"Is this going to be a problem?" Janet hated herself for even asking the question. She couldn't even rationalize it as something that just slipped out because it hadn't. She'd actually taken a moment or two to debate with herself about it. Good sense had given way to jealousy.
"Of course not," Sam said too quickly, looking away from the schematic display for the first time. Janet knew Sam was trying to reassure her, but she failed miserably. Get out, Janet thought. Get out before Sam says anything else to make matters worse.
On her way to the door, however, Janet paused, unable to help casting a worried look over her shoulder and she didn't care who in the room saw it. It was as if she'd never been in the room at all. Sam was already back in her own world, a world that consisted solely of Jack O'Neill and particle beam generators. Feeling sick inside, Janet fled.
In her office she sat down at her desk and angrily pulled a pile of charts in front of her, intent on spending the remaining hour and a half of her shift losing herself in her work. It seemed to work so well for Sam. Then she would go home and vent her anger out at Sam, at this situation, at herself, and at Jack O'Neill in private.
Especially Jack O'Neill, Janet thought bitterly. Normally, she liked the guy. He was a good officer, sweet and funny in his own way when he wasn't trying too hard to be sarcastic. He reminded her a bit of Han Solo. But what kind of idiot wanders off and gets himself trapped on an alien planet in the middle of a dangerous meteor shower, Janet asked herself. Of all the dumb ass stunts...
A part of her knew she wasn't being entirely fair. She'd read the report; O'Neill had certainly had a good reason. But she was furious with him just the same. She'd given in a few minutes ago in Sam's lab, and voiced her own fears. Not directly, of course. She couldn't do that as long as they were on base. But Janet had begun to suspect that there was more than mere duty in the intensity of Sam's quest.
Janet didn't like being jealous. She was no fool. She'd known that maintaining a relationship with Sam given their respective military careers would be difficult under the best of circumstances. Now, the Jack O'Neill Situation, as she'd taken to calling it privately, had turned the whole thing into a nightmare. She couldn't talk to Sam, not on base anyway, and Sam was so caught up in rescuing O'Neill that she'd barely taken a break in the ten days since they'd realized they couldn't open the Stargate to retrieve O'Neill and return the Edoran refugees safely home.
Janet vividly remembered the moment Sam and Hammond had realized something was terribly wrong. She'd stood next to Sam, geared up and ready to offer medical aid to the inhabitants of Edora who'd been left behind, when the telemetry from the MALP had abruptly cut out. Sam looked like she was going to throw up on the spot as she'd shifted uncomfortably from one foot to the other.
Why hadn't she seen this before, Janet wondered. It didn't surprise her that Sam had been unaware of her attraction to O'Neill, but she should have seen it. She was usually much better at spotting these sorts of things. Of course, she probably hadn't wanted to see it, since she'd wanted Sam for herself long before they'd actually become involved. But now, the current crisis had made the fact painfully obvious, and Janet wondered if Sam was feeling even remotely conflicted about it. Then again, Janet was beginning to wonder if Sam was allowing herself to feel much of anything at all at the moment.
Certainly not guilty over shutting me out, Janet thought uncharitably, and didn't even bother mentally chastising herself for that one. She was hurt and angry, and she had every right to feel that way, even if there was little she could do about it at the moment. Concern for Sam's emotional and physical health made her wish for O'Neill's safety and quick return; what that meant to her relationship with Sam made her almost wish O'Neill never came back at all. She didn't know if she could deal with that situation, especially since she felt like all the choices had been taken from her.
"What? What is it?" Janet asked, panic creeping into her voice as she felt Cassie crawl into bed beside her. It seemed like she'd just fallen asleep, she thought, as she lifted her head and squinted over at the bedside clock. God, three am. "Cass?" she whispered as she reached over and snapped on the lamp.
Cassie didn't answer, just slid closer and wrapped her fingers tightly around Janet's arm. With a sigh, Janet sat up, absently stroking Cassie's hair.
"Bad dream?" she asked, knowing that Cassie wouldn't answer her for a while. When they'd first found her, it had taken a few days for Cassie to talk to anyone. It was a behavior that the girl often lapsed into after a nightmare. And Janet didn't need to be Dr. Spock to know what Cassie's recent nightmares were about. Or rather, who they were about.
"You know Sam's doing everything she can to get him back, don't you?" This conversation had become something of a ritual over the last few weeks, but the attempt to engage Cassie in conversation did seem to draw her out faster. She felt Cassie shift slightly against her arm. "And that Sam will be back as soon as he's back safe and sound?" At that, Cassie just shrugged and held onto her tighter.
This would have to stop, Janet thought. Cassie knew Sam was safe and not going anywhere, but her own dark history, coupled with O'Neill's disappearance, had caused old wounds to reopen and old fears to resurface. Cassie was so happy and well-adjusted most of the time that Janet sometimes forgot how much death and tragedy there had already been in her young life.
This week, Janet thought decisively. She'd let this go on too long. She'd get Sam out here one way or the other, if for no other reason than for Cassie's sake. Her own needs were incidental now.
"I can't promise anything," Janet began, after debating with herself over whether or not to even bring this up to Cassie. "But I think Sam might come by for a visit soon. Wouldn't that be great?"
Cassie lifted her head, and looked up at her. "But she has to get Jack back," she said softly.
Janet knew damn well Cassie wanted nothing more than to see Sam. But she'd put that aside if it meant getting O'Neill back that much sooner. He was a lucky man to inspire so much devotion, Janet thought.
"Well, Sam has to eat, too," she said after a few moments.
That seemed to placate Cassie for a moment, then she said, "But tell her it's all right if she's too busy, OK?"
"I will," Janet said, trying to keep the sadness out of her voice. "You want to stay here tonight?" she asked after a few moments.
"Yeah," Cassie whispered.
"Okay," Janet said, lifting the blankets and gently tucking them around Cassie. "Go to sleep now. You've got to get up for school in a few hours, and you know how cranky you get without your beauty sleep." That earned a smile out of Cassie, and Janet leaned down to kiss her lightly on the forehead. "Sweet dreams."
"You too," Cassie said with a yawn.
For nearly two months she'd waited, waited for Sam to finish, waited for Sam to come out of her lab, waited to talk to Sam. Hell, Janet thought ruefully, she'd even waited for Sam to eat something voluntarily. Janet felt she'd owed it to Sam to give her the time and the space, hoping that she'd been wrong about the whole Jack O'Neill situation, or that Sam would come around and confide in her so they could clear the air.
But enough was enough. She'd allowed it to go on for too long. Cassie's nightmares aside, Sam was maintaining a relentless schedule and Janet was concerned she was doing physical harm to herself. While she couldn't force Sam to resolve their recent lack of relationship one way or the other, as CMO of the SGC she could do something about Sam's obsessive work habits. Hell, she could override General Hammond's authority on this one, since she had the ultimate say on who was and who was not fit for duty on the base, right up to Hammond himself. One way or the other she was going to get Sam out of that damn lab today.
"I thought I told you to get some rest, Major," Janet said, not bothering to knock before entering. Sam was sitting at her workbench soldering something onto a circuit board. A technician stood to one side, apparently checking the schematics against another circuit board he carefully held in one hand. "Lieutenant," Janet said, turning to him. "I'd like to talk to Major Carter in private for a few minutes." He glanced at her, then at Carter. "That's an order, Lieutenant," Janet snapped before Sam could say anything. She wasn't in the mood for games today.
After he left Janet turned back to Sam. "Well, Major?"
"I took a nap," Sam said.
"When? For how long?"
Sam shrugged. "A couple of hours. Last night."
"That's not enough, Sam," Janet moved to Sam's side, noting the dark circles under her eyes and lines of fatigue around her mouth. Whatever righteous anger she'd managed to drum up drained away. "You aren't going to be of use to anyone, especially not Colonel O'Neill, if you keep this pace up. You've got to get some rest."
Sam gently placed the circuit board face down on the tale. "I'll rest after he gets home," she said simply. "First things first."
Janet sighed. She'd half hoped Sam would see reason, though the better part of her knew she wouldn't. "I could always make it an order," she said softly.
Sam smiled slightly, then glanced up at her. Janet was inordinately warmed by the smile, and found herself returning it. "I outrank you, Janet," Sam noted.
"But I can declare you unfit for duty." The words were said quietly, but Janet made it clear from her tone voice that she was not joking. The effect on Sam was profound. If possible, the color drained even more from Sam's face and her eyes widened, the smile fading completely from her lips.
"You wouldn't," Sam said after a moment.
"I would," Janet countered quickly, nodding emphatically. "The way I see it, Major, you've got one of two choices. You can come home with me and rest, or you can rest under guard in the infirmary. Either way, you're not setting foot in this lab for at least seventy-two hours, starting now. Is that clear?"
Sam was silent, staring at her with a panicked expression on her face. Janet almost felt bad about having to do this, but reminded herself sternly that it was for Sam's own good. But she looked so stricken that Janet decided to take one small risk, a risk she wouldn't normally take on the base where everything was under surveillance. "Come home with me, Sam," she said quietly, taking a step forward. "Cassie misses you." Despite everything, I miss you too, Janet thought but didn't dare say aloud. She watched as Sam's eyes flicked quickly to the ceiling, where the surveillance camera was located, then slowly drifted back down to look apologetically at her.
"I miss her too," Sam said after a moment. She reached out and touched the sleeve of Janet's lab coat lightly, then stood up.
"Ah-ah," Janet admonished, waving a finger at Sam when she picked up a pile of schematics and reached for her briefcase. "No work."
Sam spent nearly a minute looking back and forth between the sheaf of papers in her hand and Janet, and the doctor prepared herself for an argument. But Sam surprised her by reluctantly tucking them into a folder and sliding them into a desk drawer. Janet was encouraged by it, though it had been almost too easy. She was well aware that Sam probably had the plans memorized and didn't need to have them in front of her in order to work on them. But Janet decided to take it as a good sign anyway.
Finally ready, Sam waved her arm in the direction of the exit, and they left the lab. Janet glanced surreptitiously at Sam and saw her turn and give the door a long look before turning away. Janet tried to remember the last time Sam had left the base, and realized it had been the morning SG1 had left for their first trip to Edora. They'd driven in together, and had made plans to take Cassie on a trip to a local mine. That had never happened, of course, due to the Jack O'Neill Situation.
The sun had been up for nearly two hours when they left the base. Although it was rare now that she had Cassie to take care of, SG off-world schedules did require that Janet sometimes work overnight. Glancing at her watch, Janet turned to Sam who was squinting out the window. "Mrs. Cahill got Cassie off to school half an hour ago. You should be able to get a couple of hours rest before lunch," Janet said casually. Sam nodded absently, then turned back to the window.
For the first time Janet wondered if this was a good idea. Sam needed rest, and Janet had resolved earlier to not turn this into a series of confrontations. That wouldn't do anyone any good at the moment. But she couldn't help but feel a stab of resentment at how far away Sam still was, even though they were finally away from the SGC.
"I'm sorry," Sam said tiredly, as if reading Janet's mind. Turning away from the window Sam looked over at her for a long moment, then reached out and placed her hand on Janet's thigh. "I know these last few weeks have been hard on you and Cassie. I'm sorry."
Janet took a deep breath and nodded. "I know it's important to get Colonel O'Neill back," she said, trying to keep her voice neutral.
She heard a deep sigh, then felt Sam shift away from her. "But?" Sam said after a moment.
Frowning Janet glanced over at Sam. "But? But what?"
Sam shrugged. "'I know it's important to get Colonel O'Neill back,'" she echoed. "But...."
Biting her lip, Janet debated with herself about whether or not to get into this now. She wanted to, had wanted to for the last couple of weeks. But now than the moment had arrived, Janet wasn't sure she was quite up for it.
"We can do this later," she said after a moment.
"Janet, if you have something to say, just say it," Sam said irritably.
She tried not to get mad. She really did. But several weeks of pent up hurt and frustration finally caught up with her. "Fine," she said, her voice clipped. "You want to do this now, we'll do this now. I've tried to be patient and understanding. I really have. But you just disappeared on me."
"Come on, Janet! What do you want me to do? I can't just leave him there."
"More importantly," Janet said, raising her voice over Sam's, "You disappeared on Cassie. You of all people should know what that means! She had a school play last week, did you know that? Daniel went with me, and she was great. She sang a solo and she made her own costume. And she's been having nightmares. She calls out for you at night, and it's not enough for me to be there. She needs you. It was your idea for her to come live with me. Don't think I don't know it was so you could have her close by and still run around the galaxy playing soldier. But you've got some responsibilities too. Having a child in your life isn't at your convenience. Her life, our lives go on every single day. You can't just--you can't be there one day, then gone the next. You just can't."
Janet drew a shaky breath, then ground her teeth to stop herself from saying anything more. She'd already said a lot more than she'd intended to, but it had all come tumbling out as soon as she started. When she hazarded a quick glance, she saw Sam's reflection in the window, her lips pressed together into a thin, tight line.
There was no time to say anything else, unfortunately, because they turned onto Janet's street. As soon as Janet put the car into park, Sam leapt out of the vehicle. It was all Janet could do to keep up with her as she pulled the door open, pausing long enough to greet Mrs. Cahill before hurrying up the steps. Janet watched her go, feeling her heart sink. This was not going well so far.
"Cassie get off to school all right?" Janet asked, turning to Mrs. Cahill.
Mrs. Cahill gave her a sympathetic pat on the arm, and smiled knowingly. "Yes, but she didn't like the lunch you packed yesterday for her." Janet liked Mrs. Cahill, and had realized early on that the older woman knew a lot more about things than she let on, including her relationship with Sam. She'd often wondered how much Mrs. Cahill might have guessed about Cassie. But she was nothing, if not discrete. And she had a not-so-subtle way of reminding Janet that she was there for her, should she ever need to talk.
"When does she ever?' Janet asked ruefully. "She'd eat nothing but Ho-Ho's if it were left up to her," she added.
That earned a chuckle from Mrs. Cahill. "I think she's planning to trade at lunchtime. There's fresh coffee," she added as she grabbed her coat off the hook and headed for the door.
"Thanks," Janet said. What she needed right now, she thought, was a shot of whiskey, but she appreciated the effort anyway.
Once Mrs. Cahill had left, Janet stood in the kitchen warring with herself. She felt bad about the outburst in the car, and judging from the look on Sam's face afterwards, she hadn't taken it very well either. Giving in, Janet slowly walked upstairs.
She found Sam curled into a tight ball, still fully clothed in her fatigues, in the middle of the bed they'd shared up until a few months ago. Janet felt a pang of guilt when she realized that Sam's shoulders were shaking. Damn, she'd made her cry, she realized, and if possible, felt even worse about everything.
Slipping quietly into the room Janet lowered herself slowly onto the edge of the bed, then reached out and placed her hand lightly against Sam's back. She half expected Sam to pull away, but Sam surprised her by uncurling and rolling over, wrapping her arms tightly around Janet's waist and burying her face in Janet's lap.
At a loss, but only for a moment, Janet eased herself into a more comfortable position. Sliding her arms around Sam, she simply held her as she cried, reminded vaguely of comforting Cassie last night as she stroked Sam's hair and murmured nonsense words. Sam's body was wracked with nearly hysterical sobs that only slowly gave way to the occasional tremor.
The sunny patch on the floor had shifted several feet when Janet felt Sam's grip on her relax slightly and her breathing even out. Sam was finally asleep, she realized, and a part of her breathed a small sigh of relief. There was still so much to work out, so much to talk about, but this <had> been the right thing after all. For now, Janet stayed put, not daring to move for fear of waking Sam. She'd sit in this uncomfortable position for days if she had to, she thought, if it meant that Sam would get some much-needed rest. And damn the wrinkles to her uniform.
In fact, it wasn't too much longer before Janet felt her own eyes grow heavy, and her head started to droop onto her chest. She'd been up most of the night herself, after all. At first she wanted to remain alert in case Sam woke up. But finally, she gave in and allowed her eyes to close. She was asleep almost immediately.
When her eyes fluttered open, Janet noted that the shadows had shifted substantially in the room. Glancing at the clock she saw that it was now early afternoon.
She and Sam had shifted around as they'd slept. Janet was now lying more or less on her back, and she realized with pleasure that Sam was curled almost protectively around her, with her head resting on Janet's shoulder and one arm flung across her abdomen. Reaching out, Janet twined her fingers with Sam's, pulling Sam's hand toward her to brush it lightly with her lips.
"I am sorry," Sam whispered. When Janet glanced down, she saw that Sam's eyes were open and she was looking hesitantly up at her.
"I know," Janet replied, pressing Sam's hand to her cheek. "I'm sorry, too. I didn't mean to get so mad back there in the car."
Sam shifted slightly, pressing more firmly against Janet. "No, I deserved everything you said. I'm messing everything up," she said, and Janet heard the tremor of renewed tears in her voice. "I left Colonel O'Neill on Edora, and the particle beam generator is so much work. I told General Hammond I could build it, but I'm not sure I canY" That last confession must've cost Sam dearly, Janet thought. She wasn't one to admit easily to shortcomings. "And then there's you and Cassie...." She could hear that Sam was dangerously close to tears again. "I can't make any of this right. It's all my fault and I can't seem to fix it. I'm just making it all worse."
"Oh, Sam," Janet admonished gently. "You aren't all to blame."
Sam sniffed, and wiped angrily at the tears threatening to fall from her eyes. "It's just that what you said made me realize that I've become everything I ever hated about my father."
Janet frowned at this last statement. Sam didn't talk much about her father, though Janet was aware there had been some friction in their relationship. "How so?"
"He had good reason to at the time, and I've forgiven him," Sam began, then paused. Janet wasn't sure who she was trying to convince, but wisely kept silent. "But he abandoned us," Sam continued, the words coming reluctantly. "He was so busy he forgot to pick up my mother and she died, and I used to think his work was more important than we were. And I'm doing exactly the same thing. I abandoned Colonel O'Neill, and then I did the same thing to you and Cassie. I'm so sorry, Janet."
"I know," Janet said quietly. She understood a lot of things now, but there was still one last thing troubling her. Sam must have seen something in her expression.
"What?" she asked.
Biting her lip, Janet glanced away, but said nothing.
"Come on," Sam said, brushing her fingers lightly against Janet's cheek causing her to turn to meet Sam's eyes. "What is it?"
Sam's encouraging smile gave her the courage to continue. "Remember what I asked you when you told me you missed Colonel O'Neill?" When Sam shook her head vaguely, she continued, "I asked you if this was going to be a problem. We were on the base, so maybe I wasn't very clear. I was asking you if you were maybe doing more than missing him." Janet's eyes had wandered around the room as she spoke, but now she looked directly into Sam's eyes. "I can't say I'd be happy about it," she said, forcing the words out in the hopes that if she just kept talking she'd eventually say the right thing. Or at least say something to make herself feel better. She was failing miserably at both. "But I'd understand and not stand in the way. The Air Force has fraternization regs, but obviously you can work around--"
Sam blinked at her, then her eyes widened in surprise. "You think I'm in love with Colonel O'Neill?" Sam interrupted, incredulously. "Is that what you think?"
Janet looked over at Sam, but couldn't bring herself to say anything. After a moment Sam smiled. "You're jealous?"
Janet was still unsure. "Should I be?" Sam's smile widened, just before she leaned forward to press her lips against Janet's.
"I kind of like it that you're jealous," Sam said, laughing.
Now it was Janet's turn to look surprised. "Oh, I'm glad my mental pain and suffering makes you feel all warm and fuzzy," she said, with perhaps a bit more venom than she'd intended.
Sam's grin slipped slightly, and she sobered. "I do miss the Colonel. But not like that," she said after a moment. "It's just that you don't leave your people behind. Ever. He taught me that, and I feel like I let him down."
"You're sure that's all it is?" Janet asked. Then she added in a whisper, "This is important, Sam."
"Janet, I know I haven't exactly been Ms. Responsibility lately, and I haven't given you much reason to think otherwise, but I'm sure. I'm very sure." Sam looked at her intently. "Things are going to change, I promise," she said. "I don't want to make the same mistakes my father made. That's not the person I want to be."
Janet wanted to believe what Sam was telling her, but something in her expression must have indicated her lingering doubt to Sam, because she continued. "Every time we go through the Stargate we know it could be our last. I always think about how I might never see Cassie or you again. And the only thing we have to rely on to make sure that doesn't happen is the team. And I let that happen. You can't know what that's like."
Janet looked closely at Sam for a moment, gauging her words, then rolled away with a groan, throwing her arm across her eyes. "Oh god, I'm an idiot. A selfish idiot."
"Well, I think we both are," Sam said lightly. "But you're my selfish idiot."
Janet lifted her arm over her eyes and glared at Sam balefully. "Some catch," she said before dropping it heavily back into place, feeling more than a little ashamed at how badly she'd misconstrued Sam's motivations.
Sam reached over and pulled her arm away. "I think so. I got the cutest girl on base. Even Teal'c thinks so."
That earned a small smile from Janet. "Teal'c said I was cute?" she asked.
"No, but there was something about the way he raised his eyebrow when Daniel said it."
"Is that so," Janet said. "Well, I hate to break it to him, but I'm taken."
"Damn straight," Sam said, capturing Janet's lips with her own. Janet had missed this. She'd missed the feel of Sam's body beneath her hands, the smell of Sam's shampoo. Most importantly, she'd missed the warmth of Sam's arms around her, and the safe reassurance Sam's presence brought to her life.
Janet felt Sam's fingers twine in her hair as her kisses became more insistent. Only too happy to oblige, Janet began fumbling with the buttons of Sam's work shirt. She'd just pulled Sam's t-shirt loose, her hand making its way slowly across warm flesh, when she heard the front door bang loudly.
"Janet!" Cassie yelled. "I'm home! Is Sam here?"
Reluctantly Janet pulled away, burying her face against Sam's neck. "Shit," she muttered. Sam just chuckled as they began to disentangle themselves, then pulled Janet close to kiss her quickly. "Hold that thought," she said before swinging her legs over the side of the bed, pausing to tuck her shirt back in before rising. But Cassie proved to be faster, pounding up the steps, and flinging herself against Sam with enough force to cause them both to tumble across Janet, laughing hysterically.
"I'm so glad you're here," Cassie said, hugging Sam tightly. I missed you so much."
"I missed you, too," Sam said, returning the embrace fiercely.
"Um, guys," Janet said, patting Cassie's head, her voice strained. "I'm on the bottom of the pile here." Still laughing, Cassie crawled to the foot of the bed, allowing Sam to stand up. Janet breathed an exaggerated sigh of relief as she sat up, causing another fit of giggles from Cassie.
"How long can you stay?" Cassie asked, catching Sam's hand and swinging it back and forth.
"Until Friday," Janet said before Sam could reply. Dirty trick, she knew, but to her relief Sam flashed her a quick grin.
"Can we go to the park?" Cassie asked, jumping off the bed and pulling Sam toward the door.
"Hold on, young lady," Janet interjected. "What's the rule about going to the park before your homework is done?"
Cassie sighed, "But Sam is here. I can do my homework later."
"I'm going to be here until Friday," Sam reminded her. "Come on, I'll help you with your math homework." At Cassie's pensive expression, she frowned. "What?"
Cassie pulled her hand free. "You aren't going to try to teach me calculus again, are you?" she asked miserably. Janet tried to hide her amused smile when Sam glanced over in her direction, confused.
After a moment Sam shrugged. "OK, no calculus. Yet, anyway. What is it, algebra?" she asked hopefully.
"Fractions," Cassie replied quickly, then cast a plaintive glance in Janet's direction.
"Fractions?" Sam said.
Cassie nodded emphatically. "Just fractions. Algebra isn't until 7th grade. I can wait."
Janet gave up and started chuckling. "Can you handle that, Major?" she asked with feigned innocence as she walked past them and started down the steps.
"OK," Sam said, following with Cassie in tow. "Fractions, it is."
"What?" Sam whispered.
Janet opened her eyes a tiny sliver and saw that the bedroom was infused with a soft, pink light. The sun was rising.
"You're supposed to be resting," Janet mumbled, a small, contented smile on her face as she allowed her eyes to close again. She'd been awake for awhile now, and knew that Sam was lying next to her watching her sleep. It seemed like a lifetime since that had happened, and she'd simply wanted to savor the moment, knowing it would probably end all too soon.
Sam laughed softly. "You have some interesting ideas about what constitutes resting, Doctor."
"Yeah, well, consider it stress reduction, then. You were very tense," Janet said, grinning.
"And you've sighed twice in the last five minutes," Sam said.
At that, Janet opened her eyes again and turned her head. "I did?"
Sam's arm tightened around her waist. "Mm-hmmm," she said, brushing her lips lightly against Janet's temple. "What were you thinking about?"
Janet sighed again, then snuggled closer to Sam. "I was thinking about how nice this is. And how quickly Friday is going to come." Sam didn't pull away, but Janet felt her stiffen slightly. "It's OK," she added softly.
"It's almost done," Sam said apologetically. While a part of her wished Sam would disagree with her, she also understood a lot of things better now than she had earlier today. Sam would never forgive herself if they couldn't rescue O'Neill as quickly as possible. It had nothing to do with buried attraction, or unrequited love, and Janet knew with utter certainty now that she'd had no business being jealous. She only wished she'd saved herself all the aggravation by figuring that one out sooner.
"You didn't abandon him, Sam," Janet whispered. "Nobody thinks that, and you shouldn't either."
Sam closed her eyes tightly. "I'll just feel better when he's home. Safe," she said simply.
Nodding slightly, Janet held her a little tighter. "We all will."
Janet waited expectantly in the Control Room, watching as the Stargate spun. She didn't find the activating Stargate quite the physics-defying thrill that Sam did, but it did fill her with awe just the same, especially today. Sam had finally done it. Teal'c had gotten through, and O'Neill was coming home. Still, the last month or so hadn't been as bad as the first two. Sam had kept her word and made it a point to drop by the house at least once a week. While it wasn't the best situation, it had done them all a lot of good. Janet was looking forward to getting her life back to some semblance of normal, though she'd forgotten exactly what normal was a long time ago.
She was distracted by a figure walking out of the event horizon. O'Neill emerged, smiling triumphantly and waving to the applauding crowd that had gathered in the room.
"You big ham," Janet muttered to herself, not even aware that she'd said the words aloud until she caught Simmons smiling secretly at his computer console.
O'Neill walked to the foot of the ramp and saluted General Hammond. Janet noted that he'd gone native in the three months he'd been in exile on Edora, save for the sunglasses and dog tags that dangled from his neck. He was sporting a great tan, too, she thought, and looked fitter than she'd ever seen him.
Daniel and Teal'c were next, followed finally by Sam. Janet noted that she stepped through the gate almost reluctantly, her eyes fixed on O'Neill's back for a moment, before glancing up toward the Control Booth. Janet smiled down at her, letting her know that she was proud. But her congratulatory grin faded quickly when Sam didn't return it. Instead, Sam lowered her eyes, spoke with General Hammond briefly, then left. She noted that both Teal'c and Daniel watched her retreating figure with some concern. Daniel moved to follow her, only to be stopped by Teal'c's firm hand on his shoulder. O'Neill, Janet noted, seemed oblivious to the exchange as Makepeace walked over and slapped him roughly on the back, grinning.
Obviously things hadn't gone quite as smoothly as everyone, especially Sam, had hoped, and Janet knew it would be better if she found out the details before dealing with Sam. She'd have to find Daniel, Janet thought to herself. Daniel would tell her everything. That would have to wait, of course, until after the post-mission physicals, but as soon as those were done, she'd get to the bottom of things.
"So," Janet said, lowering herself to the floor next to Sam. "Are you going to tell me what happened, or are you just going to sit here and brood about it all night?"
They were seated in the living room, in front of the fireplace. Despite the warm weather, Sam had built a huge fire, and was slowly feeding the pages of the particle beam generator plans into it.
"And are you sure you should be doing that?" Janet asked. "You put a lot of work into that. Are you sure you just want to burn those?"
Sam shrugged. "They're copies. The originals are on my hard drive in the lab."
"Ah, I see," Janet said. "A symbolic gesture."
"Something like that."
They sat in silence for several more moments before Janet decided to press the issue. "Talk to me, Sam."
"I thought Daniel already did that," Sam said. Janet caught the faintest traces of bitterness in Sam's tone.
Nodding, Janet said, "He did. He doesn't really understand what's going on. I'd like to."
After a moment, Sam gave in, and shifted to face Janet. "Daniel told you that the Colonel wasn't exactly happy about coming home?"
"He said Jack got involved with a local woman."
Sam looked down. "Yeah," she said softly. "Yeah, he did. Just recently."
"And?" Janet prompted.
Sighing, Sam looked back up at her and said, "And, I just think if I'd only been faster, if I'd worked a little bit harder, then maybe he wouldn't have given up. Janet, he really didn't think he was ever coming home again."
Janet stared at her incredulously. "And that's somehow your fault? I can't believe I'm hearing this! You're just determined to feel bad about this, no matter what, aren't you?"
Sam ran her hand quickly through her hair. "I know, I know. I know what this sounds like. I should be happy that he's back. But I can't help feeling sick inside knowing that he thought we gave up on him."
"<He> thought, Sam," Janet pointed out. "His problem. If you ask me, he's an ungrateful asshole. He didn't even say thank you, did he?"
When Sam looked away, a troubled expression on her face, Janet knew that was bothering her also. But Sam being Sam, she'd never willingly express it. As a doctor, Janet had a slightly different view of superior officers than Sam did. After all, she'd seen them all naked under the harsh glare of florescent lights. That gave her a certain amount of perspective with respect to their shortcomings.
"It's not like he asked me to do this," Sam said softly.
"Of course he did," Janet exploded. "You move heaven and earth on a regular basis for the SGC! Everyone just expects it of you, including Colonel O'Neill. But he certainly has no trouble forgetting that when it's convenient for him." Janet was on a roll. She had a lot more to say, but she realized Sam was laughing softly. "What?"
"You don't have to be so hard on him for my sake."
Biting her lip, Janet nodded reluctantly. "Maybe not. But you won't get mad at him, so somebody has to do it for you. He should have thanked you."
Sam nodded. "He should have, but he didn't. Maybe he will, once he's had a chance to settle back in. I like to think he will, anyway."
Janet knew she'd never be so reasonable about it regardless of the circumstances, and marveled at Sam's ability to be so accepting of O'Neill's bad behavior. She dropped her head to rest on Sam's shoulder. "So, now what? You're going to have to get used to having lots of free time again. What are you going to do with yourself?"
She felt the weight of Sam's arm around her. "Well, first I'm going to finish burning these schematics. It's actually very therapeutic, watching them go up in smoke."
"And after that," Sam continued, pulling Janet closer, "I can think of a few things to occupy my time. And interestingly enough, none of them involve Colonel Jack O'Neill."
"Oh, I'm glad to hear that," Janet countered, sliding her arms around Sam's neck.
As they watched the fire continue to blaze, Janet wondered whether she should sit O'Neill down and have a long talk with him about this whole mess once things had settled down. At least the parts she could share with him, like his rude behavior towards Sam. Until then, though, Janet made a mental note to herself to be simply be thankful that the SGC and Sam had him back. More importantly, O'Neill's return meant that she and Cassie had Sam back. Until the next crisis that was enough.
That was more than enough.