Chemistry Cubed by Blaze

Author: Blaze
Title: Chemistry Cubed
Email: Yes, please. Feedback always appreciated at

Disclaimer: This isn't intended to infringe on the copyrights held by Fox, MGM, Showtime, Gekko, or Double Secret. It is a purely for fun, fan effort.
Summary: Stargate/X-Files crossover. Will Dana Scully come between Sam and Janet?

| Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 |

Chemistry Cubed
by Blaze

Part 2

A frown marred Janet's brow as she glanced up at her lover, automatically checking for any new bruises. She hated it when she off base on days Sam gated to new worlds. "Hey there. Everything go okay today?" she questioned.

Sam shrugged. "There was a little trouble, but everything seems to be all right now," she said, downplaying the incident with her teammates' bizarre behavior.

Fraiser's frown deepened, her worries about Scully and her partner momentarily forgotten. "Serious?" she asked automatically.

The blond shook her head. "It was nothing really. Something on ZRX-67R triggered some kind of hormone storm in the guys. They were acting a little loopy," or a lot loopy, but Janet didn't really need to know that while she was assigned on the academy investigation. It would only worry her, a pointless exercise since there was nothing to be done. "I got 'em back through the gate and whatever caused it had pretty well worn off by the time I was released."

Janet reached out, stroking Sam's upper arm, the caress deceptively innocent to anyone who might have been looking on from a distance, but it was enough contact for her to feel the warmth of Sam's arm through her coat. "Are they sure you're all right?" she questioned worriedly. She knew just how dangerous gate travel could be, and her work for the FBI could go hang if she was needed at the SGC.

Sam held up a hand in a calming gesture. "They ran all of the tests and I'm fine." She thumped her chest solidly in an effort to soothe her lover's obvious fears. "Strong as an ox. Reilly thinks it was sex linked ... probably some kind of plant in season or something like that, and it triggered a hormone response." She rested a hand lightly on Janet's shoulder, returning the subtle caress with one of her own. Her voice lowered, her tone both intimate and reassuring. "I'm fine, I promise." She used her loose hold to massage her lover's shoulder lightly. "I'm taking a team back tomorrow -- in full decon suits -- to take samples and find out what the hell it was, but they don't think it's anything serious. Just one more bit of Stargate weirdness."

Janet exhaled heavily, relief clearly etched on her face. She took a sip from her forgotten wine spritzer. "I guess it's okay then," she said, more to ease her own guilty conscience than to soothe Sam.

"Everything's fine," Sam assured her. "Truthfully, I was fidgeting so much that the doctors told me to get the hell out of the infirmary."

A russet eyebrow arched neatly. "You can be a little obnoxious at those times," Janet commented dryly, the humor easing some of her tension.

Sam's shoulders dipped in another shrug, then she nodded toward the restroom, her expression questioning. "I noted Agent Scully," she murmured, the question implicit in the soft comment.

"Don't worry, she won't tell anyone," Janet assured her lover.

Blond brows lifted. "I know," Sam said softly. "She's got a bit of a crush on you unless I'm mistaken." There was a hint of question in her tone, leaving Janet to wonder if she suspected something. Not that anything had or would happen, but if pushed she couldn't have completely denied any attraction. Dana Scully was a beautiful woman physically and intellectually.

Fraiser flushed, but her voice was sharp as she riposted neatly, "Actually, I think it was your cleavage she was staring at last night."

Sam ordered a beer as the bartender passed by. "And your ass," she said when he was out of range.

Janet made a small, annoyed sound in the back of her throat. She should have known better than to try and out-crude Sam into silence. The woman worked with Jack O'Neill after all. She'd learned crudity at the feet of the master. Not that she resorted to the tactic very often, but she was more than capable. She straightened her shoulders, suddenly reminded of the discussion she'd been having with Dana Scully. "However, that's neither here nor there. The important thing is that--"

Not really listening, Sam leaned close to her lover's ear to whisper, "Or maybe she's hoping for both of us--" As she said the words, a corresponding image popped into her head and it was little startling to realize just how striking the picture was. Sam shook her head as Janet cut her off sharply.

"Sa-am," Janet hissed, getting Carter's attention. "This is important." She'd been momentarily distracted by her worries about Sam and the mission, but now she was back to Dana's little revelations. "She didn't just come here because of the case...."

Sam frowned. "Then why?"

Janet struggled to form what she'd learned into some kind of coherent answer. "Apparently her partner thinks that Cass is an alien ... and got her on this case to check it out."

"Well, according to her records, she was born in Canada," Sam pointed out logically.

"Not that kind of alien," Janet murmured, pointing a finger skyward as she whistled the theme from the Twilight Zone.

Sam's eyes went round. "You mean?"

"Uh huh."

Blue eyes swung back toward the restroom, checking to see if Dana was on her way back yet. "How?"

Janet held out her hands helplessly. "Something about some guy named Frohike ... and some Lone Gunmen with no guns ... and alien conspiracies ... and I got a little lost in there somewhere," she admitted, massaging her temple as though it was all starting to cause a headache. Which, if she was honest, it was.

"So, what are we going to do about it?" Sam demanded.

Janet pointed at the nearly empty glass of pink slush. "Well, right now, I'm getting her drunk and pumping her for information. Actually, I don't think it's too bad. She mostly seems to be embarrassed and apologetic for having believed such a thing was possible."

Sam glanced back toward the restroom door again, her expression protectively assessing. Cass and Janet were her family. She'd do everything in her power to protect them. "You sure?" she questioned grimly.

"Get that look off your face," Janet chastised, her eyes following Sam's gaze. "Fairly certain, but if you sit and glower, it's not going to make it any easier to get anything out of her."

Sam's lips pursed and she concentrated on relaxing some of the tension in her muscles. "Point," she exhaled, and put her game face on, concentrating on keeping her expression as open and friendly as she could manage. "So the plan is get her drunk and pump her for information?" she double-checked as the petite redhead exited the restroom, her movements the ultra-precise of someone feeling their alcohol but trying not to show it. She frowned ever so slightly as she looked back at her lover. "Should I leave for this?" she questioned practically. She trusted Janet. She'd sensed her lover's attraction to the F.B.I. agent and was certain that if she wasn't in the picture, Janet might well have responded to the other woman, but she also knew she would never cheat on her.

A russet eyebrow lifted, considering the question, then Janet shook her head. "No ... actually, at this point, I think it might be better with both of us here."

Blond brows rose in silent question. She'd been joking with that threesome comment.

"Oh, don't be ridiculous," Fraiser muttered, though she blushed deeply and took a long swallow of her wine spritzer, then hissed, "Just go call the general and ask him to have Lieutenant Simms pick Cass up and look after her for the next night or two. I want to keep her out of sight for the moment." She ran a hand through her hair visibly uncomfortable with the whole situation but needing to protect her adopted daughter. She had to be certain her instincts were right and Dana Scully was no threat.

"Okay," Sam agreed, her expression serious. Janet knew the F.B.I. agent better. "It's your call."

Janet nodded. "I need to be sure Cass is okay. We'll go from there," she murmured, then watched Sam move away, her long, lean body weaving gracefully between the tables as she headed for the payphone. She swung her head back around, eyes finding Dana Scully's more diminutive form, surprised to feel a physical response not so different from what she felt whenever she looked at Sam. Dammit, she couldn't afford this right now. "Better?" she questioned, her friendliness a little forced, but not entirely. She really did like Scully and was inclined to believe that she and her partner were no threat. But it wasn't something she could take a chance with.

"Yeah," Scully murmured, trying not to look at the other woman, despite the note of invitation in her voice. "Just needed to wash up." She did look at Janet then, and it was a fight not to get lost in the depths of her eyes. Clearly alcohol was not helping Dana's efforts to remain distant. "Well, I ... I really should be going," she said, reaching for her wallet where it was tucked in her coat pocket. She froze as a hand landed lightly on her forearm.

"Not yet," Janet said softly, her low voice inviting. Unnoticed by Dana, she used her other hand to signal the bartender to bring another round of drinks.

Dana felt a flush crawl over her skin, her cheeks heating with a sudden bolt of unwanted awareness. She swallowed hard. "Um ... I don't..." she stammered uncertainly, her fogged brain -- though she was uncertain whether the haze came from the alcohol or another source entirely -- having a hard time putting a coherent thought together, "I shouldn't ... and besides, why would you ... want ... to talk to me?"

Janet shrugged, offering a genuine smile, Scully's flustered hesitation oddly comforting. It made it seem far less likely that she'd have been capable of any kind of smooth lie. "This is a complex situation," she answered quietly. "I still have some questions I'd like to ask ... and," she added, surprised that she didn't have to lie in the least, "I do like you, Dana. I don't want to part on bad terms." She smiled then, purposely using the attraction between them to draw the other woman in. A twinge of guilt ran through her, making her wonder if maybe she was enjoying it a little too much. Unfortunately, it was necessary to protect Cass.

Uncertain and still feeling guilty, Scully slowly sank back down onto her vacated barstool. "You should slap my face and tell me to go to hell," she muttered unhappily.

A sculpted russet brow rose in a doubtful pose. "I'm not big on hitting ... but I'll keep that in mind." Janet's wry tone drew a hint of a smile from the F.B.I. agent. "Seriously, Dana ... I would like to know a little more about these Lone Gunmen ... and your partner ... and why in the hell they think Cass is an alien...."

Dana sighed very softly and nodded. "I'll answer any questions you have," she mumbled as she swirled her straw through her daiquiri, watching the way the tiny dollop of whipped cream on top made patterns in the pink slush.

She was still answering questions a couple of minutes later when Sam joined them. The blond didn't say anything, just eased into the stool on Scully's other side. Seeing the look the two women traded, Scully realized that Janet had explained something of the situation to the blond. That was the only justification she could rationally think of for the suspicious expression cast her way. Well, unless Carter thought something was going on and she was comfortably certain that wasn't the case. She instantly launched into another round of apologies that eventually drew a raised brow from the woman in question before she quietly asked a question, her tone warily noncommittal.

Scully took a deep breath, then did her best to answer through an inhibition releasing haze of alcohol. Clearly, it was going to be a long night.

* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *~ *

Dana Scully was singing, her voice a pleasantly off-key, jazzy burr as she lay sprawled across the back seat of Janet Fraiser's car, her lips lifted in a blowsy smile.

"Well, at least she's a happy drunk," Sam Carter commented sotto voce to her lover as she continued to study the F.B.I. agent over the back of the front passenger's seat.

"If no closer to remembering where she was staying than she was when we started." Janet glanced back as she pulled to a halt as a stop light. "Dana, any sight of the motel where you're registered?" she called back.

Scully shook her head, then seemed to regret the motion. She offered a bleary smile. "Sorry, no luck." They'd been driving up and down motel row for the previous half hour while Scully pointed at motel after motel, only to change her mind a beat later, shaking her head as she rejected each one for this reason or that. "You have to understand," she murmured with some degree of delayed embarrassment at her own inability to make her normally sharp mind behave the way she knew it should, "we stay in a lot of motels and right now they're all kind of running together in my head ... details are getting a little fuzzy ... or maybe I'm a little fuzzy. It's hard to tell."

"This is getting us nowhere," Janet muttered under her breath, an already overlong day catching up with her with a vengeance.

Sam's brows lifted as her lover swung her car into a turn bay and made a fast u-turn, staying well ahead of coming traffic as she accelerated hard. "Janet?" she murmured in question, but Fraiser ignored her tone, instead calling back to the woman in the back seat.

"Dana, how'd you like to spend the night at my place?"

Sam wondered if maybe she should start getting nervous after all as she watched expressions tracer their way across the redhead's face; nothing so safe as simple lust, but rather a mix of admiration, desire, hope, and a dozen other things. And then blue-grey eyes swung her way, the expression in them startlingly devoid of guilt and full of something raw and needy that sent a surprised jolt through her pulse.

"I-I don't think ... I mean ... I'm attracted, yes, but--" Scully was babbling and vaguely aware that she had no control over her own mouth. Even in her drunken state, she had enough sense of self-preservation left to be grateful when Janet's voice cut her off before she could embarrass herself any further.

"You can stay in the guest bedroom," the doctor continued without acknowledging Dana's muttered words.

Or maybe she just hadn't heard them, Sam decided as she looked over at her lover, trying to read her expression in the darkened interior of the car. It was impossible, which led Sam to believe she had heard them and had gone into inscrutable mode, which tended to happen whenever she was pushed too far on a front she wasn't comfortable with. Now, if she could just decide whether that notion comforted or worried her.

The rest of the drive took place in silence, Scully's urge to sing seemingly burned out as she did her best impression of a mouse in the corner in hopes of not suffering any more indignities than she already had. By the time they arrived, even that was forgotten in the peaceful safety of sleep as she snored gently.

Sam made a small, annoyed sound in the back of her throat as she eyed the redhead, then turned a look at her lover. "I'll grab one arm if you'll grab the other," she muttered.

Janet just sighed softly and nodded.

Scully stirred gently, but didn't waken as the two women levered her out of the car, then mumbled softly, never completely waking, but mobile enough that she got her feet under her and stumbled along with them as they led her into the house. Several minutes later, she was sprawled under the covers of the bed in Janet's guest bedroom, her shoes off and her clothes loosened, albeit gingerly and from the maximum possible distance.

Janet stood back, folding her arms across her chest, a frown drawing her brows together. "I'll bring in a chair and sit with her--"

Sam frowned. "Is that really necessary?"

The question drew a hesitant nod. "As drunk as we got her, oh yeah. She shouldn't be left alone in case she has a problem."

Sam couldn't argue. "I'll stay," she said after a beat, holding up a hand when Janet would have argued. "You've had a long day and you're out on your feet." She offered a small shrug. "Besides, I'm not really tired and I've been meaning to read that new copy of the QL Journal that came last week."

"You sure. Your day was just as long as mine and probably half again as stressful with everything that happened on base--"

Sam's shoulders dipped in another tiny shrug. "You know me. I get energy bursts at times like this ... that little adrenaline rush that means I won't be getting any sleep anyway." They were both silent for a moment as it occurred to both of them at the same time how Sam normally burned off that spare energy.

"At least we can be fairly certain she's no threat to Cass," Janet murmured at last on a relieved note. Scully had confessed everything, assuring them repeatedly that she'd told her partner there was nothing to his suspicions and she'd shoot him if he even considered thinking otherwise, and by the way, she'd be happy to throw Frohike in for free. Her mortification had been too real for either woman to doubt. So much so that Fraiser almost pitied Fox Mulder should he go against his partner's wishes. Of course, if he did, she might just shoot him herself.

"She seemed pretty firm on that point," Sam agreed quietly. "And I'm sure she'll guard your back."

Janet reached out, stroking her lover's cheek very tenderly, not liking the shadowed look in the other woman's eyes. "You do know that you can trust me, don't you?" she whispered after a long moment.

Sam nodded, a poignant smile touching her lips. "Of course I do."

"I do love you, you know," Janet exhaled and stepped close enough to lean her forehead into Sam's shoulder, relieved when a gentle hand stroked her hair soothingly.

"I know," Sam breathed near her lover's ear. "I love you too," she added without admitting that maybe it wasn't that simple. She curved a hand along Janet's cheek, drawing her head up to share a kiss full of desire and longing. "Now, off to bed with you."

Janet seemed hesitant to leave. "I'm going to miss you tonight," she admitted at last.

A soft smile lifted Sam's lips. "Well, it's probably about time I spent another night in here ... since I haven't in months."

They kissed again, then Sam carefully separated herself. "Go on. You need the sleep."

* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *~ *

The dull sense of returning awareness coupled with a mouth that tasted like a chunk of felt dipped in sewer water drew a low groan from Dana Scully. She reached up to massage her throbbing skull. Thankfully, someone had removed her shoulder holster, because it she could have gotten her hands on her gun, she might have just shot herself with it.

"Bet you don't feel so hot," a wry voice cut into her misery.

Dana moaned softly as she rolled onto her back, frowning as she struggled to focus her eyes in the darkness. It didn't take great vision to pick out flaxen hair in the faint light. "Major Carter," she mumbled weakly, mentally searching for some kind of rational explanation for the other woman's presence in her motel room. No, not her motel room -- she remembered vaguely -- Janet Fraiser's guest bedroom. At least she hoped it was the guest bedroom, since if it wasn't, Carter was probably there to knock her teeth down her throat. She had a moment of panic at that thought and stuck her hand out, checking the other side of the bed, uncertain whether to be relieved or disappointed when she found it empty.

"Don't worry," Carter said wryly, "even if you tried something stupid, she'd never let you."

Dana shook her head, stumbling over her own tongue as she hurried to deny she'd had any thoughts along those lines. "I wouldn't ... I mean I would never ... I-I never even had any thoughts ... like that...." She trailed off a little helplessly, wishing the other woman would quit looking at her like that. "Really ... none at all."

"You may well be one of the worst liars I've ever seen in my life, Agent Scully," Sam said softly though her tone was surprisingly free of accusation.

Scully sighed softly, pushing into a sitting position as she concentrated on making her brain work. A long moment passed and then another, and she was aware the entire time of that too intelligent gaze watching her closely, making her guiltier and guiltier with every passing tick on the clock. God, all the FBI needed to do to make criminals confess was to park Samantha Carter in front of their cells and wait. "All right," she sighed at last, wishing she was a better liar or at least better at ignoring that kind of pressure, "the truth is that I find her very appealing ... very appealing ... but I'm not stupid. I can see what's there ... what's between you. There's nothing I could ever do to change that."

A long moment of silence followed before Sam quietly asked, "Are you in love with her?"

"No," Dana whispered, her voice a little ragged with stress.

"But you could be, couldn't you?" Sam wondered why she asked even as the words left her mouth. That way lay madness.

Cupid's bow lips twisted in a sad little smile. "You want the truth?" Scully steepled her fingers together, staring down at them to distract herself from what she was about to confess. She was probably still a little drunk. That was the only explanation for what she was about to say. "It would be too easy to fall in love with either one of you." She saw the way the major stiffened, clearly caught by surprise.

Sam pushed to her feet without acknowledging the softly spoken admission. "You okay alone now?"

Dana nodded shakily. "I'm fine. Go on. You look like you could use some sleep yourself." Left unsaid was where Sam would be sleeping. They both knew it. It was the ten thousand pound elephant sitting in the corner that neither of them was ready to admit to. She caught a glimpse of Carter's faint nod before the blond reached out and flipped off the tiny directional reading light she'd been using.

"You'd better get some sleep too. I know you've got a long day ahead tomorrow, since Janet said you were going to try and tie up the case you've been working on."

Moments later, Scully was left alone in the darkness, painfully aware of the ache floating through her body that had nothing whatsoever to do with her hangover. She folded an arm over her face as she lay back down, groaning low in her throat. She tried not to envision what they'd look like lying against each other, pale flesh bound to pale flesh, supple curves dovetailed together. She really did. Unfortunately, it didn't work and if she hadn't still been half drunk she'd never have gotten back to sleep. As it was, that image was still with her when she tumbled back into unconsciousness long minutes later.

* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *~ *

A soft cry that bordered on a muffled scream yanked Dana Scully out of sleep. Reflexes trained to respond to emergencies sent her scrambling out of bed, nearly stumbling as her foot threatened to catch on the covers. She fumbled for a moment, careless of bare feet and a half open blouse, and found her gun with her clothes on a nearby dresser. Another soft cry and she was moving quickly, out the door and down the hall, reacting on well-honed instincts, every step controlled and quiet. By the third cry, she was reaching for the doorknob, perfectly silent as she turned it and gave a gentle push.

And froze.

It belatedly occurred to Dana that she would have seen this possibility and reacted accordingly if she'd been thinking more clearly. The only thing she could be grateful for was that she'd moved so quietly that she'd gone unnoticed.

Or maybe it was just that the couple on the bed wasn't likely to notice much outside of the blending of their own flesh.

Some logical rational part of Scully's brain knew she should step back, pull the door shut and go away, but she couldn't move, couldn't breathe, couldn't even think. Her synapses firing randomly, she actually took a staggering half-step forward, eyes drinking in the tableau laid out before her.

They were kneeling together on the bed, sweat-soaked bodies pressed breast to breast, Janet Fraiser's thighs spread around her lover's lean flanks. Sam Carter's left hand was spread against Janet's narrow back, her right pressed into the space between their bodies, blocked from Dana's view, every movement obvious in the tiny sounds that escaped the brunette's lips as her body shuddered in an uneven rhythm. One arm wrapped around the back of the blond's neck, Janet clung desperately, sliding her other hand down to caress the outer curve of a full breast as her head tipped back on her shoulders. Thank god her eyes were closed, or Scully would have discovered that the embarrassment she'd already suffered was just the barest tip of the iceberg of what was possible.

It was strange. Dana couldn't see much more than what a very progressive soap opera might show, bare sides and backs, a hint of the curve of a breast, the gleam of perspiration coupled with the flush of arousal -- and yet it was the single most erotic thing she'd seen in her life. Possibly several lives if Mulder's theories on reincarnation had any truth to them. The hand clutching the Glock dropped to her side, the weapon forgotten, though she did automatically flick the safety into position.

Another whimpery cry hung in the air, no longer muffled by walls and clearly sexual arousal. Incredibly intense sexual arousal by the sound of it.

Dana had to bite back on a whimper of her own as she felt her body respond as though she was on the bed with them. She could almost feel the press of flesh, taste the flavor of salt-soaked skin, smell the musk of need. She realized she must have let out a tiny sound a heartbeat later as blue eyes suddenly rose and turned her way. A dozen different expressions made their way across Sam Carter's face in the blink of an eye; outrage, anger, resentment, possessiveness -- and something else that made Dana's breath catch ... the tiniest moment of temptation. And then her hand tightened on her lover's narrow back, possessiveness winning the battle in the moment. Her gaze still holding Dana's, Sam ducked her head to draw her mouth along the slope of Janet's shoulder, tasting and teasing, lips and teeth moving on and finding the vulnerable arch of her throat with demanding fervor. Her shoulder and arm muscles flexed and rippled, the hand pressed into the narrow space between their bodies clearly gaining in momentum and power. The smaller woman bucked in her lover's hold, tiny whimpers escaping her lips, her hands tightening on Carter's neck, then sliding up into sweat soaked hair, desperate to drag her closer.

"Sam." Janet's voice came out as a low gasp that was somehow both a plea and a command, and Scully saw the answering gleam of triumph in the blond's eyes and the way her muscles tightened with controlled strength. The final moments weren't the stuff of Mulder's favorite movie dates. It was more subtle than that; a low cry, the ripple of muscle and sinew and a convulsive quaver or two. Then Janet toppled forward, her forehead resting against Sam's shoulder, her arms dangling limp around the taller woman's neck, fingers toying gently with damp strands of hair, her voice little more than a whispery gasp. "I love you."

Her eyes still blazing in Scully's direction, Sam curled a hand to the back of her lover's head, her touch protectively tender. "I know," she breathed near a delicate ear and then finally looked down, breaking the imprisoning glare to focus on the woman in her arms. When she looked up again, they were alone.

* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *~ *

Dana almost toppled to her knees, though she somehow found the wherewithal to silently push the bedroom door closed in her wake. Gasping hard, her body trembling so violently she had to lean against the wall outside Janet's bedroom door, uncertain her legs could even take her as far as the guest bedroom. She half expected Carter to come storming out and throw her out of the house, possibly via a window -- and she wouldn't have blamed the woman either -- but other than her own imminent heart attack, nothing happened. Finally, she slowly straightened, trying not to think about the muffled murmur of voices she could just barely hear coming from the bedroom as she stumbled back to her own room. She thrust her weapon back into the folded shoulder holster, then tumbled into bed, curling into a tight ball, uncertain whether the tears that suddenly clogged her throat and made her eyes burn were the product of embarrassment, hurt, or something far more primal. She was definitely going to kill Mulder for this one since it was clearly all ... his ... fault, because as embarrassed and hurt as she was, she still couldn't get the image of what she'd seen -- the sight of pale flesh or that single moment of temptation she'd glimpsed in Sam Carter's eyes -- out of her head.

* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *~ *


"Major Carter?"

Samantha Carter growled a curse under her breath, as she shook free of her thoughts to focus on the young lieutenant standing a few feet away, a sealed sample container packed with glass tubes full of soil and plant samples clenched in one hand. "Just pack that on the M.A.L.P.." she instructed the young woman, then sat back on her heels, wishing she could wipe the sweat from her brow. Unfortunately, the plastic face mask on her decontamination suit made that completely impossible, forcing her to suffer through eye stinging streams of perspiration.

Despite the physical discomfort of working in sealed decon suits, the return mission to ZRX-67R was going reasonably smoothly. The small team of scientists, all female since the men had suffered such an adverse reaction, had returned to the long dead world to collect samples in hopes of finding the source of her teammates' erratic behavior. As far as she could tell, the biggest danger was that they might all melt into little puddles inside their suits from the oppressive heat. So far, no odd behavior from anyone, leading her to believe that, either the decon suits had kept everything out, or the base doctors were right and the emotion storm the men had gone through was sex linked and whatever had triggered it didn't affect women. In any event, all was clear for now.

Or at least she thought it was, though considering the way her brain insisted on replaying the previous night's events, she could probably have been forgiven a little uncertainty on that front. What the hell had possessed her to go on making love to Janet after Dana Scully walked in? What primal piece of possessive idiocy had driven her to use such a feral means of establishing her position with the other woman? She shook her head slowly, still uncertain what she'd been thinking ... or maybe she was sure. Despite the heat, a shiver slid over her skin as she remembered the redhead's whispered admission that she could have fallen for either of them. That had skated far too close to a longstanding fantasy for comfort, reminding Sam that there was an appeal to the notion of having two lovers, not just on the sexual front, but emotionally and intellectually as well. The thought of having two people to make love, offer support, or trade ideas had an unwanted kind of allure to mind as quick and a body as restless as those possessed by Samantha Carter. Despite her best intentions, an image of lying amid tangled sheets with her lover and the F.B.I. agent flashed through her head, sending a sharp jolt of electricity along sensitive nerve endings.

Mind on your work, Sam, she reminded herself as she reached for another sample kit. Another hour or so and they'd be done and back in the pleasantly air-conditioned interior of the base. A shower, a hot meal, a few hours of sleep and she'd be fine. And Dana Scully would be gone from their lives by the next morning, then she could just chalk it all up to a brief period of insanity.

Sam shook her head, pushing any thoughts on that entire subject to the back of her mind. No room for anything like that while on a mission, she reminded herself. That kind of distraction could get a person hurt. She was still nagging herself to keep her mind on the task at hand when the ground disappeared out from under her feet in a low rumbling tumble of falling stones and gravel.

A moment of freefall in a cloud of dust and sand, and then the shock of hitting bottom rattled all the way through Sam, starting at her boots and vibrating all the way up through her skull. Oddly enough, she was lucky. Whatever gave way had made for pulverized earth with no large chunks of rock, so she came down in a field of dust and dirt, her landing cushioned by a thick layer of powdered earth, her body protected by the tough exterior of the decon suit. Sam's knees buckled and she collapsed downward, folding in on herself, a limp body amid the debris.

Part 3


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