-- Two --
Janet slowly drifted awake. The room came into focus around her as she realized that she was home. She looked around trying to orient herself as she struggled to remember the final moments before she passed out. She tried to roll out of bed, but the sudden stab of pain reminded her of her injury. She relaxed, letting out a deep breath as she once again attempted to leave the bed.
The second try was more successful and she found herself sitting as the door opened to admit one of her staff.
"Doctor Fraiser, I see you are awake," airman Sloan said as she approached her.
Janet managed a weak smile. "How long have I been in here?"
"You returned yesterday and the doctor placed you under a heavy sedative. You have been out almost thirty-two hours," Sloan said as she began checking Janet over.
Janet answered the routine questions that she was thoroughly familiar with. She finally interrupted Sloan to ask her the status of Major Carter.
"Major Carter came in to check on you yesterday evening, but I haven't seen her since," Sloan answered.
Janet felt a stab of disappointment at Sloan's answer that she struggled to hide. "Who was on duty when Major Carter came in?" Janet asked.
Sloan thought a moment before answering, "I believe it was Lt. Jakes,"
Janet nodded as Sloan finished recording the last of her vitals. "Do you know when I will be allowed to leave?"
Sloan consulted the chart, "It says here that you may release yourself when you see fit," she replied.
Janet nodded as she stood. "I think I would like to release myself then." She felt slightly woozy from the sudden movement but other than that she thought she would be fine.
Sloan nodded as she exited the room. Janet took a few moments to wash up before she followed Sloan out to the main infirmary. She was surprised to find many of the beds occupied and she looked around for any of the familiar faces she had come to know. She was distracted from her thoughts by someone clearing their throat.
"Hey Doc, I thought I would check and see if you would like a ride home," O'Neill offered.
Janet looked at him noting the slight shadows beneath his eyes hinting to a sleepless night. "Are you sure you're up to it, Colonel,"
"Absolutely, Doctor," Jack said with a smile.
Janet returned his warm smile. "And to what do I owe this thoughtfulness, Colonel?" Janet probed.
Jack's look turned serious as he looked around for any nearby personnel. "We need to talk about Major Carter," he said.
Janet felt a chill run through her at his words. She fought down the panic confidant that if anything had happened to Sam she would have been informed.
"All right, Colonel," Janet said as she led the way out of the infirmary.
Janet nodded to Jack as she looked around to snag Sloan as she walked by. "Sloan, could you get me a set of coveralls that I can change into?" Janet looked back to O'Neill. "Colonel I am going to clean up before I go home. I don't want to walk in and see Cassie looking like this," Janet said as Sloan reappeared with a fresh set of unmarked coveralls. Janet took them and promised O'Neill that she wouldn't be long.
Jack took a seat as he waited for Janet to return. He was exhausted from pacing most of the night away. He had left orders to be notified as soon as Janet was up. Unfortunately, he had only been asleep a couple of hours when the call came. He leaned his head back against the wall closing his eyes briefly.
Janet managed to get through the brief shower faster than she thought possible. She pulled on the coveralls and realized that Sloan must not have looked at the size when she pulled them. She looked down at the sleeve that extended at least 5 inches past her fingers. She tucked her injured arm into the uniform and managed to free her hand and zip up the front. After rolling up the pants, she gathered her clothes and headed back to the infirmary.
Jack opened his eyes after he felt a light touch on his shoulder. He looked up to find Janet's concerned gaze looking down at him.
"Are you sure you are up for driving me?"
Jack gave her a dry grin as he stood. "Don't worry, Doc, I am fine, just a little tired. You ready?"
Janet looked at him for a moment knowing he was more tired than he let on. "I am ready on one condition, Colonel,"
"What's that, Doc?"
"We stop by your quarters and you pick up some clothes. I don't want you driving back here as tired as you are," Janet said firmly.
Jack was about to argue but he backed off as he saw the determination in Janet's face. "Alright, Doc."
They stopped by O'Neill's quarters briefly and a short time later they were in his jeep headed to Janet's house.
Janet had said little since leaving the base. She finally broke the silence. "What exactly did you want to talk to me about, Colonel? Since it concerns Sam, I would like to hear it before we get back to the house."
Jack nodded as she spoke, understanding that she wouldn't want to have this conversation around Cassie.
"I am sorry do lay this on you right now, Doc, but I think you are the only one who can help. We had our debriefing with Sam and know everything that happened while you were in custody of Captain Knorre." He paused as he gave her a sympathetic look.
"The problem is that there was an altercation right before we were about to jump through the gate. I had to pry Carter off of the officer that was about to kill you. I had finally managed to get her to focus on me and thought she was going to follow us back through the gate. I wasn't prepared for her following actions."
Janet sat waiting for him to continue. She finally broke his silence, "What weren't you prepared for, Colonel?"
Jack continued to drive as he tried to find the right words for Janet. "She grabbed my weapon and turned on Knorre, Doc"
Jack stopped as Janet looked at him expectantly. "What happened, Colonel?"
Jack gripped the wheel tighter as he spoke. "Doc, I am coming to you because I think you are the only one who can talk to her right now. I have been where she is, but I wasn't with her on this mission, you were. I am not going to tell you what happened because I think she needs to be the one to tell you and you need to hear it from her."
Janet looked at O' Neil still stunned from his description of Sam's actions. "Colonel, why do you think Sam will talk to me"
"Doc, it's hard to explain. All I know is that something happened that changed her on that planet. She is acting in ways I never would have thought possible for her. I can't get through and I have tried. You were with her and she might talk to you," he tried to explain.
"Colonel, where is she now?" Janet finally asked as she tried to understand what was going on with Sam. She didn't know what to think her emotions were in turmoil. She was angry that O'Neill wouldn't disclose what had happened.
"Daniel called me late last night. Sam showed up at your house and was staying the night," O'Neill answered.
Janet sank back in her seat as she anticipated seeing Sam. "I'll try to talk to her Colonel but I can't promise anything. If Sam doesn't want to talk, Iam not going to push her."
"Doc, if you don't get through to her and get her head back where it needs to be, I am going to have to go through official channels. She is a danger to herself and the team in her current condition. I am her friend and I am here for her, but like I have already said I have been where she is and I can't be there for her. I don't know how to get through you might."
Janet felt the weight of O'Neill's revelations increase the burden on her. She didn't respond not having the answers. A few minutes they pulled into her driveway.
Janet stepped out of the jeep still immersed in her thoughts. She looked upas a short yell interrupted her thoughts and a small body impacted with hers. Janet smiled as she crouched down to give Cassie a tight squeeze with one arm as she winced from the hug.
Janet stood as she ran her hand through Cassie's hair. She looked around for Sam as Daniel came into view.
"I'll take this in for you," Cassie said as she tugged at Janet's bag.
Janet let it go smiling at her as she bounded across the lawn to the house. Despite having been her guardian for almost two years she was still frequently caught off guard by the wash of emotions the young girl brought over her.
O'Neill met Daniel before he had traveled halfway across the lawn. "Where is Carter?" he demanded as Janet walked up.
Daniel looked unhappy as he shrugged. "She was gone when I woke up. There was no note nothing," he said as he looked over to Janet. "What's going on Jack?"
* * * * * * * * * *
Sam was lost in her thoughts as the scenery rushed by. She scanned the road automatically as she drove. She had been on the road for hours after slipping out of the house unnoticed.
She had gotten up early and packed the few things she had brought into the house. She had briefly stopped in Cassie's room before leaving. The young girl had been fast asleep under the covers. Sam had watched her sleep for a time before leaning over to place a kiss on her temple as she pulled the covers closer. She had moved down the stairs quietly, hoping that she wouldn't wake Daniel.
She continued to drive not really sure of where she was headed. A part of her wishing she could just continue on forever with out ever having to stop. The rational side of her mind, however, guided her on a course with a specific destination that she wasn't fully aware of until she stopped.
Sam sat for a while staring at the cabin. This had been a favorite vacation spot for her father when she was younger. She recalled the many vacations spent here during his leave time. She finally opened the door taking her bag from the back before she moved up the front steps.
Sam fumbled through the compartments of her bag looking for the keys to the cabin. She was successful when she reached the last pocket. She was in the cabin a few moments later closing the door firmly behind her. She dropped her bag on the floor as she surveyed the interior.
There was a light layer of dust on the furniture but other than that everything was the same as she remembered. She flipped a switch grateful that she had decided to keep everything current after her father had left to become part of the Tok' rah. A part of her had thought that maybe at some time in the far future they would once again be able to enjoy it together.
She moved throughout the cabin opening the windows. A few hours later the cabin was free of all signs of disuse. Her bag was stowed in the room she had always used when she visited. She still couldn't bring herself to take the master bedroom even though her father wasn't here.
She spent the following weeks working through her guilt over the last mission. Despite her efforts there was a part of her that couldn't forgive herself for almost letting Janet die. The minutes before they were rescued came back to haunt her repeatedly every night when she closed her eyes.
It had been two weeks since she had reached the cabin and her exhaustion had only grown. She splashed water on her face and looked into the mirror over the sink. The shadows beneath her eyes had darkened and she leaned on the sink as she bowed her head.
The lack of sleep was beginning to take its toll. It was an effort to get out of bed in the morning and she had started sleeping later and later. Pulling on a pair of sweatpants and a T-shirt she padded into the kitchen to make a small breakfast. After pulling out a few items, Sam stared at them without interest. She had no appetite and replaced all of the items and closed the cabinet. She turned and leaned against the counter fighting the wave of depression that rolled over her.
A loud knocking at the door startled her. She jumped away from the counter and froze. A repeated knock pushed her into action as she moved to answer. If she had been surprised by the knock she was completely stunned by the woman standing in front of her as she opened the door.
"Janet?" she finally managed, still stunned by her appearance.
"Sam," Janet replied as she stood in the doorway of the cabin. She took in the exhaustion on Sam's face as she examined her face.
"What are you doing here?" Sam asked as she continued to stare.
"O'Neill gave me a ride home from the base so that he could talk to me about you. When we got to the house Daniel told us you had left without even saying good bye. I was worried, Sam, especially when I didn't know where you had gone--" Janet paused as Sam interrupted her.
"If you didn't know where I had gone how did you end up here?" she asked.
"Well, it wasn't easy, but O'Neill managed to get a peek at your papers when General Hammond was out of his office. I waited this long hoping you might call, but my worry finally outweighed the concern of intruding on your privacy. Do you mind if I come in?" she finally said, watching Sam.
Sam nodded, stepping out of the way so Janet could enter. "Sorry, I didn't mean to be rude, I am just surprised to see you," Sam tried to explain.
Janet tried to put Sam at ease as she stepped into the cabin. "Is this where you used to spend those vacations you mentioned with your father?"
Sam closed the door following Janet into the main room. "Yes," it was a short one-word answer but Sam couldn't find the energy to talk about her past when Janet was standing in front of her. She watched her back as she turned to face her surprised at the short answer. She looked great with the exception of the sling that encased her left arm and shoulder. Sam felt a renewed sense of failure as she recalled that particular episode in their jump.
Janet watched as Sam's eyes moved over her resting briefly on her injured shoulder. She watched as a flicker of regret flashed across her features briefly.
"It wasn't your fault, Sam," Janet said as she looked down and her arm. "I wasn't even supposed to be there. I should have stepped through the gate when you told me too," she finished, capturing Sam's gaze.
Sam looked away from Janet unable to hold her look despite her words. "Would you like some coffee, Janet?" She moved into the kitchen, not waiting for her answer to put some distance between the two of them.
Janet felt a weight settle upon her as Sam refused to hold her look. She followed her into the kitchen unsure of how to proceed. She watched as she pulled the coffee out of the cabinet and moved over to where the coffeemaker sat. Janet was unable to see her face so she contented herself with trying to read her emotions from her body language. The exhaustion on her face was even more evident in the set of her shoulders and the slowness of her movements. Janet wondered when was the last time she had a full night's sleep.
She pulled out of her thoughts as she watched Sam come to a standstill. She leaned against the counter, her shoulders slumping just a little further as she bowed her head. Janet waited a few minutes before she finally moved over to stand behind her. She raised a hand and rested it on Sam's back rubbing lightly. "Sam?"
Sam just shook her head not having the words to relay her feelings at this moment. The gentleness of Janet's touch was only serving to break through her defenses further. She had always felt less guarded around her she just seemed to inspire that trust in everyone under her care. Her attempt at relieving Sam of responsibility had been completely in character. However, Sam was unwilling to let herself off that easy. She recalled Janet's earlier words about having talked to the Colonel. "You said you talked to Colonel O'Neill. What did he tell you?" she asked.
Janet felt Sam's back tense up as she quizzed her about O'Neill's conversation. "He told me you drew his weapon to kill Knorre. He stopped there and told me I needed to talk to you about what happened next." Janet moved her hand up so that it rested on Sam's shoulder as she moved a little closer. "What did you do, Sam?" she asked almost afraid of the answer.
Sam felt Janet move closer as she probed for the answer to her question. Her defenses were all but gone in the face of Janet's gentle persuasion. She felt the tears she had been holding back rising to the surface. She fought them down as she cleared her throat while she was moving away from Janet. "After I heard the shot I thought you were dead. When it was followed by the zat blast I knew we weren't alone. I turned on Knorre and I can't even tell you what I was thinking at that moment. All I know is that I wanted him dead more than I have ever wanted anything else in my life. The next clear moment I have is the Colonel pulling me off of him. He ordered me through the gate. We turned and I grabbed his weapon and turned on Knorre. It took the Colonel a second to realize what had happened but as soon as he did he was back. He tried to talk me out of killing Knorre, but I was refusing to listen. He finally stepped into my line of fire." She paused, her voice choked with emotion.
Janet watched as Sam moved restlessly around the kitchen as she spoke. She came to a standstill as her words stopped. Janet wanted to move closer, but she held back, not wanting to disturb Sam's train of thought.
"When the Colonel stepped between Knorre and me I told him to move. We traded looks and he asked me if I was going to kill him." Sam couldn't bring herself to look at Janet, who paced back to the living room to take a seat on the couch.
Janet followed Sam into the next room watching her take a seat on the couch. She gave her some room as she sat in a chair across from her. "What happened then, Sam?"
"The Colonel moved. When he stepped aside it hit me that I really intended to kill Knorre. It stunned me. I looked at the Colonel and he looked back as he said, 'Go ahead Carter, I won't stop you.' I couldn't do it. I wanted to but I couldn't." Sam lowered her head to her hands rubbing her temples as she continued, "We were headed for the gate when the idiot started shooting at us. We turned and I was about to finish it when the Colonel shoved my weapon down. Teal'C stunned the bastard as the Colonel shoved me through the gate."
Janet flinched as she heard the bitterness in Sam's voice. Despite Sam's anger, Janet felt an overwhelming relief that she had not killed Knorre. Despite Sam's actions killing was not something that Janet could see her doing without a great deal of remorse. She suspected that Colonel O'Neill had realized the same thing and done his best to keep her from doing something she would later regret.
Janet waited for Sam to go on but she seemed to be having difficulty getting past this point. Janet moved to take a seat next to Sam once again trying to offer some comfort.
Sam felt Janet take a seat next to her but she could not find the energy to raise her head from her hands. She felt the gentle return of Janet's hand on her back offering a small degree of comfort.
"I really thought you were dead, Janet," Sam finally managed.
Janet felt the despair in Sam's muffled words. Involuntarily she felt tears spring to her eyes in the face of her friend's misery. "Sam, I am alright. A little worse for wear, but I am going to be fine. There was nothing you could have done to stop Knorre. You did the best you could in a bad situation. You have got to stop letting this eat at you," Janet finished.
"You don't understand," Sam said as she stood breaking their contact. She moved away, unwilling to be close to her.
"Sam, you're right, I don't understand. You've done nothing to deserve the torture you are putting yourself through. If there is one thing I have learned about you it is that you expect more and are harder on yourself than anyone I have ever known. When is it enough, Sam?" Janet protested.
"I just want to take some time, Janet. I don't think that is a lot to ask," Sam retorted.
"I understand that, Sam. I don't understand you shutting out all of your friends," Janet said, her irritation showing.
"I didn't know I needed to clear my agenda with everyone," Sam shot back hotly.
Janet stood there at a loss on how to respond to her last statement. Somehow in the last ten minutes the conversation had spiraled out of control. She looked at Sam trying to work through the confusion she was feeling. She took a deep breath trying to control her frustration as she began again.
"Sam, you have almost ten days left out of your leave. Why don't you come back and spend it with Cassie and me?" Janet offered.
"If I wanted to spend my leave with you, I would have been there already." Sam stopped, feeling her face blanche at the words that she had uttered without thought. She saw the flash of hurt that crossed Janet's face as she fought down the urge to apologize.
"Fine, Sam, if you want to stay here and wallow in self-pity so be it. Do me a favor and bother to stop by and see Cassie on your way back from leave. She doesn't understand why you didn't spend your time off with her, but she will probably be more forgiving than you deserve." Janet was sickened by the bitterness in her words, but the pain from Sam's comment had cut deeply.
Sam could hear the pain in Janet's voice, but she shut it out. She moved past her to open the door. "Well, Janet, if you are done I would like to go back to wallowing in my self-pity," Sam said brusquely.
Janet felt a total loss of control over the situation as Sam dismissed her coldly. A part of her wanted to stay and talk things out, but her hurt was urging her to leave. She nodded to Sam fighting back tears as she walked through the cabin door.
She felt the hollow echo run through her at the sound of the door shutting soundly as she exited. She swiftly entered her car, struggling to get the keys in the ignition so that she could get away from here. She finally managed to get the car started and quickly drove down the dirt path. She waited until she was sure she was clear of the cabin before she pulled over to give in to the tears she had been fighting.
Sam closed the door and leaned back against it as she slid to the floor. It had taken everything she had to let Janet walk out the door. She wrapped her arms around her legs as she lowered her head to her knees. The tears fell freely as she thought of the woman who had just left.
* * * * * * * * *
Sam had finally reached a point where no more tears would fall. She stood up wiping her face as she headed for the bathroom. Her thoughts were jumbled as she tried to focus on Janet's visit. She had been unprepared for her arrival and to say things had gone badly was an understatement. She buried her face in the wet towel as she felt a fresh wave of tears threatening.
She walked back to the couch and sat down heavily. Closing her eyes she leaned back. She had hurt Janet deeply with her comments and she was miserable as she recalled the expression on her friend's face when she left.
Sam had realized a short time into her self-imposed exile that there was more to her feelings than she had realized. She felt regret and shame in having failed to protect Janet on the jump. She also had found out how deeply she cared for her when she closely examined her feelings.
The chaos surrounding their rescue had blurred the memories for Sam. Everything after the first shot was a jumble. The only thing that stood out was the absolute fury combined with despair that she had felt. Even now just the recall brought the emotions back vividly.
She had felt like she was walking through a nightmare until she had reached the infirmary and been briefed on Janet's condition. She let out a pent up breath as she opened her eyes. She needed to go back to the base. Staying here was serving no purpose but to allow her to slide further into self-pity. She stood and moved purposely throughout the cabin now that she had made her decision.
* * * * * * * * *
It had taken some time for Janet to regain her composure after leaving the cabin. She was still in shock from the conversation with Sam. Her hurt from the words exchanged was still sharp as she once again started her car down the road. She had been completely unprepared for the turn her visit had taken. She was sure that Sam's comments had not been directed so much at her as by the frustration and anger she was feeling as a result of there shared experiences. It didn't make the pain any less though.
When Janet had awoken in the infirmary the first thoughts she had were of Sam. She was sure that she had made it off the planet any other alternative had been unacceptable to her. She had been disappointed to find that Sam had not chosen to see her. She had felt a minor nagging of fear when she found out Sam had been in but unwilling to visit her.
She had little time to consider the reasons due to the Colonel's immediate visit. Seeing Sam today had brought home the depth of her pain and anger of the Major running away from her. She took another deep breath as she tried to calm herself.
Sam's reaction to a point had been understandable. But Janet refused to justify her actions any further than today. She was disappointed in Sam and that realization was almost as painful as the words they had exchanged. She tried not to slow down long enough to analyze her feelings at Sam's words. There was a part of her that was still unwilling to except the depth of her emotions regarding the Major.
* * * * * * * *
Sam returned to the SGC almost without notice. She had almost reached her room when she ran into Colonel O'Neill. She froze as they came face to face. "Colonel," Sam said as she nodded in his direction.
"Major, I see you are back early from leave," he continued.
"Actually, Sir, I am not coming off leave I just decided to return to the base so that I could take care of some things close to home," Sam responded.
"I see... Carter we need to talk," O'Neill said.
Sam took a deep breath as she nodded. "Yes Sir,"
'Why don't you stow your gear and we take a drive," O'Neill offered.
"Alright Sir, give me five minutes," Sam answered.
Sam was back in less than five and followed O'Neill as he headed out to the parking enclosure. They did not exchange any more words until they were pulling out of the main gate.
"Sir, I want to apologize,"
"There is nothing to apologize for, Carter," O'Neill interrupted before she could finish. "I didn't invite you out here for a talk to demand an apology. In all honesty if it had been me, I think I would have killed the SOB." O'Neill paused as he let Sam comprehend his words. "I have an idea of what you were feeling when you wanted to kill that Captain. I have been there and even if you had killed him it wouldn't have made the pain any less. It just would have added regret on top of everything else," O'Neill said.
"It's not like we haven't killed before, Sir," Sam responded.
"It is one thing to kill in self-defense, another to satisfy a vendetta. Trust me, Carter, you would have regretted it. It is not who you are and it would have changed the person you are... Personally I am fond of the Major Carter I have come to know and respect," O'Neill stated simply.
Sam felt tears sting her eyes as she listened to his words, knowing he was right. She found herself unable to answer, all of her thoughts colliding in a jumble as the last few weeks continued to roll around in her head. She finally found a voice to speak. "Thank you, Sir," she said quietly.
O'Neill nodded not wanting to break the quiet calm between them.
They rode a little bit further before Sam broke the easy silence. "Colonel, where are we going?"
"I thought you might want to visit Cassie and Janet while we were out," he answered. He was alarmed at the immediate pallor her features took on at his suggestion.
"No, I talked to Janet earlier. Please, Colonel, I am tired, let's return to the base," Sam pleaded.
"O'Neill looked at her quizzically as he drove. He wasn't sure exactly what was going on but the mention of seeing Janet and Cassie had thrown Sam into a panic. He chose to turn around and return to the base, unwilling to lose any of the ground he had gained with Cater tonight. There would be time later to delve into that apparent nest of worms. He could see Carter visibly relax at his change of direction and made a note to find out what was going on from the Doc.
They returned to the mountain a short time later. O'Neill let Carter retreat to her room without comment. He followed at a distance, not breaking off until he had seen her enter her room.
Sam entered her room grateful to be out of O'Neill's sight. She quickly stripped and pulled on her pajamas. She had been unprepared for their near visit to Janet's. She had almost panicked when O'Neill suggested it, she was grateful he had not pressed the issue, although she was sure he had wanted too.
Sam settled into her bed, exhausted from her encounters throughout the day. As she closed her eyes she wondered how she was going to endure the following weeks.
* * * * * * * *
Janet was aware of Sam's return to the base shortly after coming in the following day. She had been surprised to find out she had returned and waited to run into her during the course of her day. Janet found that running into Sam would be a near impossibility. She was still on leave despite her appearance on the base. Therefore, unless she chose to come by the infirmary, there was little chance of Janet running into her. She closed her eyes leaning her head against her hand as she fought with her depression. She could not believe the exhaustion she felt from the restless nights she had spent in her bed.
A technician at the door interrupted her thoughts. "Dr. Fraiser, we need this lab request signed off on," she requested.
Janet looked over the routine lab request before scrawling her initials across the bottom. She handed it back to the technician with a brief smile.
The following weeks passed in the same manner. Janet worked through everyday in a slow daze. She would go home every night to find that Sam had been there some time during the day to visit with Cassie. These visits boosted the young girl's spirits, but only reinforced Janet's sorrow at Sam's unwillingness to see her. The words they had exchanged at their last meeting kept returning to haunt her when she would lie down at night.
The lack of sleep was beginning to wear on her and it showed to her staff. Her temper was becoming visible as her frayed nerves surfaced. She began distancing herself, hiding away in her office during the bulk of her day. She would catch the occasional worried glances from her staff but turned a blind eye to their concern.
She was reaching a point where she could no longer ignore the effects of Sam's avoidance on her well being and their cause. She checked her schedule for the day wondering if she could possibly get away early. Her eyes froze as she spied Sam's name halfway down the appointment list.
She checked the appointment category noting that Sam needed a clearance to return her to active duty status. She checked over the physical dates surprised to find that Sam had managed to slip out of the SGC without a return physical on the last mission. She sat back frowning disturbed that her staff had overlooked that major detail. She was also upset that Sam had disregarded the protocols knowing full well it was as much her responsibility to report for her post mission physical.
Janet made a note in the files as she closed the schedule. She would wait to decide what action to take until she talked to Sam and the staff on duty. She was as responsible for not having caught this until now, that knowledge tempered her anger as she waited for the day to pass.
* * * * * * * *
Sam finished getting her things in order to return from leave. The last ten days had been a combination of misery and bliss. A part of her had been happy to spend the last of her leave time with Cassie. Another part of her had been miserable as she had arranged to dodge Janet at every turn.
She had been successful at avoiding Janet at every turn. She was not foolish enough to think that Janet had no idea of what she was doing. She knew that scuttlebutt on the base traveled faster that the gate. She had no doubt that Janet had been aware of her return almost immediately. She also knew that Cassie was sure to inform her of Sam's visits. A part of her felt guilt at the pain she must be causing, but she also knew it was for the best if they did not see each other.
She finished putting the last of her things in their place as she glanced at the clock. She needed to get to medical to deal with her duty physical. She had checked the schedule and made the appointment for a day that Janet was due to be off. She had not wanted to take a chance on facing her on the base. Her emotions were still raw from their last meeting and she didn't want to put on a show for the rumor mill. She grimaced at that thought.
Sam had arrived minutes before her appointment and been ushered back to a familiar exam room.
She undressed, pulling on the flimsy exam gown. For what seemed like the hundredth time, she wondered why they couldn't get a gown that actually covered you completely. She took a seat on the table, awaiting the doctor's arrival.
Janet took a deep breath as she readied herself for the upcoming confrontation with Sam. She had switched days with Davis so that he could see his son's school play. She was sure that Sam had chosen this day to avoid her. But Davis had just requested the swap two days ago. She was sure Sam would have changed the appointment if she had known.
She held up a hand to her standard attendant. "I need to talk to Major Carter before we begin. I will call you in when we are ready," she finished as she stepped through the door.
Sam looked to the opening door, feeling herself grow faint as she saw Janet step into the room.
"Hello, Sam," Janet said as she took in the pallor on her friend's face as she looked her over.
"Janet." It came out more a strangled whisper than an actual greeting.
"I switched with Davis so that he could go see his son's play. I imagine you weren't expecting to see me," Janet said as she moved across the room.
Sam nodded at Janet's words. She looked at the woman who had been haunting her thoughts for the past few weeks. Janet looked as exhausted as she felt. There were faint shadows beneath her eyes and despite her arm being free of its sling, Sam could see that she still favored it slightly.
Sam struggled to breathe as she moved closer. She wanted so desperately to take back the words at their last meeting but she was unable to speak.
"Sam, we need to talk. You can't keep avoiding me." Janet had reached a point where she was directly in front of Sam. She reached out a hand and placed in on her thigh. "Sam?"
Sam was frozen, unable to utter a single word as she looked at Janet.
Janet's concern grew as she felt a slight tremble running through Sam. Her other hand came up to rest on Sam's arm. She rubbed it lightly as she tried to figure out a way to break through. This was not going at all like she had expected. "Sam, just talk to me please. Let's just forget the conversation at the cabin." Janet used her hand to raise Sam's chin forcing her to meet her gaze.
Sam struggled to remain calm. She felt cornered and vulnerable. She was especially conscious of her lack of clothing, which prevented her from fleeing the room immediately. She allowed Janet to guide her so that their gazes locked. "Janet, this is not the place or time for this conversation," Sam finally managed as she continued to hold her stare.
"Well, Sam, just when would you like to have this conversation. You have avoided me at every turn. I don't know how else to see you," Janet answered regretfully.
Sam pulled Janet's hand from her chin as she slipped off the table. She put a little distance between them in the small room. She was forced to face her or deal with the extra exposure turning her back would cause. Sam ran through a variety of arguments in her head as she leaned back against the wall. Janet stood patiently across the room waiting for her to respond.
Janet watched as Sam tried to regain her composure. A part of her felt guilty for placing her in this awkward position. A larger part was still angry over being forced to do this. It was not in her nature to force a confrontation and she was angry that she had been forced into this action.
Sam interrupted Janet's thoughts as she finally spoke, "Janet, I am sorry for what I said at the cabin. I didn't mean to hurt you. Your visit took me by surprise and I didn't handle it well," Sam tried to explain.
Janet nodded as she listened to Sam's explanation. "What I don't understand is why you're avoiding me, Sam?" Janet pushed for an answer to the question that had been haunting her.
Sam hung her head at Janet's direct question. "I think it is best if things stay the way they are," Sam finally said after a pause.
Janet stood there stunned at the answer she had received. "Sam." She paused, even more shocked that she had stumbled in her attempt to respond. She took a moment and silently cleared her throat as she tried again.
"I don't understand what is going on," she moved across the room approaching Sam's position. She stopped short giving Sam her space. "Please Sam, help me understand what is going on because this is..." Janet stopped unwilling to go on.
Sam watched as Janet approached. She felt her breath catch as she listened to Janet's honest plea for information. Her pain was evident in her voice and Sam felt her guilt increase. "Janet, you don't understand--" She was stopped by a hand laid upon her arm as Janet broke in.
"You said that before, Sam. How can I understand if you won't tell me what is going on." Janet's voice broke slightly and she paused, trying to keep her emotions in check.
Sam finally gave in, unable to deal with the pain she was causing Janet any longer. "Janet, I care about you so much. I didn't realize how much until the last jump." Sam stopped, trying to find the right words. She was unable to meet Janet's eyes as she continued, "You mean a lot to me, Janet. I've done a great deal of thinking in the last few weeks. I can't deny what I have been feeling for you to myself anymore." Sam took a deep breath as she moved away from Janet's touch. "Every time I look at you these feelings hit me full force. I can't be near you without wanting to reach out to you. I am afraid I am going to do or say the wrong thing at the wrong time and your reaction.... Well. let's just say I don't want to deal with that possibility." She finally looked at Janet, wishing immediately that she hadn't. The stricken look on Janet's face dealt a blow that took her breath away. Sam averted her gaze locking onto the eye chart on the other side of the room. "Well, now you know, Janet" Sam said quietly. Sam felt a calm settle over her after her admission. Despite Janet's obvious reaction, Sam knew instinctively that Janet would not discuss this with anyone.
"Sam, I don't know what to say,"
Sam interrupted her before she could continue. "I don't want you to say anything, Janet. You deserved to know why I have been avoiding you. It's just too hard for me. I don't expect you to respond in any way. These are my feelings and I have to deal with them myself," Sam managed as she continued to focus on anything but Janet. "I would like to reschedule my physical, Janet. I think you understand why I don't want you to be my physician anymore. Do you think you can arrange for my care to be transferred to another doctor?" Sam requested. The effort of the request was barely masked.
Janet stood there, still reeling emotionally from the exchange of the past few minutes. Sam's request pierced her fog scoring a direct hit. "You don't want me to see you anymore?" Janet felt foolish as soon as the words were out of her mouth. Of course Sam didn't want her to be her doctor anymore. As a physician she had the most intimate contact, the type Sam had just confessed to be avoiding. "All right, Sam, I will take care of it. I will reschedule your appointment with Davis for tomorrow." Janet was flying on automatic pilot. She heard the words as she spoke, but felt a detachment while struggling to comprehend the world that was spinning around her.
Sam nodded. "Thank you, Janet," she managed.
Janet looked over to Sam as she continued to refuse to meet her gaze. She wanted so desperately to make things right. She berated herself for having caused all of this with her insistence of taking a jump. Realizing there were no more words, Janet decided to make a retreat. "I'll let you get dressed, Sam. You can check with the appointment clerk in the morning to see what time you need to be here. There's nothing else you need to do. You are free to go as soon as you are ready," Janet informed her.
Sam nodded, waiting for Janet to leave. She struggled to hold back the tears as the door closed behind her. She quickly donned her clothes, hoping she would be able to reach her quarters before she completely broke down.
Janet gave a brief set of orders to her waiting attendant as she exited the exam room. She had refused to indulge the airman's curiosity over the change of appointment times. She immediately headed for her office willing herself to maintain control. She entered, closing the door soundly behind her. She barely thought before locking it to assure her privacy.
* * * * * * * *
Sam exited the exam room shortly after Janet. She was positive that her face betrayed none of the turmoil raging inside of her. She moved through the infirmary glancing at Janet's office and noting the closed door. She continued moving on, praying nothing would stop her from gaining the privacy of her quarters as quickly as possible.
She let out a ragged breath as she closed her door locking out any possible prying eyes. She stumbled over to her bed falling down on it heavily.
If she were to be honest with herself a small part thought that when she revealed her feelings Janet might by some miracle return them. That illusion, however, had been shattered by the look she had glimpsed after her revelation.
Sam buried her face in the pillows the ragged sobs shaking her body. She had thought the past few weeks had tested the limits of emotional agony that she could endure. As she lay there however she found that she had been wrong.
* * * * * * * *
Janet continued to sit quietly in her office, still reeling from the meeting she had just had with Sam. She knew that there was more to Sam avoiding her than just the guilt of the last jump. But she had not even come close to guessing the reason. She rested her head on her hands, staring blindly at the papers covering her desk. This could not be happening. Sam was the closest friend she had on the base. Not to mention, she and Janet were practically raising Cassie together.
She closed her eyes, trying to imagine how she was going to handle this. Sam's reaction to Janet's response to her feelings indicated they were in for a rocky road ahead.
Janet did not want Cassie to get caught up in the middle of this. She had already sensed that something was amiss during Sam's visits. Janet had brushed off her concerns laying the blame on fatigue and that Sam just hadn't completely recovered from the last jump.
Cassie had taken in Janet's excuses without comment. Janet knew that she didn't fully believe them however. The last conversation with Sam left her certain that she would do everything possible to avoid her. Janet ran her hands through her hair as she leaned back in the chair. She was going to have to find a way to smooth things over with Sam.
She pushed away from the desk and stood. It was best to get this settled as quickly as possible. She unlocked her door and stepped into the infirmary. She was informing the med-tech she was stepping out for lunch when Colonel O'Neill entered the infirmary looking a little worse for wear.
Actually staggered into would be a more accurate description Janet thought as she half caught him. An airman quickly stepped in, saving Janet from being crushed by the Colonel. She felt the strain on her healing shoulder as they moved him over to a bed.
"Colonel, Can you tell me what's wrong?" Janet questioned as she began a preliminary exam.
She looked over as the airman informed her of his temperature. She checked his lungs and picked up the sounds indicating heavy congestion. His slightly labored breathing indicated it was difficult for him to breathe.
"Colonel, How long have you been sick?" Janet asked, trying to get some information from him.
"I've been feeling lousy for a couple of days, Doc. But this morning when I got up it was really bad. I thought I was going to pass out on the way to the mess hall so I figured I'd better see you." he said as he closed his eyes.
"Well, I would say that was a good idea. Too bad you didn't get it earlier," Janet managed an edge on her voice. Sometimes the lack of concern certain personnel showed for their well being annoyed her. O'Neill should have been in here to see her before his illness reached this point.
O'Neill heard the edge in Fraiser's voice. He opened one eye to look at her. "Sorry, Doc, I thought it was just a virus."
Janet felt her annoyance flee at O'Neill's apology. "Can you describe your symptoms for me?"
"I am having a hard time breathing. I feel queasy and I am itchy." He demonstrated the last by scratching under his arm.
Janet moved his hand to pull up his shirt. There was a small rash under his arm. She moved to the other side and found the same rash. "Colonel, where else are you itchy?" Janet asked suspecting she knew the cause of his illness.
"Actually, here and here," he said, pointing behind his knees and his waistband.
"Well, Colonel, we are going to have to do a test to make sure, but I think I know the problem. It looks like you have chickenpox," Janet stopped as O'Neill spoke.
"I had chickenpox when I was twelve, Doc. How can I get it again?" he said in frustration.
"It's possible to get it again when you are an adult, Colonel. However, it is much more harmful to an adult than a child. It is a respiratory infection and can cause a lot of damage if not treated. It is also extremely contagious. So you are now under quarantine for the next 10 days. I'll need to know where you have been for the last couple of days so that I can check on personnel you have been in contact with," Janet finished.
"For crying out loud. You have got to be kidding me, Doc. Quarantine?"
"You heard me, Colonel." She motioned to an airman, instructing him to place O'Neill in isolation with no visitors.
"I'll see you in a little bit Colonel. I need to inform the General of your status. We'll give you a shot of antibiotics and a decongestant to start off with. Follow that up with oral meds and if everything goes well you will be out of here in ten days."
Janet tried not to smile as O'Neill grumbled under his breath following the airman. She returned to her office and called the General. The conversation was short and Janet hung up the phone a few minutes later.
She picked up O'Neill's chart off the desk and began making notations. She reentered the infirmary to see O'Neill.
* * * * * * * * *
Sam finally rose from her bed, unable to cry any longer. She washed her face in the sink, trying to remove the streaks left from her tears. A short time later, she decided to leave the base. A solitary drive seemed to be a good idea right now. A part of her kept waiting for a knock at the door that she knew wasn't coming.
She grabbed a light jacket out of the closet before heading for the elevators. A short time later, she was pulling through the gate. Driving always seemed a good way to clear her thoughts without interruption.
She reflected back on the earlier conversation. She almost felt a relief at having finally voiced her feelings despite the final outcome. She knew she was going to have to find a way to salvage their friendship. There was too much at stake with Cassie for her to be selfish.
She would have to find a way to deal with being around Janet, knowing there was no chance at more than friendship. She felt a calm settle over her as she accepted the inevitable. It still hurt, but if she was honest with herself she had not lost anything yet. She still cared about Janet, but there had never been anything more.
But now if Sam wasn't careful the friendship they had might become a casualty of her feelings. She wasn't willing to let that happen. She would find a way to manage her feelings so that their friendship could survive. With that decision set Sam felt a great weight lifted. She would seek out Janet the first chance she had back at the base.
* * * * * * * * *
Janet had finished with O'Neill and was finishing up with the last of the daily paperwork when a knock interrupted her. She looked up to find an extremely attractive woman gazing down at her.
Janet nodded, "And you are?"
"I am Colonel Kathryn Butler. I just arrived yesterday to attach to SG-3. General Hammond informed me I would be stepping in for Colonel O'Neill while he recuperates. This means my physical has to be done today instead of next week. Sorry about the rush, but apparently SG-1 is scheduled for a jump tomorrow evening," she explained.
Janet stood. "I understand, why don't you go ahead and get ready while I pull your record."
Kathryn smiled as she pulled a thin folder from under her arm. "Like I said, I just got here yesterday, so I haven't even had a chance to check in with your people."
Janet took the folder, finding she was returning the infectious smile. "Thanks, the exam room is through there. I'll give you a few minutes before I join you," Janet said as she opened the folder to glance through it.
Kathryn nodded following Janet's directions. She entered the exam room dressing in the flimsy gown a nurse had handed her. She was ready a few minutes later and took a seat waiting for Janet's arrival.
Janet entered the room a short time later. The Colonel was waiting patiently on the table. Janet was again captured by the woman's beauty. Her auburn hair fell just above the collar keeping it in regulation. Her eyes were a striking green; her face was perfectly proportioned leaving the impression of a woman who lived her life on magazine covers. Janet tried not to stare still surprised that she was looking at a Marine and not a model. "So, Colonel, do you have anything new to report since your last change of duty?" Janet asked as she began the exam.
Janet moved smoothly through the exam, finding the Colonel in top shape. She checked the age in the folder again still not completely convinced that the woman she was examining was thirty-eight. "So, I guess it is a bit tough being thrown into the fire your second day here," Janet said as she was writing in the record.
"Actually, this is great. I have read up on the program extensively since my assignment. Although coming from Intel, I already knew a great deal. I was interested in the individuals in the program. I have a lot of respect for Dr. Jackson's work. To be honest though I am far more impressed by Dr. Carter. I am very pleased to have the opportunity to work with both of them," Kathryn confided.
Janet felt her hand pause at the mention of Sam. She continued on finishing her report as she spoke. "I don't think you'll be disappointed. They are both outstanding officers. I think you will also find Teal'C an interesting individual as well," Janet said as she stood. "Well, Colonel, you are clear for duty. I'll make sure the General gets a copy of this. You can get dressed and are free to go when you're done. Welcome to the SGC," Janet finished as she extended her hand.
Kathryn took the offered hand. "Thank you Dr. Fraiser. I hope I won't be needing your services again anytime soon," she said as she stood.
Janet felt her hand enclosed in a firm grip as the Colonel stood. The woman was tall Janet noted absently. Of course, it seemed everyone was taller than she was. "I hope you don't either Colonel," Janet responded as she managed to free her hand. "If you need anything I'll be in my office," Janet offered before slipping out of the room.
Kathryn thought over her brief impression of the Doctor. She was a step up from the usual brisk and impersonal men she had become accustomed. Of course, she was Air Force and you could generally count on a friendlier atmosphere. She smiled as she anticipated the following day.
This was definitely the way to start out this tour. She had been trying to think of a way to introduce herself to Major Carter. She hadn't lied when she had told Janet that the Doctor was definitely high on her list of those she respected.
She had also noticed the barely perceptibly hesitation from the Doctor when she had mentioned Carter's name. She would have to keep an eye out to be sure nothing was going on there. The last thing she needed was to step on someone's toes.
* * * * * * * * *
Sam had finally managed to get back to the base only to find that Janet had left moments before her arrival. She tried to hide her frustration from the airman answering her questions in the infirmary. She checked her watch once again as she left the medical area wishing she hadn't lost track of the time. Janet always left the base in the early afternoon so that she could be home when Cassie arrived.
Sam made her way back to her quarters still frustrated by her inability to talk to Janet. She would have to wait until tomorrow to see her.
* * * * * * * *
Kathryn finished clipping on the last of her gear as she checked her watch. She was a little nervous about meeting the rest of her temporary team. Actually if she was honest her nervousness stemmed more from meeting Carter than the rest. She took a deep breath letting it out slowly as she readied herself.
Sam was looking down to check a buckle as Daniel interrupted her concentration.
"So what do you know about this Colonel who is filling in for Jack?"
Sam looked up at him as she clipped the last piece of her gear into place. "As far as I know it's just Makepeace's replacement filling in until the Colonel has recovered," Sam said.
Daniel nodded as he rechecked his gear wondering what kind of hard ass they were going to heave to deal with until Jack returned.
* * * * * * * *
Kathryn entered the Gateroom a few minutes before the scheduled jump. She had a few seconds to take in the team before they registered their presence. She could see Dr. Jackson fidgeting nervously with his pack strap as Teal' C observed him calmly.
Samantha Carter who seemed to be trying to reassure the young Dr. Jackson however captured her attention. Their attention was redirected to her as she noisily cleared her throat.
"I am Colonel Butler, I'm taking Colonel O'Neill's place while he is under quarantine," Kathryn said as she came to a stop before the team.
Sam stepped up as the Colonel spoke, "I am Major Carter," she said as she offered her hand.
"This is Dr. Daniel Jackson and Teal'C," Sam continued as she motioned to her teammates.
"It's a pleasure to meet all of you. I have had the opportunity to study most of your missions and I am impressed by the abilities of your team. I am pleased to have the opportunity to work with all of you," Kathryn confided.
Sam was temporarily mesmerized by their new CO. The appearance of a woman as their new team commander had been a complete surprise to her and the rest of her teammates. She could still feel the tingle from the firm grip that had just relinquished her hand. She took in the Colonel as she presented herself. She was impressed with her demeanor as she meet the rest of the team.
"Well I guess we had best be on our way," Kathryn said as she began her ascent up the ramp.
The team followed Butler up the ramp, stepping through the gate.
SG-1 stepped back through the gate hours later their hands full of specimens gathered from the planet. They were relieved of their burdens by the gateroom personnel as they headed for the infirmary for their standard checkups.
"So, are most of your missions this exciting?" Kathryn asked as they made their way through the corridors.
"Actually, these are pretty rare. Usually we encounter some form of civilization, even if it is currently extinct, there is some sort of record to be studied," Daniel answered her.
"Sorry your first jump was such a disappointment in the excitement department, Colonel" Sam said with a wry smile.
"On the contrary, Major, I found just the trip itself more than worth the hours of boredom at our destination," Kathryn shot back with her own smile as they entered the infirmary.
They continued the light exchange, discussing previous jumps that were similar as they went through the standard paces. Daniel would chime in offering moments from some of those missions that stood out for him when Sam would fall silent.
He was unaware the pauses in her conversation coincided with Sam's brief glimpses of Janet. Janet was on the periphery of their exams, but she was allowing her staff to take the lead in SG-1's check in. She would occasionally freeze, catching Sam's eyes on her. By the time she would look up Sam would have already looked away.
The tension between them as well as the glances seemed to go unnoticed by the staff and team. Kathryn, however, had been curious about the relationship between the two of them since meeting Janet Fraiser. Her curiosity had increased when she had learned of the existence of Janet's adopted daughter. She had known of the girl's existence, but not the background behind how it came to be. Scuttlebutt was a wonderful thing in the military. She wondered what the good doctor would think if she found out there was a small pool being run on when and if she and Sam would become lovers.
Of course it wasn't as large as the one going concerning Major Carter and Colonel O'Neill. Kathryn tried to hold back the smile that threatened when she thought of the odds of those two getting together. She had met Jack O'Neill before and although he could be quiet charming in his gruff manner, she just could not see him with Sam Carter.
She looked up the catch the doctor glancing at Carter. She watched the woman's face for any sign of what she was thinking. Fraiser was much harder to read than Carter was. She tended to keep her emotions much more in check. Fraiser turned her attention to Butler as she felt the weight of her stare.
Butler returned Fraiser's look letting her know that she was aware of something being amiss. She watched a faint blush crawl up Janet's face as Kathryn slightly shifted her attention to take in Carter. Janet turned leaving her team to finish with them.
Now that was an interesting reaction, Kathryn thoughts as she looked back to find Sam's gaze rooted on her. She was surprised to find herself shifting uneasily under her pointed look.
Luckily the med team chose that moment to release them for the briefing. Kathryn stood, pulling on her blouse over her T-shirt. The rest of SG-1 joined her as she headed for the door.
"Colonel, I need to do something, I'll only be a few minutes," Sam said as they reached the door.
"Very well, Major, you know where the briefing room is, I expect you to be there when the general starts," Kathryn said.
Sam gave a short nod as she turned and headed back into the infirmary. She snagged a passing airman to ask for Janet's location. He pointed her to Janet's office. She took a deep breath before knocking on the closed door.
"Come in," Janet called.
Sam opened the door and quickly stepped through before closing it behind her. "Janet, I am sorry to bother you but we need to talk. I wasn't able to catch you before you left the base yesterday," Sam said before pausing to draw in a breath.
"Sam, I am glad you stopped by. I wanted to see you yesterday but things were a little crazy in here. I wanted to talk to you too." Janet had risen to slowly walk around the room.
"Janet, I know that it is hard to deal with what I told you yesterday. I didn't mean to put you in an awkward position. I just thought you should know. I don't want this to get in the way of the friendship we have built," Sam confided.
Janet nodded, "I agree, Sam, we also have more at stake than just our own personal feelings. I don't want to loose your friendship, Sam, and I don't want every meeting between us to be filled with awkwardness," Janet responded.
Sam nodded as she leaned back against the door taking in Janet's words. She felt a knot of tension well up inside her as she forced herself to ask the next question. "Am I still welcome anytime or do I need to set up my visits?" she asked.
Janet was stunned by the question. It had never occurred to her that Sam would actually think Janet was that harsh. She moved closer to Sam resting a hand on her forearm. "Sam, you always have been and always will be welcome in my home. I can't even believe you asked me that," Janet answered.
Sam felt herself relax at Janet's words. "I'm sorry, Janet, I just had to be sure," Sam answered.
"I have to go, I promised the Colonel I wouldn't be late for the briefing," Sam said regretfully.
"I understand, I'll see you later," Janet said as she gave her room to leave. She closed the door behind Sam, leaning back against it as she felt some of the tension leave her body. The conversation had gone so much better than she had hoped. A part of her was still disturbed by the look the colonel was giving her earlier. She had a sinking feeling that Butler was all too aware that something was going on behind the scenes with her and Sam. She also had the feeling the Colonel had an interest other than professional in the Major.
* * * * * * * * *
Kathryn was just checking her watch when Sam entered the room and took her seat. The general appeared seconds later. She gave Carter a look letting her know she had cut her arrival pretty close.
The general began the debriefing drawing Kathryn's attention from Sam. She summarized all the boring details of their trip. She wrapped up her report, listing the various samples they had brought back for further examination. She turned it over to Carter from there.
Sam was surprised to find everyone staring at her as she heard her name called.
"Major?" Hammond gave her a quizzical look.
"I'm sorry, Sir," Sam cleared her throat before giving a brief summary of possible resources the planet could provide for the SGC. She then turned it over to Daniel trying not to meet the stern look Colonel Butler had leveled on her.
Daniel's words were few, other than a hope that they would be able to give the planet a closer inspection when the opportunity arose. The simple fact that a gate was on the planet indicated that at one time there had to have been inhabitants.
General Hammond acknowledged each of the reports. "Very well, people, for right now well put further exploration in the hands of the science teams. If they turn anything up that shows signs of a civilization you'll be allowed to return and check it out, Dr. Jackson. But for right now there are more productive areas your talents can be put to use. "
"All right, that's all. You're dismissed and, due to a lull in operations right this minute, you aren't scheduled for another jump for two days so enjoy your time off."
The team moved out of their chairs headed for the door.
"Major Carter, I would like to speak to you for a minute. Colonel Butler, I would like you to wait for me in my office." Hammond ordered.
"Aye Sir," Kathryn acknowledged as she moved out of the room.
"Yes Sir?" Sam stood wondering what he wanted.
"How do you feel after your first mission back?" he asked.
"Fine Sir." Sam was a little surprised at the question.
"You seemed a little distracted at the briefing. Are you sure everything is fine?"
"Yes Sir. I was thinking about something else, Sir, I apologize,"
"Very well, Major, I just wanted to be sure. How do you like Colonel Butler?" Hammond continued.
"She seems to know what she is doing Sir. Her style is a little different from Colonel O'Neill's, but she seems to work well with the team," Sam answered honestly.
"Good, Good," Hammond said, nodding his head.
"She was Colonel Makepeace's replacement and I already had SG-3 slotted for a mission in the morning. She is going to have to pull double duty over the next ten days. I would like you to do what you can to assist her on SG-1's jumps. I would hate to overload her before she has a chance to settle in to the SGC," Hammond explained.
"Of course, Sir, I'll do everything I can to make the Colonel's duties go smoothly," Sam promised.
"This is a little beyond the scope of the missions, but I would also appreciate it if you would help her familiarize herself with the base and town. I had planned on having Colonel O'Neill do it, but that hasn't exactly worked out. She also might be a little more comfortable with a fellow female officer, Major. Do you mind?" Hammond requested.
"No, not at all, Sir," Sam responded a little surprised at the request.
"Good, Major, now I have to go inform the Colonel she is going to be working with SG-3 in the morning. Your dismissed Major," Sam nodded as she turned and left.
Hammond gave Carter's back a long look as she exited. Her distraction had bothered him especially in light of the rumors of her and Fraiser having some sort of falling out.
He had reviewed the medical logs and found that Dr. Fraiser had transferred Carter's care to one of her staff. That had taken him by complete surprise. The doctor was extremely protective of her patients and had formed a pretty strong bond with SG-1, especially Carter. For her to turn over her care to another doctor something serious must have happened.
He had reviewed the mission briefing on their incarceration and rescue. Everything was in order and from what he could tell Dr. Fraiser had recovered almost completely from her injuries. His conversations with her had not left him to feel that she blamed Sam for any of the events on the planet. Actually, she held herself solely responsible for what had happened.
Carter on the other hand had seemed completely driven to take the blame on their return. O'Neill had convinced Hammond to allow her the time and space she had requested over his better judgment. It had seemed to work out but he still had this nagging feeling that there was something going on that he just didn't know about.
Well hopefully assigning her to assist with Colonel Butler would take her mind off whatever was bothering her. She was a lot like her father in her tendency to silently brood when something bothered her. Hopefully the distraction of Colonel Butler would keep her occupied.
Of course he had been honest when he had told Carter that Butler might be more comfortable with a female officer. Butler had an outstanding file but an old acquaintance had informed him of an interesting tidbit that was not in there. Apparently when Butler was a Major she had been assigned to a new research base in the Antarctic. The Captain assigned to settle her in had decided to go above and beyond the call of duty.
The exact details were unknown but the officer had suffered a broken arm and a matching jaw. Apparently the base C.O. not wanting a black mark on his command had made some sort of deal with Butler. The officer was given a letter of reprimand and transferred to an outpost on the Dead Sea. After seeing Colonel Butler he could understand how quickly he could have a problem on his hands with some of the men under his command. He had no doubts Butler could hold her own but he saw no reason to create a potential hazard. He trusted O'Neill completely but with him out of commission Carter would be a good fill in and he wouldn't have to worry about complications.
* * * * * * * * *
Kathryn was slightly annoyed as she left Hammonds office. She had barely been on the base 48 hours and was already pulling double assignments. She didn't mind the workload. She had just hoped to have the opportunity to get settled before getting plowed under. The only redeeming moment in the whole meeting had been Hammond's talk about Carter.
He had explained that O'Neill had originally been slated to help her adjust but with him in quarantine that was unlikely. Hammond had suggested Carter take his place which Kathryn had thought was an outstanding idea. Hammond had also informed her of the details of the last mission involving Carter and Fraiser.
This had shed a lot of light on what she had observed between the two of them. Hammond had requested that she keep and eye on Carter as she moved back into her duties after coming off leave. Kathryn of course had assured Hammond she would be pleased to take on this extra task.