She let out an irritated sigh when there was a knock on the door. She rubbed a bleary eye and tried to remember when she’d called to have a pizza delivered. More knocking on the door – it must have been today. Janet got up and listlessly walked to the front door, grabbing her wallet from the hall table as she passed. She stopped short when she opened the door and saw who it was.
Daniel smiled. “Hi, Janet! Have you eaten dinner yet?”
“Dinner – have you had it yet?”
She let out a sigh. “Actually, I thought you were the pizza delivery boy.”
Daniel couldn’t believe how strong the smell of alcohol was on Janet’s breath. He walked inside, brushing past her. “Great! I love pizza.”
Janet just watched dumbly as the archeologist simply walked into her place as if he owned it. Finally she shook her head, closed the door, and followed him into the living room.
Daniel was stunned by the state of the doctor’s living room. Even with a rambunctious teenager, and an absent-minded, genius lover, Janet’s house had always been kept neat and clean. That was no longer the case. There were a number of dirty glasses perched around the room; the couch looked like a messy, unmade bed; there were a couple of plates with the remnants of half-eaten meals on them sitting on the coffee table... and a few mostly empty bottles of liquor.
Janet walked in past where Daniel had stopped and stared at the room, picked up a dirty glass, poured some whiskey into it, plopped back down on the couch, and put her feet up on the coffee table. She didn’t even react when her foot knocked over an empty booze bottle.
He finally found his voice. “Janet...”
She cut her eyes sideways at him. “What? Sam send you to talk to me about the other day? Well, I don’t care – I can’t deal with her right now.”
“No. No. She doesn’t know that I’m here.” He moved and sat next to her on the couch. “Everyone’s worried about you.”
She let out a grunt of disdain. “‘Everyone’ can go to hell.”
“I don’t think you should be alone right now. I understand what you’re going through, Janet,” he said as he reached over and took her hand in his own.
Janet violently jerked her hand out of his, obviously surprising him. “You do not know what I’m going through,” she growled.
“I know what it’s like to lose someone – I lost my wife Sha’re,” he calmly pointed out. “I’m here for you.”
“And yet that’s never stopped you from coming on to me,” she sneered.
“You’re always trying to get closer to me, giving me looks, always trying to hold my hand. I’m gay, Daniel, not stupid. You’ve wanted to get into my pants for years. Just what makes you think that even if I wasn’t gay that I’d ever want to be with the likes of you? So, get it through your thick skull – I’m not fucking interested. Now, get the hell out of my house and don’t come back. Leave me the hell alone!”
Speechless, the stunned archeologist sadly stood and left. Outside he got into his car and just sat there. He’d never seen Janet so angry and full of vitriol. He hadn’t been able think of a reply to what she’d said because she was... not wrong. He had been interested in her almost from the very beginning. There was just something about her, the way she exuded calm and concern for those around her, the way she cared for him whenever he was hurt or sick. He closed his eyes and sighed. He knew he could so easily fall in love with Janet... if he hadn’t already.
Even after he found out Sam was sleeping with Janet, a part of Daniel had still held out some hope of worming his way into her heart – after all, she had been married before, so maybe... Even so, he didn’t think he’d been so obvious about it. He thought he’d kept his desire hidden. He sighed once again. Clearly, he wasn’t the right person to reach out to her. He started his car and drove over to Jack’s house.
Jack was very hesitant to seek out the doctor. He knew what it felt like when someone tried to get him to talk about something he really didn’t want to talk about. It irritated the hell out of him, pissed him off. And of all the people at the SGC, he was the only one to have gone through something similar, the only one who knew what it was like to lose a child. He actually did know what she was going through. No parent should ever outlive their child.
Only after a week had passed with no one being able to contact Janet, a week of her not answering her phone or her door, did he even begin to consider giving in to the pleas of Sam and Daniel. But it was when General Hammond told him what had happened during his meeting with the doctor that morning that Jack decided it was time to talk to her.
Daniel had said the doctor had been drinking – a lot. So Jack, knowing Doc wouldn’t answer her phone or come to the door, decided on another tactic. No stranger to the area liquor stores and bars, he discreetly put the word out – if anyone saw the doctor they were to immediately call him.
General Hammond had called Dr. Fraiser. It had been two weeks since he’d sent her home, hoping the additional time to grieve would enable the doctor to deal with coming back to work, but he’d heard a couple of things about the doctor that had him concerned. The doctor didn’t answer her phone, but he did leave a message telling her to report to his office first thing in the morning.
“Come in,” he barked when someone knocked on his office door. He looked up to see Dr. Fraiser enter. He was surprised she wasn’t in uniform, but he didn’t say anything about it. “Have a seat, Doctor.”
“No thank you. I won’t be here that long.”
She lightly tossed an envelope onto his desk. “I’m resigning my commission.”
Silently he opened the envelope, took out to the letter inside, and read it. He frowned. “I’m afraid I can’t approve this.”
“I have a regular commission and I’ve served my time, General. I no longer have any obligation to the Air Force.”
“That may be, but you know the Secretary of the Air Force can deny your request if he feels your continued service is mission critical. You are too valuable to the SGC to allow you to resign at this time.”
“Mission critical? It’ll be impossible for me to remain at the SGC without a top-secret clearance.”
“What are you talking about?”
She angrily threw a second envelope at him which actually hit and bounced off his chest. “That is my notarized statement informing you that I’m a lesbian. I have a copy for the Secretary and anyone else who wants or needs one. If necessary I can produce witnesses to corroborate my statement.”
She put her hands on the edge of his desk, leaning forward on them. “Read my lips, General: I like to fuck women. So do whatever it is you have to – accept my resignation or court martial me. Either way I don’t give a damn, because I’m never coming back to the SGC.”
Hammond was at a loss. The meeting certainly hadn’t gone anything like what he’d anticipated. Personally he couldn’t have cared less if she was a lesbian, but she was effectively backing him into a corner with her words and actions. He scrambled for a way out.
“You know, I can shred this and no one would know.”
“Then I’ll send one directly to the Secretary. You and I both know my clearance will be yanked faster than you can say Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. No clearance – no posting at the SGC. No posting at the SGC – no more ‘mission critical’ reason not to approve my resignation.”
“There has to be a way to work this out, Doctor. I don’t care if you’re gay – I still want you as my CMO.”
“Don’t you get it?! I can’t be here! I can’t stand the sight of this place! I can’t stand the sight of the people here! I can’t stand the sight of you! So unless you’re going to have me arrested, I’m leaving and never coming back.” She turned to leave.
“I could have Dr. MacKenzie intercede. Have him place you on a psych hold,” he replied, angry that she was being so unreasonable.
The petite woman whirled around, her face a mask of raw fury. “Just fucking try it! Homosexuality is not a mental illness.” She slammed the door as she marched out of his office.
It took three days, but Jack finally got the call. Janet Fraiser was in Bob’s Trading Post. It was a real dive in a small town called Larkspur (population approximately 200), about halfway between Colorado Springs and Denver. He’d only been there a handful of times himself, but it was a good place to go when you didn’t want to see anyone from work.
He walked into the bar, looked around, and walked up to the bartender. He made a purchase and then wandered over to the dark corner booth where the doc was sitting.
Janet was not pleased to see the colonel there. The reason she’d chosen this particular bar was to avoid anyone she knew. She didn’t acknowledge his presence... until he set a bottle of single malt he’d just bought from the bartender on the table directly in front of her.
“That stuff you’re drinking is nothing but rotgut. Let’s at least have some of the good stuff.” He sat down, opened the bottle, and poured a significant amount into each of the two clean glasses he’d also obtained from the barkeep. He slid one over to her and took a healthy swig from his own glass.
Not caring who bought the whiskey – as long as he didn’t expect her to talk – she downed hers in three large swallows. Jack refilled her glass. She glared at him. “No talking.”
He nodded in agreement. “No talking. Just drinking.”
Jack was impressed by the petite doctor’s ability to drink and hold her liquor. He was already seeing double and she was drinking the whiskey twice as fast as he was. While she was in the bathroom, Jack went up to the bar and asked the barkeep to call a taxi. There was no way either one of them could get behind the wheel of a car.
When Janet returned from the bathroom she grabbed the bottle and poured the last of its contents into her glass. She tossed back the amber liquid, no longer noticing the burn as it went down. She looked across the room at the barkeeper.
“Hey, barkeep! Bring us another bottle.”
He shook his head. “I think you’ve had more than enough.”
“Fine. I’ll just go elsewhere.” She stood, and wavered for a few moments.
She turned to look at the colonel. “I said no talking.”
“I know. Just wanted to say I gotta cab coming. We can use it to go somewhere else.”
The taxi arrived only a couple of minutes later. Once in the back of the cab, Jack named a bar not far from his house. As he’d hoped, Janet ended up falling asleep on the drive back to town, so he changed the destination to her house instead.
When Janet woke up, she immediately threw an arm across her eyes to block out the light. However, her over-full bladder demanded she get up off the couch anyway. With eyes mostly shut, she ungracefully made her way to the bathroom. When she returned to the living room she noticed the person passed out in her recliner. She shook her head... and immediately regretted it. In the kitchen she poured herself a stiff drink and tried to remember what had happened the night before. By the time she finished her drink she’d mostly remembered. O’Neill had showed up at the bar and bought a bottle with the promise of no talking.
She poured a second drink and went back to the living room, setting the bottle on the end table beside the couch. She was sipping her drink with Jack woke up with a groan.
“Ugh... I’m getting too old for this shit,” he murmured softly so as not to increase the pounding in his head. When he finally opened his eyes, he spotted the doctor on the couch. “Isn’t it a little early for that?” he asked, referring to her drink.
“Go to hell,” she replied in a flat, emotionless tone.
Jack recognized that tone. He’d used enough himself after his son died. Before getting into things with the doc though, he needed to use the bathroom. He brought the recliner upright and stood up. His stomach felt like he’d drank a vat of acid, but at least he wasn’t nauseous. After going to the bathroom he returned. He sat in the recliner and just looked at the woman who’d saved not only his ass, but just about every single person at the SGC.
“I thought I told you no talking.”
He frowned. “Now look, I abided by your rules all last night. I even supplied the whiskey. I think you at least owe it to me to hear me out.”
“I don’t owe anyone at the SGC anything, least of all you.” She picked up the bottle and poured herself another drink.
“The way you’re going there, it’s beginning to make me wonder if you maybe you should consider a 12-step program or something.”
She cut her eyes sideways at him for a moment before looking away again. “I don’t need a damn program. I’m not drinking because I can’t stop – I’m drinking because I want to. I’m a doctor and I know the difference.”
Considering the fact he’d never actually seen her get drunk at any of the parties, BBQs, or get-togethers they’d both been to, he wasn’t going to debate the point any further. Maybe she was telling the truth. He let out a sigh. “You know, I do understand what you’re going through.”
“And that is the only reason I haven’t castrated you yet.”
He smirked involuntarily... until he realized she wasn’t joking. He cleared his throat. “Um, it’s because I do understand that I haven’t been trying to bug you.”
“You and Teal’c are the only two who haven’t been.”
He shrugged. “Teal’c said it’s rare, but not unheard of, for a Jaffa to completely withdraw and live like a hermit after a...” he search for the right word, “... loss. He figures it’s your choice.”
“Smart man.” She let out a sound of disgust. “Now if only Sam would learn a thing or two from Teal’c. She calls both my home phone and my cell at least three times a day.”
“Yeah.” He paused for a long moment. “And considering what you told the general the other day... I can make a pretty good guess as to why she’s been so persistent.”
Janet turned her head and pinned his with a defiant glare. “It must really chap your ass.”
She finished her drink. “Knowing that I got to fuck Sam and you never will.”
His eyes got as wide and round as saucers. He definitely hadn’t expected an outburst like that.
“Get out of my house, Jack.”
She popped up to her feet, her blood boiling. “I SAID GET THE FUCK OUT OF MY HOUSE!!” she yelled and threw her empty glass against the wall, shattering it.
Knowing from his own experience that it was futile to try to reach someone when they were that enraged, he stood, gave her nod, and walk out the front door. He used his cell to call for a cab from her front porch.
Two days after Jack spent the night at her house, Janet’s home phone and cell were both cut off. When the team went by her house to check on her they found a moving company packing up everything in it... and no sign of Janet.
Technically, she was AWOL since it took time to process a resignation. It was only because of that reason the general allowed Sam to use military sources to try to track the doctor down. However, there had been no activity on any of Janet’s credit cards – only the withdrawal of the money in the savings account Janet has set up as Cassie’s college fund. With that much cash Janet could go a long time and stay completely off the grid if she didn’t splurge. It was obvious the doctor did not want to be found.
Hammond could have filed charges against Janet for being AWOL, but considering everything the doctor had done for Earth, and for other worlds, he did nothing.
It was almost three weeks later when Sam’s phone rang in the middle of the night.
“Hello?” she mumbled sleepily.
“Is this Major Samantha Carter?”
Recognizing an ‘official’ voice when she heard one, even half-asleep, Sam turned on the light on her nightstand and sat up. “Yes, this is Major Carter.”
“Hi. My name is Dr. Joanne Garnett. I’m calling from Vancouver General Hospital, in Vancouver, British Columbia. Do you know a Janet Fraiser?”
“Yes! Where is she? How is she?!”
“She was injured and brought into our emergency room. In her wallet we found a card that listed you as her emergency contact.”
“What happened? How is she?”
“I’m afraid Ms. Fraiser was in a car accident and isn’t doing very well. Do you know if she has a living will?”
Sam thought she was going to be sick. After three weeks of not knowing where the woman she loved was, to get this kind of phone call... She had to take a couple of deep breaths to keep from getting sick, and tried to concentrate. “Y-Yes she does. I know she listed some very specific criteria in it since she’s a medical doctor, but I-I don’t remember all of it.”
“Would it be possible for you to get a copy of it to us?”
“Yes. I’ll bring it with me. I’ll be there as soon as possible.”
After placing a phone call to Colonel O’Neill to tell him what was going on, Sam discovered the earliest flight she could get to Vancouver was an 8:30 am flight out of Denver. She looked at the clock – 3:40 am. Five hours too long! There was no way she was going to get back to sleep so she got up.
Sam got dressed, packed a small carryon, and opened the small fire safe in her closet. In it were certain essential documents – including Janet’s wills and her own. Sam withdrew Janet’s living will, placing it in her pocket so as not to risk losing it. She managed to fix and eat a small breakfast, despite not being hungry. A good soldier always grabbed sleep and food when possible, because events might not allow time for them later.
The blonde wanted to avoid rush hour so she decided to leave the house at 6:30 even though Denver was only 30 miles way. She was surprised when she headed out her front door and found all three of her teammates waiting for her. A huge lump formed in her throat and she had to wipe away the tears that welled in her eyes. With a tremulous smile she gave them a nod of gratitude as Daniel took her bag, Teal’c opened the front passenger door of O’Neill’s truck for her, and the colonel got behind the wheel and started it up.
It was several minutes before she thought she could speak without breaking down and crying. Surprisingly, the men had given her that time in respectful silence. “Th-thanks, you guys.” A few tears rolled her cheeks in defiance of her will.
“Teal’c can’t really go, and Daniel has a mission with SG-11 this afternoon, but I’ll fly up there with you,” Jack gently informed her. Daniel could have been excused from the mission, but the archeologist had awkwardly informed Jack that his presence probably wouldn’t be welcomed by Janet... and the reason why. However, Jack didn’t see any reason to say anything to Carter about that part.
“You don’t have to do that, sir.”
“Carter... Sam, we’re a team, a family. And Doc’s part of the family... always will be.”
Sam silently stared out the passenger side window as tears rolled down her face unabated.
Teal’c and Daniel waited with Jack and Sam until it was time for them to go. After giving the keys to his truck to Daniel, Jack promised to keep in touch to let them know how things were going and to let them know when they’d be coming back.
When Jack and Sam landed at Vancouver International Airport, they headed directly for the taxis, the fastest way to get where they needed to go. At the hospital they checked with the visitors’ desk where they were directed to the ICU. They walked up to the main desk in ICU.
A young woman looked up at the tall blonde. “May I help you?”
“I received a call early this morning from a Dr. Joanne Garnett. She called me about a patient you have named Janet Fraiser.”
“Just a moment.” The young woman pulled up some information on her computer terminal. “Please have a seat. Dr. Garnett with be with you shortly.”
“Is there any way we can see Janet while we’re waiting?”
“I’m sorry, you need to speak with the doctor first.”
The two Air Force officers took a seat in a couple of the nearby chairs.
“I got a bad feeling about this,” Sam murmured.
“Don’t get yourself worked up, Carter. You know how tough our doc is. Let’s wait to see what the doctor has to say.”
It was only about a minute before a tall redhead in a ubiquitous lab coat and scrubs approached them. “Major Carter?”
Sam stood up. “Call me Sam.”
“I’m Dr. Garnett; I spoke with you on the phone early this morning.”
“Yes. How is Janet, Doctor?” she asked even as she took out Janet’s living will.
“Are you family?”
“Yes,” Jack immediately interjected.
Sam handed over the living will. “We’re...” She wasn’t sure what to say what they were. Even though she’d moved out of Janet’s house, she didn’t consider them broken up. She was just giving Janet some time and space to get through everything. Her eyes watered. “We’re partners,” she finally said tremulously.
Garnett nodded in understanding. “I’m afraid Janet is not doing very well. She had a head injury which caused a subdural hematoma. She first presented to us in the ER as altered and combative but then lost consciousness. Because of the elevated intracranial pressure, we had to drill a hole in her skull to drain the blood and relieve the pressure. We’re monitoring her, but she hasn’t shown any signs of coming out of the coma.”
“Can we see her now?”
“Sure. But only one at a time.”
Jack patted Sam’s shoulder. “You go. I’ll be here if you need me.”
With a nod of thanks, she followed the redhead to Janet’s room.
Sam was aghast at the sight of Janet. She was so pale, hooked up to numerous monitors and machines, and looked so much smaller than usual. There was no way Sam could hold back her tears. As she moved to stand next to her lover’s bed and placed her hand over Janet’s still one, the doctor reviewed her chart.
Dr. Garnett then reviewed her patient’s living will. It was pretty specific and explicit, something not unusual for a medical doctor. If Janet didn’t respond to treatment within a certain amount of time, she would have to disconnect all life-support. She looked up at the stricken blonde. “Do you know what her living will says?”
Sam nodded. “I reviewed it on the way here. She doesn’t want to be kept on life-support indefinitely.”
“Right. She was very specific. If her GCS doesn’t improve to a certain level...” she trailed off. “I’m afraid we’re on the clock.” She took a deep breath and let it out. “I’ll leave instructions with the nurses to allow you unrestricted visitation.”
“Thank you,” Sam replied tearfully.
Dr. Garnett left the room.
Jack was getting some coffee from a vending machine when he saw the redheaded doctor. “Excuse me, Doctor?”
She turned and saw the man that had arrived with Major Carter. “Yes?”
“How is Doc Fraiser doing?”
“Not very well. Since she’s a medical doctor, she left very explicit instructions in her living will. If we don’t see some improvement in her GCS soon – that’s Glasgow Coma Scale – I’ll have no choice but to disconnect the life support. There’s nothing more we can do; it’s up to her now.”
He shook his head. “She’s a fighter. You just got to give her time to fight her way back.” He paused for a beat. “Do you know what exactly happened, how she came to be injured?”
“From what I was told, the cab she was riding in was in a terrible accident. She should have had more injuries, but her blood alcohol content was so high she may have already been passed out and didn’t brace before the impact, sparing her some broken bones.”
Jack nodded in understanding.
“Does she... Does Janet have a drinking problem?” Garnett asked gently.
Jack sighed. “Only since...” He had to stop and try to clear the tightening in his throat. “Only since her 15-year-old daughter died a few weeks ago.
“I see,” she replied softly. “Well, I have to go...”
“Jack. Jack O’Neill. Just call me Jack.”
“I have to go, Jack, but I would suggest making sure Sam takes a break every so often from sitting with Janet. She won’t do Janet any good by letting herself get overwrought and run down.”
He nodded in understanding. “I’ll look out for her.”
In Janet’s hospital room, Sam had pulled a chair up to the edge of her bed so she could sit down and still hold onto her hand. Sam and her team had been hurt or sick in the infirmary often enough to know that even when a person was unconscious, they still sometimes heard what was going on around them.
So, just as she had done a number of times for her teammates, and as they had done for her, she talked to Janet. She told Janet about missions she and SG-1 had been on in the intervening weeks. She told Janet about a hilarious outcome of a diplomatic visit gone awry and how the general unwittingly ended up the butt of an alien joke, but still managed to save the day and keep a little bit of his dignity intact.
And she told Janet how much she loved her and needed her.
“The doctor said it’s up to you, Janet. I know you – I know you can fight your way back to us if you want to. I know you’re hurting. We lost Cassie, but–” her voice cracked, “we still have each other. I’m right here, baby, and I’m not going anywhere.”