Bits and Pieces #7
It was all over in seconds. One moment Samantha Carter was in control of the situation, her MP5 trained on Hathor where she was lounging in the locker room whirlpool bath, Teal'c, Fraiser, and several other female officers backing her up....
The next Hathor was looking up, her voice too deep and echoey to be human, issuing a command in an alien language. "Rin Tel Nok."
Then the men appeared; General Hammond, Colonel O'Neill, and a dozen others stepped between her and the Goa'uld. An airman even pointed a handgun their way. They were the alien temptress' willing slaves, their will completely subjugated by whatever power she had over human males.
Sam lowered her weapon from her shoulder, but kept it aimed in Hathor's direction, unwilling to surrender so easily, but unable to fire on fellow officers.
"Stand down, Captain Carter, unless you plan to kill us." George Hammond's voice echoed through the room. He stood stiffly almost directly in front of the alien, a broad target. Hitting him would probably give her a shot or two and, if Teal'c was right and Hathor's intention was to turn the SGC into her nest and the entire planet into her playground, could she in good conscience, hold her fire? She could aim low, go for his knees and try to take him down, but.... Firing on her superior went against every bit of training, and the knowledge that he was really a victim horrified her.
As if sensing her inner turmoil, O'Neill's mouth twisted in the very faintest of triumphant smiles, though his voice was flatter than normal. "Is this any way to treat a guest, Captain?"
Sam's mouth hung open as it sank in just how completely Hathor controlled her superiors. There was nothing of Jack O'Neill in the colonel's eyes, just a flat, emotionless shell. Until that moment, she'd maintained some tiny measure of hope the men would snap out of whatever was affecting them and act like themselves. Hope died a quick death, killed by the look in her CO's eyes. She felt the cool press of a rifle barrel against the back of her neck and heard the click of safety being disengaged. She still didn't stand down, mentally calculating her chances of laying out the general and hitting the thing in the shape of a woman behind him before the man behind her could fire. Not good. But almost worth the risk. Then she heard the soft tread of more boots and the click of more weapons being primed. A sideways glance confirmed her worst fear that the other women were also covered. She caught a glimpse of Janet on the other side of the privacy barrier just as her weapon was wrenched from her grasp and an MP5 jammed more solidly into her neck.
The colonel's mouth twitched and his eyes shone with a wholly unfamiliar gleam of cruelty. A shiver slid down her spine as she realized that he'd just stand there and watch -- maybe even glory in Hathor's victory -- if they were all cut down. And if everyone supporting her was dead, there'd be no one left to stop the Goa'uld's plans for world domination. Muscles clenched, molars grinding with barely controlled fury, she forced herself to pass her MP5 back to the man covering her.
Hammond and O'Neill stepped aside to reveal a triumphantly smiling Hathor as she leaned back in the whirlpool, her posture comfortable. Red tipped fingers gestured languidly toward Carter. "She stays," she instructed her willing slaves. "Remove the rest, but do not imprison the Jaffa with," her eyes slid over the female prisoners with a look Sam couldn't decipher, "the women."
Carter slanted a look at the others just as an airman gave Fraiser a solid shove between the shoulderblades when she didn't move fast enough for his satisfaction. The doctor stumbled, nearly doing a header into the wall, and Sam instinctively started to reach for her. She caught the impulse, but not in time she realized, as Hathor suddenly spoke, that eerie rippling voice sending an automatic shudder down her spine.
"Not that one." The Goa'uld pointed at Fraiser, a hint of smile teasing full lips when the doctor was hauled out of line. Despite her best intentions, Sam flashed a look toward her friend, automatically checking on her before she could think better of it. She pulled her gaze back to the front, but not quickly enough. Hathor turned a knowing look her direction, her mouth still lifted in that taunting expression as she rose gracefully and stepped out of the bath. "She stays."
Sam didn't dare risk another look at Janet. Not when it might clue the Goa'uld even more thoroughly that they were friends. It was a weakness she couldn't afford, because no matter how close they were, if it came down to it, any of them were expendable. She'd already missed one opportunity. She couldn't afford to risk missing a second.
Hathor laughed softly as she drew close, drawing a crimson tipped nail down Carter's cheek as she leaned close to whisper, "Poor Captain Carter," she said with mock sympathy, her hot breath playing over Sam's face, "trying so hard to be the cold-blooded officer ... but cursed with such soft eyes."
Sam locked her gaze on a point somewhere distant, jaw muscles clenching as she fought the urge to rise to the bait. That was what Hathor wanted and she couldn't give the woman any more weapons than she already had.
"Everyone out," Hathor snapped impatiently after she waited a beat and Sam still didn't visibly react. "We wish to speak to Captain Carter ... alone." Her gaze swung to touch on the doctor. "Except for Doctor Fraiser, of course ... We think she will find this discussion most ... enlightening." She waved the airman guarding Fraiser out when he seemed uncertain what to do.
Sam looked over as the room emptied, steadfastly keeping her gaze on the curvaceous figure of the Goa'uld and away from the woman standing off to the side, silently willing Janet to stay quiet and out of the way. If humanly possible, she wanted to keep the coming confrontation between herself and Hathor. "Very confident you can handle anything, aren't you?" she said softly, striving to inject a little self-assurance into her voice. She didn't really have a plan, just some vague hope that maybe she could discover some kind of chink in the other woman's armor and find a way to use it.
"Very," the alien drawled, that same exultant half-smile still curving her viperous mouth. Of course, she was several thousand years old and had ruled countless worlds. She had some reason for confidence. Her eyes swung to touch on the slender figure of the doctor and Sam saw her friend tense and lock her gaze on a far point to hide any trepidation. The Goa'uld's smile made it obvious she saw through the effort. "But then We have a weapon," she murmured, her words directed at Sam, though it was Janet she was stalking like a hungry rattlesnake.
Knowing she didn't have a prayer against the Goa'uld, Fraiser simply held her ground and tried not to look at the creature pacing around her.
Hathor stepped behind Fraiser, peering at Sam over a slender shoulder as she noted the tension the blond couldn't hide. "Aren't you curious what that might be?" she enquired as she rested a powerful hand on Janet's shoulder.
Sam didn't say a word, just tried not to look into Janet's eyes, uncertain she could maintain her resolve if she saw them filling with fear. She already knew what Hathor's weapon was ... just like the bitch wanted her to. And the only defense she had left was to refuse to acknowledge just how powerful it was. Then Hathor's hand snapped up with the speed of a viper's strike, the long, elegant fingers wrapping around the doctor's throat, forcing an unwilling gasp that Sam couldn't ignore.
The alien's gaze was murderously serious, the taunting aura a thing of the past as she forced Fraiser's head back at a painful angle, then caught one of the doctor's wrists, using the harsh grip to pin the smaller woman against her chest. It was a brutal example of just how strong the Goa'uld enhanced body was. And how little she liked being ignored. "We could snap her neck before you take a step," the creature growled when Sam made a tiny, aborted lunge. She dug a thumb deeply into Janet's wrist, stressing the joint almost to the breaking point. "Or begin breaking other bones simply for sport."
Teeth gritted, hands fisted at her sides, Sam fell back, locking her hands together at the small of her back. "What do you want?" she grated furiously. Getting Janet killed simply for the sake of blind defiance wouldn't do any of them any good.
"Better," Hathor praised sarcastically and relaxed some of the pressure on her prisoner's throat. The smile slipped back into place, the sheer coldness of it sending a shiver down Sam's spine. She might look human, but there was nothing remotely humane anywhere in her soul. "We are impressed with you, Captain Carter. We wish to offer you an opportunity."
Sam's brow drew into a frown.
Hathor continued, well aware of Carter's lack of understanding. "The men will do for certain uses, but their absolute loyalty can make them ... indecisive. We have always had females in positions of power in our court. We are willing to offer you such a position...."
Blond brows shot skyward and Sam's mouth hung open for a moment as she stared at their enemy in disbelief. "You're offering me a job?" she choked out. As surreal moments go, it was definitely high on the list.
"Indeed," the Goa'uld exhaled, her attempt as sounding reasonable almost creepier than her intimidation tactics. "We are aware of your skills, and they will serve Us well in Our new court--"
"You've gotta be kidding," Sam muttered before she could think better of it. Serve Hathor. Yeah, right, that was gonna happen.
Hathor's hand tightened on the doctor's throat, her thumb pressing deeply into the soft flesh just below the curve of her jaw. "You would be wise to consider Our offer, Captain Carter." She nuzzled her prisoner's ear, eyes gleaming brightly with a completely alien kind of hunger. "Do you know why We spared you and the other women?" she questioned breathily.
No, but Sam had a bad feeling she was about to find out.
"After all, it would have been so much simpler to kill you ... and We assure you, the men would have followed Our orders to do so." Hathor saw the frightened curiosity in the captain's eyes and couldn't contain a smile. The woman's weaknesses were so painfully obvious that it was almost a sexual thrill to find and probe them. Her lips brushed her prisoner's silky cheek, while the fingers wrapped around her fragile, human throat gentled and became almost caressing. Her voice was low, the tone purposely suggestive, she continued, "In Our new court, as in Our old, Our servants will be able to earn small ... rewards--"
"Us," Janet said her first word on a sick, disbelieving exhalation.
Hathor laughed very softly, her breath ruffling auburn hair. "Very good, Doctor," she breathed, then forced the smaller woman's head around, turning to look at her until they were almost nose to nose. She tracked Carter out of the corner of one eye, taking pleasure from the tension she saw in the blond as she eyed her prisoner, noting impossibly deep eyes and gentle features. "Since Captain Carter has refused Our generous offer, you will both be given to Our new Jaffa."
Janet winced away as the Goa'uld leaned even closer and experienced a nauseous moment when crimson lips dipped closer, half convinced Hathor intended to kiss her.
"In Our service," the creature murmured loudly enough for Carter to hear, "you will finally feel like a woman." Her breath played over her prisoner's face, the inescapably pungent fumes clogging her nostrils until she had to turn away to breathe. "You may thank Captain Carter for your fate." Hathor slanted a look at Sam, her taunting smile broadening. "Unless of course, Captain Carter would like to change her mind."
Stiff with horror, Sam glared at their attacker. The trade was obvious; Janet's safety for her service. Not even for her friend could she take that deal, but maybe she could lie ... buy some time and find an opportunity to do something. She didn't imagine the creature would make it easy, but maybe if she--
"Go to hell," Janet spat while Sam was still debating the problem. "She'll never serve you."
Heavily kohled eyes flashed angrily as Hathor saw the truth of Janet's words in Carter's eyes before she could hide it. "Very well then," she sneered, furious at being defied, then she shoved the doctor hard and sent her careening into Sam.
Sam got one hand under Janet's arm as the brunette crashed into her, hauling her upright with a grunt. Dazed, the doctor stumbled, falling against Sam as she struggled to get her feet under her. Hathor was already throwing the door open and calling to her guards by the time both women regained their balance.
"Remove Captain Carter and Doctor Fraiser to the cell with the others," she snarled and swept out.
Sam shoved Janet behind her and dropped into a braced position, but the men were armed and her hand-to-hand combat skills wouldn't be worth much against bullets. Knowing it would only get them both killed, she made no effort to resist as she was yanked away from the doctor and shoved down the hall. She glanced back in time to see Janet handled much the same way, then jumped at least a foot in the air as a heavy hand landed on the seat of her pants with a firm squeeze. Sam twisted as she came down, glaring at the grinning airman -- a kid named Phillips who'd seemed nice enough before Hathor's arrival. Well, that wasn't a problem now. Sam hissed an outraged curse through her teeth, but didn't dare try anything as long as he was pointing an MP5 her way.
When they reached the lockup, Phillips' partner, another airman named Andrews, grinned expectantly as he gestured with his MP5, eyes sliding over them with masculine appreciation. "Out of those flack jackets."
Landing on her temper with both feet, Sam shared a look with the doctor as they unbuckled the bulky protective gear, both of them trying valiantly not to notice where the men's eyes were focused. They handed the gear over, then watched helplessly as the cell door was unlocked and pulled open.
Sam was shoved in first, stumbling to regain her balance as she spun back.
"Nice rack." The grabby airman leered at Janet, then shoved her after Sam.
Sam caught the smaller woman, steadying her even as the cell door slammed shut in their wake. "Charming," the captain exhaled and helped Janet right herself.
"You okay, Cap'n?" one of the women already in the cell questioned.
Sam waved a reassuring hand. "We're all right." Then looked back down at the doctor, noting the way she massaged the wrist Hathor had abused, then reached up to rub her throat lightly. "Any damage?"
"I don't think so. Probably wind up with a couple of bruises," Fraiser admitted, "but it's nothing serious." She looked worriedly up at Sam. "You?"
Carter waved any worries aside. "You got the worst of it. I just got goosed by an airmen whom I will probably beat senseless if we get out of this," she growled angrily as she glared back at the cell door. She turned to study the doctor again, her attitude cautious. "I noticed Hathor got pretty close..." she said softly, pitching her voice too low to be heard by the other women in the cell. "Any effects?" The last thing she wanted was to find herself dealing with another person she couldn't afford to trust. And, while she hadn't seen any sign of the Goa'uld's powers affecting any of the women, it seemed wisest to be cautious.
Janet shook her head decisively. "Other than the fact I think she's got gingivitis, can't think of a thing."
Sam frowned curiously.
"The woman has seriously bad breath," Janet explained. "Other than that.... Well, let's just say my desire to get my hands around her throat is still firmly in place."
Sam searched the doctor's face, hunting for confirmation of her comments and finding what she was looking for. "Just checking," she admitted.
Fraiser laughed softly. "Don't worry, she's not my type."
"Hey, Doc," a woman at the back of the cell called, "can you take a look at my ankle? One of the guys shoved me and I tripped. I think it's swelling."
"Go on," Sam said, nodding toward the rear of their cell to indicate Janet should see to the problem. She leaned against the wall near the door as the doctor hurried to check on the injured woman, peering out the window grate into the hallway. The guards were quite a ways down the hall, apparently serving Hathor with all the seriousness of a couple of teenagers hanging out on the nearest street corner. She could only hear about half of what they were saying, but the crudity of the jokes didn't escape her. Hathor was definitely bringing out a side of the men she could have done without knowing about. She glanced back through the bunks to where the doctor was checking on Aguilar's ankle, probing carefully, her voice soft and reassuring.
"I don't think it's broken. Just lace your boot as tight as you can to support it until we can do something more for you."
"Yes, Ma'am," the lieutenant said through a wince.
"Janet," Sam called back, still watching the men through the grate, making certain they weren't paying any attention, "Any more thoughts on how Hathor might be drugging the men?"
Fraiser glanced back, pausing thoughtfully before she answered, "I didn't see any sign of a delivery system," she admitted, "but I'm wondering if there's any chance it's tied to her breath ... what I smelled." She began helping the junior officer relace her boot, quietly warning her. "Stay off it as much as you can."
The other woman nodded her understanding. "Thanks, Doc,"
Still on her knees, Janet called back to Sam, "It almost reminded me of the excretions from some animals' scent glands ... which are usually hormonal ... and there was a tinge of something else almost like ether or nitrous." She was thinking out loud, putting it together mentally, even more convinced she was right about the agent being a combination of narcotic and hormonal elements, but quickly revising her initial assumptions about most likely delivery system. "I'm beginning to think that maybe it's something biological ... rather than mechanical...." She'd initially assumed Hathor was using some kind of device to mist her victims, but after smelling the creature's breath, she was thinking along another line.
"How do you mean?" Sam questioned, trying to envision what the doctor was telling her.
"Well, the Goa'uld is wrapped around the spine. We know they attach filaments into the brain and spinal cord.... what if this one has some kind of venom sack? From the position where they sit, it would be easy to extend some kind of tubules into the back of the throat ... then it could release a fine mist while breathing out anytime it wanted ... it would make a hell of an aerosol distribution system."
A long moment of silence followed as Sam contemplated what Janet was laying out. "Teal'c said that she was supposed to be a queen Goa'uld...."
Finished helping the lieutenant with her boot, Janet pushed to her feet. "They may all be able to do the same trick ... some kind of trait that developed to help them build and protect their nest." It was all pure supposition, but it made enough sense based on what they'd seen. "Control the males ... then either eliminate or co-opt the women as needed to guarantee total control." And apparently use the women as rewards to help ensure the men's loyalty and direct their overactive libidos. It made a perverse sort of sense.
Sam tipped her head back, eyes sliding closed for a moment as she considered the doctor's idea, the whole notion faintly overwhelming. "It wouldn't release much at a time done that way," she pointed out.
"No, but in an aerosol form, it might not take much. It probably hangs in the air and inhaled toxins are some of the most intense since passage through the permeable nasal membranes puts them in the bloodstream and in the brain so quickly. A biological delivery system could be fast, effective, and always available. All she has to do is get close enough to deliver the drug."
Another sigh escaped Sam's lips. "Well, that must a pretty powerful drug Hathor is using. Colonel O'Neill is special forces trained to fight mind-control techniques." Whatever she'd done had overwhelmed his skills utterly and completely.
"Well, not Goa'uld techniques apparently," the doctor said practically as she strode forward, taking up a seat on the bunk closest to Sam's position near the door.
Sam couldn't contain a disgusted sigh. She rolled her eyes back, wondering if maybe she could invent a way of turning back time so she could just call in sick today. "Yep, well, mama said there'd be days like this." Actually, it was her father's saying, but it seemed apropos enough.
Russet brows rose. "Really, My ex-husband said that;" Janet drawled, mouth quirking in a hint of a wry grin. As serious as the situation was, there was a black kind of absurdity to the whole thing that she just couldn't ignore. "'You out of your mind, honeybuns? There is a reason they call it this man's army, '" she quoted, even managing a fair -- if somewhat overdone -- impression of her ex's wannabe cowboy accent.
"'This man's army?'" Sam snorted. Somehow she could imagine the guy she'd glimpsed and Fraiser had described taking exactly that attitude, but she'd figured he'd be smarter than to voice it, even if it was only a matter of survival instinct. "Your husband actually said that?" Not to mention called you Honeybuns -- she added mentally, along with a quick -- and you didn't belt him one? She barely resisted the urge to stick out her tongue in disgust.
Fraiser nodded, rolling her eyes as she added, "Yeah, so I explained to him it wasn't the Army it was the Air Force and they've had women for decades." Not that it had done much good. He'd been in full bore, macho mode that day, obnoxiously extolling the many virtues of manly men doing manly things in manly ways. Which was almost painfully ironic, considering the most manly thing her ex routinely did involved the pain of waxing his chest hair.
Sam shook her head disgustedly. It wouldn't have been so bad if she hadn't run into the same attitude so many times in the service ... from guys who worked hand in glove with women every day. "Man ... Maybe it's just me, but I can't figure out how to feel like one of the guys with these guys, y'know what I mean? I always feel like I'm the girl." Not that she wanted to be a man, but ... well, it would be nice to just be Captain Carter now and then.
"That's it," Janet said abruptly as it all coalesced into her brain. She almost laughed out loud as she realized they had a weapon at their disposal ... the one bit of armament they hadn't been forced to surrender by the men under Hathor's rule.
Sam frowned as she was yanked out of her thoughts. "What?"
"You just gave me an idea on how to get us out of here," the doctor said quickly, an uncontrollable grin sneaking through. "Look, if Hathor's control drug is hormone driven like I suspect, that means she's making the men...." She paused, hunting for a tasteful way of saying it. "...libidinous," she finished at last. They'd already seen several signs of it. After all, goosing female officers and complimenting certain body parts were hardly standard behavior in the ranks, no matter how much some of the men might wish it were otherwise.
It took a moment for Sam to put together what the doctor was saying, and when she did she winced as if in pain. "Okay, why do I get the feeling I don't like where this is going?" she sighed. And she'd just been complaining about always being treated like the girl.
Janet shrugged. "Because you'd like to think that there's no difference between male and female officers?" For all of her experience, there was something appealingly innocent about Carter. Though whether it was due to her own idealism or the sheltering efforts of others, impressed by that hint of naiveté. "Somehow I don't think the men would agree." Especially right now.
Sam rolled her eyes and made a disgusted sound, then glanced back out the hatch into the hall. The two airmen were discussing what they'd like to do to their alien mistress in rather colorful -- not to mention crude -- terms. The doctor had a point. Not one she really wanted to consider, but a point all the same.
Janet pushed to her feet, moving to join Sam, peering through the grate at their guards. "You've gotta admit, they're acting with all the maturity and sophistication of a bunch of fourteen year old boys," she said softly, carefully pitching her voice too low to be heard. Not that she was very worried about the men listening in; not when they were extolling the virtues of Hathor's appeal. If they were to be believed, she was Pamela Anderson, Angelina Jolie -- and whatever other sexpot of the week had their attention these days -- all rolled into one. She considered the woman she'd seen. Oh yeah, they had to be drugged. She looked up at Sam, who was clearly painfully uncomfortable with the whole subject. "I think it could work," she said simply, her confidence doing as much to convince Carter as a hard sell might have.
"I don't suppose there's any chance you're under Hathor's influence?" Sam asked a little hopefully. She'd settle for almost anything that would get her out of what Janet was suggesting.
Janet shook her head. "Sorry ... no." She offered a tiny shrug. "Frankly, the whole thing makes me nauseous and if you've got a better idea, I'd be more than happy to hear it. Unfortunately, I can't think of anything...."
Sam made a small hissing sound through her clenched teeth, flashing a glance toward the men, then back toward the doctor. Considering the stakes, she couldn't afford to allow her personal squeamishness to cut off any tactic that had a reasonable chance at success. And since she couldn't think of anything else to try.... "All right," she said at last, then gestured to the other imprisoned women, waving them over. "Come on." She looked down at Janet, acknowledging she was right with a small nod. "We may have a way of getting out of here...."
The plan the tiny group of prisoners put together was quick and dirty, their tactics long on tight shirts and erotic promises and very short on sophistication. But then again, sophistication would have been wasted on the men at that point. Their idea of sophistication now boiled down to pasties instead of total nudity. Anything more subtle would have been doomed to failure.
Sam watched as the other women took up their positions, while the doctor peered through the hatch again, tracking their jailers with an assessing look. Sam watched her for a moment, her expression wry. "Y'know, using seduction wasn't in any of the A.F. training manuals I've ever read." She really didn't want to do this.
The doctor looked over. "What? You think the Pentagon anticipated a four thousand year old alien walking onto a base and drugging all the men to make them..." she trailed off, her own distaste leaving her momentarily mute. Despite the illusion of total confidence and wry humor she'd managed to project, the whole idea turned her stomach.
"Libidinous?" Sam offered her own word back to her, her tone wry.
"Yeah," the doctor exhaled, striving for the detached humor she'd used to get through it all so far.
Sam drew in a deep breath and let it out slowly to nerve herself up for what was coming. "I suppose they do train us to take advantage of the enemy's weakness," she reminded herself. She really hated this whole idea.
Janet forced her perversely cheerful mask back into place. "Exactly."
Sam sighed, straightening away from the door. No more time for delays. If they were going to try Janet's plan, they had to move while Hathor was still stoppable. If she managed to control someone beyond the bounds of the base, stopping her could quickly become impossible. "All right, let's do it."
The doctor took a deep breath, straightening her shoulders and drawing herself up to her full height. This whole plan had seemed a lot easier in the planning phase. She rapped sharply on the door, then called out, "Airman, open up. We've got something for you."
The one who'd complimented her 'rack,' peered through the grate, his demand short and suspicious. "What?"
"Why don't you come in here and see for yourself," she invited, doing her best Mae West impression, even as it occurred to her that she hadn't been made for playing the vamp. Where was Elvira, Mistress of the Dark, when you needed her anyway?
"No can do," Airman Phillips called out, "We only take orders from Hathor."
"Gentlemen," Janet called invitingly, "there are five women in here ... very alone." She stepped back from the door, purposely pulling her cammie shirt back as she curved her hands to her hips to emphasize her chest. She glanced over as she noted that Lieutenant Owens had stripped her cammie jacket all the way off and adopted a similar pose. She wasn't the most gorgeous woman in the place, but she definitely had an impressive chest. She was also an expert in self-defense. Which was considerable comfort for the doctor since she was well aware of her own shortcomings in that area. With luck, the men would be so distracted they'd never know what hit them.
"Why do I feel like I'm in a women behind bars movie?" Sam moaned with a last eye roll as she stepped to one side of the door. She couldn't help but wonder if it was too late to change their minds. Or maybe the airmen wouldn't fall for the painfully obvious trick.
No such luck. Led by their hormones, Phillips and his partner pushed the cell door open. "What are you suggesting, Ladies?"
Fraiser offered a lazily seductive smile, promising them every kind of passion available. "Whatever you want, Airman." Sam couldn't blame the poor bastards for their sudden eagerness.
Phillips waved Andrews in behind him as he made a beeline for the doctor, his tongue all but hanging out. Yep, he definitely thought he'd struck gold, Sam thought acidly, barely resisting the urge to make a face as he got a meaty paw around the doctor's slender waist. His grin enough to make her faintly nauseous, he hauled the smaller woman close while she slipped her arms around the back of his neck and tugged his head down. Sam suddenly realized her own intended victim was waiting expectantly and she reached out, curving a hand to his cheek and drawing his head around. Thankfully, Hathor had him so blazingly stupid with lust that he didn't notice the loathing in her eyes as she offered tight smile. He leaned closer even as Sam saw his buddy apparently trying to give the doctor a tonsillectomy with his tongue out of the corner of her eye.
Oh yeah, definitely convinced he'd hit the mother-lode of sexual fantasies.
A heavy hand started to trail up from the doctor's waist toward a rounded breast. Barely resisting the urge to hiss, Sam drew Andrews' head a little closer ... and crashed her elbow into his jaw with enough force to send him sprawling. She saw Aguilar and Davis step into the confrontation to grab for the stumbling airman even as she spun toward the doctor just in time to see Janet lunge backwards, Phillips' MP5 in hand, her expression twisted with revulsion.
He started to lunge after the doctor, but Owens was on him before he could take a step, using strength and momentum to spin him around and shove him face first into a wall.
Remembering Hathor's promise and the way the doctor had appeared to lean into the mauling, Sam couldn't restrain a sarcastic crack. "Feel like a woman, Doc?"
"Oh yeah." Fraiser wiped her mouth on her sleeve, her expression twisted by raw disgust, but she kept her stolen weapon trained on her would-be paramour as Owens effectively contained his struggles. The lieutenant had an impressive set of biceps to go with her other attributes.
"Let's tie 'em up," Sam said quickly, gesturing to the women still standing off to the side, ready to help, but staying clear in case someone was forced to shoot. Shoelaces stripped from their prisoner's boots made decent hand and ankle ties and the sleeves from their jackets worked just fine as gags. In moments, they had both men bound, gagged, and shoved in a corner out of sight from anyone who looked in through the grate.
As they finished tying the men, Sam glanced over to find the doctor still wiping at her mouth distastefully as she held the MP5 with her other hand. "God, I hope this works," Janet muttered unhappily, her expression nauseous. She looked up at Sam and for the first time the blond really saw what it had cost her to go ahead and do what was necessary and realized the sarcastic humor had simply been her way of dealing with it. "Because I'd really hate to think I did that for nothing...."
* * * * * *
The plan worked.
And, aside from the fact that Sam wound up knocking General Hammond unconscious, O'Neill thought she was lusting after his abs, both Fraiser and Teal'c got shot -- in the forearm and thigh respectively, the Goa'uld sarcophagus they'd briefly had custody of had been destroyed, and Hathor had escaped, it all went pretty much the way it was supposed to.
Sam sighed softly. Well, maybe not quite as planned. But ... close ... in a distant sort of way. Ah well, any landing you walk away from is a good one, she reminded herself with a flyer's practicality.
At least the general had put her and Fraiser in for a commendation -- which was infinitely better than a stay in Levenworth for striking a superior officer -- and the guys seemed to have returned to normal ... or at least as close as any of them ever had been. Daniel was still pretty grossed out by his little horizontal romp with Hathor, but she could hardly blame him for that. In his shoes, she'd have spent the entire time since the Goa'uld's banishment in the shower. Sam shuddered with horror at what had happened between her teammate and the Goa'uld queen. Now, there was a way to kill a person's appetite, sex drive, and any number of other key human impulses. Yech.
She nodded to Warner as she entered the infirmary, but hurried on past him on the way to Fraiser's office. He noted the folder tucked under her arm with a curious look, but didn't bother delaying her to ask. If and when he needed to know, he was confident his superior would let him in on the news. In his experience, it was often best to just keep one's head down as long as possible in the SGC; that tended to reduce the opportunities for getting it shot off.
Her strides long, Sam hurried through the narrow corridor that led to the doctor's office, only to pull up short as she realized someone had gotten there ahead of her. It only took her a moment to recognize the tall, broad framed figure of Janet's assailant from their cell. She paused, a hint of a frown drawing a line between her brows as she listened in.
- - - -
Janet Fraiser stared at the flowers sitting on the opposite side of her desk, then up at the man who'd brought them, then back down at the flowers -- a cheesy grocery store bouquet that had admittedly seen better days, but still.... Dark eyes rose to focus on the young man who'd brought them. "Ummmm..." she exhaled, her brain briefly refusing to fire on all thrusters. "I ... uh ... Airman Phillips...." She ran out of words again.
He swallowed hard, thrusting his hands behind his back, his eyes glittering with pure adoration. "I ... uh ... just wanted to apologize," he said quickly, "y'know ... for that little ... um ... thing that ... uh ... happened."
That would be her impromptu tonsillectomy, Janet realized in a rush. And she'd been trying so hard not to think about it. She leaned back in her chair, keeping her eyes firmly on the young man in an effort to avoid at the flowers sitting on her desk. Somehow they just did nothing to help the situation. "Thank you ... for your ... apology," she said uncertainly. Hopefully he'd leave now.
He didn't. Instead, he nodded quickly, straightening his shoulders as though nerving himself up for the next part. "Yes, Ma'am." He took a deep breath. "I was also wondering if I could take you out for a beer or something like that to ... y'know ... make up for what happened."
Dear Lord, he was asking her out on a date, Janet realized in a rush. Her mouth hung open for a brief second and she couldn't think of a single thing to say. 'When hell freezes over,' seemed rude, laughing in his face downright cruel, and 'No thank you,' nowhere near vehement enough for her taste. Unfortunately, she was still in such deep shock that her answer came out less decisive than she would have preferred. "I ... uh ... I don't think so."
His expression fell, a ruddy flush crawling over his cheekbones. He looked like she'd run over his puppy. "Oh ... well, I just thought maybe.... I mean ... I just meant...." He ran out of words again.
Janet took a deep breath, marshaling herself and carefully keeping her eyes away from the distracting image of the flowers. "I think I know what you meant," she said as gently as possible, though she carefully stripped her tone of anything that might be read as an invitation. The last thing she needed was some young airman in hot pursuit. "And don't worry about what happened. It was a side-effect of Hathor's control, that's all." She used her best professional voice, putting a firm wall between herself and the young man standing on the opposite side of the desk. "It's really nothing."
Phillips froze for a moment, then straightened his shoulders, drawing himself to his full height, his expression becoming unreadable. "Yes, Ma'am, I just thought maybe we could--"
Janet looked up gratefully as a familiar blond head peeked in through her office door.
"Phillips," Carter said simply with a quick nod to the young man, her tone coolly professional. She looked back at Janet, offering a more personal smile. "Janet, I was wondering if you've got a few minutes free?"
Janet saw Phillips stiffen ever so slightly out of the corner of her eye as she met Carter's gaze. "Actually, I do," she said quickly, then looked back to the young airman, her words pointed, "Airman Phillips had just finished here."
He glanced at Sam and nodded, offering a tight smile. "Yes, Ma'am." He ducked his head in acknowledgment. "Doctor Fraiser." Then hurried out.
Sam glanced over her shoulder, silently watching him go before turning back. Her gaze fell on the bouquet of flowers sitting on Janet's desk, then lifted to touch on the doctor, one eyebrow climbing high under the cover of her bangs.
"Don't ask," Janet murmured, leaning forward, her elbow braced on the top of her desk as she massaged her temple.
"Actually, I caught most of it from the hallway," Sam admitted with a loose gesture over her shoulder. "I wasn't sure if I should interfere ... but then it sounded like maybe a little interruption wouldn't be amiss."
Janet looked up and nodded. "Definitely not amiss," she admitted appreciatively, then waved toward the door. "I think he's just got a bit of a crush," she explained, her tone sympathetic now that the young man was gone. "And hopefully if I ignore it and make it obvious I'm not interested, it'll die a quick death." It was a technique she'd used with some success in the past.
"That must've been some kiss," Sam couldn't resist the urge to tease.
"Very funny," Janet snorted.
"All I'm saying is I'm not getting any flowers or invitations from Andrews--"
"You broke the guy's nose, Sam," Janet pointed out helpfully, "and he didn't even get a kiss for it. All told, the lack of flowers and invitations shouldn't be too surprising."
"There is that," Carter had to admit, then she grinned. "Maybe that'll teach you a lesson."
Janet held up her uninjured arm in a halting motion. "Break their noses, but never kiss the airmen ... got it." She rolled her eyes. "Oh, how I've got it." She made a face. "Now if I could just get rid of it." She leaned back in her chair again, adjusting herself carefully to avoid any pulling on her injured left arm, the canvas sling making her feel slightly clumsy. "So did you come down here for a reason, or just to get a few cheap laughs at my expense?" she asked pertly.
"I didn't realize the two were mutually exclusive," Sam drawled, then held up a hand before Janet could fire back. "Actually, I do have a reason," she said quickly to forestall any disgruntled remarks, sensing she was rapidly sliding from cute teasing to annoyingly one-track-minded. Putting on her professional face, she pushed the doctor's office door closed, then turned back, sliding the flowers aside with a wry look as she half sat on the front edge the desk. "I had a brief meeting with General Hammond this morning," she began as she pulled out the folder tucked under her arm.
Arched brows climbed skyward in silent inquiry.
"One of the things we discussed was your performance during the recent ... incursion ... by Hathor ... as well as other incidents where you were forced into more combat oriented situations than might normally be expected for someone in your position." Sam paused to take a breath, well aware that the doctor's eyebrows had climbed another notch on her forehead. "The harsh reality is that it's unlikely to be the last time the CMO has to act in a dangerous situation...." Even if there were no more incursions onto the base -- something that seemed unlikely -- there was always a chance she'd have to gate to a world where someone was hurt and a team was under fire.
"I kind of figured as much," Fraiser admitted with a small shrug. "But I'm not sure why it's worth a meeting with the general."
"Because I wanted to run an idea past him and see what he thought," Sam said by way of explanation.
"Okay," Janet murmured a little cautiously, uncertain what to make of Sam's comments.
"It's nothing bad, really," Carter assured her quickly. "It's just that after some discussion, General Hammond agreed that you should probably update some of your combat skills ... I mean, it's been a long time since you've been checked out on anything." And her self-defense scores hadn't been that great to begin with, not that any of the instructors had cared much at the time. They'd probably figured a doctor would never need to know how to defend herself and just glossed the whole thing over. So much for that thesis.
"Oh," the doctor said, then shrugged. "That's no problem," she said amenably. She indicated her injured arm. "Once I'm out of this thing, I'm sure I can find some spare time."
"Well, technically," Sam began carefully, her tone enough to draw a few sparks from dark, brown eyes, "you have orders to make the time...." Uncertain how the other woman would take such an obvious end-run, she paused for a brief moment, then quickly added, "Obviously, once your arm is healed."
Janet sighed softly, peering at the folder in Sam's hand with sudden understanding. "Okay, so how bad is it?" she demanded, her tone wry. Obviously, Carter wasn't talking about an informal, I'll-get-in-an-hour-if-I-can-find-the-time kind of thing.
"It's really not that bad," Sam assured her quickly. "And it's for your own good." She gestured to the doctor's wounded arm. "You got shot, Janet. You could have been killed ... could be killed next time." She tamped down a shudder as she remembered the sight of her friend's injury, continuing with somewhat more than professional intensity. "The better your skills are, the higher your chance of survival when something goes wrong." And something would go wrong. It was the SGC. Sooner or later, something always went wrong. The idea of the other woman being seriously hurt horrified her at every level, and this was the best way she could think of to help her protect herself from future threats.
"I didn't think I'd done all that badly to date," Fraiser grumbled under her breath.
"You've done very well," Sam assured her. "I just want to make sure you've got every skill available to keep up that winning streak." The doctor had survived several incidents because she was smart and quick thinking, but her uncertainty when handed the MP5 worried Sam, as did the fact that training might have saved her from being wounded. Luckily she'd only been hit in the forearm, but she was too important to the project for them not to make sure she had the benefit of any skill that might save her life one day.
A soft sigh escaped full lips. "Okay. So I fire a few guns and flip a few self-defense instructors over my shoulder," Janet murmured, resigned to her fate. "How bad can it be?"
"Really, it's not bad at all," Sam assured her as she slipped the schedule she'd made up out of the folder. "Maybe a little more intense than what you were talking about," she added a bit hesitantly, glancing down at the printout then back up at the doctor.
"I gather that's my sentence?" Janet drawled, pointing at the paper Sam was holding. At the captain's affirmative nod, she held out her hand. "Let's see how bad it is."
Sam had the good graces to wince ever so slightly as she handed the schedule over.
Russet brows ticked skyward as Janet read through the list, muttering under her breath, "Great, save the world, triple your workload. Why doesn't anyone say thank you with flowers anymore?"
Sam probably should have kept her mouth shut, but she just couldn't resist. "Actually, I think Phillips did."
Which earned her a grumbled, "Oh, shut up." Fraiser made a small annoyed sound at the back of her throat, still going through the extensive list. "Personally, I think tactics and military history is a bit of overkill, but okay ... and weapons training is probably not a bad idea ... though, frankly, if Colonel O'Neill makes one comment about that little incident with Phillips, I may have to shoot him ... and.... Oh, you've got to be kidding," she exhaled as she hit the last item on the list.
Sam's wince became a full scale flinch.
"Hand to hand combat training with ... Teal'c?" Brown eyes rose to stare at Sam with flabbergasted intensity. "Have I pissed you off somehow?" the doctor questioned dazedly.
Sam shook her head in confusion. "Of course not, why would you--"
"Then why are you trying to get me killed?" Janet demanded, waving the list under Sam's nose.
"Actually, I'm trying to keep you from getting killed," Sam pointed out defensively.
"Teal'c, Sam ... Teal'c," Janet argued. "You want me to practice hand to hand with a trained warrior who's slightly larger than my house." She shook her head in disbelief as she muttered to herself, "I'd better check my will and make sure it's up to date."
"Janet, he's not going to kill you--"
"Well, probably not intentionally," the doctor admitted. "But I have a hard time envisioning any good coming of this." She stared up at Sam a little blankly, wondering if the other woman had ever noticed she barely cleared five-two and wasn't anybody's idea of badass ... well, not physically anyway. She could throw a mean one-liner when she was in the mood, but somehow she didn't think that was going to impress Teal'c at all.
"Then you're not paying attention," Sam argued, breaking in on the doctor's musings. "Look, Teal'c assures me that he knows several methods for fighting against a larger, stronger opponent--"
"He's practiced this on Sherman tanks, I presume?" Janet sighed, still in a daze. She was dead. There were no two ways about it. He wouldn't mean to, but the first time he threw her around, Teal'c would smash her like a bug. Splat.
Sam ignored the gibe. "And you have to admit, there's no one on this base who knows more about hand to hand combat." The Jaffa knew more about self-defense than anyone she'd ever met and if he could teach the doctor even a small measure of his skills, she'd be a hell of a lot safer if and when the worst happened. Besides, when she'd first discussed the idea with the colonel, he'd looked like he might enjoy it a little too much. Better to go with Teal'c who seldom looked like he enjoyed anything.
"Oh, I'll fully admit that," Janet allowed. "Which is why I'm comfortably certain he's going to break my tiny, little body into even tinier, little pieces." The notion of going through the sort of one-on-one grappling sessions she remembered from her last self-defense classes with the huge Jaffa was daunting to say the least. She had visions of never getting up again the first time he threw her down on the mat. And as for the notion of throwing him ... yeah, right, that was gonna happen.
"Janet, you know perfectly well he'd never hurt you," Sam reminded her seriously. "This is about your survival. That's all any of us want ... and there is no one who can teach you more about defending yourself than Teal'c."
Janet couldn't argue that point, no matter how much she wanted to. And, oh how she wanted to. "All right," she whimpered after a long beat. "But if he kills me, you have to write the letter notifying my mother ... and tell her you're the genius who got me killed too ... that way I won't be alone in death for very long."
Sam offered a lopsided smile.
"Oh no, you don't," Janet said quickly, waving her index finger back and forth. "Don't you go all charming on me. It won't work." She made a face. "I'm severely annoyed with you at the moment." Despite the words, her tone wasn't especially serious.
"You'll get over it," Sam assured her, a touch of humor sneaking in around the edges. Janet hadn't lost her temper and wasn't going to kill her. She was even going to go along with the plan for keeping herself alive. Good news all around. "But in the interests of making that happen as quickly as possible, how about I buy you a beer after work," she offered the olive branch with an inviting smile.
Dark eyes rolled ceilingward. "If I were of a suspicious mind, I'd think you already knew Warner's got me off of anything alcoholic until he releases me for duty again." She glared resentfully at her tightly bound forearm where it was nestled in the heavy canvas sling. It was just a scratch and he was being paranoid as far as she was concerned.
"Nah," Sam teased lightly, "I think I could afford it." Under normal circumstances, Fraiser could nurse one beer all night.
"Well, for right now, I'm not drinking anything," Janet sighed dramatically, though in truth, she didn't care.
Her expression more serious, Sam nodded pointedly to indicate the doctor's arm. "How's it doing?"
"The damage isn't serious." Janet sighed softly, leaning a little more deeply into her chair. "It gets to throbbing a little bit at night, but it's nothing too unbearable."
Knowing the doctor's aversion to painkillers when she was alone, Sam frowned worriedly. "If you need to take something for the pain and want someone to stay over, I'm free...."
Fraiser waved the idea off. "I appreciate the offer, but it's not that bad. A couple of Advil will probably do more to kill the pain that anything heavier would ... without some of the less charming side-effects."
"If you're sure...." Sam double checked.
"I'm sure," Janet assured her decisively, though her lips were lifted in an appreciative smile. "But thank you." They were both silent for a moment, and then Sam sighed regretfully as she pushed to her feet.
"Well, I really should get back to work. Let me know when you're ready to start with your training." She saw a look of temptation flit across soft features. "And, yes, I will notice if I don't hear from you on the subject for the next six months."
"Damn," Janet muttered, though a smile curved her lips. She pushed to her feet, surprisingly graceful despite the restrictive sling. "I'll walk with you," she said when Sam looked at her a little questioningly. "I need to check on some lab results ... they're supposed to have more prelims on the material we picked up from Hathor."
"Anything interesting coming out of that?" Sam questioned as Janet walked along beside her.
A faint blush stained the doctor's cheeks. "A few things," she murmured, then slanted a look at Sam, offering a tiny shrug. "But mostly ... well ... Dr. Jackson was right."
Sam frowned uncertainly and then realized what Fraiser was saying. "Oh."
"Yeah," the doctor exhaled, drawing the word out ironically. "The genetic material mostly seems to be ... his...."
"Ew," Sam whimpered. Talk about knowledge she could have done without.
As they wandered out of the infirmary, still chatting, neither woman noticed the pale blue eyes that tracked them closely or the broad-shouldered figure that stepped out of a shadowed corner of the infirmary. Airman Tony Phillips shook his head slowly, still smarting from the part of the conversation between the two women that he'd managed to eavesdrop on. It wasn't like he hadn't had an invitation. Fraiser had leaned into that kiss. He'd felt it during the brief moment before she snatched his gun. Okay, so it had been a plan for saving the base, but he'd been sure there was something more there. Something he'd felt again when he handed her the flowers and their fingers just barely brushed, even that tiny contact enough to leave him aching. He remembered the softness and taste of her mouth, the feel of warm curves under his hands, a heady burst of arousal combined with a sense of something else....
"Yes, child ... because she is Our gift to you."
Phillips stiffened suddenly, staring around himself as if hunting for the source of the whispered words. He was still standing there, staring around himself uncertainly when Warner reentered the front room of the infirmary.
"Problem, Airmen?" the older doctor questioned as he turned a professionally interested look on Phillips.
"No, sir," the young man said instantly. "I just dropped off something in Doctor Fraiser's office." He straightened his shoulders, turning toward the entrance. "I need to get back to my post now." He quickly hurried out, leaving a frowning Warner in his wake.
* * * * * *
Two days later, freshly released from the constricting sling and on her first full day of duty, Janet Fraiser couldn't restrain an ironic look when a pair of airmen brought a hobbling Makepeace in needing attention for an injury sustained on a mission. She ducked her head, noting the blood staining the seat of his pants, then glanced back up at the colonel. "Why didn't you have them send someone up with a gurney? You shouldn't be walking on this."
He shrugged, a ruddy color staining his cheeks. "It's really not that bad," the marine felt the need to insist. "I just ran into some kind of plant ... got some kind of barb stuck in my ... ah...." He paused, hunting for a polite way of saying it.
"I think I can see where it's stuck for myself, sir," the doctor said wryly. She glanced up at him, her manner absolutely serious. "Any unusual pain, lightheadedness, fever, aches, pains, et cetera?"
"You mean aside from the pain in my...uh...." he trailed off again.
"Aside from that," she confirmed, still straight-faced.
He shook his head, twisting around and trying to get a look as she crouched down to get a better view of the wound. "Nah, in fact I did it a couple of hours ago ... just couldn't get back to get it treated until we finished the sweep of the gate area, and no way was I letting Maretti dig that thing out."
"Yeah, wouldn't want to take any chances with your health," Janet drawled sarcastically, thinking it was a wonder she didn't lose more patients with the care some of them took of themselves. "Help him into Examining Four," she ordered the waiting airmen without looking up. "Martinez, go on with them and get the colonel prepped and a sample for a tox scan, if you would."
"Yes, Ma'am," the med-tech on duty clipped and hurried off with the others.
Shaking her head, Janet quickly gathered what she'd need, tossing the supplies into a carryall for that purpose. Finished, she turned back around and suddenly pulled up short as she nearly collided with Airman Phillips. His hand came up, curving to her forearm to steady her. It took her a beat to connect that he'd been one of the men who helped Makepeace in. "Airman," she said, pulling back as she realized he was still holding her arm loosely. His gaze dropped and she felt the faint graze of his thumb and forefingers against her knuckles and palm as he pulled his hand back.
Heat flared momentarily in his eyes before it was shuttered away. He nodded in the direction they'd taken the colonel. "We got Colonel Makepeace into the examining room and Martinez is with him," he informed her.
"Thank you," she exhaled and pointedly stepped back to escape the unavoidable sense that he was crowding her. "That'll be all then." He didn't move for a moment, his broad frame blocking her effectively. "Dismissed," she added, a sharp look backing him up a step but not enough for her to pass easily.
"I've got the colonel prepped, Doctor," Martinez informed her as he returned. "It's definitely going to take some minor surgery," he said practically, more than experienced enough to perform a basic triage. "Nothing that you can't handle though." He looked at Phillips curiously as though trying to decide why the airman hadn't left, then back at his superior.
"Thank you," Janet said quickly and stepped around Phillips, ignoring the way he watched her as she passed by.
As they hurried through the infirmary corridors, Martinez glanced back over his shoulder. "Problem back there?" he asked, sensitive to the weird undercurrents.
Janet shook her head. "No ... he was just a little...." she trailed off distastefully.
"Got it," the tech sighed sympathetically. Being one of the few men on the med staff most of the time, he'd heard enough of the women's complaints to pick up on her tone. "Well, if he gives you any trouble, let me know and I'll break his jaw for you."
She laughed at the idea, already feeling better. "I don't think that's exactly the regulation response," she reminded him.
"Obviously, you never heard my mom's or sisters' version of the regulations."
Janet just laughed.
Ten minutes later, Phillips' appearance in the infirmary forgotten, Janet leaned over the prone figure of Makepeace where he was lying, face down, on an examining table.
"Can you just get it over with?" the marine colonel growled disgustedly, well aware of the fact that some people weren't entirely sympathetic about his condition. Hell, had it been anyone else, he'd have probably found it pretty funny himself, but the whole idea lost considerable charm since it was his butt playing the role of pincushion.
"We're just about to start," she assured him with professional sympathy, knowing his ego had to be reeling under the embarrassment. "So, I hear Carter roped you into her current quest to turn me into the perfect soldier," she murmured to distract him from his own situation as she nodded to the medic to indicate it was almost time to start the delicate, if not especially complex bit of surgery.
The colonel grunted something, but nodded in the affirmative. "Tactics of urban warfare," he said by way of explanation. That was one of his specialties.
"Well, now's as good a time as any to start your lecture," she murmured, signaling Martinez they were ready.
He threw another awkward glance her direction her way. "You aren't serious?" the marine muttered, then blushed a bright shade of crimson as she leaned down to get a closer look at the injury.
"Well, sir, we're probably going to be here for awhile," she said practically, then glanced over at him. "And I don't think you really want me discussing your injury in depth."
Teeth gritted as he felt the first chill trickle of antiseptic over undeadened flesh, reminding him exactly how exposed he was. His hands fisted tightly, and he kept his eyes firmly on the far wall, breathing deeply to control the urge to get the hell out of there. A dozen burrs in his butt would be better than the jokes that were most likely to come out of this little adventure. He fought to remember the beginning of the lecture he'd half planned. "According to tactical doctrine, urbanized combat should be avoided at all costs, but when unavoidable, a commander must treat the elements of urban sprawl as they would any terrain and must understand how this terrain affects the capabilities of their units and weapons...."
Janet just nodded, her eyes on her work as she listened to his impromptu lecture. "Fascinating...."
* * * * * *
"You aren't actually going to eat that, are you?" Sam Carter chided as she took a seat across from Janet Fraiser in the mess,
Fraiser looked up from the journal she was reading, a look of surprise flitting across soft features. She'd been so absorbed in an article she hadn't realized the other woman was there. "Sam ... you startled me." She laid the journal aside to glance down at her tray, then wished she hadn't. It went down easier if she didn't pay too much attention. "Well, that was the plan," she admitted, "though on closer examination, I'm not sure how good an idea it is." Her stomach rumbled, reminding her she hadn't had time for breakfast that morning. "On the other hand, starvation lacks for charm too." She took a bite of her meal and made a face. "I think it's pretty much a tossup," she decided on a note of irony.
Sam chuckled softly, leaning forward on her elbows. "I heard about your ... um ... urban tactics class with Makepeace the other day," she said with a grin. "Somehow I'm thinking the tactics lessons may be redundant," she drawled knowingly, thinking the doctor was probably already more skilled at certain tactics than the rest of them added together. She had to be, considering who her patients were.
Janet rolled her eyes. "It was definitely ... interesting," she murmured after a thoughtful pause. "And you didn't limit where I can get in all of these catch-up studies."
Sam laughed softly and held up a hand in surrender. "Hey, I thought it was pretty clever ... though Makepeace is still whining about it."
Shaking her head, Janet snorted softly. "The big baby. Wanders halfway across a planet with that thing stuck in his backside, then gets back here and acts like he got shot with a cannon." Another head shake. "I swear, I do not get the marines."
"That's probably the good news," Sam chuckled and swiped a french fry off the doctor's plate. "What can I say, they're a guilty pleasure," she responded to the raised eyebrow Janet threw her way. She gestured to the doctor's left arm, no longer in the sling, though there was a shadow of a light bandage on her forearm under her blouse. "So, how's the arm doing?" she questioned.
Janet shrugged tightening her hand into a fist and turning it back and forth experimentally. "Pretty good actually. Warner's cleared me for full duty ... but with a warning to be careful for another few days."
"Glad to hear it," Sam murmured, a grin playing about her lips as she snitched another cold french fry off the doctor's plate.
Another quick head shake. "It wasn't much more than a scratch. Honestly, the sling was overkill." Janet dismissed the injury as she took another bite, frowning at her food in an effort to decide which was more important, salving her hunger or protecting her taste buds.
"Since you're cleared for full duty, and the team's not going through the gate tomorrow, think you're up to some weapons training?" Sam asked, smiling brightly to defuse the resistance she fully expected.
Janet let out a tiny, whimpery sound. She'd really been hoping Sam might forget about that. It wasn't so much the actual training -- though she was dreading the whole concept of self defense with Teal'c -- as it was the time it was going to require when her schedule was already full to bursting. That was nearly as intimidating as the big Jaffa.
"No such luck," the blond drawled as though she'd read Janet's mind. "And I already checked your schedule. I know you don't any commitments in that slot, so you should be free--"
"Assuming there are no emergencies," Fraiser pointed out. After all, the SGC was the emergency central. She was just being practical...mostly.
A blond brow shot up. "You aren't actually hoping for an emergency, are you?"
"No," the doctor insisted, then shrugged a little embarrassedly. "Though, if a little tiny one," she held her thumb and finger up to indicate something very small, "cared to interfere, it's possible I wouldn't complain."
Sam tsked, but a smile teased her lips. "So, is there a reason this is bugging you?" she asked curiously. "Or are you just in a mood to be difficult?"
"You mean aside from the practical consideration that I question the wisdom of putting me, Jack O'Neill, and a large cache of weapons in the same place?" Janet asked on an ironic note. She didn't dislike the colonel, but there was no two ways about it, they tended to get on each other's nerves. "Or the fact that I'm already overworked and this is just one more chunk of time out of my life."
"Aside from that," Sam confirmed equally dryly.
A russet eyebrow ticked upward as the doctor considered the question, then a cheeky grin curved her lips. "Mmm, actually, I'm just practicing some of those delaying tactics Colonel Makepeace was lecturing me about ... gotta get in lots of practice."
Sam looked doubtful.
Slim shoulders deflated and Janet shrugged, her tone becoming practical. "Okay, so I figure the longer I can delay everything else, the longer I can avoid self-defense training ... with Teal'c ... y'know Death Comes for the SGC CMO...." She watched as Sam ate another of her fries. "Y'know, those things'll kill you ... rather like Teal'c's going to do to me." She offered an overbright smile as Sam flashed her a dirty look.
"He's not going to kill you," the blond sighed impatiently, then grinned, "May hurt you a little, but he wouldn't kill you."
"Oh, I feel soooo much better now," Janet moaned and leaned her head on her hand. She munched thoughtfully on a french fry. "So are you still interested in coming with me to that symposium on forensics technology this weekend?" she asked, the subject change signaling her surrender.
"That's right," Sam said quickly, "that's Saturday , isn't it?" At Janet's confirmation nod, she offered a quick smile. "Sure, we're not scheduled for any missions -- barring any emergences," she added with a teasing lilt. "And it sounded interesting."
"Sounds good. It's set to start at ten am ... and I believe it's your turn to drive."
"Ah hah," Sam laughed, "the truth rears its ugly head. You don't want me along, you just want a chauffeur."
"Uh huh, got it in one," Janet assured her, her grin making it obvious the words were a lie.
"I'll call you Friday night to set the times," Sam murmured, then glanced at her watch and rose. "And now I'm due at a meeting in five." She sighed and rolled her eyes. "Some administrative thing. Should be about as exciting as watching paint dry."
Janet couldn't contain a sympathetic laugh. "Wouldn't know anything about those," she exhaled sarcastically, drawing a smile from the blond.
"Talk to you later," Sam said.
"Will do," Janet murmured, watching the other woman thread between tables for a moment before she returned to reading her journal. She was still trying to find her place again when a shadow swam over the page and she realized she wasn't alone. Thinking Carter had come back for something, she looked up. "Sam, I--- Oh, Airman Phillips--" she exhaled when she saw the tall figure looming over her table.
"It's Tony, Ma'am," he corrected her and sank down into the seat Sam had vacated.
A subtle frown sketched its way across Fraiser's brow and she straightened her shoulders, her tone automatically becoming more formal. "How can I help you, Airman?" she asked, pointedly ignoring his invitation to use his first name.
He flushed, but didn't argue, just held out his hand, presenting her with a piece of notepaper she'd been using as a bookmark. "I think you dropped this, Ma'am," he said softly, eyes darkening as he purposely stroked her palm with the very tips of his fingers.
Janet yanked her hand back a little more quickly that was strictly necessary and tried to cover the instinctive response by staring down at the sheet as though reading the jotted notes written on one side in her scrawling hand.
"I thought it might be important," he said softly.
She looked up, reacting to his confident half-smile with a stiff look. "Not really," she said as she tucked the paper back into the journal, then snapped it shut. "But thank you." She carefully laid her fork back on the tray. "If that's all, I need to get back to work." Her tone didn't invite confidences.
"Well, actually, Ma'am," he began as she started to rise, leaving her little choice but to sink back down, "I was wondering if you'd reconsider letting me buy you that beer?" There was an unfamiliar edge of pushiness she couldn't remember from the times she'd encountered him before Hathor's arrival, but it wasn't like she'd spent much time around the guy. "I could drive us over to Delvecchio's or Mike's ... or if there's someplace else you'd prefer, that's cool too. Actually, that might be even better. We could go after your current shift." He smiled as though they were chatting over a drink in a singles bar, seemingly confident she'd be bowled over by his charms.
Janet sighed softly and shook her head. "Airman," she began carefully, "you know as well as I do why that would be inappropriate." Under some circumstances, she might have allowed one of the enlisted men to buy her a beer if they ran into each other somewhere, but Phillips was definitely thinking about something other than a simple peace offering.
Her refusal yanked him up short, leaving him looking uncertain for the first time since he'd appeared at her table. "I just meant--"
"I think I know what you meant," she cut him off, her tone just sharp enough to silence the young man. "And the answer is no ... and I think it would be best if you not ask the question again." She didn't want to leave him any opportunities for misunderstanding her meaning. Clearly, subtle wasn't going to work. "Understood?"
He stiffened under her penetrating gaze, but didn't immediately respond, just sat staring at his own hand as it slowly curled into a tight fist. "Understood," he said at last.
"Now, if you'll excuse me, Airman, I need to get back to the infirmary."
He didn't look up until after she rose and was moving away from the table, eyes narrowing fractionally as he tracked her progress through the room, resentment glittering in his eyes.
"She is your gift, child. Her resistance is unacceptable."
He recognized the voice, just as he had when it had whispered sweet words in his ear in the infirmary and again just now ... when his hand had touched the doctor's and Hathor had reminded him of all the promises she'd made. He'd felt it all again in that moment; the surge of lust and heat, the knowledge that he would be rewarded for his service to the goddess.
"Yes, child, and she is your reward."
He glanced around, amazed that no one else had heard the goddess' whispered words, then felt a swirl of pride as he realized they were intended for him alone. He rubbed his fingers where they'd touched Fraiser's hand, feeling the tingle of contact once again. She was his. He could feel the reminder of their bond. She might be resisting Hathor's call, but not for long. And then an odd kind of relaxation settled over him as he contemplated everything he'd overheard from his seat at the table behind the doctor's.
The clues were there. He just had to put them together and pass the test, he realized. Of course, Hathor wouldn't have made it simple to claim his bride....
And then Tony Phillips froze, shaking his head, suddenly uncertain. Bride? Where the hell had that come from?
"From me, my love," the voice echoed in his head, rich and sensual, promising every kind of physical delight imaginable. Hathor. "After all, I'm the one who gave her to you."
Right. Hathor. He rose and hurried out, his attention a million miles away ... literally.