Pairings: Art/Janet & Karen/Darya
Category: yet another mirror universe for the SGC.
Disclaimer: Stargate SG1 and all their characters belong to MGM, Showtime and Gekko Productions. But I think we all knew that, hmm? Art, Cooper, Lucky, Jo and Karen are mine. Darya and Emily are AJ's.
Spoilers: References aplenty to the majority of the third season here, consider yourselves warned…
Summary: Life goes on...
I had never been a patient here before. The local Academy Hospital had been my office away from the SCG since I had joined the project. I had spent enough time here to be distinctly uncomfortable as a patient here.
During our week-long honeymoon, the pregnancy had quite suddenly begun to show. It was as if our baby knew everything was okay now. Art chuckled as I squirmed on the exam table. “Relax,” she purred softly. “None of your coworkers will tease you too badly.”
“I'm nervous,” was my hesitant response and her sweet grin melted my heart. Her tender, loving touch on my forehead calmed my fears and I let her soak into my soul. How any woman did this on her own was beyond me.
When someone knocked at the door, we both jumped and Art snatched her hand back guiltily. Then quickly, before the entering doctor could see, she caressed my forehead one more time. Then she was just the coach once more. I hated the charade even as I knew that we still had to play it. It was a relief to recognize the face of the gray-haired woman that stepped in, even as I couldn't come up with a name.
“Well this is a pleasure,” she grinned and stepped further into the room. “It's always a good thing when doctors take their own advice. I'm Lieutenant Colonel Bonny Dudley, and you of course are the famous Captain Fraiser. Pleased to meet you.”
Her calm and humor put us both immediately at ease. I immediately shook her offered hand and smiled warmly. “Likewise Colonel Dudley.”
She waved off the formality and flashed white teeth. “Call me Bon. The last person in the world I'm going to be formal with is a fellow MD.”
Bon looked to be in her late forties with twinkling hazel eyes and an easy-going matter. That gaze turned to my semi-secret lover and Art immediately jumped in. “I'm Sergeant Art Goldston, the coach.”
Oh, few people would notice it, but I heard the catch in her voice. Bon either missed it, or deliberately ignored as she went about her work. She kept up a steady stream of patter as she tugged up the hospital gown and smeared the slick lubricant over my swelling belly before pressing the ultrasound wand to my skin. During all of this, Art casually slipped a hand into mine and I gripped onto her, hard. Then I saw it, even as Bon began to explain. “There we go, lookin' good.”
Indeed, there was a tiny, indistinct form there, the little body curled up as though cold. I could only stare in absorption at the shifting image as Bon's voice faded into the background. Then my world screeched to a halt, Art's breath sucking between her teeth, our intertwined grip bruising.
My God, indeed.
For not only was our child forming nicely and appeared to be perfectly healthy… but there were two.
“This place isn't going to be big enough for five of us and the pets,” I mused softly and Janet stirred lazily against me. We had been up late talking and making love with tenderness that still made my chest tight with feeling. Now I just lazily ran my fingertips over the silky skin of her back and luxuriated in this tender quiet.
“You have a point,” Janet hummed softly and nuzzled into my shoulder. “I suppose we should call a real estate agent and start looking, hmm?”
A finger hooked under my woman's chin brought her lips up to be kissed. “You're the breadwinner, oh my sexy Captain sugar momma. My piddly little E7 salary won't buy you a dream house.”
Janet snorted lightly in amusement, her breath tickling over my chest. “Sugar momma,” she scoffed and cuddled up closer to my side. “You're silly.”
“And you love it.”
There was another long, easy quiet while we each examined our thoughts.
“We could do it together,” Janet finally offered in a quiet, oddly vulnerable tone.
“We're married, love. I'm yours now and forever and expect the same in return. I'd like a bigger place to raise our kids. Give the three of them more room to grow into.”
“Cass would certainly love a bigger room.”
“She's a teenager, of course she'd love a bigger room. Considering her background, the option of independence is probably a good thing. Maybe we could even have enough space to give Sam her own room.”
“She might like that.”
“Might, nothin'. She'll love it. It'll keep her close to the kids and the pets.”
“True,” Janet agreed and took a deep breath before hauling herself bodily over me. Oh, I knew that look in her eye all too well. “But I'd rather not talk about Sam right now.” The slow kiss she seduced me with was incentive enough.
House hunting would have to wait.
It had been a long time coming.
Weeks of sly glances and soft touches, of gentle kisses and tender teasing had left me desperate for more.
If she didn't walk through that door and ride me like a prized mare over the finish line, I would go insane. Patience was wonderful and all, but she had proven that she valued me and now I wanted her to claim me, make me hers.
The clothes were chosen carefully, the sleeveless silver sweater buttoned low enough to show peeking hints of lacy underthings and a buttery calfskin skirt that Sam had practically ordered me to wear. It was the color of soft midnight and made my skin purr with pleasure at its touch. Only after some exploration would Karen find the satin garters holding up the sheer silk stockings. The delicate high heels were an extravagance I hadn't even tried to resist when I had spied them in the expensive store. They brought out the muscles in my legs and gave me some much-needed height.
It had been a light scent in the department store earlier that day that had finally convinced me to seduce Karen. The thought of her exploring my body to find the lingering smell of vanilla and honeysuckle, made my knees weak. Even now I had to wonder at what the salesgirl had made of my slow smile. Hopefully, it had sent her scurrying off to whoever would take her ache away…
The lights were low, the smell of sage and wildflowers gently scenting the air. Oh, I had paid attention to the things she liked with a single-minded intensity that I usually reserved for my precious science of the mind. None of that tonight, only her and me and this burn between us.
Then I heard it.
The lion's roar rumble of that mechanical monster that was so much a part of her. So I tucked back my unruly hair behind my ears and scrambled to finish up.
It had been a long day. Four days offworld and a very long briefing to cap it off had left me desperate to just go home. Thankfully, Darya had called earlier in the evening to give me a quick hello and make me smile. She had been disappointed that I would be getting home so late, but promised to see me soon. So I'd grabbed a quick shower and dragged myself back into fatigues because I'd forgotten clean civvies again. Keys in hand, I went to the door of my little bungalow and let myself in.
A vision of pure heaven greeted me. I was so utterly and completely shocked that I dropped helmet and keys, never hearing them hit the floor. She was glorious in a stormy silver sweater and a skirt of the soft kidskin. One delicate foot was lifted so that she could dab at that little dimple at her ankle, soft hair cascading in a glittering waterfall of midnight red.
“Oh my,” I breathed idiotically, struck as though by lightning by the spectacle. Those fathomless gray-green eyes peeked coyly from beneath her dark lashes for a long moment before she dropped her foot and sashayed over to me. Some distant part of my brain kicked the helmet and keys into the foyer and shut the door. Darya paused to brand me with that smoldering gaze, our body heat mingling.
“Take me,” she whispered and smoothed her hands over my shoulders. “I love your gentleness and your sensitivity, but I need you Karen.” Only a hairs-breath away, her red painted lips almost on mine, she breathed the quietest of pleas. “Please.”
Oh, I'd kissed her before when she was hot and bothered, slow, melting kisses that would make her whimper. But this was something entirely new. Like wildfire, like liquid heat she blazed across my soul, branded my body and made me quiver in awareness. All with a kiss.
Growling, I swept Darya's delicate frame into my arms and earned a throaty chuckle. Biting playfully at my lower lip, she purred softly and clung tight. There were candles in the bedroom, the fine flannel sheets soft and inviting on the bed. We melted together in the cozy nest and my hand wandered to map the contours of her torso. I appreciated the baby-soft cashmere and buttery kidskin that were warm with her heat. They were pulled away and she tugged urgently at my black t-shirt and the bra under it.
The feel of her satin skin on mine was perfection. What had I done to deserve this wonderful woman? Smart, sexy and playful, she was a dream come true. She moaned in encouragement, nipping at me again. I began to learn her with mouth and hands, desperate to know her taste and smell. There were the long lines of muscles in her legs, the firm curves in upper arms, the corrugated patterns of flesh and bone across her ribs and belly.
The silky ribbons and lace were like a gilded frame around a priceless treasure. Darya whined and begged incoherently as I drew closer to the source of her deepest heat. Then there was no more time for teasing, her hand wanton and needy between my thighs, her slick heat filling my palm. It was a firestorm that burned hot and fast, leaving us both panting and winded.
“Holy shit,” I murmured into Darya's silky tresses and she giggled weakly. “That was an amazing welcome home.”
“Mmm,” she agreed lazily and coaxed me into a slow kiss. With the hard edge off our combined desires, there was time to savor and appreciate. “You're welcome. I figured I needed to do something drastic to get your attention.”
“All you had to do was ask.”
“But this was far more fun.”
“True.” Temporarily sated, Darya's curvy frame was soft and pliant under my roving hand. We continued to kiss lazily while our hands wandered over new territory. There was a sensitive, tickly spot on the inside of her knees that made us both chuckle when she squirmed. Her gentle hands found that place right where my neck and shoulders met and my kisses grew more demanding. How I loved that hollow between bone and muscles stroked… oh yeah… just like that. Once she had me good and distracted, Darya kissed her way down my body and showed me how talented that smart mouth of hers really was.
It was a slice of pure heaven that left me drained and panting into the bedding. Giggling again, Darya draped herself over my back, pressing me into the bed. “Mmm, that was nice,” she purred and I glanced over my shoulder at her glittering eyes.
“I agree. May I return the favor?”
“In a minute. Will you tell me about some of these first?”
It shocked me how honest I was with her, even right from the start. The tattoos decorating patches of my skin on back and arms were intensely personal signposts of the life I'd led. There was the Indian tiger on my right shoulder blade, earned from the rough leather gang that had taught me the ropes of their trade. The complicated knot of symbolism that appeared vaguely like an Egyptian cartouche was from a lover that had given me more than she'd ever really know. That drew my mind's eye to the inverted crystal heart drawn in ink over my heart. That one meant more to me than all the others. That one was my mentor's mark, left there by the woman who had been the only mother I'd ever really known. There were images of things and ideals that each had a meaning. I was lost in my own memories when she coaxed me back with that gentle strength of a lioness that had attracted me in the first place. Soft green eyes welcomed me to the haven of her arms.
“Thank you Karen, for telling me all those things.”
In turn I questioned the marks on her body: the butterfly tattoo above her left breast, the faded stretch marks on her belly that made her chuckle and tell me about being pregnant with Emily. We made love, sometimes rough and sometimes tender, and talked until we were both completely wiped out. The sky had grown pale in the windows and I hugged her tight enough to earn a squeak.
“That was a wonderful night Dare, I hope you have today off.”
“Oh yeah. I figured we wouldn't get much sleep tonight. And since you just got back from a mission, I know you have a few days off. So it seemed like a good time.”
“I'll say.” Sprawled across me, Darya snuggled in and sighed happily. I pulled the blankets tighter around us and buried my nose in her hair. “G'night,” I murmured softly and she hummed in response.
“Grrr,” I grumbled irritably as I flipped through the massive pile of paperwork that our new real estate agent had provided us with. A chuckle made me look up into hazel eyes that danced with mirth and, despite myself, I grinned back.
“Just remember that this crap only has to be done once. Buck up,” my companion laughed and sprawled back lazily into the dining room chair. “And you've got a sweet little place here that will bring a great price if I have anything to say about it.”
With her close-shorn dyed-blonde hair, unusual jewelry and oh-so-serious corporate drag, Kara Michelin was a fun contrast that I liked having around. If her reputation was half as good as I'd heard, I suspected that my long and picky list of amenities for the new place should be met pretty damn closely. “So, my question is,” I chuckled conversationally. “If you're as good as they say, then why are you still way out here in Colorado Springs?”
“There's plenty of work here, not just from the civilian folk, but for officers like yourself assigned to the mountain. It's rare that military gets to stay put long enough long enough to buy houses, but it's different here. Besides,” Kara laughed suddenly. “I like soldiers. It took awhile to learn how to interact with most of them, but it was worth learning. Most like me because I'm off the beaten path and get the job done right.”
“Good enough for me.”
The shrill ringing of a cell phone interrupted the bantering, so Kara shrugged and fished it out of a pocket while I returned to the paperwork. While she spoke to someone that was obviously from her office, the sound of the front door opening distracted my attention. Adoration flooded through me as Art stepped in, teasing someone behind her. “Don't let them bug you. Someday the world will appreciate your brains, I mean, look at Sam.” Then the blue eyes met mine and she smiled as Cass stepped in. The affection vanished with the realization that there was a stranger in the room. There was a distinct pause in Kara's conversation as she eyed the dark woman in fatigues and the teen behind her.
“Sweet, I'll call you back with the details. Great. Just send that email. Later babe.” As Kara wrapped up her conversation, she pocketed the cell phone and stepped up to Art with an outstretched hand. “Kara Michelin, you must be Art Goldston, pleased to meet you. And you must be Cassandra. I'm your real estate agent.”
“Oh,” Art answered as she took in the information, “That's right, I recognize your name now. Thanks for being here.”
“My pleasure, sorry it took me two weeks to get to you guys. You done with that stuff Janet?”
“Mostly,” I sighed as Art walked towards me. There was some days that hiding how I felt about her was excruciating. Since we'd been married less than a month and my pregnancy hormones were turning me hornier than a dog in heat, this was one of those times. Unfortunately, I had to suffice with a warm hand on my shoulder. I didn't like that she wasn't on the paperwork for the house, but there would be far less danger by keeping up the appearance that she was just my roommate.
“Great,” Kara enthused, breaking our eyelock. “Because I think my partner has found the perfect place.”
We all blinked at her in surprise, and Cassie spoke first. “Mom, I thought you said finding a house took a long time.”
“It does,” I protested and Kara laughed.
“It usually does, but this time the circumstances are a little weird. There's this wonderful old couple that live right down the street from Mic and I. Mic's my partner in all senses of the word.” Okay, that little confession startled me and made Art's gentle hand on my shoulder tighten for a brief moment. Relief flooded my system as I realized that our secret would be safe with this woman. “They've been making noises about wanting to move into a smaller place, but have been really reluctant to actually do it. They want a young, nice family who'll love the place as much as they do. It'll need some work to modernize the place, but it would be worth it. Interested?”
So that's how we met Harold and Virginia. The place was amazing; an enormous house sprawled out at the end of a residential street on a piece of land that dwarfed everything around it. The street sloped up towards the house, leaving me to guess that there were some awesome views, especially on the second floor. There were even a few kids my own age playing basketball in a driveway we drove past and I felt a rush of relief. There would be people I could befriend here. There were several license plates on cars that marked them as government vehicles. Those should belong to other soldiers, which could be a good or bad thing for mom and Art. “I like the neighborhood,” I said quietly and Art patted my leg. She was sharing the backseat with me and seemed to be checking out the same things I was.
We clambered out of the car at the base of the wide driveway and got our first good look at the 'perfect' house. “It's… ummm… big,” I hedged and earned a smile from Kara.
“It needs some serious landscaping and plenty of cosmetic work inside and out. But the structure's sound and the price is very good. Come on.”
Before we even reached the door, it flew open to reveal a stooped old man with a walker. He eyed us shrewdly and flashed a crooked grin. “Kara, you troublemaker, good to see ya darlin'.”
“Hello Harold, these are the people Mic told you about.”
“Oh?” he intoned curiously, the bright eyes taking in mom, then Art and then me. His smile coaxed me to smile back. “You like it?”
Unsure of how to answer the blunt question, I shrugged awkwardly and sidled in closer to Art. “I haven't seen it all yet.”
Harold chuckled, “Well then come on in kiddo, and bring your folks with ya.”
I wasn't entirely certain how to take the 'folks' comment, but I did see the tension across Janet's shoulders. As I stepped forward to reassure my wife, Harold was suddenly underfoot. Old man or not, there was plenty of sly intelligence in his eyes. “MP, huh? That's a handsome dog you got there.”
“First Sergeant Artemis Goldston sir. This is Lucky.”
“I was a Marine myself, infantry.”
Unsure how to respond to the clipped, matter-of-fact way he'd said that, I remained still and respectful. The shrewdness deepened into a piercing glare. “You've seen action soldier.”
No use trying to fool him. “Yes sir. I was in Bosnia and took a grenade at close range.”
That surprised him and I was rewarded with a soft, understanding smile. “Yeah, I know how that is. Took three rounds in the South Pacific in '44. Never forget it, huh?”
“No sir,” I agreed with quiet fervor.
“Well then,” he was suddenly cheerful again and turned his attention to Janet. “What about you?”
“Captain Janet Fraiser sir. I'm a doctor at the Academy hospital.”
Janet sighed, knowing it was coming. “Yes sir.”
“Well, at least you're a doctor,” Harold complained good-naturedly and I tried not to grin in amusement.
Harold's wife Virginia was a delightful woman who was every inch his equal. After fussing over us for a moment, she gave us free rein of the house. So I grabbed Cass in one hand and my sweetie in the other to go explore.
There was a paranoid part of me that wanted to shake off Art's warm grip on my hand. We were in the company of strangers and old habits didn't die easily. The kitchen was enormous, if not hideously ugly in its sixties décor and seventies colors.
“You don't like it,” Art chuckled and threw her arms over mine and Cassie's shoulders.
“Umm,” Cass hedged and Art laughed harder.
“Okay, picture the room in a different color, maybe a soothing light green or blue, with solid, dark countertops and lots of lights in the ceiling.”
“Hell yes! Maybe big terra cotta tiles? Or hardwood?”
I was starting to see it now, the possibilities of the old room, as well as what we could do with the living room where the old couple waited and the foyer we'd passed through. Cassie began wandering around to peer in curiosity at this building that just might be her new home. When she stepped into the hallway I assumed led to the backyard, Art grabbed me in a rough hug. “Art! What're you…” It wasn't the first time my love had rendered me speechless with a kiss and it certainly wouldn't be the last.
“Relax love,” she purred softly. “I know this is unnerving, but I'm here for both of you.”
“Thank you,” I whispered and hugged her tightly. A sudden yelp sent us scrambling down the hall to find Cassie standing in a crowded, dingy room with a sliding glass door. “What's wrong?”
“Nothing! Look at the yard!” It was a massive forest of overgrown brush and trees that nearly concealed a full-sized pool. “Will Lucky like it?”
“Let's find out.”
Lucky loved the yard, wanting to stick her nose into every overgrown corner and leading us to a battered old shed full of rusty tools. That room with the glass door next to the garage was mine. I loved it. There were two small bedrooms upstairs that the twins would occupy one day. Then we peered into the dark master bedroom with its huge bathroom and I knew mom was hooked. Art seemed pleased by the house as a whole, particularly the size of the yards and the quiet, family atmosphere of the neighborhood.
“We love it!” I crowed enthusiastically at Harold and Virginia as we returned to the living room. They laughed in delight and I happily obeyed Virginia's gesture to sit beside her. “This place is so big, and you've had it for so long. Are you sure you want to go?”
“Harold and his Marine buddies built this place in 1959 when they started hollowing out Cheyenne Mountain.”
“Raised five fine children here,” Harold added proudly where he sprawled on his battered old lounge chair. “There should be children in this damn house. It's too empty.”
“When are you due sweetie?”
Mom's eyes got round and her pupils contracted in what I realized was panic. I moved to grab her hand even as Art had to restrain her protective instincts with obvious effort. She rested a hand on each of us and smiled gamely, pulling that 'doctor' control around herself like armor. “February.”
Virginia nodded sagely and the gray eyes behind the spectacles rested on me. “Are you hoping for a brother or sister honey?”
“Both,” I quipped and mom gave me a half startled and half amused look. “Mom adopted me after an accident killed my family a few years ago. The bigger the family the better.” Harold and Virginia seemed at a loss for words and Kara was gawking openly. “It's okay. I'm very happy now and I'm jazzed about siblings.”
“Twins,” mom explained softly as she wrapped me in a soft hug. It still felt a little weird to tower over her the way I was starting to. I was steadily gaining on Sam in fact. Harold suddenly smacked the arm of his chair and fired his wife a loaded look. There was a whole conversation conveyed in that long glance before Virginia nodded slowly.
“You've got the paperwork Kara?”
Startled at suddenly being addressed, Kara perked up. “Yes.”
“Then finish it kiddo. Doctor Fraiser? I hope you enjoy your new house.”
It had been a long day. Briefings, meetings, sessions with my clientele, a few minor emergencies, I'd dealt with it all in the last 13 hours.
And every time I turned around, it seemed she was underfoot. Dropping off supplies in the Infirmary, having a scraped hand looked at, directing a training exercise, chatting with pals in the Commissary, collecting Billy after his session with me.
And every time I could feel the feral burn of her magnetic eyes. It was like being stalked by a patient predator. Every move was so deliberate that all of it seemed to be a series of casual coincidences. So I spent my day on the knife's edge, far too aware of her… and far too aware of me.
A wince crossed my face as I noted the time in my car's clock. These long days were kicking my ass. Thank the goddess for Cassandra keeping track of Emily, or I'd have gone insane by now. Maybe I should have called Karen… asked her to come over for some TLC. My empty house was going to be hard to be in tonight, with my daughter and lover both away. But Karen and I seemed to have hit an impasse emotionally, the specters of her dark past and my feelings for Emily's namesake hovering over us like a dark cloud. We hadn't really discussed it, but neither of us seemed to be ready to cross that line…
When I hit the remote for the garage door nothing happened. Repeated pressing of the button and a few choice curses did not make a bit of difference. Now thoroughly pissed off, I left the car in the driveway and stormed up to the house.
Only to stop dead in my tracks upon slamming the door open.
My plain entry hall had been transformed into something that looked like a gothic altar. Glittery black cloth was draped over the table and an archaic oil lamp cast mysterious shadows. It illuminated a beautiful cut crystal vase overflowing with purple roses so dark they were almost black.
Shaken by the display, I absently shut and locked the door before approaching. The roses smelled thick and heavenly, the prefect accompaniment to my pounding heart. There was a heavy black card leaning against the vase with my name written across it in gold ink. With trembling fingers I picked it up and stared at Karen's sensual handwriting. This was going to be big… life-shatteringly important and I knew it with every fiber of my being. Long heartbeats passed until I forced myself to calm down… and turned the card over.
My dearest Darya,
There are things we have never shared, dark corners never brought to the light. You need to know all of me now. Trust me, my love, for I would never harm you. Leave your clothing here and come to me in the place where you sleep.
Again my hands shook as I remembered her riding leathers and the predatory danger I had always sensed lurking behind her innate kindness. All the time we had courted, that dangerous part of her had lain dormant, put aside like the motorcycles she loved so much. The big machines terrified me, memories of Em's death reflected in their shiny metal hides.
Yet… they were so much a part of her. So much a part of that lurking predator in her eyes that scared and thrilled me. Dare I? Dare I accept all that she was? Perversely, I could almost hear O'Neill taunting, “dare ya!”
The smile that crept across my face clinched it. I trusted her implicitly and was willing to prove it. As I began to strip, the trembling grew in anticipation of what was going to be one hell of a ride.
When the car pulled into the driveway, my guts clenched into complicated knots of nervous tension. I was terrified that this would push her too far, terrified to have the cool psychiatrist standing aloof from the feral needs inside me. I so badly needed to coax out the warm, sexy woman under that glass-calm exterior and make her completely mine.
Once and for all I needed to believe that Emily's ghost did not stand between us. There was still a part of me that railed and cursed the woman who held such a sacred place in Darya's heart. Only deep soul searching had brought me to a point where I could meet that ghost in peace. I would be the worst kind of fool not to acknowledge that Darya would always love Em and the beautiful child who bore her name. I would never replace that love and was now certain enough with myself and my lover to understand that I didn't want to replace that deep love. I wished to create a new place in Darya's heart, to be a part of her and little Emily's lives. So tonight there would be no more pretenses between us, she would see all of me, the good and the bad.
I had lain on this bed for hours and sifted through my memories. Not just my own, but what Darya had told me of that deep love that she had lost. I had pulled down a picture from the hallway and even now glanced again at the image of them, happy and laughing in the sunlight. At last I had made peace with Emily and this house full of memories, felt the calmness in my soul. I had sprawled out onto the bed and let the memories sweep me away until I had heard the car.
It was suddenly stifling hot in my oldest and most beloved suit of leathers. So much had happened to me in this armor of hide and memories. Scooting down the end of the bed, I took one last glance at the picture before setting it aside. Running my fingers through my loose hair, I reached deep inside for that calmness I had found… and waited.
A long beat passed while I stood outside my bedroom and tried to find some calm. Faint light radiated out from beneath the door, but there was only silence. Then the anticipation became too much and the door clicked open at my touch.
I was frozen in place, only able to stare. The heavy leathers were bulky on her, hinting coyly at what lay beneath. They glittered darkly in the dozens of candles around the room, their color a deep russet brown that was almost black. The white shirt stood out shockingly against the darkness of the leathers and the unfamiliar black comforter on the bed. That glorious flaming hair cascaded over the dark hide and framed her lowered face. Her gloved hands were draped loosely on her bent knees, the thin calfskin tight against her fine hands. Ever so slowly she shifted, the well-loved leather creaking ever so softly and I saw the emerald eyes peer at me calmly.
Like a moth to a flame, I was drawn into the room by her heat. When she moved, the leather spoke softly and made me shiver reflexively. One gloved hand reached out to point a remote to a corner and soft, intense music wafted through the room.
“Come here,” the low voice purred softly, the predator lurking in her tone. I was helpless to resist. As I came to a halt between her knees, those hands raised to touch my nervous tummy, feather-soft. Like the flutter of butterfly wings, they brushed over my flesh. It was an astonishing sensation as the buttery kidskin felt so different and yet so similar to her familiar touch. Then Karen began to speak in a low, hypnotic tone.
“I made peace with Emily today. It wasn't easy, but…” With a start of surprise, I realized that she didn't mean the baby. When the gemstone eyes met mine, there was a sharp clarity of purpose there that shook me. “Now I'm ready for you to know all of me.”
Both hands flattened against my belly and I grabbed her shoulders for balance. They quickly wrapped around my hipbones as I hissed in reaction to the full sensation of their texture and heat. What little sanity I still possessed was lost as she mapped me with those rough-gentle hands. Every caress was different, delicate one moment, heavily pressing my flesh against my bones the next. All I could do was grab handfuls of the cloth-soft leather and go along for the ride.
“So beautiful,” I heard her murmur thickly and my knees started to buckle as she felt the long muscles of my tense thighs. Instantly, both thumbs were pressed into the baby-soft flesh where hip and leg joined. “Ah ah,” she purred. “On your feet. I'm not done with you yet.”
Indeed, I found out that she had barely begun! Thumbs still hooked into the pulsepoints on either side of my sex, she leaned in to press kisses to my belly. Like her hands, the caresses of mouth, teeth and tongue ranged from the barest brush to almost painful. From the silky touch of just the tip of her tongue to the sharp nip of teeth, she marked me as hers. It was impossibly sensual and effective, this feral seduction.
As I began to whimper and cry out from the stimulation, Karen suddenly growled and surged to her feet, gathering up my small frame as she rose. I threw arms and legs around her and only then did our mouths meet, crushed together in a kiss that burned like fire in my veins. The bulk of the leathers against my naked skin, blunting the lines of her muscular body, was an amazing sensation. The kiss was broken only long enough for her to settle both our bodies onto the bed, her weight pinning me heavily. Sensation was fractured and all consuming, hands and mouth, her body covering mine… Then a gloved hand slid between my legs and deep inside.
Illicit and shocking, the touch shattered through me, her demanding mouth swallowing my cries of release. Never had anyone dredged up such powerful reactions, forced me to feel so much, so fast.
Delirious and disoriented, I stared up into her shadowed eyes and finally saw it all. All her pain and joy and fear and strength and love. All of it wrapped up in this one multifaceted woman, as loving as a teddy bear and fierce as a protective grizzly. She loved me… us… the reality of that burst over me with a flood of emotions and tears that I was powerless to stop.
For I had learned to love again.
“Tell me again how in the name of God I let those apes get involved in this?” My wife griped and, while I didn't dare laugh, Mac certainly felt no compunction to contain herself. Amazing how much destruction a quartet of Marines could wreak.
“Hon, it was just the coffee table. Bob already said he'd get it replaced,” I soothed and Janet subsided with a grumble.
“I've gotten attached to my things. It wasn't something I could afford to do until I was assigned here.”
The Marines had been invaluable if not a tad… enthusiastic. Thank God my squad was there as well, or we might not have a stick of furniture left. With the herd of Shepherds in the back yard, the K9 officers were pitching in as well. Leaving Mac to keep the boys on a short leash, I dragged Janet into the backyard for some peace and quiet. SG3 and the SGDs had spent the last three weeks with Cass and I and the rest of SG1 clearing out the backyard. It was huge without all the choking underbrush, even if it looked empty now. But I had found the perfect cuddle spot right within the first few days of all that work. A thick grove of trees way in the back of the property had the perfect gap in the center where a sturdy hammock now resided.
“We don't have time Art,” Janet whined as I patted each dog on the nose to reassure him or her of our presence in the big yard. Once they had each sniffed us over, I tugged at Janet until she was cuddled up against me in the hammock. While her brain might be objecting, her body was more than willing to melt into my side. It was an unseasonably warm day in the mid-fifties and we would be fine for a while here.
“We have all the time in the world love,” came out on a purr and Janet burrowed closer. It was such a thrill to feel the firming bulge of the twins whenever she cuddled into me. There was no mistaking Janet as anything but pregnant at this point in time, even in the thick down jacket that we'd swiped from Daniel. It was the only thing that didn't constrict her anymore while she was in the cold. At the rate she was swelling up, she would be in Teal'c's jacket before too long. “Y'know, I never thanked you.”
Janet stirred against me and yawned. “For what?”
“Giving me a family.”
Ah, I truly adored that soft smile and the way it made her dark eyes dance. “My pleasure ahn-dhras.”
It still amazed me how well this deeply layered woman knew me. Beautiful, smart, loving and loyal, she was all I wanted or needed in a mate. The new life stirring in my body was a gift that defied all odds and left me unutterably grateful to Art for everything. The twins would bring an aspect of family to us that I never expected and wasn't entirely certain how to adapt to this new chapter in my life. How does any woman adapt to the idea of being pregnant for the first time? Art was kissing and nuzzling my crown, giving me a welcome excuse to catch her smiling mouth in a slow kiss. “Damn shame we've got so much company,” I breathed after long moments lost in her taste and feel.
“Later ahgahpee mou. We'll christen our new house tonight, or tomorrow if we're too tired.” Another sweet kiss warmed me. “I promise.” Raised voices caught our attention, one of them obviously Harold's. “Sounds like Cassie's new grandpa is out there haranguing the Marines. Good. Shall we go cheer him on?”
Not only had Harold and Virginia arrived, but Sam's battered Jeep was pulling up as well. The passenger door opened and a strange young man I vaguely recognized stepped out to squint up at the sun. “It's beautiful!” He called out happily, an odd accent obvious in his voice. All of us paused as Sam and Daniel piled out of the Jeep with various levels of fondness and amusement on their faces. The former lit up when she saw us and trotted over to say hello.
“Sorry I'm late, I…”
Art grabbed her in a rough bear hug that made Sam squeak and praised her lovingly. “You're here, that's all that matters. Who's your friend?”
A gesture had the strange man bouncing happily over to Sam. He was slim and good-looking in that almost girlishly beautiful way, with long inky hair in dreadlocks. His features were smooth yet angular, and his skin deeply bronzed. The contrast of his darkness with Sam's pale coloring when she threw an arm around his shoulders, reminded me of my two favorite women together. “Art, this is Skaara. Skaara, this is my best friend Art I told you about.”
Immediately, Art lit up in delight as she recognized the name as quickly as I did. “Very pleased to meet you Skarra, I've heard all about you,” she enthused and he had obviously been coached on the handshake ritual.
“Sam told me of you as well. I have come to assist in any way that I can.”
Something passed between Art and Skarra, a spark of an understanding that made no sense from the outside. “Happy to have you here. Have you met the others?”
“Have any of you eaten?”
“Ummm,” Sam hedged and earned smiles.
“I'll take that as a no. C'mon then, let's get you fed and put to work, huh?”
Keeping hold of Skaara's hand and tucking Sam into a loose headlock, Art headed for my car where the coolers of lunchmeat and beers were. Young Skaara eyed his sandwich curiously until Sam laughed and gestured to where Daniel was eating his enthusiastically. Art kept poking Sam in the ribs when she tried to eat, eliciting giggles I could hear all the way across the big front yard. The women were so much fun to watch together, like playful wolf packmates that were only serious when it came to business. The other soldiers drifted over to be introduced and grab a breather while Virginia dawdled over to join me at my little corner of the sprawling porch. “How are you doing sweetie?”
“Okay,” I grinned at the elderly woman and gestured to the collapsible chair beside me. “Just wishing I could help out more.”
“I'm sure your family understands.”
I knew they did, but it still felt odd to just sit back while the big moving truck was unloaded. Until the furniture was in place and we could get to the boxes, I was pretty much useless. Over the last week or so, the Marines had been invaluable in upgrading the deserted house. Painting, knocking out a few walls, some rewiring and new plumbing, they had been tireless and uncomplaining. I was dying to try out my new bathroom upstairs, with its oversized whirlpool tub and deep plush carpeting. That, and my hormones were boiling like a teenager. I was horny enough to be ogling nearly every straining and sweaty body that paraded about my new home. Poor Art might not survive the night…
It was done. At least as much as this kind of upheaval could be done in the course of one day. Everything owned by Janet, Cassandra and Art was within the confines of this building. Amazing how much crap had accumulated in the almost year and a half since Cassie had come into our lives. Thankfully, the teen seemed to be handling the move with little stress. Only a few minutes ago she'd happily kissed us all goodnight and pranced off to her new room. Now I was alone in the disarrayed living room with Bob sprawled into the couch beside me. As though sensing I was suddenly aware of him, Bob looped an arm around my neck and tugged me into his strong body. “Hey baby,” he rumbled softly. “I'm glad to see you.”
My sudden yawn made him chuckle and shift our bodies around on the couch. Now I was spooned against his larger body to be cuddled warmly. “Sorry,” I murmured through the sleep dragging me down.
“Sorry nothin',” was murmured reassuringly in my ear with a gentle kiss. “I like just holding you. Now sleep and I'll see you in the morning.”
Cloudy sunlight and soft sounds woke me what seemed like minutes later. Before I even opened my eyes, I knew it was Art. In all my life, I had never been so aware of another person, the way I always was with her. As comfortable as I was curled up with Bob, I really needed to see her. “Stay,” I murmured as Bob stirred in response to my getting up. He subsided with a gentle kiss, but grumbled at me to come back soon.
Art was standing at the big bay window, watching the sun grow rosy in the sky. A pensive expression floated in the steam from her coffee. “Do you miss her?”
Somehow I knew that she meant my mother. “All the time.” After a moment of hesitation, I gave in to the impulse to step into Art's personal space and wrap my arms around her waist. “It never goes away.”
“I miss them Sam,” Art whispered, her tone aching. She had spoken a few times about losing her parents in the car accident, but had always seemed so matter-of-fact about it. I should have known better and squeezed her ribcage tightly. There were fingers skritching my scalp as we stood in a heavy quiet. “Despite the fact that I could have never told my folks the truth about the twins…”
“They would have loved them anyway.”
Art sighed and gave me a gentle and affectionate head-butt that set us both giggling softly.
“You're the best Sam,” I whispered and she buried her face in my neck in embarrassment. “Deny it all you want, it won't change how I feel. You hungry?”
“Yeah,” came her soft reply, but neither of us made any move to separate. “In a little while.”
Time stretched on, meaningless, as we watched the sun rise. Eventually, Sam started to grow heavy against my back and I gently shooed her back to Bob's arms with a ruffle to the gold hair. That left me to return to my beloved and wait for our day to truly begin.
Smile and Say Boo!
“C'mon woman,” I bellowed down the hallway and ignored the amused and annoyed glances from my fellow soldiers. “You promised Cassandra and Skaara!”
“I'm coming! I'm coming!”
“I don't want to know about your personal life, just hurry up!”
Chuckles sounded around the hallway as I grinned and continued on my errand. Sam would be done soon enough or I'd drag her butt out of the mountain. How I loved being her friend, not just because I adored her, but it also gave me a chance to sass someone with gold on their shoulders. By the time I wrapped up my paperwork for the security detail and headed back, Sam was wandering down the hallway, shrugging into her jacket. “You ready?”
“Yeah. Let's do this.”
Despite the chaos of moving and having half the household still in boxes, Cass was determined to go trick-or-treating. In her enthusiasm, she had both befriended Skaara and gotten him just as enthusiastic to celebrate his first earth holiday. I had a suspicion that part of that was due to Emily's enthusiasm for her new 'big brother'. The house was lit cheerfully in the fading dusk, the Jack o' lanterns flickering and crepe paper ghosts fluttering in the winter-bare trees. “This place looks great. The kids did a great job decorating. I wonder if they're ready to go. Let's ring the doorbell and give them a surprise.” Chuckling in delight, I trotted to the door and poked the bell.
“You goof,” Sam chuckled as she wandered up behind me. The door clicked open and I was forced to chuckle at my wife in her cheesy kitty ears and painted on whiskers.
“Trick or treat!” Sam and I crowed in stereo, causing Janet to laugh in delight.
“Well look at this, a pair of cute soldiers,” Janet flirted outrageously and we both grinned. Then, from under the bowl of candy, came an icy stream of water to arc across my cheekbones and Sam's chest. “Trick,” Janet smirked evilly and showed us the hidden squirt pistol while we could only gawk in astonishment.
Our howls of laughter drew out the kids to have their costumes cooed over and admired. Skaara had bonded with both Emily and Cassandra as though they had been his sisters for life. It was heartening to see him bond to new people, even as I remembered shooting Amounet and cringed. Sha're had been dead for a long time before my gun had taken her life, and I had gained Daniel's forgiveness, but I could never forget what I had been forced to do.
Luckily, this handsome young man who could have been my brother, understood what it was to be a Goa'uld all too well. There was no question that he didn't hold my actions against me. I still remembered his words as we'd discussed his sister's death while unpacking.
“Better dead than a slave.”
“Unca Art!” Was my only warning as Emily toddled around the corner to attack my knees. “Look! Line King!”
“Ooof,” I chuckled and scooped Emily up to be admired. She was so proud of the blonde lioness suit that her mom had managed to track down and tailor to size. “You look just like Nala sweetie.”
“Grrrr,” Emily growled and we laughed. “Look! 'Imba!”
So that's what she'd gotten Skaara to do. Daniel was behind him dressed as Mufasa, and Cassie as another lioness. “C'mon Sam, let's go get the hyena suits on.”
With Teal'c as Rafiki the baboon, Darya as yet another lioness and Karen as the third hyena, we were suited up and ready to entertain the kids. It was going to be a great night.