Janet, Laira, Garan and Naytha had to stay in the cave for over five days. But, finally, the meteors stopped impacting and they ventured out. The village was still there... or at least some of it was. There were a number of burned and knocked down houses. When they saw Laira’s home still standing, Garan rushed ahead and opened the door. There were several people inside, some were injured. When Janet entered with Laira, following Naytha, she immediately went into doctor mode.
“Garan, see if my medkit is still here.”
The boy found it and Janet went to work cleaning cuts and scrapes and treating burns. Laira assisted her. The man who’d been so rude to Janet had a broken arm which Janet splinted.
With a dazed look he told her what had happened. “One struck Talmar’s home. Three families were inside. We are all that are left.”
“Why did you stay?”
“On the third day we could take no more. We fled to the stone ring... where it used to be...”
“Used to be?” Having finished with her patients, Janet ran out of Laira’s house and to the gate. All she found was a large trench with gravel and dirt where the stargate once stood. She looked around, realizing that she had no way home, no way to get back to her daughter, her friends, her family.
Laira joined her, also stunned by the absence of the stargate. “It’s gone. I’ll never see my people again. They can never come home.”
With tears in her eyes, Janet shook her head.
Laira started to reach out, to comfort her new friend. “And you...”
Feeling too vulnerable, Janet walked away from Laira, kicking at dirt and rocks. Sadly, Laira left Janet to her grief and returned to her home.
It was after dark when Janet finally left the clearing and returned to Laira’s house. All of the remaining villagers had decided to eat dinner together.
“Thanks be to the ancestors that we live and have a roof to shield our heads. Thanks be to the ancestors that we have food to sustain and nourish us.” Laira had just said the dinner blessing when Janet entered.
Paynan glared at Janet as soon as she opened the door. “This is all that remains of our people because of you!”
Naytha was near tears. “My mother and father...”
“You took them away through that thing, and now it is gone!”
Janet, full of her own grief, snapped back. “That thing probably saved their lives! And if you’d have shut up and listened to us in the first place, this wouldn’t be the situation!” Janet took a couple of steadying breaths and looked at Laira. She then turned to leave.
Laira immediately stood and went to Janet, stopping her with a hand on her arm. She glared at Paynan, “This is my home,” then looked into Janet’s eyes, and spoke gently, “and you are welcome here. You need to eat.”
Sliding her hand down the doctor’s arm, Laira took Janet’s hand in own and led her back to the table, and the seat next to her own.
SG-1 and General Hammond were again looking at an active stargate, after sending another MALP to Edora and again receiving no telemetry.
“No signal from the radio transmitter, sir,” Walter reported.
“If the Edoran stargate were truly buried, how then was a wormhole established?” Teal’c asked.
“The meteor hit while the wormhole was active,” explained Sam.
“So?” asked the colonel.
“So it’s possible that the molten naquadah hardened just above the event horizon.”
“Like an iris?” Daniel asked.
Hammond sighed, “Sergeant, shut it down.”
“That was our last shot, people. I’m calling this one. As of right now, I’m officially calling Dr. Fraiser missing in action.”
“General Hammond, perhaps Edora can be reached by another means.”
“That’s right,” Jack agreed. “The Tok’ra could send a ship.”
“Or, or the Tollan...” Daniel suggested. “Let me at least contact those of our allies that are capable of interstellar travel, see if they’re willing to help.”
“Very well, Doctor.”
Janet washed her face in a basin. She was physically tired and emotionally wrung out. As she dried her face Laira approached her and handed her a shirt.
“I thought you might like a clean work shirt. I’ve never worn it; I made it just the other day.”
“There’s a chance the stargate is just buried...”
“We have to rebuild before the harvest and... there are very few of us now.” Laira felt so bad for her new friend, but knew there was nothing she could do. If she’d been cut off from her son, she’d have been inconsolable too. She laid a gentle hand on the doctor’s shoulder. “You need to sleep, come to bed.”
“I will, shortly.”
Laira was asleep by the time Janet laid down on the bed. She, however, was unable to sleep all night.
Sam couldn’t give up – not on Janet. She wracked her brain until an idea formed. She went to see the general.
“Wormhole physics – a field, Major, that you pioneered – states that under these conditions ordinary matter won’t even reintegrate on the other side. There’s no way to overcome that.”
“I think there is, sir. And I’m not the one who thought of it – Sokar did.”
“Yes, sir. When he tried to breach the iris by bombarding it with a particle beam, subatomic particles, barely small enough to reintegrate, produced energy as they decayed.”
“Which caused the iris to heat up.”
“Exactly. Now, if we could do the same thing, we could melt the hardened naquadah barrier just above the event horizon and create a pocket of super-heated gas.”
“Then all we have to do is open the gate again, sir. The unstable vortex it normally generates would then be allowed to expand into that pocket and create and even larger cavern. One person might be able to go through, sir, and dig it out.”
“I think we can safely assume Teal’c would volunteer. But...”
“We don’t have a particle beam generator, sir. We’d have to build one.”
“Then you’d better get started.” Having Sam’s not inconsiderable intellect working on the solution made Hammond feel significantly better. They would get Dr. Fraiser back.
Janet, of course, rolled up her sleeves and went to work helping the survivors rebuild and prepare for the harvest. However, she was not able to give up the hope of ever getting home. She couldn’t bear the thought of never seeing her daughter again. As a mother, she’d do anything she had to, to get back to her daughter. So, after the day’s work, Janet grabbed a shovel and went to where the stargate used to stand and began to dig.
Garan came looking for her. He removed his hat and held out a small bundle. “You, uh, missed evening meal. I brought you something.”
“Well, you got to be; you worked all day in the fields.”
“I’ve got a couple of hours of good light left.”
“I’m sorry,” the boy said softly.
“You can’t go home... it’s my fault.”
Unable to remain angry at the remorseful teenager, she sighed. “No it’s not.”
Garan, not believing her denial, put his hat back on and walked away as Janet continued to dig.
Daniel walked into Sam’s lab and watched her working on her computer. He set a mug of his special coffee blend on the workbench next to her. “You working through the night again?”
“Yeah. Lot of work to do.” She picked up the mug of coffee and took a sip. “Thank you.”
“Look, Sam, there’s no doubt you’re going to solve this, but you have to accept the fact that it’s going to take time.”
“Yeah, well, if I think that way it could take months!” she snapped.
“The Tollan could have a ship in the vicinity of Edora sometime early next year.”
“Janet shouldn’t have to wait that long... neither should Cassie,” she added softly.
Daniel regarded his friend and teammate for a couple of moments. “You miss her.”
“Yeah. Of course I do, she’s my best friend.”
Daniel realized, whether Sam did or not, that there was more to it than that. “Is this a problem?”
“No, no... of course not.”
“Okay.” He gave her shoulder a squeeze. “Good night.”
Janet was sitting on the bank of the lake; every so often she tossed a stone into the water and watched the ripples. It was getting dark and the stars were just coming out.
Laira approached. “Many of us fear the fire rain will come again. Do you?”
“No. If Daniel and Sam were right, and they usually are, it’ll be another 150 years before that happens again. It’s a long time.” Janet leaned back on her hands and looked up at the first few stars of the night. “I was kind of wondering which direction home was.”
Laira pointed down a pathway. “It’s this way.”
“No, I meant–”
“I know what you meant.” Laira knelt next to Janet and held her hand out. “Come, I’d like your company.”
Janet’s eyes watered. “I don’t even like my company right now.” She wasn’t used to what she was feeling. As a doctor there was almost always something she could do, something she could try. And while she didn’t win every fight, she at least went down fighting for her patient. The feeling of total helplessness about her current predicament was consuming her.
“You will again. Loss is that way. I mourned my husband for a hundred days. I never left my house; I never spoke to anyone.”
“I left my house and I spoke to people. Walk with me,” she said gently.
Janet finally took her hand and they stood. They walked, hand in hand.
Even though Janet and Laira had been sleeping in the same bed, their fledgling relationship did not progress to anything beyond hand holding and a few kisses. A part of Janet felt as if taking that step would have meant giving up on the hope of ever going home. And Laira didn’t push. She knew Janet had to come to acceptance on her own. In the meantime, they lived and shared a simple life for nearly three months.
Laira found Janet on her knees in the new garden, tending to the just sprouting vegetables. Janet was wearing homemade Edoran garments.
Laira held a canteen out to the kneeling woman. “You left this at the house.”
Janet sat back on her knees and wiped the sweat from her forehead with the back of her hand. She smiled up at Laira. “Thank you,” she said as she reached for the proffered canteen. She took a long drink and then used some of the water to rinse the dirt from her hands, wiping them dry on a rag. She then took Laira’s hand and stood. They slowly walked together down the path.
“The garden looks wonderful. You’ve worked so hard on it.”
Janet shrugged. “Gardening is something I’ve always enjoyed.”
“Paynan asked about you today.”
Janet arched an eyebrow.
“And he’s invited you to evening supper.”
“Why? He doesn’t even like me.”
“And yet you’ve planted and tended his garden,” Laira said with a knowing smile. “He’s very grateful for all the help you’ve given him.”
“Just helping out like everyone else.”
“Still, you’ve worked very hard. Thank you.”
“Anything I can do.”
Laira stopped walking. “There is something.”
Janet looked at her expectantly. “What?”
Laira gazed into her dark brown eyes. After a few moments she brought her hand up and lightly brushed her fingers through Janet’s hair. “It’s too soon... but you’ll know when the time comes.”
Janet knew exactly what Laira meant. In fact, it had been on her mind quite a bit recently. Laira had been so patient and understanding, she’d held Janet when the sadness overwhelmed her at night, and yet she’d asked nothing in return. Laira was the only bright spot for Janet on Edora.
So, Janet moved closer to Laira, gently took her face in both her hands, and placed a tender kiss on her lips. “Yes, I will know when it’s time,” she said softly when their lips parted. They resumed their walk – arm in arm.
After cleaning up at the house and changing clothes, Janet and Laira went to Paynan’s for dinner, followed by a rather lively party.
Paynan poured Janet a cup of some homemade brew. She took a swallow and then coughed and wheezed. The man grinned.
“So what do you think?”
“Absolute rotgut!” But she held her cup out for some more, earning her some overdue respect from the surly man.
Janet made sure to only sip her drink after that. She and Laira sat next to each other as a few people played some music and several of the villagers danced. She watched as Naytha was blindfolded and spun in circles. Dizzy, she swayed as she moved and ended up in front of Garan where her blindfold was removed.
“What just happened?” Janet asked.
“The ancestors guided her to the one they wish her betrothed.”
“She was peeking!” Both women laughed.
Suddenly Janet was pulled from her seat and blindfolded. Hands spun her around several time and then gently pushed her. Strong arms encircled her waist as she almost stumbled into the person she ended up in front of. She reached up, took the blindfold off, and gazed into Laira’s understanding eyes. Janet pressed against Laira and kissed her cheek as they began to dance.
Arm in arm, Laira and Janet entered her house. Janet was a little tipsy, but in control of her thoughts and actions. She felt good for the first time in 89 days. She was living in the moment and had enjoyed the camaraderie of the villagers and their utter lack of judgment about the closeness, and obvious attraction, between her and Laira. She closed her eyes as Laira took her in her arms and kissed her, making her head swim.
“Garan?” Janet asked when their lips parted.
“It’s just us tonight,” replied Laira. She brought her hand up and caressed Janet’s cheek. “I wanted to be patient. I wanted to wait until you had let go of the life you left behind... until you know that you belonged with us. Tonight... I see it in your eyes.”
“Laira... you should know... a part of me is never going to let go of what I left behind. I’ll never forget my daughter.”
“I would never ask you to. I only want the part of you that can be happy here.”
Janet felt something inside let go. She could be happy on Edora – it wasn’t at all like her life on Earth, but she could be happy there... or at least a part of her could be. So she replied with a kiss.
Their kiss deepened and without spoken agreement they moved into the bedroom. They slowly undressed each other and lay down on the bed in each other’s arms. Janet allowed herself to just feel and enjoy the moment, and what Laira was doing with her hands and mouth felt so good. As Laira kissed and licked her way down her body and nuzzled her inner thighs Janet brought her knees up and parted them. She sank her fingers into soft, curly hair and moaned.
After Janet climaxed, Laira moved up and kissed her, letting the younger woman taste herself on her lips and tongue. Once Janet caught her breath, she pushed up against Laira and rolled her over so that she was on top of her. She kissed her way down to her chest and took a hard nipple into her mouth. It wasn’t long though before she abandoned Laira’s breasts and settled between her thighs. Laira came with a loud moan.
They fell asleep entangled in each other’s arms that night.
Despite not feeling the best the next morning, Janet left the house and returned to Paynan’s garden, to finish with the weeding.
Paynan, who was obviously much more hung-over than she was, came out and handed her a cup. Janet accepted it but eyed it warily.
“It’s just water.”
“As long as it’s not whatever we were drinking last night.”
“Tolka.” He winced. “It has a bite to it.”
She gave a small nod. “Oh, yeah. That it does.”
Paynan just stood there grinning at Janet.
She eyed him and arched an eyebrow. “What?”
“She’s a fine woman.”
Janet didn’t even pretend to not know what he was talking about. “Yes, she is.”
“Took you long enough to see it,” he said with a smirk before going back inside.
Teal’c was with Sam and the general in the control room as Walter sent a MALP through the stargate.
“MALP should be arriving at the Edora gate in three... two... one. Receiving telemetry– No, wait. We lost it; there’s no signal.”
“What happened?” asked Hammond.
“The transmission was interrupted at the source, sir.”
“Play back the visual,” Sam ordered. The sergeant did so. “Whoa! There – see?”
All three stared at the paused playback. On the monitor was the image of an underground spiral of some sort.
“The gate is horizontal, as you thought, Major Carter.”
“The MALP just slipped back through the event horizon. It means the vortex will have dug part way to the surface. Teal’c, you’ll need to secure yourself above the event horizon as soon as you’re on the other side and you’ll have to carry everything you need.”
The general looked at him. “I hope you do, son, because if you fail to dig your way to the surface, this will be a one-way trip.”
Teal’c was in the gate room preparing for his mission. Since the gate on Edora was on its side and he needed to anchor himself above the event horizon, he hefted a large harpoon and fired it through the wormhole.
Once on the other side with both himself and his equipment secured to the ceiling of the cavern he keyed his radio. “General Hammond, I have secured myself on the other side.”
“I will begin immediately.”
Janet was returning to the house when she saw Laira come out carrying a basket. As they neared each other she saw the contents of the basket – it was all her SGC stuff except for any medical supplies.
“Going somewhere with that stuff?”
“I just thought you might not need these things anymore.”
“Well, wait... some of that’s pretty good. The jacket is...”
“Does it remind you of home?”
Janet took a deep breath and closed her eyes a few moments. It had been 101 days since she’d been stranded on Edora, 12 days since she and Laira became lovers. She opened her eyes. “Toss it.”
“Are you sure?”
Teal’c was trying to drill through the ceiling of the cavern.
“What’s your progress, Teal’c?”
“It is most difficult, O’Neill.”
“The gate will shut down automatically in 60 seconds,” Sam informed him. “At that point we won’t be able to open it again from this side. The vortex would vaporize everything within the cavern.”
“You may want to wish me ral’tor’kee.”
Daniel nodded. “Good luck, Teal’c.”
Laira was at the water’s edge as she started to go through the contents of the basket, when she picked up Janet’s radio she turned the dials out of curiosity. However, she was more than surprised to hear Sam’s voice come through it.
“15 seconds ‘til shut down... ten seconds ‘til shut down... five seconds...”
That evening at the dinner table Janet was explaining something to Garan when she noticed Laira silently staring at the table and not eating.
“Is something wrong with the food? Did I overcook the meat?”
“No, no.” Laira couldn’t look at the woman who’d stolen her heart in the eyes. And despite the pain she knew she was going to experience, she was too honorable to hide something from the younger woman. Besides, if Janet’s people could return to Edora, so could her people. She took a steadying breath. “When I was taking your things away today... I thought I heard a sound come from this.” She brought her hand up from her lap. In it was Janet’s radio. “Perhaps it was a voice...”
Janet snatched the radio from Laira’s hand and headed out the door. She grabbed the shovel she’d used previously when she was tried to dig up the gate several weeks earlier. “This is Dr. Janet Fraiser, come in?”
“Dr. Fraiser!” Teal’c replied.
“Teal’c! Where are you?”
“Attempting to reach the surface. Little oxygen remains, Dr. Fraiser.”
Janet arrived in the clearing and turned another dial on her radio. “I’ve got you on R.D.F. signal!” The radio was emitting beeps, their frequency guiding her to the correct location. “I’m right on top of you!”
Janet started to dig as Teal’c continued to chip through from below. Garan, who had followed Janet with another shovel, arrived and started to dig alongside her. Out of the corner of her eye she caught a glimpse of Laira as she arrived at the clearing. Janet stopped and looked at Laira. They held each other’s eyes, communicating silently.
I know... I understand.
Janet continued her digging. In only a few moments, the combined efforts of Janet, Garan, and Teal’c created a hole. Janet dropped to her knees and looked through the opening. She couldn’t resist sticking her hand down and making physical contact with the Jaffa.
“Teal’c! Are you ever a sight for sore eyes!”
“I am pleased to see you as well, Dr. Fraiser.”
Once Teal’c was up and out of the cavern, Garan ran back to the village to let people know what was going on and to get help. Everyone worked together to uncover the stargate and DHD. Under Teal’c’s guidance they worked through the night and managed to rig some timbers and ropes and pulleys to upright the gate.
The relief was evident in Hammond’s voice when he answered Teal’c’s radio call after dialing the SGC. The members of SG-1 were the first to arrive through the gate, followed by all the villagers that had evacuated almost three and half months earlier.
Janet, still in her homemade Edoran clothes, stood by and silently watched as the Edorans were reunited with their families and friends, while Jack was busy patting Teal’c on the back for a job well done.
“... the MALP sent back just a few seconds of telemetry, we knew the gate or horizon... tal... and...” Sam trailed off when she realized her best friend wasn’t listening to her and was silently staring past her, over her shoulder, at someone.
Janet walked past Sam and Daniel.
“Is she alright?” Sam asked.
Daniel sighed. “I’m sure she is, Sam. But I just don’t think she was expecting to go home again.”
They turned to watch as Janet approached and spoke to Laira.
Laira’s heart was breaking, she knew Janet wouldn’t stay. In truth, she couldn’t really blame her. And besides, all of their long lost friends and family were home. She met Janet’s gaze with sad, but understanding, blue eyes.
“You must be very happy to be going home.”
“No, I’m not.”
“You can stay.”
Sam, who overheard them, was unable to listen or watch any longer. Daniel watched with concern as Sam walked away.
“I can’t. I have to go home to my daughter,” Janet said. “Come to Earth.”
“I belong here... just as you belong on your world.”
Janet’s eyes welled with unshed tears; she’d never meant to hurt Laira.
“Don’t forget me,” Laira said softly.
“I could never forget you.”
They embraced, holding tight onto each other.
“Fair day, and–” Laira’s voice cracked as her tears began to fall, “... and be well.”
“Fair day and be well,” Janet replied and kissed her cheek.
As soon as they let go of each other Laira turned and left. She couldn’t bear to watch Janet leave. Janet wiped the welling tears from her eyes before turning back to the others. Someone had already dialed the SGC, so Janet simply walked past everyone, Edorans and SG-1 alike, and went through the gate. Daniel was the only one to see her leave since the others were busy talking with the Edorans.