Disclaimer: Wish they were mine, but they're not.
General O'Neill was standing in his living room on Friday morning, stuffing his mouth full of the Rice Krispies that Carter had bought for him last week, and avidly (and a bit embarrassedly) watching the Weather Channel to see if it was going to snow later that day. He'd heard through word of mouth that the predicted rain would turn to sleet, and that would then turn to snow by that afternoon, and he wanted to check the updated forecast to see if it might be prudent of him to close down the SGC after 1100 am, just to be on the safe side. There wouldn't be much 'saving of the planet' if a hundred or so people were busy being stranded on the roads leading into Cheyenne Mountain due to a freak snowstorm in September.
Jack gave a grimace as the thought that now that he was Commander of the base, it was up to him to make the judgement call about the weather, which was difficult to predict even on the calmest of days. It would be just his luck to close the SGC for fear of a raging snowstorm, only to have the sun come out at 1030 hours, costing the American public plenty of money to keep the facility running on just a skeleton staff, and making him look like an idiot in the bargain.
On the other hand, he didn't want to needlessly endanger his people by subjecting them to an unprecedented snowstorm. Either way, he was apt to lose. But he'd found early on in his tenure as Commander of the base that the more information he had in cases like this one, the better off he was. And so he was watching the Weather Channel and trying unsuccessfully not to compare himself to what thought of as 'the overeager Jonas Quinn,' who had loved watching the Weather Channel so much that his feelings had escalated to ridiculous highs.
Jack listened to the drone of the announcer's voices doing her best to make something as boring as the weather seem dramatic and entertaining, eating his Krispie breakfast ('your diet needs more variety,' Carter had declared last Monday in the Commissary, and had then purchased the box of the cereal that O'Neill was currently trying), and wondering if Jonas had secretly been deaf to watch such sensationalism with the avidness that he had.
The ringing of his cell phone injected some normalness into the spiel the announcers were attempting to weave.
Absently, one eye still on the TV where a map of the region
was currently displayed, Jack pulled the phone from his pocket
O,Neill, into the receiver.
He was not prepared for the yell of sever panic that came
over the line.
Jack! It's Sam! I'm in trouble! No
police! Her breath heaved into the open phone, and the voice
died out for a second, then the unmistakable sound of gunfire
drifted in staccato bursts over the phone. The dull thudding
impact of a shot landing on flesh carried to Jack's ear, and he
distinctly heard Carter give a yelp, then scream,
Jack's heart thundered in his throat as, suddenly frantic,
Carter! Sam! Are you all right? Where are
To his infinite gratification, she answered immediately.
I'm right outside your back deck! Unlock your door - two
hostiles at 10:00 and 12:00! Then before he had the chance
to even think about moving to unlock his back glass encased deck
door, there came the dreaded sound of a second shot finding its
mark as it impacted flesh. Then Sam gave the strangled scream,
No time to unlock! Take cover!
Instantly heeding Carter's words, Jack dropped down behind
an easy chair decorating the floor of his living room, cereal
bowl and all. Jack felt the leather of the chair conceal his
head just in time as something big and solid slammed into the
windowed door leading out to his side deck that in turn led to
his backyard. Glass exploded everwhere. Jack heard one loud
grunt, then another call of
Crap! then a thud as the solid
object hit his floor with a sickening crunch of splintered glass
shards, metal door frame, and a collapsing body. Sam slid wildly
across his living room floor. Two bullets instantly zinged into
the room behind her, and would have found their target, but by
then Carter was already a tumble of scrambled limbs on his
hardwood floor, and they missed their mark by a handswidth to
embed in his far living room wall, just above his sofa. A cell
phone skittered incongrously through the glass debris to come to
a rest at the base of his coffee table.
Sam! Jack yelled, not even realizing what he was
calling her. He peered through the cloud of dust that had
sprouted in her wake, and saw nothing but an unmoving form on his
floor. Sam had fallen swiftly into a state of unconsciousness.
When she didn't immediately answer his call, he began to panic
that she had somehow died after her vault through his closed
door. He made sure to stay low as he crawled towards her through
the glass littering his floor, the shards cutting into his palms
as he made his trembling way to her side. His heart nearly
jumping out of his chest, Jack reached a shaking finger to her
neck as he quickly felt for a pulse.
Please, please, please.., he whispered, his heart in
his throat as his probing finger first found nothing but slippery
blood, then found a dull beating at the side of her neck.
Thank God! Jack breathed in agitated relief. He
wasn't used to even thinking much about an earthly god, or
whether or not such a god existed, but he was too wrung out by
the crisis he currently found in his living room to care overly
much about semantics just then. His attention turned immediately
to her obvious wounds once ascertaining that she was alive.
After a quick, perfunctory perusal of her body, Jack noted that
Carter had been shot once in her left arm, just below her
shoulder, and another shot had grazed across her right upper
back, the bullet having missed the center of her shoulder blade
by a sliver's width. The wound, though it was shallow, was still
pouring a flood of maroon collared blood onto her face, her
sweatshirt, his hands, his pants...
Jack's next thought was to Carter's unknown assailants, and his gaze swiveled to the gaping hole the she had left in his door when she dove through it to attain the relative safety of his living room. He reached to his back and pulled out the concealed pistol that he always carried there in a hidden holster, flipped off the safety, cocked the weapon, and belly crawled to his door. He peaked out, but saw nothing amiss. However, he had a hard time forgetting the bullet holes that now decorated his far wall. With a flick of his wrist, he threw the draping curtain that hung in front of his deck windows across the door, electing to cut off the cold air pouring through the new opening as well as any vigilante's sight into the house. The curtain-across-the-window scenario was rather more viable right at the moment than Jack possibly pursuing hostiles alone and without backup.
Once the curtain was closed, and sight into the house was cut off, Jack shoved his pistol back into its holster with a shaking hand after flipping the safety back on. He returned to Sam's side, staying low as he crawled across his own floor, intent now on trying to stop her bleeding. All the while that he crawled, he did his best to cram his right fingers into his front trouser pocket again, withdrawing his own cell phone. Trembling like a leaf, eyes glued to the unconscious and bloody form of Colonel Carter lying in an oddly sedate pile on his floor, Jack called the number at the top of his speed dial list: The SGC.
Two rings later, the calm voice of Siler answered the
Sergeant Siler, he announced.
Siler! This is General O'Neill, Jack barked.
Give me Walter, now!
A second later,
Sergeant Harriman, came over the line
like a calming of choppy waters on an otherwise windy day.
What can I do..?
Walter! Jack interrupted.
I'm at home, and
Carter just crashed through my back door! I need a squad of SFs,
medical personnel, Daniel, Teal'c here on the double! Like,
Yes Sir! came Walter's crisp bark as he grabbed the
receiver of the internal phone hanging on the wall next to the
outer phone. His page of,
Dr Jackson, Teal'c to the
Infirmary! was a vague blur over Jack's own phone, then
Walter was back to his connection with Jack as he informed,
I'll call Sfs! Transferring you now to the Infirmary.
There was a click, a buzz, then one ring, and a woman's
voice came over the line,
Dr. Brightman, how..?
Again Jack cut her off to frantically yell,
Doc, it's the
General! Colonel Carter just tumbled through my closed back deck
door and is now lying on my floor, uncosciousness! She has one
gunshot wound near the top of her left arm, and another that
grazed her back near her upper right shoulder. As Jack
spoke, he grabbed a towel he'd left on his coffee table the night
before and pressed it to the hole in her back spurting blood down
the front of her sweatshirt. To her other wound he pressed his
outer BDU shirt, which he had quickly stripped from his body.
Pulse is faint, but there. Lots of blood from the back wound,
a smaller amount from her arm. Request your immediate presence
and that of your medical team at my house!
Yes Sir! came the second crisp voice that he had
heard that morning, and Jack knew that Dr. Brightman, though she
hadn't been long at the SGC, would come quickly and bring the
appropriate treatment for Carter when she came. She barked,
In the meantime, try to stop the bleeding if you can. We'll
be there shortly!
Just before she hung up, Jack heard Daniel's voice
Well, Daniel, at least, was in the Infirmary. Jack had no doubt that his friend would soon feel as panicked as he was feeling.
Only slightly mollified by the doctor's promise, Jack's heart still racing away in his chest, he did his best to ignore the feeling of franticness beating insistently at his breast. He firmly centered his attention on Sam.
He distractedly brushed away chunks of glass and nearby pieces of the metal door frame so that he could reach her side more easily. For the first time, Jack noted the sweats that she wore, and the tennis shoes adorning her feet, indicating that she had been out for a morning run when she had been assaulted by at least two unknown assailants who had obviously caught her by surprise as she'd jogged around her neighborhood.
So what was she doing jogging near his house? Had she begun her jog in the area near her house, then after the assailents attacked, run to Jack's house looking for assistance from him instead of calling the local police, who would give her help that would inevitably lead to awkward questions about the SGC? Jack felt his amazement wash over him again as he considered how far it was between his house and hers that she must have run, eluding capture the entire time. She had to have run two or more miles through a jumble of cars, houses, people, children waiting for the school bus... all the time keeping one step ahead of her assailants.
Now Jack stared at the bloody, white form lying before him, and he did his best not to give in to the waves of panic that were washing over him so that he could do what Carter needed to have done for her in the next few minutes. There would be plenty of time for him to fall apart later. Still, there was the barest hint of terror to his movements as he bent over Carter's inert form, pressing his tensed fingers to both her back and to the hole in her arm that still seeped blood around the edges of the shirt he pressed to her arm wound no matter now he arranged the material. Luckily she had slid across his floor on her front, leaving her back exposed, so reaching her wounds was relatively easy now, even if stopping her bleeding was proving to be a challenge that qualified it as less than simple.
Come on, Sam! Stay with me! Jack hissed into the
quiet air of early morning. To his positive delight, she moaned
and tried to move her left arm, but he held it down so that it
wouldn't bleed worse than it already was. The moaning thrash was
the only sound or movement she made as she again slipped back
into whatever place she had found for her personal refuge.
Staying so low made Jack's movements awkward and clumsy, but he was doubly glad that he was taking the added precautions when three more wild shots zipped through the curtain he had pulled across his door to bury themselves beside the other bullet holes in the wall just above his sofa. Jack whipped his gun out of its holster once more, removed the safety, then pumped four blind shots through the curtain and into the area near his deck and towards his back yard. He didn't want to take the chance of possibly hitting his neighbors if this had turned into a hostage situation, but the temptation to scare the assailants was too much for him. Still, he kept the shots that he fired out his door aimed low, hoping to either hit his deck out his back door, or hit the ground in the general direction that Carter had claimed her attackers were hiding before she had vaulted through that door of his.
Suddenly, there was no sound coming from his back yard. The
silence that followed his shots was as scary as the gunfire had
been. Sam's head lolled to one side, though she made no sound,
and didn't wake. Jack dropped his gun to again press as
desperately as he could on Sam's arm, gasping for breath as he
Hang on, Sam, that's an order, you hear me? The
eerie silence from his yard wrapped its oily tentacles around him
as he crouched on the floor beside Carter after firing blindly
through his curtain.
Bullet holes in the drape allowed a small amount of light to filter in through the closed curtain, but a strange, ghostly twilight had descended over the room, and Jack considered that the cloud cover and impending threat of snowfall lent itself to the gray-green glow that permeated everything.
Jack pressed on Sam's wounded back and arm for what seemed like hours, but he knew must have been only minutes. At long last, he heard the screech of tires on his driveway. He again thought Thank God! as the Sfs and medical team arrived.
Jack couldn't leave Carter's side to unlock his front door, so the soldiers merely shot out the lock on the door and pushed their way into the room. Where the house had been enshrounded in a quiet so heavy that it felt foreign only seconds before, now his house was a hive of chaotic activity as streams of people entered his home and looked around wildly before seeing him beside Carter's ravaged form on his living room floor.
The medical team was all business as Dr. Brightman entered the house, carrying a stereotypical medical bag with her. The image she struck, backlit the way she was in his door, would have caused him to laugh at any other time. But the look of concentration on her face belied the pose she had unknowingly taken. She paused for only a second as she got her bearings in the strange location, then hurried down the steps from his front hall to his living room, followed closely by Daniel. They both crouched as they ran to his and Carter's position in the room.
Status! Dr. Brightman barked as she slithered to a
stop beside Sam and began pulling things from her bag with no
Back still bleeding, Jack dutifully managed to say.
Arm wound under control. Haven't been able to check pulse
since I spoke to you on the phone. But she's been more or less
unresponsive for the last few minutes.
Jack was then shoved unceremoniously aside by more members of the medical team, and he bowed to their greater knowledge in situations like this. He crawled back several feet until he ran into the edge of his coffee table to sprall in an undignified shaking heap on his floor.
Sir? questioned one of the SFs holding a rifle firmly
strapped to his chest.
Can you tell us what heppened
Jack did his best to focus his brain enough to tell them
what had happened. He said,
There are two assailants with
guns, probably behind the neighbor's house, that way. He
They must have been chasing Carter when she was on
her morning run. She goes out for a run whenever she can when
she's on-world, he reminded them in a shaky voice, then
But this is the first time she's ever met trouble on
her morning jog that I know of. They must have chased her all
the way over here, which I think was when they hit her in her
arm, then a second later hit her again in her back. That was
right when she dove through my closed back door. She landed just
as you see her now... The whole thing scared the crap out of
Sir! the SF then blurted.
We'll guard your front
door, set up a perimeter around your house, and search for the
assailants that you mentioned. The soldier's voice was grim
as he spoke.
Jack could only nod his agreement. The SF barked orders at his fellow soldiers before Jack even had the chance to gather himself together enough to speak. The group of BDU clad men and women dodged around him and left much more quietly than they had come in.
Jack then turned his attention to the doctor. He managed to
croak a question,
Doc? How's she..?
Brightman interrupted his inquiry to tersely report,
Lacerations to the front of both legs and both arms, probably
from her impact with your glass door. Her left arm is broken
besides having that bullet wound near her left shoulder. The
bleeding is stopped for now... good work, General... She needs
exploratory surgery on the back wound, though. I want to make
certian the bullet left her body before it hit any other vital
organs. Her pulse is weak and erratic, but it's there. BP is 70
over 50, pulse 54.
With a heave, the medics lifted Carter to deposit her on one of those emargency boards that he had seen on prior television shows, though he couldn't make his scrambled brain recal the proper word for the conveyence just then. The team swiftly carried her out his front door to the waiting military truck outside his house.
In seconds, the room was clear of all but Jack, Daniel, Teal'c, and an SF guard at each of the destroyed doors as the rest of the people under Jack's command went about ignoring him so that they could focus on the jobs that needed to be done. He had never been so grateful that he was surrounded by the brightest and the best as he slumped back tiredly against the coffee table behind him. He dropped his head wearily into his trembling hands.
But Daniel didn't let him rest for long. The archaeologist
yanked on Jack's hands, and peered into his face.
he gently and quietly asked, his tone contradicting the urgency
of his actions.
Can you tell us more detail about what
happened? he asked.
Do you know..?
Jack felt the panic clawing at his throat, and he made a mighty effort to stamp it down again, but he knew that he only had moments left before he fell completely apart. He couldn't help but draw parallels beteween this incident with Sam and his years old tragedy concerning Charlie. But all he could think now was God... not Carter, too! with a sick feeling bubbling up inside him.
Jack grabbed onto Daniel's shirt front, leaving two perfect
red stains with his still bloody fingers as he pulled the younger
No idea... what's going on... Daniel! he
Never heard Carter... so scared... not on
missions... Nothing! No hint... who was after her... Only she
needed help... and now! Jack heaved in breath as he recalled
the sound of her desperate voice over the phone as she yelled at
him to cover himself right before crashing through his door. He
began to immediately hyperventilate at just the thought of her
unexpected entrance into his previously calm morning.
Daniel pulled Jack's hands away from his shirtfront only to
encase them in his own hands, unmindful of the stickiness of the
stains on his fingers.
Okay, okay, Jack, you've got to calm
down, breath deep, you're gonna be no help to Sam if you fall
Jack heard Daniel, and tried to take his advice, slowing his
breathing. He succeeded after a moment.
came Daniel's soothing voice again as Jack forced air into his
aching lungs and attempted to control the shivers that had seemed
to take up residence in his limbs.
Calm... calm... Then
his brow furrowed.
Jack, I've never seen you lose it like
this, not even on our worst missions when the Goa'uld captured
and tortured us. Are you sure there's nothing that you're
Jack gasped again as he shook his head.
surprised, he managed to say.
Seeing Carter... He
gestured at his bloodstained floor, trying to get his idea across
to his friend without saying anything.
it's... He couldn't quite repress the shudder that ran
Just like Charlie... So much blood...
Daniel then turned and said something to someone standing beside him that Jack hadn't even seen before now. But Jack was too consumed by the memory of so much blood once again pouring out of someone he cared deeply for to take much notice of that third person even now. He shivered, he shook, and then he felt the weight of a warming blanket thrown over his shoulders, then another, both pulled tight under his chin as he tried to regulate his breathing so that it resembled something more normal.
Good... Breath, Jack, just breath, Daniel quietly
ordered, and Jack was infinitely glad that his friend was with
him just then. Daniel was the only person who had seen him all
those many years ago when he had been so depressed by his son's
death that he had been suicidal. The threat of exactly the same
thing happening to him again had made Jack flirt with the edges
of shock before he even realized what was happening.
Jack clutched at his blankets, staring straight ahead and blinking only when he needed to. The logical, military part of his brain knew what was happening to him, and around him, but the panicked part of his brain could only center on the fact that it had been Carter's warm blood oozing between his fingers. It was his worst nightmare come true. He dropped his head into his hands again and squeezed his eyes shut against the images that were accosting his mind, images of an emaciated Carter staring unseeingly up at him as he tried desperately to keep her alive long enough for the medical team to arrive.
Here, Jack, drink this, Daniel said, interupting
Jack's imaginings. The linguist handed Jack a glass full of a
liquid that, when he automatically drank the contents down,
burned his throat enough to break him out of the comforting
trance he'd fallen into.
Jack gasped, choked, and coughed. He spluttered,
Daniel very sedately told him,
It's straight Vodka, and
it may taste terrible, but it got the first true reaction out of
you that we've seen since we got here, so it was worth a little
pain as it went down. He turned back to the man beside him.
Pour another glass for him, Teal'c, please.
Is that all that's necessary in this situation,
DanielJackson? Jack heard the Jaffa ask.
Is there nothing
else that you require from the kitchen?
I think that's all he'll need, Teal'c,
Jack was aware that Teal'c left. He began to feel more like himself as Daniel forced him to drink the second glass of the vile liquid that the Jaffa retrieved from his kitchen.
The shaking seemed to have halted, too. Jack sighed and leaned back into the edge of the table behind him, resting his forehead on the glass he still held in his hand.
Daniel peered into his face.
All right now, Jack? he
Do you think you can get up and wash your
Jack stared at his red-stained hands, and apologized to his
Sorry about leaving you all gooped up. Didn't
realize... His voice trailed off as he tried to speak some
more. At last, he just requested,
Give me a few, guys. Let
me catch my breath...
Daniel sat quietly beside the heaving Jack, and Teal'c stood
back, surveying his first team leader's ruined patio door as Jack
recovered. Finally, with a last shudder, Jack felt more like his
usually collected self. He said,
I think I'm all right now,
guys, you can stop hovering like I'm a basket waiting to
Daniel sat back, then rose, and pulled Jack along with him.
Why don't you take another shower, change clothes, then meet
me and Teal'c in a few minutes in the kitchen? We'll start some
coffee for you.
But... Carter... Jack stubbornly said as Daniel
ushered him in the direction of his bathroom and shower. He had
a burning need to see how Carter was fairing after the events of
the morning, but Daniel tried to get him into his bathroom
She'll be in surgery, Daniel reported.
Dr. Brightman say something about... He didn't finish his
sentence, but said,
Arriving at the SGC, covered in blood,
won't do anyone any good, Jack. Sam's in good hands, and when
she's awake again, she can tell us what happened. His calm
voice was like a soothing salve to the festering injuries of the
You go and take a shower, change clothes, brush your
hair, and we'll see about your door. Now go... It's all gonna
be fine, Jack, promise.
When had Daniel become so good in a crisis? Jack vaguely wondered as he stumbled down his hall.
Jack felt himself relax a little under the warm spray of water moments later. The shower, he admitted to himself, was helping to further restore his equilibrium. However, as he dressed, Jack just decided that Daniel didn't ever need to know about it!
Meanwhile, his thoughts were never very far from Sam, even when he was making his decisions about Daniel and his surprising ability for being soothing in a crisis situation. Still, Jack couldn't help but bend his mind to trying to figure out who could have sent those two assailants after Sam. He immediately thought of the Trust, the NID, and the replicators, and he decided to contact General Hammond the moment he arrived on base to ask if the military man had heard of any movements on the parts of the rogue agents of Earth.
Still Jack felt dissatisfied with his decisions. He felt like there must be something more that he could do! Frustrated, Jack continued thinking about the diverting topic of the mysterious identities of Sam's attackers. He tried not to take note of the situation, but he couldn't help acknowledging that he had not heard one word of concern about Sam's whereabouts from the fianc‚... What was his name? Paul? Page? Something that began with the letter 'P?' Jack wasn't entirely sure, but was fairly certin that he didn't want to be sure, either.
As he dried himself off prior to pulling on a clean pair of BDUs, he forced himself to acknowledge that not a lot of time had gone by for a boyfriend... fiance‚... to begin worrying about her vanishment. Yet, the fact that Sam had even had her cell phone on her at the time of her run indicated that there was someone waiting for her to call with something like her wherabouts, didn't it?
And who was it logical that she would call?
Oh, he wished!
No, it made much more sense that she had her cell with her in order to check in with... Pell? Parr?
Whatever his name was... The fiance‚ was probably so worried by now that he must be blowing a gasket.
Jack's thinking whim now backed by logical... sort of... thinking through the situation, he reached for his own phone and dialed the SGC.
Walter answered his call.
Walter, it's the General...
No word yet on how Colonel Carter is fairing in her
surgery, Sir, Walter interrupted to say.
Jack smiled at the way his personal aid was trying to judge
what he was calling to inquire about. Walter wasn't too far off,
either, Jack admitted to himself. Was he becomming that
predictable? If so, then he was going to have to curb his future
inquiries about Carter, or talk centering on them was sure to
begin circulating again, and that was one thing Carter didn't
need to be dealing with!
Uh, thanks, but that's not why I
called, Jack said into the phone.
Walter sounded surprised and a bit embarrassed as he
apologized and asked,
Did you need me to do something,
I was wondering if... How did he ask about someone
whose name he couldn't even remember?
If Carter's... other
half... had called in yet to check on her? Yeah, that would
Uh... And Jack could hear the sound of paper being
I didn't talk to him, and he didn't appear to
phone while I took a break for breakfast fifteen minutes ago. I
can ask around if you'd like me to?
The entire base personell talking about who had called to
check up on Carter? That was the last thing Jack needed!
that's perfectly okay, Walter. I was just curious. If he does
call while I'm gone, give him my cell number, and I'll take care
of giving him the 'heads up' on Carter's progress. There.
that sounded magnanimous enough of him to quell any talk that
might get started over this, but not too magninimous of him at
the same time...
Oh..! This situation was quickly becoming mired in the
stickiness of his worry over becoming nothing but too much base
gossip! Jack curtailed his need to protect Carter and himself.
Me, Teal'c, and Dr. Jackson will be in about an hour from now,
at the very latest.
Very good, General, came Walter's businesslike
O'Neill out. Jack hung up the phone, then pulled on
Okay... So... 'Peel,' or whatever his name was hadn't called to check up on why Carter had been gone so long. Jack just didn't get it. If it had been him waiting on the other side of the phone, he would have been going nuts by now with worry.
Which begged the question... Just what was the other half doing if he wasn't worried enough about Sam to blow that imaginary gasket of his?
* * *
You've got to call her 'Carter,' not 'Sam!' Jack was thinking to himself a half hour later as he walked briskly down the corridor of the SGC beside Daniel. Teal'c had decided to remain at Jack's house to oversee the replacement of his two doors as well as the cleaning of his living room of all traces of the glass and blood that still covered the floor. Both Daniel and Jack had foregone sharing any coffee with the Jaffa, and were now bent on seeing if Sam was out of surgery yet and in the recovery room prior to being moved to the Infirmary. They shared such a determined gate that no one bothered either of them, even the General, which was a minor miracle, according to Jack.
The minute they entered the Infirmary and glanced at every
bed in the room, they could see that Colonel Carter was not among
the Infirmary patients. Daniel stopped the first nurse to cross
their path and asked,
Is Colonel Carter out of surgery
The nurse shook her head.
It's exploratory surgery at
this point, to make certain that all the bleeding has stopped,
and that there are no internal injuries that so far have gone
unreported, she informed the three men.
I'm sure that Dr.
Brightman will be able to give you more details when she's out of
Disappointed, but realizing that no news was good news, the
two men allowed the nurse to depart. They both sighed as one. Daniel
looked like he was settled to stay in the chair he plopped down
in. Jack turned, shoved his hands in his pockets, tried hard not
to let his natural disappointment show on his face, and inquired
You intend to wait here?
I'm not moving until I see Sam.
Jack could understand that sentiment, at least, even if he
couldn't indulge it. He gave a nod of his head, but only quietly
That could make things interesting when you have to use
the bathroom. Daniel sent him an irritated expression that
involved a lot of eye rolling, so Jack hurried on to say,
wish I could stick around here with you, but the work of a
General never stops. He pushed his hands deeper into his
pockets, thinking that his leaving wouldn't do the gossip that
was sure to circulate the base about him and Carter any harm
either. In fact, he hoped that his decision to leave would stop
any gossip before it got started. It was probably a useless
hope, but he hoped nonetheless. He went on hoping as he headed
out the door,
Guess I'll see you around then, huh? he said
Hey, make sure you tell me what's going on the
minute she's out of surgery. He felt reluctant to leave, as
if he were skipping out on Carter when she needed him the most.
Trying not to feel like too much of a heel, he added,
me know when it's my turn to sit with her. I want my turn like
always, ya know.
You betcha, Jack. He gave a small
grin to accompany his comment, but it was a grim gesture.
Jack had to think hard about his words before he found the
joke imbedded in his comment. But all he said was,
serious. The minute you hear anything...
Daniel almost smiled again.
Jack said one more thing.
Thanks for trying to lighten
the situation, Daniel.
Daniel gave a wry grin this time, then called after him,
You're sure you're feeling all right, Jack?
Jack had to turn one final time to reply,
No, I'm not
sure, but I'm doing better. Thanks for asking, Daniel. See you
Daniel waved good-bye as Jack disappeared into the outer corridor.
Jack made his way to his office, and even managed to get there with having to stop only three times to answer questions about what had transpired that morning. He couldn't believe it was only 0800 hours. So much had already happened!
He'd gone to his office to finally get some peace and quiet, but the instant ringing of his phone ended any silence he might try to enjoy. His thoughts were too traumatized anyway, as he couldn't get his mind off Carter and the way she had come smashing into his living room through the glass deck door.
He still felt shaken as he answered his black phone, but did
his best to keep the emotional fear that he was still feeling
from showing in his voice. A minute later he was glad that he
had made such an effort.
O'Neill, he flatly said into his
General? came the question over the line.
The fiance‚'s voice.
Jack almost gave an audible groan, but managed to stop the
sound just before it issued from his mouth. He certainly didn't
want to talk to... 'Pell?'... Not 'Paco'... That was too
Spanish... He just couldn't remember! Or he didn't want to
remember the man's name. Jack tried to sound cheerier than he
felt when he said,
Yes, this is General O'Neill. What can I
do for you?
The voice on the other end was a tad hesitant as he said,
This is Pete Shanahan, Sam's...
So help him, Jack did not want to hear how that man
was connected to Carter, a state he already knew about! Not this
morning. Accepting that now he had no excuse not to know the
man's name, he hastily interrupted Pete before he could say
I know who you are... Mr. Shanahan, he
How can I help you?
Well. And Pete's voice was now more hesitant than it
had been before. The sound made Jack oddly satisfied.
Sam's not answering either her home phone or her cell. I was
wondering if you can tell me if she's on some secret mission or
something? And that's why I can't reach her.
Raw anger abruptly coursed through Jack when he heard Pete's
words. The emotion didn't make any sense to him, and in
retrospect, he realized that his reaction was a holdover to his
state of shock that morning, but he wasn't thinking about that
just at the moment. He simply acted, and thought later.
You're just thinking about this now? he asked in a
I would think that checking up on her would
occur to you a little sooner. What kind of fianc‚ are you,
His words and severe tone seemed to come as a surprise to
Pete. His shrug came through his voice loud and clear as he
Uh... I didn't want to interfere with her
Still feeling the anger burn inside him, Jack interrupted
She's fine, no thanks to you!
Finally Pete began reacting to the anger in O'Neill's voice.
What do you mean by that? he exclaimed.
Jack quickly explained,
She was practically gunned down
hours ago, had to jump through my door, for cryin' out
loud, just to get away from whoever was chasing her, and she's in
surgery right now, and you just now start to get a bit worried?
Where the heck have you been all morning? Jack barked
heedlessly into his receiver.
The first time that Carter
She was shot at?!? Pete blurted.
She was shot! Jack all but yelled.
Twice! He partly knew that he needed to lower his voice,
that he was doing Carter no favors by speaking so loudly, but he
couldn't stop himself now that he'd started.
My question is
where the heck are you?
Pete firmly said,
I'm at my parents' house in California!
Sam knows where..!
What are you doing in California? Jack all but
roared. He had no idea why he was so angry, but it was like he
was no longer in control of himself as he continued,
Pete's incensed reply came to him in clipped tones.
vacation of mine has been planned for two months,
Two months! Jack screeched.
convenient! he scoffed.
The minute that you're gone,
I had nothing to do with this! Pete declared.
you think that I could somehow...
I don't know what to think! Jack stated back to him.
All I know is that Carter came barreling through...
Is she going to be all right? Pete asked then, the
worry that he was clearly feeling at last creeping into his
She's still in surgery! Jack hollered, though he had
no idea why he was hollering that information.
Can I see her? Pete quickly asked.
What do you think this is, a damn hotel? Jack asked
in a yell.
Of course you can't just come strolling into a
secure installation that... no matter what your clearance
And that was when Pete lost his hold on his own temper. He
You took her there on purpose! Just
to keep me away from...
It was Jack who was incensed now.
I got her the help
that I thought she needed as quickly as I could! My main
priority wasn't making sure that she went to somewhere that isn't
top secret! Your visit rights...
I'm not going to discuss anything more with you until I
get to talk to Sam!
Well, get in line, buddy! Jack yelled just as Daniel
and a medical team rushed into the office through the door
leading into the corridor. It was excellent timing, as that was
exactly when Jack's vision suddenly tunneled down to a single
point and his breathing became raspy as his heart thundered in
his chest. He began to quickly hyperventilate again, and he
dropped the phone receiver into Daniel's waiting hand as he fell
into his leather desk chair, afraid that he would be unable to
resist the lure of such strong emotions, and faint dead away.
That would be humiliating! He was barely aware of the
medical team swarming around him, and could hardly speak around
the tightness accosting his jaw. He fought off the call of
unconsciousness with a ferocity that even he didn't know he
Daniel did his best to stay out of everyone's way and speak
into the receiver at the same time.
Hello? This is Dr.
Daniel Jackson. I'm sorry to say that General O'Neill is
unavailable right at the moment due to a severe... He didn't
know quite what to say about Jack's sudden condition, as he
didn't yet know what that condition was. Did this attack of
Jack's somehow harken back to the shock episode that he had
undergone just that morning? Was this some kind of a delayed
reaction to his earlier medical condition?
A severe medical
trauma, he decided on saying at long last. It was the best
he could do without knowing more about what was ailing Jack.
He'll call you back when he's more himself.
Daniel started to hang up the phone, but was arrested by the
sound of his name in tones that he recognized.
Jackson? Pete said in a voice that was as loud as he could
produce at the moment.
Pete! Daniel exclaimed, somewhat surprised at the
presence of the voice that he instantly recognized. But it stood
to reason that Sam's fianc‚ would call at a time like this.
Where are you?
A definite growl followed Daniel's question.
California visiting my parents, and called to check in with Sam,
tell her I got here okay and all. But I've been told that she...
something about a shooting and jumping through a window? And
that I'm now told that I can't talk to her! His voice held a
definite growl in it when he demanded,
Tell me what's going on
Daniel interupted his tirade,
Um... Pete, I hate to be
the bearer of bad news...
Go ahead, be the bearer, Jack muttered from his
position on the leather chair as a doctor who was Brightman's
second peered into his eyes with a pen light. Jack hated bright
lights shone into his eyes, and cursed the doctor under his
breath as he gave his head a slight shake.
Tell me what's going on! Pete again demanded without
bothering to even try to sound polite anymore.
Daniel did his best to placate both Jack and Pete as he
Pete, Jack said this morning that while Sam was out
for her morning jog, she was attacked by two unknown gunmen, shot
twice, once in her left arm, once in her upper back on the right
side, then crashed through Jack's deck window/door to get away
from them. She's been unconscious ever since, and is in surgery
right now, though her prognosis is...
Daniel glanced at Dr. Karmichael still squatting next to
Jack in his chair, who took time from administering to Jack to
It's assumed that she's critical right now, but
surgery will tell us more.
Daniel repeated Sam's prognosis to Pete, then went on,
And after the medical team arrived at Jack's house to deal
with Sam, he pretty much suffered a shock attack, and I'm
thinking that this deal that he's under right now is somehow
connected with his recent medical problem. He would never have
yelled at you the way he did if he'd been more himself. In fact,
it's what clued us in that something was very wrong with him just
Pete cut Daniel off this time to snidely allege,
say that I care too much about what's up with General O'Neill. I
only want to see Sam as soon as I can. Should I fly back from
California and stay with her?
Daniel was a bit taken aback by Pete's rather unfeeling
attitude towards Jack's affliction of the moment. He expected
the other man to be more understanding, to be honest, but he
managed to continue,
No, it makes sense to stay put for now.
Sam's still in surgery, and there's no telling when she'll be out
of surgery and awake enough for visitors. You might fly back to
Colorado just to sit here with nothing to do for days on end. We
can call you when anything new transpires.
Jack very plainly muttered,
Wouldn't care what makes
sense if I was in his place. I'd come anyway. Wild
horses... He lapsed into silence then as more technicians
bent his arm to take his pulse and blood pressure a second time,
and Dr. Karmichael entreated him to focus on him and not Daniel,
if he could.
Daniel distinctly heard Karmichael ask in a loud voice,
General, do you know where you are?
SGC, Jack slowly muttered as another person did her
best to take his temperature with an ear thermometer.
What day is it? Karmichael asked next.
Jack sighed, then sounding tired, muttered,
Karmichael sent a telling glance to one of his nurses, then
And how do you feel, General?
Jack was able to answer that question with a bit more force
to his voice.
Pissed! Then his forehead wrinkled as he
more thoughtfully continued,
Wish I knew why, though.
Daniel was able to bring his attention back to his phone
call as he divulged,
It seems that Jack has some kind of
behavioral problem going on right now. I wouldn't take what he
said earlier with too much of...
Pete interrupted once more,
Being yelled at and raked
over the coals is not my idea of a good time, Dr. Jackson! Like
I said, I'm only concerned for Sam, but to be treated in such a
Again Daniel was surprised by the amount of bitterness in
I assure you that the General isn't himself
right now. Something's wrong with...
Once more came an interruption.
I think this just proves
that General O'Neill has never liked me very much, and just
couldn't wait for an excuse to tell me so!
Daniel was astonished.
You think that Jack said what he
said on purpose? I bet that it's not...
This kind of treatment won't go unreported, that's for
sure! Pete said, incensed.
I've gotten very little
Daniel was even more amazed.
Pete, you've gotta know
that's not true! We all want Sam to be happy, and as long as
This has nothing to do with Sam, Dr. Jackson. This is
between me and the General. I think it's about time that I do
Jack can't be held accountable for anything he said
earlier to you! Daniel huffed, just as incensed as Pete.
Do you think this is a trial or something? he rhetorically
Jack was just worried to death about a previous
team member who crashed into his house at Ough dark thirty this
morning, and suffered shock because of it! I don't...
Pete again cut him off to announce,
I'll talk to you
later, Dr. Jackson, when I've had time to decide what I'm gonna
do about all this. Don't give General O'Neill the opportunity to
try to sweet talk his way out of this one, either. He has a way
about him that...
He would never do something like that, and you know
it! Daniel hollered, finally losing his control of his own
You know what, Jack did an incredible job of holding
back with you just now! If it weren't for being worried about
him, I'd stick around and tell you a thing or two of my own
that... And that was when Pete hung up on him without
Daniel looked at the reciever that was still in his hands,
Jerk, before replacing it on Jack's desk.
The medical team was just trying to convince General O'Niell to
cooperate with them and lie back on the nice medical gurney they
had brought with them when Daniel's phone call unceremoniously
ended. He was able to watch Jack stubbornley and irrationally
refuse their help, and Daniel found himself instantly interceding
with Jack on the medical team's behalf, trying to cajole him into
a more agreeable stance. He even used the threat that he
wouldn't want Sam to hear about how Jack was acting right now, to
which Jack tried to beligerantly stand right in Daniel's face and
tell him to 'Bring it on, Spacemonkey,' at which time Daniel lost
the thin hold he had regained on his temper and
uncharacteristically slugged Jack in the eye. Jack dropped like
a stone with the help of the sedative that Dr. Karmichael had
managed to slip into Jack's arm while the military man was busy
fighting with Daniel.
A few seconds later, the confrontation ended, as did the problem. The entire scene as Jack flew back from Daniel's punch to land in an unconscious heap on the medical gurney was slightly surreal to Daniel, who had wanted to slug Jack for years, but hadn't. Karmichael barely had time to get his arm out of the way before Jack was down for the count, assisted by the medicine he'd slipped the General, and the team wasted no time in pushing the gurney and Jack towards the Infirmary.
A solicitious Dr. Karmichael used the excuse to cursorily
look over Daniel's aching hand now that Jack had been dealt with
in order to thank the young archaeologist for his assistance with
You're probably the only person on base right
now who could handle him the way he needed to be handled - thank
Daniel tried to brush off the other man's gratitude.
Actually, Jack's been asking for that for years. He
remembered every time that Jack had mercilessly teased him, and
even though he didn't hold a grudge against the older man, he had
secretly enjoyed getting even with him just now.
that I could help you at the same time that I had the chance to
get a little revenge on everything's he's said to me over the
years! Daniel gave a wry chuckle as he bent his fingers for
the doctor, flexing his knuckles when asked.
If you tell me
what's going on with Jack right now, we'll just call this all
even and forget that anything happened.
You really are as simple a man as
your reputation paints you, he remarked, mild now.
can't say for sure, of course, not until we run more tests, but
knowing about his morning shock episode helps me to guess
that the General is suffering from an emotional state of shock
that's related to his medical condition of a few hours ago. His
aggressive attitude is another hint that something like extreme
fear, or hearing disturbing news, may have had something to do
with his reaction.
Daniel furrowed his brow.
So you're saying that Jack
couldn't help the way he reacted just now?
It's kind of like Post Traumatic
Stress Disorder, he told Daniel.
It may even turn into a
case of PTSD later on,
God, I hope not, Daniel muttered.
Combativeness is a common reaction to an event like this
morning's. It's not every day that a colleague comes vaulting
through your door the way that Colonel Carter did in the
General's house. Karmichael gave a nervous laugh.
must have been stunned and horrified when it happened.
You have no idea, Daniel emphatically added to the
doctor's asessment of the situation.
Especially if the General truly does care for what
befalls Colonel Carter, Karmichael said, going on.
only imagine how terrified he is right now. That emotion
manifested itself as yelling at... He paused, then gestured
towards the General's desk.
Whoever that was on the phone
Daniel rolled his eye.
That was Sam's fianc‚, Pete
Shanahan. It's true that Jack has never exactly appreciated the
man, and now I have to agree with his assessment of Detective
Karmichael shrugged again.
I don't want to get involved
in inter-team politics, Dr. Jackson. So he changed the
You're hand doesn't appear to be broken, only
sprained. Apply some ice to it if you're in pain. Try not to
overuse it for a few days, and it should be perfectly
Daniel gave another wry grin.
How am I going to write my
translations if I can't use my hand? Karmichael gave one
final shrug, and Daniel muttered,
I should have hit Jack with
my left hand...
The doctor laughed this time, then led the way out of Jack's office and to the Infirmary.
* * *
And that was when Sergeant Harriman called the Infirmary
with a medical emergency to Jack's office, Daniel was telling
a still bleary-eyed Sam several hours later in the Infirmary. He
was seated next to her bed, sitting and reading a book on the
translation of the Egyptian language when Sam had finally
awakened from her ordeal. She'd already been out of surgery when
he and Dr. Karmichael had returned to the Infirmary, but hadn't
woken until much later. She was still lying on her stomach, in
fact, giving her wounds a chance to heal without the added
pressure of lying on them.
Daniel went on with his explanation of the day's many
Sergeant Harriman told us what was going on with
Jack, - that Jack was yelling strangely personal things for a man
who was in his right mind. A med team ran to his office, and I
tagged along, thinking that I could help. It turned out that it
was a good thing that I went along, because Jack was talking to
Pete at the time...
Sam's features immediately soured at the mention of her fianc‚. The tiny cuts that Jack's windowed door had caused her cheeks earlier that day creased with her expression.
Daniel was surprised again by the face Sam made.
don't seem too excited by the phone call from Pete, he
carefully remarked, not wanting to antagonise her with his
observation, but curious about that observation at the same time.
I would think that a call from my fianc‚ would...
He's not my fianc‚ anymore, Sam softly interrupted
him, her voice as careful and detached as Daniel's had been.
This surprised Daniel.
What? he said with a start.
Sam sighed, which cut him off a second time in as many
We're trying the 'apart' thing for awhile. Sam
shrugged her shoulders, then winced as the skin around both
bullet wounds pulled with the gesture.
He was getting just
too... She sighed one more time, then regarded her friend
Daniel, is it possible to smother someone
you care about?
Daniel thought about her words.
Do you mean physically
Sam shook her head, then winced again when it pulled at her
No, I mean to emotionally... She sighed
one more time, then slowly reached up to rub dispiritedly at her
forehead... or at least the part of her forehead that she could
Daniel, I don't know what to do. Tell me what
I can't do that, Daniel instantly said in an
But I can tell you what he said on
the phone to me today, or rather, how he said what he
Sam stared at him.
Why, what did he say? she asked
in a quiet voice full of suspicion, as if she could basically
predict what Daniel was going to tell her already, but asked him
Daniel pursed his lips in a pensive pose for a moment, then
gently told her,
Sam, if he's been talking to you the way he
talked to me today, I'd send him packing to the farthest reaches
That bad, huh? Daniel didn't answer
her, so she went on,
Well, I could guess that this would
Daniel grimaced this time.
I kind of called him a jerk
when he hung up on me.
Them's fighten' words coming from you, she told him
in a resigned, offhand manner.
Daniel gave her a wan smile, then thoughtfully continued,
He must have said the same types of things to Jack when we
heard Jack yelling over the phone.
Pete talked to Jack? She shook her head, then
Daniel nodded and went on,
Jack had just finished when
the medical team ran into his office. He gave a roll of his
Jack was yelling loud enough to wake the dead.
Sam considered what Daniel had told her.
That's not like
Jack... the General.
Come on, Sam, Daniel siad with a resigned sigh.
You crashed through the guy's door. I think that qualifies as
a good reason to call him by his first name.
Sam was silent for a minute, thinking, then shyly confessed,
Um... She gave a hesitant glance toward the bed where
Jack was still sleeping off the effects of the sedative that Dr.
Karmichael had given to him. Or, at least, his eyes were closed.
She guessed that he was still sleeping, and that he wasn't
unconscious or in a coma, and that she and Daniel needed to
worry. Her gaze almost as quickly flicked back to her friend.
She sent an embarrassed look down at the sheets under her, and
her face suddenly bloomed a fiery red as her blush covered her
Um, she softly began.
That's not... not the
only time I've said... She blushed again, but forged on.
Recently said Jack's first name.
What? Daniel asked, confused by her words.
are you..? What was she referring to that would make her
blush so deeply, as if she were just sooooo embarrassed? Then it
hit him... Sex - she was talking about... Daniel's eyes widened
when understanding fully dawned on him. He leaned forward,
wholly scandalized now, but looking as if he was also enjoying
that sense of scandal that he was feeling.
Sh! Sam cautioned. She threw another furtive glance
over at the bed next to hers, and peered at Jack.
Do you want
to wake him? she hissed.
Daniel immediately lowered his voice, but the shocked
expression remained on his face.
Sam! No wonder Pete sounded
pissed when I talked to him! He sounded as if he had
discovered something profound, and profoundly amusing.
Daniel! It's not like I could help it! Sam harshly
whispered back to him.
I wasn't exactly aware of what I was
doing at the time!
But... uh... that's not exactly a good time to be calling
one guy the name of another guy, is it, Sam? Daniel forced
himself to relax, but his gaze returned to study Sam.
did Pete do about all this? he finally asked.
He decided to run away and visit his parents
for a few days.
Sergeant Harriman heard Jack distinctely
yell that Pete had been planning this vacation of his for two
months. Was that not the truth?
It's an 'exaggeration,' she said in
That sounds like something Pete would
Daniel wondered, Pete was ly... exaggerating? It was
a thought that made Daniel cautiously inquire,
Are you really
sure that this is the right guy for you? He rubbed his hand
across the front cover of his book and wouldn't meet her gaze as
he went on vocalising something that had been on his mind for
I mean, here you are, calling him another man's name
when... And now you're telling me he's lying to Jack. Then
his forehead wrinkled in thought.
Actually, it makes more
sense that Pete doesn't seem to like Jack, now that I know more
of the situation.
Did Pete say as much? Sam asked, again as if she
already knew the answer.
He accused Jack of disrespecting
Sam groaned again.
And don't tell me, she requested
in a tone that clearly told Daniel to tell her anyway.
threatened to 'do something about it.'
Daniel looked surprised.
How do you know that? Then
his forehead wrinkled in further thought.
You weren't even in
Jack's office, or could be listening in on what we were saying to
each other on another line. You were still in surgery then!
Daniel looked at Sam with narrowed eyes.
What aren't you
telling me about this scenario? he suddenly inquired.
the whole 'I'll do something' happened before?
Sam gave a resigned sigh into the sheets.
she meekly intoned.
Daniel raised his brows.
Sam considered the ramifications of telling him the intimate
details about her relationship with Pete.
'Sort of...' as in
'every other day.'
Daniel's brows rose even further, making him look like a
surprised chicken that had just been told it was going to dinner
And you've..? he prodded.
Sam grimaced again.
Maybe I shouldn't say what I said
that I'd do.
That stunned Daniel again.
Looking affronted, Sam yelled a whisper of,
What?! trying to defend her actions.
You.., Daniel began to say, then was cut off by the
tinny voice on the SGC PA system.
Dr. Jackson, to the Briefing Room.
Daniel gave an aggravated sigh.
That's me... gotta
go. He rested his book on the table next to Sam's bed and
rose from the chair he'd been sitting in. He made to leave the
Infirmary, but just before leaving, pointed a finger at Sam.
I want to hear the rest of this story, so this isn't over yet,
Sam. He turned to leave again, and peered over his shoulder
I'll be back!
I'm overjoyed at the prospect of more questions and
confessions, Sam dryly stated at the departing figure of her
friend. But by that time, Daniel had disappeared into the
corridor outside the Infirmary. Sam sighed, then settled into
her pillow more firmly. She shut her eyes and focused on the
steady beeps that she heard throughout the room. Concentrating
on the annoying sound kept her from thinking about the pain from
her wounds so much. The longer she could stand the pain, the
longer she could go without the sedative that Dr. Brightman had
threatened her with earlier, and the longer she could keep her
head clear. She would need a clear head if she was going to
converse more with Daniel, she knew, so she did her best to
ignore the pain in her back.
A new voice interrupted her concentration on the beeping
Carter? You awake?
That voice was familiar. Oh, God... It's the General! He was awake? Her eyes snapped open to see that, yes, it was definitely General O'Neill who now stood right beside her Infirmary bed. The sole of his shoe squeaked as he took another step closer to her bed, and she realized that he had replaced the boots the Infirmary staff had confiscated from him earlier. He looked like he felt as normal as he ever did.
If he felt normal, then perhaps he had been equally as alert
as normal, too, just a few minutes ago. She suspected that he'd
overheard quite a bit of the previous conversation between her
and Daniel. Sam drew in a shuddering breath.
How long have
you been awake? she asked.
Jack's features grew red as he sent her a pained expression.
Oh, God, then he'd heard..!
You heard us, didn't
you? she half asked, half accused, horrified enough to speak
Jack reddened again, then nodded one cautious nod. But his
smile broke through his reddness to blaze at her.
Sam! Sam gave a soft groan.
Jack interrupted her.
Is what you said true? That you
and... He could never remember that name!
Pete, she helpfully supplied.
Yeah, him, Jack whispered.
You guys are...
Sam felt her face go crimson again. It was beyond weird to
be talking about such a personal matter to her CO! She didn't
think of the fact that she had discussed that and more with her
other friend, Daniel, just moments before. She gave a semi-nod
against the pillow.
Jack's brows shot a tad higher.
Not engaged, Sam echoed him, then added,
Jack was silent for a moment as he thought about her
comment. Jack's nose wrinkled in distress to be asking what he
was about to ask.
And you... during..? He just couldn't
finish his question!
Buat it didn't matter, for Sam instinctively knew what he
was referrign to with his bumbling speech. Her face burned a
deep crimson shade, and she couldn't look him in his eyes, but
Ummm.., she began to say.
Jack mercifully cut her off.
Then there's not a chance
for you two to..? He gave an uncomfortable cough that was
meant to clear his throat. Actually, Sam recognized it for the
stall tactic it was.
To get back... together?
Sam wondered why it was an important point to the General,
but he did overhear her confess that she had screamed his
name at intimate moments just now, so she figured that she should
be prepared for anything.
Actually, I plan to end it for good
when he comes back, she divulged.
Pete thinks he has a
chance at changing my mind, but...
Again Jack cut her off.
You know that I... Jack
sighed, then seemed to force himself to say more, even if that
made him feel awkward.
I'd never do anything to... Again
he stopped, looking as clumsy as she'd ever seen him look. In
fact, the expression on his face made him appear ten years
younger, stripped of his usual defenses. Sam found the entire
effect positively adorable.
Yes? she asked, avoiding how she felt so as to not
encourage him with her tone and facial expression since she
couldn't move her arms very much.
Jack winced in a determined way, and announced,
never do anything to hurt you or your career...
His voice trailed away for a second time, so Sam again
Jack took a deep breath, glanced quickly around the room,
taking in the fact that they were alone in their little corner of
the Infirmary, ignored by the staff, forgotten by everyone. Then
Sam... Since you're free and all... and before
you're not free again... Will you marry me?
That was not a question that she had ever expected! Not in the SGC! Not ever, if she were honest!
Slowly Sam raised herself up a fraction on her arms, but was halted by more pain. Her eyes widened, her heart started racing, her heart monitor beeping like crazy, causing the nearest of the Infirmary staff to cross quickly towards her bed...
Sam's face lit up for just a second before she remembered.
Then her facial features fell so fast it was almost comical, in a
I'm sorry... I... can't, she choked in a
Jack was shoved back by the overeager Infirmary nurse who
had one eye trained to Sam's heart monitor and one eye trained on
Are you in pain, Colonel Carter? she asked,
oblivious to what the General had just asked her patient.
Sam looked desperately at Jack, who had already closed his face from showing anything but his typical military mask. Yet it was clear that he was in extreme emotional pain just in the tense way he was standing against the wall. Seemingly unfazed, he turned and walked away as more nurses and doctors rushed to Sam's side.
Jack! Sam yelled, anguish now coloring her voice as
she pushed at the white uniforms that occluded her vision of what
he was doing.
Let me exp..! But he was gone.
No! Sam dove her face into her pillow, wanting to
beat it senseless in the sudden rush of anger and fear and
longing and heartache that she was experiencing; Jack was
thinking that she had rejected him - she just knew it!
Crap! she yelled into the linen of her pillow, crying now
without even trying to cover up her sobs.
Colonel, you have to calm down, one of the nurses
What could the General possibly have said
that upset her so?
Sam turned her head, and through her tears saw the nurse who had first spoken shrug her shoulders as if to say 'I don't know,' then reached for a syringe beside her to administer a drug straight into Sam's IV line trailing from her hand.
No! Sam yelled desperately.
The nurse huffed a breath.
This is just a pain killer,
Colonel Carter, it will only put you to...
Sam swiped at her face with her hand.
I don't need
drugs! she yelled to be heard over the sudden noise and
confusion surrounding her bed. She desperately grabbed at the
front of the nurse's tunic.
I need a phone! she ordered.
Now! Or... She was thinking about how Jack had been
suicidal after Charlie died, and was considering how close to
further thoughts of death Jack might be at this moment if he
thought something as dire as her final rejection of him was at
hand. She hadn't understood before now how her feelings toawards
him encompassed such a large part of his psyche. And she knew
that there was a gun concealed under the seat of his truck, a
weapon that he always carried with him in case of trouble with
his enemies while on Earth, so suicide wasn't as impossible a
thing for him as she might like it to be. She didn't think he
would use that gun for... But she did know that he had
suffered depression before, and might be prone to it again,
Phone! she urgently gurgled.
I need to call
the front gate! It's a matter of life and death! She knew
that she sounded dramatic to the medical staff around her, but
now wasn't the time to worry about being overdramatic.
The nurse stared at her, unblinking, a blank look in her eyes.
Please! Sam added to her plea, growing more agitated
by the minute.
She didn't have to say what she promised to do, for another
nurse abruptly plunked a phone down an her bedside table.
Make it quick, Dr. Brightman ordered Sam as she ushered
her people away from the Colonel to give her some privacy.
Still crying a bit, Sam swiped again at her cheeks, then
grabbed the receiver and dialed the guards to inquire,
General O'Neill signed out yet?
The man seemed to take forever to answer, but finally said,
Yes, Ma'am, just five minutes ago.
Transfer me to the main gate! The desperation in
Sam's voice was unmistakeable.
The guard didn't even bother to reply. Sam simply heard a click, then the ringing of another phone in her ear. Her heart was pounding so louldy that she was personally amazed that she could hear anything at all.
Then someone answered the ringing phone.
Sam didn't let the man finish his greeting.
Colonel Carter! Don't let General O'Neill leave the
There was a pause on the other end of the line, then
Sergeant Tilet said,
I was just about to clear him in another
moment. Is there something wrong?
Sam was so agitated, she couldn't see at this point.
has a concealed weapon under his front seat! Just don't let him
leave with a weapon! Thoughts of suicide attempts were again
coloring her mind. They were so vivid now that she could see
little more than the color red behind her closed eyelids. Her
heart continued to pound in her ear so that it was difficult to
hear what was goingd on over the phone.
It turned out to be hard, but not impossible to hear. There was another pause, and a muffled sound of talking as the Sergeant covered the handpiece to convey her orders to his fellow guards when she clearly heard Jack's voice over the line.
What? he barked.
There was more murmuring, then a very aggravated voice
Give me that! Before she knew it, Sam was talking
to the man she was trying to detain.
Carter! Jack growled into the phone, his voice low
You better have a damn good reason for this!
I ain't stickig around for you to... There was no doubt
about it: he was pissed.
Yet, Sam's heart gave an annoying leap even as she
interrupted his tirade.
You have to stay so that I can
Jack cut her off.
You're damn right you'll explain!
This has got to be one of the most
I'm sorry, Jack! Sam was crying again, her sobs
sounding loud over the line, even when she tried to stifle the
But I don't want you you to...
Jack's voice was now more even as he took in her crying, but
his personal irritation level remained the same.
in the Infirmary?
Sam gave a small grin, even in the face of his obvious
I can't go anywhere else right now.
Then don't move, Jack ordered in clipped tones.
I'll be down in a minute when you will tell me
everything that's going on!
Yes, Sir, Sam said as relief flooded through her
body. Her smile was much more genuine.
I'll see you
soon. Her heart now thudded in an early sense of Thank God!
Sam hung up the phone, then looked around her bed, but the
medical staff was not in ear shot again. She hastily brushed at
the water trails on her cheeks, then buried her head in her
pillow. ThankGodthankGod! repeated like a mantra through
The soothing sound of those words and her subsequant relief
ended the second that Jack entered the Infirmary. She didn't
even have to look up when he came through the door. She felt the
energy blazing off him as his angry eyes shot sparks at the staff
members who approached him. Heedless of the way his glowering
caused the medical staff members to shrink out of his way, he
stormed over to Sam's bed, and yanked the green curtains around
her corner of the Infirmary. His glare didn't decrease as he
tried to calm himself by placing his hands flat on the cooling
sheets of her bed. Quietly he ground through clenched teeth,
Make it good!
Sam shut her eyes with a sigh. He's still alive! were the words that inappropriately shot through her mind. She swallowed, then stared at his furious face with a beseeching look on hers. She held one finger to her lips to indicate the need for absolute silence in what she was about to tell him.
But Jack was far from silent.
Colonel! he warned.
Sam surprised him into quiet when she raised herself up as
far as her stitches would allow her to go, until she practically
touched his ear with her lips. She placed her hand over those
lips to keep him from blurting anything out, then whispered so
softly that it was almost as if she didn't say anything at all,
I'm undercover, Sir. That's why I couldn't say 'yes' when you
asked me to marry you just now, even if I want to.
Jack reared back, an astonished expression now peppering his
What? he barked in spite of her quieting
Sam pressed harder on his lips, not taking the time to realize what part of him she was touching. She put one finger to her own lips again to indicate this second need for silence, then looked around for something to write on. Her eyes lit as her gaze landed on the notebook that Daniel had been doing translations in. She grabbed the red notebook and flipped to a clean page where she began writing her explanation of recent events.
* * *
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