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Author: LauraJo
Email: laura@laurajo.net
Rating: PG
Archive: SJ yes, I'll submit to Helio
Summary: Janet takes Sam home to talk after the events of Beneath The Surface.
Disclaimer: The characters belong to MGM/Gekko/Double Secret.
Spoilers: Beneath The Surface, and a small hint at Divide and Conquer.
Status: Complete
Author's notes: Despite the time setting, I really intended this to be more of a Sam/Janet friendship piece than a Sam/Jack fic.  However, the muse ran away with it and this happened.  {June 2002}

~~~

"Okay Sam, tell me honestly - as your friend, not your doctor.  How much do you remember?"

Sam let out a small sigh and leant back into the sofa, cradling her coffee with both hands and staring into its depths rather than looking at Janet.

"I can remember all the big things; my name, my job, where I live.  And I remember people, there's no problem there."

"No problem?"  Janet didn't sound convinced.

"Other than a few name difficulties, no," Sam replied.  She didn't specify what those name difficulties were precisely, but Janet already had a fair idea.  She doubted Sam, or indeed any of the others, had even been aware of the odd 'Jonah', 'Thera' or 'Carlan' sneaking past their lips.  She doubted any of them quite realised how this would affect them in the coming weeks, maybe months.  Yet she knew damned well none of them would agree to go and see MacKenzie without a fight.  That was one of the main reasons Janet had arranged to take Sam off the base with her tonight.  Strictly speaking every member of SG-1 should be spending the night in the mountain, preferably under observation in the infirmary; but some instinct had told her that bringing Sam home with her, keeping her away from the others, was the right thing to do.

Keeping her away from the others.  More specifically, one other.

No one had said anything throughout the initial debrief, but Janet had seen it as soon as SG-1 had stepped onto the ramp.  Daniel had looked happy to be home.  Teal'c too, as much as he ever did.  But the two military members of the team were introspective, carefully not looking at anyone else but not looking at each other either.  When Sam had launched into her report of the ill-fated mission, Colonel O'Neill had uncharacteristically kept staring down at his hands, at the pen that he methodically turned around and around and around in his fingers.  Not once did he raise his gaze to look at his second-in-command, not once did he take the opportunity to stare at her without the appearance of impropriety.

The irony of it being the lack of impropriety that worried her didn't escape Janet.

"So what are you having trouble with?" she continued.

"It's weird, actually.  I can remember how to do something, but not what that action is called or what the things are I'm using.  Like when I was making this coffee," Sam lifted her mug to illustrate.  "The action itself was automatic, but I couldn't have told you what I was doing or what I was using to make it."

"Actually, that makes sense."

"It does?"

"Yes.  The memory stamp wouldn't have needed to touch your procedural memory.  In fact, it would be better if it didn't.  There's no reason to alter your reflexive ability to do things such as walk, talk, eat, and drink.  The actions you've learnt and perfected through your life were more use to your 'employers' left intact."

"So they really were selective with which parts of our memories they altered?  The technology they used to do that must be amazing."

"Yes, I bet you'd love to get your hands on it.  I would too.  But actually, separating your procedural from your declarative memories may not be as difficult as it sounds," Janet explained.

"It wouldn't?"

"No.  We still have only a very basic understanding, but put simply the declarative memories are formed in the hippocampus and stored in the cortex, whereas procedural memories seem to be localised more in the cerebellum and related structures.  Anatomically, directing a procedure at one type but not the other might not prove too much of a problem.  The actual process involved though, that would be another matter.  We're nowhere near the level of medical technology required.  We don't even fully understand what the anatomical and neurochemical basis of a memory is, let alone how to alter it to our own design.  There's been a lot of work on long term potentiation and depression, but the chances are that's only one of the mechanisms involved.  Now, if..." 

"Argh!  Janet, stop!"  Sam interrupted with an uncharacteristically confused expression on her face, and Janet looked back up at her in surprise.  "For someone who's constantly telling me I work too hard, and that I should find more time to relax, you're sounding suspiciously like someone who's brought their work home with them."

Janet smiled.  "You're right.  I just find it so fascinating."

"So do I, but I've thought about this a little too much in the last few hours."

At that moment they were interrupted by the phone ringing.  "Sorry Sam," Janet apologised, "that could be Cassie.  I have to take it."

Sam waved Janet away, took a sip of her coffee and turned her attention to a newspaper she picked up from the floor beside her.

~~~

Ten minutes passed before Janet walked back into her living room, and in that time the scene in front of her had changed significantly.  Instead of a smiling Sam, drinking her coffee and catching up on what had happened while she had been gone, Janet found the coffee and paper abandoned on the table, and her friend hurriedly trying to wipe tears from her eyes.  She quickly moved to sit beside her.

"Hey, Sam, it's okay to cry.  You have a right to be upset, and angry.  Those people took away who you are."

"That's just it, Janet.  They didn't.  Maybe it would have been easier if they had."

"I don't understand."

"They took away what we are, not who we are.  I was still me, and the colonel... no, that's not right.  Jack..."  Sam shook her head.  "I don't know how to say this."

As Janet's gaze fell away from Sam for a moment, the abandoned paper caught her eye.  The page had been left open on the television listings, and one film title almost jumped out of the page at her.  'Jack and Sarah'.  Suddenly, Janet understood the problem.  "They took away the colonel and the major, but Jack and Sam were still there," she theorised.

"Yes.  And Thera could love Jonah."

"You mean Sam could love Jack."

Sam said nothing, but turned her gaze down towards her hands.

"Sam, what happened?" Janet prompted.

"Nothing, to begin with.  I don't even remember how Jonah," Sam stopped herself.  "Sorry, how the colonel and I ended up spending our time together.  Actually, it's funny.  I don't remember being in the plant and not being with him, but Daniel and Teal'c weren't around.  No, that's not strictly true either.  They were there, of course, they just weren't with us.  Daniel especially, he was almost against us.  I wonder how he feels about that now?"

"What do you mean 'against' you?"

"Jonah and I weren't particularly well liked.  I had ideas to make improvements to the plant, and Brena listened to them.  It singled us out.  Well, it singled me out.  The colonel was tainted by association, I guess."

"Daniel was one of those who didn't approve?"

"He was friendly with a woman who was particularly outspoken in her opinion of me."

Janet was starting to form a picture of it in her head.  Sam had been identified as the 'bright kid in school', the favourite, the one that no one else could live up to.  It probably wasn't a new thing for her to experience, but in this case there was an added element.  The only one who'd treated her with any kindness had been Colonel O'Neill.  The one person she could count on, it appeared, in any reality.  The one person with the ability to leave her this unsettled, this confused.  This lost.  The one person she felt Sam needed to talk about.

"The colonel stood by you," Janet stated.

"Yeah.  He did."

"Then things changed."

"Yes, they did."

"How?"

"Slowly.  It felt like he'd always been there, like he always would be there.  We had all the time in the world.  I didn't understand why it seemed like I'd always felt these feelings for him.  I guess now, I know.  I think I wish I didn't."

"It's understandable to wish it had never happened."

"I wish we hadn't gotten that close."

"Why, Sam?" Janet prompted once more.

"Because now I know what it feels like to kiss him."

Janet sat silently through the pause that followed, knowing Sam would tell her more in her own time.  It took a few minutes for Sam to get her thoughts together again, but eventually she continued talking.

"We spent all our downtime together.  Every meal, every evening.  Talking, or just sitting quietly together.  He made me laugh, that much certainly hadn't changed.  And he made me feel I could make a difference there, he helped me not to give up when everyone else was so against what I was trying to do for them.  Things changed so gradually nothing even happened until after our real memories started to come back."

Sam paused when she saw the brief look of surprise cross Janet's face before she managed to school her features.  Janet had assumed something had happened when Sam and O'Neill had no clue of who they really were.  She'd never once considered the situation her friend was now starting to describe.

"You might even say our memories were the catalyst.  We weren't really these people, we didn't know who we really were, but we did know we had been together before.  It explained how we felt, it explained why we were drawn together so strongly.  It made me, and I think Jonah too, more sure of what we were feeling."

Ignoring Sam's name slip, Janet questioned further.  "You thought maybe you had been involved before?"

"I was almost sure of it.  It explained so much.  By this point Daniel was with us.  I even managed to rationalise his lack of presence with us before by theorising that his bond to us wasn't as close as ours was to each other.  Everything only strengthened the ideas we wanted to be true."

"You didn't have any idea about the real...." Janet searched for the right word, eventually settling on, "Situation?"

"I guess I was starting to wonder why I wasn't remembering anything about our relationship, seeing as the colonel was so important to me now.  But then one evening it was just the two of us again, and he told me something else.  He wasn't really remembering so much of the details about the Stargate, and our team.  His memories were of me.  Of his feelings for me.  It made sense.  If you consider our jobs, I deal with the science of the gate, with the way it works, and the way the technology we discover works.  He deals with the people; with getting us into and out of a situation successfully, together, and in one piece.  It's his job to make sure we can do our jobs.  Those skills transferred to our personalities in the plant.  I was the technical one, he held me together.  I could believe that he would be the one to remember 'us'.  It was the proof I'd been looking for since we'd started to remember."

"So?"

"I kissed him.  I just turned in Jonah's arms, and kissed him."

"Then what happened?"  Janet didn't ask for details of the kiss itself.  The look on Sam's face told her everything she needed to know.

"We started to remember more, and regaining our memories became more important than exploring our feelings for each other.  We thought we'd have time to get back to 'us' once we'd gotten ourselves out of there, so we concentrated on that.  Before we knew what was happening, we remembered."

"You remembered who you really are."

"We remembered what we really are.  Military.  Colonel.  Major.  Those words changed everything.  Or I suppose they restored everything.  Don't get me wrong, we got so much back.  It's just, we were working to get something back, we expected it.  We weren't expecting what we lost."

"That's why you weren't happy to be home.  The feelings the others felt at being given their lives back, feelings you expected to share, were overshadowed by a reaction you never prepared yourselves for."

"And we couldn't tell anyone, not even each other."

"You haven't talked about it?"

"Not really.  There was a brief moment, before we left Brena's office, but it wasn't anything we haven't 'not said' before.  'We have to leave it here.'  It's becoming a bit of a habit."

Sam knew she didn't need to explain that any further to Janet.  After all, the doctor had been in that other room, she'd heard the forced confessions.  And more than likely, she'd been aware of the half-whispered agreement to put those words aside because more was at stake at the moment than their own personal happiness.

"How much longer can it stay there?" Janet asked.

"Honestly?  I don't know.  It's getting harder all the time.  I just can't stop thinking that one day, one of us may not come back.  I know he's thinking it too.  And now, I know something of what I'm missing."

"So does he."

"Yes, he does."  Sam ran one hand through her hair and moved herself forward in her seat.  "I'll be back in a minute, Janet, I just need a moment."

Sam got up and left the room before Janet could say anything in reply, but she wouldn't have stopped her from going.  Janet hadn't really been expecting to hear even that much detail from her friend.  Talking about the colonel wasn't something Sam did easily, and the fact that she had actually admitted as much as she did only served to illustrate to Janet just how close to the line her fellow officers were dancing.

Sam wasn't gone long.  Within five minutes she walked back into the room, her expression and her countenance much brighter than before.  If Sam's ability to mask her feelings hadn't worried Janet so much, she might have been proud.

"So, where's Cassie tonight?"  Sam sat herself on the floor opposite Janet, propping herself up against the wall.

"She went to the movies with a friend."

"Female friend?  Or male friend?"  Sam punctuated her second suggestion with a grin.

"Female!  She's staying overnight at Lucy's, the phone call was her letting me know they'd gotten back safely.  No doubt she'll be moody and irritable all day tomorrow."

"Your typical teenager then."  The two women shared a knowing smile.

"Speaking of tomorrow," Janet continued, "what time's your meeting with General Hammond in the morning?"

"Not until ten thirty, I think SG-7 have a mission briefing before that.  Why?"

"Oh, I just wanted to make sure you didn't need to be in before I did."  Janet paused.  "Sam, I may sound like a broken record, but you look exhausted.  Maybe you should get some rest."

Surprising Janet, Sam replied, "Actually, I think I will.  And thank you.  For bringing me back here, and... for talking.  I think I needed it."

"I know you did.  It's going to be a while before you get back on top of things, you shouldn't rush it.  Now go, the spare room's made up and ready for you."

Sam flashed Janet a grateful smile, and left the room to head for bed.  Janet gazed after her in contemplation for a few moments before gathering up the cold remains of Sam's coffee and following her out of the room, stopping briefly to close the paper on the way.  A short while later both Sam and Janet were sleeping in their beds and the house descended into a peaceful, if not completely restful, silence.

THE END

4044

Remember. Cherish. Honour. Love. Respect.

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