Lines in the Sand -- Part 1 by cheerful minion

Title: Lines in the Sand
Author: ocean gazer: quietoceangazer@yahoo.com
Date: 5 Nov., 2K
Rating: R ish for violence and mature themes
Category: serious angst
Archive: yes, if Iíve already given permission (otherwise, just ask)
Summary: after a traumatic event, Sam and Janet have feelings to sort out
Disclaimer: I wish I owned Ďem, but I donít. The characters belong to some perfectly nice folks at MGM, Showtime, Gekko, etc. Iím just stealing them to work out my own demons and will return them as good as new. I do this for love, not money; I invite any of the aforementioned owners to steal freely.
WARNING: Refs to character assault and character rape, though nothing too explicit. Minor, minor, minor religious ref. If you are looking for sex or for a traditional happy ending, do not bother reading this story.
Notes: I have no idea any longer if this story has meritÖ it simply has demanded to be written. My apologies if it sucks. Criticism welcome as long as it isnít flames; comments in general are helpful. I owe thanks to rutherford and Phil for conversations that helped me with some of the ideas; however all faults are entirely mine.

| Part 1 | Part 2 |

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Part 1

"Hey Doc!" Janet heard a note of desperation in OíNeillís voice, and looked up quizzically as he burst through the door to her research lab. He skidded to a halt in front of her and she raised an eyebrow. "Sorry to barge in here like this, but Iíve got a bit of an emergency on my hands and need your help."

Janet shook her head in confusion. "Colonel, if you have an emergency, there is a full medical staff in the infirmary. I am off active duty for the next few days in order to get caught up on my backlog of research projects."

OíNeill waved her protest away. "Look, I need you. Itís about Carter and I donít think sheís gonna let just anyone get near her right now. Plus, I kind of want to keep this off the record for the moment, until I figure out whatís going on and what to do about it."

Janetís heart leapt into her throat at the mention of Samís name and she was on her feet without conscious thought. She hated it when anyone was hurt or in danger, but she particularly hated it when the person in question was a friend.

"Whatís the problem, Sir?" she asked.

He glared at the wall behind her head. "The problem is that I donít know what the problem is."

"Well that certainly clarifies things," she shot at him, knowing that sarcasm would steady him better than anything else she could think of. Upon closer scrutiny, she recognized that he was not nervous or scared, as she had first assumed by the tone of his voice. The Colonel was enraged, and barely containing the emotion.

His eyes were smoldering as he stared at her. "Well, I know part of the problem. You know who Mike Jacobs is?" Janet nodded in disgust and saw an answering grimace on OíNeillís face.

Major Jacobs was the kind of man who made assholes look good in comparison. Every woman on base avoided him like the plague, given his overtly sexist attitudes. Most of the men avoided him as well, if for no other reason than his arrogance and his mercenary mentality. And no one could figure out how he had stayed in the military for so long.

OíNeill continued, "Part of the problem is that when Tealíc and I went looking for Carter--since she was half an hour late in meeting us--Jacobs was with her. I donít know how the hell he found her; she was in that out-of-the-way, soundproofed lab you guys have for your science experiments. He was beating the crap out of her and it took both Tealíc and I to get him off of her. She had already broken some of his fingers and it didnít slow him down any. Iíd swear he was too drunk to feel any pain, but he doesnít smell like heís been drinking."

Alarmed, Janet grabbed her medical bag and led the way out of the room. OíNeill caught up to her and continued his story. "Carter wonít say anything about it. All is she says is that nothing happened."

Janet stopped in surprise and the Colonel nodded. "That doesnít make any sense," Janet said. "Sam doesnít talk much about anything personal, but something like this is different. I would have expected her to be putting Jacobs on report herself."

"Yeah, you and me both," OíNeill growled as he led the way down to the lab.

Janet could almost see the red flare of anger as an aura around his head. She took a moment to wonder why his feelings were so strong: though she knew he had been attracted to Sam in the past, she also knew (thanks to OíNeillís effusive reaction to morphine) that his feelings had mellowed into the intense friendship that comes with being teammates in a dangerous line of work.

Then Janet took a moment to wonder precisely why OíNeillís current depth of emotion was causing a surge of jealousy to rise in her own chest. It wasnít like she and Sam were anything more than friends.

"I hate bullies," OíNeill stated flatly, as if he had read Janetís mind and was answering the first part of her question. "I hate people who think their size and strength give them the power to do anything to anybody."

Janet patted his arm, in a clumsy gesture of sympathy, and then abruptly they reached their destination. Janet couldnít resist a shocked gasp as she took in the scene. Tealíc was sitting on Jacobs, who was struggling to get out from under the Jaffa. Jacobs looked bad, with rising bruises on his face and small cuts lacing his arms. But Sam looked worseóher face bruised and scraped, blood streaming down from two nasty lacerations across her forehead.

As Janet stared at her friend, she fought to steady her breathing and snap herself into doctor mode. She noted almost absently that Samís clothes had been ripped in several places.

Sam sat stone-like on a tabletop, and didnít look up as Janet approached for a cursory exam. OíNeillís voice was dangerously calm as he asked, "So, Carter, what happened here?"

Sam regarded the floor with casual interest, but Janet had a hand on Samís arm and could feel the tension flooding the other woman. "Nothing, Sir," Sam said quietly.

From under Tealíc, Jacobs called out, "Like she said, Colonel, thereís no problem."

Janet looked up and saw OíNeillís face set more firmly into a mask of disgust. Janet left Samís side and went over to OíNeill. "Sir," she whispered, "let me get Jacobs patched up and then you and Tealíc can take him somewhere else while I see to Sam. I donít know that sheíll tell me what happened, but I think Iíll have a better chance than anyone else." He nodded and she moved over to Jacobs.

Tealíc climbed off of the man, but kept a firm grip on him as he forced Jacobs to sit on the floor.

Moving quickly, professionally, and none too gently, Janet did a brief exam, first examining the manís bruises and then applying alcohol to the cuts on his arms.

"Dammit, Doc, that hurts!"

OíNeill muttered something that Janet was just as happy to not have heard.

Her voice crisp, she instructed her patient to "stop squirming and it wonít hurt as much." She then turned her attention to the manís left hand. Three of his fingers were broken and Janet winced at the thought that even the pain of his hand had not slowed Jacobs down. OíNeill gave her an approving glance as she set the bones in one finger, wringing a cry from Jacobs.

Janet turned her attention briefly to Sam, to see what her reaction to his expression of pain would be. If anything, the sound seemed to have caused Sam to go even more rigid with tension, though she continued to stare at the floor with a carefully blank expression.

Janet hurried through setting his other two fingers, and then Tealíc and OíNeill stood Jacobs between them. "Ok, Jacobs," OíNeill said, as if heíd finally made up his mind about the situation, "weíre gonna go have a little talk before I drag your ass to Hammondís office."

Janet gaped in shock as Jacobs snarled something nearly unintelligible, with only the phrase "that fucking bitch ruining my career" distinguishable. With a violent burst of energy, he threw Tealíc sideways and shoved OíNeill backwards. Both men landed hard on the ground, and judging by their expressionsóthey couldnít believe Jacobsí strength.

Jacobs shoved past Janet, knocking her down as well, and then launched himself at Carter. Sam stared, frozen, at the man approaching her, and Janet found herself thinking of a deer caught in headlights. Janet heard the sound of a hand striking flesh, saw Sam knocked off the table into a heap on the floor, and watched in horror as Jacobs kicked Sam violently in the ribs.

Tealíc and OíNeill both regained their feet and nearly had a hold of Jacobs, when the man convulsed and collapsed, landing on top of Carter.

With no trace of concern for the unconscious man, Tealíc pulled Jacobs off of Carter and shoved him aside. Janet struggled to her feet and took the manís pulse. It was racing and erratic, and spasms racked his body. "Get a medical team down here now!" Janet commanded Tealíc, who sprinted out of the room with more speed than she would have expected from a man his size. She fumbled for a syringe and injected the contents into Jacobs, noting that his convulsions slowed a little.

Then, she turned her attention to Sam, who remained in a heap and whose eyes were suspiciously glassy. OíNeill stood uncomfortable and helpless, and Janet told him to take Jacobsí pulse, just so heíd have something to do.

She placed a gentle hand on Samís shoulder, and squeezed very lightly. "Itís going to be okay, Sam."

Sam gave the barest of nods in response, and Janet turned back to the emergency happening in front of her. Tealíc ushered the medical team in and she gave them a brief over-view of the scene and the drug she had administered.

The medics hauled Jacobs out on a stretcher and Matthews, the doctor on duty, met Janetís eyes. "Iím no expert in illicit drugs," he said, "but Iíll bet a yearís salary that his toxicology screen will show lots of them." She nodded her agreement, and then he gestured to Carter and asked, "Do you want me to send someone to help you here, or are you coming down to the infirmary?"

Janet shook her head. "Weíll come down to the infirmary in a little while. But I donít need any help; right now I think the fewer people around, the better." He nodded and ran after his newest charge.

OíNeill gestured Tealíc to a guardian position at the lab door, as Janet reached out to help Sam into a sitting position. OíNeill squatted down in front of the women, so that he was at eye-level. "Look, Carter," he began uncertainly, "I think I know why you didnít want to tell me what happened."

Janet had one arm around Samís back, and she felt the womanís body go rigid with tension again at the statement.

OíNeill didnít seem to notice as he continued, "Given how Jacobs was acting, I can understand that you would be worried about him taking revenge on you later for putting him on report. But I guarantee that he will not be at the SGC any longer to even have a chance at coming after you."

Janet didnít claim to be a mind reader, but she was fairly sure that the thought of Jacobs taking revenge was not the main reason for Samís reticence. The emotions Janet was picking up from her friend seemed to be only distantly related to the actual physical assaultóthough Janet had no idea why she was so certain of that.

OíNeill glanced at Sam and said, "I donít want to ask this, Carter, but do you have any idea why Jacobs came after you?" Sam swallowed hard and shook her head slightly.

Janet could tell Sam was lying with the gesture, and she jumped in to keep OíNeill from figuring that out. (Normally Janet wouldnít have helped cover up a lie, but something about the fear in Samís demeanor overrode Janetís conscience.) "Sir, with someone like Jacobs, does there have to be a reason? I mean, you know as well as I do that he is a nasty manómaybe Sam was just the first victim he came across when he decided to go out and beat up on someone."

She could feel a small part of the tension drain from Samís body as the Colonel nodded thoughtfully at her words. "Youíve got a good point there, Doc." He paused for a moment. "I think Tealíc and I will head down to the infirmary and then report to General Hammond. Iíll let him know that youíll report to him as soon as Carter is a little more ready for a de-briefing."

Sam lifted her head and Janet could feel her struggle to keep her voice steady. "Thank you, Sir. I meanÖfor everythingÖ"

OíNeill started to reach out and pat her shoulder, and then thought better of it. "Itíll be ok, Carter," he said, with unusual warmth, and then he and Tealíc left the women alone.

Janet helped Sam get off the floor and sit on the tabletop, and then she reached for her medical bag. Sam stared listlessly at the wall while Janet cleaned the lacerations on her forehead and probed delicately at the bruised face. But when Janet reached out to touch Samís ripped shirt the blonde jerked back as if sheíd been struck.

"Sam, I know this is hard for you. But I need to check you out, to know how badly youíve been hurt." Janet stood very still, watching a tremor work its way down Carterís spine. She kept her voice soft and soothing as she continued, "If youíd be more comfortable, someone else can examine youóthat wouldnít bother me."

Sam kept her eyes averted, but gave a single, emphatic, shake of the head.

Janet studied the other woman for a long moment and when she thought it was safe, she reached out again. She felt a surge of gratitude that Sam didnít pull away, and then a surge of concern because Carter was once again rigid with tension.

Gently, moving slowly, Janet stripped Sam out of her shirt. She couldnít restrain a gasp at the livid bruises painting Samís exposed flesh. Her arms, her stomach, and her chest all bore numerous purpling marks.

There was something vaguely troubling about the pattern of the marks across Samís stomach, and Janet knit her brows as she examined the bruises. She leaned in for a closer look, gently unfastening Samís pants and easing them down Samís hips, and then Janet took a sharp breath as she realized just what she was seeing.

Janet felt a wave of nausea flood her body. "Did Major Jacobs attempt to rape you?"

Samís eyes screwed shut and she hung her head. Janet stood in front of Carter, unexpectedly furious with the other woman. "Why the hell didnít you tell Colonel OíNeill? Itís bad enough that he thinks youíre covering up a simple unprovoked assault. Sam, this is serious stuff. Why the hell are you trying to protect an asshole like Jacobs?"

Sam opened her eyes and looked up at Janet. Janet winced at the bitterness reflected. Samís words came in a rush, as though she said more than she intended. "Maybe itís me that Iím trying to protect."

Completely puzzled by the revelation, Janet rested her hand gently on Samís leg, just above her knee. Her anger faded and her voice reverberated with warmth. "Sam, please talk to me. Tell me whatís going on."

Carter bit her lip in indecision and her breathing quickened. Janet could tell from the womanís reaction that Sam wanted to talk to someone, that Sam desperately needed someone she could trust. She could also tell that Sam wasnít sure that someone was Janet.

"Címon, Sam," Janet pleaded, "Iím your friend. Thereís nothing you can say to me that will change that."

Sam closed her eyes again and Janet heard the curious bitterness reflected in her tone. "Youíd be surprised."

Janet continued to stand with her hand on Samís leg, projecting reassurance as hard as she could. Just when she had decided Sam had turned mute, the blond spoke in a thin whisper, each word battling its way out of her mouth. "Yes, Jacobs did try to rape me. And yes, I know why he attacked me."

Janet burned with the desire to ask questions, but she feared the slightest sound would send Sam scuttling back into her shell. Instead she waited, spellbound, while Sam fought a battle against her silent fears.

Samís eyes popped open, fixed on an empty point in space, her voice still barely reaching Janetís ear, each word measured. "I never told him, I swear I didnít. But somehow he found out about meÖfound out I amÖamÖgay.

"I donít know howÖor whoÖI mean, itís not something I talk about. Ever. I wouldnít even confirm it when he accused meÖbut he saidÖhe said that since I didnít deny it, it was the same as if Iíd told him." Her voice trailed off for a moment. "He kept after me, kept saying all I needed was a goodÖfuÖfuckÖfrom a real man. I wanted to report him, butÖ"

Janet spoke quietly, suddenly understanding Samís reticence, filling in the blank. "But with this policy of ĎDonít ask, donít tell,í how could you report him without getting yourself in trouble as well?"

Sam nodded, her hands unconsciously curling into fists. "I thought Iíd scared him off the other day; I told him if he bothered me again, I would tell General Hammond, consequences be damned. I guess it just made him mad."

She took a deep breath, and Janet could see how her body trembled with repressed emotion. Janet moved closer to her friend. "God, Sam, I am so sorry." She wrapped her arms around Sam, half expecting Sam to pull away. To her relief and surprise, Sam rested her head on Janetís shoulder, and her arms tightened around Janetís waist.

The two hung in the embrace for what could have been decades. Janet could think of nothing, save the hurt woman in her arms, amazed and honored that Sam had actually opened up to her.

After a while, Sam loosened her grip and pulled away to look up at Janet. "Iím sorry," she began, "I didnít meanÖ" Janet cut her off with a light finger on Samís lips.

"You have nothing to apologize for, Samantha Carter. The only person who should be apologizing is Jacobs." Janet weighed each word carefully as she spoke, wanting to make sure Sam felt her sincerity. "Weíre friends, and I meant it when I said that nothing you could tell me would change that. Iím honored that you opened up to me, and that you told me what happened."

Sam hung her head, and spoke quietly, as if she hated having the words come out of her mouth, but needed to say them anyway. "I meant about the being gay thing. I shouldnít haveÖ"

Once again, Janet laid a soft, interrupting touch on Carterís mouth. She cupped Samís chin very gently, mindful of the bruises, and coaxed Samís head up to meet her gaze. "I know what you meant, and you still donít have anything to be sorry about. Itís not an issue for me. It doesnít change the fact that youíre my friend."

She saw the relief flood Samís eyes, and Janet pulled her into another hug, feeling the tension draining from the womanís body.

This time it was Janet who broke the embrace, saying, "As much as I hate to spoil the moment, I imagine Colonel OíNeill is waiting impatiently for me to bring you down to the infirmary. Besides, we really need to get you ice-packs for a couple of these bruises."

Sam took a quick breath, nodding her head. A trace of fear played under her words as she slid awkwardly off the table. "I donít want this conversation to go on report."

Janet raised an eyebrow. "As far as Iím concerned, Major Jacobs attacked you for no apparent reason. You are in a state of shock, which is why you wouldnít talk to Colonel OíNeill when he asked you what happened. And if Jacobs tells a different story, well, as we all know, the man is a liar."

She paused for a moment. "Besides, this is a confidential conversation between a doctor and a patient."

She helped Sam pull her shirt back on as she talked, and was caught by surprise as Sam grabbed her hand.

"Janet, IÖI really feel better, now that you know. Thanks forÖfor being here for me."

The warmth those simple stuttered words raised in Janetís heart caught her off-guard. She smiled at her friend, using humor to keep from drowning in the intense blue gaze. "Well, you know, itís the least I can do for a woman who runs around routinely saving the universe and stuff."

Sam favored her with a soft laugh, and Janet grabbed up her medical bag and slid her free arm around Samís waist. "Lean on me, Sam. Youíve taken some hard blows, and I donít want you fainting on me on the way to the infirmary. That would make me look like a pretty incompetent doctor."

Sam grumbled a little, but acquiesced, and the two made their way out of the room. Janet noted that Sam was leaning heavily against her, her face lined with exhaustion.

OíNeill looked up when they entered the infirmary, and Janet was struck by the grimness in his eyes. She looked around as she helped Sam into an empty bed, surprised to see that OíNeill was alone.

"Whereís Dr. Matthews? And what happened to Jacobs?"

OíNeill opened his mouth to answer, but the arrival of General Hammond and Tealíc closed it again. Instead, it was the General who spoke. "Doctor Matthews felt that the Majorís condition was too serious for us here; he accompanied Jacobs to the hospital. Given the amount of drugs in his system and our limited resources for such occurrences here, I allowed the Major to be transferred, though I am uncomfortable having him off base while this incident is under investigation."

Janet stared at the General, incredulous. "They canít possibly have gotten the toxicology screen back so quickly."

He agreed, saying, "They didnít. But one of your nurses has ER experience. He worked in a hospital that dealt with a lot of drug cases, and he is positive that Major Jacobs is high as the proverbial kite."

A muffled sound showed OíNeillís amusement with the Generalís choice of phrases. Janet felt the tug of a smile on her own lips, so she turned to Sam to hide the reaction.

Hammond spared OíNeill a long-suffering glance before walking over to stand beside Carter. OíNeill and Tealíc also moved in closer to the wounded woman.

While they flanked her on one side, Janet moved around the bed to stand on the other side. Sam looked uncomfortable with the ring of faces surrounding her, and Janet reached out to press her fingers against Samís wrist. She hoped fervently that no one would ask what Samís pulse was, since she didnít have the slightest idea; her touch was intended solely to reassure the other woman.

The General spoke in a lower voice than his usual boom. "I realize this is not a pleasant experience to recount, but I need to know what happened."

Janet jumped in before Sam could answer. "This needs to be brief, Sir. Sheís still in a state of shock. Thatís why she wouldnít say anything to Colonel OíNeill before."

Hammond looked irritated as he met Janetís eyes. "Iím aware of that, Doctor," he said curtly.

Sam cleared her throat self-consciously, drawing all the attention back on herself. She gave a very brief account of what happened, following Janetís earlier lead that Jacobs had attacked her without provocation. Lowering her head, Carter admitted that Jacobs had tried to rape her.

OíNeill slammed a fist against his own leg and muttered something to Tealíc that Janet couldnít hear.

Apparently, General Hammond heard it because he shot an icy glance at him. "Do you have something to add?" Hammond challenged. OíNeillís response was a quick shake of the head.

Janet watched as Sam sank back against the pillow, and she caught the Generalís attention. "Sir, I really think it would be best if we continued this some other time. Samís been through a lot and really needs some rest."

A very young nurse chose that moment to burst through the door with a ringing cell phone, causing everyone but Tealíc to start in alarm. Faced with annoyed faces, the nurse stuttered, "It belongs to Dr. Matthews, the phone, I mean, and I donít know what I should do about it, I mean, what would I say?"

"The usual option would be to answer it and say ĎHelloí," shot OíNeill as Janet walked over to the nurse, grabbed the phone, and answered it in a quiet voice.

She waved the nurse out of the room and turned her back on her companions, though she was aware of their curious glances.

"Well?" queried OíNeill, as Janet shut the phone off without saying good-bye. She turned to once again face the others.

"Well, that was Dr. Matthews. He called to tell us that Major Jacobs is dead. They are still waiting for the toxicology confirmation and will have to do an autopsy, but the doctors are certain it was a self-administered drug overdose."

For a long moment, no one moved. Janet wasnít even sure anyone was breathing, aware only of an oppressive silence.

Oddly enough, it was Tealíc who broke the silence. "It appears matters have resolved themselves without the necessity of our intervention," he stated to OíNeill. The Colonel nodded and General Hammond turned to the two men, aggravation written across his face.

While the General gave them his lecture on going through channels, Janet returned to Samís side, her fingers once again seeking out the womanís wrist. Sam looked up at Janet, her expression unreadable. Janet could see the pallor of Samís face even through the bruises, and cleared her throat to catch the Generalís attention.

He broke off mid-lecture and turned to Janet. "Given the new circumstances, I donít think we need to continue this at the moment. Major Carterís unofficial statement will be sufficient for now, especially since Iíll pretty much have my hands full dealing with the hospitalís report on Jacobs. Will she be released from the infirmary by tomorrow?"

Janet nodded and said, "Iíll probably release her tonight; despite her injuries, there will be no real reason to keep her captive down here after I finish my treatment." Janet shot a fond smile at Sam. "I donít know why, but everyone seems to hate spending time in the infirmary."

Samís expression didnít change, but she cocked her head ever so slightly to the side in acknowledgement, and Janet felt herself warmed by the gesture.

His voice softened as he addressed Carter. "Weíll get your formal report tomorrow, and have your psychological evaluation. And then I am putting you on official leave for the next two weeks. Get yourself away from the base, and take some time to rest, and try and put this incident behind you."

Carter took a shaky breath and Janet could feel, through her touch on Samís wrist, that the other woman was less than pleased with the proclamation. Sam spoke steadily, though Janet could see what a struggle she had to keep her voice even. "Sir, I really think I need to work. I need something to keep myself occupied."

The Generalís tone rang firm, but Janet noted that his gaze was kind. "Major Carter," Hammond said, "I understand that feeling, but I donít really have any limited duty assignments that would keep a mind of your caliber occupied."

Sam chewed her lip and seemed to find her lap to be of intense interest.

Janet glanced at Sam and suddenly inspiration knocked her over the head. Janet would have completely agreed with the leave time, had the patient been anyone other than Sam. But Janet knew very well that simply sending Sam home would not achieve the effect the General intended. She caught Hammondís gaze, and spoke quickly, even though she knew his last statement had been intended as a definite "no".

"Sir, if everything checks out with the psych evaluation, why not let Sam help me with my research projects? Iím off active duty for a few days to try and get my backlog under control, and her help would be invaluable. Medically speaking, I can keep an eye on her more easily if sheís here. And it would only be for five days, because then I am taking a weekís leaveÖ"

She let her voice trail off and turned her gaze back to Sam, who looked up to meet her eyes. Janet could easily read the glimmer of hope in the blue gaze as the General considered the idea. Sam surreptitiously turned her wrist in Janetís loose grasp and pressed her long fingers against Janetís in a silent "thank you".

Hammond frowned as he considered her words. "Are you sure thatís a good idea, Doctor?" he queried.

Janet met his frown with one of her own, annoyed that the General had questioned her expertise. Her tone was hardened steel. "Sir, I know better than anyone the injuries Major Carter has sustained. Iím also not proposing that she do anything more complicated than sit at a desk and confirm research findings, which is probably more rest than she would get if she were at home. I realize this is not usual protocol, but I am of the opinion that it is in the best interest of my patient."

Hammond met Fraiserís eyes, and he offered a brief nod. "If itís what you think is best, Doctor, then Iíll let you be responsible for her care. She can help with the research projects, but I donít want her around the SGC without your presence. Sheíll simply have to take time away while you are on leave."

Janet felt the sudden urge to ask when her job description had been updated to read "24/7 babysitter" (as well as the urge to ask why they were discussing Sam as if she was not even in the room), but then she noticed OíNeill mimicking the Generalís manner behind his back.

At the sight, her annoyance faded, chased away by a sudden urge to giggle. "Thank you, Sir," she said simply, afraid that her amusement could not remain contained if she said anything more complicated.

She glanced back at Sam and was pleased to see the ghost of a smile flit across the bruised face as Sam caught a glimpse of OíNeillís antics. The blonde woman wrenched her attention back to the General. "Thank you, Sir," she echoed Janet.

The General moved forward and patted Carterís shoulder kindly. "Get some rest, Major. Iím sorry this unfortunate incident ever happened. Weíll talk more tomorrow." She nodded and he left the room, calling out to OíNeill and Tealíc to report to his office as soon as was convenient.

OíNeill moved close in to the bed, Tealíc shadowing him. "Well, I suppose Iíd better go see what General Hammond wants."

Janet gave a short laugh. "He probably wants to lecture you about doing public impersonations of him."

OíNeill gave a one-shouldered shrug. "Look, Carter," he began, "get yourself better. Weíll do our best to keep this thing behind closed doors."

Carter looked up at the Colonel. "Thank you, Sir," she said quietly. "I really appreciate everything youíve done for me. I owe you big time."

Janet watched, grinning wickedly, as OíNeill squirmed under Carterís sincere gaze; OíNeill hated displays of affection and sympathy and, well, emotion in general.

"No you donít, Major," he said quickly. "Hell, Carter, Iím just trying to catch up for all the times youíve saved all our butts. You know, all that science mumbo-jumbo stuff you pull out of your asÖI meanÖyour hat. Well, anyway, if it wasnít for you, I think the Doc is the only one who would be here, so itís just strictly a returning the favor sort of thing."

Janet bit her lip, trying hard not to laugh aloud as Tealíc jumped in to save OíNeill from the embarrassing pit he was digging deeper with each word.

Tealíc said, "I think that Major Carter has sufficient grasp of what you are attempting to say. General Hammond is awaiting our arrival."

OíNeill flushed and turned quickly away, as Tealíc offered a brief phrase of comfort to Carter. The Jaffa put a hand on the Colonelís back and propelled him out of the room.

The moment they left, Janet could no longer restrain herself. She collapsed against the side bar of Samís bed, laughing hysterically. Tears streamed down her face and she was only vaguely aware of Sam patting her back lightly. She managed to pull herself together, recalling Samís condition to the front of her mind. She stood and wiped hastily at her eyes with the sleeve of her shirt.

Janet looked down at Sam, relieved to see that a tiny smile creased Samís mouth. Still giddy with laughter, Janet said the first thing that came to mind. "God, itís good to see you smile. Youíve given me a hell of a scare."

Sam exhaled quickly, and the smile faded into a grimace. Janet sobered immediately at the change in mood as Sam whispered, "You and me both." She screwed her eyes shut as if the images of the attack were dancing around in the empty infirmary air. "I thoughtÖI thoughtÖ"

Janet reached out lightly and stroked a comforting path through Samís hair. She took it as a good sign when Sam didnít pull away, and when Sam took a long, deep breath. Janet said softly, "I know." In truth, she wasnít sure she did know, but she felt like the phrase needed to be spoken. "Iím just glad youíre safe," she continued.

Samís eyes popped open at that. The smile came back to dust her lips and Janet felt a warm rush of tenderness. She pushed that feeling to one side and with a last caress of Samís hair, reverted back to doctor mode. She busied herself with icepacks and then examined the lacerations cutting across Samís forehead. Janet tensed as she saw Sam wince under her ministrations, but Sam made no sound.

Janet gently probed the cuts, and then told Sam, "Iím afraid these wounds need stitches." Sam nodded her understanding. Janet lowered her voice to say, "I know you really donít want to talk about this, but I need to know what he cut you with, so that I know what exactly Iím dealing with here."

Sam examined the far wall with studious care, but answered in a fairly steady voice. "He broke a specimen jar against the wall and used one of the pieces on me before I got it away from him."

Now it was Janetís turn to wince, her imagination supplying more images than she cared to contemplate. Sam must have noticed her reaction; the Major laid one hand on the doctorís arm.

Janet, caught off-guard, locked her gaze with Samís. She was surprised to see the depths of concern in Samís eyes, and the one corner of her mind that was still operating rationally found it interesting that their roles in the current drama had momentarily shifted.

Sam spoke quietly. "Are you okay, Janet?" It seemed to Janet that Sam wanted to say more, but didnít have the right words.

Janet shook off her own reaction and covered Samís reassuring hand with her own. "This isnít exactly how I wanted to spend the evening. But I think, under the circumstances, that Iím doing a lot better than you are."

Sam nodded briefly, accepting the statement as what Janet intendedóa reprieve from reliving the emotions of the evening in too much detail. Both women seemed somehow aware that there was a whole untouched conversation ready to break forth that neither had the energy to begin, let alone finish.

Without another word, Janet gave Sam a surface anesthetic and proceeded to stitch up the ugly lacerations. Right as she finished, Dr. Matthews stepped through the doorway, a lot more jovial than Janet would have expected under the circumstances.

She raised an eyebrow and he winked at her. "Well, it appears that my initial diagnosis was correct. Jacobs had a lot of illicit drugs in his body. Frankly, the hospital doc is surprised he managed to run around as long as he did. And Iím sure you will both be pleased to know that everything is being handled off the record."

Janet gave a simple nod in response. He raised an eyebrow at her silence, and then did a visual exam of Carter. He turned again to Fraiser. "Thanks for patching up my patient," he said.

Janet laughed briefly at that. "Sorry, Matthews. Sheís my patient now. You got to have Jacobs."

He shuddered in mock horror, not bothering to hide the contempt he had felt for the man. Janet took a moment to wonder if anyone would mourn the dead Major. She glanced at Sam, whose face indicated she was wondering the same thing.

Before either woman could get swept up in that train of thought, Matthews intervened, albeit unknowingly. "So, is your patient staying the night, or can I release her into your care? Given those lacerations, I donít want her staying by herself for at least 24 hours."

Janet glanced at Sam, as if for an opinion. Sam licked her lips self-consciously. "I can just stay here. I donít want to be any bother," she started.

That statement made up Janetís mind. "You can release her into my care." She saw Samís mouth open to protest, and spoke quickly. "Sam, honestly, you wonít be any bother, and I think youíd be a lot more comfortable at my house than here. And General Hammond already has assigned you to my care."

Samís lips curved into a faint smile and Janet pressed her advantage. "Besides, Cassie is spending the next three weeks at the summer camp run by her school, so I need someone to look after." At that statement, a full smile lit Samís face, and Janet smiled in response.

Janet agreed with Matthews that Sam shouldnít be alone, though her reasons had nothing to do with the physical injuries. Her sole concern was Samís emotional state. And she was pleased to note that the normally stoic Sam didnít seem to want to be alone either.

Matthews, whose sensitive personality ranked right up there with Colonel OíNeillís, was oblivious to any undercurrent of emotion. He gave Carter another brief visual survey, told Janet to keep Carter from doing anything strenuous, and then sauntered off to search for his young, wayward nurse.

The two women simply stared at each other for a moment, then Janet came around to help Sam out of bed. Sam clung awkwardly to Janetís arm and said, "I feel like Iím made out of rubber."

Janet said helpfully, "Well, enjoy it while you can, since by tomorrow youíll be stiff as a board."

Samís answering look had four letter words written all over it.

* * * * * *

An hour later, the two were curled on Janetís couch. Sam lay on her side, eyes fixed on the fire crackling merrily in the fireplace. It seemed an odd time to have a fire, since it was nearly July, but Janet had decided she wanted the comfort of the flames. And now, watching Samís eyes filled with flickering light, Janet was glad sheíd followed her impulse.

Janet took another sip of wine and then turned her attention back to the macaroni and cheese she was eating. She had made it for Sam, hoping to get some food into her. Sam had managed only about three bites before setting the bowl aside. Janet didnít push the issue, knowing Sam was still in shock.

Hell, Iím still in shock, Janet thought, taking another sip of wine, noting absently that red wine went rather well with macaroni, using the latter observation as proof of the former.

She finished her meal, lying back against the arm of the couch, stretching her legs out and settling them on top of Samís curled legs. The blond jumped in shock at the touch, as if she had forgotten her companion entirely, then relaxed as she realized the touch came from Janet. Neither woman spoke.

Samís whole awareness seemed captivated by the fire. Janet found herself captivated by Sam. She studied the other woman, as if seeing her for the first time. In a way, she felt she was, given the new information she had learned from Sam earlier.

It wasnít that Janet suddenly saw Sam in a different light because she was gay. It was just that a lot of things seemed to make complete sense to Janet for the first time.

There was the way Sam held everyone at arms length, even though Janet knew she cared deeply for those around her. There was the way she avoided any mention of relationships and family, the way she skipped past any questions about her personal life. Janet knew some of that behavior was simply Sam being a work-obsessed scientist, but now she could see that there was another reason for it. Janet realized, of course, that she was simply speculating, but she knew Sam better than most people and her new observations made perfect sense.

Janet broke away from her rambling thoughts when she noticed what felt like a mini-earthquake under her legs. She sat up as she realized Samís whole body was shaking: whether with emotion or with cold, Janet couldnít tell.

Janet reached out a tentative hand to rest on one of Samís legs. The other woman jerked her attention away from the fire, glazed blue eyes staring guilelessly up at Janet.

"Are you cold, Sam?" Janet asked simply, her hand patting a soft rhythm against Samís thigh.

The blonde shook her head, her body still shivering. She managed to stutter, "JustÖoverwhelmed. Too many memoriesÖ"

Janet suddenly knew, with a certainty that left her willing to believe in psychic ability, that this was not the first time Sam had been attacked for the simple reason that she loved women instead of men. She stared into the open blue eyes, reading the layers of hurt that normally stayed hidden, seeing the twin flashes of fear and shame.

Janet kept her voice low and soft. "How many times has this happened, Sam?"

Another tremor shook Samís body, and she looked back to the flames, as if for guidance. "This is theÖthe second time Iíve beenÖassaultedÖbecause of being gay."

Despite her own foresight, Janet felt the pangs of shock radiating through her body. And suddenly, she had to knowóneeded to knowówhat had happened the other time. She wondered why the need for knowledge was so intense, but tucked the question away since no answer was forthcoming.

She still had her hand on Samís leg in a soft caress, and she asked quietly, "Was the other assault this bad?"

The tiniest of laughs reached her ear. A long moment later, Sam answered, her eyes suddenly bright with the tears sheíd been holding in all day. "It was worse."

And before her brain could even tell her it was a bad idea, Janet blurted out, "You were raped the other time, werenít you?"

And then the flood of tears hit Sam; she broke into painful sobs, but still managed to nod in response to the question.

Janet felt her own tears welling up: she felt a sense of guilt for forcing the issue, but a sense of relief that Sam seemed to be releasing a few of her demons.

Not knowing what else to do, Janet reached out, and pulled Sam into a sitting position, and folded her in a tight embrace. She was surprised at how readily Sam clung to her. And, truth be told, she was amazed at being allowed to see Sam in such a vulnerable state.

They held onto each other as if they were the only tangible things in the universe, and Janet found herself crying just as hard as Sam, feeling a sense of grief that anyone had to endure that kind of pain, feeling a sense of anguish that anyone would be attacked simply because of who they loved.

When Samís sobs tapered down to small hiccups, Janet pulled back to stare deep into the tear stained face. The sight of the red eyes and the purple bruises tore at Janetís heart. "Iím sorry, Sam," Janet muttered. "I didnít mean to pryÖ"

Sam swallowed hard. "Iíve never talked about this beforeÖ"

She laid her head on Janetís shoulder and Janet reached up to stroke Samís hair. "I canít even begin to imagine what itís been like for you, Sam. Simply being attacked is bad enough, but not feeling able to talk about what happened or whyÖ"

Janet could hear the anger flaring in her own voice as her words skidded to a halt, not sure what else to say.

She opted to stay silent, and then Sam offered unexpectedly, "I never had anyone I felt I could trust, until now."

She snuggled tighter against Janet and the doctor felt the weight of guilt lift from her heart. Janet knew she had pushed harder than she should have, but she felt reassured that Sam had confided in her because she wanted to and not simply because she had been pushed.

For a long while, neither Janet nor Sam spoke, they just held each other and watched the fire die down to embers. Finally, Janet was struck by a sudden sense of fatigue. "I think maybe we ought to head to bed. Tomorrow is going to be hell if we donít at least try to get some sleep."

She felt the motion as Sam nodded her agreement. "Janet?"

"Hmm?"

There was a slight tension in Samís voice as she asked, "Could I sleep with you tonight? IÖwellÖif you donít wantÖ" Her words trailed off, as if she suddenly thought better of asking to share a bed with Janet after confiding in Janet that she was gay.

Janet felt a rush of sorrow as she recognized the reason for Samís discomfort, a rush of sorrow that because of that one little piece of knowledge, they were closer friends who suddenly had an awkward bridge between them.

She knew Sam well enough to know Sam would be tentative around her for a while, not wanting to offend her in any way. Sam might argue a lot and state her opinions clearly in her role as a soldier, but Janet had seen the sensitive side of the woman, and knew that Sam had an empathic streak a mile wide.

"To be honest, Sam, I was going to ask if you would mind sleeping with me. Itís been a fairly traumatic day all the way around, and I would feel a lot better just having you next to me."

Janet wrestled herself off the couch and held out a hand to help Sam up, noting the relief flickering in the blue eyes. She slid her arm around Samís waist, and was gratified when Sam let herself lean against her.

They made their way to the bedroom and Janet helped Sam get ready for bed. Once the blonde was tucked snugly under the blankets, and settled as comfortably as her injuries would allow, Janet went through her own preparations. She slid smoothly under the covers, and rolled onto her side to take a last look at Sam.

Sam had fallen asleep already, her face relaxing in slumber. Janet studied her for a long time, amazed at the sudden realization of just how attractive Sam was, bruises and all. She took a moment to ponder that, reaching out to brush a feather of hair off Samís forehead.

It wasnít that she just suddenly noticed her friendís physical beautyóeven a life lived in fatigues and battle gear couldnít hide Samís looks. Janet came to the somewhat startling conclusion that it was the sense of vulnerability and trust that she was attracted to. The two women had entered a very intimate space in the course of a single day, and Janet found that her feelings had intensified to the point that she could almost imagine herself falling in love with the woman lying next to her.

"Geez, Fraiser, get a grip," she whispered to herself. "Youíre still in shock. Thereís nothing between you and Sam other than friendship."

Giving herself a mental shake, Janet turned to her other side and turned off the light on the night table. She leaned back over and pressed a small kiss to Samís temple. "Sweet dreams, Sam."

Continue to Part 2

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