Story Notes: E-mail:


Rating: PG13 for some bad language and a itty bitty kiss.

Season: Beginning of 2nd season

Spoilers: Message in A Bottle, the Gamekeeper, In the Line of Duty, the Broca Divide, and Solitudes

Archive: SJ yes, Helio yes, everyone else yes!

Keywords: Sam/Jack Romance/UST, humour (I'm hoping here), post ep for MiaB- takes place a week after the events in MiaB.

Authors' note: Yes I've gone and done it again... I was watching Message in A Bottle today and the antibiotics bugged me... and here's why... also I hate this being mis-represented... but hey I had to do something for the fic. There are more notes at the end.

Feedback: I LOVE e-mail and whether good of bad I will respond. Flames are used to power Teal'c's staff weapon.

Thank you: My betas Arnise and Shaure(you guys are the best!)... and as always Kelly (Crash) and Lucy for putting up with me at all hours.

Date Completed: November 2nd 2001- 0100am :-)

It was midnight and Jack O'Neill hadn't been able to get to sleep despite the fact that he had been in bed since 9:30. His shoulder as still hurting, probably a just fignewton of his imagination, but it was feeling a lot better... that wasn't what was keeping him awake though. His head had stared hurting about a week before, but it was manageable, it just... hurt, he'd lived through worse. He rolled himself out of bed and grabbed the bottle of Extra Strength Tylenol off his dresser before getting a glass of water from his kitchen. As he had been doing for over a week he doubled the maximum dose and popped the pills before chasing them with the water, not even he was stupid enough to drink alcohol with them.

Pulling off his tee shirt and turning on his ceiling fan he crawled back into bed. No one had to tell him twice how hazardous to his health 'gate travel could be, he had first hand knowledge, not that that was going to stop him from going out on missions. What he didn't get, but knew he should ask Dr. Fraiser about the next time she tortured him, was why he was so dog tired but couldn't sleep, it was confusing the hell out of him.

Two hours later O'Neill was stalking the halls of the SGC, he hadn't been able to get to sleep and he was getting sick of being home alone in bed... so he was looking for someone to spend some time with, and he wasn't finding anyone... it seemed all of his friends were either Kel-no-reeming or at home in their beds fast asleep. He came upon the commissary as a last resort, and luckily he wasn't disappointed, there in one of the dark corners was one person.


"Oh Sir, sorry, is it breakfast time already?" She said looking around.

"Uh no, just shy of 3am. Do you ever go home? You do have a home right Captain?"

"Oh yes Sir, I just... I like to work."

"I can understand that... I guess." He said taking the seat next to her. "You don't normally spend the night here do you? I mean I know it's not where I'd like to be right now... believe me, if I could be asleep right now I would be."

"Sir, did you have a point?" She asked getting herself another cup of coffee from the pot next to her.

"I uh, I did... I'm just really tired."

"Been having trouble sleeping?"

"Yes... ya know saving the world and everything is nice and all but ever since we started this whole thing it's just been getting harder and harder to sleep... and almost freezing to death in Antarctica has given me a constant chill." Sam looked around... the mention of their time together in Antarctica, while the two were sitting alone in a dark room made her just a little bit anxious.

"Maybe Dr. Fraiser could help you with that."

"Fraiser is just out to torture us." He had finally succeeded in making her crack a smile, and he wanted to see it again. Carter got up to walk out. "So, where ya off to Captain?"

"My lab, if I don't sleep work doesn't either."

"You happen to have anything for a headache there?"

"Sure Sir." She dumped her dishes in the collection bin before leading the Colonel to her lab. "Here... try this... always works for me." She handed him two Advil migraine pills.

"Thanks, maybe that's what this is... an evil migraine that just won't go away."

"How long have you had this headache?" She asked concerned.

"A week... maybe two." He picked up a cold cup of coffee and after sniffing it took just enough to swallow the pills she had placed in his hand.

It took a lot for Sam to resist her 'Eww' response to seeing him drink her 3-day-old coffee before she spoke. "Maybe you really should go see Janet."

"I'll be fine." He said walking out of her lab. "I'm gonna go get some sleep... you probably should too. Oh and thanks for the drugs, maybe this is all my head needed."

Three hours later O'Neill was getting tired of talking to his friend Ralph on the porcelain phone- in other words he knew something was wrong but he was too sick to leave the bathroom and go down to the infirmary. His head was pounding so much that he just couldn't do any more than lean against the toilet and empty his stomach of its now non-existent contents. Another thing that was really bugging him was the fact that there were now three toilets in front of him... if he hadn't already lost anything he'd eaten...ever, there could have been a real mess. It must have been six am before some one came across him... thankfully it had been Daniel coming to work early and not Makepeace or someone like him, he probably would have just left him to die right there leaning on the toilet for support.

"Colonel, I need you to listen to me." Doc Fraiser was saying once Daniel had managed to get him to the infirmary. "Colonel, how long have you been sick?"

"A couple of hou..." He trailed off as another fit of dry heaves seized him. A nurse jabbed something into his arm and looking down he realised it had been an IV and that he was receiving fluids and some medication that was burning like hell though his arm.

"This should help with the nausea." She pulled Jack's arm off from over his face where it had been blocking out all light attempting to get anywhere near his precious pupils. "Sir, can you open your eyes for me?" She shone her pin light in his eyes and despite his shying away from the light they were reactive- one less thing for her to have to worry about. As she was about to go talk to the members of SG-1, who were gathering upon hearing of the plight of their fearless leader, she noticed Jack cradle his neck between his elbows. After turning off the overhead light above his bed she went back to his side. "Colonel, other than the vomiting, what other symptoms are you experiencing?"

"Head... hurts. And Docs... there're three... no two... no four of you. Doc, stand still."

"I am standing still Colonel, you must be having double vision." Despite his hard time seeing which one was actually her, he managed to peg her with a pretty good 'ya think' glare before rolling back over and closing his eyes tight.

"What's wrong with him Janet?" Sam asked as they sat in her office with the other two members of SG-1.

"I don't know, he's not showing any signs of infection, his CAT scan and MRI were clean... I've called in a neurologist to do a full neuro eval. Other than that I don't know how to help him."

"What are you saying? No one knows how to help Jack... what are you going to do, leave him like this?" Daniel was upset.

"No, of course not, I'm just saying that this could be related to the alien entity that infected us all a few weeks ago... or it could be any number of other things we've brought through that Stargate in the last year."

"Janet, we can't just leave him like this."

"Sam, the neurologist is going to be here any minute... he'll be okay... we've just got to find out what it is we're dealing with here."

"What makes you think this is neurological?"

"His vision, the vomiting, he can't even stand up with out falling right back over... these are all symptoms of a neurological problem. Now I've checked him for enlarged ventricles which would mean hydrocephalus- it's very common in people his age, only his ventricles aren't enlarged, if anything they're smaller than normal."

Sam was tired of waiting for the Doctor to come see her Commanding Officer... he was in pain and there was nothing she could do about it, he had finally fallen into a restless sleep with a heating pad under his neck and a pillow over his eyes, she held on to one of his now freed hands. Seeing him like this was scary, they'd only known each other for a little over a year but in that time she'd really begun to care for him, especially after their time in Antarctica.

"How's he doing?" Daniel joined her.

"He's finally resting."

"Is it good for him to have that over his head like that?"

"He's breathing... I'm watching." Daniel took the remaining seat next to Sam.

"I called the hospital, our neurologist we were promised four hours ago has a medical emergency... according to the nurse I talked to it was 'the NeuroJerk is off at a golf game, when he returns from this medical emergency I'm sure he'll be more than happy to call you'."

"NeuroJerk? She actually said that?"

"Yes... obviously he's not very well liked."

"Obviously." She stroked across the sleeping Colonel's knuckles. "He's in so much pain, I wish there was something we could give him that would make him sleep until we know what's wrong and how to fix it."

"Janet said no to that, she said it might change his neurological status and that they might miss something."

"Whatever that means, I just want help him."

"I know, we all do, ever since that entity held him on the wall we've all been kind of cautious in how we treat him, how far we make him walk, like he was sick, and now he really is sick... it's mind blowing that this could happen to such a strong person."

"Yeah." She laid her head down next to Jack.

"You want some coffee or something?" Daniel asked quietly, walking toward the door.

"No thanks Daniel, while he's asleep I think I'll just rest here."

It was another three hours before their promised neurologist arrived. Sam had fallen into a deep sleep; Jack on the other hand was awake with one hand still grasped in hers and the other buried in her hair. He couldn't see her, but he could feel her and that was all that mattered to him.

When he heard someone being yelled at by Doc Fraiser at a near deafening volume he realised it must herald the arrival of his Doctor.

"Captain," He stated flexing his hand to a point between rubbing her head and pulling her hair. "Wake up Captain."

"Wha? Oh, sorry Sir, I didn't mean to fall asleep."

"It's okay Captain, we were both up all night." He let go of her as she sat up but kept a firm grip on her hand.

"Sir, this wouldn't look right if anyone saw us."

"I don't care what it looks like Captain, you're helping me get through this, and that means a lot to me."

Doctor Fraiser finished up yelling at her careless and much higher-ranking neurologist and led him to see her patient. The sight of her new best friend earlier, sleeping by her CO's bedside had been something she could ignore, but holding his hand and looking at him that way could only mean one thing.

"Colonel, Captain." The man startled both of them. "I'm Doctor Fernandez."

Sam looked at the 'NeuroJerk', he looked like many other Doctors she'd met in her life, especially in the months since Jolinar. He was a Lieutenant Colonel, she noticed, obviously he hadn't gained his rank for bravery in battle. The man was greying with brown eyes and he was quite short- despite some similarities in their features he couldn't compare to Colonel O'Neill in any physical sense.

"Sir, thank you for coming." It had been insincere and slightly sarcastic, but she hoped enough good sentiment directed towards this man might make him want to help Jack more.

"I go where I'm ordered Captain, you may leave now."

"No, Carter stays." O'Neill spoke to the Doctor for the first time.

"All right then, Captain, you'll need to stand over there with Doctor Fraiser." She was a good soldier- she could follow orders. "Now Colonel, I need you to sit up and put your legs over the side of the bed." It seemed that Jack was a good soldier too; he was soon sitting, shakily, on the side of his bed watching his five legs dangle. The Doctor had him flex his muscles in a nice orderly sequence- until he threatened to throw up on him; Dr. Fraiser ordered more medication for him. Then the man pulled out what looked to Jack like a penlight, flashed it in his eyes, and then turned away. "Door please, Captain." He couldn't see what she was doing until he heard a 'click' and all the remaining light in left the room. "Now Colonel, I need you to pick a point over my shoulder and keep your eyes focused on that no matter what I'm doing."

"I can't see anything Doc."

"Then just keep your eyes in a straight line and don't look around as best you can." That said the two Colonels went head to head- literally, it involved the Doctor closing in on Jack's face shining the light to see inside his eyes. "Oh I think I may see it... come here Doctor Fraiser, you'll want to see this." He showed her whatever it was he had been looking at.

"Oh my God, I've never seen..."

"I recommend we schedule him for an LP as soon as possible to rule out meningitis."

"What? What's going on guys? How the hell did I get meningitis?"

"We don't think you have meningitis Colonel, we just want to rule it out, you're not showing any of the signs of infection we'd expect... but we're going to check a sample of your spinal fluid." Both Doctors seemed to be overwhelmingly nervous to Jack, which got him to wondering just what it was that they had seen inside his head.

"Wait a minute Doc!" He called after her as she chased Doctor Fernandez into *her* office.

"Yes Colonel?"

"How are you going to get a sample of my spinal fluid? Isn't it *in* my spine or something?" He slowly lowered himself back into a laying position, with his arm across his eyes.

"We're going to have to do a lumbar puncture."

"A what?"

"A spinal tap Sir."

"No way... just leave me like this."

"You don't mean that Colonel," Sam spoke up coming out of her corner for the first time since Dr. Fernandez had used her like an assistant. "If this could help you I think you should go through with it."

"Okay, but if I die Carter, you're taking over SG-1." He muttered as she took his hand and her seat back.

"No problem Sir, although I'm sure General Hammond will probably over rule you."

It was another hour and a half before Dr. Fernandez had gotten everything he thought he could possibly need together to do a spinal tap. Jack hadn't let go of Carter's hand the entire time, and she was worried he wouldn't ever let it go- not that it was necessarily a bad thing but it wouldn't exactly look right going to briefings attached to your CO.

"All right Colonel, we need you to turn on to your side." Dr. Fernandez ordered. "Captain, I'd like you to help him curl up into the foetal position was much as possible, hold his legs if he needs you too. Mr. Teal'c, I'd like you to come here and make sure he doesn't move, at all." The strong Jaffa came to stand next to Captain Carter, leaving Dr. Jackson and Dr. Fraiser to watch as the neurologist cleaned off the cream he had used to numb the site before pulling a very long needle out of his kit. "This is going to be a bit cold Colonel, but I promise to tell you before I insert the needle."

"Gee thanks Doc." Jack answered from somewhere inside his knees.

"Okay Colonel, this is going to hurt, but I need you to take a deep breath and let is out slowly while I insert the needle." O'Neill had heard how painful these things could be, but he just kept telling himself over and over that he'd been tortured, and that had to be worse than one little spinal tap... right?

"Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh!" He screamed, he hadn't mean to scream, but it felt like the Doctor was trying to push the needle straight through his spine and into his stomach- if they'd of had this form of torture when he was a POW he would have cracked.

"Colonel, I'm in now, I just need to get a pressure reading and draw off some fluid to be tested." Dr. Fernandez said placing his pressure gauge on the end of the needle.

"Hurry Doc." Jack said through gritted teeth as he placed his hands over his Captain's on his legs.

Janet Fraiser walked around the bed to stand behind the neurologist; she was very territorial over her patients, especially in a procedure as painful as this.

"What's his ICP Doctor?" She asked quietly.

"490. It's a good thing you called me when you did or this man may have gone blind." He pulled off the pressure gauge before attaching the specimen collection vial. "We'll just take him down to 180." Seven vials of clear spinal fluid later the doctor re-measured the pressure to see if it was indeed 180 before slowly pulling his needle out of the Colonel's back. "I'd like you to stay flat in bed for at least the next six hours Colonel, you should start to feel better now that the pressure is off your brain." The cocky neurologist left with the fluid to be tested.

Everyone left Jack's room; he wasn't in the best of moods after all. Teal'c and Daniel had made excuses to get out of the infirmary, Doctor Fraiser chased Doctor Fernandez, but Sam Carter had to bribe her way out with the promise of bringing him back a Pepsi if it was okay with his nurse.

"Sam! Hey Sam!" Daniel was behind her.

"Yes Daniel?" She answered, tiredly as he sat down next to her.

"How's Jack? I left when the Doctor was measuring."

"He's still not feeling too hot, which I can understand, he's been throwing up for 36 hours straight. The people eating their breakfasts around her turned to glare for her unappetising conversation.

"So, how'd you get out, I thought he had a death grip on your hand."

"I promised him Pepsi, and his nurse agreed it would probably be a good idea. She said if he can drink the Pepsi without," She leaned toward him and lowered her voice, "throwing up" she leaned away again. "then he can have some real food."

"What do you think is wrong with him?"

"I don't know Daniel, he's been through so much lately. We all have, but for all we know this could be something completely Earth bound." She sighed. "I just hope he gets through this, SG-1 wouldn't be the same without him."

"And neither would you." She wouldn't look at him. "Come on Sam, I'm not blind, while that Goa'uld was in you I thought Jack was going to go crazy, and just last week you were trying everything you could think of just to keep him from dying. I know it's not right in your 'military minds' for you to even entertain the idea of a romantic relationship, but come on Sam, the two of you care a little too much to just be colleagues." Her face was red hot; to her this wasn't the time or the place for them to be having this conversation- she didn't ever want to be having this conversation, with anyone.

"Daniel, I don't know what you're talking about. He's my commanding officer and I'm worried about him, so are you and Teal'c."

"Yeah, but Sam, we haven't been at his bed side for the last 24 hours without moving an inch."

"He only needed one of us Daniel, I was the one who was there, that's all... now will you please just drop it?"

"Yeah, sure thing, look I'm going to go check on Teal'c, you want us to drop by later to check on Jack?"

"Yeah, I think he'd like that." Daniel left her sitting there in the middle of the crowded commissary, people eating their late breakfasts all around her; but she wasn't hungry any more. No, now she needed to think.

She only let herself spend an hour in her lab; she hadn't accomplished anything really- she'd just thought about how much her life had changed professionally and personally in the last year and a half since meeting Colonel O'Neill. Sure they'd pretty much hated each other when they first met, but that had soon dissipated and they had developed a good working relationship that had gotten them through a lot of things. True, they were a lot closer than most CO and subordinates, but most people didn't go to other planets on a regular basis, they did. Maybe Daniel was right and their relationship had become something that was unprofessional and hence unhealthy, she just couldn't seem to bring herself to apply that label to the relationship they shared.

She was almost to the infirmary by the time she remembered the promised Pepsi, which caused her to have to take a detour to the machines on level 16... thankfully they weren't out as they usually were.

"Hey Sir." She was surprised to see him, still flat in bed, but without his arm across his eyes.

"Carter, guess what? I'm better, cured even." She didn't believe him, he still looked pretty bad, but the color was coming back to his face.

"That great Sir, here's your Pepsi."

"Thanks, can ya help me with it please?" She definitely knew he wasn't 100% yet, he was never *that* polite. She got him a straw so he didn't dump the whole can in his bed and then helped him roll over onto his side (i.e. made sure the covers didn't move down enough to show his rear through his hospital gown) before she went to sit at the side of his bed. It was about 10 minutes before the look on Jack's face made her jump up to get his bowl for him. The Pepsi came back up. "Eew, that was gross." he said after he had finished rinsing out his mouth with the water she had handed him. "Sorry."

"Don't worry about it." She took his can away from him. "Let me go get your nurse." She was back within minutes. "Here," She handed him a packet of graham crackers. "She said to eat these, slowly, and drink this." She handed him a box of apple juice. "She said carbonated probably wasn't the best way to go for your 'first meal'."

"Geez, ya think? What I'd really like right now would be a big, fat, juicy steak with a baked potato and a beer." He started munching on his graham crackers. "Heard anything from the Docs?"

"When I was out there it looked like they were debating in Janet's office."

"I wish they'd figure this out, my head's doing better, but my eyes are still all messed up, I can't focus or even tell how many of you are in this room right now. In any other situation it might be fun to have more than one of you around, but right now it's just confusing." He was definitely perkier, but his comment made her regress to Daniel's comments from earlier.

"Sir, do you ever think that we're *too* close?" She started.

"Too close? What's that supposed to mean Carter? We practically live together and you're wondering if we're too close?" He sucked his first apple juice dry and she handed him another. "If you mean in the sense that I'm guessing you mean, no I don't think we're too close. We may be closer than what the US Air Force would have us be under normal circumstances, but these aren't normal circumstances." She felt relieved; if it didn't bother him then it shouldn't bother her, right?

"Thank you Sir."

"Don't thank me Carter, it's not something you need to worry about anyway." He was starting to sound even more like his old self. "Who on Earth put that idea into your head anyway? If it was Makepeace so help me I'll..."

"Actually Sir, it was Daniel. I think he was concerned our conduct would come into question." She handed him another package of graham crackers but he handed them right back.

"I think I'll take a nap now Sam." His saying her name elicited an almost electrical response, it was almost as if she had come to him with what others were possibly thinking about them and him saying 'screw them'. He reached out and shakily managed to grab her hand, which he held inside his on his chest. Following her arm she laid her head against his shoulder from her chair beside his bed.

It was Daniel who woke them up later, looking accusingly at Sam he explained that Doctor Fernandez was on his way in with Jack's results.

All of SG-1 along with General Hammond and the two Doctors were on hand to hear of Doctor Fernandez's findings. Jack held Sam's hand tightly, or was it the other way around? Neither really knew and no one was paying attention anyway.

"Come on Docs, what is it?" Jack asked. His nap had perked him up even more, and now he was just ready to know what was going on inside his head. Doctor Fraiser spoke up first.

"It is my opinion, given my familiarity with his history and general health," She glared at Doctor Fernandez. "that the Colonel is suffering from a condition called 'Pseudotumor Cerebri'."

"Tumour?" Jack paled at the word.

"It's not a tumour Colonel, pseudotumor cerebri just means that you have a false tumour in your brain, or your body thinks you do at any rate. There is nothing there but for some reason you are either over producing or not absorbing your spinal fluid."

"So what do you do?"

"Well, we can start you on some medications meant to slow the production of spinal fluid, and hopefully it will resolve."


"I think you have 'Secondary Pseudotumor Cerebri', which could have very well been caused by the large doses of Tetracycline I gave you last week trying to stave off the alien infection. If this is in fact secondary PTC it could, and should, resolve- just go away."

"This was caused by antibiotics?" Sam asked.

"It's a pretty common side effect of Tetracycline and drugs in its family, especially in the doses we were giving him."

Doctor Fernandez spoke up. "I do not believe he is suffering from this General, he doesn't fit the profile." The glare from Dr. Fraiser was back.

"Go on Son." It seemed odd for him to call Fernandez that, they were roughly the same age.

"Most patients with this, disease, for lack of a better word, are obese women of childbearing age, rarely men or children are found to have it."

"Yes Doctor," Fraiser was annoyed. "But in the case of secondary PTC, which is what *I* have diagnosed *my* patient with, there are many people of all ages and body types, it is the cause that just has to be discovered... and I think I've done that."

"I'm inclined to agree with Dr. Fraiser, Colonel, but if you have an argument you would like to present you may come by my office later." He left, leaving the rest of the people to look around at one another with questioning eyes.

"So what now Doc?"

"We give you the medications to reduce your fluid production and then we wait."

"When do I get to go home?"

"A couple of days if your headache is better and the swelling of your optic nerves starts going down." She sighed as Dr. Fernandez turned and walked out of the room in a very poutyish manner. "I won't want you driving until I can be sure your eyesight is back to normal, and I don't want you going off world until we can be sure this won't interfere with your missions."

"Awww Doc... any idea how long this could stick around for?"

"Well Colonel, we give it six months to be Secondary, after that we will call it Primary Pseudotumor Cerebri. Surgical intervention would be required. You would never be able to go off world after that." She left, allowing him time to process this new bit of information.

"I guess I'd better go too." Daniel stated grabbing Teal'c's arm on the way out to signal to the Jaffa that he should follow. When they were alone Sam and Jack just stared at each other, neither knew what to say to make this go away, for the first time the gravity of his condition was hitting both of them- this could be the end of SG-1.

"I... do you need anything Sir?"

"No Carter, I think I'd like to just lay here, relax."

"Things are going to be fine Sir, SG-1 is a good team, and you've always pulled though before."

"Carter, if I don't get rid of this thing that's not even there in the first place, in the next six months SG-1 is screwed. Remember what I said earlier about you taking command? Well I know that Hammond would never allow that, no matter how qualified you are for that position." He scrubbed his eyes before reaching out and taking her hand. "I want to get better, but if I can't I'm going to be flying a desk until I retire again." This was one of those moments they both knew could change their lives forever, this condition had already opened up so many feelings for others to see, and if it didn't go away it was going to be giving them a lot more freedom to pursue those feelings.

"You're going to get better Sir, I know you will, Daniel and Teal'c know it too." She had the same tears in her eyes that she always got when someone was in trouble, the tears that were barely there, just enough to show she had emotions, that she was human just like the rest of them.

"You can't will me to get better Sam, only I can do that. And don't worry about SG-1, no matter what happens to me I'll make sure the three of you are taken care of. " On impulse he pulled her hand to his mouth and kissed it quickly before covering it with both of his hands. "I don't know about you, but I'm about ready for another nap."

"I think I'm going to go change clothes and take a shower if you don't mind. Maybe even grab another bite to eat. Is there anything I can get you?"

"No, I'll be okay. Maybe I can talk the good Doctor into letting me grab a shower myself." She gave him one last tight smile before beating her way out of there.

In the shower Sam didn't know what was happening... she didn't want to let herself think because she might let it go too far- this was her commanding officer here and she was *not* falling for him. It was hard to imagine that she would let herself fall for her CO, but it seemed to have happened, and if she was right, which she was pretty sure she was, he had fallen for her too. She wanted to escape from the world forever in that shower stall, just lean back against the cool tile wall and think, which was what she was doing, but it couldn't last forever. This was NORAD, everything was controlled here, and someone was sure to notice the water drain. There were some things she did know- 1.) she wasn't about to give up her job, for anyone 2.) she cared about Jack O'Neill a lot more than she was supposed to 3.)her 'caring' for the Colonel could go to 'loving' really fast if she wasn't careful 4.)the water was getting cold. That last one was an unexpected one, actually they all were, but the last one made her make a quick bat for the faucet before grabbing her towel and pushing herself out of the shower stall and towards her warm fatigues.

She got dressed and then found her way to her quarters, she wasn't quite ready to go back to the Colonel's side yet, and she was very tired. She crawled into her bed and was soon fast asleep, she hadn't been to sleep in a bed in three days and it was a very welcome warm softness.

O'Neill was enjoying his time in the shower, he was extremely dizzy and his vision wasn't much improved, but his head was about a million times better and he was planning on asking Doc Fraiser to let him go home in the morning, if Sam would take him. He grinned to himself and could feel the confusion radiate off the male medical assistant who had been assigned to baby-sit him while he bathed. This guy seemed to have no sense of humour, and being as how he was the only male on duty that evening he had gotten shoved into the small bathroom with the very naked Colonel, poor guy. And now the Colonel had a dopey grin on his face and was probably going to pass out or something and give himself a concussion and it would be all his fault.

Jack O'Neill had a lot of emotional baggage, but nothing had ever brightened his day like seeing Captain Carter doing anything... she could be going on and on about that science malarkey and he'd find it damn sexy... he'd been doing that more and more often lately. He was scared shitless about this whole 'six months and then surgery and no more going off world' stuff... it meant the end of his life, and he didn't want to go out because of something that was effectively 'all in his head'. He didn't know what he was doing pursuing Carter the way he had been since he had gotten sick, he didn't want her to think it was just because of her being there and him being laid up, he honestly cared for her. If it wasn't for the Air Force he would have done something about those feelings a while ago, back when he had started feeling them. To Jack, just the fact that he had the ability to contain himself for so long spoke volumes about how much he really cared about his smart little Captain. He turned off the water after thoroughly rinsing off the grime and nastiness that had accumulated over the last four days since he had woken up in the middle of the night unable to sleep. There was something about trying to woo a woman right after you've thrown up that held a note of unpleasantness for Jack, and having the chance to not only wash himself but brush his teeth and comb his hair as well went a long way to making him feel better.

"Sir, will you be needing assistance getting back to your bed?" The MA asked.

"No, I think I can take it from here." He tried to brush the guy off but he stayed close until Jack was securely sitting on the side of his bed.

When Sam Carter crawled out of bed she had thought it had only been a couple hours, but the alarm clock said otherwise, and somehow she knew that the Colonel would notice her 13-hour absence. She knew sleep was a good thing, and since Jolinar it was a harder and harder thing for her to achieve; but she hadn't meant to abandon Jack in the hands of the NeuroJerk (the man had surely lived up to his name). And she knew that Janet had promised Cassandra that no matter what, she was going to be on that field trip with her that day, so there was no one there to protect her beloved Colonel, of course she didn't think of him that way.

She was soon up and heading towards the infirmary, she didn't stop to change clothes again or brush her hair, all she did was quickly run a toothbrush over her teeth.

When Captain Carter came to the infirmary it was empty... not a single patient anywhere, even Colonel O'Neill's bed was devoid of any presence. After looking around for a minute or so she finally found a scrub-clad medical assistant sitting on a stool, probably guarding medications or something.

"Where is Colonel O'Neill?" She asked somewhat abruptly.

"Treatment room one ma'am."

"And where..." And then she heard it, the sound of her commanding officer swearing vehemently. "Never mind." She followed that welcome sound.

Treatment room one was just like many of the other places she'd been in since joining up at the SGC full time a year ago. When she opened the door she found Jack sitting on a stool with wheels... this could not possibly be what he had been complaining about only seconds earlier, could it? No, he did this in her lab every day, so... looking around the room she saw several people and some strange looking machine that took up half a wall- it must have been the machine that had gotten him into a tizzy.

"Excuse me." She interrupted. "What's going on."

"Oh thank god Carter, you're back."

"We were just trying to persuade Colonel O'Neill to consent to have his visual fields examined." Dr. Fernandez, with out his Dr. Fraiser escort, attempts to explain.

"Sam, I can barely see and he wants me to keep my eye still while there are all these little flashing lights going off around my head. Too damn distracting if you ask me." He mutters the last part under his breath after his appeal.

"Could I speak to the Colonel alone please?" The room was soon evacuated, with much less complaining than she had anticipated. "So... Jack, what's up?"

"They want me to stick my head in that *thing* with the lights and an eye patch over one eye while concentrating on a little light and clicking that button every time I see a flash of light, but I can't look at the light! No, if I do that then I have to start all over again."

"Come on, it can't be that bad."

"It is... we've already tried it... the stupid machine keeps trying to trick me!"

"Trick you? Colonel I don't think it's capable of that, it is just a machine."

"Carter, I'm telling you, the thing sounds like it's hammering away at something every time the lights flash, and then there are times that the lights'll stop flashing for a while and the banging will keep going." She let him go on for a while before going over to check the computer side of the machine. The programming was complex, there were two things she could attribute his weird manifestations to- something called 'false positive errors' or something called 'fixation losses', either one sounded like it could be a trick to her. "Find anything there Sam?"

"Maybe, do you know why Dr. Fernandez wants you to do this test?"

"He said something about seeing how much vision I've lost, personally I'm thinking that having double vision should be considered gaining vision." She stifled a giggle before going over to grab his shoulders and wheel him across the floor on his stool to sit in front of the machine, she handed him the eye patch before going and turning off the lights in the room.

"You can do this Colonel, just think about it, the faster you get this over with the faster we can send Dr. Fernandez back to the Academy Hospital." With that thought in mind he started clicking with every light.

It took Jack approximately 15 minutes per eye to finish the test, which was the least possible amount of time it could be completed in. He was happy to have lived through it, and like his spinal tap he wasn't interested in doing it again.

After Dr. Fernandez quizzed Sam on how she had gotten the machine to work and she had explained that she too was a 'Doctor' Jack had been led back to his bed complaining the entire time that he was not a senile old man.

"So Carter, looks like the three of you could offer an old man some fun, wanna go to the commissary and get something to eat?" He asked leering at her.

"Sir, I think you need to stay in bed and rest."

"No, Doc Fraiser said I could go around the base with you if we're careful and use a wheelchair. Come on Sam, it could be fun."

"Okay... but if you start to get tired you'd better tell me Sir."

"Yes Mom." he said as she went in search of a wheel chair.

That night, after getting a dose of Diamox for the road, Jack was released from the infirmary and into Sam's supervision, she was to stay with him through the weekend and then they were all allowed downtime until it was decided what to do with the members of SG-1 unaffected by this... in other words the three remaining members of the sacred team. Both Teal'c and Daniel had decided to use their leave to leave... as in go to another planet... both to same planet actually, P7J-989 was a great place full of magical gardens that were a great place for someone like Daniel to hurt himself in, and Teal'c was there to help put the pieces back together. Otherwise Jack would have been shoved off on either one of his male friends, but there was no one else willing to take on the sarcastic and sometimes pain in the ass Colonel, so who better than his second in command?

"Jack, you hungry?" Sam asked after she had made sure he was seated firmly on the couch. She opened his fridge and blanched when she saw that he had nothing decent to eat... the man had been cleared for *real* food while she had been sleeping and she had really wanted to make him something neither of them would be seeing again that night.

"Yeah, the fridge outside is where I keep all my real food." He yelled back. She went to the garage and low and behold there were tons of good things to eat out there, steak, eggs, milk that was still in date, even a few select vegetables. She grabbed out the fixings for the meal she wanted to make and headed back inside.

"Why on earth do you keep all of your food out there?"

"I have to maintain the look of a bachelor." He paused. "Okay... if it's in here Teal'c and Daniel will eat it all... I swear they're worse than the entire high school football team when I was younger." She cooked, they ate, she washed the dishes, they then went out onto his deck and looked up at the stars, it was easier than trying to get the man with double vision safely onto his roof... and then down again.

"I'll be right back Sir, it's pretty cold out here and I'm sure Janet wouldn't approve of me getting you bronchitis." She disappeared inside his house only to return with a fleece blanket. She wrapped it around his shoulders before sitting back and looking at him, he really was looking better. She didn't know what he'd done while she was sleeping, but she hoped he had rested as well.

"What's wrong Sam?"

"I don't know Sir, just a stressful couple of days I guess." She shivered and wished she had a jacket at his house.

"Come here."


"Come here." He opened his arms to her. "You think Fraiser's gonna be happy with me if I let her best friend freeze to death?" She went into his arms and he wrapped the blanket around both of them, it was warm, comfortable, and special. No one else could have this moment or take it away from them.

"How's your head feeling?" She asked from her somewhat awkward position between his knees as he leaned against the wood of the deck.

"Better... I think the Jaffa in my head took off their iron boots." He buried his nose in her hair. The smells weren't bothering him as much as they were the previous days and the slight smell there didn't make him want to go running for something to relieve himself in, if anything it was a nice reminder to his nose that there were good things out there just waiting to be sniffed.

"That's good." She muttered as his arms came around her waist.

"I think I'll be 100% in no time... my vision's getting better by the minute too." He kissed down the side of her face and neck. "I could count the stars now if that were possible." She turned her head and met his lips with her own.

This was their first kiss without the aide of an alien virus, and they were both enjoying it, but Sam pulled away.

"Sir, you're sick... we can't do this."

"I'm not sick Carter, I'm fine, like Doc said, it was just a little extra fluid, nothing that would have any effect on me in *this* way." He tried to convey to her that he really was all there... and she was convinced. Gently helping him up, still conscious of his lingering symptoms, she went and got him his night time Diamox (a new part of their routine). Jack took the powdery white pill from her before downing it quickly and with a full glass of water and a disgusted face.

They went to bed then, setting aside their ranks and working relationship for something so much more important- something so much more permanent. They both knew in their hearts that SG-1 would be back, and that when it did come back it would be a stronger unit than ever- because they had gained something from this whole experience and that was the knowledge that they *could* live through anything together and that they would just get stronger from it.


End Notes: After word: I'd like to thank Kelly (Crash) again for staying up with me until all hours for me to write this thing and special kudos go out to the wonderful people over at the ptc-support-group for putting up with my ridiculous questions involving visual fields and *regular* taps. PTC is one of the worst conditions out there as many Doctors don't believe men, children, and anyone slim can get primary PTC (my doctor was convinced for 7 months that I was secondary PTC) has a lot if information of you're interested.


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