Pairings: Just my main girlie couple.
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. You all finally get to meet Jo and Darya! I’m so jazzed. The former might bear a resemblance to a certain blonde, ex-Borg, bombshell, but you never know…. The later is an old ‘friend’ of AJ’s and she looks much like sexy Claudia Christian. These two will begin to bring the others in focus and both will play an important series of roles for the constantly-evolving SGC.
Spoilers: References aplenty to the majority of the third season here, consider yourselves warned…
Summary: With Urgo pressuring them unmercifully, things begin to get silly. There’s a new doctor in town and Janet’s seeing green… There’s another new doctor in town and Art’s seeing green!
The members of SG1 sat around the Infirmary, minus Sam, waiting for her exam to be finished. Art was burrowing her hands through Lucky’s fine ruff, obviously feeling the need for reassurance, both for herself and for the dog. How I wanted to hug them both… I had hit it off with Lucky right off, fascinated by her delicate stature and sharp perceptions of the world around her. Shaking off the memories of the lovemaking that had proceeded and followed my introduction to the new dog in my life, I tried to fight off the aroused flush and concentrate on the new puzzle SG1 had brought me. How had they managed to just… lose fifteen hours?
The staccato click of heels caught my attention and in walked a tall blonde bombshell in familiar blue Air Force formals. Even from across the Infirmary, I recognized the shape of the medical corps pinned to her jacket and a start of shock rippled down my body. What the hell were new medical personnel doing here without my input? Golden hair only half a shade darker than Sam’s was pulled back into a perfect French twist and azure eyes swept around the room. She had a large rucksack slung over one shoulder, soft-sided briefcase over the other, obviously intending to stick around for awhile. The aloof expression abruptly melted into a blinding smile when her gaze fell on Art and my heart clutched painfully with… jealousy? Lucky jumped to her feet and started wagging her tail and whining excitedly, which got Art’s attention.
“Jo!” My lover cried, leaping up to pounce on the taller woman with an uncharacteristic girlie squeal. The strange woman was forced to take a step back as both bags were jerked off her shoulders to send her rank bars pinging across the room. Jack ducked one double silver bar and the other skidded to a halt at my feet.
“Damn Goldilocks! Down girl! It’s only been a week since you bailed out of Lackland,” she chided fondly, holding Art at arm’s length and returning the huge, child-like grin. “Good Handler,” she crooned, mocking the tone Art used to reward her dogs.
“Ha-ha-ha,” Art mocked, but willingly leaned into the woman’s fingers skritching against her scalp. “What are you doing here?”
“Why, I’m wounded Artemis. You recommended me to General Hammond, remember? Oh, sure, I’ve been drafted in a little early because of Lucky’s involvement in this time-loss problem, but you did say you’d need a vet for your new squad, right? And who better than me? I’ve been pretty much been running the vet corps at Lackland too damn long anyway.” She glanced around the Infirmary, a critically practiced eye taking in every square inch of my domain. When that penetrating gaze landed on me, I almost flinched away. Almost. There was something hypnotic about her pale blue eyes, so close in shade to Sam’s, and it made for a gaze like a hawk. “So, you must be the famous Dr. Fraiser,” she said warmly and flashed me that dazzling smile. The words could have sounded mocking, but they were friendly, even a bit flirtatious.
I stared at her for a long moment, arms crossed over my chest as I returned her steady gaze. Beside her, Art looked at me oddly. What did this woman know? That small, knowing smirk on her face concerned me, if only for my and Art’s safety in the program. Finally I answered her in a cool voice, “that would be me.” I could see SG1’s confused looks aimed in my direction, even Sam emerging from the exam room.
“Captain Jolynne Regan ma’am. I’ve heard wonderful things about you,” She replied, saluting smartly before holding her hand out toward me. “It’s a pleasure to finally meet you.” An indulgent grin at Art made my lover duck her head self consciously and I almost smiled. “I’ve heard so much about the people Art has been working with that I feel like I already know all of you. I’m looking forward to tackling all sorts of interesting challenges here.”
Only then did the silver marker on her lapel really register. There was a ‘V’ etched atop the familiar caduceus. She was a veterinarian. Of course…this was Jo, Art’s pal from the K9 academy. I smiled weakly with the realization that this gorgeous, friendly woman probably knew quite a lot about me. Her grip was warm and firm when I finally took her hand. “Pleased to meet you Captain Regan, let me bring you up to date with what we’ve learned so far…”
“Well, Doctor Farazell, your security clearance checks have come back approved.”
“They have, have they? Then that means…” I nearly purred in eager anticipation, but hid the urge under my well-rehearsed professional mask.
“General Hammond will make sure you’re properly briefed on your new position, Doctor. I’ve assured him that you’ll treat his people with the utmost of respect and professionalism. I trust you’ll be able to uphold that?”
I stared at him and bit back a chuckle at how serious Kyle Mackenzie actually was. I mean really, the man had been working with me for years now. Oh sure, most of that was over the phone or Internet, but he understood how I worked. “Of course I will. I admit, it’s been a few years since I was last working in a military facility, but I’m sure I can get back into the swing of things,” I replied easily, and then paused for a moment. “I assume I’ll be answering directly to the CMO, just as I’ve been answering here to the Chief of Staff?”
He nodded, shuffling through the papers on his desk. “Yes, General Hammond said he would inform Captain Fraiser of your arrival. Now, your first order of business will be to deal with SG1.”
My eyes narrowed at him. “I’m not certain I like how you said that.” I commented flatly and he actually cracked a brief smile. “Is there something I should know?”
“Oh, trust me Darya, you’ll thoroughly enjoy working with them.” The sarcasm was both uncharacteristic and amusing. “Good luck with that crazy bunch of accident-prone mavericks. I’m leaving the project because I’m burned out. I’m a well-trained, competent man, but the level of sheer weirdness in this project is just too much. They need someone younger and more adaptable.”
I stared at him, dumbfounded. What in the Goddess’s name had I gotten myself into? After being retired from the military for four years now, was I ready to deal with soldiers again? But I desperately wanted to know more about the Stargate Project. The information given to me to counsel Cassandra had merely whet my appetite to know more.
“When do I start?”
He closed the file before handing it to me. “Your briefing is tomorrow with General Hammond and Captain Fraiser. Good luck and Godspeed, Darya. You’ll need it.”
I stared at the group of them and tried to keep my aching heart out of my eyes. It was hard enough to deal with the professional humiliation of missing something in their physicals, but it was worse to have no idea how to remove these bits of technology and make them whole again. Then there was Lucky. It was weird enough to need another specialist to work on what I considered one of my patients. Not that I had anything against Captain Regan… not really. She was incredibly competent at what she did, both as a veterinarian and as a biologist/geneticist. In fact, I was rapidly becoming very pleased that Art had recommended her. It would be extremely handy to have the extra brainpower geared toward biology, something Sam just didn’t have. But did she have to be so good looking? So damned easy around people? Even Sam was instantly smitten with her humor and easy charm. The men were positively fawning… And the easy camaraderie between her and Art… I was seeing green with jealousy.
I was shaken out of my musings as Captain Regan stepped into the Infirmary with an odd look on her face. Before any questions could be asked, Lucky whimpered plaintively and Regan immediately went over to her. “What’s wrong girl?”
Regan’s voice was low and soothing as she petted the obviously ailing dog. Before Art could comment, Lucky started huffing and promptly threw up the contents of her stomach all over Regan’s lap.
“Well, I guess that answers your question,” I smirked in disgust.
The blonde chuckled and shrugged her shoulders at me, gently petting the still-whimpering dog. “All in a day’s work for me doctor. At least this is generally identifiable…” Her words trailed off as she studied the contents of her lap and she archly glanced over at Art, who had moved to crouch next to Lucky. “You let her eat this much crap? I thought you were a better Handler than that Goldston!”
“No! That’s not it!” Art cried, her voice tense and cracking with stress. “You don’t understand Jo. I wasn’t thinking straight. I couldn’t stop myself, much less her. I didn’t even notice it when she’d wandered off without me.” Her jaw suddenly snapped shut as she realized what she’d just admitted. “Gahmohtoh!” She growled and raked her fingers through her curls harshly enough to pull black strands loose, and Lucky whimpered again.
“Hey, relax. I know you wouldn’t deliberately harm one of your dogs.”
“So, Doc, what do the pictures say?” O’Neill asked, trying to shift the attention of the room. Shaking herself out, Regan handed me the large manila folders that she had tucked under an arm and accepted a towel that Betty held out. Remembering where I was and what was going on, I reached up to yank down one of the current x-rays on the lightboard and handed it to her.
“Thank you Captain,” I said graciously and she flashed me a smile before finishing mopping off the mess as best as she could. I pointed to the original sheets of film showing each of SG1’s brains. “The scans have a certain percentage of error. Basically it looks like an errant pixel.”
“But it’s in the exact same place on each of the scans,” Sam mused.
“Right. So I had to run a comparative analysis on the computer to be sure. It’s in the exact same spot on each of you’re brains, including Lucky’s,” I added after quickly eyeballing the film Regan had taken of the dog. “But we’re talking about something smaller than the head of a pin.”
“Barely big enough to show up on an x-ray,” Jolynne added absently.
“Right, which is why I also needed to run an electron resonance scan,” I added and paused as I saw the sheet of film that had been pulled from the envelope. Shaking off my shock, I tucked the sheet into the lightboard so that we could all stare. The object looked like a mottled metallic sphere with wires jutting in all directions. “This is also magnified several thousand times.”
“That thing’s in all of us?” Daniel asked queasily.
“I’m afraid so,” I whispered and we could all only stare for the moment.
“The-eh mou,” Art murmured, glancing up at the lightboard as she and Regan finished cleaning up the mess. “It looks like a Pokéball.” Her words made all of us laugh reluctantly through our stress, remembering her and Cassandra’s odd fixation on the cheesy cartoon series.
Eventually, we all recovered from our initial shock and Regan vanished for a few minutes to return in fatigues. She lightly sassed Jack and bantered with Art and Sam and made friends with Daniel and Teal’c. My jealousy was so overpowering that I could barely see straight and the others were starting to notice that I was acting out of character. It took some effort, but I managed to swallow the worst of it. I was acting unfairly to the new girl and I knew it.
“Regan?” Blue eyes curious, she came over and I tipped my head back to hold that icy gaze. “I hate to cut out in the middle of this, but I need to go retrieve another specialist to help. Can you keep an eye on things here? Garibaldi can assist you with anything you need in the Infirmary.”
“Yes ma’am,” she smiled warmly and I relaxed. “You can count on me.”
If Art liked and trusted her, than the least I could do was give her a chance to earn the same from me. So far she was doing a great job.
I glanced up at the soft rap on the patio door, smiling as I saw Cassandra and Janet standing there in the late afternoon. Waving them in, I turned back to my daughter and handed her the cup she was reaching for. “Cassie’s here sweetie,” I told her and saw her face light up with recognition at the name. It amazed me that the girls had bonded so closely after only a few meetings.
“Hi, Emily!” Cassandra chuckled, moving to kneel next to the high chair, grinning at the squeal of delighted laughter issuing from my twenty-three-month-old daughter. Instantly, the baby’s arms stretched out toward the teen.
“Hi Cassa! Look, o’meal!”
“Mmm, yummy, but I think it’s a little late in the day for me to enjoy that. C’mere while our moms get ready.”
I watched as Cassandra gathered up Emily’s food-spattered body and headed for the bathroom. Glancing up, I met Janet’s warm eyes. I couldn’t miss the smirk playing about her lips as she pointedly tapped at the front of her spotless semi-formal blouse. Curious, I followed her gaze to the front of my own shirt…and grimaced at the chocolate milk stain.
“Great,” I muttered and headed back toward my bedroom to change. I knew Janet followed me, and her chuckle proved me right. “You just shut up, Fraiser,” I mock-growled, stripping out of the shirt and jacket as I stepped into the bedroom. A quick glance in my closet reminded me I’d have to completely change the ash gray skirt and blazer, since I had no more white shirts that were clean. Without concern for Janet’s presence, I stripped down to my underthings and eyed my wardrobe.
“Damn, Dare, you’re actually wearing underwear now? I remember you saying something about them being too restricting…” Her lightly teasing tone did wonders for my mounting nerves.
Pulling the pins from my French twist, I bent over to shake out my hair. “Thought it might make a better impression on the General than going commando,” I shot back. “Besides, I only did that during my residency days.” The flush that colored her cheeks made me chuckle. “And no, Squirt, I won’t let you forget that.” We had been lovers what seemed like a lifetime ago. Neither of us had been strong enough to completely accept that we were attracted to women and our experimenting had been very safe and closeted. Then Janet had freaked about the military possibly finding out and our relationship had shattered right down to its foundations. It had taken a lot of hard work from Legs, X and especially Em to get us to be friends again. I smirked at Janet, so very glad that we had all made the effort. There were few people I was as comfortable and relaxed around as her. Smiling, I reached into the closet to pull out an electric blue blouse with a tasteful black skirt and blazer. My fingers deftly tamed my long locks into a French braid, the tail of which rested just below my shoulder blades. I felt Janet watching me as I pulled on the clothes. “What?”
“You do realize you’re going to stick out like a sore thumb in that.”
“And after almost twenty years, you should know me well enough to know I don’t care.” Slipping my feet into black pumps, I turned to look at Janet. “So do I pass inspection?”
I watched Janet appraise me with a critical eye. “Properly conservative,” she finally said and suddenly grinned wickedly. “Even if it’s all a lie.”
“Ha ha, Squirt.”
After sticking out her tongue at me, Janet was back to business. “You’ll probably end up toning it down some though. This might be a little dressy for the base.”
“Well, it’ll do for today,” I replied with glance at the clock. “I have no desire to be late for my first briefing.”
“Oh wait,” she said, then reached into her purse and handed me a badge. “It’s temporary, just until you get proper ID.”
After clipping the badge to my lapel, we headed downstairs to find our daughters in the living room, rocking in Emily’s favorite chair and watching ‘The Lion King.’ I leaned over to brush my lips across Emily’s forehead, then smiled at both of them. “You be a good girl for Cassie.”
“Cassa,” she babbled, eyes already drooping.
“Cass, you know how to get a hold of me now, right?”
She nodded, yawning herself. “Just like when I need to call Mom.”
Janet ruffled her fingers through the teen’s hair for a moment before we made our way out to her car. The commute to the mountain began in an easy silence, which we soon filled with idle chatter. Something was bothering her and I guessed that it had something to do with my sudden inclusion in the SGC. So I understood that she had to keep the silence until we were in a secure location. Arriving at the base, I jumped through the hoops of identification at each guard’s post, accompanied by a big Marine who seemed rather bemused to find two cute little doctors in his care.
I’ve no doubt my nerves showed plainly on my face as we went further and further underground. “Just how deep are we going?” I asked, hearing the mix of anxiety and awe in my voice.
“Oh, a mile or so,” came the matter-of-fact reply, and a long beat passed before the Marine coughed in barely suppressed amusement. Flashing him a mock glower followed up by a grin, I turned the same expressions on my pal.
“Smartass,” I muttered and the Marine was wise enough to swallow his obvious amusement, even if there was no mistaking the laughter in his eyes.
As the doors opened on level 28, I passed through the final checkpoint with surprisingly little hassle. To say I was feeling a bit overwhelmed would be an understatement. There had been at least half a dozen checkpoints, not to mention the two long elevator rides, between where I was and the outside world. I followed Janet down a long corridor, pleasantly surprised to witness the various warm greetings directed her way, especially by the handful of burly Marines, who emanated a puppy dog affection toward my friend. There was a kind greeting and warm smile for each of them, as well as a brief introduction for me. It was with a sinking feeling that I realized just how long it was going to take me to get to know these people as well as Janet did.
I knocked lightly on the door, glancing over at Darya with a small smile. It was clear she was overwhelmed by the sheer expansiveness of the SGC and the task ahead of her. And she hadn’t seen the Stargate yet! The General’s muffled command to enter filtered thought the oak slab, and we marched in smartly.
“Good morning, General.”
“Good morning,” he replied and glanced up from the open file on his desk. “Right on time as usual, Doctor Fraiser.” Then he turned his sharp gaze on Darya. She stood at parade attention, no trace of her irreverent side showing. After a moment of watching her, that faint ghost of a smile crossed his face before he spoke again. “Stand down doctor. Have a seat.”
I answered all of General Hammond’s questions, and asked a few of my own as he and Janet explained more of what went on below NORAD. I was astonished and intrigued by how much more went on here than just people traveling to other planets. The possibilities of an epidemic of Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome were becoming rapidly apparent to me. This man was going to find himself in my office at his first convenience and I was going to put in a recommendation for a good, solid administrative assistant for him.
As we spoke, I could see that the General kept returning to a specific page in my file. I had my hunches as to what he was looking at, but I wasn’t about to bring it up first.
“Now doctor, I want you to know that we do stand on some formalities here, but for the most part, the rules are a bit relaxed.” When I nodded, he continued. “I’d like you to know that, regardless of your reasons for originally leaving the Air Force...“
“With all due respect, General,” I cut in smoothly, “my reasons for leaving are written right there in my file. Nothing has changed in the past four years.” Mentally steeling myself, I continued. “Now, if I’m as important and needed as has been implied, then there are three choices: accept it, ignore it, or deal with it. I won’t change who and what I am for the military. I quit before they could throw me out for those very reasons.”
He eyed me for a long moment with utter calm, and I could feel Janet’s stunned approval to my left. I was hot and bothered now, and my heart was pounding from the stress of the situation. The General’s laser blue gaze shifted to Janet, but I continued to look at him. “Has she always been this forthright doctor?”
“Uh, yes sir,” she replied hesitantly.
He nodded curtly, then pinned me with a level look that could cut through concrete and I began to wonder if maybe I’d finally gone too far with my brutal honesty and quick temper. Completely unconsciously, I straightened up in to the military formal pose that I had thought forgotten. “So are you telling me, Doctor Farazell, that I should just ignore or accept your sexual orientation in a military institution that kicks people out for that very reason? Pretty ballsy of you, isn’t it?”
“Permission to speak freely General?” I said almost hesitantly and despised the sensation. How I hated to be intimidated.
“I expect it,” he replied in an oddly friendly tone and leaned back in his chair to hear me out. I didn’t expect it to, but the sudden change put me at ease.
“Very well, I’ll be brief. I’m a civilian psychiatrist. The military really can’t do anything regarding my orientation or my preferences beyond demanding my compliance to the secrecy of this particular installation’s mission. I could honestly care less if anyone on this base likes or dislikes my personal choices.”
It felt like the first time I told my father off for being a bigot about my sexual orientation. Not the kind of flashbacks I really needed from my new commanding officer. Hammond’s eyes were unreadable for a moment and I could practically taste my own stress as well as Janet’s. Then, out of the blue, the man smiled. “You’ll fit in fine doctor. Welcome aboard.”
I breathed a sigh of relief and smiled, first at him then at Janet when I felt her squeeze my arm lightly. “Thank you sir. I certainly hope my presence will benefit your people.”
“So do I. Oh, and just so you know, while recalling you to active duty is unnecessary, you will need appropriate gear to be in this facility. Go see the Quartermaster for your BDUs and field gear. The chances are fairly low that you’ll actually need them, but it’s a good idea to be prepared.”
“Yes sir,” I replied and then stopped as a klaxon went off. A disembodied voice echoed across the compound from the PA system.
“Doctor Fraiser, I take it Doctor Farazell hasn’t seen the Stargate yet?”
“No sir. We hadn’t gotten that far before this briefing.”
“Then I believe you should have the honor of showing her. Shall we?”
Janet grinned broadly and tugged at my arm. “Come on Dare,” she enthused, pulling me out of the office with Hammond right behind us. “If we hurry, you’ll see the whole thing.”
I followed her into what I later learned was the Control Room…and stopped dead in my tracks at the sight of the enormous ring of matte black carved with esoteric symbols. “What the hell is that?” I muttered, distractedly allowing Janet to maneuver me to a better vantage point out of the way of the busy technicians. There was jargon called out about chevrons engaging and locking. And then I saw a sight that rivaled my daughter’s birth for its incredibleness. As the Stargate blazed to life, I instinctively stepped back, bumping into the General.
“Quite a sight, isn’t it?” He asked warmly.
I nodded dumbly as people stepped out of the sheet of watery-looking energy. And only then did I truly begin to realize the enormity of what these people did on a daily basis. I could only guess what it must be like for those teams to travel through the Stargate, and I knew I’d need to go through myself once, if only to have an idea of what they felt.
“Incredible, isn’t it?” Janet asked me with a delighted gleam in her eye. I managed to nod, then noticed her fidgeting, and I realized how badly she wanted to be down there, checking those weary-looking soldiers in.
“What team is this?” I asked, figuring they’d be among my first appointments.
“SG3,” Hammond replied. “Our main Marine contingent.”
I bit back a smirk, remembering Janet going on and on about these four men and their Navy medic. “That would be Colonel Makepeace’s team, correct?”
“Yes, but they can wait. There are some people who are in far more urgent need of your expertise.”
I wasn’t certain what to expect when a bristling Goldston stalked into the Infirmary like a starving lioness on the hunt. Wild blue eyes swept around the room, touching each person as though sizing them up for consumption. It was quite an illicit thrill to be pinned under that intense stare and she was a girl for crying out loud. Behind her, Carol shrugged at my questioning look. It seemed my drinking buddy had no idea what was running through the Sergeant’s mind either. Babysitting one of the hallucinating members of SG1 had to be little fun. A long beat passed while Goldston stood there and seemed to struggle with herself. Then she fired a positively venomous look just a few feet to my left where there was nothing more than an equipment rack.
“Dammit Urgo,” she growled menacingly. “Are you trying to get me busted?”
Then a new player entered the drama when Janet stepped into the room and froze. It took her a moment to shake off her surprise and step closer. “Something wrong, Sarge…?”
When those blazing eyes landed on her, Janet’s voice fell off and she went still again. I understood how she felt. The dark woman’s feral stare was quite potent. Again Art tensed up as though fighting some internal battle and I began to realize that there was more to this ‘Urgo’ than we had really believed. By the look on the new psyche doc’s face, I think we were pretty much thinking the same thing. Earlier, Carter had been in with a coffee burn all over her left hand, snarling at the invisible Urgo. And Teal’c had tried to activate the defibrillator paddles before Janet had quickly shut them off. So Goldston’s behavior was not entirely unexpected, even if we had no real clue what she was going to do. Suddenly the internal battle of wills broke and Goldston stared helplessly at Janet. “I’m sorry, I can’t stop him,” she whispered and stepped into Janet’s personal space.
Only, Goldston did more than just step into Janet’s space. Strong arms wrapped around my diminutive boss and the taller woman ducked down to kiss her. Hard. Everyone was too stunned to move and Carol’s eyes went wide where she stood guard. Janet had jerked her hands up almost defensively and rested them on Goldston’s shoulders. Her startled noise was lost in the lusty kiss that had me curious despite myself. Arched back from the pressure of Goldston’s unexpected passion, Janet clung to her as though needing the anchor. Damn… despite exactly what I was witnessing, it was hot. They were lost in the moment, lips tangled together, embracing like they really meant it. I caught myself tilting my head to keep the action clearly within my line of sight as Janet was further bent back by the force of Goldston’s bruising kiss. Then, abruptly, the Sergeant yanked her head back and stared in shock at Janet.
“Oh, oh gahmohtoh,” Goldston hissed squeakily under her breath. “Oh shit… Doc, I’m sorry.” Almost dropping the smaller woman in her haste to back off, Goldston barreled right into the stunned Carol and they very nearly went down in a tangle of arms and legs. A very flustered Janet tugged her clothing straight and smiled wryly.
“Let me guess. Urgo?”
Chuckles sounded around the Infirmary and the new Veterinarian stepped past me to help Goldston untangle herself from the muttering Carol. “Yeah, certainly has you acting out of character, huh?” Regan teased lightly and patted the Sergeant on the shoulder. “Try that shit with me and I’ll deck ya,” she added and Goldston managed to crack a weak grin. The levity sent the staff back to work with smiles and let the boss try and gather her scattered wits. Regan was calmly asking Goldston questions, her tall body firmly between Doc and Handler. When Goldston suddenly hissed and tensed as though in pain, Regan calmly cuffed her up alongside the head hard enough to rock the smaller woman back on her heels.
“Thanks,” she said sheepishly. “I think you startled that idea off Urgo’s list of things to try.”
I had seen enough, and returned to my duties with a grin on my face.
After the little spectacle in the Infirmary, I had no idea where to go with this entity they called Urgo. Was it truly some kind of alien influence or had they simply cracked? Lost in thought, I had little to add to Janet and General Hammond’s conversation. Then I heard a woman’s voice raised in agitation headed towards us and my attention automatically focused. “I don’t have time to play Urgo, I don’t care if I’m it. ‘Cause I have work to do. No, I’m not hungry. Look, go eat pie with Colonel O’Neill; I’m very busy right now.”
It was like listening to someone on the phone, unable to hear the other half of the conversation. I’d only seen Sam Carter in passing, but had a solid mental impression of her from listening to Janet and Cass talk about her. What I wasn’t expecting was the wild-eyed blonde woman that careened around a corner, ranting at the wall beside her.
“Major,” General Hammond intoned in a voice both serious and slightly warily. It was the kind of tone that people get when they talk to lunatics…
“I was just talking to Urgo sir.” Carter explained lamely, tugging nervously at her long sleeves.
“Oh, I wish you did,” she sighed heavily and Janet decided that was her cue to come to the rescue. Facing the patch of wall Carter had been raving at, she began speaking in that familiar and slightly condescending ‘doctor’ tone we were taught back in medical school.
“Alright, look Urgo, Major Carter would…” A weak gesture from Carter stopped Janet with a look halfway between puzzlement and annoyance.
“Janet,” Carter murmured softly with so much discomfort in her tone that my heart ached for her. “He’s over here.”
The sharp look Janet flashed could not have been making Carter feel any better. I would need to speak to my old pal about remembering that the mental suffering of patients was often more serious than the physical. “Well then, Urgo, Major Carter would very much like to be left alone.”
“Janet, as much as I appreciate it, please,” Carter nearly begged, desperate to retain some shred of dignity. Then some unexpected heat jerked my attention from her abruptly and my mouth dried in shock. The most strikingly gorgeous feminine creature stood silent sentinel over the agitated Carter. With hair like flickering fire, and a sharp gaze carved from solid emerald and towering tall, the woman was stunning. A slow smile warmed her serious countenance and I felt an idiotic grin creep across my own face. Chemistry electrified the air between us and only Carter’s visible start of shock yanked my attention away.
“Urgo,” came out in a strangled squeak. “That is rude.” Her hotly embarrassed and flustered glance at Janet almost made me laugh. There was some definite chemistry between the two officers and Urgo obviously knew it.
“What did he say?” Janet asked defensively, and mumbling an excuse, Carter fled with the stunning Amazon in her wake. But not before I received a speculative glance that actually made me shiver. I was so caught up in my lingering hormones that I missed that Hammond and Janet had continued down the hallway and were continuing their conversation. So I hurried to catch up with them.
I winced at the General asking in a long-suffering tone, “are we entirely convinced that the members of SG1 are, what’s the word?”
“Sane?” Janet scoffed sarcastically and I flashed her a dirty look. This was a bad time for her inherent MD banality to make patients feel worse. Janet understood the physical better than any doctor I’d ever known, but the metaphysical and the unseen was not her forte.
“That’s the one,” Hammond sighed.
I had been sitting in Janet’s office watching SG1 through the cameras in their individual rooms all evening and it was now well into the night. There was something almost perversely amusing in watching them all react to stimuli from the tiny devices in their brains. The kennel monitor finally drew me from the useless observation and down to stand sentinel beside Captain Regan. “Will she be okay?”
It was times like this that I wish I had all the answers. Drooling and barking in excitement, Lucky was playing catch with no partner, and no ball. She might have been having fun at some point, but there was a frantic quality to her play now, and she was foaming like a racehorse. “She looks exhausted,” I noted and Jo winced.
“She is, poor baby. Every time she finally collapses to rest, she’s only down for a few minutes. Urgo’s pushing her too hard.” The maternal note of worry was heartbreaking and my questioning expression made her smile weakly. “Lucky Seven was from one of the litters I bred. I’ve always been very attached to the pups and she was an extraordinary one. It’s one of the perks of being a military vet with status. I get the fun jobs like breeding and raising puppies. There were always a couple of Shepherds in my housing at any time, waiting until they were old enough to become K9s. And I was good enough at pairing up traits that I got my pick of the pups.”
We both jumped in surprise as Lucky barreled into the chain link fence after the invisible ball. Her yelp of pain snapped Jo into action. In moments, she was wrapped around the thrashing Lucky, expertly avoiding the snapping teeth. “Dammit Farazell! Get in here! Grab her back legs!”
In moments we had restrained Lucky and hauled her exhausted, overheated body up between us. Well, I hung onto her back ankles anyway.
“Enough of this,” Jo snarled and raised her voice at the wide-eyed Lieutenant who had stuck his head in. “You! Tell the General I need to see him in the Infirmary now. Go!” We wrestled Lucky’s wriggling bulk to the Infirmary, where the startled staff scattered. With a ‘whuff’ of effort, Lucky was on a gurney, pinned there by Jo’s tall body. The whining was heartbreaking. “Get SG1,” Jo murmured urgently to me, her eyes wide and dilated with stress. “We need to see how they’re being affected and Art needs to help me try and calm Lucky.”
They’d been waiting for me at the doors to their individual observation rooms. As each door was opened, each member of SG1 raced off to the Infirmary with their escorts in tow. Teal’c was last and I trotted after him as best as I could. No man that large should be able to move so effortlessly.
As I approached the Infirmary hot on Teal’c’s heels, the tightly leashed rage of Jo’s voice reached my ears. “Sir, with all due respect, you don’t have a clue what’s going on here and Lucky won’t survive much more stimuli.” Her face was flushed with emotion, fists clenching and unclenching. SG1 clustered near Lucky’s restrained and wriggling body, owl-eyed with sheer horror at one of their own suffering so badly. “And quite frankly, she’ll be easier to put down then they will,” Jo added caustically with a wave at Lucky and then her human teammates. The room grew even quieter and my heart ached with the anguish pouring off of all of them like a thick fog. Jo’s voice abruptly dropped to a pained whisper and she hugged herself as though needing protection. “Because none of us have any clue what the hell is going on and that’s turning into our only option.”
Abruptly, Lucky dropped limp and every eye in SG1 zeroed in on a spot close enough to me that I physically shrank away from the poisonous hostility in their glares. “Urgo, you bastard,” O’Neill growled and looped an arm around Goldston’s neck to haul her up against his chest so that she didn’t leap across the room at their invisible tormenter. “I don’t give a damn about your curiosity!” He bellowed. “You’re hurting us, don’t you get it?”
In the even heavier silence that followed, I could see the strain they were all under. It was a testament to General Hammond that he neither reacted nor allowed the torment in his eyes to affect his performance as our leader. “Major Carter,” he asked quietly. “You’ve explored all options?” It took the blonde woman a moment to tear her attention from the spectacle only they could see and nod silently. Hammond sighed, seeming to deflate for a moment before drawing himself back together. “SG1, you have a go ahead to return to P4X-884. Good luck and Godspeed.”
The whole scene had been heart wrenching to witness. Lucky finally lay quiet as the rest of SG1 filed out in silence, their gazes burning in my direction. Unable to look at any of them, least of all my agonized lover, I set gentle hands on Lucky where she was so heavily restrained on the exam table. “Doctor Fraiser?” Jo asked softly, her voice rough with emotion. “I need some light rope or line.” Taken aback by the strange request, I stared at her. “Lucky will need to be restrained and carried through the Stargate. I have a feeling that Urgo is unwilling to return to where he came from and Lucky echoes that fear the most intensely. I don’t want her hurting herself or anyone else.”
Beneath my hand, Lucky panted in stress, muscles bunched under her restraints. There was white showing around her dark eyes and they flickered around in agitation. For the first time I truly understood just how dangerous these animals could be. Admiration for what Art and Jo did filled me. Not to mention my feelings for this magnificent animal and her predecessor. Jo’s blue eyes were intent on me as I leaned over to kiss Lucky’s cheek. “You’ll be okay girl,” I whispered and pulled the armor of duty around me to get through this.
An hour later, I stood in the Control Room and watched SG1 at the base of the ramp below. Jo and two of my nurses wheeled Lucky in, legs carefully hog-tied together and heavily muzzled with a neat spider web of rope. Movements jerky, Art resettled her gear to lean over, ruffle Lucky’s fur and hoist her partner across her shoulders. The soldier in me admired her physical strength and determination. With sixty pounds of gear and at least that many in dog, her load was impressive. So different from the broken woman who had entered my life those six long months ago.
Jo left the Gateroom with a loaded glance and SG1 was left alone to face their salvation or their destruction. “You have a go SG1,” Hammond spoke heavily into the mike and they all looked up at us. They were such an admirable group of people, every single one of them. In that moment I realized how much I adored each of them. Caustic and dedicated O’Neill, stoic and empathetic Teal’c, bright and driven Daniel, brilliant and contradictive Sam, my devoted and enigmatic Art, smart and loyal Lucky. I silently prayed that they beat the odds and return home safely yet again.
And I watched them, backlit by the activating ‘Gate, walk away to face their destiny.
Once more unable to say goodbye.
Since SG1 had been gone so long their first trip to wherever Urgo came from, we all settled in to wait and made ourselves useful. A quick phone call to the Captain who’d volunteered to watch Cassie and Emily had reassured my maternal obligations. Janet had managed to get the keys to McKenzie’s old office and took me there. On the threshold of the cement closet that was my office, I stared in horror. I’d had rental bathrooms bigger than this. Beside me, Janet huffed humorlessly, “you get used to it.”
Every emotion was tightly harnessed beneath her professional exterior, but I could feel them seething just beneath. Janet had always been like that. In nineteen years of friendship, that dichotomy had only become sharper within her. So I rested a hand briefly on her arm, focusing her attention. “I’m here when you’re ready to come see me,” I reiterated softly and turned away, knowing that she needed to be the impassive doctor right now.
I spent a good hour poking through the cabinets and desk, familiarizing my self with where the personnel files were and how the computer system worked. Then I curled up on the small couch and fell asleep.
Only to be awakened what felt like moments later by a pounding on my door. “They’re back,” Jo was shouting and I scrambled to my feet. Yanking my skirt straight and my heels on, I threw open the door to my new pal’s agitated glower. “I think they’re okay, the Pokéballs appear to be gone. They’ll need you now.”
It wasn’t easy to keep up with Jo’s leggy stride, and I was grateful for the years of practice with keeping up with Legs. The silly nickname I’d stuck on my coltish pal back when we were teens had always been a perfect combination of her looks and her mouthful of a last name. Kim had been my friend as long as Janet and Xavier, and we four had been fairly inseparable for almost two decades. Psychiatry had been the long, hard road Kim and I had chosen, while Janet and X had opted for MDs with the former going for a specialization in virology. When the Air Force had stationed me in San Francisco right out of training, I’d been able to keep close to Legs and later stayed there after I’d dropped my commission. It was there that Legs had introduced me to her pal Emma. That familiar, tearing pain resurfaced again, never far from me, and I wrapped it up tightly in self-control once more.
“You okay?” Jo asked quietly and I smiled up at her weakly. She really was just exactly Kim’s height and coloring. I missed loyal ole’ Legs more than I expected too, the way she’d hovered after Em’s death…
“If I said yes, would you believe me?”
“No,” Jo answered honestly. “But I don’t know you well enough to pry. Let me know if there’s anything I can do for you, okay?”
And, before I could respond to her kindness, we were back in the Infirmary again.
They seemed fine, confused and a little disoriented, but thankfully alone inside their own skulls. Jackson happened to be closest and I carefully rested a hand on his shoulder to get his attention. “I’m not even going to ask if you’re okay, because in a stressful situation I always thought it was an inane question at best. Downright insulting at worst.” The confusion and strain was etched deep into his clear blue eyes and a glance showed every eye in SG1 on me and I could see that Jackson’s expression was mirrored there. The emotions poured off them in waves, nearly making me dizzy. “When Doctor Fraiser releases you, come see me. I’m not particular about in what order. I’d like to get to know all of you better and see what I can do for you.”
I really hoped they would give me a chance.
“So is there a reason I’m here after Mackenzie cleared us before he bailed? Or is this just one of those games you head-shrinkers play to psych out people like me? I’m not crazy, you know.”
I smiled as I glanced up at the man fidgeting on the couch. “I never said you were crazy sir.”
“Oh, the hell with it,” he groused half-heartedly and sprawled back on the couch, one arm over his eyes. “So I suppose you wanna know about my mom?”
“I don’t know sir. Would you like to talk about your mother?” I knew exactly what he was trying to do, but I wanted to see how far Colonel Jack O’Neill would push me to laugh. I was already fighting the chuckles, but I really wanted to test him.
“If it makes you more comfortable, perhaps a cigar would help. Or perhaps I could wear reading glasses low on my nose?” Confusion wrinkled his forehead. “Anything else you’d like me to spoof of Dr. Frood?”
“Hunh? Frood?” The confusion was palpable on his face as he sat up to stare at me.
“Colonel, you wound me! And here I thought you’d be an expert on cheesy movies.” The confusion deepened the lines of his face, and I could feel how hard he was trying to figure out what I was talking about. “Oh, come on sir. I mean, I know it was probably a while ago that you last saw Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, but how could you possibly forget Siggie the Frood-dude?” I asked, chuckling heartily.
And suddenly his face lit up as recognition dawned on him. “Oh, right!”
And then, in unison, we cried, “Sixty-nine, dude!”
Amid the laughter we’d both dissolved into, I smiled at him and said, “Colonel, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”
The tall man completely fascinated me. I mean, the tattoo itself was intriguing, but I’ve never met a person quite like Teal’c. His alien makeup notwithstanding, I couldn’t crack him, no matter what I tried. Everything I asked him, he answered honestly… and yet, he told me nothing.
“Come on, Teal’c, I’m sure there’s something that you would like to discuss with me,” I said, still slightly unnerved that I couldn’t sense much from the man sitting rigidly on the couch. “No questions about our customs? No concerns about anything?”
“Daniel Jackson has made certain that I am well-versed in Tau’ri customs and dictates. O’Neill shares his military prowess with me. Major Carter and Doctor Fraiser ensure I am not left alone during periods of inactivity. Cassandra Fraiser is also not of the Tau’ri, and teaches me things she learns of in her educational setting.”
Nothing wrong in what he said. In fact, he answered my question perfectly. But damn it, why couldn’t I get behind that fierce warrior’s façade of his? And then a thought dawned on me. What if that wasn’t a façade? What if that’s really all Teal’c was? But that couldn’t be. He’d been the right hand man to an evil alien overlord. There had to be something troubling him… I was determined to find out what it was, no matter what.
I glanced up to see Major Carter standing in the doorway. Of all of SG1, I knew the most about her from Janet and Cassie. The blonde woman had been Janet’s friend for years and was spoken of often. Of course, Cassandra idolizing her gave me a better picture of this woman. “Come in, Major. Make yourself comfortable.” At the friendly bidding, she stepped in somewhat warily and I returned to the final notes I was making about Teal’c. From the corner of my eye, I watched her move around the small office, scanning the spines of the books I’d hastily put up this morning. While I knew quite a lot about her, I couldn’t rely only on the second hand information, as I’d already realized that there was far more to learn about this ‘golden child’ team of SG1. And Sam Carter was definitely richer beneath that slightly unfocused, bright surface that she projected. Closing the folder, I reached for hers and opened it, finding a blank sheet in my notepad. Then I found myself watching as she picked one of the volumes off the shelf and begin quietly paging through it. The tome was one of the esoteric pieces on Celtic women. “So, Major…” I said quietly, unable to control my smile.
“What?” She squeaked, jumping slightly at the sound of my voice and nearly dropped the book in her surprise. “Oh, um, sorry,” she sighed, her skin flushing lightly in embarrassment before putting the book back.
“No problem. It’s a great book if you ever have the time to really get into it. Anything you’d like to share before I start asking my own questions?” The awkward shrug made me chuckle softly and I moved to sit on the couch in attempt to make her comfortable. “Nothing at all? You want to make me work for it all, hmm?” I teased.
“No! It’s not that! It’s just…” She studied her boots, clearly even more flustered now. “I’m just not really good at this sort of thing,” she finally continued in a soft voice. “Despite all the practice.”
I gently patted the cushion next to me. “There’s nothing to be afraid of Major. This is just a friendly little chat to get to know each other in what’s technically a neutral setting. I’m providing you with a safe place to vent any frustrations or fears you may have, whether it’s a professional or personal concern. I’m really rather harmless, honest.”
She smiled hesitantly and moved to sit next to me. “I just… You can call me Sam, you know.”
“Excellent. I’d much rather call you by something other than rank. So, Sam, why don’t you call me Darya,” I charmed gently, sensing the slow opening up of her defenses. I was beginning to understand what Janet had implied when she’d said Sam was like an iceberg. She wasn’t cold, but what was visible upon casual observation was only a tiny part of the bigger picture.
She nodded slowly. “Umm, thanks. I get the impression that you’re going to be more than just the ‘standard eval’ type,” she joked quietly and her mouth curled into a soft smile.
That made me chuckle in honest amusement, delighted by her gentle humor. “Sam, there’s very little that’s standard about me.” That small grin blossomed into a blinding, devastating smile that left me blinking like a deer in headlights. No wonder half the base was in love with her.
“That must be why you get away with calling Janet ‘Squirt’.”
Now I laughed out loud and patted her on the knee, honestly and truly delighted with her. “I’ve known Janet for almost twenty years and we’ve been through plenty together. Undoubtedly, she’s got some nickname for me that I’d hate if she dared say it to my face. It makes for a powerful comfort zone. And that’s what we’re doing here, Sam. I’m getting to know you, you’re getting to know me.” Her smile faded, but she remained focused on me so I continued on. “We’re setting up a safe, open environment for you to be able to discuss things that need to be discussed.” When she started to protest, I quickly continued. “I understand that the Air Force can confiscate your records from me, but what they don’t know,” when my voice lowered to a conspiratorial whisper, she grinned. “Is that I have a nearly photographic memory. This?” I waved the notepad at her. “Is a cover, so that I look like I’m doing my job by the book. It’s really not necessary. Which means that you really can discuss anything you need to with me, Sam. It will stay right here.” I reassured, tapping my forehead. “The only time I will take information received in this room to your superiors is if I think you’re a danger to yourself or to someone else. And that’s a pretty extreme circumstance.”
Sam nodded, lost in thought for a moment. I watched as the pale blue eyes go unfocused, staring off sightlessly toward the wall behind my desk. This afforded me a rare opportunity to study the original woman on SG1. Ever since Janet had first told me about her astrophysicist friend, I’d been interested in meeting her. The unruly blonde hair surrounded her head like a halo, adding to the air of innocence that she literally exuded. As she lost herself in her thoughts, the faint lines of care and laughter seemed to ease and smooth out, making her look far younger than her almost thirty-three years. And then I felt a vague impression of longing and bittersweet happiness from her, an odd combination to get as one of my initial impressions. Particularly after her humor of a few minutes ago. But as I talked further with Sam, I found that my impressions had been bang on.
“Are you busy Darya?”
I glanced up, smiling as Daniel Jackson calmly stepped into my office and made himself comfortable on my couch. “I was actually hoping you'd be stopping by Daniel,” I replied, continuing his first name basis. He was obviously the most open of this team, being the only true non-military person. I searched my desk for his file, then stopped at his soft words.
“You don't have to look for it, I can tell you, practically word for word what's in that file. My parents died when I was seven; they were killed in an accident while setting up a display in a museum. I lived where I could then, usually shlepping off to digs with Nick. He meant well, but he never wanted me in the beginning. When he saw how interested in what he was doing, and how helpful I really could be on the digs, then he appreciated me being around. I went on to college and got double PhDs in anthropology and ancient languages. I speak twenty-three fluently, if you're curious, and I've a passable knowledge of dozens more. When…”
“Wait! Hold on,” I said, raising my hands in defeat, battered by the strongly defensive walls he'd thrown up. He stopped and blinked at me expectantly, then cleaned his glasses on his shirt. “How many psychiatrists have you seen?”
“Since I've been with this program? Or in my entire life?”
Well… That certainly answered my question, didn't it? I took a deep breath before continuing. “Daniel, I know that Dr. Mackenzie didn't have the best bedside manner. I've worked with him for years on PTSD cases, usually in a research capacity. But I'm not like him, or like any of the other people you've obviously had the misfortune of seeing.” I paused again, smiling at him. “Listen, I know you've had a lot of shit happen to you, both before and after you joined this program. We can discuss that if you want. Or we can find other things to talk about. Janet and Cassie have told me so much about all of you, in some ways I feel like I already know you. But I'd like the chance to get to know you better on my own, and let you get to know me. They speak so highly of you and treasure your place in their lives. I'd like to see what they see. How about it?”
He studied me for a long moment, long enough that I felt like one of the artifacts he was so fond of. Just as I was feeling a little self-conscious, I sensed the change in his demeanor, and he grinned at me. “You've got a deal.”
She stood there, staring defiantly at me from under dark lashes. Leaning against the far wall, arms crossed over her chest, Sergeant Goldston was utterly defensive and terrified to be here. When she did finally speak, her tone was a low, strangled growl. “I’m not certain that I can do this after what’s happened so recently.”
I blinked placidly at her, projecting every nuance of calm I could manage with her bristling like this. Ever since meeting her oh-so-briefly at Janet’s, we had been like this, and I still wasn’t entirely certain why. Though I certainly had a few good guesses, all of them centered on a certain Janet Fraiser. “After talking to your teammates, Artemis, I can understand that you’d feel that way.” In actuality, none of SG1 had been very forthcoming, though I knew I could get through to Sam and Daniel if I was gentle. So far I had seen little of what Cassie and Janet liked in this dark woman, but there were sparks of it under her tightly-controlled dislike of me. I calmly went back to reading Goldston’s file and could feel her staring at me. “You’re stuck here for the next thirty-five minutes Sergeant. You might as well sit down and be comfortable.” Then I glanced up at her again, biting back a smirk. “Unless you’d rather be uncomfortable as well as recalcitrant.” She glowered at me and muttered something derogatory under her breath in Greek. There was the oddest combination of terror and humor coming off her in waves. My eyebrows rose at her curse, a part of me bristling to return the words. But cooler heads prevailed. It was interesting that she spoke the language and that she seemed unaware that the expletive had slipped out. “Janet did warn me that you’d be a little stubborn, but I’d never guessed that she was serious.”
The mention of my friend’s name made her head snap up, those deep blue eyes boring into me. “What did she say?” She asked hoarsely, face paling under her swarthy color. This was odd… she knew that I’d been counseling Cassandra for over four months, but in all that time, we had pretty much managed to avoid one another. What was eating her so bad? It had to be the fear of someone discovering that she and Janet were together. The thought made me cringe in sympathy to them. Here were the results of living in constant fear of ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’ and a bitter reminder of why I no longer had any desire to wear the uniform. It was a good thing I was able to mostly set aside my own emotions and concentrate on my patient.
“We don’t get along, we’ve never gotten along and I can make a few guesses as to why.” I stated bluntly and almost earned a smile through all of her negative emotions. Given time I was certain that I could break through to her. “Care to speculate with me?” The question earned a shrug, but I was heartened to see her moving away from the wall to warily sink to the edge of the couch.
“I suppose… but there are some things that I’m just not comfortable with sharing.” Her tone was flat and unfriendly, and it was obvious that she was ready to retreat even further. “Especially not with you.”
Ouch. Jealousy and barely restrained resentment burned like blue fire in her eyes. After growing up with Greeks in the family, I should have known better how to handle her. All I could hope for was that it wasn’t too late. I knew that I’d need to come clean, at least in part, or this would go nowhere fast. I stood and moved to lean against the corner of my desk, projecting openness and trust as best I could through my own wariness. “You know, anything said in this office is recorded on paper only at my discretion, Artemis. There is no recording equipment in this room, I made damn sure of that.”
“So you’re a rebel.” She acknowledged in that flat tone, with more than a little sarcasm. Damn, but she was trying to get my goat.
“The troublemaker act is nothing to me,” I forced myself to acknowledge her calmly and not to give into the temper boiling just under the surface. “You’re stuck with me no matter what you want or don’t want. I’m not going to let any personal feelings get in the way of either of our duties because obviously you’re needed here and you’re important to these people and this facility. I want to help you, make sure you don’t get in trouble Artemis.” While the words could be construed as harsh, the tone was gentle.
“Art,” she said softly after a long moment, her gaze turning inward. “Please. Only my grandmother ever really called me Artemis.”
“Art it is,” I replied with a smile and filed away that obviously painful tidbit of information for a later session. “So, what I said before was true. Anything said within these four walls can be strictly confidential. There are certain things that will need to be made available to the military, but I promise to be a good judge of that. You can talk to me about anything Art.”
Maybe I’d gone too far with that for she had actually cringed at my last words and I saw the walls starting to go back up again. “Anything, huh?” Came out harshly, her eyes trained on her fidgeting fingers.
“You know,” I said ever-so-softly, “we all have secrets we have to keep, for one reason or another. One of my biggest has been my…knack for knowing what people are feeling sometimes. That’s not the biggest one, but it certainly ranks up there. But there are certain things that some of us need to keep to ourselves, especially when we’re associated with the military. I haven’t been in the service for four years now, but I still can’t totally be myself because I work for Uncle Sam, at least technically.”
Art chuckled suddenly and I suddenly couldn’t take her poking at my self-control any longer. Obviously reading this in my expression, as she shook her head and raised both hands in a placating gesture. “No, not you, sorry. It was the Uncle Sam reference. Did Cassie tell you about our big adventure into forbidden territory?” At my intrigued, quizzical look, she leaned back and motioned to the other end of the couch. “I’ll quit being such a bitch if you get comfortable for this one. It might take a while.” Well this was a sudden switch…
I found myself both amused by her story and utterly intrigued by her sudden openness as she related the story of SG1’s sex change, beginning to gesture more and more animatedly as she went on. While I had heard about the amazing turn of events from both Janet and Cassie, it was fascinating to hear Art’s point of view. There were still plenty of things she was keeping from me, but this was a good start. And I could definitely see what Janet had been attracted to in this charismatic woman…and what she’d been fearful to admit, even to me.
This woman was a tightly contained packet of strong emotions, a banquet of sensation across my sensitive perceptions. I envied Janet’s happiness with this firecracker, how beautiful they must be together when there was no fear between them. While Art and I certainly weren’t pals, her openness now was giving me a chance to get to know her better. I was looking forward to it.