Bits and Pieces #9:
Lying alone in bed, staring blankly at the ceiling, her body far too tired for someone who'd just had two nights back home in her own bed, and one full day away from work, it occurred to Janet Fraiser just how amazingly unrestful time off could be ... particularly when spent thinking about things she really would have preferred not to think about.
Like feelings ... the physical type, which would have been bad enough had she not also been stuck contemplating feelings ... the emotional type.
She sighed softly and folded an arm over her eyes.
This was so, sooooo very not good.
Just four days before Samantha Carter had thrown caution to the winds, risked her freedom, and allowed herself to be taken captive on Routtua -- or P4R-I3X to the more scientific members of the SGC -- in hopes of rescuing Janet from what hadn't qualified as a fate worse than death, so much as a fate comparable to death ... otherwise known as marriage. Sam had done it even knowing that she might just wind up a prisoner for the rest of her life for her thoughtfulness. She hadn't complained once, had refused every chance at escape, and had done everything in her power to support and protect Janet.
And if Janet was honest, she had to admit, it was the single kindest, most caring, thoughtful, decent -- and God help her -- romantic thing anyone had ever done for her in her entire life.
Which was so astoundingly not fair, Janet mused as she lay helplessly in bed, her body vibrating with the kind of arousal she'd long since concluded she wasn't overmuch subject to. Which just showed what she knew. Two nights of vivid dreams that had ranged from the sweet and romantic to the heartstoppingly erotic, and all of which had left her gasping with a sensual ache that bordered on the painful, had proven in a very visceral way just how subject to arousal she was. Desperately, massively, insanely as it turned out. Which was really not the best news she'd had that week. And considering she'd been held prisoner on Routtua, nearly married off to a twelve year-old, dangled 50 feet on a rope meant to weight the train on a dress properly, and been forced to wear a corset, that was saying something.
But dammit, Prince Charming was supposed to be a Prince. Society was very clear about that notion. And the Air Force even moreso. The tall, blond, brilliant, and heroic part of the description was all perfectly acceptable, but the female part ... now, that was a stumbling block. Or at least it was supposed to be. But how the hell was she supposed to resist someone who kept coming to her rescue, and who was smart, beautiful, kind, gentle, and dozens of other superlatives? Not to mention gave the best shoulder massages she'd had since she'd given up paying a chiropractor a hundred dollars an hour for them. How the hell was someone who'd grown up watching Errol Flynn movies and worshiping Maureen O'Hara in Against All Flags supposed to resist that?
It was just so damned unfair.
There are things that good Catholic girls just aren't supposed to do and as she lay throbbing in the darkness, it occurred to Janet that she'd fantasized about damn near all of them in the previous forty-eight hours. Which, she supposed, meant she ought to be grateful she'd been raised a Methodist, except they weren't even supposed to think about them. And she didn't even care to contemplate the Air Force's stance on assorted issues. That was just asking for more trouble than she was up to dealing with.
The alarm next to her bed began blasting a classical music station, and she slapped it harder than was strictly necessary to shut it off. Barely resisting the urge to pace as she climbed out of bed, she threw a uniform across the foot of the mattress without even bothering to pretend to neaten the covers. Not that she'd ever been much for making beds since -- as she'd regularly argued with her mother from age five on -- she was just going to sleep in it again that night. The whole practice had always seemed like a study in pointless effort as far as she was concerned. She'd learned to keep the Air Force happy in basic, though the whole thing had seemed like a hopelessly inane thing for the armed services to care so much about, but she was damned if she was going to be so damned anal in her own home....
And it suddenly occurred to her that she was trying mightily to distract herself from the real problem if she was down to arguing with herself over making the bed or not.
The problem was Sam was--
No, scratch that. The problem was that she was way too aware of what Sam was.
And the other problem was what the Air Force would think of that awareness.
And the really big problem was that past thirty was just way too late in life for a sexual identity crisis.
Oh, she wasn't a complete moron on that front. Close, but not quite. She'd long known she had the capacity to be attracted to women. There'd been enough breathless moments and long looks that she couldn't ignore that reality. But the wonderful thing about enough education is that with it, a person can explain away almost anything ... like an elevated pulse, sweaty palms, wandering eyes, and not entirely pure thoughts. Practically speaking, she'd heard all the psych lectures on how everyone has some capacity for bisexuality ... and even supported the notion by pointing out to herself on more than one occasion that it was much more culturally acceptable in women ... that women, were in fact urged to look at each other in a sexual light every day. Besides, noticing another woman's sex appeal not only wasn't a big deal, it was sort of expected in modern American society. And the fact that she hadn't met a man who really made her pulse pound yet? Well, she just hadn't met the right one yet.
Oh, and, by the way, denial ... not just a river in Egypt, darlin'.
Janet groaned low in her throat and all but stuffed her head under the faucet in the bathroom as she washed her face, then ran water into her hair in the vague hope of cooling some of the ardor heating her veins.
Sheez, you'd think the panic would have done that already, but it didn't seem to be helping a bit.
She shut the water off, leaning forward against the counter on her elbows, head down as she tried to absorb some of the chill from the tile ... and tried to get her rampaging thoughts back under control.
Because she had to get this under control ... because mooning after Samantha Carter was not only dangerous to her career, it was a surefire road to more heartbreak than she cared to contemplate ... and because if she didn't, she might just go insane...
And why is that? some sarcastic bug in her brain demanded acidly, Let's say it all together now: because Sam is straight. And we know this because?
Because she'd never have been so comfortable acting the way she had if she wasn't. If she was interested, the tenderness that bordered on cuddling, the sensual shoulder massages, clinging touches, and proclamations would qualify as seductive any way you looked at it.
And Janet knew Sam well enough to know that wouldn't be her approach. Sam Carter was no fool. She knew the price of such risky games. Sam's career was her life, and she'd never endanger it for something as ephemeral as love or sex. No, for someone like Sam, the level of intimacy she'd allowed required an absolute cluelessness that it even could be misinterpreted. If she were the faintest bit interested, she'd probably be hiding in the deepest, darkest corner of the SGC, trying to get the hell over any attraction she was feeling.
Just like Janet was contemplating doing.
And if that wasn't the case? Well, that would take a level of denial Janet couldn't even begin to comprehend ... which was impressive all things considered.
No, Sam wasn't interested. Time to face facts. She was a friend ... and a damn good one ... but that was all.
She straightened, hands still braced on the bathroom counter to stare at herself in the mirror, noting the faint shadows under her eyes. Well, it wasn't like sleep had been all that restful the last two nights. Hell, she'd had more sex in two nights of dreaming than she'd had in the last five years in real life ... and the quality had been vastly better too. She turned the water back on, running the chill stream over her inner wrists and staring at herself in the mirror. Despite the exhaustion, her skin was glowing pink and healthy and flushed in a way she'd forgotten she was even capable of ... or maybe she'd never known ... all because--
Shaking her head sharply, Janet slammed the brakes on that thought.
This had to stop. She sighed regretfully, some of the panicky sensation draining away as she realized what she had to do. Looking realistically at her history, she could suddenly see a pattern she'd blinded herself to before; she'd maintained a distance between herself and most of the world, and when that didn't work pulled back, surrendering friendships when things threatened to become too intense. She'd kept a wall between herself and anyone who showed any sign of touching deeper emotions in order to avoid any risk of being forced to look at her own emotions. And then Sam stumbled in, playing friend, rescuer, and confidante, and pulling back was impossible. That wasn't a solution that could, or even should work this time. She was still going to have to work with the other woman. And besides, the friendship had come to mean too much. She couldn't just let it go.
But she was going to have to get some room. Pull back and regain some equilibrium. Sam wasn't the only one who was supposed to be completely straight arrow ... and not just in the upstanding citizen sort of way either. Janet leaned forward, staring at herself more closely in the mirror in an effort to see if there was something different or something she'd just missed for the last thirty years or so ... or maybe it was all nothing but a brief bout of insanity that she would quickly and easily get over. That last choice was probably the best of the three, but as she stared at herself, she had a bad feeling, that wasn't the case. Even if she got over the whole thing with Sam, there was a whole lot of additional stuff going on in her head, some of it not at all simple to contemplate. Talk about things she wasn't up to dealing with.
Shaking her head, Janet straightened her shoulders, shutting off the water as she took a deep breath and let it out again to release some of the stress. She just needed to stay away from Sam for a little while; back off and let overheated ... emotions ... cool down. Anything in the way of more long-term considerations could wait for the moment.
Janet massaged her temple thoughtfully.
She was looking at a quiet few days in the infirmary while the SG-teams studied the black hole from P8X-987 -- Hanka to the natives, according to her briefing papers. She knew Sam well enough to realize she'd bury herself in the work. Nothing like a little hard science to get the blonde's pulse racing.
Grumbling softly under her breath to remind herself that right now really wasn't the time to be worrying so much about what made Sam's pulse race, Janet threw on enough makeup to look human again. With Carter involved in the research project, it was the perfect chance to get herself back on course. Just keep her head low, let things depressurize. And after that, play it by ear. Maybe cut back on any social activities with the other woman for a little while. Maybe even accept the standing offer from Hawkins for dinner and a movie ... though frankly, the notion of spending a night in the man's company seemed more likely to push her toward Sam than away.
On second thought, maybe she'd just play everything solo for awhile.
Just long enough to get her balance back and get over this sudden bit of obsession with Sam.
Feeling more in control than she had for something over thirty-six hours, she reached for a hair brush.
She'd just back off a little and give herself time to let everything get back to normal. Normal being defined as not the least bit aroused.
She finished dressing and hurried out, confident she had her plans in place and knew what to do.
...and then Cassandra happened.
Small, frightened, with wide blue eyes that mimicked Sam's heartrending appeal, the child was the only survivor of a plague sent by the Goa'uld, though her survival had been a near thing since -- while they were busy killing everything she'd ever known -- the Goa'uld had also left a biological time bomb in her chest. Janet had wanted desperately to go with the team that took her to the missile silo where they fully expected the bomb to blow, not only for the child's sake, but also for her friend. Well aware that the captain's shattered heart would be part of the collateral damage from the blast, she'd been more than a little afraid for Sam's sanity if the child died,
But the bomb hadn't gone off.
And now that they knew Cassandra was going to survive. And since she couldn't go home, something had to be done with her. Tests at the Air Force Academy hospital had confirmed what Sam was already certain of; as long as she was kept away from the gate, she'd be fine.
Which was where Janet found herself coming back into the equation.
It seemed that Sam had cooked up a plan. All Janet could think as the blonde laid it out was that it would have been nice to have had just a little warning.
Then she was hit with a heart-stopping, pleading look -- in stereo -- and there was no standing up under it. Sam and Cassandra both focused their most hopeful, high-impact, begging rays on her and she was lost. It was to her credit that she even tried to make one last stand.
"I ... sir?" Janet said a little helplessly, and turned her own pleading look on General Hammond where he stood in one corner of the child's hospital room.
"I'm afraid that the DOD will insist on handling the situation if there's nothing we can do in-house," he said softly, and her shoulders slumped.
God knew, the Department of Defense was in no way set up to handle adoptions, particularly for alien children who just happened to have recently lost an entire world. Thoughtfulness wasn't exactly their strong suit. She dreaded to think how they'd handle a situation this sensitive. Probably lock her away while they spent a couple of years debating whether or not she was a security threat.
"And you said yourself that her health should be closely monitored until the potassium and naquada have completely reabsorbed," Sam added helpfully. "Besides, I'll be around to help, and General Hammond has agreed to supply babysitters when needed from within the SGC."
Janet looked back at the woman and child, nearly toppling under the joint impact of twin pleading gazes. "All right," she sighed at last, wondering at her own sanity. Yes, she did have more room than Sam and, yes, she did work slightly more regular hours. But aside from two truly disastrous efforts at babysitting in high school, she knew about as much about children as she did calculus. No, scratch that, Sam had managed to work in a lecture on calculus recently and, while she hadn't really been listening at the time, enough had probably snuck in via osmosis that she now actually knew less about children. And considering she'd barely gotten through college trig, that was saying something. "But this is only temporary," she reminded all three of them, her tone as firm as she could make it.
Which had almost as much impact as if she'd just kept her mouth shut and glared sternly at them for all of the notice they took of her.
Sam swung Cass off her feet in a moment of celebration, handling the child amazingly gently, and smiling in a way that made Janet melt for its purity and sweetness. "I know you've still got things to go over here," she said as she set the girl back on her feet and looked over at Janet to offer a grateful smile.
Janet wondered if anyone had noticed she was rapidly turning into a puddle. So much for her plans to gain some distance. Sam was going to be underfoot as much as possible now.
And God help her, she was thrilled by the news.
"So, what say I let Cass get a little outdoor time in, then bring her by your place about six?" Carter glanced at the child, sharing a triumphant grin between them, then back up at Janet. "I mean, you did say it's okay if she leaves here today, right?"
Thinking she was an entirely too soft a touch, Janet nodded. "That should be fine," she assured Sam. "It'll give me time to straighten things in my study a little and make up the pull out bed."
Which was how she came to find herself watching and melting while Sam tucked one very small, very tired child into the recently purchased sofa bed in her home office.
She sighed, meeting a pair of big brown eyes.
Now, if she could just figure out where the hell the dog had come from....