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rocketfic | one last kiss, the magic that holds the sky up

Title: One Last Kiss & The Magic That Holds the Sky Up by Rocketchick
Rating: 15+ Pairing: Sam/Janet
Notes: After "Heroes," Sam has a nighttime visitor.

She was curled around a pillow, muttering incoherently while she slept. Janet approached slowly in the shadowed bedroom and perched on the side of the bed, watching her friend with dark, apprehensive eyes.

Sam had been plagued of late by shallow and fitful sleep, and the slight pressure on the bed dragged her into wakefulness with little difficulty. Her eyes blinked open and swept up and down Janet's form, then settled on the concerned look creasing the doctor's brow. "So... ghosts wear labcoats?"

Janet's face broke into a relieved grin, as she looked down at herself. "I didn't have a lot of choice in the matter."

"Why are you here?" There was no fear or uncertainty, hardly even any surprise in the question.

The doctor pursed her lips. Why indeed? "I... wanted to check in on you."

"Oh," Sam murmured, and apparently decided to take the explanation at face value. "God, Janet, I miss you so much."

The doctor's eyes slid shut as she was assaulted by the acute pain of Sam's loss. "Yeah, I know."

"Airman Wells has a daughter now. They named her after you. And I think they're going to name that new armor after you, too. Some acronym of 'Fraiser.'"

"I know. Sam, listen," Janet began, and took a breath to continue but was cut off by Sam's rambling.

"Warner is having a lot of trouble sorting through your filing system. Did you make it completely obscure on purpose?"

"Sam!" Janet said sharply, leaning in to capture the blonde's dazed and wandering gaze.

"Sorry," she muttered with a nervous laugh. "There's just been this list of stuff I've wanted to tell you since you left."

"We don't have a lot of time," Janet said seriously. "And I really need to talk to you."

Sam nodded. "Okay."

The doctor paused, considering how best to approach the real reason for her visit. "Look. You haven't been taking very good care of yourself these past couple weeks... The people who love you are really worried. Cassie, your dad... that Pete guy... Colonel O'Neill..." At the mention of the colonel Sam scoffed a little. Janet looked a bit annoyed but kept speaking anyway. "Don't seal yourself off, okay? Promise me you'll let them help you."

"I promise," Sam said solemnly, then sighed. "Listen, about Pete..." The doctor waited, apparently wanting very much to hear whatever her friend had to say on the subject. "He's not... he's nice, okay? But he's not a replacement for you."

Janet blinked. "Okay."

"I like him. Maybe I love him. I don't know. I just needed somebody and I knew you couldn't do that anymore."

"Right, sure," the doctor agreed, hoping she didn't sound as confused as she felt.

"The secrecy killed you, I know. I understood." Sam heaved a sigh. "But I never stopped loving you."

At that, Janet's shoulders sunk under an unseen weight. She looked away, into the dark corners of the room. "Oh, Sam."

"I wish it could've been different... I wish we could have told Cass, and the guys... they would have been happy for us."

The doctor swallowed hard. "Yeah, they would have. Eventually."

Sam nodded, and sighed again. "I just wanted you to know."

Janet let out a small, dark laugh. "You know, I always sort of figured," she said dryly. "But it's nice to know for sure."

"Thank you for coming back." Fresh tears had sprung to Sam's eyes, and she wiped them away impatiently so that they wouldn't blur her view of the woman before her.

"Well, we didn't have time to say goodbye properly the first time, now did we?" Janet said, forcing a lopsided grin onto her face.

"No," came the tiny, strangled response.

Before she was really even aware she was doing so, Janet leaned down to capture Sam's lips with her own, a first, last, and only kiss wrapped into one warm and bittersweet press of breath and teeth. She pulled away and reached up with one hand to trail her fingertips across the blonde brow, and smiled. "Get some rest," she murmured.

"I love you," Sam whispered. Her eyes drifted shut and she relaxed into sleep almost instantly.

"I love you too," the doctor replied, knowing Sam couldn't hear her anymore but feeling the need to say it anyway. For a few minutes she remained, petting Sam's soft hair and providing as much comfort as she safely could.

Eventually Janet rose and left the bedroom, then padded down the hall, casting one regretful look to Cassie's closed bedroom door before stepping into the bathroom. She paused in front of the mirror, looked herself over a few times, then sighed and pulled open the top three buttons of her uniform shirt. The holographic device rested squarely on her sternum, merrily sparkling at her to indicate its activity. She pulled it off with a twist of her fingers, then looked back into the mirror.

He had no idea how the alien device had managed to camouflage his extra height and mass, but it seemed to do the trick. He held it in his palm and squeezed until it gave a satisfying crunch, then tucked the broken pieces into his pocket. One more brief check of his restored appearance in the mirror, then Jack O'Neill snuck out of the house as quietly as he'd come in.

He paused once at the street, to look back at the house. Then he was gone.

(Continued in The Magic That Holds the Sky Up.)

He'd parked two blocks away from Sam's house, as if that somehow made his little mission less like a total invasion of her privacy. His cell phone rang just as he fired the truck's ignition. He fished the phone out of his pocket while eyeing the clock in the dashboard, and hoped whatever emergency on base that had prompted someone to call him after one in the morning would bypass Sam, just this once.

"O'Neill," he answered shortly.

"Uh... Jack O'Neill?"

"Yes? Who is this?"

"This is Tammy down at the Corner Bar. Your friend Daniel's here and he said I should call you."

He sighed. "I'll be right there."

The Corner Bar was not quite as seedy as it sounded, and Jack remembered a few late nights spent shooting pool in the back. He strode in and instantly spotted Daniel's huddled form in the shadows, where he stared mournfully into an empty beer glass.

Jack nodded an acknowledgment to the woman behind the bar, then dropped into a chair across from his teammate. "Hey, Daniel."

"Jack," the younger man greeted quietly. He didn't take his eyes off the empty glass.

The colonel waited, expecting a typically rapid and verbose explanation as to what sorrows Daniel might be drowning this time. Nothing was forthcoming. "So... what's up?"

"I lied," Daniel said sadly.

"Yeah? 'Bout what?"

"In my report. I lied. Janet didn't die right away."

Jack's nostrils flared, and he sat back in his seat.

"She looked up at me, and she made this horrible sound..." Daniel shook his head. "She could hardly breathe, and she knew it was over. She said, 'Tell Sam...' and then that was it."

The colonel closed his eyes in a pained wince.

"So I lied about it, because how would that help, right?" He uttered a short, humorless laugh, then pulled off his glasses as his eyes brimmed with tears. "What am I supposed to tell her, Jack?"

"Nothing she doesn't already know, Daniel. Leave it alone."

"They were lovers, you know?"

"Daniel..." Jack warned.

"I knew. I wasn't supposed to know, but I knew. I saw them once."

"I don't need to hear this," Jack said sharply.

"Someone should! Someone else needs to know," Daniel insisted. "Everyone should. It shouldn't have been a secret." He wiped his running nose messily with the back of his hand. "I'd wandered in to the infirmary to check on Sam after she'd been hurt one time, and the curtain thing around her bed wasn't totally closed, and I saw Janet kiss her." He shook his head. "I think half of my brain exploded."

Jack rubbed his forehead. He knew the feeling.

"It made a lot of things make a lot more sense, you know? I felt like an idiot for not seeing it before."

Jack sighed. He knew that feeling, too.

"I ran out of the infirmary before they spotted me." He shook his head. "I was so sad for them, that they'd had to hide that."

The colonel's jaw clenched, knowing that he was one of the reasons they'd had to hide. It twisted in his gut like the reek of cheap whiskey on Daniel's breath.

Damn Fraiser anyway.

Damn Fraiser and her damned ghost and her damned luck to be the one member of the SGC who couldn't manage to cheat death. Damn Sam and the secret affair they'd had, and damn the Air Force for making them stop.

Damn the Goa'uld for leaving them all a wreck, all because of this teeny doctor and the disproportionate gap she left behind... He swiped at his eyes impatiently.

The whole thing was just wrong. It shouldn't have been her. She should have been safe, at the SGC, waiting for Sam. He unconsciously pressed a hand to the still-tender scar across his gut. It should have been him.

Damn her.

"You should tell Sam," Jack said finally. His voice was shaking, but he didn't care.

"Tell her what?" Daniel breathed.

"The truth. That Janet loved her." He looked away, inexplicably burdened by the admission. "You're right. It shouldn't have been a secret in the first place. They deserved better from us." When he looked up again, Daniel's eyes were wide and fastened intently on him. "So we fix it, starting tomorrow."

"Would you..." Daniel faltered, then cleared his throat. "Will you go with me?"

"Yeah," he answered with a faint smile. "I'll be there."

Damn them all.

A couple minutes later Jack stood and looked over to Tammy, who was studiously tending the deserted bar. "Are we all squared up here?"

She gazed back at him with deep, penetrating brown eyes. They saw more than he cared to reveal, way too much like a certain doctor's. "We're good," she said with a slow, thoughtful nod, as she wiped a glass.

"Thanks," the colonel said sincerely, before hauling Daniel up by his sleeve to guide him to his waiting truck. The bar's lights flickered off the instant they were out the door.

He settled his friend in the passenger seat, buckled him in, then squinted back at the now darkened windows. He swore he could see a tendril of white, diaphanous light swirl past the half-open blinds.

He paused, after making sure he didn't clobber Daniel while shutting the door. Somehow he knew if he went back inside the bar, it would be empty.

Jack breathed in the still, cool air, then cast his eyes upward to the sparkling starlight. "See ya around, Doc."

You're the magic that holds the sky up from the ground
You're the breath the blows these cool winds 'round
Trading places with an angel now

Saw you last night
Dance by the light of the moon
Stars in your eyes
Free from the life that you knew

Magic, by Ben Folds Five

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