come to call it) had gone quiet, quieter than it had been since it became a part of her thoughts. Either Janet wasn't thinking anything (unlikely), or the distance had blocked their bond. She wanted to be relieved, but all she felt was a vague sense of disappointment. Here she was, part of this miraculous chain of events, and her best friend in the world hated every second of it.
The only hedgy part so far was getting caught checking out Janet's legs. It was damned hard though; Sam had long admired Janet in just about every way. Her attentions rarely evolved into actual sexual desire, mainly because Sam had spent years refusing to allow herself to think that way. It leaked out in an occasional leering glance, but Sam considered herself to be well under control of any impulses leaning toward the physical.
She tilted back in her chair and launched another pencil into the cork ceiling. Score! Fourteen pencils hung a few feet above her head, a new record. She'd tried to go down and help out Daniel with the famed box, but had been shooed out of the room immediately. How was she supposed to learn anything new if she couldn't be involved in the investigation?
Closing her eyes, she took a deep breath. As she deliberately relaxed, an odd sensation came over her, and she realized she was having a vision. Or something. It was like dreaming while awake; vague images of people she knew were hovering behind her eyes. Janet was involved in some sort of medical trauma, kneeling over a patient and performing chest compressions. She was shouting while other medical personnel shouted back, and nurses were sticking needles in the patient. Sam moved in and around the people in the vision, but when she looked down at the figure on the gurney, she nearly choked. Her own body lay there, motionless.
The yelling continued until Colonel O'Neill strode in and grabbed Janet around the waist to wrench her from the gurney. Janet went berserk, kicking and screaming in his grasp. "No, I have to save her," she roared, but O'Neill wouldn't let go. Sam found herself pulled down the hall with them, unable to see anything behind her. O'Neill kicked open a door and tossed Janet through it, then slammed it shut, leaving her alone. Sam stood, confused, as Janet lay sprawled on the floor, crying.
Finally, Sam knelt at Janet's side. "Janet, don't cry," she said, finding her own throat closing with tears. She hated to see her dearest friend so distraught.
Janet looked up, blinking rapidly, until a voice surprised both of them. "Dr. Fraiser?"
The room turned white.
Sam gasped and her eyes flew open. The vision was gone. For a few seconds, Sam sat still, astonished at what she'd just experienced. But eventually she realized Janet's soft voice was back in her head, a little slower than normal. *I can't believe I fell asleep,* she thought, and Sam yelped.
*Asleep!* she called out in her mind.
*Sam, hi,* Janet thought. *Yeah, Dr. Warner woke me up to say he was leaving for the day. I didn't realize how late it was.*
*We can talk about that in a second, but I think I saw what you were dreaming.*
*Your dream. I'd been in some kind of accident, and O'Neill was there, and he pulled you off me and threw you into a room by yourself and left you there.*
Silence greeted her, followed by, *Oh my God.*
*You were crying,* Sam continued. *I tried to talk to you, but I'm still not sure if you saw me.*
*I-- I don't know,* Janet thought.
*I'm coming downstairs right now.*
Sam's mind raced forward, a grin splitting her face. This was the most incredible thing she could imagine; visualizing someone else's dream was like magic.
*I wish I saw it that way,* Janet said, just as Sam reached level 21.
That gave Sam pause. Why was it so easy for her? And then it hit her: it had to be because of Jolinar. Though Jolinar had only joined with her for a short time, the memories and thoughts had lingered until even now. *Janet!*
*What?* Janet squeaked. *I'm right here, no need to shout. Did you say Jolinar?*
*Yes, I might know why you've had a harder time with this than I have. I'm sort of used to it, because of Jolinar.* Sam burst into Janet's office and threw herself into a chair. "I've been dealing with Jolinar's memories and emotions since we were blended, and at this point, they're almost like a part of my own life. Sometimes I'll have a thought or an idea that stems from a memory, and it's only later that I realize it wasn't my memory at all."
"What does that have to do with this?" Janet asked.
"Well, I've had someone else's voice in my mind before, except Jolinar wasn't just in my head, she controlled my body as well. I've been living with her voice for years, not just days. Of course I'd be more acclimated to it than you would."
Janet slumped in her chair. "You're probably right." *But you're more open to things like this than I am. Your propensity to appreciate the wonder of the unexplained continuously astounds me.*
Sam smiled a little. "Janet, I wish I could make this easier for you."
*I know, babe,* Janet thought, and froze.
Sam froze too.
Janet searched for the words she could say that would make what just floated through her head disappear.
"Pardon?" Sam said aloud.
Standing quickly, Janet brushed her hands down her skirt, straightening it. "We should head home."
"No, I don't think that's what you said. Besides, we're stuck on the base. Remember?"
"Oh yeah. Well I'm still tired. I'm going to my quarters." *Shit shit shit shit--*
"Janet, calm down. I just want to talk to you for a second."
"No, Sam. I need some time by myself--"
"Well tough. I'm not leaving."
Janet searched for a defense, but came up with nothing. "I didn't call you on checking out my legs before. Just let it go."
Sam stared at her, her eyes softening. *What if I don't want to let it go?*
Janet breathed out slowly. She slammed her own eyes shut, refusing to be seduced by the blue eyes that entranced her so frequently.
Janet wanted to whimper in frustration. "I can't do this, *Major.*"
Sam looked as if she'd just been slapped. She lurched forward and took Janet by the arms. "Don't pull that rank crap with me, *Doctor*. You're hiding from me, and I want to know why. Right now."
"We're friends," Janet said simply.
"That's all. That's all I wanted to say."
"You called me babe. In your head. I don't know about you, but I don't call someone babe unless there's something a little more than friendly going on."
Janet did some more internal scrambling. "I call Cassie 'babe'."
"Bullshit. Not like that."
"How do you know? You don't know everything about me!" Janet said forcefully, trying to pull back without success.
"What if I told you I wanted to know everything about you?" Sam leaned in, piercing Janet with her intense gaze. *What if I said--*
The door to the office swung open to reveal a sandy haired tech. Sam barked at his frightened face, "Haven't you ever heard of knocking?"
"Jesus, Sam," Janet spat, and yanked away. "What is it, Adams?"
"I'm sorry to interrupt, but Siler sliced his hand pretty badly with a wrench --"
"Not a problem." Janet stood a little straighter, thrilled to have something else to think about. "I have to take care of this right now, Sam. I'll see you later."
Janet tried not to wince at the way Sam was gritting her teeth. "This isn't over," she growled.
"I have to focus on Siler, Major. He's injured, and I need to be able to count on no distractions."
"Fine." *Leave. I'll be here when you come back.*
Janet left her office and closed the door behind her. She cringed when she heard Sam kick what was undoubtedly her garbage can across the room.
Sam sighed through her umpteenth game of Solitaire, sneering at the computer for putting her $487 in the hole. Her eyes were starting to blur from staring at the screen, but fortunately, the doctor seemed to be finishing up with Siler. She could hear Janet already dreading coming back into her own office, but Sam wouldn't budge.
She played a few more minutes, and when she heard Janet sighing in her mind from outside the office, she knew it was time. Janet stepped inside and leaned against the door, blowing a piece of hair out of her eyes. "Aren't you even tired?" she asked.
The moment Sam saw the resigned look on Janet's face, her animosity dissipated. "Yeah. And my eyeballs hurt from staring at your screen. We need to get you a better monitor."
Sam met Janet's eyes. *I'm sorry I got so angry. I shouldn't have pushed you that way.*
"Thanks," Janet responded.
Sam waited a few seconds. "Now this is the part where you say 'I'm sorry too.'"
Janet's oddly expressionless features didn't change. "Fine. I'm sorry too." *Even though I have nothing to apologize for.*
Sam's anger came flooding back. "Damn it, you're shutting me out and I want to know why. Aren't you even a little upset? You're my best friend, Janet."
*Exactly,* Janet thought, stepping forward. "We're friends, and nothing more. We need to keep it that way."
*Progress,* Sam cheered internally, then cursed herself for thinking it. "So, are you at least admitting that somewhere, in the back of your mind, there might be some inclination towards something other than friendship? With me?"
"That is none of your business!" Janet exclaimed. "I can't stand knowing you can hear me no matter what I'm thinking. Can we just pretend this never happened?"
Sam decided to take a chance, because Janet wasn't doing her any favors. "Our situation is a product of a freak accident, Janet, but I'm not going to ignore the gifts it might have to offer. That includes learning things about you I never would have known."
Janet gritted her teeth. "But Sam, you've no right to know those things. They're private."
"But I want to know them. I want to know you, better than I know anyone." Sam stood and crept forward, doing her best not to spook Janet. "Don't you see how I feel? Can't you sense it?"
The tricky thing was, Janet *could* sense it. She felt affection coming off Sam in waves, but she refused to allow herself to think about it.
"Sam, please," Janet said, wishing the woman would stay a little further away. "I don't want this."
*I don't believe you,* Sam said to her, and the voice in Janet's mind was as silky and seductive as any she'd heard in her life. Warmth flooded her, and she felt a blush creeping up her chest. But she wasn't ready for this, for any of it. She put a hand up and stopped Sam from coming any closer.
"Regardless of what you may believe, Sam, please, don't." Tears of frustration that had been building all day finally rose up in her eyes, and she wished she could disappear into the floor.
Sam's face lost its look of intent, replaced with a gentle sadness. Her hand came up and cradled Janet's cheek. *I'm sorry. I-- I'll stop. You know me, sometimes I get an idea in my head and I just can't shake it.*
Janet nodded, and heard Sam mutter something about the way her skin felt. She wished she couldn't hear it, because it only made everything harder.
"Forgive me?" Sam pleaded.
"Of course," Janet replied, and tried not to flinch when Sam embraced her. The hug was awkward, and they pulled back. She ignored the way Sam's nose brushed her ear, and the shiver the contact produced along with it.
"We should get some sleep," Sam murmured.
"I wonder if I'll see what you dream?"
Sam smiled weakly. "We'll find out."
Janet lay on her back, gazing blankly at the ceiling of her quarters. Sam must have fallen asleep, because for the first time in fourteen hours, her mind was on its own. As pleasant as it was to have such quiet time, she felt, to her surprise, lonely.
She'd complained all day about the noise, and now she was complaining some more, but there was no one to hear her.
Punching her pillow into shape, she turned over on her stomach and sulked. Nothing satisfied her, not having Sam in her head or out of it. She felt off balance-- out of control in a way that made her uneasy. She wished she could call Cassie, but it was after 2AM. O'Neill had kindly gone to the house to stay with her, and hopefully she wouldn't be too scared about things. Janet's conversation with her had been brief and vague, per Hammond's orders, but Cass definitely knew something was off.
Janet heard a sound. Lifting her head, she looked around, but the only light was the slim band of yellow creeping under the door. There it was again, and she realized it was inside her head. Sam was back, but it felt... different. Closing her eyes, she was met with a vision that stole the breath from her chest.
From a few feet away, Janet watched as Sam cradled her own form in her arms, nuzzling at her ear. Dream Janet's smile was lazy and slow, and sexy. Janet licked her lips, eyes drifting to see the two figures' legs twine together on a sofa that resembled her own, but wasn't. It was beautiful the way their skin contrasted, light and dark, long limbs and longer. Much longer. Even in a dream Sam's legs went on forever, and they distracted Janet until she realized the two bodies had shifted, one atop the other. Sam draped over the dream Janet, whose arms came up to scrape down the thin material of her cotton shirt. Somehow, that movement affected Janet more powerfully than she could have imagined, and heat pooled in her groin.
She pressed a hand to her mouth and turned away, trying to shake herself out of the state she was in. It worked, partially, but the sound was still there, even though it was quiet. It was like a low hum, soft sounds of kisses and murmurs rumbling within earshot.
Janet kept her eyes open and started singing to herself. It worked for a while, until her eyes slipped shut again, and she fell back into Sam's dream. Or maybe it was her own.
Sam awoke to the sound of the klaxon screaming from the halls-- unauthorized gate activation. She wiped the drool from the side of her mouth and sat up, grabbing her pants and dressing speedily. She flew down the corridor and was in the elevator before it occurred to her that she probably didn't need to be there.
Distantly Sam heard Janet complaining about getting only two hours of sleep, and she knew she was probably headed for the med lab. *I'm exhausted too. At least you had a nap before.*
*Yeah, all of half an hour,* came the sarcastic response.
*True. Okay, I'm in the observation area. I'll let you know if there's any trouble.*
Janet laughed, and the sound reverberated inside Sam's head pleasantly. *That's great. You're better than a walkie-talkie.*
"Ten-four, good buddy," Sam said with a grin.
"Excuse me?" Hammond said.
"Oh, sorry, sir. I was just... talking to myself."
"Right. The iris code came from SG-9, but nothing has come through the wormhole yet. They weren't due for another 14 hours."
Just then, two men threw themselves out of the wormhole and fell down the ramp head first. Behind them, another soldier dragged an unconscious comrade through until they collapsed in a heap. *Janet, send a team, there's one man down, and I'm not sure about the other three,* she thought, and heard Janet respond.
Hammond looked grim. "Stand down. Sergeant, get a medical team here right now."
"Already done, sir," Sam cut in.
Hammond turned to her with an irritated look. "Major, what do you-- oh. Right. Thank you."
He looked away, and Sam found a moment to be amused by his discomfort. "Sorry, sir. I'll go see what happened with SG-9."
"Right behind you, Major."
She arrived in the gateroom just as Janet and the team did, and Janet immediately went to work. In an effort to keep her thoughts out of the doc's head, Sam looked to Captain Hogan, the soldier who had dragged Major Corman through the gate. "Can you tell us what happened, Captain?"
The man was out of breath and running on adrenaline, but he was focused. "It was bizarre. We arrived and everything seemed fine, great weather, no inhabitants, an amazing beach. It was like Hawaii without the tourists. But a few minutes ago, we were chopping through the vegetation to find the UAV, and these vines started flying around, releasing some kind of gas. It burned my nose, and Hogan must have gotten a mouthful right off, because he dropped like a log immediately."
Janet and the other med tech on duty had already carted Hogan off to the infirmary for decontamination. "So the vines started spewing gas, and you took off for the gate?"
"Did anything follow you through?"
"Not that I could see. It was just us for the last hundred yards to the gate."
"Okay, we need to get you into the decon chamber to wash off whatever--"
She heard a sharp cry in her head. *SAM!* Sam cocked her head, listening.
"Quiet!" she snapped. *Janet, what's happening?*
*Send security, Hogan-- fuck--*
"Security to the infirmary!" Sam bellowed. She was out of the gateroom in a flash, shooting back down the corridor toward Janet. The doctor was struggling, but it was impossible for Sam to tell exactly what was happening.
Hogan took another swipe at Janet, screaming at her to get away from him. "You can't hurt me!" he shouted.
She was spooked and aching, her cheek radiating pain from where he'd clocked her, and he was still coming at her. She'd grabbed an emergency zat from a drawer, only to have it kicked out of her hands. The other medical tech was unconscious from when Hogan tossed him against the wall. Janet was alone, but Sam was coming. She could hear her yelling to security to hurry the fuck up.
Hogan rushed her. She made a woofing sound as she impacted the wall, and tried without success to use her knees to get away. Quickly she brought her hands together and slammed down on the back of his neck, but it had no effect. The delirious soldier punched her in the stomach with a growl, and she wailed in pain, knocking her head against the wall.
Then Sam was there, wild eyed and furious, pulling at Hogan and subduing him with the help of two other guards. Janet's ears were ringing, both from the pain of Hogan's attack as well as the whirlwind coming from Sam's mind.
Sam's mouth wasn't moving, but she was screaming inside, and Janet could hear every epithet directed at Hogan. She gasped when the major kicked Hogan in the side as he wrestled in the grasp of the two guards. Though she couldn't catch her breath, she thought to Sam, *Stop! Please, Sam! He's hallucinating. He didn't know what he was doing.*
The flurry of animosity directed at Hogan didn't cease, but Sam stepped back and turned to her. Janet coughed and reached a hand out, and in a moment, Sam had wrapped an arm around her and was ushering her away from the ruckus. Janet clung to her, shaking and miserable. *He must have had some kind of a reaction to the toxin ,* Janet thought. *It's not his fault.*
"I couldn't help it." Sam gripped her shoulder more tightly. *He hurt you, Janet.* Sam helped her to sit, and knelt at her feet.
Blue eyes swam with tears as Sam looked up at her, and Janet leaned down to rest her head on Sam's shoulder. Her stomach was killing her, and her face hurt. She cried a little as comforting hands rubbed her back. Sam cooed to her silently, and the sound calmed her rattled nerves. For the first time, it felt good to have someone else in her mind.
Sam exhaled heavily. The adrenaline spike she'd experienced was long past, and she was amazed at the crash that came after it. Between the lack of sleep and helping security strap Major Hogan to a gurney, she was exhausted.
She looked over at Janet, who'd just dropped off to sleep after finally accepting a mild sedative. The bruise on her cheek was blackening by the minute, and Sam winced at the way it was creeping up to envelop her eye as well. Lightly she touched the veins on Janet's upturned wrist.
Dark eyelids popped open, and Sam groaned. *I'm so sorry I woke you.*
Janet blinked slowly. *It's okay. I wasn't asleep.*
Smiling, Sam replied, *Yes, you were. I didn't hear a peep from you for almost ten minutes.*
*Oh. Right,* Janet thought, and blinked some more.
Sam's smile grew. *I think you're high.*
*That is entirely possible, Major.*
Laying a hand on Janet's wrist, Sam said, "Close your eyes. You need to rest."
Janet pushed her hair away from her face. "My stomach hurts."
"Can I do anything to help you?"
"You don't happen to have a healing device on you, do you?"
"Janet," Sam admonished.
"Just checking." Janet's eyes closed again, and her hand turned to take Sam's. *Don't leave me,* she thought.
For a few minutes it was quiet, and Sam simply watched the subtle motions of Janet's body. She was surprised when Janet's eyes opened once more, and her voice was soft in her mind. *I wish I could let myself want you, Sam.*
Sam coughed. *We don't need to talk about this now. You're not well.*
Janet laughed, but it was pained. *I know that, Sam. But if I don't do this now, I never will.*
*If we hadn't touched that box, you might never have told me you wanted more than just friendship.*
Sam turned that idea over in her mind, not worrying that Janet could hear her every thought. *That's true. I guess for some reason it seemed easier to bring it up knowing you might at least partially feel the same way too.*
Janet's eyes drooped, then popped open again. *I didn't like it when you pushed so hard. It made me feel like I didn't have any say in the matter.*
That thought shocked Sam; the last thing she'd ever wanted was to make Janet feel like she was forcing herself on her.
*That may be true, Sam, but I don't know if I'm prepared to fall into a relationship with you just because you want me and I want you.*
Sam's eyebrow lifted. *You want me?*
*Samantha, that's beside the point.*
*Uh, sorry. The point is...*
*That if anything happens between us, it's when we're both ready, and in the same place. Emotionally, I mean. I've felt... uneasy about our new, uh, talents. Invaded, if you will.*
*Don't get upset, Sam. I just want to tell you how I feel.*
Sam nodded. She would wait.
Janet continued, *It's been hard for me to adjust to not being able to hold anything back. I'm... not used to it.*
*I can understand that.*
*So can we agree to go on without changing what we have between us? And see what happens?*
Sam smiled. *Sure. I can't say I'm not disappointed,* she admitted, *but I don't want to lose you. Ever.* There was one last thing she wanted to make clear. *Janet, you need to understand that you can trust me. Absolutely. With anything you think or feel or want. You don't have to hide.*
*I do believe you, Sam. Just... give me some time.*
Breathing a sigh of relief at having gotten everything out in the open, Sam relaxed. *Time is something I have plenty of,* she thought. *Ready to sleep now?*
*I'm glad we talked. You'll remember this conversation in the morning, won't you?*
Chuckling, Janet closed her eyes. *I sure hope so.*
Janet crossed her ankles on the coffee table. "So you and Sam can each hear what the other is thinking?" Cassie asked.
"This has been going on since last week?"
"That was my reaction too."
"It's a little... bizarre," Cassie said. "Do you hear everything? Like what she wants for lunch, and when she's tired, and what she thinks of people's outfits?"
Janet grinned. "Yes, but I'm at the point now where it's not driving me nuts. Sam has a tendency to, uh, think a lot in a very short span of time. I'm almost used to it by now."
"What about Sam? Is she used to it?"
"She didn't have as hard a time as I did, but now unless I shout her name, she doesn't seem to pay too much attention to what I'm thinking." It was true; Sam wasn't blocking her thoughts, but she'd learned to weed them out, the way humans learn to ignore background noise and conversations.
"Can you do that?"
"Not quite, but I'm improving," Janet acknowledged. She didn't feel threatened by Sam's presence in her head anymore, and she could still hear her thoughts often, but it was... okay. She could live with it. The fact that Sam backed off romantically helped as well; things between them were as normal as they could be, given the circumstances.
Except for the dreams. Sam's dreams tended toward the erotic, if not rabidly sexual. Janet didn't lie to herself that they didn't affect her, because they most definitely did. She was suddenly introduced to a whole other facet of Sam that hadn't been apparent before, and it had set her to thinking. She hadn't come to any conclusions yet, but she was thinking. Hard. Especially while Sam was asleep.
*Janet?* she heard Sam say distinctly.
*Speak of the devil. Hi,* she thought, turning a little red. She said to Cassie, "Sam's calling."
"Whoa!" Cassie laughed. "Tell her I say hi!"
*Cass says hi.*
*Tell her I say hi too. Do you think I could drop by and visit? It seems like a while since I've seen her.*
*Sure.* "Sam's coming over."
"Great! I can't wait to see how this psychic thing works."
"You can't see it, sweetie." *Come for dinner. We can put some burgers on the grill.*
*Sounds wonderful. See you in a bit.* Sam drifted back to whatever she'd been doing, and Janet reveled in how easy it was getting between them.
To Cassie, she said, "We're grilling hamburgers tonight, kiddo."
"Cool. I'm starved."
"You just had lunch!"
"I'm a growing girl. My metabolism is higher than yours is since I'm younger."
Janet's mouth dropped indignantly. "Keep digging your way to an early grave, child of mine." She heard Sam chuckle in the background, and grinned.
Sam walked around to the back of the house where Janet was getting the grill started. *I don't know why you won't switch to propane,* she complained.
*It's not the same, Sam. Charcoal makes it taste so much better. Now hush, I'm trying to light this thing.*
*Don't singe your eyebrows off.*
"Hey, Cassie!" Sam said when she came through the gate to the backyard. They hugged and Sam stood back, hands on Cassie's shoulders. "How are you? I think you've grown an inch since last month."
"You're insane, I'm exactly the same height. My growth spurt is over. Unless I experience another alien growth spurt, which is always a possibility."
"Very funny. Janet's sense of humor is wearing off on you."
"At least I didn't inherit her height." Sam coughed out a laugh when Janet smacked Cassie on the arm.
"You, my darling daughter, have just been elected chief cook and bottle washer for the night. The burgers are in the fridge-- go get 'em."
"You're the snark of the family, now you get to pay for it. March." Sulking, Cassie lumbered into the kitchen through the back door.
Janet embraced her without even thinking of it, and Sam sighed at the comfort of the hug. *It's good to see you.*
*You too.* Sam tucked Janet's head beneath her chin, and they swayed together for a few moments. *I'm bored, being away from work.*
"Me too. But at least Hammond said we could be reinstated as of Monday. Warner's been pretty slammed-- I think he talked to the General."
"So did Jack. And Daniel." Sam looked down into Janet's eyes, running two fingers along her cheekbone. "How are you doing?"
Smiling, Janet replied, "I'm fine. It's better." She touched the once black eye that had faded to a pale yellow, brushing her fingers against Sam's.
"Mom!" came a shout from the kitchen. "Are we out of mustard?"
Janet pulled away with a sigh. "Duty calls."
Cassie took charge of the cooking, as ordered, while Sam and Janet fluttered around helping out and setting the condiments up. Sam's gift of a twelve pack of Heineken was immediately broken into, and Janet relished the sensation of calm that broke over her as she settled into a lawn chair. Cassie was fighting with Sam over how well done their burgers should be as the barking dog circled them, trying to get in on the conversation. All was right with the world.
Over the past week, she'd learned more about Sam than she thought humanly possible. For a couple of days, Sam had remained somewhat distant, afraid to unnerve Janet with too much information. But somehow, they'd each loosened up, and Janet found herself sharing details about her life and her past that she'd never revealed to anyone. Sam did the same, and Janet felt she didn't simply learn facts about Sam, but really *knew* her; her character, her aspirations, her heart.
She was attracted to all of it. Sam was beautiful even in her imperfections, and Janet found herself letting the tight reign of control slip a little each day. Sam had even begun to sense her emotions two days prior, and it had shocked them both. The major had done her best not to make a big deal of it, but Janet knew how thrilled she was to be able to experience the full range of effects the alien device had provided. Not to mention how she loved the ability to gauge Janet's mood simply by reaching out with her senses.
*Want yours well done?* Sam asked silently.
*Sure, thank you.*
Janet sipped her beer, and watched Sam smile almost imperceptibly. The sense of well-being they were both feeling seemed to multiply as it bounced between them.
Dinner was noisy, with Cassie interrogating each of them as to how well they could read minds. She wanted to know every detail of their new talents, and by mutual agreement, Sam left out their ability to see into dreams. Cassie would have had a field day with that one.
"How come you weren't as freaked out as Mom was?" Cassie asked Sam.
"I'm not a hundred percent sure, but you remember what happened with Jolinar, don't you?"
"Oh yeah. So it's almost like this happened to you before."
"Exactly. Your mom hasn't been blended, so it was pretty weird for her to have me in her brain, poking around and doing algorithms when she was trying to sew people up."
"Have you done anything with the box that did this to you?"
Janet sighed. "Yep. Daniel examined it for two days and found the same thing Sam did-- nothing. After that, Hammond went ahead and allowed us to reenact what we did when we first touched it, but it had no effect on either of us."
"I was sure it would reverse it," Sam said. "I don't understand why it didn't."
*It's not your fault, Sam. We might be... stuck with each other indefinitely.*
Sam winked at her.
"Has Cassie mastered the latest Tomb Raider?" Sam asked lazily from her reclined seat. She was pleasantly buzzed, her last empty on the grass beside her.
"You'd be a cheap date," Janet said.
Sam replied, "Am not. I'm just... very relaxed."
"Well plan on relaxing for a while. You're not driving for a couple of hours."
"Yes, ma'am, thank you ma'am," Sam saluted. "You're just as buzzed as I am. You're practically slurring your thoughts." That wasn't true, but Sam could definitely sense a calmness settling over Janet that she'd never felt before. It was very agreeable, to put it mildly.
"Sure, sure, keep telling yourself that." Janet stared up at the stars, and Sam could hear her picking out constellations. Hercules, Corona, Draco...
"That's Corona Borealis," Sam corrected.
"That's what I said, Corona Borealis," Janet mumbled. "What are the stars in Hercules?" she asked.
Sam got up to lay on the ground next to Janet's chair, and bit her lip when Janet joined her. *That one,* she pointed up, *is Kornephoros. It means 'club bearer.' And that one, Rasalgethi, means 'head of the kneeling one.' That one is Sarin--*
"How do you keep all that inside one small brain?"
Sam turned to her. "Are you implying that my brain is small?"
Janet cackled. "I'm just asking where you keep it all."
"The same place you keep the names of all the bones in the human body."
"I don't know them all off the top of my head."
"But you know the big ones. Which one is this?" Sam pointed to her forearm.
Janet smirked. "Even you know those, both of them," she said. *I just heard you think the correct names.*
Grinning, Sam continued, "Okay you got me. What about my hands?"
"Fine, let me see." Sam held out a hand, and Janet took it in hers. Taking a thumb, she began, "This is your first distal phalanx. This is your first proximal phalanx, this one your first metacarpal. It's like that with all your fingers too, except with a middle phalanx right here." Janet pressed Sam's fingers between hers, and Sam's eyes drooped a little.
"Now in your wrist," Janet's fingers traveled down softly and pressed again. "You have the trapezium, the scaphoid, trapezoid, capitate..." She trailed off, as did her thought process. Suddenly she was staring into Sam's eyes, and Sam heard her noticing how the rising moon cast a lovely blue light on her face.
"See, I told you you knew them," Sam said, wanting to break the tension.
Janet released her hand and rested her head on the grass. "I'm not tense."
Turning to look up at the sky again, Sam responded, "I am."
The body next to her moved closer. "Why?"
Seconds passed. A hand came to rest on her stomach, and it jumped in surprise. "Um..." Sam muttered, moving a few inches to the left.
*Why are you pulling away?* Janet thought, clearly confused.
*This is a bad idea, Janet.*
"I don't think it's a bad idea. You thought it was a pretty good idea last week."
"Yeah, but that was only a week ago. You've had a few beers, you're feeling good, I'm feeling good, everything seems good. But I don't want to wake up tomorrow and hear you realize you've made a mistake, that you don't want this. It's a big step from where we were only a few days ago."
"That may be true, but I feel... a little different about things now. About us."
Sam knew Janet was being honest; she'd sensed a shift between them even over the short period they'd been connected. But it was fast, and Janet had been right in slowing them down when she had. "I think at some point you convinced me you were right, about not falling into something just because we happen to want each other."
"Falling into something?"
Sam's heart seemed to stop and leap simultaneously, and she listened for any stray thoughts that might be coursing through Janet's mind. Unfortunately, Janet seemed to be preoccupied with the fact that her heart was pounding so loudly she was afraid Sam could hear it. "Maybe s-something like that," she stuttered. Trying to ignore Janet's proximity in both body and mind, she mulled over the idea. She'd wanted Janet, to be with her, to spend as much time as possible near her. But love... that wasn't something she'd thought seriously about. So far they'd been friends, and then a little more than friends, but it was all so undefined. Confusing. Terrifying.
"Samantha," Janet drawled.
"Yeah?" Sam replied a little breathlessly.
"You don't have to figure it all out in the next ten seconds. I'm not going anywhere."
Sam managed a laugh. She breathed in deeply and exhaled as she felt Janet take her hand. Looking over into a face she couldn't discern in the darkness, she said, "Okay."
A head came to rest against her bicep. Janet said quietly, "Tell me the stars in the Corona Borealis."
Janet stirred, rubbing her face against damp cotton. Inhaling, she smelled earth and cool air, and Sam. Opening her eyes, she was a bit startled when she realized she was lying on the ground, in her backyard, in the warm embrace of Sam Carter. The chilly air around them, however, was sharp against her exposed skin. She reached a hand to her hair and felt dewdrops and the moon was high in the sky. Sam's mind was quiet; she wasn't dreaming. "Sam," she whispered, shaking a shoulder. "Sam, wake up."
"Shh, I'm tired, Jan..." she mumbled, and wrapped an arm around Janet's middle.
"Samantha, we're outside. We need to go in and get in bed."
"Hmm," Sam sighed.
"I'm cold and tired, Sam, come on," she said again, with a little more weight behind the words. "Are you this tough every morning?"
Sam smacked her lips. "Only after three beers the night before," she finally responded. "I'm thirsty."
Grinning, Janet leaned down and kissed Sam's cool forehead. "My little lightweight, I'll get you a glass of water if you'll come to bed."
Sam finally acquiesced, and once in the kitchen, Janet poured a tall glass of water and handed it to Sam. Taking her hand, she led her up the stairs and into her own room, not worrying about what it meant.
"Shh," Janet told her, pressing an index finger to Sam's lips. She rummaged through a drawer and found a tee shirt and pair of clean shorts, presenting them to Sam with a little flourish. *These are for you,* she thought.
A little sheepishly, Sam smiled. *Thanks.* Janet heard her consider going to the bathroom to change, but instead she just unzipped her long shorts and pushed them down. Then the shirt came off, and Janet watched in silence. Sam looked up, and Janet could practically feel how her heart hammered in her chest. After a brief internal debate, she removed her bra, and Janet swallowed at the first glimpse of a nearly naked Sam. A quick breath later, Sam dressed in the clothes Janet provided, and then it was Janet's turn.
While Sam slid into the bed, Janet found the tank and boxers that she normally slept in, and slowly undressed. There were remarkably few thoughts running through either of their minds, since most of their energy was focused on the feelings evoked by their little displays. As Sam watched her closely, Janet suddenly felt shy as she removed her bra-- it occurred to her that the only person to see her so unclothed in the past two years was her own doctor. Sam grinned as Janet's thought flitted into her mind, blue eyes wide and appreciative. Janet cocked a hip in a saucy pose, which wiped the smile from Sam's face. Feeling confident again, she pulled her top on, followed by her shorts. "Want a toothbrush?" she finally said.
Minutes later they were sharing a bed. Though not touching, Janet imagined she could feel Sam's warmth seeping into her own body.
"I feel it too," Sam said softly.
Reaching a hand across the small distance between them, Janet brushed a thumb against Sam's lips as she cupped her cheek. Sam kissed it twice, and thought, *Good night, Janet.*
*Night, Sam. Sweet dreams.*
Sam lay on her side, playing idly with the ends of Janet's hair from across the bed. "Mm," she heard, as Janet finally stirred from sleep. *Feels good.*
*Then I'll keep doing it,* Sam thought, and neither of them moved for a while as Sam continued threading her fingers through the fine hair.
Janet remained quiet, only half awake. Finally Sam heard her accept the fact that she would not be going back to sleep. "Morning," Janet growled, her voice gravelly.
"You just had a funny dream," Sam said.
"I didn't realize you were such a fan of mustard."
Janet's mouth twisted. "Pardon?"
"You were at the grocery store and you bought five jars of mustard. And you were eating ice cream while you pushed the cart."
"I don't believe you."
"I swear," Sam said with a laugh. "It was one of those little Ben & Jerry's cartons. I couldn't tell which one, but it was definitely chocolate ice cream."
Janet stared at the ceiling. "Cassie did remind me we're out of mustard last night."
"Have any ice cream in the house?"
"Nope." She turned to Sam. "Maybe I should get some. My subconscious seems to want it."
"The funniest thing was that as soon as you got the ice cream out of the freezer, there was a spoon in your hand. You just conjured it out of thin air. In my dreams stuff like that always makes sense, but in someone else's it looks so strange."
"I'm disappointed I didn't get to see any of your dreams. They had to be more interesting than mustard and ice cream."
Sam snuggled into the bed, tucking her pillow beneath her head more comfortably. "I don't know, I kind of liked watching you shopping. It was relaxing."
Janet's eyes met hers. "Only you would think that, Sam, only you." Her foot crept over to rest against Sam's shin. "What are you doing today?"
"Don't know. I was going to take a look at the carburetor on the Volvo, it's a little noisy lately." She tried to stop the next thought from forming, but it was impossible. *In other words, I have no plans whatsoever.*
Eyelids closing dreamily, Janet thought back, *Wanna stay here and play with Cassie and me?*
Sighing with relief, Sam replied, "Love to. I could help you plant those morning glories you were thinking about yesterday. They're probably wishing for a lattice to climb right about now."
Janet's eyes sparkled. "I didn't know you knew anything about gardening."
With a bashful smile, Sam confessed, "I didn't even know what they were till I heard you worrying about them still being in pots instead of the ground."
Smacking her with a pillow, Janet crowed, "You sneak!"
Janet hummed along with Sam in her mind as she packed her gardening gloves away in the garage. Her hands were filthy-- no matter how many times she started out wearing the gloves, she always pulled them off and ended up with her bare hands in the dirt. There was just something about the smell of the earth she couldn't resist, and she'd almost been embarrassed when Sam heard her silently rhapsodizing about flowers. But Sam hadn't teased her; she'd only smiled and gone back to digging in the dirt.
*Do you want to order in? I'm too wiped out to cook,* Janet thought to Sam. Silence followed. *Sam?*
*Maybe I should go home.*
Janet dropped the rest of her stuff on the worktable and made a beeline for the kitchen to find Sam washing her hands. "Why?"
Sam looked nervous. "We have to go back to work tomorrow, and I need some clean clothes, and I haven't done laundry--"
"Samantha," she interrupted. "What's the real reason?"
Sinking into a chair, not minding that her wet hands were dripping onto her shorts, Sam admitted, "I thought maybe you could use some time alone."
Sitting across from her, Janet somberly asked, "Is there anything I've said, or hell, thought, that might have given you that impression?"
"No, but--" *I guess I just assumed. I know this week has been tough on you, and maybe you need some time without me underfoot. It's bad enough I'm in your head every second of the day--*
"I don't mind so much having you in my head every second of the day anymore."
Sam's mouth dropped a few millimeters. "You don't?"
"In fact, I'm kind of... used to it now. You're my walkie-talkie line open 24 hours a day. And I enjoy being around you, contrary to what you seem to think. I wouldn't mind if you stayed another night. We could even drive in together in the morning." In her mind, Janet backtracked momentarily. *Uh, if you wanted to, that is.*
With a blinding smile that lit up her whole face, Sam replied, "I want to." She took Janet's hands in hers for a moment, until she stood. "But I need to go home and pick up a few things. I can head out now and get something for dinner."
After Sam left Janet used the time to straighten up and put away the things she'd neglected for the past few days. She'd been distracted by Sam's thought processes so often that housekeeping had fallen by the wayside. Cassie helped a bit, when she wasn't on the phone or in her room supposedly studying. The background noise of Sam kept her company, and she listened as Sam packed a bag, picked up her mail and messages, and ordered dinner. Each small detail seemed to bring her closer to this woman she'd been so unsure of, and with every passing moment the hesitations she'd experienced slipped away.
"Cassie, dinner's almost here," Janet shouted upstairs.
A minute later, Cassie tromped downstairs and asked, "Did you cook?"
"Nope, Sam's bringing Greek home."
"Did she call?"
Janet bit her lip. "Sort of."
"So this telepathy thing really works everywhere?"
"Yep. Unlike my cell phone, which doesn't get service in the mountain, I get reception from Sam just about anywhere."
"That is so cool!" Cassie exclaimed, just as Sam came through the front door. "Did you get babaganoush?" she immediately inquired of the blonde.
"Absolutely! Your mom said you absolutely had to have it, so I got it. Plus kabobs, hummus, spanakopita, and salad."
Janet clapped her hands. "Sounds fantastic. The plates are in the kitchen."
Sam followed her into the other room and set down the bags on the kitchen table. As she removed the boxes of food and opened them, Janet just stood for a second and watched her. When Sam looked over, she asked, "What's up?"
Janet simply moved into her arms and embraced her, tucking her head into Sam's neck to inhale the subtle scent. Long arms wrapped around her shoulders, and in response, she tightened her grip around the slender waist. *I don't want to lose this,* Janet thought.
Sam kissed her temple tenderly. "You won't."
"So we just go about our business like nothing's really changed," Sam stated, wondering if they'd be able to pull it off. Checking her mirrors, she merged onto the highway carefully, despite the fact that there was no traffic on the road.
"Well, technically nothing really *has* changed," Janet replied. "We haven't even kissed. We just, let's say, know each other a little better than we used to."
"Enough to start calling it love," Sam said, shifting gears smoothly. She could see Janet's grin even from the corner of her eye as she watched the road.
"Something like that," Janet said. "I suppose we should have some ground rules though. The military stance on... what we're thinking of doing isn't exactly open to interpretation."
"Are you concerned we'll be thrown out? Do you really think that would happen in these circumstances?"
Janet thought for a moment, and Sam listened in, glancing at her from time to time. *Well despite our rather extraordinary positions, the General might have to abide by the rules. We can't really be sure.* Janet sipped her coffee. "I guess we just have to decide if this is worth the risk."
Turning back to watch the road, Sam responded with alacrity. "I can tell you right now, it's worth it to me. You're worth it."
Janet pressed her fingers atop Sam's on the gearshift. "Same goes for me."
"Even though you weren't sure a week ago?"
Running her short nails along the paper thin skin of the top of Sam's hands, Janet purred, "You've convinced me."
"So..." Sam said.
"So the rules are, um, no kissing in the elevator, no fucking in broom closets, keep everything for home. How's that?" Sam knew exactly what the reaction would be, and she wasn't surprised at the unladylike guffaw that met her declaration.
"Major Samantha Carter, I ought to wash your mouth out with soap."
"That wouldn't make it very nice if you ever get around to kissing me, you know."
Janet licked her lips, and Sam felt the pulse of heat between them. "I'll get around to it. Just you wait."
Sam swallowed, cursing the fact that the mountain wasn't very far away, and they couldn't exactly pull over and get it on.
"I heard that. I'm not making love with you for the first time in this miniscule vehicle."
"I knew we should have taken your Jeep."
Janet's laughter rang out as the car sped closer to the mountain.
Hammond stared Janet down in the briefing room. "You're sure Major Carter can be cleared for duty? Along with yourself?"
"As sure as I can be, General. It's taken me a few days, but I feel that I've adjusted as well as can be expected, given the circumstances. It was... troublesome at first, I'll admit," Janet said. "Imagine being next to a very noisy family in a restaurant. You can't pay attention to a conversation you're having with the person across from you because all you can focus on is how annoying the loud family is."
*Hey, I resemble that remark,* Sam interjected as Hammond nodded in understanding.
*Hush.* "Then imagine the noisy family moves to the other side of the restaurant. You can still hear them, but it's not so bothersome. Sam's thoughts seemed extremely loud to me at first, but now, it's like background noise. She can get my attention and vice versa, but it's not such a distraction any longer."
"If you'll pardon my bluntness, Doctor, what about your personal lives?"
Janet blanched. "Excuse me?" *Jesus, do you think he can tell?* she hissed in her mind.
*I hope not,* Sam thought in response. *Pay attention.*
Hammond continued, clearly unaware Sam had tapped their conversation, which was just as well as far as Janet was concerned. "I expect you've lost a sense of privacy that most of us take for granted. Will this, uh, connection cause any friction between yourself and Major Carter?"
Janet immediately warned Sam, *Don't even consider repeating the word friction until I am out of this office.* It worked-- Sam was silent. She replied to the General, "That was difficult for me, as well, sir, but I'm pleased to say that I trust Major Carter implicitly, and I believe the feeling is mutual. We've known each other for so long that this is just an extension of our natural working relationship. A highly unusual one, perhaps, but we're learning to live with it."
*Nice save,* Sam said.
With a nod, Hammond stood. "All right then, you and Major Carter are officially on duty. SG-1 has been cleared for a jump to P4X-757, departing in one hour. Thank you for your candor, Doctor. You've shown great resilience in this challenging situation."
Unable to hide a smile, Janet replied, "It's not so bad, General. But thanks just the same."
A few minutes before SG-1's departure, Janet met with Sam in her lab, wanting to share a quiet moment. "Do you think the connection will last even though you're hundreds of thousands of miles away?" Janet asked in a small voice.
A sly grin quirked Sam's mouth. "I guess we'll find out soon enough. Walk me to the gate?" she asked.
"Sure, but I need one thing first." She moved forward and embraced Sam gently, closing her eyes and thinking intently, *Don't get yourself hurt out there. I need you in one piece if we're going to do this.*
*Do what?* Sam thought back.
*Be in love.*
Sam's arms tightened around her. *I should have kissed you last night.*
Pulling back, Janet responded, *Well now you'll have something to look forward to when you get home.*
"You've got that right," Sam said, licking her lips.
Together they walked toward the gate, with Janet fidgeting nervously at Sam's side. She prayed the impending distance between them wouldn't have any adverse effects. *Don't worry, Janet, we'll be fine.*
Janet squeezed her hand into a fist to keep it from sliding into Sam's.
She stood at the back of the gateroom and watched the team snapping on their gear. It was different this time, and she knew Sam felt it too. Her heart squeezed; anxiety for Sam's safety combined with simple distress that she'd be away from the woman who'd become essential to her well being put the doctor into an extremely tense state.
"Okay, team, saddle up and move 'em out," O'Neill commanded.
The four strode in tandem up the ramp, and Janet exhaled heavily when she heard Sam whisper in her mind, *Be right back, sweetheart.*
Not a minute later, Janet smiled when she heard that same voice, still very present in her head. *Told you it would be fine.*
Relief flooded her; she was much happier knowing they were still attached. *You were right, as usual.*
*As usual? I won't forget you said that,* Sam countered teasingly.
*I'd expect nothing less.* Janet headed for the lab with a spring in her step that hadn't been there earlier in the day.
*Hey!* Sam heard in her mind as she trudged through a muddy field in the pouring rain. The sound made her smile.
*Can you handle that weather for three days? From the mud you've been complaining about, it sounds like it's been raining for weeks.*
*Well we've been here for four hours, so that leaves only 68 to go.* Sam paused for a moment to yank her boot out of some sludge that had grabbed on and didn't want to let go. *I need a bath. A hot one, it's freezing here.*
*Aw, babe, I'm so sorry you're there. I wish I could be there with you.*
*No you don't, Janet. It's disgusting. By the way, I like the way you call me babe.* Sam could almost feel the smile that curved Janet's mouth.
*I miss you already.*
*But I'm with you, Janet. It's like I haven't even left.*
There was a slowness to Janet's next words that stole Sam's breath. *I miss your face.*
Swallowing thickly, the filth covering her and her belongings seemed to fade from view as she imagined Janet's mouth shaping the words. Sam thought, *I miss your face too. And everything else that goes with it.*
*Oh really?* Janet couldn't hide the suggestive lilt.
Remembering briefly the ground rules they'd discussed that morning, Sam brushed the thought aside. She was slogging through the rain toward a campsite that was undoubtedly another klick away; she deserved this little treat.
*You certainly do deserve it. I'll make an exception, this once,* Janet thought.
*Um, let's see. I miss your hands--* she thought, until her mind immediately slipped to that part of Janet she'd gotten a glimpse of a couple of nights earlier.
*You're a breast woman?* Janet exclaimed, evidently surprised at the idea.
Sam chuckled, blushing slightly, barely ignoring the look of confusion Daniel sent in her direction. *Sorry, my mind just kind of went there.*
*They're too big.*
*Pardon?* Sam was confused.
*My breasts, they're too big.*
*Janet Fraiser, I am going to pretend I didn't hear that and we're going to move on. Now, I also like your--*
*Sam, I'm barely five foot two, and these are--*
*Janet!* she exclaimed loudly. *If I was there, I'd show you how much I like your breasts. And when I say like, I mean like. Got it?* She didn't stop imagining how her mouth would feel as it traversed Janet's cleavage, especially when she was wearing that purple v-necked top...
*Sam,* came the sound, almost like a little moan, a whisper in her mind.
*God, I wish I were home,* Sam responded.
*Me too,* Janet thought breathily. *Enough about me. I love your forearms, especially when you push your sleeves up in that black tee shirt.* Sam noted this factoid for future reference. *And your shoulders, they look so broad when you're in uniform, but when you're not, they look so much more narrow, the way they taper down into your--*
"Carter!" O'Neill shouted, breaking her concentration.
*Hold that thought, Janet.* "Yes, sir!"
"If you turn around, you'll notice the camp is ten feet behind you. Are you planning on exploring the entire planet wearing your field pack?"
*Shit.* "No, sir. Sorry, I, I just got distracted."
"You on the phone with Fraiser?"
Sam tittered nervously, and heard Janet's giggle echo in her brain. "Yes, sir."
"Well you can go back to your conversation, as long as you set up your tent at the same time. Got it?"
"Yes, sir." *Whoops.*
*I guess we set up the ground rules for a reason, huh,* Janet thought, and Sam heard her sigh in disappointment.
*Just when it was getting interesting.* Sam dropped her pack, huffing when it landed in a puddle. She shook off the heat that had been growing in her belly. *I need a distraction now... What have you been up to today? Anything fun?*
*I wouldn't say fun, but I did have to tape up Siler's ribs again, and his glasses as well.* Sam went about setting up her tent, willing the soft cadence of Janet's voice to take her away from it all. *That guy gets in more accidents. What happened this time?* *Apparently he was carrying that ridiculous toolbox up the stairs when...* *****
Janet reclined on the couch in the late evening, sipping from a glass of wine. She and Sam hadn't had much conversation today beyond their little flirtation, since she'd been busy with the daily grind and Sam had been involved in setting up a remote lab on P4X-757. However, she was bored at the moment, and was looking for something to take her mind off the silence of the house. Cassie was upstairs on the computer doing homework, but Janet didn't want to pipe up and annoy Sam too much while she was on a mission.
*Doctor Fraiser,* she heard in her head.
A smile lit her features. *Ye-es?*
*You should realize that hearing from you has been the only thing I've looked forward to all day.*
Janet's heart skipped a beat as a hot shiver spread through her body, making her skin flush with awareness even though Sam wasn't even present. *I didn't want to interrupt your work.*
*I'm not working. I'm inside my sleeping bag, praying this tent doesn't leak between now and the morning. If it starts raining on me I'm coming home no matter what we might discover here. A person can only put up with so much.*
*Are you cold?*
*Not exactly, but my hair is wet and it's making it hard for me to fall asleep even though I'm exhausted as hell.*
*Don't get sick out there, Sam.*
*I'm trying, Doc. I have things to do when I get home.*
At that moment, the emotional connection between them kicked in, flooding Janet with an all-encompassing warmth that stunned her. "God," Janet murmured. *I can feel you. It's like you're here, next to me.* She tried to keep from thinking it, but the words *inside me* echoed in her head nonetheless.
Sam didn't respond for a minute, but Janet simply basked in the feeling, relishing it, glorying in it. Eventually, Sam whispered silently, *I feel you too, Janet.* Eyes closed, Janet imagined Sam lying next to her on the couch, holding her, and the vision was so powerful she nearly missed the next words. *I love you.*
Instantly tears pricked the backs of her eyes. It was almost too much, this sensation of overpowering tenderness flowing through her. *I love you too, Sam.* Her stomach rolled, and suddenly she felt so lightheaded she had to sit up and put her head between her knees.
*Are you okay?* thought Sam, sensing a problem.
*Fine, just, God, it's so strong,* Janet thought. *It's never been this strong before.*
She could practically hear the smile in Sam's voice. *I know. I'm not cold anymore in the least.*
Janet lifted her head, the dizziness fading quickly. *Well that's something then.* Leaning back, she set her nearly empty wine glass on the coffee table. *Is there anything I can do to help you sleep?* She waited for the requisite flirtatious comment.
Chuckling, Sam responded, *Unfortunately you're a little far away for what I'd really like, but I have an idea.*
Eyebrow lifting, Janet replied, *Yes?*
*You have songs in your head all the time, old songs. There's one I like that you've been thinking about...*
Hearing the slight hesitation, Janet encouraged, *Tell me, sweetheart. Don't be shy.*
*What's the one about, um, seeing your eyes in stars above?*
Licking her suddenly dry lips, Janet answered, *'The Very Thought of You.'*
*That's it. Do you think, maybe, you could play that one, or hum it or something? I find it really... comforting.*
*Just give me a sec, I'll put it on.* Soon, Nat King Cole was crooning through the speakers softly, and she settled back on the couch and let the song fill her mind. *Can you hear it?*
*Yeah,* Sam sighed.
They listened together, with Sam humming along every few minutes as the disc continued to play. Eventually, Sam was quiet, and Janet realized she was sleeping. The powerful feeling was still with her, though, and she knew she'd remember the evening as one of the sweetest of her life.
Sam swung her P-90 back on her shoulder, cursing the rain for the eight zillionth time. "Sir, have we come up with a point to this mission aside from driving us all insane?"
"Danny did want to take a closer look at the ruins today, but I think even his enthusiasm has been dampened by this... uh, dampness. I think I'm about to call this mission a wash, if you know what I mean, and I think you do," he smirked.
"Thank God. My boots are just about done for, and I didn't bring my spares."
O'Neill radioed Daniel. "Yo, Daniel, are you done there? I'm getting pressure from the lady here to get the hell out of this rainforest and go home. What's the status of your investigation?"
The static was heavy, but Sam could hear Daniel's reply clearly. "I don't think there's much more to learn here. I'm getting the impression the inclement weather here is constant and has been for hundreds of years. I've translated some of the writings, and it appears that when the rains came, thousands of people were lost in flooding. We haven't spotted any sentient species, so my guess is that whatever group lived here most likely died off or departed well over two hundred years ago." The signal faded for a moment, but popped back in just in time for them to hear Daniel say, "--rain isn't stopping. I say we head home."
"Swell," Jack shouted. "You and Teal'c come on in and we'll start packing up."
Sam clapped her hands and zoomed toward the camp. *Janet,* she thought loudly, excitement swimming up inside her.
*Hey,* came the reply.
*I'm coming home!*
*What? I thought you weren't scheduled to come in till the day after tomorrow. What happened?*
*Exactly nothing. Plus I think the colonel is sicker than I am of the rain. We're packing up now. I figure in four hours I'll be back on base.*
*I am so happy to hear that, Major Carter, it's almost ridiculous.*
Sam grinned cheerfully. *That makes two of us. Keep me company while I take this stupid waterlogged tent down? Unless you're busy with work stuff...*
*Nope, not busy. I could use a break anyway. SG-14 just came in this morning, so I've been doing physicals since then.*
*Anything exciting to report?* Sam packed her gear as Janet chatted to her about nothing in particular, but it was nice to stay occupied with something other than the fact that most of her stuff would be going in the trash when she got back to base. Including her boots.
A half hour later, Janet was pulled away to do another round of physicals, so Sam reluctantly finished her packing on her own. Jack and Teal'c set off to haul equipment toward the gate, and Sam swung her pack onto her back and pulled her hat lower on her forehead.
Sam had been trudging solemnly for more than an hour when she glanced across a muddy field to the left, and from the corner of her eye saw a beam of some kind heading toward them. "Colonel, get down!" she shouted, and swung her gun into position. She dropped to the ground just as the colonel and Teal'c slammed into the mud, and quickly she removed her gear from her back. Rolling behind a tree, she searched for anything moving in the distance. *Shit,* she snapped internally. She fired short bursts blindly into the direction of the weapons fire.
*Sam?* Janet's voice was terrified.
Just then another beam shot out from the copse of trees to the right. *Trouble. Someone's shooting at us,* she shouted in her mind, adrenaline pumping through her.
Before she had a chance to do more, everything went black.