You can't tell me,
It's not worth trying for
You can't tell me,
It's not worth dying for
Bryan Adams, Everything I do
With a heavy heart, Jack closed the door to Sam's house behind him and searched blindly for his car. Some small, insignificant, part of his brain reminded him that his car was still parked in the lot at O'Malley's, where he'd left it the previous night.
The bar was a good hour's walk from Carter's, but Jack headed in that direction regardless of that fact, trying to convince himself that he had done the right thing - that leaving Carter crying was for her own well being.
He wasn't having much luck.
Professionalism, he knew, was one thing that she had always prided herself on, but today, Major Samantha Carter could hardly be recognized as the woman that he had left crying on her bedroom floor the day before.
The woman that walked in front of him across the harsh terrain of the rocky desert, P-90 at the ready, was not the woman that he had hurt yesterday.
But it was her job to put everything but the mission from her mind, and he admired her ability to do so. He watched, mesmerized as she scanned the area below the cliff top.
How it happened, he'll probably never remember. One moment she was peering over the edge at the lifeless terrain below, the next she was falling amongst the crumbling rocks that she had been standing on, screaming.
She was going to die alone, Sam realized.
She was going to die buried under jagged rocks, her body mostly hidden by their dark surfaces. She was going to be crushed by the fallen debris. As more fell, they would push the ones crushing her into piercing her skin until, inevitably, one of them punctured a vital organ.
Her best guess was that the rock over her chest would probably puncture her lung, and she'd either suffocate or drown in her own blood. Either way, it wouldn't be pretty. But then again, there wouldn't be anyone else here to see it, Sam mused. She could feel herself drift somewhere in between blissful unconsciousness and agonizing awareness.
His breathing came in little more than short pants. His heartbeat was erratic and, as Jack looked over the shortened edge of the cliff with no sign of his Major, he was shocked to also realize that his hands were shaking as they gripped his P-90.
"God…." He breathed, his voice choked as looked down at the fallen debris. If she'd been lucky enough to survive the fall, which was almost seventy feet, then she wouldn't be in very good shape.
While his heart told him to jump after her, and damn the consequences, his mind instead told him to focus on his surroundings.
He scanned the immediate area and slowly looked toward the horizon. The landscape was virtually flat, the ground little more than hard sand, set to resemble stone throughout the years. While the surface was mostly sand, rocks seemed to be set in nonsensical formations throughout the ground. The cliff face, however, had been made up of a majority or rocks. And that's what Carter had fallen with. This desolate planet had very few trees... and that left him with not a whole lot of options.
The small formation of Aspen-like trees were enough to give him hope as he strode purposefully towards them, already retrieving his repel gear from his pack. Securing the ropes around the stumps of several trees, jack hurriedly pulled his harness on, trying desperately to secure the clamps with trembling hands.
"Jack…maybe we should contact the SGC, they have rescue teams….."
"No." He snapped. The feeling of someone else helping him secure all of the necessary clamps made Jack look up to see Teal'c, his gaze unwavering. He felt someone begin to assist him in securing the clamps and looked up to see Teal'c. The Jaffa's face wore it's usual expression and for this Jack felt a rush of gratefulness.
Together, Teal'c and Daniel helped secure Jack in the harness before he walked to the edge of the rocky cliff and began his descent.
The blissful unconsciousness that Sam had felt her body promise her didn't come While her upper back rested on her pack, the rest of her lay upon hard and uncomfortable rock. Even harder and more uncomfortable rocks pinned her to the one's beneath her and left her praying for darkness to come.
Everywhere hurt and she was beginning to lose feeling in her left arm. Her shoulder was pinned under a rather large boulder from the fall and it was slowly cutting off the circulation in her aching limb.
When she'd landed, one of the more jagged rocks had pierced through her calf, coming clear out the other side. Sam couldn't reach down that far to stem the flow of blood or see how damaged the wound, and its surrounding area, was.
She wanted to scream for help, scream in pain, scream out her frustration... just scream, but all that came out was a strangled moan through parched lips. God, she was thirsty and her throat was dry.
The small amount of light that shone through the gaps of her rocky prison were enough to force Sam to keep her eyes open even as the lids became heavy.
She could hear distant sounds from above, but they were all lost to her as her already blackened vision began to swirl.
He clumsily slipped down the face of the cliff, and Jack knew that his drill sergeant would be turning in his grave if he could see this display. He almost laughed, and stored that one away to tell Sam.
And he would tell her. Because, damn it, he had been an idiot to leave her crying. He'd been an idiot to think that she didn't know what she wanted and he'd been an idiot to walk out on her.
He wouldn't make the same mistake twice.
Rocks crumbled and fell under the weight of his hands and feet, but Jack barely noticed as he hurriedly descended the steep, rocky, distance that separated him and Carter.
Finally reaching the bottom, Jack had to work to keep his footing on the harsh ground. The rocks were sharp beneath him, despite the safety of his boots. He reached the bottom and at once had to work to keep his footing. The ground was harsh and the rocks were sharp enough that he could feel them beneath the soles of his boots.
He couldn't see her yet, but he had no doubt that she was alive, and waiting for help. He couldn't have doubts. He had to get to her and apologize for his actions. He had to get down on his knees and make her realize why he'd done it, why he'd hurt her.
"Carter!" he shouted, not daring to breathe as he waited for a reply.
No reply came.
Then, with his attention focused on the ground beneath his feet, he heard a faint crackle. His heart thumping in his throat, Jack looked frantically about.
"O'Neill, Daniel Jackson has retreated to the Stargate to contact the SGC. He believes that we may require medical assistance."
Jack looked around the rocks surrounding his feet, searching for a sign of Carter- any sign- as he responded to Teal'c's radio call. "Probably a good idea. Carter wouldn't have survived that fall unscathed."
It was the blood on one of the rocks that told him where she was.
As soon as he saw the red stains he started to furiously dig her out of her rocky coffin.
His radio crackled to life again. "O'Neill, do you require assistance?"
Jack clicked his radio. "Stay put, I can handle it. You keep watch," he ordered, and continued to pulls the rocks off her, ignoring the cuts he was sustaining on his hands and arms.
He had to do this. He had to be the one to save her. It was irrational, because he knew that with Teal'c's help they would get her out a lot faster, but it was something that he had to do. Redemption for his previous day's behavior, perhaps? He wasn't sure.
The desire to get her free overwhelmed the physical barriers of his strength, and he found himself pulling off rocks that would normally be impossible for him to move. It was like watching a mother lift a car off her child. "Almost there," he told her, his words were as much for him as they were to her.
He picked up a rock and threw it to the side, exposing the battered and bruised face of his second in command. God, even with the dark bruises already forming, and the blood staining her features, she was still the most beautiful creature in the world to him.
"Carter?" he called, moving another rock to expose her neck. His shaky hands felt for her pulse, and the flutter beneath his fingertip was more than welcome. Relief washed over him like a tidal wave, encompassing his body as he waited with baited breath as her eyes fluttered open. "Hey," he whispered.
She didn't smile like he'd hoped, she simply blinked at him. Her mouth opened and closed a few times and he reached for his flask. "Thirsty?" he asked and she nodded a little, wincing at the action.
He moved so he could position one hand gently behind her head and positioned her so that her lips could connect with the flask. "Easy," he ordered as she drank greedily.
While Jack had completely unearthed her, he was reluctant to move her in case of any spinal injuries. Lifting her head so that she could have a sip of water was bad enough.
"The others?" she asked, after he moved the flask away, her voice a hoarse whisper.
Jack couldn't help but grin at her. "Daniel's gone back to the Stargate to get a med. team and T is watching out for us up on the cliff top."
"They didn't fall?"
"No, you were the only one." Normally, he would have felt ashamed at feeling moisture in his eyes. But the happy and relieved tears pricking at his pupils weren't something that he could stop.
Noise overhead alerted him to the presence of others and Jack looked up to see Janet and several of her medical staff coming down the cliff face. Thank God, he thought, glad that help was here. He really didn't want to try and move Carter himself without the guidance of someone who actually knew what they were dealing with.
"We're gonna get you out of here" he told her.
Sam graced him with a small smile.
Out of the corner of her eye, Sam could see Janet grasped her field kit firmly as she walked across the precarious landscape towards her. She closed her eyes to try and mask the pain. God, it hurt so much; and the Colonel wasn't helping matters either. For a man that had tried to walk out on her life not twenty-four hours ago, he had certainly changed his tune.
Oh, she knew what he was doing.
At least, she thought she did. The pain was so intense that it clouded her mind and any thoughts that she might have had were fleeting, at best, leaving her little more than half-finished brainwaves. However, if she was right, then he was trying to make up for hurting her… but, at the moment, she couldn't be certain of anything. At the moment she couldn't be certain of anything, but it certainly seemed that he was trying to make up for hurting her
She could hear people talking but the sounds of the voices were lost to her as another wave of stronger pain swept through her, stronger than before. Sam felt the prick of a needle in her arms and, mere moments later, felt the pain ebb away as the morphine slowly took effect
Through the haze of painkillers, she could feel herself being lifted and placed on an emergency stretcher and someone, possibly the Colonel, holding her hand. As the darkness gripped her once more, Sam lost consciousness to the sound and feel of footsteps leading her back to safety.
His heavy footsteps echoed through the corridor outside of the infirmary. Jack paced back and forth as he waited for Janet to exit the operating room.
Sam had been in there for over two hours and, as time had gone by, his footsteps had become heavier, his thoughts plagued with the nervousness that he felt as he anxiously waited to hear something…..anything.
"Jack, relax," Daniel repeated, his own voice strained with the apprehension of waiting.
"I'll relax as soon as the doc tells me she's fine." Jack returned, continuing with his pacing. God, what if she'd been hurt more than they'd realized? He couldn't lose her now, not after everything that had happened, everything that they'd been through.
What if she was dying? What if he never got to see her smile again? Could he leave without her? Would he want to?
Janet exited the operating room shortly after Jack's outburst, her face unreadable to the anxious men outside the door. "Well?" Jack asked.
"She's stable. We had to close up the wound in her leg, and she'd lost a lot of blood from that. We gave her an IV to help, and we had to put a pin in her shoulder to reinforce the bone," she explained.
"A pin?" Daniel repeated, confused.
"Yes, the fall shattered her shoulder. It'll take a while to heal, but hopefully there'll be no permanent damage." Janet sighed and closed her eyes. "Daniel, Teal'c, you can go in and see her if you want. But only for a moment, she needs to rest."
Jack breathed out a sigh of relief. She's okay, he told himself over and over, repeating it like a mantra until he believed it. His team mates spared Jack a sympathetic glance before rushing into Sam's room. "Doc?" He asked once they were out of sight.
Janet swallowed hard, hating to be the one to have to say this to him. "She doesn't want to see you. I'm sorry, Colonel."
Janet was somewhere in the kitchen, doing something, but Sam couldn't work out what. Her thoughts were lost in a sea of nostalgia, as she reminisced over the past few weeks.
She'd spent a week and a half in the infirmary, recovering from the severity of her injuries. When she'd finally been allowed home, it was only under the condition that she used a crutch to get around with and that Janet visited her daily.
When Janet hadn't been with her, Daniel and Teal'c had. They'd both tried their best to keep her entertained, with movies, games, anecdotes and anything that they could think of, but they knew that they weren't the person that she really wanted to see. He....well, he had been avoiding her for the previous two weeks, choosing instead to head for his cabin.
She wasn't invited this time.
Sam knew that he would've been hurt when she hadn't wanted to see him after she'd woken up in the infirmary, but her head had been swimming with the anaesthetic and she would have been likely to say something that she would've regretted. Now that he'd left without a word she regretted not having said anything to him.
"Sam? Did you need anything?"
Shaking herself out of the reverie, Sam turned to face Janet. "No thanks. I'll be fine."
"You sure? I can get Cassie to go to a friend's if you feel like some company…." she offered.
"No, it's okay. I think I just want to spend some time on my own for a while." Sam smiled, hoping it looked reassuring.
"Okay. Well, you can lower the doses of your pain medication a bit if you think you can handle it, I don't want you getting too dependant on it. Same goes with the crutch, see how you go without it, but don't strain yourself." Janet instructed as she pulled on her shoes and coat.
Sam nodded obediently. "No doubt I'll see you tomorrow?"
"No doubt," Janet agreed, and with a wink, she left.
He'd had his doubts about coming to see her, especially given what had happened the last time that he'd been to her house. Despite his reservations, he'd found to his horror that neither hockey, the Simpson's nor fishing could take his mind off the fact that he had to see her.
Jack had parked his truck a few houses down from hers, and he watched as Janet made her exit and got into her car. He waited until she had turned off Carter's street before he got out of his car and walked towards her driveway, trepidation lacing his steps.
The walk to her door seemed far too short for his liking, and Jack found himself pausing with his hand raised, ready to knock. Some small part of his brain wondered if she'd want to see him now. Was it a mistake to come here?
Deciding against his original plan, Jack reached for his wallet and pulled out the spare key that she had given him years ago in case of emergencies. He crossed the threshold and closed the door behind him.
"Janet, I told you I'd be fine!" he heard Carter shout, and her voice played through his mind like a sweet song he'd been longing to hear for two weeks.
"Uh…it's not Janet!" he called back uncertainty
There was silence, and he debated the intelligence of coming here until…."Colonel?"
He kicked off his shoes and walked into her living room. She was slumped on the couch, watching the muted television with feigned interest. "Yeah Carter."
"What are you doing here?" she asked, barely looking away from the soundless soap opera playing out in front of her.
"I thought we should talk."
Sam wasn't sure exactly what she could say to that.
He'd hurt her, then he'd walked out on her, followed by him ignoring her and *now* after everything that had happened, he wanted to talk? This man was a complete enigma to her, yet she found herself desperate to solve the puzzle.
"Talk?" she repeated cautiously as he sat beside her on the couch, yet still a safe distance away.
"Yeah. You know, exchange sentences…..?"
"I know what talking is." she snapped. "Why do you want to do it? You never want to talk, about anything. As I recall, you prefer to just walk out." she finished maliciously. It was a low blow, she knew that, but it was all she had at that moment.
There was no way that she'd let him hurt her, he'd done that enough over the past few weeks, and she was adamant that it wouldn't happen again. What had happened to the fašade of the strong, confident Samantha Carter that she'd worked so hard to perfect, she wondered.
Jack O'Neill had happened.
"Carter…..Sam, I want to apologize," he started, then stopped. Where were all of the words that he had wanted to say? Where were all of the romantic things he'd planned to tell her? "I'm sorry, okay? I know that I hurt you and I'm sorry."
Malice dripped from her voice as she spoke. "You're sorry? You make me look like a fool, you hurt me and walked out on me and sorry is the best that you can do?"
"What else can I do?" he asked, defeated.
Sam blinked back tears. He had seen her cry for the last time. "You can leave me alone. Because there is nothing that you can say to me that will make up for how you've treated me, how you've treated my feelings."
"I resigned." he blurted.
Sam blinked, and her mouth opened and shut like a goldfish for a few moments before she was able to reply. "You what?"
"I resigned," he repeated, quieter.
"Because any relationship between us would have been against regulations. I resigned; the regs aren't a problem anymore," he replied calmly.
"That's a little presumptuous of you, don't you think?"
"Maybe," he agreed, "but that's why I'm here."
"Jack, you can't solve everything by retiring, it doesn't work like that. Do you think that just because you're no longer my commanding officer that I'm going to forget about what's happened between us?" she asked sadly.
"Sam, I was an ass. I was trying to protect your career, trying to protect you, and all I did was hurt you. You think I don't want you? You're all I've thought about the last few weeks. You had no idea how much it hurt when the Doc told me that you didn't want to see me."
The admission would have cost him a lot, she knew that. And, in turn, Sam knew that her admission would cost her as much. "Yes I do. It would have hurt you as much as it hurt me to watch you walk out of my house."
Jack reached to grasp her hand, and Sam didn't stop him. "That was one of the biggest mistakes I've ever made in my life, and I've made a few. Do you know how hard it was for me to walk out on you?"
Sam couldn't, or wouldn't, hold back the lone tear that slipped down her cheek. If this stoic, possibly more so than Teal'c at times, man was prepared to bare his soul, than what would a few tears cost her?
"It was a mistake," he continued, "and one that I don't intend to repeat."
If waking up had ever been this good, then Jack couldn't remember ever experiencing it before. The warm, loved feeling of holding someone in his arms as he blinked the last traces of sleep from his eyes. The feel of her hair tickling his nose. The feel of her form pressed so close to his, all combined to leave him with a serene sense of peace.
He was reluctant to move for fear of waking her, but he had promised that he would make everything up to her and starting out by sleeping with her, albeit platonically, on her couch was not the way he planned to start.
Jack didn't know what to do to convince her that he was wrong to hurt her the way that he had, but he was adamant that he was going to try. He couldn't, he wouldn't, loose her again.
She meant far too much to him.
He wrote her a brief note before silently moving to collect his shoes and jacket. He opened the door quietly, and stepped out into the sunlight with a smile on his face.
Sam woke to the sound of someone pounding on her door. Rolling her neck to rid the kinks accumulated during the night from her body, she attempted to rise with some grace.
Finally managing to secure her crutch, and make sure that she was clothed properly, Sam began to hobble towards the door with a leg still stiff from sleep. "I'm coming!" she called, hoping that whoever was on the other side hadn't left because she was taking so long.
Opening the door, Sam was greeted with a large bunch of wild Orchids. "God…." she whispered as she took in the array of colors.
"Sam Carter?" a female voice asked from behind the flowers.
"Yes." she murmured distractedly, reaching out to touch one of the delicate petals, savoring their silky feel under her fingertips.
"These are for you ma'am." the voice informed her, and suddenly the flowers were placed on the ground as a clipboard was thrust into her hand. "Could you sign here please?"
Signing next to her name and address, Sam handed the clipboard back. "Thank you."
The woman looked from the orchids to Sam's injuries and smiled. "Would you like me to bring them inside for you?" she offered.
Sam smiled with relief. "Would you mind?"
"Not at all." The woman answered, picking up the flowers before walking down the hallway to place them on the kitchen bench.
"Who are they from?" Sam asked, following slowly behind her.
"There's a card with them ma'am. Have a nice day." The woman smiled and departed, leaving Sam to ponder the origin of her beautiful flowers. Opening the card, she read the words and smiled, before reaching for the phone.
The card simply read, `Have dinner with me?'