Story Notes: Synopsis: Ever wondered why Jack was so touchy feely with Sam in Descent. Here is my view on why. This takes place before the mission.

Feedback is always appreciated. :O)

Alone In the Night

Chapter 1

Colonel Jack O'Neill was strolling through the light grey corridors of the SGC, searching for Major Samantha Carter. Along the way he bumped into Teal'c who was headed towards the commissary.

"Hey Teal'c, whatcha up to?" Jack enquired.

"I am in need of nourishment O'Neill, would you and Major Carter care to accompany me?"

"Maybe later Teal'c, have you seen Carter recently, I've been searching all over the place for her"

"I have not. Maybe she is taking some time for herself, she did not seem quite herself on the mission yesterday, nor indeed was she talkative at the briefing. It was very unlike her not to go into depths on the new Technology we acquired from the DeAsha's."

Jack pondered on what Teal'c had just said, he remembered her coming back from the DeAsha homeworld and Teal'c was right, she had seemed quiet, but when he asked her about it after their return, and then again after the briefing, she had just shrugged him off. Even during the briefing, O'Neill could normally coax a smile out of her, or at least one of her quirky looks when he tried to understand her explanation of new technology, but on this occasion she seemed to not rise to the bait.

"I'll maybe join you later Teal'c." with that, he headed towards Major Carters lab.

"Carter, you in here? Carter!" He did a quick search, but couldn't find her; by this stage he was getting a little worried. He did a quick search of her office, and found schematics for the new machine, her computer was still on so, he peered over the screen to see what she had been working on. Jack scrolled down the text, but didn't understand a word of what was written, mind you, half the time he didn't understand what Carter told him, but because she could explain things in Laymans terms he was usually able to keep up.

Just as he was about to leave, Major Carter came bursting through the door, and the two of them nearly went flying in opposite directions. O'Neill just managed to stay on his feet, but Carter wasn't quite so fortunate, she fell on to her back, the air from her lungs exhaling quickly, and landed with a pained expression on her face.

"Carter, Carter, you okay? I'm so sorry, I didn't see you coming!" He watched her falling, but was to late to catch her, as her legs went akimbo.

As she landed, he thought he saw a pained expression on her face, before she had even reached the ground. His concern for her had increased.

"Carter, you okay?"

As he held out his hand to pull her up, he noticed her grimace slightly.

"I'm fine Sir, really." She lied through gritted teeth. "Typical!" she thought, "Of all the times, he has to come and check on me, today had to be one of them." Sam knew he was worried about her, she had been quiet since their return, but she just couldn't bring herself to tell him what had happened after the mission.

"What can I do for you Colonel?", Sam asked absently rubbing her ribs.

"Carter, did I hurt you?" He noticed her hand rubbing her ribs in a circular motion.

"Maybe you should get ol Doc Frasier to check you out?" He replied worriedly.

Jack didn't think he'd hurt her that much, but that funny feeling was back; the feeling you get when you know a friends hurting, but they don't want to talk about it. "Go gently with her Jack" he calmly said to himself. The last thing he wanted was to scare her off, but hell, subtlety just wasn't in him.

"Carter, is something up?"

"Up Sir?"

"Yeah, you know the word, opposite to down?" he replied sarcastically.

"Did you want something sir? It's just that I've got a million and one things to do before I leave tonight. If you want this report done by morning, then I need you to leave." Carter countered boldly, if she could distract him for a few minutes, he might lose his train of thought and leave without asking any more questions. Her ribs were starting to hurt, and she needed to sit down, soon, before she fell down.

"Don't think for one minute that I don't know what your doing Carter, but you obviously don't want to talk now. Look, I know it's sometimes hard to talk to your C.O, but I'm here if you need me, okay!" He gave her a quick pat on the shoulder, and quietly left.

As Jack walked back through the corridors he bumped into Jonas on route to the commissary. "Oh Colonel, is Major Carter in her office? I need to go through a few things with her."

"Jonas, just leave her for now, she's a bit busy, and not quite in the mood for people interrupting. If I were you I'd wait till the morning, unless of course your willing to face the wrath of Carter!"

Jonas stared at Colonel O'Neill, he'd never seen the Major in a bad mood, but if Colonel O'Neill was staying away, then it would be a good bet that he should also.

"I'm going to go eat Pie with Teal'c, wanna join us?"

Jonas hadn't really spent that much time with the Colonel, and to be honest, he wasn't scared of him, just hesitant, he knew how the Colonel felt about him, and I think for the most part he had stopped blaming him for Daniel's ascension, but there were times when he just couldn't figure him out. Jonas had spoken to Major Carter about his feelings on several occasions, and she had tried to put his mind at rest, and advised him that the Colonel didn't blame him anymore, and that Jack's sense of humour would grow on him, it would just take time for them all to become a team again, and the only way that would happen is if Jonas would let go of some of his guilt and just have an open mind. So with that in mind, Jonas agreed to go with him.

In Sam's lab, one Major Carter was sore, tired and hurting, she had never felt so alone, and it scared her. Thoughts were going in and out her mind so quickly that she couldn't think straight, she knew that she could trust her team to help her out, but if she told them about what had happened, their lives would be in mortal danger, she had seen the consequences first hand.

What the Colonel didn't know was that an entity from the DeAsha homeworld had followed them through the gate, and had been laying in wait for Major Carter. Biding his time he waited to ensure that his threats were an effective method of maintaining Major Carter's silence. Her thoughts took her back to last nights encounter.

Carter arrived home last night about midnight; the Colonel had been ragging on her to get the reports finished from their previous meeting with the DeAsha's. As she unlocked her front door, she slipped off her shoes, and headed for the kitchen for an urgent need of coffee, preferably fed through an intravenous drip. "It's going to be a long night" she thought to herself as she grabbed her coffee and laptop, and plonked herself on the sofa. She still couldn't shake off that funny feeling she had had, since her return from the planet. It was like someone was watching her, eyeing her up and down, it brought shivers down her spine. As she thought of it, goose pimples on her arms rose to the surface of her skin, and she pulled a blanket over her from the back of the sofa. An image of Jaret flashed through her mind, and she unconsciously shivered again. Jaret was one of the DeAsha's leading scientist, his understanding of quantum theories, surpassed her own knowledge by miles, and whilst he seemed content to share his expertise with them, there seemed to be a darkness in his eyes, that scared her. Her very being had told her that he was not to be trusted, but there wasn't anything tangible that she could take to Colonel O'Neill.

Sam knew that the Colonel trusted her implicitly, and would back her up 100% with anything, but she didn't want to appear to be the neurotic one. Wanting at least some evidence to support her fears she kept her thoughts and feelings to herself. Now she was beginning to regret that, as a man roughly placed a cloth filled with some form of narcotic over her mouth to stop her screaming, and the last thing she heard as she fell into unconsciousness was the sound of Jaret's gruff voice.

She awoke slowly, her head felt as if it was stuffed with cotton wool balls, and her mouth tasted like sandpaper. As she tried to move, Major Carter felt restricted, then she realised that her hands and feet were bound with what felt like some kind of cloth. "Come on Sam, open your eyes!" she taunted herself. Very slowly she lifted her head and opened her eyes. A blurry image sat before her, staring at her with dark eyes that caused her very sole to become cold. The image of a young man came into focus. It was Jaret! "How the hell did he get through the Stargate?" she asked herself, and with that she thought he must of read her mind as he answered the question for her.

"I got through the Stargate very easily Major Carter. You see my people have the ability to change their body chemistry to suit the person they are travelling with. And before you ask, I know that it doesn't explain how I got through the Tauri's defences, but with our change in body chemistry, we have the ability to become invisible, thus eluding our enemies."

Sam Carter stared blankly at him, her mind was just starting to clear, and she was now getting annoyed, and thoughts of what she would do to him began flooding her mind, scores of profanities were on the tip of her tongue. Had the Colonel been here, he would have been shocked that Sam even knew the words that were clearly evident in her mind.

"Now, now Samantha is that any way for a lady to think." Jaret stated bluntly, an evil grin careering across his face. "You know what Sam, I think you and I are going to have a lot of fun!"

Sam regained her composure, and was disgusted to hear him speak her name so familiarly, the name only her friends and family called her, the name Jack called her when he was worried.

"Oh I see you've got a soft spot for Colonel O'Neill, that could come in very handy with what I have planned."

After he voiced aloud what she had been thinking, Sam finally understood, and stated very simply, "What do you want with me, and how are you able to read my thoughts, as far as I understood things, your race are not telepathic."

Jaret stood up, and started walking towards her, he got so close she physically backed herself up as far as the binds would allow. As he circled her, he placed his lips close to her ears and whispered menacingly, "Very simply put my dear, I have been genetically enhancing myself now for a long time, and so far I have been unable to find a suitable second subject, but guess what! When you and your friends turned up, I thought you were the answers to my prayers. You see, you have a unique physiology due to the protein marker left by the Goa'uld you had within you, which enables the serum I've been working on to act as a catalyst, thus enabling me to read your thoughts."

Sam was starting to become concerned, she had so much information relating to the SGC, that he could easily read her thoughts about material relating to the Stargate. Quickly she tried to suppress those thoughts as far down into herself as they would go.

Jaret, realising that she was learning to close off her thoughts very quickly grabbed her by the throat, and spat "Don't even try to outsmart me, I am stronger and more cleverer than you will ever be, and if you even try to block out your thoughts, I'll simply re- inject you to make the serum stronger."

"What do you want with me" Sam coughed.

"Oh, don't worry Samantha, you're not the main target. The SGC has something I want, and you are going to help get it for me."

Sam thought for a minute, she couldn't think clearly, she was tired and the drug, which was still in her system, was starting to make her lose focus. "What could we possible have that you would want? You are more technically advanced than we are, surely you know that!" Sam stated slowly, as she noticed her voice becoming slurry.

"I want the Tokra," Jaret stated simply "and believe me, I always get what I want."

With her face ashen, she had just enough strength left to state, "I won't give you what you want, so you'll either have to kill me, or let me go!"

Jaret's face turned beetroot, how dare she refuse him, no one had ever refused him, and he wasn't going to let this women be the first. He circled her again, and noticed the Major's eyes flutter shut, which caused him to flip. He pushed her chair over, which caused Major Carter to fall on her side hard, as she lay on the ground slightly disorientated, he purposefully kicked her in the ribs, shouting "Pay attention, I haven't finished with you yet."

Sam thought she was going to be physically sick, pain racked her ribs, she was sure she had heard a crack, as his boot connected with her body. As she lay on the floor eyes closed to block out the pain, she sensed him kneel down next to her, and slowly he whispered. "I'll make it very simple for you my dear, you have only one choice, and that choice is, that you will get the Tokra address for me, and take me to them, or I kill your Commanding Officer, slowly. You see Samantha, there is so much that you don't know about me. When you and your team arrived on my planet, I was able to retrieve and download your brainwaves onto a little disk, which I have with me here. You see it allows me to cause excruciating pain to whomever I choose. Please allow me to demonstrate."

Sam was now fully alert, her eyes focusing on Jaret's hands as he pulled some kind of device out of his pocket. She watched him punch in a couple of commands, and as he did so, she felt such pain tearing through her body. It felt like her body was on fire, she screamed in anguish as he increased the intensity. Then as quickly as it came, it went. She felt something trickle down her face, her nose was bleeding, and profusely.

Jaret stared at her, and simply stated, "That was the low setting, you see it causes the blood pressure in your body to rise dramatically, and can cause permanent brain damage over a period of time, or if on the highest setting can cause instant death. Distance is not a problem you see, so if you don't do as I ask I'll simply kill your friends one by one. However, I might just have a little bit off fun with them along the way."

Sam stared at him with tears welling up in her eyes, she couldn't let them die, she would rather die herself. The Tokra were her friends, could she lead this man to slaughter them, she wretched with pain.

She really did only have one option, and that was to give him what he wanted. As she braced herself for the impact of what she was about to say out loud, mercifully she passed out.

Jaret saw her blackout, and hit her with another injection, "What's it to be then Major" he stated simply.

Carter stared blankly, "I'll do it!"

Jaret smiled, part one of his plan was accomplished. "Very good Major." He replied as he began to untie her, knowing that in her weakened state she wouldn't be in a position to put up a fight. "Before I go Major, be advised that if you backtrack on our agreement, I will not hesitate on using this to kill you instantly, and then who will protect your precious Colonel. If you breathe a word to anyone about this, believe me, I shall inflict more pain on the Tauri, then you could ever imagine. Is that understood Major?"

Sam nodded in understanding and sank back into the blackness.

Chapter 2 Realisation

Sam, still sat at her terminal hadn't realised how long she had been lost in thought; it had been nearly an hour since the Colonel had left her lab. She hadn't realised that she had been sat there all this time without moving.

Her body was stiff as she got up to try and get the blood flowing through her tired body. "Wow, head rush," she thought. "Don't wanna be passing out now."

Her brain just would not co-operate at all today, she couldn't think of how she was going to get hold of the Tokra, over recent months they had had to keep moving, it was hard to keep track. It was usually a case of the Tokra contacting them, normally via her father, but she hadn't even heard from him for several weeks now.

Down in the commissary, Colonel O'Neill, Teal'c and Jonas were stuffing themselves with pie, and blue Jello. The Colonel knew that blue Jello was Carter's favourite, and he was hoping that she would come down and join them, which is why the last one was still left untouched on the table.

They had all been concerned with Carter's behaviour of late, well all except Jonas, who didn't quite understand human moods just yet. However for Teal'c and Jack, what occurred this morning, was so un- Carter like. Usually he had to vocally tell her to shut up about new gadgets she had brought back, but today it had been like pulling teeth, even General Hammond had noticed how quiet she was, and had pulled him aside after the briefing to ask what was wrong.

"O'Neill, are you not eating your desert?" Teal'c enquired.

"I was actually saving this for Carter, Teal'c, but it doesn't look as if she's gonna show. I'm actually a bit concerned, even the General has noticed Carter's lack of enthusiasm."

"Maybe Major Carter is tired! She did not leave here until late last night, and arrived somewhat dishevelled this morning if you remember. It maybe that she pulled what you call an "all-nighter".

"Yeah, Teal'c, your probably right, she has been working hard of late and could probably do with some time off, I'll go and have a chat with her later, we're not scheduled for any off world activity until the end of the week, and she did say that place yesterday gave her the heeby geebies, so maybe I'll take this opportunity and invite her fishing, what do ya think Teal'c, wanna come with?"

"O'Neill, I'm unfamiliar with the word "Heeby Geebies", please explain."

"Sorry Teal'c, it means she didn't like the place."

Teal'c tried to recall Major Carter mentioning this to the team, but could not recall such an instance, and said so. "I do not recall Major Carter mentioning this."

Colonel O'Neill knew technically that Carter hadn't said anything, but he had worked with her long enough to know when something freaked her out, and whilst she didn't show any visible outward signs that she was not happy, he noticed that she seemed on edge.

"Well she didn't actually say it Teal'c, but I know that given the chance she wouldn't want to go back. Anyway, don't try and change the subject, do you want to go fishing with me?"

Teal'c recalling what happened at the lake the last time they went - nothing, absolutely nothing. "O'Neill, why do you say that you are going fishing, when I have yet to see any fish in the lake?"

O'Neill looked straight at him with a mocked hurt expression on his face, simply replied. "Teal'c, just because you never caught anything, doesn't mean they're not there. I'm hurt that you don't believe me."

"Nevertheless, I am still not sure O'Neill. Jonas Quinn, will you be accompanying us?"

Jonas looked at the Colonel and then back at Teal'c, and tried to think up a good excuse not to go, he'd heard about the Colonel's fishing expedition from Major Carter, and it really wasn't his thing, to sit and do nothing all day, and hadn't realised that he'd voiced his opinions out loud.

"I object to Carter's description, we do not sit around all day doing nothing. It's a sport of skill, strategy and cunning. You have to think of the fish as your enemy, and knowing your enemy is to observe them, which is what we do. Isn't that right Teal'c! Teal'c!"

Colonel O'Neill just stared blankly as Teal'c rose from the table, and left the Colonel and Jonas alone. Jonas just smiled; he had got his answer.

As Jonas rose, the Colonel just mumbled, "Fine, Carter will come." He knew he was deluding himself, Carter never went with him.

As Jack entered Carter's lab, slowly this time, he saw her bent over her laptop, looking as if she'd lost her best friend. At that point he was not going to let Carter off with any more lame excuses.

"Hey Carter, it's only me"

"Sir, I'm sorry, but I still haven't finished those reports, and I won't get them finished if you keep interrupting me, I'll let you now when I'm done."

"Actually Carter, I've come to whisk you away for a few days."

"Sir" Carter looked at him all confused, her brain still hadn't got back up to speed after last night, but going away with her C.O, she couldn't believe it.

"Picture this Carter, me and you out in the sun, crickets chirping, a cool wind blowing through our hair, " He ignored the look she had given him when he mention the hair thing, and carried on. He was now on a role. "Fishing on the lake with not a soul or a pager in site, it'll be great. Now before you say anything, SG1 have got clearance for some down time, and don't tell me you couldn't use a break, because I know better."

Jack stood by her, and by the look on her face, she was going to flatly refuse his offer, but before she had a chance to say "No", the Colonel butted in. "Ah! I won't take no for an answer Carter."

Sam looked at the Colonel, if only he'd asked her a few days ago, before this whole mess. "Look Colonel, I appreciate the offer, but I've got so much work on, maybe another time?" It was more of a subtle plea than anything, but as usual, subtlety was not one of the Colonel's fortes, so flew right over her head.

He couldn't believe she'd refused him again! Well enough was enough, she was going with him whether she liked it or not, even if he had to pick her up and throw her over his shoulder - "ooh where did that thought come from?" he mused.

Shaking the picture from his mind, he replied "Carter, that wasn't a request!"

Sam couldn't believe her ears, he was ordering her to go fishing with him, now she knew that was one order she didn't have to obey, and told him so.

" Colonel, you can't order me to go fishing, it's not in my job description" she advised blatantly. "Please trust me on this, when I say, that now is not a good time."

He looked at her intensely, he knew he shouldn't push it with her, but he couldn't help him self, and pulled up a chair next to her. Carter's mind began working overtime, "Oh god, he's gonna ask me what's wrong, and I can't tell him anything." She thought.

"Carter, what's going on with you these days, your distant, moody, you didn't even give me the chance to tell you "enough" when you were describing the techno gadget thingy. It's not like you, please tell me what's going on."

She looked at him, bless, he really was worried about her, and for an instant when she saw his concerned expression, she nearly blurted it all out. That was until Jack suddenly grabbed his head, and screamed in pain.

"Oh, god, Carter!" He jumped from his chair, holding his head in his hands; blood began pouring from his nose onto the concrete floor below.

Colonel O'Neill had never experienced anything like this, the room spun wildly around him, his head felt as if it was ready to explode, and he saw Carter's shocked expression, mouthing the words, "please no, I'm sorry." He tried to grab Carter's arm for support, but felt like the world was slowly crashing around him as he sank to his knees. Carter ran to the nearest intercom shouting "Medical Emergency - Carter's Lab".

Everything, became blurry within a few seconds, and he mercifully passed out, so didn't hear the words come out of Carter's mouth, "What have I done!"

Within a few minutes there was a flurry of activity in her lab, Dr Frasier came running, demanding to know what happened, she was swiftly followed by 3 nurses. "Sam, I need to know what happened!" Doctor Frasier requested urgently. Carter looked at her, torn between saving the life of her friend, but knowing that telling the doctor may cause his death.

Sam looked down at the Colonel's still form, his face a deathly white, blood still seeping from his nose, she felt so helpless just stood there whilst Dr Frasier issued orders to the medical staff.

"Sam!" Janet barked.

"I don't now" she lied "He just grabbed his head and collapsed"

"You sure there was nothing else? No seizures? Dizziness before he collapsed? Slurring?" she demanded, before ordering the med team to take the Colonel directly to the infirmary for a CAT scan.

"Is he gonna be alright Janet?" Sam pleaded.

"I don't know Sam, I really don't! We'll know more after the scan!" With that said, Janet followed her staff towards the infirmary, leaving Sam alone to face the consequences of her actions.

Sam felt physically sick; she couldn't believe she'd let Colonel O'Neill past her defences. "One thing's for sure, I won't let it happen again, not to the Colonel, nor Teal'c or Jonas," she reiterated to herself. "I will do whatever it takes!" With that last thought, she ran to the bathroom to throw up. With her stomach now as empty as her heart, the pain in her ribs intensified, she knew she was doing more damage to herself by being here, but she would rather risk her own life than that of her friends.

Painfully she picked herself up from a kneeling position, rinsed her face and mouth and headed towards the infirmary.

The Colonel's scan had completed a few minutes earlier, and the nurses were now hooking him up to an ECG machine, and an I.V drip was being connected to the back of his hand as Sam walked in. Sam took in the surroundings and saw the Colonel being placed on machines. Janet was just hooking up a pint of O Negative blood.

Sam's didn't know how much more of this she could take, and walked up to Teal'c, General Hammond and Jonas, whilst waiting for Janet to finish with her patient so that she could give them an update. General Hammond was the first to ask her what had happened. It was one thing to keep things quietly to herself, but when faced with direct questions from her C.O was another thing. She reiterated another mantra to herself, "I will do whatever it takes, and deal with the consequences later"

Sam looked at the General, but was saved from lying to him when Janet walked over. General Hammond was the first to speak. "How is he Doctor?"

"He's stable for now, the CAT scan revealed a small arterial bleed in his brain, which is normally caused by prolonged high blood pressure. His BP's still very high at 220/180, but we've placed him on high doses of beta-blockers fed through an I.V to bring it to a reasonable level. Until it reaches an acceptable level though, he's still at risk from another bleed. All we can do now for him, is to keep him comfortable, and monitor his pressure. We'll repeat the scan tomorrow to see if the blood from his brain has been reabsorbed."

The team just stared at Janet. Sam knew what they were thinking, there would have been no way Janet would have allowed the Colonel to continue to command SG1 with blood pressure as high as she claimed.

Sam thought the whole world was becoming telepathic, as Janet spoke "I don't have any explanation as to how the Colonel's BP got so high as it is, it would have been picked up when he returned from the DeAsha homeworld yesterday."

General Hammond was the first to ask the question to Doc Frasier. "Is it possible that SG1 picked up some form of virus from the DeAsha homeworld?"

"I feel fine General" Teal'c stated.

"Me too." Jonas followed.

Sam, lost in daydream was not as quick as her comrades, and missed the beat.

"Major? How are you feeling?" General Hammond enquired, his thoughts returning to the conversation he had had earlier with Colonel O'Neill.

"Me, I'm fine too." She answered, but not quite as convincing as she wanted. The day was starting to take its toll. "How long before the Colonel wakes up?"

"Well I've sedated him for the next 24 hours, so he should wake up sometime tomorrow afternoon."

Sam walked over to where the Colonel was sleeping, and not caring who was there in the room with her, placed her hand in his and gently caressed the back of his hand with her thumb. Her mom used to do this when she was sick, and whilst she knew that the Colonel was oblivious to his surroundings, it made her feel a bit better knowing that he was going to be okay.

On placing his hand back under the covers, she made her excuses to the others, and headed out of the infirmary. Just as she was about to walk through the last door, Janet stopped her, and told her that she wanted to do a physical on her tomorrow morning. When Sam began to protest that she was fine, Janet stopped her in mid-stream, and advised plainly and simply, that she was not going to argue with her, and that if she didn't submit to a physical, then she would have no other option, but to report it the General.

Damn, Sam cursed to herself as she marched purposefully across the corridors, how the hell was she going to explain the bruises and various drugs in her system to the Doc. "No matter what happens tomorrow", she thought, "I can't have that physical."

With still no word from the Tokra, she headed for home. "Dad," she thought, "wherever you are, please get in touch soon!"

As Sam reached the front door of her home, her heart slammed into her chest, knowing that Jaret cold turn up at anytime. As she tentatively took her keys from her pocket she cautiously entered through the front door. She looked around at her surroundings, there still lying on the floor, reminiscent from last nights encounter was a broken chair, and cloth bindings strewn across the lounge. Before picking up the chair, she took a deep breath and went from room to room searching for any kind of sign that he was still here. With her hands shaking, she slowly went to the last room, reached for the light switch, and as she was about to flick it on, she heard a gruff voice from behind her; "Looking for me, I'm flattered!"

Startled, she knocked the lamp over; the lamp Jack had given her when she had moved into her first new home.

As the lamp smashed into minute fragments on her wooden floor. Tiny fragments of pottery speared her ankles. Sam sank to the floor, sobbing quietly/ Knowing that once again she was alone in the night.

Chapter 3 - Injustice

As Sam sat crouched on her living room floor, sobbing, she didn't really care at this stage that Jaret saw her in a weekend state, hell she didn't even care herself. Her friend and C.O was lying in a hospital bed, an indirect result of her own actions, she was about to commit an act of treason against her allies, her father, and her teammates.

Never before had she felt so alone so helpless, she was used to fighting against her enemies with her intellect and her skills as a warrior, but to have someone invade her thoughts and feelings for her friends and use them against her; that was something else. She couldn't even comprehend on how she could win this battle.

"I didn't think self-pity was a trait you possessed Samantha." There's me thinking I had a worthy opponent, someone I could play with, but I have to say you're just like all the other females in my village - pathetic and weak." At this stage Jaret was now sat opposite Major Carter. Jaret leaned over to touch the Majors leg and simply said, "And now the fun begins!"

Sam's skin crawled with disgust, and with strength she didn't think was left in her, she slapped his hand away, and growled with such conviction, "Don't touch me!"

Jaret looked both shocked and pleased, he did enjoy a challenge, and it looked like he was going to get it in abundance. "Ah, not quite knocked the stuffing out of you yet then Major? Good! It would simply be such a bore having to kill you straight away, when I have so many plans for you and your friends. By the way, did you like that little demonstration I gave you earlier?"

Major Carter saw the smile on Jaret's lips, whatever happened here tonight, one thing was sure, she was not going to let him hurt her friends under any circumstances.

Teal'c and Jonas were still in the infirmary waiting for O'Neill to awaken from his recent trauma. Janet came over and spoke firmly to them. "Look, I know you're both concerned, but believe me, you're not doing yourselves any good sitting here for hours. He won't be awake until tomorrow, believe me. If there's any change, I promise you'll be the first to know, now shoo, get out of my infirmary, your clogging up valuable space."

Teal'c was the first to rise; he simply stood up, turned around, bowed and said, "As you wish Dr Frasier."

Jonas nodded, and followed Teal'c out of the infirmary. "Three down, one to go" she thought, and her mind turned to her friend Sam, usually if Colonel O'Neill was in the infirmary, you couldn't prise Sam out with a crowbar. With one last check to make sure that the Colonel was settled for the night, Janet decided to give her friend a call, to make sure she was ok, she'd seen the determination in Sam's eyes before she left the infirmary, and she'd seen that look before. One particular time was when the Colonel was missing on Edora, she had never seen Sam so determined to ensure that the Colonel was returned safe and sound, and today she had seen that same look again. On this occasion however, Janet saw something else that she hadn't seen in Sam before; fear.

"Get up Major, we have work to do!" Jaret shouted. "I haven't got all day, and neither have you."

A Sam got up of the wooden floor, tiny spots of blood seeped through her leg where the tiny fragments of glass had embedded themselves from earlier. Her chest felt tight, from sitting in a cramped position. She slowly raised herself cradling her ribs for support. As she stood up, Jaret turned around and smacked her round the face causing her to fall to the ground once again. "Don't ever think of disobeying me again Samantha."

Fury exploded within Sam's mind, and it was all directed at Jaret. She wanted to hurt him... bad. "Where are we going?"

Jaret hauled her up to a standing position, and spat, "We are going to go and get the Tokra address, and we're going to get it now."

"It's 11pm, there won't be anyone at the base. The Tokra won't be contacting us now, hell I don't even know where they are at this moment in time." She countered.

"Well as there will be no-one around, it's the perfect opportunity for you to get me what I want. Believe me Major, now is the perfect time. But before we go, I have a little something for you." As soon as he said the last few words, Sam knew what to expect; more drugs.

Sam, had realised tonight, that the drug seemed to be wearing off a little, for one thing, he hadn't expected the slap that she had given him earlier, and she didn't feel as if her mind were being probed as much as it was last night or during the attack on the Colonel. So with maybe a bit of luck she might be able to calculate approximately how long the drug was lasting without it appearing obvious that she was doing so.

Unfortunately with pain being her constant reminder, she wasn't as quick as she would like, and before she had the chance, he injected her again, and Sam was then back to square one. Just after Sam's last injection, the phone rang. Jaret just stared at it, as Sam went to pick it up, he quickly pulled the device from his pocket and warned her that if she told anyone, anything, that he would not hesitate in killing them all.

Sam nodded. "Hello"

"Hi Sam, it's Janet, I just called to see how you were, you took off so quickly earlier, and I was concerned."

"Sorry Janet, I didn't mean to run off, it's just been a hectic day, that's all. I'm fine really. How's the Colonel?"

"He's resting comfortably, he should be ok in a few days. Listen Cassie is going to a friends house tomorrow night, so how about you and I having a girlie night in tomorrow? I know SG-1 are on downtime till the end of the week, so what do you say?" Janet hoped it would give her and Sam to a chance to talk, but hearing the silence on the other end of the phone, she knew it wasn't going to happen. "Sam, you still there?"

"Sorry Janet, look I've kinda got plans tomorrow, can we make it some other time? I'll give you a call and we'll arrange it, just not tomorrow. Look Janet, I hate to talk and run, but I'm kinda tired, and in desperate need of some sleep, so I'll call you soon. Bye Janet!"

Janet was left holding the phone, and with a big sigh, she replaced the receiver.

"Very good Samantha, you're learning. Now lets go."

As they drove towards the base, Jaret warned her that any sign of deceit and there would be no second chances, and told her that her death would result in her father attending her funeral, which would allow his escape through the Stargate, and thus leading him to the Tokra.

"Well, why don't you?" Sam countered calling his bluff.

"What? Kill you! No Samantha, that would be too easy. Who would I have fun with then? Mind you, I would still have Colonel O'Neill, Teal'c and Jonas to have fun with, and who was that you were talking to...ah yes, Janet!"

"You stay the hell away from them, I'm doing what you want."

Jaret sat back and smiled, he had never had so much fun, she was so easy to bait, and her love for her friends was going to cost her dearly.

As they entered Cheyenne Mountain, Jaret reverted to stealth mode, but reminded her that whilst she couldn't see him, he could see and hear everything that was going on. As they walked through the corridors, the base seemed to be deserted, and why shouldn't it, it was after midnight, and only skeleton staff were required. Sam knew that there were no SGC teams due to return till tomorrow, so knew the gate room would only consist of one or two personnel, if that.

As Sam headed towards the Infirmary, Jaret grabbed her arm, and whispered. "This is not the way to the gateroom Samantha!"

Sam shook him off her arm, and whispered, "Look, if I'm gonna do this for you, there's no way I could return to the SGC. I won't have the access codes to return, and without them I'm dead anyway. So, before I go, I want to say goodbye to the Colonel."

Jaret thought about Sam's explanation, he could afford to wait a few more minutes for his prise, an agreed.

Sam knew Janet had gone home for the night, and a locum doctor was on standby incase there was an emergency involving the Colonel. So as she entered the infirmary, only one nurse was evident, Sam simply nodded and held up 5 fingers indicating that she would only stay a few minutes.

A spotlight softly filtered over O'Neill's form, and she glanced over the machines hooked up at him, he didn't appear to be in any danger, and all observations indicated that he was dreaming. As she pulled up a chair, and gentle sat down, being careful not to jostle her ribs, she lifted the Colonel's hand and placed it gently into her own, and softly whispered; "Sir, I know you can't hear me, but I need you to understand something about what I'm about to do. You see Sir, I've run out of options, anything I do would and could result in your deaths. I wanted so much to tell you earlier, that I'm sorry. My feelings for you resulted in your getting hurt, and I know, nothing I say or do can change that. Just remember that what happens over the next few hours, it's to save you and the others, and I'm sorry that I couldn't find a way to stop this."

Sam's eyes glistened with moisture, as she let go of the Colonel's hand, he murmured, "Carter". Shocked that he had heard her, she quickly whispered, "Shush Sir, it's only a dream, go back to sleep." With that she quickly left the infirmary.

He opened his eyes slightly, but just caught sight of a tall shorthaired blonde heading out the door, and softly said, "Sam?"

Jaret was absolutely enthralled with the whole relationship thing going on between her and Colonel O'Neill. "Oh how sweet, forbidden love! You know Sam, it's touching to see how much you care for your friends, and it will be your downfall."

Sam ignored him and headed for the gateroom. "What have you got against the Tokra anyway, why all this cloak and dagger stuff, surely with your level of technology, you could find them in half the time."

"Oh I don't have a grudge against all Tokra, just one in particular."

Sam felt a cold shiver running down her spine, knowing the answer before it even left his mouth, as she remembered the conversation with her earlier in the car when she had tried to call his bluff.

Chapter 4 - That which does not kill us, makes us stronger.

Sam stared at Jaret with dejected eyes, it was her father Jaret wanted. All that time they had spent with each other, him feigning friendship when they had first arrived on the DeAsha homeworld. He had know from their very first meeting that her father was Selmack, the most wise of all Tokra. It wasn't just happenstance that his people had gotten in touch with the Tauri a week ago. He had meticulously planned it for god knows how long, and SG1 fell into the trap hook line and sinker.

"Oh Samantha, don't feel bad. You weren't to know. The Asha's are just as dense as the Tauri. Do you know how easy it was to persuade them about this alliance, they were so desperate for help to thwart an attack from the Gould, they would have accepted help from anyone."

"I don't understand, why wouldn't you want to stop a Gould attack."

For a brief moment Jaret turned off his stealth mode, looked directly into her eyes, and just as soon as it started, it finished. His eyes glowed, and his voice took on a menacing presence as he whispered, "Because I am one!"

Sam physically stepped back, a look of utter horror on her face, she couldn't understand how this could be, there had been no outward signs. "And my father?"

"Well let's just say I have a score to settle with Selmack from long ago. You don't need to know details. Now enough stalling, let's go!"

As Sam walked towards the control room, pieces began to click into place, the funny feelings she had when she was with him, the coldness in his eyes, all along she had been detecting the presence of a Gould larvae, but because of his ability to change his body chemistry, it had resulted in her misconception of what she had been feeling all along.

Sam advised Jaret that she needed a few supplies, things she would need to minimise the number of casualties when they left the SGC, and she wasn't taking any chances for her plan not to work, too much was riding on it. She gathered the raw materials from the supply locker, smoke bombs, a medical kit, and plasma balls that SG1 had acquired from P3X-479, which emitted an electronic field on activation, this would give them a few valuable seconds to flee the base without causing much damage to either the gateroom or personnel.

"One last item." thought Sam as she reached for a Zat gun. As her hand went towards the object, she felt heaviness placed on top of it. "Don't even think about it." Reluctantly she let it go. Unfortunately she could only carry a limited number of items, anything more would cause problems.

As they entered the control room, the place was deserted apart from a couple of skeleton staff. Looking at her watch, she only had a couple of hours in which to carry out her plan before the Alpha shift started.

Logging on, she scrolled through the various records from the Tokra, she needed to get Jaret off the base as soon as possible before anyone else got hurt. Thinking about her options, she could either save the life of her father, or that of her friends. As Sam tried to recall where her father's latest mission was she noticed that she was having trouble breathing, the tightness in her chest was definitely getting worse, and she knew then that it was more than a couple of broken ribs, she was beginning to bleed internally.

She looked around, she didn't even now how long she had been sitting there, all she knew was, that time was running out. The skeleton staff had gone off on a break, and she was left alone.

Then she spotted it, a communiqué from the Tokra received this morning advising the Tauri of their new location.

"Very good Samantha, now lets go."

With an incredulous look, Sam turned round and said "And you call the Tauri dense! If we go now, you won't get more than two feet from the first activation lock before the SF's come storming through. Think about it!"

Jaret snarled, and launched for Sam's throat, her back forced up against the terminal, pain ripped through her torso as the force of the terminal placed pressure on her rib cage. As his hands tightened around her throat Sam thought, "So it ends!" As the last few gasps of air reached her lungs, she tried with the last ounce of strength she had to pull his hands away. As the room spun wildly, Jaret released his grip and Sam fell to the floor gasping for air. "Don't ever tell me what to do again."

As Sam lay collapsed on the floor Jonas walked in, and rushed to her side. "Major Carter! What happened? Hang on, let me get some help."

Carter grabbed his hand, and whispered "No", her voice hoarse from the pressure Jaret had placed around her throat.

"Major, please, you need help." Jonas couldn't understand why she was refusing his offer of assistance, she was in a bad way, he couldn't just stand around. With concern etched in his face he pleaded, "Please Major, let me call the med bay."

With strength leaving her body, she released his hand. As Jonas went towards the intercom, an invisible barrier halted him. "Major, what's going on?" Every direction he turned he was thwarted by an invisible force.

Jaret deactivated his shield, and made his presence known to Jonas, his eyes flashed a brilliant white, and subsequently dissipated. "What the...."

Before Jonas had the opportunity to finish his sentence, Jaret activated the device he had used on Colonel O'Neill.

"Jaret, *No*." Carter shouted as much as her throat would allow, but the shout ended up being nothing more than a whisper as Jonas collapsed to the floor unconscious.

Jaret grabbed Major Carter forcefully to her feet, all Sam did was stand and stare at Jonas lying on the floor, she couldn't even make out if he was breathing. "Get dialling Major, NOW!"

Then Major Carter started a chain of events, which she knew she couldn't stop, and subsequently dialled the gate address. As the first chevron locked into place, the automated system automatically noted that this was an unauthorised dial out, as it would normally require 2 sets of authorisation codes. However, as Major Carter knew the systems inside and out, she had been able to go through the back door, and override the authorisation codes. With doing so, she ensured that no one could stop the dial out in mid-stream, she did this by setting up firewalls around the mainframe of which only she had the combination. Knowing that once her and Jaret went through the gate, the system would shut down and reboot itself. Unfortunately by the time they had figured out where her and Jaret had gone, it would be too late.

Jaret grabbed the plasma balls along with the Major and ran towards the gate. Dragging Sam along with him, he entered the corridor, the alarm system was now fully engaged, and the sirens blared, red claxons went off in all directions. SF's could be heard running through the corridor towards them.

As they rounded the corner, Jaret threw a plasma ball, which rolled, along the floor towards the uniformed men, and within seconds a charge of energy and light exploded before their eyes, which allowed him unrestricted access to the wormhole itself.

As he ran up the ramp, Major Samantha Carter lost her balance and fell across intricate weaves of metal that made up the Stargate's ramp. Jaret realising that the Major was not going to get through on her own steam, he hoisted her over his shoulder.

The blast doors from the control room suddenly opened to reveal General Hammond, Teal'c and several SF guards staring at the intruder, who was manhandling the Major onto his back. They stood, helpless to stop his escape with one of their own.

Jaret gave a quick wave, and ran through the wormhole.

Chapter 5 - Comrades in Arms

It had been nearly 6 hours since they had seen Sam disappear through the gate with Jaret. Teal'c recognised him before they went through the wormhole, and at present Teal'c and the General were in the process of reviewing the security logs, which fortunately had not been tampered with. The SGC staff were desperately trying to get the gate back online, but as yet to no avail, what ever Major Carter had done, she had ensured a complete system shut down, and Siler had already apprised the General that there was little chance that the system would be up and running within the next 12 hours.

Jonas had been taken directly to the med bay; still unconscious. It wasn't known at this stage if he was going to make it. The General had been advised that it may be a few more hours before they knew for certain if he had suffered any permanent brain damage. Doctor Frasier had advised them that due to Jonas's physiology, and his increased mental capacity, what ever had effected him, had done so on such a level that she wasn't even sure if he would wake up.

General Hammond had asked to be kept informed of the situation, and to notify him of any change in his condition, and he wanted to be informed as soon as Colonel O'Neill awoke.

As General Hammond and Teal'c sat through the vid cams, he came across a section whereby Major Carter had entered the armoury. They saw Carter grab several items from the weapons store, and noted that on several occasions she appeared to be talking to herself.

Quietly disconcerted with what he had witnessed, he paused the video, and turned to face a sombre looking Teal'c. The General felt truly sorry for him, 2 of his friends were currently in sickbay, and his other friend had disappeared; maybe permanently.

The General knew Teal'c was not one to openly show his feelings, but it hadn't been that long since Daniel had ascended, and they were all still grieving for him in their own way; including Teal'c.

"Did you notice that Teal'c? The way Major Carter was behaving." To the General, it appeared as if she had become schizophrenic, gesturing wildly to an invisible force, talking to thin air.

"I did indeed General, but I do not think at the time, the Major was mentally incapacitated. If you recall throughout the time that I have served with SG-1, we have come across many life forms that possess the ability to alter their form, and become stealth like, such as the Nox and the Reetu. I do believe that Major Carter was being influenced by some kind of external force, and I believe that force was Jaret."

General Hammond nodded for Teal'c to continue.

"It is my firm opinion that Jaret has the ability to alter his form, similar to that of a shape shifter, or he must be carrying some device to ensure that he remains invisible. Without further evidence General Hammond, I cannot speculate."

General Hammond turned the video back on and continued to review the logs. Both were tired and weary, he couldn't believe how much film he and Teal'c had gone through, they had both been up for the majority of the night, and the General was aware that Teal'c had been disturbed during his Kel no reem, and without this meditation, Teal'c would in time become sick. He checked his watch, it was now almost 10 am, and it wouldn't be long before the Colonel woke.

"Teal'c listen, we have been up for nearly 24 hours, you did not get to finish your meditation, and I have not slept for some time, before we continue, I think it would be a prudent gesture if we at least got a couple of hours of sleep."

Teal'c turned towards the General, lifted one eyebrow, which caused his forehead to crease and responded in such a baritone voice that no one could mimic, and simply said. "I wish to remain. I do not require meditation as yet, please permit me to continue General. I shall inform you of any findings."

"Teal'c you will not be any use to your friends, if you make yourself sick. We are both tired and in need of rest. There may be subtle things that we are missing due to the fact that we have been at this so long. In all honesty I cannot allow you or myself to continue until we've rested."

"General, they are more than my friends, they have become my family. I must do everything in power to ensure that Major Carter is returned safely"

"Teal'c, I appreciate your concern, and believe me when I say, I want Major carter to return as soon as possible, but it's not open for debate. Three hours rest Teal'c, no less. After you have rested we will go back to the infirmary to check on the Colonel and Jonas, hopefully Doctor Frasier will have more news for us."

"Is that an order General?" questioned Teal'c.

"Let's just say, that it is request that shouldn't be ignored."

Teal' knew that meant that it was an order, and with a slight bow of his head, he departed the briefing room leaving behind a haggard looking General.

After three hours of restful sleep, General Hammond awoke and headed towards the Infirmary, he knew that Teal'c would already be there, and hoped he had managed to get some rest, as the day was going to be a long and arduous one.

As the General was about to enter the infirmary, Teal'c was just slightly ahead of him; the Colonel was pleased that he had at least rested some.

Doctor Frasier was just coming out of her office, and headed towards them. "Oh General, Teal'c, I wasn't able to contact you on the phone, and your secretary advised that you were already on your way here General."

"Has there been any change Doctor?"

"Yes Sir there has, Colonel O'Neill has just woken up, and he mentioned something about Major Carter being here last night, and he's still a bit groggy and confused, but the good news is, his blood pressure has stabilised to a more acceptable level. Now, what I don't want to happen Sir is for his blood pressure to rise again. To do so, may bring on another bleed, and the colonel, may not be as fortunate next time. So please Sir, by all means explain what has happened, but for the time being, give him the watered down version."

"I understand doctor, I won't stay too long. Has there been any change in Jonas's condition?" asked the General, as his eyes drifted towards the second gurney that held the young still form of Jonas Quinn.

"Well, he's stable for now, we've got him hooked up to respiratory for the time being, but I'm hoping it's only a temporary measure."

The General's face filled with concern, he hadn't realised how much damage had been done. The doctor seeing the General's expression as she mentioned the respirator, quickly added, "Don't worry sir, it's to help him heal, he is cardiopulmonary system is still functioning, but I've paralysed him, to allow his body to recuperate."

"Thank you doctor, I promise not to stay to long"

As Teal'c and general Hammond strolled towards the Colonel, he was pleased to see him sitting up slightly, and whilst he knew the Colonel was not ready to face a battle, he had seen him in worse conditions than this, and that within a few days he would be back to his normal sarcastic self, and he didn't mind a bit.

Teal'c waited for the General to ask the first question, "How are you feeling Colonel?"

"Like I've been to an all night liquor party, without the party, and I'm now convinced that somewhere in my jumbled up brain, there's a little man hitting me with a sledgehammer."

Both General and Teal'c looked at each other, if the Colonel was making wise cracks, then it was a sure sign that he was on the road to recovery.

"General, please tell me what's going on. Old Doc Frasier has been clucking around me like a mother hen, and they won't give me the full story on what happened to Jonas. General, if you don't tell me what's going on soon, I'm gonna go nuts. I heard the nurses whispering something about Carter, but I was a bit out of it earlier. I think she came to see me, but I don't remember anything else."

The General wanted to obey the doctors ordered, but could see plainly for himself that it was doing more harm than good only giving him half an explanation.

"OK Colonel, I'll tell you the whole story, but you will have to promise me, that when I tell you, you will need to stay as calm as possible, and not go jumping about. You are not healed yet Colonel."

Colonel O'Neill was now even more concerned, what could have gone so wrong, that they had to moddly cuddle him, fragments of conversation came filtering through his head from last night. He knew it had to do with Carter, but for the life of him, he couldn't remember what had happened in her lab, he remembered some reference to carrying her over his shoulder, but that's as far as he got. With that thought crossing his mind, the machine, which monitored his pulse, started to bleep, as the general and Teal'c watched his heart rate accelerate.

The General and Teal'c looked concerned. Teal'c was the first to speak this time; " I shall alert Dr Frasier."

Jack looking sheepish, and thought to himself, "Damn those machines, a man can't even have a little daydream without the whole world knowing." Aloud he said, "Teal'c it's OK really, you don't need to bother the doc, I'm fine really."

"Very well O'Neill, however if you over exert yourself, I shall be forced to baby-sit you." Teal'c countered with a deadpan expression.

O'Neill braced himself for what the General had to tell him, he was expecting the worse, and it wasn't far from the truth. As the General continued to explain the happenings of last night, the Colonel's heartbeat continued to rise, which alerted the doctor.

".......and the last we saw of Major Carter, she was being carried through the Stargate." General Hammond finished.

Jack's hands and knuckles were white as chalk where he had clenched his fists, his heartbeat now hovered around 110 beats per minute. As he threw back the covers, both Doctor Frasier and Teal'c placed a restraining hand on his chest.

"And just where do you think your going Colonel." Janet demanded.

"Where am I going? Where am I going?" he repeated for effect. In his mind he was saying, "where the hell do they think I'm going, I'm gonna get the hell out of this infirmary and go and find Sam, that's what I'm gonna do, and there aint no way in hell I'm gonna just sit here and wait. Waiting was not his style, and he wasn't gonna start it now. All he knew was that Sam was in trouble, and that's all it took to get him fired up as hell.

"I'm not sitting here, whilst my team are injured, I'm gonna go out and tear the head of that mans shoulders, and when I'm finished, I'm gonna use it as a hockey puck. That's what I'm gonna do!"

"Colonel!" they all shouted in unison, it was like having 3 mothers all at once.

The General gave the others a look indicating that he would take control on this one, "Jack, look I know you're concerned, but you are not 100%. I will authorise you and Teal'c and whomever you need to bring back Major Carter, but for the time being, you are staying put, at least until Dr Frasier gives me the OK, and the Stargate is back on line. All I'm asking is that you be patient for just a little while. I promise you that as soon as we find out any information, we'll let you know, now for the time being, you need to calm down."

"General, how can I calm down, my team are being struck down one by one." He gave Teal'c a look that said help me out here.

"General, if I may make a suggestion, perhaps the Colonel and I can review the remaining security tapes, at Doctor Frasier's discretion of course."

The Colonel gave Janet his puppy dog eyes, sadness and concern for his friend clearly evident. Janet knew there was more to this than comradery, and relented.

"Fine, but first Colonel I want you to get some rest."

O'Neill whined like only he could, "Oh common doc, I've been asleep for nearly 24 hours already, don't you think I've slept enough."

"Colonel, I'm not prepared to argue with you on this one, you either get some rest now, or you don't view the tapes. Which is it to be?"

Jack pulled a face and said "Fine."

With that Janet headed towards her office, finally getting the last word.

O'Neill grumbled silently "Who made her in charge?"

The General replied "The United States Air Force!"

"I'm still not getting all my memo's." Jack responded with a sour face, and subsequently grew very tired.

Teal'c and General both said their goodbye's to allow him to rest, and both felt that the weight of the world had been lifted from their shoulders. They were determined now, that they were going to get Major Carter home, and safely.

Chapter 6 - Past and Present

The sun was beating down on Carter and Jaret; the temperature seemed to increase with every step they took. They had arrived almost 5 hours ago, and their surroundings consisted of nothing but sand and dunes. Carter had been unconscious for most of that time, and Jaret had found some kind of shelter for the two of them. With Carter lying with her face towards the dishevelled wall of the man made shack, Jaret was sat crossed legged on the floor, with an open book and amulet to his side.

Jaret heard a murmur to his left, and realised Major Carter was waking, he decided that this was the most opportune time to secure his surroundings, before the Major was fully alert, so got up, and headed towards the outside of the hut. The first thing she noticed as she tried unsuccessfully to open her eyes was the dry heat, it hit her like an oven, her throat was perched, not only from the humidity, but also due to the fact that Jaret had near killed her. She catalogued her injuries; bruised larynx, possible internal injuries from the ribs he broke a couple of days ago, dehydration - definitely, and numerous bruises of which she really didn't have the energy to note. Something was missing though she realised; drugs! There were no drugs in her system, for the first time in 48 hours her mind was her own; but she didn't and wouldn't know if she was alone until she'd turned herself around to inspect her surroundings.

Carter knew that it was gonna hurt like hell when she finally did move, "Oh Carter, for crying out loud, get your ass moving." She groaned inwardly, and as soon as the words came out of her mouth, she realised she'd been hanging around with Jack O'Neill for far to long. Sam, placed one arm on her ribs to cradle them for support, and her other hand she used to shimmy herself until she was in a half sitting, half lying position. Once she was in a reasonably comfortable position, with her body leaning more to her injured side, she remembered what she had done, and knowing that she could never go back, her mind drifted towards her friends back at the SGC.

Thinking about the last few moment before going through the Stargate, seeing Jonas lying there, his still form strewn across the control room floor, hell she didn't even now if he was alive, and then there was Teal'c, what he must be going through. Her and Teal'c had grown quite fond of each other, and knew that with him, she didn't have to act like a female version of GI Joe all the time, and she knew that he respected her. Not just for her cunning intellect and proweress, but due to the trust she placed in her friends, trust that was unending. He had seen her at her worst, when she had been lost and frightened, especially after Daniel was gone, and the Colonel was deathly ill, she had nearly given it all up. That was until Teal'c found her crying in the locker room, he had given her so much comfort and hope during that time, that she knew now, that no matter how lost she was, be it in herself, or on some god forsaken planet, he would be there.

Then there was the Colonel......... "Oh Jack, where are you when I need you?" she sighed softly. Of all the things they had been through together, she knew it would be him that she would miss most of all, not just their relationship, "Huh that's a good one Sam." She thought "Relationship, sure a professional one, but she wanted more, so much more...damn those regulations, she didn't just want to be his 2IC anymore, she wanted him to hold her in his arms, and tell her that everything would work out all right." Deep down though, she knew it wouldn't work, there were just too many obstacles standing in their way.

"Snap out of Sam, this won't get you anywhere, sitting here feeling sorry for yourself" she scolded herself. As she looked around, there didn't appear to be anyone nearby. Then her thoughts turned to Jaret; "Where are you, you little cretin, probably skulking under a bush waiting to pounce."

After three unsuccessful attempts to get her butt of the ground without inflicting any more damage, she finally succeeded, and with her voice croaking like a bull frog she quietly shouted, "Yeah me, I'm standing!"

Her triumph lasted but for a brief moment, as she turned and saw Jaret stood to one side.

Sam's face sunk when she saw him. "Damn, it's you. There's me thinking I'd got lucky and you'd gone and got yourself killed."

"Ah Sam, cranky after our little nap are we! Nice to see your back to the land of the living again..........took you long enough!" He replied sarcastically.

"Where are we?"

"In a hut, miles from civilisation. Something you want to confess Sam? Get a little lost did we?"

"What do you mean miles from civilisation, this is the correct address, I'm positive."

"I hope for your sake you're right. Now drink this, we need to keep moving. I'm warning you now Major, you have till the end of daylight to get me to the Tokra, or you die, and so do your friends. Do I make myself perfectly clear?"


With that he threw a bottle of water in her direction, but unfortunately her reflexes were not what you would call on top form, and subsequently the bottle went rolling across the floor. Knowing full well that he wouldn't pick it up, she walked over to where it had stopped, and hesitantly lowered herself down to pick it up...... and seriously regretted it.

As she took a swig from the bottle, she asked how far from the Stargate they had travelled.

"We've gone about 8 miles. Believe me Major we would have gone a lot further if you were a little lighter."

Jaret smiled, he loved to bait her, but judging by Sam Carter, she was madder than hell, and once she was outta this mess and feeling better, she was gonna deck him.

Before they left, he stopped her going out the doorway. "Forgetting something are we?"

"Crap" she thought he had forgotten about the drug. As the drug hissed into the side of her neck, her thoughts again turned towards her father. "If there was any justice in this world, her father would come running to her rescue, and kick the crap out this guy for her. She knew the Tokra couldn't be too far away, especially if they had gone 8 miles already then it should only be a short distance further. She needed to find out as much from Jaret as possible, before they met up with the Tokra. For one thing, her father would assume that this man was a friend of hers, "why wouldn't he?" She thought before once again she could feel him in her, burrowing and prying every part of her brain for an answer.

After an hour or so, Carter was near exhaustion, she had already drank the last drops from her water bottle, and got to the stage of sheer thirst, that she contemplated sticking her tongue inside the bottle to secure those last droplets, she was sure the Colonel would to have loved seeing that in action! They had both remained silent throughout the journey, except for the occasions when Sam would veer off in a new direction; she knew it wouldn't be long know. Every part of her body ached with tension, the heat radiated all over her, she had sand crystals in places the sunlight never saw, and she was in desperate need of a new body, water - lots of it, and Colonel O'Neill, and not necessarily in that order.

"I must be getting delirious", she thought.

As they neared a large Dune, which would provide them with some protection against the sun, Jaret advised that they would rest here for some time, and Sam though that this was the most opportune time to find out what the grudge was between Selmack and her father.

As she sat down gingerly, Sam observed Jaret taking something out of his pocket; it seemed to be some kind of book and amulet. Sam was curious.

"Why not just ask me what this is?"

"Okay, I'm asking."

"This was passed down from my father to me, it has very special properties to it." Jaret advised.

"Does it have anything to do with you wanting revenge on my father?"

"Samantha, you do take things personally don't you! I don't have a grudge with your father....only Selmack"

"Why!" Countered Carter boldly.

"You really want to know do you? Well, Samantha, just because it's you, I'll tell you."

Jaret opened the book so that the pages were clearly visible to Sam, it contained reams and reams of hieroglyphics. "My father' name was Toth." God Sam wished Jonas or Daniel were here, her knowledge of Egyptian mythology barely scratched the surface compared to what she knew about alien devices. Jaret continued, "He was a great Egyptian god, he created all things mystical, wisdom, magic, writing and........ Astrology, which is probably why you and I get on so well Samantha." The look that Sam gave him was incredulous, but he took no notice and carried on.

"He was the wisest of all Egyptian gods, his knowledge was revered all over Egypt, this book contains all of his knowledge, spells; he even had the ability to bring people back from the dead. Ironically enough, he couldn't do bring himself back."

"So where does Selmack fit into things?"

"It was Selmack who killed him; right before my eyes. You see this book contains valuable secrets, and because of it's value, my father had it cursed. Those that tried to take the book, were forced to read the text and solve the answers, otherwise it would kill them; the earth swallowing them, and taking them to the underworld to..."

"Anubis" answered Major Carter finishing off his sentence.

"Very Impressive. Selmack intervened on one occasion after several people lost their lives, and killed my father, which is what takes us here."

"But that was a long time ago wasn't it? Why now?"

"Revenge Samantha, is best served cold."

Sam, sat numb, she didn't know what to say, what could you say to something like that. She hadn't recalled her father mentioning this, but then again why would he. What would he have told her; "Hi Sammie, guess what I found out, Selmack committed a pre-mediated murder." Yeah, that really would have sat well.

"We must move now." Jaret informed her.

"No matter what happens" she thought, "he's still my father, and I would give my life for him."

Back at the SGC

Colonel O'Neill was now wide-awake and raring to go, he and Teal'c were just reviewing the last tape, before Sam and Jaret had disappeared through the gate. On two separate occasions, Janet had ordered the Colonel to calm down, as it wasn't doing anything for his blood pressure to get so agitated.

"What do you expect Doc, this is Carter we're watching, and she's in serious trouble, and I just laid here."

"Colonel, you were unconscious." Janet argued, not believing her ears, he was just so caught up with losing Sam, he couldn't see that there would have been nothing he could've done even if he was able.

"That's no excuse Janet."

Janet rolled her eyes, and walked away, she was not going to get involved with this debate; she was onto a losing battle. No matter what she said to him, it went in one ear and out the other. He had been whining to be released for the last few hours, and was severely getting on Janet's last nerve. It was like he had blinkers on, he had to be the one to save her, no-one else, just him, and what he sometimes forgot is that they were Sam's friends to, but at this stage, there was just no use talking to him.

On resuming the video playback, the Colonel and Teal'c had just watched Sam enter a few command codes into the PC when they saw Jaret grab her by the throat. From this point on, all you could hear was Colonel Jack O'Neill reiterate like a mantra, "I'm gonna kill him! Then I'm gonna put him in a godamn sarcophagus, and kill him again!

"O'Neill, I believe that you may have suffered brain damage, we do not have a sarcophagus."

Jack gave him a look and said, "Then I'll build one, okay. If this is you working on your sense of humour Teal'c, then it needs some work."

"It was not meant to be a joke O'Neill, I was merely stating a fact."

"Work with me here Teal'c!" Jack told him, Teal'c simply nodded in understanding.

They returned their attention to the vid screen at the point Jonas walked in, and saw him try and get help for Carter. Then they saw it...his eyes glowed.

"Son of a.." before he had a chance to finish his sentence the General walked in.

"General, we've found something on the vid tapes. Jaret's a Gould sir, no doubt about it."

"Well done Colonel, as soon as the gates active, which I have been informed will be in a few hours, you are good to go."

"Thank you Sir."

Chapter 7 - Within Reach

They had now been walking for some time, the further they went the more tired Major Samantha Carter became. The sun beat down on them, never relenting, burning her body as they walked, she now no longer sweated, which was far more comfortable, but she also knew that it was one of the first stages of heatstroke, which was not good.

Ahead in the distance she could just make out some kind of dwelling, she didn't really know at this stage if it was the Tok'ra, or some other inhabitants claiming this world as their own.

Although they had only been travelling a few miles, Sam felt as if it had been an eternity. Sam was used to covering this much ground on a daily basis with SG-1, but with her injuries so severe, she get stumbling in the sand pockets of the dunes, and each time she fell, she aggravated her injuries all the more.

Jaret, as kind and helpful as ever, did little to assist her on their journey. Sam couldn't remember a time when she had felt so awful. Her breathing was now becoming ragged, even her pains had pains. She also knew that she was feverish even in the heat of the desert. Her insides felt as they were on fire with every step that she took, the only thing that was spurring her on, was the fact that if she died here, she would die alone, which would then allow Jaret to kill not only her team mates, but also her father, and one thing Carter had in abundance was determination that that was never gonna let that happen.

She lost her footing again and stumbled helplessly to the ground, jarring her weary body, she tried once more to lift herself of the dune, putting every last bit of strength she had, but on this occasion she failed, her body refusing to co-operate any further.

Jaret sensing her thoughts and feelings knew now, that Major Carter couldn't continue without assistance. His plan wasn't going as well as he thought, he needed to get to Selmack, and without Major Carter there as a bargaining weapon, there was no way the Tok'ra would trust an outsider, and it would be doubtful that they would even show themselves to him. He needed her as leverage.

He turned round to walk back to where she had fallen. Sam's vision was blurring, she recognised the blackness around the edges of her eyes, and with pain racking her body, her last thought was for her friends and how she had failed them, as hard as she tried to stay with it, her body could take no more and again she passed out, but this time she didn't expect to awaken again.

Jaret saw her eye lids flutter, her eyes rolling towards the back of her head, and knowing she was near death, he scooped her up in his arms and carried towards the buildings.

As she lay in his arms, he carried on to the stone called structure, his arms and legs growing heavier with each step. Then he saw it, a group of people coming out of the structure, he couldn't tell at this stage if they were Tok'ra, but one thing he knew for sure is; they had seen him.

One of the guards re-entered the building, presumably to tell the others. The other 3 headed towards him, their speed increasing with each step they took. It was not long before they surrounded him, weapons raised in a defence stance. They knew they had the advantage, a lone man carrying a female in his arms, unless he dropped her, it was unlikely that he had the advantage point, and that was exactly what Jaret wanted them to think.

"Who are you?" One of them demanded. "Why are you here."

"I was searching for Jacob Carter, I understand that he may be here, please you must take me to him. This is his daughter Samantha Carter, she's severely injured, and in need of medical assistance."

"You have not answered my question! Who are you, and how did you find us?" The guard reiterated.

"My name is Jaret, I'm a scientist, I was working with Major Carter when we were attacked. She told me that her father was involved with a resistance group known as the Tok'ra, and gave me this location." He continued to lie, and found it comforting that they appeared to be buying into his charade.

"You will follow us!" they explained, shepherding him and the Major inside the communal building. As he surveyed his surrounding, they descended further and further down underground, small pockets of crystallite laidened the walls. He had heard of this material before, but had never seen it, it was quite impressive. Looking down at Major Carter, he noted her skin was deathly pale, apart from spots of bright red tint on her cheeks from fever.

At this point, Jaret noted that you couldn't descend any further, he also noted that he was being led into an open cavern, where he was told to wait, he laid the Major out onto a stone slab, and watched 2 guards take stance at the entrance, it wouldn't be long now he thought.

With only two guards visible, he placed his hands in his pocket to pull out the amulet, in preparation for the next stage, and placed it along side of Major Carter.

He waited a few minutes and then heard footsteps in the hallway, he then saw him; Selmack.

As Jacob ran towards his daughter, fear and anger was embedded so much in his eyes, that he barely noted the man to her side, and due to the fact that his physiological makeup was not that of a normal Gould, the thought didn't cross his mind.

"What the hell happened to my daughter?" Jacob demanded. "And where the hell is Colonel O'Neill."

Jacob knew something was very wrong, not just the fact that his daughter appeared to be dying, but in the fact that SG-1 were nowhere around, this in itself caused Jacob to worry, he had never seen this man before, and there would have been no way Jack O'Neill would have let her go off with a stranger, let alone through the Stargate.

"Well, I'm waiting for an answer."

Jaret picked up the amulet, and placed it in his hand and stepped back slightly, then proceeded to speak in a language Jacob Carter had never heard of.

"Akum kretinome fasalatay iddiun ma konat abiyasinnia gretoricus."

"What the hell are you saying...?"

Before Jacob had the chance to challenge him further, gasps could be heard from all around him. Jacob turned around to see his comrades drop to their knees in pain, their eyes bulging from lack of oxygen, their weapons strewn on the floor beside them as blood seeped from various parts of their orifices.

Rushing to their aid to check for signs of life, he noted there was none. Jacob Carter had never seen anything like he recalled, he had. Not him though, it had been Selmack that had witnessed this, many years ago. He knew of only one person that could've caused the death of his people in this fashion, 'Toth'. Shaking the image from his mind, he knew that it was impossible, he had seen Toth die, at his own hands, he couldn't think of anyone else that could've possessed this much power.

As he tried to recall his memories of the past, Selmack remembered a son of Thoth. No, it couldn't be him, he would have recognised the Gould within him. At this moment though, it wasn't important, all he was concerned about was the fact that this man had just killed his comrades and was standing by his daughter.

Jaret's eyes flashed, he was now able to show himself as he truly was, for the first time since he had hidden amongst the DeAsha's.

"I know that you recognise my strength and power Selmack, surely you remember me."

Jacob ignored him; his concern for his daughter was his only thought now, as he asked. "What did you do to her?"

Looking from Major Carter to Selmack, he walked over to where Jacob was and answered. "I needed her to get to you, and a wonderful job she has done, and now that I've found you, she has now served her purpose."

"What do you plan to do with us?" At this point it was now Jacob Carter speaking and not Selmack.

"Selmack and I have some unfinished business to take care of, and as for your daughter, well it won't be long until she'd dead. Pity really, I was really becoming quite fond of her."

"If you've touched one hair on head, so help me I'll..."

Jaret cut him off mid sentence and simply stated, "You are not in any sort of a position to barter. I will do whatever I please, and with whomever I please. Starting with you."


O'Neill had had enough, he'd been cooped up long enough, Teal'c had been with him throughout, but now his patience was getting very thin, and he wanted out. Doc Frasier had been concentrating on Jonas for the last couple of hours, all his vital signs, had stabilized, and she'd taken him off the life support, and ordered another CAT scan, as he had begun to wake up.

"Come on Jonas" he thought as they had taken him down to complete another scan, and was relieved to see that when they had returned him to the infirmary, Jonas was alert and talking, and although not quite himself yet, he knew the young lad was out of danger.

As they settled Jonas back in bed, Colonel O'Neill called the Doc over and asked. "How is he?"

Doctor Frasier looked from one patient to the other. "He's actually doing remarkably well Colonel, better than you actually. It's hard to believe that only a couple of hours ago he was taken off the respirator. I asked him, if his fast healing was a genetic trait of his people, but he said it wasn't. That's the only other explanation I have, unless it has to do with his work with Naquadria. It must have altered his chemistry enough to allow for rapid healing, which will come in handy knowing SG1's record."

O'Neill looked at her, his eyes creased into small slats, and with his nose wrinkling he responded. "I resent that! We have a great record for catching the bad guys, hell we've saved this world..." Colonel O'Neill looked to Teal'c for an answer.

"I believe it is now nine times O'Neill."

"Thank you Teal'c. There you go, 9 times, sure we've had our share off cuts and scrapes, but hell, who hasn't. It's an occupational hazard Doc."

Here we go again thought Janet, "Yes Colonel, I accept that, but let me tell you something, that I'm sure has escaped're not getting any younger Colonel."

Of all the things that he was expecting, that surely wasn't one of them, and with a mocked hurt expression replied, "I resent that Doc, I am not old...I'm..." he paused trying to think of a good analogy "... think of me as a bottle of scotch. I get better with age."

Humph thought Janet Frasier. "Anyway Colonel, the reason I came over, was because I wanted to tell you that you can go, I've had enough of you cluttering up my infirmary, and whining to the nurses...." But before she had the chance to even finish her sentence he was out the bed, and standing on his own two feet, then realising that hospital gowns expose various parts of your anatomy, sheepishly he tried to cover his fully exposed butt. And whilst you tend not to care very much what the doctor sees when you're feeling half dead, modesty comes back full force when you're feeling better.

"Teal'c go get my clothes will ya", the quicker he got outta here the better. He was now on a mission, and as soon as he Teal'c returned, he quickly got dressed and walked over to the bed Jonas was occupying.

Jonas looking slightly agitated when he saw the Colonel walking over. This was the part that he had been dreading. Knowing that he had failed saving Major Carter, he was expecting to face O'Neill's wrath. He knew how close the two of them were, an unspoken bond between them, but he didn't realised how strong it was until he had actually started going out on missions with them, and he wasn't looking forward to facing him.

"How you feeling Jonas?" Jonas was a bit taken back, there was no hostility in his voice, only concern, and it shocked him. Maybe the Colonel had truly accepted him as part of the team.

"Much better, Colonel, thanks. Look, I didn't get a chance to tell you, but the man that was with Major Carter, he's a Gould." Jonas bowed his head and continued. "About Major Carter, Colonel I'm sorry, I tried to help her, but..."

The Colonel really did feel sorry for him, he knew Jonas would blame himself for not being able to stop Jaret, but he also knew through good friends, the only person that should be blamed was Jaret.

"Don't worry about it Jonas, there was nothing you could've done to stop him, we reviewed the security logs, and found out what he is, and now he's gonna get what's coming to him. Look Jonas, take care, we need you back with us."

Lifting his covers and dangling his feet over the edge, Jonas responded. "I'm ready now Colonel, believe me, I need to do this."

Colonel O'Neill watched as Jonas slipped away the covers and sat up, promptly revealing something he shouldn't. "Um, Jonas! You might wanna do something about the draft behind you, know what I mean." He snorted.


"I was trying to be subtle Jonas, but since no-one ever gets my subtlety, don't know why that is, do you Teal'c" he said getting off track. "Anyway, getting back to the subject at hand, you've got your butt showing."

"Oh" Was all Jonas could muster at this stage. "Sorry Colonel."

"Oh don't worry about it Jonas, I had a little butt thing going on myself a few minutes ago. Look Jonas, I know your all eager and raring to go, and I want you to come with, really I do" seeing Jonas's face, "but you're not fit enough yet. We need ya, but we need you fit, understand?"

"Yes Colonel."

With that, he left the infirmary and headed towards the Control room to find General Hammond.

As he walked into the gate room he peered through the hardened glass and saw that Siler and other techies were still working on the gate, and the computer system.

The General watched as Colonel O'Neill and Teal'c walked towards him. "Good to see you up and about Colonel, how are you feeling?"

"Fine and dandy Sir, and raring to go and kick some Gould butt. Wasn't the gate supposed to be up and active by now?"

"Yes Colonel it was, but there were a few complications on route, it shouldn't be too long now."

Impatiently he said "Sir, we may be running out of time, couldn't you just sorta demand the techies to hurry up?"

"Colonel, believe me when I say, you don't wanna rush them with this much energy flowing through their fingertips."

"I know Sir, its just that.."

"I know what the stakes are Jack."

"Yes sir."

So for next hour and a half an impatient Jack O'Neill paced the control room floor in circles, people moved out the way every time they came near him, noting that he kept on glancing at his watch every few seconds, and generally getting under everyone's feet. Cursing when one of the techies dropped a tool, because it meant that they lost valuable time picking it up.

Noting the displeasing faces of his staff, as the Colonel continued to pace, he put a hand out to stop him, "Colonel...Jack, please go and do something constructive, you're not helping anyone here, and frankly you're in the way."

The Colonel just muttered "sorry", he just couldn't help himself, they just seemed to be going to slow for his liking. As he and Teal'c were headed down the steps, Siler shouted that they were done, and the gate could be started up again.

"About time!" Jack mumbled. "Come on Teal'c, time to get our stuff and go rescue Carter."

Approximately 20 minutes later, the coordinates had been fed into the computer, and the dial out sequence had been actioned, O'Neill had packed so much firepower into his pack back that Teal'c had commented that he could probably take out an arsenal.

As they watched the last chevron lock, the Stargate was now fully active, General Hammond spoke down from the control centre "SG-1, you have a go, bring her back safe Colonel" and with a slight nod, they proceeded to go up the ramp. They barely got two feet onto it when they suddenly heard a voice behind them shouting, "Stop, wait for me."

Both turned round simultaneously and saw Jonas not more than 10 feet behind them. The Colonel looked up towards the control room and gave a quizzical look towards the General. "Jonas, I know you want to come with, but you've been through a lot, and trust me when I say you don't want ol' Doc Frasier comin after you, cos you escaped her clutches."

"She gave me the all clear Colonel, honest." Jack just gave him one of his "I don't think so" looks.

Seeing the scepticism in the Colonel's face, he replied, "you can ask her yourself", and pointed to the control room and sure enough Doc Frasier was there giving them the okay.

"Ah, youth is a wonderful thing," he thought.

"Good to have you back Jonas." then as SG1 headed up the ramp with such determination and purpose in their stride, Colonel O'Neill turned to face Teal'c and asked, "Do you think I'm old?" However, before Teal'c could answer they entered the wormhole, his atoms dematerialising.

Chapter 8 - The Rescue

"Well Teal'c, do ya think I'm old?" O'Neill asked as they descended from the Stargate.

"I refuse to comment O'Neill on the grounds that I may incriminate myself."

O'Neill stared at him gob smacked, he really did think he was old. Although somewhere in his fuddled brain a little voice was saying, "It's only him working on his sense of humour...wasn't it?"

Both Teal'c and Jonas knew that this little quirky thing he had going on, was due to the fact that O'Neill was worried and frustrated, and until she was rescued, this was his way of preparing himself for what lay ahead. And knowing that anything could happen on this mission, he was preparing his team for the same uncertainty.

As they put their backpacks on the ground, and got the equipment out to track Carter and Jaret's location, O'Neill and Jonas squinted up at the Sun hovering high above them. The sun shining so bright that it hurt to look anywhere near it, and damnit, it was getting hot, and there was no doubt about it; they were gonna get burnt. Luckily they had brought with them sufficient water supplies to aid them on their journey.

Jonas was the first to speak as he reached into his backpack and pulled out a vessel containing cool water, and the other hand he used to locate his sunglasses. "So what's the plan Colonel?"

Colonel O'Neill simply put his pack back on, took a deep breath, which caused his shoulders to rise, and simply said. "I don't know."

Teal'c simply raised his eyebrow, and Jonas was shocked, he'd heard of impromptu planning, but considering this was Carter they were going to rescue, he expected the Colonel to at least have some idea, and was more than surprised that there was none.

"I don't understand Colonel, you always have a plan."

God, thought the Colonel, the kid was still green and had a lot to learn about the unknown. For too long Jonas had been sat in a room learning about science, technology and cultures, but little on conflict. He looked at him, and concentrated on his features for a few moments before he responded. The Colonel remembering what Daniel was like in the beginning, geeky and uncoordinated, but eager. Just like Jonas was now. He knew that in time it would change and Jonas would become a fully effective member of SG-1, just like Daniel had. It was times like these when he missed Daniel's banter, and hoped that wherever his friend was, that he was looking out for them on this unknown journey.

"Sometimes Jonas, the best attack method is surprise. We don't know anything about where Carter's being held, and without that information, it would be useless wasting valuable planning and subjugating. Understand?"

"Yes, Colonel."

"Right then kids, lets go."

They had been travelling now for a little more than 4 hours and they had covered an enormous amount of ground, almost 7 miles. The clicks on the techno gadget thingy as O'Neill liked to call it indicated that there were 2 structures within a 4-mile radius, one being only a short click away, the other showing as being approximately 4 clicks away in a northeasterly direction from their position.

Given their physical condition a few hours ago, it was surprising how far they had come in such a short space of time, but they were all getting a little weary, and were in desperate need of a rest.

Teal'c was the first to spot it, a simple structure lay ahead of them, a lone shack in the distance. Colonel O'Neill squinted his eyes to get a better look, using his hand to shield away the UV rays of sunlight, for just a moment. He needed to determine if there was any sign of life coming from outside or inside the building. With his eyesight not being as great as it was, he pulled his binoculars from his BDU's and directed the lens at the shelter ahead; studying it for a short time before giving the go ahead to move forward.

Cautiously they approached the structure, no sound could be heard from SG-1 as they approached the building like a cat stalking it's prey, sliding on the ground to ensure they were not seen or heard by any occupant who may be inside. Colonel O'Neill using sign language to indicate in which direction Teal'c and Jonas should go. Once they were in the required position, they slowly opened the door of the structure. It was just a simple hut, no signs of life could be found inside, Teal'c patrolling the outside just incase. If nothing else, it gave them some shelter from the heat of the desert, and allowed them to recuperate for a few moments.

As they surveyed the inside, there really was very little to see, only small insects scurrying into the corners of the room where particles of sand lay in small piles, presumably laying wherever the wind had forced it, disturbed by the presence of visitors. A small wooden box lay towards the other side of the room, slats criss crossing across the side, where it had been carelessly tossed to one side.

Teal'c spotted something else, a glint by the wall, as the sun caught it's side, curious as to what it was, he moved towards it. O'Neill watching Teal'c asked, "What is it"

As Teal'c lowered his hand to pick up the object, Jonas and O'Neill were already at his side. "Teal'c?"

"It seems to be some kind of jewellery O'Neill, possibly part of a necklace"

"Let me see it 'T'" O'Neill asked, taking the object from his hand, and inspecting it closely.

Examining it, he noted that it seemed familiar to him, but he didn't know why. Thinking hard to recall some memory from long ago. Then it came to him in a flash of inspiration, it was Carter's. He remembered asking her about it one night whilst at O'Malley's having dinner and a bear, Daniel and Teal'c were on an off world mission, Teal'c along just to baby-sit Daniel who was constantly getting into trouble, so it had just been him and Carter, and he had seen her running it through her fingers. It was the most beautiful necklace he'd seen, so simple, but enchanting, beautiful; just like Carter. "Oh hello," he thought "Those kinda thoughts are gonna get you nothing but trouble O'Neill."

Sam had told him, that it was a gift from her mother, the last gift she'd ever bought for her before she died suddenly. Carter had told him that one time; she had been distraught because she thought she'd lost it. He had asked why she kept it with her, if she was afraid of losing it, and knowing the number of scrapes they had been in, it surprised him that she hadn't lost it more times. When she replied, he had seen her sky blue eyes light up, and the brightest of smiles that could light up a darkened sky as she answered, "Because when it's with me, I feel as if my mother is with me as well."

Jonas and Teal'c were patiently waiting, they had seen the Colonel's eyes move to the right, where it indicated he was recalling memories, and waited until the memory had surfaced.

Softly he answered, "It's Carter's."

"This is a good sign O'Neill, it means that we are going in the right direction,"

O'Neill simply nodded in agreement, he needed a few moments to himself, and took himself off into another corner of the room, and drank from his water vessel. The others followed suit. A sense of calmness spread through the hut like a gentle wind, each contemplating what lay ahead in their own way, wondering if they were too late to save Major Carter. They each knew that Major Carter was not in her best physical condition prior to leaving the SGC; that was evident in the way Jaret was forced to carry her through the gate.

O'Neill remembered an old adage from his former commander many years ago, when he was just a Lieutenant. They had been sent on a dangerous mission, and prior to them attacking a fortress; the team seemed unusually quiet, which reflected on O'Neill's current circumstances. He'd asked his CO "Why the stillness?" and his CO had responded. "Son, in any situation like this, tenseness prepares you for death in battle, stillness ensues the certainty of it." That night 3 of his friends had been killed.

With one last thought, he took a large breath, held it for a brief moment and let it out slowly. He stood up and brushed the sand off his BDU's, and with a conviction that Jonas had never heard from him before said, "We go now." There was no bravado from him or wise cracks. Jack O'Neill meant business, and one thing one certain, no one was going to die today, except Jaret.

Jacob lay on the floor panting, his breathing coming in quick concession, becoming more rapid and urgent; he had never felt anything like this. Jaret was taunting him, it was not simple revenge that Jaret had wanted, he wanted to experiment on him.

For the last couple of hours he had been at the mercy of Jaret, violent shimmers now careering through his body as Jaret recited another spell from his father's book.

Jaret found this simply delightful, watching Selmack suffer so; never in his wildest dreams did he think he would injure inflicting so much pain on his enemy.

"Retribution is mine." He taunted Jacob/Selmack.

Jacob was in severe pain, but seeing his daughter, barely hanging on, he had no choice. He had to hold on for her sake, or until they were rescued. He couldn't understand where Jack was, but he wished he'd hurry up, he couldn't hold out forever, and neither could his daughter. Jacob's symbiote had been working overtime over the last couple of hours, trying to heal Jacob's injuries as quickly as he good before he was inflicted with the next round of trauma.

Jaret circled Jacob/Selmack. Throughout the ordeal, Jacob was determined not to allow Selmack to take full control of him, it annoyed the hell out of Jaret, and caused him to inflect more pain on the hosts body, but Jacob was adamant that he needed Selmack to concentrate on healing him, and now, it wasn't just Selmack's battle, it was Jacob's. After the way Jaret had treated his daughter, beating her, taking her away from her friends, forcing her to commit treason. "NO", he thought, I'm not letting Jaret have the upper hand.

Sam had remained unconscious throughout, Jacob was thankful for small mercies, in the fact that she hadn't seen her father subjected to this kind of torture. As he lay with his back against the side of the wall, he glanced up to where his daughter lay. She looked so small and fragile, he'd never seen her like this, and it scared the hell out of him.

"Why not just kill me Jaret, that's what you want isn't it?" Jacob taunted, finding the strength from somewhere deep inside.

Jaret laughed aloud, growing more and more unpredictable. "You'd like that wouldn't you, quick and easy. Why should I let you off so easily? You certainly didn't afford my father the same generosity, did you? I saw him suffer at your hands, and it wasn't quick and painless, was it Selmack. You made sure of that when you killed him the way you did! Do you know what it was like watching your father die? It's just a shame Samantha can't witness her fathers demise."

Then he hit Jacob with another blast, causing Jacob to black out for a few moments.

SG-1 had finally reached the structure; there were no guards around the perimeter. O'Neill had been informed by General Hammond prior to their departure that there would be only a few Tokra there at present, and that the Tokra had been scouting for new locations in preparation for the move of their new headquarters.

This was too easy, he thought, but then why wouldn't it be. As far as Jaret aware, the figures that Sam had been typing into the computer back at the SGC were to ensure their escape, but what he didn't know was that Sam had left an encoded message for them, and unless you understood Base 8 math, he wouldn't have realised.

Silently and with such gentle grace, they crept towards the front entrance, ensuring that any noise they made was minimal; they needed total surprise. O'Neill indicated with a hand signal to Teal'c to take right flank, and Jonas the left, this allowed him the opportunity to go through the middle. They descended the stairwell, weapons raised in anticipation of what they would find. He wasn't taking any chances when it came to Sam.

O'Neill heard something, very faint, but evident. It appeared to be coming from a small area down the corridor. He turned around to the others and placed a finger on his lips indicating silence, as they proceeded towards the room. They could hear shouting from Jaret, and screams. They recognised the one who was screaming; it was Jacob. They listened intently trying desperately to gather as much information they needed to get them all out of there safe, they weren't quite close enough to hear everything, they needed. Desperately trying to hear a sound from Carter he heard something, which caused his blood to go cold, it was Jacob.

"...What does it matter, she's dead anyway."

O'Neill didn't know what to feel; he put his head against the stone rock as he became slightly dizzy from shock. His thoughts and feeling in turmoil, he felt physically sick. "Oh God, we're too late, and I never even got the chance to tell her." He thought. Teal'c placed a hand on his shoulder, providing some comfort to his friend. Although Teal'c felt the loss deeply, he knew that Jacob Carter was still alive in there, so they still had a mission which they had to continue, he would grieve in his own way when this was over.

With his eyes, Teal'c conveyed that they still had to rescue Jacob Carter, before it was too late. Well if he was going in, he was going in hard.

Then he came up with a plan, he and Teal'c would go through first, and O'Neill knew that Jaret wouldn't be expecting Jonas, as Jaret believed him to be dead. This would be the element of surprise. O'Neill advised Jonas that he and Teal'c would go through first and distract him, and then Jonas was to send an energy ball in, which he believed would disrupt any mechanical devices Jaret happened to have on him.

Jonas knew that the Colonel was placing all his trust in him, and he wasn't go to fail this time. He took a deep breath and nodded.

O'Neill patted Teal'c on the back as they neared the entrance. Then they saw the bodies of the Tokra scattered across the floor, dried blood caked their faces. "God, what happened to them?" he thought.

Then they heard Jacob's scream.

"Oh well, now or never!" thought O'Neill knowing that with the position of the bodies blocking the entrance, they wouldn't be able to get in without alerting Jaret.

Jaret heard them at the doorway and grabbed Jacob by the throat, manoeuvring him in front of his body, thus protecting himself.

"Well well well, Colonel Jack O'Neill, and Teal'c isn't it? How nice of you to join us." Jaret grinned, now he had more souls to torture.

With their weapons still raised and pointed at Jaret, the first thing he saw was Carters deathly pale face, and his blood ran cold once more.

Jaret looked the two of them up and down, and laughed heinously, "So you're the rescue committee, humph good job. What did you expect, for me to just hand them over, I have the advantage point here gentleman," indicating to his grip on Jacob.

O'Neill had had enough, this guy was pissing him off, not only had he killed Carter, but he was playing with them, and more than anything, he didn't like to be played with.

Jack looked towards Jacob, his eyes radiating pain, "Jack, forget about me, Just shoot him."

"Shut up Jacob." Jack countered in a dark tone.

"Jack, he..."

"Jacob, I know what he's done!" he answered in a tone that said, "I know what I'm doing, trust me."

"Put your guns down gentleman, and take a seat over there." Jaret stated matter of fact. "I'll get to you in a minute."

Both Teal'c and O'Neill laid down their weapons and took a few steps forward and to the left, Jaret released his grip on Jacob as he slowly walked to centre of the cavern. O'Neill muttering, "Like hell you will." Then suddenly he shouted "NOW JONAS"

Not having time to react, Jaret turned round, to see Jonas Quinn fling an energy ball in the direction where he was standing. The light and intensity of the electrical current being amplified in the room, as it hit its target. O'Neill and Teal'c shielding themselves from the brilliant light, Jacob just managing to get behind the stone pillar where his daughter lay.

Jaret crumpled to the floor in a heap. Jacob scrambled forward. "Jack, whatever happens don't let him speak, the book he has, it's a book of spells, he can kill you in an instant."

Jack walking to where Jaret was lying pointed a Zat in his face, as Jaret's eyes opened. "I just need an excuse, and so help me I'll shoot ya."

Jaret opened his mouth to speak, but before he had a chance to say anything Jack shot him, not once, but twice, then whispered. "That was all I needed." Then promptly dropped the Zat on the floor, and stood silently, feeling completely alone and lost.

Now that it was over, Jacob had to get back to his daughter, and said, "Jack, don't just stand there, I need your help, Sam's dying."

O'Neill thought he would fall on the floor! Did he hear right? Did Jacob say that Sam was alive? "What?" he stated quizzically.

"Jack now is not the time to act stupid, now get your ass over here and help me."

His heart skipped a beat, she was alive, he couldn't believe it, how could she be, he'd heard Jacob say those words. O'Neill ran up to the pillar, Jacob was on one side, he was at the other, Teal'c and Jonas were now standing slightly behind them.

Jack's instincts kicked in, as he placed his hands on the side of her throat checking for a pulse. He kept it there for a few seconds, just to reassure himself. It was faint and erratic, but it was there. With his hand moving upwards to cup the side of her face, he gentle began caressing her jaw line. His other hand smoothing back her hair that was damp from fever. He started out softly, looking for any kind of response from her. "Sam, can you hear me, C'mon Sam, open your eyes for me, just for a minute." Nothing was happening, so he tried a bit harder, shaking her ever so slightly, but being careful not to cause further injury. "SAM, come on, you've had enough sleep, it's time to wake up. Sam, come on no sleeping on the job, especially in front of your C.O." Then he saw it, for just a brief moment, a flicker. "Sam, please, come back to me."

Jacob's eyes fixated on Jack's face, listening intently to what he was saying, Jack wasn't saying come back to 'us', he was saying come back to him, and it wasn't until that moment, did Jacob realise how much the colonel loved his daughter.

Just then Sam opened her eyes, only slightly, but they were open, Jack and Jacob looked at each other and smiled the widest smile you had ever seen, Teal'c and Jonas grinning in the background. "Welcome back Sam." O'Neill whispered as he noticed her hand moving ever so slowly and purposely up to his. She laid her hand on top of his and rubbed her thumb back and forth as she had that night in the infirmary. Jack O'Neill had never felt so content in his life.

Sam licked her lips and croaked; "You risked your life to come back for me" she smiled. Her eyes suddenly growing very tired. "Thank you." And with that her hand fell back on to the slab where she lay.

Jack's face dropped as he saw her body go limp, urgently he shouted at her "Sam, Sam, please don't leave me now."

Jacob checked for a pulse, there wasn't one, oh god he was going lose his daughter, frantically his mind worked, think Jacob. He couldn't think, then he heard Selmack, "CPR, you must resuscitate her now."

"Jack", he prodded, "we must do CPR, 'NOW' Jack. Get her on the floor, you breathe for her; I'll do chest compressions. 'Jonas' grab the book by Jaret, it's a book of the Living and the Dead, it has allsorts of spells, that could bring Samantha back, 'get reading'"

They placed Sam on the ground to give themselves better leverage for the chest compressions to work. All Teal'c could do is standby as he watched his friend trying to breathe life back into Major Carter. All you could hear was; "One and two and three and four and five, breathe."

By this stage Jonas had found the book and was checking through it. The writing wasn't anything he had come across before, panic started to set in, as he knew then that he couldn't help her. Racking his brain, trying to remember something...he couldn't. "Oh God."

"Jonas" Colonel O'Neill shouted vehemently.

All Jonas could say was "I'm sorry, I can't read it, I've never seen this script before."

He looked at the Colonel, eyes filled with unyielding sorrow.

"Jonas, you have to try, please." He begged, "This is Carter."

The Colonel looked at Jacob; unshed tears in his eyes, Carter wasn't responding.

Jonas didn't know where to look, he had never felt so useless, "I can't Colonel, I've never seen it before, I'm so sorry, I can't read it."

Just as they were all about to give up hope, they heard a voice from the corner.

"No, but I can."

Chapter 9

Jack heard the words, and knew the voice, but no it couldn't be, could it? He'd watched him die a few months ago. He half expected to turn round and see him naked, what with him leaving his clothes behind an all.

They all turned round simultaneously, Jacks eyes red and swollen from holding back unshed tears. Jacob Carter, not caring who saw, let his tears fall freely onto the cold stone floor.

"Daniel" O'Neill spoke softly, barely breathing." How, What?" He asked sounding more puzzled.

"Those questions don't matter now Jack, we need to concentrate on Sam." Daniel said, strangely enough sounding like he had before he 'died', and standing there fully clothed. None of them could believe their eyes, they had not seen or heard from Daniel since his ascension.

"Jack, we need to continue CPR" Jacob pleaded in earnest.

Jack had been desperately trying to get Sam to show some sort of sign, encouraging her silently and persistently, but there was nothing. He had seen her fade into the darkness, her bright blue eyes devoid of any sign of life. He would give anything at this moment to have her come back to him. They had been trying desperately to revive her for what Jack had thought was an eternity.

She had slipped away so silently, as if waiting for them to find her so she wouldn't die alone. Jack however was not prepared to let her go, and with Daniel there now to help, he somehow found the strength to continue.

They were both physically and emotionally exhausted, both of them never relinquishing the love they had for her in their own special way, and they weren't prepared to give up, it just wasn't an option.

Daniel walked towards them, kneeling ever so gentle besides his friends. "Jack, Jacob, I can help, but you have to trust me like you've never trusted anyone in your life."

Both men torn between listening to Daniel and continuing the breathing Sam desperately needed to stay alive. Uncertainty and apprehension clearly apparent as Daniel continued.

"I warn you both, it may not work, but it's the only way I know to give Sam the chance to live again."

Jack looked pleadingly at his friend; he would do anything for her. Daniel had never witnessed such a heart-rending plea, from his former C.O. He trusted Daniel like a brother, knowing that if anyone could help, he could.

Jacob was the first to speak. "Daniel, what do we need to do?"

With his hand on Jacks shoulder, he looked directly in his eyes, "You need to let her go."

Both Jack and Jacob stared directly at the man they believed to be their friend. He knew it would be the biggest sacrifice either one of them would ever face, but Daniel knew that it was necessary to bring her back.

Jack, was still on his knees appeared to have been physically knocked over. Disbelief evident in the strained features of his face as he recoiled from Daniel's touch.

"No way, Daniel! Do you *know* what you're asking us to do? I'll tell you shall I! You're asking us to stand around and watch her die. Are you nuts? Did you lose a few brain cells on route to never never land?" O'Neill shouted vehemently trying to get as far away from Daniel as he possibly could.

Jack couldn't believe his ears; in effect he was asking him and Jacob to kill her. Jacob seeing the look of utter horror in his face knew that it wasn't something that Jack would be able to do.

Unfortunately with Jack stepping back from Sam, it meant that she was not receiving the vital oxygen needed to sustain her.

Jacob shouted over to Teal'c and Jonas, to take over from them. Jacob needed answers, and so it appeared did Jack.

Jacob walked over to Jack, who was pacing back and forth like a pack animal; trapped in a small cage, not knowing which direction he should take. Sadness replaced by anger. He placed his hand on Jacks shoulder and turned him around. Daniel simply standing near by watching the interaction between them, unable to act until Jack was ready to listen. But time was fading, and if he didn't act soon, it may be too late to save her.

"Jack, look at me." Jacob spoke firmly and intently eyes filled with sorrow. "I have more love for my daughter than you will ever know. I know what it's like to standby and watch someone die, knowing that their fate is in someone else's hands, and I also know how much you care for her."

Jacob didn't know if he was getting through to him, sometimes a person is so consumed with guilt and grief that it swallows them whole, he was not going to let that happen to Jack. "Jack, please, you need to listen to Daniel, he's your friend. You've trusted him with your own life so many times, so has Sam. All I'm asking, is that you trust him now."

With his hands rummaging wildly over his face and through his hair, he knew that Jacob would never let go of his daughter, unless he trusted the other implicitly. Jacob was right, he did trust Daniel, he knew he would not intentionally let Sam die, and with a slight nod in Daniel's direction, he moved forward.

Daniel placing a hand on Jack's forearm for support, he told them of the mythology surrounding the ancient script. "Legend states that a person can be brought back from the dead using the amulet and the book, but to do this, we have to let her go. Her body is so weak from fighting, that her soul... her essence is caught between here and the after life."

Jacob nodded for Daniel to continue, Jack just staring at him, not fully comprehending what was being said, but he just couldn't trust his voice to speak.

This book has many properties, including bringing back a person's soul into their physical body.

Daniel thought he saw a glimmer of hope in their eyes, but he didn't want to give them false expectations, knowing that there was a big chance that this wouldn't work. Part of the ritual involved letting go of all doubt; any trace of it may have an adverse reaction on the ritual.

"Please, *both* of you need to understand that it may not work, any negativity you have, you need to let go of now." They nodded in understanding. "There's one more thing."

Taking a deep shaky breath, his hands shaking in fear of what was to come Jack asked "What else?"

"Sam herself has to want to come back. Without her co-operation it won't work, and believe me, what lies ahead is beautiful, and may be too hard to resist."

With that Daniel went over to Teal'c and Jonas, and told them to stop. They had heard the exchange going on behind them, and knew what had to be done to save the life of their friend all over again.

As they gathered around her, seeing her slip away; a serenity of calm fell before the group. Jack was the first to speak as Daniel prepared himself.

"Daniel, look I'm sorry about what I said before, I didn't mean's's Carter, you know?" O'Neill not good at this sort of thing, simply said, "I just wanted to say thank you for trying. I know how hard it must have been for you to have stood by like this and watch her suffer during the last few days and knowing that you couldn't stop it. If I forget to tell you later, I appreciate it, you've been a good friend to all of us."

Noone needed to say anything else, Jack had summarised their thoughts and feelings well enough for all of them. Daniel then directed them all to kneel beside her.

With the amulet safely guarded in his hand he carefully positioned it across her chest making sure that it was positioned in exactly the right place. He opened the book laidened in ancient scripture and recited in the books mother tongue;

"Hail, thou god Aniu! Hail, thou god Pehreri, who dwellest in thy hall. I beg thee to allow that her soul may come to us from any place wherein it may be. Thou findest her family and friends standing by thee. Let her never lie down in death. Let not the essence of Samantha Carter, whose word is truth; lie down dead among those who lie in Anu, the land wherein souls are joined to their bodies in thousands. Let her have possession of soul and spirit, and let my word be truth."

"Observe then, O ye guardians of Heaven, return her soul wherever it may be. May it gaze upon its earthly body, and return her back to thee."

After the last word was spoken, Daniel knelt beside them, watching and waiting patiently to see if she would find her way back home.

Noone spoke, not wanting to disturb the serenity and importance of what had taken place a few moments ago. They all new that it was now simply a matter of time.

Chapter 10 - Watching and Waiting

They had been sat patiently by her side for over an hour now, Jacob had told the others that he needed to walk around and clear his head. Jonas had gone off to find some water, which left Teal'c, and Jack with the now apparently solid Daniel. No one had spoken since the ritual had concluded, but now Jack O'Neill was getting impatient. He could only put his emotions on hold for so long.

It was like she was gone, but not quite. Jack remembered the time they believed Daniel had drowned by fire, and they'd had their memories altered; watching him die, but then feeling as if he hadn't.

Drumming his fingers silently on the floor, Jack was the first to speak, not quite sure if this was the appropriate time or place to speak, especially in front of Sam. Pretending Sam was just 'sleeping' Jack whispered to Daniel as if not to disturb her;

"Daniel" Jack said with a touch of apprehension.

"Jack" Daniel replied remembering all too well how often he and Jack played this game.

"When will know?" He gestured his hands towards Sam's body.

"The Afterlife's not on a clock you know Jack" Daniel retorted.

"I know Daniel, but it's been like an hour already, shouldn't we have seen... I dunno...something?"

"Like what?" Daniel asked his eyes squinting trying to fathom what the hell Jack was on about.

"How the hell should I know? You're the expert in this afterlife stuff." Jack responded in a forced whisper.

Teal'c who had remained patient throughout this exchange decided at this point he needed to intervene. "You must learn patience O'Neill. It is not yet certain, if Major Carter will return to us. She may have found things more pleasing on the other side."

Shaking his head as if trying to clear it, and getting increasingly impatient with every minute that passed without *something* happening. Jack's frustration was now clearly showing. "What could possibly be more pleasing Teal'c, than being here with us?"

Daniel spoke up at this stage "Well actually..."

"Ah Ah Ah... I don't want to hear it." Jack replied hastily.

Teal'c and Daniel simply tilted their head upwards in disbelief. They knew that Jack was not the most patient person in the world, but surely he didn't expect the Gods to just beam her back into her body, like some episode from Star Trek, or maybe he did.

"It may be O'Neill that she's going through some sort of ritual, to ensure her worthiness of returning to this world." Teal'c pointed out as matter of fact.

"Do ya *know* how stupid that sounds Teal'c." Jack countered getting more frustrated by the minute. Then realising what he had said, and whom he'd said it to, Jack just muttered, "sorry 'T'."

"It is ok O'Neill, I understand how difficult this is for you."

"I know ya do Teal'c, and I know that this hasn't been easy on you two either. I just don't know what to do with myself. I'm just not used to this waiting around stuff."

Not being able to stand it any longer, Jack stood up abruptly.

"Listen you two, I'm gonna go and find Jacob, there are a few things I need to speak to him about." With that, he left, and headed towards the surface. He wasn't quite sure what he would say to Jacob, but knew he needed to talk with him. Judging from the churning of his stomach, it wouldn't be a pleasant conversation.

O'Neill had forgotten that night had fallen on this planet and that it was damn cold. Rubbing his arms with his hands, trying to heat up, he wished he'd bought his jacket.

"Jacob? You out here?" Jack searched for him in the distance scanning the horizon.

Then he heard a small voice approximately 20 feet away, "Over here Jack."

Colonel Jack O'Neill hesitantly walked over to where Jacob was sat, simply staring at the stars that twinkled so brightly in the heavens. Jack O'Neill placed himself a couple of feet from Jacob, silently staring at the horizon ahead of them, searching for that place called home, which seemed (and probably was) a million light years away.

Neither of them needed to speak, it was sufficient enough that they were there, together, providing silent comfort.

"Jacob, about before, I'm sorry if I behaved inconsiderately. I know how much faith you put in Daniel, and me for that matter, and I know I behaved like an ass....totally unlike me I know, but..."

Jack wasn't sure, but he thought he had seen Jacob smile slightly.

"Don't worry about it Jack, I know how much you cared for her."

Jack heard the word 'cared', being used in the past tense and began to panic. Jacob couldn't possibly have given up on his daughter, could he? It shocked him. Jack always believed the ex-General could think positively about any situation. Seeing him here, vulnerable, it was something Jack never expected or wanted to see.

Both men sighed at the same time, Jack questioning himself on whether he should say what really needed to be said. Ah well, his timing always did suck. After a couple of silent pauses, he decided to go for broke; Jacob had a right to know about his feelings for his daughter.

"Jacob, um about Sam and me.." he started

Jacob sitting very still on the sand, with his knees bent towards his chest, his head leaning slightly forward on his knees turned to look at Jack with a small smile tugging at the corner of his lips, wanting Jack to openly say it, but kind of feeling sorry for him, simply said, "Don't worry Jack, I know."

Taken aback slightly, surprise clearly visible in his expression, and stuttering slightly, well it wasn't easy revealing feelings he'd been suppressing for 6 years, especially to the girls father. "Um...Um.. do huh, um, *what* exactly do you know Jacob" he stuttered, trying desperately to regain his composure.

"I now enough Jack." Jacob said turning himself round more to face the younger man. "I also know how she felt about you."

Jack cleared his throat loudly as he mulled over Jacob's words. Carter spoke to her dad about him? Naaahh- maybe she might have said one or two things to Janet, but not her dad... would she?

"Right, ok, so...don't need to go into detail then?" He asked, eyes begging the General not to call him on it.

"No Jack " he simply stated "You don't."

Thank god for that Jack thought. This was actually going better than he thought, and he didn't even have to say anything. Sometimes it was really great that both he and Jacob were military. Of course sometimes it really sucked. Like when you fell in love with your 2IC.

The two of them lapsed into silence once more, just enjoying the beauty of the starlight, not a breeze in sight, the moon dancing over the dunes like a tidal wave of light, it was so peaceful he couldn't resist saying it.

"Carter would love this Jacob."

"What, the two of us, sitting out here discussing her love life, I don't think so Jack. She'd pretty much be mortified."

"Not that!" Jack answered impatiently. "I was referring to this, all of this," he explained pointing out towards the distance of the dunes and stars above.

"I know." Jacob answered simply. "You know what Jack, I'm kinda glad she didn't join the space programme in the end, because if she had, she wouldn't have met you all, and *that* would have been a waste."

Jack O'Neill thought that was probably the nicest thing anyone had ever said to him.

Words couldn't possibly convey the gratitude Jack felt from Jacob's words, but Jack had to try.

"Thanks Jacob." The older man nodded and turned back to the night sky.

Jack smiled serenely, they were going to to be ok.

Both men got up at the same time to stretch their legs, Jack's knees protesting as he stood. Jack and Jacob just stood there for a few more moments watching the shooting stars overhead; each making a silent wish.

Suddenly Daniel materialized in front of Jack and Jacob.

"For crying out loud Daniel, you gotta stop doing that" Jack said visibly shaken.

"Sorry Jack." Daniel said slightly embarrassed, "Just thought you both should know."

"Know what?" Jacob asked.

"Sam's awake."

Chapter 11 - Lost for words

Jack and Jacob had never run so fast in their lives, unable to believe what Daniel had told them until they saw it for themselves. Sam was awake. They never thought in a million years that the ancient spell would work.

As they ran headlong into the structure Jack slightly faster than Jacob, he descended down the stone steps first. Jack, in his eagerness to see Carter, tripped over his own two feet, and ended up freefalling down the last couple of steps landing on his backside.

All Jacob heard was 'bang…bang…thump," then a nasally whine "oooooooowwwwww, crap!"

Jacob speeding up slightly frowned as he saw Jack flat on his butt. "Jack! You ok?"

"Do I look ok?" he asked slightly embarrassed.

"Wait till Sam hears about this!" Jacob laughed as he tried to compose himself long enough to pull Jack up off the floor.

"Jacob…you wouldn't?" Jack asked worriedly, he'd never live it down

"Can you stand?" Jacob asked holding back a smile.

"Dumb question Jacob" he stated miserably looking at his now swelling ankle.

Jacob biting his top lip, trying hard to control his laughter held out his arm and told him to use him as leverage as they hobbled the rest of the way towards Sam.

As they entered the room, hearts in their throats with anticipation, they saw Sam surrounded by her friends; both Teal'c and Daniel each holding a hand, but neither were smiling. They both noticed that Sam was lying flat on the ground not looking at either of them, as they slowly moved forward.

Daniel was the first to spot them, "What took you guys so long?"

Jack looking slightly sheepish said, "Had a little trouble on the way."

Daniel frowned, what possible trouble could he have gotten himself into this time, he only had to get from the surface to here. "What…"

"I'll explain later." Jacob said simply waving his hand dismissively, ignoring the look the Colonel was giving him, then asking the question. "How is she?"

Both Teal'c and Jonas moved out of the way first, swiftly followed by Daniel, thereby allowing Jacob and Jack to be near her. Jacob lowering the injured Colonel gently down next to Sam, then went round to the other side of her; seeing his daughter for the first time since her return.

The two men looked at each other strangely. Something wasn't quite right; Sam hadn't even turned her head towards either of them. Her bright sapphire eyes were glazed over slightly, just staring straight ahead; only occasionally blinking.

"Sammy, can you hear me?" Jacob asked with concern clearly evident in his voice. He took her hand in his, rubbing it ever so gently, he continued, "It's Dad Sammy. Can you speak to me? Blink your eyes for me Sammy if you can hear me!"

Not getting any response from her, Jacob motioned for Jack to try, and with more confidence than he felt spoke softly. "Hey Sam, how ya doin."

Both men trying desperately to at least get her to acknowledge that she knew who they were. Thoughts were going through Jack's mind...this wasn't how it was supposed to be, he wasn't expecting her to be up and about, babbling on about what she'd seen in the Afterlife, but he expected...something.

With panic starting to set in, Daniel pre-empted what the pair were about to say. "She's been like that since she woke up, she hasn't said a word."

"Daniel..." Jacob asked with concern still holding Sam's hand tightly.

Daniel shifted from foot to foot trying to find the right words. "I don't know Jacob, it might be just a case of Sam readjusting, it took me a while to get used to things when I came back."

Jack looking intently towards Daniel said his voice full of warning, "Well, how long Daniel?"

"I don't know Jack, this is all new to me to, we just have to be…" Hesitant to use the word patient to Jack, thinking he might blow another fuse.

Jack sensing what he was gonna say felt that overwhelming urge to scream, and gave him that look that said, "I warn ya, I'm gonna flip if you say it."

Trying to act as peacemaker one last time, he told them all that it might be a while before Sam recognised where she was, and that her catatonic state appeared similar to that of a waking coma.

With his eyes squinting and a slight shake of his head, he wished people would talk normal instead of using fancy words. Still puzzled he had to ask "A what?"

Daniel explained that sometimes when the body has been placed under physical stress, especially something like this, they can appear to others as if they are awake, but when in fact, they're still in a coma.

"Soooo…what? We wait, is that what your saying?" Jack enquired.

"I'm sorry Jack, but yes. Talk to her as you would normally, discuss the weather, tell her what your hopes and dreams are. Another thing that might help is for her to be in surroundings familiar to her."

Jacob not quite believing that they had to wait a while longer, was worried that she might never return. But he had to believe that there was still a chance, he had to keep positive. He wasn't ready to give up quite yet, especially as they had come this far.

Daniel turning to Jacob asked. "Jacob, do you have a ship nearby?"

"Yes, it's only a short distance away." Jacob replied knowing where Daniel was headed agreed to go and get the ship. He knew that this would also give Jack and Daniel a bit of space and some time alone with Sam as he had held her for most of the night. He looked at Teal'c and Jonas asking; "Why don't you come with me?"

"Very subtle Jacob." O'Neill informed him.

With a slight smile he replied, "Thank you, I thought so." Then left with the others, leaving just Sam, Daniel and Jack.

"Um.. Jack, I'm just gonna go upstairs to get and get some um.. fresh air."

Jack just looked at him with a stoic expression. "Uh Daniel, I hate to break it to ya, but your...dead. You don't need fresh air."

Daniel smiled serenely, "Yeah I know." Then blinked out of existence once more leaving Jack muttering "subtle Danny, real subtle."

With all of them gone, Jack felt lost, hell he was never good in these situations, that's why he loved having Carter along on these missions; she was good with feelings when someone was hurt, and usually it was him. Running his fingertips through his thinning hair, he moved closer to her, lifting her head and placing it in his lap, with his legs now fully outstretched. With Sam's arms lying closely by her side, he picked up her arm placing her hand across her chest, then very discreetly slipped his hand in hers. Strangely, he felt it very comforting holding her like this; as if it was always meant to be this way; them being together.

Sighing slightly, he didn't have a clue what to say, and for the first few minutes talked about the weather, and the fact that Daniel had returned. He hoped to see some kind of reaction, but she didn't even acknowledge him holding her hand.

Knowing that Jacob would be due back shortly, he *wanted* to tell her how much he cared, but he couldn't find the words. Stroking her hair gently, he said, "Ya know what Sam? I've been held prisoner, shot at, tortured, nearly died god knows how many times, gone off to Alien worlds... but you are the only person I have ever met who makes me lost for words. Here we are alone, and I still can't tell ya how I feel."

He sighed inwardly, this was not gonna be easy!

It was the weirdest sensation she had ever felt, her body felt light as a feather. It was if she were floating. Not knowing if she could move or not, she tried to feel her fingers, Yep, they were definitely there. Now all she needed to do was move them ever so slightly.

Her senses started to return slowly, and the first thing she noticed was that someone was definitely here with her; she could tell that much. It was as if someone was holding her, and whoever it was, they were very comfortable. She felt a touch going across her face and through her hair. It felt so soothing that she could almost fall asleep again, trying hard to remember if she had been asleep before. Sounds; she definitely heard someone talking. Trying to think of who the voice belonged to, she concentrated hard, but she couldn't think properly. All she felt was disorientated; she couldn't remember where she was or what had happened.

Trying not to panic, she concentrated on her breathing, thoughts now starting to come together as she tried to control her rising panic. "Good Sam.... real good, breathings, out, in out." at least she knew she was alive, she just needed to let whoever was holding her know that.

Jack was exasperated with himself for being so inadequate; he knew he had to tell her. More so because Jacob knew, and knowing that when Sam did eventually come round, he *would* tell her. Not wanting it to come from him...well, would it really be that bad if Jacob told her, he mused?

Then berating himself for being such a coward, he took a deep breath and decided that this was it! He was just going to blurt it out to her. "Okey dokey Jack, you can do it..." he told himself. "...quick and fast, just like pulling off a plaster."

Still he sat in silence holding her gently. So preoccupied with his own thoughts that he hadn't realised Sam's fingers had begun to move.

Thoughts were whirling round his brain, "Humph, no sound comin out of those lips there Jack...anytime now would be good!"

"Ok, Sam, no more stalling, I'm just gonna come out and say it!" He blurted out suddenly.

Sam, hearing his voice for the first time since she had woken up, realised that it was Colonel O'Neill. Now she was even more confused. What was she doing lying on the Colonel? Nice as it was, she mused. It just didn't make sense to her. She knew that she wasn't in the infirmary, so where was she? And why did the Colonel sound so desperate?

"Sam... I've umm wanted to tell you something for a long time now. I umm know this isn't exactly the best time to tell ya... you being unconscious an all, but, ahem, well I...umm." Jack cringed inwardly, he was babbling like a brook. No matter how hard he tried, he *just* couldn't say it out loud, and prayed that the others didn't walk in on him at this moment.

Major Samantha Carter was now thoroughly confused, she didn't have a clue about what he babbling on about, but thinking it was more important that he know she was awake, tried to speak. The first time she tried, nothing came out, but Sam was determined as she whispered "Sir."

Unfortunately it couldn't even be classed as a whisper, and taking a deep breath she tried even harder. "Sir." She couldn't believe it, he wasn't even looking at her, his eyes were darting all around the room, everywhere but on her. Sam was now well and truly frustrated.

Jack, not wanting to look at Carter, really was determined that he was going to say it this time. What had he got to lose.... everything and nothing, he thought.

"Right!" and as he said it, he squeezed her hand a little too tightly, and she moaned in pain. Jack not missing a beat said "Sorry Sam, guess I squeezed too hard eh!"

Then it hit him like a ton of bricks, did he hear right? No, he must have imagined it.

Now looking directly in her eyes; movement, there was definite movement. She wasn't just staring; she was looking directly at him with a pained expression on her face. "Sam..." He asked uncertainly.

Confused and sore, she replied "Sir."

In Jack's excitement, he forgot about his dodgy ankle, and Sam's head lying on his lap, and nearly jumped up for joy. In the process nearly dropping poor Sam's head and damaging hi sore ankle further.

"Oh my God Sam, I'm so sorry, it's just that.... you're awake? And... your awake!" He stuttered. He just couldn't stop himself; he'd never been so pleased to hear that voice again. He had to tell the others. Right.... no one's around, typical, he thought. Ok, get Daniel back first. That was good, but how the hell did he do that.... yell! Yeah that would work, and so he began shouting.

"Daniel...Daniel" where the hell are you, he thought, "Daniel!" he shouted more persistently.

"Ow, Sir. Do ya mind not shouting down my ear." She asked softly, now regaining the use of her voice.

"Ooops, sorry Carter it's just that you're..."

"Awake Sir...thank you, I got that." Then she realised who he was shouting. Daniel? Daniel was dead though wasn't he? Seeing her confused look, Jack told her to wait and see.

Then he appeared beside her, breathlessly she said "Daniel!"

The Colonel getting more and more excited, said "Danny, look, Carter's...."

Daniel finished the sentence for him smiling contentedly at Sam "...awake, yes I know!"

The Colonel just shook his head raising his arms up in gesture. "Isn't anyone gonna let me finish a sentence round here."

Sam, seeing Daniel right there in front of her, thought she would burst with happiness. Her smile went all the way up to hers eyes, and said. "You're back, I can't believe it?" her eyes questioned, hoping that she wasn't dreaming.

Daniel continuing to smile said simply "I could say the same about you Sam." Seeing the confused expression on her face, he told her not worry and that he would explain later.

Jack just sat there grinning like a Cheshire cat, with her head still in his lap. She was back, and that's all he cared about. Now that he held her and she was awake, he was never going to let her go.

Chapter 12 - Chemistry

Looking at Daniel, she just couldn't believe it, she lay there for a few brief moments smiling contently, Daniel was back. Then, the more she thought about it, the more confused she became as her smile turned into a frown. With her thoughts turning to the past, how on earth could he be standing here in front of her, she had watched him die; slowly. She remembered her efforts to try to heal him, but it hadn't worked, and she had felt guilty for months after. Six months ago she'd mourned the loss of her friend. He had been so much more to her than just a work colleague; he was like her brother, and it had taken her a long time to get used to the fact that he wasn't coming back. Now, after all this time, he was stood here as plain as day, talking to her as if he'd just been on vacation, she really didn't understand. Her thoughts were all over the place, did Daniel being here with them now mean that her and Jack were dead?

Seeing her troubled expression Daniel stated, "Hey Sam, it's me, I promise."

Hearing his voice, this definitely was no dream, she knew what she wanted to say, but saying it out loud would mean that it was true. She had to know though. Looking at Daniel with a mixture of sadness and uncertainty in her eyes she asked, "Are we dead?"

Jack and Daniel looked mortified, both feeling as if they had been slapped in the face, trying to belay the fear that was in her eyes.

"Nooo. Oh *no* Sam, you're not dead, believe me. Neither is Jack." Their hearts going out to her, as they finally understood some of the sadness in her eyes, now filling slowly with tears.

Quietly she asked, "You're sure?"

Daniel knelt beside her wiping the slow trickle of tears falling down her cheek, before saying with a slight smile, "Trust me Sam, I'm sure."

She felt his touch and heard him so clearly, if only she didn't feel so disorientated. She didn't have a clue about what had happened or how he was able to be here wiping the tears. Trying hard to remember, she could only recall fragments of memories; lots of shouting and pain, and a man; she remembered a man. Raising her hand to her forehead as if to will the memories to return, she noticed the Colonel was looking at her worriedly.


It was no use, she thought, she just couldn't remember; and it frightened her. Why couldn't she remember, it was if a part of her life had just disappeared, and obviously judging by the way the Colonel still held her, an important one.

Jacks face grew more worried, she still hadn't answered him. His mind in turmoil....not again, please.

"Carter" He said a little louder, and squeezing her hand slightly.

Sam just blinked, noting his frown getting deeper, and a sense of urgency in his voice.

"Sorry Sir?" Sam answered, "I'm tired, and I don't really understand what's happening." She really wasn't feeling great; it was if she had run a marathon. She had so many questions to ask though, specifically about where she was and what she was doing here. And then there was Daniel; her friend, was he still alive? She really didn't know for sure, she couldn't think straight anymore.

Both Jack and Daniel glanced down at Sam whose eyes were starting to close. Daniel spoke first. "Sam, I know you're tired, but you need to stay awake for just a little while longer, just until we can get you home ok?"

Daniel and Jack both looked at her with worrying looks, they didn't have a clue if Sam's tiredness was her way of dealing with the trauma that had been inflicted upon her body over the last few days, or that it was a sign of problems to come. Either way, they were not prepared to take any chances, especially not a second time.

Daniel moved closer to Jack, and whispered "I'll see how far Jacob's got, and be back as soon as I can, just don't let her fall asleep." Then quick as a flash he was gone again.

Jack was determined that this was not going to happen a second time, trying to think of something to keep her awake he said, "Sam, now is not the time to be falling asleep, believe me. Look, why don't we try sitting you up you might feel a bit better, and your Dad, Teal'c and Jonas will be back shortly, and I don't think they'd be impressed finding you asleep."

Noting her eyes opening wider, he was pleased to see some kind of alertness in her pale features. Looking directly into Jack's eyes, she smiled like only Carter could.

"My Dad's here? Where is he?" Sam enquired suddenly becoming less sleepy, moving her eyes around the room and wondering why he wasn't here with her.

Jack smiled, if anything spurned her on, it was knowing that her Dad was nearby. "It's ok Sam, he's gone to get the ship, then it won't be long till we're back home safe and sound in the infirmary. Ol' Doc Frasier's sure gonna have a field day with you!" Jack told her, sounding more confident than he felt.

"Sir, why won't you tell me what's happened?" Carter implored, secretly thinking that it must be bad if he wasn't telling her, now she was even more concerned.

"Sam, let's get you sat up first and we'll talk later, okay?" Jack advised placing his hands on her back to help her sit up. With stubbornness being a family trait, she told him that she didn't need any help, and that it was something she had to do to try and regain some kind of control. Considering how easy sitting up was, she was having more than her fair share of difficulties as she berated her body for not complying. Every move she made, her body protested, which caused her to become increasingly frustrated.

Jack seeing that she was struggling hooked his hands under her armpits and went to shimmy her back, but Carter was being even more stubborn than normal and was determined to do it for herself. Mumbling to Jack, she said, "I can do it myself, just give me a minute."

Raising his hands in a defensive stance as if to say, "Okay, if that's the way you want it." Well, at least she seemed a bit more alert than before. And feistiness in Carter was always a good sign, and he planned to keep her like this at least until they were back at the SGC.

All he kept hearing was Carter huffing and puffing, getting more and more frustrated with herself and her body for failing to cooperate. She knew Jack would just sit there and wait until she had given up, but she was determined now, it was more a battle of wills than anything. She gripped her hands first on Jack's thighs to push herself upright, and was pleasantly surprised by how muscled they were, and enjoyed the sensation, feeling his thighs gave her. Totally distracted by this, she paused half way between lying down and sitting up.

Wondering why Carter had stopped midstream he asked, "You okay?"

Feeling embarrassed that she had been so caught up with feeling his legs; she cleared her throat and said, "Sorry Sir, I'm fine. Nearly there."

Finally she was sitting up fully, and felt thoroughly pleased with herself, "Yeah me!" she cried in her head. Now all she needed to do was scoot her butt back into Jack. So sliding her hands back across his thighs a little further, she managed to slowly shimmy back a little more. Then repeated the process again, each time her hands moving closer and closer to Jack's inside thigh, she couldn't believe how long this was taking her. With her mind completely focused on completing this simple task, she put to one side the sensations feeling Jack's body gave her.

"Um Carter" Jack murmured getting slightly more nervous the closer her hands got.

Carter not realising how close she was to breaking regulations, said, "I'm nearly there."

And literally just before she placed her hands on parts Jack only dreamed about her touching, he shouted in a very uncomfortable voice. "Carter! Before you move your hands back further, you might wanna look at where they are." He informed her, trying to be as discreet as possible.

"What do you mean?" She asked slightly out of breath, then slowly turning around, the realisation hit her as she noticed where her hands were positioned, "Oh."

Trying hard not to laugh at the discomfort on her CO's face, she sheepishly said "Sorry! Um, Sir, can you help me the rest of the way back."

"Nooo problem Carter" he advised, secretly wondering what would have happened if he hadn't stopped things there. He then wrapped his arms around her waist, trying desperately to control his breathing, having her this close to him was having more of an impact than he ever thought was possible. Finally, she had reached as far back as she could go, and leant slightly on Jack for support, his arms casually wrapped around her waist.

Secretly they were both more than content to remain like this. Jack could feel Carters lungs expanding and contracting against his chest as she tried to get her breath back from that exhaustive effort. They remained in each other's arms for a few moments trying desperately not to act upon feelings that were steadily rising to the surface.

Sam's mind was working overtime, she was shattered. It had taken a lot of effort to sit herself up, and now with Jack's arms wrapped around her waist, she was feeling things, she knew she shouldn't. "It's so unfair" she thought aloud, not realising it.

Jack shifting himself slightly, contentedly looked down into her eyes, and could easily have drowned in the sea of blue that looked back up at him. "What's unfair Sam?"

But before she had the chance to answer, the building shook; slightly at first, but then grew more intense as the moments passed, shaking them both out of their reverie.

Jack speaking first in a surprised voice shouted "What the hell!"

They both looked at each other with such intensity, the structure was being hit by some kind of concentrated energy bursts; a whine could be heard with each blast as it got closer and closer to where they were; parts of the room started caving in around them, pieces of crystal fell from above and littered the ground near there position, dust particles from overhead fell silently into their hair. Their firsts thoughts were how to get the hell out of the building as quickly as possible. Neither of them however were in any condition to move far, what with Jack's dodgy ankle and Carter's near death experience, they hoped it was nothing more than a seismic disturbance, but knowing their luck, they knew it was a far more sinister. The intensity of the sounds from outside echoed in the cavern, a sound that definitely resembled an energy weapon.

"Crap!" Shouted O'Neill, as he attempted to stand up, pushing Carter slightly forward in his efforts, making sure not to cause further injury to his swollen ankle. From the sounds of things, there wasn't much time, whatever was happening outside would eventually cause the collapse of the building and take him and Carter with it.

Finally he got up, and stood for the first time in hours, his ankle protesting at the pressure that was being placed upon it. Jack screamed in pain as he put some more weight on it. A burning sensation ripped through his legs as if a thousand fire ants were chomping at his bones.

Carter desperately trying to push herself up off the ground grunted through the effort of rising to her feet. Her eyes darting towards her CO as he shouted in pain. "You alright?" she asked breathlessly trying to grab hold of his outstretched arm, so that he could pull her the rest of the way up.

"Peachy!" he replied sarcastically through gritted teeth. "Cmon Carter, put a bit of effort in there." He teased trying to ease the worry he'd heard in her voice.

Carter, struggling to get on her feet, shot him a dirty look. "Effort! What do ya think I'm doing...Sir?" Then with a last grunt, grabbed his hands, and eased herself to a standing position. Unfortunately with the strain of standing for the first time in god knows how long, she was greeted with an almighty head rush. Suddenly she felt very sick and clammy. Jack seeing that she was about to pass out, held her steadily for a few moments until the dizziness had subsided, but not before the nausea completely took over causing her to vomit.

Jack absently rubbing her back to ease her suffering gently said "Better out than in Carter."

Taking a deep breath to get rid of any last remnants of nausea, she muttered a word of thanks. Looking directly at her, he asked seriously "You good to go?"

Carter now starting to feel the strain said, "Do I have a choice?"

With a dead pan expression on his face, as the building shook violently once more, he said to her, "Yeah, we can either die...or not."

With a slight shakiness in her voice, she replied, "I'll take door number 2."

Grinning, Jack said, "Good to have ya back Carter."

Chapter 13 - The Attack

Looking at her intensely, Jack doubted she'd be able to get very far, but then again she could surprise him as she had in the past. Not wanting to take any chances, and knowing that Jacob would be pissed if anything else happened to his daughter, he decided the best option was to carry her out, and he hoped to god his ankle wouldn't give way with the extra pressure that would be placed upon it.

Knowing Carter would give him a hard time on this, there'd be no way she would voluntarily allow him to carry her; it wasn't her style. However, if they were gonna make it out alive, he had no other alternative, but to make it an order.

"Carter, look," he started remembering the old plaster analogy, "We haven't got time to argue, so I'm making this an order. You can't walk far and this is the only way I know to get us both out in one piece, sooo... I need to carry you outta here."

"Sir," She responded with a wary look that indicated, 'I don't think so'. "I can walk, believe me...besides you don't look to steady yourself." With stubbornness taking over from fatigue, she slowly tried to make her way out the cavern, as debris continued to fall more quickly around them.

Jack wasn't having any of this, he was gonna carry her whether she liked it or not, and tapped her shoulder to ensure she was facing him. As if right on queue, she turned herself around, now both face to face; with bent knees he promptly picked her up and carefully positioned her over his shoulders in a fireman's lift. Carter too shocked to speak at first began to protest. "Sir!"

"Don't Sir me Carter. Now is not the time." He grunted as he shifted her to a more comfortable position.

Seeing that there was no room for argument in his voice, she kept silent...for now. Slowly they began to make there way out. Jack felt as if his ankle was going to snap in two, it was definitely not a good idea to carry Carter, but he had run out of options a couple of minutes back.

Things were getting way to serious for Jack, as he tried to weave his way around the fallen debris that scattered the corridor, he could do with a little light relief right about now. Having Carter tossed over his shoulder, brought to mind some primitive instincts in him, and if the situation hadn't been so dire, he might even have found it quite erotic.

The further down the corridor they travelled, the slower his pace became, and he knew that carrying her like this was quickly becoming counterproductive. Reluctantly he decided he'd have to put her down for the moment. Jack knew that just ahead of them was the stone steps that had caused his ankle to turn, and the last thing he wanted was to drop her; he'd never forgive himself. Whatever was happening on the surface was getting decidedly nearer as the energy bursts increased in strength.

Gently he eased her off his shoulder and looking directly at her whilst she tried to steady herself, he noted she had a curious expression on her face. Then, with a deadpan expression that only Carter could muster she said, "What's wrong? Had enough of the cavemen fantasy Sir?"

He was expecting her to say something, but definitely not that, and knowing that they may never make it to the top, he laughed at the unexpectedness of her statement, and hell if they both died here, he knew he'd die the happiest man on the planet.

Daniel had made contact with Jacob, and the others, and told them that Sam was awake and alert, although starting to feel the effects of what had occurred. Jacob's relief was more than evident to Daniel. Even Teal'c had managed a small smile saying that he was relieved she had returned to them. Jonas as usual grinned his goofy grin. Jacob wanting to speak to Sam, raised his walkie-talkie, but either they were too far out of range or there was interference nearby as all he got was static.

"So how is she really Daniel?" Jacob asked picking up the pace through the rugged terrain, they had walked almost three miles at this point, finally coming to the clearing where the ship was based at the end of the dunes.

As they entered the craft, Teal'c advised Jacob that he would start the pre-flight sequence. The sooner they all got out of here the better, thought Jacob, their plan was to pick up Sam and Jack and head for the Stargate approximately 20 clicks from their current position.

"Pre-Flight check has been completed, we can commence flight sequence." Teal'c informed Jacob approximately 5 minutes later, who was now seated at the control centre. Jonas was slightly behind him seated at the comms station.

"Buckle up everyone, this ship is not exactly in tip top condition." Jacob advised them.

Teal'c turning directly to Jacob with a slight lift of his eyebrow asked, "Is this something that you wish to share with us Jacob Carter?"

", had a little problem landing a few days ago, we hit a severe weather storm, and it damaged some of the engine components, but we should be ok, as long as we don't use the hyper drive...I think?"

Daniel taking a seat looked at all three of his comrades, remembering the conversation they'd had when the Earth was due to be hit by a giant asteroid, and the ship hadn't been exactly sturdy due to damage sustained during a meteor shower. Specifically looking at Teal'c he said with a slight smile, "I'm confident."

Teal'c recalling the importance of those words, replied, "Me too!"

Then the pair looked directly at Jonas, to complete the saying, but he looked at them blankly. Jonas didn't have a clue what the two of them were talking about and said, "What?"

Jacob smiled, he knew what they referring to, Sam had told him a while back what had gone on in that mission, and had told him of there new phrase throughout the near suicide mission.

They literally hadn't got 100 feet off the ground when a death glider swooped down and fired upon them. It hit the side of the ship, and caught them completely off guard. The ship shook slightly and veered off to the left, which caused Jacob to lose control for just a split second. "What the hell?" Jacob shouted trying to regain control, quickly performing an evasive manoeuvre, which resulted in taking them to a higher altitude. They just narrowly avoided a second hit.

Jacob was now in full command mode and yelled for Teal'c to check the status of their weapons. Teal'c responded without hesitation, "Weapons systems are non functioning, preparing to effect. It appears that they were damaged when we got hit."

Barking out orders, "Jonas try and get the radio working, we need to let Jack and Sam what's happening, Teal'c I need you to take over, whilst I try and repair the damaged systems. Daniel, if Jonas can't reach Jack and Sam, go and warn them.

Teal'c swiftly took over from Jacob as he went around back to the crystal engine components, hoping in someway he could repair the damaged systems, if not, they were gonna be sitting ducks. His thoughts then turned to his daughter and Colonel O'Neil, hoping that they hadn't got caught up in this.

Jonas tried to raise them on the communications device, but after three consecutive attempts, he didn't get very far. Then turning to face Daniel, he said with a note of urgency in his voice, "I can't raise them Doctor Jackson, there's too much static. I'll keep trying, but it doesn't look very hopeful."

Before he had a chance to finish his sentence, Teal'c accelerated upwards causing them to both grip the sides of the chair as the force of the craft moving upwards caused them to lurch. Daniel not missing a beat said, "Problems, Teal'c?"

"Nothing to concern yourself with Daniel Jackson." His knuckles paling as he attempted to keep the pressure constant. "I believe now would be a good time to warn Colonel O'Neill and Major Carter."

"I won't be long, let Jacob know what's happening, Jonas keep trying to reach them." Daniel advised before he dematerialised.

With a slight grin on his face, Colonel O'Neill wanted so much to tell her his feelings, but now just wasn't the greatest time for them to be having this kind of discussion, and smiled as he said, "Now, is sooo not the time for talking about my fantasies Major." Under his breath he was saying "Maybe later though."

Both had managed to get to the stairs in one piece, more out of luck than anything else, the intensity of the blasts were definitely getting close, and becoming more intense the nearer they got to the outside. As they attempted to climb the first steps, Jack thought he had heard a rustle behind them, and was about to turn around, but not before he heard Daniel shouting his name.

"Daniel" Both exclaimed as they turned around simultaneously.

"Look Jack we've got some serious problem happening up on the surface, the ship..." Jack cut him off before he had the opportunity to explain what was going on, sure he needed to know, but he needed the cliff notes version, and Daniel was renown for fitting a 10 minute conversation into a three hour presentation, and now was not the time.

"Later Daniel, I need you to help me get Carter up the steps, we haven't got much time, and the buildings gonna go any minute. Ya think you can...I dunno...orb us out of here?"

"No Jack, it doesn't work that way, but I can help you both up the stairs." With that he scooted around to the other side of Sam, and put his arms around her waist, and the pair of them tried to help each other make it to the top in time.

As they climbed the stairs slowly, they could hear behind them the crashing of walls coming in on themselves from the battering that what was being forced upon it. Both Jack and Daniel casting glances at Carter who had been very quiet since their climb began, and noted that she had a look of pure determination on her face. Jack mumbling continuously as they all made there way upwards. Jack kept losing his balance as his ankle continued to give way, the pain increasing in intensity with every step he took, mumbling he said, "Stupid ankle... and just what is the point of having this glowy stuff if you can't do nothing with it."

"Jack, I wish I could just get you and Sam outta here, don't you realise how infuriating it is for me to just standby knowing I can't do anything." Daniel retaliated getting annoyed with Jack, he was his best friend, but sometimes he could be a right pain is the ass. "Ya know what Jack..."

Before he had the chance to argue his point Jack said, "ssssshhhh"

"What, you're shushing me now, cos you don't agree."

"Daniel! Will you just shut up for one minute! I'm not arguing with you, I heard something coming from the surface." Jack said through gritted teeth, then suddenly coming to a complete stop.

"Will you both shut up!" Both stared as Sam who had just at the right time managed to find her voice again.

Mid way up the stairs, both looked at each other in turn, then directly looking at Carter said in unison. "Sorry."

Then in the midst of the silence, they heard scurrying not far from their position. They heard a number of voices shouting to head for their position. They were all in deep trouble now, as they realised whom the voices belonged to. All Jack could think of saying was, "Oh f'crying out loud, *could* this day *get* any worse."

"That's what I was trying to tell you Jack"

Jack looking at Daniel with an incredulous expression on his face said "Daniel, now is not the time to say I told you so, save it for later." Giving himself a few seconds to think of a way to get out of there alive, then asking "Anyone got a Zat handy?"

Carter looking apologetic replied, "No", Daniel advised them that as he was an ascended being, he wasn't permitted to carry anything that could take the life of another.

"Great, just great, this day just keeps on getting better and better." Thinking for a moment he said, "Ok Daniel, you help Sam get as far up the steps as possible, and I'll stall them as much as I can."

"Jack/Sir" Both spoke together, then frowned as this was getting to become a habit between the three of them, it was if their thoughts were merging as one, which tended to happen between good friends who worked in close proximity for a number of years. Sometimes though it becomes annoying, and this was becoming one of those times. Daniel nodded for Sam to be speak first.

"Sir, please. We either all go together to the surface, or we try and find another way out." Sam's eyes betraying her feelings for a slight moment, if they were gonna die, they should die together; not alone on some barren planet. Suddenly, as if something shocked her, Sam shivered slightly; her body becoming taught as she received a flash back to what happened. It only lasted a moment, but it was too fragmented to remember specifics. Jack didn't miss her momentary lapse of concentration asked, "You okay?"

"Yes sir, I'm fine...just a strange feeling, that's all." She replied and raised her hand to her head shaking it slightly to get rid of the strange sensation that lingered.

Jack sighed; he really didn't want to leave either her or Daniel. Neither of them was armed, and he didn't want to risk losing her a second time. "OK Carter, you win, we'll do it your way, but I'm warnin' ya, if you get shot in the leg, don't come running to me" he added softly.

Grinning, she replied optimistically, "Agreed"

Feeling left out, Daniel said, "Hey! What about me?"

"Ya know Daniel, I hate to tell ya this, but unless it's escaped your notice....*your dead*!"

"Um thanks for the reminder Jack." He retorted sarcastically, suddenly feeling as if he were back as part of the team, and enjoying every moment. He missed this part of the team dynamics, and just being with them here, now, he hadn't realised *how* much. It was just like old times; not that he didn't enjoy being an ascended being, it was just that he missed his friends, and the action that went along with it. As an ascended being he wasn't permitted to interfere, and by helping them now, and when Sam had died, he had broken the rules in a major way, and he was unsure of what the consequences were going to be when he returned.

They were only a few feet now from the surface, and the voices increased in volume, they now heard them with distinct clarity, there really was no other way of getting out of this. They couldn't go back, as the majority of their initial escape route had been compromised with fallen debris. As they reached the entrance, Jack spotted them; running towards them with increasing speed; staff weapons charged and ready. The Goa'uld struck first, firing at them in quick succession, and narrowly missing their targets, an explosion rocking the entrance, which forced them to move further forward into the heat of the battle. With Sam and Daniel crouching behind the Colonel, who at this point managed to hit a few Jaffa.

Chapter 14 - A Very Bad day


They came from all sides, completely surrounding them; Jack and Sam were instantaneously manhandled by four Jaffa, Jack was struggling to keep Carter at close proximity. For his efforts he was hit with the end of a staff weapon in the guts, and went down suddenly; winded by the force. Carter, seeing that her CO had been struck shouted, "Colonel!" as she attempted to shake away her captors.

The Jaffa stood at least 6 foot 4 with their entire armoury displayed on their bodies. The first prime who was signified with a gold emblem on his forehead, felt the female pull away towards her fallen comrade, and subsequently tightened his grip. Sam not feeling the pain in her own body, struggled relentlessly to ensure that Jack was OK, the restraints on her forearms becoming tighter.

"Human! You will cease your struggling, or we will kill the male; is that understood?" The leader of the Jaffa advised her with a warning look in his eyes, and a staff weapon pointed at the nape of Jack's head; charged and ready to fire.

Sam looked at her CO, who was just getting his breath back, torn between helping him and knowing if she moved, she could be the one that caused his death. She saw the Colonel's expressive eyes as he looked directly at her; shaking his head indicating her to back off. She'd seen that look on several occasions, he wasn't thinking about himself, his worries were for her, and she knew he was right. Reluctantly she ceased fighting them, "but they had better watch out", she thought, "cos I'm not done fighting yet...not by a long shot."

For the time being though they knew there was no way out for them. A few moments later, they hauled Colonel O'Neill off the ground and herded them both towards the waiting death glider. The Jaffa's ultimate plan was to take them to the newest system lord who bore a grudge against SG1. O'Neill tumbled again due to the pressure of being hauled to his feet and dragged along the dunes; this was not helping his ankle to heal at all. He took the moment to steal a glance at his 2IC's location, she appeared to be holding her own, and he'd even seen the old fighting spirit that had been absent for the past few days. Then with his thoughts turning to his other teammates. If he had heard Daniel correctly, it appeared that they were in just as much trouble as him and Sam, but hoped that they were fairing up at least marginally better.

As they entered the craft, they were taken to one of the holding cells on board, in preparation for what lay ahead. The Jaffa guard forcibly pushed the two of them through the cell door; both landed hard on their sides. Before leaving the two alone, the guard spoke directly to them; with his voice distorted and eyes showing a hint of light. "My master will be pleased, I have captured the infamous Colonel O'Neill and Major Carter."

Colonel O'Neill not one to show his true feelings was worried. Half of his team were split up, and neither him nor Carter was in any condition to make an escape attempt. He was damned though if they weren't gonna try. They just had to wait for the right place and right time. One thing the Colonel couldn't stand was the bravado act currently displayed on the First Prime's face, and naturally with sarcasm being his primary line of defence against any hostiles; he retorted. "Hey Carter, get us, we're famous!" Sam rolled her eyes, "Here we go!" she thought.

Looking now directly at the Jaffa who appeared before them, Jack stated sarcastically, " Do ya wants us to sign an autograph for ya, cos, sorry.." tapping his vest and trouser pockets. "I don't have a pen and paper to hand. What about you Carter?" He turned and looked to see not a smile, but a frown as she said, "Um Colonel, *now* might be a good time to stop."

Unfortunately he didn't have time to respond as he was greeted with a Zat blast squarely in his chest, "Damn it!" she shouted as she moved as swiftly towards the Colonel who was now lying unconscious on the cold stone floor.

The First prime spat in disgust as he observed the female now holding the male in her arms. "You humans are weak! You *will* pay for your crimes against the system lords." then departed down the corridor hearing the heaviness of the door closing behind him.

They were being fired upon at all angles, Teal'c only managing to keep control by a hairs breath, as he continuously swerved to avoid the blasts emanating from the other two death gliders, Doctor Jackson and Jacob were clinging on for dear life, as the force of the craft performed a manoeuvre Daniel didn't believe was possible. Jacob was still in the back attempting to regain control of the weapon systems. On opening the panel, he noticed that some of the crystals had been severely damaged from the last blast. Carefully taking the burnt chrysalis out of the panel, he replaced them with other components from the back up systems, which seemed for the most part to be intact. Carefully sliding the last one in place, he closed the panel and shouted for Daniel to retry the weapons.

Daniel, now carefully positioned at the weapons station monitored the control panel, which suddenly came to life. From what he could decipher they appeared to be back online. Shouting to Jacob who was now running towards them; "Jacob, the weapons seem to have come back up, I'm targeting the lead death glider."

"Damn it... missed" Daniel shouted hitting the console with his fist in frustration.

"Daniel, let me take over, okay? Teal'c, when I say 'now', I want you to decelerate quickly on my mark. Hopefully the ship should fly right by us." Jacob advised. "Then once the glider is in position, I'll fire, then we'll have to make a quick burst into hyperspace."

Teal'c turned his head slightly towards Jacob, his eyes revealing a hint of curiosity, "I have not seen this manoeuvre performed General Carter, it is quite unorthodox. Are you certain that your plan will succeed?"

Taking a deep breath, Jacob replied, ", not really. But we're running out of places to hide, it's either this or we continue playing cat and mouse for the next few hours, and to be honest, I don't know how long this ship can stay in the air."

Jonas looked at General Carter and Teal'c, both were experts in their fields and he had been in serious situations with them before, and each time, they had both been able to pull off the unexpected. "Anything I can do General Carter?" Jonas asked.

Jacob needed all their help if they were gonna pull this off, especially when it came to the point of going into hyper drive. The reactor was very unstable due to the damage it sustained, and it could very well cause an explosion in the craft.

"Daniel, I need you to go and check on Sam and Jack, let them know that as soon as we're out of this mess we can try and think of a way to help them. Jonas, you're gonna have to check that the hyper drive doesn't explode. I don't know if this is gonna work, at best we'll knock off one of the gliders."

Jonas and Daniel looked at each other with slight frowns on their faces, neither of them wanting to ask the question. Jonas becoming braver by the second asked, "What if it doesn't work."

Expecting Jacob to answer his question, he was slightly surprised to hear Teal'c's deep tenor voice say, "Then we will die in a glorious battle."

Daniel shook his head lightly, sarcasm coming to the forefront of his mind as he said. "Yea Teal'c, *way* to boost morale."

Lifting one expressive eyebrow, his cheeks fluttering in and out as he contemplated what Daniel had said. Replied in a monotone voice, "That was not my intention Daniel Jackson, I was merely stating a fact."

Daniel still couldn't believe that Teal'c had been with them now for almost 6 years, and was still having trouble distinguishing sarcasm, he thought that after hanging around Jack for this long, he would have gotten it off pat.

Jacob waiting for the glider to come in position, if it was going to work, he would only have one shot at it, if they didn't succeed, they were completely out of options. Breathing deeply he said, "Ok everyone stand by, Daniel, if you're gonna go, * now* would be a good time, and Daniel, if you find them, tell them.."

Daniel looked at Jacob with a hint of sadness, he knew this wasn't easy for him, but the hardest thing was, that if they failed, then Jacob may never get to see his daughter again. With complete understanding in his eyes he replied, "I'll tell them Jacob...Good Luck, and I'll see you soon."

With Daniel now gone, they only had a few moments to get into position, as the death gliders mounted what appeared to be their final attack.

Jacob eager to finish this once and for all said "Teal'c, you ready?" Teal'c nodded his head in confirmation, "OK, on my mark.. .* NOW *"

It had been a good 5 minutes before he woke up, "Oohhhhh hell, remind me never to do that again." He moaned to noone in particular. He felt like crap, it wasn't the smartest thing he'd done in a while, but he enjoyed teasing them, and if it got him zatted now and again, it was worth it to see them pissed at him.

"Feeling better Sir?"

"Dumb question Carter."

"Sorry, sir, but I've really got no sympathy for you."

"Geez Carter, kick a man when he's down why don't ya." He looked at her, and knew she wasn't serious, but why did she have to be right all the time, he knew he shouldn't have baited the guard, but he just couldn't resist.

Carter knowing he would be like this for the next few minutes helped him off the floor, and escorted him to a near by bench, the two sitting in silence for a few minutes waiting for O'Neill to recover his strength.


"So! Come up with any good plans while I was asleep Carter" Jack asked looking at her thoughtfully, whilst trying to shake of one mother of a headache. Rubbing his eyes, trying to take away the pain from both his ankle and his head, thinking, he really could do with some Tylenol right about now.

She looked at him, he did deserve to get zatted, the line he gave them was so corny, hell if he'd come out with sarcastic comments like that on the base, she would probably have zatted him herself. Looking at him now though, she did feel sorry for him, he looked pitiful, so decided to play along with him for the moment.

"Actually sir, I came up with a great plan!" She said enjoying this banter with him. Things had been strained with them after Daniel's whole ascension thing, and for a while there she thought they weren't going to make it as a team. It was only after they had gone to O'Malley's one night and cleared a few things up after their escape from the Goa'uld ship that she realised that they were gonna be ok.

"Spit it out then Carter." He said absently rubbing his severely sore ankle.

"Well...the plan is, we bust outta here, then go and kick some crap outta the Goa'uld, then take over this ship and head back to the Stargate."

Jack O'Neill grinned at his 2IC, one thing was for sure, and she sure knew how to get his juices flowing. "Simple and uncomplicated..lets do it! All I need to do is MacGyver up some kinda bomb, and we're all set. Got any spare Naquadria on ya Carter?"

Forgetting all her aches and pains and the situation they were in, she allowed herself to laugh at his sense of humour, recalling their conversation on Abydos, when she had told him of MacGyvering up the Stargate.

Then before she had the chance to reply, she heard the glider begin to dock in the hanger bay of what she believed to be the Goa'uld mother ship. Whatever was going to happen, she was determined it wasn't gonna happen with her and the Colonel sitting down, mustering all her strength she pulled him to a standing position as she heard the guards coming round the corner, clangs of metal hitting the floor as they came nearer. With their arms entangled around each other's waist for support; it was hard to see who was holding whom up.

Jack looked at her with all seriousness, as the cell doors opened to reveal the First Prime and a hoard of Jaffa, waiting to escort them to the system lord. "You ready?"

Carter nodded, "As I'll ever be Sir."

"Kree Jaffa!" The First prime shouted at his standing army, each taking a position around their prisoners, separating them from each other. "My master awaits. You will come with me."

Jack was taken out of the cell first, hobbling with each step he took as they led him and Carter through the golden corridors. Jack tried to get a look to see how far Carter was behind him, and was kidney punched for his efforts.

Jack not completely steady on his feet fell against the side of the ship, with Carter shouting behind him. At least one good things came out of it, he thought. He found out that she was still with him; albeit slightly concerned by his recent indiscretion. For the remainder of their journey, they stayed silent, not wanting to irritate the Goa'uld any further at this stage.

They were led into a dimly lit room, huge pillars of candles lay in each corner; two lights burning with fire had been placed either side of the throne, which appeared to be currently occupied by someone they had never met before.

As they neared the man, dressed in a gold and red fabric, a mesh of what appeared to be chain male ravishingly wrapped around his upper torso, he ordered the guards to force the two prisoners to kneel before him.

O'Neill, quick off the mark as over said "I'd rather not if you don't mind. Ya see I've got a little ankle problem at the moment, and..."

"Silence Tauri, or I will silence you permanently." The System Lord shouted in anger.

The Jaffa forcibly pressing on their shoulders ensuring that Jack and Sam complied with the request of their God.

Jack grunted at the effort of having to kneel down. Now him and Sam were side by side, looking up at the man who casually approached them, anger consuming his eyes, betraying the hatred that he had for the two prisoners that knelt before him.

"So, you are the infamous SG1 are you? You call yourself warriors, yet you were easily captured." The system Lord stated as matter of fact, circling the two like a vulture stalking its prey.

O'Neill looked up at him, anger burning deep inside him. "And you are?"

The System Lord came face to face with O'Neill, and grabbed his face; Jack helpless to do anything as his arms bound by the Jaffa behind him.

Looking directly in his eyes, he said simply, " I am Amemait." He then released Jacks face and sauntered over to where Carter was kneeling.

Jack shook his head, did he hear right to him it sounded like he was called 'I'm a mate." He looked towards the system Lord, who was hungrily eyeing Carter up and down, and he did not like it, not one bit. He'd seen that look before, and knew that they were headed into dangerous territory.

Carter heard the name, and felt her skin go cold, she knew exactly what the Colonel was thinking, he was gonna make some sort of wisecrack, to keep him away from her. She glanced over to him with pleading eyes and said, "Please don't do it sir?"

If Jack noticed, he wasn't going to pay any attention, his primary goal was to get that slimy good f'nothing snake away from Carter, and the only way he knew he could do it was to make a sarcastic comment.

"Sorry Carter, it's gotta be done! Hey you snake head?" Well that certainly got his attention, Jack thought. "What did you say your name was again? 'I'm a mate', well let me tell you, there is no way one of my mates would treat us like this."

Oh God thought Carter, he's well and truly on one, she knew exactly what he was doing, and she really did appreciate it, considering the fact that having this Goa'uld leering at her made her insides go cold, the blood running for cover back into her veins.

Jack continued, the determination set in his eyes. "Well, I have to say that I bet people call you 'Billy no mates' don't they, I mean come on, you...."

Not allowing Jack to continue, the system lord suddenly backhanded him for his insolence, Jack's head snapped back from the force of the blow.

Blood poured out of Jack's nose and ran down the back of his throat causing him to cough, his head pulled back by the grasp of the Jaffa's hand on his forehead. Suddenly gasping for air, the Jaffa released his head for a brief moment allowing the Colonel to spit out the blood that was caught in his mouth. Carter helplessly watched as she saw her CO fall to the ground in pain.

Amemait sneered at him as droplets of Jack's blood splattered onto the floor, O'Neill's eyes darting towards Carter, thankful that Amemait's attention had been diverted even for a brief moment; it had been worth it.

With his eyes glowing, his voice distorted by the symbiote held deep within, he glared at them with hatred clearly evident and said, "You are *my* prisoners now, and I shall ensure that you will suffer pain like you have never experienced before. You will beg for mercy by the time I have finished my torture, and I shall enjoy watching you both suffer." Each word was clearly enunciated in a slow methodical fashion.

Jack had indeed seen that look before; from his Black Ops days, and knew that what he had experienced there was gonna be a picnic compared to this. His thoughts though were not for himself, but for his 2IC, as her eyes widened in fear. She had been through so much over the last couple of days, and he didn't know if she would make it, hell he didn't even know if he would make it. His last hope was that they were kept together, as Amemait shouted "Take them to their cell, I shall deal with them later."

Jack's thoughts from earlier resurfaced, as him and Carter were scooped of the ground, their hands forced behind their backs. "Yep..very bad day."

CHAPTER 15 - Whispers in the darkness ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Daniel knowing that urgency was of the essence winked out of existence from their time and space. Instead of descending near the vicinity of Jack and Sam as he had done earlier, he found himself surrounded by a council, in a chamber like environment. Daniel stood in the centre of the room on a podium like structure. Looking around the room in wonder, he noted that 12 people whom he recognised as ascentians surrounded him. There in the forefront of the 'council chambers' sat Oma Desala the leader of those, who like Daniel took the path into becoming noncorporeal beings.

Oma Desala rose from her seat and spoke serenely "Doctor Daniel Jackson, you have been brought against this panel due to your recent actions. You were aware of our regulations when you joined with us. Yet, here you stand before us. Please explain why you felt it necessary to undermine our ways in such a fashion that you were willing to take the life of a few to save one. Not only that, you clearly interfered with the path of your friend Samantha Carter; she was not meant to survive this encounter. You were sent to your friend for one purpose and one purpose alone. Yet instead of assisting her with the ascension process, you disregarded your true purpose. What explanation can you give us?"

Daniel stood shocked; he knew he had broken their rules, not once, but twice. He had made the choice of saving Sam, because he believed that she had so much more to accomplish. If he had helped her to ascend, then all the good work she had done would have been for nothing. Regardless of what they said, he believed he'd made the right decision, and was more than prepared to tell them this. As for the firing on the Goa'uld, well, he knew the risks on that one, but he wasn't prepared to let all his friends die. It was as simply as that. He'd seen what the future was like when he'd gone to the alternate timeline. Without SG1 fighting the Goa'uld; he didn't believe that there would be a future, for them or anyone else.

Inhaling deeply he explained, "They're my friends, I couldn't let them die. I've seen the future, and trust me, if the reality that I've seen happens, then there won't be anyone left to ascend, they will all have been taken over by the Goa'uld."

Oma Desala sat serenely, her hands clasped in front of her, a glow emanating from her soul, encompassing her whole being, "It is not your decision to make. Fate takes it's own turns in life, and if this was to be.."

Daniel butted in, "Ah.. but don't you see, with me ascending, it allows me to step in and help them. Now surely if SG1 and Sam were meant to die, then why did you allow me to remain there? You could've stopped me then."

As usual she countered his argument with her words of wisdom, "He, who does not want others to know, should not do it."

Daniel heard the words she said, and couldn't fault the logic of them. She was right in her own way, but the council and Oma needed to understand that you couldn't just break a bond that had taken years to forge. Oma continued, "It was not my decision alone Doctor Jackson, others needed to be consulted with regards to your actions. You were very fortunate indeed that you were not responsible for any deaths on the glider; otherwise we would not be having this conversation. You would have been banished forthwith. As it stands now, we are allowing you the choice to either remain here with us, or leave. If you choose the second option, you will retain no memory of your time with us, or that of your friends. It was your choice that you join us, and we are not so much concerned if you are slow, as when you come to a halt."

Daniel trying to think of a good analogy that would fit his situation looked at her, with a mixture of uncertainty in his eyes, he was torn between helping his friends and staying with others of his kind, "You also have to understand that the journey of a thousand miles beings with a single step. Sometimes along the journey different roads are taken, but they ultimately lead you to the same path."

Oma nodded in understanding "So, you have made your choice."

"No, no, no. That's the point, I haven't chosen yet. There may be things that I encounter on the path I take, that cause me I'm torn between the old path and the new. I might make mistakes along the way, but this time, I didn't feel as if I had a choice. They are my family, and it's very difficult to stand by watching them suffer."

"Some people find that they were not meant to take this path Doctor Jackson. The choice is yours to make, and we await your decision."

They were taken to cell unlike any other they had seen on a Goa'uld ship. It was cold, dark and foreboding the air had a smell of death as they were forced into the darkness. There were no windows or benches to rest their weary bodies. Both feeling worse for wear stumbled in the darkness and found their way into a small corner of the room. The guards enjoying the pleasure of seeing the Tauri being humbled by their master.

O'Neill sat down gingerly, the pain increasing with each movement he made. With one last bit of effort he shouted, "Love what you've done with the place, real classy."

The Jaffa sneered towards O'Neill, eyes filled with venom as he retorted, "You may laugh now Tauri, but my master will ensure that you do not laugh again."

Lingering for a moment to see if the human made another comment, he smiled contentedly, eager to find out what his master had in store for them. Stepping out of the cell, he watched as the door shut firm behind him. The last flickers of light from the corridor extinguished, leaving Sam and Jack alone in the night.

The quietness of the room was deafening, they could almost hear their own heartbeats. Neither had said anything to each other since they'd met with Amemait.

"So" she asked softly, her voice resonating in the emptiness of the room.


Sam leant her head on the Colonel's shoulders; she needed to feel his presence, not in a sexual way, purely to seek solace in his warmth. Jack reciprocating let his head fall on top of hers.

"What now sir?"

Fatigue had engulfed him; his mind and body were weary. If they were gonna face what was ahead of them, they would need all the rest they could get. Jack knew Sam must have been as exhausted as he was, if not more.

"Now we sleep, Major." He replied softly.

*NOW* Jacob shouted.

Suddenly the craft decelerated with such force Jonas fell forward onto the engineering console in the back. Keeping an eye on the chrysalis matrix, he heard the craft groan in effort as all the systems were tested to their maximum capacity.

As if right on queue, the ship flew past them. So far the crystals were holding, but for how long; he wasn't sure. In the front of the craft, Jacob and Teal'c were busy targeting the lead Goa'uld ship, which was just about to come into range. All of them prepared for what was to come. Jacob's hand lay tentatively over the weapons console in preparation.

Suddenly the glider came into view. The targeting scanners indicated that a release of the weapon now, would cause maximum impact. Jacob fired saying, "This one's for Sam." The weapon careered towards the glider; it's velocity increasing in intensity. As if on cue, the weapon hit its target with such force, exploding the main carriage first. Then like a back draft effect it spread throughout the ship, destroying everything in its path. With the ship ready to explode, Teal'c waited for that vital second, then hit the console to activate the hyperspace drive.

The second glider caught up by the impact of the explosion lost control and veered off in the opposite direction preparing to initiate an emergency landing.

Their ship juddered as the activation of the hyper drive came into effect, almost causing their craft to fall back to the planet. Teal'c feeling the pressure of the craft took the generator offline, they were back to normal speed.

Teal'c relaxing slightly advised, "We have been victorious!"

Jacob looking at him with a smile responded, "No, Teal'c, I think we were just damn lucky."

Jonas returned to the cockpit, relieved that everything had turned out as planned. "So, what now?"

The three turned towards each other, Jacob taking a deep breath said, "Now, we go find Jack and Sam."

They didn't know how long they had been asleep, but it couldn't have been more than a couple of hours before they were interrupted.

Jack was woken up abruptly by something jabbing him in the ribs, "Ow! Pack it in Carter!" then opening his eyes for the first time, he realised it wasn't Carter. She was beginning to stir next to him; it was one of Amemait's guards leering at him. He sat up straighter, trying to focus his eyes in the darkness, but all he could see was a murky image; he waited patiently while his eyes adjusted to the darkness. He looked over again towards Carter, who undoubtedly was having the same problems.

After a few seconds, the two were more alert, and prepared themselves for the next phase; whatever that was. The Jaffa grabbed them by the arms and hauled them to their feet. The swelling in Jack's ankle had lessened while they were asleep due to the cold conditions, but unfortunately the stiffness and pain resumed as soon as he put two feet on the ground. Turning towards Carter, he noticed that she was very pale; the skin under her eyes had darkened considerably over the last few hours. Looking at her with scrutiny, he asked, "You okay?"

Sam for a few hours had let her guard down, and with it went all the adrenaline that had kept her going since the cave in on the planet. Her body shook slightly form the exhaustive effort of the past few days, and the cold that seemed to encumber her whole body.

"I'm okay, sir." The look that he gave her indicated that he didn't believe a word of what she was saying, so she persisted. "Really, sir, I'm okay." With the situation that they were in, she didn't want him worrying about her; it had got him into enough trouble the last time. Casually examining his face, she noticed his cheek was now covered in a dark purple hue where a bruise was starting to form. His bottom lip was split, but thankfully the blood had dried. They were the only visible injuries she noted. She didn't even get the chance to see his ankle, or his wound from earlier that day where the guard had kidney punched him, and she didn't think it likely that he would show her anytime soon.

"Whatever happens Major, we need to try and stay together." He told her solemnly as they were dragged out of the cell.

Sam agreed with a slight head nod. Forcibly taken through the gold corridors of the Goa'uld mother ship, they seemed to be walking for ages. Jack and Sam both eyeing up their surroundings, noting the layout of the ship and anything else that could come in handy. Instead of being to taken to Amemait's throne room where they had been earlier, they found themselves being placed in a room that was far more sinister.

Scanning the room they noticed a wall equipped with heavy metal shackles. Looking past the shackles, they saw what appeared to be dried blood, which had stained the wall. Across in another corner they saw trays of instruments; carefully laid out in sequence. Syringes filled with coloured liquid were evidently displayed on top. Underneath lay mechanical devices that Jack had never seen before. He snapped his head towards Sam, who eyes looked around in horror at the instruments that Amemait, had planned to subject them to. Sam noting one of the devices on the trays observed that the edges appeared to be serrated on one side, whilst the other side contained an implement similar to that of a scalpel. The other devices she recognised as Goa'uld design, but not ones that she had come across before. Suddenly, they were pushed towards the middle of the room where Amemait lay in wait, stood next to a table equipped with leather straps; his eyes hungrily awaiting his next victims.

In his Goa'uldish voice Amemait stepped nearer to them; eyeing them up and down. His hand moving up to his chin, stroking it gently in contemplation of the pain he was about to inflict on them. "Welcome! As you may have noticed, this isn't your typical Goa'uld enslavement. *This* is *my* speciality. You see, sometimes I find the Goa'uld methods of torture so limited. They cause pain, yes, but these devices here..." he indicated to the items that littered the room. "They are able to inflict so much more pain. What's more this method of torture allows me to keep my subjects alive that little bit longer."

Their expressions were stoic, not wanting to show this 'man' the fear they actually contained inside. All this anticipation was making Sam more worried than she ever thought she would be. Both her and the Colonel had been tortured in the past, but not like this. What scared her the most, wasn't the pain that would be inflicted on her body, but what she might reveal. Her C.O remained as passive as ever, as she heard him say "I love a man who enjoys his work. But, ya know what? A guy can take things to far."

Amemait sneered; he would enjoy torturing this human the most. "Ah Colonel O'Neill. You still have your sense of humour I see. Please allow me to take care of that for you. Won't you and your companion come over here and witness the delight of what I have to offer you both."

"Thanks, but, no thanks, I'm sure you're a very busy man. Hey, but here's an idea! Maybe you can experiment on yourself! Anything you do has gotta be an improvement on what I'm looking at." O'Neill countered. One thing was for sure, if anything were to happen to him he was not gonna lose his sense of humour.

Stepping towards them, barely an inch away from the Colonel's face, he spat, "I will have the most fun with you. Jaffa Kree!" Amemait though did not direct the guards to take the Colonel, he was indicating for Sam to be brought forward.

Seeing what was happening Jack shouted, "Whoa, Whoa, Whoa. On my planet it's gentleman before ladies. *I* go first, *not* her."

"Colonel!" Sam shouted warningly, she would not let him risk his life for her.

"Major! Don't!" He warned stepping further forward in an attempt to block the guards from taking her.

"Ah, how touching. Do not worry Colonel; you will get your chance. Now though, all I require is Major Carter."

Jack's eyes took on an intensity of darkness and said, "Over my dead body."

Amemait smirked, "Yes, it will be, but not yet."

The guards grabbed Jack first, and attempted to herd him out of the room. Jack just managed to free one hand, and used it to push the guard away thinking, "Oh well, it's now or never." With luck on his side, he managed to punch the guard in the stomach, hitting him with such force that the Jaffa dropped his staff weapon. Seizing the only opportunity he was likely to get, he grabbed the staff weapon off the floor and activated it. Turning towards Amemait, he prepared to fire. Unfortunately he wasn't quick enough, but before he had the chance to fire, he felt a searing pain in his back as he was hit with a staff blast. The staff weapon dropped to the floor first, then swiftly followed by the Colonel. The last thing he heard was Carter, screaming his name. His body hit the ground with full force. He gasped one last time, before his body decided to give up the fight.

"You incompetent fools, do you realise you've lost me a valuable prisoner." He shouted angrily at the guards who now stood next to O'Neill's dead body. "Kree Jaffa! Take him to the sarcophagus, and then return him to the cell. I am not done with him yet."

With that, 2 guards lifted the Colonel, and shepherded him out of the room, leaving Sam Carter alone with Amemait. Seeing the Colonel shot in the back like that caused tears to well up in her sky blue eyes. Even placing him in the sarcophagus, she knew that there were risks. She felt helpless as the guards disappeared from view taking Colonel O'Neill along with them.

The System Lord grabbed Major Carter's arm with such strength, that it left an indentation of fingerprints. "Get on the table" he demanded.


"You will either get on by yourself, or I will have the guards force you on there. Now get on the table." He retorted angrily.

Sam's face contorted with anger, "Then your gonna have to force me, cos I'm not doing it willingly." One thing was for sure; she was going to make this as difficult for him as remotely possible.

"Di'Dak'dida. Hs'shak, Jaffa, Kree." Amemait yelled towards his servants, who in turn grabbed the Major and hauled her up onto the table, restraining her arms in place so that they could fasten the attachments to keep her there. Sam struggled wildly against her captors. With the catches on her arms now in place, Amemait placed a headband across her forehead. Metal probes from the headband impregnated her scull, causing Sam to scream in pain.

Sam's fists clenched so hard that her knuckles went white. Her eyes scrunched tightly with the pressure of the spikes forcing their way into her cranium. After a few seconds she heard a buzzing sound to her side, then felt the pain dissipate. Regaining her control she demanded "What are you gonna do with me?"

"You will see my dear, all in good time." He moved his hand from her head and softly caressed her face with perverse pleasure. His hand began moving slowly downwards. Sam felt physically sick at his touch. Struggling, she tried to shake of his hands, but found it was hopeless. The more she struggled, the more he liked it. With his hands now moving slowly down the centre of her breasts, she did the only thing she could do; spit at him. He looked up at her initially in disgust, his hand remaining between her breasts for a moment longer. Then his face turned to one of pleasure, he enjoyed having her despise him. It gave him such power to know that she was repulsed by his touch, and if his ultimate goal was to make her his queen, then he needed her to have a little tenacity.

Slowly taking his hand away, he walked over to the nearest table, which Sam remembered had contained all the syringes and instruments. Amemait picking up a loaded syringe off the tray carefully examined the substance within. He casually walked back towards her, the needle grasped in his hand. "We can either do this the easy way, or the hard way Major Carter?" Amemait sneered. "Now, tell me where the Tok'ra base is."

"Go to hell!" She replied vehemently.

With his head slightly turned, he leaned down to her and whispered, "I believe you will be going there first Major." With that, he injected the contents of the syringe into the jugular vein in her neck. Carter screamed in agony, as the substance entered her bloodstream. The poison now flowing profusely through her veins caused her muscles to contract violently; causing her body to lift off the table. The restraints previously holding her down, strained to contain her. Amemait monitoring her vitals noted that her hear rate had accelerated to 170 beats, and body temperature his risen by 3 degrees.

After several minutes her body ceased convulsing and her vitals dropped to a more respectable level. Sam opened her eyes. Everything before her seemed to spin wildly out of control. Swallowing the bile that rose in the back of her throat, she found herself for the moment unable to speak. Trying to focus, she closed her eyes tightly to shake off the frightening images that swam before her. Amemait came round and stood directly in front of her, so that she could only be able to see one thing; him. Her eyes slammed to the back of her head, as his image appeared severely distorted. From Sam's perspective, he appeared to be coming at her with claws and fangs, his teeth snarling as he said. "It is working"

Not recognising who was stood there, all that she could see was an image in front of her made, that made her scream in terror. It was as if she were a child again, fearing the monsters that lurked in the dark. With her skin growing cold, and her hands shaking visibly, she squeezed her eyes shout hoping that if she couldn't see it, it wasn't real. Like a mantra, she reiterated to her conscious mind, "It's not real... it is not real." However, that part of her was being taken over by the child within, and she had never been more afraid. Unable to control the rising panic within her any longer, she screamed in terror, "Help, me please! Somebody help me!"

Amemait was pleased to see that things were going to plan. He knew that within a short space of time, her fear would get the better of her. After a short while the hallucinations would become stronger, then she would be his.

Chapter 16 - Whispers in the darkness II

Sam thrashed wildly against the restraints holding her in place. Blood trickled down the side of her head from the metal probes that had been inserted into her cranium prior to the injection of Hallucinogen. Carter continued to scream until her throat felt like fire. Desperately trying to calm her ever-increasing panic, she shut her eyes tightly trying to erase the image that taunted her. It was like a nightmare. The creature, which she believed to be there, was peering over her so closely that she could feel it's hot breath on her cold skin. Goose pimples rose to the surface on her bare arms. Trying, with every ounce of strength she had, she needed to control her breathing as they were coming in quick consecutive gasps. If she wasn't careful, she would begin to hyperventilate.

Reiterating to herself over and over again, "You do not exist, you're not real." She steadied herself long enough to open her eyes only for a brief second, and screamed again so loudly towards the end, no sound could be heard. She whimpered, "Jack, help me, please." Tears now mixed with blood as they dropped off the side of her face. The creature's claws grabbed her face, and slithered its scaly skin down towards her neck. The claws on the monster glistened as the light reflected off it. She was sure it was preparing to slice her throat with the razor sharpness of its hand. In reality though she knew it wasn't a monster, it was Amemait. With the drugs in her system though, the image appeared real, and she couldn't distinguish between the two. Trying to concentrate on something other than the image before her, she tried to focus on her CO, who had been dragged away by the Jaffa guards a short while ago, at least she thought it had been. Her mind cleared for the briefest moment to allow her thoughts to move to her CO and her friend. Time seemed unimportant now, she didn't know how long she'd been here for, or how long he was going to keep on torturing her. While Amemait concentrated his efforts on her, Jack was left alone.


Jack opened his eyes and felt as if he were encased in a tomb, it was pitch black. All he knew was that he couldn't move his arms and legs; something was blocking his efforts. Desperately trying to recall the last memory he had, he concentrated hard. After a few seconds his memories resurfaced as initially broken images. He remembered Carter screaming his name, and then he remembered the staff blast to his back; he'd died. Suddenly a beam of light passed through the centre of his body, sounds of sliding rock echoed in the coffin where he lay. He shook his head slightly, it wasn't a coffin; he was in a sarcophagus. "Great!" He thought, I'm gonna end up doing the whole strapped to the bed thing again, when withdrawal took over.

As the sides of his tomb opened fully, he sat up, not quite sure who to expect. He was greeted by two Jaffa guards, and if his recollection served him, it was the same ones he had tried to ambush earlier whilst trying to protect Carter. Before his thoughts could go any further, one of the guards hauled him up by the arms and took him out of the sarcophagus; their weapons pointed directly at him to thwart any escape attempt he had planned.

"Come with us Human." The Jaffa barked, nudging him with a staff.

"Where are we going?" Jack asked stoically, hoping that they were going to take him directly to Sam, he first priority was to make sure she was okay.

"You will find out soon enough, human. Now be quiet and keep moving."

"One good thing's come out of this", he thought, at least getting killed cured his ankle, and now with having two good ankles meant that there was still a chance he and Sam could try and escape. Then as they slowly moved down the corridor, his thoughts turned to his 2IC, he'd done a stupid thing trying to take them all on with no weapons to hand. Getting himself killed like that meant that it left Sam vulnerable and in the hands of Amemait, who had made it clear from the start that he was not just interested in torturing them. He had other things planned for Sam; things that made Jack's skin crawl. He'd seen what they did to female prisoners, and he had no reason to disbelieve that this Goa'uld would be any different.

Completely lost in thought, he hadn't realised which direction he was being taken to and found himself back in the cell where all this had first began. As the Guards opened the cell door, he was sure the rancid smell that he and Carter had found so distasteful had become stronger, but again it could have been the bitterness in Jack's mouth as a result of leaving Sam to Amemait's mercy. He was once again pushed heavily into the empty dark room. Seating himself in the corner of the room, where he and Sam had slept earlier. All he could do was sit and wait for her to return, but deep inside he didn't know if she would. Jack for a few moments allowed himself to cry.


Amemait looked at his female prisoner, and noted that her eyes appeared more focussed than before. He knew she had held a symbiote within her, he had sensed that from the very beginning. She was so very different from other hosts though, and didn't know why she did not carry one now, but in time he would retrieve the answers. He had ways and means of abstracting any information he desired, and she would not be the first to beat his powers of persuasion.

Carter looked at the person staring intensely at her, her mind for the time being becoming her own once again. What stood before her was not a monster that she had perceived him to be earlier; it was a Goa'uld system lord. All she had to do was too keep that thought as close to the forefront of her mind for as long as she could.

Unfortunately that moment didn't last long as Amemait injected her once again. Her body arched once more from the effect the poison was having on her wearisome body. It once again tore through her veins like a tornado picking up speed as it consumed everything in its path. Her brain furiously tried to seek solace in some dark corner of her mind, fighting to retain some sanity. Once again Carter screamed into the darkness, "Ahhhh, stop, please stop." But noone was there to hear her cries; she was alone.


With his knees bent deep into his chest, his arms holding them so tightly, his tears now abated. Jack ran his hands listlessly through his hair; he couldn't sit there any longer. His thoughts were in turmoil, as he heard cries billowing through the hallway. He didn't know who's they were, they were too faint for him to make out. He knew though from the sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach, that it was Carter. Moving aside his feelings for his 2IC for the moment, he got up and walked towards the entrance to his prison, hoping to see or hear something. All he could see though was two guards stood at either side of the doorway.

Without warning, a piercing scream shattered the stillness of the room; it was Carter, begging for the torture to stop. What happened next though caused his skin to go ice cold, his stomach preparing to empty its contents on the floor below. Jack could hear her shouting his name, begging *him* to help her. Feeling so helpless, all he could do was bang increasingly harder on the metal structure that lay between him and 2IC.

The Jaffa guard turned to face O'Neill who continuously smashed his fists into the metal, causing his fingers to bleed. With a grin etched on the guards face, he spoke with hatred for the Tauri that stood before him, "You are next human." Jack didn't care though; his only thoughts were for Sam. After 10 minutes his hands were raw and bloodied, and he realised that this was a futile gesture, it wouldn't bring Sam back any quicker. Again he returned to the solitude of the dark corner, and waited. It seemed like an eternity for Jack, he'd paced the cell god knows how many times, trying desperately to rid himself of the darkness growing ever more rapidly within his soul. Thoughts of Amemait and Jaret played in his mind like cancer growing deep inside, full of blackness. With killing Jaret it had been too quick, that man had not suffered enough. Amemait had hurt Sam worse that Jaret had, and revenge was his. He was going to hurt this man in ways that he didn't believe was possible. Remembering all the equipment in Amemait's possession, he would use every single one of those implements twice over, and then wait for him to beg for mercy, and then repeat the process all over again. Totally consumed by anger now, he failed to hear the footsteps that quickly approached him.

The cell opened heavily, and there stood in the centre was Carter being dragged by two guards. Jack was speechless. Expecting them to place her on the floor near the opening, he observed a grin escaping the guard. Knowing full well what to then expect, he rushed over towards Sam. Preparing to catch her when they threw her inside. He literally just got there in time to stop her crashing to the floor, her face deathly pale. "Oh God Sam, what have they done to you." He said quietly and to noone in particular.

Gently he sat down, still holding her tightly in his arms, fearing that in her fragile state, she might break. His gaze for the most part lay watching the guards wearily, until the cell closed shut once more. With his hands shaking slightly, her face was matted with dried blood around her soft features. Jack noted what appeared to be holes in her forehead, he daren't touch them incase they began bleeding again. He used this opportunity to find out what other injuries she might have sustained during her time with Amemait.

Laying her gently on the ground, he knelt over her and began assessing her for injuries; thankful to Janet who had made them all take first aid classes. Carefully he began at her head, softly touching and pressing each contour of her body to make sure that there weren't any life threatening ones. He pressed on her collarbone, but needed to check that her breastbone was still intact, his hands paused shakily over them for a moment, not wanting to touch parts of her body that a CO should touch, but knowing that it was necessary and not a sexual thing. "Sorry Sam, I gotta do this." Then he carried on watching her closely for any sign of movement or any indication that there was a hidden injury. He continued until he got to her feet. Thankfully there didn't appear to be any other injuries, apart from the marks on her forehead.

Now with the top to toe survey complete, he tried to wake her, flashbacks surfacing from the last time he had to do it, Jack shivered involuntarily, reiterating to himself, that this wasn't the same thing, and that she was still alive, and if she was alive, there was hope.

Jack gently tapped the side of her face, waiting for any indication that she was wakening, he said softly. "Sam...Sam, Cmon Sam."

Still no response from her he continued, "Carter, wake up." Again there was nothing, not even a flicker. "Carter, I need you to wake up...Sam, please don't do this to me. You have to wake up, Carter."

Sam felt herself coming back from the empty void that her mind had taken her to. Her body shook from the effects of the drugs, which were now completely taking hold of her. With her body became taught, spasms of pain washed through her. Jack realised that something was very wrong; he felt her body go tense as his hands remained gently on her shoulder. He backed up slightly as her body flinched by his touch. Carter's eyes were now fully open, and alert. Jack saw that they were unfocussed, her pupils almost completely dilated. He didn't know how to react, as she turned to face him, but it wasn't the same Carter that he cared for, it was like a stranger had taken over her as she screamed in panic, unaware of her surroundings.

All Sam felt was the touch on her skin, but to her, it wasn't her CO. It was the monster was clawing at her. Feeling that she wasn't restrained any longer, she struck out wildly, using her own nails to fight back. Jumping with a start, she grabbed hold of the creature's hands, and scrapped them fearlessly. The once she'd finished her assault on his hands she went for his face, gauging at the soft flesh that faced her. Jack for an instant didn't realise what was happening, then feeling the pain in his already bloodied hands tried to restrain her, but damn it she was as strong as he had ever seen her. He couldn't hold her, she continued assaulting him once more, attacking anything in reach. There was only one thing he could do, and that was to push her as far away from him as possible, at least until he could get himself to a standing position, which would hopefully give him an advantage over her. Throwing her off balance, this gave the opportunity to get off the floor.

Sam, seeing this as her opportunity to escape from the evil before her clambered towards the other end of their confine, fear clearly evident in her movements as she coward away from Jack. Trying to hide herself in the corner of the room, she realised as Jack stepped towards her that she had boxed herself in the corner. Screams of fear and pain encumbered her tortured body as she watched the evilness come nearer; her arms outstretched to ward off the enemy. Everything around her appeared distorted in her drug-induced mind. All she knew was that he wouldn't touch her again.

Jack didn't know where to begin, he'd seen mind control, and from the looks of his 2IC, this had all the markings of it. He knew that he would have to go very gently in the beginning to gain her trust. He didn't know what images Carter's mind was producing, but from the look on her terrified face, it wasn't anything good. Quietly he stepped up towards her treading as softly as he could.

"Sam, it's me Jack! Do you know who I am?" Sam continued to leer at him, a shrillness coming from her throat. "I promise I won't hurt you Sam." Jack continued, silent tears begging to take over.

"Please, Sam, just listen to me. I'm your friend, I would never hurt you, you know that don't you." He begged relentlessly. Sam couldn't see him though, all she saw was that the monster was going to get her, she screamed back at him, "GET AWAY FROM ME!"

Those four words tore Jack's heart in two, but to get her back, he had to push all his hurt and anger at Amemait to one side for hurting her like this. He stopped moving forward to try and give her a bit of space, as she continued to force herself as far into the corner as she could get; trying desperately to protect herself.

"I can't do that Sam." Jack stated simply. "You need to listen to me. Try and remember where you are. You're on a Goa'uld mother ship, we were taken prisoner, remember." But she didn't, and her eyes continued to fill with tears.

"Sam, remember when we were on the planet, and I held you in my arms, I didn't hurt you then did I? You wanted to protect me, Teal'c and Jonas from Jaret, do you remember that?" Rubbing his hands across his tired face, he wasn't getting through to her at all, but he was determined that he was not gonna lose her to this. "Do you remember who you are? You're Major Samantha Carter, your an astrophysicist who works in a team called SG1. Please Sam, try and remember. You're my 2IC, we watch each others backs every day, we look out for each other. You and me care for each other, more so than we should. I don't wanna lose you Sam!" He ended quietly.

Jack noticed that she wasn't screaming as she had done earlier, and her eyes took on an intensity of uncertainty, which in itself gave him a glimmer of hope, as she warily watched him from a distance. He used this opportunity to move slightly forward, she didn't recoil as she had done earlier. He sat himself as close, but not close enough to cause her to retreat again. Looking directly into her eyes he continued, "Your dad's called Jacob, and he'd love to have me as his son in law ya know, but don't tell him I said that." Sam tipped her head slightly as Jack said the name 'Jacob'. Somewhere in the depths of her confused mind, things were becoming clearer to her, but the fear was still built up within her. "Did I ever tell ya Sam, how much I enjoy working with you? You make coming to work special, everyday I enjoy coming to work, just because I know you'll be there."

Jack held his breath as Sam looked as if she was about to say something; he felt his heart catch in his throat. He clenched his fist in anticipation, his thoughts and feelings coming thick and fast. "Cmon Carter, come back to me."

As her mind began to clear, the image of the evil slowly disappeared to reveal a very worried Colonel Jack O'Neil, she wasn't sure if this image was real, or just another hallucination. She had to take the risk though, if only to try and regain some sanity. Cautiously she whispered, "Sir?"

Jack, letting out the breath he hadn't realised he was holding, smiled. Never in his life had he been grateful to hear that one little word. Matching her whisper, he moved closer to her, "Yeah Sam, it's me!"

Crawling out of her corner, she shakily took hold of the hand Jack had offered, and grabbed onto it as if her life depended on it, "He was real, he was really there." Seeing the complete recognition in his eyes he moved even closer, and consumed her with a hug, and held onto her for dear life, his own body shaking with relief at having her come back. They continued to rock in each others arms, Jacks arms wrapped around her body, his hand moving around the back of the head holding it gently, his other hand moving in a circular motion on her back, trying to ease some of the heartfelt sobs that came from his 2IC, the women he secretly loved. Softly murmuring to her, "You're okay, I got you, I promise he won't ever hurt you again. I got you Sam...I got you."

Chapter 17 - Confrontation

Jack held her in his arms until he felt her relax. His shirt wet from the tears that fell relentlessly from her eyes. He felt her try and steady her breathing until she was reasonably calm again, neither of them willing to let the other go.

Jack felt her breaths becoming steadier as she seemed to gain control of what ever it was that had taken her over. When he felt that she was ready once more, he ever so gently pulled himself away from her. Keeping his hands firmly on her shoulders, he looked longingly into her once clear blue eyes, which were now heavy set with silent tears. Her eyes that once were filled with curiosity and faith now revealed a trauma that no one should have to go through.

"Sam, look...I know you probably don't feel like talking right now, but we need to. I need to know what happened in there."

Sam took a shaky breath; she really didn't know what to say. Did she say that the torture had been so bad, that all she wanted to do was push it to the furthest corner of her mind, and never speak of it again? Did she tell him how long she had held out in the hope that he would come back for her, but never did? Everything was still mixed up, she was angry, not only with him, but at herself for feeling like this. Hurt and confused, she needed to put some space between herself and CO. She tried to shake his arms off her shoulder, but he wasn't budging.

"Sam, don't pull away from me, we *have* to talk about this." Jack urged her.

Sam raised her hands to her face, wiping the last remnants of tears from her eyes, her head fell lightly into her open palms, she didn't even think she could look at him.

"Colonel... please." Sam asked, her begging for some time to come to terms with it herself. "I can't..." She answered pulling herself further away from him.

"Carter, look I know what you must have gone through..." Jack started.

Sam looked up at him incredulously, her eyes revealing something Jack had never seen in Sam before, a darkness that burned in her eyes. Raising her arm, she took his hand off her shoulder, and stood up quickly, not giving him a second chance to keep her there. Not knowing how to come to terms with this, or how to stop the anger building up, she saw the pained look in his face as she moved away from him.

Jack gave her a moment then promptly followed her. Seeing her like this unsettled him. Watching her carefully, she seemed jittery and uncoordinated as she paced their confined space. Hesitantly he placed a hand on her shoulder.

Recoiling from his touch once more, she moved in the opposite direction. Then feeling as if enough space had come between her and the Colonel she turned around. Anger and sadness etched clearly in her face.

"Sam." Jack said softly, hoping that one word would convey a thousand meanings.

Suddenly and inexplicably she tore into him, "With all due respects, Sir, you don't have a clue what I went through."

It hit him, like a lightning bolt, he didn't understand why she was acting like this towards him, but he knew she was hurting. Remembering what it was like when he had been tortured in the Iraqi prison, he'd heard of people being brainwashed, but had never seen it first hand. Whatever happened between her an Amemait, he had to get to the bottom of it fast, before it destroyed Sam, and their friendship.

Thinking that the best course of action was to take out the personal aspect of this discussion, he needed her to think rationally about this. "Major, listen to me. I *do* understand what you went through... to some degree. I'm not saying I understand all of it, but what I do know is that you need to tell me what happened."

Anger was now completely taking over from her, her hands visibly shook, she desperately needed to keep her distance from him, in case she hurt him. A voice inside her told her she was being unreasonable, but something kept driving on the animosity and all of it was now directed at him.

"You want to know what happened? Do you?" She questioned angrily now fully facing him. Sam crossed her arms defensively against her chest.

Jack really didn't want to know what happened to her, he was already feeling guilty enough that he allowed this to happen, but as her CO and as her friend, it was something that they had to talk about. He took a deep breath, and exhaled slowly. Looking deep into her eyes, hoping in some way to show her that he cared for her, he replied a simple "Yes."

Slowly she walked up to him, and looking directly in his eyes, she said, "He tortured me, slowly. He enjoyed every single minute of it. *Then*, he decided to play with my mind for a little bit, just to see how far he could push me." Jack kept silent; he had never heard such intensity in her voice before. Instead of getting louder as he had anticipated, her voice became dark and cold as she continued. "He then inserted metal spokes into my head, and injected me with god knows what. After that he carried on torturing me with his little devices, whilst I screamed." Sam told him, without showing a hint of emotion.

Trying to contain his rising emotions, as they threatened to bubble to the surface, he could handle her losing 'it', but Sam had taken on a dangerous tone in her voice, and he didn't like it one bit, but as her CO he needed her to explain further.

"Did Amemait..." Jack hesitated briefly afraid of what the answer might be. Needing to know though he continued seeing the darkness in Sam's eyes slowly consuming her. "Did he...touch you?" Jack finally asked, sadness clearly evident as he spoke the last words.

"No!" Sam answered simply. Unconsciously Jack released the breath he had been holding.

"Okay. You said he injected you with something, do you know what it was? What it was supposed to do?"

"What the hell does it matter anyway...Sir." Sam shouted.

Wearily Jack sat himself on the floor, this was not going as well as he hoped. He wasn't good with feelings, Daniel was better suited at handling this than he was, but he hadn't seen him for a while, and wondered if he ever would.

Daniel watched over his two friends during the last few minutes of their discussion. Torn between his own destiny and the desire to stop a friendship being torn apart. He knew that he was damned if he did and damned if he didn't. Oma Desala had already warned him of the consequences of interfering, and Daniel felt as if he was being torn in two.

Knowing that his friends needed his help, he did the only thing he could; help them, at least as much as he could.

Jack looked up in time to see Daniel materialize in front of them. Thankfully that someone, somewhere was at least looking out for them.


"Jack." Daniel answered nodding in Jack's direction then preceded to walk towards Sam, thinking, "Okay, here goes nothing."

Sam was so lost in her own thoughts didn't even acknowledge Daniel's arrival; her mind was filling with black images, and hatred. She felt as if she was going out of her mind. Her hands shook with nervous energy, and she suddenly had the overwhelming sense of claustrophobia. Feeling a hand on her back she turned around quickly, raising a fist to punch the person who touched her.

Daniel finally got a good look at his friend, and it rocked him to the core. Seeing her like this brought back all the brotherly instincts within him, and he would've done anything to stop her going through this. As she raised her hand, Daniel blocked the punch defensively. Shock, came through on Sam's strained features, seeing him stood here with her threw her off balance. For a moment she looked intensely in his eyes, the anger that had been building within her dissipated briefly as she saw his concern.

"Daniel! W...w...what are you doing here?" Sam asked shakily letting her fist drop to her side.

"I've come to help you. Well, as much as I'm able." He replied softly, not removing his gaze in fear that she would retreat further from them.

Jack got up from where he was sitting, and cautiously moved towards them. "Carter, look if you won't talk to me, then talk to Daniel."

Sam's face suddenly creased with distress, her eyes became wider, as she heard the words from her friends. Emotions that she never knew she had, threatened to overwhelm her. She didn't know what to think or feel, deep inside she knew she needed their help to cope with everything that happened, but she'd lost her faith in them. To her they had let her down, by leaving her alone with Amemait. He'd tortured her to a point where she would have said anything for him to stop. Looking first at Daniel then let her gaze settle on Jack. She remembered screaming for him over and over again...but he never came. It was at that point she felt that she couldn't rely on him. Knowing somewhere deep inside she knew those feelings were irrational, but she couldn't help herself feeling this rage. Sam didn't know if it was a culmination of events or it had to do with the toxins currently flowing coarsely through her veins, but whatever was happening inside of her, she knew it was the reason she was acting like this.

As soon as she opened her mouth to speak, she instantly regretted saying the words. Unable to contain her emotions any longer, she felt as if someone else had taken over her. Speaking with such hatred she said, "Help! You want to help me?" She asked heatedly looking from one to the other. "Don't you think it's a bit late for that?"

Daniel and Jack both looked at each other; neither of them knew what she was talking about.

Jack approached her and went to place his arm on her forearm, but she backed away suddenly, "Sam, we want to help you, but your making it so difficult for us." His eyes fixated on her whole body language as she paced recklessly back and forth, pushing herself further and further into a corner. "What do you mean that it's too late?"

"What do I mean...what do I mean?" Sam repeated for effect. "I'll tell you what I mean!" Sam shouted and turned directly to face Daniel her eyes brimming with anger and sadness; bloodshot from the strain of crying earlier. Her eyes reflecting all the raw emotions that steadily consumed her. Dark circles evidently apparent from the lack of rest her body desperately craved.

"You, you call me your friend, but where were you when I needed you? I'll tell you shall I? As always, you go running off somewhere to hide."

Daniel felt as if he had been kicked in the stomach, thoughts rushed to the surface as he thought 'did she really think of that of me'.

Jack, not liking where this was headed shot her a warning look. Taking on the tone of her CO as apposed to her friend, his voice indicated for her to stop before she said something that she'd later regret. "Major! That's enough."

Sam completely ignored her CO's command and continued angrily, her body shaking with excess adrenaline, "And *you*! What happened to the '*I* won't leave anyone behind' motto. *That* kinda went out the window quickly enough when it suited you, didn't it?"

"Carter! I said *that's* enough." Jack countered angrily. This wasn't getting them anywhere. Sam was in too much of a fragile state to continue this conversation. After Jack warned her that she'd gone to far, he noted that she had retreated as far away from them as she could possibly get. This whole mess needed to be sorted, but now wasn't that time.

Trembling slightly, Sam gently sat down in the darkest corner of the room, pulling her knees up in an effort to shield herself from the others. Lowering her head slightly, she sobbed quietly. The dimness of the room allowed her to find some solitude as she tried to bring back some perspective. She felt physically sick, her heart raced from the recent confrontation, and she could feel her face flushed with the beginnings of a fever; presumably from the injections Amemait had given her earlier. All she wanted to do was to fall asleep and never wake up. Weariness had now taken its toll, and looking over to where Jack and Daniel stood, she saw that she had hurt them deeply. Their faces reflected disbelief at her words. At this moment though, she didn't care that she had hurt them, her rationale appeared to have been obliterated by the drugs in her system as she tried to console herself with the fact that they had hurt her, by leaving her alone in Amemait's clutches. Laying her head on her knees, she closed her eyes, hoping that her mind would take her away from this nightmare.

Jack placed an arm around Daniel's shoulders and led him to the opposite corner of the room from Sam. Jack slid down the sides of their confinement, Daniel followed suit. Silently contemplating what the next step should be, and how they could help Sam come out of the dark void that she had unconsciously placed herself in.

"She will be okay, Jack. I think she just needs a little space."

"Look at her Daniel, do you really think everything's going to be okay?" Jack replied softly, not taking his eyes off carters still form in the corner of the room.

"What happened?" Daniel asked inquisitively.

Taking a deep breath, Jack exhaled slowly. The temperature of the room had begun to drop considerably, and he shivered involuntarily. "We got captured, I died, Sam got tortured by some overzealous Goa'uld, and here we are."

"Whoa, whoa, you died?"

"Yeah, look good for a dead man don't I!" Jack replied simply.

Ignoring his friends wit for the moment he asked, "Who was the Goa'uld?"

"I don't know some worm called 'I'm a mate,'" Jack said dismissively.

Daniel's brow frowned, as he tried to think of a Goa'uld called 'Imamate'. "Are you sure he was called 'Imamate'?"

"I don't know Daniel, I wasn't exactly paying attention, especially after he started pawing at Sam." Jack said annoyed at why his friend was so fixated on this.

Daniel remained silent for the next few moments trying desperately to think of Goa'uld that resembled the name Jack had given. Finally a flash of inspiration hit him and he said, "Do you mean Amemait?"

"Yeah, I suppose. Who is he anyway?"

"In ancient Egypt, Amemait was known as the 'devourer'..."

"Oh, that's just lovely, not only does he want to torture us, but he wants to eat us as well. Ew, how disgusting is that!" Jack replied making a face.

Ignoring the look on his friend, Daniel continued, "She was also called 'She who destroys the wicked', it was her function to devour the hearts of the dead who did not past the test of Judgement and thus destroys totally the soul of the dead."

"Daniel, I don't mean to be a pessimist, but your not exactly helping here. Besides it wasn't a she it was a he."

"Sorry." He replied slightly apologetic. "It doesn't really matter what sex he/she is now, the fact that the 'Devourer' is here could cause some serious problems for you and Sam.

"Ya know Daniel, you really have a knack for stating the obvious."

Daniel gave him a look that said 'Jack, don't be an ass!' "What I mean is that in simplistic terms, this Goa'uld decides who goes to heaven and who goes to hell."

"Yeah, well, let me tell you this. If I'm gonna go to hell, I'll be taking him with me, that's for sure. Well, at least you're here to help."

Daniel looked at him, he knew he had to tell him sooner or later, he just wished it was later...much later. "Um...Jack, there's something I've got to tell you."

Jack knew what was coming, but hearing it didn't make it any easier. "I can't help you Jack, not in the way that you think anyway."

"Why not?"

"Just before I came here, I was warned not to interfere. If I help you and Sam, then I could be 'thrown out'...for want of a better phrase."

"So, what are you saying Daniel? You're gonna stay in a 'club' rather than help your friends?"

"No. What I'm saying is, is that if I help you, I'll be taken away from you and Sam. They'll take away my memory, so I wouldn't be any good to you."

"So, disobey them, it's not like you've never disobeyed an order before."

Daniel allowed himself to smile slightly at Jack's reference. "This is different Jack. I'll do what I can, but I can't interfere...I'm sorry" Daniel replied softly. "For the moment though we need to help Sam, you're going to need her on your side if you're going to get out of this."

Jack leant back against the wall and sighed, this really wasn't a very good day at all. Deep inside, he knew Daniel was right, and his priority at the moment was getting Carter back on track.

Feeling like this wasn't the time for keeping silent, he couldn't do this on his own. "I really don't know what to do Daniel. One minute she was fine, then the next minute she was...well you saw what she was like."

Daniel hated seeing his friend hurting like this, he knew how much he cared for Sam, and to have her accuse Jack of those things wasn't something that Sam would normally say. "Okay, let's think rationally about this. Tell me everything about what happened after you were both captured, and I don't mean the cliff notes version."

So for the next 10 minutes Jack told him exactly what had happened, making sure that he didn't leave out any details. Jack suddenly got to the part where he had been in the cell hearing Sam screaming his name. Daniel kept silent when he heard how Jack had no control of the situation and that his actions had resulted in Sam being alone with her captor. He really felt for his friend, and the difficulty of re-living it. Jack's voice quivered slightly at the effort.

"Jack!" Daniel said suddenly, "That's it. That's the reason, well at least part of it." Jack looked at Daniel with a strange expression on his face, not fully understanding what his friend was referring to. "When you tried to intervene with Amemait, your chosen actions caused you to get killed, which then in turn left Sam alone."

"I know that Daniel, I just said that didn't I."

"Jack, Sam thinks you abandoned her. We don't know what sort of stuff he was pumping into her, but I bet my life on it that he twisted her thoughts and feelings. The reason Sam is so hostile is that I think somewhere deep inside she's not 100 percent sure if this is real or not. If you think about it, she's been through a hell of a lot these last few days. She was already confused before you two were captured. Coupled that with the drugs in her system makes for a very bad combination."

Jack listened intently to what Daniel was saying, it did make sense, but for the life of him, he couldn't think if a way to prove to her that this was real, and that they were here to help.

"So what do we do? I don't think it'll be long before Amemait comes back, and if he takes Carter again, I don't know if she'll live through it."

"First off, you need to get some rest. You're exhausted, and you won't be any good to anyone if you're too tired to function. Just hold on for a little while longer. I promise I won't let you down." Daniel replied sincerely.

Just before Daniel disappeared from existence once more, Jack said softly, "Daniel!"



Smiling softly at his friend, he nodded, and then left his friends behind.

Chapter 18 - Mind control

Jack watched as Daniel dematerialised into thin air, and began to wonder where he actually went to when he disappeared. Thinking about the day's events he knew Daniel was right, he really needed to get some sleep. Leaning against the corner of the wall, he watched his 2IC from a distance, he'd never seen her so restless. Even in her sleep he could see her body shifting positions in an effort to shake off whatever had hold of her. It was so hard to see her face in the dimly lit room, but he could just make out the strained features on her face.

Jack closed his eyes waiting for sleep to overtake his weary mind and body. Thoughts churned consistently in his head, eluding the sleep that he so desperately craved. Fragments of the conversation he and Sam had earlier played relentlessly on his mind. His mind frantically tried to come up with some kind of solution to bring her back, but sleep clouded his thoughts, and he fell into a disturbed sleep.

Sam didn't know how long she had slept; she knew it couldn't have been long, as her eyes felt heavy. Disorientation was clearly evident as she grasped the sides of the wall, in an effort to wake herself from her dark slumber. Her heart raced from the nightmares that plagued her dreams and filtered through to her waking state. She sat herself up fully in an effort to calm her fears that were quickly becoming reality. Glancing over towards the Colonel who looked like a lost soul, his face etched with worry.

Rubbing the sleep from her eyes that felt like lead balloons, the raw emotions within her, hit with full force. Never in her life had she felt so guilty, she knew that she'd hurt him, but it was too late to take it back. She didn't even know how to fix this, or that their friendship would be able to be as it was. The fever from the toxins burned readily within her, and she felt sick to her stomach. Her head pounded partly from an infection she could feel building up. Raising her hands to her head she felt the wounds she had sustained earlier, and she cringed at the pain of touching them. The only good thing she found when she woke up was the fact that she hadn't gone screaming into a corner.

Taking a deep breath she knew that she had to talk to Jack, but knowing it was one thing. The doing part filled her with dread. Getting up from the cold ground, she drifted off towards the Colonel's direction and knelt down beside him. Her hand shook slightly partly from the toxins in her system, but mostly from fear of what she would say to him.

Gently she tapped him on the shoulder, hoping to wake him easily, Jack grunted in protest. "Sir?" Sam continued.

Somewhere in the depths of slumber Jack heard a soft cooing voice, he recognized it from somewhere, but his brain wanted to continue to latch onto the last remnants of sleep. Unfortunately the voice was persistent and he could feel a soft pressure on his shoulder.

"Colonel, I need to speak to you."

Suddenly his brain kicked into gear and he recognised the voice as his 2IC, thinking something was wrong he jerked awake with such intensity that he caught her off guard, and she backed up suddenly.

Looking at her, his first impressions were that she didn't look at all well. Seeing the fear in her eyes and knowing that it was probably the drug coursing through her veins that was making her jumpy. Now completely awake he responded softly, "Sorry Carter. Are you okay?" Jack asked bringing himself into a sitting position, hoping not to scare her off again.

"Better Sir thanks. I'm sorry to wake you, but I needed to talk to you." Sam replied sheepishly, fidgeting with her hands as opposed to looking at him.

Jack's first thoughts were, that at least the hostility didn't appear to be rearing its ugly head. Then decided that his best bet was to keep his mouth shut; at least for now. His heart went out to her, knowing that this was difficult for her to say in light of their previous attempts at talking to each other. Nodding for Sam continue, he hadn't realised how much of an effort this was for her; her whole body seemed to take a huge intake of breath.

"I'm... sorry for what I said." Sam whispered, her voice hardly audible. "What I said was nasty. I didn't really mean it, but...well, I suppose part of me did, otherwise I wouldn't have said it...would I?" Lifting her eyes slightly to gauge his reaction, he surprised her in the fact that his face remained neutral, which usually meant that he was either so angry with her, but didn't want to show it. Or she'd hurt him more than she realised. Her eyes filled with tears at the thought that their friendship couldn't be salvaged.

Jack lifted his hand to wipe away the silent tears that began to fall down her cheek; she was surprised by his efforts to calm her. Looking directly at him, she saw his own eyes fill with sorrow at her having to go through this. Sam was never one to get tearful, and Jack had only seen her cry a couple of times since they had been friends, and it pained him to watch her go through this. Inside he knew that this was a necessary part of the healing process, but knowing it didn't make it any easier.

"After you got taken away...I was so angry with you. You left me." It was as if a whole weight had been lifted from her shoulders, she'd finally told him why.

"Sam,... I screwed up. I know that. Getting killed though *wasn't* part of my plan." Jack retorted.

"I know that Colonel, but when he injected me with those chemicals, things started to get jumbled. He was saying stuff, twisting my thoughts and feelings, and I didn't know what was real and what wasn't. All I remember for the most part is that I shouted for you and..." Sam couldn't finish the sentence; it was too much for her. Jack knew that this was something she had to say, even if it was the most difficult thing in the world for him to hear.

Reaching for her hand in the darkness he grasped it in the hope that she would reciprocate, and was pleased to feel her hand grab hold of his, giving it a gentle squeeze he said softly, "You shouted for me, then what?"

Jack watched her struggle with her words until she said, " never came back for me."

Jack just stared blankly at her; for once he was lost for words. Sam stared back searching for some kind of recognition that he wasn't mad at her for revealing this to him, in all their years of serving together, this was probably one of the most honest conversations that they had had with each other. For Sam the silence was unbearable, and she attempted to move away from him once more.

"Sam..." Jack started unsure of what to day next. "Please, don't go."

Sam looked longingly at him; her eyes falling to their hands, which were still entwined together. Jack held on to her more tightly in an effort to keep her next to him. Sitting herself back down again she allowed Jack a few minutes to gather his thoughts.

"I don't know what to say, Sam." Jack's eyes searched upwards as if looking for inspiration. "If I could go back and change things, I would. *I* made a mistake, and you paid for it."


Giving her his full concentration he looked her squarely into her eyes and said with such conviction, "Before you say anything, I just want you to know that I would *never* leave you behind."

Hesitantly she asked, "You wouldn't?"

"After everything we've been through, you still doubt me?"

"No, not really, but...oh I don't know. I'm still confused." Sam countered releasing Jack's grip on her hand. "I want to believe you, but...."

Before she had a chance to finish her sentence, they both heard heavy footsteps quickly approaching them. Without giving their conversation a second thought, Jack with sudden alacrity hauled Sam to her feet. If they were going to face it, they would do it together.

The cell doors opened to revel four Jaffa guards, their weapons in a stance that indicated that they were ready for any futile attempt made by the Colonel to escape.

"Jaffa KREE!" The first prime bellowed, indicating two guards to approach their prisoners.

Jack whispered to his 2IC, "Whatever happens, I will *not* leave you." Sam simply nodded her head in understanding.

Coming up beside them, the two guards raised their staff weapons, the edge of the weapon nudging them in the direction that they should take.

Leading them through the now familiar gold corridors of the Goa'uld ship, neither one of them spoke. Both in their own ways preparing themselves for what was to come. As they neared the chamber where Amemait lay, Sam felt physically sick. Her stomach churned at what lay in wait. Unable to control it any longer, she could feel the bile steadily rising in her throat. Her throat burned from the acid rising up, she felt dizzy for a moment and had to stop for fear of passing out. Jack glanced over to her as he felt the pace slacken slightly. Sam was visibly shaking and a tinge of green reflected in her pale faces, he mouthed, "You okay?"

Shaking her head in response, she stopped dead in her tracks and vomited where she stood. A grin spread evilly over the guard's faces. Jack went to move towards her, but was stopped in his tracks.

"She's sick."

"And she will be a lot sicker if you do not keep moving human. Keep walking." The guard stated.

Wiping her mouth, she looked at her C.O and said weakly, "I'm fine, Sir. Let's just get this over with."

The only good thing that Jack could see was the fact that at least this time they were together, and he would not jeopardise her safety this time. He just wished that whatever Daniel, Jacob, Teal'c and Jonas were doing, they had better do it sooner rather than later, because he really didn't know how much time they had left.

Turning the corner once more, they were led into the same chamber as before. There stood before them was Amemait, Daniel's words swam before him... 'The devourer!'

"Ah Colonel O'Neill, Major Carter. Welcome back." Walking towards Sam, he raised his hands to her face. "And how are we fairing Major? Oh *not* good I see."

"I'm fine!" Sam replied through clenched teeth.

Grinning happily, Amemait knew things were proceeding nicely, just as he had planned. Turning his attention towards Colonel O'Neill, noting the scratches on his hands and face. "I see you've been busy Colonel."

All Jack could think of at this moment in time was how much he wanted to deck this guy, but he had to restrain himself. Not wanting a repeat performance of what happened earlier, he clenched his fists to stop himself. Fury was building up slowly within him.

"Colonel, I can see how impatient you're getting. I shall not keep you waiting any longer. Jaffa 'KREE'." Amemait indicated to the guards holding Jack. He pointed towards the table in the centre of the room.

Sam shouted, "NO!"

Ignoring her pained cries, the Jaffa lifted Colonel O'Neill to the table, and strapped him down. Jack tore a look in Sam's direction, and shook his head as a way of telling her not to interfere. Jack's thoughts were only for his 2IC and not for himself, at least they weren't going to hurt her.

"Don't worry Major, *I* won't hurt him." Amemait crooned in her ear causing shivers to reverberate down her spine.

Sam looked at him with distrust; she didn't like the tone he was using. Did she hear correctly? Looking at Jack then back at the system lord, she couldn't fully comprehend what he was saying. Why then was Jack strapped to the table, if Amemait wasn't going to torture him like he had done with her?

Seeing the confusion in her face he lent forward until he was merely inches away from her face and lowered his voice, and taking on a menacing tone he explained. "You're confused, I can tell. Well Major Carter, let me explain." Pointing to a side table to the left of her he continued, "You see these little devices over there? You remember them don't you?"

Flashes of memory surfaced in her mind, "Pain, intense pain." That was what she remembered.

"Ah I can see that you do. Well, as I said before, *I* won't be using them on the Colonel."

Sam let out a long slow breath; the adrenaline that was being released into her body caused her body to shake.

Amemait face contorted into pure evil as he said. "*You* will be using them Major."

Sam's mouth opened, her eyes widening in fear at what he was expecting her to do. Her head shook in protest. Her voice quavered for a moment, but the sternness in her voice depicted that she would refuse point blank to do anything the Amemait wanted.


Moving towards the table of implements, he grappled hold of a vile filled with a colourful substance. Picking up a syringe, he loaded it. Then flicked the tip of the syringe he moved purposely towards Sam. With her eyes staring at nothing but the hypodermic in his hand, she struggled wildly against her captors. The Jaffa's firm grip on her arms increased, and she cried in pain at the pressure that was being excerpted on them.

Jack tried to use his own body weight in a vein attempt to try and stop him injecting her. All, it did however was cause the straps to dig into his skin even further.

"Carter!" Jack shouted in desperation.

"I won't do it!" Sam told Amemait in a voice that meant business.

"You won't have a choice Major!" Amemait told her coldly, and then slowly injected the substance into her arm.

As the remaining contents were emptied into her blood stream, Sam felt herself losing the struggle. Her head became light headed once more and she felt herself falling back into the black void, mercifully she passed out.

Watching his 2IC slowly sink to the floor, he shouted to Amemait, "What have you done to her."

With a look of complete nonchalance in his eyes, he smiled as he left the female on the floor. "Oh don't worry Colonel, she's not dead."

"I said, *what* did you do to her!"

"I'm simply making her more co-operative. She didn't seem to want t comply before, so I gave her something special to ensure her obedience. You see, she really does care for you. My little experiment will determine how much. It'll be up to her if she kills you or not."

"She won't kill me." Jack replied with complete certainty.

"Only time will tell Colonel. Now, I must prepare my subject."

A frown creased over O'Neill's eyebrows as they knitted together, "What do you mean, 'prepare her'?"

"Oh did I forget to mention that aspect? I've been learning a few new mind control techniques. Very experimental of course, but since I now have a worthy subject I thought I'd put them to good use."

"If you harm one hair on her head, I swear I'm gonna..."

"Colonel O'Neill, *you* are in no position to do anything." Then walked away leaving a very worried Colonel O'Neill as he watched the guards take his 2IC away.

Chapter 19 - No Turning Back

Jack felt as if he'd been waiting for Sam to return, for what felt like eternity. Initially it had all been quiet, he didn't know where she had been taken to, but everything had seemed deadly silent as he waited for the inevitable to come. Then he'd heard pitiful screams searing the silence. After about 15 minutes, the screams stopped just as quickly as they started, and his fear for Sam resurfaced once more. His natural instincts were to protect her, and he felt helpless that he had failed again.

Jack had no idea what sort of methods Amemait was using on her. He'd heard about it in his Black Ops days, and experienced the pain sticks himself that the Goa'uld were renowned for, but he was now about to witness the effects of Goa'uld mind control first hand. The stillness of the room was deafening as he waited for Carter, every sound magnified by the emptiness of the room.

Footsteps echoed along the hardened floor. Jack tried to lift his head, and managed it ever so slightly, but nothing was directly in his vision, so he tried moving his head carefully to the side. Out of the corner of his eye, Jack saw the return of Amemait, and standing side by side with him was his 2IC. Jack's initial thoughts overwhelmed him.

Jack looked at her intently; this wasn't the Sam that he knew so well. The Sam he knew covered his six when they had gone into battle. She was someone who consistently surprised and amazed him with her humour and intelligence. Her knack for putting something together in an effort to save the teams assess. The Sam who had put pure delight on his face when she had been forced to wear that blue smock, or would tease him on a daily basis when he grumbled about the amount of trees on each planet. The fact that he never understood a word she said, when she went into 'Carter babble', but she was also the Sam that he had secretly cared for, for the last 6 years.

To Jack it seemed as if *that* Carter was gone. The person standing before him may look like his 2IC, but it wasn't her. Her eyes were empty and unfocussed. She now looked directly at him, and he could see her face so clearly. Her once clear blue eyes were now lifeless. Sam's features showed no hint of emotion as she was nudged even closer towards him. Her walk was like an automaton. Jack knew then that he'd almost certainly lost her completely.

Whispering her name in disbelief, his thoughts took him back to the conversation he'd had earlier with Amemait. He had stood firm in his belief that Carter would never hurt him. Now though, with her looking at him, her eyes unyielding, he wasn't so sure.

"I'm going to make you pay!" Sam stated coldly, her eyes transfixed on his features. To her this was not her C.O, nor was he her friend, Amemait had made damn sure of that. The coldness in her voice took on an even icier tone as she leant down to Jack.

Amemait stood back and let his subject take control in torturing her colleague. Eagerly anticipating the amount of pain that she was going to inflict on Colonel O'Neill, a sly smile escaped his lips. The conversion had gone exactly as he planned. He had maintained her co-operation by continually plying her body full of drugs, altering her mind to disband any rational thoughts. The process had been an arduous one, but he felt it was going to be worth the wait. The easiest part for him was to latch on to a recent traumatic memory, and use it to get what he wanted. Half way through the process he'd learned about a Goa'uld who had inflicted severe pain on her friends, and nearly caused their death. Unleashing more memories, he had noted that she'd had to betray her friends to ensure their safety, this, he would use to his advantage.

Throughout the mind-altering process, she had begged him for some solace. He had enjoyed seeing her tormented soul become his. Once she had attained a suggestive state he had told her that he was her friend, and that the person lying on the table had hurt her friends in unthinkable ways, and that *this* was the only way that she would achieve retribution for their suffering. Towards the end, she had believed every word of what he'd said.

Walking over to where the instruments lay, Sam's hand drifted over each one as if assessing its purpose. Picking some kind of metallic implement, she pondered briefly over how she would use the instrument on the person who lay before her. Unbeknown to her though, the thoughts she had were not her own. Suggestions planted there by an evil system lord to take the life of the man in front of her. The person whom she believed had hurt her 'family'. Unaware of the fact that this was part of someone's plan, Sam felt the corruption within her leap to life once more, and she obeyed the instructions that had been planted by Amemait.

Resting his hands on Sam's fingers, he whispered, "Not that one. You want to make him suffer, don't you?"

Blindly following his advice, she replaced the object back on the metallic tray as he passed her another device saying with such calculated evil, "I think this one is more suitable."

All Jack could do was watch the interaction between the two, he knew he only had a slim chance of getting her back, but he would take it. Watching carefully as she retrieved the object from Amemait, she walked purposely towards Jack.

Inhaling deeply, he took a long look at her blank face and said with such a heartfelt plea. "Sam. You have to fight this."

Sam continued to stare at the 'man' before her, she heard the words, but to her they meant nothing. As far as she was concerned he had hurt her friends and family, he'd taken them away from her. The passiveness in her face changed to that of anger as she shouted with such venom. Her hands clenched in rage around the device she would use to hurt him.

"SHUT UP! Do you hear me? You lost the right to speak when you hurt my friends."

Jack looked into her eyes, pleading with his very soul to make her understand. "Sam, I'm your friend, trust me, it's me Colonel Jack O'Neill."

Sam raised her hands to her ears in an attempt to block out the sound of his voice that brought back so many painful memories. Tears filled the dark void in her eyes. As far as she was concerned he wasn't Jack O'Neill, he was Jaret, the Goa'uld that had nearly killed Jack and who had left Jonas for dead. The man who had kept her mind captive for days, and had forced her to commit an act of treason. A flash of memory resurfaced, this one was of Jack screaming in agony as he collapsed to the floor.

"You hurt me, and you hurt my friends, Jaret. Now *I'm* going to hurt you."

As she said the name, Jack looked at her, his face blank with confusion, wondering where the hell that had come from, she knew what had happened with Jaret after she'd gone through the Stargate, hadn't she? Then he remembered her initial confusion after Daniel had brought her back to life. Sam had been confused and had asked what happened, but he hadn't told her.

"Sam, please, this isn't you. You'd never hurt someone like this. Sam, think about what you're doing." Pausing briefly to allow the words to sink in, he continued, "Damn it Carter, snap out of it!" Jack implored hoping against all the odds that he would get through to her. Seeing her stop for a brief moment, he thought he saw something lurking in the background of her eyes. "If you do this Sam, you'll never forgive yourself."

Sam though didn't take any notice of his pleas as she replied coldly, "I won't regret this."

Not allowing him a second chance to speak, she placed the device on his chest and watched as an electric surge tore through his body. Jack screamed in protest, then as quickly as it came, the surge dissipated for an instant. With his concentration elsewhere, he failed to see the smile on Amemait's face. A moment later Jack was hit with a second charge, this time, Samantha Carter increased the setting, and let it continue for over a minute. Leaving Jack O'Neill lying breathless against the metallic table, the current of electricity careered through his whole body, bouncing back through him by the metallic surface. On his chest scorch marks resided where she had placed the device. Jack felt the reflected heat emanating from the table go through his back, and he gritted his teeth against the pain.

Struggling to get his breath back, he whispered to his 2IC, "Carter, Sam...whatever happens, I forgive you."

This simple statement increased her hatred for him, and she activated the device further down his stomach and hit him with another charge. The third charge was enough to knock the Colonel out, his breathing ragged from the pain that coursed through his whole body, and he sank into unconsciousness.

Looking at his still form, Samantha Carter didn't feel an ounce of regret. Her emotions retreated; she watched his eyes roll towards the back of his head. Sam felt drained. Anger and hatred towards this man had taken so much out of her.

Amemait approached her, goading her into believing that this was the correct course of action. "Very good Samantha, when he awakens we will use an alternate method, so that he can see in your eyes how much pain he has caused you."

An exhausted Samantha Carter simply nodded, she was bone weary. Every fibre in her body burned through the very centre of her. The heat emanated from her body due to fever and she wiped her sweaty brow, wanting nothing more than to collapse in to the darkest corner she could find, but she couldn't rest until Jaret was dead.

Trying hard to remember where she was, she struggled to find the answers of how she came to be here in this dimly lit room. Fragments of memory surfaced every now and again, but they were too hazy to latch onto. Every time she tried to recollect what had happened, the memories receded even further into her subconscious until she was left with a searing headache.

Moving away from 'her' prisoner, she looked up at Amemait who was stood talking to some people she didn't recognise, and she frowned, she knew something wasn't right about this situation, but she couldn't figure out what it was.

A sound from behind her disturbed her thoughts and she glanced back to see 'Jaret' stirring. Calling her 'friend' over she said softly, her voice barely recognisable, "He's awake!"

Searching for the 'right' tool to use in the next stage of his punishment, Sam moved over to a table furthest from her current position, and noted that there were several syringes already loaded with some form of liquid. Picking it up carefully, she examined it closely, the needle was approximately 2cm in length and the liquid within was a decidedly rusty colour. Holding it in her hands, she felt strange, the more she held it, the peculiar she felt as she recalled Colonel O'Neill's disliking for needles.

Sam felt a hand on her shoulder, and she nearly dropped the hypodermic on the floor. The voice was cold and sinister; as he spoke to her it brought shivers down her spine. Raising a hand to her head she wondered why she felt like this, surely if this man was her friend he wouldn't cause fear to build up inside her...would he?

"An interesting choice Samantha." Amemait sneered taking hold of the glass syringe.

She shivered involuntarily at his touch once more, and asked, "What does it do?"

"This causes the body temperature to rise drastically causing the body to reach its limit, it can cause convulsions, and possible death. This one however causes the reverse." Amemait explained a touch of excitement clearly evident in his stern features, as he grasped hold of a second needle, which contained blue liquid. "This causes the body temperature to decrease rapidly, and can cause a persons body chemistry to shut down one system at a time."

Sam eyed the two hypodermics carefully, and walked towards 'Jaret' with one of the syringes tightly grasped in her hand. Carelessly placing her hand on the table in front of her, her fingertips slightly brushed his, but she didn't remove them. She peered into his eyes, and saw that he was more or less completely conscious now. Jack's eyes searched for something, moving back and forth across her strained face. So engrossed in his eyes she felt a hand on top of hers, and it was like she was hit with an electric bolt, quickly she moved away from the edge of the table.

Surprised by her actions or rather lack of it, it gave Jack the hope he needed to believe that he could still reach her. Jack raised his voice slightly so that she could hear him, every ounce of effort to ensure that she heard him. "I know you're in there somewhere Sam. You recognised my touch didn't you?"

Concentrating solely on his voice as Jack had hoped, she failed to hear Amemait come up beside her, she backed away from them both, her face clearly showed a hint of confusion as to why his touch felt so familiar.

Amemait whispered to Jack, his voice was low and menacing so that his Protégé couldn't overhear the conversation. "Tut Tut, Colonel. You're not playing fair!"

"Oh there are rules to this are there. Darn it. I'd have broken them a lot sooner had I known." Jack replied sarcastically, pleased that once more he had something to fight for.

"*I* have control over her Colonel O'Neill. She does what *I* tell her. I would have thought that was evident by now. Or perhaps another demonstration is in order."

"She's a lot tougher than you give her credit for, ya know."

"Yes, I can see that by the way she's cowering to one side. A real show of strength don't you think." Amemait retorted smiling slightly at the thought that this woman would be able to break the control he had over her.

Jack wrestled against the restraints that bound him, he'd struck a nerve, and it caused him to try and lash out. Thoughts and feelings rose speedily towards the surface, his anger becoming apparent as the tone of his voice changed to deep and threatening.

"You son of a ..."

"Oh such language, and in the company of a lady as well." Amemait replied softly, noting that Jack's hands were now tightly clenched, the sound of chains rattled around his wrists as he struggled fiercely against them. "I think a show of demonstration of her loyalty is necessary, don't you?"

Calling Sam over, Amemait watched as she refused to comply. Instead she moved further aware from them. Jack grinned at the fact that the system lord appeared to be losing some control over her as he watched Sam's face turn to confusion once more.

Amemait observed a grin on the Colonel's face as Jack retorted, "You were saying!"

Anger seethed beneath the surface, his eyes grew steely. Raising his hand, Amemait struck Colonel Jack O'Neill squarely on the jaw, which strangely elicited a smile from the Colonel. Jack thoroughly please with the fact that he'd gotten under Amemait's skin.

Marching over to his protégé he fiercely grabbed hold of her arm, Sam in fear and surprise dropped the syringe, and it smashed into minute fragments on the ground. Glass splinters bounced across the floor, and she felt some of the pieces embed in her leg. At that instant, Sam felt herself taken back to the time Jaret had been lurking at her house. She remembered a lamp breaking; unconsciously she lowered her hand to her leg, and felt a slight stickiness against her fingertips. Removing her fingers from her leg, she inspected them closely; she was bleeding, just like that night at her house. Gazing up at them man who had grabbed her arm, a curious expression washed over her. Sam felt a hand slap her face.

"Stupid girl, do you know what you've done?"

Dazed and confused, her face stung from the impact of his hand, and she replied, "I' Sorry."

Doubt clouded Amemait's vision, as he felt as if he were losing control over her. Grabbing the second vial, he forced her towards Jack, which gave him the perfect opportunity to try and bring her round.

"Inject him with the substance." He told her coldly, thrusting the second syringe into her hand.

Sam looked at him with mistrust, and then forced her vision to the man lying on the table. Strangely she didn't feel the hatred for him that she had before. Her hands trembled slightly as she felt the poison contained in her hand, the hand she would use to inflict pain on the man before her.

Sam's thoughts churned within her, a second voice questioned what she about to as she remembered what this man had said to her earlier, 'This isn't you...You'll regret this...I forgive you." How did this man know her so well? Jaret had been cold and calculating, but nothing this man said, brought back the empty feelings and fear that she had succumbed to when Jaret had taken her mind prisoner. He was right. This wasn't 'her way', but he had hurt her and her friends...hadn't he?

Jack seeing the window of opportunity as he witnessed clouds of doubt filtering through his 2IC's mind.

"Sam, listen to me. I know you're having doubts about doing this, it's because it's not who you are. You're being manipulated Sam, and if we're going to get through this, you have to listen to what I'm me."

Amemait was incensed that Major Samantha Carter was listening to him. "I said inject him! NOW!"

Her hands wavered over Jack's body as she felt the pressure inside her, reaching boiling point, she didn't know which way to turn. Feeling as if she had no alternative, she plunged the liquid into Jack's chest.

Chapter 20 - Retribution

Jacob and Teal'c were busy trying in a vain attempt to stabilise the engines, their run in with the death gliders had damaged the systems more than they had anticipated. It had taken all their knowledge and expertise to ensure that the ship didn't explode into a million and one pieces.

Jacob's thoughts continued to plague him, they had to make this work. If they didn't Sam and Jack's fate would be already determined, and he wasn't prepared to allow that certainty. He'd nearly lost her once, and he wasn't prepared to lose her again. His thoughts were mixed with sadness as he remembered the day he'd lost his wife, and losing Sam to *this* resurfaced the hurt he'd felt during those darkened days.

A voice in his head emerged from within, //You may be too late to save them Jacob, and you have to accept that.//

"I don't *have* to accept anything Selmak, this is my daughter we're talking about here."

//Yes, I know that Jacob, but you have to be objective about this. Your life, and the knowledge you hold within you, is a valuable asset to the Tok'ra. Something that should not be disregarded lightly.//

"My daughter and Colonel O'Neill are my only concern Selmak, and nothing you say will change that."

Sensing that was the last statement Jacob was prepared to make for the time being, he receded back into the depths of Jacob's mind.

Teal'c had just finished realigning the crystal matrix when he felt a hand placed on his shoulder. Turning round he noticed that it was Daniel.

"Daniel Jackson, you have returned."

Jacob turned round at the sound of Teal'c's voice. Noting a concerned look on his face, Jacob proceeded cautiously towards the two men. A fear of in trepidation crossed his elderly features. In his heart he knew that something was very wrong, and his heart sank to the pit of his stomach when he realised that something must have happened.

"Danny?" Jacob asked hesitantly.

"Jacob, Teal'c. There's been a few complications."

Both men waited patiently while Daniel explained what he had witnessed in the prison cell, specifically how Sam had reacted to whatever had been injected into her body. Silence filled the engine room as they listened intently, Jacob's eyes showed his fear become reality as he heard what they had done to his 'little girl'.

Inhaling deeply as a way of controlling his emotions he turned to Teal'c asking.

"Teal'c, we need to come up with a plan to get inside the mother ship. Any ideas?"

"I do not believe that using the ships landing bay would assist us with our rescue attempt. Several death gliders have already fired us upon, and if we attempted to land on the ship, we would be captured. I believe our wisest course of action is to use the ring transporters."

"Okay, we'll go with option 2. Daniel, we need to know the layout of the ship, specifically where the ring transporters are located. I want you to work with Jonas on this, he has the knack for remembering small details, and he might be able to help. Teal'c and I will finish completing the repairs, we should only be about 5 more minutes."

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After injecting the contents into Colonel Jack O'Neill, Sam gazed down at her hands, unable to believe what she had done. Stepping back from 'Jaret' she felt empty; she still had hold of the syringe that she used to inject him. She had hoped that killing this man would ease the pain she felt within her. The retribution she longingly sought for didn't come as she had anticipated, instead she felt sickened at her actions.

Jack saw the uncertainty within Sam's eyes, just prior to her plunging the substance into his chest. He knew he couldn't persuade her as she plunged the needle through his chest. Hoping to convey one simple sentence that would jolt her back to reality, his thoughts and feelings merging as one as he said softly.

"Sam, what have you done?" There was no animosity towards her, just simple disbelief that she had carried this out, hurt reflected in his eyes. Trying desperately to retain the fact that this wasn't her who had hurt him in this way. Using his own memories to try and block out some of the pain he was feeling, he latched onto a recent memory when he held her in his arms on the planet. That was the Sam that he would remember, and those feelings he had for her would help him get through what was next to come as a waive of pain filtered through his entire body. While Sam stood aside of him, as pained expression rested in her eyes.

Amemait sneered, his voice thick with malevolence; his aim to destroy Colonel O'Neill was coming to fruition, but there was only one more deed that had to be done.

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After the repairs had been finalised Jacob and Teal'c joined their friends in the control centre, the stealth mode had been activated, and they were preparing to manoeuvre the ship into the best location.

Jacob spoke first, a sense of urgency enunciated in his words. "Daniel, I need you to find out their exact location, and come back as soon as possible. We haven't got the time or manpower to take on the whole fleet so whatever we do, we have to do it as quickly as possible."

"Jacob, there's something I have to tell you first." Daniel advised him cautiously, and then preceded to explain what Oma had advised him, should he continue to interfere.

Looking directly in his eyes, Jacob noticed the mixed emotions tumbling through the young mans vision, and he knew that this wasn't a decision that he could make for him, it was something that Daniel had to decide for himself.

"Danny, I wish I could tell you what to do! All I can say is that the decision is yours to make, and whatever you decide I'll back you." Jacob paused to allow him to mull the words in his head before he continued. "I may not like it, but either way I need for you to make up your mind...and quickly. We don't have a lot of time here."

Looking sadly at his Sam's dad, Daniel was torn in two. He didn't know which way to turn; did he risk it all, and suffer the wrath of the 'council'? Or did he take a chance, and save his friends, the way they had saved his life so many times before. It was probably the most difficult decision he was going to have to make. Taking a few moments to gather his thoughts, he realised that there really was no question as to what he would do, damn the consequences, if he was going to be punished for his transactions, then let them do it, whilst he was doing something worthwhile.

Turning back to Jacob once more, he said with his voice full of passion and commitment, "I'll help!"

Jacob gave a huge sigh of relief, and said, "Great! Get going, we haven't got much time."

Daniel winked out of existence and went to find his friends, and hoped that he wasn't too late. It took him a few moments to find them, and during that time he knew the others would be getting into position. Jacob was right, Jonas was very intelligent, and he had found during these last few days that even in the difficult circumstances, he would have really enjoyed working with him. He was just sorry that things turned out like they had, as he believed they could have become good friends.

Searching for Sam and Jack had not been particularly difficult in light of the fact that now he had ascended, he was able to locate people as if they were possessed with some kind of beacon, he found it particularly the case when it cam to locating his friends, it was if their souls were always meant to be connected, even when he wasn't in his physical body.

Observing from a distance he noticed Sam looking lost, her face flushed with fever and pain. Then diverting his eyes around the room, he saw Jack strapped tightly to a metallic table, his body convulsing, sweat profusely flowing down his face with the effort of trying to remain conscious.

Amemait stood to one side next to Sam, he eyes hungrily waiting for death to take his prisoner, a grin escaped his lips, as he watched Jack's body twitch and writhe. Knowing he couldn't do anything without the others, he tried to observe as much as possible in the short space of time that he had before the assault took place. There were only a couple of guards in the room, their staff weapons placed by their side, obviously believing that there was currently no risk to theirs or their Lords safety. The corridors were empty, which was going to be helpful of they were going to make it safely on board.

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The ship was now firmly in position and they were patiently waiting for some sign from Daniel to provide them with the exact location. As if right on queue, Daniel rematerialized back into the ship.

Teal'c saw him first and asked in his tenor voice, "What is their status Daniel Jackson?"

"They're held in the northern quarter of the ship, there are two Jaffa guards and the system lord. There didn't appear to be any guards patrolling the corridors, but that could change drastically when we get on board. Another thing that I think needs mentioning." Daniel paused trying to gather his thoughts. "They've got Jack strapped to a table, and by the looks of things he's been tortured."

"What of Major Carter?" Teal'c asked.

"Um, that's...that's one of the problems Teal'c." Daniel stuttered, unsure of how to broach this. "From the looks of things, it looked like Sam had taken part in some shape or form with hurting Jack."

Teal'c raised his eyebrows in concern, his eyes showing a hint of scepticism at Daniels words. Jacob couldn't reply, his eyes wide in disbelief. Jonas had kept silent throughout this exchange, he didn't really know Major Carter that well, but he knew her well enough to know this wasn't how she would normally behave, and asked.

"Doctor Jackson, are you sure, because this could change things. If Major Carter has been involved, then...can we trust her?"

Jacob's face erupted with anger, who was he to speak of his daughter like that. The irrational side of him was saying that *this* was his little girl and of course she could be trusted, but another voice reared it's head again, and told him to think rationally about this.

Seeing that Jacob was gradually becoming irate with Jonas's words, he placed a hand on his forearm, and said, "Jonas Quinn is correct with his statement. We cannot assume anything. We must take every precaution regarding Major Carter, whether it is warranted or not." Allowing Jacob to take stock of what had been said he continued. "I am a father also, and I understand your concerns Jacob Carter. I have been in the same position as you, and I know the pain that it causes. Yet we are uncertain as to Major Carter's condition. Until that certainty is known, we must remain cautious in our efforts to rescue them."

Jacob knew that they were right; it was just so hard imagining that his daughter might not be the same if they ever got her back. Pushing all negative thoughts to one side for the moment, he accepted to Teal's words with a slight nod. Teal'c in turn gracefully moved his head to one side and tilted it downwards in acknowledgement. Taking a deep breath he continued.

"Okay, that changes a few things, but it's nothing that we can't cope with. Daniel, Teal'c you're with me. Let's get the show on the road. Jonas, we need you to activate the transporters from this end, and maintain stealth mode for as long as possible. The engines should hold up, but if you see any sign of death gliders heading for your position, I want you to get out of here as quickly as possible. We need you to let General Hammond know of what's happened, we're way over due, and I wouldn't be surprised if he hasn't already sent out a search party."

Each knowing their part, they prepared themselves on the transport ring waiting for Jonas to active the control as they headed to rescue their friends. Jacob looked at Daniel as he picked up two Zats and held out one to Daniel. Curiously he looked at Daniel wondering whether he would take it. Hesitating only slightly, Daniel bit his lip wondering if simply by touching it, it would cause his return. Taking the risk, he took it from Jacob. Now with all three of them armed, they prepared to take on Amemait.

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The convulsions came in periods of waves as he watched his 2IC with Amemait, he honestly didn't know how much longer he could hold out; the pain was becoming unbearable, and from the looks of his 2IC, it didn't look as if she was fairing much better than he was. They both needed medical attention and soon.

Sam looked at Amemait her eyes filled with sorrow and pain, all she wanted was for this to end, to curl into a little ball in some distant place and never wake up. Her head pounded from trying to recall those fragments of memories, but everything was distorted, and every time she tried, it drained her. She just wanted to get away from everyone and everything.

Amemait reached into a hidden enclave, and pulled out a hand device. Knowing full well that Major Carter was able to use the Goa'uld technology due to the symbiote she had possessed, he would ensure that she use this against Colonel Jack O'Neill; thereby ensuring the conversion was complete.

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They had materialised un-noticed, thanks to Jonas's knowledge regarding the schematics of Goa'uld mother ships, and Daniel's recent scouting mission. All were silently grateful for small mercies.

They cautiously went thought the various corridors, waiting and watching for any signs of guards approaching. Suddenly spotting two guards heading for their direction, both Jacob and Daniel zatted at the two, before they had the opportunity to fire a single shot.

Taking in a sigh of relief that they hadn't given a warning shout, they rushed over to where the fallen Jaffa lay. Searching for a place to hide them, they couldn't see anything. Moving them further down the corridor, Jacob fired on them again to get rid of the evidence. Continuing to move precariously down the corridor, Daniel told them that it was only one more level up, and then they would be there.

"Great! Nothing like pushing your luck is there?" Jacob sighed, rolling his eyes upwards at the task at hand.

"Indeed, but we have more than that General Carter do we not?" Teal'c asked innocently.

"Yeah Teal'c. We have you." Jacob responded, and surprisingly elicited a small smile from Teal'c in appreciation at his worthiness.

Daniel spoke and said in mock hurt, "What about me?"

Given the direness of the situation, Jacob allowed himself to smile slightly and turned to face his comrade. "Yes, Danny, you too."

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Amemait approached Sam with the hand device in the palm of his hand. Sam saw the gold object and looked directly towards the man on the table, a hint of fear was now in her eyes at what he was expecting her to do with it.

"Put the device on Samantha, and in a few minutes 'Jaret' will be no more, and *you* will be able to seek solace in the fact that he can no longer hurt you or your friends."

"No, I don't want to." Sam stated plainly, there was no bitterness, no anger, just a feeling of despise at herself of what she had stooped to.

Amemait's words became angrier and malevolent as he said, "PUT IT ON!"

Her hands shook, and she felt tears well up in her eyes as she placed the device on her hand. Jack saw the turmoil in her strained features, and with his voice heavy set with emotion he called to her like a whisper in the darkness, touching the very soul of who she was. "Sam...please, don't do it. Follow your instincts. This isn't you. Help me Sam, please. He's manipulating you into thinking I'm something I'm not. Look at me Sam, it's me... Jack."

Amemait walked over to Jack, and shouted at him, his voice full of repressed rage.

"Shut Up, human. Or I will shut you up permanently."

Ignoring Amemait's grasp on his face, he continued, "Sam, what you're feeling *is* real. You just need to trust your instincts."

Sam was in shock, she shook her head trying to clear the confusion in her mind as to what was right and what was wrong, her hands visibly shook with concentrated effort. She heard a commotion going on outside the door. Her hand containing the device rose automatically in defence and who she saw took her completely aback.

Amemait in defence shouted for help, as Teal'c fired his staff at the Jaffa guards. Moving even closer to Jack, the system lord used Jack's body as a human shield. Sam's hand was aimed directly at her father, Daniel and Teal'c. Her eyes moved delicately over their faces, and she didn't know what was real and what wasn't anymore. All she knew was that she had to get out of this room as quickly as possibly.

"Jacob, I think we're gonna have company *very* soon if we're not careful, whatever you have up your sleeve, we need it now." Daniel told him warily as he glanced back between Sam, Jack and the corridor. Teal'c's staff weapon was aimed directly at Amemait in case the System Lord tried anything.

"Samantha, they're lying to you, they are not who they claim to be. They are trying to trick you." Amemait told her seeing that she was about to lose all rational thinking. "*They* are your enemies Samantha, and they're trying to hurt you." He continued in a soft dangerous voice.

A voice from the table could be heard gasping in pain, as he tried to warn Sam. "Sam...Listen to me, we talked about this, trust your feelings." Jack said before his body convulsed once more.

Sam felt like everything was falling in on her like a deck of cards tumbling in on themselves, she heard the voice of who sounded like her dad.

"Sammy, listen to Jack. It's the truth honey. We can help you, but you have to put the device down before you hurt anyone."

Sam brought up her free hand to her forehead, it sounded like her dad, and he'd said 'Listen to Jack'. The man on the table was Jack? She didn't understand, and her head felt as if it was ready to explode.

Sam crept towards the prone figure. Her heart raced against the pressure that was threatening to overwhelm her.

Jacob, Daniel and Teal'c watched their friend get closer to her CO. Teal'c manoeuvred himself round to a better position, as Sam was now faced opposite Amemait. From the others perspective it looked as if Sam was about to use the hand device on Colonel O'Neill.

Teal'c and Daniel gave Jacob a look that said, they weren't certain of Sam's intentions towards her CO. Jacob shook his head and said. "Trust her."

Sam looked at the tears in her CO's eyes, the pain was clearly evident now, and he looked at her with such an intensity that made her heart break in two. She heard goading from Amemait as he whispered. "Kill him. Kill him, NOW, before it's too late."

Turning her head towards the back of the room, she saw the weapons aimed directly at her and Amemait. She saw the trust in her father's eyes as he made his way towards her. She made no move against her father as he placed a hand on her shoulder.

"Sam, it's okay. We've come to take you and Jack home. You need to take off the hand device. C'mon Sam, no one can hurt you now."

Sam's hand wavered as she heard his soft voice, reaching out to her as he had when she was a little girl. Then she heard Teal'c's voice. "Jacob Carter, we must hurry, there is not much time."

Jacob nodded his head in response. Softly he implore her, "Sam, we gotta go, now. It's dangerous to stay."

Feeling as if a weight was being slowly lifted off her shoulders, she noticed his 'real' face for the first time since he had injected her with drugs. It had all been a façade. He'd forced her to hurt her friend in unspeakable ways, and even though she had not done it willingly, it brought fury and disgust to her features, and her hands shook as she raised the weapon that was still in her hand.

With all the hatred within her, she felt the power building u in the device.

"Sam, don't" Jacob said warningly. It was one thing to kill in battle, but another to kill through hatred, and the two were very different thing. Something he never wanted his daughter to go through.

Sam didn't feel as if she were able to stop, and ignored the pleas from her father.

Placing her free hand on top of her other hand she released all the energy that had been building up within her. A brilliant flash of light emanated form the device, and her friends could only stand and watch as she hit him full blast with all the strength she had. The force of the blast sent him flying through the air, landing hard on the instruments used to illicit pain on his victims.

Her voice was cold as she spoke the words, "Now I have retribution."

Daniel's soft voice could barely be heard as he said, "Way to go Sam."

"Indeed." Teal'c agreed.

"Sam? Are you okay? We need to get out of here as soon as possible. Can you manage?" Jacob asked indicating for Teal'c and Daniel to come and help them with Jack while he tended to Sam, her eyes vacant as she continued to see the lifeless body in the corner.

Teal'c and Daniel rushed over to untie Jack, while Jacob helped Sam with getting off the hand device, one thing he didn't want was for to inadvertently point it at any one them. Finally releasing Jack from his binds, they noticed his pallid colour, and knew that there wasn't much time.

Hoisting Jack over his shoulder Teal'c led the way immediately followed by Jacob who had a tight grip on her waist in an attempt to keep her upright and moving. Daniel brought up the rear. Sounds of Jaffa hoards could be heard heading for them, and they had to hurry.

Quickening their pace, they made their way back to the transport rings. Daniel raised Jonas on the radio in preparation for their arrival, and confirming that they had Sam and Jack with them.

Throughout the twists and turns towards their escape route, they ducked and dived as they came face to face with some Jaffa warriors. Placing Jack on the floor for a moment Teal'c placed Jack to the side to shield him form any weapons fire. Jacob literally had to drag Sam out of the way, as she stood blankly in the middle of the corridor; his thoughts were that this was never a good sign.

After a few near hits, they managed to knock out the remaining Jaffa who stood in their way. Making a break they headed for the section just below them, and ran as fast as they could to the transporter rings.

Thankful that there were no further obstacles in their way, they placed themselves round the inner circle of the transporter and signalled for Jonas to activate the rings.

Just as they were dematerialising by the energy of rings, they witnessed a hoard of Jaffa head straight for them.

Jacob looked upwards as a sighed as a sign of thanks that Jonas got them out on time.

Lowering Jack on the floor beside them Teal'c advised that he would take control over the ship, as there may be more death gliders to follow. Which would allow Jacob to tend to Jack and Sam's injuries as they all headed for the Stargate.

Sam was abnormally quiet throughout the trip back, Jacob with a lot of concentrated effort had managed to heal the majority of injuries Sam had inflicted on Jack. Within a few minutes of Jacob healing him, he opened his eyes and instantly realised that he wasn't on the mother ship anymore.

Jack's eyes searched for her, but couldn't see as Jacob was directly in his vision.

"Jacob...Sam, is she....?" Jack asked hesitantly his voice indicating none of the strength that he was known for.

Jacob patted his hand on his shoulder, and said softly, "We got her back to Jack."

"Where is she, Jacob?"

Moving out of his vision, he finally saw her, and it hurt him deeply to see that she was in the furthest corner of the room, not even looking at anyone, her face showed a look of deep regret and loss. Feeling nothing but sorrow for his 2IC, he called out to her.


Sam looked up to see that the Colonel was awake, and she knew that he would be okay, but inside she didn't feel that she would be. Unable to look at him, she turned her face away and placed her head on her bent knees. She couldn't think or feel anymore, and all the pain that she had caused him filtered through her brain. Never in her life had she felt so lost and alone.

Chapter 21 - Regrets

Jack saw the disparity in his 2IC eyes; she could barely look at him. A soul so haunted looked fleetingly back at him. Sadness filled Colonel Jack O'Neill, and he turned his head back towards Jacob. Disbelief showed clearly in Jacob's expression as he observed how his usually lively daughter, sat in solitude. Her body language spoke volumes to him as Sam's head rested gently against her pulled up knees in an attempt to shield herself from further harm.

"Jacob?" Jack asked tentatively.

"I know Jack." Jacob didn't feel the need to add anything at this point, both men feeling pain at the young women's need to cut herself off.

Struggling to sit up, Jacob held his arm out to his daughter's CO, "Take it easy Jack."

"I will Jacob, but I need to talk to her, tell her it's okay." Jack continued. "Jacob, you need to use that healing thing on her to. I don't know what sort of drugs that slimy good f'nothing put into her, but she's hurting."

"I know Jack, but at the moment she needs some space. I don't think she's ready to talk to you just yet. For now though why don't you take Jonas into the cock pit, we can't be very far from the Stargate now."

"Is that your attempt at being subtle Jacob?" Jack enquired knowing full well his presence with Sam, might not be helping her.

"Not working?" Jacob asked.


"Sorry, it's the best I can do" Jacob finished. Watching Jack's face he knew that this was just as difficult for him as it was for Sam.

Glancing over one last time at his 2IC he motioned for Jonas to follow. Leaving Sam and her Dad alone, Jack hoped it would help, but he wasn't so sure.

Slowly walking over to his daughter, Jacob carefully knelt beside her placing his hand on top of her shoulder. Unexpectedly her eyes opened widely; filled with fear and apprehension of what would take place once they got through the gate.

"Sam honey, I'm sorry I didn't mean to startle you. How are you doing?"

Sam saw the concern in her dad's face, but she didn't know what to tell him. Her dad wasn't the sort of person who would worry needlessly, but what she saw before her was definite concern in his eyes. The mind control that Amemait had used was slowly receding towards the back of her mind, and she hoped it would allow her to regain some of the control she had lost. There were still so many gaps in her memory, but she didn't know for sure if she would ever get them back again; and that scared her.

A lingering doubt still existed as to what was real and what was a hallucination. For a fleeting moment she found herself becoming paranoid once more. Looking past her father, she couldn't see him, and her eyes scanned the room longingly searching for his familiar face. Panic began to set in as she couldn't think of where he had gone, with her thoughts in turmoil, for a fleeting moment she felt as if the was once again a figment of her imagination.

Rising quickly, she felt her heart quicken at the thought of him not being there. Seeing the fear in her eyes, Jacob couldn't understand what was going through her mind until her eyes darted back and forth across the room.

"It's okay Sam." Knowing who she was looking for. "He's with Daniel, Teal'c and Jonas."

Searching for a hint of truthfulness in his voice, she asked "Your sure?"

"Yeah Sam, I'm sure. Why not come and see for yourself?" Jacob hoped it would help get her mind sorted to some degree. He knew that Jack cared very much for his daughter, and he also knew Sam well enough to know that those feelings were reciprocated. It hurt him to see his daughter so troubled, and he also knew the only way she would be able to come to terms with everything that had happened was for her to let Jack know what she was thinking and feeling.

Taking Sam by the arm he attempted to lead her to him, but she refused, instead retreating to the corner where she had first sat. Sighing slightly Jacob backed off. One thing was for sure; he wouldn't push her into anything she couldn't handle.

"Okay, Sam. Why don't you just rest here for a while, and I'll go check on the others."

As Jacob left the room, Sam didn't even acknowledge his leaving. The temptation to curl up into a little ball away from anything and everyone continued to resurface as thoughts mulled around her head. Trying desperately to recall how this all came about, she blamed herself for everything that had happened. If she had just spoken to Jack when she'd had that strange feeling about Jaret, then maybe all this might not have happened. Bringing herself back to the present she wondered if things would or could ever be the same again.

In the control room, Jack and Jacob stood to one side leaving Daniel Teal'c and Jonas towards the front. They had been fortunate so far, in the fact that no death gliders had descended down from the mother ship. Scanning the distance Teal'c noted the Stargate towards the south and proceeded towards its vicinity.

"O'Neill, we are nearing the Stargate, we should be landing in a few moments."

Jack nodded in response, then turning back to Jacob he asked. "So where do we go from here? She could barely look at me before. You know me Jacob; I've never been good with feelings and stuff. I just don't know where to start with you?"

"Jack, it's going to take time, and your just going to have to learn patience until she's ready to talk with you."

Jack pulled a face, "Jacob, those two words really shouldn't go in the same sentence when you're talking about me."

Jacob allowed himself a small smile. "Sorry Jack, I forgot."

"So, shall I go and get her?"

"No, I'll get her. I want you to take it easy, at least until Doctor Frasier checks you out."

"I'm fine Jacob, stop clucking like a mother hen."

"Jack, I'm serious. Don't make me pull rank on you." Jacob retorted firmly ensuring that there was no room for argument.

Jack sauntered off towards Daniel, Teal'c and Jonas muttering to himself about how even when General's are retired, they still make you feel like you have to obey them.

As soon as they landed Teal'c, Daniel and Jonas proceeded to check out the parameters of the ship before they allowed Sam to leave the craft, and found SG3 bordering the premises. Teal'c asked them to radio General Hammond to advise him of their status, and to have a medical team standing by.

Once they were given the all clear, they began walking cautiously towards the Stargate. Teal'c and Daniel had point, Sam and Jacob walked together; Jacob holding onto to Sam very gently his arms wrapped loosely around her waist. Jonas and Jack watched their six, keeping a weary eye out for any hostiles. Luckily for them SG3 appeared to have made everything secure.

Hammond had already been apprised of the situation involving Major Carter and Colonel O'Neill, as well as the apparent return of Daniel Jackson. When they had heard about his return, both him and doctor Frasier had been stunned. Both had so many questions they wanted to ask about Daniel, but all that had to wait. Their immediate concern was the health of Colonel O'Neill and Major Carter.

The Stargate shimmered into life as SG1 travelled through. General Hammond though wasn't prepared for the sight that lay before him. Major Samantha Carter was the first to appear being held up it seemed by her father. It shocked him to see how fragile she looked, her face was drawn and her eyes sunken. The dark circles beneath her eyes erased the clarity of her once blue eyes. Instead of their usual brightness; her eyes reflected a darkness that he'd never seen in her before.

Colonel O'Neill didn't seem to be fairing that much better, his face pale in comparison to its normal hue, concerned features reflected in his face for his 2IC.

Now stood at the bottom of the ramp Major Carter barely raised her eyes to look at him as she tried to gather some solace in the arms of her father. Sadness filled Sam's eyes as she saw the concern in the General's bleak expression. Sam believed that once the General heard about what she'd done, his opinion of her would change.

First though, she had a duty to report her recent transactions against the SGC. Gathering the last ounce of strength to say what was required of her, she took a shaky breath. Speaking softly her words were barely audible. "General Hammond. I committed an act of treason by sabotaging key SGC systems and risking the lives of personnel on this base." Trying to contain the built up emotions with her, she continued feeling the adrenaline surge through her body. " I'm prepared to face the consequences of my actions, sir."

Jack heard her say the words, and technically she was right, but it nearly broke his heart. Sometimes he hated being in the military. Her speech held no feelings of anger or sadness; they were simply the words of somebody whose life had been shattered by circumstances behind their control.

General Hammond looked up towards Jack and saw the depth of hurt in his expression. He knew this needed to be resolved, but this wasn't the time or place. All this could wait until he'd got his people checked out by the medical personnel.

"Major, we can deal with that later. I need for you all to go down to the infirmary with Doctor Frasier to make sure you're all okay." General Hammond advised her softly.

A simple nod of her head was all he got it in return. Stepping out of the way General Hammond allowed Janet to lead her to the infirmary. He knew that if they were going to get Sam to come out of her darkness, they would all have to work together on this.

Janet was shocked to see her friend in such a bad way, and wanted to remove her from the bustle of the gateroom. "C'mon Sam, you need to come with me. Colonel, I want you and your team in the infirmary within the next couple of minutes. Is that understood?" Janet stated.

Whatever had taken place on the craft, she knew it had taken everything out of the two of them. Leaving the comforting arms of her father, Sam allowed Janet to take his place and ushered her out of the room leaving the others to remain for a moment longer.

Taking a deep breath, there was none of the Colonel's comforting euphemisms as he walked towards the General. "Sir, as you can imagine there's a lot to discuss about..."

Cutting him off mid sentence General Hammond told him in plain and simple terms that everything would be discussed once he had gotten the all clear from the CMO, and that he wasn't prepared to listen until then.

"Yes, sir." Was all Jack could muster.

Sam had been completely silent through their walk down the corridors. As they entered the infirmary, Janet told her to take a seat on the bed. Her first concern was to initiate a complete work up. A nurse immediately placed a cuff on Sam's arm, and attached a probe on her finger.

"Do you want to tell me what happened Sam?" Janet asked tentatively, hoping that her friend would open up.

"Not know Janet, please." Sam replied softly, she was emotionally and physically exhausted. "I just want to sleep. Can this wait till tomorrow?"

"Sorry Sam, no can do." Looking directly at her she hesitantly asked the difficult questions. "Teal'c told SG3 that you and the Colonel had been tortured. I need to know...what methods they used."

Seeing that Janet wasn't going to leave things alone until she told her what had happened, Sam didn't feel like she had a choice on this matter. Detaching herself once more from her emotions she replied, "Colonel O'Neill was tortured with a mechanical device that burned through his skin which caused convulsions."

Janet, listened intently to her friend, and noted that her concerns weren't for herself, but for that of her CO. It didn't seem likely that she would volunteer the information about her own injuries, and she couldn't understand why. The only way she could think of for Sam to answer the questions was to turn her own statement back on itself. Softly she asked, "So, did the Goa'uld do the same to you."

Tears filled her eyes and Janet could barely make out what she said, her voice was barely above a whisper. "It wasn't a Goa'uld who hurt him was me."

Janet wasn't sure she heard correctly, her brow frowned trying to comprehend exactly what she had just said. "*You* hurt him?"

Closing her eyes in disgust at what she done, Sam brought her hands up to her face to hide the shame the statement brought with it. Tears fell freely down her cheeks. Janet was stunned.

"Sam, what do you mean? Why did you hurt Colonel O'Neill?"

"He made me. He kept telling me to kill the Colonel. I hurt him Janet. I injected him with some toxin, and if dad hadn't been there...he would have died."

"It's okay Sam, everything's going to be okay, I promise." Trying to put everything into perspective, Janet needed to know if the same fate had befallen her friend. "What about you Sam, did they inject you as well?"

"Don't worry about me Janet." Sam said solemnly. She couldn't understand why her friend still cared about her when she no longer cared for herself.

Janet shook her head, never in all these years had she seen Sam so despondent. Noticing that Sam's face was flushed, she raised her hand to feel her forehead, Sam flinched involuntarily at Janet's hand moving towards her.

"Sorry, I didn't mean to startle you." Taken aback by Sam's actions. "You look like you have a fever. I'm just going to pop the thermometer in your mouth, okay. Then I'll get a gown for you to change into, and some ice to cool you down."

Placing the thermometer in her mouth, she waited patiently for the beep. After a minute, she looked at the reading; 102 F. Inhaling deeply she knew this wasn't a good sign. One thing was certain, she needed to get her temperature down and her vitals stable, her pulse and blood pressure were still very high.

Patting Sam's leg as a gesture of comfort she advised. " I'll be back in a few minute, the nurse will help you change. Okay?"

Tiredly Major Carter nodded her head while Janet exited the privacy of their enclosed space. Janet needed answers and quickly, and she knew she wouldn't get them from her patient.

SG1 were patiently waiting in the doctor's office, waiting for Janet to finish with Sam. Approaching Colonel O'Neill first, she noted clearly that they all showed a worried expression as to their friend's fate.

Addressing Colonel O'Neill she spoke softly, "Sam told me what happened. I need to make sure your okay, Sir."

"Janet I'm fine, it's Sam you should worry about. Jacob healed me with the healing device thingy."

Completely ignoring his complaints Janet told him firmly that she wanted to make sure for herself. Taking him to one of the beds, she ordered him to take off his shirt so she could inspect the damage caused by the electrical surge. Providing him with a gown to put on, she waited patiently until he was finished. Then placing a pulse probe on his finger while Jack whined incessantly, insisting he was fine.

"I'm okay Janet, why don't you believe me?"

"Colonel, even if you had an appendage half blown off, you'd still tell me you were okay. Now sit there, and do as your told."

Jack was about to answer her back, but thought better of it, knowing her he'd stick him with a six-inch needle for his complaining.

"I need you to tell me what Sam injected you with, and what they did to her."

Jack's eyes grew wide with surprise then filled with sadness, chewing his bottom lip he replied. "I didn't think she'd tell you."

Pulling the top from the hypodermic, she needed to get samples of his blood to determine what toxin was used. Jack barely flinched as the needle passed through his skin.

Rubbing his face vigorously with his free hand he replied, "I don't know Janet, at least what she injected into me. They hurt her more."

Knowing that he needed to get this out of his system she allowed him to continue uninterrupted. "They twisted her mind, made her believe we were trying to kill her. I don't know what they used on her, but it must have been one hell of a 'Mickey Finn'. Every time she resisted they would dope her up again, and she was alone with that good for nothing slimy toad for a long time"

"Okay, Colonel, I get the picture." If Janet hadn't stopped him there, Jack would have gone on for hours about his dislike for the Goa'uld. "Well, you'll be pleased to hear that I'm done with the blood samples...for now." Checking his abdomen and chest for any other visible signs of injury, they didn't appear to be anything major. "As for your wounds, sir, they look pretty much healed."

"See, told you I was okay."

"Yes, sir, you were right. Now, can I trust you to stay here for a while? I need to get some things for Sam."

"I'll behave. Doc, will you let me know how Carter's doing? She hasn't spoken to me since that whole 'I'm gonna kill you' episode, and she wasn't doing to well before." Jack knew he was rambling, but he realised that he only did that when he worried for her. "I think she has a fever, and well... It's just that... I'm a know."

Janet gave a small smile, she knew very well about their feelings. Although Sam hadn't said anything to her directly about how she felt for Colonel O'Neill. It was plain for anyone to see. Somehow though she didn't think the Colonel would appreciate the fact that everyone did know, so instead she replied, "I know."

By the time Janet had finished with Colonel O'Neill, Sam had already changed into her hospital gown and was now lying in a foetal position on the bed. With her eyes tightly closed, she wrapped her hands securely around the pillow for comfort. Janet sighed; she'd only once ever seen her friend so distraught, and it had taken a lot of time to get Sam to open up about what she was feeling. Somehow, she didn't think this time would be any easier.

Retrieving some ice from the medical supplies, her main concern at the moment was to bring her temperature down, and draw some blood for analysis. Janet needed to find out exactly what was injected into her friend, and wondered if her fever was somehow related to the toxins in her body.

"Sam, I'm just going to draw some blood from you, okay?" Janet asked, but received no reply; it seemed to Janet that Sam had completely turned in on herself. Talking to her gently, she explained what she was doing and why. Sam didn't even flinch when the needle pierced her skin. "Nearly done now, I just need to check you over for other injuries." Lifting the hospital gown, she found various contusions around her stomach and ribs; needle marks had pieced the side of her neck where they had obviously injected something.

Throughout the examination Sam had remained reluctant to speak. At this stage Janet didn't press her on it. Allowing Sam a moment to get dressed again, she waited until she was settled back down on the bed before placing the ice packs at the nape of her neck.

"I'm all done for now Sam, if you need anything, just let me or the nurse know."

Giving her arm a slight rub to provide some comfort, she slowly walked away. Closing the curtains behind her, she allowed Sam at least some time alone to come to terms with everything that had happened. In the mean time she had some things she needed to discuss with the remaining members of SG1 and Jacob Carter. Janet hoped they would be able to provide the answers she desperately needed.

Sam knew that she was being unreasonable not talking to Janet, but Janet's voice had held a note of sorrow, and Sam didn't believe that she was worth it, hell she'd nearly killed her CO. There were just too many things floating around in her head that she had to sort out. Memories that she had to piece together to make sense of why she did what she did, and how she would face the impending court martial. Part of her mind believed that she deserved the court martial. The other part of her kept hoping that she could erase the last few days.

How could she carry on working with her friends now, how could they trust her again after everything she'd done. It had got to the stage where her mind was filled with darkened images of the acts that she had carried out. With all the emotions careering through her brain it caused her heart rate to increase setting off the alarms on the monitor.

Jack heard the alarm go off, and fearing that something else was happening to his 2IC disconnected himself from the various wires and probes attached to his own body. Jumping off the bed he pulled the curtain to one side, and watched as he saw her trying to disconnect herself from the machines.


As she turned round, her face resembled that of a child caught doing something they shouldn't be doing. Startled she stuttered. "C.. C.. Colonel."

"Janet will have your hide if she catches you." Jack told her lightly.

A tense pause filled their small cubicle; Sam bit her lip unsure of what to say to her friend and CO whose life she had come close to taking. "Um...I'm sorry if I disturbed you sir."

Seeing her sat on the bed, she looked so fragile. Usually he saw her as a strong capable woman, but now she looked like someone who would jump at their own shadow, and it scared him. "You didn't. I was just...well, I was concerned about you." Jack replied softly.

Sam stared blankly back at him, "Why?"

Jacks face frowned with confusion, why would she ask him that? "What do you mean 'why'?"

"Never mind... sir. Look would you mind leaving now please."

"Yes I do mind!"

"What?" Sam asked shocked, she kind of expected him to leave without hesitation.

"Don't feign deafness Carter, leave that to Daniel." Jack continued trying to lighten the mood somewhat. It didn't appear to be working as he noticed her pulse increase once more.

"Sir, please. I'm asking you to leave." Her eyes begged for him to listen. She couldn't talk to him; not yet.

"Carter, the only way we can sort this out is if we talk about it."

Sam clenched her fist at the thought of having to relive her feelings about hurting him. Damn it, where was Janet when she needed her. Looking everywhere but directly at him, she wanted to tell him how she felt, but now wasn't the time. A fear of dread built up inside her at the thought that she would have to convey to him how close she had become to killing him. No matter how hard she tried to push it to the furthest corner of her mind, it continued to resurface as a cancer, relentless and unyielding.

As the monitor continued to beep in quick concession, Jack became increasingly concerned, and thought about contacting Janet. Fortunately for him, she had just rounded the corner, and saw the vacant bed.

Janet's eyes rolled upwards as she muttered, "I swear some people are put on this earth to make my life difficult!" Seeing that Sam's curtains were slightly opened she had a good idea where he would be.

Pulling the curtain all the way back, the first thing she noticed was Sam's blood pressure and pulse rate, then looking directly at her friends face she knew something was wrong.

Crossing her arms in front of her chest she glared at the Colonel, indicating she wasn't impressed. Jack gave his, "I'm not afraid of you look" in return to her steely gaze.

"Bed." Janet said sternly towards the Colonel.

"I was just..."

"Now Colonel."

Jack muttered quietly under his breath as he turned away from her, "Napoleonic power monger."

"I heard that."

Huffing in protest about being ordered back to bed, Jack gave one last backward glance at his 2IC, she glanced up at the same time and their eyes locked for s brief moment each sharing a glimpse of the other's deepest darkest feelings. He'd seen that look before; in his own eyes when he'd looked into a mirror. It was a haunted look that burned deep within. A look of self-loathing.

Hovering at the edge of the bed, he said, "Sam."

"Colonel, don't make me get the SF's to come down here and drag your butt on that bed, because you know I will."

Inhaling deeply with frustration he continued, "Doc, it's important."

"Yes, and so is the welfare of my patients, both of who need monitoring and rest. You need to wait until I've assessed Sam's condition. Now do I call the guards or are you going to do as your told?" Janet finished off firmly.

"I'm going." Jack replied belligerently. He knew that Janet wouldn't be on shift all night, and he would use that opportunity later to talk with Sam. Settling back into the bed, he covered his face with his hands, and tried to get some rest before Janet came over with her big needles.

"Sam, we need to reduce your vitals, and I'm hesitant to introduce another drug into your system. I don't know how the two drugs would interact. Until your results are back from the lab I want you to rest up. So swing your legs back into that bed please."

"Janet, I just want to go home. Can't I rest there?"

"I'm sorry Sam, but I need you to stay here." She replied gesturing for Sam to get back on the bed.

"I *don't* want to stay here Janet." Sam replied stubbornly, refusing to comply with Janet's insistent requests.

"You've never minded my company before? So why the urgency to get out now."

Unconsciously looking over to the shielded bed next to her, she replied hesitantly, "It''s not you Janet."

Now fully comprehending why she felt the desperate urge to leave the infirmary, she sat herself down on the edge of the bed, placing her hand lightly on Sam's arm and whispered, "You're going to have to talk to him sometime you know."

"I can't." Sam replied fiddling with her hands.

"Can't or won't?" Janet challenged.

Sam didn't have an answer for her, she didn't even know herself. Wanting to now hide herself from the emotions she swung her legs over, and laid her head on the upright pillow.

"He's hurting too Sam, whether you want to believe that or not." Janet continued softly.

Turning her head sharply towards her friend, "I *know* that Janet, and *who* do you think is responsible. I'll tell you shall I?" Sam replied finding herself becoming agitated and angry all over again. "It's my fault. I'm responsible for this mess. If I could take it back, don't you think I would?"

Jack heard her voice rising steadily getting angrier with every passing moment, and thought about interfering, then hearing Janet's words, he realised that for the moment she would be the one best suited to talking with Sam, they had grown exceptionally close over the last six years and sometimes it was easier speaking to a friend as opposed to your CO, and that's just what she needed right now.

Thoughts mulled in his head as sleep eluded him, how could he sleep when his feelings for Carter ran so deep. When she hurt, he hurt. Unfortunately he knew that neither of them could act on it. Knowing how important her career was to her, and him being her CO, it would never work; the regulations would never allow it.

Remembering his conversation with Jacob about how he felt for her when he thought Sam was dying. Jack knew that Jacob would never mention it to Sam until things could be different. When he thought about how close he came to telling her he loved her, she had called him 'Sir' and that one simple word had put his feelings on hold once more.

Lowering her voice once more Janet continued. "Sam. All I'm saying is that you are *both* having feelings of regret. Going through something like this will undoubtedly leave scars, but unless you talk to each other, the problem will continue. It'll get to a stage where you won't be able to talk to each other at all. Is that what you want?"

Matching her tone of voice to Janet's she replied sadly, "No of course not. How can he trust me though Janet?" Her eyes filled with tears at the thought. "I don't even know if I trust myself."

"Sam, you've come through a lot of things together, and you'll both find a way to make it work. It's just going to take some time."

Sam's eyes began to droop and unable to take much more of this day, she closed her eyes. Feeling the coolness of an ice pack once more on her forehead, she opened her eyes briefly as Janet's final words were, "You rest, we'll talk more later."

Within moments, Sam fell into a restless sleep, the day's events finally catching up with her.

Lost in thought, Janet didn't realise that there were people waiting for her. Her eyes rested on Daniel. Up until this point she hadn't give him much thought, especially with what she had to contend with here, but seeing him here in the flesh took her by surprise.

"Daniel. It really is you?" Janet whispered.

"Hi Janet."


"I'll explain later." Daniel answered with a hint of a smile on his face. Turning towards his friends, General Hammond was the first to speak.

"How are they Doctor?"

"Well, physically and emotionally, they're both a little battered and bruised. Colonel O'Neill is fairing up better than Major Carter at the moment. Jacob healed the Majority of the Colonel's injuries, and he seems to be in reasonable good health. Major Carter though is still suffering from the effects of the drugs that were injected into her."

"I see. Can I speak to them?" General Hammond enquired.

"You can see Colonel O'Neill for a few minutes, but then I really need him to get some rest. As for Major Carter, she's currently running a temperature, which I need to keep an eye on. I've just left her, and she seemed to be asleep, so it might be best if you speak to her in the morning."

"That's fine doctor. I won't stay long."

"He's just inside that cubicle Sir."

General Hammond nodded, there were a few things that he needed to discuss with the Colonel, and he knew it wouldn't be pleasant, particularly as it involved the Major's impending Court Martial.

Placing a hand on Janet's arms, Jacob asked, "Can I go sit with her? I promise not to wake her."

Knowing Sam would appreciate having her dad there when she woke up, she agreed. Turning towards the remaining members of SG1 she needed to complete their physicals first, and at least it would keep her mind occupied until the test results came back.

"So, who's first."

"Well, I'm dead, so you don't have to worry about me." Daniel advised.

Not expecting that as a response, Janet allowed herself to smile. Completely disregarding his statement she replied. "Great, thanks for volunteering Daniel."

General Hammond approached the Colonel's bed, he looked as if the whole weight of the world had been placed on his shoulders.

"How are you feeling Jack?"

"I've been better. How's Sam?"

"Doctor Frasier said she's running a temperature, presumably from the injections. She's asleep at the moment so I won't disturb her. Do you want to tell me what happened?"

"Not really, but I don't think I have a choice."

For the next 30 minute Jack advised the General of everything that had happened over the last few days bringing him back to their present circumstances, and Sam's admission of treason.

Up until this point General Hammond had remained quiet throughout allowing the young man to get it off his chest.

"Jack, you do realise that there will have to be a court martial, don't you?"

"Sir, it wasn't Carter's fault, she was being controlled." Jack pleaded to his commanding officer, hoping that there was some other way around this.

"I know that son, but I'm afraid things have gone too far now. I cannot just sweep this under the carpet like it never happened."

Jack knew that there wasn't any alternative, but he had to try; for carter's sake. "Please sir, she doesn't deserve this."

Shaking his head, his only response was. "I'm sorry Jack. The hearing will be scheduled as soon as you are both up and ready."

Sighing deeply, Jack closed his eyes in defeat. "Yes, sir."

"Get some rest. I'll come and see you both in the morning."

Chapter 22 - The Trial - Part 1

It couldn't have been more than 10 minutes after General Hammond left, that Colonel O'Neill fell into a deep slumber. Dreams of the last few days continued to plague him. Different scenarios played out in his mind as he tried to work out what he could have done differently.

Over in the next bed, Sam slept restlessly. Jacob sat beside her, watching as she continued to toss and turn. Frown lines featured prominently as she tried to shake off the nightmares. Her vitals hadn't reached critical levels, but they were still way above normal. Jacob was worried that his daughter would never be the person that she once was.

Jacob's stature revealed his concern; his body slumped forward, as if the weight of the world had been placed on his shoulders. He'd never seen his daughter looking so fragile. She seemed so small and vulnerable. At this moment Jacob felt that his little girl was more like a china doll. He feared that if he touched her, she would break. His hands lay in his lap, clasped tightly. It had been so much easier when she was younger.

His mind took him back to the past of when Sam was afraid of the dark. As a child he was able to reassure her. It was easier then, to chase away imaginary 'boogiemen' from a childhood nightmare. Now though, the nightmares were very real for her, and he felt helpless.

Jacob bowed his head; silently defeated by circumstances beyond his control. Thoughts and feelings of inadequacy churned within him. He felt angry about what the Goa'uld had done with her, and how they forced his daughter to commit despicably acts against her friend and CO. Jacob shook his head in an effort to rid himself of the regrets he had for failing to come to his daughter's aid sooner. His duties as a Tok'ra had kept him away from his daughter for far too long, and she had paid the ultimate price for his alliance with them.

A bleep from the monitor alerted him to the fact that her blood pressure had spiked once more. Jacob was not prepared to see his daughter hurt any longer and knew that it was time to seek out the help of Doctor Frasier. Being careful not to wake Sam, he slipped out of the cubicle and headed for the Doc's office.

Doctor Janet Frasier was reviewing the blood work on her patients, when she heard a tap on the door. Looking to see who her night time caller was, she was surprised to see Jacob stood there.

"Come in Jacob."

"Doctor Frasier, I'm not disturbing you am I?" Jacob asked tentatively.

"No, not at all. I've just received the blood work back from the lab for Colonel O'Neill and Sam." Janet answered wearily.

"Anything I should know?"

"Well, Sam has two different chemicals in her bloodstream, similar to neural toxins. With the interaction of them both, it's causing an adverse reaction to her brain and body chemistry. We've seen two different sides of Sam since she was brought back to the SGC, the volatile Sam, and the withdrawn side of her."

Jacob allowed the news to set in before he asked, "Is it permanent?"

"I don't think so. Her toxicity levels are gradually coming back to normal, but it'll still be a few more days before the drugs dissipate. Then we'll just have to wait and see. The marks on her forehead and body should heal without any real problems. As for her fever, I'm hesitant to introduce something else. I think for the time being, we'll just have to use old fashioned medicine, unless things become progressively worse."

"Did you get a chance to speak to her?"

"A little, she's very mixed up." Janet answered sadly, rubbing her head to erase a headache that continued to pound within her skull. "I spoke to Daniel, Teal'c and Jonas during their physicals and they told me what happened. To be perfectly honest, I think she's holding up remarkably well. With everything that's taken place, both to her body and mind, we're lucky to have gotten her back at all."

Taking a deep breath inwards she continued, pain for her friend evident in her voice. "As I told Sam earlier, it's just going to take some time. I think once she starts remembering everything that happened, she'll start to improve. I've asked Dr Mackenzie to come and see both Sam and Colonel O'Neill; he should be arriving later in the week to discuss the way forward. Unfortunately it's far beyond my expertise." Janet advised him dejectedly; slightly frustrated at her own inadequacies to help her friend.

"Are you okay?" Jacob asked, seeing the worried looks on the young doctor.

"I'm fine. It's just I feel, so..."

"Helpless? Angry?" Jacob said, knowing exactly how she felt.

Smiling sadly at his understanding, she continued. "I don't know if I'm doing the right thing or not. She's my best friend and I just wish..." Janet answered unable to explain further.

"I know."

"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to dump all this on you. Was there something you wanted to talk to me about?"

"Actually, you answered some of the questions that I came here to ask. I'm just worried about her, and needed a bit of reassurance myself."

Smiling sadly at the elderly man, she replied. "Unfortunately it's just a waiting game now."

Getting up from his seat, Jacob thanked the Doctor and returned to his daughter's side.

Rubbing his hand over his head, he let all the words sink in. He desperately needed some time to think things through; luckily it was now nighttime, and the base was pretty much deserted. The stillness of the night would give him the perfect opportunity to gather his thoughts in anticipation for the days ahead. Sam would need him now more than ever, particularly in light of the impending court martial. With his mind set, Jacob decided that he would not leave her until all this was sorted out.

Another voice in his head appeared from within. //We have other duties to attend to Jacob.// Selmack advised, whispering his thoughts into his tired mind.

"I know that Selmack, but this is my daughter, and I will not leave her."

//She will be fine. We on the other hand have information that must be relayed to the others."

"Selmack, I don't really care about them at the moment. Until my daughter is fit and well, then I will remain with her. With or without your approval."

//You are being unwise Jacob Carter.//

"Welcome to parenthood." Was all that Jacob replied, he knew that Selmack would never know the pain a parent feels when their child is ill, and hoped that he never had to. Sure he knew that this was Sam's choice to join the SGC, but it was what she loved, and he would do anything to allow her to keep it alive.

Sitting back down inside the cubicle, he lay his head against the wall, and fell into a silent slumber.

Daniel had been walking round the SGC for several hours, reacquainting himself with his old stomping ground. He never realised until now how much he'd missed everything and everyone, particularly his team. He had spent the last hour speaking with Jonas. As their conversation progressed, Daniel was taken aback slightly that Jonas had offered to give back his office. Declining the offer, he told the young man that this wasn't his time; it was Jonas's.

Walking back towards the infirmary, he had spoken with everyone except Jack and Sam. He needed to tell them that he couldn't stay, but he wasn't sure how they would take it. Unconsciously it had been Sam who had showed him the way forward. Her admissions of guilt in the gateroom made him realise that he too had to face up to the consequences of his actions. A feeling of nervous energy built up inside him. Daniel wasn't looking forward to the conversation he would have to have with either of them.

On entering the stillness of the infirmary, he sat down next to Jack and witnessed the troubled sounds and expressions of his former CO murmuring in his sleep. Jack in the depths of slumber felt a presence watching over him, and opened his eyes to see Daniel looking at him with a curious expression on his face.

"Sorry Jack, I didn't mean to disturb you." Daniel advised.

"You didn't." Jack replied rubbing the remnants of sleep from his eyes. Hesitating slightly he continued, "I'm actually glad you woke me up."

"Not pleasant dreams then I take it?"

"You could say that." Jack replied controlling his breathing. Looking carefully at the young man before him, Jack noted a change in the young mans demeanour. Daniel's eyes lowered towards his hands, unsure of how to proceed. Clearing his throat, Jack asked, "You're leaving aren't you?"

Now looking directly at his friend he replied softly, "Yeah, I am."

Jack sat up to pay more attention. "Why? I mean it's not as if you've been summoned or anything?"

"Jack, I have to go. This isn't my time. I need to go back and face the consequences of my actions. Now that you and Sam are back and in one piece. I've done what I came to do." Daniel tried to explain, but knew that it was a futile gesture. When things didn't go with what Jack had in mind, he'd turn on the blinkers; and that's exactly what he was doing now.

"Sam needs you, Daniel. She needs all of us. You can't just leave like this. We need you to testify at the court martial."

Inhaling deeply, part of him wished that he had just left. Jack was very protective when it came to members of his team, with Sam though, he knew that it was more than that.

"Sam will be fine, she's got all of you here to look out for her. I promise that I'll keep an eye on her, if I can."

"Daniel, she won't want the 'voice of reason', she just wants to know that you'll be there for her, as her friend." Jack started.

"Jack, that's not fair."

"No, it isn't Daniel, but do you think your leaving us again is?" Jack enquired, knowing though that he was being unreasonable. It wasn't that he was angry with Daniel for having to leave again. It was just that he'd gotten used to them being a team once more.

"Jack, please try and see it from my point of view." Daniel implored him.

"I am, it's just... well, you know."

Daniel cocked his head towards him, and saw beneath the façade that Jack so often portrayed. Looking deeply in his eyes, he finally understood and replied. "Yeah, I know. I'll miss you lot to."

Saying goodbye had never been one of Jack's strong points, and not wanting to prolong it any further replied. "Thanks for everything. I know what you did wasn't easy, but again."

"You're welcome. Take care, Jack." With his last words spoken, Daniel left his friend to find some peace. Taking a deep breath he went to see Sam.

On opening the curtain, he saw Jacob flat out in the chair, worry etched in his elderly features. Sam was still curled up in a foetal position and his heart went out to her. His thoughts were, that no one should ever have to go through something like this, particularly Sam. Not wanting to disturb her, Daniel closed his eyes and tried to find someway into her subconscious. Ascending from the room, his leaving left a brightness that lit up the whole cubicle.

Jacob opened his eyes to see the young man ascend once more, "Thanks Danny." Looking once more at his daughters still form, her cheeks looked very flushed. Sheen of sweat covered the brow of her head, and her whole body radiated heat. Jacob felt his heart plummet into his stomach, and he pleaded silently to whoever had control over his daughters fate. "Don't, take my little girl, please. I need her."

Leaving Sam for a few moments, he called out to Janet, disturbing Colonel O'Neill in the process.

"Jacob, what's the matter?" Jack asked shouting across the screen, a hint of fear echoed in his words.

"Sam's fever's spiked." Jacob replied, with a hint of panic.

Hearing the raised voices Janet came out of her office with a worried expression on her face, "What's wrong?"

After Jacob relayed Sam's condition, Janet checked the Sam's chart; her condition had been monitored periodically through the night, and had only been checked half an hour ago. The readings read, 102.F. Checking her temperature once more, Janet frowned, it now read 105.F. Janet knew that Sam couldn't sustain her body temperature at that level for very long. With the ice packs not working, she knew it wouldn't long before Sam would start with febrile convulsions. What disturbed her even more was the fact that Sam hadn't woken.

Ignoring the Doc's previous request for him to stay in bed, Jack disconnected himself and went to see how she was; he would face the wrath of ol' Doc Frasier later.

Daniel guided himself through Sam's fevered dream, and saw her in the midst of battle. Within Sam's mind, hoards of Jaffa slaughtered innocents. What troubled him more was that there in the centre of it all, were SG1. Goa'uld firing upon them left right and centre. Sam knelt beside Colonel O'Neill trying desperately to protect him with her own body. With her hands on his wounds, blood seeped through, spilling down her fingers. No matter how much she tried to wipe the blood off, it kept appearing in front of her eyes. She knew she couldn't help him as he continued to drown his own blood. Around her, the bullets continued to fly overhead.

Jack's soft voice resonated against the battle that forged on around her, "It's your fault, Sam!" The tears in her eyes continued to well and fall freely onto her hands below.

Approaching her cautiously, Daniel laid a hand on her shoulder, but she didn't turn round. Instead she continued to stare relentlessly at the ongoing battle that surrounded her; watching her friends fall one by one.

"Sam?" Daniel asked softly. Trying again he turned her to face him. "Sam, what is this?"

"It's my fault Daniel, all of this. I could have stopped it, but I didn't. I hurt my friends, and I have to pay the consequences." Sam answered tearfully.

"Oh Sam." Daniel thought that if this was how she coped in a dream state, he completely understood why she had acted so strangely when they had returned t

Kneeling beside her, Sam's hand still pressed firmly on her CO's wound. Daniel looked earnestly into her troubled eyes. "Sam, I know what you must have gone through was hard, and I can't pretend to know what you're feeling. What I do know is this. The Sam Carter I know, wouldn't willingly hurt her friends. You have to accept the fact that you will have regrets over what happened, but you also need to realise that your friends are here to help you get through this. Don't feel as if you have to do this by yourself."

"I've hurt him Daniel." Sam replied sadly, all the pent up emotions finally reaching the surface. She forced herself to say the words, "He nearly died because of me."

Treading carefully, unsure if what he was saying was the right thing, he replied; "Yes, he did Sam. You can't change that. Think about this though; he would have died FOR you. Seeing you like that on the ship tore him apart, and he would have gladly - well maybe not gladly, but he would rather have died than see you struggle like this. You need to talk to him; the real Jack O'Neill, face to face."

Looking down at the Colonel in front of her, his eyes were closed. Sam placed a hand on his chest, but couldn't feel a heart beat. Dejected, Sam got up and paced back and forth, ruffling her hands in her hair. Gesturing wildly at the Colonel's still form, she replied. "You see what happens? My actions caused this."

Daniel closed his eyes briefly trying to think of a way for her to see that this wasn't real. "Sam, it may be easier to stay safe in this world, but your friends need you." Then wondering if he should take it further, said softly, "Jack needs you."

"I can't face him Daniel. I wouldn't know where to start. Everything is so jumbled."

"Sam. You're trying to sort everything out in one go, and it won't work. Tell him what happened from the time you went to the DeAsha homeworld, and go from there. Things that you can't remember, Jack, Teal'c or Jonas can fill in. Don't shut them out."

As the thoughts churned around in Sam's mind, the killing and destruction appeared to settle around her. Sam looked directly at her friend and asked, "Will you be there?"

Stepping closer to her, he caressingly placed his hand on her head. "I'll be here...." Then moving his hand to her heart he continued, "...and I'll be here. Just because you can't see me Sam, doesn't mean I won't be there for you."

Sam nodded, taking her friends hand. "I'll miss you."

Daniel smiled in return. "Me too."

Sam closed her eyes and took a deep breath. "I can do this." She thought, and then suddenly felt as if she was surrounded by water. Opening her eyes, her vision appeared blurry at first. Sam allowed herself a few minutes to adjust them. After a few moments she became more aware of her surroundings. Looking downwards she found herself submerged in water.

"Hey, welcome back, Sam. You had us all worried for a while." Jacob stated with a huge smile on his face, relief clearly evident that she had come back to them. There stood next to him were Janet and Jack, looking equally relieved.

"Temperature appears to have come down, how do you feel Sam?" Janet said, relieved that her friend was finally awake.

"Better, thanks."

Sighing with relief Janet responded, "Good. Okay, let's get you out the water and into a fresh gown."

Throughout the exchange, Jack had remained silent. He didn't know if his presence here would be welcome, and muttered inconspicuously. "I'm glad you're feeling better. Excuse me." Jack finished heading out of the room where they had taken her.

Biting her lip, she knew this would be the most opportune time, "Sir."

Snapping his head back at the sound of her voice, his heart skipped a beat. Trying hard not to expect too much from that one little word, he clenched his fist in anticipation. "Yeah, Carter."

"Um...could you come and see me in a few minutes?"

Jack smiled slightly in anticipation. It wasn't much, but he would take anything right about now.

Once Janet had settled Sam back into bed and reconnected the monitors, Jack arrived a few minutes later. Sam looked intently at her father then towards Jack. Hesitantly she asked both her dad and Janet if they could have some privacy.

Jacob gave Jack one of his father looks that stipulated 'under no circumstances are you to get her agitated'. Seeing though how important it was for them to start talking again, he kissed his daughters forehead and let them be. Janet sternly admonished the Colonel for being out of bed, and ordered him return to his own side after their talk. In return Jack promised faithfully to not whine for the remainder of his stay in the infirmary.

Sam adjusted herself, and sat up a little more fully. Jack continued to hover by the curtains, waiting patiently for Sam to say that it was okay to join him. Taking a deep breath and exhaling slowly, Sam continued to bite her lower lip. Both of them knew that this wasn't going to be the easiest of conversations. Swallowing hard, they looked into each other's eyes at the same moment. Tired blue eyes met his. Both sharing regret and pain about each other.

Sam patted the bed beside her as an invitation for him to sit with her. Jack hesitated, briefly wondering what the others would think if they caught him sat on the edge of her bed. Jack decided it would be safer to remain slightly at a distance; uncertainty clouded his thoughts.

Sam saw the hesitation and knew exactly what was going through his mind. Her eyes sent out a plea asking him to meet her halfway, and then speaking softly said, "Please."

That one simple word to Jack meant more than anything else. She needed him to be close, and he needed to feel closer to her. Walking slowly towards her, he perched himself on the edge of the bed, turning his body towards his 2IC. Sam continued to fiddle with her hands, trying desperately to find the right words.

Jack saw the internal struggle waging within her, and his heart skipped a beat. Pausing for just a moment, he hesitated whether to take her hand in his. This wasn't a case of regulations be damned, it was a necessary part of the healing process. One with which they both would need to take tentative steps to rebuild the unspoken bond.

Clearing her throat Sam stated sadly. "Daniel's gone."

"I know, he told me. Did you see him before he left?" Jack hoped the answer was 'yes', because he didn't want to have to explain this as well.

"Yeah, I did. He... um...said a few things that helped."

Sending a silent word of thanks to Danny he looked at her intently. "I'm glad."

"Me too."

A silent pause fell before them. Each wondered who should speak first, or who would have the courage to open up to the other. In the past it was always Sam who made her feelings very clear. Jack remembered the time when she had wanted to talk about Daniel's ascension; he had cut her off. It had been important for her to talk then, but he felt that if he had opened up to her it would mean revealing more than he cared to admit. So in typical military style he'd dismissed her with a wave of his hands, and he knew it had hurt her deeply.

Not wanting to repeat his past behaviour he decided to take the opening step. Clearing his throat before he began, he rubbed the base of her thumb. Trying desperately to fixate his eyes on anything but her face he began slowly.

"I screwed up Sam. I don't know of any other way to say it. I put you in position... that should never have happened."

Sam heard the words softly fall from her CO's mouth, and couldn't believe her ears. Daniel had been right, he was tearing himself over this, just as much as she was.

"Sir, it's not your fault. I should have told you about Jaret from the beginning."

"What do you mean?" Jack asked, a concerned expression masking his chocolate coloured eyes.

"I had a bad feeling, but I thought it was just Jaret being arrogant. I didn't tell you how I felt." Pausing slightly, Sam gathered her thoughts. "I'm sorry."

Jack went to interrupt her, but she halted him. "Please, I need to tell you this. The morning you came looking for me in the lab, he'd warned me not to tell you all or... he'd kill you." With those last words, Sam's eyes began to fill with tears.

Holding back a sob that threatened to surface she continued. Jack sat quietly, empathising with her anguish. "When you asked how I was...I nearly told you, but then you...collapsed. My... selfishness nearly killed you." Sam finished with a touch of bitterness.

"It wasn't selfish to want the help of your friends. If I were in your position I probably would've done the same thing. I knew something was wrong, and I kinda cornered you into telling me."

Smiling slightly, she had remembered the look of concern in his eyes that morning. "It was those puppy dog eyes, sir."

Startled, his eyes locked onto hers as she carelessly wiped the tears that silently fell. "W.w.w.what?"

"The reason I nearly told you. It was those pouting eyes, you looked as lost as I felt."

For the first time he felt as if the old Samantha Carter was resurfacing, and his slight smile reflected in his eyes. "Carter, a Colonel in the military cannot have puppy dog eyes. Trust me."

"Other Colonel's don't have them, sir... but you do."

Shaking the image out of his head, he would have to ask Teal'c about that. It was a welcomed relief to see her like this, but he knew that this was only the beginning.

"I don't remember much after that, just bits and pieces."

"A lot happened. When Jaret took you through the you remember that?"

Sam shrugged as the Jack continued. "We found you in the cave, you were dying." Jack suddenly felt his throat constrict, a shiver travelled down his spine at the memory. Sam felt the goose pimples raise to the surface on his hand.

She remembered...something, someone holding her. It had felt so comforting. Looking up at him she said. "You held me, didn't you?" Absently her mind wandered, trying to catch that elusive memory, she closed her eyes briefly. Her voice was barely above a whisper. "I felt so safe."

Jack was sure she would be able to hear his heart, as it pounded against his chest. Now was the time for honesty. "I didn't want to let you go. I thought that..."

Sam opened her eyes, her expression held a touch of sadness at her CO's struggle. "What did you think?" She added softly, needing to know.

"I thought that...if I let you go. I'd never get you back again."

Allowing a single tear to escape once more, Sam didn't know how to respond. This was the first time that he'd ever really shared his feelings with her. A single dark thought resurfaced, masking everything he had said.

A hint of regret touched her voice as she said. "I bet you wished you hadn't after what I did."

A build up of anger and sadness rose to the surface at her statement. "Why would you say that?"

"Because it's the truth."

Shaking his head vehemently he grabbed his 2IC's face, and made sure that she was looking directly at him, and hearing the words. "Sam, is that what you really think?"

Searching the depths of his eyes she replied. "Yes."

Suddenly feeling the desperate urge to escape the look he was sending her. Sam tried to remove her hand from his, but he refused to let it go.

"No you don't. Don't back away from me now." Jack told her in his most commanding voice. "The person on *that* Goa'uld ship was *not* you. That 'I'm-a-mate' snakehead twisted your mind; he injected you with all kinds of stuff. I know the real Samantha Carter, and I trust her with my life."

"Yes, but can you still trust me. After everything I did to you."

Without hesitation her replied simply, "Yes."

Allowing the words to sink in, Jack saw the soul searching in her expression. "Sam. We both have regrets about what happened. Neither of us can change that, but I trust you. If I had thought you'd turned to the 'dark side' I would have left you there."

"The dark side?"

Jack shrugged, "Sorry, been watching to much Star Wars with Teal'c."

Sam smiled a soft tired smile, she felt as if she'd run the gauntlet with her emotions.

"It's just that...I don't know if I trust myself anymore."

"Sam, it's going to take time. Give yourself a break. You can't walk away from something like this, without having... scars."

Sam rubbed her eyes tiredly; a small yawn escaped her lips. Knowing that she was exhausted he squeezed her hand lightly, and said. "That's my cue. You need your rest, and ol' Doc Frasier's gonna have my hide for talking to you this long."

As if right on cue, Janet appeared at the edge of the bed. "Ahem."

Not able to think of anything else, all that came out of his mouth was, "Doh!"

"Why are you still here?" Janet demanded of her uncooperative patient.

Jack cocked his head as if to say, 'so sue me'. Instead he replied, "I'm just going."

Hopping off the bed he leant into Sam and whispered, "I swear that women's got the ears of a bat." Which elicited a genuine smile from Sam. Jack's thoughts were, "Mission accomplished." He knew that it was still going to be a bumpy road, but he felt better than he had a few hours before.

The next few days passed slowly for both of them, Janet had insisted that Colonel O'Neill remain in the SGC until his blood work came back negative. For once he didn't kick up a stink, much to Janet's surprise. Janet made a mental note to herself to thank Sam's help in this department.

Janet had discharged Jack from the infirmary that morning, along with the proviso that if he felt unwell in any shape or form, then he had to come back. Begrudgingly, he had agreed. Since Jack's release, Teal'c, Jonas, and Jacob continued to sit patiently for several hours each day talking to Sam about what had happened. Jack had been there almost constantly, trying to regain the friendship they had lost along the way.


Janet knew that Sam had been hanging around the Colonel for too long, when she began whining on her fourth day in the infirmary.

"Janet, please can I go home now. I feel much better. I've no longer got a fever, and you said that my blood work was almost back to normal, and..."

"Almost, is not clear Sam. I'm sorry, but for the time being you will have to stay here."

Sam tried to interrupt once more, but Janet wasn't having any of it. "It's not open for debate Sam."

"Fine." Sam said solemnly.

"Hey Doc. How's our patient today?" Jack enquired walking into the infirmary; casually looking between Sam and Janet.


Sam crossed her arms in protest at Janet's accusation; she was not 'grumpy'. Speaking directly to her CO she retorted moodily, "I am not."

Rolling his eyes slightly he replied, "And how would you describe yourself today then, Carter?"

"Frustrated, bored, irritated, totally ticked off. Shall I go on?"

"Ooookay." Jack stated simply. Carter was not in a good mood, but he also knew the reason why. General Hammond had informed him that the legal advisors for the court martial would be arriving sometime this afternoon; and Sam was worried.

"Told you!" Janet warned walking back towards her office.

Jack shrugged, and thought that it was going to be a very long day, especially if his 2IC continued in this mood she was in. Not wanting to bring up the court martial immediately, Jack skirted round the issue. "So, Carter. Has Dad been in to see you this morning?"

Still agitated she replied, "Yes, but he left to talk with General Hammond about the court martial."

In his mind, Jack thought, "Okay, nothing like jumping right in! Subtlety was so overrated anyway." Then said aloud, "So, is this why you're in a bad mood, cos Dad went to see Hammond?"

"I'm not in a bad mood...Sir."

"Could have fooled me." Jack countered keeping his voice steady.

Unprepared for what came next, Sam shouted, "Do you know what he said? He came in and announced, 'I'll sort it for you. Don't worry about a thing. Leave it all to me' I mean how dare he." Sam shouted her voice becoming increasingly higher with each sentence. "This is my mess, and I'll get myself out of it. I just wish he would leave things alone."

Jack remained silent, allowing her to get it out of her system. Ever since they had come back from the planet, Carter had been more volatile than a volcano. Doc Frasier had told them to expect this, but even now she continued to surprise him with one of her outbursts.

They had lessened considerably over the last couple of days, and Janet had told him that it was due to the toxins dissipating within her blood stream. So, for the time being the SGC had had to put up with her ever changing mood swings.

Jack had felt that over the last few days, their roles had been reversed. Normally it would be Carter trying to placate him, but these days he had turned into a very sharp diplomat when it came to her aberrant behaviour.

Once she'd stopped her ranting he said calmly, "Feel better?"

Sighing, Sam replied, "Sorry, sir. I didn't mean to dump all this on you."

"Don't sweat it Carter, that's why they pay me the big bucks!" Jack replied in all honesty. Suddenly getting an idea on how he could at least take away the boredom of the infirmary he asked. "Fancy escaping for an hour?"

"I've tried that, sir. Janet said "No". Sam replied moodily.

"Leave it to me. I'll see if I can work my magic on her." Sam looked speculatively at her CO, and doubted that he would be able to coerce Janet into anything.


General Hammond was sat in his office discussing with Jacob Carter the way forward. He had contacted the president and requested that the hearing be conducted on base. Due to the delicacy of the situation and the work of the SGC, the president agreed.

"Did he tell you who would be presiding over the trial? Jacob asked sitting anxiously.

"I received word this morning that, General Myles will be overseeing the court martial."

"Not Joe Myles?" Jacob asked, recalling the name from his past.

"The very same."

"Oh! George, I think we're going to have one or two problems."

"That was my feelings, when I found out." General Hammond replied unhappily.

"You think it's worth contacting him? I don't want this to prejudice my daughter's case."

"Jacob. He's tough, but he's fair." George advised, hoping to improve Jacob's mood. "If I were you, I wouldn't interfere. It could make matters worse."

"Yeah, I suppose your right. That would just be another thing to add to her list of why she's annoyed at me. I saw her this morning, and told her not to worry about anything, and that I would sort it. You know what she did? She blew her stack."

General Hammond shook his head at his friend. He understood completely about not wanting to let your children go. Though even after all these years he still couldn't get through to his friend that his daughter was a fine officer, and could hold her own in any given situation.

"Jacob. I know you want to help your daughter, but don't interfere. She's got excellent council to help her. Colonel Jessica Chapman is one of the best and we're lucky to get her. She's won, more times than she's lost, and she's as tenacious as hell once you get her in the courtroom."

"I know, it's just hard sometimes for me to let go. There were so many times that I wasn't there to help her. Now that I'm able, she doesn't want it." Jacob replied feeling slightly hurt.

"Jacob, she has the same stubbornness as her father. Give her time, she'll come round." George answered trying to ease the troubled feelings his friend professed.

Jacob nodded. "What time is this Jessica Chapman due to see Sam?"

"She should arrive about 13:00 hours. After she's taken a deposition from Major Carter, she'll begin contacting witnesses."

"I hear the prosecuting officer is a bit of a rotweiller?"

"Francis McGuire is an outstanding legal mind, the only thing you have out watch out with him is his ability to twist words; if you're not careful he can make you sound as if your daughter's ultimate motive, was treasonous all along."

"Thanks George, you really know how to make a father feel better."


Sam paced back and forth in the infirmary like a caged animal, desperate to leave - even if it was only for a few hours. Every couple of minutes she peered through to the doctor's office and watched as her commanding officer gesticulated with his hands. Every once in a while they would both turn to look at her, and Sam feeling sheepish for being caught, turned away quickly.

After about 10 minutes Jack resurfaced and headed over to Sam with a smug expression clearly evident on his face.

"Told you." Jack told her.

"Really? She's letting me go?" Sam replied in disbelief. "Well what are we waiting for, sir. Let's go."

"Whoa, Kimusabe. There are three things you have to agree to before she'll let you go."

Sam flopped down on the bed, and sighed heavily. Muttering under her breath, "There's always something, isn't there?"

Ignoring her sarcasm, he continued. "Number 1, you're only allowed out for an hour."

Sam crossed her arms in annoyance, an hour! That was hardly enough time to do anything.

"Number two, you have to reign in your temper, we've got some new recruits on base, and we don't want to frighten them off on their first day."

Sam pulled a face at his attempt at witticism. She knew she had just about pushed him to the limit over the last days, and knowing the Colonel asked, "You sure that was Janet's suggestion, and not yours?"

Jack pulled a face, damn her, she knew him to well. "Now that you've mentioned it, Carter."

Sam rolled her eyes up at him and impatiently asked, "And the third?"

"I have to be your shadow for the duration."

Sam looked at him incredulously, "What?"

"I have to go everywhere you go."

Sam scowled at the thought of being treated like this. "So, what... I'm a prisoner now?"

Jack, attempting to answer diplomatically replied, "No." Sam gave him an 'I don't believe you' look. " of, yes."

Flailing her arms in disgust, Sam's voice raised in anger. "Oh, that's just great. What happened to that whole, 'I trust you speech?'"

Jack knew she would feel like this. If he were in her shoes, he would probably have the same thoughts. "Carter...Sam!" Jack stated tentatively, hoping to calm her down. If she carried on like this, neither Janet nor General Hammond would let her go anywhere.

General Hammond had already advised the Colonel that Major Carter was on house arrest until the trial. Neither of them was happy about it, but as Major Carter was still confined to the infirmary, it hadn't been a problem, until now.

Jack knew that Sam was going stir crazy stuck looking at these 4 walls, which is why he'd asked Janet in the first place. General Hammond had agreed it this morning, but only on the authorisation of Doctor Frasier.

Hearing her name, Sam turned round to face her CO. Fire burned within her eyes in an effort to try and contain her rising temper.

Jack continued, "Carter, you're up on charges of treason. You know the score. It's either me, or you have a couple of SF's follow you around for an hour. Believe me when I tell you, that my company is far more stimulating."

"And will you want to follow me to the bathroom as well?" Sam responded with a hint of annoyance in her voice.

Jack shook his head in an attempt to get rid of the image and replied, "Too much information, Carter."

Weighing up the pros and cons, she agreed to his terms - albeit grudgingly. With her temper calming she asked, "Where are we going?"

Jack hesitated; he knew half of her frustrations were due to the fact that she couldn't remember things, so he had arranged for them to go through the security videos from the night Sam left the base. Whether it was the right thing to do or not, he wasn't sure. She had a right to know though, particularly if the prosecution was planning on using the tape as evidence against her.

"There's something I think you need to see." Jack replied evasively.

Sam paused at the doorway and looked directly in his eyes, "What aren't you telling me?"

"You have a suspicious mind Carter."

"No, I just know you, sir."

"I thought it was about time you saw the video tapes from that night you left the base."

To Sam the idea of leaving the infirmary didn't seem so appealing now. She had enough bad thoughts about what had happened and she didn't want to see some video of herself showing it in black and white. "No thanks, sir. I think I'll pass."

Jack knew this would happen if he told her. Which is why he was being so vague in the first place. "Sam, I think it would help. I mean you said it yourself, the memories you have of that night are vague. The only way your gonna know what happened is to see the tapes for yourself."

Sam shook her head vehemently. "I don't want to see it. I told you that a few days ago."

Placing his hand on her arm he replied, "Sam, Colonel Chapman will be here tomorrow to go over your defence. Now I maybe wrong, but I think she might have some questions about that night. So, what are you going to tell her? That you don't remember?" Jack cornered her. Then sensing she was backing off from him, he held her arm a little tighter.

"Sam, they're gonna use that tape as evidence, how can you defend yourself if you don't know what they're talking about?" He saw that she was thinking about what he had said, so continued. "Teal'c, Jonas and I will be with you every minute, I promise."

Sam bit her lip, unsure of how to prepare herself. She wasn't sure if she was ready for this. His eyes begged for her to comply. "Please."

After a minute, Sam nodded her head in compliance. Releasing his grip from her arm he had to contain himself from reaching out for her hand. He didn't realise how hard this would be on his feelings. Even unconsciously, Sam had a way of tugging at his heartstrings.

Jack and Sam met up with Teal'c and Jonas in the briefing room. Jack had already squared it with General Hammond earlier that morning. He'd requested that there should only be SG1 present.

Sam sat beside Colonel O'Neill as the recorder began playing. What she saw on the television screen made her feel like a criminal She watched herself deliberately steal supplies from the lockers, and head for the control room. The others remained silent while her eyes remained glued to the screen.

Her hands gripped tensely against the arm of the chair, as she watched herself being man handled by Jaret. Her breathing escalated and she clenched her knuckles. Her blood boiled with trying to contain her hatred for this man.

Then without any realisation of what was coming next she saw Jonas enter the control room. Looking over at Jonas, she didn't remember this happening. Suddenly she felt her heart slam against her chest. Watching the screen carefully she witnessed him running over to her; concern etched in the young mans face.

Taking her eyes away from the television she asked softly, "You were there?"

Jonas nodded, "I came in and I saw you lying on the ground and wanted to get help for you...but you stopped me."

Sam put her hand to her head gently massaging her brow, which was creased with concentration. Desperately trying to fit the missing pieces into place. At this point Jack had paused the video, waiting until Sam was ready to continue.. He could see her struggling, and he wished he could help her, but there was only so much he could do.

Jack pressed the recorder once more and saw her eyes transfix on the image of Jonas's worried features. Although Jack had seen this tape several times, it still caused his heart to flutter. The screen was now showing the Goa'uld Jaret, trying to kill Jonas, and he turned to watch Sam's reaction, but he wasn't prepared to see the tears flowing down her cheek. Sam turned to face them all, the hurt and sadness was clearly evident within her eyes. All Jack wanted to do was scoop her up in his arms and tell her that everything would be all right.

Returning her vision to the screen ahead, Sam's hand dangled listlessly by her side. The next sequence of events showed Jonas collapsed; his body lay unmoving. Jack unconsciously reached for her hand, and expected her to push it away. Instead Sam grasped it firmly and turned to face him, unable to look at the television any longer. Holding onto his hand like a lifeline, she felt so lost and alone.

Jack leaned in closer whispering to her softly, telling her that it was going to be okay. Sam didn't care at this stage whether anyone was in the room or not. Jack caressingly wrapped his arms around her, allowing her tears to fall gently down his shoulder. With her head resting lightly on his shoulders, Sam's sobs echoed in the large room. Jack enveloped her further; one hand circled her back, the other rested softly against her head holding her even closer into him. Words were not necessary. A simple embrace between them spoke volumes, as Jack continued to rock her back and forth in his arms.

Jonas and Teal'C saw that this was a private moment for the both of them and decided to leave their friends alone.


It was now a week later; Sam had been released from the infirmary a few days before. Since her release, she had confined to quarters. Though she understood the reasons behind it, she had, for once in her life seen enough of the SGC to last her a lifetime.

Everyone had been to see her, including Doctor Mackenzie who had visited that morning. General Hammond refused to permit her to stand trial until she had received the all clear from the psychologist.

Jack had come to see her after her meeting with him, and she hadn't been happy.

"So what did Doc. Mackenzie have to say?" Jack asked tentatively sitting on the edge of her bed.

"He told me I had 'issues'."

"Nooo, really?"

"Sir!" Sam replied indignantly, and hurt by his statement.

"What! What did I say? Are you telling me you don't have 'issues'?"


"Well then, I don't get it." Jack retorted unsure of why she had a problem with this. Jack knew that after everything she had been through, it would have been wrong if she didn't have issues. He knew though, that once she got back into work, it would just be a matter of time. It didn't mean that she was a less effective member of the team because of it, hell he'd had issues for years. It didn't mean that he was unable to complete his duties with SG1.

"Doctor McKenzie thinks that my issues will have a negative effect on the team, if I was to return to SG1."

Jack felt like he had just been punched in the stomach. Sam, not on his team - that was just too unbearable for him to comprehend. They had been almost inseparable these last few weeks and he couldn't imagine continuing with SG1 without her by his side.

Since Sam had spent the majority of time in the infirmary, General Hammond had agreed some down time, at least until the court martial had been concluded. So with his authorisation, each team member had been talking with Sam continually about everything that had happened. Gradually over the last few days, the majority of pieces that had been missing from her memory had slotted into place.

It had been particularly difficult for both of them, when they discussed what had taken place upon Amemait's ship. Emotions had run high, and they had each lost their temper with the other. As the toxins dissipated even further from Sam's blood stream, Jack noticed a subtle change in her behaviour. Before she had been so argumentative with him, and had hurt his feelings on more than one occasion. Now, though, Sam was more or less back to normal. She still had the occasional mood swing, but he put that down to stress.

"Negative effect." Jack grumbled, "I'll give him 'negative effect' when I punch him in the nose for even saying that to you. How dare he. I'm the only one who has the right to make that call." Jack continued getting annoyed.

Sam turned to face him with a curious expression on her face. Her heart skipped a beat at the lengths he would go to in protecting her - her knight in shining armour. She knew he wouldn't actually do it, but the sentiment was there, and she smiled contentedly. It was at that moment Sam finally realised; no matter what had happened in the past; he still trusted her and cared for her.

Looking intently at her once more, he realised how close to the mark he'd got about declaring his feelings for her. Clearing his throat, Jack took a deep breath to steady the rising emotions within him. Once he felt he had control again he asked with a hint of nervousness, " did you say to him?"

"I told him, that if he didn't let me go back to work, he'd have you and Teal'c to deal with." Sam smiled, "Between us, I think he's scared of Teal'c."

Jack grinned at the unexpectedness of her answer, it had taken them both a while to get back to their friendly banter, and he had missed it. What Sam hadn't realised is, the more time they spent together, the more his sense of humour had rubbed off on her.

"I can just imagine his face. I assume he didn't find it amusing."

Sam smiled; this was just pure Jack O'Neill, the man who could cheer her up in a heartbeat. "No, he didn't."

"So, what did he say after that."

Shaking her head, she knew it wasn't funny, but in a kind of weird way it was. "He... um... didn't say anything. He just nodded his head, said 'I see', then...." Sam sighed dramatically. "He, scribbled furiously in his note pad for the next twenty minutes."

"Oh Sam." Jack laughed. "That's your cards marked."

"Tell me about it."

After letting the silliness of the situation fall by the wayside, they both fell into silence thinking about the real possibility that she may never be able to come back to SG1. Giving her hand a squeeze to reassure her, he sighed deeply and said with conviction, "Look, no matter what happens over the next few days, I'll stand by you. We all will."


That night, Sam lay on her bed staring at the ceiling for the last three hours while sleep eluded her. Throughout the day she had tried to keep up her sense of humour, especially when her CO had come to visit. Now though as the night drew closer, she felt herself fading.

Unable to keep the pretence up any longer, she allowed herself to cry. This was her life, and she couldn't imagine herself doing or being anything else. Her defence council had warned her of the possible outcomes, and now after three hours of thinking things through, she had got to the stage of expecting the worst. Closing her eyes, she tried to find an inner peace.

After a few minutes she was sure she heard a subtle knock on her door. Sitting up, she waited for a moment, thinking it was her imagination. Then hearing it a second time she swung her legs over the side of the bed wondering who would be calling at this hour. Clearing her throat, she said, "Who is it?"

A male voice softly resounded against the metal door. "It's me. Can I come in?"

Sam's heart fluttered, what was he doing here at this time of night? She had thought he had gone home hours ago. "It's open."

As the door opened, there stood her CO and her friend. His face reflected uncertainty and worry, "I hope I didn't wake you."

", come in, sit down." Sam replied slightly flustered.

Jack sauntered over to where she was sat, and hesitated briefly before sitting down next to her; their backs against the wall. A silent pause drifted between them. "I know I shouldn't be here, especially this late. It's just that I...erm...couldn't sleep. I thought maybe you would be having the same problems?"

Sam looked at him intently seeing the concern in his soft features. She didn't know what to say. Her heart was saying one thing, but her brain was telling her it was wrong on so many levels. Deciding to go with her heart, she laid her head softly against his shoulder and whispered, "I'm scared."

"I know." Jack answered softly wrapping his arm around her waist pulling her into him.

"What am I going to do?" Sam said dejectedly.

"Sleep tonight, worry tomorrow." Jack replied trying to belay her fears.

Sam smiled softly against his body; he had just the right words to calm her fears. Feeling safe in his arms gave her the courage to ask, "Will you stay until I fall asleep?"

"Your Dad couldn't drag me away."

For the next half an hour Jack felt her breathing even out until eventually she fell into a deep slumber. Glancing down at her, he hadn't seen her looking at peace for a long time. He knew he couldn't stay here all night. The rumour mill would have a field day if someone caught him coming out of her quarters in the early hours of the morning; and she didn't need that. Carefully he removed his arms from around her and gently lowered her body to a prone position; positioning her head against the pillow.

Looking at her sleeping peacefully at last, he picked up a blanket and wrapped it carefully around her body. His heart ached at the thought of tomorrow...well today. He didn't know if he wanted to carry on working here if she wasn't with him.

Brushing her hair away from her eyes, he bent down and lightly kissed her forehead.

"Good night Sam."

In the depths of sleep she heard the words, and without stirring whispered, "Night Jack."

Chapter 23 - The Trial Part II

Sam had woken up relatively early that morning, and was already showered and changed into her BDU's at least until the court martial hearing began at 10.30,checking her watch she realised that it had only just turned 0630. Colonel Jessica Chapman, her legal council wouldn't be arriving until 0900, so she still had a few hours to kill. Her stomach rumbled from hunger and nervous energy, but she didn't feel like going to the commissary on her own. As if realising Sam's obstinacy, her stomach rumbled louder.

"Looks like I came just in time."

"Sir!" Sam said startled. Recovering quickly, she smiled. "Do you ever sleep?"

"No ma'am. Your rumbling stomach woke me up. I thought it was an earthquake. So, to make sure we made it through the disaster, I brought supplies."

Sam laughed at his attempts to cheer her up, and playing along asked, "And what supplies did you bring?"

"Coffee, Juice, toast, pancakes, fruit...shall I go on?"

"Thank you."

"Your welcome."

For the next hour they ate and talked about nothing, and they both find it a refreshing change. At 0730, Sam shooed him away to get dressed.

"Everything will be okay, Sam. I promise." Jack advised her, before leaving her alone once more.

Now fully dressed in her military uniform she checked her watch for the umpteenth time that morning and it read 08:59 she paced the room impatiently walking up and down the room like a caged animal. Her dad had been in about half an hour after Jack had left to see how she was doing, and was swiftly followed by General Hammond, Janet, Teal'c and Jonas. All had hugged her, and told her that it was going to be fine. Now after they had all left, Sam was stood in the stillness of the room, making her feel claustrophobic. Trying desperately to gather her thoughts and feelings, she felt very emotional, and just hoped that she would be able to hold it together.

Colonel Jessica Chapman arrived a couple of minutes after 09:00, and had gone through everything with her. As the time grew closer Sam felt heaviness in the pit of her stomach and she had to take some deep breaths to calm herself down; a feeling of dread washed over her. The time was coming up to 10:00 and as they headed out of her quarters, her brief gave her one last bit of advice.

"Major, before we go in. Try and keep things in perspective, I realise that what happened was very emotional for you, but you need to try and keep it together. Your colleagues will be called one by one to give their testimony, but they won't be present in the court room."

"What about my father? I need him there, Colonel." Sam asked nervously.

"I'm sorry Major, he'll be giving his testimony today, but you'll be able to see him afterwards, I promise." Seeing the fallen look on her face, she continued, "I'm sorry, I know that having him there would help, but it's just not possible at the moment."

Sam felt disheartened at the thought that he couldn't be there. Janet had told her that morning that her and Cassie would be there to see her through this, which gave Sam a great deal of comfort. They had known each other a long time, and Janet was like her big sister. Janet had stuck by her through all the good and bad times together, many a time they had spent all night talking about what had happened and where she would go from here if things didn't go her way. Janet knew all of Sam's hopes and fears, and would have given anything to stop this from preceding any further.

Colonel Jessica Chapman's voice disturbed Sam out of her silent reverie. "If you feel that things are getting too much for you, let me know, and I'll request a recess, okay?"

"Okay." Was all Sam could say at this moment, and they headed out of her quarters towards the hearing room. From what her father had told her, one of the old meeting rooms had been designated as the courtroom for this hearing due to the delicate nature of their work. The President had given them to hold the court martial here at the SGC, and Sam was grateful. This was her home, and the people here were her family. If things didn't go her way, then this would be the last place she would hold in her memory.

Entering the room, she noticed that they were more or less the first to arrive. By the looks of the number of files open on their desk, and it appeared as if the prosecution had arrived early.

"Councillor." Colonel Jessica Chapman acknowledged her counterpart. "Councillor." Francis McGuire, the prosecuting attorney replied. "I'm surprised you agreed to take this case up? I would have thought with your history, you wouldn't want to have a hopeless case on your hands."

"Well, you know me Fran, I'm a sucker for hopeless cases. Probably why I stayed married to you for so long."

Jessica smiled and sat back down; she hated smugness. Never more so than when it came from her ex-husband.

Jessica patted Sam's arm lightly after seeing the worried expression on her face. "Don't worry, his barks worse than his bite, he likes to intimidate people. All you have to do is stay calm, and you'll be fine. Don't let him get you riled, because he'll just dig his heels in even further."

Janet and Cassie arrived first, and gave her a supportive smile. General Hammond followed slightly behind her, his head bowed in acknowledgement. His words brought a great deal of comfort to her, and she was glad he was on her side.

"I have every confidence in you Major, I'm sure everything will turn out fine."

Sighing deeply, Sam replied, "I hope so, Sir."

At 1030 hours exactly, the Judge Advocate General arrived.

"All rise," the officer of the court intoned. "This court is now in session. General Joe Myles presiding."

Sam bit her lower lip, and unconsciously held her breath as she stood beside her lawyer.

"Please be seated," General Myles ordered, taking his seat at the forefront of the courtroom.

Checking through his papers to ensure all documents were readily at hand, he acknowledge to the officer of the court to read out the charges brought against Major Samantha Carter.

"Major Samantha Carter - Service number, 36 - 6 - 349, the following charges have been brought against you;

Theft of Government property

Destruction of communications network

Actual bodily harm

Unauthorised use of weaponry

Unauthorised off world activation.


"Do you understand the charges that have been brought against you?" General Myles asked, a sense of sternness and foreboding clearly evident in his manner.

"Yes, your honour." Sam replied looking directly at him, her hands tightly clasped behind her back; her body rigid with tension.

Glancing up from his papers, the Judge asked, "And do you plead guilty or not guilty to these charges.

Swallowing hard, Sam took a deep shaky breath, and let it out slowly. "Not Guilty, your honour."

"Very well, your pleas are noted. Take a seat."

Sam's hands shook slightly as she lowered herself into the chair, her mind raced with nervous energy, and she felt physically sick.

Crossing his hands in front of him, General Myles cleared his throat, "Before we commence with opening arguments. I am aware of the unorthodox nature of this courtroom, and the work that Stargate Command carries out. Due to the very nature of this controversial work, all records pertaining to this court martial will be sealed, and viewed by those who have the required security clearance. I do not need to hear about the work of the SGC, as I have been briefed prior to arrival. Councillors, I am fully aware of your reputations outside this establishment, and I will not put up with any untoward comments regarding each other. Have I made myself perfectly clear?"

Both JAG officers looked sheepishly at each other, and they answered in unison.

"Understood your honour."

"Very well, the prosecution may commence with their opening arguments." General Myles advised.

Standing up from behind his desk, Francis McGuire spoke with an underlying tone of despise regarding the Major's actions. He told how she willingly gave the Goa'uld access to key SGC systems, and used her access codes to obtain secure knowledge regarding one of their Allies secret base. The prosecution continued to advise the court that when Major Carter realised that she would be found out, she then purposefully sabotaged the consoles of the gate systems, thus allowing her to escape. Clearly and with malice he reiterated that in the course of escaping members of the security forces were injured in trying to apprehend her. Sam closed her eyes in sadness, even though Jessica Chapmen had briefed her on how the prosecution would state their case, it still hurt her deeply. Throughout his arguments all she wanted was to have her CO stood beside her, telling her that it would be okay.

After several minutes it was Colonel Jessica Chapman's turn. In her speech, Sam saw the other end of the coin. The way her councillor described her efforts, Jessica made Sam out to be a heroine; who had done everything in her power to save the lives of friends. Continuing at length about how she had given up her own life in the process. The passion her councillor was evoking in her words took Sam's breath away.

Once the opening arguments had been concluded, General Myles called for a 20-minute recess. As the General left the room, a very tired Samantha Carter looked grateful at her lawyer.

"Thank you."

Jessica smiled and said, "I'm just getting started."

Turning towards her friends that could be present, Janet reached out her hand towards Sam, and said, "God, she was good. Do you feel a bit better, knowing that she believes in you, just as much as we do?"

"I don't know what to think, I'd heard she was good, but even she's got me convinced that I'm innocent." Sam replied slightly shocked.

"Hey, don't talk like that. You *are* innocent. So stop talking like your some wanted criminal." Janet berated her.

"Sorry. I'm glad you're here Janet. Where's General Hammond?"

"He went off to talk with Colonel O'Neill. Judging from the Colonel's behaviour this morning anyone would think that it was him on trial."

Sam smiled softly, "He's been great Janet. I don't know how I would have gotten through all this if he hadn't been there." Sam replied with all honesty.

With her voice barely above a whisper, Janet said softly, "Sam, I know how you feel about him."

"Janet." Sam said, a little shocked.

Cassie rolled her eyes at her mother's incessantness.

"No, listen. All I'm saying to a friend. Be careful, you are both feeling... emotional at the moment, and that's completely understandable."

Pausing for a second to let the words set in her mind she continued. "But, you also need to think rationally as well."

"I know that Janet. He's my friend and my CO, that's all." Sam knew that she was lying to herself and her friends, but she couldn't cope with these feelings now.

If she gave into them now, she'd never be able to work with him again. It was sufficient for them both to know that they each cared for the other. Until the time came when they could be together, things would just have to stay as they were.

Seeing that Sam was getting flustered, she stopped the conversation dead. This wasn't the time or place to discuss it further.

Before she knew it, the court was being called back into session, and General Hammond took his seat once more.

"All rise."

General Myles looked at the councillors, specifically at the prosecution advising him to call his first witness; Jonas Quinn.

The court usher escorted him into the courtroom, and he took his oath. Both the prosecution and defence questioned him thoroughly regarding his actions that night, and those of Major Carter. Sam gave him a small smile, letting him know that anything he told them here today wouldn't affect their friendship.

The next witness to be called was Teal'c, he too gave his view on what took place over the course of several days from her unusual behaviour in the time leading up to her leaving the SGC, and them finding her in Amemait's torture chamber.

"So, what you're saying to the court, is that Major Carter raised her weapon against you and her own team mates, when they attempted to rescue her?" The prosecution goaded.

"Do not turn my words against me." Teal'c replied harshly. "Major Carter raised her weapon in self defence. At that time, she had been poisoned, and was unaware of who we were."

"But you admit she did raise her weapon in your vicinity." He argued.

"You do not hear the truth. You twist my words to suit your own needs. You speak of truth and honour. Major Carter has both of them traits within her and more, and she would never have harmed me or her colleagues."

The prosecution thought that Teal'c's response gave him the perfect opportunity to prove his point further, and the Alien man had just given him that opening.

"Mr Teal'c you say Major Carter would never hurt her colleagues, correct?"


"Yet, she blatantly injected Colonel O'Neill with poison. I would class that as hurting your colleagues, wouldn't you?" Fran McGuire baited.

"Major Carter was under mind control, she was unaware of her actions. She would not purposely hurt members of SG1." Teal'c retorted strongly, trying to hold his anger in check.

"Hmm, yet she recognised her father, when he attempted to stop her? Seems to me like she knew exactly what she was doing."

Colonel Jessica Chapman was incensed, "Objection your honour, this is supposition."


"No more questions your honour." Fran McGuire advised smugly. Jacob Carter was next to take the witness stand and things seemed to being from bad to worse; the prosecution appeared intent on hounding her father, as he had done with Teal'c and Jonas before him.

Jacob had got to the stage whereby he was so annoyed with the way his daughter was being portrayed that he lost his temper. All Sam could do was sit back and watch as her father let rip into the young man as he asked his next question.

"General Carter, when you discovered the location of your daughter and Colonel O'Neill, from accounts we've already received, your daughter was prepared to kill not only Colonel O'Neill, but you and other members of SG1, isn't that correct?"


"No?" The Prosecution queried in disbelief.

"My daughter would never hurt me or anyone else, and certainly not intentionally."

"How could you be so sure? She had already injected a lethal dose of poison into Colonel O'Neill, what made you think she wouldn't hurt you?"

"Do you have children Captain McGuire?" Jacob countered.

"No, but I don't see the relevance."

"Well let me tell you something, when you have children you teach them right from wrong. Sometimes they screw up or they lose their way, but you have to trust them unconditionally, and hope they make the right decisions. I know my daughter and I trust her judgement implicitly. I saw the torment in her eyes when she raised the hand device, now surely that say's something. If my daughter had planned this all as you seem intent on implying, then why didn't she kill us all there and then? Why does she feel guilty now, for things that were beyond her control? It's because that's not who my daughter is, she's not the traitor you've made her out to be in this courtroom. So if you have proof to the contrary, then I'd damn well like to hear it, because so far, all I've heard is you twisting the facts of this case."

"General Carter, forgive me for saying this, but you are her father, and as such are classed as a 'hostile witness', obviously you would take the side of your daughter in these types of proceedings."

"Son, if you think *this* is hostile, you haven't seen anything yet, I can assure you." Jacob countered angrily; his face turning crimson at the younger mans accusations.

Without missing a beat, he responded, "Thank you General, I believe I have what I need. No more questions your honour." Fran McGuire finished.

Once Jacob Carter had stepped down, the judge advocate checked his watch. "We will convene with the hearing tomorrow, councillors, please advise your witnesses.

Sam sat back into her seat, it was only the first day, and she didn't feel as if things were going particularly well for her. Closing her eyes in silent defeat, she felt a hand on her shoulder.

"Sam, c'mon, lets get you out of here." Looking up, she saw her best friend, showing signs of concern.

"It's not going well is it Janet?" Sam asked dejected.

"It's only the first day, Sam." Janet replied placing her arm around her.

"Tomorrow will be better, Colonel O'Neill and you are due to testify in the morning."

"Yeah, I know. It's just...I don't know what I'd do if all this was taken away from, Janet. This is my life."

"It'll be fine, you'll see." Janet replied with more confidence than she felt.

Sam nodded solemnly. Walking out of the temporary courtroom she spotted her father and the Colonel sat on the benches waiting for them to reappear. Jack gave her a small smile as she approached him, Sam smiled in return, but it didn't quite reach her eyes. Swallowing his nervousness, he asked, "How did it go?"

"Not good." Sam responded blankly. Turning towards her father, tears brimmed in her eyes, and she spoke softly. "Thanks Dad, for what you said in there, and I'm sorry for the way I acted before, I didn't mean to shut you out. I know I said some things that hurt you."

"Hey." Jacob said holding her daughter tightly. "Sam, I know things have been difficult for you. I also realise now how much this means to you. I'm just sorry it's taken me this long to realise it. I know I haven't always been there for you Sam, and if I could change the past, I would. I promise though, that you won't have to face this on your own, I'll be here for as long as you need me." Pulling slightly away from her, Jacob wiped the tears that fell precariously down her cheek, and took a sharp intake of breath in an effort to keep his own emotions in check.

"I'm sorry dad."

"It's not your fault Sam, if I was in your position, I probably would've done the same."

Jack shifted uncomfortably from one foot to another, he was never good with emotions, but when they came from his 2IC, he felt even more uncomfortable. Turning towards Jacob, he stated simply, "You said some things, and hurt her feelings, she said some things, you've both apologised, now can we go and get some food, please? I'm starving?"

"Colonel." Janet remarked harshly.

"What! What did I say?"

Smiling slightly, Jacob replied, "It's okay Janet, I know what he's like." Jack looked at him quizzically, not knowing if that was a good thing or not. Jacob placed his arms gently around his daughters shoulder, and they all walked casually towards the commissary to get some food. Everyone made an effort to keep Sam's spirit up in preparation for tomorrow, but inside they felt it was a futile gesture, Sam remained silent throughout dinner, and excused herself early, saying it had been a long day.

"I'm finished too, fancy some company." Janet asked hopefully.

"Thanks Janet, but I'd rather be by myself." Sam replied wanting and needing some solitude.

"Oh, okay, if that's what you want." Janet responded a little hurt at her friend's rejection.

"It's nothing personal, Janet. Thanks for the offer though." Sam smiled slightly showing that she appreciated the offer.

Jack got up to follow and called out to her, "Wait up Carter."

"Sir, please I appreciate it, but I really do want to be alone."

Unlike Janet, Jack didn't take it personally. "Sorry Carter, I'm your shadow, remember." Sam sighed in response. "Look I know it's not been a great day for you, but I'll just walk you to your quarters and leave, okay?" Silently the two walked together side by side through the empty corridors of the SGC, a slight uneasiness settled between them, both wanting to say something to the other, but neither sure if this was the right time or place. As they reached her door, Sam turned to face her CO, and said hesitantly. "About last night...thanks. I don't know how I would've gotten through today if you hadn't been there for me."

Jack's hand tapped softly against his legs. He knew from the pain reflected in her eyes that she was hurting, but he also knew that she needed some space. He desperately wanted to reach out and touch her, but there was too much at stake, and he didn't want her to get into any more trouble.

Taking a deep breath his replied, "Anytime." Clearing his throat he continued. "If you need anything, give me a shout, okay?"

Sam nodded, closing her eyes briefly. Unconsciously she began biting down on her bottom lip, there was so much more she wanted to say to him. For the next few moments though she wrestled with her thoughts and feelings, her head over ruled her heart this time, and instead of sharing her feelings, she bid him goodbye. Now sitting in her room alone, Sam felt utterly miserable. She knew that that the trial wouldn't be easy, but today was the first time she had been made to feel like a traitor to her friends; the prosecution made sure of that. Sam changed out of her uniform and lay softly on her bed waiting for morning to come.

As per Sam's request Jack didn't come and see her until the following morning, Sam had spent half the night worrying about what she would say once she got on the witness stand. The other half of the night she spent worrying about the Colonel. What ever happened she didn't want him to be put into a position whereby he had to lie for her. She needed to talk to him before the trial started, but her councillor arrived early and subsequently she lost the opportunity.

As they arrived at the entrance to the courtroom, Sam noticed the Colonel sitting outside with Jacob. Looking discretely over in his direction, Jack looked up at the same instant and their eyes locked. Silently they knew what the other was thinking and feeling, outwardly to their colleagues and family they remained at arms length.

"Dad. Colonel."

"Hey Sam, how are you?"

"I'm fine Dad. Bit know." Sam replied glancing more at her CO than her father.

"Hey Carter, you all set?" Jack asked quieter than his normal self.

"Sort of. Can I have a word in private, sir?"

"Major, it's time to go in." Colonel Chapman interrupted.

Sam shook her head at the Colonel's crap timing and muttered "Not now." Looking at her brief she implored, "Just a couple of minutes, please." "I'm sorry Major. We need to be sat down now, we're already running late."

Sam's face reflected concern, her eyes showed an urgent need for them to discuss what they both would say once in the courtroom, and Sam felt the nervous energy build up inside her. Sighing inwardly, she shot Jack an apologetic smile and allowed herself to be taken through.

The court usher called for the trial to recommence, and Colonel O'Neill was due to take the stand next, her stomach churned as she watched him take the oath.

The judge nodded for the defence to cross-examine Colonel O'Neill's testimony, and Colonel Jessica Chapman stepped forward.

"Colonel O'Neill, just a few questions. You've served alongside Major Carter now for 6 years, could you tell me what sort of a person Major Carter is."

Jack smiled slightly, "She's the smartest women I know. I couldn't even tell you how many times she saved not only my butt, but also the whole planet's. She fights for what she believes in, and she's not afraid to give you her opinion if she doesn't agree with you." Jack answered smiling, remembering the time when they had argued like some old married couple, during the whole addiction to the light time. "She'd put her life on the line to save the people she cares about. I can honestly say that I have never met a more dedicated officer." Jack answered truthfully.

"And can you trust her now, knowing what happened."

"I trust her with my life and I would give my life for her" Jack answered honestly, "After everything we've been through, I know that she would do the same for me."

"You've been Major Carter's commanding officer for a long time, Colonel. In your opinion, why do you think Major Carter chose *not* to tell you about the Goa'uld on the DeAsha homeworld."

"Objection your honour."

"Overruled, I think Colonel O'Neill is qualified to answer."

"If there was another alternative, Major Carter would've found it. This..." Jack gestured to various people in the courtroom. "This is her life, and it means everything to her, she wouldn't purposely give it all up to take sides with an enemy she's been fighting against for the last six years. Major Carter risked her life to save the people she cared about, it's as simple as that."

"Thank you, Colonel. No more questions your honour."

The prosecution stepped forward asking, "Colonel O'Neill, please advise the court of when you first discovered that something was wrong."

"Major Carter had been quiet since we returned from the DeAsha homeworld."

"P6Z-247, is that correct?"

Jack shrugged, he never could remember any of the designated numbers, Daniel had been right in the beginning when he asked that they give them proper names.

"If you say so. Anyway, Major Carter had been quiet since we had got back, and I went to discuss it with her. She seemed kinda distant."

"And was there any indication when you were on the planet, to suggest that something was wrong with your new Allies."

Thinking back to how everything had gone, he answered simply 'No, not that I can recall, but then..."

"Thank you Colonel." Fran McGuire replied, cutting Jack off.

"I haven't finished my sentence." Jack stated angrily.

"You replied that you didn't notice anything out of the ordinary, and that's the information I required. Now moving on. Has Major Carter ever acted out of character before?"

"Objection your honour, Major Carter's past, has no relevance with what happened on that planet." Jessica Chapman argued.

"I'll withdraw your honour. Colonel, I have a report that states Major Carter failed to advise her commanding officer, even though she had misgivings about this Goa'uld. Isn't that correct."

Jack looked over at Sam, but she refused to look at him. Did she think he'd betrayed her trust? He'd never made mention anything about that in his report. The only time he'd discussed this with her, was when they were alone. What they had discussed that night was personal, and he was damned if he was going to elaborate on that.

"Colonel, did Major Carter fail to inform you of her misgivings?" The prosecution badgered.

"Yes, but..." Cutting him off completely, Fran McGuire continued relentlessly with his questions.

"According to the information I have received, you gave her several opportunities to discuss it on your return did you not?"

"Major Carter would not risk the life of her friends, *that* was the reason she didn't tell me."

"What about the time on the planet, it's clearly detailed in this report that she didn't trust him. Doesn't that suggest something untoward?"

"What are trying to say? Major Carter planned all of this, that she deliberately allowed this 'Goa'uld' to come back with her?"

"I didn't say that Colonel, you did."

"I've met people like you before, and believe me when I say you wouldn't last two minutes in my unit. When you work as closely as we do, you have to rely on the person you're with to watch your six. If you can't trust them, casualties happen. I trust Major Carter implicitly, if she had proof that something was wrong, then she would've told me. Throughout this whole trial, you've acted like this is some kind of witch-hunt. You're not interested in who's innocent or guilty, you're just looking for a scapegoat."

Sam looked up sharply, she very rarely saw the Colonel get angry like this. She knew that he was blaming himself. As soon as she heard the words, Sam knew just where he was headed. Shaking her head she pleaded with her eyes for him to look at her, but all his concentration and anger were focused at the prosecution.

After a few moments she realised that he must have heard her silent plea, and his head turned towards her. Her face reflected anguish at what he was about to suggest, and she mouthed the words, 'No'.

Jack was determined that she wasn't taking the rap for this, she'd already gone through so much. Ultimately he believed that it was his fault, he should've persisted more when he noticed that she wasn't herself. Regrets of his own erupted within and he replied tersely, "If you're looking for someone to blame here, then blame me. Ultimately I'm responsible for my team actions."

The JAG officer, knew exactly what the Colonel wanted, but whether he accepted this confession or not, it wasn't an issue. "Colonel, you are not on trial here, now if you'll just answer my questions. According to your report you set up a search team after Major Carter's disappearance, exactly how much time had passed before you could leave."

"I don't remember, maybe a day or so." Jack answered angrily.

"And the reasons for the delay Colonel?"

"You've read the report, it's all in there." Jack replied cagily.

"I'm asking you, Colonel."

"Major Carter, did something to the computers, so we weren't able to follow her immediately."

"Thank you." Handing over videotape to the adjudicator, he continued, "Your honour I submit exhibit A, it's a video tape of what happened on the night in question." Carrying on with his examination, he asked. "Colonel O'Neill, you have viewed the footage, is that correct?"


"Then in your opinion, did Major Carter appear of sound mind?"

"Objection your honour, the witness cannot speculate as to my client's state of mind on the night in question." The defence stated.

"I'll withdraw. Colonel O'Neill, when you attempted a search and rescue, can you describe the events that took place when you encountered the Goa'uld 'Jaret'."

Fran McGuire requested checking in his notes to ensure the information was correct.

Sam's head remained lowered; she could barely look at him. Instead her eyes appeared transfixed to her hands clasped tightly together. Glancing over to her once more, he knew how painful it was for her, but he was helpless. The feelings of regret resurfaced to the forefront of his mind.

Lost in his silent reverie for a moment he failed to hear the prosecution call his name a second time. "Colonel, I asked you a question."

Realising that everyone was waiting for him to respond, Jack cleared his throat, and tried to control his rising emotions. It had been easy at the beginning, the words came out mechanically, but when he got to the events that led up to Sam's 'death', his voice became barely audible, and his gaze shifted to the floor.

" was then that Major Carter stopped breathing. We tried CPR, but it didn't work, we had to let her die to save her."

"Are you saying to the court that you allowed Major Carter to die, to save her? Excuse my stupidity Colonel..."

Jack muttered, "Unlikely."

Fran McGuire turned round quickly in response to those words, and decided at that point to ensure that he would give the Colonel a hard time from this point on.

"Colonel O'Neill, do you care for Major Carter?"

Sam's head suddenly snapped up in response to the prosecutions words, and Jack shifted uncomfortably in his seat. Looking over at his 2IC, he noticed that she had the same nervous look, and their eyes locked intently.

Unsure of how to phrase this, he sure as hell wasn't prepared to discuss his feelings about his 2IC in the middle of the courtroom, the feelings he had for her were private, and the only way he could find a way out of the question was to reply, "I care for all my staff."

"Then why did you allow her to die?"

"We had no choice." Jack replied softly. "Major Carter's injuries were too extensive, the only way we could bring her back was to let her go. I can't explain it."

"In your report you stated that it was Doctor Daniel Jackson who brought her back to life. Is that correct?"


"Yet, according to the SGC records, Doctor Jackson died several months ago." The prosecutions face took on a hint of scepticism at the Colonel's words. "Colonel, don't you think your story is somewhat lacking in credibility?" Jack's fists clenched in anger, just who the hell did this guy think he was, as his anger bubbled to the surface, Jack rose from his seat and shouted, "Hey, you weren't there. Major Carter nearly died to protect this base from a Goa'uld. Many more people would have died if it wasn't for her, and you're questioning *my* credibility? Who the hell are you to judge what's credible. I'm telling you exactly what happened, and if you chose not to believe me, then that's your problem!"

"Sit down Colonel." General Myles ordered. Lowering his voice to that of a request that was not to be ignored he continued, ensuring that Colonel O'Neill fully understood the implications of his actions. "I'm warning you Colonel, if you step out of line again, I'll have you forcibly removed from this courtroom, is that understood?"

Trying to regain his equilibrium, he sat back down in his seat, and replied,

"Yes sir."

Carrying on as if nothing untoward had happened, the prosecution continued.

"Colonel O'Neill, you stated in your report that both you and Major Carter were captured by the Goa'uld shortly after she regained consciousness. You further state that you were taken aboard one of their crafts, whereby you allege both Major Carter and yourself were subjected to torture."


"Please describe to the court in what way you were tortured by Major Carter, and the injuries you sustained."

"Major Carter didn't inflict any torture on me." Jack replied.

"Excuse me Colonel, but in your report you state that she did. Are you now saying that you falsified reports?"

"No, what I'm saying is that physically it may have been Major Carter, but it wasn't her." Jack replied ambiguously.

"Would you care to elaborate?"

"I know Major Carter. I've known her for six years, and she knows me. The S...Major Carter I know wouldn't hurt me."

"Yet she miraculously remembered who you were when her father arrived. How many times did you tell her who you were? Two or three times, was it, before she plunged the toxin into your blood stream, Colonel?"

Sam shuddered at the callousness of his words; he was enjoying this. A cold sweat crept over her, and she felt physically sick. Even though she knew it hadn't happened like that. To hear it spoken aloud made her feel as if her actions had been cold and calculating, and she was sure the judge would see it that way to. Her eyes brimmed with tears at the harsh reality of it all, and she felt herself giving up. She closed her eyes in an effort to shield herself from her own pain, and the pain she was causing Colonel O'Neill. She'd never meant for him to have to re-live his own pain.

Feeling his anger rise once more he answered, "Have you ever been subjected to torture? No, I doubt it, otherwise you wouldn't ask such a stupid question." Jack replied harshly not allowing him to speak for once. "Well I have, and let me tell you something from personal experience, the reason they call it 'mind control' is because it screws with your mind. You get to a point whereby you don't know what's going on from one minute to the next, so unless you've been through it yourself, you should keep your comments to yourself."

"Thank you for that colourful speech Colonel, now please answer the question. How many times did you tell Major Carter who you were." Jack sighed with frustration; he felt like he was talking to a brick wall. He'd been right about his earlier assessment; this wasn't a trial, it was a witch-hunt.

"I don't know, I had other things on my mind at the time." Jack replied coolly.

"Would you say more than three times or less?"

There was no way this, man would let this go, and he honestly didn't remember. He looked over to Carter for support, she looked as if she'd lost her best friend, and he knew her hopes were fading fast.

"I told you, I don't remember."

"Very well Colonel. No more questions your honour."

Sam sighed, she felt physically sick. Her stomach churned continuously, and a cold sweat came over her. Placing her head in her hands, she felt like giving up. She couldn't understand why the judge was allowing the prosecution to badger her friends like this.

"The witness is dismissed. We'll reconvene in 30 minutes." The judge ordered, allowing himself to some time to assimilate the information.

Stepping down from the plinth he walked past both the prosecution and defence stations. Fran McGuire smiled smugly at him, and Jack felt an overwhelming urge to punch the man's lights out. Never in his military career had he come across someone so antagonistic. Jack felt as if the man was taking Carter's actions personally, and his frustration with the Judge Advocate General to allow this line of questioning, threatened to rise to the surface. Glancing over to his 2IC, he could see that she had given up. Her eyes glazed over as if she was withdrawing into herself, and he felt like he'd failed her all over again.

After the court broke for recess, he along with the others made their way down to the defence table. Jacob was the first to reach her, and he placed a comforting arm around her shoulder. "Sam, it's going to be okay."

Sam stood up and replied sadly, "I don't think it is Dad. You heard him, he made it seem like I planned this all along. What's the point in me even taking the stand, I'm sure the judge has already made up his mind." Sam finished dejectedly.

Jack was incensed, he wasn't prepared to let her give up yet, he hadn't and he was gonna make damn sure that she didn't either. Forcefully turning Sam to face him, he spoke angrily, concern seeping through in his words. "Carter, snap out of it."

"Jack." Jacob advised warningly.

Completely disregarding the elderly man, he held up his hand to add more weight to his words. "Stay out of it Jacob."

With the heated emotions of the day's events everyone was fired up, but none more so, than Jack. He was not prepared to let her go down this route, not if he could help it. Pulling her to one side, he turned his back away from his friends and colleagues. What he was about to say was personal, and had nothing to do with anyone but him and Sam. For too many years he had hidden behind some façade that she didn't mean anything more than a work colleague, but now he needed for her to hear the words.

"Sam, do you know why I haven't retired yet?"

Completely taken aback by his question, she didn't know what the hell that had to do with anything. "I don't know?" Sam replied in all honesty. "I suppose because you care about the work you do."

"It's not the job I care about Sam, it's the people that I work with; one in particular. Every day we work side by side, and push our feelings to one side.

The only reason I stay in this job is because of you. I couldn't imagine coming to work and not having you there."

Sam's lips trembled at his words; she knew this wasn't easy for him. Her heart flipped at the passion in his voice, and the tears threatened to come once more.

"Sam, I know these last few weeks haven't been easy for you, but it seems more than that. I miss the old Carter." Jack stated sadly, his hands playing listlessly by his side. His insides churned at the thought of holding her in his arms, he desperately wanted to take away the pain that she was feeling.

"I don't think she's coming back, sir." Sam replied honestly.

"Sam, if you go on that stand with that attitude, then you may as well throw in the towel now. I want the Sam Carter I know to fight for what she believes in, just like when we first met. I know you feel as if you've lost control of your life Sam, but it's time to stop acting like a victim, and take back what you lost. What's happened in the past can't be changed, but you sure as hell can change what happens here today."

Sam looked at him intently, normally he was a man of very few words, but today she felt as if he'd let her into his heart.

"So what do you say?" Jack asked hopefully.

"I say my dad's going to be ticked at you for talking to him like that."

Without missing a beat he replied, "He'll forgive me, he loves me like a..."

"Like a what?" Sam replied wanting to know the answer, like a brother, or law? As the thoughts mulled in her head, she thought, her dad wasn't the only one.

"Never mind." Jack's replied hastily as a little voice appeared in his mind, oh now would be such a good time to change the subject. "So, you gonna get on that stand and kick some ass?"

"Bit difficult in this skirt, sir."

Jack smiled serenely, and shifted his eyes towards the lower half of her body.

"Sir!" Sam replied incredulously.

"Oh, I don't know Carter, you sure as hell could do some damage with those heels."

Sam smiled, the first genuine smile of the day. He knew just the right words to put her back on track. She knew it wasn't going to be easy, but knowing that he was her with her made things a little easier to deal with. He was right, over the last few weeks she had felt as if she'd lost control of her life, but now she was taking it back. If anyone stood in her way, they'd have a fight on their hands.

Walking back towards the others, Jacob met her halfway asking, "Everything okay, Sam?" His eyes heavily set on one Colonel Jack O'Neill. Suspiciousness lurked beneath his eyes, wondering what it was he actually said to his daughter. Another part of him didn't really want to know.

"Fine dad, Colonel O'Neill just needed to remind me of a few things." Sam answered giving Jack a knowing smile, and in response his eyes twinkled at the double meaning.

Within a few minutes the court was called back into session, and Sam was up next, but instead of being the disheartened person she was half an hour ago, she took a deep breath and prepared herself for what was to come. As she was called to the witness stand, a little voice played in her head, "Okay, Sam. Time to kick ass."

As the prosecution approached the stand, Sam held a look of pure determination, and the voice in her head grew louder, "Go on give it your best shot, because I'm not going down without a fight." Jack was right; she had wallowed in self-pity for too long. One thing was for sure, she wasn't prepared to take any crap from this man.

"Major Carter, in your statement you claim that the entity followed you to your home and lay in wait for you, you further stated that he injected you with some chemicals, to read your thoughts. Surely if that was the case, he would have been aware of the Tok'ra address."

"No," Sam replied confidently, "The Tok'ra have had problems some problems recently. So they advise us where their next location will be. I didn't know until we received the signal."

"And at what stage did you advise Colonel O'Neill of your findings?"

"I didn't." Sam replied calmly.

"Don't you think that's a little strange, Major? An entity comes through the Stargate, takes you hostage and requests you provide your allies locations, and you don't advise your commanding officer?"

"No, I don't. I had two choices. I could either allow members of the SGC to be killed, or attempt to seek assistance from the Tok'ra. I chose the latter." Sam replied coldly.

"Major, the videotape evidence shows you stealing supplies on the night that you allowed the alien access to the SGC. It also shows you clearly sabotaging key systems. Please can you explain why you felt it necessary to continue with this course of action."

"I agree my methods may have seen unorthodox to you, but maybe you could tell me what alternative I had. At one point I tried to advise Colonel O'Neill, but it nearly killed him. It was at that point I realised that I was on my own. I hoped by sabotaging the control centre of the gate it would ensure that no one else would get hurt."

"But people were hurt though, weren't hey Major? I'm referring to Jonas Quinn, and several SF's that attempted to thwart your escape." Sam chewed on her lip as she recalled the memory of that night, " I couldn't help Jonas, I tried, but... Jaret had beaten me so badly. I couldn't stop him attacking Jonas, and you will have no idea how hard it was for me to just lie there and watch him hurt my friend." Sam answered sadly.

"Yet you somehow managed to destroy the gate systems, immediately after you claimed to be incapacitated? So please can you explain how you managed it?"

Fury burned deep within her and she pulled together all her anger, to counteract his line of questions. "When Jonas was attacked." Sam answered heatedly "I wanted to kill Jaret for what he did, but he was too far away. If I had tried to stop him, people would have died. The only way I could guarantee no one else getting hurt was to ensure we both got out as quickly as possible. When you're put into a life threatening position like that, adrenaline takes over, and you survive on fight or flight mode."

"And what about the injuries, you caused to the SF's?"

"It wasn't me. It was Jaret who threw the plasma balls down the corridor."

"The plasma balls that *you* obtained from the supply locker?" Fran corrected himself, annoyed that she had managed to get one over on him.

Inwardly Sam grinned, she could see the man losing his composure slightly, and that gave her the strength to carry on. "Yes, I had hoped to use them against Jaret, but I lost the opportunity."

Sam who remained her concentrated effort on the man in front of her and so failed to see the grin from Jack, at the fact that she'd stood her ground.

"Major, please advise the court of the events that took place on the planet."

"I don't remember very much, just little bits." Sam replied honestly.

"Can you recall the events of your time in the cave?"

"Not really, you see I was dead at the time?"

Fran was getting frustrated at the lack of progress, and the fact that she remained so 'together', annoyed the hell out of him. "I meant after your apparent return to the land of the living."

"Have you ever died, Captain?" Sam enquired.


"Well, let me explain a few things to you about being 'dead'. You don't tend to remember very much about what happened. So I'm sorry I can only remember a couple of things, and nothing that would be pertinent to this enquiry." Sam answered cautiously. She didn't want to reveal the fact that when she awoke she was lying in the Colonel's arms, and hoped that he wouldn't call her on it.

"Fine, if I could move on then Major to the events on the Goa'uld craft."

"Certainly." Sam replied outwardly confident. Inside however, the nervousness threatened to engulf her and she shifted uncomfortably in her seat.

"Could you advise the court what took place after you and Colonel O'Neill were captured."

"We were taken to see the system lord, and it was at that point, Amemait wanted me." Sam answered softly. "Colonel O'Neill intervened, and he was shot with a staff weapon."

Jack listened intently to her words; she'd never gone into detail about what happened on that first night when she had been left alone with that snake. He knew that she felt uncomfortable revealing her innermost thoughts and feelings about what happened, and his heart went out to her. He never pushed her to tell him what went on, because he knew that when she was ready, she'd tell him. Now though the prosecution had pushed her into a corner, one with which she couldn't escape.

Sam felt her throat restrict, and she swallowed in an effort to clear it; but it remained. Biting down on bottom lip, she tried not to look at the Colonel. It was difficult enough for herself without having to worry about how he'd react. She had so far spared his feelings, because of the regrets he had for his actions that night. Now though, she didn't have a choice.

"After Colonel O'Neill left, Amemait injected me with some mind altering drug, he made me believe that my worst nightmares had come true." Sam's voice shook with emotion. "He played with my mind, all the time keeping me high on drugs, each time they would wear off, he'd inject me again." Sam closed her eyes tightly in an effort to rid herself off the memories that tumbled to the surface. "He stuck this metal probe on my head. The spikes sent an electrical current through my brain, and I screamed over and over again, hoping that someone could help me." A single tear trickled down her face, and she could no longer keep up the pretence of the 'strong soldier'.

"And did anyone come to your aid?" The prosecution asked softly, now feeling some sympathy for the Major. One look at her face made him realise that she wasn't some calculated traitor, here sat before him was a person of courage, and he felt ashamed that he had doubted her.

"No. No one came." She replied, her lips quivering at the effort.

Jessica Chapman stood up to request a break, but Sam interjected.

"No, please. I'm okay to carry on." Finally looking up, she glanced over to where her friends were sat, in disbelief. They had read her report on the incident, but it had seemed so clinical. Janet watched as her friend seemed intent on struggling alone.

Jack's face paled significantly at her last words, "No one came." They had discussed her feelings of being abandoned, and his guilt at leaving her, but he would never be able to get those words out of his head. No matter how hard he tried; it was something that he'd have to live with for the rest of his life.

"Major Carter, you state in your report that you attacked Colonel O'Neill once you were returned to your cell, can you explain why you did that?"

"I didn't know who he was at first, and I lashed out. Once the drugs wore off I began to recognise him, but even then I still wasn't 100% sure what was real and what was a hallucination."

"I appreciate that this is difficult for you Major. I just have a couple more questions."

Jack and Jacob looked at each other in shock. Jonas turned to Teal'c who had remained silent throughout. Each of them showed surprise at the man's undeniable change of heart. Neither of them realised just at what stage he had changed his attitude, and none of them cared, particularly. They were just grateful, that he was allowing her to speak at her own pace.

"Major, why did you plunge the vial into Colonel O'Neill's chest?"

"I felt as if my mind was split in two. It was as if someone else was hurting him. I heard him talking to me softly, saying that he forgave me, and I felt enraged. Amemait had played with my mind so much that I didn't know who I was hurting. I can't explain it. I remember my hand wavering over his chest, but then everything got mixed up. Amemait was shouting at me, and I got confused. I didn't know what was happening, and I honestly believed that the man lying on the table planned to kill me and other members of SG1." With her voice barely above a whisper, she felt as if she was the only person in the room, her body shivered at the effort of the last few words "I had to stop him, and that's when I injected him."

The courtroom remained deathly silent throughout the time Major Carter spoke, and it was if they were giving her the silent strength to carry on.

"One last question, Major."

"When did you realise it was Colonel O'Neill?"

Wistfully she replied, "It wasn't what he said. Even when my father spoke to me, I barely recognised him. It was a look the Colonel gave me, I remembered seeing it somewhere before."

"What do you mean; a look? Can you describe it?"

She looked intently over at Jack, and all eyes turned inward towards him, and watched as he squirmed uncomfortably in his seat. His brain threatened to go into overload at the looks he was receiving. Jacob knew exactly what the look was, but hoped it wasn't *that* look that his daughter was referring to.

Sam spoke sadly, "One of Colonel O'Neill's best qualities is that he cares deeply for his team. He would rather die himself than leave one of us behind. I looked in his eyes and saw a look of regret, regret that he'd never get me back, and that's when I realised who I had hurt."

Jack sighed inwardly thankful for small mercies.

"No more questions your honour."

"I have no questions your honour." Jessica Chapman said somewhat relieved that her ex-husband had allowed the young women to speak freely, and as he moved back towards his side of the room, she mouthed to him 'Thank you'.

"Very well, if there are no more questions from either the prosecution or defence the witness may step down."

Sam felt as if she was floating, she couldn't believe it was nearly over, and very shortly she would find out her own fate. It was hard to believe that it was only a few weeks ago that her life had been problem free, and now here she sat waiting for her fate to be decided at the hands of people she had never met.

"If the prosecution would like to make their closing arguments first, then the defence. Once your arguments are heard we'll adjourn for a brief time, and then I'll come back with a verdict."

The closing arguments brought forth by both parties seemed to go for an eternity as Sam sat tight-lipped, her body taught with tension. No matter what they both said now, she knew that the evidence had already been provided, and that this was just them, summarising the events of the last few days, and Sam allowed herself a few minutes to think about how her life would be if things didn't go her away. Lost in thought, she didn't even hear the Judge call for a recess. It was all over now, and she waited on baited breath for the verdict.

Jessica Chapman spoke first after the judge's departure from the courtroom, she took in the young women's pallor and realised that more than anything, Sam needed to be with her family. It would be a while before a verdict was ready, and she looked as if she needed lots of support. "It's going to be a few hours Major. Why don't you spend some time with your family? I'll call you when it's time."

"How do you think it went?" Sam asked cautiously. In Sam's mind, the only reason her brief told her to spend time with her friends was because she believed it wouldn't go her way.

"To be honest, I don't know. What I do know is, that you need them right now, and judging from the looks on their faces..." She answered pointing to her colleagues, "I think they need you to, so go on. I'll see you later."

Sam smiled softly at the councillor, "Thank you for everything you've done for me. I appreciate it."

"Your welcome, its all part of the service."

Walking slowly to her waiting friends she was instantly greeted with a hug from her father, and she suddenly felt as if she were a small child again. "You did good, kiddo."

Pulling slightly away from him she answered, "Thanks dad."

Everyone else gathered around her and she had never felt so much love and hope in her life. Whatever happened next, she knew that they would never leave her. Her eyes searched the crowd of faces, for that one person. She spotted him standing slightly away from everyone to give her some space, and she smiled slightly in his direction. The smile went unnoticed by everyone except for the person to who it was intended for, and he nodded with understanding.

For the next few hours the feelings were tense and awkward after they left the courtroom, they all tried to lighten the moment, but couldn't quite pull it off, because they didn't know if this was the last time they would all be together. Sam remained quiet throughout, and each time they tried to engage her in the conversation, but her heart wasn't in it. There was so much she wanted to say to them all, but she couldn't find the words.

"Try and eat something, Sam." Janet badgered for the third time.

"I can't Janet. I feel sick to my stomach. I just want this all to be over with, once and for all."

"I know you do Sam, but starving yourself, won't make the time go any quicker. Please Sam, for me?"

"I'll try."

Janet gave her a comforting smile, but she knew full well it was a futile gesture, instead she watched her friend stare emptily at the plate in front of her, carelessly moving the food from one side of the plate to the other.

After an hour of shuffling her food back and forth, Sam's patience reached breaking point. She felt as if fire ants crawled through her skin. Usually she was the patient one, but not today. All she wanted to do was get out of this building and as far away from here as possible. Feeling as if she would explode if she stayed a moment longer, she jumped up with an alacrity and excused herself, leaving behind several bewildered faces.

As she purposely strolled down the empty corridors of the SGC, she heard a voice call after her. Her face contorted into one of protest, and she turned round to face her CO jogging to catch her up.

"Where are you going?" Jack asked, concern evident in his voice.

"I'm sorry, Sir. I just have to get out of here for a while." Sam answered slightly agitated.

"Carter, you're not planning on doing something stupid are you?"

"No, I just need to get out of this place for a little while, sir."

Jack's eyebrows rose in surprise, cocking his head to one side in disbelief, because he sure as hell didn't think he'd ever hear that coming from her mouth.

"Did I hear correctly? You want to actually, leave the base? That's a first."

Sam wasn't in the mood though, and gave him one of her 'looks' that indicating she was not impressed.

Seeing that he ticked her off he apologised, "Sorry, it's just that I normally have to order you off the base."

"It's not that. I just needed some fresh air."

"On your own?"

"I'm not very good company at the moment, sir."

"Yeah, well, that makes two of us." Jack replied honestly. "And, since misery loves company...I kinda thought?"

"Are you speaking as my CO, or my chaperone?"

"Neither, I'm speaking as... your very good friend."

"Very diplomatic, sir." Sam answered quickly, not buying it for one minute. Nevertheless it did manage to coax a smile from her lips.

"Thanks, I try my best." Jack smiled in return. Walking purposefully down the corridors he left her standing in the middle of the corridor. Turning back to face her he asked, "You coming?"

Shaking her head in disbelief she walked over to join him, both walking side by side, each as nervous as the other.

Walking in silence, they made there way out of Cheyenne Mountain, and out into the sunshine. Sam careered over to the grassy knoll, and plonked herself down on the ground. Jack turned his head eyeing up the SF's that guarded the perimeter.

He could just imagine what was going through their minds as he watched Carter, a senior ranking officer plonk herself down.

"Um, Carter. You do remember that you've got your dress uniform on, don't you?"

Squinting in the sunlight she gazed up at him, and he looked at her with a quizzical expression on his face at her acting so, 'un- Carter' like.

"I know." Sam replied.

"Oh! Well as long as we've cleared that up." Jack replied nonchalantly, sitting down next to her.

They both sat in silence taking in the scenery around them, after a few minutes, Jack began to get uncomfortable.

"What are you thinking?" Jack asked quietly to ensure no one heard them.

"I'm thinking, that this might be the last time I see this place."

"Sam." Jack replied saddened that she was thinking like this.

"Don't, sir."

"Don't what?" Jack asked confused.

"Don't make this harder than it already is, sir." Sam answered softly.

"You don't know what I was going to say." Jack replied matter of fact. Truth was she did know, and he knew it.

"Yes I do."

"No you don't. You only think that you know what I know, but you don't *really* know." Jack replied playfully.

It had become a game for them in the beginning, both flirting subtly with the other for the last six years. He couldn't remember when she had crept past his defences, but she had, and he was a better person because of it. For too long he'd lived without feeling, particularly after Charlie had died. Then, like a breath of fresh air, she'd caught him off guard, and he'd fallen in love with her.

If they'd met some other time and place things would have been different, but they'd both made a choice.

Sam smiled at the playful banter, "I just want you to know..."

"I know."

"I know you know, but I'm going to say it anyway." Sam replied honestly. If things didn't work out for her, she might never get the courage to say it again. Trouble was it was easier said than done, for so long she had kept her feeling for him private. Now though, she wanted him to hear how she felt, but she couldn't find the words.

After a few minutes of waiting, he lent forward and whispered, "It's not easy is it?"

"No, it's not." Sam replied sadly. "Do you think it's always going to be like this?"

"I hope not." Jack replied truthfully. He hoped at one point they could admit openly that they loved each other, but it just wasn't going to happen. It certainly wouldn't while they both served alongside each other. They had chosen their careers, and unless one of them decided to retire or Sam got promoted, they would be left in limbo...waiting. "Sam, while we're on this whole honesty thing, I think there's something you should know."

This piqued Sam's interest, "What is it?"

"Your dad knows."

"What!" Sam gasped.

"He guessed!" Jack lied.

"He guessed?" Sam retorted in disbelief.

"Well, kind of."

"I can't believe you told him." Sam answered without adding the 'sir'; it didn't seem to go with this kind of honesty.

"I didn't actually say..." Jack gestured. "... 'It'!"

"Then *what* exactly did you say?"

"I just said, 'About, Sam and me', and he said he knew, so..."

Sam shook her head with disbelief, at the fact that her dad knew. "I can't believe it."

Now feeling highly embarrassed he stated simply, "I think he's known for a while, but didn't want to say anything."

"You don't think he'll..."

"No, no. God I hope not." Jack replied finishing her sentence for her.

"So, where do we go from here?" Sam asked not expecting to get an answer.


Sam nodded for him to continue.

"I don't know."

Truth is, she didn't know either. Both lapsed into silence once more. After a few minutes, Jack got up and wiped off the grass cuttings from his uniform. He took one last look at his 2IC, and asked, "You ready?"

Taking a long deep breath, she took stock of what she was going back into, and gazed up at him. His hand outstretched to help her up. Grasping it, like a lifeline, she pulled herself up. Both looked at each other longingly as if savouring every minute.

"Let's go Major."

"Yes, sir."

Both smiled sadly at having to go back to being Colonel Jack O'Neill and Major Samantha Carter. They knew their day would come, but it wouldn't be today. Walking back towards the commissary, they were greeted by Jacob. A worried expression reflected in the elderly man's face. They didn't need to ask, they knew - the verdict was in.

"I was just coming to get you, one of the SF's said you had headed topside." Jacob advised with concern. "You okay, kiddo?"

"Fine dad. I just needed some fresh air."

"You ready?" Jack asked as butterflies formed in his stomach. If *this* was how *he* felt, he couldn't imagine what Sam was going through.

"As I'll ever be, sir."

They walked in silence to the courtroom; Colonel Jessica Chapman was outside waiting for them. Surrounded by her friends and colleagues, Sam felt herself becoming emotional at the support they were giving her, but she couldn't speak.

Within a few minutes of them taking their respective seats. The court usher announced the return of General Joe Myles and they all stood in respect of his presence.

Sam felt he heart beat increase exponentially, and the all too familiar knots formed deep within her stomach. Her breath caught in her chest as she waited for the General to announce her fate. She glanced back and took one last look at her friends and family, tears glistened in her eyes, but she was determined that they wouldn't fall.

Clearing his throat, he spoke eloquently and with purpose. An uncomfortable silence befell the courtroom and they all waited with baited breath for him to speak.

"Before I began, there are a few things I'd like to say regarding the SGC. First of all, it concerns me greatly that I have been asked to oversee this trial, in light of its delicate nature. I only became aware of this facility recently, and to be asked to conduct a trial of treason disturbed me further. As far as I was concerned, this base and its staff have an enormous responsibility in ensuring that the residents of this planet remain safe. When I heard that Major Carter who had been entrusted with that responsibility had abused her authority, I was appalled."

Sam heard the words, and felt sickened that he felt this way. Her hands lay shakily in her lap and she closed her eyes in sadness, and she knew her fate had been sealed.

"I've heard the testimonies from both the defence and prosecution, and I happen to agree with the prosecution that Major Carter's actions left a lot to be desired. It was not something that I had come to expect from a Major in the United States Air Force. It is the responsibility of any serving member to keep their superiors apprised of any untoward situations. I believe that it is doubly important when it comes to off world activities. I appreciate the stress that Major Carter was placed under and the options that were available to her at the time. However that does not negate from the fact that she made the initial wrong decision by not informing her commanding officer, Colonel Jack O'Neill."

Sam's head lowered in shame, she couldn't bear to listen anymore. Her insides racked with guilt, and she swallowed back the sickness that rose from her stomach.

Members of the SGC looked at each other in shock as they listened intently at the opening statement of the JAG officer. Their faces paled at the thought that their friend would certainly be charged and sentenced.

"With regards to the wounding of SGC personnel, I am satisfied by Major Carter's testimony that she was not in fact responsible for the injuries to the security forces. I am also forced to acknowledge the supplies that were taken. I do not believe that there is sufficient evidence to suggest that they were in fact stolen, and as such I believe these charges should be dropped and recorded as such."

Taking a sip of water before he continued General Joe Myles looked down at the face of the young women before him. Sam felt a gaze upon her, and lifted her head to meet his eyes. She felt as if he was reading her soul, and she pleaded that he put her out of her misery.

Clearing his throat one last time, he continued. "Major Carter, your crime of treason cannot be dismissed so lightly. Your inaction from the beginning set off a course of that couldn't be avoided. In doing so, you have been charged with a treasonous act - in which leniency cannot be an option within the United States Air Force."

Sam felt her heart slam against her chest as he spoke directly to her, his eyes displaying his displeasure at her actions or lack thereof, and she held her breath, waiting for the words to put her out of her misery. Colonel Joe Myles indicated for her to stand as he prepared her for his concluding verdict.

"Major Carter, in your statement and evidence provided here in this court, you freely acknowledged your role in providing secret locations of your allies to a known enemy. In doing so risked your own life and other members of the SGC. I cannot condone the actions you took regarding the Alien 'Jaret', but I do accept that there were exceptional reasons for doing so. I was disturbed to hear the length you went to protect the people that you work with and the consequence of your decision ultimately cost you your own life. I also heard how you were subjected to treatment that no person should suffer, and as a result of this torture, your intention was to take the life of your commanding officer. With all the information pertained by this enquiry and from the medical reports submitted by the chief medical officer, I am satisfied that on two separate occasions you were subjected to physical and mental suffering which in turn resulted in you performing acts against your will. Given this evidence, I am satisfied that the charges of actual bodily harm and Treason are not well founded."

Sam's eyes grew wide with shock, and she felt her whole body tremble at his statement. Her legs felt as if they would give way if she stood for much longer, and she wasn't quite sure if what she heard was correct until the judge made his final announcement.

"It is the opinion of the court that all charges relating to Major Carter should be dropped as I find the defendant not guilty. My business here is concluded and this courtroom is dismissed."

As soon as the judge left, Sam sank into her chair, as she felt her legs collapse beneath her. A voice echoed through her mind, reiterating continuously, 'not guilty'. Never in her life had she felt such relief at those two little words. Her hands trembled as she wiped the tears from her eyes, the bustle of the courtroom echoed around her and she felt hands placed upon her. Hearty congratulations were echoed by her brief as she stood aside allowing her family and friend to be near her.

It was all too much for her, and she felt herself lean in to her father's warm embrace, not wanting to let go. For several minutes she stayed in his arms soaking up her father's love and warmth. He had stood by her through everything. All the times she had felt a failure in the eyes of her father, were banished completely from her mind, as he whispered, "I knew you could do it, kiddo. You have your mother's strength and courage and I'm so very proud of you." Jacob pulled her away from him slightly so he could look directly into her face as he announced affectionately, "I love you Sam."

Within moments of him releasing her she was surround by everyone else who had waited patiently by her side. Seeing their beaming smiles caused a lump to form in her throat and she couldn't get the words out to say 'Thank you'. As the tears of relief dissipated, an infectious smile lit up her whole face, her eyes twinkled with contentment and she believed that and once she started, she couldn't stop. Janet and Cassie hugged her simultaneously, neither one of them wanting to let her ago.

Once Janet and Cassie had released her, General Hammond walked over and held out his hand in congratulations. His voice echoed that of a proud father, "Well done, Major. I know it hasn't been easy for you these last few weeks, so when you're done here, come to my office and we'll discuss a well deserved break." Sam smiled in appreciation, she felt as if she'd run the gauntlet with her emotions, and she really did need some time alone to come to terms with everything that had happened. All she wanted was a nice relaxing few weeks off, somewhere quiet and relaxing without a soul in sight, and she knew of just the place. "Thank you, sir. I really would appreciate the time off."

"I believe you deserve it. We'll talk later, you've still got quite a few people to see who want to congratulate you." General Hammond advised happily, relieved that justice in this case had prevailed.

Stood behind General Hammond were Jonas and Teal'c. Jonas hovered for a few minutes unsure if he should give her a hug or not. He still wasn't sure if Major Carter was okay with what he had told the court, and hesitated slightly. Sam sensing his nervousness stepped forward and hugged him, then kissed him on the cheek. "Thank you Jonas, for everything you did here. I know it wasn't easy for you, but I appreciate it."

Releasing him she moved over from Teal'c, and couldn't resist grinning from ear to ear. "My friend, I'll never forget what you did for me, or how you stuck up for me. I don't have the words to tell you how grateful I am, not only for what you said here, but also for your patience and silent strength, I'll never forget what you did for me. Thank you Teal'c for everything."

Unbeknown to her, watching over her like a Guardian Angel; Daniel smiled contentedly. A part of him felt sad that he couldn't be there to help her celebrate, and he whispered softly, "I'll always be with you, Sam."

Sam felt a light breeze brush past her, and felt the hairs on the back of her neck stand up, but instead of making her feel cold, she closed her eyes; embracing the warmth of it. She knew who it was, and a sad smile played on her lips as she remembered her friend, and what he'd almost given up for her.

There was just one more person she needed to see, her commanding officer and her friend. He meant so much more to her than that, and she wrestled with the emotions that he was invoking within her. His smile touched her heart and their eyes locked intensely - no words were necessary, they both knew exactly what they other was thinking, as his hand reached out to hers. Their fingers brushed slightly, and Sam felt a tingle of electricity go through her. His eyes sparkled and she was sure he felt it to.

Breaking the intensity, they looked around and she saw her friends waiting patiently at the doorway for her to join them. Smiling contentedly h let go of her hand and said, "C'mon Major, I'll buy you dinner."

"I thought you'd never ask." Sam replied happily, allowing Jack to lead her out of the courtroom, his arm gently placed on her back, escorting her to her friends and family. It was a simple gesture that brought shivers down her spine.


It had been three weeks since she had been found not guilty of the charges brought against her. She pent the last couple of weeks on leave, and she was grateful that she'd taken it; the rest and relaxation had done her the world of good.

When General Hammond had advised her that SG1 had also been given some time off, she made sure that she had spent some quality time with them. Their friendship had been strained during the last month, and she wanted to make sure that she still had their trust and friendship. They had all made it perfectly clear that nothing had changed between them, but in Sam's mind there was still that niggling doubt of uncertainty, a darkness that lurked in the shadows, occasionally rearing it's ugly head.

Now though two weeks on she felt more comfortable with not only with her friends, but herself as well. Janet had told her that it would still take time to come to terms with everything that had happened, but she had no qualms in convincing Sam that she would be her normal self in no time, she just needed a little reassurance now and again.

It was her first day back at work since the court martial, and she felt as if it were her first day in school, little butterflies settled in her stomach as she walked down the murky grey corridors. As she walked towards the General's office, several work colleagues acknowledged her with a slight bow of their head, and she smiled in return; it was good to be home.

Settling back into work had been relatively easy, each member of her team diplomatically kept checking on her. When she'd confronted them they had all denied it, but she knew who it was that sent them; Colonel Jack O'Neill. She thought it was quite sweet really, because she knew that both Teal'c and Jonas weren't very good at pretending. They would individually come in to her Lab, asking stupid questions, or stating that they'd run out of office supplies, and it had been nice that they cared about her so much, particularly in the first few days, but two weeks later, it had begun to get on her nerves. Walking towards his office, she knocked on his door, and saw that his desk had become overloaded with paperwork.

Jack's face held a look of frustration as he tried to complete the overdue reports that seemed content on multiplying. I f he didn't know better, the files on his desk had been rabbits in a previously life. As he heard a knock on his door, he was grateful to whomever it was at their perfect time; he was desperate for an excuse for a rest, and was pleased to see Major carter stood in front of him.

"Hey, Carter. Come in, take a seat." Jack offered eagerly.

"Where?" Sam replied trying to find a space that didn't have a mountain of paperwork piled on top of it.

"Oh, sorry." Jack replied sheepishly, coming out from behind his desk and tried in earnestly to shuffle one pile of work from one corner to the next.

"How are things going?"

"Actually that's why I'm here."

"Oh!" Jack said feigning ignorance.

"I've come to proposition you." Sam asked in all innocence, and was subsequently rewarded by a Jack O'Neill special, and his whole face lit up. She hadn't seen him smile like that since she had been told to be an 'anthropologist'.

"Oh yes?"

Realising the double meaning, she corrected herself. "What I meant to say was - you tell Jonas and Teal'c to stop bothering me, and in return, I'll help you with your paperwork. What do you say, sir?"

"I don't know what you mean, major. What Teal'c and Jonas do in their spare time is their own business."

"Really, sir. So you've not had any input into their recent behaviour?"

"I've no idea what you mean, Carter. However, if you want I can have a talk with them. My diplomacy skills are becoming legendary ya know, Carter."

"Uh huh. Well, if you wouldn't mind, sir." Sam replied playing along.

"No, not at all, Carter. Any chance you could give me a hand now?" Jack implored with his most pathetic look. "I'm kinda swamped."

"Oh, I think this goes way past swamped, sir."

"Tell, me about it."


All had been relatively quiet for the rest of the week, until they received an alert from their deep space radars. A Goa'uld ship had entered their Solar system, and the whole base was on alert. Jack refused to leave Sam alone for more than a few minutes at a time, but he did it in such a way, it wasn't anything Sam could call him on.

They'd had a briefing that morning and it had been decided that SG1 would need to investigate the ship. Monitoring it's trajectory for the last few days, they had ascertained that it had remained in a motionless like state; simply drifting. That in its self caused an increased nervousness in everyone. Sam wasn't sure how to react, her stomach had churned over continuously since it had arrived, but she hadn't told anyone. It was something she knew she had to deal with eventually; it had just come sooner than she expected.

It was agreed that they would leave as soon as possible, which meant that they would leave first thing in the morning. Sam decided to sleep on the base that night in preparation for the mission. She hadn't felt like talking that much afterwards, and it didn't go un- noticed.

Later on that evening, she heard a tap on her door, and automatically know who it was, as she invited them in, she wasn't surprised to see her CO, stood there looking concerned.

Without him even opening his mouth, she stated, "I'm fine, sir, really. You don't have to worry about me, I'm not going to go to pieces."

"I know. I just wanted to make sure you were having an early night. That's all." Sam's face must have showed one of disbelief, because he walked over to her, closing the door behind him, and pulled up a chair. "Here we go." Sam thought.

"So, how are you *really* doing?"

"I'm okay, sir. Maybe I'm a little nervous about tomorrow, but..."

"You sure you want to come? I can get someone else ya know. People will understand if you wanted to back out."

"Sir, I've never backed out of anything in my life, and I'll be damned if I start now. Thanks for the choice, sir, but no. If it's okay with you, I'd like to go." Her voice quavered, and she looked up at him, her eyes pleading with him. "I need to go, sir. Don't take me off this mission, please."

"You sure, your sure?"

"Yeah, I'm sure, sir." Jack nodded in understanding. "Okay, Carter. We leave at 07:00am, don't be late."

"I won't, sir."

With that he left her to it, but before he retired for the evening, there was one more thing that he had to do.

Morning came quickly and Sam got up and showered in record time, her watch showed that she had plenty of time, it was only 06:30, so she decided to head up to the control room. What greeted her both shocked and pleased her. There stood with her CO was her father, and she was thrilled that he was here.

"Dad! What are you doing here?" Sam asked suspiciously, hugging him slightly.

"Heard you might need my expertise."

"Colonel O'Neill called you, didn't he?" Sam eyed her CO suspiciously.

"Yeah, he just wanted you to have a bit of support."

Sam rolled her eyes, and said simply. "Will you two stop worrying, I'll be fine."

"We know. We just wanted you to know that you're not alone in this, and we'll be with you every step of the way."

Sam sighed deeply, she really did appreciate her CO's gesture, and she smiled in his direction, and mouthed, "Thanks."

Jack tilted his head and winked. "Well, since we're all up and ready, let's go meet the others."

"Others? How many more people are going on this expedition in total sir?"

"Only seven."


"Yeah, it's supposed to be good luck." Jack answered as they walked out of the control room.

Sam smiled at his attempts, and she knew that with all of them by her side she could handle just about anything that life was prepared to throw at her.


End Notes: Woohooooooooo, I finished - run go pee everyone, then come back and tell me what you thought. Told you it was a long one, and to all those crossing your legs at this very moment, you should know me by now! :O)

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