Disclaimer: All publicly recognized characters are the property of MGM, World Gekko Corporation, and Double Secret Productions. This is a work of fanfiction for the express enjoyment of other fans, and no money was made from this work. Any previously unrecognized characters or mistakes that occur in this story are the fault of the author, and do not intend to infringe on the copyrights belonging to anyone...

Eh! BOOOORING! Let's spice this up a bit...

'Here me...'

Own them I don't,

Change them I won't... (at least, not permanently)

Made no money

But that would be funny

If I did, 'cause then I would still

Be just a poor writer. Until

such time as this story you enjoy

Please look on it not as a toy

But as a diversion, or as amusement.

If not that, then surely in bemusement

Of words like 'UST,' and 'cannon,' and 'plot,'

Fic vocab words seem to be my lot!

So praise it if you feel it's due

But just send feedback... Don't sue!

A/N This is the fifth, and hopefully last, part in 'The Marriage Series.' (Nope, never got a better title for the series as whole.)(Fifth story? Does that make this series of stories a 'quintology,' then? Is there such a thing as a 'quintology?' Is that even a word? Just wondering.)

A/N 2 Title explanation... That's 'Bites,' as in 'it hurts!' Not 'Bytes' as in tiny chunks of daily life put on display for all to see, like 'sound bytes' are tiny bits of sound on a computer... though that definition of 'Bytes' (tiny chinks of daily life) would probably work in this instance, too. But 'Bites' as in 'Hurts!' packs so much more of a punch!

Reality Bites

by Linda Bindner

Hey, Carter, wait up!

Colonel Jack O'Neill hurried up to walk beside Major Sam Carter as she stepped down the SGC corridor. She glanced over at him as he caught up with her, and she instantly smiled, changed the vest she was carrying to her left hand, then linked her right fingers to his left hand.

There was very little that he liked better than to be allowed to illustrate this simple show of affection to this woman he had married, and whom he loved more than his own life. Though it had been several months since their strange... odd... weird... highly unusual... marriage on the planet Tolera, he still had trouble fully believing his good luck. In reaction to his trouble of faith, he squeezed her hand in his, and grinned at her.

And in the time following the wedding-that-hadn't-been-a-typical-wedding, Sam had admitted that the touch of Jack's hand had become as imperative to her as breathing. Hi! she said with an exuberant voice, still smiling at him.

Jack grinned back at her without even having to think about the action. But it was obvious that he relished her touch as much as she enjoyed his. Hi, yourself, he greeted her. What's with the vest?

Sam's attention swiveled down to the black vest in her other hand. Oh, she said, as if she had forgotten she was carrying it, and only remembered at his question. Honestly! she berated herself: she was as unconscious of the world at large when Jack was around as Daniel was when he had a particularly intriguing academic puzzle before him. It's nothing, she answered as she shook off her natural daze. Just an experiment.

For what? Jack asked, his curiosity aroused whenever he heard of an experiment that in some way involved his wife. He couldn't help caring about anything she was part of.

Sam shrugged good naturedly, then explained, Oh, you know the bullet proofing inserts we all wear in our vests when we go off-world on missions? The ones that are still half experimental themselves?

Yeah? Jack prodded, wondering where all this information was going, but willing to wait for it to be explained to him at the same time. His level of patience had increased, and his mood had improved when he had married Sam. Like the other SGC personnel, he wasn't willing to kick a gift horse in the mouth about it.

Sam went on, Well, this vest is like those, only it has even thicker inserts in it, but we're not sure if the extra weight of those inserts will offset the extra protection they automatically give...

So.., Jack added, This is a prototype of sorts, one that still needs to be tested on human experimental machines...

Sam shrugged again. Yeah, something like that.

How did you choose the guinea pig for your 'tests' this time? Jack asked, in equal good nature. And who is the sucker? Please tell me it's not me this time! Jack pleaded under his breath, referring to the new, 'improved' MREs he'd been asked to sample one day in the science labs. She'd been the one to ask him, and that was why he'd agreed to the 'test,' but it took him an entire day to get the taste of all the garlic they'd used as a preservative out of his mouth! So, he was less than thrilled to hear that another test subject was necessary for this particular prototype.

Sam tightened her linked hand on his for a second. I suggested that the names of all the SG team leaders be included in the 'hat' that we pooled the names in for this test... After all, this vest is reinforced with some excellent lifesaving measures... But someone else on the science team suggested that we also include Janet's name, and hers was the name that was drawn out of the 'hat.' Now, I'm heading to the Infirmary to give the vest to her, and to explain about the weight offsetting the protection thing. But, who knows how long it will take for her to wear this in an off world mission... It's not like she goes off world as often as we do. She sent him a sardonic look.

Jack caught her expression, and added, So you don't know when you'll get any results regarding this new and improved vest until...

I know, Sam sadly said. It could be the newest thing in lifesaving techniques, and it could save your life, in particular, but since Janet was the chosen guinea pig this time... Not to say that Janet's life is worth any less than anyone's is...

Ah, Jack said in full comprehension. I see.

I don't think you do, Sam told him, her voice dark. If you're not wearing this vest because of some dumb experiment, and you could be wearing it if I'd only insisted enough, and something happens to you, and you die...

I'm not gonna die, scoffed Jack, a bit of sarcasm coloring his own tone now. He was highly aware of the very real fear that Sam harbored in her mind that someday he might die at a time when she could do nothing to prevent it, just like her mother had died when she was a teenager. Sam wasn't likely to be able to live through such a tragedy a second time. Or more accurately, would surely not want to live through it. Jack was quite aware of this situation, as she had whispered about these fears to him one night about mid way through the months since their wedding, and he had reassured her that his untimely death was not likely to happen.

But fear was an unreasonable thing. He hadn't been able to talk Sam out of her fear, and it had, in fact, kept her distant from him for several days after their unexpected marriage. When she had admitted that, without this irrational fear of hers, she would have fallen into his arms much sooner than she actually had, he had secretly mourned the lost days as if her fear had been a pesticide that had caused the flower of his heart to wilt over time, no matter how he'd nourished it. But, he would never do any more than he initially had in reaction to her fears... which was, outwardly, nothing. He didn't want to encourage her worries that caring for him might someday come back and bite her in the butt. He did reassure her over and over again that her fear would never have a basis in their shared reality, and they had simply gone on from there.

Now, he scoffed at her fears in hopes that she would be encouraged not to give them any credibility. Yet, a tiny spark of that original terror remained alive to darken her tone; he could see it in her eyes for just the briefest of seconds. I hope you never die, Sam said. At least, not until we're both old and gray...

I'm already gray, Jack pointed out in an attempt to distract her.

Successfully distracted, Sam couldn't help but laugh at his humor, which pushed her concerns aside, as he had hoped it would. I know, she exclaimed, And boy, does it look good on you!

Jack smirked, but felt his pleasure at her unanticipated compliment shoot straight to his heart. He grinned at her, and sighed in contentment. Anything else new going on? he asked then, changing the subject to a much safer one.

Sam considered for a moment. Oh, Mark called after you went in to the SGC yesterday. Jack had been pulled from a nice breakfast that Sam had actually prepared herself to attend an unscheduled team leaders' meeting, and Sam had remained at home for an hour longer, talking to her brother on the phone, apparently. Now she went on, He said that he'd had plans to ask me to show some guy friend of his around Colorado Springs next month, but since I'm married now... You know, Mark has some strange concepts about speaking to members of the opposite sex after a marriage.

Maybe Mark has the right idea, though, Jack was forced to diplomatically point out. I can't say that I want you gallivanting around on your time off with some guy you don't know...

Sam grinned. You mean, with some guy you don't know... Jealous?

Who? Me? Jack asked, then relented, Well, maybe a little...

Sam giggled, glad that she had pegged the emotion in him so quickly. Well, there's no reason to be, because Mark already told this friend of his that I'm unavailable now...

Damn straight you are, Jack muttered under his breath. Then, louder, he asked, Wanna get some lunch with me in the Commissary?

Sam knew that his seemingly random suggestion was in fact his way of telling her about his own feelings for her without saying a word. She had always been adept at deciphering his real intentions, almost as if she could read his mind during the years before their marriage. But ever since then, her 'mind reading' had reached such a level that they almost didn't have to speak at all anymore. It was eery. Sure, she replied anyway. After...

After you see Janet, Jack said. Wonder if she wants to join us?

I'll ask her, Sam proposed, and they continued on down the corridor in companionable silence, but both still grinning so wide that every person they met in the corridor wondered what they had just been up to.

* * *

Janet Fraiser saw them enter the Infirmary together, Sam lugging what looked like a vest in one hand, and her other firmly attached to the Colonel's fingers. They were both smiling so widely that either one or the other had just told a joke of huge proportions, or they were just so happy being together that Janet's natural sense of envy instantly rose a notch at just the sight of them. She reminded herself that this closeness of theirs was what she had suspected would happen if they ever managed to 'get together,' and she swallowed the ill will she was feeling that remained as bile in her stomach as they approached.

Janet! Sam called, her smile still in evidence. She offered the vest when Janet drew near. I have news for you; You're our latest guinea pig!

I'm a what? Janet asked as she clutched her clipboard in her left hand, and held her right out to tentatively take the vest from the Major.

O'Neill chuckled. You're a guinea pig, a human test subject, you lucky dog!

Janet held the black vest in her hand, and slowly swiveled it around so she could look at the entire piece of protective clothing. What's the big deal about this, and why me?

Sam answered this time. It's got thickened protective plates included in it, but we want you to wear it in the field, and tell us if the plates are worth the weight they add. And your name was drawn out of 'hat...' that's how you were chosen. No favoritism here, just good old fashioned luck!

Uh-huh, Janet said in some hesitation. All I have to do is wear it? she ascertained.

And tell me what your opinion is about its weight, Sam added. That's all.

Nothing like those 'improved' MREs this time, Doc, the Colonel said.

Janet grinned at the memory. Well, that's good! she enthused. The Infirmary stunk for days after you came in with that indigestion you had after sampling those rations...

Don't remind me! the Colonel exclaimed, wrinkling his nose.

I still don't like garlic, to this day! Janet told them. Cassie has to order her pizza from The Pizza House, now, rather than Leo's Pizzeria... They use a lot less garlic, and I can stand to eat it!

Poor Cassie! Sam said, giving them all the impression that she wasn't feeling too sorry for the 'food-challenged' seventeen-year-old.

Hey, we're going to look at more colleges this weekend, Janet told Sam as she crossed to her office, and deposited the vest in the corner by the filing cabinets. No Chess this Saturday.

That's all right, Sam agreeably said as she followed her friend into her office. Jack and I were thinking about furniture shopping this weekend, anyway. Saturday might have been out for Chess with Cassie when all was said and done.

Janet peered at them as she straightened up. Furniture shopping? she asked with a pointed look at Sam. Is there something that this doctor ought to know about?

She's referring to Sam getting pregnant, Jack instantly thought, and he put an arm around Sam's shoulders, delighted at the idea, even as he responded in the negative to the doctor's question. No, and don't go putting any ideas into her head, either, he ordered. This shopping spree is just looking around for a new bed.

Finally! Sam added. If I fall off Jack's bed one more time... Instead of finishing her statement, she pulled up her BDU sleeve, and displayed the bruise on her elbow to Janet.

Janet winced. That looks painful. Want something for it?

Sam shook her head, and let her arm drop back to her side. It looks worse than it is, she said instead of answering her friend.

Janet grinned then. Maybe you should invest in a new carpet instead of a bigger mattress, she suggested.

That's what I said, Jack quickly agreed. Then his smile slipped. But Sam pointed out that we might use a carpet to...

He didn't finish his comment, thank goodness! I get the picture! Janet cut him off. More than I need to know, I think!

Jack grinned again, enjoying the doctor's discomfort. It wasn't often that he was able to unbalance Doc Fraiser! No worries, Doc! he said then. I'll keep my mouth shut... promise!

The jab that Sam gave to his rib region might have had something to do with his agreeable behavior. Janet tried to change the subject before anybody overheard this embarrassing conversation. Hey, have you guys heard about the film crew that's coming in next Monday?

Something about wanting to do a documentary on the SGC, Sam said.

Jack forcefully added, Well, I'm not gonna be one of their pleasant little interviewees!

Sam turned to him, and protested, Oh, it won't be that bad!

Jack snorted. You go right ahead and cooperate all you want, but they won't get me to talk!

Janet grinned wickedly then. Colonel, maybe you should tell them all about those gory battles you've been in... You know, paint a picture of the other side of military life, she suggested.

Jack laughed. Don't tempt me! I might just do that!

Don't give him any ideas! Sam repeated her husband's earlier phrase, chuckling as well. That's probably not what they're looking for if this is gonna end up being a promotional video.

Who said anything about a promo? Jack asked. I thought this was on the SGC?

Sam answered him. And what better promo can they film for the Air Force than one about a top secret program? she rhetorically asked.

That's a good point, Jack conceded anyway. Then, he regarded Janet again. Hey, Doc, we were just on our way to lunch... Wanna come along?

Sorry... Can't.., said Janet. Got reports that I need to finish...

You actually write those on time? asked an astounded Jack. I always wait till the last minute...

Sam rolled her eyes. And it shows! she finished for him.

Hey! Jack exclaimed in mock indignation.

Janet said then, Well, see you guys later.

Later! both Sam and Jack simultaneously said. Then, hands linked again, they headed together out of the Infirmary.

Weird, Janet thought of the couple's propensity to think alike. It had been an unexpected effect of their married status. She tried again not to feel too much resentment as she returned to her Infirmary rounds.

* * *

It turned out that the documentary film crew's visit to base was postponed until the following month because a member of the film crew's wife had a baby, and he was off on family leave. The postponement wasn't exactly a hardship according to Colonel O'Neill. Daniel and Teal'c were discussing the delay while waiting for Jack and Sam to arrive in the 'Gate Room prior to their next mission to PRC-989.

Hey, Jack, we know about your opinion of the film crew that's coming in, Daniel loudly declared. You must have shared it with half the base by now. Jack shot a look of annoyance straight at his team mate, who only smiled. Daniel continued, asking, We were wondering what Sam thinks about it?

Sam's brows rose in surprise. I plan to cooperate in whatever way I can.

Jack turned to Sam to respond, You're too nice if you plan to cooperate with them, but I already know that you're too nice.

General Hammond, who was standing at the bottom of the ramp to see his team off on their mission, sighed. At least some of you are going to cooperate, he groused.

Jack grinned at him. You won't catch me on film for anything.

Daniel rolled his eyes. Yes, we know.

Sam giggled... something that she had taken to doing in the two and a half months since her marriage, and smiled at the General. Maybe you should give him a direct order, Sir, she suggested.

Hey! Jack intervened, and mock glared at Sam. Who's side are you on, anyway?

Sam grinned even more. Yours, of course. Then, she paused, and added, Within reason.

Hammond grimaced. Colonel O'Neill's attitude about this documentary is more widespread than makes it easy for me to find subjects for the crew to interview. Jack may not be the only one I have to order to cooperate, he divulged.

Well, good luck, Daniel said with a baleful stare at Jack.

I'm supposed to be the one saying that to you, Hammond noted as the Stargate engaged over the ramp.

They all ignored the spectacle, having seen it so many times before that it had lost much of its stop-everything-and-look magic. Instead, Jack smirked at the group of people surrounding him. I thought this mission was a typical meet and greet? he asked. We're not supposed to need luck.

Daniel's eyes swiveled to the side again. Those always end up as turning out to be the worst missions, he whispered to Teal'c. The Jaffa nodded, but refrained from saying anything, even though he agreed with his friend, as he had vocalized on many occasions.

Jack pulled down the bill of his cap in a businesslike manner, then faced the ramp and the open 'Gate. Well, we're off. Wish us luck. He skeptically eyed Daniel. We may need it.

It was obvious that he had heard Daniel's comment, anyway. Not for the first time, Daniel wondered if their team leader had super hearing, or something.

Daniel frowned, but followed his friends up the ramp, and through the 'Gate.

* * *

Two hours later, they had a promise of a trade agreement with the natives of PRC-989. Two hours after that, they were back at the SGC, briefing General Hammond about the planet and the Minerans... or the indigenous people of PRC-989, or the 'people of the naked feet,' as Colonel O'Neill called them, because of the sandals they preferred to wear all year round, even in the winter, and on rocky terrain better suited to combat boots than sandals.

Two hours after the briefing that followed the mission, Jack was in his truck, parked in his own driveway, contemplating his front door as he also considered his options for supper. It had been an easy mission that SG-1 had gone on that day, in spite of the evidence that supported the contrary opinion of 'meet and greets,' but Jack found that he was exhausted in spite of it all. He'd been up late the last three nights, and the lateness of his hours was starting to catch up with him. Even he had to smile, however, when he thought about just what had kept him up so late the previous nights.

He sighed in relaxed comfort at the thought of fixing a supper of chicken... Or should he make pork? Or should he and Carter order out? And if they did, what should they order? Chinese..? Mexican..? Pizza..?

Such pleasant thoughts were filling his mind as he trudged to his front door, his house keys jangling from his fingertips. He only had an hour and a half while Carter was finishing up loose ends in her lab to decide what to fix, and either make something or order out for the umpteenth time this month. A sudden noise from his neighbor's yard distracted him from the lock on his front door. He paused at the door, and glanced over the hedge connecting his yard with his neighbor's, the Kerlins, and caught sight of Daniel running to catch a bright yellow tennis ball in his hands.

Jack suddenly blanched as he recalled his promise to the Kerlins that he would baby-sit while Rebecca Kerlin went grocery shopping, and to Daniel, who he'd promised an hour to hear all about his arguments concerning their next mission, which was to take place the following day.

Thus, he was turned slightly away from the front door, and that simple move probably saved his life in the next second. He had an image of Daniel and the neighbor boy, Ryan, kneeling down and digging through the dividing hedge between the two properties... They must have lost the tennis ball, and finding lost things was not one of Daniel's strongest talents, in spite of him being an archaeologist...

Suddenly, a pillowcase was viciously thrust over Jack's head, and the sharp pain of a fist plummeted into his stomach. The blow doubled him over, and stole his breath away just long enough to incapacitate him so that he couldn't retaliate when he was forcefully shoved into his front door from behind. If he'd been facing the door with his keys in the lock at the time, he surely would have acquired a broken nose at the very least... at the very worst, a broken neck... As it was, the broken nose came a second later when he felt the sting of something blunt and heavy... A board? A baseball bat?... strike the side of his cheek. O'Neill had been trained to fight against unseen opponents, and he definitely had to contend with more than just one rival at this point. But he couldn't find any of their body parts to connect his jabbing fist to. He felt a foot club him in the stomach at the same time a fist plowed into the other side of his head, and the last thought that ran through his mind was that thank God Carter had taken her own car on that one day so that she could stay late working in her lab as he lost consciousness right there on his front doorstep. At least his final thought had been about his wife, and the regret that now it was unlikely that he would have any kind of supper ready for her when she got home.

* * *

Thirty minutes after that, the Infirmary sprang to life the minute the gurney holding Colonel O'Neill's unmoving body strapped to it entered the facility. Doctor Fraiser was busily involved in a goodbye-see-you-tomorrow conversation with her friend, Sam Carter, and had opted to remain behind at the base to watch their current three patients, and to talk to Sam, when the patient, his gurney, and a plethora of medical technicians (all from the one emergency vehicle they kept on base) came barreling into the Infirmary. She heard her name called as soon as the technicians had cleared the door, and she hurried over, pushing past a stunned Daniel Jackson in her haste.

Daniel? Sam called in bewilderment as she exited Janet's office at a much more sedate pace than her friend had seconds before. What are you doing here? Aren't you the wrong kind of doctor for a medical emergency? she joked.

But Daniel was not in the mood to swap teasing remark's with his team mate. He turned a white face in her direction, and started babbling immediately. Oh God, Sam, I'm so sorry, I saw the whole thing, I wanted to stop them, but there wasn't anything I could do except hide and stay out of their way until they left. I called the ambulance the minute they drove away from the house across the street, and...

Sam stared in puzzlement at her friend. Daniel, slow down, she instructed, her sense of confusion growing by the minute. Finally, she looked just beyond Daniel, and was able to sneak a peak as to the patient's identity through a gap left by two of the medical technicians working furiously at the injured patient's bedside. Rather than see who the patient was, she caught a glimpse of a yellow shirt.

Before she could question Daniel about his strange speech, before she could comprehend what was going on right in front of her, she thought I know that yellow shirt, and that's when she realized she was staring at the battered form of her husband being hefted to an Infirmary bed at that instant.

God... Jack! she called in tones of overwhelming concern mixed with dawning terror, utter astonishment, and pure horror. Her stomach roiled dangerously at just the inkling of her new knowledge. She had just started moving towards him when she felt a strong hand wrapped around one of her wrists, holding her in place.

Sam turned back to find that Daniel had snagged one of her wrists, and was keeping her back by the door so that Janet and her medical technicians could do the jobs they had been trained to do. Sam was just turning back around again, her horror steadily building, understanding that her friend intended to hold her near the door, when General Hammond bustled quickly through that opening.

What happened? he barked, concern etched into his drawn Texan features.

Daniel blew out a breath of air, then said, Well, that could take a bit of explaining, General.

Hammond instantly took command of the proceedings out of long standing habit. Then we better go to the Briefing Room, people, and let Doctor Fraiser do her thing without our interfering questions.

But, General.., Sam instantly started to protest. He cut her off.

I understand that you want to be at the Colonel's side, Major, but it appears to me that he's in good hands at the moment. We'll just be in the way. And after that announcement, he led them into the corridor, and Daniel didn't give Sam a chance to resist as he dragged her along with him.

* * *

Teal'c was already awaiting their arrival in the Briefing Room, and they crowded near the Jaffa at the oval table. General Hammond slipped into his usual seat at the head of any group gathering in the meeting room. Sam collapsed into the chair that Daniel had pulled out for her, and he sat to her immediate right as she buried her head on her crossed arms to a rest on the tabletop. Teal'c even looked ruffled as he sat on the other side of their superior officer's chair at the head of the table. The Texan squirmed in the leather chair he had chosen, and took his time about getting comfortable before ordering, Alright, tell me why my second in command is currently lying at death's door in the Infirmary. He turned to regard Daniel. Am I right, or am I wrong in recalling that SG-1 just came back from a fairly innocuous mission this afternoon, and he didn't have a scratch on him when he left the mountain. He looked in puzzlement at his subordinates. What happened? he repeated.

Daniel blew out his breath of air again, gaining everyone's attention without saying a word, then shocked them all when he opened his mouth and claimed, I saw everything, General. I was right there and watched it happening.

Sam swung her gaze back up towards her friend. Daniel? she croaked again, her tone sounding much more strained now than it had earlier in the Infirmary. It was obvious by her tight voice that she was right on the edge of hurtling up from the table and throwing herself into the corridor, where she would undoubtedly run for the Infirmary at the smallest of nudges.

Daniel looked grim now. I'm so sorry, Sam, but there wasn't anything that I could do. There were four of them, and they each had a blunt weapon of some kind, and I didn't have anything, and if I wanted to call for help the second they left, I...

General Hammond again interrupted the story to gently prod, Why don't you tell us about it all from the beginning, Son?

Daniel sighed, squirmed in his chair, linked his fingers, then stared at the maroon wood, unblinking. All right, he said in a monotone. I heard that Jack had already left the mountain for home, and I really wanted to talk to him about the pattern that we had decided to visit the ruins in on our next mission...

What's wrong with the planned order of your visits? Hammond asked in a quiet voice.

Daniel continued as if he hadn't been interrupted. Because this is a civilization of Ancients that we're visiting on PRH-193, and the Ancients are the race that built the 'Gate System, and we have to figure that they themselves figured out how to build the 'Gates over time, and they had to have started building their own 'Gate at a later time, and the second set of ruins must have sprung up while they were doing that building, which makes the farthest set of ruins the actual first one built and the one we should visit first, as that site's most likely older than the one that's closer to the 'Gate, so...

Hammond then nodded in understanding. Okay. Go on.

Anyway, Daniel continued. I wanted to talk to Jack, but I found out he'd already gone home...

Why did you not call him on your cell phone, DanielJackson? Teal'c next inquired.

Daniel sighed at all the natural interruptions as his friends asked their questions. Because I had pictures to show him of some of the markings that I had been studying that SG-9 took the other day, that prompted our return visit that's scheduled for tomorrow, and I wanted to show them to him to help convince him that I'm not off my rocker... it really does matter which order we visit those ruins in, and...

Okay, Hammond gently prodded him again, knowing how Daniel could easily get sidetracked when he was speaking. What happened next?

Daniel blew another sigh. Um... I drove to his house, but I had beat him there...

I'd asked him to stop off at a convenience store for some milk, Sam remarked then in a small, still horrified voice. Or he was going to have to eat dry Froot Loops tomorrow morning for breakfast.

Daniel went on as if she hadn't even said anything. And then, some lady met me in the yard just as I had finished banging on your door, Sam, saying something about Jack promising to watch her eight-year-old son while she went to the grocery store, and she really had to go right away, even though Jack wasn't home yet...

That must have been Rebecca Kerlin, Sam sighed as she told them. Her voice was still quiet, and she had to swallow several times before she could even talk. Jack did promise to baby-sit, as he knows what taking a kid to the grocery store can be like. He said that if he could save that poor woman a trial or two by throwing around a ball in the yard for an hour or so, he'd do it. Sam shook her head, and her fingers still trembled as she spread them on the table before her. I don't think she would have anything to do with something like assault...

She didn't, Daniel said in a flat, monotone voice. She wasn't even there at the time. Then, he gathered himself together, and went on. Anyway, I promised to do the baby-sitting, as I had to wait for Jack to show up anyway, and Ryan and I were out in the front yard, throwing around this tennis ball he found in his garage, and I had just missed one of his throws, and he was helping me look for the ball, both of us kneeling down near the hedge between the two properties, looking, and that was when I saw two guys sort of sneak out from the side of Sam and Jack's house, where they must have been hiding, and two more guys came from the other direction, and they threw some kind of bag over Jack's head, and they had baseball bats, and pipes, and... Daniel looked positively green as he stated, They hit him with their feet, and whatever weapon they had... He tried to fight back, to reach behind him...

Sam looked down at the smooth finish of the table as she told them, He always carries his own personal pistol in a waist holster when he goes anywhere, because... 'you never know,' he says.

Daniel wasn't ignorant of what Jack had been trying to do, and in this case, and though on principle he was against carrying a concealed weapon at most times, he was also glad that his friend had been armed at this particular time. Though, he conceded to himself, it hadn't helped Jack in the end. He put up quite a struggle, but what can one person do against four opponents that he couldn't even see? He never even managed to get his arms all the way behind him to grab the pistol. I was so scared, I was shaking... I was sure they would find me, and that I'd be next...

And? Hammond asked as Sam gave up on trying to remain calm by gazing at the empty tabletop, and finally grew completely white once more. She was now heaving for air.

Daniel went on. Then, when Jack finally fell on the ground, and the... thing... over his head was covered in blood, they ran up the driveway, jumped into a car parked across the street, and sped off. I remember that the car left the most horrid smell in the air... That car leaks gas, I think... I called the base for the ambulance as soon as they left, but... Daniel finally blinked, and it was as if he recalled exactly where he was, and who he was with, for he next said, I did what I could to stop the bleeding, and Ryan ran to his house to get ice out of his freezer, but we couldn't stop the swelling that had already started to set in...

Did you see who the perpetrators were? Hammond next asked in his most gently cajoling voice. I know that this is difficult for you, Dr. Jackson, but it's important...

No, it's all right, Daniel told them. He still kept his gaze trained to stare out the Briefing Room window at the Stargate, but managed to say, I saw it all. It was definitely Sergeants Trisket and Baker, Captain Hayes, and Colonel Trevors. He was the guy driving when they all left, so I assume he was the one in charge of all them...

Beside him, Sam moaned, and ground her teeth as she clearly fought off the effects of being sick.

Hammond heard her groan. You know something more about this, Major? he inquired.

Sam's head lifted so that she could catch it in her hands, where she supported her forehead and chin with her fingers. Yeah, she quietly confessed. I... She heaved a deep breath in, and blurted, I've been bothered by Colonel Trevors ever since the day he was assigned to the base, and I can only imagine that Jack must have said something to him this afternoon about leaving me the hell alone, and this is what came of that...

Hammond scowled. I had no idea you were having a problem of any kind with Trevors...

Sam stared at Hammond out of guilty, shock-filled eyes. I didn't want to bother you with what is really a personal matter, Sir, she tried to explain. I thought I could handle... She paused in her speech, and slapped a hand over her mouth. Then, pale as a new sheet, she ran out of the Briefing Room, down the hall to the nearest bathroom, and proceeded to relieve herself of everything she had eaten the entire day. All of it, the sulk she had drunk on the planet, the blue Jell-O she had consumed at lunch, the fried taco salad she had eaten in the Commissary during that lunch, all spewed forth and landed in the toilet until she was left gagging on air, and feeling shaky, but empty five minutes later. She washed out her mouth at the sink, then slunk back into the Briefing Room in time to catch Teal'c saying, I will tear them all apart if I catch them.., when Hammond once again stopped him.

No, this has obviously gone beyond a team level, and is now part of the highest base command. He turned to Sam as she slowly regained her seat, and said, Major, as hard as this is for you to hear right now, I need a written report of every incident you can remember happening over the last two weeks, since Colonel Trevors first transferred to Stargate Command, and...

Hammond was stopped as the phone in his office rang. He creakily climbed to his feet, as if it was an effort to move, and walked into his office, where all the gathered members of SG-1 could see him talking on his black phone, nodding every now and then, and finally hanging up the receiver to return to them in the next room. That was Sergeant Harriman, calling from the Control Room to tell me that he'd just heard the news about Colonel O'Neill, and that made him think of the confrontation he'd heard and between Jack and Colonel Trevors, and then he thought to mention a conversation he had overheard several weeks ago between Captain Hayes, and Colonel Trevors about a time you had been fixing the 'Gate, Major. He said that you then left the Control Room with Colonel O'Neill after the 'Gate Dialing Program was fixed, both of you going past Captain Hayes, standing on the stairs with Colonel Trevors... He blushed. Well, I don't need to repeat what Walter overheard Trevors and Hayes saying to each other while he was getting a cup of coffee that afternoon. Let's just say that it was highly suggestive, rather lewd, personal, and that it was definite harassment, especially considering it was coming from a superior officer...

Colonel Trevors started bothering me right after that, Sir, Sam managed to say. And I'm sorry that I didn't report the incidents, but I did tell Jack about all of them right away, and he suggested that I don't bother you with something so minor, and that he would take care of it with his intimidating Colonel act, and...

He took care of it, all right, Hammond bit off. He's down in the Infirmary because of all this...

Sam cut off his tirade as she said, I'm so sorry we didn't say anything before now, Sir, but we never thought things would get this out of hand. Had we known, we wouldn't have hesitated to...

All right, Hammond said. But next time you're harassed like this, no matter who commits the acts, I order you to follow policy, and tell me about it, no matter how small the incident seems.

Sam was just going to agree with his order when Daniel spoke up again, What are you going to do now, General?

Hammond tapped the table top with the fingernails of his right hand as he thoughtfully said, Those soldiers voluntarily assaulted a superior officer, or one of equal rank, at the very least. The punishment for such an action is as clear-cut as you can get. And now that I know what's been going on, and he shot a glance at Sam, then continued, I don't see any choice but to detain all of them for a court-martial that'll probably send them to Siberia if the men judging the trial are in a good mood that day. If not, those men will probably end up in jail. He grimly stared at his gathered team. I don't mind expressing my doubts that that's probably where they should be. He glanced again at the three members of SG-1 seated at the table, his expression dour. I need to catch them before I can detain them... But that's a later concern. For now, go back to the Infirmary, people... Dismissed...

The three members of SG-1 shot out of their chairs, running full tilt down the corridors until they all skidded to a halt at the Infirmary door when they realized as one that Colonel O'Neill was not among the patients in the room. But then, the bed that he had been hoisted onto when they'd first wheeled him into the corner of the Infirmary that they knew already as his was missing as well.

Sam stopped a nurse hurrying out the door, inquiring, Where's Colonel O'Neill?

The nurse took them all in at a fast glance, then gestured them back into the corridor they had just come from. She glanced at them again, then conceded that a wife had the need to know where her patient was at the moment. She told them, He's been taken to surgery after x-ray indicated internal bleeding when we simply wished to make sure that his left leg was broken in only one place. Doctor Fraiser's with him now... She looked puzzled. I'm on my way to assist her... Is there something you want me to tell..?

But Sam was already shaking her head back and forth. No, we don't want to disturb her. Not now... Her words were polite and her tone deferential, but the stressed pull of her features lent a seriousness to them that would be otherwise absent, and she kept twisting her wedding ring on her finger in a nervous gesture that told the gathered team members a different story than her words told. Usually, Sam was capable of remaining professionally detached, even in the most trying of circumstances. But now she was having trouble simply remaining on her feet.

The nurse's features twisted into a sympathetic look as she gazed at Sam. She took in the ring twisting action in one swift glance. I'll just tell the doctor that you're waiting here, then. She again took them all in with her next glance. But I warn you, it could be several hours before you hear any news...

Teal'c's voice rumbled, We will wait, even if surgery takes all day.

I second that idea, Daniel said right away.

Sam wasn't able to speak around the lump of fear clogging her throat. Internal bleeding? She nodded, and tried to smile her agreement with her team mates, but her gesture came off as a much more sallow substitute for her normal grin. There was no doubt in everyone's mind that she was so worried by now that it was a constant struggle for her just to say anything at this point.

The unknown nurse hurried down the hall towards the Infirmary's Operating Room, and the three members left of SG-1 slithered down into the seats and benches that had been provided as a waiting area for visitors to patients in the Infirmary. Sam let her head fall forward into her hands, cradling her forehead as she stared resolutely at the floor. She rocked in a comforting motion, but her usually light skin was now mottled and red, her expression anxious. She steepled her hands, and prepared to wait as long as it took for news to reach those gathered with her in the corridor.

No one said a word. After an hour passed, General Hammond joined them in their silent vigil in the corridor. Any word? he asked them, and they shook their heads, but chose not to say anything more. Really, what could they say in this kind of situation?

More hours passed. The odd airman incorporated himself into the group of waiting people, until there were about twenty gathered personnel in the corridor, all doing little but getting in each other's way as they waited. In the meantime, Teal'c paced, Daniel sighed, and Sam contemplated getting sick to her stomach again as the minutes continued to crawl by.

The unknown nurse had been correct in predicting that it would take several hours for anyone to come and tell them Jack's prognosis. But eventually, an exhausted Janet Fraiser slipped into the hallway, joined by her nursing staff. They all slowly pulled off surgery masks, and took the first relaxing breath they had managed since Colonel O'Neill had first been wheeled into the Infirmary that afternoon.

Sam deduced that Janet's relaxed posture was instead the posture of defeat, and her hand immediately rose to her mouth, and her face fell into distressed lines the second she was able to take in Janet's solemn expression. Oh, God, he's...

No, Janet interrupted her, looking emphatic now. He's alive, and he'll stay that way. He's in recovery right now. We managed to stop the internal bleeding, and treated his other injuries. But... She glanced around her at the group of people making up her audience, then went on in a more hesitant voice. He's very bruised, has lots of swelling... A broken nose... A dislocated right collar bone... Four cracked ribs... And those are just the obvious injuries. Janet sighed, resignation sounding in her voice. I won't lie to anybody... It's going to take him weeks, if not months, to recover from this attack. And his broken leg might very well leave him with a limp that could end his career in the Air Force. She looked at the floor, and quietly added, He'll live, like I said, but... I know Colonel O'Neill... He's a man of action... He'll live, but he may wish otherwise.

Sam sniffled as she pinched at the bridge of her nose. Crap.., she said, unaware of her use of an expletive in the presence of her Commanding General.

Hammond took that moment to inquire of the doctor, And there's nothing more that you can do for him?

Janet put a hand on Sam's arm, a gesture of support and sympathy. She heaved another sigh that sounded loud in the corridor, and shook her head in the direction of Hammond, though she was still facing Sam. She wearily said, I'm sorry, Sam. If there was only something more I could do, some way to heal...

Suddenly Sam stopped herself in mid sniffle, and her head jerked up, her tear streaks clearly visible in the unforgiving fluorescent lighting of the hallway. She muttered something incomprehensible under her breath.

Major? a concerned Hammond prompted. I'm not sure we...

Sam interrupted him by again saying something that came out as a guttural sound that no one understood.

Sam? Daniel hurried to her side, and patted her on her other arm that wasn't taken up by Janet's sympathetic gestures. Is there something you need? Was she cracking under the strain of this news about Jack, he secretly wondered, and sent a worried look in Teal'c's direction.

Sam forcibly took a deep breath that visibly helped her gather her faculties, and then stared intently at General Hammond. Sir, she clearly stated, though stating anything in the first place was obviously an effort for her. What had looked like distress at first was now seen as excitement coloring her face to a deeper shade of red than it already was. We have a Goa'uld healing device at our disposal...

Janet piped in to add, We keep it under constant supervision in the Infirmary.

Sam nodded, then was again reduced to mumbling, though this time her words were more intelligible. I can't believe I didn't think of this sooner.

You were a little preoccupied with worry, Daniel said, excusing Sam's apparent slowness.

But Sam didn't have time for platitudes. She only spared a glance at Daniel before her gaze returned to pierce desperately into Hammond. General, I need your authorization to retrieve and use the device...

Hammond frowned in growing puzzlement. Use it? he echoed, clearly confused.

Sam nodded, then gripped Janet's fingers a bit shakily with her own, her hand trembling with her intensity. She spoke to all of them, trying to explain, I can use it on Jack to...

Comprehension dawned on the gathered people as one. This time, Hammond didn't even let her finish. Go, you have my authorization, do whatever it takes... I want my second in command back...

Sam gave him a genuine smile, her first since the assault on her husband had occurred. Thank you, Sir.

Janet was already bustling Sam into the Infirmary. This way, Sam... It's right over here.

But two nurses had reached the locked drawer the device was contained in before Janet could touch it. They had already entered the proper code, and opened the drawer. Janet hadn't even managed to reach it, yet. However, the doctor lifted the round healing device into her hand while her subordinates pulled the small tray-like drawer from its place in the Infirmary wall.

Sam took the healing device from her friend, and practically sprinted to the recovery room next to the Infirmary. She was followed by General Hammond and her two team members. They all stared at Jack as they entered the room.

Jack was still asleep, lying unmoving on a bed with his broken leg hoisted into the air, an I.V. steadily dripping liquid though his arm into his system. Black and blue bruises already covered his exposed skin, and every area that they could see was swelled and discolored.

Geez.., Daniel whispered a dismayed comment the second they caught sight of the man lying in the Infirmary bed. I didn't realize he was in such bad shape...

But Sam easily ignored his comment, so focused was she on what she planned to do.

The minute Sam lifted her entire arm, healing device and all, over Jack's prone form, the device jumped to life, glowing a bright red, pulsating with the power that Sam felt rushing through her. She held her right arm extended over Jack, and it was as if his swelling disappeared as the device's reddish glow covered him.

Wow, Daniel flatly declared in astonishment as they all watched. That's amazing.

Teal'c added, I have never before seen you so successful with a Goa'uld device, MajorCarter.

The nurse set the tray onto Jack's bedside table as Sam continued to concentrate on Jack. Even General Hammond was impressed with how well the device worked now that Sam had thought to use it. It was as if Jack was restored to the manner in which everyone was used to seeing him with just a wave of Sam's hand. It was a slightly scary thing to watch, if they were honest with themselves. The idea that Sam could be so successful with Goa'uld technology was unsettling at best.

Sam had a vague thought shoot through her mind that this success she was having with the healing device would cause the old comments about her being a Goa'uld that had originally swept the base after the Jolinar incident to re-emerge, but that couldn't be helped now.

A few more moments passed, and then, as if by some hidden, internal signal that only she could read, Sam slowly withdrew her arm. The healing device ceased its glowing, and the group looked down on a sedately resting, but fully restored, Colonel O'Neill.

Janet was the first to pipe up this time. Wow, Sam, that was... I'll have to keep you around the Infirmary from now on.

But Sam was already shaking her head in Janet's direction. I think it works only through some kind of emotional connection of mine. We already know that the Goa'uld devices are activated through an intense emotional charge... I think that I have to be somehow emotionally involved with the person I'm trying to heal before this thing will work. As a demonstration of her theory, she walked over to another recovering patient lying on a second Infirmary bed, and held the device over his prostrate form just like she had held her arm over Jack. Nothing happened, though Sam's face screwed up in concentration showed her honest attempts to use the device a second time that day. But the device remained stubbornly dark and unfriendly looking despite Sam's best efforts. See? Sam asked after she had relaxed a moment later. I need that emotional connection.

So, Colonel O'Neill's the only one who will ever benefit from your use of this device? General Hammond inquired.

Sam shrugged. I might have some luck using it on Daniel and Teal'c, but I imagine that I'll get the best response when I use it on Jack.

Janet gave a wry grin. Well, the Colonel is certainly injured often enough... Even if you can only use it with him, Sam, it will be a big improvement over what we had before. His time spent recovering from wounds in the Infirmary should be cut in half.

Daniel grinned. I bet he'll be happy to hear that... If he ever wakes up. He cast a critical eye over Jack. How come he's still asleep?

Teal'c answered before Janet could respond, Even with the use of a healing device, he will need to sleep for quite some time before he awakens.

Kind of like he'll have to assimilate what the device did to him? Sam rephrased what Teal'c had said. At the Jaffa's nod, she added, Well, then, guess I'll be staying right here for awhile. She carefully replaced the healing device next to the ribbon device that was also a resident of the tray. She was just pulling a stool over to sit beside the head of Jack's bed, ready to settle in for a long stay, when suddenly Daniel gave a grunt, frantically pointed in her general direction, and stopped her in mid motion.

Daniel's eyes were wide and staring, and a hand had slapped to his forehead, as if he was giving the impression that he wanted to say, 'Duh!,' but couldn't vocalize the expletive just then.

Dr. Jackson? Hammond inquired. You just remembered something?

Daniel was hopping in place, he was trying so hard to tell them everything in his mind at once. Colonel Trevors..! he eventually managed to get out. He's a... He's a... He pointed desperately at the tray resting innocently on the table beside Jack's bed, specifically at the ribbon device.

Are you attempting to tell us that Colonel Trevors is a Goa'uld? Teal'c asked in mystified concern.

The relief that washed over Daniel's face at Teal'c's words was intense. Yes! he yelled, unconcerned with remaining quiet for the comfort of the patients currently recuperating in the recovery room. I just remembered... His eyes glowed! When all the men turned, just before driving off in their car...

Sam and General Hammond both looked faintly sick, and Teal'c appeared very concerned at the news. General Hammond regarded Daniel, and, still mystified, protested, But how could a Goa'uld make it so far through the ranks of the Air Force? I signed off on his transfer papers to the SGC myself. His previous posting had all the correct signatures, and...

Perhaps those signatures were forgeries, even if they are correct, Teal'c calmly suggested. He was much more complacent at the news of a Goa'uld infiltrator at the SGC than his companions seemed to be.

General Hammond looked down at the floor, too lost in thought to meet the Jaffa's gaze, now more pensive than sickened. You may be right, Teal'c... His voice trailed off as he continued to think. He turned to face Daniel. Are you sure of what you saw?

Daniel readily replied, I'm positive. I only forgot about it while there was so much going on. He pushed his glasses up to his determined gaze. I remember perfectly, now.

Okay... Hammond rested his hand next to Jack's feet on his bed as he considered what his next move should be. Before we can confront Trevors with what we know, I suppose what we need to do is determine where Colonel Trevors is likely to be right now.

Teal'c unwittingly solved the problem. A Goa'uld will certainly wish to be in the power center of the base.

The General's office? Sam suggested.

Daniel shook his head. The Control Room, he decisively said. The computers that activate the Stargate are there.

Teal'c quickly responded. Perhaps you are correct, DanielJackson.

Sam shrugged. That's as good as any place to start looking for him. She rose as if to join her friends on their first base wide Goa'uld hunt.

It was General Hammond who halted their enthusiastic retreat. Hold on... You can't just waltz into the Control Room, hoping that you'll find a Goa'uld present. That would be insane, he declared, piercing them with his intense gaze. This calls for a covert operation.

Janet grimaced. The General's right. We need a plan.

Quiet fell on the small group as each member tried fast to think of a plan, any plan, but hopefully one where they didn't get killed in its implementation.

Daniel slowly commented, All right... Maybe if we just think of what we now about Colonel Trevors...

Sam spoke up, The others soldiers who are always with him... He always seems to be hanging around them... Could they be his Jaffa?

Daniel responded, I don't think so. I only saw Trevors' eyes glow. Besides, Jaffa are marked with a pretty obvious sign.

As one, they all stared at Teal'c and his golden tattoo emblazoned on his forehead. Then they nodded in agreement.

Hammond continued, Anyway, that many forged transfer papers would never go unnoticed in such a secure facility as the SGC. I can understand one set of papers slipping through the cracks, but not four or five.

Janet asked, Okay, then, how do we get Trevors away from his entourage?

They all thought some more until Hammond again broke the silence. I can order Colonel Trevors home... or to see one of you. That should separate a dangerous enemy from his support group... or at the very least, it will get him on his own...

Daniel took up the plan from there. And Sam can meet him in the corridor... by the elevator. He was enjoying this planning session, if they could all judge by the expression of excitement on his face. Then, he went on, suggesting, She can keep him immobilized with the ribbon device from quite a ways away from him. He turned to Sam. Can you use a wrist device like that?

Sam seemed taken aback, and felt slightly sick at just the thought that she might have to use more Goa'uld technology, but she tried to answer as honestly as she could. Well, I guess so. She added, It's been a long time since I used a ribbon device... And I can't say that I'm too thrilled about using anything that's of Goa'uld design...

Daniel leaned towards her then. I'm certain that the power to use such a device is part of you... I mean, he questioned, looking in Janet's direction. It's in her blood, isn't it?

But it was Sam who rolled her eyes. Don't remind me.

Daniel ignored his team mate's cynicism to go on, You can do it, Sam. You just need to... He hesitated, fishing for the correct words. You only need to access the right emotional connection. As a final incentive, he added, You won't need to distract him for long. Only until Teal'c and I can immobilize him.

Janet inquired, And how do you plan to do that?

Once more, silence descended on the group. We can hide, Daniel finally suggested. Hide, with Zat guns, and shoot him the moment...

Teal'c was busy negating such a plan before Daniel had even vocalized it. MajorCarter would need to release him from the power of the ribbon device first in order for a blast from a Zat gun to have any effect.

Sam asked, And what if he has a personal shield?

Daniel wrinkled his nose. Don't throwing knives penetrate personal shield technology?

Sam considered his question, then shrugged, and nodded. Yeah, but isn't it a bit dangerous to count on something like throwing knives in this kind of dangerous situation?

Daniel turned to her. Have you got a better idea?

Sam had to admit that she didn't.

Daniel went on, If Teal'c and I turn Zat guns on him immediately, the instant Sam releases him from the ribbon device's hold on him, we should be able to come at him from both sides of the corridor near the elevator, and have a better chance of immobilizing him, then.

Hammond questioned, But do we want to just immobilize him? The others regarded him. This is a Goa'uld, after all, if Doctor Jackson is correct. He's from a race that's as bad as they come. Everyone stared at Hammond, then. He sighed. You're asking Major Carter to put herself right smack in the middle of a knowingly dangerous situation, with no back up, no protection, to be at risk from injury or worse... He grunted in distress. I can't order her into...

But I want to do this, Sam protested. When I think about what they intended to do to Jack... She breathed a sharp intake of air through her nose, controlling her instant anger. When she could, she continued, If I can keep him occupied just long enough for Daniel and Teal'c to come out of wherever they decide to hide, and start shooting right away...

Hammond grimaced again. Yes, but if something happens to you, you're not the one who has to face Colonel O'Neill...

Sam smiled down on her husband's still sleeping form. That's true... He does have quite a temper when it's fully engaged...

Daniel pointed out, And, you're right, General... Sam won't be able to wear a vest, even for minimal protection. The sight of a vest is sure to give her away, that something is going on...

Teal'c agreed, interrupting, We do not wish to alert Colonel Trevors before the correct time.

Can you blast him backwards against the wall near the elevators? Daniel asked Sam. Maybe stun him for a moment?

Sam considered his suggestion again. I can do what I need to do, I guess. All I have to do is think about what he did to Jack, and...

Sam's eyes hardened again at just her thoughts, and Daniel commented, Wow. You should have no trouble working that wrist device. I sure wouldn't want to be confronting you.

Sam tried to rein in her anger one more time. Sorry, she grunted. It takes a lot of effort to keep everything locked up until we need it.

Hammond looked at the group before him, and shook his head in resignation. If you're determined...

Daniel shrugged with the others. Unless anybody else has a better idea..?

After a quiet moment passed while everyone looked blankly at everyone else, Daniel stuck his hands in his pockets. Then let's do it.

Hammond grimaced again. I still want to go on record as saying that I think this is a crazy...

But 'crazy' is what we do, Sam quipped, a slight smile on her face.

Hammond stared at them all with his most severe expression. Before you do anything, I need to make certain that Trevors is in the Control Room. If he isn't, then this plan is scrubbed.

Daniel turned to peer at Hammond, Agreed. But if he is in the Control Room... Do whatever you can to get him out of there so that he'll go to the elevators where the hall is a bit wider...

We need to let the guards on duty know what we plan to do, then, Hammond said, thinking. So they can have their knives ready to throw in case anything goes wrong with this plan of yours. He eyed Daniel. And it would certainly be helpful if Siler can rig the elevator to stop, and not come to the twenty-eighth floor. He glanced at all of them. It certainly wouldn't help our cause for Colonel Trevors to just walk onto a waiting elevator, and be carried to safety, away from your trap.

Good thinking, Daniel went on. Teal'c and I can grab some Zat guns from the Armory, then hide, one on each side by the elevator until Sam blasts him back. Then, when she releases Trevors, we'll roll out of hiding, and shoot him as fast as we can.

It's that word 'hopefully' of yours that worries me, Hammond admitted under his breath.

Daniel protested, But Sam will give us the distraction that we need. She'll only be in danger for a split second, just long enough for Teal'c and I to shoot Trevors. And if we tell the guards what's going on, they can be ready to shoot him as well if Trevors looks like he plans to harm Sam, or...

And I'll stay here, Janet firmly said, cutting him off. There may be injuries on level twenty-eight, but there are two people right here who are definitely in recovery already. I need to be here in case either of them wakes up. Then she added, I'll send an entire team to level twenty-eight, so medical help's available, though.

Daniel agreed with her way of thinking. They can wait out of sight in case they're necessary.

Janet nodded slowly. That can work...

Okay! Sam rose determinedly from the stool, then slipped the wrist device onto her left hand. She shivered in revulsion. Ugh! I hate these things.

Hammond looked grim. Just don't ever let the Colonel see you wearing that. He made me promise that after you killed Seth, you would never have to put it on again. So far, I've been able to keep that promise... Until now, that is.

Daniel sighed. I don't like seeing Sam wearing it any more than you do, he said to the General. Then, he turned to face Sam. Just keep Trevors busy for a few minutes. He looked at the others surrounding him. Twenty minutes, do you think? Is that enough time for me and Teal'c to get to the Armory for vests and Zat guns?

Hammond nodded, and Daniel turned back to him again. Then all you have to do is make sure that Trevors goes to the elevator. You can send him on an errand, or something...

Hammond huffed, You make it sound so easy...

Just be convincing, Daniel suggested.

Hammond blew out a breath through his nose again, then gave one brisk nod. All right. I'm in.

Daniel grinned. Then we all know what to do?

Everyone nodded.

Hammond muttered, I knew I should have stayed in bed this morning... The members of SG-1 and Janet Fraiser locked their gazes onto him. He gave a second nod to confirm for them that he would perform his assigned task. You can count on me...

Daniel raised his arm so that he could stare at his watch. Let's set timers... They all did the same as Daniel. Twenty minutes... Daniel paused. From... Now!

They all pushed in buttons on their watches that would start a twenty minute countdown.

Daniel started for the door. Come on Teal'c. Time's wasting... The two men jogged out of the room, heading towards the Armory, discussing places of concealment as they went.

Hammond glanced at Sam. Good luck to you too, Major.

And you Sir, she called as they both left the room at the same quick pace they had used to enter. When they had both reached the corridor outside the Infirmary Recovery Room, Hammond went to the right, and Sam to the left. Neither of them looked back at the other.

Janet remained where she was standing by Colonel O'Neill's bed. She stared at the unmoving man, but fervently hoped that nothing about the planned mission went awry. If it did, Colonel O'Neill's recovery may be the least of her concerns.

They left her standing alone with only her clipboard for company.

* * *

Sam stood uneasily in an access corridor on level twenty-eight that led to three meeting rooms, and a storage closet. From her vantage point, she could see the bustle of activity near the elevator leading to the surface. She closed her eyes, and breathed deeply three times though her nose, trying to calm her fluttering heart and racing pulse. It wouldn't do if Colonel Trevors discovered that they were plotting against him simply because she couldn't keep her emotions under control.

But she had spent the past several months working on letting her emotions run out of control for the first time in her life. She had always been very good at hiding what she was feeling at any given time. Now she was not only expected, but encouraged, to display the feelings she had always harbored for the Colonel. She may have buried them down deep in her psyche in prior years, but now she was expected to succeed at a heretofore untried emotional excavation process. Now, every fear and doubt that she had ever felt concerning Jack hit her like a sledgehammer.

Though such an overwhelming surge of emotion was useful, she almost couldn't stop the sensation of rage that soaked through her brain every time she even so much as thought about the beating that Colonel Trevors had orchestrated against someone she loved. As worried as the others had been about her successfully being able to use the Goa'uld ribbon device, she now found it much more difficult to keep her emotions from spiraling out of control sooner than she wished. As she stood, panting in concentration, in the empty corridor, she ironically wished that Jack was standing beside her at this moment, lending her his quiet, strong, unconditional support. It was always a powerful emotion, even as it was tender. She had consistently found a great deal of comfort in his presence.

But Jack was still unconscious in the Infirmary, and she stood alone in the corridor, the file she meant to use in her distraction of Trevors dangling in her right hand as she made sure to hold her left arm behind her as she stood against the wall. She momentarily gave in to the seductive emotions of a panic attack that competed with a Goa'uld mother ship in size and intensity. She breathed, soaking in much needed oxygen, and waited for her watch to signal the time to put her part of the plan into action. From that, she would know that Daniel and Teal'c were in position, the guards had their throwing knives out and ready, and knew what to do, the elevator had been deactivated, and Colonel Trevors was heading for the surface, none the wiser that he was walking directly into a trap.

Mere minutes later, her watch beeped.

Sam steeled herself, then took one last deep breath before she drew her left hand foreword. At the same time, she flipped the folder open to rest on top of her left hand, effectively hiding the ribbon device from prying eyes. Then, squaring her shoulders, she set off at a fast jaunt, and slipped into the main hallway of the complex.

For good or ill, it had begun.

* * *

A groggy voice said, Hey, in the doctor's general direction.

Janet looked up from the notation she was making in the medical records currently settled on her clipboard. She stared into the chocolate brown eyes of Colonel O'Neill. Colonel! she said, delighted. It's good to see you among the ranks of the living again!

Confused and disoriented, Jack carefully focused on her, then studied his surroundings. Where am I? His voice was already stronger than before, but his question was more a croak than his usual brisk tones.

Infirmary Recovery Room, Janet quickly responded in a hushed tone. I have to tell you that you gave us quite a scare.

But? O'Neill couldn't resist inquiring after a silent moment went by.

Janet peered at him in discomfort. But.., she at last repeated herself. Finally, in a subdued voice, she told him, You were injured so badly that Sam had to use the healing device on you. She managed to fix... She considered the procedure. Well, she fixed everything... Broken leg, broken ribs, ruptured spleen, spinal injury, latent bruising, split...

Jack cut her off in the middle of her recitation. Where is Sam? he asked then as he looked around. He had already noticed her absence from his bedside, and now he was worried as well as curious as to her whereabouts. Is she all right? He instantly had visions of her being beaten as badly as he had been, and his heartbeat quickened. His pseudo calm demeanor dissolved as panic began to grip his mind. Where..? He half rose onto his elbows, now looking wildly around the room.

Janet instantly put a calming hand on his shoulder. Easy. You must be feeling dizzy still... She took a deep breath when she managed to get O'Neill to remain in bed. Sam's perfectly fine at the moment; you have nothing to worry about.

A tendril of fear shot through Jack's heart. 'At the moment?' he echoed the doctor. What's that supposed to mean? His voice had gained strength the more he spoke, until it had reached his typical gruff tones.

But the focus of the two wasn't on his voice. Jack tried to rise again as his panic increased.

Janet had been afraid this was going to happen. She pushed Jack back into the pillows behind his head. It's all right, it's all right, she soothed. Easy... Then she explained, Major Carter took the ribbon device we captured to level twenty-eight in order to use it and act as a distraction for Dr. Jackson and Teal'c so that they can capture Colonel Trevors, whom Daniel saw do this to you. Her explanation stopped then. But there's nothing you can do to help them right now, she was forced to admit. The best thing for you is to lie back and get the rest you need.

Jack's face blanched. She's using the what? But before the doctor could respond to his question, he shoved Janet's restraining hand aside, hard, and quickly sat up. He threw of the covers, and swung his legs off the side of the bed. He didn't even notice that he was naked.

Colonel..! Janet ignored his state of undress to immediately warn, You need to...

Jack glared at the doctor. Do you think I'm actually going to sit here and do nothing while my wife risks her damned neck... again... for the likes of me? He shook his head as he reached for the BDU pants that had already been placed on the chair next to his bed. I don't think so...

Colonel, Janet tried again, softer, her voice firmer this time. Jack, listen...

Jack paused in putting on his pants to hold up a warning index finger. No. Don't. You can't persuade me to stay here, and there's nothing you can do to stop me, so get over it. And tell me something useful about what Sam plans to do if you insist on talking, he instructed as he went on dressing.

Janet sighed in aggravation. I'll have you sedated for your own good, she threatened.

Jack had a quick comeback. Then I'll file a complaint about your ethical skills in medical situations...

Janet balked. That was a personal offense that he was promising. You wouldn't!

Jack drew the black t-shirt over his head. That's my wife out there. I'll do anything, he told her.

I'll have you restrained, she said next in a comeback of her own. If he could play dirty, then so could she.

When Jack turned to stare at her, he looked as menacing as she did. Then I'll protest so loud that Hammond will have to persecute just to get me to shut up, and I'll be seeing you at your court-martial. He sounded sincere. So unless you want to get kicked out of the military... a crying shame, in my opinion... but for Sam, I'd do just about anything... start talking, he grimly ordered.

Janet sighed again, but knew when she was beaten. Colonel O'Neill had waited until she was alone with him in the Recovery Room to make his threats, and she knew she was physically no match for him, long needles or not. Okay, she reluctantly agreed. It was Daniel's idea to go after Colonel Trevors. Trevors is Goa'uld, and...!

A Goa'uld... in the Air Force?!? Jack barked. After an incredulous moment went by, he collected his scattered mind enough to pull on one boot and reached for the other.

Janet sighed again. Long story. I'll just tell you that Hammond plans to send Trevors to the elevator on level twenty-eight, where Sam will keep him busy with the ribbon device long enough for Daniel and Teal'c to come out of hiding and incapacitate him with Zat guns...

Jack squinched his eyes shut. That's a crazy plan! So many things could go wrong with that, I...

Janet shrugged. Hammond said...

I'm surprised that Hammond agreed to it at all! Jack exploded.

He didn't have any choice. Janet tried to stay calm as she explained. Sam was so angry by then for what Trevors had done to you that...

Jack gave a start on his bed. He stopped pulling on the BDU overshirt to suspiciously ask, And she's got a ribbon device with her? He stared at the doctor in shock. Are you guys nuts?

Janet grimly peered at him. We might well be, she told him. Sam plans to hold Trevors as long as she can... I don't know what using the ribbon device will do to her... especially after using the healing device on you. But I do know that she'll have to release Trevors for just a second before Daniel and Teal'c can Zat him. It'll only be for a second, but if I know the Goa'uld, it might be all the time that Trevors needs...

That was all Jack needed to hear. He grabbed his personal pistol still in its holster tucked into the waistband of his trousers. He flicked the 'safety' off, then slid to his feet, and pushed away from the bed. He stumbled once, but caught himself on a handy medical monitor, and instantly straightened.

Janet looked on in alarm. Colonel! I can't let you...

Jack interrupted her to icily inform, You don't have a damned choice. He stared stonily at her. Now, unless you let me walk out of here, I'll shoot you. I don't want to do that, but I will if it means saving Sam from herself.

Janet angrily glared at him. Just what do you plan on doing for Sam, if I might inquire? she spat at him, her tone equally as cold as his.

Jack stared at her as if his face were carved from granite. I'm going after my wife, to be with her to help if I'm needed. And I'll shoot that bastard if he so much as looks at her.

Janet stepped back from the bed, momentarily stunned out of her anger at the raw determination she saw in O'Neill's expression. She had never before been graced with this darker side of the Colonel's character. It wasn't hard for her to imagine how he'd been able to successfully complete so many black ops missions in his past. They're all on level twenty-eight, near the elevators, she told him, knowing that she either had to capitulate in this situation, or there was going to be more bloodshed than she could cope with.

Thanks, he tersely told her. Then, he was gone.

* * *

Sam joined the throng of moving people in the elevator corridor just as Colonel Trevors appeared from the Control Room. It seemed that Hammond was as good as his word, and had sent Trevors right into their trap. So far, the Colonel's jaunty demeanor showed that he suspected nothing as he stood beside the elevator, waiting for a car.

Colonel Trevors! Sam called, and she had to quickly clear the frog from her throat as she walked towards her quarry. Can I have a word with you?

Trevors gestured at the elevator. He had already swiped his I.D. card through the reader. General Hammond said...

This will just take a moment, Sam promised, imbuing her voice with as much pleading as she could stand. As it was, the effort for her to act nice to him while keeping her anger on the back burner of her mind threatened to make her throw up as it was. Still, she managed a small smile, swallowed, tasted bile, but went ahead and said, I promise I won't keep you for long. I just have a quick question about that device your team brought back from PRX-765 yesterday.

It was a totally innocent request. Seeing nothing unusual about her question, Trevors approached her, saying, All right, I guess I have a second or two. He grinned at her, his eyes dancing in her direction. For you... He didn't finish his comment as Sam fought down more of her rising bile. Instead, he went to stand beside her, asking, What is it? It was the closest he had ever been to her; always before he had harassed her with words instead of actions.

Part if Sam couldn't believe it; he was coyly standing beside her, flirting, in spite of what he had just done to her husband! Sam was astonished at the genuine nerve in the man. She swallowed again, but held the file folder out towards him with a surprisingly steady hand, considering the animosity she was doing her best to keep in check. However, nausea nearly overwhelmed her as for the first time, she came in very close proximity to his symbiote. She tried to ignore it, but the feelings of her nearness to him caused her blood to boil. She knew that her anger at the way he'd orchestrated that beating of Jack was only going to be successfully restrained for another moment or two.

Quickly, Sam used her left hand to held the file open, so that the ribbon device she wore would remain hidden underneath the opened pages. Then she used her right fingers to point to a string of numbers before her. I was wondering about these numbers here...

Trevors leaned in, looked at the page, and his second bout of nearness made her vibrate with a fury strong enough to make Sam think that she was on the verge of exploding. Desperately, she clung to her emotional control. Clenching her teeth, but trying not to look upset at all, she listened to him as, completely clueless, he asked for further explanation, Yeah? What about these numbers?

But by then, Sam's fury was like a fire ready to blaze out of control. She couldn't hold back any longer. She let her anger at this Colonel consume her in one giant flash of raging emotion. She dropped the file folder to the floor at her feet as her face fell into a distorted mask of rage and hurt. You used your influence to try to destroy the wrong man this time, she grunted, and raised her left hand.

Huh? Trevors asked in puzzlement just prior to a wave of power striking him right in his gut. Barely a heartbeat later, he flew back towards the wall next to the elevator. The wave of energy that had thrown him back now pinned him to the bricks. What? he demanded to know, amazed that he could still speak. His face a mix of anguish and a fury of his own, he wildly struggled.

Sam slowly stepped towards him as cries and screams broke out around her, and people who weren't 'in the know' rushed away from her position in the hallway. But she ignored all the activity, focusing her intense anger on the one small point that he made at the end of the hall. She slowly crept nearer to the elevator, and at the same time, felt the power of her wrath rush through her in waves of what felt like pure pleasure. The rush of power was so strong, so unused before this moment, and it felt so good that it almost hurt.

Then, just as quickly as it had flooded her being, the feeling of painful pleasure disappeared. Now, she was amazed at the feeling of exhaustion that accosted her, turning her limbs into strands of molten Jell-O. But even this tiredness felt good. It was a fatigue that came from giving in to the drive of her blood in a way that she had never given in to it before. To indulge these feelings at last felt so natural, so right, that she couldn't remember just why she had never let herself access these sensations before. Now it felt almost seductively good to give in to these feelings that had been clawing to be released from her mind for years. Relief at the release swamped her, and amazingly enough, her rage was still climbing in spite of the fatigue, clamoring to be released from its prison.

The field of energy that she was using on Trevors allowed him to breath, and to speak, but held him pinned to the stone behind him as effectively as clamps around his wrists. He wriggled a second time. Let me go! he indignantly objected again, still struggling against the invisible hand that held him.

Sam laughed, and an evil twinkle settled in her eye. Oh, it was so easy to let the tingles of distress run through her brain! Cut it out, Trevors, she instructed in tones so low that her voice was almost unrecognizable. We know all about your little infiltration scheme. And it might have worked, too, if you'd been patient for just a little bit longer. Attacking my husband was a stupid thing to do. It made us ask questions, wonder what was going on, helped us postulate possible answers...

Trevors yelped at how much she was telling him. Dropping all pretenses, he gloated, He had it coming to him for...

Don't make me twist the neck from your body, Sam warned, sneering. You know I can do it, too, know what I'm capable of.

It was the goading necessary for him to flash his eyes at her, confirming what he truly was to the few guards who had remained near the two combatants, but who still 'appeared' to be too confused to help either Sam or Colonel Trevors. Furtively, they all reached for their throwing knives while the confusion surged around them.

But the focus of those in the corridor weren't on the few guards still left in the hallway. Instead, it was on the man pinned to the far wall, and who also still had the audacity to sneer back in Sam's direction. You won't do anything of the sort like snap my neck in two, you pathetic weakling! he yelled at her. You're too 'moral,' too 'ethical.' He sneered again, laughing a tiny chuckle. Earthlings are nothing but pathetic garbage! He laughed once more. Why do you think I concentrated on getting that bothersome Colonel O'Neill out of the way? He answered his own question. To get to you! I had to neutralize any possible threats, keep you distracted, too busy to fight so you wouldn't feel my symbiote whenever I'm around. That meant that you both had to go, one way or another!

Sam looked at him, her face contorting into new lines of rage. You disgust me! she yelled, pushing her left hand forward again. The invisible bands holding him to the beige bricks behind him seemed to push him just a little deeper into the stone.

Trevors managed a laugh in spite of the renewed assault against him. But there's one thing you haven't thought of! he yelled triumphantly at her, ignoring her comments. You can't hold out forever! Eventually, you won't be able to sustain the control needed to use a ribbon device. You'll have to let me go! And that's when I'll make my move, when you're too weak to stop me. And what are you gonna do about it, little Major? he sneered again. There's nothing that you can do! he crowed, still laughing at her. All I have to do is wait...

Sam grimaced, knowing that Trevors was right in what he was claiming. She could feel the draining of her power to hold him steady even now. But she couldn't let him know that she knew! Determined, she gritted her teeth, and renewed her assault again.

Jack chose that moment to creep down the exit stairwell, his pistol, 'safety' still off, now in a tight grip. He peeked through the tiny window on the door in the manual exit. The door in front of him was hydraulic, closing off his access to what he could see was happening right before him. He could even hear it all, both Trevors' taunting, as well as Sam's threats, and he easily heard Trevors' last comment to his wife. His own anger shot up his spine, encompassing him in a white haze before dissipating. He was surprised that the sensation was so strong, but attributed his lack of control to his weakened physical state. He was still recovering from the effects of the healing device, after all. Though he was growing stronger by the minute, he had been severely injured, and needed a while to shake off the effects of those wounds. He tried to clear his head, and the tiny wire crosses inside the window of the door came into stark relief as he continued to stare at Trevors.

The weakening in Sam was happening already, just like the serpent Goa'uld had predicted it would. She was visibly growing more and more pale. Trevors slipped down towards the floor even as Jack watched, and Sam renewed her control once again with a look of supreme concentration on her face. The guards seemed to be wasting time by glancing back and forth from Sam to Trevors, appearing to not know whom to call the enemy in this scenario. General Hammond was nowhere to be seen, as he was obliviously ensconced in the Control Room, conceivably not knowing what was happening. It was entirely up to Sam, who was slipping again in her weakened state. Her previous use of the healing device on Jack, coupled with her attempt to use the wrist device, was sucking up her energy even as they watched.

One more minute! Trevors calculated. Then I'll be free, and you'll be as dead as you deserve to be!

Then, in an almost surreal moment, the power holding Trevors locked to the wall just vanished. Sam sensed her energy disappearing like the teasing promise of pleasure that it was, and felt herself slowly slump to the ground. Trevors fell forwards, to the floor even before Sam had made it half way to her destination.

At that moment, several things happened at once. Trevors stripped off the glove that he'd been wearing, revealing his own ribbon device on his hand. The SF guards raised their weapons to their shoulders, sighting at Trevors now that he had admitted to his own plan in front of the many witnesses gathered in the corridor. Sam was vulnerably crumbling to the floor as at the same time, Trevors' face twisted with rage as his left hand shot up.

Simultaneously, Jack burst out of his hiding place in the stairwell, throwing the door open so hard that it cracked against the brick wall on the far side of the elevator. He vaulted towards Sam's slowly falling figure, staying low even as he reached for her. He raised the gun in his right hand, and, hardly aiming now, fired at Trevors' palm extended towards him and Sam.

Jack's bullet, aimed or not, pounded through the exact middle of Trevors' hand, severing the power behind the ribbon device in one motion. Blood quickly began to pool on the floor. Trevors bellowed out in a surge of alien rage, and caught at his hand just as Daniel and Teal'c swung out of their hiding places. Teal'c had been just inside the 'Gate Room, and Daniel was inside another storage closet near the elevator. The closet door, previously closed, and completely innocuous, suddenly flew open as he fired a Zat straight at an unsuspecting Trevors.

Jack finished his slide along the floor just in time to catch Sam's head in his left hand, keeping it from impacting on the unforgiving linoleum covering the floor. He pillowed Sam's descent with his body, still carefully cradling his pistol with his right hand as well as the rest of her.

The tingling blue electricity from Zat guns clearly glowed from Trevors' extremities as he too fell. Neither Teal'c nor Daniel knew which one of them had fired the final shot that zipped into Trevors' body, but they had inadvertently and instantly killed him.

Daniel could tell by the sightlessness of his staring eyes that Trevors was dead. He had seen enough dead bodies on his travels through the Stargate to recognize death when he saw it. At a loss as to how to handle such a moment in a delicate manner, he said the first thing that entered his mind. As General Hammond hurried down the stairs from the Control Room, he softly muttered, Guess that we did a bit more than incapacitate him.

Jack wasted no time in pulling the ribbon device off Sam's fingers, tossing it away to slide on the floor even as the medical team hurried to cross to his prostrate wife's side. He scooted back, making room for the sudden scurry of personnel. Jack tried to keep Sam in view, but her form was soon obscured by the crowd of medical people and instruments surrounding her. Where before the corridor had been devoid of any people besides Sam, now he couldn't even approach her.

Jack slowly climbed to his feet as General Hammond hurried towards them down the corridor. How is she? he asked, his concern sounding loud in his tone. Did Trevors..? He turned back around to gaze at the still form of Colonel Trevors slumped near the elevator. He was also surrounded by medical personnel, though these soldiers didn't have the intent, purposeful bearing that the men and women who surrounded Sam seemed to have. Knives were discreetly returning to vest holders as the gathering crowd continued to stare.

No, Trevors wasn't able to do anything to her, Jack answered, his teeth clenched, though Hammond hadn't yet managed to finish making his inquiry. His precious wife... They had expected his wife to... Even if she had volunteered... Jack shook with the anger coursing through him, now that the excitement of the 'attempted capture' was over, but he tried his best to control his feelings. Still, he didn't trust himself not to say something he might regret later, so he didn't say anything more than his initial statement. But, without asking permission of Hammond, he did grab a Zat gun off a passing SF who walked by in the corridor, traveling between Carter and Trevors. Jack pointed the Zat at the ribbon device that Sam had used, and pulled the trigger on the weapon once, twice, three times, so that the wrist device disappeared in a blaze of blue electricity.

Hammond gaped at the scorched spot on the linoleum floor where the Goa'uld device had rested. That... That, he sputtered to Jack. That was government property, he finally managed to protest.

Now it's gone, Jack retorted, and swallowed more anger. But he was unable to stop himself from adding, My wife can never use it again. Jack was now vibrating with the depth of the anger he was feeling, but his mild tone, carefully modulated and controlled, suggested that he was only slightly interested in the recently vanished device. He returned the Zat gun to the SF as nonchalantly as he had borrowed it in the first place.

The medics had lifted Sam to a medical gurney by this time, and prepared to wheel the gurney to wait next to the elevator, where they would have priority to use the apparatus as soon as Siler once again had it running properly. But Sam, awake again, stopped their progress when she caught hold of Jack's sleeve between her fingers.

Sam lifted herself to stare groggily up into her husband's face. She didn't question how he had arrived on the scene when he was supposed to be unconscious in the Infirmary, but instead asked, Did it work? Did we get him?

Jack leaned in close to her so that he could tenderly rub her cheek. His anger vanished while he was staring into her blue eyes. You were incredible, Sam, he said in a voice that was almost a whisper. You did exactly what you needed to do, and yeah, it worked like a charm. Well done, Major.

Sam gave a half grin, then fell, exhausted back against the pillow. Jack glanced up at one of the medics, and without taking his hand from Sam's, asked, She is going to be alright, isn't she?

The medic was able to readily reply, Certainly, Colonel. She's simply worn out from using the Goa'uld device. She'll just need to sleep. We're taking her to the Infirmary so that Doctor Fraiser can keep an eye on her, make sure that there are no lasting effects from the device. The medic smiled as she move away with the gurney as her colleagues wheeled it in the direction of the elevator. Don't worry, Colonel... she'll be fine. Then, they were gone.

Hammond grunted once in affirmation that he, to, had heard the medics positive report on the situation. But he said, It's a good thing you've already given that gun back to the SF, or I would have to make sure you're somehow detained. When a surprised O'Neill glared at him, Hammond went on to explain, So you don't shoot Colonel Trevors a third time, he explained in a subdued voice. Thanks to Daniel's plan...

A grunting groan coming from Jack once again halted Hammond's speech. Again, Jack didn't trust himself to answer him. But enough of his consciousness was still collected enough that he was able to be glad that no one had gotten hurt, and that Daniel and Teal'c's quick thinking had at least saved the day... and just in time.

Saying not one more word, Jack followed Sam and the medics up to Janet Fraiser in the Infirmary.

* * *

The debriefing for that particular mission was held an hour later, was short, as sweet as General Hammond could make it, and as painless as possible.

Still, Jack managed to glower through the entire meeting, never once taking his gaze off Daniel. Finally, completely unnerved, Daniel was forced to declare, What? Jack, what is it?

Hammond immediately wondered if it was wise to open a dialogue of any kind between the archaeologist and the Colonel, but couldn't stop the fireworks before they ignited. It surprised him to no end that 'fireworks' was a word that was a bit premature. It especially astonished him that the Colonel was able to keep hold of his temper without Sam Carter's soothing help.

Jack simply continued to stare at his friend seated across the Briefing Room Table from him. When Daniel appeared that he couldn't stand such an unnatural quiet any longer, Jack reported in a hushed, even tone of voice, Sam's still asleep in the Infirmary.

It was clear according to the expression on his face that Daniel didn't know how to respond to a such a nonchalant comment like that, so he said the first thing that came to his mind. Jack, I'm sorry about what happened, but she truly wanted to...

Jack interrupted him, still using that same bored tone. Only now it was a chilling tone as well as one that was so unconcerned. No matter what she wanted... She could have been killed. And you didn't stop her.

Jack, Daniel instantly protested, but again Jack cut him off.

Did you ever think what it would have been like if Trevors was actually able to kill her?

That question seemed to make Daniel pause for a moment. Well, no, we never...

'We' never stopped to think at all, Jack next protested.

Teal'c took a moment to internally appreciate how Jack was making everyone in the room feel as small as a pin cushion by saying as few words is possible.

But Teal'c didn't get the opportunity to voice his opinion. Jack continued, still speaking to Daniel, If I hadn't been there, if that shot hadn't been as lucky as it was... If, if, if...

Daniel interrupted this time, That was great aim, by the way, Jack. It couldn't have been better if you'd tried to make it better.

Good thing, Jack retorted, still in that same, dispassionate, bored sounding voice. I wasn't even aiming at anything in particular. I was just trying to distract him for a second. I figured if he killed Sam, I would be right alongside her the entire time. That's why I was shooting at all.

Even Hammond blinked when he heard his 2IC make such a statement. Jack, what Major Carter did needs to be commended...

Oh, I commend her, Jack insisted as he leaned back in his chair. He fiddled with an ink pen, flipping it end over end for a mesmerizing moment. Then he slowly rose, as if his knees and back still hurt too much for him to stand up properly. Or as if he had aged ten years in the last forty-five minutes. Just think about what it would have been like, he ordered. Then he quietly left the room without a word. He didn't turn back as he slipped into the corridor, and disappeared.

* * *

It took only half an hour for Doctor Fraiser to convince herself that Sam had suffered no ill effects from using two alien devices back to back. The lack of a need to run a plethora of tests to confirm her suspicions had to be something of a new record for her. She wasn't even able to think of any tests that she had to run that were even peripherally related to Sam's condition. Janet couldn't do much for a patient who simply needed to sleep.

Things were quiet after that unusual briefing as the doctor went about her rounds, and Jack sat waiting for Sam to wake. Daniel remained absent, slightly afraid to confront Jack again, and so stayed away until Sam woke again an hour later.

Sam groaned herself awake, and put a hand to her throbbing head before fully opening her eyes. Did anyone get the license number of that troop transport that ran over me? she asked.

Jack, who was still calmly sitting at her bedside, writing reports in a fashion that was so timely for him, it was scary, answered, No, but I understand I need to say 'thank you,' for saving my life.

Sam instantly objected, I didn't do that, Janet did.

Jack smiled, knowing that she was going to be fine if she was already joking about the situation. So he teased back, Okay, first she saved it, then you did. He stared at her on the bed. A life for a life... I guess that makes us even, then.

Sam grinned, though she squinted her eyes closed. However, she agreeably said, Let's just say we cancel each other out. Or our 'saving each other' does.

I could never cancel you out, Sam, Jack told her the second she stopped speaking. And I'm glad you're okay. He riffled his index finger through her hair as he spoke. Just don't ever scare me like that again, he ordered with a sigh.

Deal, Sam replied, and took his hand in hers to kiss his palm.

That left Jack staring at Sam, and Sam staring at Jack, and neither of them saying anything more about the near-death scene they had just endured. They nearly missed Doc Fraiser's report that she had worn her doubly insured lifesaving vest while out in the field two days before while rescuing a group of natives that SG-10 had run into when a sudden volcanic eruption had wreaked havoc on their village. But the inserts were so heavy that they really didn't... She stopped speaking when she realized that neither Sam nor Jack was even listening to her.

So it was that after a silent night spent under Doctor Fraiser's watchful care (and no further comments about vests and experiments, and opinions... Dr. Fraiser reported her findings to Dr. Lee instead of to Sam), Jack and Sam left the Infirmary together the following morning, both walking alone, yet not alone. Their fingers were firmly linked together, showing the solidarity of their relationship; Besides being something as typical as husband and wife, an oddity in itself in the SGC, they also equally owed his or her life to the other. He had saved her life as immutably as she had saved his. It was a humble experience for them both to be indebted to someone else, to know it, and to not want to do anything about it. But the sense of cosmic balance had been maintained. Only the love and relief they both felt to be leaving this chapter in their lives behind them was greater.

Standing together after they had gathered to watch Sam gain her freedom from the Infirmary, Jack ever at her side, Janet, Teal'c, General Hammond, and a contrite Daniel watched the couple disappear down the corridor.

Janet shook her head. You know, if they weren't so... married... they would almost make you ill. She turned to regard her companions. Ya know? she asked with a far away, thoughtful look in her eyes.

Yeah, Daniel snorted. I thought Jack was going to tear me limb from limb when we told him all the details of the plan that... He stopped talking, and simply sighed. Jack obviously loves Sam an awful lot to get so angry. He recalled his team leader's quiet voice, and shivered again at the recollection.

Indeed, lilted Teal'c, agreeing wholeheartedly.

Janet was still shaking her head. If there were ever two people who just needed to be married, it's them.

Teal'c's tone was adamant for him. Indeed! he repeated. He glanced a last time at the forms of his team mates as they disappeared around a bend in the corridor. Staring at the couple's joined hands, their smiling faces as they softly spoke together, he added, It is most fortunate that we were able to discover such accommodating inhabitants as the Tolerans of PRX-138 when we did.

Daniel had to add, They were awful nice about the whole thing, weren't they? He glanced sharply up at Teal'c. At least for aliens, that is, he finished.

Teal'c only stared balefully back at Daniel, eyebrow raised in a mocking gesture that said more than he ever would.

Daniel tried to ignore his friend's unspoken commentary using only his facial expressions, and glanced instead in the direction that Jack and Sam had disappeared. I mean, I really got a sense that the Tolerans wanted to work with us while we were setting up that whole wedding ceremony thing. he added. Then he looked at Hammond. And you were really great, General, letting us poke around the database for a suitable planet in the first place, he praised.

General Hammond's face reddened just a bit at the gentle compliment. Thank you, Dr. Jackson, but it was truly a team effort this time, I think. It was Dr. Fraiser's idea, and yours and Teal'c's earlier missions to Tolera that really convinced the aliens. All I did was make it easy for you.

Daniel poked Janet on one side of him, and the General on his other side in a moment of camaraderie. I guess what you're trying to say is that it took all of us to pull this one off.

Janet once more piped up. Smiling, she said, And the beauty of it is is that the Colonel and Sam have never suspected a thing. Then she turned her smile on her coconspirators. Bringing down yet another Goa'uld... Marrying off two of our best friends... Or giving them a nudge in the right direction... We make one heck of a team, don't we? Her grin grew even wider as they contemplated how much effort they had all gone to in order to 'convince' Jack and Sam that they needed to be married, and to each other.

They all sighed as one. At last Teal'c quietly said the one word that perfectly said it all. Indeed.

The End


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