By Gen Varel
Reading: A Matter of Survival
Relationships: Parts I, II & III
(The Host, Decisions, Friends & Allies)
by Gen Varel
Rating: PG-13 (T)
Pairings: Sam and Jack (established relationship)
Summary: Sam’s resourcefulness is put to the test
as she tries to cope with unexpected and
Note: In this reality, Sam has given up her military career but continues to work at the SGC as head of the scientific team. She and Jack have recently married, and this takes place after both Janet and Jacob have passed away. Jack is the General in charge of the SGC, and Colonel Dixon and Lieutenant Hailey (Prodigy) have joined Daniel and Teal’c in SG-1.
Disclaimer: Stargate SG-1 and its characters are not my property. I have written this story for the enjoyment of Stargate SG-1 fans all over the world. No copyright infringement is intended and no monetary gain is expected.
Sam watched listlessly as three white wreaths were sent through the wormhole in memory of the fallen. Although her eyes were dry and she appeared composed to those present, she was screaming inside. Screaming at the unfairness of it all, screaming in rage and impotence, screaming in unbearable anguish. She could hear nothing but a dull roar in her ears, although she knew there must be other sounds in the Gate Room besides the trumpet notes, sadly mourning the departed. She tightened her grip on the three flags in her arms, suddenly afraid she may drop them in her numbness.
She knew she had to hold herself together and not give others a clue of what she was really feeling. She had to stay in place at Stargate Command; she had to remain on duty. She would need her wits, her strength, and SGC’s resources to do what she must do.
She knew she would also need the help of a friend, the alien friend standing across from her on the ramp and staring at her with pity and concern. She looked back at him now, searching his dark eyes and already begging for the help she knew would be hard for him to provide.
He returned her look with an intensity of feeling that made her gasp inside, wondering if she could be selfish enough to ask what she must of him. His love for her was still there. She held his eyes with hers, knowing deep inside that she would do anything necessary to succeed in what she endeavored to accomplish. Knowing she would do anything she could to have Jack back.
Shortly after, the ceremony was over, but people seemed unable to move from their spots for the longest moments. Sam continued to hold the flags tightly against her chest, but was unwilling to move either, honestly afraid of losing control.
A comforting, strong hand grasped her arm, offering the support she desperately needed. General Hammond, bless his heart, was there on her right, holding her up and directing her down to the bottom of the ramp to face the gate room and thank those who quietly approached them to offer condolences.
Her dear little friend, Cassie, was there too, and took her place behind Sam, trying to be inconspicuous in her black skirt and heels.
Mourners, one by one, came to offer a handshake, a hug, or a word. It seemed the whole SGC was there, slowly departing the gate room after shaking their hands. Sam could only shake their hands back, nodding her head in acknowledgment, not saying a word. Their alien friends were there too, the last in line.
The only ones missing were Bra’tac and his fellow Jaffas. They had already paid their respects, the day before. Sam had joined them, along with General Hammond and Jonas Quinn, in their new home world, Dakara.
There had been an impressive ceremony honoring Teal’c and his Tau’ri friends. Teal’c’s ashes had been spread over the planet by his son, Ry’ac, and a monument was planned. Ishta had approached Sam at the end, when they were getting ready to depart. The two women had hugged each other silently, both too emotional for words, both bearing unspeakable loss.
Jonas Quinn now took his place on Sam’s left, also grasping her arm in support. She could feel his warm hand through the thin fabric of her sleeve. Did she look that bad? How could they tell she needed them there? She took comfort in their presence at her side while she accepted everyone’s signs of sympathy. Sam turned to her Kelownan friend, trying to smile at him in gratefulness, but unable to muster more than a quiver of her lips.
He returned her look with a firmer grasp on her arm, and indicated to her with his eyes that she should look down. She followed his gaze and found the alien eyes of Thor looking up at her.
“General Hammond, Dr. Carter, please accept the Asgard’s deepest condolences for your world’s and your own personal loss,” he enunciated as clearly as ever, “The names of your three comrades have already been added to our history records as fallen heroes and allies in our fight for freedom in our galaxies.”
“Thank you, Thor,” responded General Hammond simply. “We are grateful for your presence here today.”
“Yes…” Sam heard herself say quietly, clearing her throat, “Thank you, Thor. It is comforting to see you here.”
Sam raised her eyes and addressed the person standing next to Thor. “You too Lya,” she managed finally to smile, “Thank you so much for being here.”
The Nox woman’s sad eyes closed in acknowledgement as she bowed, expressing her sorrow better than with words. “They will always be remembered, Dr. Carter,” she gently said.
Sam could not help but feel the irony. She owed this wonderful being her life, and now she wished Lya had let her die. Anything to avoid what she was feeling right now.
Sam felt both hands on her arms loosen up and realized, without looking at them, that both men at her sides were surprised and relieved to hear her talk. She had not done much of that during the last couple of days.
So Sam swallowed hard and made herself continue, noticing that the heavily robed figure of Dis was standing right next to Lya. “Dis, we realize it is difficult for you to be here in this light. We appreciate your sacrifice and are honored by your presence here today.”
In response, the little being made a few hand gestures, accompanied by a couple of chirping sounds. Thor immediately translated for her. “It would have been inconceivable for the Furlings not to have sent a representative to such an important occasion. We are sorry for your pain.”
Thor then addressed SGC’s Acting Commander, “If it is appropriate, we will be departing now, General Hammond. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you need anything from us during this most difficult time,” the Asgard offered.
“Thank you again, Thor. We will dial the gate for you momentarily,” he responded, and gave a signal to the technician on duty, who had been ready and waiting for this moment.
Everyone but the three alien friends stepped off the ramp and proceeded to the briefing room where Narim waited, his concerned eyes still on the blond woman in the short, black dress, as he stood by the window overlooking the Gate Room.
Cassie was holding on to Sam’s hand as they all entered the already full briefing room. Hammond was immediately surrounded by SG team members, Tok’ra representatives, Sgt. Siler and his team, off-duty technicians, and a few generals. The large group was drinking coffee and conversing quietly.
‘Jack would have preferred a party,’ Sam thought. ‘So would have Daniel and Teal’c, as a matter of fact, but I know I could not have handled it.’ She kept her thoughts to herself and let Jonas direct her to a seat.
Cassie promptly took one next to her, still very quiet. Sam knew Cassie was grieving, too. Daniel, Teal’c, and especially Jack, were her dear friends as well. She had too recently lost her mother, Janet, just as Sam had lost Jacob only months before. They both had been able to deal with the loss of their parents easier than they could deal with this. It was just too much, too soon.
She squeezed the girl’s hand and gave her a little smile. Cassie smiled back, encouraged to see a sign of life in her friend. She had never seen her so beaten down, not even when Sam had gone through the Jolinar ordeal.
“Do you want something to drink, Cassie?” Jonas was asking the girl, his attentive eyes on her pretty face. His tone was gentler than usual, Sam noticed distractedly.
“No, thank you. Maybe later,” she answered, blushing at the attention. Sam was surprised when she felt Cassie’s nervousness, and wondered why Cassie was so shy around Jonas. She then saw the girl follow him with her eyes as he made his way toward the coffee table to get drinks for Sam and himself.
‘She likes him,’ she thought. Why not? Cassie was a very grown up little lady lately, and Jonas was still unattached. Sam was actually pleased at the possible match.
“Samantha,” she heard Narim say. “Are you all right?” he asked as he sat next to her. His eyes had hardly left her the whole time they had been in the Gate Room. He had avoided the line and come straight up here, conntinuing to watch her through the window until she had come up. He was now taking her hand in his and waiting for a response.
Sam looked at Narim and, horrified, realized that her eyes were tearing up and that she was unable to respond through the lump in her throat.
The Tollan noticed, squeezed her hand hard and shook his head. “You don’t have to talk if you don’t want to,” he said in understanding.
“Here, Sam,” Jonas interrupted intentionally, realizing she was on the verge of tears. “Cream and sugar, right?” he asked, handing her a cup of coffee. She nodded with a smile and managed to say a thank you. She took a deep gulp of the hot coffee and this helped her regain her composure.
Jonas sat in front of her, and she realized her dear friends were creating a protective barrier for her, hoping to isolate her from any unwanted intrusion. She sighed deeply, blinked her eyes rapidly to get rid of imminent tears, and smiled at all three of them. “Thank you for being here for me. You don’t know how much it means…” but she could not continue, and looked down into her coffee cup.
“We will be here as long as you need us, Samantha,” Narim said, still holding her hand.
Cassie did not say anything, but put her hand on her shoulder.
“Yes, we will,” added Jonas.
Sam wondered then if they would be as supportive when she told them what she planned to do.
“That is crazy! You are acting out of grief!” Narim was saying, the most upset she had ever seen him. “You would be dealing with something no one knows anything about. Think about the risks! My people have never attempted to tamper with the past for a very good reason. Give yourself some time to heal, Samantha,” he begged, leaning close to her, his hands on her shoulders, “You are not thinking clearly right now. They have only been gone three days!”
They were at their house, Jack’s and hers, the evening of the memorial service. She had asked them to join her for dinner. It was very important, she had told them.
Sam shrugged the Tollan off angrily, turning her back on him and addressing Jonas and Cassie. “Is that what you think, too? That this idea has no merit, that I’m crazy?”
She was really asking Jonas, since Cassie did not know any better. The Kelownan opened his arms in question, not wanting to upset her further. “I don’t really know, Sam. I mean… I know you’ve done it before, but it is very risky. Maybe Narim has a point. You need to give yourself some time…”
“To what?! Get used to them being dead?! Accept that they are gone?!” She was shouting at them, more out of frustration and grief than anger. “I can’t!”
“I don’t think you’ll be able to convince General Hammond, Sam,” Jonas opined. “Even if the idea is solid, it’s still a big risk. SGC has lost too much to also lose you.”
“I won’t let anyone else do it,” she answered. She started to pace the floor slowly, deep in thought. The two men looked at each other in consternation, not knowing what to say to convince her. Cassie was sitting quietly, listening and not saying anything. She was out of her league and she knew it.
“What about the Ancient’s ship? It has a time machine. Why not try that instead?” Jonas suggested.
“Only Jack had been able to fly that ship properly, Jonas. Besides, we’d be risking losing the ship and it would involve other people in the attempt. I can’t ask anyone else to be involved,” Sam argued. “My plan is less intrusive.”
“I think General Hammond would be more likely to allow that than what you are proposing,” he argued back.
“I don’t think so,” Sam answered sadly. “Maybe we should not say anything to him at all,” she suddenly said. “I don’t want to put him in a difficult position,” she added, still pacing. “I AM going to do this. With or without your help.” She had stopped pacing and was looking at the two men in turn, expecting a response. “I’ll find a way. You know I will.”
Yes, they knew. Narim and Jonas looked at Sam standing there in her black dress, a perfect picture of grief and determination, and then at each other, and finally relented. They nodded, knowing they would do anything to help her improve her odds.
“JAACK!” Sam screamed, sitting up in bed, drenched in sweat. She had been dreaming, she had seen him die again. She had seen the three friends blown to pieces, the horrible sight forever imprinted in her mind. She knew she would relive the experience again and again.
Cassie ran into the bedroom moments later, throwing herself at Sam’s shaking body and hugging her friend, trying to comfort her. “It’s all right, Sam. It’s just a dream,” she was telling her, holding her tight and stroking her back.
Sam burst into tears, violent sobs raking her body, her pain finally flowing. “No, it isn’t, Cassie! It isn’t just a dream. They’re gone!” she cried, hugging the girl back.
“You go get them back, Sam. Get the three of them back! I know you can do it!” Cassie pulled back and held Sam’s face in her hands. “If anyone can do it, you can!”
Sam nodded in misery, knowing she had to try, even if she died doing so. She knew the risks, but she just didn’t care. She needed them back. The world needed them back.
They had been married only two months, two glorious, wonderful months. Jack had been able to sell his place right away. Hers was taking longer, but they had gotten a new house closer to Cheyenne Mountain, in wonderful isolation. She had had to trade her car for an SUV, since the lot was in the woods and the road was not paved, but she loved it! She loved being alone with him, just sitting under the trees in the late evenings, talking and sipping beer on weekends, barbecuing frequently, making love at the drop of a hat.
They had had a trip planned, an honest to goodness honeymoon in New Zealand, for later in the summer. The plane tickets were still sitting on the nightstand, next to their wedding picture, mocking her fortune.
Sam grabbed them angrily and tossed them in the garbage basket. She then gently picked up the picture and looked at Jack’s happy smile longingly. She had been looking at the camera when they had taken that shot, laughing at something he had just said to her. But he was looking at her, adoration in his eyes. She loved this picture.
Sam suddenly felt as if she could not breathe, overwhelming sadness threatening to overcome her again. She sighed and put the picture back down on the nightstand. Swallowing her sorrow, she left the bedroom, gave the house one last look over, grabbed her keys, and walked out the door, perhaps forever.
Cassie was already back in boarding school. Sam had not wanted her to miss any more classes. What was the point of her sitting in the house, listening to her friend cry? The girl had been inconsolable when she had dropped her off that morning. She knew she might never see Sam again.
“Remember it’s also likely that this will never have happened, Cass,” Sam had reminded her gently. “Maybe neither of us will have to go through this at all. Just wish me luck and make believe we haven’t lost them,” she had smiled at her, her own eyes full of tears.
“Good luck, Sam. I love you!” Cass had finally said, giving her friend a long hug, then stepping out of the car and rushing away. She had turned once more at the entrance of her school and waved at Sam, who had waved back. Then she had disappeared and Sam had driven back home.
Sam was now driving to work. She was not supposed to be there, but she had called Hammond and told him she could not sit at home and do nothing. It was driving her crazy. He had allowed her to come back with the understanding that she could leave whenever she wanted. She was officially on family leave.
The real reason for Sam wanting to come back was so that she could start working on her calculations. She had agreed to meet Jonas and Narim in two days on P5X-344 to implement her plan. They had named the planet after the Serrakin friend they had met there, years ago. The planet was officially known as Warrick.
She still had to come up with an excuse for her to go through the Stargate. She knew Hammond would not be receptive to the idea. But she also knew she could not do what she needed from Earth’s Stargate. She needed to get to Warrick, the perfect planet for her plan. They had studied its star thoroughly and they had all the records she needed there. Narim would provide the rest.
Light years away, on Warrick, Narim and Jonas sat inside the solar observatory set up by the Tau’ri. It had been deserted when they had arrived the previous day, the astronomy team not being due for another five days to monitor the readings from the telescope.
Sam had provided Jonas with the necessary codes to enter the building and access the equipment. They were now both immersed in their respective tasks, only talking to review each other’s work or offer suggestions. Finally Narim could not stand it any longer.
“You know this is madness, Jonas! We should not be helping her. She will just get herself killed or lost… for nothing! We have never done this before! Think about the possible consequences!”
Jonas paused and looked at the Tollan, who was now up and pacing, his fingers combing his hair in consternation. “You know she’s going to do it no matter what we think,” he simply responded. “And, to tell you the truth, I don’t blame her.”
Narim glared at Jonas, not believing his ears. “You are just as crazy as she is! How can you say that?!” he shouted.
“Think about what she has lost, Narim!” the Kelownan shouted back. Then, more calmly, he added, “SG-1 practically lived in each other’s backpacks for years, sharing experiences most people can’t even imagine. They saved each other’s lives I don’t know how many times, and they thought they lost each other countless other times, only to always beat the odds. They always survived together. Even when one of them disappeared for months at a time, the others never gave up hope of finding him or her again. Now, for the first time, Sam is faced with the certainty that her closest friends and her husband of only two months are dead. Do you really think she can just sit by and accept it when she knows there is a possibility of getting them back? She’s not built that way. None of them are. They would be doing the same thing for her.”
“There is such a thing as accepting the inevitable and going on with your life!” Narim snapped at Jonas, exasperation in his voice.
“She waited years to be with him, Narim! Just stop thinking of yourself and help her… or get out!” Jonas finally yelled, standing up in anger.
Narim was shocked into silence. He held Jonas’ angry visage, shame flooding him, and finally nodded in acceptance. “You are right. I’m sorry, you are absolutely right… I…” he sat back down on his stool with a dejected look on his face, “I was hoping that I could have a second chance… that she would accept what had happened and that maybe…” he was too ashamed to finish.
“I know. And I don’t blame you, either,” Jonas answered gently, his anger forgotten and approaching Narim to put a hand on his shoulder. “But Sam is determined to do this or die trying. I understand her because, for a whole year, I was part of them. I know how she must feel. If we don’t help her, she’ll probably get herself killed. And I, for one, want her to succeed.”
“Me, too, Jonas. Believe me! I do want her to succeed. I think their deaths were a terrible loss, and I do want Sam to be happy, even if she is happy without me. But just the thought of her possibly dying is killing me!”
The man’s sincerely anguished tone made Jonas feel terrible for yelling at him. “Just do what you can to help her, Narim. That’s all we can do,” he told him gently. “Come on! Let’s take a break and eat a quick lunch. She’ll be here tomorrow and we want to be ready for her.”
Narim nodded, getting up from his stool and dragging himself toward the small table set up in the shelter.
The Tollan remembered Sam’s look of utter misery when they were listening to Hammond’s eulogy in the Gate Room, and he knew he would do anything for her to be happy again. Even if that meant he would never have another chance at having her in his life.
Sam had decided drastic measures were needed. She had asked Hammond to let her go to P5X-687 to continue helping the technical team with the artifact SG-13 had discovered a couple of months ago. It was one of her side projects, and she thought the General would not have a problem letting her do some light work. Her plan had been to redial the gate as soon as she got there and join Narim and Jonas on Warrick. But the General was too perceptive and experienced to be fooled. She knew he suspected something was underfoot.
“I’m sorry, Doctor. I don’t think you are emotionally ready to travel. I prefer that you stay at the base if you insist on working,” Hammond had answered in a firm tone.
“But, Sir…” she had tried to argue.
“The answer is no, Dr. Carter,” he had interrupted her, his eyes telling her he knew she was up to something.
“Yes, Sir,” she had answered and left his office in a hurry. She could not have insisted and have him become even more suspicious.
Sam had gone straight to her lab and locked the door, something she hardly ever did. She had worked on her computer for the next half hour implementing her escape plan; she then had proceeded to the locker room to get dressed, keeping an eye on her watch.
She was poised to make her move, dressed in fatigues and carrying her backpack as she walked down the corridor leading to the Gate Room, when General Hammond’s voice stopped her.
“Dr. Carter! Where do you think you are going?” he asked, sounding more worried than angry.
Sam turned and saw him frozen at the other end of the corridor. She looked at her watch, then again at him, and said, “I’m sorry, Sir.” She then turned and entered the Gate Room just as the blast doors started to close.
“Sam, wait!” he yelled after her, running toward the door. But by the time he got to it, it had completely closed. Then everything went dark and the emergency lights kicked in. Hammond knew what she had done, and immediately ran to the Control Room.
“Sergeant!” he yelled as soon as he stepped in. “Close the iris! Stop her from going through the Gate!” he ordered, rushing to the Gate technician’s side.
“I can’t, Sir! I have no control. There is an encrypted program running and I can’t even access…” the flustered man was saying, but Hammond interrupted him.
“Never mind,” he said, watching Sam as she stood by the recently opened wormhole, looking back at him sadly through the glass window. “It’s too late,” he concluded.
Sam waved a last good bye at him and stepped through the puddle. Hammond knew that, by the time they got main power back and were able to dial the Gate address she had programmed, she’d be long gone.
Sam stepped out of the Stargate on Warrick and immediately started her hike to the hill where the observatory was set up. It had taken her only minutes to transfer from the planet she had dialed to from Earth. Hammond would have no idea where to find her.
She was sorry for having had to use devious means and disobey the old man, but nothing could stand in her way. At least now she was not facing a court martial, not that it mattered. If she were successful, this would never have happened.
“Hello!” she called as soon as she was close enough to the shelter to be heard, and Jonas poked his head out looking for her. He smiled when he saw her and approached her to take her pack off her back.
“Hi, Sam,” he greeted. “Do you want some water?” he asked noticing her flushed face and sweaty brow.
“Here is some,” Narim said, coming out of the shelter with a bottle in his hand. “I know I was hot when I got here two days ago, so I’m ready for you,” he commented with good humor.
“Thanks, guys,” she said, taking a deep breath and stretching her back as she reached for the bottle. “It IS kind of hot here!” She gulped down half the bottle and took her cap off to fan herself with it. “How’re things going? Did you find everything you needed?”
“Yep! Just where you said everything would be. The astronomy team has been very meticulous in keeping record of all the solar flares this season. There have been lots of them!” Jonas answered as they entered the shelter seeking shade. “I am done with my part of the work and Narim is almost done with his. His part has required a lot of work at the telescope, and we don’t want to make any mistakes.”
“I’ve completed my work as well. I know exactly what kind of flare we need for my return. If we can find one in your analysis that falls within the right parameters, then I think we’ll have a viable return flare,” she said looking at the Kelownan, who had followed her into the shelter and was offering her a stool to sit on.
“How are you, Samantha?” Narim asked, meaning more than a simple greeting. Sam glanced at him uncomfortably, but gave him a half smile.
“As well as can be expected, I guess,” she honestly replied. “Thanks for asking, but I really prefer not to talk about it, if you don’t mind.”
“Of course! Forgive me, I am just concerned about you,” he quickly responded.
“I know, Narim. You are a good friend,” she said, looking at him, then at Jonas. “You both are. I don’t mean to be rude, it’s just that… it’s easier for me if we don’t talk about it.”
Jonas exchanged looks with Narim and sat next to Sam, pointing at the computer on the desk behind her. “Narim is having a little trouble deciding which is the best flare within the next twenty four hours. Although Tollan technology can easily predict the solar flares, the exact kind of flare is trickier.”
“We have to be sure the flare has the intensity and duration necessary for you to go back to the approximate time you want. And the location of the flare is important too. As we already discussed, we don’t want to send you back years, only days. That is the difficult part,” Narim added to the explanation.
“I know. We can’t afford to contaminate the time line. If I end up there too long in advance, I’ll have to hide and avoid any human contact until the right time. I only brought enough supplies for a few days,” Sam responded, sounding a little worried.
“Sam…” Narim started, then caught Jonas’ warning look and stopped. He was having those terrifying doubts again, but his Kelownan friend reminded him subtly that the time for arguments was gone. “We’ll just have to be certain. Some flares are easier to predict than others. If the next one, which will happen early tomorrow morning, is too risky, we’ll try for the following one, later that afternoon. We will do this right!”
Sam smiled at him, feeling grateful beyond measure. She grasped his hand, gave it a squeeze, and said, “I know I can count on you guys. Why don’t we take a look at Jonas’ results and see if we can find a good return flare?”
The two men exchanged looks again, and then proceeded to do as she had suggested.
The three of them were resting on their sleeping bags under the stars. It was hot inside the shelter and they preferred the cool breeze of Warrick’s night. They had been chatting about Jonas’ work in Kelowna, for the most part. He had had to twist some arms to be allowed to take a few days off in order to “console” his friend, Samantha. The Kelownans thought he was in Colorado Springs, spending some time with her.
Narim had had no such trouble. He had told the Curia he was doing the same thing, and no one had offered a contrary argument. They knew Sam was special to Narim, and the Tollans owed her and her people a great deal.
“How’s Cassie doing?” asked Jonas nonchalantly, almost as an afterthought. He was trying hard not to sound too interested, Sam thought.
“She’s a resilient young woman,” she answered. “She’ll be fine. Cassie, as you well know, has had a rough life. But she’ll prove to be an outstanding human being, despite of it all.” Sam sounded like a proud mother, she knew. But she meant every word.
“I agree with you,” Jonas responded. “She’s really smart, too!” He could not hide the enthusiasm in his voice.
“I know… but that’s quite a compliment coming from you!” Sam smiled into the night, and waited to hear his response. When no other comment came from Jonas, who was trying to be circumspect, Sam could not help but needle him.
“Narim? Do you know of any good-looking young Tollans who would be a good match for Cassie? I’ve always thought she may be happier in a more advanced society, one like yours.”
Narim did not have a chance to reply, Jonas answering instead, now leaning on his elbow. “Why do you say that, Sam? I think Cassie would do fine anywhere she goes! She has proven to be very adaptable. Besides, she may not want to go to Tollana. She may prefer to live among people who consider her especially gifted,” he argued.
“Such as?” Sam teased, now smiling at Jonas from her sleeping bag, looking at him with a glint in her eye.
Jonas realized what she was doing and smiled back at her, admitting his defeat, “Okay! Such as Kelowna, with me!”
Sam chuckled, music to the men’s ears after such overwhelming sadness, and said in good humor, “Maybe… in a few years.”
“I got you,” Jonas answered, “Mother!” he added, lying back down on his sleeping bag.
Then all three chuckled along, forgetting for a few moments the enormity of the task lying ahead of them.
Later that night, Sam stood at the base of the telescope, leaning against the concrete foundation as she stared at the twinkling stars in the moonless sky.
“You couldn’t sleep, either, I see,” she heard Narim comment from somewhere behind her in the darkness.
She resented the intrusion, but forced herself to answer casually, without turning around. “Yeah, I guess I’m too excited about tomorrow.”
“Excitement is not how I would describe what I feel,” Narim responded, sounding gloom. When Sam did not respond, he continued, “You don’t have to worry about me trying to change your mind… not anymore, anyway. Your friend, Jonas, put me in my place already.”
At this, Sam half turned to look at him, feeling guilty for forcing her Tollan friend into an obviously painful situation. “I’m sorry, Narim. I do hate doing this to you, but…” she sighed, turning to the sky again, “I don’t have a choice. I have to do this.”
“I know,” he answered quietly. He came closer, looking at her and wanting very badly to touch her, to comfort her in her undisguised pain. He did not dare. He did not trust himself that much. “Samantha, is there anything I can do to…” he sighed, not completing his sentence.
“You have done everything I needed you to do, Narim,” she answered, still not looking at him, but no longer looking at the stars either. Her gaze was now fixed on the ground, and he could hear tears in her voice. It was more than he could bear. He reached for her arm and turned her to face him.
She raised teary eyes to his, and he could tell she was struggling not to break down, pressing her lips together in anguish.
“Oh, Samantha! I’m so sorry… so very sorry! I never wanted to see you go through this. Not you, not in a million years, not for any reason,” he cried into her hair, now holding her in a tight embrace.
He was feeling wretchedly guilty. He had secretly, within the most private confines of his soul, wished many times for Jack to be out of the way. He had hoped he would be able to, some day, reach for his cherished Samantha again. Now he wished, more than anything in the world, to be able to bring her dead husband back for her. Anything at all, just not to see her suffer like this.
Sam wept quietly, not holding back anymore. She could not stop her tears any longer. Narim continued to hold her, stroking her hair and whispering comforting words for a long time, until her shaking subsided and she just clung to him, no longer crying but desperately holding on, like a drowning woman.
Narim knew, without a doubt, that what he felt for this woman, he could never feel for anyone else. He loved her deeply, completely, and he wanted to see her be happy again, no matter what the cost.
“You WILL bring him back, Samantha. I know you will,” he whispered to her, still stroking her hair.
She just nodded against his shoulder and continued to hold on.
“Samantha, maybe we should wait for the one this afternoon,” Narim was saying nervously on their way to Warrick’s Stargate.
“Narim, we checked and rechecked your calculations. The one this afternoon doesn’t look much better than this one. We know we can’t be that exact, anyway,” Sam argued without slowing her pace. She knew he was supportive, but scared to death for her.
Jonas followed them silently, knowing Sam’s mind was made up. They soon arrived and all three automatically checked their timepieces. Sam dropped her backpack next to the dialing device and started the dial up. She pressed the address for the planet she had dialed from Earth. If everything worked as it should, she would be coming right back to Warrick, only about ten days earlier, before that horrible day.
The plan was fairly simple. She would wait for the correct date, when SG-1 was supposed to go to P5X-666, and dial Earth before they left. She would contact them by radio and explain what she had done, warning them not to go on the mission. The other Sam would understand, even if no one else did. They would avoid the whole tragedy and she would never have to even see another human being. Then she would wait for the solar flare she and Jonas had picked from the records, and she would return to her time line, where Jack, Teal’c and Daniel would still be alive. This was all in theory, of course.
She was hoping Narim’s worst worries did not materialize. He was afraid that something would happen to her if both Sams were in the same time line, or that she would not be able to return for the same reason. There was also the possibility that she’d be sent to yet another time and place, where she may never be able to come back from.
But she did not care. She could not allow her husband and friends to die, even if it meant she’d have to die instead. Thinking about that day more than a week ago, she could not help but relive the horrifying experience in her mind.
In flashes, she saw and heard Colonel Dixon, SG-1’s new commander, screaming at them to take cover; then Lieutenant Haley, Daniel, Teal’c and herself following him into the woods.
They had obtained an exotic looking piece of equipment from what seemed like an abandoned alien outpost. Sam had accompanied SG-1 in order to assist them in the removal process, and they had been making their way back to the gate when they had seen the gliders coming at them. Teal’c had been carrying the heavy object, and had had to drop it when they had all ran into the thick foliage, hoping they could lose their pursuers.
But the gliders had kept coming, looking for them, and Jaffa troops were also on the ground, searching the woods. They had been able to avoid them, but they had been cut off from the Gate, unable to dial Earth.
They had spent the night hiding, moving constantly to avoid their pursuers. Early in the morning, they had heard the U.A.V. searching for them. They had been able to contact Jack at the SGC through the flying probe and let him know about their situation, before it had been shot down. Jack had promised a rescue operation, and they had waited, still hiding in the woods.
She had never expected Jack to join the rescue team. But there had only been one SG team available in such short notice, and Jack had felt the need for more manpower. At least, that’s what he had jokingly told her when she had asked him what the hell he was doing there.
A couple of missiles had taken care of two gliders, and a few grenades had caused enough confusion for Jack and the SG team to arrive safely on the planet, eliminating those few Jaffas still standing by the Gate. SG-1 had done its part, joining the attack and finally facing the Jaffas pursuing them.
Jack and two men from his team had met SG-1 at the edge of the woods. Colonel Dixon had been wounded, his now useless left arm bleeding slowly thanks to a tourniquet, but he had kept firing at the Jaffas after them.
They had all started running toward the couple of SG team members guarding the Gate. Lt. Haley, Colonel Dixon and Sam had been the first ones to reach it, and Sam had immediately started to dial Earth while the others kept shooting at Jaffas.
Jack and the rest of the team had been approaching under a rain of fire, carrying the recovered object and having to throw themselves to the ground repeatedly. The moment the wormhole had been established, Colonel Dixon had given the order to evacuate, crouching next to Sam by the DHD and urging her to go through the gate.
She relived those last few moments, always as if in slow motion, when she kept calling for Teal’c, Daniel and Jack to hurry, to run faster. She had seen the glider come from nowhere, getting closer as Lt. Haley and the rest of Jack’s rescue team made it through the event horizon. Dixon had already dragged her to the Gate, but she had stubbornly stopped right in front of the puddle, waiting for Jack and her two friends to get closer. Then Teal’c had taken a blast, falling hard on the ground, and she had seen both Jack and Daniel react at the same time, running back to pick up their friend.
“JAACK!” she had managed to scream, trying to warn them of the glider on top of them, but they had never heard her. The glider had fired three successive shots and blown them away with the third one.
“NOOO!” she had screamed, and had irrationally tried to run down the steps toward them, but Dixon had used the last of his strength to pick her up by the waist with his right arm, throwing himself and his burden into the puddle.
She now knew she owed the colonel her life, but when she had landed on the ramp back at the SGC, she had turned on him viciously, hitting him in rage, gone hysterical and wanting to go back to the planet.
She really could not remember anything very clearly after that. She vaguely remembered being held down by medics. They had sedated her, and she later had found herself in the infirmary, a concerned Lt. Haley by her side. She had remembered the tragedy instantly, and had had to be restrained by the nurses again when she had demanded to see the bodies, wanting to be sure that they were really dead.
They had sedated her a second time. General Hammond had been there when she had awaken much later, hoping to be a calming influence. His face had said it all, and she had just wept silently, finally accepting what had happened.
Now, as she finished dialing the address, she remembered in shame that she had never gone to see Colonel Dixon in the infirmary, or later at his home where he had been recuperating since the doomed mission. She had been too caught up in her own misery.
She turned to Jonas while they waited and she softly asked, “Jonas, if I don’t come back, could you please thank Colonel Dixon for me? And… tell him I’m sorry. He’ll understand.”
Her friend nodded, then took her hand and squeezed it, not saying a word. Narim was not so subtle. He took a hold of Sam’s arm and turned her to face him, looking into her eyes for long moments. The Tollan then pulled her into his arms and gave her a long, tight hug, clearly not wanting to let her go. But he finally stepped away and walked a few steps away from the puddle.
Jonas did the same as he winked at her with a smile. “I expect to disappear and show up at my desk, arguing with my secretary the moment you step through, Sam. Don’t disappoint me!”
She smiled and nodded at him, then looked at Narim in anticipation.
“Wait for the signal,” the Tollan warned her, looking at his timepiece. Then he lifted his right hand and made a go sign, dread in his eyes, and Samantha immediately stepped through the event horizon.
Sam stepped out of the gate, back on Warrick, as she had expected. Narim and Jonas were not there, of course. She would have been shocked if they had been. It seemed to have worked; she was definitely on the right planet.
Without thinking twice, she started the long hike back to the observatory, where she could check the date and time she had arrived at.
Twenty minutes later, she was entering the shelter and turning on the computer. What she saw when the screen came to life made her scream.
“Oh, No, no, no!” Sam left the computer on and the shelter door open as she ran as fast as she could back to the Stargate. She was too late!
They had cut it too close and SG-1, with the other Sam, was already on P5X-666! Her only hope was to contact Jack at the SGC and, at least, prevent him from joining the rescue mission.
She was out of breath by the time she reached the Stargate, but just threw her pack on the ground and started dialing Earth. She had her G.D.O. in her hand by the time the wormhole connected.
“Unscheduled off world activation!” Walter announced.
Moments later, General Jack O’Neill stood behind him, waiting for the technician to announce the caller. He really hated unexpected visitors!
“It’s SG-1, Sir!” the man told him, a puzzled look on his face. “But they were not due until later this afternoon, and they are not dialing from P5X-666.”
“They’re not?” Jack asked, immediately suspicious.
“No, Sir. They’re dialing from Warrick, the planet where we have the solar observatory,” Walter explained, turning to Jack.
“I know what planet that is!” he replied annoyingly, a feeling a little insulted by Walter’s belief that he’s be that clueless.
Jack did not like the situation, but could not keep the iris closed when his people may be coming through. The soldiers were already in the Gate Room, their weapons aimed at the iris, waiting.
“Open the iris,” Jack ordered Walter. “Be ready, people!” he warned the airmen by the Gate through the microphone. But no one was coming through.
“Radio signal only, Sir,” Walter informed Jack, then the sergeant raised the volume of the radio receiver.
“Stargate Command, this is Dr. Samantha Carter. Please respond,” they heard Sam’s voice calling.
“Carter?” Jack answered immediately, “What are you doing on Warrick? What’s going on?” he asked, confused and bothered at the same time.
“Jack!” The general heard her say breathlessly, and he could tell that she was stressed. “Please listen carefully. SG-1 is trapped on P5X-666 by a contingent of Jaffas. There are three gliders and a lot of ground troops. Send an U.A.V. if you want to confirm. Whatever you do, please do not go there yourself. Repeat: do not go there yourself, Jack.”
“How come you are calling from Warrick? Why is SG-1 not with you?” Jack asked, extremely confused.
“I… I was able to escape, Jack. But I needed to warn you. Again, do not go there yourself!”
“Why don’t you just come through? What are you doing talking through the radio?” Jack was losing patience fast. Something was very, very wrong.
“I can’t, Jack. Honey, please just trust me. Send the U.A.V. But, please, please, don’t go there. Do you hear me?”
Jack had no doubt that Sam was the one talking to him. He knew in his gut that it was she, but could not understand why she could not come through or why she was being so mysterious. She was very emphatic about him not going to P5X-666, which had not even occurred to him. After all, he rarely participated in field operations anymore.
“I hear you. And I trust you. But stay close. I’ll be dialing you back as soon as I check this out,” Jack responded. “Don’t go anywhere!”
“I won’t. Carter, out.”
Sam had cut the connection, and Jack was left with a sick feeling in his stomach wondering what the hell was going on as the wormhole disengaged.
“What!?” Sam was asking, a baffled look on her face, “I have not called, Jack. And we have not encountered any hostiles here. We are finishing with the removal of the object as we speak and we’ll be heading back.”
She put down her radio, waiting for his response, exchanging bewildered looks with Daniel and Colonel Dixon. Teal’c was in the process of packing up the artifact with the assistance of Lt. Haley.
“It was you, I’m telling you. I don’t know how, but it was. Be extremely careful coming back to the Stargate. The U.A.V. has not spotted anything yet, but something tells me this is for real. We’ll be shutting down the gate soon and the U.A.V. should be by the Gate by the time you get there. Return as soon as possible. Do you copy?”
Sam thought he sounded sincerely worried. “Copy. We should be dialing out in less than two hours. We’ll discuss this mysterious call when we return,” Sam responded. “Carter out.”
Jack just stood, staring at the Gate blankly after his conversation with the second Sam, the one that was exactly where she was supposed to be. He had been shocked to hear her voice through the radio, and even more shocked to hear her say she had no idea of what he was talking about.
“Dial Warrick,” he ordered Walter, determined to solve the mystery.
The moment the wormhole was established, he called through the radio. “Carter, do you copy? This is Jack.”
“I’m still here, Jack. Did you check on SG-1?” she answered immediately, sounding anxious. How was this possible?
“Okay, time for explanations! What’s going on here? You just talked to me from P5X-666, and everything is normal over there. Who are you, really? Is this Replicator Carter?” he asked, playing devil’s advocate with himself, since he truly believed this was his wife.
“It’s really me, Jack. Remember, Replicator Carter was destroyed. This is not a trick. Besides, what would the she gain by this? Please believe me. If they have not been attacked yet, then maybe there’s time for you to send the rescue team to secure the Gate. Bring heavy weaponry to take down the gliders. Don’t waste any time! Do it now! It will improve their odds of survival. But remember not to go there!” She was adamant.
“All right, first tell me something. What did we have for breakfast this morning?” he asked. He just had to be completely sure.
“We didn’t have anything for breakfast. We were running late, and you remember why.” Sam had not hesitated, and she had been correct. They had made love that morning and were late getting to work. As crazy as it seemed, this was his wife.
Walter just put his head in his hands, a bad headache starting to announce its arrival.
“Okay. I’ll be calling again. Stay put!” Jack warned.
The moment the wormhole disengaged, he started giving orders, setting up a rescue operation.
SG-1 and Dr. Carter were still an hour from the Gate when they heard the gliders approaching. Since they had been expecting them, they had stayed close to the woods and were able to take cover, continuing their approach to the Gate undetected. The gliders had not spotted them yet.
At the same time, the four SG-11 team members were arriving on P5X-666 and were busy securing the gate, hiding themselves behind the large boulders littering the area and setting up the antiaircraft gun. The SG-11 commander radioed SG-1 and let them know they were in position, ready to defend the gate.
Colonel Dixon promptly informed them that gliders had been spotted, and to be ready for them. The SG team took positions and waited.
As soon as the gliders made their appearance close to the Gate, the gunner shot one down, taking them completely by surprise. The other two quickly dispersed, but not before SG-11 came under fire from ground troops suddenly approaching the area.
They had obviously been transported from a ship in orbit. But the Earth team was well protected, and the Jaffas could not get close without being shot down.
Some time later, SG-1 joined the fight, maintaining radio contact with SG-11 and circling the area, attacking the Jaffa troops from the rear.
A second glider was shot down as it attempted to cover the Jaffas on the ground. The third one wisely veered away and disappeared.
Soon the retreat horn was heard, and the firefight dwindled as the surviving Jaffas were transported away.
Long minutes later and very cautiously, the two SG teams met up by the Gate, Teal’c safely carrying the alien object inside his pack. There had been no casualties, but they had not wanted to push their luck, and had returned to Earth immediately.
Sam was patiently waiting, leaning on her backpack under a shade tree, when she heard the Gate come alive again. She quickly got up, her radio ready, expecting to hear Jack’s voice. Instead, the M.A.L.P. made an appearance.
Samantha sighed, but then approached the machine, standing in front of it so that they could see her from Earth. “Hi, Sam. We’re back,” she heard Jack’s voice tell her. “Thanks for the intel. SG-1 is safely back from P5X-666 along with… you.” She closed her eyes in relief, finally letting a smile show. Her efforts had not been for nothing. Jack, Daniel and Teal’c were alive.
“What did you do?” her own voice asked, coming clearly through the M.A.L.P.
Sam hesitated for a few moments; then she responded cautiously. “I think it’s better if I don’t say anything else. What I came for is done. Now I have to go back. I’ll send the M.A.L.P. back, and Sam must not try to come here. We don’t know what could happen.”
She waited patiently for some kind of answer, and was about to say something when she saw Jack suddenly emerge from the puddle.
“You know we can’t just let you go without an explanation, right?” he said as he approached her.
“Jack!” Sam whispered, then ran into his arms, wrapping her arms around his neck in a desperate embrace. “I thought I would never see you again!” she cried, burying her face in his neck, her hands griping his jacket. A sob escaped her; one she had been holding back for what it seemed like ages, and Jack hugged her back, kissing her head and stroking her back, trying to calm her. She could tell that he knew she was overwrought, and that he really needed to know why.
“Hey!” he said, pulling away enough to lift her face to his. “Whatever it is, it’s over now. Everything’s fine. No need to cry.”
Sam could not help it. She had been carrying a huge weight inside her chest since she had seen him disappear under fire and smoke. Now here he was, in her arms, whole and healthy, holding her. Her tears flowed, unable to stop them. “God, Jack! You just don’t know!”
“Then tell me! What happened? How is this possible?” He was wiping her tears, accepting that this was the same woman he had left at the SGC moments before.
“You died, Jack! You, and Daniel, and Teal’c, on P5X-666. You came to rescue us when you realized we were trapped, and the three of you were caught by a glider. You died together, right before my eyes, and I couldn’t help you!”
She was still crying, her hands holding his dear face and stroking his cheeks, still not quite believing he was in her arms.
“I… I’m confused!” he admitted.
Sam smiled at him, knowing he hated it when he could not understand what she was saying.
“I came back in time, Jack. I had to save you. Remember when we went to 1969?” she asked him.
“Yes… but I thought that had been a fluke,” he answered in a dubious tone.
“It was. But with the help of Narim and Jonas, I was able to find the conditions necessary for me to be thrown back in time. I just cut it too close and was unable to stop SG-1 from going to P5X-666.”
She was watching his reaction to see if he got what she was saying. Jack did.
“Are you out of your mind?! You came back in time, risking your neck and God knows what else, so that we didn’t die?!” he yelled, finally assimilating the enormity of her feat.
“You’re welcome!” she yelled back, her spirit kicking in.
Jack still looked mired in disbelief. “Sam, don’t take me wrong, I…” he shook his head, as if to clear it, “You manage to amaze me every day, but this…” he finally managed to get out. “This is too much, even for you!”
“Jack, I had to,” she answered sadly. “I was dying inside. I could not just let you guys go if I could do something. Besides, Earth is not ready to do without the three of you.”
“But it’s ready to do without you?!” he riposted, still yelling at her.
“Better me than the three of you!” she snapped angrily.
“Babe!” he whispered, hugging her tightly again. Then he pulled back, as if sudden realization had downed on him. “But, how are you going back?” he hesitated, then continued. “Here’s a better question: what’s going to happen when you go back? Isn’t there a Sam in the future as we speak?” he asked, looking painfully confused again.
“There isn’t a future yet, Jack. Not really. The truth is that… we don’t know. This had never been done before. I really don’t know what’s going to happen, but I have to go. There can’t be two of us here,” she concluded, looking into his eyes and seeing his sudden fear.
Jack started to shake his head, but she stopped him, her hands grasping his face firmly. “No, Jack! There is no other way. I have to complete my mission. I have to go back, and I have to do that within the next few hours. The next window is this evening.”
“What are you going to do until then?” he asked, apparently accepting that she was right.
“Just wait here… with you… if you stay,” she answered with a smile.
Jack nodded, let go of her and approached the M.A.L.P. to speak with the other Sam. “I’m staying with you here until you go back… if you know what I mean,” he said, grimacing in confusion. “I’ll try to explain when I return.”
“Copy, Jack. I think I know what happened already. I’ll be here waiting for you,” Sam responded from the SGC. “Carter out.”
Back at the SGC, Dr. Samantha Carter sighed, her mind coming up with likely scenarios and wondering what would happen when the other Sam returned to her time, if she could return at all.
Tomorrow they would all have their answers. Jack had scheduled a debriefing with SG-1, which promised to be very interesting.
Teal’c and Daniel had had to be ordered to their homes to rest, or they would have still been here, waiting for explanations.
Sam sighed again, then she noticed poor, confused Walter, who was staring at her with a pained expression on his face. “We’ll explain everything later,” she assured him with a smile.
Sam’s leaned against Jack’s chest, his arms around her waist, watching the sun slowly set over the distant hills. ‘If this is the last time I have with him, it’s just perfect,’ she thought.
She was at peace now. Daniel, Teal’c and Jack were alive. Her life seemed like a cheap price to pay, if it came to that. She took comfort in his arms and looked up at him sideways, giving him a little smile.
“Is it time?” he asked worriedly.
“Yes. We have to start walking back. Let’s lock up the shelter and go,” she replied, giving him a peck on the lips and disentangling herself from his arms.
They were soon on their way back to the Gate. Sam had synchronized her watch with the computer chronometer. They did not have much time left. Jack was silent, but Sam knew he was afraid. So was she.
The moment they arrived, Sam placed her pack by the Gate and walked to the DHD to dial the address. Once the wormhole was established, she looked at her watch again and took hold of Jack’s hand to move closer to the puddle, getting ready to depart.
“We only have two minutes,” she told him softly. “Anything you’d like to do before I go?” she asked teasingly.
He did not smile at her, seemingly too anxious for jokes. Instead, he pulled her closer and held her beloved face in his hands. He kissed her, long and desperately, and she kissed him back, wrapping her arms around his middle, wanting to meld her body to his and trying to convey all the love she felt for him in her kiss.
Sam then reluctantly let go and stepped away from Jack, holding on to his hands. She dropped his left hand to pick up her pack, gave her watch one last look, and stepped through the event horizon wordlessly, her eyes holding his until the last second, fingers touching until she was completely gone.
Back at the SGC, Dr. Carter was working on her mission report from a computer terminal in the Control Room, waiting for Jack to return. She knew she could not finish the report until Jack came back and he could share with her what the other Sam had revealed, but she needed to be busy doing something, and there were only so many things she could do away from her lab.
Walter stretched his back and yawned, leaning on his seat, trying to get comfortable. Sam looked at him and smiled. The poor man had been so confused that he had had to take an analgesic for his headache. She sympathized. Her eyes were starting to burn and her head also felt heavy. She felt suddenly lethargic, and decided to get up and get herself a cup of coffee.
She had no idea when Jack would be returning and she wanted to stay awake. They would have a lot to discuss, and they should try to prepare for the debriefing session tomorrow. “Walter, I’m getting some coffee. Do you want any?” she asked the technician.
“I’d love some! Thank you, Dr. Carter,” he responded with a grateful smile.
Sam then walked to the end of the room where the coffee tray was set up and started to pour a cup. Suddenly, a strong tremor shook her, making her heart skip painfully inside her ribcage.
She put down the coffee and leaned on the table, trying to breathe normally, but she couldn’t. “Wal…” she started to call the technician for help, but she could not finish, collapsing in a heap on the floor, out cold.
Walter had started to turn to her voice when he heard the thud. When he saw her on the floor, he alarmingly rushed to her side. “Dr. Carter!”
When the sergeant realized she was unconscious, he did not waste any time, yelling into the intercom, “Medical Emergency in the Control Room!” Then he placed his fingers on her neck, checking for a pulse. He was no medic, but he thought her heartbeat was erratic.
Moments later, the medics entered in a rush and started tending to the lifeless woman.
Jack started to dial Earth the moment the wormhole disengaged, a sick feeling heavy in his stomach. They had sent the M.A.L.P. back earlier, so he wasted no time in stepping through the puddle after he pressed his G.D.O. code.
As soon as he arrived at the SGC, Walter greeted him through the intercom with an anxious announcement. “General! You’re needed in the infirmary. It’s Dr. Carter!”
Jack started running, fearing the worst. Something had happened indeed, just as Sam said it could. But what? He used the stairs, not wanting to wait for the elevators, and reached the infirmary in seconds. Sam was being given oxygen, and there were machines hooked up to her, monitoring her heart.
The doctor turned to him as soon as he approached the bed, an anxious look on his face. “Sorry, Sir! We don’t know yet what’s wrong with her. She just collapsed for no apparent reason. She stopped breathing on her way here, so we are helping her with that. Her heart was going crazy for a while there, but it seems to be coming back to normal.”
Jack’s eyes had a wild look in them, but he kept quiet. He approached the bed, trying not to obstruct the medical personnel efforts, but his own heart was beating frantically.
“Okay, I think we can stop the oxygen,” he heard the head doctor say. “She’s breathing on her own now.” The doctor had a bewildered look on his face, and was checking Sam’s pupils when she suddenly made a sound.
“She’s coming to!” a nurse announced.
Jack lightly shoved the nurse out of the way and stood next to Sam, on the opposite side from the doctor. She groaned softly, moving her head slowly, and finally blinked her eyes open.
“Sam, are you okay?” he asked as soon as she opened her eyes and spotted him next to her. She looked at him with a confused look in her eyes for a few moments, as if trying to remember why she was in the infirmary.
“Hi. I made it,” she finally murmured.
“What?” he asked, not sure he had heard her correctly. He grasped her hand and leaned closer.
“I’m back. We made it,” she said louder.
“Sam?” he asked, unconsciously squeezing her hand in apprehension.
“Yes, both of us,” she answered, her other hand reaching up to his face for a caress. She smiled at him, looking profoundly grateful for his presence, loving him with her eyes.
She had done it! She had brought him back. She had brought all of them back, and she was alive to remember. Sam thought of Jonas, and of Narim… They would never know how much they had done for her. She would never tell her Tollan friend, the one she now knew loved her without boundaries, that he had helped give her back her husband, her life. She knew the whole experience would be classified, even if no one ever believed her story.
Jack sighed in relief, closing his eyes. He caught her hand, kissed her fingers and said, “That’s the last time you pull a stunt like this one, young lady!”
She just smiled wider, knowing they still had a future together.