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rocketfic | catch me in a dream

Title: Catch Me in a Dream by Rocketchick
Rating: 15+ Pairing: Sam/Janet
Notes: Part 4 of 9 of the Ancient Air Series. Sequel to As One Hand.

What did Sam dream about?

Janet Fraiser lay stretched out on her bed in the early morning light, propped up on one elbow while she watched the beams from the bedroom windows stretch across her lover's somnolent form and threaten wakefulness. She'd discovered that watching Sam sleep was one of the true pleasures of life. It meant they were home, that they were safe...

That they were together.

It had been six months since they'd become lovers. They'd settled into a comfortable routine of sorts, spending almost every night together when they were both on-world, almost always in Janet's bed.

The doctor had developed the habit of waking up just a bit before the alarm that would rouse the blonde to get on with her day, and she would watch Sam sleep, getting to know this woman in a way wholly different than when they were both awake.

Sam's eyes alone were practically a force of nature, brightly studying everything around her, broadcasting curiosity, delight, sadness... Janet had seen countless people's thought processes get completely derailed the second those eyes landed on them. Government officials, handsome alien diplomats, brilliant scientists the galaxy over, all left sputtering under the grace of Sam's intent gaze.

Janet had called the phenomenon to the blonde's attention in the base commissary one day, after some poor airman nearly stabbed himself in the nose with a fork when Sam asked him to pass the salt. Of course Sam had immediately denied it, and ducked her head with a furtive blush, eating her lunch without further comment.

In the early morning, while those eyes were still closed, Sam became an entirely new person to discover. Her brow furrowed a bit when she dreamed, her breathing changed, sometimes she murmured incoherently. What images did her eyes chase under the lids?

Could her brain even conjure anything that compared to the incomprehensibly amazing stuff she saw every day?

Dark eyes flicked over to the digital clock next to the bed, and Janet quickly calculated how long it would take them both to shower, get dressed, make sure Cassie was on her way to school, then get to base for duty. They had a little time yet, she decided with a smile.

She let her hand wander under the sheet, feeling the softness of the body-warmed fabric brush along her arm. Her hand came to rest on Sam's stomach, the surface contracting a bit under the touch. She let her fingers splay and wander across Sam's naked skin, tracing idle patterns, feeling the muscles underneath gain tension by degrees as Sam began to wake.

Janet's fingers danced lightly just below Sam's left breast, causing a low chuckle to rumble beneath her hand. "That tickles," Sam complained mildly, blinking a bit and smiling up at Janet with sleepy adoration.

The doctor herself was hardly immune to those amazingly blue eyes, and she found she could do little but smile back. She ducked her head to claim a good morning kiss, then pulled away a bit. Sam took a quick look at the clock. "It's early," she murmured.

"Yeah," the brunette answered. "I wanted to be with you."

Sam tilted her head, inhaling loudly through her nose as she stretched out her long limbs. "But I was right here," she said on the exhale.

"Not the same," Janet insisted. "Not unless you know I'm here too."

At that, the blonde's face split in a charmed grin. "Mmm. Sentimental-Janet. Not something you see every day." One hand freed itself from the covers to reach up and tangle her fingers in the unruly hair poking out at Janet's temple. "I was dreaming about you."

The brunette leaned into the caress and closed her eyes. "Really?"

"Yup. Something about blue Jell-O and bendy straws. It was kinky."

Janet chuckled, and scooted on the bed to curl up against Sam's side, resting her head on the blonde's shoulder. Long arms wrapped around her obligingly, and the brunette hummed with pleasure as she was drawn closer to Sam's warm body.

For several contented minutes they snuggled together before the alarm went off, and the blonde reluctantly extricated herself from Janet's embrace to pad off into the bathroom to shower. Janet flopped backward on the bed and regarded the ceiling. Her life had changed so much so quickly, sometimes it made her head spin just to think about it.

Just six months earlier, they'd discovered an ancient mystery and each other all at the same time, almost as if choreographed by some omniscient hand. Together they'd overcome the clumsy machinations of the Goa'uld that had nearly undone the Universe, then their friendly neighborhood alien prophet implied it was all merely a warm-up, as if there was something even more dramatic to come.

Ever since Janet had waited for the other cosmic shoe to drop. But as the weeks wore on, she'd gradually stopped seeing obscure prophecy scrawled across every casual event, and decided that whatever it was the Universe expected of them, it could damn well wait. In the meantime, she was happy, and truly in love for the first time in her life.

A tousled blonde head poked out of the bathroom door. "I think there could be room in this shower for another person... Know anyone who might be interested?"

Janet smirked.

As SG-1's missions went, this one had started out ordinarily enough.

They'd arrived at P7X-943 that afternoon to take a look around after a MALP revealed a slightly overgrown path from the local Stargate into the surrounding woods. Further exploration revealed a small village of a few hundred people, living in a feudal style Daniel compared to the middle ages on Earth.

After the obligatory "No, we're not really a manifestation of the divine" explanation, the team was allowed to mix among the peaceful villagers freely. Sam noticed that for humans living in relatively primitive conditions, they were remarkably healthy, vital people. She sought out an apprentice to the village apothecary, who explained that they relied on the local plant life for medicines. It didn't take long for her to convince Colonel O'Neill that a certain CMO would undoubtedly be interested in collecting some samples.

An hour later Janet was stepping through the local Stargate and looking around at the forest. "Major Carter," she said dryly as the wormhole behind her disengaged and Sam stepped closer to escort her to the village. "One might suspect you had an ulterior motive for getting me out here."

"Never," Sam answered with a grin, as she relieved Janet of some of the supplies she carried. She turned toward the path that led to the village. "C'mon, it's really pretty."

They decided to make the most of the beautiful scenery and the quiet walk, chatting and strolling casually through the forest like they were just two ordinary lovers out on a date.

A very well armed and kevlar-reinforced date.

In a forest on an alien planet.

Janet couldn't help but smile.

"Oh, Cassie called me earlier," the brunette said as she regarded the peacefully swaying trees around them. "Do you remember Dominic? He asked her to the homecoming dance."

Sam's blue eyes narrowed. "I don't like that kid."

Janet grinned and bumped her shoulder into the blonde's arm.

"What? He's scuzzy."

Janet laughed. "You're so cute."

"Mm," the blonde grunted with a scowl. "Well, he better be nice to her."

"Tell you what. When he comes over to pick her up, you can sit on the porch with your P90 and growl at him."

At that, Sam perked up a bit, and a perfectly evil smile crossed her face as she began devising ways to torture the young man foolish enough to seek their daughter's attentions.

A faint whine in the air overhead drew Sam up short. She tipped her head back, unable to see more than a small patch of blue sky through the canopy of the forest. Janet stopped a step after she did, looking back at the blonde in curiosity.

"What's wrong?" Janet asked.

"Carter!" came the voice of Colonel O'Neill through the comm. "We've got company!"

The sound she'd heard was a Goa'uld death glider, Sam realized suddenly. For a second she stared at Janet, facing for the first time the dilemma of ensuring her lover's safety off world. Should she send the doctor back to the gate alone? Should she lose valuable time that could be spent helping the rest of her team by making sure Janet got to the gate safely? Or should she risk Janet's life by having her come along?

As would probably often occur in their relationship, Janet's tendency toward instant decisiveness won out. The doctor dropped the bulk of her sampling equipment at the side of the path, then took the containers Sam had been carrying as well. "Let's go," she said grimly, jerking her chin toward the path.

Sam nodded and took off running, with Janet following just a few paces behind.

It turned out to be one large ship flanked by three death gliders, which Sam and Janet observed as they hid out near the perimeter of the village. A dozen or so Jaffa were herding the natives into buildings, and they spotted a disarmed Daniel Jackson among the prisoners. Sam hoped that meant Colonel O'Neill and Teal'c had been captured alive as well.

"I don't see any casualties," Sam said as she handed Janet her binoculars. The brunette confirmed her observation with relief. "The Goa'uld must think they need these people alive. Wonder why."

They were moving closer for a better view when Sam caught sight of a pair of Jaffa patrolling the edge of the forest. Unfortunately, the Jaffa in turn caught sight of them about two seconds later.

"Get down!" Sam grabbed a fistful of Janet's uniform and hauled the brunette to the ground just as a staff weapon blast sliced through the air where her head had been. Sam shot off a quick burst of fire, and put one hand at Janet's back. "Into the woods!" she yelled, giving the doctor a healthy shove.

Janet took off, running blindly through the trees, ducking errant branches and the energy blasts that crackled in the air as they zipped past her. She could hear Sam hot on her heels, and flinched whenever the blonde would turn with her P90 to lay down cover fire. Once Sam turned back a little too slowly, and caught a glancing staff blast across one shoulder. Janet skidded to a halt, feeling as much as hearing the telltale grunt of pain as Sam stumbled to the forest floor. She doubled back to the blonde's side.

Sam was barely conscious, her face screwed up with the effort of not screaming in pain. "Keep going," she panted to Janet as the doctor knelt to examine the wound. "Get back to the gate, get reinforcements."

The brunette ignored her, splitting her attention between the sluggishly bleeding injury and the crashing noises growing closer as their pursuers neared. She looked around and spotted a large felled tree nearby that was half rotted away, then decided it would be passable cover. Janet stood and hooked her hand in Sam's collar, her heart lurching at the pained gasp the action drew from the blonde. She dragged Sam over the loose ground before shoving her gracelessly into the hollow of the large log. Then she kicked dirt over their more obvious tracks and gathered some bits of loose branches and leaves and ducked in after Sam, arranging the debris behind her in what she hoped was a convincing facsimile of natural flora.

Sam's breathing was rapid and shallow against Janet's face as the doctor pressed close in the confined space under the log. The crashing noises drew even nearer, combined with the shouts of the Jaffa chasing them. Two large, armored men bounded into the clearing directly in front of them, training their weapons on the surrounding brush as they searched. Janet held her breath, watching intently from behind the flimsy cover she'd thrown together. After several agonizingly long seconds the soldiers moved on, trooping off into the forest.

Janet let her eyes drift shut as she exhaled, her body nearly going limp as the immediate tension dissipated. Sam slumped against her, letting out a heavy sigh of her own. "You shouldn't have done that," the blonde murmured. "Better they capture one of us than both of us."

"I wasn't leaving you behind," the brunette snapped as she dug through her gear, getting out field dressings and various antiseptics. She scooted around to get a better look at Sam's shoulder, examining the scorched flesh. "Looks like this mostly cauterized on impact..." she murmured as she got to work trying to treat the wound in the gentlest way possible.

While she worked, the radio attached to Sam's vest crackled to life, and they heard Colonel O'Neill complain in his trademark fashion as he was apparently manhandled by a couple of Jaffa. "How many are in the forest?" an imperious Goa'uld voice demanded.

"I have no idea what you're talking about!" O'Neill barked, followed by the distinct thud of a fist colliding with flesh. The radio transmission ended abruptly.

"He did that to tell us to keep radio silence," Sam said through clenched teeth as Janet applied a bandage to her shoulder.

Janet nodded. Three members of SG-1 captured, at least one injured. That left her as the best bet to figure out how to get them home again. She studied Sam for a moment, watching her for signs of shock, then eyed the waning light in the forest. On top of all of everything else, it was starting to rain.

Sam chuckled ruefully as the first cold drops of water splashed onto her face. "You know, it's always more fun when you come on jumps with us," she said with faint humor. For that, Janet poked her in her uninjured arm.

Several hours later the doctor picked her way through the dark forest, glad of the noise of the rain that covered her less than stealthy movements. After a bit of arguing, Sam had convinced her to scout ahead to get an idea of the activity in the village, as well as checking the gate for their escape route. Janet had found that leaving Sam behind had been nearly impossible, and she found her anxiety building with each and every step.

She was more or less following along the main forest trail, trying to stay out of sight of the passing Jaffa patrols that marched stolidly through the rain. The rain had soaked through her fatigues, and she bit back the desire to curse with every trudging step on the rough forest terrain. She finally crested the small hill that overlooked the village, noticing the sparse Jaffa guard placed around the various buildings. It didn't take long for her to cross the small space between the forest and the village unnoticed.

The doctor ducked around the corner of a stone building, wondering where to start searching for the other members of SG-1. She'd jogged down two small alleyways before hearing the familiar sound of a complaining Jack O'Neill. His voice trickled down to her from a small window set high off the ground. She looked around, found a large empty supply crate, pushed it against the wall, then climbed on top of it.

Janet peeked cautiously into the holding cell, and saw O'Neill pacing in front of thick metal bars. "Colonel?"

O'Neill whipped around and peered at the window. "Doc!" he answered in surprise, stepping across the small room to look up at her. There was a livid bruise across his jaw where he had been struck earlier. "Where's Carter?"

"Hiding out in the forest. She's injured." Janet impatiently swiped the soaked hair from her forehead. "What's going on?"

O'Neill shook his head with frustration. "Dunno. They shoved us all in here and we haven't heard a word since."

She looked around the cell, noting Daniel and Teal'c seated on the floor against the far wall. Teal'c sported a bulky field bandage across his chest. "You're hurt?"

The Jaffa shook his head. "It is not severe. Alain has treated it," he said, indicating a spindly man seated across from him, who hauled himself upright.

"I am a healer," Alain explained as he approached the window. "Perhaps I can help your friend."

Janet smiled gratefully. "I'm a healer too, I just don't have many useful supplies. She has a wound from an energy weapon, and I'm concerned about infection."

The man nodded, and reached into his robe to pull out a small jar of a crushed herbs. "This should help. Pack it into the wound and keep it as dry as possible." He stood on tiptoes to place the jar on the windowsill. A quick look at the colonel told Janet that this man could be trusted, so she reached in to grab the jar.

"Doc, you take care of Carter. Don't worry about us," O'Neill said. "We'll figure out what the Goa'uld are doing here. You guys try to get reinforcements to help spring us."

The sound of heavy marching around the corner of the building suddenly drew her attention. "Yes sir," she acknowledged, then dropped off the crate to press herself against the wall in the shadows, watching as the Jaffa passed her. She waited until they were long out of earshot, then tucked the jar into a pocket and took off running for the woods again.

She stayed parallel to the path, this time following it to the clearing where the Stargate resided. There five Jaffa stood guard, periodically pacing about the portal with alert suspicion. The MALP that had gone through with the team had been shot several times by staff weapons, and sat smoking and sparking occasionally in the rain.

What mostly drew her attention was the dismantled DHD lying in pieces next to the gate. Clearly the Goa'uld didn't want anyone leaving in a hurry. Janet muttered a curse and headed back to where she'd left Sam.

In the dark and rainy forest, it should have taken Janet a lot longer to find the exact clearing where she'd left Sam. She didn't even stop to think about it, instead instinctively following the nervous burn in her gut straight back to her lover's side.

She crawled back under the log, flicking wet hair out of her face. Sam was huddled under the rotted wood, hugging her knees to her chest and shivering, but mostly dry. "What's the situation?" the blonde asked through chattering teeth.

"They're locked up, and Teal'c's injured, but he should be okay," Janet answered as she stripped off some of her soaked outer gear. "It looks like there are five Jaffa guarding the gate."

"So there are probably more looking for us?"

The doctor tilted her head. "A couple of patrols. I think they're counting on us trying to rescue the others."

"Well, I think I can hold off five guys while you gate back to Earth and get reinforcements."

A grimace. "They took apart the DHD, Sam. I don't know if it's usable."

Sam's head tipped back, and she blew out a frustrated sigh. "Great. Like we needed another challenge."

Janet smiled faintly and reached up to run a hand along Sam's brow, feeling the unnatural heat pouring off her skin. "How are you feeling?" Sam just shrugged miserably and shivered a bit harder. "All right, come here," the brunette said as she shifted a bit, pulling Sam closer while being careful not to jar her injured shoulder. The taller woman ended up curled up in her lap, hunching closer to the inviting body heat.

The doctor pulled out the jar of crushed herbs Alain had given her, and lifted the field bandage on Sam's shoulder to spread some of the mixture across the charred wound. "Your apothecary friend passed this along. I'm hoping it's a natural antibiotic." The blonde grit her teeth as the rough texture abraded exposed nerves. "Try to get some rest," Janet said after she'd resecured the dressing. "I'll keep watch."

"We need to get them out of there..." Sam slurred in token protest.

"For the moment, they're okay, and they're dry," Janet countered. "Which is more than I can say for us." She tucked an arm around Sam's middle, hugging her a bit closer. She dipped her head to place a kiss at Sam's temple. "Get some rest."

Sometime later Sam fell into a fitful and feverish sleep, and lay shivering in Janet's arms. The doctor stood valiant watch, keeping her eyes on the clearing beyond the log and sorting through the various sounds of the forest to convince herself that nothing threatening lurked nearby. After a while the rain tapered off, taking most of the chill out of the air and allowing their combined body heat to make some progress against the fever wracking Sam's body.

Janet spent a couple hours concocting elaborate rescue plans, all of which unfortunately consisted of a healthy Sam coming up with some ingenious idea that would save them all. As the night wore on, the blonde's fever grew worse, and Janet struggled to keep her own worries at bay. She unwound one hand from around Sam to paw through her pack and dig out some MREs and a canteen, and munched the tasteless ration thoughtfully.

Sam probably would have been safer had she been caught, the doctor realized with some annoyance. Alain could have treated her wound, and she'd be in a relatively dry cell with the other members of SG-1. And while from a purely tactical standpoint they'd all have been better off if she'd left Sam behind and bolted for the Stargate when she had the chance, she could no sooner have left Sam injured and in danger than she could sprout wings and fly. Janet sighed and curled herself more securely around the blonde, trying to share as much comfort as she could.

The doctor fought to stay awake, to stand sentinel over her injured lover, but sometime in the small hours of the night she lost the battle with her fatigue and she slumped against Sam in exhausted slumber. Her dreams echoed with ominous voices, but when she jerked awake at dawn, none of the words stayed with her.

In her arms Sam twitched, mumbling in her sleep. Janet hugged her fiercely and began to hum, some old lullabye she used to sing for Cassie when the girl had had nightmares. Sam eventually quieted, then her eyes opened blearily.

"Hey there," the brunette murmured, smiling down at the injured woman in her arms. "Feeling any better?"

Sam blinked. "Better," she confirmed with some surprise.

Janet pressed a hand to the other woman's brow. "I think your fever's broken," she breathed in relief. She tipped her canteen to Sam's parched lips, allowing her to take several swallows of water.

The blonde shifted, then hissed in pain as the wound on her shoulder made sharp contact with a rough surface on the rotted log. Her head lolled against Janet's shoulder, and she sighed. "Thanks for looking out for me."

"Always," Janet vowed, pressing her cheek against Sam's hair.

They rested for a few minutes longer until the alien dawn began to illuminate the woods surrounding them.

"So do you have a brilliant plan yet?" Sam asked.

"Well, we need to figure out why the Goa'uld came here, and what they're after."

"And why they're keeping the villagers alive," Sam continued thoughtfully.

"Right." Janet cocked her head. "How long until the SGC gets curious about us?"

"If we don't report in by 1500, they'll open the wormhole and try to make contact with the MALP."

"Which has been blasted to bits," Janet interjected.

"After that, they'll wait another twenty four hours and try again. If they still get no response they'll send another MALP to assess the situation and decide if a backup team needs to come looking for us."

"So we either need to hide out until the cavalry shows up, and hope that in the meantime nothing bad happens to the the guys or the other prisoners..." Janet began.

"Or we assume the Goa'uld will treat their presence as a threat, then get rid of them and accelerate whatever plans they have for this place accordingly," Sam concluded.

They shared a grim look, knowing full well which was the more likely scenario. Janet's dark eyes swept over Sam in muted anguish. Sam was far paler than normal, and despite the few hours of sleep she still looked utterly drained.

Sam forced a smile in response to the doctor's scrutiny. "Don't take this the wrong way," she murmured, "But I'm really glad you're here. If I'd had to sleep in Colonel O'Neill's lap last night, I'd never hear the end of it."

Janet couldn't quite smile back. Instead she leaned forward to press her forehead against Sam's. "I love you," she whispered.

"Love you back," Sam answered. She disengaged herself carefully from the brunette's embrace to sit upright, managing to do so far more steadily than she'd anticipated. "Let's go."


At dawn O'Neill had been dragged by a couple of Jaffa from the holding cell and left in what looked like the village's main communal building. He kept his eyes closed, deliberately ignoring the disparaging summons of the Goa'uld, and got a solid kick in the ribs for his effort. Biting back a groan, he squinted up at his alien captor. "Well, good morning. How lovely to see you today."

"What are these?" the Goa'uld demanded, indicating a pile of equipment behind him.

The colonel studied the packs of specimen jars and medical instruments, recognizing them as stuff the Doc most likely brought with her. "Dunno," he muttered.

Another Jaffa kick to the ribs knocked the air from his lungs. He gasped and dropped his head, struggling to regain his breath.

"What are these tools used for?" the Goa'uld inquired impatiently.

"You are so asking the wrong guy," O'Neill insisted. "I couldn't tell a petrie dish from a bunsen burner."

"You were planning to study this place. Why?"

Because Samantha Carter had batted those pretty blue eyes at him and said "Please?" Jack sighed. He needed to keep some leverage against their captors, but not frustrate them enough to get himself or anyone else killed. He stared up at the Goa'uld with a small smirk, precisely measured to annoy the hell out of the alien.

"That's for me to know, and you to find out."

It worked perfectly. The Goa'uld's eyes flared a furious white, and he stomped out of the building. The colonel watched him leave, figuring he'd just bought another few hours of life. Hopefully Carter and the Doc could figure something out by then.

"Stay single file, and try to step in my tracks," Sam said as she hopped gingerly over a branch. "We're going to leave a more visible trail after the rain, but with any luck we'll keep them guessing how many of us are out here."

Janet murmured her agreement, and concentrated on stepping where Sam's feet had been. Not an easy proposition, given that her legs were several inches shorter than her lover's, but she made a valiant effort, hopping from one footprint to the next.

"We're going to need more weapons if we're going to take out those Jaffa," the blonde continued. "Maybe we can figure out where they stashed the guys' stuff and grab a couple 'zats." She paused, leaning heavily against a tree as a wave of dizziness washed over her.

The doctor was at her side in an instant. "Are you sure you're up to this?" she asked quietly as she checked Sam over once more.

"Do you have a better idea?" Sam countered.

"Yeah. You sit down before you fall down, and let me see what I can do about finding some extra weapons."

"Right, because that's exactly the kind of thing you want to leave to a doctor." As soon as the words left her mouth, Sam knew they were the wrong thing to say. She saw Janet stiffen, and immediately tried to backtrack. "Okay, wait. That's not what I meant..."

"Why is it you immediately assume I'm not capable of doing the soldier thing?" Janet growled. "If you hadn't noticed, Major, we've both been doing dangerous stuff out here for a while, and we've both spent a lot of time being trained to be able to do it."

"Janet, when we first met you barely knew which way to point an MP5," Sam pointed out sarcastically.

The sharp comment made the smaller woman physically recoil, and Janet took a few stuttering steps away.

Sam blew out an explosive sigh. Their tempers were already frayed, and sitting around pointing out each others' former inadequacies was not going to help. "Look, I didn't mean that the way it sounded. I'm sorry. Of course I think you're a perfectly capable soldier, and I trust you with my life."

The smaller woman only glowered at her, unwilling to forgive her that easily.

"And it's not that I don't think you can handle this stuff," Sam continued. She paused, considering how best to explain. "Janet, you're a doctor, and hurting people even to save others is contrary to everything you are. I'd rather not force you into that position." She watched Janet's expression carefully. "Could you do it? Kill one of those Jaffa out there to save the guys? Or me?"

"Don't think I haven't considered the inherent paradox of being a healer and a soldier, Sam," Janet snapped.

"Could you?" Sam pressed again, a bit more gently.

Dark eyes glared at her for a long moment, before dropping. "The situation's never come up. I've never had to make that choice," the brunette admitted.

"And I'm trying to help make sure that you never have to," Sam concluded. She smiled faintly, then gestured at their surroundings. "You know, this is not an ideal time to be having this conversation," she pointed out with some irony.

Janet could agree to that much. She folded her arms and met Sam's gaze. "I need you to trust that I will do whatever I can to help our team and these people."

"That was never in doubt," Sam answered easily. "But you've got trust me to do my job too. And frankly, that's going to include ignoring the fact that I'm hurt and following some orders you're probably not going to like too much."

Slowly, the brunette nodded, and the anger in her eyes faded. "Okay."

"Okay," Sam agreed. She slumped in relief, suddenly exhausted. "Now, could I possibly get a hug here? 'Cause I really do feel like crap."

That drew a little laugh from Janet, and she immediately obliged, stepping back to Sam's side to share a brief but heartfelt embrace. "Sorry for yelling at you," she murmured.

"Nah, I deserved it," the blonde replied. "And I know better. I have no doubt you would have blown Nirrti's head off if it would have saved Cassandra."

Janet's eyes dropped. "Yeah... Not one of my better moments."

"It was one of your best," Sam disagreed mildly. "You were amazing." She smiled down at her lover, then bent and planted a fond kiss on her forehead. "We need to keep moving," she said, and they resumed walking toward the village.

After a few minutes, Sam tossed her head over her shoulder to look curiously back at Janet. "So, um... that was our first real fight, wasn't it?"

"Yeah, I guess it was."

"You know," Sam continued in a speculative tone. "I've always heard that the best thing about a fight is the makeup sex."

The doctor gave her a wry look. "Incorrigible, Major. Absolutely incorrigible."

After Colonel O'Neill was hauled out of the holding cell, Daniel settled in next to Alain. "You've seen these aliens before," Daniel observed quietly.

"Three times before, since I was a little boy," the healer answered.

"What do they want with your people?"

"We are the Chosen," Alain said as if it was perfectly obvious.

"Yeah? Chosen for what?"

"For service to God," the healer elaborated, with a look that made it clear he thought Daniel a bit soft in the head.

Daniel sighed in response to the all too familiar refrain. These people, like so many other humans scattered across the galaxy, were nothing more than vessels to the Goa'uld to sustain the parasitic alien race.

"The Goa'uld are not gods," Teal'c volunteered in a low rumble from the other side of the holding cell.

Alain regarded him with some confusion. "No, of course they're not." By now, some of the other natives were leaning closer to pay attention to the conversation. The young healer cleared his throat. "They are the Scourge. They merely test our faith and our will."

Daniel looked over at Teal'c, who raised an eyebrow. This was a bit different than what they were used to.

"My grandparents still tell the story of the angels arriving from the sky to take us to this world," Alain continued.

Wait a minute. Daniel snapped back to attention. "Your grandparents?" The latest he'd ever estimated the Goa'uld being on Earth was during the Middle Ages. Maybe these people had been transplanted from a different world entirely... or maybe the Goa'uld hadn't moved these people at all.

The healer was nodding, a reverent look lighting his face. "The angels arrived from the sky in massive chariots, nearly eclipsing the sun. They walked among our people, and said that they'd determined we were the most fit, the most pure, that we must journey to a new world to thrive and serve as an example to others to eventually put an end to the Scourge."

"You're not afraid of them," Daniel observed.

"Why would we be?" a young woman near Teal'c chimed. "They cannot hurt us. They have tried before and our faith has prevailed."

"Just like the angels decreed," Alain confirmed. "And now the Others have come," he added, indicating Daniel and Teal'c. His fellow villagers murmured their agreement.

Daniel took off his glasses and wiped them idly on the tail of his shirt. Something about the healer's explanation wasn't sitting quite right. Playing a hunch, he asked, "Alain, how old are you?" He looked the man over, estimating him to be somewhere in his late twenties.

"One hundred and thirty seven summers, come the next moon," Alain answered with a smile.

"So, let me get this straight. A big part of the 'soldier thing' is lying in a puddle and waiting?" Janet asked dryly.

Sam squinted into her binoculars, making a visual sweep of the village. "We have to get a sense of the rhythm of the patrols," she said.

They were hiding in the overgrowth at the edge of the woods, almost in the exact spot they'd been the day before when the Jaffa had spotted them.

"There are three mobile patrols," Janet said. "One group of three moving up and down the path to the Stargate, making the full circuit approximately once every forty minutes. Another group of three moves along the inner streets of the village, making a circuit around the communal building every fifteen minutes. The last patrol of two moves around the outer perimeter of the buildings every half hour."

She started ticking items off on her fingers. "There are at least four stationary guards around the communal building, plus about half a dozen scattered elsewhere around the village, presumably guarding the natives. And another three that I saw guarding the prison type building where Colonel O'Neill, Daniel, and Teal'c were being held."

The blonde dropped the binoculars and stared at her companion.

"That's assuming there aren't any extra Jaffa still combing the woods for us," Janet added thoughtfully. "But I'd guess there aren't, since their numbers aren't large enough to spread around in a random search." She met Sam's stare blandly. "See, I was actually paying attention last night."

"God, and they say I'm detail oriented," Sam muttered. She tucked the binoculars away, almost managing not to wince at the twinge in her shoulder. "All right. The weapons are most likely in the communal building, where they've focused their guard. One of us will need to create a distraction so the other can get in and out of there without drawing too much attention."

"And since I'm the smallest and most mobile, that means I volunteer."

Sam dipped her head. "Yeah." It was the obvious choice to make, but it wasn't easy for her to admit it.

Janet rubbed her forearm encouragingly. "So what's the plan?"

Daniel was still talking animatedly with Alain when Colonel O'Neill was hauled back into the cell by two burly Jaffa. "We've made the Goa'uld nervous," he declared as he rubbed his bruised ribs gingerly. "Wonder what they think we know?"

"I think I've figured it out," Daniel said as he stood and moved next to the colonel. "I think these people have a genetic predisposition to reject Goa'uld symbiote implantation," he continued.

O'Neill's eyebrows shot up, and he looked around at the villagers thoughtfully. "Like that Aris Boch guy?"

"Right. And periodically the Goa'uld come here to sample the population and study them," the archeologist elaborated.

"But why don't the Goa'uld just wipe 'em out?" the colonel asked. "Anyone who can resist implantation is a threat, right?"

"These people are exceptionally long-lived for humans, O'Neill," Teal'c answered. "It is likely the Goa'uld wish to learn how to overcome their natural resistance, as they would make ideal hosts."

"But we've probably put them at all at risk by being here," Daniel pointed out. "Now that the little secret's out, the Goa'uld will probably decide it's smarter to destroy them rather than keep them around for study."

O'Neill nodded, looking around at the curious faces of the villagers as they peered up at him. Oddly, none of them seemed particularly disturbed by this revelation. He couldn't decide if that made them admirably stoic or just dimwitted. "Well, we'll worry about that once we get out of here," he said.

A sudden explosion outside made the stone walls rumble. The colonel grinned triumphantly. "Right on schedule, Carter." He pointed at Daniel. "C'mere, gimme a boost."

"Excuse me?" the archeologist stammered in surprise.

"The window's too far off the ground. Get over here so I can stand on you and see what's going on."

"Uhh... I don't think so, Jack."

"Aw, c'mon. I can't very well get Teal'c to do it, can I?" he said with an impatient gesture at the Jaffa's injury.

"I am capable of giving you a 'boost,' O'Neill," Teal'c responded as he pushed himself away from the stone wall.

"Forget it. Siddown." The colonel craned his neck, trying to get a better view out the small window. Another dull explosion echoed through the village, followed by sporadic fire from a P90. "I do like watching her work," he murmured wistfully, with a little shake of his head.

Adrenaline surged through Janet when the first explosion rumbled overhead. It was hard not to run. She stayed put, just like Sam had said to, waiting for the second blast. Once that echoed loudly past, she bolted.

Overall, the plan was pretty simple; Sam would use her remaining munitions to create a sizable diversion on the south end of the village, and hopefully lure most of the guards away from their posts. Janet was armed with Sam's 'zat, and would run in from the north and try to free the other members of SG-1.

With most of the attention successfully diverted to the other end of the village, Janet made a mad dash for the cover of the nearest building, just managing to duck into a doorway before a large Jaffa with a staff weapon pounded past her.

Sam watched the two Jaffa patrols intently through her binoculars, trying to decide the best possible time to trigger the remote detonator on the packs of plastic explosive she'd set. Finally she thumbed the release on one trigger, watching as the startled Jaffa whirled to look at the source of the noise. The second explosion was closer to the buildings, and drew the patrol on the inner ring of the village running to investigate. They converged into one group of staff wielding warriors then headed toward the treeline. She dropped the binoculars and lifted her P90, laying a spread of fire in front of the running men, making sure they could see her in the process.

She turned and bounded through the underbrush, putting her long legs to good use as she hurdled various forest debris and left a very deliberate path for the soldiers trailing her to follow. Every step sent a new wave of agony through the ragged wound on her shoulder but she kept moving, knowing she was buying time for Janet to carry out her half of the plan. She squeezed off a few more shots behind her, letting loose a feral grin as the Jaffa yelled in frustration.

Like they'd anticipated, most of the guards left their posts to investigate the source of the explosions, but a few remained behind, nervously shouting "Kree!" at each other.

The patrols had been disrupted, but Janet knew Sam had timed the explosions to ensure that the bulk of the mobile Jaffa were grouped more or less in one place, likely to break off and investigate the source of the blasts. Now the doctor heard the dull rattle of Sam's P90, drawing her pursuers deeper into the forest.

This was the part of the plan that had made her most nervous, though she would not admit as much to Sam. Here, all comfortably planned strategies of timing and prediction fell apart, and she was left to analyze the situation on her own and improvise a solution.

Now it all hinged on her. And despite any sharp-tongued protestations to the contrary, this particular aspect of the "soldier thing" left her desperately wishing she was back within the bland gray walls of her infirmary, setting broken bones and listening to Colonel O'Neill whine about... well, everything.

Janet grit her teeth and peered around the alleyway. She could no longer hear automatic weaponsfire coming from the forest, but she refused to think too much about what that might mean. Instead she closed her eyes, silently told Sam she loved her, then pushed herself out the doorway and broke into a flat run for the communal building at the center of the village.

Sam had one clip of ammo left, which she saved with the intention of taking out the Jaffa guarding the Stargate. If she could get past that clearing, she figured she could easily duck back into the woods and take cover until the rest of SG-1 showed up to clean up what was left behind.

The noises behind her had dwindled. No doubt a few of the Jaffa had broken off their pursuit, suspecting the chase to be a distraction. That was fine, by now Janet should have made her way to the center of the village, and hopefully would find the extra weapons they'd need.

With a yell she crashed out of the brush near the gate, swinging her P90 in a low arc of bullets intended to take the legs out from under the Jaffa guarding the area.

She didn't see the Goa'uld lurking on the other side of the large metal ring until it was too late, when he'd already raised his hand and pointed a ribbon device at her.

The invisible shockwave took her off her feet, tossing her hard into a solid tree trunk and knocking her weapon from her hands. Sam slid dazedly to the leaf litter as Jaffa crowded around her, leveling their staves at her head.

As she lost consciousness she swore she could hear Janet say she loved her.

There were only three guards between Janet and the center of the village, and she took them down with well-placed shots from her 'zat. In the back of her mind she made a mental note to thank Sam for her insistence on ongoing weapons training. A few years previous she couldn't have hit the broadside of Cheyenne mountain.

Finally she crouched in the door of the communal building, catching her breath. Neither she nor Sam had been sure what to expect inside.

Sam's instructions at this point had been blunt: Shoot anything that moves. Hope like hell the Goa'uld isn't in there waiting with an energy shield.

Janet kicked the door open, staying low as she ducked into the opening. One Jaffa in front of her spun to face her, too slowly. She missed once, but took him down on the second try. The commotion drew two other guards, and she knelt quietly behind a pillar until they crossed her line of fire. Three down.

The communal building reminded the doctor of a church without the pews, sort of a large cavernous space punctuated by thick stone columns. She crept along the outer wall slowly, trusting the flaring instinct that told her the building was still not safe. If she could have heard over her own thundering heartbeat and labored breathing, she would have noticed the rasping echo that the booted Jaffa feet made on the stone floor behind her.

She literally smelled the burn in the air from the energy blast as it whizzed past her head, then she dropped to one knee and spun around. There was something to be said for being a small target; she raised the 'zat and fired before the Jaffa had a chance to even adjust his aim.

Janet pushed herself to her feet and looked around the hall, her chest heaving from exertion. Four Jaffa warriors lay sprawled unconscious on the floor, with no others in sight. After a long moment her knees buckled, and she sank to the ground again to fight off a sudden bout of nausea. She allowed herself the luxury of about a minute to fight off the nagging shakiness, then forced herself to get up and moving again.

"Janet Fraiser, action hero," she muttered disgustedly under her breath. She shook her head to clear it and set about looking for the team's weapons.

First Prime Gana'l gripped his staff tightly as he took cautious steps down the village road. Almost all of his comrades were off in the woods or incapacitated, and he hadn't even seen the shol'va who'd done it. He would certainly be punished for this horrific failure, if not killed.

But he was going to take those accursed Taur'i with him.

He stormed into the holding area and pointed his staff at O'Neill menacingly. "Their efforts to rescue you will be in vain," the large man growled as he thumbed the control to charge the end of the weapon.

Gana'l suddenly jerked and writhed as he was struck by a bolt of bluish energy that made him collapse to the stone floor.

The colonel breathed a small sigh of relief. "Nice timing," he called, as booted heels bounded down the hallway to the cell. He blinked a bit when he saw the diminutive Doctor Fraiser and not his 2IC trot into view, laden with weapons and radios she'd retrieved from the communal hall. "Doc?"

"No time, sir. They're following Sam." She fired a few shots at the heavy lock on the door to the cell, then kicked the barred door out of the way, dumped the guns and comms in the colonel's hands, and took off again.

O'Neill hefted his own P90, handed a couple sidearms to Daniel, and tossed the dropped staff to Teal'c. "Secure the village," he ordered crisply, then ran after the doctor.

How exactly did someone with such short legs move so damn fast?

Janet was leaving the village and pelting madly toward the forest by the time O'Neill got out of the building, and he set off after her. "Doc!" he yelled, watching as without even breaking stride she fired a couple shots to take down two Jaffa that happened to be in her way. "Dammit," he growled as he charged down the path, hoping she could avoid getting herself killed until he caught up with her.

The ribbon device glowed a malicious amber as the Goa'uld used it to bombard Sam's skull with cruel energies. She gasped in agony as the waves assaulted her.

"How did the Taur'i find this place?" the alien demanded.

Sam's wrists were bound, and she was on her knees before the Stargate and her Goa'uld captor as he conducted his brutal interrogation.

"I don't know what you mean," the blonde panted, when the ribbon device was diverted briefly away from her.

"The Stargate coordinates of this planet are a secret," the alien continued. "It exists on no Goa'uld map, in no Goa'uld records. Not even the System Lords know of its existence. But yet, you are here." The stone at his palm flared again. "How?"

If it hadn't hurt so much, she could have answered. They'd found this world on a star chart left behind on the old homeworld of their friends the Eloyim. It was one of dozens of systems they'd added to their dialing computer and explored. They hadn't the faintest idea it was remotely important.

The pain was relentless, clawing along her nerves and eating away at her mind. It was going to kill her, Sam knew, but she couldn't let that happen just yet.

Janet was coming. Janet would save her. In the face of that blinding pain, it was all she could remember.

O'Neill was still ten paces behind the doctor when they hit the clearing housing the gate. He saw Carter, on her knees in front of that bastard Goa'uld, and saw Fraiser swerve to aim herself for them. The colonel skidded to a halt, opening up with his P90 at the remaining Jaffa around the gate. Their staves were raised uncertainly at the incoming brunette, but she was too close to their master to risk firing.

As the last of the Jaffa crumpled lifelessly to the ground, O'Neill swung around to yell at the doctor, to warn her not to bother using the 'zat against the Goa'uld's energy shield. She'd already discarded the weapon, and instead pulled a standard field knife from her belt.

The doctor launched herself at the Goa'uld, who roared in protest as she crashed into him, disengaging the ribbon device and knocking him to the ground. She rolled past him, her momentum carrying her through a couple tumbles in the dirt, then she reared up and staggered back over his prostrate body. With one knee pressed into his back, she raised her field knife over him, and plunged it with a snarl into the top of his spine, severing spinal cord and symbiote with one vicious strike.

He twitched once and fell still.

Later, Colonel O'Neill would swear it had actually happened in slow motion, because it was the damnedest thing he'd ever seen.

Janet pushed herself off the dead Goa'uld, leaving the knife embedded in his neck.

It was over, and now her body was slowly starting to realize it. The adrenaline that kept her going long past her normal point of endurance faded, and exhaustion made every part of her start to shake. She rallied long enough to get to Sam and undo the bindings around her wrists.

The blonde collapsed against her, utterly spent by her own injury and the torture she'd endured. Janet got her arms around the other woman and just hung on, while Sam buried her face in Janet's shoulder and released a ragged sigh of relief.

The colonel took a few steps toward the two women, intending to see if they were okay and to pat Fraiser on the back for a job well done, but the intimacy of their embrace stopped him in his tracks. They were clinging to each other, murmuring words he couldn't hear. Words he wasn't meant to hear.

Suddenly a lot of things about the past few months made a whole hell of a lot more sense. Swiftly aborted conversations when he wandered into Carter's lab late at night and found the two women working together on some new theory. Their laughter at in-jokes he was never privy to. A couple odd remarks Daniel had made on Sam's last birthday, when O'Neill had threatened to kidnap his 2IC and force some fun on her. Sam was positively beaming the next day, saying she'd had a wonderful time spending a quiet evening with Janet and Cassie.

Now he knew why.

His P90 suddenly felt like it weighed a hundred pounds. "I... I'll just..." he stammered awkwardly, and hooked a thumb over his shoulder, knowing they weren't paying the slightest bit of attention to him. He spun on his heel and started to walk back down the wooded path. Teal'c and Daniel were jogging toward him, looking around for any remaining threat.

"Everything okay?" Daniel asked.

"Yeah," O'Neill answered with a curt nod.

"Do Major Carter and Doctor Fraiser require assistance?" Teal'c asked as he eyed the two women huddled in front of the gate.

"Yeah, probably. Just... give 'em a minute." The colonel stepped past them and continued walking back to the village.

Daniel and Teal'c shared a look, then the archeologist turned to follow O'Neill. Teal'c regarded Sam and Janet thoughtfully for a moment, then planted his staff in the dirt and simply waited, standing faithful guard over the clearing.

"Jack?" Daniel called as he trailed behind the fuming colonel.

"You knew about them," O'Neill spat over his shoulder.

"Well, yeah..." Daniel answered. He skipped a bit to keep up with the furious pace the other man was keeping.

"You should have told me."

"I couldn't say anything!" the archeologist protested. "Military regulations are pretty clear..."

"This isn't about regulations!" the colonel roared, drawing to a halt. He met Daniel's placidly disbelieving gaze. "It's a little about regulations," he relented after a moment, then continued stomping down the path.


"You should have told me," the older man repeated with a grumble. He stopped walking again, whirling to face Daniel. "They should have told me. SOMEONE should have told me."


"Because this is a dangerous job we do, Daniel!" O'Neill snapped. "What if Sam got herself killed out here? I'd have taken her body back to a goddamn widow and not even known it." He threw his hand out in a frustrated gesture in the general direction of the Stargate. "Dammit, I wouldn't have known! I'm her commanding officer - her FRIEND - and I didn't KNOW."

Daniel nodded slowly as realization dawned. "Ah."

"'Ah,' what?!"

"You're hurt because Sam didn't tell her you as her friend, not because she didn't tell you as her commanding officer."

O'Neill opened his mouth to deny it, but changed his mind. He blew out a disgusted breath. "Did she honestly think I'd pull some asshole Air Force crap on her and get them in trouble?" he asked almost petulantly.

"I doubt it," Daniel answered.

"She's been so happy lately," the colonel murmured, shaking his head. "They both have. I shoulda figured it out." He stared off into space for a moment, then sighed and retrained his attention back on Daniel. "What's the situation in the village?"

"We decommissioned the three Jaffa that Janet missed, and had the villagers lock them all up in the holding cells."

O'Neill snorted a bit. "The Doc did pretty okay back there, huh?"

Daniel smiled. "Yeah. She did."

"You shoulda seen that last part, when she took out that Goa'uld," he said, his face breaking into a reluctantly proud smile. "I'm glad she's on our side." He shook his head with a bemused look, and started walking again.

"So, there's... there's no problem here?" the archeologist asked as he strode quickly up to the colonel's side.

"What? No. I wouldn't do that to them." The older man waved dismissively. "Really, I'm just glad Carter's finally getting some. Can't be healthy, all that thinking all the damn time." He paused and gave the younger man a speculative look. "In fact, you could probably take a lesson from them."

"Are you all right?" Janet asked after several minutes, when her insides had finally stopped quaking out of control.

Sam managed a faint nod. "Pretty beat up, but I'm okay." She pried her eyes open and looked over Janet's shoulder at the Goa'uld lying lifelessly behind her. "God, Janet," she breathed.

The brunette followed her gaze and twisted to look at the man she'd killed. She stayed silent, her jaw clenching hard as she studied him. Then she turned her dark eyes back to Sam, who met her gaze with a look of depthless understanding and love. It was a warm absolution, one that bolstered her flagging composure. Janet dipped her head for a moment, then slowly pushed herself to her feet.

Teal'c took that as his cue, and immediately stepped over. "Doctor Fraiser."

"I'm okay, but Sam's going to need some help getting back to the village," she responded in what was almost her normal, impeccably professional tone. The Jaffa moved to Sam's side and lifted her up with one massive arm slung around her back. Together the three slowly made their way down the forest path.

"We can have the SGC send more medical supplies our way," O'Neill offered. They were in a tiny building the natives had set aside for the visitors. Sam lay sprawled in a semi delirious state on a small but comfortable cot in the corner of one room, sporting a fresh bandage over her shoulder.

"But since we have no way of contacting the SGC, that might take too long," Janet countered.

"We can provide sufficient care for your friend here," Alain insisted. "Our salves can help speed her natural healing process."

The doctor folded her arms over her chest. "We really don't know enough about these plants, or their exact interaction with human biochemistry. I don't feel comfortable using untested drugs."

"We are the same, your people and ours," Alain responded with a frown. "The plants do not harm us."

"I can't be sure of that," Janet answered diplomatically. "Your people have been on this planet for a long time, some things may be different. Especially since you have somehow managed to develop an immunity to Goa'uld implantation."

"You used the mixture I provided last night," the apothecary pointed out.

"I didn't have much of a choice at the time."

"Okay, so what do we do here?" O'Neill interjected, forestalling the brewing debate between the two healers. "If anyone's putting that DHD back together it's going to be Carter."

"Can't your people take the ship left behind by the Scourge?" Alain asked.

"Well, yes," the colonel allowed. "But we've got a bigger problem. Whoever sent that Goa'uld here is going to be really upset that we killed him." Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Janet flinch. "And once they figure out that we've been here, they're probably going to come and wipe you folks out. We're going to need to get you off this planet. The ship just isn't going to cut it."

"You know, I really don't feel too bad," Sam murmured from the cot. Janet immediately crossed the room to sit at her side. "Let me get some sleep, I'll be good as new."

"You all should rest here for the night," Alain agreed. "My people are preparing a feast, please allow us to share our gratitude."

O'Neill looked to the doctor, who shrugged. "Might as well, Colonel. We're not getting home tonight in any case, even if we do get on that ship."

"All right," the colonel agreed. "Alain, can you bring another cot in here, and get the doctor anything she requires?" The apothecary nodded eagerly, then scurried out the door. Left alone with Sam and Janet, the the colonel shifted somewhat nervously. "You two lay low tonight, get some rest. You deserve it."

Sam gave her CO a grateful, if exhausted smile. "Thank you, sir."

He nodded once, then stepped out of the way as a couple young men brought in another cot, placed it next to Sam's, then hurried out again. "We'll talk tomorrow." He ducked out of the room and closed the door quietly behind him.

Sam's hand found Janet's, and she twined their fingers together. "He knows," she murmured.

"Yeah. Are you okay with that?"

"I really couldn't care less," the blonde answered with a smile. "It's not important." Her expression became more serious as she studied Janet's hooded eyes. "Janet... what you did today..." she began.

The doctor's only response was a heavy sigh as she looked toward the burnished rays of sunset visible in the room's solitary window. At that moment one of the beams of the waning sun caught in Janet's auburn hair, lending her a radiance completely at odds with the melancholy expression on her face. Sam's breath hitched, suddenly certain she was watching an angel.

"Thank you," Sam whispered, then her eyes drooped shut and she fell asleep.

The food was decent and the villagers were friendly, but Colonel O'Neill was hardly in the mood to celebrate. He was already thinking ahead to how they were going to protect these people from the threat of Goa'uld annihilation, a threat they hardly seemed to even perceive or care about.

Alain sat next to him, carrying a jug of local wine. "Colonel, you don't seem to be having a very good time."

O'Neill sighed. "I don't think you folks really understand the magnitude of the danger you're in."

The apothecary grinned. "When you live as long as we do, danger and fear lose their power. We have had too many yesterdays to worry about our tomorrows."

"Well, it's my job to worry about your tomorrow."

"Then we are in capable hands," Alain said, raising his glass in a toast.

Several hours had passed, and Janet was still seated at Sam's side, listening to her lover's deep and peaceful breathing. The next day she'd fashion Sam a sling to immobilize her injured arm, then try to help her reassemble the DHD so they could get home. In the meantime, despite being exhausted, she found herself completely unable to sleep.

She'd killed a man today. A parasitical alien symbiote who inhabited the body of a man, to be more exact. The distinction did little to assuage her ambivalence.

She was a doctor, sworn to uphold the sanctity of human life. She was a soldier, sworn to protect her country, her planet, and the people with whom she served.

She was a lover, who could not stand by and let her partner's pain go unanswered.

On an intellectual level, Janet knew that if she hadn't killed him, he would have in turn done everything in his power to kill her, Sam, O'Neill, and everyone else he could get his hands on. He lacked her compunction, and her death would not have weighed on his mind at all.

Then of course there was the nagging suspicion that this was all somehow tied into the events on Eloy, and the role they'd played in restoring the unraveling universe. The Seer had predicted that more was in store for them, that they still had a lot of work to do. Were the day's events part of that ultimate purpose?

"What do you think?" came a voice from the dark corner near the window.

Janet turned and saw Valosh Med step into the faint moonlight. He appeared translucent, as if he wasn't really there.

"And of course I'm not really here. Long dead, remember?" he said cheerfully.

"I thought we were done," Janet murmured.

"Which is precisely why you are not."

A soft knock at the door drew her attention, and when she looked back to the window, the Seer had disappeared. She stood and opened the door to reveal Daniel Jackson standing in the hallway outside.

"Thought you might like some dinner," he whispered, and held up a bowl of stew, which she accepted with a faint smile. He tucked his hands in his pockets and pursed his lips, looking as if he was trying to decide how to broach a difficult topic. "Listen... Jack told me what happened out there today. In fact, that's about all he's been able to talk about all night. You impressed the hell out of him."

Janet nodded ruefully. "I bet."

Daniel looked stricken for a moment. "That's not what I meant. He doesn't relish killing people, even the Goa'uld. He just... he knows what it's like to make the hard choice. He respects other people who can do that too." He shrugged. "You're one of us now."

At that she produced a genuine smile, recognizing the statement for the compliment it was. "Thank you."

"Hey, stop moving the flashlight," Sam snapped from her position mostly under the DHD.

"Sorry, I was just trying to see better," Daniel responded.

"You don't need to see, I need to see."

"Oh. Right. Sorry."

She pushed herself out from under the device, releasing a frustrated breath. "Damn hard to work on these things with one hand," she growled, tugging at the sling. Daniel wisely kept silent. "Try dialing now."

The archeologist complied, hitting six symbols before the gate activated and a wormhole flared into existence.

Sam blinked. "I didn't think that was actually going to work."

"It wasn't me," Daniel protested. Sam got to her feet and picked up her P90, training it on the gate.

A few seconds later a MALP lumbered through the portal, and their radios sparked to life. "SG-1, this is SGC, do you copy?" came Sergeant Davis' unflappable voice.

Sam moved in front of the camera mounted on the MALP. "We copy, SGC."

"Major, you've been out of contact for thirty six hours," General Hammond's voice broke in. "What happened?"

Sam briefly detailed the arrival of the Goa'uld and SG-1's capture, the discovery of the local population's apparent ability to reject Goa'uld implantation, then finished with the current state of the DHD and the probable need to evacuate several hundred people to a new planet relatively soon. For a long moment the general was silent, probably mentally cursing his advance team for managing to get into the most complicated messes. "All right, Major. What else do you need?"

"We could use the blueprint for the DHD that Colonel O'Neill drew a few years ago," Sam answered. "And some tools from my lab."

"And some extra batteries," Daniel interjected, waving the flashlight a little as its bulb dimmed and then failed completely.

Janet spent the day collecting samples, both of the medicinal plants Alain helpfully pointed out to her, and several tissue samples from obliging villagers. She found it was easy to lose herself in her work, to forget the regrets of yesterday, and was even encouraged to do so by the very peaceful attitude of the natives. They were utterly untroubled by the prospect of uprooting their lives to go to another world; many of the village elders still remembered their original move to this planet over five hundred years previous.

Despite the respite from her crisis of conscience, there was still one thing she needed to do.

After a pleasant mid-day meal with the villagers she made her way into the building with the holding cells where SG-1 had been locked away. Today the cells were occupied by the Jaffa she'd stunned, including the First Prime.

"They tell me you are Gana'l," she said quietly, aware that every eye in the building was watching her with intense hatred.

"Shol'va!" he cried, charging for her against the metal bars of the cell and slamming into them with primal fury.

Janet didn't even flinch. "What was his name? The Goa'uld you were in service to?"

"He is Isten, the lord of Ehnas," the man snarled. "He will rain vengeance down on you!"

The doctor nodded slightly, committing the name to memory. "Actually, no, he won't." She turned and walked back out of the building.

That afternoon SG-7 and SG-10 arrived to relieve them, to stand guard over the villagers while arrangements were made to transplant them. Sam had completed her repairs of the DHD, and SG-1 gathered in the clearing to go home.

Teal'c and Daniel went first, followed by Colonel O'Neill. Sam took a few steps toward the shimmering event horizon, but paused when she realized Janet was no longer at her side. She turned, and saw Janet looking around the clearing, at the forest, at the path, and at the place where the slain Goa'uld had laid.


The doctor started, and met Sam's gaze. A lot of things had changed for her in this place, but the perfect trust of the soul behind those blue eyes had not. Janet smiled, took Sam's hand, and stepped into the gate.

"Mom, where are my new earrings?"

"In the bathroom where you left them," Janet answered placidly.

"What about my new shoes?"

The doctor looked up at the ceiling in exasperation. "In the closet. Where you LEFT THEM," she responded.

The upstairs of the Fraiser household had been a whirl of pre-Homecoming Dance activity all day, and Janet had quickly learned to stay out of her daughter's way while the normally even-tempered teen turned into a jittery, hormonal pod person. Janet sat curled on her couch, reading the newspaper and sipping a cup of coffee while Sam sat next to her, flipping through a science magazine.

Feet stomped overhead, making yet another lap between the main bathroom and Cassandra's bedroom. Sam looked up, then looked over at Janet, trying not to laugh.

"It's not funny," Janet scolded. "You remember being her age, don't you?"

"When I was her age, my idea of a good time was staying home reading the latest science journals," Sam answered, waving the magazine in her hands for emphasis.

"You didn't go to school dances?" Janet folded the newspaper and set it aside.

"Nah. I was pretty geeky in high school. Plus, you know, with my dad being in the service, we moved around a lot." The blonde shrugged. "I was always the 'new kid,' then after a while the 'smart kid.' No one really wanted to bother with me."

Anyone else might have been fooled by the offhanded tone, but Janet recognized the wistfulness there. She reached out to rub a soothing hand down Sam's arm. "Dance with me later?" Janet whispered.

Sam had to swallow against a suddenly dry throat. "Okay."

A crash sounded in the bathroom, followed by a frustrated teenaged wail. The two women looked at each other for a long moment before bursting into laughter. "Okay, it is a little funny," Janet allowed, before pushing herself off the couch to check on her daughter.

After she left the room Sam got up slowly, still feeling the tightness in her shoulder from the wound she'd sustained a week before. Upon their return from P7X-943 Janet had hovered over her anxiously in the infirmary for a couple days before declaring her healthy enough to go home, noting only an elevated white blood cell count that was entirely to be expected given the infection she'd fought off in the forest.

Since then she'd been relaxing and keeping occasional tabs on the progress of the transplantation of Alain's people to a new planet the Goa'uld would be hard pressed to find. She was so relaxed, in fact, that she was starting to forget little things, like where she'd put her keys after driving to Janet's house, or what she'd done with the book she had been reading the day before. Nothing big, nothing outwardly noticeable, but disconcerting anyway.

It was probably nothing.

Janet had been spending a lot of time studying the samples they'd brought back from P7X-943, with little luck so far. They'd spent a couple nights up late talking excitedly about the possibilities, and a couple more nights up late talking about what had happened on that world, about the choices Janet had made, and how eventually she was going to be able to find peace with what she'd done.

A few minutes later Janet reappeared in the living room. "May I present... Cassandra Fraiser." She swept her arm up, as Cassie walked ceremoniously down the stairs, carefully navigating the steps in the unfamiliar heels.

"Oh, Cassie, you look beautiful," Sam said with a smile, looking her over from head to toe.

"Gorgeous," Janet agreed.

"You think so?" the teen asked nervously. She tugged at the dress a bit, twitching it more comfortably into place.

"Absolutely," Sam answered. "Dominic is a lucky guy."

Cassie broke into a huge grin and relaxed a bit.

The doorbell rang. Cassie jumped, then charged back up the stairs. "That's him! He's early! I'm not ready!!"

Janet looked back at Sam, who only shrugged. "Shall we intimidate the hell outta that young man?" the doctor asked.

Sam bent, placed a kiss on Janet's lips, and grinned. "Lead the way."

Continue to the next chapter, My Only Light.
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