Story Notes: Eye of the Beholder 04: Series: Fourth and final in the 'Eye of the Beholder' series. You should've read at least the second and third before this one.

Spoilers: Previous stories.

Authors Notes: Final story - yes, despite the way it ends, there won't be another one. You'll just have to decide for yourselves what happens next. And yes, I do admit to being evil. Some of the time. I have two Goa'uld for muses - Anat and Theia - so this is what happens.

Dedication: Ruthie, for all her support through *everything* over the last few weeks/months, LilWitchy, for the fab beta and for being a great friend and my mum and sister who although will never read anything I write (because I won't let them) support me no matter what: I love you guys *this* much.

"'Cause you've been drifting for so long
I know you don't want to come down
But somewhere below you there's people who love you
And they're waiting for you to come home please come home."
~ 'Drifting', Sarah McLachlan

She never expected it to happen but Sam actually missed having no existence. She missed feeling nothing, knowing nothing.

Nothingness was preferable to the pain she felt now.

The pain they now felt.

It surprised her that Theia grieved for the child as much as she did. It surprised her even more when the Goa'uld willingly went into exile against the wishes of her lord. She didn't know if it was love that drove Anubis to accept Theia's decision or if it was just that he was tired of her moping around as if her heart was broken.

It wasn't an exaggeration, though.

Her heart *was* broken and she was grieving for a loss that neither her nor her host had experienced before: the loss of a child, of someone they'd carried and loved and nurtured and failed to bring into the world.

And they had failed. Theia had blamed Sam at the start; she'd tried to convince herself that her host had done something wrong throughout her pregnancy. As the days passed, however, Theia began to blame herself. She should have gone into her repressed state sooner, she should have stayed there instead of giving in to her ego and warning the Tau'ri..

Sam just felt the loss and pain. She hadn't reached the stage where she could assign blame to anyone. She was grieving too much for her baby, for the child she'd lost in more than one way. At least if it had lived she could convince herself it was being loved and cared for by Jack and the others. At least then she wouldn't feel as though a part of her had died.

"How do your people do it?" Theia asked one day after countless others had passed. They were sitting in the woods on the unpopulated planet Anbuis had taken them to, leaving them with a communication device and supplies so Theia could contact him if and when she wanted to go back. The Goa'uld closed her eyes and leaned heavily against the tree trunk, exhausted beyond all belief. "How do they cope with such grief?"

"I don't know," Sam answered honestly, deciding that they might as well share their pain since they were still sharing her body. It wouldn't be for much longer, she knew. Sooner or later one of them would give up and she wasn't afraid of it being herself. "I suppose it's because they're not alone. On Earth, when you suffer a loss like this, there's always someone there to help you get through it."

Her thoughts turned to Jack and she sighed softly, hoping he was letting their friends help him through it. He'd lost a child once and it had almost destroyed him and although she understood now what he'd been through with Charlie, she hoped he wasn't going through it to the same extremeness again. She hoped that this time it would somehow be easier.

"I didn't think it was possible to feel this way," Theia continued, her pain mixing with Sam's and becoming theirs. "I didn't know it could hurt so much."

"You'd be surprised at how much you're capable of feeling when you're not preoccupied with your ego." Sam couldn't resist a small dig, knowing that she wouldn't be in so much pain if it weren't for all-too-real voice in her head. "But I suppose you've never let yourself feel anything before, have you?"

Her mind was immediately assaulted with images and feelings - anger at being spoken to in such a way, memories of being with Baal and Anubis and the pleasure Theia had felt.. Sam let them all wash over her without reacting. She was used to the Goa'uld's underhand tactics and had come to accept what had happened. It didn't seem important anymore. What was important was the fact her child was gone.

"I'm so tired," Theia declared with a sigh after a long silence that seemed to last for hours.

Maybe it had lasted hours. Sam didn't know. How much time had passed since she'd left Edora, since she'd arrived on the planet and Theia had allowed her to think and talk freely was a mystery to her.

It was hard to keep track when all you wanted was for time to stop.

She felt her eyes close again and sighed to herself, wondering if Theia would ever let her take control of her body again. The Goa'uld let her have conversations but they were all in her - their - head, and probably because Theia herself was suffering from loneliness. Sam was allowed to feel things, allowed to think without the Goa'uld prying too much.. but she still wasn't allowed to move her body.

She couldn't stand, couldn't even open her eyes without needing the Goa'uld's permission..

It wasn't as if she was going to make a run for the Stargate the moment she was in control. She didn't even know where the Stargate was. She wasn't going to go back to Earth because she couldn't - she didn't have a GDO - and she wasn't going to go back to her father as long as there was still a Goa'uld in her head.

She wouldn't give them false hope, not again.

Not when it wouldn't last.

Theia sank into a deep, dark sleep and Sam had no choice but to follow. Even if she was awake when her captor was not, she found she couldn't do anything. Nothing but stare at the backs of her eyelids and wait for Theia to come around again.

Letting herself go, Sam sank into slumber with her Goa'uld companion, telling herself it wouldn't be for long. Theia never slept for long.

There was no way she could have known how wrong she was, no way she could know that her Goa'uld was never going to wake again.


She stretched her arms above her head, feeling the muscles in her back protest. How long had it been since she moved? Every part of her felt stiff, as though she hadn't stirred in days.

Sam opened her eyes and stared out at the dense forest in front of her.

It was so peaceful, so quiet..

She blinked. *She* blinked.

"Theia?" She asked tentatively.

There was no reply.

Sam searched her mind, probing it.


Her heart began to pound furiously in her chest as it became clear: Theia was gone. She was well and truly alone.

She searched her memory for something, anything that would explain what had happened and found a thought that she didn't recognise as being her own. It was Theia's, and was full of pain and anguish. She couldn't cope anymore, couldn't accept that her child was gone. She didn't want to live if she couldn't have what she wanted: her baby. She knew there could be others, she knew that Anubis would willingly father another but..

.. it wouldn't be the same, it wouldn't the child she wanted.

So Theia had given in to an eternal slumber, choosing death over the misery her short-lived life had become.

"Oh." Sam spoke the word aloud and jumped at the sound of her own voice. It felt like so long since she'd heard it, since she'd had the chance to speak aloud.

She got to her feet, wobbling on unsteady legs. She stared down at her body, taking in her appearance for the first time in a long time.

The long cream dress she wore was muddy and torn. Her feet were bare and hurt. Hurt? She smiled slightly. She could feel physical pain as well as emotional pain.

Emotional pain.

She had her body back but her baby was still gone.

Sinking back to the floor, Sam let her head rest in her hands and wept for her child for the first time, revelling in the fact she could let the tears fall and that there was no one but her there to see or hear them but resenting the reason they continued to rain down her cheeks.

How long she stayed there she didn't know. How many tears she'd cried she couldn't count.

She just knew it had been a long time.

'What do I do now?' She thought to herself when the tears had stopped, when she could lift her head without it feeling too heavy. 'Where do I go?'

She could go home, back to Earth via her father but.. Did she want to? If she did, Sam would have to face reality, she'd have to face her friends. Would her reappearance help or hinder them? How much time had passed, would they welcome her with open arms or would they blame her for the baby's death?

In the back of her mind, there was a rational voice that told her she was being stupid and that she should go to them as soon as possible. It was the same voice that told her she had to go quickly because if the Tok'ra had moved from the planet they'd been on before, she'd have to do a lot of searching before she found her way home..

It was that voice that went ignored.

She chose instead to listen to the other, louder voice that told her to take some time. She needed to think, she decided. She needed to choose what was best for everyone, she needed to know if she could live with the guilt she felt.


Now Theia was gone, there was no one else to blame. No one but herself.

She needed time to accept that, to resolve her feelings about it. She needed to get over it so the healing could begin.


"I don't know how long I stayed there," Sam explained to her father, staring down at her hands as silent tears ran down her cheeks. She felt ashamed at her own weakness but couldn't let herself off the hook by not telling him. "I stayed until I used up all of the supplies Anubis left. Then I started walking around, eventually leaving the woods to see what else there was. It was completely unpopulated, Dad. I was completely alone.. I found the Stargate and slept beside it for a few days. I don't know why I didn't just use it straight away. I guess.. I don't know."

Her strength was returning to her slowly, as was her courage to speak. The Tok'ra had taken her in three days ago, warning her they would perform tests to make sure she was free of the Goa'uld before allowing her to see her father.

That morning she'd awoken to find Jacob Carter at her side, tears in his eyes as his fingers stroked through her hair.

"I needed to get myself together, I think," she continued with a shrug. "Theia left me with a lot to deal with. She was so messed up, Dad, I really think she loved the baby even if she tried to convince herself she didn't. I had to deal with her feelings on the matter as well as my own before I could face anyone else." She lifted her face to his and met his gaze, biting down on her bottom lip nervously. "I'm sorry I didn't come to you sooner. I know you must've been worried about me.."

"Sam." Jacob reached out and took her hands, his heart aching for her. She'd been through so much, suffered so much.. and now he had to tell her that a lot of it had been unnecessary. "There's something you need to know, honey."

Her face paled as her mind leapt to the worst conclusions. "What is it? Did Anubis attack Earth? Is everyone okay..?"

"Everyone's fine," Jacob assured her quickly, giving her hands a quick squeeze before letting them go. "It's not that, Sam. It's.. not bad news but it's going to come as a surprise to you."

He didn't know how to say it. For two hours he'd listened to her talk about her experiences during the two months she'd been gone. He'd seen her shock when she'd found out how long she'd been away and didn't want to add to that by saying anything else but he really had no choice.

She deserved to know. She *needed* to know.

"The baby didn't die, Sam," he blurted out, unable to stand the fear in her eyes much longer. "Doctor Fraiser managed to revive it just after you - Theia - was taken. His grip on her hands tightened at the shock on her face. "You have a daughter," he murmured, his voice painfully hoarse. "A beautiful little girl called Megan. Jack's been taking good care of her," he went on, needing to fill in the silence with something when she made no attempt at speaking. "George knows what happened but he told his superiors it was the Goa'uld who started the relationship so you and Jack wouldn't get into trouble.. Jack works part-time now, looking for you when he's not with Megan.."

Sam stared at him. "He didn't take advantage of me. He's not like the others, it wasn't Theia.."

"You know that and he knows that and so do the people who matter," Jacob told her quietly, soothingly. "But we talked about it, Sam, George, Jack and me. We didn't want to ruin your career for when you came back to us.."

"I don't care about my career," she said softly, her eyes regaining some of the life they'd lost over the last two months. The haunted look was still there but it was fading, taking a backseat to the hope that rose inside her. She licked her dry lips and swallowed the lump in her throat. "I have a daughter?" She whispered, her eyes filling up again. "She.. She's really alive?"

"Alive and the apple of her daddy's eye," Jacob confirmed, allowing himself a grin at the sight of his daughter reasserting herself. "Doctor Fraiser confirmed it, Sam. Jack's Megan's biological father as well as her father in every other way."

The smile that broke out across her face was breathtaking as well as heartbreaking. "I'm glad," she managed to croak, her fingers seeking her fathers, squeezing them tightly when she found them. "Dad?"

"Yeah?" Jacob leaned in, straining to hear her words as her voice broke.

"I need to go home," she murmured, her eyes overflowing. "I need to get back to my baby."

Jacob opened his arms to her and wrapped her in a tight embrace when she moved forward. He held onto her as if his life depended on it, closing his eyes as his cheek came to rest against her hair. "We'll go as soon as you're ready, Sammie," he promised softly. "As soon as you want to."

She lingered in his arms for a little bit longer, seeking and taking the comfort she found there. Five minutes later, she pulled away and squared her shoulders, schooling her features into an expression he knew and loved so well.

Determination, strength, courage..

.. His daughter was back.

"I'm ready now," she declared, sounding decidedly more confident than she felt but refusing to listen to the voice at the back of her head that said she needed more time.

She didn't. She'd already wasted plenty of it.

What she needed was to hold her baby, her daughter, for the first time. What she needed was to be held by Megan's father while she cuddled their daughter close.

Father and daughter were ready to leave in less than ten minutes. Her nerves started creeping up on her when they stood in front of the activated Stargate and her father announced their signal had been sent through. "Sam?"

Sam started at the sound of his voice, taking a deep breath at the question in it. "I'm fine, Dad. I will be fine." She took a determined step forward, her fingers lacing with her fathers as he stood at her side. "I'll be okay."

She believed it, too.

Taking another deep, calming breath, Sam and Jacob Carter walked through the Stargate. Her nightmare was finally coming to an end and Sam Carter was finally going home.


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