Rating: back to the nasty stuff people. We've got a NC-17 rating. We're goin' where few SG1 writers have gone before…
Pairings: If I tell ya… it'll ruin the surprise. It involves girls, that's all I'm gonna tell ya.
Category: yet another mirror universe for the SGC.
Disclaimer: Stargate SG1 and all their characters belong to MGM, Showtime and Gekko Productions. But I think we all knew that, hmm? Art and Lucky are mine.
Spoilers: References aplenty to the majority of the third season here, consider yourselves warned…
Summary: Now that Sam's had some time to revaluate…
“Hey Sara,” I murmured into the phone and run my fingers through my hair. “This is Daniel Jackson. I spoke with you a couple of months ago about Jack. I know you're not home right now and I hate to leave a message like this, but he's okay. He's okay.” As I prepared to hang up, there was the clatter of the line being picked up.
“Doctor Jackson,” Sara gasped, her voice tense. “Jack's okay?”
“Yes, yes he's fine. We thought he was lost, but he showed up. You know Jack, always gotta do things his way. I'm sure he would have called once I told him I'd called you, but we got caught up in… stuff. Y'know?”
“I know. Is he home?”
“I think so.”
“I think… I think I need to go speak to him.”
“Yeah, I really hope he appreciates that.”
Jack had been stupid enough to lose the woman he loved through tragedy once before. Maybe this time he'd get it right.
“I'm sick of this shit.”
Startled, I dropped the paper and glanced over the back of the couch to see Sam glowering at me. Her eyes were still bloodshot and her posture a little weary, but I was relieved to see the steel of her personality shining through. “Okay. What do you wanna do about it?”
“Dunno. Something, anything. Just get me out of this house and all this.”
“No problem, I sure we can find something to do.”
Famous last words...
If someone had told me that I would end up in a biker dyke bar with a very drunk and happy Sam entertaining the crowd, I would have told them they were nuts. But sure enough, here I was, blearily keeping an eye on the milling crowd and trying to keep my pal from making too big a fool of herself. Unfortunately, I wasn't doing a good job of it. This wasn't a casual stop-by-for-a-beer-after-work kinda place. These people lived a life, at least here, that was a little rough for me. And my delectable little creampuff of a pal was making quite the impression. Perched up on the bar, flirting with anyone within reach, Sam had turned into a kittenish stranger I barely knew. God, what alcohol did to some people. Course, we had been at this for hours, days, I couldn't remember…
Then some butch leather dyke from a bad Sixties movie started getting a little too friendly and my protective cop instincts kicked in. This was gonna get ugly.
But before I could get a full head of steam, another woman stepped in and grabbed the first one's hand right off Sam's squirming body. “This one's with me,” the newcomer growled and I froze in shock. I knew that voice, didn't I? When Pushy tried to make an issue of it, Sam's knight in shining armor and her buddy stared the Sixties reject down. Sam, for her part, just giggled and draped herself over the black leather shoulders.
“My hero,” she flirted and before the new woman could react, planted a lusty kiss on her. I could only stare as the leather woman froze for a long beat before responding to the invitation. Lanky legs wrapped around the heavy jacket to haul the familiar-voiced stranger up between Sam's legs where she still perched on the bartop. The rough crowd eagerly began to urge them on. Good grief, I didn't know Sam had it in her…
When Sam did finally let her new friend up for air, she was flushed and the long red hair was starting to unravel from the black headrag. The crowd roared in approval. To top off the encounter, she fished a twenty dollar bill out and slowly, suggestively, tucked it down the front of Sam's tight skirt. That earned one more lingering kiss and a collective bellow from the crowd that nearly took the roof off. Then the show was over and I heard the new woman speak again. “C'mon Sam, let's get you home.”
Sweeping Sam into her arms and earning a squealing laugh, the woman twisted to deposit Sam into her companion's arms, before pinning me with startling emerald eyes that were ironic, fearful and challenging. I almost swallowed my own tongue. “Karen?” I squeaked like a frightened mouse and earned a chuckle from her blonde friend, who was getting nuzzled and kissed by the giggly Sam.
“Call me Bane,” Karen Taylor said quietly and I nodded in stupefied obedience. “And this is the Ace of Diamonds.” The grinning Amazon, nearly Karen's impressive height, resettled her grip on the clingy Sam and nodded in cool welcome at me. “Come sit down while I try to sober Sam up a little. What the hell are you two doing in here anyway?”
“I've no idea. This is the drunkest I've been in a long, long time.”
It was the truth. At this point I couldn't even remember where the damn Jeep was. Heck, I wasn't entirely certain what city we were in anymore. How Sam was even upright, so to speak, was beyond me. With that skinny frame of hers, she should have alcohol poisoning by now. I hadn't realized I'd spoken out loud until Ace chuckled and prodded me in the back to follow Karen. “Don't you know the old cliché about never trusting the quiet ones?” She chuckled in a low voice that reminded me of my sister.
“Oh yeah, my wife tells me that all the time.”
That made 'Bane' chuckle and one of Ace's eyebrows arch in question. I followed the black leather jacket, trying to make out the design on the heavy garment. It was some kind of ghostly figure of a woman with the words 'Bane Shidhe', written around it. Outside, it was shockingly bright in spite of the heavy clouds and I winced away. Sam whined pathetically and buried her face in Ace's chest. Karen stepped over to retrieve Sam and she burrowed into the larger body like a tired child. “This is becoming a weird habit, Carter,” she sighed fondly and gripped Sam's gangly body closer.
“I'll take it that you know these two,” Ace questioned as she leaned in close to check my undoubtedly dilated and bloodshot eyes. The crystal blue reminded me of Sam's gorgeous gaze. Karen flashed her a dry look and I could almost hear the unspoken 'duh'.
“Yeah, I work with 'em over in Colorado Springs. Never expected to run into anyone I knew here.”
“I know what you mean,” I muttered and suddenly wished I was home. This little adventure of Sam's was rapidly wearing thin.
It had been a brutal double shift and I was ready to drop unconscious. There had been a non-ending stream of little accidents around base all week since the ugliness with Maybourne and… It was difficult to think of him as Bob now, but using his last name seemed almost as bad. Dammit! He had been one of my beloved Marines, the big, intimidating men who doted on me when they thought no one was looking. They looked awful, the other Jarheads and Mac, like someone had cut out their hearts. To find out that their leader was the traitor… I shuddered back to myself and was startled by the sting of tears in my eyes. And poor Sam… As though conjured by my thoughts, two figures stepped into the Infirmary, conspicuous in their stony, hurt silence. Sergeant Chris Greer had broken his arm only two days ago and was recovering in one of the private rooms. It wasn't like him to be so accident prone, but the distractions of their leader's treachery had taken its toll. Major Eric Kelly and Captain Mark Barron nodded briefly to me as they headed for their teammate's room. After handing off what she was doing to Betty, Mac followed them like a silent shadow. I despaired ever seeing them smile again. Eric's flirting was missed in particular. And Mark's resemblance to my ex, so heavy with despair, tore at my heart. Thank heavens the last two teams to return through the Stargate had been almost completely unscathed. As wiped out as I was from all the broken emotions around me and the stress of being pregnant, emergencies were rapidly becoming too much from me to handle. It was with weary relief that I had handed control of the Infirmary to Warner and crept away.
The house was quiet in the dark hours before dawn. There was a faint hint of something sweet and musky in the air that teased my nostrils. Was that perfume? When I flipped on a lamp, there were two jackets tossed negligently over the back of the couch. Both were familiar, Art's heavy denim and wool number and Sam's lined leather coat. Did that mean that my sweet ahn-dras had finally managed to drag Sam out for some socializing? I fervently hoped so. Two pairs of shoes were tossed beside the coffee table and various empty bottles and cans decorated the surface. It only took a moment to clean up the mess so that Cassandra didn't get it into her head that she could do the same. That taken care of, I dragged my tired body upstairs.
And froze at the titillating spectacle that greeted me. They had fallen asleep together as had become our recent custom, Sam's lanky frame wrapped possessively around Art's sprawled body. A dark hand was woven into the blonde hair, Art's nose tucked into the fluffy mass. Sam was in a skirt and stockings and showed nearly the entire length of slim leg where the left was draped over Art's hips. Rather shocked and utterly enraptured by the sweet and seductive tableau, I could only stare for a long moment. Oh sure, we had all been sleeping in the same bed for days now, but this was different. Sam had tucked her left hand up under the edge of Art's warm shirt and had her head resting on Art's upper chest. My wacky hormones boiled up through my veins and threatened to short circuit my brain.
Some small whimper must have escaped me, for Art stirred lightly and moved her head to peer muzzily at me. Her smile warmed my heart and made me forget about my weariness and aches. After only a moment, Sam woke with a small moan and blinked sleepily. Her dawning look of alarm and embarrassment pulled reassuring words from me. “Stay Sam.”
Guileless baby blue eyes stared at me as though expecting censure. I suppose I couldn't blame her, after all she was curled up intimately with my spouse. But in very real ways, she needed Art as much as I did and I knew the reverse was true. They had clicked in a deep, totally unexpected way and the bond had only deepened with time. A memory of the alternate versions of the two of them bubbled to the surface, certain body language that had made little sense at the time. Only now I realized that those temporal doubles had once been lovers. The way my dearest friends were curled up made that potential so obvious once I had seen it. Besides, I'd always adored the blonde woman and the mercurial emotions that danced behind her expressive gaze. The slow, sensual grin that curled my mouth widened both pairs of blue eyes.
“What a lovely vision you two make,” I purred softly and Art's grin widened. She knew that tone and the frisky mood behind it. Sam flushed lightly, but did not pull away her gaze. “All warm and soft and relaxed. This is a wonderful surprise.”Art chuckled and Sam spluttered in embarrassment, but didn't fight Art's loose grip very hard. So I sat beside my ahn-dras and stroked Sam's golden head. “Oh, don't fret, love. This'll make great fantasy material.”
The combination of embarrassment and heat in her pale eyes made them grow dark as her pupils expanded. Art chuckled and her hand cracked hard down across Sam's backside. The abrupt gesture earned a startled squeal and a quick, rough wrestling match. Lucky had followed me into the bedroom and eyed the two women like they were mad. I laughed at them all, delighted in their entertainment. With Sam in a skirt versus Art's greater mass, the outcome was inevitable and my old pal quickly found herself expertly pinned on her back.
“Gotcha Sammy-girl, say Urgo.”
“Don't make me say that, he might come back,” Sam whined playfully and set us all off into giggling like little girls.
The combination of embarrassment and heat in her pale eyes made them grow dark as the pupils expanded from the rough play with Art. A sinuous twist of bodies had Sam on top again and the two of them pressed tight to my side where I could see the subtle and thrillingly unexpected plea in Sam's eyes. Gently, ever so gently, I trailed fingertips over her cheekbone and whispered, “are you curious? Even a little? We adore you, you know, and I think we'd like to show you. Yes, ahgahpee mou?”
“Mahleesta, oraya ahgahpee mou,” Art agreed in an intensely empathetic tone that made Sam raise her head and peer curiously at her pal. “It means 'yes my beautiful love'.”
With a quick, sinuous twist of their bodies, Art bodily shifted from beneath Sam so that the blonde woman was sprawled loosely between us on her back. For a moment, Art flopped prone to work her strong body into a luxurious cat stretch and groaned with the relief to stiff muscles.
“That's the last time I let you sleep on top Sam,” she chuckled and propped her head on one hand. Wedged in between us, Sam could only stare in silent trepidation and fascination. I bent over Sam to press a loving kiss to her forehead before leaning away just far enough to see her warm and tremulous smile.
“Please,” she whispered and I beamed in delight before giving into a very old curiosity. Oh, I'd always known she was soft, her skin smooth and silky, but I'd had no guesses to the way those delicate facial muscles would feel as her lips moved beneath mine. So different from Art, so passive and willing, her faint taste warmer and sweeter. For a moment I paused with our lips still touching and our noses nestled side by side. The familiar cornflower eyes were fascinating this close up, spokes of all shades of blue making up the end color. Sensing Art's curious gaze, I couldn't resist running my tongue teasingly over Sam's lower lip and tasted her gasp. The already dilated eyes darkened as the blue shrank away from the pupil in response. “Mmm,” I purred softly and felt both women shiver in response to the erotic sound. “You taste good, Sam. She's all yours ahn-dras.”
Knowing I was being a terrible tease, I patted Sam's middle, high on her body and shifted away. For long moments my precious blue-eyes could only stare with stupidly pleased smiles. Art's grin deepened until I could feel my own body buzz in response before she reached out to set her hand where mine had been only moments ago. Sam jumped and made a startled squeak as the pale eyes jerked around. “Shhh… I won't do anything you don't want me to…”
Poor Sam never knew what hit her. I watched Art lean over her, still wearing that indulgent expression, and nuzzle the fair skin. They were such an erotic tableau, light and dark, slim and sturdy, wind and water. It was enormously titillating to watch them perform this way.
Slowly, achingly slowly, Art traced the rise and fall of Sam's features with her mouth. Expression intent, eyes closed, Sam lay passive except for one hand tracing idly over the muscles in Art's supporting arm. What was running through their minds? How I longed to know. When Art pressed a kiss to the corner of Sam's mouth, they both suddenly burst into quiet giggles. But the vaguely uncomfortable humor melted into heat when Art nibbled delicately at Sam's upturned lips. Art was an incredible kisser, patient and attentive with enough teasing to leave a girl begging for more. I begged slavishly on a regular basis until she would indulge me with that gentle smile. At first Sam remained unsure and playful as Art memorized the shape and feel of her mouth, but gradually the heat built and she began to squirm under the melting assault. I had never watched Art do this and was enraptured by the spectacle.
Soon Sam wove both hands into inky curls and moaned softly. Growing more urgent, she arched her lanky frame into Art and drank in the lazy kisses. I was salivating, heart pounding, as I watched in enraptured silence. I dared not touch either of them, terrified of startling them like wild animals. A slim leg curled around Art's hips and Sam's grip in the dark hair tightened. Art growled softly and Sam moaned in response. When the intricate embrace began to wind down, they traded nipping little kisses until at last their blue eyes met.
“Wow,” Sam breathed in a shaken voice.
That soft comment made me smile as they looked over. Giddy passion had made Sam's eyes ocean dark and Art's had lightened to the color of shallow water. The fondness and smoldering ardor they radiated made me anxiously squirm closer.
“Welcome home, ahgahpee mou,” Art purred in that intensely low tone that drove me wild. A desperate whimper bubbled up from my throat, for I was already painfully aroused. We met over the silently watching Sam and I lost myself utterly in my beloved's tender kiss. Once I came up for air, I stroked a teasing finger down her cheek and purred, “so, what did you two do last night?”
The reaction wasn't what I had expected as Art rolled onto her back and howled with laughter until I thought she would split in two. Sam just looked embarrassed and confused. “Pick an incident,” Art finally managed to choke out.
“It couldn't have been that bad,” Sam muttered in embarrassment and Art laughed again. Propping herself on an elbow, Art gestured at Sam, still sprawled between us.
“Sam hon… that's not your shirt.”
Blue eyes dropped to stare uncomprehendingly at the fabric wrapped around her torso. I had to admit that I had been a bit taken aback by the choice in attire. It was a silky leopard print camisole trimmed in black lace that had removed itself from one shoulder. The lacing down the front was mostly loose, showing wide swaths of pale skin and subtle curves. Definitely not something I would have pictured Sam Carter in.
“This… this isn't my shirt,” Sam said in an idiotic tone. Once more Art laughed and I felt obliged to soothe Sam.
“It looks good on you, sweetie.”
She blinked like a confused owl and smiled like she wasn't aware she had done it.
“She can afford more,” Art chuckled and earned stereo confusion. “Check your pants, so to speak. There's at least twenty bucks in there. The nice leather dykes whose tonsils you were checking out last night gave you a hefty tip for the perk. But, hell, it got us a ride home.”
The look on Sam's face even made me chuckle, especially when she gingerly reached under the front of her skirt to come up with a handful of squashed bills. “What did you let me do?” Sam accused in a mocking tone and Art laughed all the harder. With a playful growl, Sam pounced on her and I moved further away on the bed, alarmed by the proximity of their physicality. Oh, but what an incredible thrill it was to watch their strong, healthy bodies writhe together on the linens as they tried to best one another. It took some work, but Art's larger mass and MP experience won. Sam lay panting on the bed and glared up at her captor with a grin. “Now that you've got me…” Sam purred and my own hormones spiked up dramatically at the suggestiveness in the tone. But Art just grinned and gave her a quick peck before pinning me with a hot glance.
“I'm asking if you'll help me keep the lady of the house warm.”
“Oh,” Sam responded in a matter-of-fact, almost disappointed voice. “I can do that.”
Catching the faint tone, Art ducked down to kiss Sam hard, leaving her mark on the pale lips. This was a possessive, searching kiss, the kind that made me late for duty on occasion. Moaning softly, Sam willingly allowed herself to be dominated, obviously aroused by the almost rough treatment. Finally, Art tore herself away to bury her face in Sam's neck and groped blindly for my hand. “Wow,” she breathed softly and squeezed my fingers hard. Sam wrapped arms and legs around her to squeeze until Art groaned in protest. “Okay Sparky, I get the point. No more teasing the lions. Think you can still get any sleep?” The growling, teasing note on the last question earned a quick nip on the bottom lip before those lanky limbs finally unwound.
“Can you?” Sam purred and yelped when Art swatted her hip before rolling away to pounce lightly on me. I capitulated with a delighted giggle and let her cover my face with butterfly kisses.
“Care for a big dog pile of a hug to sleep in the middle of, my love? Shower first, or grapes fed to you by hand? Your wish is my command.” While Art's tone was lightly mocking, I knew that she would happily indulge any whim she could. Then a gigantic yawn suffused any sensation for a long moment and left me with watering eyes. “Sleep it is,” Art said softly. “But teeth and jammies first.”
“Yes ma'am,” I chuckled lightly and allowed myself to be pulled into a sitting position and shooed off to the bathroom. When I returned, scrubbed and in comfy pajamas, only Sam was sprawled on the bed in her familiar blue tank top and striped pants. Art was probably off checking on the dogs, as was her custom. “So,” I said lightly and the blue eyes followed me carefully as I lay down beside her. “Some night , huh?”
“Thank you,” Sam whispered thickly and I looked over to see her beloved eyes heavy with tears. With a loving smile, she was curled along my side, blonde hair tucked under my chin. Entering quietly, Art snuggled into my other side and draped an arm over Sam's waist.
“For what?” I asked in my gentlest voice and Sam clung tightly to us.
“For not abandoning me,” she sobbed so softly that I could barely hear.
“Not gonna happen Sam. We adore you and plan on proving it for the rest of your natural life. That's a promise.”
We slept to the catharsis of tears and love.
Two days since my life had changed so drastically. Two days since my best friends, the likes of which I had honestly never had before, had kissed my very willing self senseless. For two days I had been far too aware of myself… and of them.
Oh, on the surface nothing had changed. Art still verbally harassed O'Neill and asked Daniel questions and spoke so kindly to Lucky. Janet still ran her corner of the SGC with effortless competence and kept everyone in line with that sharp wit. But there was a subtle change in awareness and the way their eyes would rest on me. There had been no casual silliness between us and the technical hiccup still staring defiantly out at me through my computer screen should have been long dead.
Was I projecting my wounded feelings onto Art and Janet? No, I honestly didn't believe that. For so long I had adored the two of them that the kisses seemed merely an extension of that bond.
Could I have been missing something all this time then? Some vital part of myself that had remained hidden? A sensation pushed against my psyche so powerfully that even Jolinar's scattered memories faded away. It was a sensation like facing a closed door, knowing that something painful but absolutely necessary lay on the other side. For an endless moment I swear I could almost hear my mother's sweet voice.
“Trust them Samantha. They love you.”
Art's voice was so unexpected that I very nearly fell off my stool. Concerned, she strode over to regard me curiously.
“You okay? You looked about a million miles away there for a second.”
As my brain struggled to right itself from all of these emotional and psychological entanglements, she stepped into my personal space. My knees touched her thighs and felt the contained warmth of her. Those deep eyes, like a calm arctic ocean, were full of love and quiet concern. Uncaring of the possibility of someone walking in, I wrapped my arms around her waist and she instantly returned the embrace. There were gentle fingers petting my hair as Bob had done in the past and I shuddered away from those memories. I would not push her away because others had hurt me. I would not alienate the people who cared about me because of another's treachery.
“Come home,” Art whispered softly and I clung tighter. “We miss you. Me, Cass, Cooper, Janet, Lucky, Jaffa. Heck, even Starjumper looks a little morose. Feelee mou, my friend, we need you. Come home.”
Home. When was the last time I had felt truly at home anywhere but this gigantic concrete bunker deep in the earth?
In the end, I meekly handed over my keys and followed her out of the SGC. There had been a few, last-minute details, but Darya had taken one look at me and immediately agreed with Art's suggestion that I hadn't fully recovered yet. Now we drove through the evening darkness with only the radio playing softly and Lucky's small noises accompanying the noise of the Jeep.
When she dozed off, I was pleased and worried. She looked so tired, so lost. How much could one person take and not go insane? Jonas, Jolinar, Bob and God only knew who else had scarred her. And all of it traced back to her father. Oh, I knew they were okay now, but she still had some serious emotional scars. I liked Jacob, but could see where the rift had been between them for so long. It made the ache for my own family all the more acute. Her fragile trust both made me feel like the most important person in the universe and terrified me beyond words. I was so scared I would screw this up. And I would rather put a bullet in my head than cause those big blue eyes to cloud up with hurt again. Had Janet done the right thing, encouraging us to deepen the relationship? My gaze flickered over briefly to see that moonlight had bathed my friend's sleeping face. Did she know how beautiful she was? It seemed like an eternity ago that my tortured temporal double had asked me that loaded question.
Do you love her?
Even then, my heart knew that Sam Carter was a very vital piece of the person I was to become. The person I was today and would hopefully improve upon. She and Janet and Cassie and my dogs were irrevocably intertwined with… me. With the person that loved them so dearly. It was they who had given me the strength to rise above all that could destroy me. And , wonder of wonders, it seems that I could do the same for them.
I was so lost in thought that I didn't even realize I was home until I actually pulled into the driveway. After unclipping Lucky's halter from the seatbelt, I fondly scratched her head. “Stay,” I whispered and quietly climbed out of the Jeep. Before Sam could even subconsciously register my absence, I was at her door and her limp body flowed into my embrace. “I've got you, feelee mou. Come Lucky.”
It wasn't easy to open the door with Sam's gangly body draped all over me, but I managed. There were voices murmuring in the kitchen and Cooper was there to greet us. “Hi Cooper,” I whispered and his concerned whine was eloquent as he gently nosed Sam's hip. “She'll be okay,” I reassured him in my best 'trust-me' voice. My Shepherds touched noses and I grinned. They had gotten along fine from the start and I hoped there would be puppies soon.
“He-ey,” Janet said softly and I looked away from the dogs to see her smiling beatifically at me in the faint glow of the scattered Christmas lights. “You brought Sam home. Good. How is she?”
“Still worn out. How are you ahgahpee mou?”
Smiling from her pet name, Janet stepped over to be kissed. Between the twins and Sam, it wasn't easy to maneuver, but we managed. As always, she was sweet and warm and loving, both hands caressing my face while we said hello. Even now I could effortlessly lose myself in her, forgetting the weight in my arms and the awkward position I was standing in. Finally, she leaned away to smile at me. “I'm okay, but I'm better now that you're home.” Those velvet eyes flickered over to where I knew Sam must be awake and her loving smile deepened. “Both of you.”
Janet leaned in to lingeringly kiss Sam as well. One that had the blonde woman's cheeks flushed when she was released. Patting us both fondly, Janet moved back into the house, impossibly bouncy for a 5'2 pixie seven months pregnant with twins. I sighed with slavish canine devotion and looked wryly down at Sam. There was a brief glimpse of those wide eyes before I was grabbed in a suffocating hug. “What did I do to deserve the two of you?”
“Mmm, I wonder the same thing day after day. Are you hungry?”
Taking that as a yes, I headed for the kitchen where Cassandra lit up with delight then darkened with worry. “Sam?” My loving grin reassured the teen as I sat in my chair with Sam's body still curled up against me. Just as her trust was a fragile thing, so too was this child-like vulnerability. Easily reading Sam's conflict of how she should react, Cassandra came over to bestow a warm hug. “I'm glad you're home. It's not the same around here without you.”
That earned a watery smile and Sam twisted in my lap to hug the girl. A rush went through me at the changing textures of her body pressing into mine and I responded in a deep, visceral way. There was a hot glance fired at me from the corner of her eye as Sam left me to sit with Cassandra. There was a knowing smirk tilting Janet's delectable mouth as she served up bowls of thick stew. Her intuition of cooking the much-needed comfort food amazed and delighted me. We all needed it. Over dinner Cassandra managed to coax Sam into being her usual self. It covered up the simmering subtext between we adults nicely. When the phone rang, I waved Janet to stay put and went for it. “Hello.”
I really wasn't surprised to hear O'Neill on the other end. After the 'retirement' incident, the rest of the team had been a little weird around him. “Yes sir, what can I do for you?”
“I… um… just wanted to check on Carter. She doin' okay?”
Poor guy, I wouldn't want to be in his shoes. Hopelessly in love with his 2IC and not a damn thing he could do about it. Oh, he'd never admit it, but between my conversation with Sam so long ago and watching him around her, I knew. “Better. Cassandra's in the process of cheering her up now. I'll make sure she gets some sleep tonight even if I have to park myself next to the bed.”
“Great. Thanks Sarge.”
“For what sir?”
“My pleasure. We'll see you in a couple of days.”
“Right. Goodnight then.”
“Goodnight sir. Thanks for calling.”
We spent a quiet evening together with the animals and watched the first wave of Christmas specials on TV. It was hard to tell who sang more lustily along with the songs, Cassandra or Art. Damn, but that Greek had a fantastic voice. Janet lay sprawled on the couch with her head in Art's lap while Cassandra did the same with me on the floor. Little Jaffa alternately dozed and clambered over Janet's relaxed body. Cooper lay curled against my hip, Lucky my lower legs and Starjumper against Cassie's tummy.
It was cozy and soothing to be surrounded by them with this easy quiet between us. The reassuring normalcy calmed my frayed emotions and lulled me with its security.
Something prodding me softly in the ear woke me some interminable time later. It took a moment for my foggy brain to register where I was. My head had lolled back to be cradled by the warm swell of the twins. A second prod, this time against my cheekbone, earned a reassuring mumble from Janet. Only then did I realize what the movement was. One of the twins had kicked me! Delighted, I twisted to press my hand and cheek to Janet's swollen body.
“Are they moving?” Cassandra asked quietly.
“They did a moment ago,” I responded and froze when I felt it. There, right under my fingers! A tiny flutter of movement, a restless push from inside. Awed by the sensation, I remained as I was and waited. And finally, I was rewarded again with those fidgety movements.
A low groan rumbled up from Janet's chest and her hand came to rest near my forehead. “Uhnn… the little athletes are bouncy tonight.”
Her discomfort made me respond without thinking, snaking an arm around the bulge and soothingly stroking my cheek against her warmth. “Shhh,” I murmured softly. “You're gonna give your mom a tummyache.”
And much to my astonishment, they did indeed settle into stillness. Both parents chuckled when I pulled back only far enough to stare.
“They can hear you,” Art explained gently. “And they know you. They know the sound of your voice and your touch. They've known you from the start. Just wait, when they're born they'll bond to you like they were your own.”
My throat closed up so tight I thought I would choke and my eyes blurred with tears. “Okay gang, time for bed,” Janet suddenly announced briskly and patted my head. “Would you give me a hand Sam?” That left Art to collect a mockingly grumbling Cassandra, scoop up Jaffa and herd the dogs off to bed. Janet carefully navigated the stairs with me playing spotter and flopped onto the bed. “I really only come up here to sleep anymore, they're getting so unwieldy. And still two months to go…”
There was little annoyance in Janet's tone. Instead she sounded resigned and loving. Smiling, I pulled off her shoes to rub her feet.
“Mmm… that's nice Sam,” Janet purred softly and my warm grin deepened. I didn't know what I was feeling exactly. This woman had been my friend and confidante for years. Love and pregnancy had brought out a wonderful sparkle in her personality that was impossible to resist. Utterly lost in thought, strong arms grabbing me from behind made me jump in shock.
Jerking around almost defensively, I was hauled up against Art's chest and froze instinctively in response. This was a look I hadn't seen before… a raw, predatory stare that felt like a physical touch. Instinctively, I relaxed trustingly into her embrace and a smile touched her mouth. A memory of our first meeting bubbled up and I ducked my head to rub my short hair under Art's chin.
It was the most amazing sensation to have this powerful, frighteningly intelligent woman putty in my hands. Since Sam had removed her boots earlier, so we were nearly face-to-face. When I ducked in to capture her mouth, I was met halfway. She tasted as good as I remembered as we kissed experimentally. Slender arms twined around my neck and her lips parted eagerly beneath my rapidly heating kisses. There was something very different about being with this willowy blonde, the way she was so pliable and willing. Oh, Janet could be like that, but it wasn't as inherent to her personality. There was no resistance as I grabbed that narrow ass and ground Sam up against me. In fact, she groaned wantonly and cupped my skull in her hands. Eventually, our gazes met again, our tight embrace making it difficult to tell when one left off and the other began. Janet sighed dreamily and we both glanced over.
“You two are so sexy,” she sighed with a devilish grin. “Such a beautiful contrast to the other. Lucky me.” That made me chuckle and release Sam.
“You. Bed. Now,” I growled and she smiled flirtatiously. The sight of that tight ass snug up against the fatigues compelled me to give Sam a quick swat. She yelped in surprise and collapsed into an ungainly heap beside the laughing Janet. The mocking glare only made her laugh harder. It wasn't easy to watch them and struggle with my heavy boots, but I was determined to miss nothing. Janet settled into a quiet chuckle and gave the pouting Sam a sympathetic look. Weaving her fingers into the tousled blonde hair, Janet tugged Sam into a kiss. They were slow and lazy, like kittens in the sun, both teasing and giggling. For the moment, I was content to watch their playful interactions and feel my own arousal heating my blood. It wasn't until Sam began to stir restlessly that I climbed onto the bed and molded myself to her narrow back. A muffled moan echoed up from her chest as I sank my teeth lightly into the tendons of her neck, my hands restlessly mapping her body. An impatient series of tremors echoed through Sam, pressing her tighter to Janet and forcing me to scoot in closer. As I tightened the grip my teeth had on her, those movements became more desperate and uncoordinated.
“You like that?” Janet purred and we both groaned in response. That tone of voice drove me insane with the black velvet promise of it and Janet very well knew it. “Hmm?” She hummed encouragingly and Sam whined softly like a trapped animal. As I touched my willowy friend, my fingers would encounter Janet's own curious hands. Lingering caresses were traded as we teased Sam to distraction. Those sensitive doctor's hands tugged the black undershirt from Sam's pants and mine ducked inside to explore the flat belly while Janet's wandered higher. I removed one hand from the play to prop myself up and lean over Sam. Her unfocused gaze met mine and I ducked to kiss her until both of us were lost in the heat of the interaction. We separated only long enough to skin off shirt and bra and I swallowed Sam's soft noises as Janet explored the newly exposed skin. There was a desperate edge to Sam's sounds even as she clung tightly to my curls. A gentle touch on Janet's head slowed her down and gave Sam time to adapt to us.
One nipple pebbled up hard under my fingers while Janet suckled at the other. While no longer kissing me, Sam breathed hard against my mouth and I relished her small noises that grew slowly in intensity. “Sam,” I breathed almost soundlessly and those beautiful eyes fluttered open. “We're here, ehromenee, lover. We'll always be here, trust us, let us love you. We'll take good care of you, I promise…”
The soft cadence of words grounded Sam, made her focus on us to the exclusion of all else. While Janet stroked and suckled her breasts, I wandered my hand across her silky skin and tapped lightly at the flat muscles quivering beneath. Her slim lankiness was new to me, for I had never touched someone built like her before. And this was my dear, beloved Sam, my friend and confidante and source of strength. How desperately I wanted to erase that lingering hurt in her expressive eyes, to sweep away the damage that others had done. Gently and deliberately, I tugged at the regulation belt until it separated and teased away each button on the fatigue pants. As her eyes grew more unfocused and her wordless pleas more desperate, I smoothed my hand over the familiar rough cloth to map the shape of her thighs and hips and abdomen. Only after her pelvis began to rock in response did I go further. Janet helped me tug away the pants and the plain underwear beneath. Some perverse part of my brain knew I would never look at our green duty uniforms quite the same way again as we exposed Sam's body to our explorations. Again I stroked her skin, feeling muscle and bone shifting anxiously under my touch.
“Please,” Sam managed to gasp only just coherently enough to be understood, her clutching grip almost painful in its intensity. So I traced my fingers along the baby-soft skin of her inner thighs… only to cup my hand over her groin and enjoy the heat and the feel of her soft hair against my palm.
“Sam,” I spoke firmly to break through to her. Moaning, she begged eloquently with her body and the animal sounds her need dragged from her. “Come back to me, please. I need you to know that it's me and Janet. Please Sam, please.”
It took long moments for her upper brain to come back on line enough to focus on us as Janet shifted to lay against her side and wander a lazy hand over her torso. Pinned between us, her hormones raging, my hand so close to her deepest heat, Sam whimpered softly and reached up to trace my features with a shaking hand. After an intense moment under that feral blue stare, her attention shifted over to Janet. “He-ey,” Janet crooned and I began to stroke ever so gently with a patient hand. Almost shyly, the wet folds parted before hugging my fingers close. Sam's cries grew in volume and she pressed random kisses to our faces. She was beautiful, wanton and willing under our hands. As my touch grew firmer, knowing that Sam needed completion now and I could explore more later, Janet's fingers intertwined with mine.
That was all it took.
As Sam's cries grew in intensity, I clamped my free hand over her mouth to stifle the crescendo building within her. The orgasm wracked her frame and her grip tightened convulsively on us. Even with my muffling hand, the scream was amazing. Outside the bedroom door, Lucky began to whine and bark in concern as Sam ran out of breath and I removed my hand.
“I better go check on Lucky and Cassandra,” I murmured and gave them both a quick kiss before scrambling from the bed.
Gradually, my brain began to come back on line. I was perversely reminded of a computer booting up as various thought processes and memory files cleared up. Tremors echoed through me in memory of the loving that Art and Janet had given me. That thought made my eyes snap open to be greeted by the achingly familiar brown eyes. How many times had I done just that? Opened my eyes after some significant or traumatic event to find Janet standing over me with that warm, loving gaze.
“Welcome home,” Janet said quietly and I caught her in a tight hug that made her chuckle fondly. “Art'll be back in a moment. She wanted to be sure you hadn't woken up the entire household. Oh, don't look so embarrassed, your enthusiasm is wonderful. I would've never guessed that you were a screamer.”
Janet continued to murmur soothingly as my body and emotions calmed slowly. There was a sensation against at the edges of my consciousness, a subtle need to find out what was behind that door. While I lay quietly surrounded by Janet's warmth, I felt it once more…
Could I have been missing something all this time then? Some vital part of myself that had remained hidden? A sensation pushed against my psyche so powerfully that even Jolinar's scattered memories faded away. It was a sensation like facing a closed door, knowing that something painful but absolutely necessary lay on the other side. For an endless moment I swear I could almost hear my mother's sweet voice.
“Trust them Samantha. They love you.”
It was so close, the memories that needed to badly to be lanced like a long-infected wound. There was only Janet's warm eyes as my mind drifted back and I reached for that closed door…
In the agony of losing my mother, I had lost track of myself for awhile. That pain I remembered all too clearly to this day. Then there was another voice, a long-lost memory that I stared at in fascination. Looking up into a pair of warm, dark blue eyes. “Hi,” the girl had said in a soft southern accent. “I remember you from math class. You're the smart one the boys always tease.” I had flushed in embarrassed mortification and was shocked when she reached out to cover my trembling hand with her own. “I'll make you a deal, okay? You help me pass algebra and I'll make sure those boys stay off your case? Agreed?” And Ainsley had always been true to her word. Imagine me, the geeky Air Force brat with the aching eyes and the painfully self-conscious nature suddenly being a popular cheerleader's new project. For awhile there, that's what it had felt like as the squad clucked over me like a new puppy. But I was in such desperate need of attention, any kind of attention, that I reveled in the mild humiliation of it. My father and brother were incapable of alleviating my pain and at least the girls let me forget for brief moments. I remembered the first time Ains made some casual remark about bringing my mother in on something and I fell apart in her lap. And, much to my surprise, my beautiful, popular, smart, seemingly shallow new pal just held me and let me cry. After that we were inseparable and did everything together. The other cheerleaders laughed that if I hadn't been so clumsy, they would have drafted me into the squad. Then my wanderings through these long-buried recollections were diverted by a pain left unacknowledged for far too long.
It was like approaching your childhood closet, knowing, just knowing that there was some horrible monster waiting to jump out and do something ghastly. Yet the door must still be opened. They had given me the strength to confront this, these wonderful women who truly made me believe that they loved me unconditionally. I was dimly aware of Janet's rising alarm as I retreated further into my own mind, the real world far, far behind me.
And then suddenly… I was there.
Every nuance, every emotion, every sensation frozen in the cold, hard lump of my pain and denial, suddenly shattered loose to wash over me with the force of a flash flood.
Seventeen years old only weeks before, my best friend and I lay side by side on her sloped roof, finding patterns old and new in the stars. We talked and giggled about everything and nothing, only truly aware of the chemistry between us. I wanted to visit those stars someday and Ainsley wanted to change the world. I always teased her about being president someday and she always laughed and mocked that she'd probably be some underpaid lackey.
Lost in the camaraderie I craved from her, I bumped up friendly kitty-like against her side and left us touching at elbow… shoulder… temple. Her knuckles pressed against mine, and I shuddered from the visceral thrill that shot through me when she intertwined our fingers.
“Do you wonder what it's like?” Ainsley's voice asked softly across the years.
“What?” I responded breathlessly, quivering in awareness beneath her touch.
“To be kissed? Made love to?”
Her boldness drove me wild, drew me to her warmth like gravity.
“Yes,” I whispered in a glass-sharp voice, my heart in my throat and my feelings on my sleeve.
I remembered her shadowed eyes when she turned her head, our noses touching. An eternity passed while we lay there sharing the air between us, that tiny space that separated us like the mighty Grand Canyon. Unable to stand the anticipation for one second longer, I whispered again, uncharacteristically bold.
We met halfway, the touch of our lips soft and curious and tender. Slowly the caresses deepened, her tongue across my bottom lip forever branding my young self. Madness overtook me, the need for her to touch me was so strong. Her soft, curvy weight pressing me into the futon mattress, her fingers roving over my body through the thin summer clothing. That maddening touch, cool and soft, against my bare skin had unraveled me. I remembered her caresses being so certain, like she knew exactly what to do to me. My voice grew hoarse and broken, her lips at my meager chest, her thigh against the sudden burn only she could snuff out. Then her fingers were where I needed them so badly, tickling carefully inside, and her thumb against that magic spot that shattered me apart into total bliss.
For an eternity I stood there among the broken pieces of my soul and stared at that flawless moment of perfection. This is what I had lost when Ainsley and I had been so cruelly torn apart by my father's duty and by the bond we could never truly acknowledge. Fear of the world around us had made that first love and I run from that agonizing pain and bliss.
That year I had lost my mother, lost my first love, lost my innocence and a huge part of myself. For sixteen years I had hidden from this, harming myself further in my self-imposed ignorance. Only then did I weep for the girl I had been and the woman I had become as I sifted through the reawakened pieces of me.
Physical sensation eventually returned. Perhaps I had slept. Perhaps I was merely numb from my long, draining emotional journey. There was the firm press of the twins against my gut, smooth legs intertwined with my own. Gentle fingers were woven into my hair to caress my scalp, a warm body cradling me from behind. Butterfly kisses roved over my forehead and nose, another mouth nuzzled the fine hairs at my nape.
“Janet?” I whispered brokenly and felt the seemingly endless flow of tears wear deeper tracks into my skin.
“We're here love,” my healer soothed in that voice that had coaxed me from darkness so many times.
“We're here,” Art affirmed softly, her deep voice rumbling against the back of my skull.
An eternity passed as they stroked and soothed me until I succumbed to a healing sleep.
A rough-soft rasp on my cheek coaxed me from a deep, black slumber. Jaffa's gold eyes regarded me calmly when I opened my own and she returned to cleaning my salty face. Her purring soothed me, brought on a fresh round of the endless tears. It took a moment to realize that the warm body at my back was furry and when I stirred, Cooper instantly had his head propped on my shoulder. Together, the two of them calmed me with their animal kisses. With my legs still intertwined with the sleeping Janet, I shifted my upper body to pat and scratch my furry friends.
In the warm light of morning, I felt as though a great, dark weight had been lifted off of my soul. Confronting the festering pain had robbed it of much of its power and this safe place of love and acceptance had encouraged me to do it.
“Sam?” Janet suddenly queried ever so gently and I smiled at her softly. Relief was strong in her sleepy eyes and she reached out to cup my cheek in her hand. “You're okay.” It was as much a question as a statement.
“I will be.”