"The general is expecting you, Major Carter." The young lieutenant said.
Sam nodded her thanks and went into the office. She saluted, "You wanted to see me, General? The report about the artefact SG-7 brought from P4X-234 will be ready tomorrow. I'm just waiting for a couple of test results."
Then she saw that there was someone sitting in a chair in front of General Hammond's desk. "I'm sorry, General, I didn't know that you have a guest. Ensign Weatherton said that you're expecting me."
The man in the grey suit stood up and turned around. Sam paled, "What happened?"
"Yesterday morning Caleb Martin escaped from prison. He killed two guards, a doctor and a nurse in the process. This morning Judge Holderson and his family were found dead in their house."
The shock was evident on Sam's face but she quickly got her self-control back. "He's making good on his threats. Where am I on his list, Assistant Director Kleist?"
"Your name was the last, Major Carter." The man answered and fell silent.
"There's more right?" Sam asked.
"Martin had some of his men keep taps on all of his targets. He knows were every single one of you lives, your habits, your family, everything. He left a note for you." Agent Kleist answered.
Sam stretched her hand out and Kleist handed her a piece of paper in a zip-lock bag. She read it and her eyes turned cold. "General, I'd like to bring Cassie here to the base. I want her and Doctor Fraiser to stay here until the situation is resolved. The base should be safe enough. And I'd like your permission to take some leave, General."
"Permission denied, Major." General Hammond answered.
"But, Sir, I know how he thinks. I know what he wants." Sam protested. "I caught him once, I can catch him again."
"Assistant Director Kleist, could you leave us for a moment?"
"Of course, General." Kleist said and left.
"Sit down, Samantha. Yes, you caught him once and with your help it might be easier to catch him now, but Sam, the last time almost cost you your soul. I couldn't stop you then, but I can now." George Hammond said.
Sam wanted to protest, but Hammond stopped her with a gesture.
"This time is different, Sam. You now have something to live for, someone to live for. The US-Marshals and the FBI are organising the protection of the other possible victims. They either get protective details or are taken to safe houses, the prosecutor, the jurors and the witnesses, as well as his attorney. He will not get to them."
"Then let me work with the FBI and the others. They can set me up as bait." Sam said. "We could prepare the perfect trap for him."
"For now the plan is to get him when he targets his next victim. Colonel O'Neill, Doctor Jackson and Teal'c will work with the FBI and do everything to eliminate the threat. I want you to take Doctor Fraiser and Cassandra to Kheb. It's under the protection of the Free Jaffa and next to the Nox' home world the safest place I can think of."
Sam's eyes showed a great deal of indecision.
"I know that your instincts scream at you to go out there and hunt Caleb Martin down, personally. But think about Janet and Cassandra. If something goes wrong, what should I tell them? How would you feel if I had to tell you that Janet died or Cassandra?"
Sam looked into his eyes. She saw his pain and his concern and nodded, "I'll take them to Kheb and we'll stay there until you give us the all-clear. What do we tell them?"
George Hammond tried to read Sam's eyes but they still were cold and hard, what she thought and felt hidden behind a curtain of professionalism.
"I'll leave it up to you what you want to tell Janet, but for the sake of simplicity I would suggest to stay as close to the truth as possible. I'll do it, Sam."
"Thank you, Uncle George. Should I ask the others in now?"
"Yes, Major Carter, call them in. 'Your boys' should be waiting outside now," he answered in an attempt at levity he didn't feel.
After AD Kleist had filled them all in and had arranged a meeting with the men of SG-1 Sam had left the office in a hurry, officially to make sure that Cassie would be escorted to the base without delay. Janet knew that it was more than that. Sam had practically fled the room after she had refused to look at her the whole time the FBI Director had talked.
"May I have a moment, Doctor Fraiser?" General Hammond asked.
He stepped around his desk and put a hand on her shoulder. "I know you have a lot of questions, Janet, but give her time. Just stay at her side, and when the time is right, she will tell you everything. I know it's a lot to ask of you, but Sam will let you in as soon as she has had some time to deal with the news. Give her time."
"I saw the darkness in her eyes, General, please tell me. Her eyes have never been that cold before. I can help her if I know more. What that agent told us sounded like nothing more but a cover story."
"I'm not speaking to you as your commanding officer, Janet. Samantha is a daughter to me. I love her as much as I love my own daughters and granddaughters. She only agreed to leave Earth to protect Cassandra and to protect you. I need to protect her. Just trust her and let her come to you in her own time."
"And if she doesn't? I know that there's always been a part of her heart she doesn't let anyone in." Janet said softly.
George Hammond saw the pain and the fear in Janet's eyes. He opened a desk drawer on his left, pulled out a photo and turned it around. With a black marker he wrote on the back of the picture and put it in an envelope.
"If she has not opened up to you a week from now, give her that. And now, Major Fraiser, it's time for you to get ready to leave. Cassandra should be here in the next half hour, your departure is scheduled for 1400 hours and I guess you still have a lot to do. Dismissed."
For the fraction of a heartbeat she saw the pain in his eyes. Unexpectedly she stepped forward and kissed him on the cheek, "Thank you for caring for her, Sir. I'll give her all the time she needs."
"But I have a date with Marc tomorrow, and we were supposed to go shopping for a prom gown, and I have to learn for the last history test." Cassandra protested.
"Just see it as an unexpected vacation, Cassie. Believe me, we would not leave if it were not necessary." Janet said.
"Then at least tell me why, Mom. Is it the NID or the Goa'uld? I mean I was dragged out of class and ushered here, and no one is telling me squad."
For the first time since General Hammond had called Janet into his office and told them everything about the threat against them, against Sam and her family, Sam looked someone in the eyes. She looked at Cassandra.
"I'm sorry, sweetheart, but it's not a Goa'uld and it also has nothing to do with the NID.
"A couple of months before Daniel first found out how the Gate works I was on leave in Los Angeles. I got mixed up in a FBI investigation of a man suspected of having murdered at least four people, not to speak of extortion, drug dealing, assault and other things. His name is Caleb Martin. My testimony was instrumental in putting him behind bars and he swore revenge.
"He swore that one day he would take away everything I loved and then he would kill me. Yesterday morning he escaped, and he has already killed the judge who gave him a life sentence after he had forced...
"General Hammond and I agreed that the best way to keep all of us safe until he is caught is to stay off his radar, so to speak. I'm sorry if I'm ruining your social calendar, Cassie, but I need to keep you and your Mom safe, and if that means that we'll have to hide somewhere in the backwaters then that's what we're going to do. We'll ship out in an hour." Sam said and left the room.
"After he did what?" Cassie asked the closing door.
"The FBI agent who filled us in said that he forced the judge to look when he killed his daughter and wife. Sam only wants to keep us safe."
"Colonel O'Neill, my office, now!" General Hammond ordered as soon as Sam, Janet and Cassandra had stepped through the Gate.
Master Bra'tac and a couple of other Free Jaffa would wait for them at the other side, officially to show them the accommodations, unofficially to stay and make sure that nothing would happen to them. He knew, when Sam and the doctor returned he would get an earful about that and he also knew that objectively there was no need for such precautions, there was no way that Martin could follow them off-world. In this case, however, he admitted to himself, he was anything but objective; he didn't even try to be objective. And what he was about to ask of his second in command was also neither legal nor professional.
"Take a seat, Jack." He said after the other man had closed the door. "Do you remember when you told me that one day I might have to buy back your soul from the devil?"
"Of course, Sir, and I still owe you." Jack answered.
"That's not how I see it. In my eyes I owe you, and what I'll ask of you now will put me deeper in your debt." Hammond said.
"You want Caleb Martin gone, permanently." Jack stated.
General Hammond looked steadily into Jack's blue eyes. "Yes. I want him gone. Back in jail he only would plot for another chance to escape and kill more people."
"So, you sent Carter off-world to get her out of the picture. She always sides with Daniel when it comes to respect local laws."
"Jack, have you ever hated someone enough to give up everything you are, your career, your life, everything just to find them? Have you ever hated someone enough to put yourself through months of hell just on the off-chance that you would succeed? She did that and more to get Martin." George took a deep breath. "I sent Major Carter off-world to keep Samantha from killing Caleb Martin in cold blood."
"That explains her eyes; I never have seen them that cold before. It will be done, Sir. Carter is not a killer and I don't want her to find out what that feels like. Aside from what Kleist told us, what do I need to know?"
General Hammond bent down, opened the lowest drawer on his desk with a key and pulled out a file folder. "It's all in there, Jack. Read it. Call me when you've finished. The file does not leave this office and its content is on a need to know basis only."
He left the office and Jack opened the folder. The first thing he saw was a glossy 8x10 picture of two blond women, one with blue and one with green eyes.
An hour later he called the general back in. "Sir, your file. Killing him would not have been the right choice for Carter, but it's the right choice for me. You have my word that Caleb Martin will not spend another night in prison. I'm sorry for your loss."
"Sir, what do we do with that reporter? He will want to know what's going on when we tell him that not only the Chief Medical but also the Chief Science Officer of the SGC are not available."
"He's not due for another six days. I'll come up with something by then. Thanks for reminding me."
"It's been five days now, Mom, we have to do something. She doesn't sleep, she barely eats. All she does is sit out there at the edge of the water and stare out at the lake. Something is not right, Sam is not right. It's as if something inside her were suddenly broken. I've never seen her that withdrawn, not even after Jolinar or the Entity. We have to help her; I can see that she's suffering. She tries to hide it but her eyes give her away."
Janet had joined her daughter in the door to the hut they had settled in almost a week ago. It was about half an hour's walk away from the sanctuary where SG-1 had first encountered Oma Desala. She put her arm around the young woman's waist and pulled her close in a gesture of comfort. She wished she could put her arm around Cassie's shoulders to protect her from the anguish her other mother's withdrawn suffering caused her but Cassie was now almost half a head taller than her.
They looked out towards the beach of the lake where Sam was spending her days ever since their arrival. She was sitting in the sand, her knees drawn up to her chest and her chin resting on her knees. From a distance she looked small but whenever Janet had come near her with something to drink or a snack there had been an angry energy emanating from her very core. Until today it had reminded her of General Hammond's words and she kept to her resolve to give Sam all the time she needed.
"We have to trust Sam, Cassie. She will tell us what's going on with her when the time is right. Sam deserves our trust." Janet said.
"I know, it's just that it hurts to see her suffer, Mom. She deserves better than to be left alone." Cassandra said softly.
"You're right, Cassie. The least we can do is not to let her sit out there alone. She's not ready to listen or to talk, but we can show her that she's not alone. Come."
They walked out towards the beach and took a seat to the left and the right of Sam, close enough to touch. Usually when the sun went down Sam allowed herself to be led back to the hut for the night, today, however, neither of the women moved. They just sat there and kept her company.
In the middle of the night Cassie fell asleep hugging her knees, the same position she had been in most of the day. It didn't take long for her to lose her balance and slump against Sam who instinctively pulled her arm around her and let her rest against her shoulder. About an hour later she allowed her other arm to sneak around Janet's shoulders and felt her lover's body relax.
"Mister Bregman, what can I do for you?" General Hammond asked.
"What you can do for me? You can stop taking me for a fool. I was promised interviews with Doctor Fraiser and Doctor Carter and SG-1, your so-called flagship team. What I got was an invisible flagship team, and the boring and obnoxious seconds of the Medical Chief and the Science Chief. They are beautiful women and will make all the difference in the documentary."
"That's Chief Medical Officer and Chief Science Officer, Mister Bregman, and neither Doctor Fraiser nor Major Carter is available at the moment. They're mediating delicate negotiations with some of our off-world allies. The same goes for SG-1; they're on a sensitive undercover mission. It's not my fault that you chose a bad time to get your interviews."
Before Bregman had a chance to reply the klaxon of an unscheduled off-world activation of the Gate sounded.
Teal'c returned with his arms full of Chinese take-out and let the bags drop on the tiny camping table that served them as dinner table and desk. The men of SG-1 were camped out in the living room of an empty apartment just across the street from the office and apartment of Caleb Martin's former lawyer.
Daniel took one of the bags and sighed, "This is such a waste of time. I bet you two weeks of commissary food that the lawyer is an accomplice. Martin will not attack him. I'm even sure that he's in contact with Martin."
"Tell you what, Danny-boy, you're right. I'm tired of sitting on my ass." Jack said and rose from his seat.
"I concur." Teal'c said and helped Daniel up.
"Let's go over there and play bad cop and bad cop and extremely bad cop. We'll scare the shit out of him and get him to talk." Jack said with a dark smile.
Daniel swallowed his breath and whispered, "I love it when you play the big bad colonel. It's sexy as hell."
"Keep your pants on, Danny, you'll get to play when this is over." Jack answered and kissed a slightly pouting Daniel. "Let's go, campers, before Teal'c is forced to act on the increased level of mushiness in the room."
Sam made sure that Cassie and Janet were cradled in each other's arms before she left the beach just after sunrise. She walked towards the sanctuary. A group of male and female Jaffa were out in front of it preparing breakfast. She recognised a few of the women. She had met them during their first contact with the Hak'tyl, the Jaffa women who challenged the traditional gender roles of their culture.
Teal'c's son, Ray'ak was the first to see her come. "Major Carter, what can we do for you?"
"I need a sparring partner." Sam answered.
"The training's ring is over there. Just take a training staff and stand in the middle and someone will come to meet you." He replied.
Sam nodded and followed his instructions. Less than two minutes later a young man entered the ring. He seemed to be only slightly older than Ray'ak. They squared off against each other. Sam waited for him to attack.
Five minutes later he had landed on this backside twice, his staff not able to keep up with the flurry of moves to which Sam subjected him. His ribs, shins, and upper arms were hurting and this time he left the staff on the ground when he stood up and stepped out of the ring.
Her next opponent was Ray'ak. It took Sam twice as long to defeat him but in the end, he too had to concede defeat. By then she had attracted quite an audience, but she didn't seem to care.
A young woman stepped into the circle. She was about as tall as Cassandra, more muscled, and she carried herself like someone who knew what she was doing. They squared off. Sam waited for the attack. They circled each other. Ka'ryn made a few practice moves and let them flawlessly glide into an attack designed to test her opponent's defences. Sam seemed to have anticipated the move and simply stepped out of reach.
From then on it seemed as if the two women had fallen into some sort of dance, a potentially lethal dance, since they didn't pull their punches and hits and strikes. Every moment it seemed as if one of them would get the upper hand, and the next moment the tables were turned. In the end Sam prevailed. She used one end of the staff to sweep Ka'ryn off her feet and knocked her out with the other in a reverse move.
So, that was another opponent taken care of.
Sam's light pants and top were soaked with sweat but she still returned to her spot in the middle of the practice area. She felt alive and ready to go for another couple of hours. She also knew that everything she had done so far was nothing but a game. It was not real. It was not what she needed, not for what she had been searching.
She looked straight ahead but her eyes were slightly lowered. So, she only saw a pair of boots and uniform trousers and the end of a staff weapon, a real staff weapon.
Sam looked up and focused on his eyes. He returned the gaze with equal intensity.
"What are you waiting for, hu-man?"
Sam didn't answer.
"Women are defenceless. I will not attack first." Bra'tac said.
The expected huffing and protests from the female Jaffa didn't come, so she assumed that they had been clued in on what Master Bra'tac wanted her to learn. She was pretty sure that they had set her up.
"Men are weak. I will not attack first." Sam answered.
"If men are weak and women are defenceless, what are we doing here, Tau'ri?" Bra'tac asked.
Sam looked up. It was the first time she looked one of her opponents in the eyes, "Because I am not defenceless and you are not weak."
"I saw that you can fight, now, we'll see if you're a true warrior."
Bra'tac and Sam attacked at the same time. Sam's wooden staff and Bra'tac's real weapon clashed against each other with enough force to make them rebound. With the second bout Sam's wooden staff broke and someone threw her another real staff weapon. It evened the playing field.
Once again they faced off against each other. Once again they were thrown back by the force of their blows. Once again they clashed.
Sam ducked under Bra'tac's next sweep and retaliated with a reverse move that should have brought him down. He just jumped it as if it were nothing. Sam allowed herself to be carried around in a full circle. Her foot hit something hard, something solid. She felt something swishing through the air and ducked. Following her instincts she ducked deeper, and coming up a moment later she lashed out herself but once again her staff only hit his.
This fight had an edge she had missed in her other bouts. It finally was what she had been looking for.
Out of the corner of her eyes she saw the end of Bra'tac's staff coming at her back. It hit her right between the shoulder blades. She felt the impact and moved with the momentum. Sam rolled out of reach, executed a fluent back sweep and managed to unbalance Bra'tac, not enough to bring him down but enough to force him to back away to regain his equilibrium. Sam's instincts told her to press her advantage, to get into his personal space and hit him hard, but she kept her distance. When she saw the slight grin on his face she knew that she would have walked right into a trap.
Bratac didn't give her a chance to think about it further. His next attack forced her a couple of steps back but she kept her defences up and none of his hard strokes hit anything else but her weapon. Sam managed to block his staff long enough to slip around him. He barely had enough time to whirl around when she let loose her own barrage of blows. He stepped back and reached the edge of the training's ring. Her attack was relentless but his blocks held. Sam tried not to fall into a discernible rhythm. She knew it would make her vulnerable for an attack. She also knew that he most likely let her tire herself out but she didn't care. She felt full of energy.
When the inevitable counter-attack came, she was ready. The business end of his staff weapon went for her left side. Sam instinctively felt that it was meant to be a feint, but she let it go through. It hit her ribs, not hard enough to break anything but hard enough to almost take her breath away. She still had the presence of mind to use the opening his move had created and let the end of her weapon slam against his forearm, twice. He lost his grip but still had enough control left to hit her ribs a second time. This time she stepped back but followed it up with a stab at knee level that levered him off his feet.
Sam took a battle-ready stance and waited for him to stand up again and attack her. He didn't disappoint. Her arms trembled with the effort to counter his stabs and sweeps and hits, and before long it was her turn to land on the ground and his to wait for her to get up. Again and again.
Sam felt how her focus slowly changed. This no longer was about getting rid of excess energy. She could feel how the helpless anger with which she had struggled ever since she had heard about Caleb Martin's escape lost its hold on her. Suddenly she felt a lightness she had not known she had missed, an ease which translated itself into a different fighting style and showed on her face in a bright grin. Their violent and short bouts bit by bit turned into a relaxed dance that only stopped when Bra'tac was called away to deal with a message from another group of free Jaffa.
"Come back tomorrow and I will train you, warrior." He said before he left the ring with an almost imperceptible bow.
The cabin was empty when Sam returned. There was a small bathroom attached and she used the shower the Jaffa had rigged up at Janet's request to wash off the sweat. She winced when her fingers touched the sensitive spots where Bra'tac's staff weapon had hit her. She gingerly checked her ribs but was relieved when it didn't feel as if anything was cracked or fractured. Sam knew there would be painful bruises but in her eyes that was a small price to pay for getting rid of the cloud of anger that had been hanging over her all those days. Caleb Martin had cost her enough. She would no longer give him the power to poison her life, her heart, her soul.
Sam towelled herself dry and went in search of her lover, but only found Cassandra sitting on the beach. "Hello, Cass, do you know where your mom is? I need to speak with her. I need to apologise for the last couple of days."
"She said she needed some time alone. She opened the envelope General Hammond gave her for you. She stared at the photo for a long time; there were tears in her eyes and she said she would go for a walk. I followed her to the boulders at the East end of the lake." Cassie had kept her eyes on the water during her answer, but now she looked up. "You hurt her, Sam."
"This photo, where is it now?" Sam asked.
"She took it with her."
"What did it show?"
"You, you and a blond woman with green eyes. You look at her with such love and devotion. Who is she?"
Sam didn't answer. Instead she stood up and pulled Cassie to her feet. "Come. We'll find Janet. It's time to let go of the past. I have a story to tell."
"That's what was written on the back of the photo. 'It's time to let the pain go, Sam. She always hated secrets.' What does it mean?"
"That death shall have no dominion, Cassie. Come." She walked off towards the rock formation in the distance and Cassie followed her slightly confused.
Janet was sitting on a flat rock about six yards from the water's edge. She was still holding the photo and looked at it as if it would be able to talk. She looked so alone and small, so vulnerable.
Sam reached her in a few silent strides and knelt in front of her. "I love you, my Janet, only you."
Janet looked up into the deep blue eyes of her beloved. She could see Sam's sincerity and her love but she didn't allow herself to believe.
"Don't lie to me, Sam. I've always known that there's a part of your heart, of yourself, a part you keep separated, a part to which you allow no one access. Now I know for sure who lives there, and I know I can't compete."
"Oh God, baby. If I had known that you feel that way I would have told you about Jenny long ago. I never wanted you to feel as if you're second choice, you never were. In the beginning I didn't talk about her because it still hurt too much and because I felt bad for falling in love with someone else, someone who completes me and makes me feel whole and safe. I never wanted to hurt you, my Janet, never. Please, forgive me!" Sam said and kissed Janet's trembling hands that were still holding the photo.
"Please, forgive me!" Sam repeated with tears glistening in the corner of her eyes.
"Do you still love her?" Janet asked in a small voice.
Sam found her brown orbs and answered honestly, "A part of me will always love her, just like I still love my mother. I will always be thankful for the time we had together. She taught me how to open my heart. She taught me to embrace life regardless of the risks. She gave me the strength not to run from my feelings and let you in. She taught me to feel. She also made me feel safe, but not in the way you do. Please, forgive me!"
"I love you, and I want to believe you. Tell me about her, Sammy."
"Her name was Jennifer Marie Hammond, and I've known her practically all my life. She was three when I was born. She was the youngest of General Hammond's, Uncle George's daughters, and from the moment I could walk I toddled after her; at least that's what he loved to tell us. Jenny always answered that we were up to par now because I made her move all across the country..."
"When did you meet again? When did you fall in love?" Janet asked; her brown eyes holding Sam's blue ones captive.
"We lost contact for many years, and not only because of the different posts of our fathers. We got reacquainted a couple of months before I turned seventeen. Uncle George was a colonel then and teaching at the Academy in Colorado Springs, and Jennifer was attending pre-med school. I was at the same university, working on my PhD and living with the Hammonds. We became friends, best friends. When I went to the Academy she got a scholarship at the John Hopkins' School of Medicine, and our time together was suddenly very limited with more than fifteen hundred miles between us. I went there as often as I could courtesy of Air Force transporters or we met half-ways."
Sam saw the pain in Janet's eyes but she also knew that she deserved to know the whole truth. So, she swallowed and continued her tale.
"Believe it or not, at the time we still were nothing more but friends. I knew that I wanted more but she never gave any indication that she shared my feelings. So, I became a bit of a player. I took my pleasure where I found it but I never slept with a girl twice. For me it was nothing but carnal satisfaction, and with the Air Forces' stand on homosexuals at the time it was all I thought I could have anyway."
"What about Jonas Hanson?" Cassie burst out. "I always thought you were at least bi."
"Cassie, this is not a question to ask one of your parents," Janet chided the teen.
"It's alright, Janet. She's just curious, and you also have a right to know. I slept with a few men, just to find out what all the fuss was about, and I wasn't all that impressed, and no Curious Cass, I won't go into more details. During my first year at the Academy my father was also stationed in Colorado Springs for about five or six months. It was the longest time we spent in the same town since my mother's death. He tried to set me up with young promising officers. Most of them were boring me to tears within five minutes, or they were proponents of a mindset that should have been banned over a hundred years ago; and I never knew if they really wanted to meet me or if they just wanted to impress my Dad."
Sam wasn't aware that her tale was gradually becoming more detailed, "One day I was preparing to spent a prolonged weekend with Jenny over in Baltimore when he came with plans all made up for his adjunct and me to spent that time at a cabin, fishing. I refused. I told him that I had plans to meet with a friend. He ordered me to cancel my plans. I refused again and we soon were in the middle of a full blown argument. I told him that I was sick and tired of him waltzing into my life and trying to take control. I also told him that if I ever were liable to hit the sack with a fellow officer it certainly would not be one wearing pants with their dress uniforms. He didn't speak one single word to me for the rest of his assignment and shipped out again right after."
Janet laughed out loud and Cassie asked. "What's so funny about Sam's father not speaking to her?"
"Nothing, sweetheart, it's just that if I had known that years ago I would have derived so much more fun out of it." Janet answered. Seeing the confused faces of her loved-ones she added, "Major Paul Davis and I got to know each other quite well over the years, and sometimes while waiting for SG-1 to return from one impossible mission or the other, we left the realm of professional small talk. We came to trust each other and he came to me with a private medical question. He told me that he was gay and while we waited for the test results he told me a story about one of his first commanding officers who had been trying to set him up with his daughter by organising a fishing trip. He also told me that he never had been more relieved in his life than when the colonel had cancelled the trip. He said that he had had bad dreams about trying to charm a woman he never could love, and even worse one who might have fallen in love with him."
Now it was Sam's turn to laugh. "God, one day I'd love to tell my father about that. It would have been worth the two years he didn't speak with me."
"Two years? Didn't you just talk about a few months?" Janet asked.
"He refused to speak to me as long as, and I quote, I didn't get my head back on straight." Sam answered without even a hint of irony in her voice.
"Anyway, back to Jonas. He was one of the assistant instructors in my last year at the Academy. He had a good head for logistics and supply but I didn't have much to do with him. He was working with the younger cadets, mostly. One night there was a pool tournament, staff versus cadets. Jonas and I faced off in the final round and I beat him, soundly. From that day on he set out to seduce me, and at first he was funny and charming. We went out, we had sex a few times, and on Graduation Day he introduced himself to my father as my boyfriend and future fiancÚ. My father lapped it up and I didn't have the heart to tell him that for me Jonas was just another body."
She omitted to say, 'And as far as that goes my vibrator gave and still gives me a better time'.
"But you were engaged, right? It's in the mission reports you allowed me to read." Cassie said.
"Yes, we were, for exactly three weeks. He got it into his head that he was the man in the relationship and had to set the course and he wanted me to practically give up my career before it even had begun. He wanted me to give up my new assignment. He even tried to get me to give up my Indian and give it to him."
"The Indian? You even didn't give that thing up for me." Janet's annoyance was more than just visible, it was evident.
"No, Janet, I didn't, but you were the one who got me to drive more carefully, and when we drive together you never complain about having to ride pillion." Sam said and kissed Janet's knuckles she was still holding in her hands.
"I'm not stupid, Sam. Why should I give up the chance to feel the energy pulsing through your body or feel your body tuned to every irregularity in the road. I bet he wasn't even half as good a driver as you are." Janet answered with a smile and urged her to go on.
Sam smiled back but she didn't answer.
Instead Cassie asked, "And what happened next?"
"Jonas hit me, once, and I let it go. When he tried again I hit back and we both ended up in the hospital. I called off the wedding. My father showed up. From his first words I deduced that it was in an effort to get us back together; but when he had a look at the medical records he changed his tune. Jonas was out of my life and I didn't see him again before he joined the SGC and botched up his first mission as a team leader." Sam answered.
"But that's not what we were talking about." Sam continued. "Are there any other questions you'd like to have answered?"
"You said that you attended College at Colorado Springs, but why were you living with Uncle George? I mean, college, that's freedom, at least it should be. You should have stayed in a dorm. I can't imagine someone giving that up." Cassandra asked.
"That's a story for another time, Cassie. For now let's just say that at the time I had some problems and did some completely irresponsible things like skipping class and drinking and driving too fast. Uncle George and Aunt Maggie helped me to cope, to learn self-control. Without them I never would have made it even to the Academy, not to speak of graduating it.
"I was transferred to the 412th Testing Wing of Edwards Air Force Base in Southern California, part time test pilot, part time engineer. It was challenging and I loved it but it didn't leave me any time to visit with Jenny. Two and a half thousand miles was just too far. A few months later, I was just about to leave my quarters to go to the officer's mess to play a round of pool, there was a knock on my door. Jenny had come to the West Coast for a job interview. I saw her and pulled her inside and kissed her; and she kissed me back. And then she asked me if I treated every visitor like this or if she was ..."
Sam looked into Janet's eyes, "I'm sorry, Janet, I shouldn't go into so much detail. I don't want to hurt you."
"I love you, Sammy, and you loved her. I don't mind the details. Tell me more about her. What kind of person was she?" Janet asked softly.
"She was a lot like you, beautiful inside and out. Jennifer..." Sam fell silent for a moment, "I can see that talking about her hurts you, baby-girl."
"Please, Sam, I need to know."
"The job interview was at the Children's Hospital in Los Angeles, and she was accepted in their oncology department where she could do research and work with children, just as she had always dreamed. Jenny was tender and patient. The children loved her, but she also had a bit of a daredevil in her. She loved rock climbing and parachuting but she never exceeded a speed limit. She laughed a lot and she made me laugh. She kept me from taking myself too serious. We couldn't live together, but the hundred miles between Los Angeles and Edwards were no obstacle for us. They made me a Lieutenant First Class the day before I turned twenty-two, and I thought that life couldn't get any better. I had a fulfilling job and a promising career, and I was the lover of the woman I had dreamed about since I was seventeen.
"I stayed at Edwards for two years and was then assigned to do the mandatory carrier duty. My assignments never let me be as close to Los Angeles as Edwards had been, but we stayed together. We made plans for the future, for after the Air Force when we would have our own children."
"How did you go from just being friends to such a serious relationship?" Janet asked in an effort to ease the pain in her beloved's eyes. "Was it just that first kiss?"
"The kiss had certainly been an eye-opener," Sam answered. "It turned out that Jenny had been just as in love with me as I was with her, but she never acted on her attraction because she thought that I was too young and should first find my way. She always said that she had to hunt me down and move to the other side of the country to keep me from wasting my life with idiots like Jonas Hanson. Jenny reawakened my love for life. She made me appreciate a sunrise or the smell of a flower. After my mother's death I had cut off a part of my heart and she taught me how to open it up again. And I took what I learned from her to let you in. I loved Jenny, I will always love her but not the way I love you. I love you so much, Jan, sometimes it hurts."
"Sam, you don't have to excuse your feelings for Jenny. She sounds like someone I would have liked very much, and if she were still here I would be happy to just be a friend to both of you. Everything you said makes me believe that you belonged together." Janet said and put the picture down.
"Oh God, Jan-baby, that's not what I wanted to tell you. If not for her death, I would not be here. I never would have kept working for the Stargate Program and I never would have met you. I told you, we had plans. I would have left the Air Force to have children with her, and I probably would also have been happy, but I never would have lived my dream. I love Jenny but you are the one who completes me." Sam said with tears in her eyes.
Janet kissed them away and whispered. "I love you, too, my Sammy." Neither woman was aware that Cassie had left them some time ago to give them some privacy. They sank into the other's eyes and for a few minutes nothing else in the world existed for them.
Then Sam asked, "Would you hold me while I tell the rest, Janet?"
"Of course, my love. I will hold you for as long as you'll let me. But you don't have to speak about her death. I already know that it has to do with that man the guys are hunting."
"Caleb Martin. He killed her." Sam said and snuggled in Janet's invitingly opened arms.
She flinched a bit when Janet closed them around her and had to confess to her sparring match with Master Bra'tac. Janet immediately snapped into doctor mode and wanted to check her out, but Sam held her hands.
"Later, please." The raw pain in Sam's eyes made Janet reconsider.
"Alright, later, but if this is more than a bruise the old man gets a piece of my mind," she said.
Sam didn't react to Janet's fierce protectiveness.
"Jenny was on her way home from dinner, a chicken place on Sunset Boulevard. That day, like many times before, she made a detour through Barnsdale Arts Park. She was abducted by a gang who worked along the whole West coast, down to Mexico. They were dealing with drugs and weapons but their main business was white slavery. They called themselves 'The Hive'. They started with homeless kids but also snatched young women from the street. Caleb Martin was their boss and he derived special pleasure from breaking the women and children before they were sold, make them crawl at his feet."
Sam fell silent and rested her head on Janet's chest. Janet stroked her hair and waited for her to continue in her own time. Sam's voice had become completely flat and emotionless. Janet assumed that she needed to do that to keep from being overwhelmed.
"Every once in a while one of the women proved too hard to train and he killed them. The bodies then were dumped in the exact same location from where they had been abducted. A jogger found the body of Jennifer Marie Hammond in a dumpster two weeks after her disappearance. There were signs of severe physical trauma and repeated rape. The most recognisable part of her body was a fresh branding in the middle of her chest, the street sign of 'The Hive'. They did that to everyone who opposed them. Local authorities and the FBI didn't have any evidence against Caleb or any other member of the Hive and two attempts to get an undercover agent in ended with the agents branded and dead."
Janet felt how tense Sam's whole body was and she wished she could make this somehow easier for her beloved, but she also knew that Sam needed to speak about this part of her past.
"I had just finished the dialling mechanism for the Gate when General Hammond came to Cheyenne Mountain to tell me that Jenny had disappeared. I asked for leave to search for her but General West refused. Instead he assigned me to do some routine maintenance. He even threatened to have me transferred out if I didn't comply. Uncle George convinced me to obey. He promised that he would make sure that no stone was left unturned. If not for Catherine I would have gone crazy waiting for news. And for a long time I was convinced that Jenny still could be alive if I had not obeyed."
"Oh, baby, Sammy, don't do this to yourself."
"I stopped blaming myself when I fell in love with you, Jan. When Uncle George came to the mountain and told me that Jennifer had been found, that she was dead, my world ended. I didn't want to believe it, not even when I saw her body, not when I read the autopsy report. It took them forever to release her body and after the funeral Uncle George asked me to pack up her apartment in LA but I couldn't. There were too many memories there. It hurt.
"I saw Jenny's laptop and hacked into the files of the Los Angeles Police Department and found a lot of dead end leads, but I also found a lot of FBI case file numbers. The special agents assigned to investigate 'The Hive' were compulsive note takers, but all they had was speculation, nothing more. They had theories but no evidence. It was clear, however, that their hierarchical organisational structure gave the mob a run for their money and that mafia and law enforcement alike were starting to fear the sign of 'The Hive'. The reality was far worse than what they all thought."
Once again Sam fell silent. "It's alright, Sam. I love you and nothing you'll tell me will change that."
"I did some really bad things, then, Janet."
"Tell me, Sam, please." Janet said.
"I knew that it might take years to find out who had really killed Jenny if I didn't force the issue. The FBI files gave me a list of addresses, clubs and arcades mainly, rumoured to belong to 'The Hive' or have at least some links to them. After about a week of observation I chose the most likely location to meet some of the upper echelon of 'The Hive' and decked the first man who wouldn't take no for an answer. I later learned that he was one of Caleb's right-hand men. His name was Vincent and he didn't like it that I had taken him out this fast. He sent two of his henchmen over to teach me some manners, but I took them out too.
"At the end of the evening Caleb had hired me to do some grunt work. I was fast, efficient, ruthless and didn't ask any questions; just like a good soldier. I gave them a cover story that I had been thrown out of the Air Force for being gay and having a problem with authority. At first it was easy. Though they had their own suppliers for the assorted drugs they were dealing with, they also made it a part of their operations to relieve other dealers of their stock, so to speak. And I had absolutely no qualms going against them."
Sam tried to keep her voice businesslike, but Janet felt that it was a struggle.
"It was a gamble but it worked out better than I had ever expected. I rose quickly through the ranks, so to speak. After a month I was second in command of the Los Angeles drug operation. I used my computer skills to send the LAPD on one wild goose chase after the other, and two weeks later I was called to the bar where I first had met them. It was a Saturday night and aside from Caleb and his bodyguards the bar was empty. He told me that I had a real head for the business and that I had the potential to go far, very far. He also said that should I make as much progress in the arms dealing branch he would offer me a chance he never would offer an ordinary woman. Vincent was in charge of the weapon's traffic and he still was smarting from my first refusal. He did his best to make me fail without outright countermanding Caleb's orders to give me a chance. He didn't succeed. I didn't make it to second in command but after a month my track record was good enough to earn me another summons by Caleb.
"This time the meeting was to be in Santa Monica. I knew that the Feds suspected an upper echelon bordello situated there to belong to 'The Hive'. So, I thought that I was prepared for what I would have to deal with. I wasn't."
Janet knew that now would start the really hard part of Sam's narration. She could feel it in her rigid body and the way how she tried to keep her breathing under control.
"I had steeled myself for a classical whore house, even for an S/M club, not for the almost wall sized view screen playing child pornography, not a disk or tape but a life-feed from one of the private rooms. Vincent was at my side and taunted me for being a bleeding heart and that with such an attitude I just might end up in a dumpster somewhere. I could see his hard-on and at that moment I despised him even more than those paedophiles. I wanted to beat the smug smile out of his face, but I held myself in check because I saw Caleb coming up from the side. He said that Caleb must have been wrong about me, if I couldn't stomach this part of the business.
"Before I knew how I blurted out that that had nothing to do with business. Vincent tried again to goat me; he said that it brought in more money than the other two venues combined. I saw Caleb standing in hearing range and answered that it was not about the money, money could be found almost everywhere. Vincent laughed but Caleb took a step closer and asked me what it was about then, if it wasn't for the money. I looked in his eyes and told him that it was about passion and power. He laughed and led me away to a private party which offered more sedate entertainment. He even had arranged for a couple of girls catering to my needs."
"It's alright, Sam. Go on. You said what you needed to say in order to keep your cover." Janet said.
"I wish it were that easy, Jan, but it isn't..."
Daniel joined Jack and Teal'c at a diner one and a half blocks from the Marriot where he had been checking out room number 246. A certain Martin Garner had checked in there about two days ago. Daniel had posed as the substitute for a room service server to confirm that Martin Garner in reality was Caleb Martin, their elusive suspect.
It had taken Teal'c only two minutes of staring at the man to get Martin's former defence attorney to talk. Two more similar though a bit longer interviews had led the men of SG-1 to the Marriott in San Francisco.
"It's him, Jack, no doubt about that. He's in the process of growing a beard, but it's definitively him. There were two other men in the room, but the other people from room service told me that though he often ordered lunch for two or more people, he always eats dinner alone."
"Any indication that he plans on leaving his room any time soon?" Jack asked.
"Not as far as I could tell." Daniel answered. "Why do you ask? All that's left for us to do is to call Assistant Director Kleist and let them take over."
"All the Feds will have to do is to process his remains, Daniel. I promised myself and General Hammond that he would never again get the chance to hurt or kill someone. Hell, he killed a bailiff and one of the jurors despite the fact that the Feds were supposedly protecting them."
"You're talking about murder, Jack." Daniel said.
"No, DanielJackson, O'Neill is talking about justice."
There was a dangerous glint in Teal'c's eyes, one Daniel had only seen a few times, especially after the Goa'uld Tanith had killed his former lover, Shau'nac of the Red Hills, a priestess of Apophis.
"Explain, Teal'c." Daniel demanded.
"This man is worse than the false gods. He does not deserve to breathe. We protect our own, DanielJackson, and he will not be given the chance to hurt MajorCarter again."
"Alright, Colonel Jack O'Neill, it's time to spill. Tell me what's not in the official reports." Daniel demanded.
"Alright, space monkey, I'll tell you." Jack answered. "The official reports don't say that one of Caleb Martin's victims was Carter's partner and General Hammond's daughter. Carter wanted revenge. General Hammond put it that way. He asked me, 'Jack, have you ever hated someone enough to give up everything you are, your career, your life, everything just to find them? Have you ever hated someone enough to put yourself through months of hell just on the off-chance that you would succeed? Sam did that and more to get Martin.' He said. Carter not only wanted to kill the man who had tortured her lover to death, she wanted to destroy the whole organisation, and she succeeded but it came at a very high price.
Jack then told Daniel and Teal'c everything he had read in the file General Hammond had stored in his office.
"Now I know why Sam's eyes were so cold. Teal'c is right. He hurt her and we will not give him the chance to do it again in any way or form. What's your plan, Jack?"
"Sam, I love you. There's nothing you can't tell me." Janet said,
"Caleb introduced me to his main business. He made more money with slaves and sex videos and snuff that his other venues combined, and he enjoyed every single minute of it. With the drugs and the weapons I was able to convince myself that I was not personally hurting anybody and I told myself that it was all for a good cause. The slave business made me sick. I hated myself for what I had to do to keep my cover. I... I helped him to capture young women, women like Jenny. My own actions made me sick and I couldn't stand it any longer. I sent the information I had gathered to Uncle George and told him to give it to the Feds or the police. I also let him know where they could find Caleb at a certain date and catch him in the act of torturing someone.
"But I had not been cautious enough. Vincent found out. He found out that I had called the Feds but they didn't find out about all the evidence I had gathered over the time. Caleb was angry, to put it mildly, and he made me into his special project. Physical pain did not work on me as it did with the otherwomen, but he soon found out what did. He showed me the snuff video they had made of Jenny's death, over and over again. He... He forced me to rape a young woman. He threatened to kill her if I didn't. I became a monster."
"Oh, Sam, don't do this to yourself, please. You could never become a monster. You did what you had to do to survive."
"No, Jan, that's not why I did it, why in the end I obeyed him. I didn't care about my own life. I had not since Jenny's death. All I cared about was to kill Caleb."
"But you didn't, Sammy."
"Not for lack of trying, Janet. I killed Vincent and injured Caleb but before I could see it through the Feds stormed in and the nightmare was over." Sam answered.
"How hurt were you, Sam?"
"I spent three weeks in the hospital." Sam said. "As soon as I could I made a list of all the crimes I had committed in the months before, but the Feds as well as LAPD refused to press charges. They treated what I did as if it had been a standard undercover operation. I even got a gods-be-damned medal out of it, the FBI Shield of Bravery."
"Jenny would have been proud of you, just as I am." Janet said softly.
"There's nothing to be proud of, Janet. I will never forgive myself for some of the things I did." Sam whispered.
"I love you, Sam, and the next time you have a nightmare about that time you can tell me all about it, and I will hold you and soothe you."
"Could you sing for me, Jan? Please!"
Sam always relaxed when Janet sang to her after waking her up from a nightmare, but she never before had asked for it. Sam rarely allowed herself to show that much vulnerability. So, Janet closed her arms a bit tighter around her beloved's torso and started to sing.
"You know that it's true. That's exactly what I feel for you, my love." Janet said softly after she had finished the chorus for the third time.
Sam looked up and found Janet's brown orbs. "You got that all wrong, baby-girl. I am the one whose standing on your shoulders and every time I look in your eyes I glimpse eternity. I love you, my Jan."
Four days later Caleb Martin's body was found in a dumpster in an alley off Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles and Sam and her family returned to Earth.
General Hammond had been called to the White House to give the new President his personal report on what happened and how a complete team had been wiped out by Anubis' Jaffa in less than five minutes. SG-13 had been on a supposedly harmless recon mission when they had first found what turned out to be a reconnaissance drone of Anubis and only minutes later had found themselves under heavy fire. They had managed to dial Earth to ask for reinforcements but when the teams arrived on the planet all that had been left were four dead bodies. Thanks to the longstanding friendship and trust between General Hammond and President Hayes all that changed at the SGC was that now they had a specialist for intercultural diplomacy as Hammond's right hand, a woman named Doctor Elizabeth Weir.
The first evening back Janet put the picture of Sam and Jennifer she had brought back from Kheb in a frame and placed it on the mantle with the rest of the family photos.
And death shall have no dominion.