Title: Parallel Lives
Feedback address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Date in Calendar: 28 November 2004
Fandom: Stargate/CSI crossover
Pairing: Sam/Janet (first-time) Catherine/Sara (established relationship)
Summary: Pure fluff at a surprise birthday celebration
Advertisement: Part of the FSAC04
Author's Disclaimer: I do not own any of these characters. No infringement is intended, I do it only for my sanity.
Author's Note #1: Please excuse this Advent fic having no real reference to anything Christmas and/or other festival but it was originally started back in January 2004 as a drabble for Meesh's birthday. You see, I kinda got hooked up with Cath/Sara writing and it never got finished *sigh*. When I got involved with the FSAC, I realized I could finally finish this story and hopefully stir my redundant Sam/Janet muse in the process.
Author's Note #2: This was finally finished for December 16th of the Femslash Advent Calendar 2004
Webmistress' Note: This story was originally slated for Dec 16th, but at the last minute there was an emergency switch to be made.
The two women sat as close as humanly possible, considering the restraints of a first class flight cabin. Comfortable in each others company, the blonde and the brunette were more in love now than they were when their relationship started, just eight months previous. Working together, as they did, there had been times when they had been at odds with each other. Working in a predominately male environment, as they did, there were times when others had propositioned them, offered them the date of a lifetime. There had been times when their commitment to each other had been put under extreme pressure. Yet, here they were, still together, still in love, and stronger for the trials and tribulations they went through daily. They had a young daughter, who thankfully had accepted their relationship with no question. The two women were a couple and that was all that needed to be said.
The brunette turned to her partner and quietly asked, "Tell me again why we're flying six hours round trip, just to spend a few hours with Janet Fraiser? Just how much did she mean to you?"
Catherine Willows turned to the dark woman by her side, "Oh Sara, there really is no need to be jealous, you know. Janet Fraiser was the first woman I ever loved, in fact the only woman I ever loved prior to meeting you. For that reason she will always have a place in my heart. Loving her allowed me to love you. On top of that small fact, it is her 40th birthday and we have been invited to her surprise party."
To lessen the impact of her words, she glanced around the cabin to see who was watching, then leaned in to offer a gentle unassuming kiss to the mouth of her lover. She whispered, "I love you, Sara. I guess I was always searching for a brown-eyed beauty and you...? You are just perfect. Ask Janet later, she'll tell you, I always wanted a younger woman, and now I have one."
Seeing the impish smile on the blonde's face, Sara Sidle had to laugh, "Younger woman, huh? Who was it who did the chasing?"
For the last few years, the two women had danced around each other. Feigning attraction to their male colleagues while all the time feeling a strong affinity to each other. The affinity had grown and grown in intensity until their every touch sent shocks coursing through their bodies. Eventually, during the blondes 40th birthday celebration, Sara had approached Catherine, asking her gently if there was any chance of a night out together, just the two of them. Catherine had been pleasantly shocked that Sara had made the first move, but accepted readily, and the rest, as they say, was history.
Catherine smiled at that and gently caressed the younger woman's cheek, "It was you my love, and I seem to remember one Janet Fraiser was in attendance that night. You won my heart, Hon, not Janet, just remember that fact. It is you I want to be with."
"Janet was at your party? I don't remember that. I must have been drunk. I wondered how I'd ended up with you. Now I know, I was wasted," teased Sara.
If the truth were ever known, Sara knew Janet had been at the party. In fact, it was the petite doctor's presence that had finally loosened her tongue. Catherine, feeling happy and carefree, with a tongue loosened by wine and company, decided to tease Sara with her introduction of Janet. She thought that if Sara realized she was interested in relationships with women, the younger woman might take the plunge and ask her out. Catherine had been right.
Seeing Cath, the woman of her dreams, happy and comfortable with a beautiful woman, and being introduced to that woman with the descriptive, “This is my ex, Janet Fraiser” had indeed sent Sara into a loop. The woman Sara wanted might be interested, and she had done nothing to see. The decision had been made and a date requested.
Unconcerned, Cath teased back, "Actually, you weren't. In fact, I remember one beautiful young woman totally entranced by one very small brunette doctor. Until you asked me out on that date I was very jealous that Janet had *your* attention for the night. I kid you not, it was you I wanted, not my dear Janet."
Again, the truth of the matter was that Sara had enjoyed her evening with Janet, but she had had an ulterior motive. While Janet was with her, the brunette doctor couldn't renew any relationship with Catherine.
"Ok, ok, you got me. Janet is beautiful and charming, I can certainly see what the attraction was between the two of you. I'm looking forward to tonight. Maybe she and I can have a dance together and swap field notes on a certain blonde CSI."
"You won't do that at all young woman," grouched Catherine. "Anyway, I don't know if Janet has a partner these days. She was very uncommitted at the party. Did you glean anything from her?"
Sara grinned, "I got the impression there was someone she was interested in, but that there was little chance of anything happening. Something about don't ask, don't tell, and she didn't."
Catherine laughed, "I can't see Janet letting rules and regulations get in the way of her heart, but maybe she's changed. The only name I got out of her was some soldier named Sam. Apparently, Sam is the other parent to her adopted daughter, who, by the way, is picking us up at the airport. Janet with an 18-year-old daughter, now that will be something to see. If she still has her stubborn head, I bet their fights are a sight to see. Maybe this Sam is the calming presence in the family dynamics. Jeez, listen at me; I'm talking like an investigator again. Stop me, Hon. I wanna enjoy this night. We don't spend enough time just being us. This night is the ideal time to do that, away from all prying eyes. Let's enjoy ourselves, huh?"
During that speech, Sara had had time to just drink in the presence of her woman, and was now ready to shut her up as requested. This time it was she who placed her lips on the other woman's. The sharing of a sweet, unhurried kiss just emphasized the togetherness they shared.
Taking Sara's hand, Catherine sat back to enjoy the last moments of the flight in peace and quiet. Her thoughts were with Janet, hoping the doctor had found the happiness that she herself now enjoyed. Catherine was determined to find out some answers tonight. The investigator was convinced there was someone in Janet's life. But whom? As far as she was concerned, Janet Fraiser deserved the best, and she was going to get it.
Not long after, carrying their overnight luggage, Catherine and Sara strolled into the arrival's lounge of Denver airport. Glancing around, they looked for any sort of welcoming party. As they neared the exit barriers, a young woman spoke up, “Catherine Willows? I'm Cassandra Fraiser.” The blond woman held her hand out in welcome. Shaking hands with Catherine, she turned to Sara and said, “And you must be Sara Sidle. Welcome to Denver. I'm here to take you to Mom's?”
The two women smiled at Cassandra, as Catherine spoke, “Yes, I'm Catherine, and this is Sara, but how did you know it was us?”
Cassie chuckled, “Well, if you don't mind me saying so, you haven't changed since the days you and Mom were at University together.”
Before Cath could express any surprise at this remark, Sara questioned, “You've seen pictures of these two at University? You must show me before we head back. If we can find some time of course.”
Grinning at Catherine, she avoided an arm punch skillfully. The glare from Catherine was not missed by either of the two younger women. Playing along, Cassandra added, “Oh, I'm sure we can find time, Sara. They're not to be missed. Come on, let's get home. There might even be time before the party,” she said, sending a wink with her teasing.
“Talking of parties, does your Mom know anything about this one yet, or is it still a surprise?” queried Sara.
Chuckling, Cassie answered, “Nope! Sam's always promised Mom a ride on the Harley and decided Mom's 40th was the day to do it. So, at precisely 6pm, and it will be precisely if I know Sam, she'll pick mom up at the base and take her for an hour drive. At 7pm she'll bring her home, where we'll all be waiting.”
Both of the visiting ladies had pricked their ears up at the news that Sam was a woman, and both shared a knowing smile. As Cassie went into enthusiastic overdrive about the party, Catherine zoned out. It was just like Janet Fraiser to have the hots for someone who lived by an accurate clock, she mused. In the days they had shared their lives it had always infuriated Janet that Catherine didn't care if she was late or not. Hearing Cass enthuse more about Sam, Catherine was even more sure of the fact that her friend did indeed have the hots for this Sam woman and intended to find out more. Butting in she asked, “This Sam? She sounds like a special lady.”
Cassie, ever mindful of secrecy, nodded her head and answered cryptically, “Oh yeah! She saved my life and then found a home for me with Mom, what more could a young woman ask for?”
Sara broached the question the two Vegas women had both been thinking, “And are your Mom and Sam together?”
Catherine glared at Sara, and muttered, “Sara!”
Cassie ignored this rebuke and answered with a shrug, “They're bringing me up together, they share their lives like families do, they work together, and they probably love each other. But together? No!”
Catherine and Sara looked at each other. Cassie's vehement no, made them both think it was something the young woman desired to be true.
As they continued on down the interstate towards Colorado Springs, talk passed to more mundane matters. Cassie was now an expert in avoiding the topic of her Mom's work and had an innate skill for diverting the track of a conversation towards herself. So it was that Cath and Sara began to relax as they heard all about Dominic, Cassandra's beau, and all about her desire to go to University to study astrophysics so she could follow in the footsteps of Sam in aiming to be an astronaut. Of course, this was Cassie's perfected way of saying she wanted to go to University, then to the Air Force academy, join the Air Force, and follow her Mom's through the Stargate.
Just as Cassie hit the outskirts of Colorado Springs, Major Samantha Carter was knocking on the door of her CMO's office. She glanced around the door to see Doctor Janet Fraiser still elbow deep in medical record files. Grinning to herself, she shouted, “Doc! Doc! I have a problem.”
A smile of recognition hit Janet's face as she recognized the voice. Taking her time before looking up, she answered, “Now, Major Carter, what can I do for you?”
Sam beamed at the brunette as she waited expectantly. “Well, Doc, I have a Harley just sitting waiting for a trial blast down the highway. I need someone of around 5'2” to balance out perfectly with my 5'9” for things to work. At least that's what Siler says. So get your pretty ass out here now, and come give me a hand.”
Sam chuckled out loud when she saw the look of surprise cross Janet's face. She wasn't sure whether it was her words or the bike ride itself that caused the consternation. It was only fleeting however as Janet soon replied, “S-Sam, you're not serious about this bike ride, are you?”
A groan came from Sam as she ground out, “Jeez, Janet, I've known you for just over six years now and still not had the pleasure of taking the prettiest lady here for the ride of a lifetime. Please, today of all days trust me to make your birthday spectacular. Hey, happy birthday, by the way.”
As Janet began to protest, “It's not that I don't trust… Sam?” she was interrupted by Sam grabbing her pen out of her hand and throwing it across the room. In the next instant she was pulled bodily from the chair and directed towards the infirmary ward area.
In the ward area, Janet was astounded to see the rest of SG1, General Hammond, Sergeants Siler and Davies, and her infirmary staff all waiting for her. The spontaneous outburst of clapping and cheering brought a bright blush to her cheeks. Sam pushed her towards the guys who, in turn, gave her leathers, boots and gloves. The shocked CMO was then taken behind one of the cubicles by two of her female nurses.
The sound of a resisting, angry Janet Fraiser could be heard above the chuckles of the waiting men. At this point General Hammond took command, “Major Doctor Fraiser, this is a direct order from your commanding officer, 'get yourself into suitable clothing for a very long bike ride, stat.'”
Ever the dutiful Air Force officer a mumbling Janet was heard to say, “Goddamn superior officers, think they know everything. I've a mind to claim medical reasons.”
Laughing loudly, the General countermanded, “Heard that major. Now get changed.”
While the continued struggle of a non-bike rider to get into leathers was heard, Samantha Carter slipped out of the room, swiftly donned her own leathers, and was back in time to see the emergence of Doctor Janet Fraiser, suitably clad pillion passenger.
There was a collective gasp from those present at the sight of the beautiful, petite doctor turned leather-clad vixen. The added essence of Janet's ire shining in deep ebony eyes made for a vision rarely seen this deep underground in Colorado Springs.
The waiting Sam Carter felt her mouth go dry and her chin drop at the sight. She held her hand out, beseeching Janet to join her. Their eyes met across the room, and all around disappeared, as Sam whispered, “Your carriage awaits, Madam.”
All thoughts of anger went from Janet in that one instance. She smiled into Sam's eyes and said out loud, “Ok Major. You win. Tell these animals to come wave us off, but, please, I want to get back here in one piece. I have work to finish.”
Sam pushed Janet out of the infirmary, and, glancing back over her shoulder, she shared a conspiratorial wink with the surrounding group. Janet Fraiser was not coming back to the mountain that night, for sure.
Up top, Teal'c helped Janet onto the back of the Harley, and Siler passed her one of Sam's spare helmets. Sam climbed aboard, after whispering in Janet's ear, “Grab a hold of me and don't let go. Just lean with me and go with the flow. I'll take it easy, I promise.”
Janet gave a quick wave, a quick grimace, and a quick prayer to the heavens, before clinging to Sam with a vice like grasp as they roared off into the suburbs of Colorado Springs.
At the Fraiser household, Cassandra had given her two visitors a drink and shown them to the living room and two large photo albums. She was now busy preparing some snacks for the arrival of her other guests. Glancing at her watch, she knew Sam would now have Janet out on the bike and therefore her other guests were on their way. She smiled to herself and got on with her work. Her Mom was going to enjoy this party if it was the last thing Cassie did.
Catherine and Sara were sitting close together on the large couch, browsing through the photo albums. Occasionally, Sara would ask a question and Cath would answer, but really they were just enjoying a few minutes together, totally alone. Cath rubbed Sara's knee and said, “Do you think we should see if Cassandra needs any help?”
“Nah, I'm quite cozy here. I'm sure she'd ask if she wanted anything, wouldn't she?” was Sara's unconcerned answer.
As if by magic, Cass took that moment to pop her head around the door, “Hey! I think my other guests are just arriving. Don't suppose you two could carry these trays through, could ya?”
Jumping up, the women nodded and headed towards the kitchen. As she passed the dresser, Sara put the albums on top and made a mental note to ask Janet if she could take a couple of the old photos for her own Cath collection.
Carrying the trays back into the living room, the two women were shocked to see a sudden influx of around 20 people. Cass was opening the French doors and directing people here, there, and everywhere. It seemed Janet had decking out back, and, earlier that day, the guys of SG1 plus Siler had been over to put some covering over it. Being November, although still pleasant, nights in Colorado had a chill about them; in fact, some nights could get downright cold. Cassandra hoped it remained warm enough for the guests to migrate into the yard but, if it was too cold, the guest's could always migrate into the rest of the house.
Cassandra called the two CSI over to where she was chatting with a small group of men. As they approached she said, “Guys, I'd like you to meet the only two outsiders invited to this party, Catherine Willows and Sara Sidle. Catherine here is Mom's oldest friend and Sara is her partner. They work in crime scene investigation in Las Vegas.”
Smiling at the introduction of Sara as her partner, a nice ambiguous introduction for two women in police work, Cath wondered if the men would realize the true connotation of the word. Directing her smile towards the men she held her hand out as Cassandra introduced each man in turn. “Ladies, let me introduce my family. These wonderful men are my four uncles. This is General George Hammond, Colonel Jack O'Neill, Daniel Jackson, and Mr. T. The rest of the folk here are members of Mom's air force command, mainly her infirmary staff.”
Shaking the men's hands, both women wondered at the term of address given to the final man, a large black guy with a very strange tattoo on his forehead. He, however, was the perfect gentleman, not only shaking their hand but giving a very formal bow, too. At the end of the line he was the last to be introduced and the first to ask a question of the women. “So, Catherine Willows, you knew Doctor Fraiser many years ago. I take it you are not actually her oldest friend but rather her friend from furthest back?”
Laughing out loud Catherine said, “Indeed, I knew Janet at University and we have remained dear friends… err… Mr. T.”
General Hammond intervened, “I think you can call Teal'c here by his first name. Cass will have her little joke names for us all, won't you dear?”
“Oh, yes, Gramps, that I do,” chuckled Cass.
The small group of people chatted about Janet's past, about Cath and Sara's work, which wasn't quite as confidential as Stargate Command, and about Stargate Command itself. The ladies were told it was a top secret base in an underground complex at Cheyenne Mountain, but very little of the actual base specifics. Time went by until Cass started to watch out of the window for her Mom's return. When she saw the bike turn onto their street, she obeyed her orders, given by the organizers, namely Sam with the help of SG1, to extinguish all the house lights.
Out on the road, Janet was still holding tightly to Sam's jacket. She was actually quite enjoying herself now that she was used to the tilt and the speed of the bike. Sam had been a more than considerate driver, constantly checking to make sure Janet was fine. They had driven for half an hour before Sam had pulled the bike into a pull over and helped Janet off the bike to show her the view over a steep incline.
Looking down on the city below, Janet had been mesmerized by the feelings engulfing her. She had always had a desire for Sam, but had learned long ago to hide that desire away. Tonight, however, she thought she could feel desire emanating her way from Sam. Rationalizing this thought with the closeness of the bike ride, the 'specialness' of the day, the friendship and love that Sam was giving her, she managed to convince herself it was all in her head and this was just the feelings that best friends shared the whole world over.
Sam, being a good few inches taller than Janet, had stood behind her as they looked over the view. Wrapping her arms around Janet and resting her chin on the smaller brunette's head she gently kissed the dark locks and murmured, “Many happy returns, hon. Thanks for making my night.” Sam wondered where those words came from, but knew she just had to say them.
Holding the arms a little tighter than she thought she ought, Janet whispered, “No, thank you, Samantha. This has been just perfect. A lovely end to this special birthday.” Unable to see Sam's mischievous smile at those words, Janet just relaxed into the body behind her and enjoyed this moment to the hilt. She truthfully didn't think she would ever get the chance to relax in the arms of this wonderful woman again.
Intoxicated by the moment, Janet turned in Sam's arms, and planted a gentle kiss of friendship on the lips of a bemused but accepting Samantha Carter. The kiss immediately deepened into something more needy before a stunned and nervous major pulled back, whispering, “Aww shucks, Janet, you'll have me blushing soon. Come on, let's get you back into the warmth.”
As they once more sped into the night, Sam pondered the kiss she had just received and wondered why it had felt like the most natural thing in the world. She often shared a kiss of greeting, or a kiss goodbye, with Janet, as she did with all the guys, too, but never, before tonight, had she gotten the feelings that were coursing through her as well. Sam rationalized her thoughts by blaming it on the closeness they were sharing sitting on the back of her pride and joy, and, she inwardly blushed, by the vibrations they were sharing as they roared over the mountain pass.
All too soon the bike ride was over and Sam headed out towards the Fraiser household. Turning her bike into Janet's street, she flashed her headlamps and was pleased to see the house immediately fall into darkness.
Janet, of course, missed all this. Not expecting to be brought home it took her a few moments to realize just where she was. Eventually it clicked. As Sam gave her a hand off the bike, Janet could only mutter, “Sam, what the…”
Sam took her helmet off and helped Janet with hers. Smiling, she placed her fingers over Janet's lips and took her hand to lead her towards the doctor's own home. At the door Sam knocked lightly and whispered into Janet's ear, "Just enjoy yourself, huh?"
Janet could hear her daughter's laughter behind the slowly opening door. Pushing it ajar, she asked, "Cassandra?"
A strong pair of young arms threw themselves around the small woman's waist and enveloped her in a deep hug. Cassandra's voice shouted out, "NOW!"
Suddenly the hallway reverberated with shouts and cheers of, "Surprise! Happy birthday" and so on as the light switch was flicked to throw bright lights over the entering friends.
"Cassandra?" seemed to be the only word Janet had in her vocabulary.
The young woman in question grinned at her mom. Hugging her mother tightly she whispered, "I love you, Mom. Many happy returns of the day.” Drawing back slightly, Cassandra continued, “I've invited a few of our friends around for a surprise party. Hope you don't mind?"
With tears in her eyes, the doctor hugged her daughter back, saying, "Of course I don't mind. Love you so much, hon. Look at me though, a midget in leather with tear stains to boot, maybe I ought to go get changed first, huh?"
Hearing laughter she at last focused on their company. By now most of the guests had migrated back into the lounge. Only SG1 and General Hammond remained, and they were grinning at the doctor's discomfort. Janet blushed and grinned back at them, saying, "Ok, you guys, give me 15 and then we'll have a real party, huh?"
Jack O'Neill, being Jack O'Neill, whipped the small woman into a bear hug and swung her round, before giving the surprised Janet a kiss on the cheek. "Happy birthday, Doc. Do ya' need a hand pulling those leathers off by any chance, I'm an expert ya' know."
If it was at all possible Janet blushed even more. She managed to mutter, "NO thank you Colonel," before being hugged a little more sedately by Daniel.
He smiled and, with the added incentive of his words, urged her to go and get changed. "Go Janet, ignore this buffoon. I think Cassie has one or two surprise guests for you." Glancing back over his shoulder he saw the two women he was talking about grinning at the exchanges taking place. He indicated with his eyes that they might hide in the lounge so that Janet got another surprise on her return. Taking the hint, Catherine and Sara retreated into the lounge, holding hands and smiling at each other. They were pleased to see that Janet had close relationships with this group of people.
Directing Janet to the stairs, he continued, "Maybe expert rider Sam here'll give you a hand off with the leathers rather than drooling soldier Jack here."
There was a guffaw from Jack, a raised eyebrow from Teal'c, and a blush to match Janet's from the major. "Indeed, Doctor Fraiser, Samantha Carter will be able to remove your clothes for you," said Teal'c with his customary bow and smile.
Hearing the groans from the group, Teal'c looked bemused, not realizing the vision his words had conjured up. Jack O'Neill pulled him away from the ladies, chuckling to himself as he led Teal'c back into the lounge. Daniel and the General followed them, leaving Sam, Janet and Cassandra in the hallway. Janet hugged Cassie once more and asked her if she could continue to be hostess until she got back. Laughing out loud, Cassie rushed off to do her job. Turning to Sam, Janet grinned and said, "So, Major Carter, I'm guessing you are an accomplice to this crime. I will get you back, you know. Two years, right? Lots of time to plan my revenge. Now come on, you got me into these things, you can help get me out."
Laughing aloud the two best friends went to change, muttering about the guys and Teal'c's not so subtle words.
Back in the lounge Jack and Teal'c had commandeered the two visitors. Colonel O'Neill knew a beautiful woman when he saw one, and here were two new ladies to charm. Surprisingly, the four were getting on very well. Jack might think he was a ladies man but he was also more intelligent than he liked people to know, and forensics was one of his interests. It appeared he had once dated a CSI in his home state of Minnesota and had gleaned lots of interesting facts from her and the interest had continued. He admitted to the two women that he even put some of the criminal tricks that they detected into use when he was working undercover. This brought about genuine laughter from Sara and Catherine.
Hearing they worked their crime scenes in Las Vegas brought even more interest from Jack. He immediately realized that this city would provide unusual and different perspectives to any crime committed. Although he kept adding his usual sarcastic comments, his view on the casinos and sex clubs was kept to reasonably serious conversation filler.
Teal'c, however, was losing interest in the conversation. He had heard a word that wasn't used very much around Stargate Command and he wanted to know what it meant in context. Nodding at Sara, he brought her attention away from Jack towards his question, "Catherine Willows is your partner? What exactly does that entail?"
Surprised at the bluntness of the question, Sara gave a nervous chuckle. She decided that Teal'c had no malice in his question, it was just that this obviously foreign gentleman didn't know what the word meant. She gave it a little contemplation before deciding that honesty was her best policy. They were miles away from home, in pleasant company, and she wanted people to know that they were together and in love. She started carefully, becoming more animated as she went along, "Cath and I work in crime scene investigation with a group of guys. I guess, like you in the air force, we are a small group of people that work closely together. Sometimes, Cath and I work together as partners and sometimes we work with some of the others. At home, however, Catherine and I are exclusive partners. We share a house, a child, a life and a love. Does that answer your question, Teal'c?"
Bowing in acknowledgement, Teal'c replied with his usual stoic charm, "Indeed, Sara Sidle, indeed. I did not mean to intrude. It is just the word partner is used infrequently on base, we use the word team instead. Now, I can see it is a most suitable word. Thank you."
Turning to the blonde woman at her side, he motioned between them, "You are together. Very well suited, if I may say so. Very like our own Major Carter and Doctor Fraiser, no?"
As the two ladies shared a knowing smile Jack spluttered, "T! Major Carter and the Doc are best friends. They help look after Cassandra. They are not..."
Teal'c did not miss the look that passed between Sara and Catherine. He knew Jack had a thing for Sam but he saw other things. He saw a couple of military women who fit together like a glove, the same relationship he saw reflected in the two women in front of him, and being Teal'c he wasn't afraid to say, "I know that, Colonel, but you must admit they have a certain something."
Jack was saved from answering by the reappearance of Janet and Sam.
Sam had helped Janet out of her leathers and had then popped into the guestroom to change her own clothes.
Just before entering the lounge, Janet turned to Sam and asked, "You're staying over tonight, I hope. Then we can have a relaxing drink. The guest room is always yours, you know that, right?"
"Um, not sure, Jan. Cassie has a couple of surprise guests for you that already have the guest room, I think."
"Oh. Who's she got here, my parents? In that case, you can bunk down with me. There's no problem."
"We'll see Janet. I don't think it's your mom and dad but unless we go and see we'll never know." With that she pushed Janet into the doorway of the lounge.
Looking around, Janet's first thought was 'Jeez', her second thought was 'Catherine'. With that a huge grin appeared on her face with an answering one from Catherine and Sara. The three ladies rushed towards each other.
Sam saw the grin appear on Janet's face moments before Janet rushed into Catherine's arms. Bemused, she looked at the two visitors with keen interest. Catherine Willows and Sara Sidle were both very attractive, maybe not beautiful although that could be argued either way, but there was something in both of them that was more than captivating. Sam was entranced by Janet's reaction to the pair, especially her reaction to the tall blonde woman. The major had never seen Janet so overjoyed in anyone's company.
Janet hugged Catherine tightly and asked when she had arrived. Pulling back a little from the hug but not letting go, she grinned over to Cassandra and thanked her silently. Janet turned to Sara but maintained her hold of Catherine, “Sara, it's so good to see you too, welcome.” And with that she finally let go of Catherine and gave Sara a welcome hug. Pulling back once again she glanced between the two of them as if looking for confirmation of something, seeing a shy smile on each of the women's faces she grinned and murmured, “Later! For now let me introduce you to Sam Carter, my best friend and Cass's other parent.”
Turning around to see a somewhat flummoxed Samantha Carter the doctor pulled Sam towards the group. "Sam, this is Catherine Willows, a very dear friend from my university days, and her partner, Sara Sidle. They work in CSI in Las Vegas. Ladies, this is Major Samantha Carter.”
Sam was bemused; in all the years she had known Janet, and they had been best friends now for six years, she had never seen Janet so happy to see a friend. Sam had met a few of Janet's friends from the medical world and had even met a couple of Janet's old school friends at a previous Christmas get-together. This was the first time she had seen such shared pleasure between Janet and a friend; Sam could only wonder at the history these two friends shared. Putting her interest to one side, she greeted the two CSI's warmly and enthusiastically.
After a few minutes sharing pleasantries, Janet excused herself and Catherine from the two younger women. Touching Sara's hand gently, she asked; "Sara would you mind if I took Catherine over to meet my boss and a few others, I won't keep her all night, I promise. Maybe Sam here could give you the potted version of our life right now." She winked at Sam, knowing Sam would be able to talk science all night with the equally geeky Sara if necessary.
Sara answered with a grin. "You go have a great night, Jan, but I want a birthday dance later, if I may, with both of you, though not together, huh?" Chuckling at her own ramble she ushered them away, "Oh, just go."
Laughing, Catherine and Janet left Sara and Sam to get better acquainted.
Surprisingly, for neither Sam nor Sara could usually relate immediately to a new acquaintance, the two scientists hit it off straight away. Sam's description of her job entailing detailed experimentation of "unusual" natural resources fired Sara's science brain and question after question ensued.
As she chatted with Sara, Sam's eyes watched the interaction between Janet and Catherine with interest. After the moment under the starlight, Sam had finally acknowledged an attraction to her friend and had decided to actually voice her thoughts after the party. However now, watching the easy interaction between Janet and this other female friend, she half wondered if she was too late. Their interaction was definitely that of physical comfortability, even of physical intimacy.
Hearing a question from Sara, she turned, "Huh? Sorry."
"I said, 'Are you still with me Sam?' You seem a bit preoccupied," said the watching Sara. She could see a hint of jealousy in Sam's eyes and understood the feeling whole-heartedly. After all it had been her exact reaction to watching the two women at the previous 40th celebration for Catherine Willows. She smiled as Sam stuttered a response remembering it had been that party that finally acted as the catalyst to Sara and Catherine finally getting it together as a couple.
"I'm just astonished to see Janet so happy with a woman I didn't really know existed till today. Do you know if they've been in contact much?" Sam finally managed to ask a sensible question.
Sara smiled at Sam's obvious nervousness, wondering if there was some way of pushing Sam towards Janet later that evening. It was obvious that Sam was attracted to Janet and, as she and her partner had decided earlier, that Janet was attracted to Sam. Yet, it was also obvious they were not together at this time. Answering Sam's question, her mind began to work on the problem, "Um, Catherine and Janet were very close at university but kinda lost touch through their marriages. They re-connected at Cath's 40th back in March."
Teal'c and Daniel joined the two women before Sara could say anything else, Daniel immediately questioning Sara about her work in CSI. Sam took the opportunity to get a new drink and catch five minutes with Cassandra, congratulating her on executing the surprise to perfection.
Meanwhile, Janet had introduced Catherine to everyone who mattered and they too were having a quiet few minutes just catching up. Once their news was exchanged Janet excused herself to be a hostess, promising she would return later to share a dance with both Catherine and Sara. Catherine smiled at the retreating form of her ex-lover and spotted Sam watching with an interested eye too. Making a mental note to question Janet about *that* relationship later she glanced around to look for Sara. Seeing her deep in conversation with Teal'c and Daniel she was actually pleased to be accosted by Jack O'Neill asking for a dance; Catherine Willows still preferred dancing over intelligent conversation as relaxation any day, the intellectual stuff could be left to her lover.
A wonderful evening passed with all four women spending time with each of SG1 as well as with each other. As the party was drawing to a close Janet finally took the opportunity to share the promised dance with Sara Sidle. Holding each other closely, the warmth between them was noticeable. Janet was pleased that she felt so comfortable with her ex's love. Smiling at Sara, brown eyes met brown, and Janet chuckled. The bemused smile from the taller brunette drew out a comment from Janet, "She always, always wanted a younger, taller, brown eyed brunette to love, you know. I am so pleased she finally found her dream. You are her dream aren't you Sara?"
"Yes Jan. I love her, surely you know that, don't you?" Seeing a gentle nod from Janet she continued, "I'm so glad you found each other again and that you care. I promise, I won't hurt her Janet." Leaning forward, she kissed Janet's cheek and said, "Thank you for letting her go again, it meant a lot to me."
Janet kissed Sara back and pleaded, "Take good care of my woman you, and keep in touch, yes?"
As Sara replied intently, "I will," Samantha Carter waltzed past on the arm of General Hammond and heard the tail-end of the conversation. 'Take care of *my* woman'; what the hell did that mean?
Suddenly, her mind full of questions, Sam watched as Sara handed Janet over to Catherine with a gracious smile, and the taller blonde woman enveloped the petite brunette in a loving hug as they danced away. The burn of envy hit the stoic major squarely in the chest; she was definitely jealous and definitely needed to talk it through with the only person who could help, her best friend, Janet Fraiser.
Later that night Catherine and Sara were lying together quietly, hand in hand, talking. Before coming to bed they had spent a pleasant hour just chatting with Janet and Sam, agreeing that the four of them got on well, and deciding to keep in touch as a foursome.
Catherine turned to her lover and asked, "Do you think Janet and Sam are together?"
"No, but I think they want to be together. Why?" asked Sara in return.
"Oh I don't know, hon, it's just getting to know Janet again I realize how much I care that she is happy in her life. I get the impression that she is mostly happy but that having a woman, and yes I too think that woman is Sam, would make her happier still. I just wondered if I should try and push them together a little."
Sara laughed out loud at her lover's suggestion and heard the indignant response with another chuckle, "What? What did I say?"
Rolling over on top of Catherine Sara began to trace her hands gently up and down the blonde's torso. "I don't think you need to give Sam anymore of a push than you already have done." Seeing the raised eyebrow of her lover she continued, "If you'd seen the look of pure jealousy on Sam's face when you were dancing with Janet, you'd know that there is no way Major Samantha Carter is going to lose her petite doctor to some big bad CSI from Las Vegas. No, if they're not together now, they will be pretty soon, I'm sure. And if Sam doesn't do it, I'm sure Janet will, she's seen how happy we are together and wants the same."
"Happy together, huh? Big bad CSI? Are you after something Sara Sidle?"
"No Catherine, I'm not after anything, I have everything I want right here beneath me," murmured Sara seriously. Leaning down to share a smoldering kiss with the older woman she begged hoarsely, "Please Cat, prove you're over Janet, prove you love me."
The lust-lidded eyes of Catherine flew open, "Sara? I can't believe you've just asked me that, especially after our conversation on the flight over. Surely you know the answer by now?" Looking up into the earnest eyes of her woman she saw that tonight, for whatever reason, the child in Sara Sidle had come out to haunt the woman she loved; the child that feared rejection, and the child that craved love.
Carefully, she stroked the brunette's hair back behind her ear and stared intently into the clear blue eyes that loved her, "Sara Sidle, I am in love with you and only you. Janet was my first true love and will always reside in here." She touched her heart. "But Janet will be the first to tell you that the love we shared was never enough. I wanted the love of my life to be tall, strong and loving; able to shelter me from all storms in the lea of her two strong arms, able to shelter me from all hurt by the strength in her pure heart. My dear Sar, I found that strength and character in you. You are mine, I am yours, don't ever doubt that."
Slowly, Catherine pulled the brunette towards her and reiterated her words in the power of her kiss and her loving.
Further down the hallway, lying in bed at the side of Janet Fraiser, Samantha Carter's mind was racing. During the party she had heard and seen so many snippets of conversation and action all leading in the direction that said Janet and Catherine Willows had been a couple at some point in their lifetime.
The most damning piece of evidence as always came via an innocent question from her alien friend Teal'c and yet it was the same evidence that now had her mind racing in a parallel direction.
So keen on assimilating into earth culture he was intent on learning all there was to know and had no qualms about asking to him innocent questions. So, when he had asked Catherine Willows to dance, Sam in passing had heard the question that was now burning a hole on her memory, ' Catherine Willows, I hear from Cassie that you and Janet had a certain something once upon a time too? What was your certain something?'
Teal'c was not of the earth military establishment and, although understanding the limitations of the 'don't ask don't tell policy' he had no preconceived prejudices against same sex relationships within the forces. To him the most obvious part of the whole policy was the 'don't tell' part, so he felt free to ask as long as he didn't tell.
Sam however was born and bred military and would never dream of being so forthright and sure as hell would never expect to hear from a colleague an answer similar to the one Catherine Willows had given. She could still see the moment just before Catherine had answered Teal'c. She had caught the eyes of Sara Sidle and shared a look of such devotion it was obvious the relationship those two shared, before her words answered Teal'c; "Yes, Janet and I had a 'certain something' for a number of years. We had a, how can I put it, loving relationship and were together until she joined the air force and had to move away. Then I met and divorced my husband while Janet met and divorced her husband. I'm not sure about Janet now but, as you already know, I'm more than happy with Sara Sidle. Does that answer your question?"
Teal'c's customary bow said that it did.
So, Sam mused, it appeared that Catherine had been Janet's lover back in University but that Catherine was now with Sara. The sounds of love and laughter as she had passed the guestroom on her way to bed seemed to bear that part of the equation out.
Sam took a leap of faith and turned towards Janet, surprised to see her friend already gazing at her, a look of concern on her face.
Janet smiled and asked quietly, "Sam, what's wrong? You've been deep in thought ever since we got back from our bike ride. Which, by the way, I loved more than I thought possible, maybe we can do it again sometime."
If the truth were known Janet Fraiser had held a desire for her friend for a long time, probably for the length of their friendship. But, over the years, she had learned to hide her desires and her wishes from those closest to her, culminating in the disastrous marriage to her chauvinistic ex-husband. The last time she had had a female-female relationship had been the year before entering the SGC, and that had been with a doctor from the local hospital who was as far inside the closet as Janet herself was.
The doctor's reconnection with Catherine Willows back in March had stirred her feelings for Sam back to the fore. Catherine was the only woman she had truly loved before falling for Samantha Carter and now, seeing the CSI happy and open with the younger Sara Sidle, had made Janet wonder what she might be able to have with the woman lying at the side of her. The gentle kiss they had shared under the stars earlier had made her believe that Sam really did feel something for her and that tonight she might get the courage to approach their feelings for each other.
Coming out of her thoughts Janet heard Sam mumbling an answer to her question, "I'm confused, Jan. I thought we had a deep friendship and after kissing you earlier I felt something I shouldn't have, then I hear that you and Catherine Willows were together, and that Sara and Catherine are together, and that means you might like me, and I like you, and... Jeez, am I making any sort of sense here?"
Janet couldn't hold back the chuckle that rose in her throat at Sam's flapping. She was so used to hearing Major Samantha Carter in full scientific mode that seeing Sam in a nervous uncontrolled puddle amused her and she showed it. Reaching out to stroke Sam's cheek she said, "Maybe it would help if I told you about Catherine and me, huh?"
"Yeah, maybe," came Sam's succinct answer. The tall blonde rolled onto her back to listen to Janet's gentle telling of her tale.
"Catherine and I met at University. We were best friends and lovers for three years. She was and still is one of the most beautiful people I have ever met, not only in looks but in feelings too. The love we shared was intense and true. She was my first love and the love that spoiled me for many years to come, no-one could compete with the memory of my Catherine, until..." her voice trailed off, not wanting to say those words just yet.
"I'd always wanted a taller, blonde, blue-eyed lover and was heartbroken when Catherine left me. But she wanted more than I could ever give her for lots of reasons. Now, we joke about it but back then it tore me apart. You see, she wanted a younger, taller, brown-eyed brunette and I'm sure you can see I only fulfilled half that role."
"Over time we lost contact, both married and divorced, and then found each other again earlier this year. I'll never regret the time I had with Catherine but now I've met Sara I know that all Catherine ever wanted in her life was Sara Sidle. Those two are, and I hope will always be, the perfect match for each other."
Smiling at Sam, Janet finally felt able to admit something to her friend, quieting her voice she said, "Twenty years ago, I loved Catherine with all my heart but all that is finished and done; I finally have someone else in my life who can compete with that memory"
Sam gasped, causing Janet to roll over to look at her. The doctor pulled Sam's face around so that she could look into the azure depths and quietly whispered an end to her tale, "Sam, I've been afraid to admit this side of me to anyone but now... now... I have someone else in mind to be my partner in life..."
Sam's heart skipped a beat, was she reading the look in Janet's eyes correctly, was Janet trying to tell Sam that she wanted to try being more than friends, what was she saying? Sam, still too afraid to admit her thoughts, remained silent, until she heard Janet implore quietly, "Sam...?"
Finally Sam reached out to caress Janet's cheek, stuttering, "Like me, maybe?"
The two women just smiled and slowly graduated towards each other, drawn by the magic thread that had held them together as friends for six long years, the thread that now plaited itself tightly as lips met lips in a gentle kiss of affirmation.
The following morning over a leisurely breakfast the four women reiterated their pleasure in each other's company and made plans to meet up in Las Vegas for the Christmas holiday.
Driving her friends to the airport, Janet chatted animatedly. After sharing that kiss with Sam the night before the two Air Force officers had made a pledge to follow their hearts. They knew they had to be careful but they had been best friends for six years in the eyes of all their colleagues, and hoped that the next step would just be an inconsequence to those that cared about them. She was happy.
Catherine and Sara had picked up in the change of mood between Janet and Sam and smiled knowingly at each other as they listened to Janet's happy chatter.
Catherine winked at Sara and broached the subject, "Jan, shut up for a minute, won't you. Can we take it that your 40th was as successful as my 40th, huh?"
Blushing, Janet pleaded innocent, "What are you talking about?"
Chuckling, Catherine joked, "Janet, we're professional crime scene investigators or had you forgotten. We're trained to notice things. You and Sam, huh? Of course that hickey kinda gives it away."
Sara laughed as Janet's hand flew to her neck.
"Relax honey. I'm kidding. But you did talk last night, didn't you? You are together now?" calmed Catherine.
Joining in with the laughter, Janet answered, "Oh, we did more than talk. But yeah, we're going to take things discretely, but we are going to see where things go. Ok?"
Catherine squeezed Janet's hand affectionately. "More than ok, Janet. We..." she indicated between herself and Sara, "... couldn't be more pleased. I just hope you're as happy as we are?"
Hugging both women tightly in the departure hall, Janet whispered, "I love you," in Catherine's ear and recalled her friend's words in the car. As she watched the tall blonde and her even taller lover walk away from her hand in hand, she too hoped above anything else that her and Sam would be as happy as Catherine and Sara obviously were.
Turning on her heel she chuckled to herself and whispered, "You were right, Cath. I guess I really did want a younger blonde."