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A/N Episode tag to 'Gemini,' the introduction of replicator Sam.

Sam's Personal Nightmare

by Linda Bindner

The second Sam slipped through her front door and into her house, the trembling began. It lasted while she closed the door behind her. It escalated as she dumped her pack onto the floor, next to the set of keys she was carrying. They clattered onto the hardwood floor of her entryway, and the trembling turned into shivers that racked through her form. Sick, and only getting sicker, she stumbled on through the darkened living room to her bathroom. The tiny room at the end of her hall beckoned her as the sick feeling increased inside her. With a single minded intensity, she ran through her house, aiming for that bathroom at the end of the hallway, even if she had to leave furniture askew in her wake. It was like on obvious trail she was leaving behind her, but she couldn't do anything about it as the sick feeling moved up to her jaw. She clenched her jaw, and fought the tide of welling emotion, a sure sign that she was going to lose her last meal in a second or two. She had just enough time to flip the fan light in her bathroom to the 'on' position, and to raise the lid of the toilet before she proceeded to throw up for several heartstopping minutes as she leaned on the toilet rug on the bathroom's linoleum floor.

Sam knelt on her knees, the rug fairly soft against the legs of her jeans as the shivering continued. Oh, God, she thought to herself in an ever increasing tidal wave of despair. Oh, God. She hissed in revulsion as the memory accosted her once again.

Oh God. She had killed Daniel. Then Siler. Then shot up the 'Gate Room. Then with barely batting he eye, she had moved on to finish off those in the room by shooting Jack.

The memory that the replicator version of herself had implanted in her head only that afternoon played again in her mind. She heard Jack's soft 'Ugh' once again echo through her brain as her replicator version shot him in the simulated 'Gate Room. Once again she was forced to witness as he slowly crumpled to the floor. Once again, she had to serve as an innocent bystander, set to watch as his red blood began pooling underneath him. All the while, the replicator version of herself did nothing while Jack lay on the floor only feet away, and bled to death. She watched the light go out in his eyes, but as this was just a memory, and from someone else's past rather than hers, she could do nothing to stop it, do nothing but watch and bear witness to the gruesome scene.

For a second time, Sam felt the tightening sensation along her jaw, and clenched her teeth against the feeling. But she was immediately overwhelmed again, and she proceeded to lose her dinner from the night before into the toilet in front of her. In between her sessions as a 'Porcelain Queen,' Sam knelt quietly on her rug, and shook.

Oh, God, Oh, God, God, God...

What was she going to do? What could she do? She was engaged to Pete, had pledged to spend her life with him. Why was this memory that wasn't even hers of a different man altogether than the one she was engaged to affecting her so much?

God, God, God...

A third time, her jaw clenched tight, and she fought back the feeling until she miraculously managed to get the sensation under control. She felt like she had truly accomplished something as she continued to kneel weakly 'before her God.'

Suddenly, Sam laughed, a sardonic, timid chuckle as the thought about the saying 'kneel before your God' ghosted through her mind. It was true that most Goa'ulds were sewer scum, but this was taking the image of the evil alien race to a whole new level, even for her in her sickest moments. Her first instinct was too tell Jack about her thought, as she knew that he would at least understand the thought, and the humor behind it, and be able to appreciate it. But an instant later, the memory of shooting Jack accosted her again, close on the heels of her thinking that Jack might appreciate her sick humor. The link between the two - the memory of the man, linked with her idea that the man might like... strung the two together in intimate detail.

Sam slid to the side, and rested against the edge of the sink cabinet as the shivers and shaking continued. She drew her knees up, and leaned her arms against them, trying to unsuccessfully control the quaking that tore through her form. But she could do no more than slowly sink down to the floor as the horror of the situation once again infiltrated her being, and engulfed her.

Oh, God, Oh, God, Oh, God...

The revulsion she was feeling swept over her now as she lay in relative safety on her bathroom floor. She had been unable to give in to the sensation of horror that had stayed in her mind the entire evening she'd spent at the SGC. The reprieve from the horror overtaking her psyche had continued into the night, but it was always there, sitting just at the edge of her conscious mind, quietly threatening to consume her. But she couldn't give into it while at the SGC. Couldn't let it overwhelm her like it was now. She could neve explain the reasoning behind such an emotion. So she had remained at work, pretending to study the replicator chips through her microscope all evening, even while she had pushed he thought aside till the late hours of her shift.

Yet, later had most definitely arrived. She couldn't show her revulsion at the idea of shooting Jack, not while at the SGC, couldn't even talk about it while anyone might overhear her. Thus, she was safe while she was at work because, for her own sense of military survival, she could do and say nothing. She couldn't even put a mention of the memory in her report of the incident that she had submitted to the General only an hour before. It was true, it had been a preliminary report, with the real one to follow, but she hadn't even been able to reveal her true reasons as to why the replicator had been able to get to her from the very beginning. She had sketched the bare reasoning behind her seeming uncharacteristic trusting of the replicator version of herself, but she could never give the real reason why she had let the replicator so far into her trust that she had treated her like a colleague.

The truth was that Sam was scared that if she didn't give the replicator the benefit of her doubt, then the memory might just become reality. She already knew that the replicator version of herself was capable of killing Jack. The fact that the replicator had hesitated just before shooting Jack in the chest said something to Sam, that even the replicator hadn't wanted to kill him. But, in the end, the result had been his death. And Sam couldn't find it within herself to let that outcome be acceptable.

But the replicator Carter obviously had.

Did that mean that she, Sam, was equally as capable of such... such... behavior... as the replicator?

Revulsion and horror washed over her again, and Sam found herself once more fighting the feeling of losing her dinner on the floor right in front of the toilet. She wasn't sure she had strength enough to even climb up to kneel in front of the 'Porcelain God' at this point.

The fan continued to whir away in uncaring constancy. The white noise was oddly soothing to Sam's chaotic thought processes.

Then, just as Sam again relived Jack's muttered 'Ugh!' one more time, she heard his cry morf into the thud that had become the unmistakable sound of a car door slamming shut on the street outside. She knew without a shadow of a doubt that it was him, Jack, coming to talk to her, just like she had requested that he do while still at work that evening. When Daniel had left her lab to go back to his current translation problem, Jack... General O'Neill... had remained behind for a moment to question Sam, without the threat of anybody listening in on their conversation. He didn't hide the fact that he wanted to know what she had been thinking by trusting a replicator so completely. It had been then that without even looking up from her microscope, Sam had uttered her words of 'Not here' that had probably led him to come to her house later that same night after he had ordered her to sleep off base for a change, since she had spent the previous night in her base quarters. She hadn't gotten a whole lot of sleep, and it probably showed, which was why he had ordered her off base to begin with.

She had left the SGC before him, taking only her pack, and her keys with her. The presence of her car parked in the street indicated that she had made it home. The bathroom light would cause a faint glow to shine through her front window, even though the rest of the house was still dark, indicating that she was at home, and still up, in spite of the darkness of the residence.

He would knock. Call her name.

Sure enough, twenty seconds after she'd originally heard the slamming door of his truck, she then heard his light knock on her door. But there was no way that she could dredge up enough energy to let him inside her house. She lay on her bathroom floor, letting the oddly comforting feeling of the cold linoleum penetrate her mind. The coldness was something that she needed to concentrate on in order to get the sick feeling accosting her under control. Or it might overwhelm her again.

A second knock sounded, a pounding, actually, followed by a concerned call of, Carter? You in there?

But still Sam almost vomited a third time at just the sound of his voice. She breathed deeply, focused on that cold sensation biting into her left cheek, and managed once again to keep her roiling stomach under control.

But in the meantime, General O'Neill had grown impatient with standing on her step, and had pulled out the house key that he had rarely had reason to use until now. She heard him insert it into her front lock, turn the tumblers, and flip the dead-bolt aside. He pushed open the door. The door squeaked a bit, which was why she could hear it. But she couldn't jump up to meet him. She could barely lift her head at the noise he was making as he crossed her living room.

The noise of the bathroom fan must have told him instantly where she was. Even though the house was still dark and quiet except for that fan, he would know right where to search for her first. He flipped on the overhead light in the living room as he moved across the room, so that the living room was bathed in light. His footsteps then moved from the living room into the hall as he again called, Carter?

Sam's closed eyes squeezed tighter as 'that feeling' rose up inside her once more just because she was hearing the sound of his voice.

Oh, God, Oh, God, Oh, God...

Sam licked her lips, bit her lower lip, and focused on the cold feeling.

Then, Jack... the General! she firmly told herself... walked further into the hallway, pulled on by the sound of that traitorous bathroom fan light.

Carter? Sam? Pause. Then his voice changed to one of distress, and she knew that he had found her. Sam!

In spite of her wishes to work through this awful memory alone, he had discovered her resting place in the bathroom. Ashamed at the state of her wrinkled clothes spattered with, of all things, vomit, she turned her face away from him, towards the floor. He made a grab for her in spite of her attire. The next instant, Sam felt his hands on her arms, her shoulders, pushing, pulling, encouraging her to show that she was alive.

Sam! Jack... the General!... pressed fingers onto the carotid artery in her neck. Please, no, no.., he muttered, and she wouldn't even have heard his words if she had been moving at all. But she couldn't move, could only feel that coldness attacking her cheek...

Sam.., he beseechingly said next. Let's get you up... Can you sit up? Is anything broken? Pause again. Are you unconscious?

Sam briefly wondered how he thought she might be able to answer him if she was, indeed, unconscious, and she wanted to point that fact out to him, but she could only moan as he hauled her into a sitting position. Her mind whirled, and she groaned.

Sam? Open your eyes, he commanded then in the most gentle tone she had ever heard him use. Tell me what's wrong.

The cold was replaced by the warmth of his hand. That warmth, even if his hand had been roughened by decades worth of holding military-issue weapons, gave her the courage to force her eyes open.

The image of Jack's... the General's... face swam in her sight for a moment. But she blinked, and the image focused in sharp relief. Jack? she managed to whisper to him. What had happened to her resolve to call him only 'General' or 'Sir' she wondered. It had deserted her now in the wake of that horrible memory.

Jack gave her a quick, assessing once over, looking for obvious wounds. What did she do to you? he asked when her lack of physical wounds made him then think that Sam must have been the victim of mind manipulation. It was clear what he thought about that as his expression showed his instant revulsion. She knew what he was thinking just then: How could the strong Colonel Samantha Carter be reduced to this quivering mass lying in a shivering puddle on her bathroom floor?

Except that he didn't know about the memory. How could he, since she hadn't told him yet, and hadn't included it in her report, and that the replicator Sam's hand had been in the Colonel's head at the Alpha site while he had been safely ensconced at the SGC?

For a third... fourth... infinite... number of times, his soft 'Ugh!' sounded again in her mind. She shuddered. Oh, God, Oh, God...

Jack... forget about calling him 'the General,' she advised herself. After all, you're lying, alone, puking, and sick, on your bathroom floor. There isn't any dignity left to maintain in this situation...

And with that thought, Sam felt herself cave in to her feelings completely in the next minute. Tears welled in her eyes, tracked down her cheeks.

Carter? he questioned. He looked totally confused at the fact that she was crying real tears, something he had never seen her do.

And he should be discomfited, she reasoned. He had no real idea what she was thinking about.

'Ugh!' came the sound again, followed by the soft thud of him hitting the 'Gate Room floor. The memory of the sound echoed nastily in her mind, sending shivers of revulsion throughout her frame.

She shot you! Sam blurted as her teeth chattered in a mouth screwed up in tragedy. Sam took a shuddering breath, and forced herself to go on, First, she sh... shot Daniel, then Siler... then sh... she k... killed you!

Who? he asked then. Who killed me?

Sam... me... the replicator! Sam cried, willing him to understand what she was saying In my head! It keeps playing over and over again..! Sam tried to explain in her creaky whisper, one that raked over her spine and left her quivering to even be saying that as loud as she was.

The replicator? he verified. That other you?

God, sh... she killed you! In th... the 'Gate Room! And I... I saw it... all! Sam grimaced, and gave a jerk of her body towards him. She clutched at his arms. And there wasn't anything... anything th... that I could do..!

Jack looked perplexed as he held her upright. Carter? His perplexity increased. I'm right here... No one shot me.

But Sam's tears continued. They had escalated to sobs now. In my mind! Sam whisper-cried. In a me... memory... Over and over and over again!

It was at that moment that Jack finally, completely, understood. His eyes rounded, and she could see the comprehension suddenly forcing them to light up and glow in understanding. Abruptly, he just got it. When she showed you the mind link? he asked then, confirming what he had figured out. When she shared her thoughts with you with her hand in your head? Sam had written about that event in her preliminary report, and he had read about the scene with a sense of repulsion.

Sam nodded as the tears kept sliding down her cheeks.

She killed me? he ascertained. And she showed you?

Once more, Sam nodded.

Jack's face turned white. Oh.., he said in a soft voice.

Sam took a shuttered breath. Oh, God...

He was quick to reassure her. I'm alright, Sam, I'm right here, Jack gently intoned then. I'm not shot...

But I saw it! Sam protested. Sh... she sh... showed me... Then she voiced one of biggest fears. Sh... she might do it again.

And I bet that she knew that showing you that particular memory would be the one thing that would guarantee your cooperation when she needed you to cooperate the most, Jack softly pointed out.

That was something she hadn't contemplated. Oh, Sam said, and stopped her tears as thought took over for the first time in hours. I hadn't thought of that, she said, calmer now that she had something else to think about.

Well, you did say in your report that she had all the feelings you had.., Jack pointed out.

And that's... that's why this sc... scares me so much, Sam admitted. She's out there... Sh... she can still do this... at any time...

But Jack wasn't giving her fears the necessary time needed to sway his words, And she made sure to show you this particular scene, with just the hint of the threat that it might come true, and that made sure that you would go along with her when she needed you to go along... It gave her the opportunity she needed. She used you...

Sam sat up by herself for a moment as she contemplated that idea. I... I hadn't... hadn't thought of that, either, she slowly confessed in a voice of wonder.

Torture, Jack said then with a sigh of regret. Mind torture.

Oh.

Torture she could deal with... These feelings of helplessness, on the other hand...

Feel better, now, Carter? he asked.

She looked into his eyes.

'Ugh!' Thud.

Sam closed her eyes in order to break out of that awful memory, and the sound it inevitably left behind. The memory had left sound imprints in her mind, true, but Sam was finally able to ignore them for the first time all day. Yet, she still drew in a shaky breath. She swallowed, convulsed, shivered on the cold floor of the bathroom, then peered at him out of eyes that openly begged him. This was not the time to let conventions get in the way of necessary comfort, nor of the only place she would ever find that comfort. Can I..?

Can you... What? Jack asked.

Sam swallowed, on edge, nervous, shaking... She repeated herself, Can I..? Very hesitantly, she leaned into him, and wrapped her arms around the leather coat he was still wearing.

Oh, he said then in consent, understanding her strange unvoiced request. Neither of them made any mention of the fact that she was engaged to someone else. It was clear that she was upset, and he alone had the ability to comfort her. It had absolutely nothing to do with her wanna-be marital status...

Sure, he gently said. Youbetcha... He sounded almost like he was enoying himself while he could use the excuse for their closeness that he was just comforting a friend. A pleasant buzz sounded in his voice then as he continued, saying in a whisper, In fact, please do. Anything would be better than hearing her own low voice recounting the horrible story of his dream-death. Anything would be better than knowing that she was once again caught by the memory. He gathered her to him with his strong arms held securely around her back.

Together, they knelt on her bathroom floor, and rocked, holding on to each other in a bond that went to a much deeper level than mere engagements. This was a matter of inherent, learned trust, a matter of the soul. The action couldn't go into any official report for the very reason that it was such a private matter, because of its personal nature.

Though it went against everything that either of them had ever adhered to, Jack held Sam against his chest for all he was worth.

I'm glad... that it was just a memory, Sam whispered into his ear. That you're... you're still here. That you're... all right.

There was no way that Sam Carter could ever kill Jack O'Neill, even in her memories. That was where the replicator version of Sam had miscalculated. Sam would have realized that as soon as she had a chance to think about what had happened to her. If the memory hadn't overwhelmed her first.

And that was the reason Jack was at Carter's house to begin with. He would keep away her bad memories, by holding her if he had to. Until Sam would be okay on her own, Jack planned to hold her, forever if necessary. Theirs were two souls, stripped down to their most basic elements, and to last through the waves of memories that tried to grip her still, they simply held on to each other. Two friends... yet at the same time, so much more.

The End


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