Now I understand why Sam was so distant after she came back from the trip. She would ignore me and acted really polite. It was really bugging me. Even the Colonel was clueless as to what was wrong.
"So, Jonas," Dian asked me wearily, "do you have any idea who this man is?"
We were having lunch together in the commissary. Liliana, who had declared that this was her favorite place in the whole complex, was also joining us. As well as Byan and Kian, the other two Dunians. This was their last day on Earth; they were scheduled to go back home in a couple hours. I had to admit that the Dunian were very open about their feelings, I mean, there was no way that I would talk about how a woman rejected me in a public place like this. But they talk about this as if they were talking about a TV show.
Three pairs of eyes were focused on me, waiting for my answer while Liliana's were fixed on the blackberry muffin that Sam bought from the coffee shop outside the SGC. She was practically staring at the strangely shaped cake until Sam relented and offered it to her. Needless to say, the black haired woman accepted it gratefully and had been staring at the muffin ever since, not yet making any move to taste it. She had taken act of eating to a different level.
"Uhm ..." what was the question again? Oh yeah, who was Sam's lover. Wait a minute, Sam's didn't have one, not to my knowledge. But then again her statement could be interpreted in a different context, "I don't know."
There was no way that I was going to mention the Colonel's name, no matter how fitting his name was to that particular question. I didn't hate my life, thank you very much.
"How is that possible," Dian insisted, "you are one of her closest friends, surely you knew about such things."
I leaned back to my chair, I needed a *really* good response for that, "Sam is a very private person, she has several secrets of her own."
There was a surprised reaction from three of the Dunian, and you were right if you guess that it was Liliana who was the odd one out. Kian was the one who recovered first, "Why would she keep it a secret?"
From what I've been learning about the Dunian, they were very 'expressive' about their emotion, they talked to their friends about everything. And when I said everything, I mean everything. I actually found myself blushing once when Byan and Kian were discussing about anatomy of their private parts (in a great detail about its function as well) in the infirmary. The nurses' on-duty were having a blast at that. That was also one of the reasons why Dian proposed to Sam in the presence of Colonel O'Neill.
"Because she wanted to," I answered as best as I could to my knowledge, "on Earth, people have secrets. It's actually normal."
The three men were nodding in understanding as they let the news sink in, "You were right, sometimes it was easy to forget that she is an alien," Byan interjected.
"What about Colonel O'Neill, would he knew about this?" Liliana as always were acting as the Goddess of Chaos, her eyes were still on the muffin, "He knew her long before you did, didn't he?"
OK, now I really didn't know what to say, "Maybe," the answer was delivered hesitantly. That was the safest reply that I could think of. That woman was something. I wonder who would win if the Colonel and she were having a one-on-one.
Dian got up from his chair, "Let's ask him." Byan and Kian were also stood up.
What? Wait, guys, don't. Please don't.
Unfortunately, they seemed to be unresponsive to my silent plea, they excused themselves and went to look for the Colonel. Three SF who was guarding them were smirking behind their backs, knowing that what was coming would be priceless.
I slumped on my chair and sighed deeply. What a mess. I glare at the woman sitting in front of me, she was the one who caused it. The intensity of my glare had finally made her abandon the muffin, her head were titled up to face me.
"Why did you say that Dian had an interest in the Colonel?" I asked her with accusation in my tone. That was what had started all this.
She smiled innocently, "Because he did." And then her eyes were back on the muffin, her hand took the item and lifted closer to her nose.
"No, he didn't. He likes Sam," I pointed out in irritation.
She inhaled the aroma of the muffin, eyes were closed, "Very pleasant smell, sweet and alluring," she described. Watching her inspecting a food was like watching a wine expert tasting a wine.
"You haven't explained why you said that Dian had an interest in the Colonel," I was not going to be distracted by her. Not a chance.
She opened her brown eyes lazily, "The Colonel reminds him of his first love," she took a bite at the muffin and rolled the cake on her tongue, savoring the taste, "Wonderful, moist and full of flavor, remind me to bring this one back to Dunian."
Unbelievable, this woman was impossible.
She put down the muffin back on the table, "Dian's first love was a man, he was very much like Colonel O'Neill, not the look, but the way they acted, " she give details to her statement, "Unfortunately, things happened and it didn't work out. It affected him deeply, so now he prefers women to men."
My eyes were drawing closer, "And when were you planning to tell me this?"
"Now," answered her lightly as if it didn't mean anything.
I should have seen it coming.
I let out exasperated groan, "Why are you doing this?"
"Doing what?" so innocently she asked back.
"Misleading people," there was no need to be all polite on her.
She raised her eyebrows, "I don't mislead people," she said.
Yeah, right. And Dian didn't just come on to Sam either.
Apparently, she wasn't finished, "It was the *people* who took what I was saying the wrong way."
I hated it when she was right.
By rights, Jonas was supposed to be buried under the cold and wet soil right now, with a cold and plain tombstone as its landmark.
But since I geo a hug from the Colonel out of this mess, I'd let him live another day. Not that he would get a 'thank you' card from me either. He wouldn't get away that easily, so I reckon that giving him the cold shoulder should do for now. Just to let him know that I was not happy with the inaccuracy of his information.
"Major Carter," someone called my name, I looked up from my laptop to see Liliana was standing in the entrance, "I hope I am not interrupting anything," she added carefully.
I smiled at her, "No, you're not. Please come in," I saved the file that I was working for and close my Dell notebook. She entered my lab while her chaperone was standing on guard near the door in my lab.
"I have something to say to you," she said, still standing. I gestured at one of the spare stool, "Sure, but please take a seat."
She took my suggestion and sat down, my big working metal bench was between us, "Now, what can I do for you?" I fold my arms and rested it on the table.
"We will go back home today and I must say that I really enjoyed my time here on Earth," her smile was contagious.
"You are welcome. We enjoyed your visit here too."
Her clear brown eyes shot right through mine, "That is why I did not want to left things unsaid," pause, "I came here to apologized," she said.
Apologize? "What for?" I was confused; she had not done anything wrong. At least, not that I was aware of.
"What about him?" I have a sneaky suspicion that whatever it was that she was going to say, it wouldn't be good.
She put both hands on her lap, her posture was gracious. This woman was classy. Her face was fair and sharp, her eyebrows were shaped perfectly and her moist pink lips were perfect. Her body was slim, the clothes she was wearing clearly showing her perfect figure.
What I wouldn't give for a body like that.
Snap out of it, girl. You have a great body, yourself. You just don't have time to take care of it. And it was hidden under the boring BDU. Damn.
"Did he not make you aware about his desire towards you back in Dunian?"
Well, there was no point in denying, was it? "Yes, he did." Liliana and Dian knew each other since they were children and were best friends. He must have poured out his broken little heart (for the record, I was *so* not proud of being the one who broke it) to her, "But what does it have to do with you?"
"I used you," the amount of honesty in her voice surprised me.
"Used me?" I really don't get it. How did she use me?
She shut her eyes and took a deep breath. And then her oh so perfect little and pink mouth made a move and began to tell me everything.
And I meant *everything*.
Accompanied by details that I really didn't want and need to know.
When she finished her narration, I found myself staring at ... her. I should have said something, really. I mean it was rude not to comment on such a bizarre story like that. But my brain went blank. Liliana waited patiently until I recovered, God bless ... her, I needed that time.
It was such an unusual question.
The Dunian's men were standing in front of me, waiting for the answer. I stood perfectly, my back was straight and my hands were folded on my back, "I am afraid I could not betray Major Carter's trust in me."
They were disappointed, but I would not share the information with them. They were looking for O'Neill at first, but when they could not find him, they asked me instead.
"I understand," Dian was dejected, but he stood his ground. He looked at to me once again, "Would I be correct in assuming that Colonel O'Neill would not tell us the answer as well?"
"Indeed," I firmly confirmed his assessment.
Kian placed a hand on his shoulder to offer him support, "Come on, Dian. We still have a lot to do." His attempt to divert his friend's attention from his misery did not go unnoticed. They were good people, who valued friendship and loyalty. I was honored that I had them as my friends.
Byan added, "Yes, we still have to say our farewell to the Airmen in Level 22 and the nurses in the infirmary." The Dunian were also very pleasant, they made friends everywhere they went. They knew almost all the SGC personnel by name and they were also welcomed them warmly.
"Thank you for your time, Teal'c," Dian thanked me and then together with his two comrades and left my room. I watched the three men walked away.
O'Neill had made a very interesting observation, he said that the Dunian were like the Russians in the 'name department'. The Russian's name would ended with -ov, like Chekov, Zuckov, Tolinev and so on, while the Dunian male would have -an at the end, such as Dian, Kian and Byan and the female would have -ana, like Liliana. Major Carter was impressed, she said that she hadn't notice that before. And her compliment had delighted him.
I believed that he would endeavor to be more observant in the near future in an attempt to elicit the same response from her.
That was odd.
I found her in her lab, sat on her stool doing nothing but staring at a spot on the wall. I positioned myself behind her and tried to look at the spot that she was looking at. Nothing was visible there, so she must be in a 'thinking' state. Not in the sense of scientific 'thinking' but in thinking 'thinking'.
"Carter," I shake her shoulder.
She bolted out in surprised and turned around, "Sir," her cheek were flustered as I just caught her daydreaming on-duty. What great blackmail material.
"What's up?" I asked her while pulling on of the free stool near the table, slide it between my legs and let my body rest on it in one swift move. She swirled her stool around so that we were facing each other.
She opened her mouth to say something, but then she shut it up, "Nothing." She was lying.
"Spit it, Major," I told her. Not too harshly, but enough to let her knew that I would not take 'no' for the answer.
She bit her lower lips, hesitation was in her body language, "Liliana came to see me in my lab," she started, "and she told me something ..." paused," ... shocking."
Uh huh, "Like what?"
She looked at me uncomfortably, "Like how she purposely made me to believe that ..." she didn't finish her sentence, opting to lower her head and refuse to meet my eyes.
"Carter," gently I call her name, "she made you believe what?"
She muttered something incoherently. "Carter," I wanted to put my hand under her chin and lifted her head so that she would face me, but this was not the time nor the place to do that. The security camera was our silent witness, "I couldn't hear what you were saying."
She muttered again.
I sighed in frustration, "Major, speak up."
At the mention of her rank, she tilted her head and blurted, "That Dian had feelings for you."
Suddenly everything started to fall into place. Her strange request to go to Dunian with me, her close proximity to Dian when we were there, her unusual behavior lately, how upset she was when she turned him down. She was doing all that for me.
"You were making sure that he wouldn't do anything to me," the statement came out outloud.
I can see a faint red on her cheeks, "Yes. I had to protect my team, Sir."
Oh, team, huh?
"I mean I would do the same thing if it was Jonas or Teal'c in your position," she clearly tried to prevent my ego from boasting.
After she said the word 'yes', I chose to ignore the rest of her sentences. I grinned widely. "I knew," I decided to tell her. She looked at me in surprise, "I knew about Dian's interest in me. He told me."
And then her blue eyes were widened, her lips were parted slightly, "You knew?" she whispered.
"Yes, he said that I reminded him of someone that he used to know. A very close acquaintance. He had made it clear that he was not looking for relationship with me, but would like to know me better," I told her the truth, "He wasn't interested in man. He had a bad experience once and was traumatized."
My 2IC suddenly became quiet, too quiet to my liking. So I decided to break the silence, "Thanks Carter."
Her face fell, "For what? For making a fool out of myself?" she was still beating herself up for what happening in Dunian.
"For 'protecting' me," I stare at her intently. She knew that if these things with Dian had ever come out in the open, I would feel uncomfortable and God knows who could use the information against me. She was something.
"You didn't need the protection in the first place," she answered bitterly.
"It doesn't matter whether I needed you or not. The important things is that you were there for me," I let my hand cover hers, "whether I needed it or not, you always there for me," my fingers were caressing the back of her hand, "Thanks."
And for the first time since I entered this room, she smiled. Not the polite smile that she gave to her fellow scientist, not the cold smile that she gave to the NID and Goa'uld, not the fake smile that she gave Dian but the warm and sincere smile that light up her eyes.
I'm a *very* happy man.
I cleared my throat, "So ..."
"So?" her eyebrow was raised.
"Why would Liliana make you believe that Dian had feelings for me?" I try to get back on track to our conversation.
She blinked, "Oh, yeah, that. Well, basically she knew that Dian would fall for me and I would decline him. Don't ask me how she knew, she just did. She said that she was very observant and could read people." She took a breath, "She wanted to teach Dian a lesson."
"A lesson?" For what?
"Yeah, she said that she had enough of his prejudice about men."
"Prejudice?" This conversation was going nowhere.
"Dian would not go out with a man, he didn't even want to consider it."
"So?" what was wrong with that?
"So, she wanted to show him a woman could break his heart as hard as a man could."
"I don't see how this is related," why would Liliana cared?
"Sir, Liliana is attracted to him, ever since they were little."
"I still don't see the connection," childhood sweetheart, big deal, we have those over here too. But I still didn't get it.
"Liliana used to be called Lilian."
You know, I was so glad that I brought up the 'name department' subject days ago. This way, the revelation came less shocking than it could have been.
"Oh," that was all I managed to say.
She eyed me cautiously and then joined me in silence. Now I understand why she was staring at a non-existence object on that wall when I first found her. It was a lot to take in. Liliana didn't look like a 'he', but hey, 'he' was an alien who live in such 'vibrant' community. They must've have technology for ... the transformation processes. I mean, even here on Earth, you could get operation and hormonal injection to do the 'transformation', right? Right?
Oh hell, it was not my business anyway. None what-so-ever. They were not even here now, they had just gated back to Dunian as their one month visit was over. Speaking of which, "If what you said is true, then shouldn't we let Teal'c and Jon --," I stop short at saying Jonas's name on my lips, the event on the gateroom before the Dunians departure was playing in my mind, "or maybe not."
Carter eyes were gloated, there was definitely a trouble coming. "Oh yeah Sir, we should let them know," she was grinning at this point.
"Do you really think it's a good idea, Carter?" I couldn't help but discourage her, "Jonas might not recover from this."
She shrugged her shoulder, "Don't care." She started to get up and not doubt that she was going to look for him.
"But Carter," I try to reason with her. Jonas had started to grown on me. And to be honest, I want my team in perfect condition, telling Jonas this could damage his mental health.
She walked away from me. After she reached the entrance of her lab, she turned around to face me, "Are you coming?"
"What ever happened to your 'protecting' your team?"
"It was different," she was not easily dissuaded.
"How it was different?" nor was I.
"Because Dian didn't kiss you goodbye."
AN: Once again, thanks to rosemary who beta-read this one for me and everyone who spare their time to write the review.