"So you're trying to say it's a recon mission, sir?" Colonel Jack O'Neill questioned his commanding officer. They had been sent on five recon missions in the last few weeks, and he was getting annoyed with them.
"Yes it is, Colonel," Hammond answered.
Major Sam Carter teased Jack, trying to improve his mood. "Maybe you should bring a book sir."
He slowly turned and eyed her. He knew she was trying to be funny, but she was failing miserably in his book. "Not funny, Major."
"Sorry sir," Sam replied. She looked down at her hands folded in her lap.
"Colonel, as soon as we decode the rest of the feedback from the probes, I'll assign a really good mission to SG-1," Hammond said, trying to placate Jack.
"Thanks, sir," Jack mumbled. Just then, the Stargate started dialling. "Any one going out before us?"
Hammond stood up. He walked to the windows and gazed down at the circling gate. "No one is scheduled."
"Well someone's coming through," Jack said as he joined Hammond at the window.
"Yes, it seems so," Hammond said. He turned and quickly walked out of the briefing room.
"Lieutenant," Hammond said a few seconds later in the control room. "What do we have?"
"An incoming traveller, sir."
"Who is it?"
"I'm not sure, sir," the Lieutenant replied as he frantically typed on the keyboard before him.
"Close the iris," Hammond commanded.
Jack, Daniel, Teal'c and Sam entered the gate room. They had decided to get a closer look at whoever was coming through the gate.
"Sir, I have contact."
"Who is it, Lieutenant?"
Hammond recognized the name and instantly gave the order. "Open the iris."
"They seem to know who it is," Teal'c observed.
"Seems so," Sam agreed. They watched a woman step through the gate.
Jack was the first to speak. "Laira."
Sam closed her eyes. She had vowed to never lay eyes on that woman again. Just seeing her brought back painful memories.
Laira approached the group. "Jack."
"What are you doing here?"
"I came to get help."
"You need help, Laira?" Jack asked. He met her at the bottom of the ramp and hugged her.
"Yes, we need help."
Sam couldn't take being near Laira anymore. She interrupted the reunion. "Sir, I can take command of the mission. You can go help her."
Jack looked up from gazing at Laira and remembered that his team was standing there. "Ah..."
"Actually Jack, I need everyone's help," Laira interrupted.
After looking back to Laira then back to Sam, Jack spoke. "Guess that's a no, Major."
"I noticed," Sam muttered, watching Jack turn his attention back to Laira.
"Come to the briefing room." Jack gestured with his hand as he pointed up. "You can explain everything there."
"All right, Jack," Laira agreed. She left the room with Jack, followed closely by Teal'c and Daniel.
Sam remained in the gate room. She did not want to go up there. She didn't want to be in the same room as Laira. Or Jack, for that matter. When it came to Laira, no one else existed with him.
Sam was about to turn and walk out, when she heard her name being called. "Sam?"
She turned around and found Janet entering from the other side of the gate room. "Hi, Janet."
"Hey, you okay?"
"Oh fine," Sam lied.
Janet knew Sam to well. She could tell she wasn't fine. "Who came through the gate?"
"As in Laira, Laira?" Janet asked.
"You okay?" Janet asked again. She knew Sam had gone through hell when Jack had been missing for those 100 days. She rarely slept or ate the whole time.
She was about to answer when her name was called over the intercome. "Major Carter to the briefing room."
"Well that's me," Sam said as she turned away from Janet.
Janet put her hand on Sam's shoulder to stop her. "Sam, if you don't want to go up there, don't."
"I'll see you later, Janet," Sam answered. She walked out of the gate room and completely ignored Janet's advice.
"Nice of you to join us, Major," Jack snapped.
Sam sat down at the end of the table away from everyone. "Sorry, I was speaking to Dr. Fraiser."
"Something wrong, Major?" Hammond asked.
"She did something for me, sir," Sam lied. "She was explaining the results to me. Sorry for being late, sir. It won't happen again."
"That's fine, Major," Hammond said with a smile. "Continue on, Laira."
Before Laira could begin, Daniel interrupted. "What kind of rebels were they?"
"I am not sure, Daniel. All we know is that they were looking for something. We don't know what though."
"Are the rebels still there?" Teal'c asked.
"Yes. They are hiding out in the hills."
Jack tore his eyes from Laira to address General Hammond. "Sir, we have to help."
"I'll give SG-7 your mission. You may go and help Laira and her people."
"Thank you, sir," Jack said. He looked back to Laira and smiled.
Venturing out in front of the team was Sam's only way of keeping herself at ease. She really did hate Laira. She had tonnes of reasons. But this wasn't the time to think about them. They were there for a mission. "Whoopdie doo," Sam muttered to herself.
"Did you say something, Major?" Jack asked, catching Sam off guard.
Sam jumped. She hadn't noticed that the group had caught up with her. "Sheesh, sir. You trying to give me a heart attack?"
"No, Carter. I was about to tell you to take the lead," Jack replied.
"Fine, I got it," Sam said and stalked off.
Jack shook his head and returned to Laira's side. "So you were saying?"
"This started a few weeks ago, Jack. We don't know why they are here."
"Well, we'll find that out," Jack said as he smiled at her. "First we'll bring you back to your town, then go out and see what we can find."
"Thank you, Jack."
Sam walked in silence, listening for danger. She heard movement in the distance and turned around to find that she was alone. She guessed that Jack and Laira were slowing the group down. So she crept up and positioned herself behind a big rock. Taking a peek, she saw a camp and several men. 'They must be the rebels that Laira had mentioned,' she thought.
Sam heard talking behind her and turned to silence the rest of the group, but it was too late. The rebels had heard them. Next thing Sam knew, she was ducking for cover.
Jack covered Laira and looked around for Sam. He'd have to have a conversation with her later about her lack of awareness.
"Stay put," he whispered to Laira and made his way up to where Daniel and Teal'c were. "How many?"
"I count six, O'Neill," Teal'c answered as he activated his staff weapon.
"Daniel, stay with Laira."
"Sure," Daniel said and fell back next to Laira.
"Let's take these guys out," Jack told Teal'c. Jack caught Sam's eye and motioned for her to move in.
Sam nodded her head to show she understood Jack's directions. She moved further down the hill. That was the worst move she could have made. She felt a stinging sensation in her shoulder. There weren't six rebels; there were seven.
Sam fired at the rebel to protect herself, but missed. He ran, yelling to his comrades as he fled. Sam rolled over on her side and gritted her teeth when she rolled onto her shoulder. It hurt like hell.
Jack saw that the rebels were fleeing and motioned for Teal'c to continue firing. He quickly realized that they were all heading for the stargate. They were fleeing the planet.
Sam rolled off her shoulder and sat up. Once up, she peered down at her shoulder. Her t-shirt was soaking up the blood. Lying back down, she took a gasp of fresh air. "Could this get any worse?" she asked herself.
"Jack?" Laira came out from where she was hiding with Daniel and walked over to Jack.
"It's over Laira. They're gone," Jack told her. "Is everyone okay?"
Sam got to her knees. She was about to answer when she heard Laira's voice.
"We're all fine, Jack," she said.
'We aren't all fine,' Sam said to herself. Laira knew Sam was hurt. No one from SG-1 had seen her, but Laira had. 'She was looking right at me,' Sam thought.
"All right, let's head to town," Jack announced.
Sam couldn't believe what she had just heard. She sat on the ground. Daniel and Teal'c blithely followed Jack and Laira secure in the knowledge that Sam would follow.
Sam gently took off her backpack and rummaged through it until she found her jacket. She then took her vest off and gingerly pulled on her jacket. Sam clenched her teeth together at the shot of pain that flashed through her shoulder when she pulled her vest back on and then her pack. She stood up and steadied herself. She slipped her hand between the clips on her vest so it wouldn't rub. She retrieved her gun and placed it over her good shoulder. Then she slowly trudged after the group.
Sam decided that she didn't want to be in the same room with Laira. Being on the same planet as her was hard enough. She couldn't tell Jack about her injury. Pride wouldn't allow it. She knew that Jack wouldn't believe that Laira had lied.
She sat down on a chair outside Laira's house, leaned back and closed her eyes. Yup, her day was getting worse.
Sam really didn't want to open her eyes, but somehow managed it. "Yes, sir?"
"Do you have a problem?" Jack asked, referring to her actions earlier.
"Problem?" Sam questioned. She thought he hadn't seen her get hit.
"You could have gotten us all killed."
Oh that. He thought the attack was her fault. "Well don't you think you should have either stopped talking or at least whispered," she countered.
"So you're saying that was our fault?" Jack questioned.
"Yes," Sam answered bluntly.
"Maybe you should have lead the team on the other mission," Jack replied.
"Maybe I should have. 'Cause I'm sure not getting any respect on this one," Sam said as she got up. She quickly cut in when she saw Jack's face turn purple. "Look let's make this easy. I'll just go back to the campsite and take a look around. While you, Daniel and Teal'c hang out here. It'll make everything easy."
"Fine, do that," Jack said as he dropped his backpack just outside the door. "Report every hour, Major."
"Yes sir," Sam said. She saluted him, then watched him walk back into the house. She bent down to his pack and rummaged through it. She knew he was the one carrying the first-aid kit. And she desperately needed it.
Sam caustiously searched the whole camp before collapsing against a rock. The camp was empty, and the rebels were gone from the planet.
Sam gasped as she shrugged off her pack and felt the same stinging sensation travel through her shoulder as when she got shot. Then she pulled her hand out of her vest and unclipped her vest with her right hand. When it was open, she also shrugged it off, and then removed her jacket.
Looking down, she saw that her t-shirt was no longer black. It was red. The whole side was soaked with blood. Opening the first-aid kit beside her, she pulled a pair of scissors out. She put them to the collar of her t-shirt and cut.
Dropping the scissors back into the kit, she looked at the wound for the first time. It hadn't gone all the way through. When she touched the back of her shoulder, she couldn't feel an exit wound. Whatever had hit her was still in her shoulder.
Sam wiped her bloody hand on her pants and grabbed some gauze and tape. This was going to be difficult. She needed to use her left hand, but it hurt too much to move it.
Sam put the tape on the gauze and then brought it to her shoulder and covered the gaping wound. That slight pressure brought a moan to her lips.
When she was done covering her wound, she pulled her jacket back on. She leaned back and took a deep breath. "Why'd you do it, Laira?" Sam asked out loud. She knew she wasn't going to get an answer, but she just had to ask.
"Thank you, Laira," Daniel said. He saw Jack sit down across from him. "Where's Sam?"
"She volunteered to check out the rebel campsite."
"Should I go with her, O'Neill?" Teal'c asked.
"No, she's long gone," Jack answered as Laira said down beside him.
"Is there something wrong with Major Carter?" Laira asked. She knew exactly what was wrong with Sam, but she was fishing for information about the Major.
"I have no clue. We both agreed that it was a good idea for her to go back to that camp," Jack replied. He saw Daniel look to Teal'c and sighed. "What Danny?"
"Nothing," Daniel said defensively.
"Good, let's eat."
Once again, Sam had to dress her wound. She knew she was fighting a loosing battle, but she refused to give up. Dressing her own wound was a little tough. If only she had another set of hands, it would be a little easier. But she was on her own.
"Thanks a lot, Laira," Sam mumbled to herself as she tried her best to put more gauze on her wound. "You too, Jack."
By now, she had lost a lot of blood. By the way her uniform was soaked, the puddle beside her on the ground and her strength, she could tell she wasn't doing good. Her chances of survival were decreasing with every minute that ticked by.
Sam tugged at her sleeping bag. She had already managed to get into it, but now she had to zip herself in. Moving was hard. Every little movement caused pain.
As she struggled to zip herself in, she heard her radio crackle then come to life.
Sam didn't want to move, but she stretched out her good hand and grabbed a hold of her vest. She pulled the radio out of the pocket and answered. "Yes, Daniel?..."
She briefly thought about telling the truth, but couldn't bring herself to. "Yup fine, just checking something out..." she lied.
"You coming back soon? It's getting late..."
All of the sudden, she didn't want to talk any more. Her energy drained from her as her blood soaked her sleeping bag. "Soon. Listen I have to go. I should be there shortly..."
Sam heard the radio die and let it slip from her limp fingers. She pulled her arm back into the sleeping bag and zipped it up from the inside. She had had enough.
"Something wrong, Daniel Jackson?" Teal'c asked. He saw Daniel put down the radio.
"I just spoke with Sam," Daniel answered.
"Is there a problem with Samantha Carter?" Teal'c inquired.
Daniel looked up at the solemn jaffa. "I think so, Teal'c."
"Here, let me do that for you Laira," Jack offered, taking the armload of wood from her. He picked up a few more logs and followed her into the house. "How have you been?"
"I've been very well, Jack. Although, I've missed you," Laira answered. "I wish you were here under better circumstances."
"Me too," Jack said. He dropped the logs beside the fireplace. "Ow."
Jack held up his finger. He had a splinter. "It's nothing, don't worry."
"Are you sure?"
"Yup," he said as he pulled it out. It started to bleed. "Excuse me for a minute."
"Of course," Laira said. Jack walked out of the house.
"Oh for crying out loud!" Jack grumbled as he rummaged through his pack.
"Problems, Jack?" Daniel asked from his seat next to Teal'c on the porch.
"I can't find the first-aid kit. I swear I had it," Jack answered. Looking up, he continued. "Do you two have it?"
"Nope, not me."
"Nor do I, O'Neill."
"That's odd," Jack said. "Maybe Carter has it."
"Maybe," Daniel agreed.
"Say, did she radio in yet?"
"No. I just radioed her."
"She said she'd be back shortly," Daniel answered. Teal'c nodded to confirm his answer.
Jack stood with his radio in his hand. "Well it better be now."
"O'Neill to Carter..."
Sam heard her radio come back to life, but kept her eyes closed. She had no strength whatsoever. She couldn't move.
"Answer the damn radio, Carter..."
"Go to hell, Colonel," Sam mumbled, but stuck her arm out of the sleeping bag and fumbled for her radio nonetheless. She knew if she opened her eyes, she'd find the radio faster, but she couldn't bring herself to do it. Finally, she found the radio. She brought it to her face and responded. "Carter here, sir..."
"About time," Jack snapped. "By any chance Major, do you have the first-aid kit?..."
Sam didn't think twice about her answer. "Yes, sir, I do..."
"I thought I had it..."
"I needed it, sir..."
"Well you could have at least told me..."
"So sorry, sir. Next time, I'll make sure you know where it is. And heck, I'll even sign it out, how's that sir?..."
Jack was amazed by her attitude. "You coming back, Carter?..."
"Yes sir, in due time, sir. When I damn well feel like it, sir..." She was getting mad.
"Get back here on the double, Major..." Jack ordered. Her attitude wasn't agreeing with him.
"Go to hell, Colonel," Sam said. She sat up and threw the radio at a nearby rock using her bad arm. She watched it shatter and cried out in pain when her arm gave way. "Oww!!!!!! Damn it!!"
Jack stared down at the radio in his hand, then looked up at Daniel and Teal'c. "Can someone explain that to me?"
"Nope, sorry Jack."
"Was she like that with you?"
"No, but I figured something was wrong," Daniel answered, truthfully.
"Oh yea, there's something wrong. She just told me to go to hell," Jack replied. Laira stepped out onto the porch looking for Jack.
"Something wrong, Jack?"
"I don't know yet," Jack answered. He saw something in Teal'c's face. "What's wrong, Teal'c?"
"I am worried about Samantha Carter, O'Neill. Should we not go find her."
"Please stay," Laira started. "It is late."
Whatever spell Laira had over Jack was still working. He ignored his worry. "We'll give her an hour. If she's not back by then, one of us will go find her."
"You sure, Jack?" Daniel questioned.
"Yup," Jack said as he followed Laira back into the house.
Daniel voiced his concern to Teal'c. "I don't like this at all."
"I do not either, Daniel Jackson," Teal'c agreed just as Jack stuck his head out the door.
"Come on in."
"Sam, Sam come in..." Daniel said into his radio. Adjusting the knobs on the radio, he tried again. "Sam, hey Sam. You there?"
"No answer?" Jack questioned as he watched Daniel try to reach Sam.
"Nope, none. I don't even get static."
"What the hell is she up too?" Jack questioned.
Laira sat in the corner, quietly.
Sam was losing the battle. She figured that she had lost most of her blood through her shoulder wound. Her sleeping bag was soaked under the wound. She had no way to contact anyone. She was just waiting for the end. The end of her life.
"Jack, this isn't like Sam. She's more responsible than this," Daniel told Jack.
"I know, I know Daniel," Jack said as he got up and stood in front of the fire. "Something has to be wrong."
"The question is what," Teal'c said.
"Yea, I know," Jack replied. He noticed that Laira had stopped rocking. "What is it, Laira?"
"I may know what's wrong," she answered.
"What?" Jack asked as he dug his hands in his pockets.
"When the rebels attacked us earlier, Major Carter was injured."
Jack did a double take and stared at her in disbelief. "Excuse me. What do you mean she was injured?"
"Injured, Jack. In the shoulder."
Jack crossed the room and stood in front of her. "You mean she was shot in the shoulder, and you never said a word."
Jack stepped back as his brain brought to mind several scenarios of the danger Sam could be in. "Damn it! Why the hell didn't you say anything?" he yelled at Laira.
"I did not see it as being necessary," Laira told Jack.
Jack exploded. He couldn't believe her cool, calm answer. "Necessary! For crying out loud, Sam is my second in command and my friend. If she dies, so help me..." But Jack didn't finish his sentence, instead he was out the door.
After grabbing his vest, Jack ran out of the house, headed in the direction of the campsite at a dead run. But before he could make the town's outskirts, he heard Teal'c and Daniel yelling after him.
Jack slowed slightly and answered. "What, Teal'c?"
"Let me go find Samantha Carter."
"No, this is something I have do," Jack answered as he gave one last instruction. "Stay here and get all of our stuff together. Meet me at the Stargate. When I find her, I'll radio you." Then he turned and ran off.
"I haven't found her yet, Daniel..."
Jack skidded to a stop just past a large rock. He saw something shiny near it. The silver material of Carter's sleeping bag had caught his eye. He ran the short distance between him and her sleeping bag and squatted down.
He gasped when he saw Sam's face. She was beyond being pale--she was white as a ghost.
"Sam?" When she didn't answer, Jack opened her jacket and took a look at her wound. He could see that the gauze was soaked through with blood and all of the cloth surrounding it was red. Gently slipping his hand behind her shoulder, he felt no exit wound. "Sam, can you hear me?" But once again, she didn't answer. He looked again at the amount of blood on her sleeping bag and knew that she had lost consciousness. She had lost too much blood. Jack quickly redressed the wound and pulled her jacket back over it. "Ain't jealously a bitch!"
"Daniel?..." Jack said into his radio after covering up Sam.
"I'm here, Jack..."
"I found her. I'll meet you at the 'gate..."
"Not good. We've got to get her back..."
"We're on the way..."
Jack put his radio away and gently lifted Sam into his arms. He immediately noticed the change in how she felt. She was lighter and limp. "This isn't like you Carter. Come on, you have to survive. If you don't,." His voice cracked. "If you die, I will never forgive myself. I am so sorry, Sam."
Jack reached the 'gate first, so he gently placed Sam on the ground beside the DHD. As he checked her wound once again, he noticed that the new gauze was almost soaked through.
"Come on, Sam, fight this."
"Jack!" Daniel called out as he and Teal'c ran up.
Jack jumped up. "Dial home, Daniel. Now!"
"I'm on it," Daniel said and began punching in the address.
"O'Neill, how is Samantha Carter?" Teal'c asked. He stopped beside Jack with all the gear.
"Not good. She won't make it if we stay on this planet any longer," Jack answered. He spotted Laira approaching. "Go home."
"Jack, I'm sorry. I thought I was doing the right thing."
The stargate activated.
Jack glared at Laira. "The right thing? The right thing isn't to let Sam die."
"Jack, let's go," Daniel said. He moved to pick up Sam.
Jack stopped him. "I have her. Go!"
"You sure?" Daniel questioned, but very quickly answered his own question. "Sure, I'll make sure Janet is ready."
"Good," Jack said. He bent down and picked her up. Jack walked up to the stargate and spoke one last time to Laira. "Goodbye Laira." Then he stepped through the gate.
"Welcome back to the real world, Sam," Janet told her friend. "You had us all scared."
Sam looked confused. "How'd I get here?"
"Colonel O'Neill found you and brought you home," Janet answered.
"Yes. He's been here every day since you were brought home."
"Listen, get some more rest and I'll go inform General Hammond that you're awake."
"Sure," Sam said as she closed her eyes.
Sam saw Daniel standing in the doorway to her room and put down the magazine that she was reading. "Hi Daniel."
"Hey Sam. Sorry, I wasn't sure if I should bother you or not."
"No that's okay, I need company," Sam said as Daniel entered her room.
"Been quiet here?"
"Yup. Janet has a way of chasing people away," Sam joked. Daniel laughed.
"Must be the threat of needles."
"Something on your mind, Daniel?" Sam asked picking up on his mood.
"I was wondering."
"Have you spoken to Jack yet?"
Sam closed her eyes and turned her head away. She didn't want to talk to Jack at all. He had hurt her. And she wasn't ready to see him or talk to him. She needed to heal emotionally. She opened her eyes and turned back to Daniel. "No."
"Did you want to see him?"
"No Daniel, I can't."
"Just for a minute," someone said from the doorway.
Sam sighed. "Go away, Jack."
"Not until you listen to me," Jack said. Daniel decided it was time to leave and started to leave.
He stopped at the door. "Yes Sam."
"Jack leaves; you stay."
Daniel wanted to stay, but decided it would be best if he left. "Listen to him, Sam. Please."
"No," Sam said as she tried her best to keep her tears back.
Jack entered the room and stood at the foot of the bed. "Just listen to me, Sam."
"That's Major, sir."
"Carter," Jack begin again, desperately trying to keep himself from falling apart.
"Look, why don't you just do us both a favour. Go back to her. It's crystal clear that you want her. You don't give a rat's ass about anyone else. You probably congratulated her when she told you I was dying. It would be just like you, Colonel."
Jack lowered his head and knew that he was losing. He gathered himself and spoke. "Listen to me, Carter. And listen good. When I found out that Laira knew exactly what happened to you, I yelled at her and ran out to find you. I've never congratulated her. For heaven sakes, you are my friend. You mean too much to me."
"Do I?" Sam asked. She stared at him. "It didn't seem like that when she first came here. You were in her trance. What Laira wants, Laira gets."
"I'm sorry about that," Jack replied. "I never meant to hurt you."
Sam's tears flowed freely down her cheeks as she yelled at Jack. "Well it's too late, Colonel. This friendship is over. From now on, we're just Colonel and Major. That's it, that's all."
"Sam!" Jack snapped. His own tears were running down his cheeks. "Look, I found out what you did to find me when I was missing for those 100 days. I never knew."
"Oh don't worry about that, Colonel. I'd never do it again."
Sam wiped her eyes with the back of her hands. She picked up her magazine and threw it at him. "Get out of here, Colonel."
Jack dodged the magazine and pleaded with her. "Please Sam. Rethink all of this. Our friendship means the world to me."
"Does it now? It didn't seem like that when Laira was around."
"Well it does, and Laira will never be around again."
"How can I be so sure?" Sam asked. She finally realized that Jack was crying too.
"I told her goodbye. I will never see her again."
Sam changed the topic of conversation. "Do you realized you hurt me, emotionally? When we found you, you didn't even bother to ask how we found you. You just said bye to your girlfriend and left. Not once since you've been back have you asked."
"Yes, I know I hurt you Sam. I know, and it hurts me. If I could fix all of this, I would, but I can't."
"And I can't trust you."
"I know," Jack said as he lowered his head.
"Not now any way," Sam added.
Raising his head, Jack wiped his tears with the collar of his jacket. "Not now?"
"I might be able to learn to trust you, eventually. But it can't be right now. I have to work this out by myself," Sam explained. She swiped at her tears again.
Jack moved to the side of the bed and grabbed a box of kleenex. He put it on the bed beside Sam. "I know you have to heal, I do too."
Sam pulled out a kleenex and wiped her eyes again. "Please leave me, Jack."
Jack grabbed a kleenex for himself. "If you ever end up needing me, Sam. I'll be here for you in an instant." Jack tried to smiled and walked out of her room.
Sam watched him leave, and then burst out into more tears. She knew he understood, but it just hurt so much. So much had happened, and she didn't have enough time to heal. Time would heal her physical wound and when she was completely healed, she'd have run out of time.
She'd have to go back to working with him again. Half of her feared that, but the other half of her couldn't wait. She needed him more than she was willing to let on.