Day 90 SGC
The wormhole snapped shut with a note of finality. For a minute, everyone in the control room just sat there. Finally General Hammond broke the silence. "Well people, there’s nothing more we can do. It’s all up to him now." Still no one moved. "Sgt. Harriman, inform SG-6 they have a go. Their briefing is at 1645. Major Carter, Dr. Jackson, I know telling you to leave the base will be useless. However, I’m sure the two of you have other things requiring your attention." General Hammond met Daniel’s eyes and both looked at the slightly shell-shocked major. Daniel nodded at his unspoken request. Hammond continued gently, "Given our best estimates of how deeply the gate is buried, it may be hours before Teal’c can reach the surface. Even then, finding the DHD and digging out the gate will take time. SG-1, you are on stand-down for one week." Sam nodded slowly. "Yes sir," she responded as she got up from her computer, pulling the ear piece out and laying it by the keyboard. "Major." She turned toward Hammond. "Sir?" Hammond placed a gentle hand on her shoulder. "Sam, you’ve done everything humanly possible, and impossible. There’s nothing else you can do. It’s in their hands now." Sam sighed and nodded her head. "We’ll either hear from them in a few days or if they can’t find and fix the DHD, we’ll hear from them in about nine months when the Tollan ship arrives." Sam nodded again. "Yes sir." Hammond sighed inwardly at the disbelief in her eyes. "Major, go home. Get some sleep. There is nothing else you can do to help them. We need you here." Sam nodded again, turned and left the room. Hammond walked over to Daniel. "Dr. Jackson..." Daniel cut him off. "I’ll get her home." Hammond nodded. "Good, son. And tell her I’m not lying. Right now you and her are the most experienced people we have here. Her knowledge is priceless." Daniel smiled wryly. "Like she’ll believe me right now?"
"Son..." Daniel shook his head. "Don’t worry general, I’ll take care of her," Daniel replied as he left the room in search of his team mate, his mind already struggling to come up with an excuse to get her to leave the base. Maybe he should just save himself some arguing and ask Janet for a tranquilizer. Knocking Sam unconscious would certainly make getting her to leave easier. He immediately dismissed the thought. Exhausted or not, she’d royally kick his ass when she woke up. He’d use the old Jackson charm, that is to say he’d look helpless and beg. He didn’t do it often anymore, but acting helpless was the fastest way to get his way with his friends.
Hammond watched Dr. Jackson leave the control room. He silently shook his head and retreated to his office. Triple damn those Asgard. Thanks to those enigmatic little aliens he was forced to push his people far harder than he’d ever wanted to. Normally losing a person, even a member of SG-1, meant they’d be declared a casualty. If they could get home, great. If not, they were MIA. Plain and simple. The resources of the SGC could not be spent indefinitely in an attempt to retrieve one or two people. And in this case the Tollans would have a ship in the area in a few months anyway. Then the damned Asgard had contacted him, followed by the Nox and Tollan. Someone out there was stealing technology. And blaming the SGC in the process. Relationships with three extremely powerful alien races were in jeopardy. Even the President agreed, without their help, Earth would be helpless against the Goa’uld. That secret presidential order forced Hammond to push his people far past human endurance to get O’Neill back. If the Asgard really wanted O’Neill to deal with the renegades personally, why the hell hadn’t the little aliens helped him out? He’d never seen one, but Hammond knew an Asgard mother ship could have rescued Jack in the space of a few hours, or at the longest, days. Now three months later, one member of SG-1 was still MIA, another sent on a suicide mission to rescue him. Sam had been pushed to the point of mental and physical collapse in an effort to come up with an impossible solution to an equally impossible puzzle. And Jackson, the young man had been put in the unfamiliar position of holding it all together. And worst of all, Hammond still couldn’t tell anyone anything. He picked up a paperweight from his desk and sent it crashing against the concrete wall in an extremely uncharacteristic fit of temper. Dammit, there were some times he hated his job.
Daniel started looking for Sam in her lab, then he tried her quarters. Finding no sign of his friend, he resorted to calling the front gate and asking the sergeant to detain her and page him if she tried to leave. The last thing Daniel wanted and Sam needed was to be alone tonight. Satisfied she wasn’t going to sneak out, he started combing the base, level by level. After the last couple of months, he now felt he knew some of her habits. She’d avoid the commissary, too public. Likewise with the infirmary. Janet’s caring and well meant lectures were starting to get on Sam’s nerves. And that incident a couple of weeks ago ensured she’d avoid the infirmary for a while. Anyway, Janet confided she’d probably pushed too far with her questions about Jack. And when Sam decided to avoid a topic, she avoided it with a passion. Sometimes Daniel would find her in the briefing room, staring out the window at the stargate, but that had only been in the wee hours of the morning when she was guaranteed some privacy. Anyway, SG-6 was due for their briefing so she wouldn’t be there. Finally deciding to make one last search before he called in a favor and asked security to track her down on the surveillance cameras, he walked past Jack’s and Teal’c’s quarters. Their rooms were bigger and quite frankly nicer than the ones he and Sam had. But Jack had the benefit of rank and Teal’c...well the big guy had to live here, the least they could do was give him a nice room. Jack’s room was dark, the door locked. He’d expected that. But Daniel smelled the distinctive scent of Teal’c’s candles as he passed the door. He opened it and was hit by an intense feeling of deja vu. The room was dim, a multitude of candles the only illumination. Daniel slipped into the room and slowly closed the door behind him as he waited for his eyes to adjust to the dim interior. There, against the far wall, the warm, soft glow of the candles illuminated Sam’s blond hair. She didn’t acknowledge him as he crossed the room and sat beside her on the floor. She had her knees drawn up and was staring off into space. "Sam..." he started tentatively. "Yeah?"
"You know the general sent us home."
"So, aah...are we going to hang around here all night?" She slowly shook her head. "No. Just a little bit longer."
"Aah...OK." Confused, Daniel fell silent and leaned his head back against the concrete wall. They sat there in silence for about 15 more minutes. The calm stillness of the room was abruptly broken by the tiny, mechanical beeping of a watch alarm. Daniel jerked his eyes open, ashamed to realize he’d started to doze off. He turned towards Sam. Her eyes were closed now but he could see tears quietly streaking down her face. "Sam?" Without opening her eyes she shut off the alarm. "It’s over."
"What?" Sam sighed heavily. "He’s out of air. Either Teal’c got to the surface or he’s...suffocated." She buried her head in her arms and started to sob. Daniel pulled her into his arms and gently let her cry as he murmured quiet, nonsensical, soothing words as he tried to ignore the tears streaming from his eyes. After her tears had eased, Daniel handed her one of his handkerchiefs and they both blew their noses and wiped their eyes. "Well, we’re quite a pair," he said wryly. Sam smiled slightly as she started to look embarrassed about breaking down. "You know, I haven’t fed my fish in a few days. They’re probably starting to eat each other. What do you say we both get out of here?"
"Daniel, I’ve got..."
"You’ve got nothing to do right now. If Hammond’s right, we’ve most likely got days to wait. You’ve done everything you can. It’s up to Jack and Teal’c now."
"If they’re still alive."
"Oh they’re alive," Daniel responded. "What are you now Daniel, psychic?" He smiled. "No. I just know they’re OK. Call it archaeologist’s intuition." Sam smiled weakly and shook her head. "Look Daniel, I’ve got a ton of stuff backed up..."
"Stop. Sam are you going to make me beg? I’m tired of staying here and I...I don’t want to be alone right now," he said putting just enough of a whine in his voice to get through to her. Sam sighed and got a faint echo of that indulgent big sister look on her face. "Daniel, one of us should stay here in case..." He cut her off as he reached into his pocket and pulled out two small black boxes. He handed one to her. "We’ve got two beepers, your cell phone, my land line, e-mail and let’s not forget Hammond can simply send an airman over to my place. If anything happens he’ll call us BEFORE he calls the President." Sam sighed again, this time in defeat. "OK, you’re right. There’s nothing else we can do here," she said as she got up and went into Teal’c’s bathroom. He heard water running and guessed she was removing the signs of the tears from her face. He turned on the overhead light. Its harsh brightness changed the room from a dim, cozy nook to a cold, barren barracks. The door to the bathroom opened and she walked out. Together they snuffed the candles. "Ready?" he asked. Sam took one last look around and nodded. "Yeah. Let’s go." The pair left the room, turning out the light and locking the door behind them.
Day 95 SGC
Janet walked into the commissary, her heels clicking on the tile floor. SG-8 was due back in a couple of hours and she knew from experience if she didn’t grab some lunch now, she’d have to wait until dinner. She chose her food and carried the tray towards the tables. She was surprised to see Daniel sitting in a corner, eating a sandwich as he pored over a thick book. "Mind if I join you?" Daniel looked up distractedly. "Janet, yeah be my guest." She sat down. "I thought you and Sam were off duty for another couple of days?" Daniel grinned wryly. "It was all I could do to keep her away from here for five days. Do you have any idea how boring old movies can be?" he complained good-naturedly. "Old movies?" Janet asked, confused. Daniel looked sheepishly triumphant. "It was the only way I could get her to go to sleep. I’d turn on an old movie, she’d eventually get bored and crash on the couch for five or six hours." Janet chuckled and shook her head. "You’re sneakier than I gave you credit for." Janet’s mood turned serious. "How’s she handling it?" Daniel shrugged. "Typical Sam fashion. She keeps avoiding it. She was upset right after we sent Teal’c through. Now she won’t even talk about it."
"Where is she?" Janet asked, half knowing the answer. "Where else, hiding in her lab."
General Hammond stood in the doorway of Sam’s lab and watched the major work. She was carefully packing up her copious notes and research on her particle generator. Having served its purpose, the device had already been removed from the gateroom and locked away in a secure store room. Now Sam needed to catalog the notes and research she’d used. Since the inspiration for the generator was alien based and its purpose classified, Sam would share another experience with Dr. Jackson. She’d just built a machine that shouldn’t exist, and she couldn’t tell a soul. Just like Daniel couldn’t tell all those people who literally laughed him off the stage he was right and they were hopelessly wrong. The need for secrecy over personal vindication was yet another price the people involved with the SGC paid for the privilege of exploring the galaxy. Hammond knocked on the partially opened door. "Major." Sam jumped slightly at the sudden noise. For the most part, the personnel of the base had been giving her and Daniel a wide berth. "General, sir, can I help you?" Hammond studied the woman for a second. She no longer had that look of exhausted desperation he’d seen in the control room last week. The officer before him was calm, collected and poised, if still a bit weary around the edges. George knew how hard she’d worked building that particle generator. There were several times he’d stopped himself from wrapping his arms around her like he used to do with his children. Being friends with Jake over the years and watching Sam grow up, albeit more often through pictures than personal experience, left him feeling decidedly paternal towards her. But despite his feelings, George prided himself on treating all under his command fairly. "Major, I’ve been given a suggestion by the control room staff that, after due consideration, I feel is a justified and necessary improvement to our operating procedure. You are no doubt aware that we do, on a regular basis, re-try various coordinates Dr. Jackson brought back from Abydos." Sam nodded. "Yes sir. Those would be coordinates we have not been able to successfully dial, most likely due to obstruction on the other end or possibly the destruction of the receiving gate."
"Yes. After discussing things with the tech staff, we’ve exposed serious flaws in our current procedures. In looking over old logs, we’ve discovered that what should be a methodical search has become quite random. Some addresses are checked every week, others every day. We’ve found some of the addresses have never been rechecked. What I’m looking for major is a computer program to allow us to re-check these so called cold worlds in a more efficient manner."
"A cold dialing program?" Sam asked. "If that’s what you want to call it, then yes." Sam shrugged. "Shouldn’t be too difficult. When do you need it?" Hammond shrugged. "Whenever you get it done."
"OK sir. Just let me finish with these things." Hammond walked closer to Sam and smiled at her. "Major. It’s done when it’s done. If I hear of you spending day and night here again, I’ll ban you from this facility." Sam frowned and got a fleeting hurt look on her face. "Sir?..." George put his hand on her shoulder and smiled kindly at her. "Major...Sam, right now you’re one of the most experienced people I have here. I need you alert, not so exhausted you’re falling down. With Colonel O’Neill gone, you and Colonel Makepeace are my seconds in command until he returns. That is your primary responsibility. This program is necessary but not your sole focus."
"I understand sir."
"Good." Hammond turned and left Sam alone in her lab.
Day 96 SGC
Sam walked into the control room looking for Lieutenant Simmons. She thought some feedback from the people actually using her soon to exist cold dialing program would be helpful. Graham was sitting at one of the consoles performing some diagnostics. "Lieutenant." Graham turned to face Sam. "Major. Ma’am, what can I do for you?" Sam pulled up a chair and sat beside him. "It’s Sam, not ma’am," she reminded him gently. "Do you have a couple of minutes?"
"Aah...yeah." Sam smiled. "Relax Graham, it’s nothing bad. I would just like your input on the cold dialing program." Simmons visibly relaxed. "Sure major. What would you like to know?"
"Ummm. How often do you guys try the cold worlds? How many would you like to try in a session? Should we list them alphabetically or by quadrants of the map? Basically Lieutenant, this program is going to be solely used by you and the other techs. How do you want me to write it?" Three hours later Sam headed back to her lab armed with pages of suggestions, some pertaining to the cold dialing program, others dealing with various other bugs the technicians had noted over the years.
Day 99 SGC
Sam knocked on the general’s office door. "Come." Sam entered the room. "Sir. I’ve got a preliminary cold dialing program written. With your permission I would like to install it tonight. If the duty rosters are correct, all the teams should be back by 1900 hours so we can take the computers off-line without endangering anyone."
"And how long will this installation take?"
"Just a couple of hours. It’s just a trial program. I’ve only entered about a dozen of the cold worlds. Thought it would be best to start small, find any bugs before we plug hundreds of addresses in." Hammond nodded. "Sounds good major. You can have the computers once all the teams have returned."
"Thank you sir." Sam turned and left the room.
Day 100 SGC
Daniel called the front gate one more time to see if Sam had come in yet. He’d tried her house earlier and got no answer. The last week or so she’d basically been keeping to herself. He’d managed to drag her out for lunch once or twice, but she’d mostly spent her days in the lab. At least it was only her days. Daniel was relieved to discover Sam was back to only working 40 or 50 hours a week instead of the 100 plus hours she’d spent on base while building her generator. Scuttlebutt had it the general ‘encouraged’ her to go home. He left his office and made his way towards her lab. Maybe he’d run into town, see if she was home...his plans came to an abrupt stop as he saw Sam walking down the hallway, the jacket she was carrying telling him she’d just arrived. "Sam," he called. She looked up and smiled at the sight of her friend. "You’re running late?" She shrugged as she dug her key card out of her pocket to open the door to her lab. "I was here late last night working on the computers. Decided to sleep in."
"OK. Was something wrong with the system?" Sam shook her head, motioning for Daniel to follow her into the room. "No. I just installed a new program last night. I needed to make sure all the bugs were worked out," she explained as she moved around the room, turning various machines on. "Oh...cool." He watched from one of her stools. "Look, Janet and I want to try that new Chinese place in town. Want to join us for dinner? Cassie’s coming."
"Yeah. Sounds good. What time..." Sam’s reply remained unspoken as the klaxons began to wail announcing an off-world activation. "Everybody’s on-world," Sam stated. "Major Carter, Dr. Jackson...report to the control room." Sam shot a look at Daniel. "Then again maybe we’ll have to be flexible about dinner." Daniel frowned slightly as he got up and followed Sam to the door.
A few minutes later they both walked up the short flight of stairs to the control room. General Hammond was standing behind Sergeant Harriman. "General, what’s up?" Sam asked as she took a seat at the console beside Harriman. "Not sure major." Everyone in the control room looked through the window at the closed iris, flanked by the defense teams. Harriman’s fingers flew across the keyboard as he checked his readouts. "Getting a radio transmission sir," he reported. "Put it on speaker," Hammond ordered. Immediately the air was filled with the crackle of interplanetary static and hiss. "...ome in. Stargate Command this is Teal’c...do you read me?" There was a moment of stunned silence as all in the control room met each others’ gaze. Hammond almost lunged towards the microphone and pressed the button. "Teal’c, this is the SGC. Do you read me?"
"General Hammond. I do indeed read you." Daniel scrabbled for the headset lying on the counter. "Teal’c! You’re alive!"
"...imme that. Course he’s alive, for crying out loud. He’s too damned stubborn to die." Daniel’s jaw dropped, General Hammond’s face split into a huge grin and Sam closed her eyes in relief at the sound of Jack’s joyously annoyed voice. "Jack, it is damned good to hear your voice. Are you all right?" Hammond answered. "General, we’re fine. Just wanted to report in. It’s gonna take us a few days to finish digging the gate out and get it vertical so you can come through. Teal’c just thought we should check in, keep you guys from packing up my house or something drastic like that."
"Very well colonel. Do you need anything?"
"Nah sir. Right now anything you’d send us would just fall back into the gate anyway. You might wanna tell those refugees to start packing. I got a bunch of people who want to see their families again."
"Understood colonel. We’ll be ready to send the refugees back when you tell us the gate is passable."
"Sweet. Talk to you in a few days," Jack responded as the wormhole disengaged. The people in the control room looked happily at each other for a minute than broke out in joyous laughter. Daniel looked over at Sam. She was just sitting there silently, a huge grin on her face. He didn’t think he’d ever seen her smile so happily. "Congratulations Major. You’ve almost got him home." Sam looked at the general. "Thank you sir."
Day 103 Edora
Jack felt the gentle hand of Lara on his shoulder. He opened his eyes slowly and fought the urge to reach for his non-existent rifle. He blinked sleepily at her. "Jack, the circle...it is working."
"Someone is coming through the circle." Jack glanced at the dark windows. "It’s too early. They’re not supposed to be here until morning."
"Your friends are as impatient as you are," she said sadly. "I’m not..." Jack met Lara’s gaze. "OK, I’m impatient. Lara...these are my friends. We’ve...we’ve been through a lot together. They’re...family," he said as he sat up, swinging his legs over the side. Lara sat beside him. "Family you never thought you’d see again." Jack nodded solemnly. "Family I wasn’t even sure was still alive." Lara sighed. "Marco told you what he saw," she stated. Jack nodded. "Just a coupla weeks ago actually. How he saw Sam and Teal’c running from the fire rain. How he didn’t see if they made it through the gate before it was buried." Jack sighed heavily, scrubbing his hands over his face. "Lara..."
"It was the night of the celebration, wasn’t it? That’s why you joined us, why you drank so much. Why you laid with me." She looked at Jack. "You used me to bury your grief...I was a way to forget."
"Not...yes...a little. Lara, a few years ago I wouldn’t of cared. Losing people, especially people under my command isn’t easy, but I’ve learned to live with it. If this whole mess happened...I don’t know...three years ago, I wouldn’t of cared. I would of just said ‘screw it’, headed for the hills and Edora would have had a crazy old hermit. "But these people, Daniel, Sam, Teal’c, hell even Hammond, they’ve become such a part of my life...I’ve got to the point that...maybe losing one of them would be...survivable...but Lara the thought of being alone again...I just couldn’t face it. Believe it or not, I’m not the type to have a girl in every planet." Jack chuckled, "I leave that part to Daniel. Being with you...hell maybe I did use you. I just knew if Sam and Teal’c were dead...there was no chance for a rescue. I needed you. If I had to stay here, alone...I’d go totally nuts." Jack took Lara’s head in his hands to make her look him in the eyes. "Lara, you saved my life, my sanity. I’ll always be grateful for that."
"Jack, I need..." Lara’s words were never spoken as the silence of the room was broken by a knock at the door. Jack got up and opened it. His jaw dropped at the sight of General Hammond standing in the doorway in his dress uniform. Vaguely wondering if he was in the middle of some surreal dream, Jack stammered out, "Uuh, General Hammond?" The older man smiled. "Jack, it’s good to see you looking so well. Colonel, is there somewhere we can go? We need to speak privately." Moderately confused, but willing to play along, Jack motioned for the General to follow him as he led the older man out into the Edoran night.
"General, you’re telling me I’m gettin rescued for the sole purpose of getting myself back into that whole damned black ops scene? I freakin retired to get the hell away from it!" Jack exclaimed as he jumped to his feet and angrily paced the small dock. "Jack, look son I know how you feel and believe me, I wouldn’t be asking this of you if I had a choice. Your being marooned here makes you the only one above reproach. And the Asgard demanded YOU reveal the renegades. The Tollan and Nox back up their request. "Colonel, quite frankly this mission is just as vital to earth as the time you and the rest of SG-1 destroyed Apophis’ and Klorel’s ships. If the Tollan, Nox and Asgard pull their support...we might as well start evacuating to the Alpha site tomorrow. Even you have to admit you were damned lucky to have saved earth AND survived. We may not be so lucky again." Jack grabbed his head in his hands and growled. He threw his arms into the air and muttered, "Damn, damn, damn, damn. General this SUCKS," he complained. Hammond got to his feet and put his hand on Jack’s shoulder. "Look son, I know how much you don’t want to do this, and believe me if there was any other way...I would never ask you to, but the stakes..."
"Are just too damned high," Jack agreed resignedly. Calmer now, both men sat on the dock and began to plan.
Two hours later the alarm on Hammond’s watch went off. "I need to go. I’m due to return from Tollana in an hour." The two men got to their feet and began the trek back to the gate. Jack was uncharacteristically quiet. "Jack, I know I needn’t remind you Teal’c, Daniel, and especially Major Carter must not be involved."
"Oh yeah...love keeping secrets," Jack quipped sarcastically. "Colonel, you remember Armin Selig," Hammond reminded Jack unnecessarily. "Yeah."
"Chances are we’re dealing with the same group. If they’re willing to kill a reporter in cold blood, just what kind of a chance does your team stand?"
"Yeah, I know." Hammond heard the resignation and self-disgust in Jack’s voice. They stopped in front of the DHD. "Jack, if it makes you feel better, you should know Daniel spent a good part of the last three months wheeling and dealing with the Tok’ra and Tollan. He even tried to contact Thor on Cimmeria. Sam literally worked day and night to build a particle generator like the one Sokar used against us to clear this gate so we could get to you. And Teal’c...well you know what he did." Jack chuckled. "I’ve never been so glad to see a Jaffa in my life."
"You’ve got a good team Jack. You just remember that."
Day 104 SGC
Daniel walked into Sam’s lab to see his friend bent over her workbench, intent on her current project. She’d been quiet ever since their return from Edora. Daniel had a funny feeling Jack’s slightly...off...behavior had a lot to do with it. He hadn’t even seemed glad to see them. In fact, if Daniel didn’t know better, he’d swear Jack was downright annoyed at having been rescued. "Sam." She jumped, dropping her pen on the floor. "Daniel, geez you scared me," she complained as she bent over to pick it up. He looked sheepish. "Sorry. You OK?"
"Huh? Yeah I’m fine Daniel."
"Well, you’ve been a little quiet since we got back." Sam shook her head. "I’m just working this cold dialing program out in my mind. You know how it is when you get something running through your head."
"Yeah. Uhmm, look, we’re going to take Jack and Teal’c out. Jack’s craving pizza and beer. About 7:00." Sam looked uncomfortable. The last thing she really wanted right now was to be near Colonel O’Neill. "Daniel, I’ve GOT to get this program on-line tonight or Hammond’s going to have a fit. Why don’t you guys start without me and I’ll try to catch up."
"Yeah. You guys gonna be at Mo’s?" Daniel grinned. "Where else?" Sam nodded. "I’ll...aah, try to see you there," she said, knowing she was lying.
Day 105 SGC
"I don’t think I have to tell you the Joint Chiefs were extremely...interested in your reports on the technology you saw on Tollana."
"Oh, ya think? I’m sure they were drooling." Hammond ignored Jack’s sarcastic quips. If he didn’t know better he’d swear the colonel was enjoying pushing the behavioral envelope. He continued his briefing. "SG-1, you’ve been ordered to make contact with the Tollans and attempt to negotiate for some technology."
"They haven’t exactly been enthusiastic about sharing general."
"Danny boy’s got a point sir. We literally save their butts from a Goa’uld attack and we get pushed through their little homemade gate with a lolly pop and a pat on the head."
"Nevertheless colonel. You and your team have an appointment with Travelle on Tollana in two days time. Dr. Jackson, you will lead the negotiations. Dismissed people." SG-1 got to their feet as Hammond left the room. "Well, this is gonna be fun," Jack groused. "Jack, if it works, it could be like winning the lottery."
"Oh come on Daniel. You really think those uptight ‘I’m better than you’ jerks are going to share? While you’re at it, why don’t you call Sokar, see if he’s in a mood to surrender?"
"Colonel, we did save their planet. If anyone can convince them to share, it would be Daniel," Sam said, defending her friend. Jack pushed himself away from the table and stood up with a flourish. "Well Carter, if it doesn’t work, maybe YOU can negotiate with Narim. You two seem to have a relationship," he sneered as he stalked from the room. Daniel looked at Sam who was struggling to cover a look of hurt disbelief. "Such behavior is most unusual coming from Colonel O’Neill," Teal’c stated. "Sam, it’s been a tough three months for him," Daniel suggested weakly, attempting to excuse his friend’s rude behavior. "Whatever Daniel," she said as she got up and left the room. Daniel and Teal’c watched her go. "You know Teal’c, if I didn’t know this was real, I’d swear we brought back the Jack from the other reality. He behaved much the same way."
"How do you mean?"
"The Jack O’Neill I met on the other side of the mirror was a cold-blooded, rude jerk."
"Indeed?" Teal’c asked rhetorically, quirking his eyebrow.
Day 107 SGC
"One of us should go...talk to him."
"What’s there to talk about Daniel?" Sam asked tiredly, pulling random blades of grass out of the ground and systematically tearing them into tiny bits. Sam, Daniel and Teal’c were sitting in a rough circle outside the complex, away from prying eyes and surveillance cameras. Given recent events, all three felt discretion was definitely called for. "Sam, come on, he’s acting weird, even for him. I haven’t seen him this nasty since our first trip to Abydos. No wait, he wasn’t this bad even then."
"So he’s throwing a tantrum about something. He’ll get over it," Sam dismissed. "Colonel O’Neill’s behavior is much more...severe than any other times in the past."
"That’s an understatement Teal’c. The real question is, what are we going to do about it?"
"Daniel, we’re going to do nothing," Sam stated. He looked at her in disbelief. He’d never seen her this...cold towards Jack. "Sam, we can’t just ignore him..." Sam got to her feet. She could still hear the colonel’s hateful words ringing in her ears. She knew right now that if she went anywhere near him, she’d either deck him and get court-martialed herself, or start crying. And she’d be damned if she’d give him the satisfaction. "Fine Daniel, you want to talk to him...go. Right now I don’t even want to be in the same room with him." She brushed the bits of mutilated grass off her fatigues and turned away from her friends. "I’ve got things to do," she tossed over her shoulder as she walked back towards the entrance to the mountain. Daniel turned towards Teal’c, confusion plain on his face. "What’s eating her?" Teal’c sighed heavily as he wondered if he should tell DanielJackson of O’Neill’s outburst in the hallway. He decided to say nothing. Right now he felt the Major would appreciate his discretion. "O’Neill’s behavior towards Major Carter has been extremely...harsh. I have learned through observing humans, especially Colonel O’Neill and Major Carter, that perhaps the best remedy is for the two of them to maintain their distance for a period of time."
"Fine, then I’ll go talk to him. Try to find out what the hell’s going on."
Sam walked towards her lab, sincerely hoping not to run into anyone. She was going home. If it was OK for her to work day and night, then certainly it was OK for her to go home early. She entered her lab and methodically started to turn things off. There was a timid knock at the door. Sam closed her eyes and sighed. She really didn’t want to deal with anyone right now. The person knocked again. "Major Carter, are you in there ma’am?" she heard Graham Simmons ask. "Great," she muttered. Then reminding herself Simmons had nothing to do with her present confused state of mind, she opened the door. "Yes Lieutenant. What can I do for you?" Simmons stood in the doorway looking like he was standing on the threshold of Apophis’ throne room. "Uuh, major, I was wondering if you could...well I have a favor I wanted to ask and I was wondering if you could..." Sam bit back a smile at his verbal stumblings. "Lieutenant, just spit it out." He sighed. "Well you see ma’am, I’m taking this class and I’m having some problems, and the teacher suggested a tutor and... well you’re the smartest person I know and I was wondering if maybe you could help me?" ‘Oh boy,’ Sam thought. "Uuh, lieutenant, I’m not sure if that would be a good idea, you see...umm..." Sam struggled to think of what to say. She knew the young man had a crush on her but he’d always kept it to himself. This was the last thing she needed. First Janet’s comments about the colonel, now this. "No major...it’s not like that...I mean not that I didn’t think about it before, but not now. I mean not that you’re not...I mean..." Graham stopped and took a deep breath. "I did have a crush on you, but I’m...well I met someone." Sam watched the young man blush and felt her cheeks redden also. "Graham, that’s great. Who is she?"
"Her name is Kelsey Reynolds. She’s a tech up in NORAD. We met during that bad storm last month. We got stuck in the elevator." The look on his face suggested there was more to this story. "Well, Graham, in that case I’ll be glad to help you. But can we talk about it tomorrow? I was headed home."
"Sure major. Mind of I walk up with you? I’m off duty now. Maybe you can meet Kelsey on the way out?"
"Sounds good lieutenant. And it’s Sam, OK?"
"OK," he answered as he followed her into the hallway and they left the mountain.
Day 116 SGC
"You asked to see me sir?" Sam asked, walking into General Hammond’s office. "Yes I did. Come in major. I’ve got a couple of matters to discuss with you," he said motioning for her to have a seat. "First, are you certain you do not wish to press charges against Major Parsons?"
"I’m certain sir."
"Major Parsons assaulted you and Dr. Frasier and held the two of you at gunpoint for over an hour. You would be well within you rights to have him court-martialed." Sam smiled. "Sir the last thing Parsons saw on P3Q895 was he and his men being overrun by Jaffa while attempting the rescue of SG-9. The next thing he knows, he wakes up and sees someone wielding some Goa’uld tech on his brother. He had never seen a healing device before and certainly had no idea anyone here at the SGC could use one. I probably would have reacted the same way."
"Dr. Frasier said exactly the same thing. Very well, I’m sure Major Parsons will be relieved. Now to my second problem." Hammond sighed heavily. "Major you know Colonel O’Neill is officially retired." Sam nodded. "He just came to see me and has requested to go to Edora for his retirement. Seems he formed a relationship there he wishes to pursue. I’ve granted that request. After all he’s done, it seemed to be the least I could do. Jack is scheduled to depart for Edora in an hour." The general leaned forward. "Sam, given the nature of his offense, and to maintain our relationship with the Tollans, he will not be given a GDO, and Edora will be locked from our dialing program. In a nutshell, once he leaves, he won’t be back."
Sam nodded to the SF and knocked on the door to Jack’s quarters. "Come in." She opened the door and saw her former CO sprawled on the bed, his jacket tossed carelessly over the top of a small bag. "Whatever you’re selling, I ain’t buying," he drawled. "Colonel, I...aah...I heard you were leaving, going to Edora."
"Ex-colonel. I see the grapevine still works. Here to ask for my stereo?"
"Aah, no sir. I was wondering..." she started as Jack got to his feet and stood in front of her. "What? Why Edora? I thought of Argos, but hell I already grew old there once, thought I’d try another planet this time."
"No. Actually I was wondering why?"
"Why throw all of this away for some stupid piece of tech? Something we didn’t even get to keep."
"What THIS? Getting sent all over the galaxy, getting shot at by all manner of aliens, catching funky viruses, having things messing with my head, almost getting killed...hell so many times I can’t even remember them all, dying, what is it now two or three times, freezing my ass off in Antarctica and let’s not forget that oh so pleasurable experience of having a freakin snake in my head! I’ve paid my dues and wrecked my life for THIS! I’m sick of THIS! I’m sick of babysitting! I’m sick of you! I finally want some peace and quiet!" As his tirade progressed Jack walked closer and closer to Sam, raising his voice, waving his arms and forcing her to back away until she was trapped against the wall. He thought for a second he saw fear in her eyes before she forced it behind a mask of bland indifference. "Well I’m sorry the last three years have been such a trial sir. Enjoy Edora," she said quietly as she quickly turned her head and slipped around him. She silently fled the room. Jack heard the door click shut, leaned against the wall and closed his eyes, forcing himself not to run after her, to apologize. He felt sick. "God Sam, I’m sorry," he muttered.
Day 117 SGC
"Excuse me Major. May I come in?" Sam looked up from her work to see Major Parsons standing in the doorway to her lab. The man still looked a bit pale but Sam had heard he’d been released from the infirmary earlier in the day. "Sure Major. What can I do for you?" Sam asked. The tall officer stepped sheepishly into the room. Sam saw him nervously scan her lab like he was expecting something to explode in his face. "I wanted to apologize. In the infirmary I...well I don’t remember much, but I do remember thinking you were hurting Martin and I...I overreacted. I’m sorry I hurt you. I know now you were just helping him." Sam smiled. "It’s OK. Not very many people here know I can use those things. It’s an easy mistake to make. I know the first time I saw someone using the healing device, I thought she was hurting her patient."
"Nevertheless, I was out of line and you would have been well within your rights to have me brought up on charges."
"Major, Frank. It’s OK. Just do me a favor? Please don’t tell anyone what you saw. We...aah...well the less the NID knows the better." Parsons nodded knowingly. He’d heard all about Colonel Maybourne. "You can count on me Major. I won’t breathe a word," he promised. He turned to leave the room, then stopped. He held out a box of chocolates. "I...aah...I mean no disrespect, but...well I got this for you. As a thank you for Martin, and not pressing charges." Sam took the box. "Frank, you didn’t need to do this, but thank you,"she replied simply. He nodded. "You’re welcome. And Major, anytime you ever need anything...just let me know." Sam nodded and he left the room. ‘At least someone around here knows how to say thank you.’ she thought as she unwrapped the chocolates.
Day 119 SGC
"It’s kind of spooky isn’t it?" Daniel asked as he sat next to Sam in the commissary. "Spooky?"
"Makepeace working for Maybourne," he explained. "I sorta find it hard to believe anyone would want to work for Maybourne. I can’t believe I actually called him for help. Though without him we might be up to our eyeballs in aliens," she admitted. "Yeah, he did bail us out," he admitted. "Just never realized how ruthless the weasel could be. You know, Jack told me Maybourne threatened to make him ‘disappear’ if he didn’t go along?"
"Yeah, and I’ve heard all sorts of rumors of all kinds of big wigs calling Hammond, supposedly congratulating us on exposing the traitors. But if I know politicians, they’re probably trying to save their own..." Daniel let his voice trail off as he noticed Sam was ignoring him. She abruptly got up from the table, leaving her mostly un-eaten lunch behind. "Daniel, I’m sorry. I just remembered I left an experiment running. I gotta go." She quickly gathered her papers and almost dashed from the room. ‘What’s gotten into her,’ he wondered. Then the answer sat down beside him. "Was that blur Carter?" Jack asked. "Yeah. Said she had some experiment. Jack, is it my imagination or..."
"She’s avoiding me Danny," Jack said quietly. "Is she still sore about what happened?"
"Probably." Jack sighed. "Daniel, I said some pretty...bad things to her. I think I went too far."
"You should go and talk to her."
"Daniel, I’ve tried. It’s like she has radar. I get within a 100 feet of her and she scampers off like some damn wild animal. The couple of times I’ve managed to pin her down, she just says ‘I’m fine sir’ and walks away."
"Look. Things weren’t that easy for her while you were off black opsing. Makepeace gave her a hard time." Jack frowned. "What for?"
"She won’t say but a couple of the guys on SG-3 said he was still hacked off about her going after you on Hathor’s planet. He declared you a casualty and she still went back. His guys said he boasted about putting her in her place after we got home. I’m guessing he jumped her ass." Jack shook his head. "She never said anything." Daniel snorted. "Like she would. Anyway, he made it very clear he felt SG-1 needed more discipline. And since he couldn’t do much to me or Teal’c..."
"He probably started with her so she could control you two." Jack scratched his head. "Jack, you know you’ll have to MAKE her talk to you. I mean getting her to spill her guts is just a little easier than having a heart to heart with you," Daniel said holding up his hand and measuring off a tiny space between his fore finger and thumb. Jack looked offended. "I’m not that bad."
"Yes, Jack you are. Look if she can forgive Parsons, you stand a pretty good chance." Jack looked confused. "Parsons...SG-6? What the hell does he have to do with Sam?" Daniel shook his head as he got up from the table. "It’s way too long a story to go into here. Just look up SG-6’s mission to P3Q895 and what happened after. If she can let him off the hook for that, you just might stand a chance."
Day 120 SGC
Jack left the locker room and headed toward the commissary. He’d been up all night reading the reports on P3Q895 and now desperately needed some mind reviving coffee before he cornered Sam in her lab. The reports he’d read laid out in perfect dispassionate detail the story of a mission sadly wrong. SG-9 had been overdue from a routine recon. Hammond followed procedure, first attempting radio contact, then, when that failed, sending a MALP through. The probe revealed nothing, so despite the fact Major Parsons’ brother was a member of SG-9, Hammond sent SG-6 in for the rescue. An hour later, SG-6 and 9 staggered through the gate, a platoon of Jaffa hot on their heels. Major Parsons apparently woke up in the infirmary to see Sam and Janet using the Goa’uld healing device to try and save his brother Martin’s life. Parsons, who had never seen a healing device before, mistook it for a ribbon weapon and assaulted Sam, knocking her unconscious in a misguided attempt to save his brother. He held Sam and Frasier hostage for over an hour until he finally passed out from his wounds. According to Teal’c, as soon as Major Parsons was restrained, they finished using the healing thingie to save Martin’s life. An act which exhausted Sam enough for her to spend the next 24 hours in the infirmary, asleep. Both Sam and Frasier refused to press charges, which was something far nicer than Jack would of done. He picked up two cups of coffee and headed towards Sam’s lab. He remembered the rude things he’s said to her, the hurt look on her face. Knowing her penchant for hiding her feelings, he’d probably have to lock her in the lab to get her to talk to him. Maybe he’d make her mad. That usually worked with Daniel. Get Danny boy mad enough and he’d forget all he didn’t want to say and get down to the basics of the problem. He heard the intercom crackle to life. ‘Major Carter, report to the control room.’ "Great." he muttered, ‘here we go again.’ Jack tossed the cups of coffee into a convenient trash can and headed towards the elevator.
Day 120 Bedrosia
Jack looked over at Sam sitting in that damned cage. She just sat there, calmly, staring straight ahead. "So Carter, love this new invention of yours. Once we get out of this, think you can find us another planet where we’re so very popular?" She looked over at him for a second then just returned her gaze straight forward. ‘Oh yeah, she’s pissed about something.’ Normally one of his smart ass remarks would have sparked a debate. Maybe a list of all the planets where their wanted posters were hanging in the proverbial post office. Or a good natured discussion over whose bounty was the highest. The only time Sam truly ignored people was when she was so totally angry she knew she’d lose her temper. Jack thought about trying another tack, maybe apologize. As he opened his mouth, the door to the room swung in and Daniel was returned. Jack casually checked him out. He didn’t look any the worse for wear. Then again Rygar was still in his ‘you’re a lab rat’ stage of cruelty. Jack didn’t think he’d do anything too permanently damaging to them for a little while yet. All Jack had to do was figure a way out before that nutcase decided to autopsy them or something. The guards led him and Sam outside and showed them the body of the guard. He looked at Sam and saw the quickly hidden relief in her eyes when she recognized the staff blast in the Bedrosian’s chest. Teal’c was still out there. And best of all, the Bedrosians had uncovered the DHD. Things were starting to look up. They were led back into the structure and pushed back into those damn cages. Jack heard Daniel refuse to confirm Teal’c’s presence. ‘Good job Danny boy.’ Jack knew right now their only chance of getting out of here was the big guy. Jack fought to keep his face impassive as he watched Rygar threaten Sam with the Zat. He gritted his teeth and forced himself not to react as the bastard shot her. ‘OK, no more playing nice. It’s time to get the hell out of here.’
Day 120 SGC
Jack hopped down from the examination table. "Well, colonel, with the exception of Teal’c, it looks like you guys got away lucky this time. I can’t find any permanent damage caused by that stun ray you reported or the Zat blast you and Major Carter suffered. Just let me know if you feel dizzy or anything."
"Thanks doc. How’s Carter?"
"She’s fine colonel. Why do you ask?" Jack shrugged. "Nothing particular. It’s just the last time she got zatted it seemed to hit her sorta hard." Janet frowned a bit then shrugged. "Well, she didn’t report anything out of the ordinary."
"It’s probably nothing. I’ll see ya around," he said as he left the infirmary and headed toward the showers. They had another hour before they debriefed and Jack really needed a shower.
Jack walked down the corridor leading to Sam’s quarters. He figured now was as good as time as any to talk to her. He really needed to find out what was bugging her. She’d barely said a dozen words during the debriefing. The last time she’d been that quiet was when Jolinar had been in control. He knew that wasn’t the problem. He stopped short as he saw the door to her room open and Graham Simmons walk out. "Thank you Sam. I really appreciate this." Sam smiled at him. "Any time Graham. See you tomorrow," she said as he walked away. Puzzled, Jack knocked on her door. "Graham. Did you forget something?" he heard her call through the door. Jack opened it and saw her straightening things up. "I don’t know Carter. What would he have left behind?" She turned around, her welcoming smile fading to be replaced by a look of wary insecurity. "Colonel. Was there something you needed?" she asked him, her eyes darting around him towards the open door, like she was planning an escape route. "Nah. I was just going to check on you. I remember how hard Boch’s zat hit you and I was a little worried. But I see you’re fine. Though you might want to take it off base next time Major," he said coldly as he turned and left the room. Sam stood there for a minute, then quietly closed and locked her door and curled up on her bunk. She fought tears as she tried to convince herself it was going to be OK.
Day 122 Kheb
"Colonel, we put down our weapons we’re dead."
"Jack, if you’re ever gonna trust me on something, trust me on this." Jack took a brief look at his friends and laid his weapon on the stone walkway. He saw Sam do the same, followed quickly by Teal’c and Bra’tac. He watched, disbelieving as Daniel calmly waved at the Jaffa. "Bye," he stated simply as the fireworks started.
It was a quiet walk back to the gate. Though assured by Daniel all the Jaffa were gone, Jack maintained a slow and vigilant pace. He heard Teal’c and Bra’tac quietly talking, something about legends and myths. Daniel was strangely introspective, but then again having some Zen-ish glow-in-the-dark alien save your butt had a way of toning him down. Sam was bringing up the rear. Jack realized she was retreating back to the way she’d been when he first met her, quietly respectful, speaking only when spoken to, and minding her own business. The Sam who had partied with them, gotten drunk with them, crashed on his couch, was gone. She was withdrawing from Daniel and Teal’c also. Off duty he’d heard she was staying away from everyone, with the possible exception of Simmons and Parsons. Just like he’d done after Charlie. He couldn’t let her do that. His withdraw almost cost him his life. He couldn’t let Sam turn herself into the same solitary bitter figure he’d been. But watching her crouch there, calmly watching the staff blast headed her way, not reaching for her gun because he ordered her not to, made him realize that despite how she acted on the base, some little part of her still trusted him. He also realized he HAD to talk to her. Their friendship of the past three years was too valuable to lose. They would talk, tonight.
Daniel walked out of the shower and saw Sam sitting on the bench, calmly waiting her turn. "Hey?" She turned and smiled at him. "Hey."
"Look, we’re going to go to Jack’s house. He wants to barbecue. I know you’ve been sort of...well, avoiding us the last couple of weeks, but I really want you to come."
"I...aah heard about it from Teal’c. I’m gonna be there."
"Really? You’re not going to change your mind? Find something to do in your lab?" he asked. "No. I’ll be there," she promised.
Sam ran her fingers through her slightly damp hair and reached in her locker for her jacket. A tiny part of her wished she hadn’t promised Daniel she’d come, but an even bigger part of her knew she had to. Tonight was the last chance. She had to see if she and the colonel could settle things. If not, she’d decided to ask Hammond to be assigned to another team. So far the friction between them hadn’t affected their missions, but she knew it was just a matter of time before it did. As much as she would miss the guys, she knew she couldn’t live with herself if she was responsible for anything happening to them. She slipped her arms into her jacket as she heard the intercom crackle into life. ‘All available SG team members assemble in the briefing room.’ "This isn’t good," she muttered as she left the locker room and headed toward the elevator and the briefing room. "So much for dinner."
Day 122 P4X765
"What do you think major?" Major Coburn asked Sam as he handed her the binoculars. She looked through them, seeing the tardy members of SG-7 tied to stakes around a fire. Surrounding them were about twenty natives, armed with bows, spears and knives. "They don’t look in bad shape. I mean if they wanted SG-7 dead, they would be already."
"Yeah, I agree. I’m not too crazy about slaughtering some primitives."
"Automatic weapons versus bows and arrows is a bit unfair. No need to give ourselves a bad reputation, we might want to come back some day." Sam agreed. "How about laying some claymores there," she pointed past the fire towards a small hill. "It’s a pretty good bet these guys aren’t familiar with explosives. Maybe we can get enough of them curious and they’ll check it out. Even if only half go, we stand a pretty good chance of zatting the rest and getting our people out of there in one piece."
"Then we just run like hell for the gate, and get home in time for the late show," Coburn finished. "Sounds good major." Crawling down the hill towards the rest of SG- well there were two others from SG-2, one from SG-8 and two from SG-5 in addition to Sam. When SG-7 didn’t come back on time and Hammond sent for the back-up team, it was revealed that, through some bit of miscommunication, nearly every member of the SGC was off base. That meant a hodgepodge team was quickly assembled and sent to retrieve SG-7. After seeing the look on Hammond’s face when he realized he had no back-up teams ready, Sam was grateful she wasn’t the one in charge of the duty roster. Someone was going to get chewed in the morning. Then again, so was she. If she knew Daniel, he was ringing her phone off the wall, both at home and at the SGC. She wished she’d had time to call before she left, but there was barely time for her to get back into uniform, much less make a phone call. She sighed. ‘Oh well, they can check the duty logs if they don’t believe me,’ she thought as she saw two people from SG-2 slip around the natives, heading towards the distant hill.
Day 123 SGC
"You’re lucky. Another inch, and you’d be in surgery right about now," Janet remarked as she put the last couple of stitches into Sam’s left arm. They’d almost made it away clean. Then the retreating SGC personnel ran into a hunting party they hadn’t known about. Fortunately there had only been a half dozen of them, but all managed to get off a shot before they could be zatted. Sam got off light, an arrow nicked her upper arm. One member of SG-7 was in surgery repairing the damage to his chest, and Major Coburn was going to be laid up for a bit while his leg healed. "You know, Daniel’s called twice looking for you?" Sam’s grimace had nothing to do with the tug of the stitches. "I promised him I’d come over tonight...make that last night. He probably thinks I’m avoiding him."
"I thought it was the colonel you were avoiding?" Janet asked as she started to wrap a gauze bandage around Sam’s arm, covering the stitches. Sam sighed. "I was...have been. I decided to clear the air tonight. Before it started to affect the team."
"Sam, it’s already affected the team. Jack’s worried about you, Daniel and Teal’c too. Look, I don’t know what happened, but you and the colonel need to settle it."
"Janet I know. I’d already decided, if we couldn’t resolve it...I was going to ask Hammond for a transfer to another team."
"Sam, why? You guys are like family. Whatever it was...was it really that bad?"
"Yeah Janet, it was that bad. He...aah...he went too far. I thought I could just forget it, but I can’t." Janet moved to stand in front of her friend. She looked her in the eyes. "Sam, what did he do? Did he...aah..." Getting Janet’s drift Sam hurried to reassure her. "No. God no. Not that. He just...every time we’re in the same room...he says such..." Sam stopped as one of the nurses peeked her head into the room. "Dr. Frasier, Major Coburn is spiking a fever."
"Damn. OK. I’ll be right there," she said over her shoulder. Turning back to Sam, "Sam, what were you saying?" Sam shook her head. "Nothing important." Janet nodded distractedly. "OK, you know all about stitches. I’m going to have Mindy give you some pain killers. That cut is deep, it’s gonna hurt like hell. The local should last until you get home. No alcohol or driving with these in your system."
"No problem Janet. I’ll see you later." Janet gave her an abstracted wave as she hurried to Coburn’s bed.
Sam carefully slipped the fatigue shirt over her T-shirt. She tried to button it up but a warning twinge in her arm quickly changed her mind. Janet’s local anesthetic was definitely wearing off. Shoving the bottle of pills into her pocket she headed through the nearly deserted halls toward her quarters. She’d just get her keys and wallet and go home. She’s call Daniel later, explain it to him. Maybe see if he wanted to get some lunch. She came to an abrupt stop at the sight of Jack leaning against the wall outside her quarters. "Colonel, it’s 0300. What are you doing here?" she asked as she fumbled for her key card. "Could ask you the same thing. You missed dinner." She sighed tiredly. "Something came up." Jack nodded skeptically. "Yeah. I’m sure. Look Carter, we gotta talk."
"I agree sir. Just not right now OK?" she pleaded as she brushed by him and swiped her card in the lock. Jack grabbed her arm, pulling her around to face him. "No. We need to settle this now," he insisted. Unfortunately he grabbed a hold of her injured arm. He was totally unprepared for her sudden exclamation of pain. "God. Let go!" she gasped out. Puzzled he released her arm and she slumped against the wall. "Sam. What the hell?" He saw a horrified look cross her face. "Oh boy," she muttered and dashed unsteadily into her room. Concerned, he followed her and heard the unmistakable sound of retching. He snapped on the overhead light and saw her hunched over the toilet, being violently sick. Something was very wrong. He couldn’t remember her ever getting sick, hell she hadn’t even gotten space sick when they’d been picked up by the shuttle. Ignoring his own rising nausea, he went into the bathroom and knelt beside her. He rubbed a soothing hand up and down her back as he waited for her to finish. Once her body was quiet for a few minutes he asked, "You done?" He felt her nod and helped her to her feet, keeping one arm around her. He closed the lid on the toilet and flushed it. "Need to brush your teeth?"
"Yeah." He put a ribbon of toothpaste on her brush and stood beside her as she brushed her teeth. Once she was done, she splashed water on her face and awkwardly dried it one-handedly. Jack couldn’t remember ever seeing her so pale. "Come on, let’s get you to bed." She nodded and he helped her across the room to her bunk. She carefully sat down and rested her back against the wall with a relieved sigh. Jack sat beside her for a few minutes watching her get herself back under control. He waited until he saw her relax a bit, color finally creeping back into her face. "Sam, what just happened?" he asked quietly. She opened her eyes and gave him a tiny, wry grin. "I think you might of ripped out some of Janet’s nice new stitches," she said quietly. He looked at her arm and was alarmed to see a bit of blood seeping through the heavy material of the fatigue shirt. "When did you get stitches?"
"Oh, about half an hour ago." Seeing Jack’s puzzled gaze, she explained. "SG-7 got in trouble. Thanks to someone screwing up the duty roster, there wasn’t a back-up team here, so anyone hanging around got recruited to go bail them out. The natives just had bows and arrows, but they were good shots."
"Damn Sam, I didn’t know."
"Course you didn’t know. How could you? It’s OK."
"No. It’s not. I hurt you again. I didn’t mean to."
"Hey, stuff happens. It’s no big deal." She shifted her position and he saw her grimace in pain. "Didn’t Janet give you something?" She nodded. "Yeah. She gave me some pills. I just haven’t taken them yet."
"For crying out loud. Why not?"
"Because if I do I can’t drive, so I can’t get home," she explained. "I’ll take care of the getting home part. Where are they?" She dug the small bottle of pills out of her shirt pocket and handed it to him. He went into the bathroom and came back with a glass of water. He tipped two of the pills into her hand and watched her wash them down. He read the label. "Hey, these are the good ones."
"What? More memories of the seventies?" Jack chuckled. "More like a lack of memories." Sam smiled and closed her eyes, waiting for the medication to take effect. They sat there in silence for a few minutes. "Colonel, I’m sorry." Jack frowned. "Sorry for what?" Sam opened her eyes and met his. "Bringing you back from Edora. I know you didn’t want to come back and if I hadn’t of built the particle generator..."
"What makes you think I didn’t want to come back?" Jack asked confused. "Well, you...aah...you were less than enthused to see us. And then you were so..." she let her voice trail off. "Mean?"
"I wouldn’t exactly...but ...yeah." Jack sighed. "I was pissed. Not at you guys. I mean...right up until I heard Teal’c’s voice on the radio...I thought you were dead."
"What?" Jack explained. "One of the Edorans, he saw you and Teal’c run for the gate, then the meteor hit...he didn’t think you made it. I knew if you and Teal’c were dead...home just wasn’t going to happen. Then the night before I was coming home, Hammond came through the gate and told me about the renegades and how we had to catch them. I was...well, royally pissed off. When I un-retired, I promised myself I’d never get back into all that secretive crap. All those secrets, they’ve screwed up my life more than you’ll ever know. Then here’s Hammond telling me I had to do it again. And that I had to lie to you guys."
"So that’s why you were..."
"Such a jerk?" Sam nodded. "Yeah. These guys...they play for keeps. Just in case it all went south, I couldn’t drag you guys, especially you, down with me. Look Sam, I know I said some really, really nasty things. And I’m sorry. I didn’t mean any of it." he stopped and thought a minute, "well maybe some of it."
"Some of it?" She shot him a look. "The part in the hallway. About me not acting like myself. I’ve changed since I met you guys. I mean no one else I’ve ever served with would of given a damn if I was left behind. That...means a lot." She nodded and closed her eyes again. He noticed her relaxing a bit more. ‘The pills must be kicking in.’ he thought. Something still didn’t feel right. "Sam. Is that all that’s wrong? I mean is there something else?" She opened her eyes and looked at him. He could see the indecision on her face. There WAS something else bothering her. "Come on. I can’t fix it if I don’t know what to fix," he encouraged her. She took a deep breath and started. "You remember, right before you went to Edora...in your quarters?" He nodded. He remembered all right. He remembered her being afraid of him. "Sam..." She cut him off. "Jonus used to do that. Intimidate me, get in my face, make me back away from him. I think he liked it if I was afraid of him." Jack got a bad feeling. "Did he ever hit you?" Sam nodded slowly. "Once. Luckily once was all it took. Dad may not of been big on hugs, but he made sure I knew how to take care of myself. When you...you reminded me of him for a second."
"Sam, you know I’d never..."
"I know. I just...I thought if I avoided you, it’d go away. But then every time I was around you, you’d say such...nasty things. I started to think you really hated me or something. I thought maybe you were mad at me for bringing you back, maybe you wanted me off of SG-1...I don’t know." Jack rubbed his face and sighed. "Oh God. I was just trying to get you mad. You wouldn’t talk to me. I thought maybe if I got you mad enough you’d tell me what was wrong. Hell, it works with Daniel." Sam frowned at him. "Daniel can’t get court-martialed if he tells you off."
"Sam, you’ve shot me for crying out loud. You think I’d actually court-martial you for yelling at me?" he asked incredulously. "I didn’t shoot you, I shot an alien that looked like you," Sam protested. "OK, you know the job is strange when people can blame things on aliens, and they’re right." Sam laughed. "So...aah...are we OK?"
"Yeah, we’re OK."
"Good. Uhmm...look, do you want me to talk to Hammond about Simmons?" Sam looked confused. "Simmons?"
"Well...aah...there’s been some rumor about you and him...and there was that time he was in here..." He stopped as Sam started to laugh. "You think...him and me...oh god that’s a good one."
"What?" he asked giving her his ‘I’m totally lost’ look. "Graham is taking a math class, a really hard math class. I’m helping him with his homework."
"Yeah, oh. Anyway he’s got a girlfriend up in NORAD."
"He’s got a girl?"
"Yeah. He met her while you were gone. Scuttlebutt is they got stuck in the elevator for over an hour. And he was wearing a real nice shade of lipstick when they got out."
"Simmons...in an elevator? Man did I underestimate that kid." Jack looked at Sam’s arm, relieved to notice no more blood soaking through the fabric. "Looks like its stopped bleeding." Sam looked. "Doesn’t hurt anymore either."
"Not with those pills in your system. Ready to get the hell outta here?" She nodded. "Absolutely. Let’s go before something else happens." She stood up and wobbled a bit. "OK, you’re definitely driving." Jack grabbed her jacket and closed the door behind them.
General Hammond sat in the commissary, sharing a cup of coffee with Dr. Frasier as they went over the casualty reports from SG-7’s rescue. They both looked up to see Jack and Sam walking down the hallway. "Looks like they made up," Hammond remarked. "Excuse me general." The older man chuckled. "Doctor, just because I turn a blind eye doesn’t mean I don’t see. I was beginning to wonder if I would have to lock those two in a room to make them resolve whatever was between them."
"Well, whatever it was...looks like it’s over."
"That’s good," he remarked seriously. Janet got a troubled look on her face. "General, is something going on?"
"I don’t know. Doctor, do you ever get that ‘something nasty is going to happen feeling’?"
"Yeah, every time a team’s overdue."
"So do I. But this time...I can’t explain it, but I get the sinking feeling that something...really nasty is on the horizon."