The Curse
by LauraJo

"Welcome to British Airways flight 154 from Cairo to London Heathrow.  Your captain this morning will be-"

"Sam, are you sure you don't want the aisle seat?"

"That has to be a joke."

"It's a sensible enough question, you do have several inches on me.  And these seats are never exactly-"  Janet stopped talking as she bent to stow her bag under the seat in front of her, the effort of squeezing it into the limited space temporarily redirecting her thoughts.   "Generous on space," she finally concluded, once she'd finished engineering herself some leg room.

"Neither's your bladder," Sam mumbled, just quiet enough that Janet couldn't quite make out what was said.


"I said it doesn't matter," Sam covered, "I can see more out of the window from here."


"It's enough.  What's the point of being in a plane if you can't look out at everything below you?"

Janet stared at her friend for a moment before answering.  "Well, in this case, I think it's a rather crucial aid to flying home."


"Being in a plane.  It's how we're getting home."


"Never mind.  So, how do you cope being shuttled around in Air Force transport planes?"

"That's different, it's my job.  And whenever possible, I prefer flying in fighters."

"Because of the view?"

"That, and the adrenaline rush."

Janet laughed.  "Figures."


"God, I hate commercial flights."

"Sam, you didn't have to come with me."

"I know that."

"In fact, why did you come with me?"

Sam kept her eyes forward as she replied.  "I've got some things I need to get back to."

*We ever make trips without the other, we will definitely make up for it when we get back.*

"The Air Force would have had us home in two days, it couldn't wait that long?"

Sam shifted in her seat.  "An estimated two days.  There's no guarantee there'd have been space on a plane even then.  With no missions scheduled until next week Daniel and I weren't exactly a priority.  And since you decided to skip out on us..."

"I've been away from Cassie long enough, especially since I didn't get to warn her I'd be leaving."

Sam smiled.  "You miss her."

"Of course I do."

"You know, I'd assumed you'd have to accompany Doctor Rayner back."

"I handed him over to the local physicians.  He didn't have any residual symptoms that couldn't be easily explained, so there was no point in tying me up caring for him."

"'Tying you up?'  Our Earthly medicine a little beneath you these days?"



Janet felt a tap on the back of her chair.  "Excuse me, ladies.  I'm trying to listen to the safety information."

"Saved," she whispered in triumph.  Sam rolled her eyes.


"Janet, can I get up?"

"Now?"  Janet looked at the tray in front of her, holding the half-eaten remains of her in-flight meal.  "Can't it wait?"


*We ever make trips without the other, we will definitely make up for it when we get back.*

Okay, so she didn't want to think about waiting.  For anything.

"Now's really not a good time to get up."  To emphasise her point, Janet looked from Sam back to her tray, and then to the one in front of her friend.

"Please, Janet, my leg's gone to sleep.  I just want to walk down the aisle a minute, try and wake it up."

"I did offer you the aisle seat.  You turned it down."

"How many times have I got up so far this flight?"

Janet resigned herself to the fact she was beaten, even as she said, "None."

"And how many times have you been for a little trip?"

"Two," came the defeated reply.  "Okay, I'll get up."



"Hmm?"  Janet turned the page of her book.

"How long until we land again?"

"Another hour, I think.  You're the one who booked the flights."

"Did I say we have three or four hours at Heathrow?"

"Three and a half."

"Ah, yes, right."

Janet went back to her book.



"Would you mind if I..."  Sam indicated towards the aisle.

Janet fought the urge to comment as she took hold of the blanket on her legs and stood, allowing Sam to get past her.


"No problem."





"We're so close to landing the seat belt light will come on any second."

"Exactly.  I need to get up before then."


"But Janet, I-"  Sam stopped suddenly, the dreaded light coming on all over the plane.  "That's your fault."


"Hey, will you slow down?"  Janet was feeling harried, and more than a little hot, as she raced down the corridor after Sam.  Goodness only knew what had gotten into her.  No one should have that much energy when they'd just stepped off a five and a half hour flight, particularly not when facing the prospect of a further ten hours in the air.  And that would only get them as far as Denver.  "Sam!"

Sam slowed, almost coming to a complete halt while she waited for her friend to catch up.  "Sorry.  I guess I... have some energy to burn off."

"That much has been painfully obvious."  They continued to walk, Sam being more careful to keep Janet's pace.  "I can't believe you made me take the aisle seat - something I feel may need reviewing.  So what's up?"

"Nothing's up."

"You're not normally quite so... jumpy."

"Does that mean something has to be up?"

"Sam, are you seeing someone?"

Sam stopped so suddenly two people ploughed straight into the back of her.  "What?" 

Janet turned to face her, her expression telling Sam she might have overreacted somewhat.   She'd done it now, though, so she'd just have to talk herself out of it.

"Janet, I can't seriously believe you'd think I might be-"  Sam cut herself off, and started again.  "You know what-  You were there when...  I'm not in a position to be seeing anyone."

"In a way, that's my point.  What you've been through recently, it might leave you feeling a little," a grin broke across Janet's face, "libidinous."

Sam started walking again, her pace deliberately a little faster than Janet would like.  "I can't believe you just said that."


Having burnt off some energy at the airport, Sam thought she might be able to make it through the second flight without feeling the need to jump out of her seat every two minutes.  Janet seemed to have come to the same conclusion, as her earlier threats to make Sam take the aisle seat second time around were forgotten on boarding.

Janet unravelled the standard airline blanket and curled up as much as she could.  She was really starting to feel her recent lack of sleep, and was grateful that her size allowed her a greater measure of comfort than many achieved in this situation.  With any luck, she'd wake up on the other side of the Atlantic.




"Hey!  Janet!"

The doctor slowly opened one eye, peered at her friend and shut it again.  "What?"

"Can I get out?"



"I was asleep."

"I know, and I'm sorry.  But I really need to get up."

Janet didn't move.


"I am asleep."

"Please," Sam all but whined.

Then Janet moved so fast Sam flinched backwards.  "Fine, but when you get back, you're having the aisle seat.  I will not get up for you again."

"Sure, okay, that's fine."  Sam climbed past and headed down the aisle, leaving Janet to settle herself into her friend's seat.

Five minutes later she was back.

"Thanks, Janet.  And I'm sorry."

"Are you talking to me?"

"Uh, yes?"



Breathe in.

Breathe out.

Cross legs.

Uncross legs.

*We ever make trips without the other, we will definitely make up for it when we get back.*

Re-cross legs.




Sam put her headphones on, and started flicking through the radio channels.

Love song.  Classical piece.  Love song.  Love song.  Love song.  The news, featuring the latest scandal to befall a cabinet minister whose name meant nothing to her since, well, this was a British flight.  Love song, love song, love song.  And ooooohhh...

Definitely not.

She flicked over to the movie channels.

"By the way, would telling you now that I want sex tonight be enough of a warning?"

Sam whipped her headphones off and threw them to the floor in frustration.  Unfortunately, they caught Janet's leg on the way down.

"What the hell is wrong with you?" she snapped.

"Hey!" came a muffled voice from the man sitting in the window seat, on the other side of Janet.  "Some of us are trying to sleep!"

When Janet turned her glare on him, he pulled his blanket fully over his head and fell silent; leaving Janet free to turn her attention back to her friend.

"Why aren't you trying to sleep?"


"Sam, no matter how many times you try to persuade me otherwise, I know how much sleep the human body requires.  You've been awake for over twenty-four hours.  If you try to sleep, you will."

"I'm really not tired."

Janet's eyes fell to the mug on the tray in front of Sam.  "What's that?"

"My drink."

"More coffee?"

"I told you, I'm not tired."

"So I see.  That explains a few other things as well."

*OK, here's a promise. We ever make trips without the other, we will definitely make up for it when we get back.*

Sam shifted in her seat and muttered under her breath, "If only."


"Nothing.  Go back to sleep, Janet."

"Are you going to at least try to get some yourself?"

"Probably not."

"At least you're honest.  Well, if you're not, there's really no point in me trying."

"Suit yourself."


"So why didn't you mention how long we had to wait here?"  Janet took in the surrounding chaos that was Denver's airport, inwardly fighting the intense desire to sink to the ground beside their luggage and never get up.

"Honestly?  I didn't check."

"We could have driven this bit.  We could have driven, and made it back before our flight is going to take off."

"We still could."


"Cancel the flights, hire a car."

"It'll cost a fortune, and I know I'm far too tired to drive."

"I'll pay.  I'll drive."

"You sure you're up to it?  You still haven't slept - at all - since some time yesterday.  Or maybe the day before."

"Do I seem in any way tired to you?"

Janet looked at her friend closely.  She looked fed up, but she was right - she didn't look tired.  She looked determined.  Janet knew the exhaustion must have been lurking somewhere beneath the surface, but she was just desperate enough to get home that for the time being she didn't care.  "Okay, you drive.  But I'll pay my half.  And you're going to stay here with the luggage and rest while I go and sort out the car."

"Not a problem."  Janet looked quizzically at Sam, surprised she gave in to resting so easily, but decided not to push her luck and headed off towards the ticket desk to cancel their flights.  As soon as she was gone, Sam snatched her purse and started rooting around inside it.

"Come on, come on..." she muttered to herself.  "I know it's in here somewhere."  It took longer than she'd like, but eventually her grasp landed on the unmistakable form of her cell phone.

"Yes!"  She pulled it out, and switched it on.

No reception.

"No.  No, no, no, no, no."

She switched it off and on again, and when this still didn't work she started turning around in a circle, seeing if her position altered the situation at all.

A boy looking no older than twelve walked past her, jabbering loudly into his own cell about how the world was going to end because he wouldn't be home in time for- something that she didn't catch, since he'd moved out of range.

She was sure it wouldn't have been half as good as what she was trying to get back to.  And how in hell did he have a signal?

She redoubled her efforts and turned her phone over, clumsily starting to prise the battery cover from its resting place when-


The phone leapt out of her hands and went skidding across the floor.  Heart in her mouth, Sam watched the useless excuse for a piece of technology slide through people's legs and under luggage trolleys, not stopping until a heeled shoe came crashing down onto it, its owner barely managing to keep her balance.

"What in the name of all that's-"

"Janet!  Are you okay?"  Sam went rushing to the aid of her phone.  No, no, that wasn't right.  Her friend, yes, her friend.  She got there just as Janet picked up the offending object.

"People really should be more careful with their possessions.  If I'd fallen, I tell you, there'd be hell to pay to whoever owns this-," Janet looked down, "apparently now useless phone."

Sam looked down at the object in Janet's hand.  It was, indeed, broken.  The casing had cracked under the pressure of Janet's heel, and the power switch was missing.  Fantastic.

"I guess I should take this somewhere, hand it in.  Someone might miss it."

"Did you sort out the car already?"

"I've cancelled our flights, but the rental desk's not on this level.  I thought maybe we should both go."

"I tell you what, you go ahead.  Leave the phone with me, I'll do something with it while you sort the car, and we'll be out of here that bit quicker."

Janet looked relieved to thrust the phone into Sam's waiting hands.  "Works for me.  See you down there."

Sam watched Janet leave, again, and slipped the phone back into her purse.  Maybe she'd have time to find a payphone before Janet started wondering where she'd got to...


By the time Sam was heading into Janet's neighbourhood, the lack of working payphones in any part of Denver's airport was far from the first thing on her mind.  She was more worried about her speedometer.

"I still can't believe you tried that," Janet giggled.

"I'm glad you find it funny."

"Oh come on, did you really think flashing your military ID would help?"

Honestly?  She'd thought it was worth a shot.  She hadn't made a big deal of it, she'd just... made sure she pulled it out of her purse when she went for her licence.  She felt it better not to comment now though, Janet was having enough fun with the incident as it was.

"You're lucky you didn't make things worse for yourself."

"I think getting a ticket's bad enough."

"And then there was the innocent act.  'Oh, I'm so sorry officer, I hadn't realised.  Was I really going that fast?'"

"I did not say that!"

"'Of course I must have been, you know what you're doing, of course you do,-'"


"Just wait until I tell Cassie."

"You wouldn't."

Janet just grinned.

"Please, Janet.  I'll never hear the end of it."

"This is supposed to bother me?"

"You know, I think I preferred it when you were asleep."

"As I recall, I didn't get much sleep.  Thanks to you."

They pulled round the last corner into Janet's road.  "Well, you can get some now," Sam stated as she slowed the car to a halt.  "You're home."

"Already?  That was fast.  You know, I think the nice officer might have had a point."

"Janet, so help me, if you don't-"

"Okay!  Okay!  I'm going!  You okay to drop the rental car back tomorrow?"

"Sure.  We won't have any missions scheduled since we still have to debrief.  Barring unforeseen emergencies I should actually get off on time."

"You really shouldn't tempt fate like that."

"Goodnight, Janet."

Janet hopped out of the car, and grabbed her bags from the backseat.

"'Night, Sam."

Sam barely waited long enough for the door to close before she sped off down the street.


Sam parked in the nearest possible spot, the rental negating the need to be careful about where she left her car.  It felt like the first break she'd caught in days.

Finally.  Finally, she was back.

Every step she took towards the front door felt like a weight off her shoulders, and by the time she slipped the key into the lock all memories of her horrendous journey had been replaced by the single thought of seeing her husband.

*We ever make trips without the other, we will definitely make up for it when we get back.*

For the first time in she had no idea how long, that particular memory brought nothing but a smile to Sam's face, and bubbles of anticipation to her insides.

Oh, did she have ideas for how they would make up for it.

It was with great relief that she stepped into the house.

"Jack, was that your front door?"

No.  No.  No.

That was categorically not Daniel's voice.

"My front door?"

And that was not Jack replying, because it wasn't Daniel's voice in the first place.

"Yes.  I could have sworn I heard it opening.  Maybe you didn't close it properly when I got here, want me to check it out?"

"No!  No, it's okay, I'll take a look."

Oh thank God.  Jack had just beaten her to opening her mouth and telling Daniel to stay where he was herself, which really would have defeated the whole point.  Instead, she stepped out of the door again, as quietly as she could, and decided to take advantage of Daniel's assumption.

"Colonel?" she called.

Jack appeared from the kitchen, "Carter!  Hey, come in."

"Did you realise your door was open, sir?" she asked, hopefully loud enough for Daniel to hear.  And hopefully loud enough to cover the sound of her stashing her bags out of sight.

"Was it?  Daniel thought he heard something."  Jack had, thankfully, started to play along.  "Come through, we're out the back."

"Thanks, sir."  Sam made her way through the house and stepped out onto the decking.  "Daniel, what happened to two days?"

"Hi to you too."

"Sorry, hi.  Two days?"

Daniel shrugged.  "It was an estimate.  I've been here a few hours, actually."

"I don't believe it..."

"What?" Jack asked.

"The Air Force estimated at least two days before they could get us a flight home," Daniel replied.  "Janet didn't want to risk it being longer, so she took a commercial flight.  Sam went with her."

"And a lot of good it did us," Sam complained.

"Something you had to get back for, Carter?" Jack asked, feeling safe that Daniel would never guess the real reason for the smirk on his face.

"I don't suppose it matters now," she replied, trying to keep her real feelings from her voice.

Obviously Daniel had felt the need to be with a friendly face when he got back, after losing another friend to the Goa'uld.  She'd expected that.  She'd planned on spending some time in her lab tomorrow, so that when Daniel got back he could grab some time with Jack.  She'd even factored that in when she decided to fly with Janet.

"So what brings you round here, Sam?  Have you even been home yet?"

"Oh, well," she desperately rifled through her memory for a plausible explanation.  "I-"

"Don't tell me you felt we had to do this thing tonight, even after the trip you just had."



"I'd have understood you not being able to make it."

"Make what?" Daniel asked.

"Carter, you need to learn not to work so hard."

"Yes, sir," she replied.  She was still having trouble latching on to what he was saying, but felt it might be a good idea to play along.

"Would someone mind explaining what you're talking about?"  Daniel was now looking from Jack to Sam and back again, confusion written all over his face.  Jack opened his mouth to reply again, but was cut off by Sam.  She'd finally caught on to what he was doing.

"Sorry, Daniel, it's an Air Force thing."

"An evaluation," Jack added.  "Of Carter's performance."

"Here?  Tonight?"

"We've had trouble finding time we're both free," Sam explained.  "It's been very frustrating, but particularly hard on the colonel."

Jack coughed.  Loudly.

"Are you okay, sir?"

"Fine, Carter.  I'm fine."

"You know, if it's been that much of a problem, I can go.  You've obviously had this planned for a while."

Sam started to feel guilty.  "Daniel, you don't have to."

"I know.  But I'm going to."

"Okay."  But not that guilty.  "Thanks, Daniel."

"Yeah, thanks Daniel.  I'll see you out."

"No need, I know the way."

"I didn't see your car outside.  How are you getting home?" Sam asked.

Flashing his keys at her, he replied, "Rental."


Daniel paused for a moment, then made his way through the house and out the front door.  Neither Jack nor Sam spoke until they heard a car engine start, rev, and finally move off down the street.

Alone at last.

"That was a hell of a journey."

"I bet."

"I don't think Janet will ever travel with me again."

"I'm sure that's not true."

"It's all your fault."

Jack took her into his arms.  "I'll make it up to you."


Note: The movie quote that so aggravated Sam on the second flight comes from the movie "The Mirror Has Two Faces" (1996).  The route they took back to Colorado Springs was a legitimate route, and may well have been the best Sam could get!


Hidden Truths