Book 1: Reflections.

Series: Light, Water and Muses. An alternate universe for a variety of television series. See disclaimers below.

Rating: Back to the nasty stuff people. We've got a NC-17 rating. We're goin' where few SG1 writers have gone before…

Category: Yet another mirror universe for the SGC.

Pairings: Janet, Art and Sam.

Disclaimer: Stargate SG1 and all their characters belong to MGM, Showtime and Gekko Productions. But I think we all knew that, hmm? Art and Lucky are mine.

Spoilers: References aplenty to the majority of the third season here, consider yourselves warned…

Summary: Confessions lead to fantasies that lead to a serious act of trust…

Chapter 16 Velvet Short and Curlies



Groaning softly, I let the weight of my lovers ground the aftershocks rattling through me. Even after only a few days, I felt more and more blessed by Sam's new role in our lives. The woman was tireless, adventuresome and always eager to please. She was also proving endlessly patient with my erratic arousal cycles and was always figuring out new tricks to get me started. The constant stimulation seemed to be retraining my nerves, but I still heated up at a snail's pace compared to my women. Sam sighed softly as she curled along my side to rest her tousled head on my shoulder. Janet sprawled against my other side, only barely awake. She had left my body's needs in Sam's capable hands this night, content with watching my expressions and teasing me farther along. There were things to be said for teamwork…

Our family had experienced a wonderful evening of good food and bonding over games of tossing the football and scrabble. Once Cassandra and the dogs had been sent off to bed, the bonding had continued in the master bedroom. Now I was delightfully drowsy, but found myself unable to sleep quite yet as scattered memories paraded across my mind's eye.

As though sensing my wandering thoughts, Janet suddenly squirmed around to drape herself along my unoccupied side. After playfully ruffling Sam's hair, she propped herself onto an elbow and grinned softly at me. “What are you thinking kardolah-mou?

Lulled from my reminiscing, I kissed her nose and stretched luxuriously. “Just remembering some things.”

“Like what? You had this enticing little grin on your face. Some exotic ex-lover perhaps?”

Astute, this one was, but I already knew that. I let the feral amusement color my eyes and saw the answering gleam in her luxurious dark gaze. “Yes actually. Good guess.”


“Mmm hmmm. I've only got two exes, so I'm surprised I haven't talked about them before.”

“Only a little,” Janet mused and I kissed her again, more thoroughly this time. We were both still aware how jealous I had been over Darya and her past with my wife. They were only friends now, had been lovers only briefly, many years ago. Thankfully, my covetous Greek nature seemed to have dulled with time, but we were quite aware that it would never go away completely. Because of that, we had always been a bit hesitant to talk freely about our past partners. That made me realize I knew virtually nothing about the man that Janet had married so briefly and I made a mental note to make the time to let her talk about that.

“Why was she exotic?” Sam asked softly, either oblivious to the tension or subtly trying to avert it. I didn't care which, I was glad for the distraction and the warm encouragement and curiosity in my wife's eyes.

“About six months after being paired off with Cooper, I was stationed out in the Philippines for long-term guard duty at a base there. It sucked. Long days and nights in a hot uniform in one of the most gorgeous places on earth and there was nothing for me to do. Eventually, I made friends with a few of they guys there, and of course they indulged in the usual tradition of trying to get me drunk. So I get dragged to this sleazy-looking place one night, the boys are already toasted and I'm barely buzzed. Imagine my surprise when I realize that it's actually a pretty classy strip club on the inside. After a few weak protestations that they were gonna get me in trouble, we were at the bar to indulge. I caught flashes of a few of the dancers, but nothing made me stare.” I paused dramatically to catch both of their curious gazes. “Until Velvet,” I rumbled in my lowest, sexiest, most mysterious register. Their delighted grins warmed my heart.

“Velvet?” Janet queried softly and resettled her body against me. Sam shifted fully onto her elbows and gave Janet a shoulder to lean her head against. They were truly adorable and I felt tears of appreciation prick at my eyes. Quick kisses deepened their obvious delight.

“I adore you two,” was my soft comment before my tone regained its normal tone and I continued. “She was about my height and built like some kind of earthy sex goddess. She was dressed like one too, some illicit vision that too many days lost in the local jungles might inspire. It was like watching a panther stalk prey, the way she moved. She was so hypnotizing that the guys didn't even notice that I was just as caught up as they were.” A single finger was lightly brushing against the top of my body scar like a feather's caress. It was a slow, subtle pleasure and I had high hopes that they could get the rare second round of lovemaking out of my reluctant body. “So there's this heavy quiet over the crowd, only the pounding beat of some techno-tribal rhythms while she torments the crowd. There was no mistaking when she noticed me, I felt like I had touched a live wire. Next thing I know, I have this sultry local writhing on my lap like she's trying to get me to come right there on the spot. I couldn't move, I just stared. And then she was gone and it was like waking up from some weird dream. I must have made some remark about 'no more drinking binges with you guys', because my pals just laughed and laughed at my embarrassment.”

“That's it?” Sam asked skeptically and I curled a hand into her hair for a lingering kiss.

“No silly, there's more. So days later, I wander into the bar alone and someone grabs my sleeve. It's some burly local, who gestures towards an almost hidden door and rambles off something I can't understand. I hadn't been able to pick up as much Tagalog as I had expected to at that point. It's a tough language group. He's pretty adamant and I've had too much to drink and I actually do something stupid and walk through the door. Honestly, I never knew what hit me, the night was a haze. All I know is that my buddies found me sprawled out asleep on the beach with my uniform sloppily rearranged on me. What I did remember, was her, the dancer. So I managed to sneak away one night and went to that door again. She was even more fun cold sober. The woman was a tigress and everything an exotic lover should be, tireless, sexy and could improvise like crazy. She also spoke about twelve words of English. So our first couple of weeks didn't consist of much talking.” I was shocked to realize that I was flushed in embarrassment and arousal. My women were absolutely delighted. There were now multiple teasing fingers on my scar and tracing circles around my hardened nipples.

“Why Artemis,” Janet purred playfully. “I do believe that you're embarrassed.”

“Mmm,” I hummed distractedly from their attentions. “Among other things… oh yeah, Sam… right there.”

I knew the tickle of her baby-fine hair and the press of her aristocratic nose compared to Janet's cute little muzzle. Her lean cheeks twitched into a smile against my skin and her light suckling grew firmer in intent. Softly, she mouthed my puckered flesh and rasped sharp teeth ever-so-lightly against my skin. It was pure heaven when Janet ducked down to nibble a trail from chin to chest, alternating her suction from bruising to feather-soft. It was quite the shock that I spiraled up that incline of pure arousal until it escaped me in sharp, grunting cries.

Theh-mou,” escaped me in a shuddering sigh and I wove my fingers into their hair. Sam remained sprawled across my lower body, her cheek on my abdomen, while Janet kissed me softly.

“That was a wonderful story, Art. Thank you. And if talking gets you this hot and bothered, we'll have to try it again.”



Holy Hannah, but this woman made me insane. That last story was enough to set my whole body aflame and I trembled against Art's leg. I heard their kiss break and Art continued talking in that low, sexy tone. I closed my eyes and tried to imagine the scenes she was describing. “Velvet was a bit of a danger junkie and got a kick out of the clandestine relationship with me. I was too intrigued to stay away. On the physical level, her coloring fascinated me because it was so similar and so different from mine. And her voluptuous dancer's build was cool too. She was totally unlike anything I'd been close too, ever.”

“There's more,” I heard Janet tease lightly and Art's chuckle rumbled where my cheek was pressed to her body. One hand suddenly curled into my hair and I relaxed at the loving caress on my scalp. I still felt odd with them, like I should be out of place, a third wheel. One of them would see some dead giveaway to my feelings and reassure me until my heart swelled with adoration.

“Oh, I'm sure if I wracked my brain, I could come up with all sorts of kinky memories,” Art laughed and convulsed suddenly beneath me, her merriment increasing. “No pinching you tease, I'll spill. Let's see…. Hmm…” I could picture Janet's petulant pout and smiled against Art's skin. The hand in my hair paused for a moment before caressing with some unknown intent. “Ah, I've got it. One of the things I only dimly remembered from that first night, but learned very well, was that Velvet was shaved clean. It was quite amazing.”


“Yep. And let me tell you, that stubble would threaten to split anything soft that got anywhere near it. So a couple of weeks after she first jumped me, I come sneaking into her quarters as is my custom. Imagine my surprise to find her sprawled out on the bed beside this amazing antique shaving kit. My guess is that she noticed that the stubble bothered me so I was immediately drafted into helping with maintenance. So, still barely able to communicate past the basics, she hands me this brutally sharp straight razor and teaches me how to do it right. It was the most amazing and erotic gesture of trust… Nose practically buried in her crotch with this deadly razor scraping all that sensitive skin clean. I thought about doing it myself, but knew I'd never get away with it while in uniform.”

Absolutely still with concentration, I hung on every word. “So next time someone needs surgery,” Janet teased. “I should call you?” Together, they chuckled and I began to tremble. I could almost feel the tug of that lethal blade over my skin, removing the fine hairs between my legs, leaving me truly and utterly naked to them…

I must have moaned, because Art tugged at my hair until I crawled up to be pulled into a proper hug. Their hands wandered soothingly over my skin while my imagination drove my libido unmercifully into the ground. “You like that idea?” Art rumbled in my ear and I cried out when I felt that teasing hand slip between my legs to rub through the moisture gathered there. “I guess you do, hmm? You like the idea of being that naked, that vulnerable, that accessible…” It only took a light tug at my pubes and I was scrambling to crouch over Art's mouth. For a long moment I was incoherent with desire, her exploratory touches driving me mad. There were pinches and tugs on the outer lips, as though she was trying to get me to feel the hair, and then imagine it all gone. She could have been saying it out loud and I couldn't quite make out the words. When she did finally pull me down to her waiting mouth, it took very little effort to push me over the edge. Janet's hands wandered over the tense muscles of my ass and back before pinching my nipples and encouraging me to climax again. Burrowing in as though she wanted to consume me from the inside out, Art helped me peak a second time. Shaking with reaction, I concentrated on Art mouthing me oh-so-softly now, knowing how painfully sensitive I was after an orgasm. That talented mouth mapped every curve and hollow and I hunched up around Art's head, death grip in her curls. Lips and teeth tugged at the fine hairs, reminding me again of what it must feel like, to have her tongue on my naked skin…

The glory was on me again, pleasure and pain ripping through my nervous system, the universe gone white. Some sane corner of my mind wondered if anyone could hear my screams through the sound-dampened walls.


The morning sun tickled across the bed to coax one eyelid into doing its job. I was still curled against Art's side where I dimly remembered collapsing the night before. Her arm was wrapped loosely around me and her body warm against my back. Slowly, so as not to disturb my bedmates, I wormed my hand down to sift it through my pubic hair. How odd it would be not to have it, how illicit and thrilling… It would be almost like stepping back from being an adult, back to the purity of being a child once more. 'An erotic gesture of trust', Art had called it and I had heard the wistful desire in her tone.

Would she do it to me?

The thought made me shake with wanton hunger and I squirmed around until I was facing my lovers. Janet had rolled onto her back, one hand resting protectively on the twins. Art was sprawled out next to her, fingers resting lightly on Janet's hip. It was a peaceful scene and I hated to disturb them with my dirty, visceral need, but I was dying. Shaking with the effort to control myself even a little, I ducked over Art to kiss her softly, slowly increasing the heat of my touch. She woke gradually to the stimulation, hands rising to wrap around my supporting arms. Only then did I let her taste my desperation, my heat, my overpowering need. There was a startled sound as I ravaged her soft mouth, begged incoherently into her breath. Straddling that strong body, I rocked my hips against hers, pressing the curlies I was beginning to hate against her scars. Once she was as hot and bothered as I was, I released her bruised mouth only enough to meet her gaze. “Do it to me,” rasped hoarsely in a voice I barely recognized as my own. “Shave me naked, make me yours. Please, I'll beg, I'll do anything, but you've driven me crazy with the idea. Please Art…”


Theh-mou! It was like being done in by a succubus, a siren, or a mythological vampire whose kiss was the ultimate high. Pain mixed with the pleasure of Sam's hard, desperate kiss. She was panting like a racehorse and riding my hipbone like a jockey. “Oh Art, please, please, please…”

As I grabbed a handful of gold hair to yank Sam's head back with uncharacteristic roughness, her pleas turned to staccato cries and her body convulsed in pleasure. A trickle of thick liquid tickled over my skin from the pool Sam's body had left behind. And she still rocked softly on the wet track she'd left where my hipbone was tight against my skin.

N'artho, ksanthee ahgahpitee mou.” I growled in her ear and Sam convulsed again, burying her face into the pillow by my head to muffle the piercing cries. That woke Janet with a bit of a start and she looked over to grin warmly.

“Well, good morning you two,” she chuckled as Sam melted into my body with a whimper. A glance at the clock told me that we were already running late and I grabbed Janet for a quick kiss.

Kahlee mehra, ahgape-mou. We need to get moving, there's a briefing in half an hour for our jump to P2X-416.”

“Crap,” Sam squeaked and tried to get away, but was held in place by my strong grip on her.

“And you,” I growled lustily at her, loving it when her gorgeous eyes widened at the tone. “You and I have a conversation to finish later. Keep that in mind.” And with a last, hard kiss, we were up and running.

As this was the first mission for SG1 since the whole O'Neill-Makepeace incident, we were understandably a little awkward together. Thankfully, as the briefing wore on, the familiar camaraderie began to return in fits and starts. Daniel even dared sass Jack about something I missed, since I was trying so damn hard no to pay Sam any undue attention. Not easy when the woman was trying to fry a hole in my forehead with that laser stare. After that we reviewed MALP footage of the world we were to visit and decided on what gear would need to be brought along. Then I spent a few hours training with Lucky and Jo. It was obvious that she wanted to ask questions, but didn't dare. So I relented… sort of.

“Hey Jo,” I started in conversationally as we played enthusiastically with Lucky to reward her for being so good. “I was thinking that the whole gang of us should meet up for Christmas. Dinner, presents and the whole enchilada. Sound like fun?”

“Hell yes,” she laughed.

With the issue of a family get together established, I could finally concentrate on my day.


It was a unique kind of torture.

My own mind was obsessed with the possibilities of Art's story. Obsessed with wondering what the tug of the razor would feel like, the stark nakedness, the danger of that lethal blade on all that vulnerable skin…

“Hey!” The bark near my ear startled me so badly that the stool fell away from under my ass and strong arms kept me from tumbling ungracefully to the cement floor. My elbow connected solidly with my savior and she grunted in pain. “Fuck Carter, distracted much?” Karen taunted as she hauled me into her larger body to get my feet underneath me. “I called your name three times from the doorway.”

Blinking like a dumbstruck deer in headlights, I wondered faintly at the odd look in her eye. It felt good to be held like this… too good. And way too familiar.

I had known Karen Taylor for more than a decade and had never acknowledged the spark between us. Now that Art and Janet had taken me into their hearts and bed, I realized exactly what the sparks were.

Karen was attracted to me…

Karen had always been attracted to me.

The revelation was like a gunshot and hot on the heels of it was a memory jogged loose from an alcohol fog…

She had tasted of contained strength and beer, smelled of warm sunlight and the heady scent of well-loved leather. I remembered the feel of her strong body that had supported my smaller frame when I wrapped myself around her. Those alcohol-dimmed memories boiled up from my brain, brought back by the furrow of concentration between her russet brows.

“Bane?” I breathed softly, eyes growing wide in shock. The diamond-cut emerald of her familiar gaze echoed the emotion oh-so-clearly. How could I not have recognized those eyes? Those fae-warrior eyes that burned like green fire across my skin… Holy Hannah, Karen was the leather dyke who Art and I had run into that night.

No wonder she had seemed so familiar and I had trusted her so easily.

Terror and promise danced in her gaze, as we stood frozen in my lab. Some banal corner of my brain was ever so grateful that experiment with the Naquada reactor months ago had blown out the security system in here, as we were still standing wrapped around one another. Hammond had been so annoyed with young Marin and I.

Then the immediate situation jerked me back to where I was pressed so closely to Karen's lanky body. She was the leather dyke I had kissed in that bar…

It was a damn shame I was taken.

But there was something going on between her and Darya that was obvious now that I knew what to look for. I was intrigued by the sudden possibilities for my pals, intrigued enough to take a sudden, crazy risk. Feeling quite bold, I took a step away from Karen's welcome body heat and reached into my back pocket.

Never once breaking our locked gazes, I felt with blind fingertips into the tiny side pocket of my wallet and found exactly what I was searching for. Until this very moment, I didn't know why I had kept the money that had been tucked down the front of my skirt that fateful night. Sixty-three dollars, folded into a neat little rectangle of memories. Close enough to let our body heat lightly tease together; I stopped and let a slow smile warm my expression. Her fantastic green eyes rounded in response.

This giddy boldness was making me foolish and I knew it, but I couldn't bring myself to stop my own hand. It reached up to flip back the flap of the chest pocket on her fatigue shirt. My grin was evil as my index and middle fingers, money held between them, tucked into the warm space. There was a strong reaction to my touch, the firestorm in her eyes flaring bright as my fingers slid against her curves.

“This was the down payment from that night,” I purred in a sensuous voice I barely recognized as my own. “But I can't make the investment.” The hand lingered for a moment before returning to its place at my side. “Tell you friend Ace I'm sorry I can't play.”

Nostrils flared, Karen burned me with a narrow-eyed glare that left me weak and trembling. There were no words, but her eyes spoke volumes in the suffocating silence. The sudden pressure of long fingers on my hand made me squeak softly as Karen brought the limb up to eye level. Ever so gently, she pressed my sensitive fingertips to her cheek, my thumb on her lips.

The gentlest of kisses to the rough whorls on my thumb, and the sudden crushing press of her thumb in the middle of my palm was all that needed to be said. Never saying a word, Karen left me to the pleasure and pain she'd stirred up on and under my skin.


Each piece was laid out carefully on the spotless white sheets I'd bought and washed just for this. There were a handful of pristine white towels and a large bowl waiting to be filled with hot water. Lined up like a surgeon's tray were the tools of my unusual skill. The marble bowl and soft brush, the heavy cake of soap and the long leather sharpening strap.

But the crowning glory of the set was the aged straight razor with its slim handle of smooth palm wood that matched the brush. It sat in my hand like a deadly snake waiting to strike. A noise downstairs caught my attention, my name called out in Janet's amused voice.

“Upstairs,” I called back, never removing my eyes from the blade.

Footsteps on the stairs, creak of the door, gasp of surprise and the burn of their gaze on the blade, glinting in the lamplight. Never once looking at my women, I raised the blade and let it glitter dangerously.

“What I didn't tell you last night,” I spoke in a soft, dangerous tone. “Was that Velvet gave me the set as a farewell gift. I've been hauling it around for years now by telling the Army that it's a family heirloom. I wondered if I would ever need it again.” Holding the blade vertically between my eyes, I finally met Sam's shadowed gaze. “You have a choice here Sam. Get naked and trust me, or walk away and never bring the subject up again.”

There was a long, breathless pause where our eyes dueled across the bedroom. Sam shuddered before stepping into the pool of light that made the bed the most important thing in the room. Another pause and the black shirt was skinned off and nervously dropped in a pile. Watching her fumble with the simple white bra made me laugh suddenly and stride over. Gripping the blade between my teeth, I grabbed the snug cotton and expertly popped the clasp between her small breasts. Grinning around the deadly-sharp metal, I dropped the straight razor back into my hand and grabbed the waist of Sam's pants. A quick inhale concaved her stomach and I swiped the blade across the heavy green material. The olive button clattered to the floor and I returned the razor to my teeth. Sam shrugged the loosened bra off while I roughly yanked her pants open and let them drop around her ankles. That left me to toss the razor over with the rest of the kit and pay attention to my laughing wife.

“Some things never change,” Janet chortled in delight as I kissed the corners of her smile.

“What do you mean?”

“You two always did play awfully rough. Just like a pair of big silly puppies.”

“Woof,” I chuckled and looked back to where Sam was struggling desperately with her boots.

“I'm stuck,” she whined softly and I laughed. That pouty sulk with those delectable lips and gorgeous eyes was irresistible. I grabbed a foot and shoved the fatigues up to get her laces loose.

“I wanted to give you a thrill. Y'know, get you in the mood? I want you to like this ehromenee.

“It worked,” she whispered and all the sudden this was more sexy than funny.

“Okay gorgeous, you're down to socks and underwear. Finish up.”

Giggling breathlessly, Sam obeyed, tossing the articles of white cotton at Janet's feet and scrambling onto the center of the bed. While she wiggled around to get comfy, I grabbed the big bowl and went into the bathroom. “Sam, put a towel under your hips.”

“'Kay,” she called back, sounding breathless and eager to please. When the water was good and hot, I filled the bowl and gathered up the metal scissors and analgesic cream I'd left in the bathroom. The latter would be needed later to soothe her skin once the hair had been removed. Both items were set on the nightstand and I leaned over Sam's prone and wiggling body. She was delightful to kiss, warm and willing and tasty as hell. I nearly got my tongue bit when I slid a couple of curious fingers between her legs to get her off. Yelping in reaction, Sam brought her knees up and was rocking her hips in time with my demanding hand. Janet chuckled darkly as Sam convulsed with a squeaky bark.

“Okay, now that the edge is off, shall we get started?” I teased and painted her own juices across her soft mouth. Sam moaned softly and bit my finger. The humor was abruptly snuffed out as I took up the evil-looking metal scissors.

“Shit,” she whined and tensed up again.

“Sam,” I soothed gently and sprawled out on top of her naked body. “You have to relax. I can't do this unless you just go with it, okay?” A few slow kisses accomplished that and I could slowly nuzzle my way down her lanky body. Once down to the gold, I gave the thatch a quick kiss and took the scissors to them. The harsh grinding of the metal through the soft fuzz was loud in the quiet room. Each of the curly pinches was dropped into the tiny baggie I'd procured for just this purpose. “You've got beautiful coloring Sam,” I purred. “All honey and fresh cream. And here,” a quick series of pinches to her half naked labia made her squeal. “Fresh strawberries, hmmm?”

“Aaaaaaaaaaaaaart,” she begged breathlessly and I held up the little baggie of curls.

“Look, a dimebag of love,” I laughed and dove into her warmth, tongue first. In between bouts of get-her-off-quick sex, I had the illicit pleasure of running the vicious strait razor over Sam's pale and vulnerable skin. Learning this skill had been a shitload of fun all those years ago, and as much fun the few times I'd practiced since, but nothing had prepared me for how it felt with someone I loved. Utter trust and adoration shone in the summer blue eyes I had adored from the first time I'd looked into them and the matching smile. We may have had a long road to becoming lovers, but Sam and I had shared something special from that first moment. By the time the glitter of gold was a pleasant memory, Sam was reduced to a moaning wreck. I'd completely lost track of how many times I had coaxed a climax from her. “You really are insatiable,” I panted and set the razor aside. Sam groaned half weary and half horny. I had no clue how long I had painstakingly rid her of hair and pretenses. The effort of concentration had wiped me out to my very bones. The last item of business was a damp washcloth in the now cool water to take off the remaining wisps of soap. Sam squeaked and recoiled, grabbing my wrist.

“Fuck,” she hissed and stared wild-eyed at me.

“Sensitive?” Rather than teasing, I was aroused and sympathetic. “Let me see if I can help.”

Now, Velvet had been shaved long before I walked into her life, but had warned me about the painful sensitivity of the neophyte. Grabbing the analgesic cream, I settled my body between Sam's legs and ignored her whimper. The white cream was cool on my fingertips, but warmed quickly. With tongue only, I burrowed into Sam's dripping heat in sync with stroking the cream over her newly bared skin. The sound she made was guttural and animalistic, her body curled up around my head and her grip punishing in my hair.

Shave and a Haircut Two Bits



“'Mornin',” Art crowed happily as she bounced up the stairs to the control room and went over to Walter. They chatted quietly for a moment, Art laughed and handed him an envelope before approaching me. There was something glittering in her crystalline eyes, something euphoric and maybe a bit dangerous. It struck up an answering chord in me and a grin split my face.

“Boy, you're in a mood today,” I chuckled as she leaned over my pristine desk.

“You have no idea,” Art chortled madly and I had to laugh along with her obvious delight. “Bet you'd have given a body part to be me last night. So I brought you a present.” I could almost hear Emily yelling, 'peasants!' But that distinctly perverse twinkle in Art's eyes was proof that this wasn't a gift I'd been sharing with that kid. She reached into her breast pocket and I was reminded of Sam's near-seduction yesterday. The charge in my body must have changed my eyes, because Art grinned in that half-thrilled, half-scared way that made me want to jump on her. Dammit, she was unknowingly triggering one of my strongest fetishes. Squelching down the wild fantasies popping up in my mind's eye, I flashed Art a warning look and she chortled again.

“Pain in my ass,” I muttered and she yanked the little plastic baggie loose from her pocket and held it out teasingly.

“Courtesy of Sam and I,” she whispered in a black velvet voice and tossed the baggie to land on my desk. It looked like it held a half-ounce of… gold curls? A start of shock rippled down my spine as I made an educated guess what the hell they were.

“You're evil,” I growled, not taking my eyes of the curls.

“You're welcome,” Art grinned evilly and straightened up with a luxurious cat stretch. Tease. “Hey, you and Darya and Emily should come over on Christmas day.” As she bounced out of the room I could hear her whistling a familiar tune.

Shave and a haircut, two bits.


Still weary, buzzed and pleasantly sore, I had wandered blearily through my morning. Last night was going to take some serious processing and my brain-turned-to-oatmeal was barely functioning. Thankfully, my hungry tummy was up to the task of telling my body to take the familiar walk to the commissary. Mmmm… coffee and… was that the smell of fresh cinnamon rolls?

There were scattered chuckles as a small, solid body impeded my monster-movie shuffle towards the seductive food. “Hey,” a familiar voice growled and I froze.

So did Carol Astor.

It had been nearly seven months since… since that night. We'd avoided each other like the Black Plague ever since. Even now, the discomfort was a palatable thing between us, even as we remained looked in an emotional staredown. It was Carol that jerked her gaze away first.

But not before I had seen the sheen of tears in her eyes.


There were so many regrets wrapped up in her, and so many pleasant memories. The dichotomy of my feelings baffled me. My inner focus was so intense that the gentle touch on my arm nearly made me drop my tray. This time there was sympathy and understanding mixed with the pain in her pale eyes. Neither of us had a damn thing to say, and yet there were a thousand things that we really needed to get cleared up. Someone cleared their throat behind me and Carol jerked her gaze away again. We had been holding up the line and quickly fell back into the 'feed me' shuffle.

I was hardly surprised to find myself following Carol's small body to a table in the back of the half-full commissary. In the familiar black t-shirt and fatigue pants, I was struck at how identical her build was to the smaller of my two lovers. As we settled into our chairs, Carol eyed me oddly. “What?”

Without thinking, I answered honestly, “You're built just like Janet.”

Whatever reaction I had been expecting from her, the delighted grin with the accompanying chuckle was the least expected and most welcome. “Not anymore.”

Memories of Janet's pregnancy-ripe figure made me join in on the giggling until we were both nearly howling with laughter. When the storm passed, the tension was nearly gone and we returned to our meals. Coffee, eggs and drippy sweet rolls cleared my synapses up and helped me ignore the distracting ache Art had left behind with the shaving last night. It was going to take some serious getting used to.

“Y'know, I made a promise to myself that I've flaked on,” I mused thoughtfully and Carol eyed me with a combination of humor and wariness.


“That night,” I had to pause and swallow hard against the nerves. Her light brown gaze dropped away with a rosy flush. “When you made me laugh, I promised myself that I'd try to befriend you. I haven't done that.”

Carol was staring down at her plate and toying with the remains of her scrambled eggs. “I haven't exactly encouraged you,” she mumbled softly in a pained tone.

“I hurt you without meaning to.”

The pale eyes returned to mine, the ache swirling with determination and self-preservation. “Major, you were the perfect man. I'm only hurting because I couldn't keep you.”

The revelation left me speechless and my ears ringing with shock.

++ Carol ++

The expression would have been funny under different circumstances. Fortunately, I had a perverse sense of humor and could work with this.

“I mean, think about it. Women always complain that men don't understand us, right?”

Hesitantly, the blonde head nodded and blue eyes began to clear. All the things that had instantly attracted me to the male version were still strongly evident. Kindness, brains and plain old common decency were second nature to Sam Carter. Damn shame the packaging wasn't my cup of tea anymore. Besides, she had that look of someone who was being taken care of just fine.

“Must be why straight girls love the gay boys,” Sam muttered and I couldn't stop the burst of delighted laughter.

“Basically. I guess I got to live out the ultimate fantasy, huh?”

I really did feel better now that I had been given the chance to clear the air with her. There might always be some awkwardness between us from that one night, but I knew now that I could still like her just fine. Reaching across the table to rest my hand on her arm, I grinned warmly.

“Thanks, I needed that. Putting that night,” her flush made me grin, “into perspective has helped.”

Resigned to the teasing, Carter saluted me with her coffee cup and smiled shyly. It was no wonder half the damn base was crazy about her.

To be continued…

Author's note: The comments about Carol being built just like Janet is pretty much canon. The woman who played Lieutenant Astor is Janet's stunt double. I couldn't resist.

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