In the dark of a destroyed temple, Janet had revealed her long-hidden fantasy. Roughness. A little bit of not-so-nice in the bedroom. She didn't want it all the time, she didn't even want it that often. But every now and then, she liked Sam to take her, to fuck her instead of make love to her. They'd had a safe discussion where any kind of fantasy could be brought up and put on the table. Sam mentioned her desire for a threesome, while Janet whispered that, every now and then, a light spanking wouldn't go unappreciated.
That night, Sam lay on top of Janet and drew her leg up against her side. The strap-on was wrapped snugly around Sam's hips, the seven-inch rubber tip thrusting slowly into Janet. Sam dragged her fingernails down the outside of Janet's thighs. Janet groaned and arched her hips up against Sam's toy. "Right there," she gasped. Sam dug her fingernails into the flesh of Janet's thigh and Janet groaned. "Yes, Sam..."
Sam moved her other hand to Janet's hip. She clenched her jaw, bared her teeth, buried her knees in the mattress and thrust her entire body against Janet's. The bed thumped against the wall and Janet wailed with the force of her orgasm. Sam sank down onto her and kissed her neck, her cheek, nibbled her earlobe and brushed the hair off her sweaty forehead. "Janet," she whispered.
Janet exhaled gently and brushed her fingertips over Sam's back. "Yes, Sam?"
Sam ran a hand through her hair, and exhaled sharply. "That... was fun."
Janet laughed and pulled Sam to her. They kissed hungrily, discovering the past twenty minutes hadn't done much to diminish their appetites. Sam kicked the blankets away, wrapped her arms around Janet and rolled them over until she was pinned to the mattress.
It was Janet's turn to be on top. She sat up, hooked her knees against Sam's sides, and used her hips to lift her body. She groaned, ran her hands over her own chest and then sank back down. Sam, on her back on the mattress, stared mesmerized. She put her hands on Janet's stomach and slid them down, covering her pubic hair, using her thumbs on Janet's clit.
Janet sighed and threw her head back, her throat working as she worked up to another orgasm. Sam closed her eyes and met Janet thrust for thrust, both of them panting. The bed thumped noisily against the wall, Janet's cries becoming louder than usual as she neared climax.
When she came, her knees tightened and Sam cried out. Their bodies arched together and then, as if deflated, Janet sank down onto Sam. They kissed tenderly and Janet lifted her hips to slip the toy free of her. She brushed down Sam's hair, a mess of blonde spikes, and kissed her cheek. They spooned together with Sam behind, kissing Janet's neck. "You're so loud," Sam whispered.
Janet grinned and held Sam's wrist. "Oh, no," she said in mock horror. "What if Cassandra heard?"
"She'd have to have been listening very, very hard to have heard it all the way from her dorm room."
"She's always had great hearing," Janet snickered.
Sam mussed Janet's hair playfully. Nearly a year ago, on a road trip with Cassandra, Janet had added enough highlights that she could be called blonde. It had taken some getting used to, but Sam loved it now. She turned Janet's head and kissed her lips. "You're all sweaty."
"You're one to talk," Janet chuckled.
"Seriously. You stink. It'll just take a second to clean up." She ran her tongue along Janet's shoulder. "Mm."
"We're going to be so late for work," Janet groaned.
Sam murmured an agreement against Janet's shoulder and slid under the blankets.
Sam emptied the carafe, shook it a little to make sure she'd gotten everything there was to get, and finally replaced it on the counter. When she took her seat at the briefing table, she realized Cameron had been watching her the entire time. She thought back to the image that had greeted her in the mirror that morning; bags under her eyes, a little pale, her hair a mess. She smiled at him and said, "Project kept me up most of the night."
"Uh-huh," he said. He moved his hand from his chin and turned to his file.
She sighed and decided to ignore him. Ever since the guys had found out about her and Janet, they'd never missed an opportunity to rib her about 'late nights' and 'sleepovers.'
She flipped open her own file as Daniel and General Landry entered from the corridor. Sam and Cameron both rose from their seats as the General approached and sat when he did. "Dr. Jackson has just been informing me of the situation on Tegea. Sounds like a lot of bad feelings on both sides."
"Yes, sir," Sam said. "Apparently, SG-16 visited them five years ago when the nation-states were just beginning to split apart. During the visit, there was an attempted coup where the possession of the Stargate was contested. Both sides claimed rights to it and SG-16 was stuck there for the better part of two months while the fighting went on."
"Good old days," Cam muttered. "Couldn't just beam someone out of a bad situation."
"Are you... complaining about being beamed out of bad situations?" Daniel asked.
Cam shrugged. "It seems like a gimme. Too easy."
"Next time, we'll tell Colonel Emerson to leave you behind and prove your manhood on your own, Colonel," Landry said. "In the meantime... continue."
Sam nodded. "The team was finally released when the Kadisha side emerged victorious. The Kadishan forces captured the Stargate, put it on display in their main hall and allowed SG-16 to return home. We offered to open diplomatic relations with their leader, but she turned us down at the time. They contacted us last week and it appears they've changed their minds."
"The opposing country, the Bsharri, have gained a significant edge over the Kadisha," Daniel said. "Their capital is surrounded by the enemy and they're taking heavy casualties. From the message the Kadishan leader sent, it would seem the Bsharri have spent the intervening years perfecting weapons of mass destruction."
"Uh-oh," Cam said. "Quite the buzzword."
"Yes, but these actually exist. And they're being put to use. The message said they're being overwhelmed on all sides."
"I hope they're not asking for a military assist," Landry said.
"No, sir," Daniel said. "Medical help, food, basic quality of life supplies..."
"Is there a chance you'll be stuck there like SG-16?"
Sam shook her head. "No, sir. The Kadishan government was the nation that originally allowed SG-16 to return home. There's no reason to believe they would do otherwise this time. Even if we're wrong, the Odyssey is already near the planet. If something went wrong, they could beam us out." She glanced over her shoulder. "With Colonel Mitchell's blessing, of course."
"All right," Landry said. "If you're satisfied, I'll allow Dr. Fraiser to put together a medical team to accompany you through the Gate. As soon as Teal'c and Vala finish with their little side project, SG-1 has a go for the mission. You're dismissed."
Sam stood up and glanced at Daniel. "Teal'c and Vala have a side project?"
Daniel raised his eyebrows but he didn't say anything.
Cam said, "Think Star Trek: Scared Straight."
Sam frowned and followed them out of the briefing room.
"You have been chosen for this posting for one reason and one reason alone," Colonel Kenneth Rich said. He leaned against the podium with one hand and stared at the cadets grouped in front of him. "You are the best and the brightest. You've scored the highest on your exams. You've outshone your comrades to rise to the top. And now, Cheyenne Mountain is your reward for that dedication."
"Deep Space Radar Telemetry?" a lieutenant in the front row said. "No offense, sir, but I thought I was going to Iraq."
Rich said, "You were hoping for Iraq. You wanted to fight for your country, put your life on the line to save people. Is that it, son?"
The lieutenant's chest puffed with pride. "That's exactly it, Colonel."
"Well then, son," Rich said with a smile. "You're going to love this assignment. Come on in."
The door at the back of the stage opened and Teal'c stepped out. A few cadets at the front of the room tensed, more than a couple of the women whistled. Teal'c was dressed in green fatigue pants and a black t-shirt. He carried a staff weapon and had a zat gun strapped to his thigh. Behind him, Vala strutted out like a model on the catwalk. She was dressed the same as Teal'c, but was unarmed.
Colonel Rich said, "I'd like you to meet Teal'c and Vala Mal Doran. Teal'c is a Jaffa who has been living on Earth for almost 11 years. Miss Mal Doran may appear human, but she has been living on Earth for nearly a year. Teal'c and Vala are aliens."
Someone in the audience scoffed and another muttered, "Oh, my God."
Rich smiled. "Welcome to your new world."
Sam knocked on the door to Janet's office. "Can I come in?"
"Sure," Janet said. She had changed into the green uniform typical of off-world missions, dwarfed by the bulky sleeves and pants. She hadn't yet put on the vest and her ash-blonde hair was hidden underneath a baseball cap. She looked up and smiled. "Well? Were you planning to say anything?"
"Yeah. Sorry. I got distracted." She stepped into the office and closed the door behind her. "Are you sure you want to go on this mission? After the bugs swarmed you on the Alpha Site, you swore you'd never go through the Stargate again. And then after Nirrti..."
"I'm fine," Janet said gently. "Thank you for worrying about me. We've been doing tests and the bomb Nirrti put in me has completely dissipated. As for mentally..." She sighed. "I want this. I work for Stargate Command and yet, I get cold chills when I walk up the ramp. Even if the Stargate isn't active. I'm scared of being scared of it. This way, I get to face my fears with you holding my hand."
Sam smiled. "Well, in that case..." She kissed Janet's cheek and said, "Do you have any idea about this 'special project' Teal'c and Vala are taking part in?"
"Oh, yeah," Janet said. "The 'Meet Your Local Neighborhood Aliens' thing for the new recruits. It's a good idea. I can't tell you how many nurses I've had who try treating Teal'c like they would a human. They have to get the message across as soon as possible. This is not your typical posting. The rules are different."
"You've thought a lot about this, huh?"
"Okay," Sam said. She kissed Janet's lips and said, "I'm going to head out and get geared up. I'll see you in the Gate Room."
"Okay," Janet said. She watched Sam leave and then opened her desk drawer. No one, not even Sam, knew about this dirty little secret. She popped the top of her pill bottle and poured one out into her hand. She dry-swallowed and replaced the bottle in the top drawer of her desk. Most on-base personnel were old pros of Gate travel. Even Mitchell, who'd been around just shy of three years, had been through the event horizon two-hundred times.
She would be petrified if any of them found out that she still got air-sick going through the Gate.
Janet patted down her vest, making sure everything was snapped and tucked where it was supposed to be, and stepped into the Gate Room. The medical team stood in a row behind SG-1, all of them bright-eyed, first-time travelers except for Carolyn Lam. Landry thought it would be a good chance for them to get their ears wet, as it were. Janet had assured him they could handle the mission, so here they were. On their way across the galaxy for the first time.
"Doc," Cameron said. "You ready to head out?"
"As I'll ever be," Janet said. She stood next to Sam, hoping no one noticed or commented on the fact. Sam gave her a professional nod, but her knuckles brushed the back of Janet's hand. When chevron seven locked, the Stargate plumed out and Janet bumped Sam's hand. They shared a smile and Sam led the way up the ramp. Janet let Cameron and Teal'c go forward and then fell into step next to Vala.
"You're sure you're ready?" Vala asked.
"As I'll ever be," Janet said.
"If you need to come back to Earth, I can fake a medical emergency with the best of them. Just let me know."
Janet laughed. "I'll be fine." She gestured at the pool in front of them. "After you."
Vala saluted and then marched straight into the event horizon without a second look. Janet took a deep breath, pushed thoughts of Nirrti and horrific carnivorous bugs to the back of her mind and stepped through.
Once, in New York City, Janet had misjudged the height of a curb. She'd lost her balance, stumbled a little and ended up with a cold, wet foot on a warm day. It was a feeling she always remembered when arriving on an alien planet. She went from a cool, temperature-controlled room to something wholly different. In this case, a sandy, hot planet with sand and gravel under her boots.
Cameron coughed and pushed the brim of his hat over his eyes. "Okay, next time we make sure there isn't a windstorm before we walk through... Where is this Dome-n supposed to meet us?"
"Doyenne," a gentle voice said. "And I am meeting you here, Colonel... Mitchell?"
The woman was standing next to the DHD, smiling at the newcomers. Her red hair kicked around her head in the mini-maelstrom and she covered her bright green eyes with one hand. She gestured at the air around her and said, "I apologize for the wind. I was attempting to send a warning through to your people when the Gate activated. I am Doyenne Kahale. Welcome to my planet and thank you for your assistance."
"Doyenne," Daniel said. He bowed slightly and said, "Allow me to introduce Lieutenant Colonels Samantha Carter, Cameron Mitchell and Janet Fraiser. This is Vala Mal Doran, Teal'c and I'm Dr. Daniel Jackson."
"Welcome to you all," Kahale said. "If you will follow me, we can get out of this horrid wind."
They followed her across a small courtyard and through an archway. "You'd think something as contested as the Stargate would be kept inside under lock and key," Cam noted.
"It was, initially. However the activation caused far too much damage to the building and we were forced to move it outdoors." She turned and smiled. "Besides, Colonel Mitchell... it is highly unlikely that someone would sneak away with it under the cover of darkness."
"Actually," Sam said. "It's not outside the realm of possibility. We've seen a couple Stargates get stolen..."
"Interesting," Kahale said. She kept her eyes on Sam for a moment before she gestured at the door. "I've arranged for us to meet in here."
She led them into a wide, egg-shaped room, the curved walls rising to a stained-glass dome at the top. Directly beneath the dome was a large round table. Cam shrugged and said, "Well, we have been looking for the Holy Grail..."
Sam smirked at him and took a seat. There was more than enough room for SG-1 and the medical team, with a few seats left over. Kahale sat beside Sam and said, "Shall we begin negotiations?"
"Negotiations..." Sam said. She glanced at Cameron. "I'm... sorry. We were under the impression you wanted medical assistance."
"That's correct. In exchange, we can offer you shares from our crops. It is not much, but..."
Daniel interrupted. "We're not here to trade. You need help, we brought you help. Medicine, training for your doctors... we, we don't need anything in exchange."
"With nothing in exchange?" Kahale said.
"It's called compassion," Cameron said. "Some day in the future, we may need your help. Until then, consider it a friend helping a friend."
Kahale smiled. "I would be foolish not to accept your gracious offer. Thank you."
Sam said, "If you'd like, we can forgo the formalities for the time being. Our medical team is prepared to begin rendering assistance immediately."
Kahale nodded and said, "Yes, it would be for the best. If you will follow me, I can show you to the hospital immediately."
They stood again and followed Kahale back out into the wind. Several black-suited men, obviously Kahale's security force, discretely stepped away from the wall and followed a few paces behind the medical team. As soon as they were back out in the wind, the team put on their goggles. Sam unhooked her pack and slung it around, searching inside until she found what she was looking for.
She caught up with Kahale and handed her the spare set of goggles. "Try these," she said. "They might help with the wind."
Kahale examined the glasses, looked at how Sam wore them and slipped them on. "Yes," she said, covering her mouth with the cuff of her sleeve. "That is much better. Thank you."
"How bad is it?"
Kahale looked to the sky. "Worse every year. When our nations split, it was hardly down the center. Our side was blessed with artisans, while our enemy boasts much of the military. While we have been struggling to establish a fighting force of our own, theirs merely grows stronger."
"I wish there was some way we could help you, but..."
"I understand," she said. "You do not want to risk your soldiers in a fight that is not your own. We would not have asked that of you."
"It's just that, in the past, we've had people request weapons technology. We're not comfortable arming anyone on either side."
Kahale smiled. "A wise stand."
Several pathways spread out from the main courtyard, stretching in all directions like strands of a spider web. Kahale picked one alleyway and led them through her town. Small shacks were set up on either side of the street, the proprietors seamlessly shifting between bartering and all-out begging.
Vala, who had hung back to walk with Janet, eyed a few of their offerings with interest. Janet hooked her thumb in Vala's jacket sleeve and pulled her along. "We're not here to shop," she murmured.
"Don't be so hasty. Compassionate assistance can only take so long. Who's to say we won't have time for a bit of shopping?"
"Me," Cameron said. "And General Landry."
Vala sighed. "Always spoiling our fun."
Janet laughed. "When this is all done, I promise to take you to J.C. Penney."
Vala sighed and cast one more glance at the shopkeepers. She shrugged and fell into step next to Janet and the rest of the medical team.
Kahale led them past several buildings that appeared to have been bombed, the walls crumbling down into the streets. Kahale walked them to a small cottage and pushed open the wooden door. "Through here. This is merely a detour on the way to the hospital," she assured them. The team followed her through a musty main room and she lit a lantern in the back room. Nine cots lined the walls, five along the far wall and four along the other.
"We were not aware of how many people you would be bringing. If it is acceptable, this is where you will be spending the night."
"Better than bedrolls in front of the Stargate," Cam said. "Thank you, Kahale. Looks like a four-star Hilton compared to what we usually get."
Kahale tilted her head at the reference and Vala said, "Didn't get it? Now you know how I feel."
"Yes..." Kahale said. "Now I will show you to the hospital."
As they left the bunkhouse, the ground shook and Kahale stumbled. Sam grabbed her arm and kept her upright as buildings around them sent down waves of dust. "Missile?" Cam asked.
"No, unfortunately," Kahale said when she had her feet again. She squeezed Sam's arm in thanks and straightened her black tunic. "I am afraid that was merely another tremor."
Sam frowned. "Tremor?"
Kahale smiled mirthlessly. "Yes. In addition to inferior technology, our country is blighted by the occasional ground tremor."
Janet said, "We call them earthquakes." She realized they weren't on Earth and smiled. "Of course, that's really... not applicable here."
They reached the infirmary a few moments later. It was a squat two-story building, the least damaged structure in eyesight. A handful of people were standing at the entrance, casually examining the exterior of the building for damage. Sam, Cameron and Teal'c, however, all noticed that the 'casual observers' were all heavily armed. Sam felt a moment's relief that Janet would at least be well-guarded while she worked. The guards noticed Kahale and stepped back. She nodded to them and led the team inside.
There was no lobby, no buffer between the outside and the ill. Beds filled every available space with only the slightest amount of space between them for doctors to move about. The air was filled with cries of grief and pain. Janet unhooked her pack and dropped it on the ground in front of her. "For once, it's a good thing I'm tiny."
Sam covered her smile and said, "Dr. Fraiser is the best at what she does. She'll make sure your people receive the absolute best care. While she and her team are setting up, maybe we could talk about how else we could render assistance to you and your people."
"Wonderful," Kahale said. She walked over to Janet and said, "Dr. Fraiser?"
Janet had been rummaging through her pack and stood, obviously anxious to get to work. Kahale took both of Janet's hands in her own and brought them to her lips. She kissed the knuckles and said, "Thank you, Dr. Fraiser."
"I'm... happy to do it," Janet said, a little flustered. She wanted her hands free, but didn't want to seem rude by pulling them away. Finally, however, Kahale released her and said, "I will leave you to your work. Several local physicians will be here to observe you and hopefully learn from what you do. If there is a tremor while you're here, the locals will show you what to do."
"Get under a doorway," Cam said. "Always worked for me."
"All those Kansas quakes?" Daniel said.
Cam grinned and said, "Quakes, tornadoes..."
Vala said, "I'd like to stay here with Janet if it's all right. Moral support, extra pair of hands, all that..."
"As long as those hands stay away from the shopping mall down the street," Sam said. "All right with you?"
"Yeah," Janet said.
The team stepped outside, following Kahale back to the meeting hall. Sam was the last one out and stopped next to Janet. She squeezed Janet's hand, a brief contact unnoticed by any of the medical team, and then left as well. Janet watched her go, then put down her black bag and scanned the room. Dozens of patients, all in various stages of anguish. She saw, on first glance, sloppy bandages, open wounds, limbs that had been broken and set wrong. She sighed and said, "Well, might as well jump right in. Carolyn, Lee, we'll call this Section A..."
"...construction methods that can help you out," Cam said. "There's a section of our country that gets a lot of earth-- tremors. It's called California. They realized that it might be good to figure out ways to make buildings less susceptible to damage from them. So, they came up with some decent ideas."
"Buildings... homes... that are tremor-proof," Kahale said. She shook her head. "It seems like too much to ask for."
Sam, walking next to Kahale, said, "We're interested in helping you out as much as we can. It looks like you've been taking a beating for a while and could use some relief."
Kahale nodded and said, "I'm curious, though. If things had been different, if the Bsharri had kept control of the Stargate... would you be offering them the same assistance? Assisting them in destroying us?"
Sam glanced at Cameron, but it was Daniel who answered. "The Bsharri held SG-16 captive for six months," he reminded her. "When you regained control of the Stargate, you sent them home. That went a long way in helping our leaders decide to render assistance."
"And besides," Sam added, "they would have received the same offer you did. Food, medical help, but absolutely no weapon technologies or armies. We won't fight a war for you."
"But you will help us survive what would otherwise be a massacre," Kahale said. "And for that, we are immensely grateful."
They returned to the meeting hall and Kahale entered with Sam at her side. Kahale sat and gestured at the seat next to her for Sam. She accepted the offer and glanced across the table at Teal'c. He raised an eyebrow and she rolled her eyes at him. He smiled and took his own seat. This wasn't high school. Just because someone asked you to sit with them didn't mean anything.
Still. She glanced at Kahale and suddenly regretted that Vala was the one who'd stayed with Janet.
Outside Kadisha, in a small bunker that had once been a restaurant, a general peered at the small red-tinted screen. Nearly an hour ago, the Stargate had activated. According to their readings, someone had come through and had yet to leave. He checked his watch and moved to another work station. This screen, tinted orange, showed a cross-section of the planet. There was a wavering line just beneath the crust and the general smiled.
He straightened his spine and shouted out his orders. Kadisha would be shaken by a tremor in approximately three hours. He planned to follow it up with a few well-placed missile hits.
Discussions ran until nearly twilight. Kahale held up a hand to interrupt Daniel. "I apologize, Dr. Jackson, but I think we should adjourn for the evening."
"Oh," Daniel said. He looked at his watch and said, "Right. Yes."
Kahale stood and stretched her legs. "If you wish, the members of my security force could show you the town. Introduce you to some of the people you will be helping survive. Or if you wish to retire for the night... you know where the bunks are."
The team headed for the doors and Kahale stopped Sam before she could leave. "Colonel Carter. If I may have a private word with you?"
"Of course," Sam said. Her mind was already half with Janet, helping out where she could, working alongside her just to be near her.
Kahale glanced at her security and said, "I find it helps to open negotiations, or just talks, with a drink. If you would care to join me...?"
"Oh," Sam said. "We don't... generally drink alcohol while on duty. If water would work..."
Kahale's smile returned. "Water works very well. This way."
Sam followed Kahale from the room. She glanced at the guards and saw them exchange an amused look with one another. She frowned, wondering what she had just agreed to.
Janet took the time to wash her hands before starting on what they'd dubbed Section B. She'd reset seven broken bones, showed two local doctors how to properly treat and dress wounds and performed emergency surgery on a man who had debris from a collapsed building embedded in his wound. Her hair was short, but it was still long enough to get in her eyes, so she pulled it back and tied it off in a short ponytail.
"Janet," Vala called from across the room. "This fellow is having trouble breathing!"
Janet flicked the water from her hands and hurried to where Vala was standing. Unfortunately, in the maze of beds, the best she could do was a quick shuffle. "Make sure his airway isn't obstructed."
Vala parted his lips with a gloved thumb and forefinger. Just before she bent over to examine him, the man coughed and the obstruction made itself clear. "God!" Vala hissed. She jumped back, just barely too slow to avoid getting splattered. "Wonderful."
Janet chuckled and patted Vala on the shoulder. "Welcome to medicine," she said. "Go on, find a change of uniform. I'll let you sit out the rest of the night if you want to."
"Thank you," Vala said. She held her arms out to her sides to avoid touching her soiled jacket.
Janet pulled back the patient's blanket, folding it so that the vomit was packaged neatly inside. The man groaned and said, "I'm sorry about your friend."
"Nah," Janet smiled. "It's good for her. Builds character and all that." She dumped the blanket in a biological material bin and found a fresh one for him. She had only gone through one-third of the patients and she was already beginning to feel the drain. But she felt something else, something she'd forgotten about. The rush, the adrenaline, the second wind that came with triage and emergency room-type medicine.
She covered Vala's last patient and put a bowl next to his bedside "for next time." She smoothed down her jacket, scanned the room to see if any other emergencies had popped up, and made her way to Section B.
Kahale's office was more of a suite. Pale yellow curtains hung like wings around the wide picture window. Across the room from the desk was a massive four-poster bed, the two areas separated by a low bookshelf. "I didn't always sleep at work," Kahale said. "After the fighting started, it seemed prudent to be as nearby as possible. Just in case I was needed in the middle of the night." From the look in her emerald eyes, Sam assumed she was needed a lot.
Kahale forced a smile and gestured to a cabinet behind her desk. "Water, did you say?"
"Yes, please," Sam said. Since their trek through the sandstorm, she'd had some grit stuck in her teeth. She was looking forward to washing it out.
Kahale knelt behind the desk and withdrew two tapered glass bottles from the cabinet. She carried them back to Sam, standing next to the window, and tapped the necks together. They rang out with a clear, solid ring. Sam gratefully took the bottle and looked for a way to open it.
"Ah, here," Kahale said. She closed her fist around the top of the bottle's neck and twisted. The top curve of glass broke neatly off. She repeated the move on her own bottle and slipped the caps into her jacket pocket. "It must be trying," she said. "So many alien worlds, so many different customs and situations to grow accustomed to. Something as simple as taking a drink of water becomes a trial."
Sam sipped her water. It was ice-cold and tasted like liquid ice going down her throat. She paused to take a breath and realized she'd been chugging it. She smiled and touched the sleeve of her jacket to her lips. "Sorry," she said. "I must have been thirstier than I thought..."
"It's all right, I have more," Kahale assured her. She looked at Sam's jacket and reached out, curling her index finger around the collar. "This can't be very comfortable."
"It's the uniform," Sam said. She took another sip of the water. God, it tasted good. She hadn't realized how thirsty she was until she tasted the drink, hadn't realized how tired she was until she saw Kahale's bed. She closed her weary eyes and, the next thing she knew, Kahale was behind her. "What...?"
"Just helping you get a bit more comfortable," Kahale said gently. She gently took the collar of Sam's jacket and pulled it off her shoulders. As it slid down her arms, Kahale's fingertips brushed the bare flesh.
Sam, arms pinned to her side, looked out the window as she tried to figure out what to say. Her head was foggy, her brain making stupid, pointless calculations that had nothing to do with speech. Outside the window, the city was growing darker. She had noticed the hills surrounding the city earlier, but now they were dotted with small fires. "What's... out on the hill?" she asked.
Kahale looked over Sam's shoulder. "Bsharri," she said. She turned her head and lightly brushed her lips across the back of Sam's neck.
The caress was enough to wake Sam from her daze. "Wait... hold on." She slipped out of Kahale's arms and turned her back to the window. "We can't do this." Kahale grabbed Sam's arms and shifted her to the side. "Kahale, stop..."
"I am," Kahale assured her. "I was merely moving you away from the window. When we were facing it, you could have seen something coming. With your back to it, you might miss an attack."
"I almost missed an attack no matter where I was facing," Sam said. She shrugged her jacket back on and, after a moment, zipped it up.
Kahale lowered her gaze. "I'm sorry. It's been... a long time since I met someone I felt this way for. Someone who wasn't looking to me as a leader or a savior. I was overcome and I apologize."
"No," Sam said softly. "I should've been a little more tactful. I'm... I'm actually married." She let the word roll off her tongue, watched it float into the room and decided she liked the weight of it.
Kahale looked up. "I had no idea. You must forgive my..."
"There's no need," Sam interrupted. "I was surprised, but... I'm flattered." Her eyes flashed with an idea. "Vala is single, though."
"Is that so?" Kahale laughed. "No offense to your friend, but I believe she may be a little... much."
Sam laughed. "I know what you mean."
"What... what about your Doctor Fraiser...?"
"Oh, boy," Sam muttered. She rubbed the back of her neck, unconsciously touching where Kahale had just kissed. "Janet is, uh... th-the one I'm married to."
"Of course she is," Kahale said. "Perhaps you have a sister I could proposition."
Sam sighed and shook her head. She glanced towards the door and said, "I should... probably go and check on Janet. I'm sorry about the..."
"You have nothing to be sorry about," Kahale said. "Thank you for not making me feel like a total fool for taking a chance."
"Where would we be without taking chances?" Sam asked, remembering a half-drunk first kiss in the dark of Janet's front porch. "It's really all right."
Kahale lifted her bottle and said, "I will see you in the morning."
"Yes. Thank you for the water."
"It was my pleasure."
Sam finished the bottle and placed it on a stand next to the door. She slipped out before she could bid Kahale goodbye again. When she crossed the main room, the guards watched her with thinly-veiled interest. Sam had the impression that most guests that went upstairs with Kahale stayed the night. She offered them a polite smile but didn't comment on their looks.
Outside, the sandstorm had died down completely. Night had brought a cool breeze with it and the sand was staying on the ground. She gripped her radio and said, "Cam, you there?"
"Here, Sam. Kahale's guards are showing me, Teal'c and Daniel the front lines. What's up?"
"I'm just leaving Kahale's office. I was thinking about checking out the infirmary, maybe lending a helping hand."
She could hear the smile in Cam's voice when he replied. "And checking up on Dr. Fraiser?"
Sam smiled. "If she happens to be there to see, why not?"
"We'll meet up at the bunkhouse later. Give the doc our love."
"Will do. Carter out."
As the sun went down, the local doctors had dotted the room with paper lanterns. The glow was hardly conducive to surgery, but it was better than holding a flashlight in her mouth. Janet finished operating on a young man who'd been impaled by a falling beam and crossed to the supply table her team had set up.
She peeled off her three millionth pair of rubber gloves and pushed her hair out of her face. Her hands felt puffy. She needed a break. She needed to get away from the blood and pain, if just for fifteen minutes. But this wasn't like the SGC or even a regular hospital. She couldn't just pop into the break room for a quick five-minute catnap. She grabbed the box of gloves and was about to fish out a fresh pair when movement at the front of the room caught her eye.
She looked up and saw Sam, like a vision or angel, standing back-lit by the lanterns. She smiled and put the box back down. "Dr. Lam. I'm going to take a fifteen minute break."
"It's about time," Carolyn said without venom. "And make it twenty. We were starting to take bets about when you'd fall over."
Janet crossed the room and took Sam's hand. They walked outside, around the corner and into a dark alcove. They were kissing by the time Janet's back touched the wall, her hands cupping Sam's cheeks. "Mm," Janet murmured when she came up for air. "I needed that."
"Cam and the guys are on the outskirts of town," Sam whispered. She kissed Janet's eyebrow. "Want to go back to the bunkhouse?"
"What would we do there?" Janet asked, her lips moving against Sam's.
"General lewd behavior."
"Mm, baby, you know how to sweet talk."
Sam smiled. "It'll get you off your feet for a while."
"Ah, so there is a bright side."
Sam squeezed Janet's thigh hard and Janet giggled. "I would love to go to the bunkhouse." She kissed Sam's lips and found her hand. "Come on. We have to hurry."
They walked hand-in-hand down the street, Sam casting cautious looks over her shoulder in case anyone was looking. When they reached the bunkhouse, Janet lit one of the lanterns in the corner and sat on the cot farthest from the door. Sam knelt in front of her and they kissed gently. Janet's hands worked Sam's jacket zipper down and slipped inside, cupping her breasts through her t-shirt.
Sam moaned into Janet's mouth and moved her hands in slow circles over Janet's thighs. "Take my boots off," she whispered into Sam's mouth.
They both leaned back. Janet propped herself up on her elbows and Sam worked the laces of Janet's boots with her fingernails. She tugged them off and Janet groaned as her feet were freed. "God, I don't know how you stand it..." Sam dragged her fingernails up the sole of Janet's right foot and the cotton of her sock tickled her skin.
Her feet freed, Janet stretched out and undid her own trousers. Sam watched as the fatigues were pushed down, revealing dark gray boxer shorts. She kissed Janet's fingers as she moved them out of the way and bowed her head. As Sam kissed through her underwear, Janet mewled, a noise that was so sexual, so pleasured, that a shock went straight through Sam's body to her thighs. She quivered and pulled the underwear down.
Sam cupped Janet's ass and held her hips off the bed. Janet's toes curled and she hooked her ankles behind Sam's head. Her breathing began to come in short, strained gasps and her face quickly grew red. "Sam... ohh..." Sam pushed up Janet's t-shirt and touched her stomach, felt it quiver, and moved her hands up to cup Janet's breast. She felt the hard pebble of Janet's nipple through her bra and swept her tongue up and over Janet's clit.
Janet moaned her name and Sam hummed. Janet's body twitched and she lifted her hips in a vain attempt to drive Sam's tongue deeper. "There, there, there," Janet sighed. Sam held Janet as she climaxed and then kissed her bare stomach. She slid up Janet's body, found her lips and climbed onto the bed.
With a moan, Janet found the crux of Sam's legs with her thigh. Sam broke the kiss and looked down into Janet's eyes as she began to rock her hips, gently thrusting against Janet's willing thigh. They both moaned quietly as Sam worked her way to orgasm, reaching down and unfastening her trousers. She pushed her hand into her underwear and touched her clit just as Janet cried out her second climax.
Sam kissed Janet's neck and kept her hips moving until she'd reached her first orgasm of the night. Janet pushed down Sam's pants, baring her ass to the cold air of the night. She dug her fingers into the tight flesh and pulled Sam roughly against her. Sam groaned Janet's name and her body went stiff. When she returned to her body, she lowered it gently onto Janet's and kissed her closed eyelids.
They embraced, both fully-dressed except for their pants around their thighs, and Janet laughed. "If every coffee break were like that, I wouldn't actually need coffee."
Sam smiled and kissed Janet's neck. Janet moaned and tilted her head. "I'll give you twenty minutes to stop that."
Sam licked Janet's pulse point and said, "How was today?"
"Awful," Janet admitted. "Basic triage, a little first aid, some harrowing moments. And I'm not even at the four-hour mark yet." She rubbed her eyes and said, "It helps a lot having Carolyn and the others there. And the really twisted part is that I'm enjoying it."
"It's the thrill," Sam said. "You're in the middle of it all. You're doing what you were trained to do and making a difference on a grand scale. It's no wonder you're enjoying it."
"Yeah," Janet said. "How about you? How was your night?"
Sam scoffed. "Well..."
"That bad?" Janet asked. "Kahale seemed like a great person."
"Oh, she is," Sam said. "Don't get me wrong. It's just that the talks are probably going to be a little uncomfortable tomorrow. Kahale came on to me tonight."
"Really?" Janet asked. Her fingers didn't pause in stroking Sam's hair.
Sam lifted her head from Janet's throat. "What, no outrage? No jealous streak?"
"After what you just did to me? Hell, if you still got that waiting after you cheat on me, then by all means..."
Sam smiled and kissed Janet's lips. "I turned her down, you jerk."
"Where's the fun in that?" Janet asked. "What would Kirk say?"
"You saying I should've gone for it?" She rolled her eyes. "Please."
"I'm saying maybe you shouldn't have turned her down flat."
Sam pushed Janet's shirt up and traced lines on her belly. "Are you trying to tell me something about your own fidelity?"
"I'm trying to tell you something about your fantasy. Kahale is interested, right? She's never on Earth, so she's not someone we'd run into by chance. It's kind of no strings attached."
Sam sat up to look into Janet's eyes. "You're... talking about..."
"The three of us," Janet said. "Ménage à trois. Hey, you brought it up."
"I know, I know," Sam said. "It's just... I didn't really expect..."
Janet propped herself up on her elbows. "And when I told you I wanted you to be rougher with me, I didn't expect you to practically rape me on the kitchen floor even though you prefer to be gentler." She covered Sam's hand with her own. "You went outside of your comfort zone for me. A threesome, for me, is... well, it's not outside the realm of possibilities."
Sam shook her head. "Wow. If I'd known you'd feel this way, I wouldn't have wasted an orgasm on you." Janet shoved Sam's shoulder. "I mean, seriously. My tongue is so sore now, I probably would have skipped pleasuring you altogether."
Janet squirmed out from under Sam and flipped her. She pinned Sam to the mattress and kissed her hard. She pinned Sam's arms up over her head and lifted herself up so she was perched above Sam's body. "Bring it up to Kahale. Preferably not in front of the rest of SG-1, you know, but... yeah. If she's into it..."
"When I turned her down," Sam said, "she asked if you were available."
"Mm-hmm," Sam groaned. Having Janet perched on her stomach was doing strange and wonderful things to her below the belt. She bit her lip and tilted her head back.
Janet rocked her hips and said, "You, me and another woman. Oh, yeah, Sam. I think that's got me going again. But... if you're too worn out..."
Sam fought against Janet's wrists and Janet chuckled. "Okay. One more time before I go back to work..."
Fifteen minutes later, Sam helped Janet straighten her uniform and kissed her lips. "I'll come back and see you in a couple hours. I'm going to see if I can help Cam and Teal'c."
"Okay. Thanks for the breather," Janet said.
"Sounded like you were having a little trouble breathing, to be honest..."
Janet snickered and kissed Sam again. "Okay. I'm going to go bail out Carolyn." She headed for the door and stopped just before stepping out. "Sam?" Sam looked up from lacing her boots. "I love you."
Sam smiled. "I love you, too."
Janet smiled and walked out into the night. Sam finished lacing her boot and grabbed her jacket off the next cot. When she left the bunkhouse, instinct made her look towards the infirmary. She saw Janet just before she disappeared around the corner and sighed. You can't hang around the infirmary all night, she admonished herself. Go make yourself useful.
She headed towards the main hall and gripped her radio. "Cameron, this is Sam. Need any help with recon?"
"We were actually about to call it a night," Cam said. Sam smirked at the good timing and Cam continued in a low voice, "These folks are completely surrounded, Sam. Outgunned, outmanned... they're going to need more than a couple bottles of aspirin."
"I understand how you feel, but we can't fight the war for them, Cam."
"I know. We're..."
"Hold on," Sam interrupted. She stopped and tried to focus on what she was hearing. A low rumble, a slight shift in the atmosphere around her. It was like a warm breeze on a cool day, only far more subtle. She turned and movement in the sky caught her attention. The vapor trails were barely visible, but they were enough for her to realize what she was looking at. "Cam, we've got incoming from the north!"
She broke for cover and grabbed her radio. "Janet! Vala! Brace yourselves! The city is under attack! I repeat..."
Before she could speak, the ground shook with the impact. She dropped to her knees and tucked immediately into a forward roll. Her head, shoulders and back took the brunt of the fall and she scrambled immediately to her feet. When she pressed her back to the wall, she realized it was far too soon for the missiles to have hit... and the ground was still shaking. "Oh, hell," she whispered. "Not an earthquake. Not now..."
The first missile hit a building a few blocks away. The explosion lit up the night sky and Sam ducked in case any debris flew her way. The wall against her back trembled like it was made out of Jell-O. All around her, people ducked and ran for cover. A few were thrown off their feet and several were hit by chunks of rocks falling from the sky.
"Carter!" Cam shouted. She could hear the sound of Teal'c and Daniel firing over the static. "We got hostiles surging into the city!"
Sam groaned and whispered, "Okay, now the Prior comes through with a Wraith escort..." She grabbed the radio and said, "Hold them off as best you can and try to fall back to the Gate! I'll get Janet and the medical team!"
She left her shelter and hurried forward on the now solid ground. The earthquake seemed to have run itself out, but the fire from the missile hits was sending waves of heat through the narrow streets. Sam ducked her head and hit her radio again. "Janet, Vala, do you read me?" She received only static in return. "Janet! Vala!"
Ahead of her, another missile slammed into the side of a building. The impact caused a shockwave of energy to wash down the street and hit her full-force. She was knocked off her feet and sprawled in the sandy ground. Just before she could push herself up, a tongue of flame curled out between the buildings. She squeezed her eyes shut and waited for the heat to die down before she risked standing.
The combined force of the missiles and the earthquake had been too much for several buildings in the center of town. As Sam struggled forward, buildings began to groan and topple. One large residence, connected to its neighbor by a thin rope for laundry, collapsed only a handful of yards ahead of her. Sam turned her back to avoid the fallout, but it wasn't enough. A chunk of rock impacted the back of her head and she went to her knees.
She stayed conscious long enough to feel another tremor begin in the ground under her knees. She cupped the back of her head weakly, felt the wet, sticky blood matting in her blonde hair, and fell face forward into the sand.
Her last thought before darkness claimed her was Janet, framed by moonlight in the bunkhouse door, smiling back at her. "I love you."
"Janet," Sam whispered.
Janet stood over a patient's bed, one of the alien doctors standing next to her and observing how she reset the man's broken arm. "...once that is done, you apply the splint like so. It helps the bone stay in place and makes sure it heals straight. If you think you can handle it, I'll let you do the next one, okay? Okay, let's move on to..."
Sam's voice interrupted, filling the room with a burst of static. "Janet! Vala! Brace yourselves! The city is under attack! I repeat..."
Before they could register what she was saying, the ground trembled beneath their feet. Janet scanned the room and saw Vala. "It is a tremor," the alien doctor next to her said in a slightly panicked voice. We should be all right..."
Seconds later, the world shook as if a giant had taken hold of the ends and shook it. Janet stumbled and fell on top of a patient. People cried out all around her in pain and she caught a glimpse of Carolyn Lam bracing herself against a supply table. "Carolyn!" she called. The Vietnamese doctor looked up just as a beam loosed itself from the ceiling. It swept down in a low arc and caught her across the temple. Carolyn crumpled like a doll.
The side of the ceiling that the beam had been supporting sagged as well. Janet closed her eyes, but it was too late. The ceiling collapsed and every patient on that side of the room disappeared in a cloud of dust.
Janet struggled to her feet and moved down the narrow corridor between beds. She grabbed her radio and called, "Sam! Mitchell! Do you read? The infirmary is..."
Another explosion knocked her off her feet. Her forehead slammed into the corner of a bed and warm blood flowed down into her eyes. She hit the ground and felt something jabbing into the side of her leg. She looked down and saw a scalpel protruding from her calf. She eased the blade out and covered the wound with her hand.
"Janet!" Vala called.
"I'm okay," she managed. "The patients...?"
"They're in really bad shape," Vala said. "We..."
There was another impact - missiles, Janet was almost certain - and Vala cried out. The ceiling sagged and gave a loud moan of warning. Janet pushed herself up on her good leg and used the bed she'd hit to get to her feet. She scanned the room and saw that the exit was blocked by the section of ceiling that had fallen. They wouldn't be able to get the patients out to safety, and even if they did, where would they take them? She coughed and saw Vala kneeling on the ground a few rows away. "Vala..."
Vala looked up.
"I need your help."
"Janet, your head..."
"I need you to bandage me up so I can help these people."
Vala got to her feet and wound her way around the beds. She had to push some out of the way to make a path, but she did it slowly, gently, so that the patients weren't jostled any more than necessary. She snatched up a medical bag as she passed it and finally reached Janet. "You're going to need stitches," Vala said. There was a slight tremor in her voice. She swallowed and said, "I don't think I'm equipped for that."
"You'll do fine," Janet said. "I'll talk you through it. Just... hurry. These patients might not have very long to wait."
Cameron reloaded and peered over his cover to see where the enemy troops were. They had been fighting since the night before, but the enemy was apparently wary of coming out in the bright light of day. They hadn't moved since the sun came out. Cam, Daniel and Teal'c were staying put to make sure the enemy's front line didn't sneak forward.
Cam sighed and dropped back into his seat. "Why is it when we show up for humanitarian aid, we almost always end up doing battle?"
"Just lucky, I guess," Daniel muttered.
"Have you managed to reach Carter or Fraiser yet?"
Daniel shook his head. "Lots and lots of static, but no voices yet."
"Colonel Carter was out in the open during the attack," Teal'c said. He turned his head so as not to look the others in the eye. "We must accept the possibility that..."
"Later," Cam interrupted. "We'll consider that possibility later."
Teal'c nodded once and returned to his surveillance.
Cam resisted the urge to follow Teal'c's line of thought and went back to the radio. "Carter, this is Mitchell. Come in, please. Colonel Carter..."
"Doyenne Kahale," Cam said. "Thank God. I take it Carter is with you?"
A pause, and then, "Yes."
Daniel asked, "Is she all right?"
This time there was a longer pause. "No. I am afraid she is not."
She was on her stomach on something sinfully soft. Her jacket was gone and someone was tenderly touching the back of her head. "Thank you," a woman said softly. There were quiet footsteps and then a door closed.
"Janet," Sam said.
"You're awake," Kahale said. She put a hand on Sam's rising shoulder. "No, do not sit up yet. You've suffered a head wound. I was able to bandage it as best I could, but..." She squeezed Sam's shoulder and rose from the bed. "One of my security men found you during the aftermath. Fortunately, people were too stunned by their own losses to accost you."
Sam remained on her stomach, mainly because the thought of sitting up made her head swim. Her eyes felt unbalanced, like ball bearings going wherever they pleased. She squeezed her eyes shut, put a hand on the back of her head and turned her head to face Kahale. The move nearly wiped her out. "How long was I out?"
"Most of the morning. The attack happened shortly after midnight and it is nearly midday."
Sam groaned. "The rest of my team?"
"You received a radio call from Cameron Mitchell. They are keeping an eye on the enemy front line. During the night, we lost a significant portion of the city... in more ways than one. We don't know how much exactly, but... even from my window, I can see that we were nearly decimated."
"Help me up," Sam said.
Kahale looked like she wanted to say no, but she stood and extended her arm. Sam used Kahale as a crutch and walked slowly to the window.
The sky was bright and blue, a few puffy clouds hanging on the horizon by the hills. Sam leaned on Kahale and looked to the north. She saw the remains of destroyed buildings, smoke seeping out from collapsed walls and bloodied people wandering aimlessly in the streets. She couldn't see all the way to the infirmary. "You've only heard from Colonel Mitchell?"
"I am afraid so," Kahale said. She held up Sam's radio. "I attempted to reach Dr. Fraiser and Ms. Mal Doran, but... I'm not certain I'm even using this correctly."
Sam took it from her and hit the button. "Dr. Fraiser, Vala, please respond. Dr. Fraiser, Vala." She closed her eyes and softly said, "Janet. Please."
Kahale put a hand on Sam's shoulder and said, "There is a chance she was knocked unconscious by the blast. Debris could have damaged her radio."
Sam nodded and put her hand over Kahale's. She remembered her last discussion with Janet and pulled her hand away quickly. Kahale braced herself against Sam's side, thinking she was about to collapse. "Are you all right? Here, sit down. You shouldn't exert yourself."
Sam let herself be guided back to Kahale's bed and sat on the mattress. She touched her forehead and said, "I need to get to the infirmary. I need to make sure Janet..."
"Even if you could stand on your own, I wouldn't advise that. Several buildings were damaged during the tremor and the missile attack, but they have not fallen yet. It is extremely hazardous outside right now. I have already sent a notice that everyone should remain indoors for the time being."
"It's not working very well," Sam said, remembering the people she'd seen in the street.
"It never does. And there are always casualties." She sighed and shook her head. "Please, Colonel. Sam."
Sam closed her eyes. "I have to know."
"You'll do her no good getting injured yourself. Rest. When security returns, I will see to it that someone escorts you to the infirmary." She put her hand on Sam's shoulder and eased her down to the mattress. Sam closed her eyes and felt the soft blanket being drawn over her body. Before long, she was asleep again.
Sam came to and found Kahale in bed with her. The initial shock was tempered by the fact they were both still dressed and Kahale was on top of the blankets. There was no ulterior motive to Kahale lying next to her; it was just a matter of exhaustion and a lack of beds. Sam took a moment to examine the leader's face. The lines around her eyes and mouth had faded in rest. Sam wondered how Kahale managed, how she kept her sanity when she was literally being besieged on all sides.
She takes pleasure when and where she can get it, she realized glumly. She brushed her fingers across Kahale's cheek, and the caress woke her.
She blinked at Sam and then smiled. "You are awake."
"I am," Sam said. "You shouldn't have let me sleep... I have a head wound, most likely a concussion. Could've been... dangerous."
"I didn't realize," Kahale said.
Sam shook her head, moving slowly so as not to disturb the drill pounding between her eyes. "It's fine. No harm, no foul."
"Would you like me to help you sit up?"
Sam closed her eyes. "No. But you probably should." She held out her arm and Kahale sat up. She pulled Sam from the mattress and put a hand in the small of her back to brace her. Sam groaned and pressed her thumb against the bridge of her nose. "Yeah. That was fun." She blinked and looked towards the window. "How long was I out that time?"
"Only about twenty minutes."
She looked toward the window and said, "Have you heard anything else from my team?"
Sam pushed herself off the bed. Kahale had removed her vest and jacket and Sam retrieved them from the chair. "I need to go. My team needs me." She looked over her shoulder at Kahale. "Will you be all right?"
"I will be fine. Take a member of my security detail with you. Just in case."
Sam nodded and headed for the door. She caught a glimpse of herself in the mirror next to the door and stifled a laugh; her head was wrapped with thick gauze, wound around her forehead like something out of The Mummy's Curse. As soon as she was out of Kahale's sight, she reached up and unwound it. The back of her head had stopped bleeding, she wasn't lightheaded... she tucked the bloody bandages into her vest and put on her cap.
Outside, people were still milling aimlessly through the streets. She could hear brief spurts of gunfire from her right, but the infirmary was to her left. She got on the radio and said, "Cameron, what's your position?"
"Holding steady at the new town limits," he said. "The town kind of shrunk last night. You okay?"
"Brain got a little rattled," she said. "I'm fine. Have you heard anything from the infirmary?"
"Nothing since the attacks."
"I'm going to go check on them."
"I know," she said softly. "I know what to expect. I'll stay in contact. Carter out."
Janet looked up from the patient she had spent the last fifteen minutes on, her eyes drawn to the people staggering in from the outside. She pushed away from the bed and rushed to meet the newcomers. The first man had a broken leg and the second was clutching his stomach and grimacing with pain. She sent the broken arm to the left and, fearing the second man had internal injuries, guided him to a bed in the center of the room.
"No sign?" Vala asked.
"No," Janet said. She was already examining her new patient, but a tickle of fear began to work at the back of her skull. Every new patient brought in, there was a moment when she was sure it was Sam. Brown pants looked green, bald men briefly seemed to have short blonde hair. She brushed at her eyes and glanced at Vala. "Carolyn?" she asked.
Vala shook her head. "We're still trying to get to her." She looked at the collapsed side of the room.
Janet blinked away tears. The way Carolyn's neck had snapped when the beam hit her... She ran a hand under her nose and said, "Get Dr. Paulson over here. Tell him this man has ruptured something, but I can't figure out what. He'll have to do exploratory surgery and I just don't have time for that."
While Vala retrieved the surgeon, Janet moved to the next bed. The man had been in a collapsing building, his arm caught under a falling wall. His arm was crushed from elbow to wrist. His torso was black and blue and she was certain he had massive internal injuries. She would have to amputate the arm and open him up to find the full extent of the damage but, again, she didn't have the time. "Vala, I need another dose of morphine."
Vala appeared at her side and said, "Janet... we're running low on painkillers."
"Get, uh... get Carolyn's case. It's on the..."
"Carolyn's case is empty."
"What?" Janet said. She brushed the hair out of her eyes and inadvertently put pressure on her forehead. She winced and jerked her hand back. "Damn it. All right. Um..." She scanned the room and hit on an idea. "Give me a zat."
Vala blinked. "What?"
"A zat! Give me..." She jerked the weapon from Vala's thigh holster and activated the weapon. She closed her eyes and hesitated before she aimed it at the man with the crushed arm.
"Janet, what the hell are you..."
She fired. The man jerked, his face contorted in pain, and then sagged to the mattress. She closed the weapon and handed it back to Vala. "That'll keep him out for a while. Come find me if he wakes up again." She began winding her way through the beds in search of the next patient that needed her attention.
The road to the infirmary had been blocked by a fallen building. Sam walked around the shattered remains and found herself in a narrow alley that ran behind the main streets Kahale had shown them the day before. There wouldn't have been enough room for her to walk side-by-side with anyone, but the alley was still cluttered with small huts. Tattered rags hung from the wall, covering tiny homesteads.
She knelt and peered underneath one awning. There was a weather-beaten pillow, a thin blanket and a toppled stack of pots and pans. She stood and moved slowly down the alley. There was the stink that came with a lot of unwashed people living in close proximity.
"Have they taken it yet?" a weak voice asked.
Sam spun around and turned on her gun's light. She aimed it at one of the hovels and saw a man staring up at her. His face was weather-beaten, covered by a thick beard. His eyes were like black pebbles underneath the stringy eyebrows and he blinked them at her. "Have the Bsharri taken the city yet? Are you Bsharri?"
"No," Sam managed. "No, I'm sorry."
The man said nothing, just sank back into his shadows. Sam looked at the ground, half-expecting to see a mass of bodies that she'd missed before, and hurried back out to the main street. She saw the bunkhouse she had christened with Janet the night before had been hit hard. The front face of the building was gone, leaving the interior bare and open in the bright sunlight. If we'd stayed in bed just ten more minutes... she thought.
She silenced the what-ifs and broke into a jog. She reached the infirmary and felt her heart freeze in her chest. The top floor was crushed, sagging against the ground floor. She ran to the building, panic building in her chest until she thought it would explode. She braced herself for the sight of Janet, crushed and lifeless. Her eyes burned with tears she refused to shed and she rushed into the building.
There was a frustrating moment before her eyes adjusted to the darkness of the room. Dust burned her eyes, but she tried not to blink. As the room faded into focus, she spotted the back of a green jacket bent over a patient's bed. She made her way over, heart pounding, tears flowing down her cheeks despite her best effort to keep them at bay. She put her hand on the green shoulder and said, "Where's Janet?"
Janet turned, her face a mixture of disbelief and joy. "Sam," she breathed.
Sam grabbed Janet and lifted her off the ground. "Thank God," she said against Janet's coat. "Thank God, thank God." She kissed Janet's throat and wound up with dust and sweat coating her tongue. She didn't care a bit. "Where... is Vala? Carolyn...?"
Janet scanned the room, her arms still locked around Sam's neck. "Vala is helping me with patients. Carolyn... C-Carolyn was hit by a beam. She's..." She gestured at the collapsed half of the building. She turned back to Sam and kissed her. Sam sighed into Janet's mouth and deepened the kiss, but just for a moment. They parted and Sam put Janet down.
"There's blood," Janet said. She was looking at her sleeves, where they had crossed the back of Sam's neck. She put two and two together and glared at Sam. She spun Sam around and gasped at the sight. Blood had stained the scruff of Sam's neck, dying her hair a dark maroon. "Sit," Janet ordered.
"I'm fine," Sam said.
"You at least need a bandage," Janet said. She sat Sam down on a bed and said, "Vala! Stitches!"
Vala appeared from the darkness carrying a black bag. "Another... Sam?!" She dropped the bag and hugged Sam tightly. "Oh, I'm so glad you're okay!"
"Glad to see you up and about, too," she said. Vala released her and Janet went around the bed to begin working Sam's wound. "Cameron, Daniel and Teal'c are out on the front lines. Looks like the missile attack and the earthquake were coordinated with an attempted siege. Kahale survived, but it looks like she lost a lot of ground. I don't know if she'll be able to recover."
"This war may end before we know it," Vala said sadly.
Sam started to nod, but Janet thumped her on the shoulder. "Sorry. There's also something I want to talk with Kahale about. I think we got the penny tour yesterday. She left some very important facts out."
"Like what?" Vala asked.
"Like the people living in the alleys. People who, apparently, are praying for the war to be over and the Bsharri to win."
Vala shrugged. "I wouldn't be surprised. The Bsharri have such an advantage over Kadishan. They've basically been getting beaten to a pulp for years. I know I would certainly have gotten sick of it by now..."
Janet patted Sam's shoulder and said, "All done."
"Do you need help with the patients?"
"I..." Janet glanced across the room. "I'd really like to get Carolyn out of there. So we can at least bring her home. But I don't have the time to..."
Sam touched Janet's cheek to stop her and silently slipped away. She walked to the collapsed section and began moving debris. Janet watched her for a moment and then gestured at the bed. "I was working on this woman before Sam came in. Vala, could you help me?"
"Of course," Vala said.
The Bsharri side called for a cease-fire at approximately mid-day. Cameron, Daniel and Teal'c stood on the battlements, waiting for movement from the other side.
The Bsharri messenger wore finer clothes than even Kahale, with golden epaulets on his shoulders and a rank insignia on his collar. He looked questioningly at SG-1's uniforms as he approached, but said nothing about them. "Our leader wishes to discuss the terms of your surrender. You will have three hours to bring him your decision. If you refuse this generous offer, we will attack again once the sun has fallen."
With that, he turned on his heel and walked back to the other side of the front lines.
Cameron glanced at Daniel and said, "Seems like a reasonable enough offer. Surrender or die..."
"Only in this case," Daniel said, "it looks like they can make good on their threat."
"Do we truly believe they will honor a treaty?" Teal'c asked.
"I say that's something for the Doyenne to decide. Let's go talk to the lady before this truce ends."
Sam sat up and pressed the cuff of her jacket sleeve to her mouth. "Janet," she said over her shoulder.
Janet and Vala hurried over. Vala exclaimed wordlessly and Janet dropped to her knees next to Sam.
Carolyn Lam's body was bent over a piece of rubble. Her dark hair was matted with blood at the temple, her eyes staring sightlessly at the ceiling. Janet sobbed and Sam pulled her close. Janet buried her face against Sam's shoulder and clung to her jacket with fingers like talons.
Sam, unable to do anything else, kissed the top of Janet's head and held her.
Cam led the way into the main hall. "Doyenne Kahale," he shouted. "Come out, come out, wherever you are."
Kahale came down the stairs and smiled at them. "Colonel Mitchell, Dr. Jackson, Teal'c. It is wonderful to see you all well."
"Yeah, we're all peachy," Cam said.
Daniel said, "We met with a messenger from the Bsharri. They are willing to negotiate and end to hostilities. If you refuse to meet with them, they're going to attack again. Tonight. I'm sorry, but I don't think your town could afford another attack like what we saw last night."
"Last night was an aberration. Coincidence."
"There's a chance it's not as simple as that," Daniel said. "We watched the Bsharri during the earthquake. They had a coordinated attack planned. They weren't caught off-guard. They knew it was coming and they used it to their advantage. Now, you've seen some of their advanced technology in the form of weapons... isn't it possible they have a way to predict these quakes? Maybe even cause them?"
Kahale closed her eyes and shook her head. "No, I'm sorry. I cannot discuss surrender."
"It's surrender or death," Sam said.
The guys turned as she came into the hall, trailed by Janet and Vala. "Doc," Cam said. "Good to see you in one piece. Everyone okay?"
"No," Janet said in a strained voice. Cam frowned, but knew not to press it right then.
Sam said, "I took a detour around a collapsed building and found something interesting. Your people aren't exactly thrilled about the way this war is going. They've been ready for surrender for some time."
Kahale closed her eyes. "You do not understand..."
"You're right," Daniel said. "We don't. We don't know why you and the Bsharri split, we don't know what deeper issues are involved. All we know is that you are losing. Whatever your reasons, whatever you're fighting for or against... you're losing. There will come a time when you're destroyed and whatever you're standing up for will be lost anyway."
"The time has come to admit defeat," Teal'c said.
Kahale slumped against the table and closed her eyes. Sam stepped forward. "Do what's right for your people, Kahale."
"Very well," Kahale said. She looked up and there were tears in her eyes. "I will negotiate our surrender with the Bsharri. Colonel Mitchell, how much time were we given?"
Cam checked his watch. "We're at two hours, four minutes until the deadline."
Kahale stood. "Gather your people and your supplies. I cannot guarantee the Stargate will remain in my possession when this is all over and I cannot promise the Bsharri will allow you safe passage back to Earth."
The team moved to the door. Sam put a hand on Cameron's arm and kept him from following the rest of them to the infirmary. "You should go through the Stargate now. There's something General Landry needs to be told in private."
Cam's eyes went flat and he sagged slightly against Sam's hand. "Aw, hell..."
"Go. We'll buy you enough time to break it to him gently."
Cam nodded and said, "How did...?"
"During the quake, I think. She was hit by a falling beam."
"Damn," he sighed. He patted her arm and headed off in the opposite direction.
When Sam arrived at the infirmary, she saw Janet unloading her supplies rather than packing them up. "Janet," she said. She put a hand on her lover's back and said, "Janet, we have to go."
"I know," Janet snapped. "I just need a second." She dumped the rest of her supplies out and gestured for one of the local alien doctors to come over. She put her hand over each item as she named it out loud: "Surgical tools, various drugs, analgesics, antibiotics, gauze, antibacterial soap. Do you remember how I showed you to use these?"
The doctor nodded and she folded the empty bag. "Good. I left the rubber gloves over there." She drummed her fingers on the edge of the table and scanned the room. There were so many patients still in pain, still in need of a competent doctor. The medical team had removed Carolyn's body from the rubble. She had been placed in a body bag and the doctors were using a medical bed as a gurney. Janet stifled a sob as the body was led out and leaned back against the support of Sam's hand. "Okay," she whispered. "Let's go."
Sam wrapped her arm around Janet's shoulder and guided her to the door.
Landry was still in the office with Cameron when they returned. The medical team had gone through first, with Carolyn's covered body. Even without knowing who the casualty was, the SFs knew someone was dead. SG-1 passed through the Gate Room like pallbearers, silent and brooding over the mission.
Landry was still in his office with Cameron. SG-1 silently took their seats and waited until the door opened and Landry stepped out.
Sam and Janet rose to their feet. Sam said, "Sir."
He nodded vaguely towards them and pulled his chair out. He sat down, folded his hands in front of him and stared at the black lacquer top of the briefing table. "What happened?" he asked. His voice was weak, strained, like it had taken everything he had just to say those two words.
Sam glanced at Cameron, cleared her throat and began to detail the events of the last two days.
A week later, Landry was on compassionate leave. Sam had been left in charge of the base, leaving Cameron available to lead the team off-world. Before heading home at the end of the night, Sam wandered into the control room and stood next to Walter's station. "Dial P33-419."
Walter dialed the planet without further question. When the event horizon was established, Sam said, "This is Lieutenant Colonel Samantha Carter of the SGC. I wish to--"
"Please disengage the Stargate," a harsh voice interrupted. "We do not wish to enter into negotiations at this time."
Sam frowned. "To whom am I speaking?"
There was a long pause. She considered asking again when the voice returned. "I am Regent Batroun. Please disengage the Stargate. We do not--"
"I wish to speak to Doyenne Kahale."
"Former-Doyenne Kahale has been executed."
Sam was taken aback by the way the man announced it. "What?"
"She was a war criminal. She stood against the Bsharri forces and caused great loss of life. She was given trial and found guilty. Her execution was carried out three days ago."
Didn't waste much time, did you? Sam thought. "Then perhaps we could enter into talks with your people..."
"You associated with the criminal Kahale. Should you or any of your team attempt to travel to this world, you will be arrested and placed on trial. Please disengage the Stargate. We do not..."
"Shut it down," Sam snapped.
The Stargate closed, leaving the room darker than it ever had been. Sam looked at Walter, put a hand on his shoulder and turned to leave the room. "I'm going home, Walter."
"Good night, Colonel."
"Doesn't look likely," Sam muttered.
Sam was on the floor next to the bed, her laptop open on her thighs. Janet's socks were resting on her shoulders. Sam had her head tilted, her cheek pressed to the soft cotton as she typed. Janet curled her toes and Sam lifted her head. "Almost done?" Janet asked.
"Mm," Janet moaned.
Sam saved the file and shut the computer down. She put the laptop on the dresser and stood up. She shed her robe and crawled on top of the comforter with Janet. They spooned, Sam behind and wrapped around Janet's body. She slipped her hand under the hem of Janet's pajama top and touched her stomach. "Was it horrible?"
"Sad," Janet whispered. That afternoon had been Carolyn Lam's funeral. Janet had gone, along with Vala, Teal'c and Daniel. Sam had remained at the base, while Cam couldn't bring himself to go. "I've never seen General Landry like that. It was... disconcerting."
Sam nodded and pushed Janet's collar out of the way with her nose. She kissed the curve of Janet's shoulder and Janet arched against her. "I thought about you today," Janet whispered. "After Carolyn was..." She put her hand over Sam's and guided it to her breast. "I was worried. I thought... I was sure..."
"I'm here," Sam whispered. She squeezed Janet's breast and pressed tight against her. Janet turned her head and found Sam's lips. Sam eased Janet onto her back and straddled her hips. She sat up and unbuttoned Janet's blouse. Janet looked up at Sam. She lifted her shoulders and worked her arms from the sleeves of her pajamas. Sam bowed her head and kissed Janet's chest, ran her tongue across the curve of her breast and closed her lips around Janet's nipple.
Janet arched her back into Sam's gentle caresses. She reached down and pushed her pajama pants down. Sam sat up and pulled her own t-shirt over her head. Janet's hands went immediately to Sam's breast and covered the nipples with her palms. Sam bent down and kissed Janet. Janet's legs came up on either side of Sam, her knees under Sam's arms.
Sam put her hands on Janet's hips and slowly rocked against her. Janet bit her lip and moved her hand between her legs. She threw her head back and cried out her orgasm. After so many years living with Cassandra, Sam had to fight the urge to cover Janet's mouth. As it was, she let Janet raise her voice. She shivered as Janet sobbed her name and she kissed Janet's cheek.
They sagged down to the mattress, Janet peppering Sam's neck with soft kisses. Sam sat up and took off the rest of her clothes. She tossed them aside and then lovingly undressed Janet. "You mind sleeping in the nude?" she asked as she drew Janet's panties down her legs.
"With you?" Janet asked. "No."
Sam tossed the panties aside and drew Janet close. She kissed Janet's temple, smoothed down her hair and curled against her again. When Sam's breathing slowed, Janet drew the blankets over them both and kissed Sam's cheek. She found herself thinking about the Tegea mission. Carolyn had died, yes. But it was a bad mission that could have gone so much worse. She thought of the tiny jagged scar on her thigh, where the scalpel had gone through. The cut on her forehead had healed without so much as a faint scar.
She had gotten lucky, and so had Sam. She was never going to let herself forget that, above all.