Kiss And Tell

Author: LauraJo
Email: laura@laurajo.net
Rating: PG
Archive: S/J archive, others please ask
Pairing: Sam/Jack, with a hint of something else...
Summary: How many people have you kissed in the last ten years?
Disclaimer: The characters and setting belong to MGM/Gekko/Double Secret, and no harm is intended by this piece of fiction.
Spoilers: References to "Emancipation", "Broca Divide", "The First Commandment", "Brief Candle", "Hathor", "Enigma", "Need", "Point of View", "Past and Present", "A Hundred Days", "Divide and Conquer", "Window of Opportunity", "The Curse".  Set in season five.
Status: Complete  {January 2003}

~~~

"I haven't played that kind of game since I was ten.  And even then, it wasn't my choice."

"You have any better ideas to pass the time?"

"Sir, with all due respect, Daniel's right.  We've done sitting in silence, we've done general chit-chat, we don't have a chess set and someone forgot to bring cards.  We're stuck in this cave until Niagara Falls out there stops falling, and we've got to do more than just sit here."

"I concur with Major Carter."

"Swell.  Looks like someone needs to ask a question then."

"Daniel Jackson, this game was your idea.  I believe it would be appropriate for you to ask the first question."

"Um, let me think-"

"No wait," Sam interrupted.  "I have one.  You mind if I start us off?"

"Not at all, go ahead."  Daniel actually appeared rather glad to have been let off the hook.

"Okay.  What's the worst question you've ever been asked in a game like this?"

Daniel was the first to answer.  "That would have to be when I got asked who my first kiss was."

"The answer a bit embarrassing there, Daniel?"

"You could say that.  So, what was yours?"

"Had I ever cheated in a test," the colonel replied without hesitation.

"That was embarrassing?" Daniel asked.

"Yeah, because I hadn't.  Carter, you gonna answer your own question?"

"Of course.  I think the worst question I was ever asked must have been what age I was when I first got drunk.  Everyone was expecting some boring answer from me, but it turned out I'd been the youngest."

"Teal'c?" Daniel asked, though everyone present thought they knew the answer to this question.

"We did not play such games on Chulak."

They should have laid bets.  But then, no one would have been stupid enough to bet against that.

"So Daniel, do you have a question yet?" Jack asked.

"Actually no, I'm still trying to think of one."

"I guess that makes it your turn, sir."

"Yes Major, I guess it does."  Jack paused for a second, hoping something would come to mind that would embarrass his 2IC.  No ideas were forthcoming though, so he opted for one he hoped would catch Daniel out instead.  "Have you ever cheated in a test?"

"Sir, you can't ask that," Sam objected.  "We already have your answer."

"Actually, you have my answer from the last time I was asked this question."

"Has your answer changed since then?" Daniel asked.

"No, but that's not the point.  So Daniel, your turn to answer.  Time to confess."

"I haven't got anything to confess, I never cheated."

"Not even once?"

"Not even in math."

"Teal'c?" Jack asked, hoping for some interest from this line of questioning.

"I have never had need to cheat in a test, nor do I see the honour in doing so."

"I guess that was to be expected.  Carter?"

As three pairs of eyes fell on Sam, she dropped her own gaze to her lap.

"Carter?"

"Okay, yes, I cheated in a test once."

"Samantha Carter, and here I was hoping to catch Daniel out.  So come on, tell us more."

"That wasn't the question!"

"Sam," Daniel butted in, "you can't just leave it at that.  I think in this case the question is open to interpretation."

Sam shot a disgusted look at Daniel.  "Thanks for the support.  If I have to tell you, it was just after I started at yet another new school.  We had a biology quiz, and I didn't even know what topics we were supposed to study.  So, I promised this boy in my class that I'd help him with his next physics assignment if he'd position his test answers where I could see them.  All I did was look at the basis for the answer, I filled the rest in myself."

"In a biology test," Daniel commented, "Janet would be crushed.  Did you get caught?"

"No, and I got the second highest mark in the class.  Higher than the boy that helped me."

"That's gotta be annoying."

"I did put extra effort into his physics assignment to make up for it.  We spent hours working on it, he got an A."

"And I'll bet he wasn't upset at having to spend all that time with you."

"Sir?"

"Never mind.  Daniel, you must have come up with a question by now."

"Actually, I have.  How many people have you kissed in the last ten years?"

"Interesting question, Daniel," Sam commented.

"I thought so.  And by the way that doesn't include blood relatives.  Would you care to answer?"

"Let me think."  There was a short pause as Sam went through the list in her head.  "Four.  And you?"

"Four as well.  Teal'c?"

"I believe my answer to this question is two."

"Jack?"

Colonel O'Neill thought for a second.  "We're counting people who kissed us as well as those we kissed, right?"

"I did," answered Sam.

"Oh.  Add one for me then."  Daniel sounded less than thrilled with the idea.  Jack, on the other hand, found that was just the answer he had wanted.  Now he could answer and not feel like he was lying to Sam, with the incident in the locker room nicely covering up his experience in the time loop.  That just left one other to worry about... but one kiss they didn't already know about in the last ten years surely wouldn't be a surprise, and it was always best in these situations to answer honestly if for no other reason than to keep your story straight.  So, with more enthusiasm in his voice than the question had really warranted, Jack answered, "Seven," and sat back to wait for Teal'c's question.

A question that destroyed his self-congratulatory mood.

"What were the names of those people?"

Crap.

~~~

Jack spent the time it took Sam, Daniel and Teal'c to answer trying to think of a way to save himself.  He didn't have long.  Sam was quick to list off Jonas, Narim, Turghan (one Jack had known nothing about, and wasn't too pleased to learn had taken place), and of course the colonel himself.

Daniel obviously didn't mind mentioning Sarah or Sha're, but he skipped fairly quickly as he listed off Ke'ra, Shyla and particularly Hathor.  The resounding theme of evil, if not quite Goa'uld, that encompassed his answer didn't escape anyone present.

Teal'c's two names were no surprise, and barely worth him bothering to speak them.

Which just left Jack's answers.  In the end, there was only one decision he could go with.  He could have lied, given any name he chose, but that would only cause problems if they - okay, she - found out later, or hell, if she already knew.

It was probably better to get it out in the open.  Besides, it wasn't likely he'd be the one having to deal with the fallout from this.  Sending a silent apology to a woman light years away from them, Jack reeled off his list.

"Sara, Kynthia, Laira, Anise, Sam, Samantha, and Janet."

~~~

Jack missed Daniel's jaw dropping and Teal'c's raised eyebrow as, even against his better judgement, his attention was focused solely on Sam's reaction.  Or rather, her non-reaction.  If he hadn't known her, he would have suspected that the revelation had been no surprise.  But he did know her, and he could see that her neutral expression was not one of disinterest, but of extreme control.  She was fighting as hard as she could not to show any kind of inappropriate reaction and, he had to hand it to her, she was doing so with the same success she did everything else.

That was what worried him.

Unsurprisingly, Daniel was the first to find his voice.  "Janet?  How?  When?"

"It was a long time ago," Jack replied, still with half an eye on Sam.  "Before either of us had ever heard of the Stargate."

"But that means you were-"

"-married to Sara at the time.  It's not something I'm proud of."  Strangely though, it was something Jack was now extremely thankful for.  He may have betrayed Sara, but at least he hadn't betrayed Sam.

Well, not with Janet anyway.

And should it even be possible to betray someone with whom you'd never actually been involved?

"I didn't realise you knew Janet before the SGC."

"I didn't."  Jack noticed Sam's attention had diverted to the mouth of the cave.

"Oh.  Then-"

"Sir?" Sam cut Daniel's question off.  "I think it's stopped raining."

Daniel looked round in surprise.  "I didn't even notice.  It must have stopped as quickly as it started."

"Pretty much.  I think we'll be safe to head back to the gate now."

Jack checked his watch.  "And we should actually make it back at the appointed time.  Let's move out."

Sam hauled her pack onto her back and reached the cave's entrance first, hesitating just long enough for the rest of the team to join her before moving off and taking point.  It hadn't been Jack's plan, but on this occasion he thought it probably best just to say nothing.  Rather than risk leaving himself open to Daniel's questions again, Jack let Daniel and Teal'c pass him and brought up the rear.  He had a feeling the trip back to the gate would be made in silence, but maybe that would give him time to work out what he was going to say to Janet.

He could only hope Janet would have time to think about what she would say to Sam.

~~~

"Welcome back SG-1, we'll debrief in an hour."

"Ladies first for the locker room today, I think.  The rest of us will head straight to the infirmary."

"Yes, sir."  Sam handed her weapons to the nearest willing recipient, and headed out of the gateroom with barely a glance back at her team or General Hammond.  Jack wasn't much less eager to get out of the room than she was, his singular purpose to get down to the infirmary and talk to Janet before Sam was done with her shower.  Unfortunately for him, Hammond had other ideas.

"Colonel, before you see Dr. Fraiser I had a couple of things I wanted to run over with you."  On seeing his 2IC's reluctant expression, the general added, "Don't worry, you'll have enough time for your physical and shower before the briefing."

"Yes, sir."

Jack could only watch and inwardly sigh as Daniel and Teal'c headed off without him.

~~~

It was another fifteen minutes before Jack ran through the infirmary doors, relief washing through him as he realised Carter hadn't arrived yet.  Maybe all wasn't lost.  Janet stood waiting for him, having finished her examinations of Daniel and Teal'c, so Jack made his way over to her and, with uncharacteristic willingness, sat himself on one of the beds.

"Colonel?"

"Doc, there's something I gotta te-"  Jack stopped short when he caught site of a familiar blonde head appearing round the door.  "Hey, Carter."

Crap.  Again.  This really wasn't his day.

"Sir."

"Sam, if you could hop onto one of the beds I'll be with you in a minute.  I just need to take a look at Colonel O'Neill."

"Sure, take your time.  Don't worry about me."  There was nothing wrong with the words themselves, but Janet had to fight not to question Sam's tone.  There was just... something there.  But equally, something was telling her this wasn't the time.

The same thing, perhaps, that was telling her not to question the colonel about what he had been about to tell her.  Sighing inwardly, she pulled out her pen torch and tried not to read too much into his compliance as she went on with her examination.  With his full cooperation it actually surprised Janet how quickly she made it through every test.

Jack didn't hang around long after she was done, and Janet herself wasted no time in moving over to Sam.  Neither said a word as Janet began to work, but as she neared the end of her task she decided she couldn't go through this examination in the same way she had the colonel's.

"Sam, are you okay?"

"Fine, Janet.  I'm fine.  Why would you think otherwise?"  Sam's voice was just a little... too fine.

"You just seem, well..." Janet paused to think of the best way to phrase what she was trying to say, using the few seconds it took her to prepare the syringe for Sam's blood to allow herself the time.  When she'd gathered her thoughts, she spoke again.  "Not quite like your usual self."

"My usual self?" Sam echoed, sounding less than fine now.  "I know I have to live up to certain standards in this place, but-"

"That's not what I meant, Sam."  Janet approached Sam's arm with the needle, for some reason being extra careful as she let it puncture the skin.  "I'm just trying to find out what's wrong.  Something obviously happened, and-"

"Something happened alright, but I don't really want to talk about it.  Not now."

"Then we will talk later?"  Janet removed the needle and indicated for Sam to replace her hand in keeping pressure on the area.

"Are we done?" Sam asked.

"With the examination, yes."

"Then I have a debriefing to get to."

Sam slid off the bed and was out of the room before Janet could say anything more, leaving the doctor staring after her friend and wondering what could have happened on SG-1's mission.

And if it could possibly have had anything to do with her.

~~~

Sam arrived in the briefing room before the colonel, but not before Daniel and Teal'c, who had taken seats next to each other on one side of the table.  Neither of them looked up as she entered - Teal'c obviously absorbed in whatever it was Daniel was telling him - and Sam resigned herself to taking the seat next to what would be the colonel's place.  Though, she had to admit, it did have some advantages.  This way she wouldn't have to look him in the eye as, really, how often did you look at the person right next to you when you were speaking in a setting such as this?  It could easily be avoided, and that way she had more of a chance to keep a reign on what she was feeling right now.

Probably for the best, as Sam wasn't sure even she knew what she was feeling.  She just knew it was best for Colonel O'Neill not to see it.

The colonel just made it to his seat before General Hammond entered the room, gesturing for everyone to remain seated as he took his own place at the table.  From there most of the meeting passed Sam by.  She remembered commenting on the lack of absolutely anything of interest in her initial soil scans, and she remembered the colonel mentioning something about a possible training ground, depending on a thorough investigation of the planet's long-term weather patterns.  She didn't notice the occasional worried looks Daniel was throwing her way, and she tried not to notice the knowing glances Teal'c threw in her direction.  Her attention was caught however by Hammond's dismissal, and she hurried out of the room intending to spend the rest of her working day sequestered in her lab.

What she planned to do after that, she hadn't quite decided yet.

~~~

In another part of the mountain Janet's day ran away from her, as not more than half an hour after Sam had left her SG-3 returned from a mission with more holes in them than your average pin cushion.  In the end none of them needed major surgery, but they did all require a large number of stitches.  It took Janet several hours to finish the job on her own.  She was the only doctor on duty at the base, and despite her repeated phone calls no one with the relevant clearance was available from the Academy Hospital to come and help her.

So it wasn't until much later than she would have liked that Janet made it to Sam's lab, where she hoped to continue the conversation she had attempted that morning in the infirmary.  She got there to find the room wasn't empty, yet its occupant wasn't the person she had wanted to find.

"Colonel.  I was looking for Sam."

Colonel O'Neill turned around to face the doctor.  "Me too.  Missed her though."

"She's gone already?"

"Looks that way."

"Is it really that late?" Janet questioned, starting to look at her watch.  "I know I was with SG-3 for a long time, but I didn't realise-"

"It's not that late, seems Carter left on time for once."

"Oh, well, I guess I'll have to catch her another time then."  Janet turned to leave, but the colonel's hand on her arm stopped her and she turned back to face him.  Once he knew she wasn't leaving, Jack shoved both hands in his pockets and dropped his gaze to the floor.

"Doc, did you work out yet what made her... well, why she's acting like she is?"  His eyes rose to meet hers again once he'd gotten his sentence out.

"No, not at all!  She's never blanked me that way before.  I mean, she won't always talk, you must know how hard it is to get her to open up sometimes, but...  There was a barrier there.  It's like I've done something to upset her, but before you guys left on that mission everything was fine."

"You have done something.  Or rather, we did something."

Jack could see the moment Janet realised what he was talking about.  "Oh."

"Yeah, 'oh'.  That."

"You told her?"

"I had no choice."

"But-"

"I'm not gonna explain what happened, I think maybe Carter should do that.  I just... I guess you-"

"This is what you were going to tell me earlier, isn't it?  In the infirmary?"

"Yeah.  I thought you should know, maybe have some kind of warning."

"Thanks.  I think."

"Look, I gotta go, but... I want you to know that I had to tell her 'cos, well, I didn't know that you hadn't.  And I guess... I guess I didn't want to lie to her."

"No, I guess not.  I should find Sam, maybe drop by her house."

"Maybe you should wait for her to come to you.  As you said, she's not going to talk until she's ready.  And, I did explain to the guys when it happened, but I'm not sure Carter was really listening at the time.  I was wondering if, I don't know, you could maybe..."

"Tell her how, when, and why?"

"Something like that."

"I probably don't have much choice."  Janet sighed.  "If she'll let me."

"She'll let you.  You're her best friend.  Anyway, like I said, I gotta go."  Jack walked past Janet, more than ready to leave Carter's lab, pausing only as he got to the door to throw one more comment to the doctor before he disappeared.  "Look after her."

"I always do," Janet muttered to the now empty room, before turning to leave herself.  She could only hope Colonel O'Neill was right, and that Sam would let her close enough to sort this one out.

~~~

It was another two hours before Janet managed to get home, the broken down truck five blocks from her house being only the last in a long line of delays.  She pulled into her road as the clock on her dashboard read 20:05, and immediately her attention was caught by the familiar car sitting outside her house.  As she drove past to pull into her driveway she saw that the vehicle was empty, so she hurriedly parked and made her way inside.

She found Sam in her living room, playing chess with Cassie.  Sam had her back to the door, but it was obvious the moment she noticed Cassie's reaction to her mother's arrival.  While Cassie looked up and smiled, Sam's posture became subtly more rigid, and Janet guessed she would have schooled her features before turning around.

"Hey Mom, look who's here."

"I noticed the car outside," Janet replied.  "Hey Sam."

"Hi."  Sam's voice had much the same quality it'd had earlier that day in the infirmary, though toned down a little - no doubt for Cassie's benefit.

"I hope you haven't been waiting too long," Janet said.  It was Cassie that replied.

"Sam's been here almost two hours.  We fixed something to eat then started to play chess while we waited for you.  I didn't think you'd be so long."

"Yeah, neither did I.  Sorry honey."  Janet glanced at Sam, who had now turned back to the chessboard, before continuing.  "Cass, would you mind going upstairs for a bit?"

Cassandra opened her mouth to protest, but as she looked back at Sam something stopped her.  Instead she voiced her agreement and, telling Sam they could finish their game later, left the room.  Janet closed the door behind her, shrugged off her coat, and sat down.

"I went looking for you earlier, but you'd already left."

"I do that occasionally, you know.  Leave the mountain."

"Did you come straight here?"

"Pretty much."

"Because there's something we need to talk about."

Sam turned to face Janet again.  "He told you then."

"If you mean the colonel, then yes."  Janet then reconsidered that statement.  "Well, when I say he told me, I really mean he helped me to work it out myself.  He was in your lab when I went looking for you."

"You missed me."

"That's what he said."  Janet paused.  "I didn't expect you to be here when I got home."

"You said yourself we need to talk."

"You didn't come and see me all day at work."

"Janet, do you honestly think this is something I can talk about there?"  For the first time in the conversation, Sam started to raise her voice.  "Damnit, this is hard enough!  I can't... I couldn't do it there, there's just... I couldn't!"

"Okay.  I guess I can understand that.  What happened out there?"

"What do you mean?"

"Well, I'm assuming this didn't just come up in conversation, something must have happened to make him tell you.  And if this is the result he'd better have had a damned good reason.  So what was it, some life or death situation and he felt the need to confess?"

"It was nothing like that.  Nothing happened."

"Then what?  He just felt like telling you?"

"He had no choice!"

"You know, for two people who are so careful to keep such a distance, you do a good job of sounding like each other."

"What?"

"He said the same thing.  He 'had no choice'.  Right along with something about not being able to lie to you."

"Well the first part is true.  He had to answer the question."

"What question?"

"'How many people have you kissed in the last ten years?'"

Janet just sat there for a moment, not able to find an appropriate response.  When she eventually did speak, it was only to say, "What?"

"We were stuck in a cave for hours, sheltering from the rain.  It was so heavy it would have been dangerous to try and make it back to the 'gate.  Somehow we ended up playing this game..."

"And someone asked how many people you'd each kissed in the last ten years."

"Daniel."

"But the colonel named them?"

"We all did.  That was Teal'c's follow up question.  Name them."

"Oh."

"I don't think he was expecting what he got."  Sam dropped her gaze to her lap, where she was fiddling with one of the chess pieces she'd taken from Cassie during their game.  "None of us were."

"No.  Look, Sam, I know the colonel tried to explain it, but-"

"You want to have a go too?"

"Well yes, because I don't get the feeling you heard what he said.  I don't think he even explained everything."

"Janet-"

"No, let me say this.  You need to know what happened, and when it happened."  Janet paused to order her thoughts.  "It was years ago.  Long before the SGC, and long before either of us had so much as heard your name.  And it's not something I'm proud of.  He was married at the time!  Technically, so was I."

"Janet-"

"-We met in a bar.  He was just back from a bad mission, and I'd just been talking with my lawyer about my upcoming divorce.  We didn't give away much about ourselves.  Just our given names, and I knew he was military.  I didn't tell him I was Air Force.  He needed to talk, though that sounds strange knowing him now, and I needed a drinking partner.  Apparently I was different from his wife in every way.  Come to think about it, from what he said I guess she's more like you-"

"Janet!"

"What?  Oh God, honey, I'm sorry.  I didn't mean that, well, what I do mean is that... damnit.  I'm just going to stop there before I make that worse.  Anyway, by the end of the night we'd moved from our positions propping up the bar, and were sitting side by side in a booth.  Just before closing time he kissed me, and I let him.  It was just a thank you kiss, it didn't mean-"

"Janet, as interesting as that is, it's not what I want to know."

"Then what is?"

"I want to know why."

"I'm not sure there is a why.  We were drunk, it just-"

"No.  Not why it happened."

"Then what?"

"Why didn't you ever tell me?"

Janet stared back at Sam for a moment, a little surprised that this was really what her friend wanted to know.  When she gave the answer, it was simple.

"You never asked."

"I wouldn't have thought I would have to!  You've known about... you've known, for possibly longer than anyone."

"Maybe that's why I never said anything.  Maybe I thought it was best to leave that piece of information for the time when things can be different, so that it was something you could laugh about rather than get hurt by."

"That time may never come.  And I can't say I'd have reacted any differently even if things were different, you still kept it from me this long."

"Well, I guess now we'll never know."

"No.  We won't."

"Sam, you have to understand why-"

"I have to?  You let me find out something like that, on an alien world, in front of Daniel and Teal'c, and you tell me I have to understand...  What do I have to understand?  Why you did it?  Why you didn't tell me?"

"Yes!  Did it ever occur to you how hard it would be to tell you something like this?  You've never been one to open up very easily, in that respect you're very much military through and through.  How on earth was I supposed to broach a subject you don't like to talk about at the best of times, and then tell you something I knew damned well you wouldn't want to hear?!"

"I don't know, but you should have tried!  You should have told me before he did!"

"And that's what this comes down to.  You didn't like showing that reaction in front of him."

"That's not what I said!"

"No, but it makes sense."

"This has nothing to do with-"

"It has everything to do with it.  Every time he sees your reaction to something concerning him, it gives him another reminder of how you feel.  And you can't deal with that."

"I'm not supposed to deal with that!  He's not supposed to see it!"

"And if I'd told you before he did, you would have been able to show even less than you probably managed to anyway.  You'd have been prepared for it."

Sam rose quickly from her seat and started walking quickly towards the door.  "You know what, this isn't what I came here for.  I don't need you telling me this."

Janet got up to follow her, watching as Sam struggled with her coat in her agitated state, but not offering any help.  "No, you know it already.  You just won't admit it."

Sam had the front door open while she still only had her coat on one arm.  "I'll see you at work."

And then she was gone, leaving Janet with nothing to do but close the door behind her and sag against the wall in defeat.  That, to put it mildly, could have gone better.

~~~

Sam didn't know what to do with herself when she got home.  It was too early to go to bed, and she was too agitated to concentrate on any work.  She'd cleaned her house from top to bottom before their mission, and even if she wanted to do any gardening - which she definitely didn't - it was too dark and cold outside for that.  So, having flicked through the television channels and found nothing to hold her interest, she ended up lying on her bed and attempting to read a novel.

She read the same paragraph five times before the phone rang.  Her first thought was to ignore it, thinking it most likely to be Janet, as she wasn't in the mood to talk to her right then.  But her professionalism got the better of her - after all, it could be work calling - and she picked up the receiver.

"Hey Sam."

"Cassie?  Is that you?  I can barely hear you."

"I don't want Mom to know I'm phoning."

"Oh.  Why are you phoning?"

"Because I want to know what's wrong.  I haven't seen Mom since you left, but I heard her throw something and now I think I can hear her crying.  I'm worried about her."

"Oh."

"Did something happen at work?  Did someone get hurt?"

"No, no one's hurt."

"Then what?  She wouldn't react like this over nothing."

"I know, Cass."

"And I know there's something you're not telling me."

"Cassie, I-"

"Was it you?  Was it something you said just now?  Because you-"

"Cassie-"

"-may have been trying to hide it but I could see there was something wrong between you and her, and-"

"Cassie!"

Cassandra finally stopped speaking for a moment, and reformulated her thoughts.  "Sam, what did you say to her?"

Sam sighed.  "I can't talk about it.  You're right, your mom is upset.  So am I.  But you're going to have to let us work through this on our own."

"Is that your way of telling me not to ask her what happened?"

"Yes."

"Why?  Maybe she needs someone to talk to?"

"Cassie, please."

"Okay, fine, I won't ask."

"Look, I will tell you this.  What Janet's worried about isn't going to happen."

"How does that help when I don't know what that is?"

"It means you can be there for your mom, reassure her, and not worry that you could be lying through your teeth."

"Sam?"

"Just do that for me?  Look after your mom?"

"I'll do that for her."

"That's good enough.  You should go, make her a drink or something."

"You'll be round to finish that chess game soon, right?"

"Of course."

"And you and mom will be okay."

"We are okay.  It just doesn't seem that way right now."

"No, it doesn't.  'Night Sam."

Cassie put the phone down before Sam had a chance to reply.

~~~

Sam arrived on base the next morning to find orders to attend a briefing at 0815, giving her only fifteen minutes to change out of her civilian clothing and open up her lab.  During that time she wondered what could have happened in the last few hours to bring SG-1 to another mission briefing so swiftly after getting back from their last trip.  Usually, General Hammond tried to ensure they got at least twenty-four hours after returning before 'gating out again.

Things started to fall into place as she walked into the briefing room to find her father already there, along with a less-than-happy colonel, a concerned looking general, and a Tok'ra who she had not met before.  Teal'c and Daniel arrived just behind her, and the briefing got under way.  Sure enough, SG-1 would be 'gating out with the Tok'ra within the hour.  The briefing was short, the information they needed being minimal - as Colonel O'Neill commented always seemed to be the case - and it wasn't long before they were dismissed to get themselves organised.  Sam hurried through the locker room before heading off to gather anything she may need back in her lab.

That was when she heard it - the unmistakable sound of Janet's heels heading her way.

"Sam-"

"Janet, I don't have time for this right now."  Sam continued gathering equipment as she talked.

"We have to sort this out."

"I told you last night, I can't talk about it.  Not here, not at work."

"You're not going off-world until we do."

"What?"  Sam turned around to face Janet, her equipment momentarily forgotten.

"I'm probably one of the few people on base who could stop you."

"You wouldn't."

Janet folded her arms in a gesture that made it obvious she wasn't going to be moved.  "Try me."

Sam sighed.  "Why do we have to do this now?  Why can't it wait?"

"Because I won't take the chance of something happening to you out there while things are like this."  Janet's posture softened, and her gaze dropped to the floor.  "I couldn't handle it if it did."

Sam sank down onto her stool, the doctor's admission knocking the fight out of her.  "We're still friends, Janet.  That's not going to change because of something... something that happened before you even knew me, for crying out loud."  Janet returned her gaze to meet Sam's, though guessed she didn't even realise what she'd just said.  "But I won't pretend I'm not upset that you didn't tell me," Sam continued.  "It's probably going to take me a few days to come to terms with it."

"What about the colonel?"

"What about him?"

"Are you angry at him too?  Because that's not a healthy attitude to take into the field."

"I'm not angry at Colonel O'Neill.  I don't blame him for this.  I never did."

Janet stared back at Sam, her expression a mixture of hurt, frustration and confusion.  "Why?"

"Because we never talk about things like that.  It would be too-"

"Tempting?"

"Janet!"

"Alright, painful?"

"I was going to say 'close to the line'."

"But either works, right?"

"I guess.  The point is, I can't blame him for not telling me when I never would have asked."

"Which brings me right back to my point last night - you never asked me either."

"Not specifically, but we have talked about past relationships, encounters, whatever you may want to call them.  The opportunity was there."

"And I didn't take it, but for good reasons."

"In your opinion."

"Yes, in my opinion."

"And I will learn to accept that."

"So we're going be okay?"

"I told Cassie last night, we are okay."

A tentative smile broke out on Janet's face, though it disappeared as she realised what Sam had just said.  "You told Cassie when?"

Sam turned quickly back to her packing, hoping not to give too much away.  Somehow, she didn't think Janet would appreciate her daughter telling Sam about her reaction to the previous night's confrontation.  "She called me asking when we could finish our chess game, and while she was on the phone she asked if we'd been arguing."  It wasn't a lie, it just wasn't the whole truth.

"Oh, I completely forgot about the game."

"It's not a problem.  I told her I'd be round soon to finish it."  Sam started to move about her lab, securing the various machines.

"Is that all she said?"

"That was the gist of it."  A little closer to a lie this time, but Sam figured it was worth it.  "Actually, could you let her know about the mission?  I don't know how long it's going to last, I don't want her thinking I've forgotten about her."

"Not a problem."  Janet surveyed the room, and Sam's full pack.  "You ready to head off now?"

"Yeah, I think so."

"I'll walk you to the gateroom."

The two women left the lab and made their way through the corridors of the SGC, and though no further words were spoken it was now a comfortable silence.

They entered the gateroom to find the rest of SG-1 already present.  Daniel and Teal'c stood to one side with the two Tok'ra representatives, looking to be discussing which of the texts Daniel had selected were really necessary.  The colonel stood at the bottom of the ramp, his attention turned towards the two ladies as soon as they entered the room.

"Be careful out there, Sam," Janet said.

"I always am," came the reply, before Major Carter moved off to join her CO.  Behind her, Janet sent a smile in the colonel's direction, which he caught and correctly interpreted.

"You and the doc doing okay?" he asked his 2IC as she took her position beside him.

"We're fine," Sam replied.

"Good, I'm glad."  They both fell silent as an airman handed Sam her P-90 and zat, which she checked over before securing both in the appropriate manner ready to move out.  Once the airman was out of earshot, Jack continued.  "And we're okay too, right?  I mean-"

"Yes sir, we're okay."

"Good, because-"

"I know, sir."

Anything further either may have said was cut short as the 'gate started to spin and the remaining members of their team moved over to join them.

"Ready for another mission with your old Dad?" Jacob asked as he took up the space on the other side of Sam from the colonel.

Sam grinned.  "Do I have a choice?"

Janet watched unobserved from her position in the corner as the wormhole engaged and General Hammond gave the order for SG-1 to move out.  She had actually seen the moment Sam put her personal issues aside to deal with the mission, but having had the conversation in the lab she was no longer concerned about the prospect of the problem staying hidden and festering.

When SG-1 reached the top of the ramp, Janet started to make her own move back to the infirmary.  As she reached the door she turned back briefly, just in time to see Sam moving up to the wormhole.  And just in time to catch the soft smile Sam sent her way before taking that final step.

THE END

1764

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