Not Like This

By mara-anni

Janet clasps her hands together and lets them rest in her lap, stifling the urge to fidget. She lets her eyes find Teal'c's reflection in the glass that separates them from the medical lab below, and follows his gaze to watch the Colonel as he's hooked up to the Zatarc detector again.

She sits still next to Teal'c and listens as Anise asks her questions and Colonel O'Neill again goes over the mission to PX9 757. She had heard all this during the first test. And she watches Sam, who's standing next to Anise where she can see the Zatarc's monitor. He tells them of the moment he realised Sam wasn't with him; of how he went back for her; of how he couldn't get through the barrier to her. Of footsteps.

"How were you feeling?" Anise asks him.

"Like someone who was about to die," he says.

Janet watches the circle stay a bright red. Sam corrects him with a quiet "sir". It isn't a false memory; it's a lie…or rather, a hedging around the truth. They're good at it, all of them, even she herself, but the Zatarc detector won't allow even that.

He didn't leave Carter, he says, because he'd have rather died himself than lose her. But the little red circle is unforgiving. "Why?" Anise asks, and Janet can't help thinking it shouldn't be like this. You shouldn't have to tell someone you love them like this.

Because he cares about her, he says. And then he looks at Sam; a lot more than he's supposed to, he finishes, and her too bright eyes are holding his, and Janet sees something like a mix of sorrow and happiness warring in them.

Janet feels her chest constrict and stops herself from rubbing at it. She'd known…at least she'd known from Sam's side. She can't help casting a glance at Teal'c. What will he think about this? They are team mates, friends. Their lives depend on each other…will he trust them still? But what she finds isn't censure. He's considering, thinking. Is he joining the dots as she herself had done almost six months before?

And finally…finally the red gives way to a blue swirl and Anise makes her declaration. "You are not a Zatarc."

But Sam's gaze is still locked with the Colonel's. What is she telling him so silently? Janet wonders. Because she's watched them do this sort of thing for years now.

But it's different this time.

There's more.

More to say, maybe.

I love you too, she seems to say; I'm sorry that you had to do this, that we had to do this; it's ok. But finally she tells him he's not alone, she'll not leave him behind with this either. "Now test me!"