Pairings: Janet and Art
Disclaimer: Stargate SG1 and all their characters belong to MGM, Showtime and Gekko Productions. But I think we all knew that, hmm? Art and Cooper are mine.
Notes: All words in italics are phonetic foreign words, mostly Greek
Spoilers: References aplenty to the majority of the third season here, consider yourselves warned…
Summary: Art and Janet's relationship deepen, beginning to become so much more… and the definition of family is explored.
The next couple of days went by as though nothing had happened. If not for the periodic burn of those dark eyes, I would have begun to believe that I had, indeed, imagined the whole thing. It was a titillating game but it wore at my nerves. When the phone rang in the meeting room, I jumped, and Sam flashed me a weird look.
“Carter. Hey Cassie, how're you doing? Art? Sure, hang on. Art, Cassie wants to talk to you.”
Almost reluctantly, I picked up my extension. “Hi Cassie.”
“Hi! I wanted to ask if you and Cooper want to come over to dinner tonight. Sam too, if she's not busy.”
Glancing over at Sam, slaving away over some incomprehensible technical bug, I knew would be going alone if I went at all. I liked Cassie and I needed to clear the air with Janet. “Sam's up to her eyebrows in scientist stuff, but me and Cooper would love to come over.”
“Great! What's a good time? And mom says you have a guitar, could you show me?”
That made me pause again. My skills with the guitar were intensely personal, but I sensed that Cassandra was reaching out to me through her own apprehension and distrust of strangers. “Sure, that'll be fun. I'm done at 1600 hours. How about five?”
“Okay, I'll be ready. Bye.”
Jack's voice reached my ears, his voice amused. “So the kid's got you wrapped around her little finger too?”
A smile broke through my stress and I turned it on him. “Yes sir.”
Firing a dirty glance at Sam's battered Jeep, I pocketed her borrowed keys and strode up the walk to Janet's door. The stupid thing drove like a tank with no shocks. Good thing Sam was virtually chestless or she'd always be as sore as I was at the moment. Cooper padded along beside the guitar case in my hand, while the amplifier dangled from the other. On cue, Cassie opened the door and pranced out to greet me with a cheery, “hi! You made it!”
“There was a doubt?”
“Not really. Hey, what's that?”
“It's an amplifier. This is an electric guitar.”
“Wow! You're a real rockstar!”
“Well, I wouldn't go that far…”
She continued to gush as we went into the house and I ditched my burdens and heavy coat. Cooper carefully approached Starjumper to say hello and I kept a close eye out until I was certain they were okay together. Then she stepped out of the kitchen, wiping her hands on a towel, and my universe screeched to a halt. It had been hard to see her in her uniform, but it had acted as a buffer on my rampant emotions. The memories of the pale purple bathrobe had seemed so incongruous with Janet that I had been able to distance myself from them. But this…
The brief little t-shirt clung in all its leopard-print glory to her generous curves and left a teasing strip of midriff bare. The snug jeans were all but white with age and accented her curves lovingly. Twin tuffs of pigtails poking out above her temples left me debating whether to drool or laugh. But it was the glittery 'girl power' stretched across her breasts that finally coaxed a wide grin out of me. This was the woman who intrigued me so, this warm and funny kitten that flirted as much as she hissed in defense of what was hers. But the kitten was staring at me as though I had a gun pointed at her and the shock and lust and terror in her gaze brought me over to stand before her.
“Sorry to startle you, Cass invited me over for dinner,” I explained quietly and took note of how husky my voice had grown. Another long beat passed while she stared up at me like a deer in headlights. Then she shook it off and flushed a dusky rose.
“That must have been what she shouted at me in the laundry room earlier. Make yourself comfy while I go change into something more appropriate.”
My hand on her arm stopped her and we both stared at the limb as though wondering what the hell it was doing. “Don't go to any trouble on my account,” I begged softly and her eyes dilated. Then the intense moment was shattered as we simultaneously remembered that Cassandra was standing right behind me.
++ Cassie ++
Oh, this was just too good. I knew I was right, and the proof of that was staring at me right now. But they looked so scared that I played stupid just to get them to relax. While Art followed my directions to the plates and glasses, I collected silverware and we left Mom to finish the spaghetti. It had made me laugh earlier to see her in my shirt, but the look on Art's face had been priceless. As I watched them dance uncomfortably around one another, I found myself guiltily wishing that it had been Sam that was playing this game with Mom. Then I felt bad, because I liked Art and she had made a real effort to be good to me. Most of dinner focused around me, as the women were so nervous of one another. Afterward, I dragged Art into the living room to show me the guitar. She was really talented and the instrument sang beneath her touch. As she had with Cooper, Art patiently answered all of my questions, even though I sensed that she was barely paying attention. Janet only watched in silence while we interacted, and I desperately hoped that she understood what I was trying to get across.
I liked Art and liked the idea that she was becoming part of my new family. When I had lost everything on my homeworld of Hanka, I feared that I would never learn to love again. SG1 and Janet showed me otherwise. Now Art and Cooper were included in that feeling and I felt better for it. Once the intensity became too thick for my teenage brain, I kissed and hugged them both fiercely and scampered away while they recovered. Murmured 'goodnights' followed me out of the room like the shadowy forms of the two dogs.
++ Janet ++
Ever since I had stepped from the kitchen to find those smoky blue eyes on me, I had felt off balance. Vulnerable and needy, we had parried and side stepped about like an emotional fencing match. Then Cassandra had dragged us into the living room and begged the guitar out of its case. Dexterous fingers had plugged in the amplifier and then run a cord from that small box into the port on the body of the forest green device. When those same fingers had stroked across the glittering strings to make the instrument sing, I was lost. There was something magnetically evocative about watching Art pour over the instrument as though it was an extension of her very soul. Tenderly, but firmly, her touch danced across those sensitive wires and glorious sound filled my house. How desperately my skin craved that touch, my breath harsh in my ears. Cassandra's hug dragged me from my carnal thoughts and her loving grin made me smile back in return. I dimly suspected that my daughter had very neatly set me up.
With real warmth, Cassandra hugged Art and kissed her cheek. It earned a grin of pleased surprise and a loving hug in return. And then… we were alone. My eyes were trapped by the now-silent guitar, her hands draped loosely over the top edge, fingers curled to the enameled wood. Slowly, her right index finger skimmed across the shiny surface, back and forth, hypnotizing me.
“So,” Art husked out of the blue. “Can… can I ask you a question?”
She sounded as nervous as I felt and when I spoke, my voice was squeaky with stress. “I think you just did.”
That earned a mutual wince, but she gamely marshaled her inner forces and raised her head to meet my eyes. How they burned, paler now than I had ever seen them, standing out dramatically from her darkly flushed skin and the jaw-length waves of curly hair. “In… in the backyard…”
Panic set in and my sane, logical mind short circuited under the pressure. “Oh, that, well, it was such a beautiful morning, don't really know what I was thinking, it seemed like a good idea at the time, and now maybe, well, I'm not sure I understand, and, well…”
I was babbling, but I couldn't make out a word I was saying. Then she hesitantly reached out to set those sensitive fingertips against my lips and silence fell again.
“It's okay,” she whispered in a voice so bittersweet it made my heart ache. “I understand.”
It sounded like a dismissal, and I froze in shock. The blue eyes turned in on themselves for a moment to bank the fire and find out what had happened in the real world while we had been so caught up in one another.
“Have you seen Cooper?”
Heartbroken and sick with myself for screwing this up so badly, I numbly shook my head. She wouldn't meet my eyes and set aside the guitar before rising on unsteady feet. There was no sign of him, and we met again outside Cassandra's closed door.
“Rotten dog,” she murmured fondly. “Went and ran off with another woman.”
Those expressive eyes stared so intently the door, that I almost missed the subtle cues. If I hadn't been so desperate to see them, Art may have remained alone. But there were hints in the tension in her voice, the nervous raking of fingers through her curls, the way her eyes would try to follow me.
“Stay with me,” my voice said completely of its own volition and her head snapped around in shock. Now that I had made the decision to need her so badly, I felt brave and invulnerable. She did not move as I stepped into her personal space again and ran gentle fingers over the reawakening muscles in her arms. “I need you so much. Please.”
Trailing my fingers up, I curled them around her neck to tug her down to be kissed. It was just as good as I remembered, her taste and touch. Groaning, she smoothed those coveted hands down my back and began exploring with desperate intensity. Somehow, I managed to coax her down the hallway and into my bedroom. All without losing that glorious contact with her sweet mouth. Only at the bedside did I pull away to run restless hands over her body.
“Janet,” Art moaned softly and leaned her head down to rest atop my tousled hair. “Are… are you sure about this? Because my feelings are pretty strong…”
That made me pause and press gentle kisses along her chin. “Oh yes, yes. I know exactly how you feel.”
Crouching, Art wrapped her arms around my waist and stood so that I was forced to throw my limbs around her. It was fun, suddenly being the taller one, leaning down to kiss her ravenously. This time she didn't hold back and returned the caresses like she really meant it. Soon we were sprawled on the bed and exploring to our heart's content.
The night became a blur of pleasure, of touching and being touched. It was magic from the start, the way she played me like that guitar. In return, I explored her body with a passion I was never allowed in the examination room, tracing her scars and curves that had fascinated me from the start. Her responses were completely atypical of what I would have expected for a healthy young woman, yet another legacy of that grenade. In turn, she learned things about my own body that no other had ever bothered with. Like that fact that the small zone around my navel could make me utterly insane… and that her well-timed humor would make me as hot as her deep soul kisses. We were glorious and exhausting and the best damn therapy I had allowed myself in far too long. There were no tomorrows and no responsibilities while we made love to the dim light of the bedside lamp until at last sleep came…
Sensation returned on prickly cat feet that pranced across my skin. Gloriously sore and euphoric, I felt the steady rise and fall of breathing beneath my cheek. It was a wonderful feeling, the warm body cradling me, the gentle hand in my hair.
How easily I could fall in love with her.
It was a sobering realization and I warily examined it from all angles. There was no panic from the epiphany and that surprised me. For so many years I had been hiding my own sexuality by trying to deny any feelings associated with it. The denial of that need was second nature. But I had liked Art from the start, she was warm and funny and intense. Last night I had seen all of that, coupled with a fierce devotion and shy vulnerability that was poetic.
Slowly, I raised my head to look at the woman who very nearly held my heart in her strong hands. There was none of the soldier here, none of the lines of humor and concentration on her face. Soft and trusting, she lay with me as though there was not a care in the world. The panicked chatter of my logical brain was ignored as I bent to kiss her softly. And, like a fairy tale princess, she stirred to life.
++ Art ++
It was a soft, loving kiss that coaxed me from slumber. Oh, I was aware of her energetic little body curled against me and the emotions I could taste in her kiss. Something had changed in the dark hours while we slept, something magical. Like water, like air, I fed from her tenderness and relished the change in my own soul.
There had been something special in this small woman from the very first. Perhaps it was the feral burn of the frisky female that lay beneath the cool exterior of the doctor. Or the friendly calm she brought to the space around her. Or the strength of character that bonded others to her. All together, these things and more painted an elaborate mosaic that stretched beyond my comprehension. What would it be like, exploring this complicated soul?
“I love you,” I breathed across her mouth and opened my eyes to her twinkling gaze. “I think I may have loved you from the first.”
That sunny smile could coax a soul back from the dead and I grinned back like a lovesick fool.
“I love you too,” Janet whispered and sounded as giddily awed as I felt. “Thank you for letting me persuade you to stay last night.”
“Mmm, thank you,” I murmured and tugged her down to be kissed again. It was a tender heat between us, a bond of bodies and souls that made us more than what we had been before. In time, we lay quietly again and cuddled.
“I'm not normally like this,” Janet mused softly and I could feel her smile against my skin. “Rash and impulsive.”
“Thank whatever dieties are keeping an eye on us that you did. I honestly don't think I could have made the first move.”
“Oh, I think you would have found a way.”
“Are you flirting with me, Captain Fraiser?” I teased in a lilting voice and she raised her head again to grin at me.
“Y'think?” She murmured and ducked to kiss me until I thought I would pass out. Oh, I'd always hoped I'd find somebody that it was like this with. But I honestly never expected it. Then mundane reality asserted itself with the hollow rumble of my stomach. For a long moment we stared into one another's eyes until Janet's belly grumbled as well and we burst into hysterics. After a moment, I rolled her under my greater mass to kiss her again and taste her chuckles.
“I'm going to make you breakfast, and drag you back to this bed to eat as much of it off your delicious skin as possible. Then,” another smiling kiss made me pause for a long moment. “I'm dragging you off to the shower to see what you look like warm and wet.” And before Janet could grab me, I had rolled away and jumped to my feet.
++ Janet ++
Damn the trickster, teasing me like that in her deep, sexy voice and then wiggling away. Most thoughts of seducing her back into the tousled bed were chased off by my very real hunger. “Okay, you win,” I purred and propped myself up into a come-hither pose. Art finished her luxurious stretch and flashed me a leering grin. I adored watching her do that seemingly simple physical maneuver that still made her so ecstatic.
“Dessert after lunch?” She queried in a sassy tone and the gleam in her blue eyes deepened when I raised a knee to tease further. “Definitely dessert,” she breathed hoarsely and I decided that I really should get up before we got started again and starved to death only meters from the kitchen.
Breakfast/lunch was a decidedly silly affair as Art did her damnest to keep me laughing the entire time. While she played pirate with the eggs, parrying back and forth with the spatula, toast and coffee kept us satisfied while more substantial fare was put together. Too much food was made, because we were far to engrossed with one another to be paying attention and it kept getting burned. Fortunately, the dogs were happy to do tricks for the blackened bits. By the time Art finally managed to fix an edible plate of eggs and cheese and vegetables, I was ready to throw her up against the counter and ravish her. When she turned and saw my expression, her triumphant grin faded into raw hunger.
“Bed,” she croaked hoarsely and I tried to instruct my reluctant body to do so. Easier said than done, as my jangling hormones pulled me towards her heat. “Bed!” Art finally barked in that no-nonsense 'Handler' voice and Cooper perked up automatically. An irreverent giggle escaped me and I pranced lightly for the stairs with my frisky lover right behind me. Panting with eagerness to find out what exactly she had in mind, I threw myself onto the ruined sheets and waited impatiently. “You ready?
It was a singularly bizarre experience to watch and feel the spongy little clumps of warm egg on my sensitized skin. With a feral grin of concentration, Art trailed a line of the edibles from the hollow of my throat all the way down to my groin. I was nearly ready to crawl out of my decorated skin.
And then her mouth was on me, her lips and tongue delicately collecting the little omelet bits before sensuously swabbing the area clean. Determined not to move and miss a single sensation, I tensed every muscle and went with the experience. When she did finally nibble up the last morsel, she mercifully ducked down and my universe exploded. By the time sanity returned, Art was draped over me to welcome me home with loving kisses. “Hungry?” She asked lightly and I pulled her down to be kissed yet again. I hoped those eggs were still at least a little warm…
++ Sam ++
“…and then down the field! I still can't believe I made that goal!”
“Yep,” I agreed with flagging enthusiasm. “You're a regular Mia Hamm.”
Cassandra had made an amazing goal at her soccer match that had been the talk of the team on the field, and the locker room, and the pizza parlor, and the car trips in between… When she had called me this morning for a ride to the game, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. As much as I adored the girl, I was really looking forward to getting back to Janet's and relaxing from the long morning. At the house, Cassandra tore up the walk and paused only long enough to unlock and open the front door. Sighing, I collected her cleats and followed the sound of her excited voice echoing from inside. As I stepped in, I heard her tone go questioning. “Hello? Anybody home?” Then laughingly shocked. “Wow! What a mess! Cooper, did you do this?” He whined in response and looked back at me through the kitchen door as though proclaiming his innocence.
Indeed, the kitchen looked as though a tornado had touched down and the smell of burnt eggs still lingered faintly in the air. “Nope, not the dogs,” I commented and picked up a paring knife from among the remains of various vegetables. “Not unless they've learned to use a knife, and that's just plain scary.”
While the two dogs obviously hadn't created the mess, they had certainly contributed to the destruction. Food had been pulled to the floor and mostly consumed, as well as eaten straight off the counter. Must have been one hell of a night, I mused to myself and shot a sideways glance at Cassandra. The teen had a mischievous, self-satisfied look on her face and I suspected that she had made no attempt to wake Janet that morning as she had proclaimed earlier. The fact that my car, which I had loaned to Art, was at Janet's this morning had not escaped me either. So I had brought the bike over and reclaimed my Jeep for the morning's escapades.
“So” I began with false casualness. “Anything interesting happen last night?”
Instantly, she was all innocence, but started giggling when I gave her my best long-suffering look. “I really don't know. I went to bed after Art showed us the guitar. Guess they slept in.”
Cassandra's tone was light, almost mocking, and she didn't quite meet my gaze. When I scowled lightly, she flashed me an intense look and went about cleaning up the kitchen. Did she know about them? Was she being so enigmatic because she thought I didn't? Did she know about the rule that could ruin Janet and Art if they were found out? There was a lingering awkwardness between us as the mess was cleaned up. I hated it. Weren't there enough secrets in this house?
++ Cassie ++
Once you live in a place for long enough, you start to ignore certain things. Like the annoying squeak of the front door and that ripple of asphalt in the driveway that was caused by a tree root. So I hadn't identified the faint sounds of water running in another part of the house until it shut off. Then I realized that Mom's shower had been running since Sam and I had walked in. How I hoped they were happy together and that they could make this work. Janet seemed so fascinated with Art and the new woman was very cool. And her dog was the best.
“So,” Sam suddenly said with forced nonchalance. “Do you like Art?”
“Yep,” I answered readily and gave the blonde woman a curious look. Did she know? “I'm really glad she came over last night.”
Now the look on Sam's face convinced me that she did indeed know what was going on. Neither of us knew quite what to say. Then a door slammed open upstairs and laughter echoed down the staircase. Flashing Sam my best serious look, I trotted into the living room and shouted in the general direction of the second story.
“Hey mom! You should have seen this amazing goal I made! It was great!”
Mom in her robe and a wary-looking Art came soberly to the living room and I hugged them both. Then Art looked over my shoulder and her expression became unreadable. “Mornin' Sam,” she said quietly and ruffled Cooper's fur when he went over to sit at her feet.
“Oh Cass,” Mom lamented from where she stood self-consciously behind Art. “I'm so sorry I missed your game.”
“It's okay,” I reassured and hugged her tight. “I just called Sam.” The near-leer seemed to take them both aback. “Besides, I figured you'd want to sleep in.”
Art fired me one of those patented long-suffering looks that Sam is so good at and draped an arm around my shoulders. “Why do I get the impression that you're going to be quite the handful, young lady?”
“Runs in the family,” I responded dryly and mom huffed with surprised laughter. That comment made Art grin and look fondly at the two of us before firing Sam a wry look.
“I'm doomed, aren't I?”
We all cackled in surround-sound at that one.
++ Sam ++
It was perversely amusing to watch Art and Janet try and act normal around one another. The chemistry between them was like a force of nature. I was surprised that I couldn't actually see the sparks. There was a peculiar sensation lingering in the corners of my soul, one that I was determined to ignore. It almost felt like… jealousy? How I wished someone could make me feel that way… Shoving the sensation down ruthlessly, I gave Janet a speculative look that froze her in her tracks. That fearful expression, just like the one Art had given me only a few days ago, made my heart clutch in pain. A crooked finger brought Janet to stand beside me with terror and curiosity lingering in her eyes.
“Does she make you happy?” I asked softly and Janet actually flinched. Since Art and Cassandra were busy at the sink, they missed all of it. Without thinking, I grabbed Janet's hand and stared up into her eyes with all the intensity I could muster. “I won't hurt you Janet, ever.”
“You know,” she whispered in a tone that was as much fact as question. I nodded and rubbed my thumb comfortingly over her knuckles. Tears suddenly welled up in her eyes and I was shocked at the uncharacteristic weakness as her face crumbled. In a moment, she was in my lap, clinging to me with the strength of a drowning woman. “Oh Sam,” she sobbed and I saw the other two turn around to stare in concern. “I'm so happy, and so scared…”
I had never before been Janet's caretaker, had never seen her vulnerable like this before. The gesture of trust brought all of my best qualities forward as I tenderly held her and stroked her back. “No one's going to hurt you, Janet. They'll have to go through me first. Well, me and Art anyway.” My dark pal grinned shakily and came over to kneel beside my chair and lean her head against Janet's back. One hand came to rest on my knee to squeeze lightly, partially to reassure and partially to gain reassurance. A glance brought Cassandra to my side so that I could wrap my free arm around her. “We'll be okay,” I did my damnest to sound confident and Janet hugged me hard.
“Thank you, Sam. You're a gift. How did you know?”
“I told her,” Art said quietly and Janet twisted her body to look at her.
“And it won't leave the four of us,” I added on fiercely and Janet looked first at me, then the solemnly nodding Cassandra.
“We can do this?”
“No problem,” Cassandra smiled. “Aliens and interstellar travel are way more complicated than you two.”
“Of course, aliens and interstellar travel don't glow with happiness like the two of you,” I had to add dryly. That earned me another suffocating hug and a chorus of chuckles.
The rest of the afternoon passed far more quietly as the household returned to normal. Art dragged Cass and I outside to roughhouse with the dogs until we were all wiped out. We didn't talk much, the night still raw and sensitive in her dark eyes. Janet called us in for a late lunch and I paused to ask a question, only to be frozen by the sight of them sharing a loving kiss at the back door. They looked so good together, Janet's hand tucked up under the inky mane, Art's hands resting lightly on her hips. Before they could notice me and get self-conscious, I ducked into the kitchen and tried to act as though I had seen nothing. It was doubtful that I fooled Cassandra for a moment, but she thankfully let me be.
++ Art ++
Work had been awkward, but we managed. By pretty much avoiding one another, Janet and I were able to go about our business. But Sam smirking evilly at me certainly didn't help. Although it did make me laugh hard enough to break the internal tension, and that did help. So now it was Tuesday and a date had subtly been arranged. I was so nervous that I was nearly sick to my stomach. Daniel had been looking oddly at me all day, but had wisely not asked me any questions. Until I suddenly glanced at my watch and went into panic-mode. “Gahmoh toh! It's almost six!”
“What? You got a hot date or something?” Daniel chuckled and Janet's slender, curvy body filled my mind's eye. When he received no response to his teasing, Daniel looked up quizzically.
“Kinda. I'm off to hang with Cassie and I hate to be late,” I improvised lamely and he eyeballed me speculatively. Grinning weakly, I crept away from cataloging artifacts before he could ask me to explain.
“Thanks for the ride,” I said to Sam as we climbed off the Harley.
“No problem. Your date gives me an excuse to hang out with Cassie. You okay to drive this thing?”
I snatched the keys out of midair as we trotted up to the front door. “I'll manage.”
It was Cass that yanked the door open at my knock. She shot me a piercing, disbelieving look and gestured expansively at us. “This is what you show up wearing for a date? Sheesh. And with a chaperone? Mom! Throw this one back!”
Cackling at her jokes, Cassie flounced back into the house and left Sam eyeing me wryly. “Chaperone?” she drawled.
“Hey!” I defended myself. “I didn't have time to change…”
Anything else I was going to say fled me in the moment I spotted Janet coming down the steps. She was magnificent in a dark skirt and a burgundy sweater. Jewelry flashed at ears and throat, but not as brightly as her loving smile. Pausing on the bottom step, she looped her arms around my neck and kissed me lingeringly. For a long minute, the rest of the universe faded away as I was overcome with pleasure at having her in my arms again. “Hi,” she finally breathed across my lips and my smile deepened. She was taller right now, in heels and perched on the bottom step, and I liked being able to curl my arms around her fully.
“Hi. Sorry about my clothes.”
Flashing the grinning Cass a dirty look, Janet waved off my apology. “So take me somewhere that it won't matter what you're wearing.”
“I think we can manage that. You girls have fun now,” I teased the grinning Sam and Cassie before hustling Janet out the door.
By the time the evening wore down, I was beginning to fully understand the appeal of Janet Fraiser. We had randomly stumbled across a traveling carnival and Janet had squealed with delight from where she clung to me on the back of the bike. I was more than happy to pull over and climb off the rumbling machine. I didn't like driving, too many chilling memories, and the big motorcycle was a lot of work. In the glitter and noise of the carnival, Janet showed a child-like humor and delight that was completely at odds to her professional façade. She flirted and cajoled the kids in the booths, made a grouchy old man with his grandkids laugh and laugh while we all waited in line, and made me forget for the evening all of our responsibilities. Warm and happy with the cheap food and beer we walked through the park with our arms looped together. Abruptly, she yanked me into a dim corner to drape herself all over me. It succeeded nicely in refocusing my attention. “Having a good time?” She asked coyly, sifting her hands through my hair. Emboldened by our relative privacy, I skimmed loving hands over her curves and pulled her tightly to me.
“Mmmm, yeah,” I hummed and ducked down to catch her lips. We kissed to the faint music of the thrill rides, the warm embrace quickly becoming heated. Only her leg curling around my hip and her low moan broke through the delirious haze of her taste and touch. “Take me home sexy.”
“Me? She chuckled coyly. “You've got the keys.”
And we laughed together before heading back to Sam's bike.
++ Janet ++
I hated that she had to sleep on base. Here I was lying in my suddenly too big of a bed and wished she were beside me. Art was unlike anyone I'd known before. Warm and sexy and fun, I missed her playfulness as much as her loving. It was as if she'd always known the person I was deep inside, that fearful and feral part of me that so rarely escaped. Years ago, I had repressed that part of me in fear of being caught in a compromising position with another woman. Now I was ready to sneak onto base and crawl onto her cot to hold her close. Hugging a pillow to me, I sighed sadly and stared at the picture beside my bed. It was Cass and Sam and I, grinning happily at the camera. I wanted one with Art added in. I wanted her to wake up beside me every morning and wanted to feel her arms around me every night.
In the hall outside my door, I heard Starjumper's paws shuffling past and I smiled despite my melancholy. Then it hit me.
Would Art want to live here?
Cooper would have a yard and the base would think she was living in the spare room beside Cassie. The sudden excitement was damped down by the day-to-day realities of living with a person. Would Cassie tolerate it? She seemed to like Art, but could she handle having the woman around on a regular basis? But that would mean having Sam around more frequently too. That made me grin again and hide my face in the pillow. I burned with excitement and hope. Would she? How would I ask? Too many implications and feelings ran rampantly around my head, threatening to make me explode.
Knowing I wouldn't get anymore sleep, I quickly showered and dressed. Leaving a note for Cassie on the fridge, I raced the sun to work. All the way through the familiar routine of security checks, I pondered my dilemma. How to ask, how to ask, how to ask…
In the end, SG1 made it easy for me. At lunchtime, Daniel and Art were sitting in the commissary, pouring over something on paper and smiled when I entered.
“'Morning Janet,” Art said happily, the undertones in her voice making me shiver. It took real concentration to sit beside her and accept the cup of coffee Daniel offered me, when all I could feel was the subtle press of her knee up against the outside of my thigh. It took Daniel addressing me directly to finally break through my scattered attention.
“You look tired, Janet. You okay?”
My upper brain scrambled to answer and came up with something even better than the truth. “Starjumper has been irritatingly restless lately.” Knowing Cooper was sprawled on the floor on Art's other side, I reached across her to offer my fingers for inspection. After a quick sniff, Cooper licked them and let me scratch his muzzle. The interaction allowed me to stare deep into Art's eyes until she smiled. “I think he misses Cooper. That big backyard seems kind of empty without him there.”
That luminescent smile made my heart pound and my muscles shiver. What she could do to me…
“Why Doc, are you asking me to move in with you?”
The teasing tone drove me further towards hopeless distraction and I fought to remain in control of myself. “No,” I replied just as coyly and leaned away to return to my coffee. “Just your dog.”
Her and Daniel's laughter was answer enough.
I was euphoric over Art's carefully controlled enthusiasm about cohabitating. That is until I remembered something glaringly obvious and flinched as though struck. Catching the movement, Betty's blue gaze flickered over to skewer me. “What's wrong?”
The soft query made me smile weakly. The serious-faced blonde nurse was invaluable to me and that made me be as honest as I possibly could. “I offered Sergeant Goldston my spare bedroom so that she didn't have to sleep on base all the time and Cooper would have a yard. It just occurred to me that I didn't discuss this with Cassie. Some mom I am, huh?”
An uncharacteristically warm smile lightened Betty's features. “Relax. From listening to SG1, Cassandra likes Goldston just fine. Besides, if she moves in, that means that Major Carter will be around more often.”
I remembered having similar thoughts the night before and said as much. “Thanks Betty. Can you cover for me if the General lets me play hooky?”
When a potential problem with Cass was mentioned, Hammond could hardly shuffle me off base fast enough.
++ Cassie ++
As I stepped off the bus, I noticed that Starjumper was on his chain in the front yard and Mom's car was in the driveway. Why was she home early? I was curious and a more than a little worried.
“Hi honey,” she called out when I entered the house. There was a strange cast to her expression when I stepped into the living room to drop my backpack on the couch.
“Nothing, I hope. But I need to discuss something important with you.” Now I was truly fearful and my expression must have said as much. I was wrapped in strong hug that I willingly returned. “Oh sweetie, nothing bad… at least I hope not.”
“Oh. Okay,” I replied uncertainly and her embrace tightened.
“It's just… I asked Art if she'd live here before I realized that I'd unfairly neglected to ask your opinion on the matter.” Live here? That was a big step. It must be making Mom really nervous because she only used her 'Doctor Fraiser' vocabulary with me if she was worried or mad. “I know it would be strange having someone new in the house, but you'd get to see more of Sam and Cooper.”
The wheedling tone made me smile and relax. “I think it'll be okay. But will you be safe?” The other Air Force kids had made it quite clear to me with their bad jokes and second-hand stories exactly how the military felt about same-sex couples. The thought of this wonderful woman who had opened her heart and home to me suffering that kind of humiliation and disgrace terrified me.
“If we're discrete, I don't see why not. That big backyard is a great excuse. Are you certain you're okay with this?”
I leaned away only far enough to fire her an exasperated look and she smiled. I adored her and Art made her happy. That was enough for me. I hugged her close again and spoke softly. “Yes. I like Art just fine and she makes you happy.”
Mom's shaky half-sob of relief in my ear was answer enough.
Neither of them made it home the next day. Mom's voice on the answering machine assured me that she was merely caught up on some project. So I once again stayed over at my best friend Tamy's house and went straight to school from there. When we bused home, I was relieved to see the silver Saturn in the driveway. “Your Mom's home,” Tamy noted idly, as used to Mom's weird schedule as I was.
“Yep. I'll let you know if I can come over later. We've got a boarder now, so I don't know what kind of mood Mom'll be in.”
“Yeah. She's cool.” As we walked away from the bus, I told her about Art and Cooper. She was as intrigued as I had been the first time I had met the pair. With promises of having her over soon, we went our separate ways.
“Hi, I'm home,” I called out as I entered the house to be greeted by the two dogs.
“Hi Cass,” Art called back and a moment later she appeared from around the corner. “How was school?”
There was something very reassuring about the bland normalcy of the question and I grinned. “Okay. Are you any good at English?”
“Decent, sure. Need a hand with something?”
“Yeah, that'd be great. Where's Mom?”
“Napping. She and Sam got caught up last night.”
While Art's nervousness was vaguely apparent through her careful calm, she did a great job with me. Within half an hour we had given the dogs some exercise, had a light snack and were then deep in my English homework. Vocabulary and literature were far more interesting with Art making a dramatic production of them.
++ Janet ++
Delighted laughter roused me from sleep and I lay there for long moments. Cooper's bark wafted through the open bedroom door and laughter peeled out again. My heart swelled at the sounds of my lover and daughter getting along. There was a sound, a shadow cast across my eyelids and I smiled in delight. Rather than Art's loving kiss, a wet tongue slobbered across my face.
“Cooper!” Playfully, he laid his big head on my shoulder and looked at me with unabashed adoration. “Flirt,” I murmured and pet him for long moments. Having a home would be good for him, a stability that the military rarely provided. Working for the SGC had a wonderful perk in that Cassie would not be moved for a good, long time, if ever. Cooper licked me again and I giggled. “Okay, okay. I'm getting up.”
When I wandered into the kitchen, Art and Cassie were sitting side by side, pouring over the familiar school books. Swallowing a lump of overwhelming love spiced with a dash of self-consciousness, I dropped a kiss first on Cassie's head, then Art's. My lover's hand wrapped around my leg for a long moment, fingers pressing into the tender inside of my thigh. That loving touch made my heart and hormones sing. Before we misbehaved in front of the teenager, I moved away to start dinner.
After we ate, the three of us sprawled out in front of the TV to kill some time. It was a pleasant surprise when Art stretched out along the couch to drop her head in my lap. Cassie commandeered the overstuffed beanbag and let the dogs crowd her. The TV was forgotten as I sifted my fingers through the coveted inky curls, watched the flickering firelight on my beloved's features. Both of her hands were curled around my thigh, tucked up under her chin and the slow brush of her fingers gave me chills.
I could get used to this…