Story Notes: Steps 11: AUTHOR: Ruth M. King

ARCHIVE: Sam and Jack, anyone else please ask

SPOILERS: Divide And Conquer, Beneath the Surface

SEQUEL: A sequel to First Steps, Step Two, Three Steps Forward, Four Steps Back, Timesteps, Six Steps, Alternate Steps, 100 Steps, Grey Steps, Next Steps. If anyone wants any of these just let me know.

NOTES: Continuing my challenge response :):)

This isn't the time or the place to be ill. I swallow a glass of water in a vain attempt to keep my breakfast in my stomach. Maybe some more bread would help...but there's no chance of that. I've had my ration, and no one around here is going to give me any extra just because I don't feel so good. Sick workers aren't wanted. They tend to disappear......I've seen it happen. People that are here one day and gone the next. Oh there's an infirmary of sorts, but workers that go there either get better or they don't....Most of the time it's night sickness......But I'm not night sick.

A siren sounds and the people around me start to move. Leaving it until the last possible moment, I attempt to stand up. My feet stay under me, but I can no longer suppress the urge to be sick. Pushing the other workers out of the way, I bolt towards the latrines. God, this is the third morning running. I sit down on the floor, too weak to move. This can't go on. Even if I manage to keep down the evening meal, it isn't enough to keep me working. And I'm getting so tired, it's all I can do to stay on my feet all day. Our rest period never seems long enough.

"Hey, you OK in there?" A male voice sounds from outside.

I don't answer. If I keep quiet he might go away. Male and female workers share these latrines, so I'm surprised that he hasn't just walked on in.

"Saw you run in here," he goes on. "If you don't hurry up, you're gonna be real late for your shift."

Curling up, I wrap my arms over my head, trying to make him go away. Who is he anyway? I vaguely recognise his voice, I think he's the guy who has the bunk opposite mine. I'd get up but I think I'm going to be sick again. And true to my instincts I start violently retching again, until all I can do is dry heave. I lie down on the floor, trying to regain my equilibrium. This is bad, the worst yet. I can't see any way that I can work today. What the hell am I going to do?

"Hey," his voice again, this time he's standing right over me.

"Go away," I snap at him.


He ignores me, choosing instead to help me sit up, rubbing my back. I try and pull away from him, but he stops me by placing his other hand on my stomach. He's a tall man, well built, but not overly muscular. His closely cropped grey hair is mostly hidden beneath his hat, but his most distinguishing feature is his eyes. They're brown. Deep brown. Yes, I do recognise him, but his name escapes me for the moment. He's on my shift, and he seems to spend most of it staring at me. I shouldn't be surprised that he was the one to notice my hurried exit.

"Easy," he tells me. "I'm not going to hurt you."

"I'm OK."

"No you're not. I don't call throwing up your breakfast being OK. What's wrong?"

I don't answer, I can't. His hand is still on my stomach and he looks down in surprise, feeling what my baggy clothes have been hiding.

"You're pregnant!"

I hang my head in shame. Our population is strictly controlled. It has to be, given the fact that we're battling against an ice age. We only have limited resources. No one is going to spare food for a child. There are no children here. The community is supplemented with people from the mines. Physical contact between the sexes is strictly forbidden. Which doesn't stop some guys..... I can see the anger in his eyes. I know what he's thinking, but I wasn't raped.

"Who was it?" he demands.

"It wasn't like that......He died," I explain.

"Then why haven't you done something about it? If you don't they're going to terminate anyway."

"Because I don't want to?"

"Why not? How long do you think you can hide it?"

His whole attitude stinks and I forget the fact that I'm still feeling nauseous and pull away from his soothing hands.

"Thera!" he shouts after me.

But I ignore him. I should have been at work ten minutes ago and my anger is giving me the strength I need to get there. How could he say that? It bothers me that his opinion means so much. In a way he's right. If I give myself up they'll go alot easier on me. I could even tell them that it wasn't my fault....but every night I lie on my bed and feel this miracle growing inside of me. I know it's something I want very, very badly.

I was hoping that no one was going to notice me being late, but I'm not so lucky. Kagan sees me slip into the plant room. The expression in the darker woman's eyes is not friendly. For some unknown reason she hates me. She'll report me to the supervisor as soon as she gets the chance. I mumble my apologies to the rest of the guys on my team and start to work. The effort never seems to lessen or get easier. Sometimes I wonder why. I mean if this plant has been here for so long ,why hasn't anyone come up with a way to make this more efficient? Then maybe we could start to reclaim our planet.

He comes in a couple of minutes after I do. His station is across the way from mine and it's not long before I feel him staring at me again. Given the way I yelled at him, he's got every right to turn me in. I don't want to, but maybe I should apologise to him. There must be some way to persuade him to keep his mouth shut. When we're given our water break I queue up behind him.

"Um....," I begin, realising that I still don't know his name.

"Jona," he supplies.

"Jona....right. About this morning....."

"Forget about it."

Collecting his water ration, he moves away from me, choosing to sit against the far wall. Taking my own water I go and join him. My hands are shaking slightly, but I need his promise.

"Look, can you find your way to...not saying anything, to anybody," I go on.

He looks at me, and I can tell he's still angry. But there's one thing I can offer him.....I place my hand on his thigh, moving it slowly upwards.

"I can make it worth your while," I whisper.

Just because physical intimacy is forbidden, doesn't mean it doesn't happen. Sex for favours will never go out of fashion. I'm nervous, but I know I'll do it. At this point I'll do anything.

"So?" I prompt.

"Forget it," he snaps. "That's one thing I don't want from you. For what it's worth I wasn't going to tell anyone anyway."

Jona takes my hand, but only to remove it from his leg. He finishes his water in one gulp and goes back to work. I'm left there hanging my head in shame, my cheeks burning red. When I look up, it's to see Kagan, and she's talking to Brenna. I expected to be hauled up in front of her right there and then, but it didn't happen. So I'm left to work the rest day worrying.

Before the evening meal, I'm finally called into Brenna's office. She's usually a pretty reasonable woman, but I can tell she's disappointed in me. Under any other circumstances I could probably grow to like her. I'm a good worker, I know I am. I only hope that Brenna will take that into consideration.

"Kagan tells me you were late for your shift," she says.

"Yes," I reply....there's no point in denying it.


"I wasn't feeling very well."

"What was wrong?"

"I was sick."

She looks up at me, but I can't meet her gaze.

"But I'm OK now," I finish. "And I worked extra time to catch up."

"I know. Which is why I am going to let you off with a warning. "

"Thank you."

"And if you have any other problems, come and see me first. You're a good worker Thera. I don't want to lose you."

Brenna's actively smiling at me now, and I know I've been lucky. I'll have to be much more careful in future.

"It's my honour to serve," I recite as she dismisses me.

The meal is almost over by the time I get back. I have to be satisfied by scrapings from the bottom of the pot......and no bread. Eating it is almost enough to make me sick again, but I try to force myself. It was overly optimistic to think that Kagan would save me anything. The fact that Brenna has gone easy on me has given her all the more reason to hate me. Life here is enough of a fight without having to worry what my fellow workers are thinking. They're all staring at me. Next time I get called in to see Brenna I should probably act like I've been punished more severely.

In the end I can't finish my food and make my way to bed. If I get a few hours extra sleep, maybe I won't feel so bad in the morning. I'm not the only one in the bunk room. A few of the others have had the same idea. Somehow I'm not surprised to see that my bedding has been stolen....but I lie down anyway. I'm too tired to fight....or even care. Despite the ice on the surface, it's not that cold down here. Even so, I miss the meagre comfort my blanket and pillow give me. Dreams are about the only escape from the prosaic reality of what we have to do here. When I dream I see him again. The man I least that's who I think it is. I see him reach out to me, his blue eyes pleading. I see his body riddled by bullets. I feel him in my arms as he dies. Behind us is a ring of shimmering water....

When I wake, I'm not surprised to find tears running down my face. It's the middle of the night, no one else is awake....apart from Jona. I look up and find him staring at me from the opposite bunk. Very slowly he reaches under his pillow and pulls out a slice of bread. He hands it to me....a peace offering. If I hadn't missed my last meal I would have been tempted to throw it back in his face as it is.... I take the bread and cram it into my mouth before someone else wakes up and takes notice. Stealing food is another of those rules that we're not supposed to break. Then I notice something else. My blanket and pillow are back in place. Jona just shrugs his shoulders when I glance at him. He doesn't seem to want sex, so what is he doing this for? Whatever, I realise that I'm grateful for his help. I nod my thanks and he smiles back at me.

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Every day blurs into one. A week goes by, then another. Some people disappear, some join's not a good idea to form emotional attachments. Even though I know that, I find myself spending more and more time in Jona's company. It's not that I've ever thought of myself as someone who needed protecting , but two people can survive here easier than one. It's reassuring to have someone to watch my back. Although by doing so, Jona hasn't endeared himself to some of the other workers. Kagan for one and that guy that's always running after her....what's his name? Carlin. It didn't happen overnight. At first I was still very wary of him. He had something hanging over me and I didn't like it. True to his word, Jona has never told anyone, so I've slowly come to trust him. I still don't know what he wants from me, but it could just be friendship.

"So, why doesn't she like you?" he asks me, gesturing towards Kagan.

We're eating our evening meal. As usual she was very reluctant to give me my full portion, but Jona's hovering presence helped persuade her. She hasn't dared refuse me when he's beside me....yet that is.

"She made a mistake and I spotted it," I reply.

"That's it?"

"Brenna was there."


"Kagan's rations were cut for two days, so you can see why I'm public enemy number one."

"It wasn't your fault."

"Maybe. I could have handled it better."

We finish our meal and head off into the plant. There's a couple of ideas I want to try out. Jona keeps on telling me that I should get as much rest as possible, but I'm feeling so much better now. The morning sickness has abated for the time being.....although I still get really tired, especially when I put in these extra hours.

Reaching our destination, I start to move a pile of crates, only to have Jona stop me. I stand back while he shifts them out of the way, then I'm crawling under the pump. There has to be some way to improve this system. Jona stands patiently by, handing me my tools. It's easy for me to lose track of time. If I was alone here, I probably would have worked through the night. But I'm not allowed to do that. Eventually, I'm forced to squirm my way out and call it a night. My back is aching from too much time spent in a confined space, but it's a small price to pay. I've made alot of headway tonight. I really feel like I'm beginning to understand these machines.

I rub my sore muscles as I pick up my tools.

"Hey, C'mere a second," Jona says.


"Sit down in front of me.....that's right, now lean forward a little and rest your hands on my knees."

I do as he asks, feeling slightly stupid.

"Now, take your jacket off," he adds.

"Why?" I demand.

"Relax....It'll feel good, I promise."

Curious, I remove me jacket. Without it, no one could ever mistake the fact that I'm pregnant. I feel strangely naked, despite the fact I'm still wearing a vest. His long legs are stretched either side of mine, slightly bent. Jona touches my shoulders, hesitantly at first, but his hands grow more confident as he realises that I'm not about to run away. His fingers dig into my muscles, smoothing out the knots and soothing the aches. He's right, it does feel good. My whole body slumps forwards, like a piece of rag. I don't want him to stop.

"You OK?" he asks.


He chuckles at my incoherent reply, "Turn around a second."

Wondering what he has in store for me, I kneel in front of him and Jona mirrors my position. He rests his hands on my shoulders for a second before moving them to cup my face. I'm barely aware of what's happening as he bends towards me, covering my lips with his own. My eyes close instinctively as the pressure continues. He pulls my body closer to his own, but as he strives to deepen the kiss I can feel panic setting in....we're not allowed to do this. I'm not allowed to do this!

I struggle out of his arms.....

"No.....," I hear myself gasp.

"Thera?" he questions.

I can't answer him, pulling on my jacket I turn and run. I'm so confused. There is a man that I love very much, but it mustn't be Jona. His footsteps follow, but I know the plant far to well. Before long I'm alone. I sink down, hugging my knees to my chest. Within my mind are confusing images, the man with blue eyes loving me.....but then there's Jona. His touch was so familiar....but his eyes are brown. Just like...what is it? Some kind of food. It's square and hard and melts in the mouth. I remember the taste, very sweet and creamy. It's not something I've eaten in a long, long time....but it's the colour of Jona's eyes. He has beautiful eyes. I want to drown myself in them. What is happening to me? This is so, so wrong, but I can't help myself. I think I'm falling for him.

But I can't stay here, hiding in the dark. Eventually, I have to go. If I don't someone will come looking for me. I creep back to the sleeping area, crawling into my bed. Looking across I see that Jona hasn't returned. I don't know if he's still looking for me or....What if something has happened to him? I mean to wait up until I see him, but I don't manage it. The next thing I know, the siren is sounding to wake us up. Jona is back in his bunk, but he doesn't even look me as we go for breakfast. I didn't get any bread.

I feel like I've lost my best friend. But what he wanted was impossible.

It's three days before he talks to me again. And that's only because I got into a fight. I was working late, after the end of my shift and some guy thought he could grab me. Naturally, I fought back. He was bigger than me and he managed to get in a couple of good blows before I had a chance to react. Fighting came like second nature to me. He probably expected me to just give in, lie back and accept what he forced upon me. That isn't me. I started off by breaking a couple of his ribs.....I had the element of surprised, but even so...he would have overpowered me eventually. I was lucky that Jona showed up when he did. The other man didn't even hang around long enough to get hit. Jona has this reputation.....I don't know how he got it. I think he's hurt a few people here.

Jona helped me up and took me to the latrines. Taking a bowl of water and a rag, he started to clean me up. I had a nasty cut above one eye, and my mouth was bleeding. At first I was nervous about him touching me. I was scared that he might want more from me than I was prepared to give. He was nothing but gentle. Gaining more confidence, I went out of my way to be nice to him, and show him that I was still willing to be friends. Those days without his companionship were horrible. I missed looking up from my work and finding him smiling at me.

"I'm sorry," I whisper to him.

"What for?" he replies.

"You know....running away like that."

"Thera, you said no....and I'm the kind of guy that'll accept that answer. Don't ever be scared of me."

"Then why haven't you been talking to me?"

"I haven't......You haven't been talking to me!"

We look at each other and laugh. Although in my case, it hurts a little more than I was expecting. He's washed the blood from my face, but I still look a mess.

"You sure you're OK?" he asks.


"How about...?"

He gestures towards my stomach. I can't help but place my hands protectively over my abdomen. Jona notices the gesture and gently takes them away.

"Let me have a look," he offers.

In answer to his query I take off my jacket and raise my vest. His sensitive hands run over my exposed skin. It tickles and I squirm a little, starting to giggle.

"No giggling," he warns me. "There's no bruising, I think you're OK."

Then to my surprise he pulls me close, holding me,

"Oh, baby I've missed you," he mutters into my hair.

What did he call me? Since when have I been his child? I pull away from him. Jona immediately backs off. Taking my hesitance as a refusal, he starts to apologise,

"It's OK," I tell him, "I was just a little surprised."

"I'm sorry," he repeats.

Actually, it felt kind of nice. As he helps me back to my bed, I find myself wondering what it would feel like to kiss him again.

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I think today has been the worst yet. First off, Kagan was playing her usual games at breakfast. Jona tried to force her to give me my bread and got into a fight with Carlin. Not that it would have been an even match. Although Carlin looks physically more muscular, Jona is a better fighter. If he'd have been given the chance, Jona would have beaten Carlin to a pulp. The only reason he didn't was the big man....Tor. He stopped them, pulled them apart. I guess sometimes the night sick can be useful. He said they knew each other, said they were friends....which proves just how nuts he is. And he called them different names. O'Neill? What kind of a name is that? They were lucky Brenna stepped in when she did.

I don't shower with the other women, given my condition I can't. Oh I have my excuses....extra work being one of them....but I was naive to think that I could hide forever. Usually I slip in late, when everyone else is in their bunks, so the last person I expected to see was Kagan. Part of me thinks she's been waiting for me. This morning's incident embarrassed her again. What could I do? She started it. I find myself wondering if I shouldn't just make my excuses and leave...but I really want to get clean. Our water rations aren't enough to allow us more than one shower a week and it's something I find myself looking forward to. The water is cold...icy even, but I relish the opportunity to be clean....if only for a short while. So I hang around, hoping that she'll leave. I don't think I've put on that much weight. How can I when I work here? There's barely enough food to keep me and my baby healthy.....and I've never been fat. It all serves to accentuate the bulge. How many months has it been? I don't exactly know. I've lost count somewhere along the way.

Kagan is taking her time. I don't realise why she's doing it until several of the other women enter the shower room. Before I can react, they grab me, forcing me to the ground, but I make sure it takes all six of them. Two of them sitting on my legs, the others holding my arms. Even so, I squirm away as Kagan tries to pull up my jacket.

"Not so fast," she tells me, hitting me across the face.

"Let me go!" I scream at them.

Why are they doing this? I haven't done anything to hurt any of them.

"Now let's see what you've been hiding from us," she goes on.

She rips open my jacket and the evidence is before her. The swelling of my stomach is more obvious than when Jona first noticed. I close my eyes against what I think is going to be a tirade of abuse....but Kagan just laughs. I know she'll use this against me as soon as she gets the opportunity. At her signal the other women let me go.

"So little miss perfect got herself in trouble?" Kagan sneers. "Who was it? Jona?"

"He has nothing to do with this!" I shout.


"If you say anything.....?"

"Why? What are you going to do?"

My threat is an empty one and she knows it. I won't have Jona fight my battles for me. I can deal with this....I will deal with this

"Please Kagan...."

I can't believe I'm actually begging. They're all laughing at me now....kneeling here, my hands clutching at Kagan's clothes. With contempt, she pushes me away and I fall back on the floor. I'm forced to curl myself into a ball as a flying kick hits me in the stomach, followed by another and another. I take it all in silence. Unwilling to give them the satisfaction of hearing me scream. Then suddenly I find myself alone again. The unnatural silence is broken as I start to sob.

Eventually, I have to move. I pick myself up and stagger into the shower, removing my clothes as I do so. Turning on the water I plunge under the freezing spray. I imagine Kagan is with Brenna right now. Or maybe she'll wait....and get a kick out of watching me sweat. I'm not going to tell Jona about this. He'll only want to do something about it and I don't think that would be a good idea. Of course I could always do the sensible thing and turn myself in....As I crawl back to my bed, I realise that's something I'll never do. If these women want to get a kick out of torturing me, fine. As long as I can keep my baby I don't care what they do to me.

I've never really made any plans about what I'm going to do if I do manage to carry this child to term. In the back of my mind I was thinking about disappearing into the caves, stealing what food we need. It may not be much of a life but it would better than the one I have here. The only thing I'd miss would be Jona.

Sleep does not come easily to me and when I do my dreams are troubled. I see that shimmering circle of water again. This time I'm not holding a man that's bleeding to death....I'm walking towards the circle, Jona is one side of me and Carlin on the other. Somebody shouts and we turn around. Two other figures are behind us; Tor and the man who attacked me. I wake sweating, trying my best not to cry out. There's something very wrong here. These dreams.....they seem so real. And Jona....he's now in every dream, even if the others are absent.

My body is black and blue the next day, but they haven't left bruises in any places that will notice. I'm also very, very stiff. Jona wonders why I'm limping and I tell him I slipped in the shower. He doesn't believe me, but I'm feeling too sick to argue with him. I skip breakfast all together and go straight to work.

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It's been six days and I'm still here. Kagan is waiting for something, but I don't know what. I'm moving very carefully, trying not to do anything that will send her running to Brenna....which I guess is what she wanted. I've even been keeping away from Jona. Well, I would have done if he would have let me, but he's a hard man to get rid of. I don't really know why I even tried. He's almost like a part of me now. A part of me that's sometimes annoying, sometimes sweet and always by my side.

Tor came back to work yesterday. No one knows where he's been, but he doesn't seem to be night sick anymore. He doesn't remember breaking up the fight or calling Jona and Carlin by those weird names. I don't know if he's telling the truth or not. He was always a quiet man and you can't read anything from his facial expressions. Then there's that thing on his head. I've heard him say that it's a birthmark, but it's a weird one. Whoever heard of a gold birthmark? And then there's the fact that I've been dreaming about him. If I were to believe those dreams I don't belong here at all....but I do belong with Jona.

What is happening here? There's something so wrong. One of the stabilisers blew out. I had some ideas about how to fix it and Brenna was really excited. Then the next day she called me into her office and said that we couldn't make the improvements. Nothing makes sense anymore. What could be so wrong about making our lives just that little bit better? Perhaps Jona is right and I have to work into the big stuff.....Or maybe he did handle dangerous explosives in a previous life. I'm so frustrated I don't know which way to turn. I just want to cry.

Jona tries to calm me down. He lets me rant, then takes me to an out of the way corner where we can sit together. I lean against him, trying to draw on some of his strength. If Jona wonders at my sudden need to touch him, he doesn't comment. My hands are cold and I worm them under his jacket....just to warm them up, of course. Beneath my fingers I can feel the ridges of hard muscle across his stomach, a dusting of hair....He's looking at me with those gorgeous eyes....that are almost black in the dim light. What am I doing? This is the time to remember that I am pregnant and therefore fat. He's not going to want me even if I want.....He's still staring at me.

"Thera?" he questions.

"I'm sorry," I whisper, realising that I've embarrassed myself. Just because he kissed me once doesn't mean that he wants to do it again.

"Hey, it's OK."

No it isn't. Nothing is. I feel like.....Feel like what? These emotions are familiar but I can't tell from where. An awkwardness that I associate from youth...but I can't remember being young.

"Thera," he repeats. "Look at me."

"Jona, I....."

I what? I want you? I need you? I love you? When the hell did that happen? How did I let it? I love this man. He puts a finger to my lips, stopping me from saying anything else. Then he smiles and I feel like I'm about to melt. All my anger and frustration has gone. I don't know how, but Jona can always manage to calm me down. He doesn't even have to say anything, just his presence is enough.

"Turn around," he tells me.

I do as he asks, automatically stripping to my vest. This time it's not his hands that caress my back and neck. I feel his lips, soft, warm, wet......My eyes close and I lean into him, turning my head so his mouth makes contact with mine.

"See, I told you," the voice is cold, full of derision.

Jona and I leap apart, but it's too late. Brenna is standing there, Kagan at her side. I hastily pull my jacket on.

"Listen, I can explain," Jona begins.

"Brenna, please. This is all a mistake," I plead.

But it's useless, she can't deny the evidence of her own eyes.

"Come with me," Brenna orders.

We have no choice but to go with her. There are several of the larger workers to make sure we do just that. Jona tries to take my hand, but I won't let him. I'll take the blame for this if I can. There's no point in both of us being punished. Without meaning to I start to cry. They're going to take my baby and there's no a damn thing I can do about it.

There's another man in her office. One I've never seen before. He looks as if he really doesn't want to be here, as if the very fact that he's walking on the floor is contaminating him in some way.

"Well, Brenna?" he questions.

"I'm sorry administrator. We had no idea that Lieutenant Colonel Carter was pregnant, but we will terminate immediately."

Carter? I look over at Jona. Who is she talking about? He shrugs.

"No," the man says, "Take them outside."

"Outside?" Brenna repeats.

"You heard me."

"They'll die!"

"So? You have given me enough evidence to suspect that the memory stamp is fading."

"What about Jackson, Teal'c and Kowalski?"

"Leave them. Your reports suggest that their work is still good."

"It may only be a matter of time."

"Then you will deal with them. For the moment we need all the workers we can. Now follow my orders....unless you want me to find someone else to fill this position."

His voice is cold and I shrink closer to Jona. Why is Brenna giving in so easily?

"It is my honour to serve," she mumbles.

We're dragged away by uniformed men. Jona tries to stop them but is beaten for his pains. I can see the other workers watching us, Kagan is smirking, Tor remains impassive and Carlin....I can actually see concern in his eyes. One man moves to help us, only to be struck down by the guards. For some crazy reason he's trying to protect us. Jona wraps his arms about me. There's really no point in trying to hide anything anymore. The signal he's giving to the others is clear. He loves me and he doesn't care who knows about it. He's telling them this isn't wrong.

They take us through a system of caves that lead upwards. It's confusing. Even if we were able, I don't think we'd ever find our way back. A thick iron door protects the entrance and the sound of it slamming behind us signs our death warrant. Our padded jackets offer little protection. We huddle together in the entrance way for a while, but in the end we have to move. Neither of us know if there's anything other than snow and ice over the horizon, but we have to find out.

Walking isn't too difficult at first. The sky is clear for the moment and the air, although icy, is still. As time goes on our pace slows, as we get colder and colder. I huddle closer to Jona, trying to steal some of his warmth. I think I've come to accept the fact that I'm going to die, that I'm never going to give birth to this child. However, long we walk for, the view never changes. Snow...snow....and more snow. The wind picks up and clouds form on the horizon. The temperature drops even further as the sun dips. I know I can't walk any further. Jona would probably be good for a few miles but he won't leave me here.

At least we'll die together......and we'll die free.

"Or not!" Jona shouts.

I remember him saying that before. I remember looking up and seeing our salvation, but this time.....

"C'mon, Thera, get up," he urges. "Hey....over here!"

He's standing and waving, shouting words that my brain refuses to hear. There's a warm comfortable place waiting for me and I surrender.

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The mattress beneath me is soft, the sheets smooth and clean.


I sit up, looking for him.

" Sam? Sam honey, lie back down."

I shake my head, where's Jona? If I'm alive maybe......The woman doesn't see to want to take no for an answer. She gently encourages me to lie down.

"My baby?" I ask her.

"You're both fine," she reassures me.

"Where's Jona?"

" mean Colonel O'Neill? I'll get him for you."

That name again. I shake my head, trying to clear the fuzz from my mind. She called me Sam....which for some reason seems more familiar than my own name. If I'm Sam then Jona is......


"I think so."

He looks tired. Jona....Jack takes the seat next to my bed and reaches out to take my hand. I hesitate for a second,

"It's OK," he tells me, "Apparently we're engaged."

"Oh.... Oh !"

I smile when I realise what that means. I reach down to touch my swollen stomach and look back at him.

"Yeah," he grins. "We were supposed to get married a week ago, but I guess we kind of missed that."

A week ago...I remember now. I went out and got a special dress. It was white and very beautiful. he fabric was so smooth it seemed to be part of my skin. The short woman, Janet, was with me, saying that I had a nerve to wear white. Jack kept on trying to see it, but I wouldn't let him.

"The others?" I ask.

"We're going to get them out," he reassures me.

I struggle to climb out of bed to join him, but Janet stops me.

"Not so fast, I want you under observation for at least twenty-four hours."

"What about Jack!" I demand.

"He's not pregnant."

"It's not fair."

"Sam, you're showing signs of exhaustion, malnutrition...and you have some very interesting are going to stay here until I say so."

Jack just smirks. He bends close and kisses me, "See you later, honey. Love you."



"You have to save all of them."

"I will."

I have his promise and I know he'll honour it. There's a whole race of people down there and I know we have to help them. It's all coming back now. The Stargate, the domed city....everything.

"Now just relax," Janet tells me. "Jack will be back before you know it."

I hope so. After all we have a wedding to rearrange. And we can't leave it much longer or I won't fit into the dress. For some reason it all seems a little trivial after what we've been through. At least Jack and I managed to find each other. Which brings to mind the man I used to see in my dreams.....the man dying in my arms. Who was he? Someone I cared about, but not someone I loved. No doubt I'll remember eventually.

One of the nurses brings me a meal. Since all I've eaten for the past few weeks is gruel and bread, it tastes like heaven. With my stomach full, I succumb to sleep. When I next wake the infirmary lights are dimmed and I'm not alone in the bed. With Jack's arms around me I finally realise that I'm home.

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