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rocketfic | winter's night

Title: Winter's Night by Rocketchick
Rating: 15+ Pairing: Sam/Janet
Notes: Set in the sixth season.

If I could know within my heart
That you were lonely too
I would be happy just to hold the hands I love
Upon this winter night with you
Winter's Night, by Sarah McLachlan

After a long day of incredibly frustrating and tedious lab work, Sam drove herself home. The slick roads reminded her it was winter, and a few quick mental calculations put the date at Christmas Eve. Perfect. She'd managed to create just enough work for herself these last several weeks that she hadn't noticed the holiday creeping up, which meant she could mostly ignore it. Besides, she wasn't exactly in a mood for holiday cheer... All she really wanted at that moment was a scalding shower and some sleep.

She parked and hauled herself from the car, just barely catching sight of the shadowed figure on her porch. For a split second her adrenaline spiked in reaction to the perceived threat, but just as quickly it died away again. The slight form was hunched over on her porch steps, not hiding, hardly menacing. Her eyes narrowed as she drew closer.


The brunette head snapped up from its bent posture. "Sam. Hi."

"Hi," she answered slowly. "Are you okay?"

"Fine," Janet answered. It was an obvious lie, given away by the rapid blinking that hinted at pent up tears.

Despite the ripple of disquiet the answer triggered, Sam had to work to muster some sort of social grace. "You want to come in?"

"No, thanks. I didn't actually mean to sit and wait, I just... got distracted." She sniffled a bit, either trying to avoid full-out crying, or because of the cold -- Sam couldn't quite tell. "I left your Christmas present by the door."

"You didn't have to get me anything," the blonde protested.

"I know, but I wanted to."

"Thanks," Sam said with a genuine smile. "I sort of forgot it was that time of year, I haven't gotten around to any kind of shopping."

"Don't worry about it," the doctor answered quickly. "I know you've been busy."

With that, they fell into silence, staring at each other in the starlit cold. Eventually Janet's eyes wandered, and she sniffled again. "So Cassie spent the evening wailing about some boy she likes who she is convinced doesn't like her in the same way, and how hard it is not to know if the person you care about cares back," she said with a melodramatic sigh. "Teenagers. Do you remember when our problems were that simple?"

Sam closed the distance between them and sat next to the smaller woman, the force of exhaustion almost pulling her bodily to the ground. Over their years of friendship they had mastered this sort of relationship-doublespeak, where every sentence held undefined subtext, and almost unrestrained yearning. Sam had literally spent days trying to tease apart the delicate strands of affection the other woman offered her, wondering if there was anything more than mere words between them.

Tonight she was too tired to think that hard. "Why did you come here?"

The brunette looked away with some embarrassment. "I don't know. I'm sorry." She stood and took a couple hurried steps away before being tugged to a halt by Sam's hand curled around her wrist.

"Stop," the blonde pleaded quietly. Too many times, they'd drawn together, responding to a force as natural as gravity. Too many times, one of them invariably ran away. She was suddenly through with the emotional whiplash.

"I know you must be tired," Janet babbled.

"Janet, just stop. Stop running, please." A shift in the wind made her nose twitch, as she detected the faintest hint of alcohol bleeding from the doctor's clothes. Sam stared at the smaller woman, daring her to stay, daring her to trust in the strength of what she felt flowing between them. "You came here for a reason," she insisted.

"Yeah, to give you your present," Janet demurred, before admitting the truth. "I guess... Maybe I was feeling a little lonely, is all," she said in a rough voice. "This time of year is always sort of difficult."

The blonde offered a tight smile, mostly lost in the shadows. "I know what you mean."

"It doesn't help that you always go underground - literally - right before Thanksgiving every year," the doctor complained.

Sam reeled a bit, and had to bite back an instinctive denial. She had no idea her behavior was so damn transparent, much less that it had been enough of a pattern that it was actually anticipated year after year.

"Cass and I miss you," Janet added in a tiny voice.

Blue eyes cast about, searching out a way to respond to that smallest of entreaties. How did you explain to a woman who had the very real and present love of family every day just how hard it was to be alone at the end of the year? "I'm sorry," she murmured finally. "I didn't know."

"Well, to be perfectly honest, Cassandra is so absorbed with her own daily dramas that she likely didn't even notice," the doctor corrected with a wry smile. "But I miss you."


The doctor's heavy sigh frosted in in the night air. "I wish that didn't surprise you."

The conversation was taking more turns than she could stomach, but it was the closest they'd gotten to the something between them in months. "It doesn't surprise me," Sam replied. "It's just nice to hear that someone cares once in a while."

Janet nodded slowly. "Yeah."

God, the intensity in those eyes could knock her off her feet at twenty paces. Sam chanced taking a half-step closer, directly into the line of fire, and rubbed the inside of Janet's wrist with her thumb. "Thank you... for caring." The doctor looked like she was ready to bolt again, but Sam maintained the gentle hold on her wrist, just enough to keep Janet from twisting away. "I'm sorry you had a rough night... You know, I would do anything - anything - to help if I could." If you'd let me, she appended silently.

"I know," came the immediate, sure answer. "Thank you."

Sam grit her teeth. "I don't think you're really hearing me."

"I hear you," the doctor reassured her. "I do."

If Sam could have torn her heart out of her chest and offered it to her friend, she would have at that very second, just to finally make her point without the veil of half-spoken attraction and coded emotions. "Because what I'm really saying..." She took a deep breath. "Is that I love you." There, the words were out at last.

"I know. I love you too," Janet answered easily, with a warm smile.

"No," Sam argued, close to tears with the fear and frustration of it. "I mean, you're amazing and you're beautiful and I love you. I always have."

Big brown eyes blinked at Sam in unreadable confusion. "Oh." It was only the tiniest syllable, more a breath than an actual word.

Great. Carter heaved a sigh, wishing for the ground to open up and swallow her whole. She didn't do the emotional attachment thing too often in her life, and for obvious reasons; she tended to fall hard, fast, and absolutely, almost always leaving the object of her affection far behind.

With Janet she'd been far more circumspect. She'd never tipped her hand, never revealed the true depth of what she felt. From the first, the bone-deep draw of the project's CMO had been irresistible, inexorable. Sam had channeled her nascent feelings into deep friendship, which had in turn blossomed into the most stable and supportive relationship she'd ever had. What had started out as nothing but an idle crush was now far more, as their lives and hearts had intertwined around Cassie and the world of the SGC.

She realized her hand was still wrapped around the smaller woman's wrist, and released it with belated awkwardness. "Sorry," she muttered.

"Don't be." The puff of breath punctuated the night. "I just... I don't know what to say."

Up until then Sam had been successfully ignoring her weariness, but now felt it far more acutely than she had before. "Say you don't feel the same, say you want to stay friends, say we'll just forget it and everything will be just like it was. That's the script, right?" She sighed and dragged a hand through her hair. "Go home to your daughter, Janet. Merry Christmas."

"That's not fair," Janet said angrily. "Out of nowhere you drop this... declaration... then you don't even give me time to think about how to respond?"

"We've been saying the same things for years, Janet. You obviously haven't really been hearing me."

"You haven't heard me!" the brunette cried. "Dammit, Sam. I came here to invite you to spend Christmas with us. With your family. With me."

"Why?" Sam sneered.

Janet actually squared her shoulders, and appeared to consider the issue. She flinched and blinked rapidly when a snowflake pelted into her face. Both women looked up to watch the sparkling stuff tumble out of the sky.

"Because you deserve to be with people who love you," Janet said quietly. She spun on her heel and disappeared into the dark. The last thing Sam heard was the growl of her car's engine as it passed her.

Sam rocked back on her heels. It shocked her to realize that maybe they'd actually been talking about the same thing all along.

What the hell was that noise?

Janet pried one eye open to see the first rays of dawn splitting through her bedroom blinds. The scraping noise outside her window continued in a grindingly rhythmic way.

She sat up and pushed her hair back from her face. Whoever was making that racket was gonna pay for waking her up.

The doctor stumbled downstairs and out her garage. A light snow had fallen through the night, leaving a faint coating of white on her lawn and driveway. Near the road, someone with a shovel was patiently clearing the minor hazard. She squinted into the early morning light and shuffled closer.


Sam paused in her work and looked up at Janet. "Hey."

"That could probably wait a few hours," the doctor said wryly.

"Uh, yeah. Probably." She nodded and amiably put the shovel off to the side of the drive. With a shy look, she stepped closer to the brunette. "Look, I'm sorry."

"For what?" Janet's eyebrows quirked expectantly.

The blonde swallowed. She knew this wasn't going to be easy. "For being an ass last night, and not letting you have the time you needed. You couldn't hear the conversation I've had with you in my head the past few years, so of course you had no way of seeing that coming."

"And?" This time the ever-expressive eyebrows tilted in a kind, forgiving way.

"And..." Sam sighed, and decided to risk it once more. "I came to spend Christmas with people who love me," she said quietly. "If that's okay?"

Janet's face split in a slow smile, and she reached out to grab one of Sam's hands. "C'mon inside, let me make you some cocoa."

Sam grinned into the snowblue cold of Christmas morning as she cleared the driveway of the inch of slush that had accumulated overnight. That day five years previous had picked her life up and shaken it irreparably, and for the first time in her adult life she had a definite soft spot for this time of year.

"That could probably wait a few hours," came a teasing voice from the garage door.

Sam paused and leaned against her shovel. "I want Cassie to be able to get into the driveway." The fact that the scant accumulation would do little to impede Cassandra's four wheel drive did not seem to matter.

Janet smiled back at her. "Are you ready to meet this fiance of hers?"

"Not even a little bit. You?"

The doctor chuckled. "Nope."

Sam blinked as a snowflake suddenly lighted upon her nose. She peered up into the sky, watching more flurries scatter down upon her and coat the freshly-cleared driveway. "Great," she muttered.

"Come inside. I'll make cocoa," Janet offered.

"No, wait, come out here first."

"Sam, I'm still in my bathrobe."

The blonde waved her hand in a beckoning motion. "C'mon, just for a minute."

Giving the taller woman an odd look, Janet scooted out onto the driveway and shivered against the cold. "What...?" Her inquiry was cut off by warm arms wrapping around her, pulling her into a hug. Janet sighed happily as they rocked together, the embrace effectively chasing off the chill in the air.

Sam pulled away and grinned at the brunette, at the snowflakes sparkling in her dark hair. "I just like seeing you in the snow."

Against the gray sky, the blue of Sam's eyes blazed down at her. "I know exactly what you mean," Janet murmured.

"I couldn't sleep this morning. I was too excited, like a little kid." Sam shook her head in wonder. "And you know why? Because you're still amazing, you're still beautiful, and I still love you."

"Oh, Sam," Janet whispered. "Merry Christmas." Her eyes brimmed with tears as she tilted her head up to meet her lover's kiss.

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