Ephemeral

Author: LauraJo
Email: laura@laurajo.net
Rating: G
Archive: Please ask first!
Summary: "You're back now."
Disclaimer: Stargate SG-1 belongs to MGM/Gekko/Double Secret, and no harm is intended by this little piece of fiction.
Spoilers: Relies on knowledge of "Ripple Effect".
Status: Complete
Author's notes:  It's been a very long time since an episode made me want to write a fic. I dare say you can probably correlate it to a certain character's appearance. This might, potentially, be the first part of a four part series, featuring Jack, Cassie, and A/U Sam. And, of course, Janet. :-) Thanks to Lin, Vicki and Clara - you each know what for. {February 2006}

~~~

This place was so familiar to her. The rooms were the same, the corridors were the same, the people were the same. She'd assigned her 'guard' to one of her patients only last week.

The situation was not so familiar. It was more than a little strange. General Landry had been unexpected. Being treated in her infirmary by someone she'd never even heard of was... odd.

And she was dead here.

It wasn't real, and yet it was. She could see it in Daniel's eyes, in Teal'c's countenance. She'd known something was wrong the moment General Landry had realised who she was.

She hadn't seen Sam all day.

As the base had quietened down for the night Janet had decided to seek her out. She stood at the door to her lab, watching an exhausted Sam push herself beyond all reasonable limits. As Janet had always had to order her not to do. It had never really helped, and it was obvious Dr Lam hadn't been any more successful. Perhaps she hadn't yet learnt to notice.

Slowly, quietly, Janet stepped forward. The guard seemed to sense her desire for privacy, because he stayed back and stepped to the side. Had he known her? Janet wished she could remember working with him any time other than last week.

"Sam?"

She didn't even look up from her work. "Janet, I know, I need rest. I promise you I'll-"

Then it hit her. She looked up, the tears building quickly.

"Janet? I..."

Looking at her friend, frozen in front of her, there was nothing Janet could do but step forward and fold Sam into her arms. "I know, honey, I know. I'm so sorry."

They soaked each other's jackets with their tears.

~~~

With some persuasion on Janet's part, the pair moved to Sam's quarters, sitting on her bed. Janet had intended to say hello, see how Sam was doing, and then strongly suggest that sleep might be a good idea. She'd revised her plan. It was becoming evident that rest would be good, but her friend might benefit from talking a little more too. She could sleep a little, but later.

"God, Janet, I'm sorry. I shouldn't have-"

"Sam, stop right there. I can't even imagine... We've all lost people on the job, it comes with the territory, but some people are-" She cut herself off, and reordered her thoughts before continuing. "I saw you lose Daniel. Well, not you, but-"

"We lost Daniel too. He came back."

"Ours, too. I didn't."

Sam half smiled, appreciating that with Janet she rarely had to explain. "You're back now."

"For now," Janet agreed. "So," Janet deliberately brightened her smile, hoping to lighten the mood. "I imagine you have a backlog of girl talk. Spill."

Sam couldn't help but grin back. "You really want to hear it? It can't be that different from what's happened to your Sam!"

"Well, I don't see a wedding ring, so unless-"

"I'm married?"

"And as I was saying, unless you're hiding the ring somewhere, you're-"

"Janet, please! All day I've had hints about relationships the other Sams have been in, but not once have I heard the whole story."

"Okay, I'll tell you. But only if you promise to fill me in on you. I think I've proven my point, things are obviously different here."

"Okay, I promise."

"You, well, my you, if that's the way to refer to you... her... oh this is so confusing!"

"Janet..." The warning tone in Sam's voice was not lost on her friend.

"Okay! Sam's been married for, oh, about a year. They really didn't wait all that long after she broke up with Martouf." Janet's smile was growing as she spoke, enjoying taunting Sam as she gradually revealed her story. "I can't say I was surprised, though, considering."

"Considering what?"

"Well, the general had never covered up his feelings as well as he liked to think."

Sam's eyes lit up, and her voice become much softer than it had been previously. "Jack."

"Jack?" Janet teased.

Sam blushed. "Things aren't so very different here," Sam admitted.

"No ring though."

"It's still early days."

"You weren't together yet when... When it happened?"

"When you died?" Sam looked down at her hands, unable to meet Janet's eyes. "No. I was... with someone else. I should have realised then that it wasn't going to work out, but I didn't."

"Who was he?" Janet gently coaxed.

"Pete. A cop. My brother set me up." Sam looked up again. "Pathetic, huh?"

"No, I don't think so."

"He said that too."

"Pete?"

"No. Jack."

"Ah. I see."

"You do?"

"Actually, no. But carry on."

"Pete was lovely, but it wasn't him I turned to then. Jack helped me so much. I should have known."

Janet could feel Sam slipping into her former mood, and tried to redirect the conversation a little. "But you're with Jack now."

Sam smiled. "Yes. Kinda. Well, yes."

"Sam?"

"We're finding our way. We don't see each other much, so it's not easy."

"It was hard not to notice he wasn't here."

"He's in D.C. He got promoted again."

"Major General Jack O'Neill?"

Sam grinned. "Has a ring to it, don't you think?"

"You sound proud."

"Of course I am. He is too. Outwardly, he jokes about it just as you'd expect. But I can see it, I can see how much it means to him."

"And you're happy."

"I am. Actually, Cassie already told me I have to marry him, because that was her birthday wish when she turned thirteen."

"It was, you know! Wow, I'd forgotten about that. What with Martouf coming in the middle, I'd tried convincing her to forget about it. But I don't think she ever did. She didn't worry that, now she'd told you, it wouldn't happen?"

Sam laughed. "No, she assured me she's grown out of such superstitious beliefs. She's quite the little scientist."

"Daniel told me she's doing okay."

"She is. I'm proud of her. Sometimes I think she's doing better than I am." Sam stopped to just look at her friend for a moment, and then grabbed her in a hug. "The number of times I looked at the phone, wishing I could..."

Janet pulled back a little, keeping her arms resting on Sam's. "Have you talked to Cassie about it?"

"About you? Some, but not about how I've been feeling. I just wanted to be there for her."

"Then can I suggest something?"

"Janet, you know you can."

"Let her listen. I know my daughter. She's the best friend you could have. I'm willing to bet that the reason she's doing so well is that you were there for her, you helped her through it. Let her help you. One of the most recent things my Cassie has taught me is that she can be my friend as well as my daughter. Let her do the same for you."

"Talk to her like I'd talk to you?"

Janet smiled, and pulled back from Sam completely. "Well, to a point!"

Sam giggled, and then let it turn into a smile. Which promptly turned into a yawn.

"You're tired. I should let you sleep. That's why I came to see you in the first place!"

"And yet you let me talk? You must be going soft."

"Maybe I am. I wanted you, us, to have this. You can still get some sleep."

"And I'll sleep better. I'm sorry I didn't come to find you earlier. I wasn't quite sure what to say."

"You don't need to apologise. I understand this is difficult for you. And you were busy."

"Busy trying to find a way to send you home."

Janet nodded. "I really appreciate the effort you're putting into this. For all of us."

"It's my job."

"All the same, thanks."

Janet got up and turned to head towards the door, leaving Sam to crawl beneath the covers. Janet had been right, she was tired. Exhausted. Too exhausted to change before she slept. But there was one more thing bothering her. "Janet?"

Sam's words stopped Janet with her hand on the door, and she half turned back to face her.

"Janet, I... part of me doesn't want to find a way to send you home. Is that wrong?"

"Not wrong, Sam. Understandable. But I have to go, you know that."

"In my head, yes."

"You'll be fine." She paused. "Give Cassie my love."

"Janet, you know I can't-"

"Not in words, no, but you'll find a way. You always do."

And with one final smile, she was gone.

THE END

4523

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