Author: ocean gazer: email@example.com
Date: Oct. 2K
Rating: overall R
Category: oh just slightly experimental (X-Men meets SG1)
Pairing: Sam and Janet
Summary: When Carter and Fraiser find that they are not quite
themselves, nor are they in any place they recognize, they
realize that they can rely only on each other.
Archive: Alt. Reality and Pink Rabbit, yes. Others please ask.
Disclaimer: donít own any of Ďem; just borrowing to feed my
poor starving imagination. They belong to a whole gob of other
wonderful and tolerant folks. I do this for love, not money; I
welcome any of the charactersí owners to steal rather than
Warning: my knowledge of X-Men is based solely on the movie, and
I took a lot of poetic license with that. If you are a serious
devotee, this story will likely annoy you. An additional
warning: there is some inter-SG1 violence that could prove
unsettling. I cheerfully admit to having done no research on any
of these subjects whatsoever.
Notes: this story is dedicated to Phil, for giving me the idea
in the first place <and for being a wonderful
| Part 1 | Part 2 |
Sam Carter fluttered back to consciousness with the vague thought that
she really didnít want to wake up. As grim and violent as her dreams had
been, she didnít think she wanted to face whatever reality had prompted
them. Especially since she had no idea where she was, or more importantly,
how she had gotten there.
She remained still for a moment, eyes closed, mind spinning to try and
piece together any clues as to her whereabouts. She was lying on something
cold and hard, and the knuckles of her hands itched like crazy. She
considered that for a moment, trying to decide if sheíd been injured.
Then she simply lay still and listened. She couldnít believe how quiet
it wasÖthen her senses adapted to the stillness and she could hear soft
breathing coming from somewhere to her left.
She tensed, trying to determine whether it came from friend or foe. A
moment later, she heard one of the breaths change to a low, pained moan.
Sam mentally frowned, knowing the tone was familiar, but unable to make a
connection to anyone she knew. The unknown person moaned again, louder
this time, and Samís eyes popped open in sudden insight and she was in
an upright position without being aware how sheíd done it so quickly.
She crawled over to Janetís side and pressed her hand soothingly
against the unconscious womanís cheek. Janetís face was twisted in
pain, though Sam could see no injury. Sam kept one hand pressed to her
friendís cheek, and smoothed Janetís hair with the other. "Itís
ok, Janet," she whispered, having no idea whether that was true or
The unconscious woman seemed to register Samís presence, her face
relaxing. Sam sat down, her hands soothing Janet. She looked idly at her
itching knucklesóthey seemed red and swollen, but otherwise unharmed.
Sam took the opportunity to glance around the room. The whole damn
thing was grey and seemingly seamless. She couldnít tell what the
material was, but then again, she couldnít see anything that remotely
resembled a door, so she couldnít figure out how they had gotten into
the room. There were two beds that looked like hospital beds, but no
equipment anywhere in sight.
"Ok, this is a little bizarre," she muttered out loud, hoping
that an imitation of Colonel OíNeill would somehow cause him to appear
with Tealíc and Daniel and get her and Janet out ofÖwell, wherever
they were. Her hope was in vain, not surprisingly.
"Whatís bizarre?" came the unexpected whisper from Janet,
who had clasped hold of Samís hands, her eyes still screwed tightly shut
as if not having to look at something would cause it to go away.
Sam smiled down at Janet. In lieu of answering the question, she said,
"Iím glad youíre awake. You seemed to be having some kind of bad
Janet opened her eyes at that and Sam wondered at the grim look in
them. She shook one hand free from Janetís prying fingers, and stroked
the other womanís hair again, hoping to soothe her. "You have no
idea," Janet offered in a horror stricken whisper, and Sam felt her
heart skip a beat.
"Whatís wrong?" Sam asked gently, not sure how to best
reassure her friend. "Are you hurt?"
Janetís response came in the form of hysterical laughter, which soon
turned into uncontrollable sobbing. She sat up and grabbed blindly at Sam,
holding the blond woman in a vise grip. Sam managed to get her arms free
and pull Janet into a fiercely protective embrace. Sam felt as if the
world was collapsing as she held the doctor. She and Janet were cut of the
same cloth, both amazingly strong, both able to deal with practically any
crisis. Seeing Janet this emotional and out of control was proving almost
too much for Sam to take, especially since there was nothing she could do
to mend things.
After a while, Janet hiccupped and took a deep breath. She pulled away
from Sam to look directly at her for the first time. Sam felt a deep sense
of tenderness toward her friend as she put one hand on Janetís tear
stained face. She wondered what on earth was going on with Janet.
As if the doctor had read her mind, she said in a hoarse voice, "I
wish I knew what was going on. Itís like I have all these voices in my
head, and none of them are mine."
Sam whistledóa low, sympathetic sound. Janet took another breath and
then snuggled back against Samís body, wrapping her arms around the
blondeís waist. Sam could feel Janetís head move slightly, and guessed
the brunette was finally looking around the room.
All of a sudden, Janet jerked out of Samís arms and stood up,
disbelief radiating out from every pore. Sam scrambled to her feet and
moved toward Janet, but the doctor held out a restraining arm. She swept a
critical gaze up and down Samís body, then surveyed her own self, then
let her eyes dart around the room.
"What is it?" Sam pleaded. "Janet, youíre scaring
me." This last sentence cost Sam dearly to admit, but she hoped it
would somehow bring a semblance of sanity back to Janet.
"No, this canít be." Janet yelled in response, her voice
echoing crazily off the rounded walls.
Sam took a tentative step forward and then suddenly there was a door in
the unbroken wall, and then there were men walking into the room. Only two
of them, but Sam felt a surge of fear, sensing a power in each of them
that went beyond mere physical prowess. And then Janet shrieked in terror
and cowered against the wall. Sam looked at her in alarm. There was
definitely something very wrong with Janetóthe action was completely out
One of the men gave a faint grin of satisfaction as he took stock of
Janet. He the looked at Sam and motioned to his companion. The other man
walked forward and Sam braced herself in a defensive stance. She was more
surprised than anyone when his fist shot out in a blur of speed and sent
her sprawling into the far wall.
She scrambled to her feet, and for some reason she couldnít fathom,
decided to launch herself full force at her attacker. She knocked him
flat, but then he scrambled to his feet and got in another blow that arced
her high into the air, sending her crashing into one of the beds. She
groaned as she felt a bone in her left arm move in directions nature never
intended, but had no time to even cope with the pain, since the man was
coming at her again. The sneer on his face and the grin on the other manís,
combined with the sight of Janet sinking slowly to the floor with her face
once again twisted in pain, kindled a blaze of rage in Samís chest.
And in that moment, Sam felt her knuckles split open and stared in
utter amazement as a set of metallic claws sprang out from each of her
hands. The claws were long, with wickedly sharp edges, and Sam couldnít
believe they were real. And then a new source of pain struck her; she
realized that she had impaled her left wrist on the claws of her right
hand. The blood convinced her that this was real, and not just some
The man paused in his advance toward her, and the other man said
simply, "It worked. Come."
Both men exited the room, and the door disappeared as if it had never
existed. Sam blinked hard, and felt her momentary rage vanish as the pain
took over. In the instant the anger fled, the claws retracted, leaving her
gasping for breath. She idly studied her knucklesÖonce again they looked
red and swollen, but the split skin had somehow sewn itself back together.
She curled up on the floor, and promptly passed out.
When Sam woke again, she found herself lying against something soft.
She groaned as she struggled to sit up. She felt Janetís hand press
against her chest, pushing her back down. "Donít try to move yet,
Sam fought to focus her vision, since everything seemed blurred. She
looked up to see Janetís face, and realized that she had her head
cradled on Janetís thigh. Despite the pain pulsing along her arm, her
concern was entirely focused on Janet, since the doctorís eyes were red
and swollen from crying. Samís voice was thick as she asked brokenly,
"You ok, Janet? Donít look so good."
Gratitude flooded Sam as Janet managed a crooked grin in response.
The doctor offered a dry, "You donít look so good
Sam chuckled lightly, then squirmed out from under Janetís hand into
a sitting position. She winced as her body argued with her, but as usual,
she ignored it. She copied Janetís position, leaning back against the
wall next to her friend. Her left arm dangled useless at her side, though
she noted her wrist had been bandaged with a strip of cloth from the lab
coat Janet was wearing. Sam saw red staining the cloth, and looked quickly
away to keep her stomach under control. She reached out with her right arm
to grab hold of Janetís hand, feeling the need to maintain some sort of
physical contact to reassure both of them.
"Whatís going on here, Janet?" she asked quietly. "I
mean, before those guys showed up, you seemed to have this insight into
where we were."
Janet laughed bitterly and gripped tightly to Samís hand. "Not
exactly," she offered. "I mean, I donít have any idea where we
Her voice trailed off and Sam turned to look at her friend.
"But?" she prompted.
Janet sighed. "This is going to sound absolutely crazy." She
took a shuddering breath. "I feel like Iím losing my grip on
reality here. Itís like someone is projecting a massive wave of fear and
pain, and itís taking over my mind." She shivered and refused to
meet Samís gaze. Her voice barely reached Samís ear as she continued,
"And Iím terrified that you arenít really here and that I have
gone completely insane."
Sam gave Janetís hand a squeeze and then, having no idea where the
impulse came from, she leaned over and kissed Janetís temple. "If
you have the ability to question your sanity, Iím pretty sure youíre
still sane. And believe me, Iím no illusion. Illusions donít usually
That earned a genuine laugh from Janet. "Okógood point."
She paused as if collecting her thoughts, while Sam focused all her
attention on the woman at her side, trying her damnedest to send
reassurance in Janetís general direction.
Janet finally spoke slowly. "We seem to have been transformed into
something out of a movie. Sam, we are dressed like and responding as if we
are characters in the X-Men movie. Your claws, my sense of having people
in my head, this room. Itís like we really have been turned into
She paused and amusement crept into her tone, as if she was trying hard
to keep herself from breaking down again. "I mean, I know youíre
not exactly into fashion or anything, but you surely noticed we are both
out of uniform." The lightness wore off as she continued. "Not
that youíve had time to really pay attention to that fact, all things
Of all the things Sam might have expected Janet to say, the X-Men
statement was the next to last one. And the last thing Sam expected was
that she had absolutely no desire to argue the point with Janet; her brain
had taken the statement as fact the moment it was uttered. That easy
acceptance alarmed her more than the actual content of Janetís sentence.
Having no idea what else to do, Sam stood and began to pace, hoping the
action would somehow help her think. Janet rested her head on her knees
and watched Sam. After several minutes of silence, Sam returned to her
seat next to Janet. "I have no idea why, but I think youíre right.
It doesnít make any sense, but then nothing about this situation makes
any sense. Not that I know anything about the X-TeamÖ"
"X-Men," Janet corrected automatically.
"X-Men," continued Sam, not missing a beat. "How did we
get transformed, and by who, and how do you know anything about the
Sam turned to face her friend and was relieved to see an impish smile
brighten the womanís features. She had not realized how scared Janetís
emotional state had made her until Janet began acting like more like her
"I have a teenage daughter," Janet announced grandly,
as if this fact was news to Sam. "A teenage daughter whoóthanks to
her Samóloves anything having to do with action adventure and science
fiction. She cajoled me into seeing the movie with her."
Sam, no stranger to Cassieís cajoling, simply nodded knowingly.
"So, since Iím the clueless one here," she asked, "whatís
Now it was Janetís turn to stand and pace as she gave Sam the cliff
notes version of the X-Menótheir mutations, the differing opinions on
the roles of mutants, some of their adventures. She wrapped up her
narration with the disclaimer, "Of course, thatís just the bits and
pieces I remember. Cassie could give you chapter and verse."
Sam nodded thoughtfully and then posed another question. "So who
am I and who are you?"
Janetís eyes actually twinkled as she squatted down in front of Sam.
"Well, given the claws, you must be Wolverine. And I must be Jean
Sam rolled her eyes. "And that tells me what, exactly?"
Janet sat down and placed her hands on Samís knees, as Sam was
sitting cross-legged. Sam found herself surprised at the amount of
touching the two of them had done since their imprisonment. Usually, they
were the epitome of professionals, even in the time they spent together as
friends. She resolutely shoved that thought to the side to focus on Janetís
Janet rapped her knuckles lightly against Samís knees. "Well,
Jean Gray is a doctorÖ"
"Big surprise there," Sam interrupted.
Unperturbed, Janet continued smoothly, "Öwho also happens to
have some telepathic ability, though she hasnít developed it to perhaps
her fullest potential."
Sam recalled the mask of pain that Janet had been sporting earlier and
realized, in somewhat belated shock, that the pain had been entirely
mental. She grimaced at the idea of Janet having to cope with outside
thoughts and feelings in her head. Though she had never been a telepath,
Samís brief stint as host to Jolinar gave her a sense of what Janet was
"She is also the middle of a love triangle of sortsÖshe has some
sort of relationship with Cyclops, but also seems to have an attraction
for Wolverine. Nothing consummated, at least not that I recall, but a
strongly hinted interest."
Samís mouth dropped open. She suddenly felt as if the fantasies she
kept hidden even from herself were coming out in Janetís voice. Samís
long buried feelings came rushing into her awareness and she knew that she
was attracted to Janet in a way she had never been attracted to anyone
She had been aware that she cared a lot for Janet and enjoyed working
with Janet, but she had never allowed herself to even ponder anything more
than friendship. Judging by the sympathetic look on Janetís face, Janet
was well aware of her feelings. Hell, Sam thought tiredly, Janet--with her
newly apparent telepathyówas probably the reason both women were aware
And then Sam noticed that instead of pulling away from her in disgust,
Janet was actually still touching her knees. Their eyes caught for a
moment, and Sam saw her own desire reflected back at her.
Sam reached out and placed her good hand on top of one of Janetís.
Janetís hand turned in Samís grip, and she stroked Samís palm in a
manner that could only be described with one wordóerotic. They sat in an
emotionally charged tableau, almost paralyzed by the intensity of the
Then Janet broke the spell, not moving at all, her fingers still
painting knowing pictures on Samís calloused palm, but resuming her
explanation. "Wolverine is someone whose past is unknown. He was
turned into a mutant, given the claws and an adamantium skeletal frame by
someone, but he has no memory of who did that to him. He is a very
troubled, very moody person. He would have been a mutant anyhow, without
the tampering, since he has the ability to heal himself." She paused
and her eyes left Samís and traveled to Samís abused arm.
"Unfortunately, whoever did this to us, didnít quite manage that
part." Then, she added thoughtfully, "Oddly enough, they seem to
have missed everything but the claws."
Sam found her breath was caught in her throat, and her voice came out
low and husky. "Weíll sue them for misrepresentation."
Janet met Samís eyes again. "We sure will," she murmured,
her own tone pulsing with emotions that had nothing to do with their
predicament. "You arenít really the Wolverine type."
Sam found herself caught in the glowing web cast by Janetís eyes. She
could not think at all straight, which was not surprising since her
thoughts were dancing in gay erotic directions. More to keep the
conversation going than out of interest in the topic, she whispered,
"So who should I be?"
Janet licked her lips as she considered, and Sam found her knees
growing weak at the sight. "Good thing youíre sitting down,"
Janet commented, her telepathy in top form. Then her voice dropped low,
ignoring Samís question entirely. "We really need to be carefulÖif
weíre under some sort of surveillanceÖdonít want to give anyone
emotional ammunition they could use against us."
The words had the effect of a bucket of cold water. "Right,"
Sam breathed, glad that thus far they had avoided saying anything
incriminating. She had the momentary thought that if any other telepaths
were floating around, it would be a moot point at best. Sam resolutely
shoved that thought away before it could mire her in depression.
Janet pulled her hands off Samís knees and slid back on the floor,
sitting about a foot away from the other woman. She folded her knees to
her chest and rested her head on them, staring at Sam.
Sam drummed her fingers on her thigh, her thoughts racing around in
circles. "Ok, so we have a whole bunch of questions with no
"No kidding," Janet said, doing her own imitation of OíNeill.
Sam shot her a bemused glare, and continued. "Ok, we have to
assume that whoever did this to us is from Earth, to know about the movie,
the comics, whatever. But then, why would they get some parts right, and
completely screw up other parts? And why would they bother in the first
"I donít know of any science that has advanced far enough to
actually take us and turn us into real mutants. And if they could do this,
why would they do this experiment on you and I? There have to be a whole
bunch of other people they could have kidnapped a lot more easily than
either of us."
Janet nodded her agreement. "Itís not exactly like either of us
could just disappear without it being noticed right away. And for both of
us to disappearÖ"
She left the sentence lying unfinished. Sam picked it up. "Someone
has gone to an awful lot of trouble to get us into their little
experiment. But who on earthÖ" (Janet smiled at the unintended
pun.) "Öwould have the capacity to do it?"
She broke off in her pondering and Janet raised a semi-personal
question. "Sam, whatís the last thing you remember before waking up
Sam stood at the question and began to pace again, her arm dangling
awkwardly. Janet jumped to her feet as well. "Here, letís take this
lab coat and make you a sling." Sam stood still as the other woman
ministered to her. Janet pulled back to inspect her work, and Sam got her
first good look at the tight, well fitting shirt and pants Janet sported.
Her face burned with heat as Janet followed her gaze. Janet leaned up to
Samís ear and whispered impishly, "Save that thought for
She resumed her seat on the floor while Sam resumed her pacing. Forcing
her mind back to Janetís question, Sam finally answered. "The last
thing I remember is the two of us in your office looking atÖwhat was it?
Some kind of chemical analysis on a new kind ofÖ"
Sam crinkled her forehead with the effort to remember, and Janet jumped
to her feet again to put a cool hand on Samís forehead. Janetís eyes
closed and suddenly Sam felt a surge of energy from Janetís hand into
her head. She gasped in shock and then her brain was flooded with an array
of imagery, swirling in wild and unfamiliar patterns. There were people
and places whirling through her head so quickly she couldnít tell if she
recognized any of them. She felt like she was watching a series of ads on
She clutched hard at Janetís shoulder, willing herself to stay strong
with the small part of her mind that didnít feel like it was spinning
into madness. She vaguely heard Janet exclaim an understanding, "Oh
And then the door that wasnít really a door shimmered into being.
Janet removed her hand from Samís head, and the images in Samís mind
fled as quickly as theyíd come. She gasped in relief and only remained
upright thanks to her iron grip on Janetís shoulder.
Both women turned with one accord and looked at the door to see Colonel
OíNeill and Tealíc walk into the room. Both men moved cautiously and
scanned the room, their weapons ready. OíNeill walked up to the women
and looked quizzically at them. "You two okay?" he asked.
Sam could feel Janet frozen beside her and turned to once again see
Janetís face glossed over with pain. Sam looked back to her CO, whose
face was lined with its usual lack of patience. "Come on, kids,"
he commanded, "letís move it before anyone figures out youíre
He backed up a couple of steps, heading for the door, and Sam took a
steadying breath, subtly moving forward in front of Janet. OíNeill gave
her one of his best glares and growled, "You gonna stand there all
day, Carter?" He gestured to Tealíc and the big man moved toward
Sam, grabbing hold of her arm.
"We must leave this place, Major Carter," Tealíc said
calmly. "It is not safe for us to remain."
Samís heart was thudding in her chest, racing along with her
thoughts. The whole scene smelled fishy to her, but she couldnít quite
decide whether to trust her own senses. She spared a glance over her
shoulder, and found Janetís eyes. The terror radiating out from them
made up Samís mind. With a burst of energy, she shook her arm out from
under Tealícís hand, grabbed hold of the unresisting Janet, and moved
both of them away from the Jaffa.
OíNeill sighed in exasperation and moved toward her, his eyes hard
glints of steel. He dropped his weapon to the ground and walked over to
stand in front of Sam. "That wasnít very nice, Carter," he
commented, in a singsong voice. "You need to learn some better
His hand was a blur as he backhanded Sam across the face. She fell to
the floor, gritting her teeth as her arm bounced out of its sling. She
looked up and watched in horror as OíNeill backhanded Janet as well,
sending her to sprawl on top of Sam. Janet was whimpering, but Sam doubted
it was because of the blow.
The adrenaline surged through Sam, enabling her to forget all about
pain. She took hold of Janet, whose body felt limp as a rag doll, and sat
up with the woman cradled against her. Then she gently laid Janet on the
floor. The doctor and current telepath whimpered again and huddled up in a
Sam knew, with a flash of insight that suggested latent telepathy on
her part, that there was no way in which Janet could help her in the
current fight; the doctor was overwhelmed with thoughts and emotions
against which she had no defenses. Sam took a spare second to wonder
whether the invasion of Janetís mind was a deliberate attack, or just
The small smirk on Tealícís face convinced Sam that the mental
assault was definitely intentional. Sam patted Janetís head in a brief
show of concern, and then scrambled to her feet.
OíNeill just stood, looking cocky as always, waiting to see what she
would do. She stared at him, then at Tealíc, who had taken an impassive
seat on one of the beds. OíNeill said, challenging, "Letís see
how much of a bad-ass you really are, Carter."
stepped forward and Janet whimpered again, and oddly enough, the terrified
sound served to focus Samís anger. All at once she found the claws
springing out from her hands and, knowing what was happening, she managed
not to impale herself again. She growled low in her throat and stepped
forward, claws poised to strike. OíNeill just stood with a sneer on his
face, his hands hanging loose at his side as if he were an old-fashioned
But instead of lashing out with her hands, she jumped up in a sudden
snap kick and got OíNeill square in the chest. He flew backwards,
sliding across the floor. Sam watched, amazed, as his body blurred, and
then changed before her eyes to turn female, blue, and royally pissed off.
S/he jumped to her feet, and then launched herself at Sam. Sam slashed
out with her claws, drawing blood where they bit into a forearm, but not
enough to slow her attacker. S/he jumped up, whirled around in the air,
and lashed out in a kick that caught Sam in the side. Sam flew through the
air and crashed into the wall, landingóof courseóon her injured arm.
She gasped and then heard Janet scream on her behalf. As much to convince
herself as to convince Janet, Sam muttered, "Good thing itís the
one thatís already broken."
She hauled herself to her feet. The blue woman laughed and said in OíNeillís
voice. "You want some more?"
Sam glanced over at Tealíc. He sat as still as stone, eyes unmoving.
She spared an ounce of attention to wonder what his role in the little
drama was, and then was struck by a sudden thought. She had no time to
think it through, since a flash of movement caught her eye. The blue woman
rushed her and Sam stabbed upward with her good claw, getting a nice
portion of her attackers left shoulder. S/he was impaled on the sharp
points and Sam did her best imitation of a javelin thrower, sending the
blue creature to crash into the wall.
Sam took advantage of the momentary suspension in the fight to send an
urgent mental question to Janet. The doctorís response came in a gasped,
Before the blue woman could get a hold of her, Sam raced to Tealíc
and stabbed him through the heart with all her strength. She heard an
angry shriek of protest behind her, and then felt herself grabbed roughly
and kicked hard enough to crack three ribs. She collapsed on the floor as
the blue woman raced to Tealícís side. The Jaffa shifted form, blood
streaming from his chest, turning into an identical twin of Samís
attacker. The blue woman caught her twin as she fell, and cradled her as
The last thing Sam saw before she passed out again was a blue foot
aimed at her face.
Once again, Sam drifted back to consciousness with the awareness that
her head was resting on something soft, which given past experience she
assumed to be Janetís thigh. She groaned dramatically as her waking mind
suddenly had to cope with painólots and lots of pain. A gentle hand
patted her cheek as another hand made soft circles in her hair. "Itís
okay, Sam," came Janetís whisper.
Sam groaned again and didnít try to do anything complicated, like
open her eyes. She simply lay as still as she could, enjoying the soothing
feel of Janetís hands.
Silence reigned for long moments. Finally Sam concentrated on opening
her eyes, and blinked rapidly, trying to focus. Gradually Janetís
features came together in sharp relief, and Sam noticed that once again
her eyes were red and swollen.
Sam swallowed hard and managed to get out, "Weíve got to stop
meeting like this."
Janet offered a thin smile, but made no comment. Her hands continued
petting Sam, and the blonde just lay quiet, taking deliberate breaths to
chase away the pain. She had mostly succeeded when she felt Janet give a
deep sigh, as if in relief.
Sam gave her friend a measuring look and then the realization popped
clearly into the forefront of her mind. Before she had the chance to say a
word, Janet said lightly, "Yes, I have been feeling all your
pain." She paused and her tone grew dry. "Apparently Iím
highly empathic as well as telepathic."
Sam raised an eyebrow. "Apparently."
Janet gave a genuine smile at her comment, and her voice was warm as
she said, "Itís nice to be able to say things to someone who doesnít
need every little thing spelled out." Sam smiled in return, thinking
of OíNeillís easy exasperation with her attempts to explain things to
And then, with the thought of OíNeill, the recollection of the fight
came back to haunt Samís mind, and by extension, Janetís as well. Sam
shivered as she remembered OíNeill changing before her, and as she
remembered stabbing Tealíc. She clenched her functioning hand into a
"What was that blueÖthingÖI was fighting?"
Janet offered an abrupt laugh, which was completely devoid of humor.
"Mystique. Shape shifter. Definite bad guyÖgalÖwhatever. She can
turn herself into anyone. Iím a little confused as to why there were two
of them; the movie only had one." She laughed again, still humorless,
"Whoever did this is really screwing up the details."
Sam did an unconscious imitation of Tealíc as she mutteredóin
response to Janetís first statement, "That is certainly
Janet kept her hands busy caressing Samís cheek and hair. Sam closed
her eyes again, trying to stop her thoughts from running around like
spooked kittens. She was suddenly--and achingly--aware of how her
confusion was keeping Janet off-balance. Their assailants had effectively
killed two birds with one stone by making Janet a telepath. In order for
them to find a way out of this mess, Sam knew she had to keep her thoughts
"That would certainly help," Janet breathed, as if she was
scared that anything more than a whisper would sound accusing to Samís
Sam simply nodded, eyes still closed, and concentrated again on
breathing. When she finally opened her eyes, she noted that Janetís face
seemed less strained. Janet had closed her eyes and Sam reached up
carefully with her good hand to rest her fingertips against Janetís
wrist. Her touch was light, to avoid startling the doctor.
"Janet?" she began cautiously.
Janet gazed down at her, eyebrows raised in a knowing look, as if she
was ready to answer the unspoken question. Sam grinned and proceeded to
ask anyway, hoping the sound of her own voice would help keep her thoughts
in some semblance of order.
"Right before the CoÖbefore those twoÖbefore that last fight,
you seemed to have some idea what was going on. There were all those weird
images in my head and then you acted like you understood something. What
was it that you figured out?"
Janet sighed, frustration edging her face. "I wish I knew,"
she said seriously. "I had it all figured out and then thoseÖpeople
came in and incapacitated me withÖ"
She broke off, chewing her lip, and Sam slid her fingers over Janetís
hand, twining their fingers together. She lay very still and tried to
mentally project a sense of strength for Janet to draw on. She had no idea
if it would work, but given Janetís sensitivity to her emotions, Sam
figured it couldnít hurt to try.
Janet squeezed Samís fingers in a silent "thank you", and
then continued with her explanation, or more accurately, with her lack of
"Well, I donít really know what they did, but it was a
deliberate overload of negative images and emotions," Janet said
simply, as if a more in-depth description would do nothing to clarify
things. Sam gave a brief nod, her memories of Jolinar coming back to fill
in the blanks.
The conversation stalled for a moment and Sam decided it was time to
sit up and get her body used to moving again. Before she could ask for
help, Janet was already putting supportive hands on Samís shoulders. Sam
stifled several groans as she managed to get herself upright. She could
feel every bruise from the last fight, and was aware of her arm throbbing
dully. She took a series of deep breaths, trying to get the pain under
control before it overwhelmed Janet. Luckily, success came quickly.
Sam sat right next to Janet, so that their bodies were pressed
together. She felt herself drawing strength simply from having contact
with the doctor. And the touch seemed to soothe Janet as well; she rested
her head on Samís shoulder. Sam shifted around, wincing a little, and
slid her right arm around Janetís waist, pulling the brunette closer to
her. Sam laid her head against Janetís, while Janetís arms circled Sam
in a light embrace.
After a while, Sam let another thought enter the silence. "The
thing that bothers meÖwell, ok, one of the things that bothers me, is
the time factor. Someone had to get into the complex with sufficient
security clearance. Then they had to get both of us out without being
seen. Then they had to keep us knocked out long enough to do some pretty
in depth surgery--particularly on you--without anyone finding us, and you
know OíNeill and General Hammond would have been pulling a lot of high
level strings to get us found."
She paused and Janet finished the thought. "Youíre right. It
doesnít feel like weíve been gone for the amount of time it would take
to do this to someone. We barely understand how the human mind works; how
the hell would someone be able to turn me into a telepath that
Both women pulled back from the embrace, stared at each other, and
started to say, "What ifÖ?" when the door appeared again. OíNeill
and Tealíc walked in, weapons ready, and made a cautious sweep of the
"You guys okay?" OíNeill asked. "Weíd better get out
of here, those guards arenít gonna be out for too much longer." He
reached out a hand to help Carter off the floor, frowning when she turned
"What do you think?" she asked the doctor, since Janet had no
immediate negative reaction to the appearance of their teammates.
Tealíc spoke. "We do not have time to discuss these matters at
present. We must leave this place."
Janet cocked her head to the side and answered in a measured tone.
"I canít sense anything from them." She looked meaningfully at
Sam. "You, howeverÖ"
Sam, a sinking feeling in the pit of her stomach, knew exactly what
Janet meant. She glanced from one man to the other.
OíNeill didnít bother to hide his impatience. "You gonna sit
there all day, Carter? Letís get your ass in gear. You too,
Janet put a hand on Samís arm. "I donít see how it can hurt.
Maybe weíll find some answers." She struggled to her feet and
leaned over to help Sam up. Sam groaned as her body protested the
movement. As if oblivious to the entire exchange, OíNeill and Tealíc
led the pair out of the room.
They stepped out into a featureless corridor, made of a material that
looked like a cross between metal and plastic. Sam was leaning on Janet,
but abruptly Tealíc picked her up off her feet and slung her over his
shoulder effortlessly. He strode down the corridor and Sam raised her head
from his back to see OíNeill reach out for Janet, as if to assist her.
The minute he touched her, Janet cried out in protest and shoved him
away. He muttered several choice words including, "damn half-assed
shielding". He raised one arm to strike Janet and pulled his gun from
his holster with the other. As she watched the scene unfold, Samís claws
popped out with a sharp clang. Sam could almost see her own anger as an
aura radiating outward from her body.
And suddenly Janet sprang to life with the force of Samís anger. The
half-assed shielding OíNeill had cursed served to protect her from the
force the menís minds could assert, allowing her to access Samís
emotions freely. She kicked the apparition of OíNeill viciously between
the legs. He yelped and crumpled in a useless heap on the ground. Janet
gave a hard hit to a sensitive spot on his neck, leaving him gasping. Sam,
for her part, raked her claws down Tealícís back, and then elbowed him
in the back of the head.
She cried out as he threw her off of him, sending her into the wall. He
whirled around, the rage on his face convincing her that this was not her
Tealícóeven at his most emotional, she had never seen a look like this
on the Jaffaís face. She lay winded and he walked forward to tower
menacingly over her.
But then Janet was there and she jumped in between them, getting in a
vicious kick to his groin as well, and he joined his companion in floor
warming. Before Sam could even muster an out-of-breath "thanks",
Janet had picked up Tealícís energy staff and fired on each of their
non-teammates. Both men jerked under the bolt, and both lay unconscious.
Clutching the staff in one hand, Janet pulled Sam to her feet with the
other. Sam retrieved OíNeillís gun from his unconcerned hand, and
leaned against Janet as they scurried down the corridor.
Sam and Janet huddled against each other as they listened to footsteps
pass by their hiding place. They had stumbled into a den of sorts, and
found a tiny closet concealed behind a bookshelf. It just managed to hold
the two of them.
"Outside!" yelled an angry voice. "They must have gotten
out of the house somehow; weíve searched everywhere!"
The two women sat perfectly still as the footsteps increased in number,
and then receded. After what she deemed to be a safe amount of time, Sam
moved cautiously out of her hiding place and into the den. She risked a
peek out the window, and saw an entire army of blue creatures methodically
searching the grounds.
"Janet, come here. Youíve got to see this," Sam
whispered. The doctor moved gingerly out of hiding to join her companion
at the window. Janet started in amazement at the sight of multiple
Mystiques, and then both women slid quietly into sitting positions under
the window ledge.
"I donít understand this at all," Janet complained softly.
"Itís like someone took great pains to turn us into mutants, and
place us in what must be an alternate reality, and then screwed up all the
Sam jerked in sudden recollection of the thought the two had shared
before the apparitions of their teammates had appeared. "Janet,"
she said urgently, "this isnít an alternate realityÖ"
Before she could finish, Janet stepped in, reading Samís thoughts.
"Itís virtual reality."
Not missing a beat, Sam picked up the trail of words. "We havenít
really been transformed into mutants; we just have been programmed to think
that we have. None of this is real."
Sam set down the gun sheíd picked up in the last fight and ran her
hand through her hair, giving a tired sigh as she realized the
implications of what sheíd just said.
For her part, Janet set down the energy staff to grab hold of Samís
good hand. The doctor amended, "Well, nothingís real except the two
of us." Her tone grew dry. "You are real, arenít you?"
Sam smiled at that. "I sure hope so. How about you?"
Janet raised an eyebrow and the look of mischief Sam had grown to love
crept across the brunetteís face. "If Iím not, then this little
discovery of our mutual attraction is going to make you feel very awkward
when you return to the SGC."
Sam couldnít help laughing at that, despite their predicament. Her
laughter proved infectious, and despite the need for silence, they couldnít
stop giggling like two teenagers.
Neither woman was particularly surprised when two blue twins burst into
the den, heavily armed. "On your feet NOW," snarled one.
Janet, still overcome with mirth, and perhaps feeling like there was
really nothing to lose by being incorrigible, asked, "Why? Are we
late for a hot date or something?"
One blue twin stalked forward, eyes glowing an eerie red. "I
wouldnít suggest being a smart-ass. Youíll pay a high price for
Sam started to pull her hand out of Janetís grasp, to reach out for
the gun sheíd set aside. But she discarded the idea of shooting the
Mystiques as quickly as it had occurred to her, realizing she and Janet
would be hopelessly outnumbered before they could escape.
Sam left her hand in her friendís grip, and then another thought
occurred to her. Sam turned over an option in her head, and then spoke
quickly. "Thereís nothing more you can do to us. This isnít real.
Youíre not real. Nothing that happens here is real. I donít believe in
Janetís head snapped around to stare at Sam, and then she too refuted
the existence of realityÖwell, of the reality that was being projected
The blue twins threatened the women, and when words didnít work, they
resorted to violence. Sam and Janet didnít offer any resistance to the
blows raining down. They simply sat holding tightly to each otherís hand
and repeating, "This is not real."
A bright flashÖ
A sense that the world itself was spinningÖ
Another bright flashÖ
And Sam opened her eyes to find herself sitting in a chair, electrodes
strapped to her. The electrodes were connected to wires, which were in
turn connected to machines humming quietly in the background. She shook
her head, trying to jar her thoughts into some semblance of order.
She glanced to her side and saw Janet in a chair similar to hers, wires
hooked to the same machinery. Janet, too, was shaking her head, as if to
With a grimace of distaste, Sam removed the various electrodes attached
to her, and shrugged herself out of the chair. She staggered over to Janet
and started removing electrodes, helping her free herself.
Ever the doctor, Janet observed quietly, "Itís nice to see your
injuries were all virtual."
Sam regarded herself with some surprise, noticing as if for the first
time that her arm was no longer broken and her bruises had faded to a
memory. She helped Janet out of the chair and asked, "How about you?
Still picking up unwelcome thoughts?"
Janet stepped close to Sam and whispered suggestively in her ear,
"They werenít all unwelcome, you know."
Sam bowed her head in a futile attempt to hide the blush she could feel
spreading across her cheeks. Janet laughed lightly and laid a reassuring
hand on Samís arm. Answering the actual question, she said, "I canít
sense anything from you. Or from anyone else for that matter."
Sam nodded and looked thoughtfully around the room. It was white and
virtually empty with no windows, but was made out of good old-fashioned
concrete. And there was a door, one without any means of opening from
their side, but a door nonetheless. There were ugly metal spikes around
the door edges, as if to somehow deter any prisoner from an escape
"Ok, so weíre out of virtual reality," Janet pondered
aloud, watching as Sam went to examine the door. "We still have no
idea why weíre here, or how to get out of here."
"Donít forget we still have no idea who did this, or how they
got to us," Sam tossed out, as she finished examining the hinges and
then leaned over to look at the opposite side of the door. And then,
unexpectedly, the door was thrown open, catching Sam on the side of the
head and knocking her flat, the metal spikes cutting an ugly path into her
Janet immediately ran to her, and helped her sit up. "So much for
getting out of here without injuries," Sam moaned, holding her
Janet shot back neatly, "Doesnít seem to matter which
reality youíre in; you just canít seem to stay out of trouble."
Any further conversation was stopped dead at the sight of the two
figures that burst into the room. Sam and Janet looked up at OíNeill and
Tealíc, and then stared in frozen shock at each other.
"Alright kids, as glad as I am that we found you, we donít have
a lot of time until the guards wake up from their little naps, so weíd
better get a move on," OíNeill announced, leaning down to offer a
hand to Carter.
"Oh my God," Sam whispered, her eyes still glued to Janet.
OíNeill hauled her to her feet and smirked at her statement. "No
need to worship me, Carter, just doing my job."
Janet scrambled to her feet, and stood right beside Sam. The blonde
pulled away from OíNeill and surveyed him, feeling Janetís hand
pressing into the small of her back. Then Sam noticed it wasnít just
their two teammates in the roomóthere were ten other people, all in
military uniforms, all armed.
Tealíc paced over to the two chairs. He reached out to touch the
wires and Janet yelped, "Donít!"
He cocked his head to the side quizzically, but held his hand back. OíNeill
shot a questioning look at the doctor. "What are those things,
It was the use of OíNeillís nickname for Janet that shook Sam out
of her state of shock, to accept that this wasnít simply a continuation
of their previous nightmare. Before Janet could reply, Sam offered the
explanation. "Virtual reality devices. We were trapped in virtual
Janet must have sensed Samís shift in mood via her hand on Samís
back because she moved forward and said quietly, "We havenít been
exactly sure what is real and what isnít."
OíNeill gave a low whistle. "Gonna be a hell of a
As if OíNeillís recollection to duty prompted the Jaffa, Tealíc
stated, "We must discuss this later. The guards will awaken at any
"Right," came the Colonelís response. "Need any help,
Carter?" he asked, seeing the way she was bleeding.
"Iíll be fine, Sir," she managed, as Janet slid an arm
around her waist.
OíNeill nodded and pointed his team out of the room. Janet and Sam
followed the group, with Tealíc and OíNeill bringing up the rear. Sam
noticed that the building they were in looked like old military barracks.
They moved quickly down a narrow corridor and emerged into an open
The group in front broke into a run, heading for a grove of trees fifty
meters away, and Sam and Janet followed suit. Sam could hear OíNeill and
Tealíc right on her heels. Then she heard a less welcome sound: namely
"Shit!" snapped OíNeill, before ordering, "Tealíc,
with meÖeveryone else, move it!" Sam sensed, rather than saw, her
teammates drop down to their knees to return fire. She continued running,
now supporting Janet. They reached the safety of the trees and one of the
men pushed Sam and Janet into the back of a waiting military truck.
Sam peered out from her position, watching as a covering fire was laid
down so Tealíc and the Colonel could make it to safety. As soon as theyíd
cleared the trees, the truck engine roared and twelve people essentially
flew into the back of the truck to join Sam and Janet. With a lurch, the
truck sped off, untouched by the gunfire following in its wake.
Sam sat on the edge of an infirmary bed, waiting impatiently for Doctor
Matthews to finish bandaging her head. He had already run all his
post-mission tests on her, and was now re-cleaning and re-bandaging the
cuts left by the door spikes.
"Any dizziness or nausea?" he asked, for what Sam estimated
was the thousandth time.
"The answer is still no," she said through gritted teeth. He
was a fine doctor, but as he lacked Janetís sensitivity, he had a
tendency to poke and prod with a bit too much enthusiasm. As if her
thought of Janet was a summons, the brunette appeared in the doorway.
"Are you about done here?" she queried of Matthews. "Weíre
due at the de-briefing in fifteen minutes."
He slapped a last layer of adhesive tape on Samís skin, completely
oblivious to her wincing. "Ok then, thatís it. And if you do start
experiencing dizziness or nauseaÖ"
"I know, I know--come see you," Sam finished for him quickly
before he could continue offering instructions.
He waved a dismissive hand, but there was a smile on his face. Sam
wasted no time in jumping off the exam table and escaping with Janet.
The duo walked down the hallways of the SGC, and Sam, at least, felt a
surge of relief at being back on familiar ground. She spared a look at
Janet and noted the doctor seemed to be thinking the same thing.
Janet looked up to meet her gaze, and Sam felt her heart flutter and
her cheeks grow flushed at the warmth written across the other womanís
She took a deep breath to regain her equilibrium, all too conscious of
the omnipresent security cameras. Janet smoothly covered the moment by
asking, "Howís your head feeling?"
Sam found the wit to say something entirely appropriate to the
situation, no mean feat considering that her heart was still fluttering
and her thoughts were a world away. Janet arched an eyebrow at her,
looking--no doubt--like a very concerned doctor, but Sam could read the
amusement flickering in the chocolate brown eyes.
They broke the gaze, eyes filled with awareness of how careful they
would need to be in the de-briefing to not give away the secret of their
mutual attraction. They walked on in silence.
As de-briefings go, it had been fairly smooth. General Hammond and the
other members of SG-1 had listened thoughtfully as first Sam, and then
Janet, had given their respective versions of events. Sam had felt her
stomach churn as she described the fights with the Mystiques wearing the
faces of OíNeill and Tealíc. She noted that Tealíc did not seem
perturbed by her account, but OíNeill looked shaken by the thought of
someone else wearing his face and attacking his friends.
General Hammond cleared his throat meaningfully. "It sounds like
youíve been through quite an ordeal, so Iíll try to keep this brief.
But I think you deserve to know what weíve found, and what happened
while you were gone. For starters, this may come as a bit of a shock, but
youíve been missing for over a month."
Sam turned to Janet, and saw her own shock reflected on the other womanís
face. Janetís mouth hung open and she asked quickly, "Howís
Cassie holding up?"
The General smiled. "Youíll be happy to know sheís doing fine.
Sheís been staying with Lt. Saunders and his family. Sheís been
worried, of course, but she never doubted that we would find you. In fact,
by the time weíre done here, she and Lt. Saunders will be waiting at
your house for the two of you to arrive. Sheís anxious to see the both
At his words, Sam let out a breath she hadnít been aware of holding;
beside her, Janet did the same. "Thank you for making sure she was
taken care of, Sir," Janet said, her eyes filling with grateful
It was OíNeill who responded. "Well, you know, we are good for
something around here."
Daniel jumped in quickly, "It was really no trouble. Lt. Saunders
says she spends most of her time over there with his two daughters anyway.
Said sheís a lot easier to handle than his own teenagers."
Janet managed a smile at that. Sam reached out surreptitiously under
the table and patted the doctorís thigh reassuringly.
Hammond cleared his throat. "Back to business people. Colonel, why
donít you tell them whatís been going on here on our end of
Before OíNeill could say a word, Sam blurted out, "We really
have been gone for a month? It didnít feel like weíd been gone any
significant amount of time."
OíNeill spread his hands wide in a gesture of "beats the hell
out of me".
Daniel scratched lightly at his head. "Well, Iíve given that
some thought. You had probably been in various virtual settings as a way
of testing the machines. In order for each experience to seem real, you
would probably have had your previous ones erased somehow, retaining only
the last virtual scene you were inóso you would understandably not feel
like youíd been gone as long as you have been."
Tealíc cocked his head to the side and quirked an eyebrow; OíNeill
glowered his incomprehension; General Hammondís forehead wrinkled in
Sam, however, nodded thoughtfully and glanced at Janet to find her
doing the same. As if they were once again the only two people in the
room, Janet whispered, "That makes as much sense as any other
explanation I can think of."
OíNeill cleared his throat self-consciously. "Yeah, what Daniel
Sam jerked her gaze away from the doctor and focused in on the Colonel.
"You were saying, Sir?"
OíNeill sat forward in his chair, hands folded on the tabletop.
"We didnít even know youíd disappeared at first. I mean, you both
went off to that conference thingÖ"
Sam raised an eyebrow and glanced back at Janet, who was biting her lip
in an attempt to recall what the Colonel was talking about.
Daniel noticed the exchange, and sat back in his chair, drumming his
fingers as he spoke. "It was the Scientific Ethics Conference. You
both were supposed to be panel members for a discussion on the right to
keep research private versus the right of the public to know about
Janetís tone echoed Samís incredulity. "We were?"
Hammond frowned. "Are you telling me you donít remember
Sam licked her lips and shook her head. She glanced at Janet and
noticed the doctor frowning.
"Well, Sir, I donít remember any of this," Janet began
tentatively, "but I suppose I shouldnít be surprised.
"If we were conditionedóso to speak, brainwashed--so that we
would believe in the virtual worlds we experienced, I would not be
surprised to find that the events occurring just prior to the virtual
reality experience have become tenuous and diluted into just another bit
of that experience in our minds. And considering that we barely remember
any of our experiences during the past month, itís hard to say exactly
what period of time has been essentially erased in our memories."
OíNeill, Tealíc, and Hammond exchanged confused glances, while
Danielís eyes widened.
Sam jumped in to translate. "She means that we may have some gaps
in our memories because we might be thinking that some actual experiences
were virtual experiences, since they happened so close in time to ourÖ"
She trailed off, not sure exactly what term to use.
"I believe Ďkidnappingí is the correct term, Major
Carter," Tealíc offered. "That is, however, an odd term to
employ, as neither of you are children, nor were you sleeping."
Daniel broke in. "Itís just a figure of speech, Tealíc.
Anyway, I agree with Doctor Fraiser. Probably all the events right up to
the kidnapping will be foggy, at best, in their memories."
Sam looked again at OíNeill. "So who did this to us? And how did
you find us?"
She and Janet sat spellbound as OíNeill described the month-long
search and the lengths SG-1 and General Hammond had gone to in order to
Finally he concluded his summation. "To be honest, it was a lucky
break. One of the guys over in Research and Development was here working
on a project, and he was plenty pissed off about something. I took him out
for a couple of drinks and he ended up telling me that he couldnít
handle kidnapping good military officers to use as unwitting test
"When he sobered up, I took him to the General and he confessed
everything to us. Maybourne and his crew were running virtual tests to see
how people would handle being turned into mutants, because human mutation
is one of the things they are working to make a reality.
"They seem to think that mutated humans will stand a better chance
at fighting the Goaíuld, and theyíve been ordered by their superiors
to get all the details ironed out before they start actually turning
people into mutants. They kidnapped you, so that they could get realistic
reactions from people who didnít know it was just a test."
Samís jaw dropped open in shock and she could only stare as Janet
asked, "Why would they kidnap us?"
It was Hammond who answered. "According to our source, it appears
they wanted to gauge the reactions of people who are used to dealing with
unusual situationsówhich the two of you are given your work here--and
with the two of you being out of the mountain, you were easy to get to.
"We are attempting to substantiate the information and file
charges, but the facility from which you were rescued has no actual ties
to Research and Developmentónor do the hired guards we captured--and the
man who gave us the information has vanished without a trace, so for now
we simply have to be content to have you both back safely."
Sam felt a surge of anger at the utter audacity of Maybourne and his
team; though given her past interactions with the man she had no
difficulty believing him capable of such tactics. She looked idly down at
her hands as if she was still half-expecting the anger to make claws pop
out of her skin.
Beside her, Janetís tone conveyed Samís emotions. "What a
horrible, horrible price to pay for an accurate experiment. Especially one
whose very premise is flawed."
The General agreed, and then they discussed the situation a bit more
before he concluded the de-briefing. "Ok, thatís enough for now.
Frankly, you both look exhausted, and Cassie is waiting to see you. Iíd
like you both to come in and meet with myself and a psych team tomorrow
The two women nodded in unison and Hammond dismissed his group.
Sam offered a "thank you" to her teammates, who shrugged off
OíNeill squirmed uncomfortably and spoke for all of them. "Yeah,
well, weíre just glad youíre both back. Things just donít run as
well when youíre gone."
Janetís face was a study in amusement, and Sam offered a broad smile.
Any further discussion was forestalled by the arrival of a driver to take
the two women to Fraiserís house, where Cassie was waiting.
Continue to Part 2
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