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rocketfic | in pursuit of the moment, iii: day of the nightwalkers

Title: In Pursuit of the Moment, III: Day of the Nightwalkers by Rocketchick
Rating: 15+ Pairing: Sam/Janet
Notes: Season 6, post-Nightwalkers.

"So what's this about you testing unknown vaccines on yourself?"

Sam heard the muffled growl from somewhere below her shoulders and couldn't help but smile. "It seemed like a good idea at the time?"

Janet tipped her head back to glare at the blonde from under the ungainly cowl of the decontamination suit. She studied her friend carefully, noting only fatigue and faint signs of stress. "One day one of your lucky guesses is going to get you killed."

"Good thing I have a good doctor," Sam returned. After years of practice their typical patter was little more than habit, and the routine of it helped soothe her frayed nerves.

"Hm. Any place where I can get out of this damn suit and get a real look at you?"

Sam nodded and led the doctor to her room at the Steveston Motel, where the combined NID and CDC taskforce had set up base camp for the town decontamination. Once inside Janet unzipped her suit enough to loosen the hood, and pushed it back over her head. She breathed a sigh of relief in the fresh Oregon air. "The inoculations are proceeding quickly," Janet reported. "The NID will put one of their people here to keep tabs on things once we clear out, but I don't expect any major problems." She shrugged. "I would have liked a bit more time to test the vaccine, though."

"Too risky to wait," Sam observed. "We had to hurry to protect these people."

"I know, I know." Janet pointed to the bed. "Sit."

The blonde peeled off her coat and complied, then amiably put up with the routine pokes and prods of a post-mission physical. This time seemed a little different than usual, a little more hesitant. When Janet's fingers curled around the back of her neck to examine the entry site of the symbiote, Sam could feel her friend's hands shaking.

Sam cocked her head and looked up at her friend. "Hey, you okay?"

"Fine," the doctor lied. The look of frank disbelief on Sam's face didn't faze her, though her jaw set just a bit more firmly as she finished the exam.

They both remained silent as Janet took a couple extra blood samples. She ignored the obvious needle punctures from the NID's earlier testing.

"You know, you scare me sometimes," the brunette murmured finally. "As if your job weren't dangerous enough, you take these crazy risks..." Her throat constricted suddenly, and she had to look away.

Sam blinked in surprise. She'd been expecting a lecture, a reprimand, or even just a disapproving sigh. She hadn't expected to see the genuine fear in her friend's eyes.

"It's going to catch up with you someday, Sam. And I might not be able to fix it." Janet turned away to tuck her equipment back into her bag.

A thousand protests died unspoken on Sam's tongue: This was her job, it was her own life to risk, the world depended on her, the fate of the galaxy hung in the balance. Right then, no excuse mitigated the sadness of knowing she'd frightened someone so dear to her, and all without even really paying attention. "Hundreds of people's lives were at stake, Janet," she said quietly. "And most of the time it's even bigger than that."

"That doesn't make you expendable," Janet said in a harsh whisper. A tear spilled over her lashes, and she wiped it away impatiently.

"Yeah, it does," the blonde countered mildly.

"Not to me."

This time, instead of looking away, Janet's eyes locked onto Sam's with burning intensity, as if daring the other woman to acknowledge the real import of what she'd just said. True, it wasn't exactly a breathless declaration of true and undying love, but for all the dancing they'd done around each other and their feelings, it was pretty damn definitive.

Sam had to remind herself to breathe as she reached out to find Janet's hand and tangle their fingers together. "I'm sorry," she said. Somehow they both knew she was apologizing not only for her most recent heedless flirtation with certain peril, but for every other time she left on a mission and didn't realize all that she had left behind.

Janet's free hand wandered up to brush across Sam's cheek as she smiled and shifted a bit closer. Their legs bumped together at the edge of the motel bed.

A knock on the motel room door startled them, and they practically jumped apart. A soldier opened the door and peeked inside. "Ma'ams? The town's clear," the fresh-faced young man reported. "The last of the residents were just bused out."

"Thank you, airman," Janet said with a tiny smile. He nodded once and ducked back out the door. She looked back down at Sam with a wistful sigh, and stepped away to finish packing up her equipment. Sam stood, tugged her coat back over her shoulders, and held the door open for her friend.

As they left the motel, Sam put on her sunglasses to shade her eyes from the Steveston dawn. Around them NID, Air Force, and CDC personnel swarmed to contain the "unidentified" contagion. The two women strode side by side through the crowd, each eyeing the progress of the cleanup.

Jonas Quinn was off to one side, recording absolutely everything with his new digital camera. He caught sight of Sam and Janet as they were coming out of the hotel. "Hey, Doctor Fraiser!" he called. Janet turned and smiled just a bit as he snapped their picture, then he happily continued in his quest to complete the SGC's "visual record."

When he got the picture printed later, he'd see what became one of his favorite memories of his time amongst the Tau'ri. Samantha Carter, stalwart defender of the galaxy at large, and Janet Fraiser, stalwart defender of the SGC and of Sam herself, standing together in a tiny, nondescript Oregon town. They were a team, probably one more indelible than SG-1 itself, and they were ready to take on absolutely anything, so long as they were together.

It was the quintessential image he retained of these two women.

If he'd taken the picture a few seconds later, he might have seen Sam's hand on the smaller woman's shoulder, and the subtle look of quiet devotion they shared as they turned to head toward the NID tent for debriefing.

Somehow, the picture he got told no less of their story.

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