Janet hummed softly – and somewhat tunelessly – as she walked
barefoot across the lawn, headed for the garden. Normally, she would
have slipped on a pair of sandals before heading outside, not wanting to
risk stepping on a sharp rock or an angry insect. Today, however, the
childlike urge to run free had struck her and she couldn’t resist its
appeal. She was taking a very well deserved week of vacation and it was
time to play a little. Time to let go of the starched, crisp,
professional persona that had come to dominate her life.
The recently trimmed blades of grass felt soft against the calloused
soles of her feet. She stopped walking for a moment, reveling in the
sensation. Being a doctor meant that she spent long hours on her feet
(despite the plethora of paperwork), which consequentially meant that
she was used to them hurting. So it was a delight, really, to be
standing barefoot and feeling no twinge of pain, no hint of discomfort.
A simple pleasure, but sometimes the simplest ones were the most
Still humming some nameless melody, she wiggled her toes, smiling at
the way it felt to have the grass rubbing her skin. She looked around
her backyard, proud of the neatly mowed lawn and the weed-free
flowerbeds. It took a lot of work to keep things looking so nice, but
the results were definitely worth it. Janet had always enjoyed the more
domestic delights of hearth and home – not just because she liked to
have things in order, but also because she derived a great deal of
happiness from being in an aesthetically pleasing environment.
Sometimes, given that aspect of her personality, it amazed her that
she’d not only pursued a career in medicine, but had also gone through
the military to boot. She loved being able to heal people … and
overall, she enjoyed the challenge of her job. But there were times when
she wondered why she’d stayed with it, especially since the long hours
and the erratic schedules of the SGC kept her from some of the other
things she loved to do. A career in medicine would always involve
emergencies and such, but she could easily pursue private practice and
have a lot more time for her family. And herself.
She shook her head slightly to chase that thought away, not wanting
to spend her time away from work thinking about work. Her eyes roamed
around the yard again, taking in the vibrant colors of dahlias,
hyacinths, roses, lavender, gladiolas, and zinnias. She’d always loved
flowers and was happy to finally have a home where there was ample room
to plant them. Looking around, she smiled as she saw three of those
white, ubiquitous, nameless butterflies dancing in the air. Yet another
thing she loved – butterflies.
The early afternoon sun was warm on her exposed arms and legs.
Thankfully, there was a gentle breeze that kept her from feeling too hot
under the summer sun. It really was a beautiful day. As she stood there,
sounds began to filter into her brain and she was vaguely amazed at all
the things she could hear. So much of her life was spent around medical
machinery, locked deep in the belly of a mountain, that it was often
surprising how quiet the world could be without the steady drone and hum
of technology. Even her time at home was often dominated by machine
noise – the computer, the dishwasher, the television, and Cassandra’s
It was a Wednesday morning in a quiet cul-de-sac, so the rumble of
cars and trucks was distant at best. She could hear the soft rustle of
wind fluttering through the tree leaves, the low buzz of bees flitting
from flower to flower, the excited chirp of birds flying from perch to
perch. There was the melodious tinkle of wind chimes and the wooden thud
of a pounding hammer. A dog was barking somewhere in the distance and
she caught the faint, wind-blown drift of children’s delighted squeals
and laughter. The sounds of normal, everyday life.
Shifting her wicker basket from her right hand to her left, Janet
uprooted her feet from the grass and started walking again. Her garden
wasn’t very big – just three raised beds holding a few crops each.
But she was proud of it nonetheless. She’d wanted a garden ever since
she moved to Colorado, but between working and adopting Cassandra, this
was the first year she’d actually managed to get one planted. It was a
promise she’d made to herself – that she was going to make the time
to do some more of the things she enjoyed. Sam had helped her –
building the wooden beds and setting up an irrigation system that was
far more complex than the little garden (not to mention the simple
flowerbeds) really needed.
At the thought, Janet smiled. That was so like her Sam.
Reaching the first bed, she squatted down, methodically checking to
see if there were any late-growing green beans still on the vine. Her
fingers sifted through the leaves and came up empty, which wasn’t
really a surprise since the crop had already come and gone. Still, it
was in her nature to make sure. Straightening up a bit, she moved a
little farther down the row, then squatted down again to check her
carrots. Gently prying one out of the ground, she inspected it
critically. It didn’t look quite full-grown and ready, but she put it
in her basket anyhow, figuring that since she’d picked it, she should
She straightened up again and then moved over to check her zucchini,
not surprised to find three plump ones ready to pick. It wasn’t a
vegetable she cared for particularly, but since Cassandra –
surprisingly – liked it, she’d planted one. It never ceased to amaze
Janet just how prolific a single zucchini plant could be. She chuckled
to herself, remembering that when she’d visited her grandparents as a
child, she often was sent door to door in the neighborhood trying to
give away the extra produce from their garden.
Thankfully she’d learned from their mistakes and planted only what
she thought her family could eat. Of course, for her, this was a luxury
… something she was doing to nurture herself. It wasn’t a necessity
for survival. And since her time was already fairly full between long
hours of work and her other chores and responsibilities, there was no
way she could have dealt with the half-acre garden her grandparents had
tended. Even if she’d had room for it.
Moving on, she bent to study the lettuce, deciding to let the few
remaining heads grow a little larger before picking them. Then she moved
on to the tomato plants, standing mutant tall in the center of the
garden bed. She had no idea why they’d grown so big, but chalked it up
to the unpredictability inherent in growing things. One of the joys of
gardening – one that she’d forgotten since childhood – was
watching plants sprout, of knowing that she was nurturing life. And it
was fun to watch the plants grow and produce, of knowing that she’d
had a hand in that. Not that Sam or Cassandra shared her joy at the
growth cycle, but that was ok. It was her hobby, and at least Sam would
help with the work as she had time, even though she didn’t get any
particular satisfaction from it.
Janet smiled as she looked at the ripe, red-orange tomatoes waiting
to be picked. The plants, in their own way, were as bounteous as
zucchini. But here she hadn’t tried to limit her planting to just one
plant. She’d opted for one each of four varieties – Roma, Heirloom,
Italian Plum, and cherry. What she, Cass, and Sam couldn’t eat fresh,
she planned to make into marinara sauce and freeze. And she’d managed,
with no little bit of luck, to take her vacation during the week she had
a bumper crop to pick. Not that it would have mattered – had she been
working, she simply would have done her cooking around her work
schedule. It was just nice to know that she didn’t have to, that she
could take the time to really enjoy her time in the kitchen, rather than
racing through it to get done.
So much of her life was spent racing from thing to thing – rushing
between work, chores, and Cassandra’s activities. It felt like a
luxury to just have this week away from part of that, where she could
take her time and really be present in the moment. Lord knew that didn’t
happen often enough.
She just wished that Sam could have taken the time off too.
Unfortunately, while they both worked long hours, her lover’s schedule
was extremely erratic and ironically was marred by more emergencies than
hers. The conflicting schedules and Sam’s overriding sense of
responsibility to the SGC had been a huge difficulty in their
relationship. Janet was just thankful that they’d managed to come to a
compromise where she’d stopped harping on Sam for being so devoted to
her work and Sam had started scheduling at least two days of downtime a
month to spend exclusively with Janet.
As her fingers plucked tomatoes from the vine, she smiled at the
thought of that compromise. Most people would likely have thought they
were insane for making so little time for each other. Then again, most
people didn’t have the same kind of jobs they did, where the fate of
the world was often resting quite literally on their shoulders. It was
one of the reasons Janet occasionally wondered just why the hell she was
still at the SGC, when it was so overwhelming.
She rolled her eyes as she realized that she was once again spending
her vacation time thinking about work. Concentrating on the task at
hand, she wrenched her attention back to the tomatoes. Reaching out, she
held one in her hand for a moment, marveling at the sun-warmed weight of
it against her palm. She placed it gently in the basket and then grabbed
a deep red cherry tomato and popped it in her mouth. Biting down, she
savored the warm sweetness that washed over her tongue. God that tasted
good. Nothing could compare to fresh produce, right from the garden. She
felt a profound sense of contentment.
As soon as she’d swallowed, she began humming again as her fingers
moved slowly and deliberately among the vines. It didn’t take long
before she settled into a rhythm – pulling the fruit from the vine
with one hand and using the other to transfer it to the basket. She
paused when a bee fluttered next to her hand, her eyes tracking it as it
danced erratically from blossom to blossom. As it finally flew on, she
resumed her work, attention totally captivated by the plant in front of
Finally, she sighed in satisfaction that she’d gotten everything
that was ripe, and pulled her hand out of the web of vines. She smiled
at the telltale greenish-yellow stains that colored her fingers. Only
tomato plants seemed to leave that particular mark. Bending at the
waist, she picked up her basket, hefting it experimentally for a moment
to gauge its weight. She shifted it from left hand to right, then turned
and walked back towards the house.
The grass felt cool and soft on her feet after standing in the packed
dirt that surrounded her garden beds, but this time she didn’t stop to
savor the sensation. Wiping her feet on the mat, she used her free hand
to open her sliding glass back door. Entering the house, she stopped for
a moment, blinking her eyes as they adjusted to the lack of direct
sunlight. Then she swung the basket up onto one of her ample kitchen
counters and went to the sink to wash her hands.
Within moments, she felt a cold nose pressing into the back of her
leg. She yelped in surprise, even though she knew she should have
expected her visitor. "Get off me, you mutt," she said in her
best I’m-trying-to-be-stern-but-failing-miserably voice.
The dog didn’t pay the slightest bit of attention to her order and
she couldn’t help but chuckle at the pathetically eager brown eyes
looking up at her. She reached down and patted his head, and was
rewarded with another nuzzle. How Colonel O’Neill had talked her into
keeping the pet he’d gotten for Cassandra, she had no idea. But the
girl’s dog had grown on her, even though she’d never admit it to
She walked out of the kitchen, patting her leg as she went. The
gesture was completely unnecessary, as the dog followed readily, knowing
with some special canine sense where they were going. Opening the side
door, she let him out into the dog run, knowing he’d been cooped up in
the house too long. The dog responded with an enthusiastic bark before
running off along the wire enclosed side yard.
Shutting the door behind her, she made her way back to the kitchen.
As if the appearance of the dog reminded her of her daughter, she went
over to the answering machine, remembering that she’d asked Cass to
call her by noon and let her know whether she was staying the night at
her friend’s house. Sure enough, the red light was blinking, and the
dispassionate, sexless voice of the machine told Janet that the teen had
only been about an hour late in calling. She chuckled as she listened to
her daughter’s breathless explanation as to why she was late, which
concluded with a hasty, "I’ll be at Jen’s tonight … thanks
… love ya."
Ah, to have the energy of a teenager without once again having to be
one. She smiled at the thought, then smiled even more as she realized
she would have the house to herself until Sam got home late that night.
While she loved both her daughter and her partner very much, time to
herself was almost an unknown quality and she fully intended to enjoy
her day puttering around the house. Even though she wished Sam could
spend more time away from the SGC – more time with just the two of
them being women in love – she still valued her time alone. It helped
her decompress from the stress that went hand in hand with her work.
Just the thought of it made her roll her shoulders, still vaguely
surprised that just a couple days of being away from Cheyenne Mountain
had already made most of the knots in her muscles disappear. And maybe
when Sam got home, she’d talk the blonde into giving her a massage.
She’d often thought that if the woman ever got fed up with the
politics and demands of the military, she could have a wonderful career
as a massage therapist. Her lover could do amazing things with her
She chuckled under her breath at the unintended innuendo in her own
Shaking her head at herself, she turned her attention back to the
wicker basket full of produce. Quickly and efficiently, she washed it
all, then draped a dishtowel across the counter and spread out the
cornucopia of tomatoes and zucchini and the lone carrot. She glanced out
the window that was situated over the sink – looking over her backyard
where vibrant reds, pinks, purples, whites, yellows, oranges, and blues
had caught her eye – and decided to leave the vegetables to dry while
she cut some flowers. While she had the time off, she may as well pretty
up the house with some colorful bouquets.
She pulled the kitchen shears out of a drawer and headed out the
backdoor, still barefoot. It was hard to describe just how good she was
feeling at the moment. And it was no little disturbing to realize just
how much she’d needed the break from work. Was it healthy, she
wondered, to let one aspect of life so overtake the other aspects? She’d
debated it before, and had never come up with an answer. Even though she
knew what she did was important, she wasn’t always sure it was worth
And here she was again, thinking about work. Ruefully she shook her
head, turning her attention back to the various flowers lining her
fence. She moved methodically from plant to plant, neatly snipping the
stems of roses and dahlias, once again humming tunelessly under her
breath. Soon her hand was full of stems, but she paused in front of a
low-lying fern and cut a few fronds from it. While she was far from
being a florist, she’d always liked having greenery in her flower
Heading back to the house, she glanced around the backyard again,
amazed at just how peaceful it made her feel just to be out in her own
little corner of nature.
She’d left the door open just a crack and she used her foot to
slide it open. Depositing her collection of flowers in the sink, she set
the shears on the counter and opened a cabinet door to retrieve her
vases. There were three of them in easy reach, and she took all three
down from the shelf.
She set the vases carefully next to the sink. Picking up the shears,
she began trimming off the ends of the flower stems, occasionally
holding a flower up to the side of a vase to gauge the effect. Before
long, the bottom of the sink was lined with green debris and she turned
her attention to sorting the flowers. Smiling, she gently placed three
of the red roses in the smallest of her vases and added a bit of fern
for contrast. That bouquet was for the bedroom that she and Sam shared.
The other two vases were much larger – more than ample room for all
the remaining flowers. She took a step back and surveyed her work with a
critical eye, then rearranged a couple dahlias in each vase so that the
various colored blooms were grouped attractively. Filling each vase with
water, she took the two larger ones to their destinations – placing
one on the dining room table and the other on the living room mantle in
between two sets of candles.
Janet picked up the smallest vase and padded off to their bedroom.
She looked around for a moment, debating where to put it so that Sam
would actually see it, since her lover tended to be oblivious in terms
of noticing little touches like that. While the blonde was amazingly
able to negotiate the world of theory and abstractions, she needed the
occasional hit with a two-by-four to see the obvious. With a sudden
grin, she placed the vase right in front of the alarm clock on the end
table next to Sam’s side of the bed. Considering that it was now
impossible to see the green digital display because of the flowers, she
knew her lover would have to notice it.
Still grinning, she made her way back to the kitchen. She headed
straight over to the portable CD/tape player that sat next to the
answering machine on one of the counters. Sorting through the few CDs
that were stacked next to it, she pulled out Enya’s
"Watermark" and popped it in. Within moments, the soothing
strains began filling the kitchen and she turned the volume up a touch,
fully intending to take advantage of the fact that there was no one else
home to make fun of her. Sam and Cassie both teased her about being
"new-agey" because of some of her taste in music. Then again,
what did they know? Sam rarely even listened to music and Cassandra’s
preferences ran to screeching guitars and incomprehensible lyrics.
Humming along to the music, she pulled out a kettle, a cutting board,
and a chef’s knife. Then she busied herself with putting away the
zucchini she’d picked earlier, though she left the tomatoes on the
counter, knowing she was going to use most of them. She stowed the
zucchini in the fridge and pulled out carrots, mushrooms, fresh oregano,
and fresh basil – setting them on the counter next to the tomatoes.
Then she moved to a wire basket hanging from the ceiling and pulled out
a head of garlic and a couple large onions. Last, but not least, she
pulled a bowl out of the dish drainer and filled it with cherry
tomatoes, figuring that they could be left out on the counter for people
to snack on.
Washing her hands and donning her apron, she mused that it had been
entirely too long since she’d done any intensive cooking like this.
With the erratic schedules her household kept, dinner often was either
take-out or a main dish from the supermarket’s deli counter coupled
with a salad or vegetables. Which was all fine and good, except for the
fact that she liked to cook.
With deft motions, she set to work chopping tomatoes and then
scooping them into the kettle. It might have been a while since she’d
done any real knife work, but her fingers hadn’t entirely forgotten
their skills. She quickly became absorbed in her work and the music, her
mind pleasantly focused in on only the task at hand, rather than busy
thinking about everything under the sun. Her lover wasn’t the only
person who made thinking into something of an art form.
She had to pause a couple times to restart the CD once the last track
had played, but other than that, she worked away. Before she knew it,
her kettle was full of tomatoes, onions, garlic, carrots, fresh herbs,
and a few miscellaneous seasonings. The mushrooms sat in a separate
bowl, to be added once the sauce had cooked down a bit so they wouldn’t
She ran her hands under the water in the sink, then picked up the
kettle and set it on the stove to simmer. While she waited for the heat
to start doing its trick, she washed the knife and cutting board,
setting them in the dish drainer to dry. Then she wiped down the
counter, as she’d always been a firm believer in the clean-as-you-go
school of cooking. Rinsing out her cloth, she wrung it out and draped it
neatly over the edge of the sink, then grabbed up her trusty wooden
She peered into the kettle as she began stirring the mixture. As
silly as it probably sounded, she felt very content just to be doing
such mundane things on her vacation … not just because she enjoyed
them, but because she had the time to really savor the experience. She
chuckled to herself as she remembered Colonel O’Neill’s reaction to
her idea of spending her vacation at home. He clearly thought she was
nuts. Of course, she took his reaction with a grain of salt, knowing
that if he’d had his way, she’d be sitting in front of a lake for
hours on end – completely present in the moment as she waited for some
stray fish to actually find her hook and bait. At least they both had
ideas of recreation that involved utter relaxation. Daniel and Sam both
thought vacations existed so they could catch up on the work that they
couldn’t get to in the course of a normal day.
She supposed that in the end, what mattered was that people could do
whatever nurtured them, no matter what form it took.
Absently, she watched the kettle as she stirred, seeing how the
tomatoes were beginning to break down under the heat, bubbling gently as
they cooked. Stirring the mixture one last time, she placed the spoon on
the stovetop, knowing that now it was just a matter of letting the sauce
simmer. She’d still need to keep an eye on it and stir it from time to
time, but the bulk of the work was done. Then, once it had cooked down
to her satisfaction and she’d added the mushrooms, all she’d need to
do would be wait for it to cool and then portion it into plastic
containers for freezing. Her grandparents had always canned things, but
she’d never had the patience for learning how to do it. Obviously, her
domesticity only went so far.
Moving back to the sink, she rinsed some stray splatters off her
hand, eyes staring through the window at the yard. Clouds had moved
across the sky while she’d been occupied, and yet somehow, the mild
grey of the sky made the colors of her flowers and plants stand out even
more starkly than they had under the glare of the sun. It was beautiful.
She just stood there for a moment, lost in both the sight in front of
her eyes and the timeless melodies filling her ears. Then she started in
surprise as she felt strong arms circle her waist and she was pulled
back against a lean body.
"Sorry. I didn’t mean to scare you. I thought you’d heard me
Janet relaxed against her lover’s body at the words whispered
against her ear. "It’s ok. My mind was just wandering."
She heard a soft chuckle and a teasing, "Apparently."
Janet chuckled too at the gentle gibe. She knew that her lover
understood what she was doing. Sam was actually one of the few people
who didn’t seem to think she was weird for wanting to be more in the
moment – which was just plain weird when she thought about it, since
the blonde tended to be oblivious to the mundane.
She turned slightly in the secure hold, nuzzling against Sam’s
neck, and murmured softly, "I thought you weren’t going to be
home until late." After a moment’s pause, she added, "Not
that I’m complaining."
She felt the hands around her waist tighten fractionally, pulling her
closer. "I didn’t think I was going to be either. But Siler came
down and helped me install the new instruments on the MALP – the ones
to help more accurately test atmospheric conditions. Then we both tested
and calibrated them." There was a distinctly amused note in her
lover’s tone. "I don’t think he wanted to wait for Conner and
Davis to get around to running the tests so that we could do the final
calibration. It went a lot faster with us just doing all the work."
Janet smiled at that and pulled out of the woman’s arms, turning to
face her. "Anxious to get home to his girlfriend, was he?"
She saw the glint of humor in Sam’s eyes as she responded. "Oh
yeah. Of course, I can’t exactly blame him there. I know the feeling
… I’ve got a pretty wonderful girlfriend to come home to
Janet laughed softly at that and curled her hand to the back of Sam’s
neck, pulling her lover’s head down for a tender kiss.
When their lips parted, she brushed Sam’s cheek with her hand. The
blonde turned her head slightly, kissing her fingers, and asked,
"Have you had a good day?"
Janet smiled. "It’s been a good day. Very relaxing. Just what
the doctor ordered." She sighed in rich contentment, and then
added, "Though I’ve still got some tension in my shoulders …
they’re still kinda sore." Even she could hear the pathetically
hopeful note in her own voice.
She didn’t get any farther before Sam leaned down and kissed her
again. "Tell you what, Jan … I’ll go get cleaned up and you can
finish up in here. Then I’ll take you out for a nice dinner and we’ll
spend a quiet evening together. And then before bed, I’ll give you a
full body massage. I know you’ve been really stressed lately and I
just want to help you relax. I … I’ve been kinda worried about you
There was a note of embarrassment in her lover’s last words at the
confession and Janet once again brushed her fingers tenderly across the
woman’s cheek. "I know you have. But I’m ok … I just needed a
break, I think. And you have no idea how good that sounds … to spend
an evening with the woman I love … just us being together without work
following us." She broke off for a moment and then sighed,
"Not to mention the idea of getting a massage."
She was graced with a soft laugh at the last words, a 100-watt smile,
and another kiss. "It sounds good to me too."
Then, without any great need for further discussion, Sam headed out
of the kitchen to get a shower, while Janet turned back to the sauce
merrily simmering away. She stirred it a few times, vaguely aware that
the CD had stopped again and that she could now hear the faint sounds of
her lover moving around the house. The scrape of a dresser drawer, the
thud of the clothes hamper lid shutting … just normal sounds of daily
life that she’d heard hundreds of times.
She took a spoonful of sauce and let it cool, then tasted it. After a
moment’s contemplation, she grabbed the salt and pepper, adding a
liberal portion of each to the kettle and stirring them in. Distantly,
she could hear the faint sounds of water running, telling her that Sam
was in the shower.
It was nothing more than an ordinary moment that was probably
repeating itself in thousands of other homes at that very moment. But
coupled with her very ordinary day, it suddenly struck Janet as being
important. Something about that one moment in time triggered a
revelation …gave her the answer to the question she’d been chewing
on all day.
This was why she stayed at the SGC, why she continued with her work
despite the personal toll it took on her.
It was so that people around the world – the ones who had no idea
that such a thing as the Stargate even existed – could live their
ordinary lives and go about their daily routines, untroubled by the
threat of being enslaved by the Goa’uld or annihilated by some of the
other aliens they’d encountered. It was so that other couples could
spend evenings together … so that other children could hang out with
friends … so that other women could enjoy a day spent puttering around
the house. It was so other people could enjoy their gardens and other
people could enjoy their lovers … so that the little routines of daily
life could continue the way they had for thousands of years.
That’s what she was working for … not just the grand goal of
saving the planet, since it was all too apparent that humans might well
blow it up themselves some day. She – like the others at the SGC –
carried the burden of their jobs so that other people wouldn’t have
to. Because she did her job, other people could carry on their normal
lives, could do the things that made them happy.
After all, if that wasn’t worth working for and fighting for, what
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