A/N: Thank you so much for all the wonderful reviews you've left. Your kind words and support mean more than words can say.

Chapter 9

He really did head out of her room aiming for his car in the parking lot. His mind reeled as he walked, and he barely had the wherewithal to avoid the many residents sitting in the hallway outside Sam's room. Anger at what she had claimed the nursing staff routinely did to her made his blood boil to life again. He began walking in jerky movements to his car in the parking lot while he yanked his cell phone from his right pocket and hastily instructed it to dial Daniel's number.

The answering voice was too benign after the emotional roller coaster of a scene he'd just come from. “Daniel Jack...”

“Daniel, it's me.”

What sounded like an audible gulp carried over the line, but Daniel sounded normal enough when he said, “Jack! You're back! You know, Sam's getting pretty frantic by...”

“I'm already at the nursing home!” Jack growled. “Or I'm on my way out of the nursing home after they obviously wanted to kick me out!”

“Oh.” Daniel's voice held a note of familiarity. “She got mad again, didn't she?”

“What do you mean 'again?'” Jack momentarily lost his connection to Daniel as he pushed open the front door with his good right arm and plowed through it, unmindful of the group trying to enter. Once through, he replaced the phone to his ear. “How many times has this sedation thing happened before now?”

A sigh of resignation filled with patience met Jack's ear, and instead of answering Jack's question, Daniel inquired, “Did they do the 'Calm down - it's for your own good' spiel again? Or was it the 'we're just in the hall - yell if you need anything' spiel?”

“The second,” Jack growled, as if expecting Daniel to reassure him that this choice wasn't as bad as the first one.

Daniel didn't disappoint. “Well, that's the better of the two.”

“Better?” Jack snapped. “How is it better to know that they're listening to everything that goes on in that room, just waiting for a toe to be put out of place before they pounce?”

Daniel's second sigh washed over the line. “At least she wasn't sedated this time.”

Jack snorted. “You make this sound like it's a good thing.” When Daniel didn't respond, he added, “What I don't get is if this sedation thing has happened to her before, what the hell is she still doing in this place? Why hasn't she been moved to Assisted Living or somewhere?”

Daniel sighed his resignation again. “Jack, I know this is hard to understand, but we don't have any control over anything about Sam right now. Pete does. And since he's never seen anything like this type of sedation thing, only heard her talking about it, he thinks she's making it up.”

Jack's voice was incredulous. “And he's never thought to check with the other residents to see if they say the same thing?”

“Jack.” Daniel's warning was dry. “Of course he did. But they all just agreed with him that Sam must be making this up, since nothing like that has ever happened to them. Either they're lying, she is, or he is when he says that he had nothing to do with this sedation treatment thing of hers. And it only happens when she gets upset about something. Which, thankfully, isn't very often.” Jack stood beside his car as Daniel kept talking. “As it is, Pete has no proof that she's right except what she says, and what we at the base say about how trustworthy Sam is. So he just thinks that she's got PTSD or something from when she was captured. That doctor person listens more to him than to her, even though she's his patient, so he basically concurs with Pete: PTSD is certainly a real enough thing for her to have, especially now.”

Jack protested, “Of course Carter doesn't have PTSD! She never has before, and...”

Daniel reminded, “But they don't know her as well as we do. For a regular person, a diagnosis of PTSD right now would make perfect sense. It's just us who knows that Sam can take a whole lot more than a regular person can take, and act like it's nothing.” He didn't actually put a name to the legacy that Jolinar had left behind for Sam, but 'it's because of Jolinar' was inherent in his voice.

Instead of saying anything aloud about these suppositions, Jack asked, “So what you're saying is that there's nothing we can do?”

Daniel sighed once more. “Give it until tomorrow.”

“I'm going to get her some lunch right now, so I can't wait until when it's a more convenient time for these yahoos, Daniel.”

The mention of food seemed to perk Daniel up. “Oh, good, you're getting some food for her - that means she's willing to eat this time.”

“This time?” Jack darkly repeated.

Daniel's sense of frustration carried over the line. “If they sedated her to help her calm down...”

“They didn't, but she was worried that they would.”

“I bet she was worried!” Daniel said, as if this very thing had happened so often in the past that Sam had good cause to be concerned.

That instantly raised the hairs on the back of Jack's neck. He wanted to repeat his original question about the number of times she'd been sedated before the present, but swallowed his query. He didn't have to ask, anyway - Daniel's resigned tone said it all.

But he didn't rush back into the nursing home to get Carter out of there, either, like he wanted to. Dragging Carter out of there wouldn't help her in the long run - she was Pete's responsibility now, and would be the one who would ultimately pay the price if she suddenly disappeared.

“Give it some time, Jack,” Daniel suggested again.

“I'm meeting her with lunch in a few minutes...” Jack trailed off as he spoke.

“Well,” Daniel said, “Let her enjoy this little lunch thing then. Just being there for her is about all we can do at this point.”

“Daniel, you sound like you don't care,” Jack accused.

Daniel was immediately incensed. “Of course I care! There's just nothing we can do about it - believe me, I've tried! But Shanahan has power of attorney over Sam. The best thing you can do for her is leave for awhile... I mean, leave the nursing home building itself for awhile - or get her out of sight of those... uh... nurses.”

“Are you talking about those bouncers who masquerade as nurses?” Jack sardonically inquired.

“Just get some lunch or something,” Daniel said with a roll of his eyes that traversed the phone connection.

“Yeah, about that,” Jack hesitantly said. “Daniel, it's only 1030 hours. What time does McDonald's start selling hamburgers?”

“I think they start right about - now. Eat a cheeseburger for me. Gotta go, Jack.” And he abruptly hung up without giving an explanation for his behavior.

Which pissed Jack off. “Of all the...” he muttered. But he only glared at his cell phone, then flipped it shut and climbed into the car he'd recently bought.

Still thinking about being sedated just because you had nightmares, he couldn't help but think, This is getting to be a very bad day as he drove away.


Chapter 10

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