Lines in the Sand
Author: ocean gazer: firstname.lastname@example.org
Date: 5 Nov., 2K
Rating: R ish for violence and mature themes
Category: serious angst
Archive: yes, if Iíve already given permission
(otherwise, just ask)
Summary: after a traumatic event, Sam and Janet have
feelings to sort out
Disclaimer: I wish I owned Ďem, but I donít. The
characters belong to some perfectly nice folks at MGM, Showtime,
Gekko, etc. Iím just stealing them to work out my own demons
and will return them as good as new. I do this for love, not
money; I invite any of the aforementioned owners to steal
WARNING: Refs to character
assault and character rape, though nothing too explicit. Minor,
minor, minor religious ref. If you are looking for sex or for a
traditional happy ending, do not bother reading this story.
Notes: I have no idea any longer if this story has meritÖ
it simply has demanded to be written. My apologies if it sucks.
Criticism welcome as long as it isnít flames; comments in
general are helpful. I owe thanks to rutherford and Phil for
conversations that helped me with some of the ideas; however all
faults are entirely mine.
1 | Part 2 |
Janet woke the next morning to the blare
of the alarm clock. She reached out and slammed her fist against it. She
lay back in bed--her brain still foggy with sleep--and was momentarily
confused by the warmth of a presence beside her in bed.
Samís voice, protesting the presence of
sunlight, filtered through Janetís head and the events of the previous
night came back to Janet with the subtlety of a foghorn. She rolled over
onto her side and let her hand drift out to brush disheveled blonde hair
off Samís forehead, careful to avoid the lacerations.
Sam looked up at Janet, who had propped
herself up on one elbow. Janet smiled down at her friend. "How are
you feeling, Sam?"
Sam groaned in response.
Janet narrowed her eyes as she surveyed
her friend. She frowned, and spoke quietly. "You donít have to go
into the complex today, Sam. Why donít you just stay here and rest.
Watch some movies, read a bookÖ" She noticed Samís reaction to
the thought and continued, "No one will think any less of you if
you take some time away."
Sam sighed, very deeply. "I think I
need to work. I need something else to distract me for a little
She wouldnít meet Janetís gaze and
there was a guarded quality to her voice. Janet reached out to stroke
Samís hair, her voice as gentle as she could make it.
"Are you sorry about yesterday,
about telling me what you did?"
Sam did look up then, her eyes dark with
concern. With a shock, Janet realized the concern was focused on her.
"Thatís not what I meant, Janet. I wouldnít have said anything
at all if I didnít want toÖbelieve me, Iím very good at keeping
things private." She broke off for a moment and turned her gaze to
the wall. "I just meant I need to have something to focus on, to
keep me from constantly dwelling on the past."
And then her voice dropped so low that
Janet could barely hear her. "Iím not sorry for confiding in you;
I just hope I didnít make you uncomfortableÖ"
Janet moved her hand to cup Samís cheek
and she turned the womanís head. Sam looked up and Janet pressed a
light kiss to Samís temple. "Sam, I cannot tell you how honored I
am that you let down your guard with me."
She noted the flicker of relief on Samís
face and her tone turned to doctor mode. "I know that you are
wanting to escape your memories for a while, but at some point you are
going to have to deal with them. You canít continue to keep something
this serious bottled up inside, or it will end up destroying you."
To Janetís extreme surprise, Sam nodded
thoughtfully, rather than insisting angrily that she could handle
things. Carterís voice indicated she was as surprised by her reaction
as Janet was.
"I know, Janet. I just need some
time, so everything isnít so raw. I thought I could handle this, but
after last night, I realize I need to talk about it. JustÖnot
Janet stroked Samís cheek lightly,
careful of the bruises there. "Take all the time you need, Sam. Iím
not going anywhere." They lay, looking at each other, and Janet
sensed Sam was drawing strength from the simple touch.
It was Janet who broke the spell, turning
briefly to look over her shoulder at the alarm clock. "Weíd
better get going. I donít suppose General Hammond will be overly
impressed if we come strolling in around noon."
Samís eyes widened and she sat bolt
upright in bed. "What time is it?" There was an edge of
paranoia in her voice.
Janet laughed reassuringly. "Oh, itís
Sam swatted her on the arm and Janet
raised an eyebrow. "You have to admit, that got you up and
Sam rolled her eyes, and Janet smiled
widely. "What did I do?" she breathed in her best innocent
voice. Sam simply shook her head.
Five days laterÖ
"So are you going to stand around
and admire the scenery, or are you going to help me unpack the
car?" Janet called to Sam, who was standing next to the car,
staring down at the sparkling blue lake at the bottom of the hill.
Janet smiled to herself when absolutely
no response came from Carter. She took that as a good sign; getting Sam
to agree to go on vacation with her and spend a week at Doctor Matthewsí
cabin had been about like pulling teeth. Samís usual idea of taking it
easy was to only spend 8 hours in the lab on her day off instead or 12
It actually had been a fairly good week.
Samís bruises were healing quite rapidly, though the lacerations on
her head were still livid and ugly. Sam cleared her psych evaluation and
the two women had made quite a lot of headway on Janetís research
projects. Hammondís investigation into the Jacobs situation was
handled quickly and discreetly.
There were, of course, rumors floating
around the SGC, but the talk Janet managed to overhear indicated that
those who knew of the incident only wished they could have walked in and
thrown a few punches at Jacobs themselves. There was a nearly universal
disdain of the man and even those who werenít overly fond of Carter
felt sorry for her in light of who her attacker was.
The mood between the two women stayed
fairly light and they had not delved back into Samís past demons.
Janet was trying to trust in Sam to talk to her when the time was right.
The only thing that had been difficult for Janet was the realization
that the more time she spent with Sam, and the more Sam let down her
guard around Janet, the more Janet felt like she was falling in love
with her friend. She wanted to tell Sam, wanted to be honest with her,
but she didnít quite know how to do it, or whether she even should
Pulling her thoughts back to the present,
Janet called out Samís name. "So are you going to give me a hand
Sam turned around and walked back to take
the suitcase out of Janetís grasp. "Sorry," Sam said
apologetically. "Itís just been a while since Iíve taken a
She turned and walked over to the cabin
door, pausing to catch the key Janet tossed at her. Janet watched Sam,
focusing in on the grace and strength of the other woman.
Shaking her head to keep from staring too
noticeably, Janet muttered to herself, "Gonna be a very interesting
Janet took a long sip of wine, straight
from the bottle, noticing in surprise that the bottle was nearly empty.
With lightening quick reasoning, she figured that she had drunk most of
it, since Sam had only finished one glass and was working on a second
glass. Janet certainly didnít feel like she had been drinking that
much, but then she was too relaxed to care.
Janet was sitting in a beanbag on the
floor in front of a roaring fire, and Sam was sitting between her legs,
lying back against her. Sam had originally been sitting next to her, but
Janet had insisted on giving her a shoulder massage, and once the
massage was done, she had pulled Sam back to lean against her.
Janet knew, with the still sober part of
her brain, that she was playing with fireósimply the heat of Samís
body pressed against her own was making Janet aware of her own growing
desire to be close to Sam. She tried to rationalize things by reminding
herself that Sam had not even voiced a protest, but she knew damn well
that was not a good rationale.
Sam was one of the smartest people Janet
knew, but her ability to pick up on subtle cues of sexual interest was
not well developed. Sam had barely believed it when Daniel and Janet had
both told her that Lt. Simmons had a crush on her, and his crush was so
obvious that even OíNeill had noticed it.
Janet drank the final bit of wine from
the bottle and tried to sort through her feelings for her friend. Not
that the alcohol was helping her reasoning process any, but it made her
more able to be honest with herself.
She hadnít gotten very far in her
mental sorting, when Sam spoke up abruptly. "This is really nice,
Janet. Iím really glad you invited me to stay with you. I really
appreciate everything youíve done for me."
Janet murmured something appropriate
against Samís ear, and was surprised when Sam reached out and polished
off half her glass of wine in one swallow.
There was silence for a while and then
Sam spoke again. "Iíve been thinking a lot about what you said,
about needing to talk about whatÖwhat happened to me."
Sam turned slightly in Janetís embrace,
sitting sideways with her head against Janetís shoulder. Janet could
feel the warm play of Samís breath against the hollow of her throat.
Janet brought one hand up to caress the back of Samís stiff neck, as
Sam began her tale.
"This is really new for meÖI
realized in high school that I liked girls, not boys, but I never had
anyone to talk to about it. My father, with his military background,
would never have understood. He used to make cracks about discharging
gays from the service by shooting them. And my mother wasÖwas
Janet sighed in sympathy, knowing how
much her motherís death had haunted Sam. The intensity in Samís
voice sobered Janet, somehow serving to chase away the lingering effects
of the wine.
Sam continued her narrative, in slow,
halting sentences. "I got my share of harassment in college. I was
never open about my sexualityómost of my friends didnít even have
more than a vague clue. But since I didnít go out on dates, there were
plenty of people who made all kinds of assumptions.
"It was mostly just name calling,
something I could ignore. A few anonymous punches in crowded hallways,
nothing too serious. But when I entered the military, there was a guyÖThomas
Sam paused, and her hand clutched tightly
to the front of Janetís shirt. Janet didnít say anything; she was
almost scared to breathe loud, not wanting to spook Sam, feeling the
remembered fear radiating from Carter.
"To this day, I donít know exactly
why he focused in on me. He hounded me every chance he got, just like
Jacobs. Kept saying I must be gay since I didnít deny it. I threatened
to report him for harassment, but I never did. I was barely out of
training and he was an experienced officer. And that was one thing dad
drilled into my headóyou always obey and respect your superiors.
"It must have gone on for a couple
of months. One weekend, I had a pass and went into town. Iíd been
seeing a woman I knew from college, and we planned to spend the weekend
together. Tom must have been following me without me knowing itÖ"
Samís voice broke.
"Oh, Sam," breathed Janet,
tightening her embrace on the woman. Sam snuggled closer against her,
and Janet could feel the tears from Samís eyes dampening the front of
"Julie and I went to the movies on
Friday and then went for a walk in the park. It was nearly wintertime,
cold and crisp, and the park was deserted. We were laughing about
something, and then suddenly Tom jumped out in front of us.
"He had a knife and was calling us
horrible, hateful names I had never even heard before. He grabbed for
Julie, saying he was going to hurt me by hurting my girlfriend, and I
pushed her away and told her to run. He started to go after her, and I
got in his way and yelled at her to keep running. I tried to fight him,
tried to get away, but he was so strong and IÖI was soÖscaredÖ"
Sam shuddered and Janet was aware that
she had been holding her breath during Samís tale, barely able to
believe the words falling from Samís lips. Janet felt like she was
walking some sort of tightrope while she waited for the rest of Samís
"I saw the look in his eyesÖitís
like he saw me as evil incarnateÖI never truly understood until that
moment what they meant by a hate crime." Sam paused to take a slow,
"Afterwards, he stood over me and
laughed. Told me if I ever reported him, heíd do it again and the next
time he would kill me. And he made damn sure I knew he already had an
alibi, so that if I did try and report him, it would be my word against
a whole bunch of other peopleís. And I believed him; I believed he
would kill me.
"He just left me there. Julie came
back with her father a little while later. He was a doctor and they took
me to his house and patched me up. Her father told me point blank that
if he ever caught me with his daughter again, Iíd regret the
experience. After that night, I never saw Julie againÖ
"The only good thing that happened
was that Tom got caught stealing and was kicked out of the service only
two weeks later, so at least I didnít have a constant reminder of that
Samís tears turned into another cascade
of sobs and once again, Janet felt herself crying as hard as Sam was.
For the second time in a week, the two cried together, clinging tightly
to each other. A small part of Janetís mind knew the catharsis was
good for both of them; the rest of her mind was overcome with griefówhether
for Sam alone or for people in general, she couldnít tell.
And mixed in with the grief was a
profound awareness that Sam was a lot stronger than Janet had ever
suspected. She had been the victim of a horrible thing, had managed to
survive it without having anyone to confide in, all while being immersed
in a super-macho culture where rape jokes and gay slams were not unheard
of, and sheíd somehow managed to not end up being destroyed by
bitterness or hatred. Janet thought briefly that if sheíd gone through
that, she would have ended up as a vigilante.
And in the midst of all the emotions
rolling through her, Janet suddenly realized without any sense of doubt
that she was completely in love with the woman held protectively in her
She had always been close to Carter; the
two understood each other in a way few others could with their
respective careers and scientific outlooks. But now Janet knew her
feelings ran far deeper, and she cursed her lousy sense of timing,
knowing that the last thing Sam needed at the moment was the
complication of a would-be lover.
Janetís musings were interrupted by a
short, staccato burst of laughter from Sam. With a motherly air, Janet
leaned forward and pressed a brief kiss to the top of Samís head.
"Whatís so funny?" she asked gently.
Sam pulled out of the embrace just enough
to look into Janetís eyes. Janet was surprised at the unguarded nature
of Samís gaze, reading depths of emotion that she was not sure Sam was
fully aware ofóincluding an affection that seemed to mirror Janetís
"I canít believe how much better I
feel," Sam announced softly; her tone and face were full of wonder,
as if she had been the recipient of a miracle. "Thank you, Janet; I
canít tell you how much it means to me that youíve been here for me
through all of this."
Janet could not believe how that simple,
sincere sentence made her heart rate climb and her cheeks flush with
heat. Fighting to keep her voice normal, she said, "Well, thatís
what friends are for."
An odd expression crossed Samís face at
the word friend, an expression Janet couldnít quite read. "Best
friends," Sam whispered, laying her head against Janetís shoulder
Janet couldnít quite think of a
response to that, so she settled for saying, "Iím glad you were
able to confide in me, Sam. Believe it or not, that means a lot to
She bent her head, to rest her cheek
against the top of Samís head. They sat like that while the fire died
down and the night air grew chill. Sam reached out with her toes to snag
a blanket lying nearby, as if she was unwilling to break the embrace.
She draped it somewhat awkwardly around herself and Janet.
Janet rearranged herself so that she was
lying down more than she was sitting up, and Sam managed to move along
with her, as if they had melded into Siamese twins who needed a physical
connection to survive.
Before long, Janet realized Sam had
fallen asleep, one hand still wound in the fabric of Janetís shirt.
Janet reached out and let her hand wander freely through the messy
blonde hair, surprised at her own audacity. Janet felt like her world
had been upended: first, by the story Sam had told; second, by her own
intense attraction to Sam; third, by the feeling she had gotten that Sam
might feel something more than friendship for Janet.
Janet stared at the embers of the fire,
her hand absently stroking Samís hair, her thoughts running in
ill-defined circles. Janetís last thought, before sleep claimed her,
was that regardless of anything else, she was happy to have Sam as a
Janet woke with a sense of
disorientation. She blinked rapidly for the few seconds it took her
brain to remember where she was.
She and Sam had drifted around during the
nightóthey were now laying side by side, the blanket twisted in odd
lumps around them. Janet had her head on Samís chest and one of Samís
arms was draped over Janetís back.
Janet moved fractionally, and felt Sam
shift beside her. The hand on Janetís back moved in a slow, massaging
rhythm. "Morning, sleepy head," Sam said.
Janetís response was a heartfelt yawn.
Sam laughed and Janet felt Sam press a soft kiss to the top of her head,
and then press a kiss to Janetís forehead.
Janet froze at the twin gestures of
affection and she heard a note of alarm in Samís voice. "Whatís
Janet swallowed hard, warring with
herself over what she should say, if anything. Coming to absolutely no
conclusion, she opted to sit up next to Sam, hoping that motion would
jar her brain into gear somehow.
The doctor turned her head slowly to look
at Sam, seeing the concern written across the womanís expressive face.
Samís next words were barely a whisper. "Is it last night? I didnít
mean to overwhelm you; I just guess I felt safe enough with you to tell
the story. Did I say too much?"
Janet managed a terse laugh at that, and
shook her head emphatically, still not sure what to say. She simply
stared at Sam, hoping beyond any rational thought that Sam would develop
telepathy so she wouldnít have to say anything.
Sam cocked her head to the side and Janet
could almost see the way her mind was churning as she regarded Janet.
Then, without warning and as if in response to Janetís unuttered plea,
Sam leaned in and kissed her forehead again.
"Is that whatís bothering
you?" Sam asked quietly.
Janet managed only a nod in response, and
she saw the way Samís jaw squared as the blonde took a deep breath.
Janet thought she had offended her friend, and opened her mouth to
formulate some sort of apology, when Sam beat her to it.
"Iím sorry, Janet. I should have
thought about it before I kissed youÖI donít want to make you
Samís eyes dropped away and Janet was
completely puzzled for a long moment. Then two and two clicked together
to make twenty-two and Janetís words came in a rush of attempted
"No, Sam, itís not like that. Iím
not at all uncomfortable with the fact that you kissed me. Thatís
what the problem is."
Her words trailed off and Samís head
snapped back to look at Janet so quickly that the doctor momentarily was
concerned about whiplash. "Are you sayingÖ."
Now it was Janetís turn to look away.
She said the words quickly, knowing that otherwise she wouldnít say
them at all. "Iím saying that I liked it. Sam, I think Iím
falling in love with you."
Complete silence greeted her confession
and she tried to prepare for whatever reaction Sam had to her words.
Idly, she wished she hadnít finished the bottle of wine last night
because she felt like she needed a drink right at the moment.
And then Janet felt gentle hands cupping
her jaw and tilting her head back up. She fought the gesture, suddenly
certain that she would see an odd mix of pity and rejection on Samís
face. But the hands were strong and Janet found herself staring into
Carterís impossibly blue eyes.
Samís statement was simple. "You
arenít the only one; Iíve already fallen for you."
Janet couldnít breathe for a moment,
totally overwhelmed by the recognition that this was no one way street,
totally overwhelmed by the realization that they were moving onto
dangerous ground given their careers and their lives.
Sam folded Janet into a snug embrace and
Janet just sat, clutching tightly to the other woman. Now that the truth
was out and she knew for certain what she felt and what Sam felt, she
couldnít quite get her mind around it. It was no longer an idle
fantasy, a game of "what if?". It was real, and for some
reason Janet found herself terrified.
Sam just held her and said slowly,
"Iíve always cared a lot about you, Janet. I just never figured
you were even slightly bi. And, to be honest, I was scared about
exploring a relationship, even if you were interested."
That last bit startled Janet. "You
Sam chuckled, very lightly, and let her
hand wander up to pet Janetís head. "Still am," she
confided. Her tone abruptly grew serious. "Iíve worked my butt
off to get where I am today in my career, and my career has been the one
thing I could throw myself into that wouldnít turn on me. Iím scared
of the thought of losing everything because of being in love."
Janet took a long and shaky breath, and
hugged Sam even tighter. "Iíve just now thought about thatÖand
itís a scary thought. I have to admit, itís reassuring to know weíre
both on the same page, so to speak."
Sam chuckled again. "With which
part: the being in love part or the fear part?"
Janet felt a laugh bubble up in her own
chest. "Both!" she managed to sputter.
The two shared a round of nervous
laughter, and then lapsed again into silence. Janet felt her thoughts
spinning around in circles. She managed to say, "And about last
night, Sam, you didnít say too much. I have to admit last night was a
little overwhelming, but I wouldnít change it for anything, since it
brought us closer together. In fact, Iím still in awe of how
vulnerable you let yourself be with me."
Samís voice was quiet. "I do trust
you, you know. It was a little scary to relive that experience, but I
feel a lot better now. Iíve still got some things to sort out, butÖ"
She paused briefly. "It would probably be a good idea if we got upÖmoved
aroundÖate something. The last week has been pretty intense for both
of us and we need a bit of a distraction, especially right now so we
arenít thinking too much. I mean, itís not like we donít have the
time to talk later when things arenít so raw."
Janet pulled away from Sam, finding that
just the mention of doing something physical and tangible served to
focus her thoughts. "Good point," Janet offered, "though
I donít know why you never told me that amateur psychologist was one
of your many talents."
Sam rolled her eyes expressively.
In point of fact, they kept themselves
distracted for nearly three days straight, having lots of fun in the
process. It wasnít like there was a dearth of options: they went
hiking and window shopped in the nearby tourist town and cooked simple
feasts and played board games by firelight.
At the moment, Janet sat on one of the
stools in the kitchen, watching Sam cook dinner. That had been one of
the many revelations of the past few daysóJanet had never known Sam
could do anything more complicated in the kitchen than heat up soup.
Janet took another sip of her wine as Sam
neatly chopped carrots for vegetable lasagna. This day had passed in
relative quiet; they planned to go hiking again but a virtual downpour
dampened their enthusiasm.
Janet baked bread earlier in the
afternoon, while Sam read a magazine theyíd picked up at the store.
And now Janet simply sat and watched her friend, feeling the comfort of
the silence they shared.
Though it was true that they had avoided
further conversation about their mutual attraction, Janet didnít feel
like it was a strained silence. She swirled the wine around in her
glass, pondering that for a moment.
She didnít think they were avoiding it
simply in hopes that they wouldnít have to deal with it. Janet had
been in avoidance situations before, with her ex-husband and with one of
her boyfriends; and those situations had been marked with an awkwardness
that simply was not present between Carter and Fraiser.
Sam tapped lightly on the hand Janet had
resting on the counter. "Penny for your thoughts?" she
queried, finishing with the carrots and moving on to mushrooms.
Janet took another sip of wine and then
set her glass down. She leaned forward with her elbows on the counter,
propping her chin up against her hands.
"Iíve just been thinking,"
Samís eyebrows lifted, and she turned
her head to look at Janet. "Now thereís a novel concept,"
Janet stuck her tongue out at the blonde,
who promptly returned the gesture.
"Iíve just been thinking how much
Iíve enjoyed the past few days," Janet continued smoothly.
"Itís very comfortable to be here with you."
Sam smiled as she sliced vegetables.
"It has been nice, hasnít it."
Janet heard a wistful note in Samís
voice. It was subtle, but then Janet was very attuned to Sam, and picked
up on it with ease.
Janet sighed quietly at the revealed
sentiment. "I guess Iím starting to wonder what happens
now," Janet offered quietly, not really sure it was the time or
setting to bring up the subject.
Sam finished with the mushrooms and set
down the knife. She leaned back against the counter edge and Janet heard
the soft sigh. "Iíve been wondering the same thing," Sam
Janet stared intently at Samís suddenly
solemn face, wishing that there were some sort of roadmap that she could
have bought to figure out where she was going. Unfortunately this
situation came with no maps or guideposts, no big X to cry out "You
are here", no arrow pointing "This way to where you need to
Janet sat up straight on the stool and
dropped her hands to her lap. She had no idea what she wanted to say;
she wasnít even sure what she wanted to have happen. She
chastised herself mentally for bringing up a subject she felt completely
unprepared to speak on.
Sam walked over to send a gentle finger
scrolling across Janetís cheek. "Cat got your tongue?" she
asked seriously, as if Janetís answer would somehow affect the fate of
Janet could only nod, suddenly and
achingly aware of how much she cared for this woman, which led her to
the startling realization that above all, she did not want to do anything
that would jeopardize their friendship.
Sam kissed Janetís forehead lightly and
then moved away again to lean against the counter. She tapped her
fingers, and Janet could see a tinge of nervousness shadow Samís face.
Sam spoke slowly and carefully, studying
the floor as if it was a complicated mathematical equation. "I
meant it when I said I am in love with you, Janet."
Janet started to tell Carter she meant it
as well, but Sam cut her off gently.
"And because I love you, and I
believe that you love me, I canít risk getting into a romantic
relationship with you." Sam paused, almost cringing, as if she was
waiting for a loud, angry protest.
Janet sat perfectly still, absorbing the
words, turning over their implications in her mind.
Sam continued quietly, her eyes locked on
the floor, an aura of tension surrounding her. "I know what itís
like to have a relationship that has to be completely hidden. It puts an
incredible strain on the people involved, and invariably destroys the
relationship in the process. And I want to have you in my life, if only
as a friend; I donít want to risk losing you."
Janet jumped in, her voice contemplative
rather than accusing. "Arenít we hiding something anyway? I mean,
even if we donít start a romance, arenít we already having to hide
the fact that we do have feelings for each other?"
A look of incredible sadness crossed Samís
face. "It isnít the same thing, Janet. Itís easier to hide
attraction than a relationship, since there are no lines that have been
crossed. We wouldnít have the same stress, since our daily lives would
not be so intimately bound." Sam paused and then offered, "Iíve
been in love with you for over a year nowÖcan you honestly tell me
that you knew?"
Janet felt her eyes widen at that. She
had never even suspected a remotely sexual interest on Carterís part.
And as she thought about what Sam said, she knew the other woman was
right: admitting feelings and acting on feelings had entirely different
implications. Not that it was quite that simple, but the point remained
Carter had gone silent, her hands fisting
at her side, and Janet realized the woman was scared of Janetís
reaction to her statements. Janet swung herself down from the stool and
went to stand next to Sam.
"I do love you, you know,"
Janet said quietly. "And I wasnít really sure until just now what
I wanted to have happen. I want us to be friends. I really would like to
be more than that, but not if it means taking the risk that weíll lose
Samís tone was full of bitterness.
"If it wasnít for ĎDonít ask, donít tellíÖ"
Janet snorted derisively. "I know. I
understand the reasons behind it, but thereís got to be another way to
cope with the situation. I mean, dear God, why do uptight people seem to
assume that they are such hot stuff that any gay person is going to find
She was gratified to hear Sam burst into
laughter at that. "Isnít that the truth?" Sam exclaimed, her
tone making it obvious that she had heard some of the same locker room
comments Janet had. "And for the record, not a single one of them
has been anyone Iíd even think to look at twice."
They shared a round of hysterical
giggles, a much needed relief from the previous tension.
Sam wiped her eyes on her sleeve and
finally looked up into Janetís face. "I would love to be more
than friends, but I just canít do that right now. I donít want to
lose you, and as selfish as this sounds, Iím not ready to risk my
career and Iím not ready to ask you to risk yours. And then thereís
Cassie to think aboutÖ"
Janet reached out and took hold of Samís
hand. "I thought about that too. If we were to get kicked out of
the military, Iím pretty sure I would lose custody of her, given her
background. She poses too great a security risk. Even if General Hammond
were to be sympathetic to us--which is something I seriously doubt--he
would never risk that sort of breach in security. Weíve signed some
binding nondisclosure agreements, but Cass hasnít."
Sam agreed. "Plus thereís the
difficulty of what would happen when she found out about us being
involved. From a couple comments sheís made, Iíve gathered that
homosexuality is more of a taboo on her planet than it is here. Iím
not ready to risk hurting her right now when sheís been through so
much already in her life."
Janet nodded glumly; no more eager than
Sam to do anything that would hurt her daughter.
Sam looked away again and said softly,
"And I donít ever want to watch you deal with threats from people
like Jacobs and Tom. Right now, since everyone knows you were married,
no one would seriously speculate about your private life. But if we were
involved, no matter how hard we tried to hide it, someone would probably
catch us in an indiscreet moment, and you would be at risk for the same
sort of assaultÖ"
Janet heard the tiny catch in her voice
and squeezed tightly at the hand she held. She couldnít find any words
and settled for simple touch.
They stood in silence for a long moment
and then Janet said lightly, "Just know that when circumstances
change, Iíll be ready to see what life as more than friends feels
Sam mustered up a smile at that.
"Oh, Iíll be counting on it. Donít think that youíll get away
from me that easily."
Janet smiled in return. "Do I look
like Iím running?"
A heartbeat later Sam commented, "I
know this wonít always be easy. Hell, itís not easy right now, to
stand here and tell you I love you and then tell you that I just want to
Janet frowned slightly. "Easy? No.
The right thing to do given the reality of our lives? Yes. For what itís
worth, Sam, I admire you a lot more now than I did half an hour ago. Youíve
just been through hell, youíve just discovered that I share your
feelings, and yet you are still aware that falling in love is not a
vacuum where two people can live happily ever after. Thereís more at
stake here than just us and our passions."
Sam sighed deeply and licked her lips
self-consciously. She exhaled shakily. "You have no idea how
relieved I am to hear you say that. I was scared that you would be
downright furious with me. And for the record, I admire you a lot too,
Janet gave Samís hand a final squeeze,
and then released it. "How nice," she commented dryly.
"Our very own mutual admiration society."
Sam swatted her gently on the arm.
Janet affected her most innocent air.
"Me? You must be joking."
Sam rolled her eyes at that and Janet
resumed her seat on the stool, reaching out to grab a carrot piece from
the nearly forgotten cutting board.
"I am totally starving," Janet
announced with an air of surprise. "Iíd forgotten just how
draining a heart-to-heart talk like this could be."
Sam made no verbal response, instead
cutting off a slice of bread, dabbing it with butter, and offering it to
Janet. The doctor took it and while she gnawed hungrily, Sam finished
assembling the lasagna. She put the dish in the oven, cut her own slice
of bread, and refilled Janetís wine glass.
"Weíve got a while until dinner is
ready," Sam announced, somewhat unnecessarily. "How about I
build up a fire and then I beat you in a game of Scrabble?"
"Sounds good, except Iím
definitely going to win," Janet retorted, jumping off the stool to
follow Carter into the living room.
They had time for two games, leaving them
tied at one and one. They discussed plans for the next day while they
ate dinner and cleaned up the kitchen.
Janet sat down in front of the fire, and
Sam sat right next to her. Janet put her arm around the other womanís
back and whispered, "Best friends, Sam."
The blonde nodded, her own arm going
around Janetís back. "The best. I swear to you, Janet, we can do
Janet leaned her head against Samís
shoulder. "I know we can."
They stayed like that for a long time,
and Janet felt herself getting sleepy. She yawned loudly and Sam
Janet shrugged herself out from Samís
arm. "I think Iíll turn in. You gonna stay up for a while?"
Sam nodded. "Just a little while. Iím
still a little too keyed up to sleep."
Janet leaned down and kissed the top of
the blonde head. "See you in the morning. Sweet dreams."
She turned to pad down the hall to her
room and then cast a look over her shoulder at Sam, who was staring
intently at the fire.
Janet gave herself a mental shake,
telling herself not to stare. She got herself ready for bed and crawled
under the blankets, suddenly exhausted. Despite her fatigue, she stared
up at the ceiling for a long moment, as if answers to her unvoiced
questions would appear out of nothingness.
She felt a rush of sorrow, wishing that
either she or Sam were a person of lesser integrity, who could have
talked the other into following their passions. But then, Samís
integrity was one of the things she loved about the other woman.
"You can do this, Janet," she
said forcefully to the ceiling, whichónot surprisinglyódid not
respond. "Youíre the unflappable CMO; you have a Masters degree
She rolled over onto her side, letting a
barrage of thoughts run through her mindóimages both beautiful and
sad. And then the words came to her, words that surprised her since she
hadnít been to church in years and most days didnít even believe in
God. But she held onto them, finding a comfort in the simple truths.
"Love is patient; love is kind. Ö
It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all
Janet relaxed and drifted into sleep,
believing that someday she and Sam would feel safe to explore a
relationship. And until that time, love would be patient and wait.
For now, that was enough. It would have
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