Gone Fishing-part 2:"The Not Knowing"
I desperately needed to rest so I thought maybe if I snatched a few hours sleep here I could work out what to do next. Hopefully before the Colonel woke up and made things difficult. I could come back at a more civilized hour. No, that was stupid. There were no motels open at this time of night, out here. It was all completely nuts whichever way I thought about it.
I explored the cabin, feeling like an intruder. The first bedroom I saw was a mess of crumpled sheets and blankets. A toppled chair lay on its side on the floor. On the far side of the bed I could see the top of a military rucksack sitting on the floor. Perhaps he was planning a trip or had just come back? I checked the bathroom- the door of the medicine cabinet over the sink still hung open. Wads of water dampened cotton wool with blood stains lay scattered in the sink itself.
I pushed open the next door. It was a spare room but one that obviously didn't get much use. The window was broken and partially boarded up. A damp musty smell tickled my nose and there was no mattress on the bed – just a box spring. I closed the door and moved to the last room.
Feeling like Goldilocks in the home of the three bears I opened the door to the last room. As soon as my eyes adjusted to the dim light of this room, I knew I'd have to sack out on the couch after all. This had been Charlie's room. Books still sat on a shelf, planes hung from the ceiling, and a child size orange life preserver and a fishing rod peeked out from underneath the bed. I shut the door.
Snagging one of the tossed blankets from the main bedroom floor I headed for the couch. As I settled in, wrapped in one of the Colonel's blankets like a comforter and using one of the cushions as a pillow, I vaguely wondered if this broke any regulations. Tired beyond belief both mentally and physically and hoping my internal alarm would wake me in three hours, I went to sleep.
Sam didn't stir when Jack returned to the cabin several hours later chilled and out of sorts. He stopped in the doorway, confused and surprised. "What the hell…?" he exclaimed softly. He thought he'd seen someone earlier, but put it down to the after images from his nightmares. He dropped the sleeping bag and pillow. He went over and gently touched her cheek. She moved slightly and smiled in response.
She was real! After all he'd been through recently he couldn't be sure any more. Reluctantly he removed his hand. Stunned he sat down in the chair opposite the couch. What was going on? Surely the General and the Doc weren't checking up on him? But when had she arrived? He didn't remember hearing a car.
He was having troubles enough coping with himself let alone making polite conversation with another human being. He got up and quietly put the sleeping bag and pillow back where they belonged, tidied the bed and cleaned up the bathroom. He was doing anything rather than go back to sleep for the time being.
Avoidance tasks completed, he stood looking down at his 2IC, Major Carter, Sam, sleeping on his couch. Why had she come now? She had never accepted any invitation over the last six years. He thought she looked tired and wrung out. Overworking in the labs again? he wondered. He sat back in the chair, sipping a glass of water and watched Carter sleeping.
I woke up, cramped, crumpled and confused and still so very tired. I turned over and almost fell off the couch. Memory returned. I was at Jack's cabin. I started to get up. I needed to go before…before...
`Busted,' I thought as I took in the slumbering form of my CO in the opposite chair. His hair was sticking up in unruly tufts as his head lolled to one side. He was going to have terrible neck ache when he woke up. I noticed the bruise on the left side of his face and the light graze that had scabbed over. I guessed that he'd fallen over the chair in the bedroom. Pushing the blanket off, I stood up lightly brushing the table.
"Carter?" came a quiet voice. Damn, he'd woken up. What now?
"What's going on Carter? Did Mackenzie send you?" he asked as I headed for the door to get away.
"No! Of course not," I denied.
"Then… what? You just thought you'd turn up unannounced in the middle of the night?" he pressed, a disbelieving look on his face.
"I came…I needed...God I don't know. This was a huge mistake. I'll go," I said tiredly.
"Why is it a mistake? Nothing's happened," he replied confused. "Yes it has! You don't know. I need to tell you but I can't right now when you're..."
"When I'm what? What's wrong?" Jack ordered as he followed me out into the dawn air.
"My dad was so mad, Janet was furious and the General...."
"What? Tell me for crying out loud. Carter!"
"Look I'm tired and angry and I'm not feeling too good, so this isn't the best time or way to tell you," I back-pedalled.
"Carter…I swear if you don't tell me, I'm going back for my zat. Do you copy?" Jack said curtly.
"Alright! We ran into a little trouble in Oregon, while you were with the Tok'ra," I spat.
"What kind of trouble?"
"An Adrian Conrad type experiment," I fudged, not wanting to say the word symbiote just yet. Or at all.
"God, not him again! I know how you must feel about him. "
"Yes, well…" I looked away.
"Is everyone okay?"
"Yes ….and no."
"It can't be both, Carter!"
"Well it is!"
"What? You're not making any sense!"
"Can we do this another time?" I asked feeling tired again.
"No, tell me now."
"No. I'm sorry, sir. I saw you last night. You still need more time. I can't add my troubles to yours. I'll come back later."
"Stop! When `later' Carter? Today, next week? Back at the Mountain? It was you last night-this morning. I wasn't sure. I'm fine, really I am. Let me be the judge of what I do and don't need."
"Sure," I said hollowly.
"I'm getting there, just one step at a time."
"I don't think I could stand it if you didn't come back again. If we weren't a team any more," I said baldly.
"Whoa Carter, who says I'm not coming back?"
"We lost Daniel, we almost lost you twice. It's too much. You probably want to retire from all this." I stopped and stood shoulders slumped, my back to him.
I had almost got my argument with the Colonel, but seeing the reality of him coping one day at a time, stopped me. I gave him part of the story; he was bound to start thinking about Goa'uld on Earth.
I just didn't have the energy to cope with it all any more. I felt like giving up. Everything was just too much effort. I missed Daniel. I missed the Colonel, the old one. He had changed after Daniel died.
I'd always been a good little soldier, competing with the men and winning on my own terms. Dad taught me that.
I felt the warmth of his body as he stood behind me. His hand suddenly on my shoulder made me jump slightly, jerking me out of my thoughts.
"Carter…Sam don't do this to yourself," he said softly. "You know I can't promise something won't happen to any of us next week, next month. That's the way it is. You know that. But you're right it's been `difficult' lately," he continued.
Difficult? That was one word. Horrible, tiring, invasive, deadly and lonely were others I could think of.
Silence crept in…
"Don't go, stay for some breakfast at least," he pleaded.
I turned round and reluctantly nodded.
"C'mon let's get you sorted out shall we?" It seemed like he'd called a truce as well.
"Just hold me for a minute please?" I asked feeling fragile.
"Just hold me," I repeated. `I need to know that you're really here, that you made it back. That I made it,' I thought to myself.
`I can do this,' I thought as I stood leaning against him, with his arms around me. Both of us taking comfort in the grounding touch of another human being. Feeling warm and safe at last, I slipped into the waiting dark.
Moments passed, gradually Jack realized that Carter had fallen asleep-again. As he looked down at her, O'Neill thought he'd never seen her looking so small and defenceless.
What the hell was going on here? Was she ill, injured? What had she done to make everybody back at the Mountain so mad at her? Perhaps he should phone the General or the Doc, maybe even Teal'c…
It was still way early; breakfast could wait a little longer if necessary.
Much as he would like to stay there holding Carter -it was chilly out here and he wasn't wearing any socks. Carefully he manoeuvred so that he could pick Carter up in his arms. He slowly made his way back to the interior of the cabin. He could sleep on the couch; she was definitely taking the bed.
As he approached the bed a stray thought drifted across his brain `You've waited years to do that.' His grip on Carter tightened momentarily as he gently placed her on his bed. Not quite the way he had imagined but then real life was like that- different.
He covered her with the sheets and blankets, and stood unsure what to do next. Would she run off again if he didn't keep an eye on her? Should he phone the base?
Jack felt weary- what with the restless nights he'd been having and no appetite. Some days were better than others. He hated taking the doc's pills but he'd felt almost desperate. Hated the way a little voice sneered and taunted him for being weak. The pills made him feel all strung out and still tired but at least they kept the nausea at bay. He wouldn't do it anymore. He'd been through worse hadn't he? Hadn't he? Stop it. Think of something else.
He could keep watch again – he was used to that. So he lay down on his back on the bed and stared at the ceiling. She was here. They'd figure something out. Yes they'd acknowledged certain things a year or so back, well at least he had. And they'd mostly kept them in the room like she wanted. They were still fighting Goa'uld, replicators and who knew what else. Maybe when it was all over and they were still alive they could do something about it.
Jack woke up feeling warm and needing to go to the bathroom. The residue of the pills slowly ebbed away as he still lay there gathering impetus to get out of bed. Damn he'd fallen asleep after all. Carter! His eye shot open. No wonder he was warm. He found that he'd snuggled up to Carter or she had moved; whatever, his face was pressed into the crook of her neck, one arm over her waist. His bladder reminded him that he really needed to go.
When he returned she had moved so she was resting more on her front. He hadn't remembered falling asleep, no dreams just pure zeds. Perhaps it was Carter magic. Should he wake her up for food or let her sleep on? Well he could always ask.
Carefully he knelt on the bed to tug her collar up so she didn't get a cold neck when he stopped still, his hand in the air. Stunned- his brain processing what his eyes were telling him. There was a familiar red welt on the back of her neck.
Automatically he rolled off the bed and grabbed his hunting knife from his camping pack on the floor and a belt. He flung back the sheets pulling her arms back and tying her wrists up, half kneeling on her, pressing her into the bed as he did so.
"What, ahh," she tried to say before Jack yanked her head back roughly, his knife at her throat.
"Shut up! You're a Goa'uld. Where did you get the snake huh? How did you get past the Doc and everybody? TELL ME!" he shouted his heart pounding. He could only react.
"There's no Goa'uld. Please believe me!" she begged.
"I don't believe you. Were you just waiting to go all glowy eyed on me? Not gonna happen, whoever you are," he growled at her.
"It's me, sir. Carter! Please don't do this!" she urged.