Disclaimer: Don't own them. Made no money off of this story. Darn... a little money would be a good thing.
Note: The title means 'Ever the Same' in Latin. I named it this because 1) I found it totally by chance in the Thesaurus, 2) it seemed to fit the theme of the story, and 3) I liked it. Look at it this way: here's your chance to be more like Daniel Jackson and learn a little Latin!
The phone rang on General Jack O'Neill's desk, and he had to
shift aside several stacks of paper before he could even
find the phone. Thus, he was distracted when he lifted
General O'Neill, he said.
*Jack?* came the questioning voice.
Daniel? Jack replied. Daniel hadn't called him since
the reassignment to Washington D.C. had come through. Did his
phone call mean something was wrong? A chill coursed over Jack's
skin. But he refused to give in to his premonitions when he
didn't know anything, yet.
What's up? he asked.
There was a pause, a very telling silence. Then, Daniel finally stated, *You're not going to like this.*
The chill coursed through Jack's heart as it quickened its
beat. He didn't know how he knew, but he had a preconceived
notion that something had happened to Carter. Afraid that Daniel
was going to tell him that she was dead, Jack painfully forced
himself to swallow, and asked,
Oh yeah? Why is that?
*Jack, cut the crap... I don't have time for it right now.*
Daniel rarely spoke so honestly to him. It gave Jack an
immediate case of heeby jeebies.
No crap, Jack promised.
So, what is it that has you calling long distance like
Daniel didn't try to protect him. *Jack, it's Sam. She was in an accident.*
The legs of Jack's chair hit the ground with a thud.
what? he yelled, ignoring the noise from the
chair. He immediately assumed that Daniel had meant to say that
she'd been in a 'car' accident.
But she's such a good
driver! he protested loudly.
*This has nothing to with driving,* Daniel patiently explained. *She was hit by a car...* Finally, he settled on saying, *There's more to it than just being in an accident.*
What the heck's that supposed to mean? Jack demanded,
getting incensed with Daniel's dramatic flare.
*I guess there was some kind of blood thing that Sam inherited from one of her parents, or something,* Daniel told him. *Even though Selmak cured whatever it was in Jacob, she naturally couldn't do anything for the same thing in Sam's blood. Sam bled a lot right after the accident because of her thin blood, or something. There was a hemorrhage of some kind... It caused some damage.*
Didn't Jolinar take care of stuff like thin blood?
*I guess she and Sam weren't blended long enough to make much of a difference, Jack,* Daniel said, the sound of a shrug in his voice. *They were both kind of busy at the time, anyway.*
Once again, Jack swallowed.
Is she d..?
*No,* Daniel said quickly. At least, he was attuned enough to who he was talking to that he knew that he had to respond right away. *Her left side isn't... isn't responding, though,* he slowly said. *It's the end of 'Gate travel for her, anyway.*
Meaning..? Jack questioned.
Daniel sighed. *Meaning that her career's over, finite, done... that's what it means, Jack,* Daniel said in a brittle voice. *The doctors don't think she'll even be able to walk again, let alone face off an army of Jaffa.*
But she's okay, right? Jack non-too-gently asked.
I mean, she's alive, she's breathing, right? His heart
thundered in his chest.
Daniel reported, *She's breathing. There's been no call for a ventilator yet, thank God. But...* Daniel paused again, then admitted, *Jack, she doesn't have anybody here, and she needs help, whether she admits it or not.*
How so? Jack instantly demanded.
Daniel replied, *Well, Jacob's dead, Janet's dead, her mother is dead, her brother lives hundreds of miles away in San Diego... There's no one to deal with insurance for her, she can barely speak herself, and certainly not into a phone, and if the military sends her packing, she'll lose her benefits package, and then she'll have no help, period.*
Jack had risen in agitation, and paced behind his desk.
The military would never do that.
*I know, you take care of your own, and all that,* Daniel said with a snort.
If you don't buy the military sell, then why are you
telling me this, Daniel? But Jack had an inkling already
niggling in his brain.
*Jack, if she even knew that I was calling you, she'd kill me... not that she's strong enough to do anything, right now,* Daniel amended. *But you get the idea.*
Okay. Tell me exactly what happened,
*Sam was walking in the SGC parking lot, just like always, reading reports as she walked... You know how she always is...*
A workaholic? Jack asked.
Daniel would have laughed at Jack's description of his former team member if the situation hadn't been so serious. *Yeah, that about sums it up. Anyway, she was walking, reading, not paying attention to where she was going... and this car started backing out of a parking space...*
I know where this is going, he said,
his voice filled with regret.
*The guy in the car swears he looked all around before he backed out, but says that he didn't see Sam at all. She must have been in his blind spot, or something... He backed right into her.*
Oh, God, Jack quietly swore.
Daniel went on. *That's not the worst of it. He didn't hit her very hard, but hard enough to knock her over, and then she hit her head on the concrete parking lot.* Daniel sighed sadly. *By the time he had called the Infirmary and they had gotten to her, the bleeding had already started. By the time she got an MRI, it was almost too late to give her... what's it called..? That same drug that has to be given in the first three hours of a stroke, or something like that?*
Jack was more familiar with what Daniel was talking about
than he liked to admit. When he'd been twelve years old, his
grandfather'd had a stroke, and the medical personnel had missed
the three hour window that would have saved the man's life.
Something with a lot of initials, Jack went on. He tried
*I thought it started with an 'r,'* Daniel protested. *Anyway,* he said, continuing, *The doctors gave her as much as... whatever it's called... as we have handy on the base... There was some, but let's face it, this type of an injury doesn't happen all that often... and the Infirmary's not a hospital Emergency Room... and they were only able to save part of her speech, and her right side, and break up all the blood clots that had formed in her brain, and... She sort of whispers now, but the first thing she said when she regained consciousness was that under no circumstances were we to tell you about what had happened.*
When was this? Jack asked accusingly.
*Two days ago,* Daniel reported.
What? Jack exploded out again.
just hearing about this now? Why didn't you call me sooner?
I'll be on the first flight I can get...
*That's why she didn't want us to tell you; she didn't want you to spend your time flying out here, as if you can do anything for her now.*
Of course I can do something for her! Jack yelled.
If nothing else, I can sit with her, and...
*Just so you know what kind of reception you're going to get. But the first thing she thought of the minute she woke up was you.* Daniel paused, then added, *And I think we both know why.*
Jack didn't pretend that he didn't know what Daniel was
Okaaaay... What does she need?
*She needs you, whether she knows it or not,* Daniel reported in a no-nonsense tone of voice. He was so tired of all the hiding that he'd had been forced to watch Sam and Jack do over the years, and he knew that now was not the right time to bow to rules and regulations, if it had ever been the right time. *She can barely do anything for herself anymore, and I, for one, know that you can help, and no matter what she says, I can't keep my mouth shut any longer. She needs you, Jack, and I'll be darned if I'm going to stay quiet just because she insists that... Look, I'll do whatever I can... It's the least I can do at this point.*
Okay, Jack said, thinking fast.
I'll take a leave
of absence, go home, pack, have my secretary call the airfield,
see if there's a plane I can commandeer, and fly to Colorado
Springs this afternoon. If you can pick me up at Peterson so I
can avoid the usual entourage they give to a visiting General...
I need to talk to you, and get more details, anyway... Then take
me to the base, I'll be so grateful.
*Done,* Daniel said without having to think about what he was promising. *Anything. Just tell me what you need me to do.* He sounded grateful that someone else was willing to give him orders as to what to do, now, and he had started to repeat himself in earnest. *Keeping quiet even this long has cut off ten years of my life, I think. But, Sam insisted. You know how stubborn she can be.*
Okay, Jack said again.
I'll need guest quarters,
someplace to crash. She got any therapists, yet? You know, get
her started on recovery or something?
*Speech and Physical therapy right now. The... Who works with arms?*
I can't quite remember...
*Well, whatever she's called, she's having trouble with clearance or something. But she starts tomorrow. Sam isn't looking forward to it, though. I think she's a bit embarrassed by all this fuss over her, or something. You can talk some sense into her; if anyone has earned this kind of treatment from the Air Force, it's her.*
Okay, Jack said again, as if it were the only word he
Just get me to base. That's all I ask; I'll take
it from there.
*You're on,* Daniel told him.
I'll call you before we land at Peterson, Jack
*Thanks, Jack. I appreciate what you're doing,* Daniel said.
How could I possibly sit here on my butt and not
help? Jack asked rhetorically.
I'll see you. And thanks
for... well, for everything.
Jack hung up the phone, stood in shock for a moment as a
numbness stole across his body, denial of what he knew was the
truth. Then, he was moving, leaving all his papers where they
were on his desk, grabbing only his hat, and heading for his
Terry! he yelled at his secretary the
moment the portal was open.
I'm taking a leave of absence,
going home to pack... Call the airfield and commandeer a plane
for me... I don't care at this point what it is... 302, Troop
Transport plane, supply run... anything headed out West... Just
get me on a flight to Colorado Springs, pronto.
Instantly, Terry, Jack's secretary, picked up the receiver
of his own phone.
One bag, Jack replied tersely.
Want me to arrange for a car to meet you in..? he
Jack paused on his way out of the office.
Jackson is giving me a ride. I don't expect I'll be leaving the
base in Colorado Springs once I get there, either, but I can
re-evaluate later if I have to. Just get that flight, he
ordered, then stepped into the elevator, and crammed his uniform
hat on his head as the elevator doors slid shut and the car
started to move. But it wasn't nearly fast enough for Jack's
sense of urgency. However, even he knew that he was probably in
for one of the most frustrating days of his life.
* * *
Daniel met Jack at Peterson Air Force Base, just like he said he would. Jack had been forced to take a supply transport out of Washington D.C., and after sitting for hours of flight across the country with the pilot, whom he'd never met before, and had little beyond the typical pleasantries to say to, was more than glad to see Daniel's familiar face when they landed at Peterson airfield.
The minute Jack disembarked from the plane and approached
Daniel's car, Jack's former teammate didn't waste any time in
Teal'c's sitting with Sam right now. He
quirked a grimace.
Though she's sleeping, or was when I
left... I didn't think she should be alone right now.
Jack threw his old, beat-up green duffel bag into the back
seat of Daniel's car as he talked.
I appreciate that, Daniel.
Now, just drive. I'll take care of the rest.
You don't have to do anything alone, you know, Jack.
Teal'c and I want to help out in any way we can.
Come on! Jack said,
This is Carter we're talking
about. If I know her, she'll be up and about before either of us
can say 'Chulak.'
Daniel eyed him warily.
I don't know, Jack, he said
Not this time.
Jack eyed him, just as wary, but didn't say any more.
Daniel pulled away from the landed plane, and steered his
car into the stream of traffic around the airfield. At last, he
This may be Sam that we're talking about, but don't kid
yourself; she's not the same person we've always known her to
Jack felt his heart flip over.
What do you mean? he
Her personality change or something?
She's different, was all Daniel said.
off technical jargon every five minutes. Quiet.
Depressed? Jack asked quietly.
Daniel regarded Jack.
I think so, but don't tell her I
said that. She'll bite my head off.
I thought you said she can only whisper?
Daniel nodded, then objected,
But she can still throw
things just fine. After this, I'm thinking about wearing the
protective padding from the gym whenever I go into the Infirmary
to see her, he ruefully added.
That's sort of sick, he noted.
But at least it shows that I still have a sense of
humor, Daniel negated with a shake of his head.
The guards at the first checkpoint outside the gate near the Cheyenne Mountain Complex were as understanding and as helpful as they could be. But, even though Jack told them that he and Daniel were going to see Colonel Carter, Jack still had to wait for several minutes as the guards called the new base commander to explain the reason for his impromptu visit. A frustrating fifteen minutes went by as they were forced to stand by the gate. Then, Jack was finally cleared, but he and Daniel had to wait for roadwork, of all things, blocking the tunnel leading into the complex. Finally, Jack was forced to pull rank and convince the work crew to let Daniel's car through the roadblock. As if that in itself wasn't insulting enough, he was grilled again by the two officers set to guard the atrium at the change of elevators once inside the mountain. But Jack bore through it all, patiently telling people over and over again where he was going, how long he intended to stay, and that no, he didn't need an elite guard escort to welcome him, that he only wished to see Colonel Carter...
But, finally, Jack was issued a security card that would allow him into the guest quarters on base, and he and Daniel were shown to the second elevator. Once inside, Jack tossed his duffel onto the floor, and punched the correct number on the elevator's control panel. The car started to move. Jack could smell the odor of food as the car passed the floor where the Commissary was located, and briefly wondered how Carter's eating habits were faring. Then, suddenly, at five-thirty in the evening, Jack finally found himself facing the familiar beige blocks of the walls belonging to level twenty-eight. For good or ill, he was once again back in the SGC.
Jack grabbed his duffel stuffed full of enough clothing to allow him to remain on base indefinitely, and he followed Daniel down the hall towards the Infirmary.
Jack didn't have particularly fond memories of that room, and always associated it with needles, but crept closer to Daniel the nearer they got to it, hurrying now. Daniel stood aside and gestured towards the Infirmary. But he took one look at Teal'c sitting on the cold plastic chairs outside in the hall, and gave Jack what was supposed to be a look of entreaty, only to turn it into a look of sympathy at the last moment as Teal'c barely shook his head at both of them. In spite of that warning, they had no choice; they wandered near the door, and Jack entered. Thus, he found himself alone for the first time in several hours.
The Infirmary lights were on, but dimmed, according to the coming night. Two beds were occupied at the moment. But Jack noted that a man he didn't know was sitting up in the bed nearest the door, his leg obviously broken, according to the casted leg lying spread out on top of the blankets. He was eating a dinner of meatloaf and mashed potatoes, stuffing down the food and reading reports at the same time. He was hardly Carter, Jack told himself as he quietly set his duffel bag onto the floor near the door of the Infirmary.
The second bed that was occupied was far from the door, so far removed from everything in the room that it was as if it made an unspoken comment that the occupant was infectious, which was ridiculous; no one could catch what had afflicted Carter. The precautions looked a bit like overkill to Jack as his shoes clicked on the floor in the quiet room. He still, even after all these years, expected to see Janet come tearing out of her office and accost him with a report of some medical negligence on his part. But Janet Fraiser was dead, and had been for several years. Instead, the hush that always clung to the Infirmary continued, and all remained shrouded in natural silence as he crept towards the second to last bed where Carter lay on her right side, her back toward the door. Her hands were balled under her cheek, and her good hand had wrapped around her bad wrist in an attempt to hold it steady. An empty chair was on either side of the bed, but Jack headed around the foot of the bed so that he would end facing Carter when he settled next to her.
He fell into the chair with a sigh, then he just stared. After a few minutes, Carter's oh-so-familiar blue eyes stared back.
Go away, she whispered slowly, and in gravelly,
guttural tones as soon as she realized who had fallen into the
chair next to her bed.
No, Jack replied, trying hard not to let his surprise
at the sound of her low voice show on his face as he regarded
General.., she warned.
Jack didn't pay attention to the warning, either.
many times do I have to tell you to call me 'Jack?' he
There was the ghost of a smile that flitted across Carter's
cheeks. It was gone before Jack could be sure he had even seen
I don't care what I should call you
I don't give a rat's ass if you care or not, Carter. But
you're stuck with me, for a little while, at least.
Carter sighed a sad exhalation of breath.
Damn it, if
you don't go away...
You'll what? Jack asked.
Throw me out of the
Infirmary like you did Teal'c?
No, I'll throw my dinner at you, she threatened.
This coat looks better covered in mashed potatoes,
How's it look covered in meatloaf, Sir? she
Even better, Jack told her. Then, after a minute, he
Come on, Carter, stop threatening me with your dinner
and tell me what's eating you.
Okay, Jack, I'll tell you, Carter said. She
raised herself up on her right elbow, then pursed her lips
I can't walk, can barely talk, can't make my arm do
anything... The emphasis was added more by loudness
than actual emphasis, Jack noted, but Carter was going on,
They won't even let me out of this bed on my own because I
might fall out. Last night, I rolled onto my right side on
accident, then couldn't get back on my own, and stayed there for
five hours until someone found me... And I'm supposed to
be thrilled by this? Supposed to be glad I didn't croak when I
had the chance? Well, let me tell you, a Jaffa army has nothing
on me, sounds pretty good right about now, so excuse me if I
don't get all riled up just because I can still eat,
Jack stared at her, fighting down the bile that seemed to be
clogging the back of his throat. But in a voice as equally low
as hers, asked,
Done with the pity party, yet, Carter?
It's Sam! she yelled, though her voice came out like
a loud whisper instead of a yell.
And don't you guilt me into
not feeling sorry for myself. Why the heck did you have to come,
She had let go of her wrist in her fervor, then she followed it as her arm slid back to the other side of the bed. Apparently, she had figured out how to navigate rolling over from her right side since the night she'd been stuck for hours, Jack noted.
But Jack didn't have time to remark on this change of
knowledge before Carter had situated herself onto her back to
stare gloomily at the ceiling tiles.
Just leave me alone,
I can't do that, Jack stated back.
And why not? Sam demanded to know.
What is it
that's so damned important, anyway?
Language, Carter, Jack reminded her.
Like I care any more! No one can hear
what I have to say, so it doesn't make any difference what I say
or what I do from now on, anyway. Like it ever really mattered,
as long as I saved the stupid planet with one more miraculous
brain fart that left everyone happy. That's all I ever did, and
Phooey, Jack announced.
You were the best 2IC I
ever had watch my six, and don't think I didn't know how much you
enjoyed every minute of watching it!
Well, you don't have to worry about that ever happening
Then, as if all the fear he'd suffered caused by this
'wake-up call' that Sam's accident had come to represent, and
that he'd managed to suppress until right this minute, abruptly
coalesced into sudden comprehension that life was too short to be
restricted by something as unimportant as loyalty to rules or
regulations. More emotionally honest and open than he'd ever
been before, Jack blurted an interruption in a whisper of his
Thank God you're just angry, Carter, and didn't die.
'Cause I don't know what I would do without you in my life in
some capacity, and you're about the smartest, sexiest woman on
the planet, even with a side that doesn't work quite right at the
moment, so don't you go getting all pissy at me, because, damn,
if that's not the hottest thing you can do to a poor guy in
uniform right now, and so help me, if you say one word about any
of this to the rest of the Air Force, I'll flatly deny
everything, and say you hit your head on the bed rail, or
somethin.' Jack leaned forward even further in his chair.
Take pity on an old CO and stop lookin' so damned cute in that
hospital gown, or I'll go crazy just sittin' here, lookin' at
you, and are you gonna eat those potatoes, or what? 'Cause the
smell is also driving me insane, and I'm already insane enough...
I don't need any help... Just ask General Hammond... He saved
my butt more times than even I want to admit, and...
Jack! Sam whispered, the loudest yell she could
produce at the moment.
What are you saying here? I thought
we both agreed to just leave it in the room, but you have to
shoot your mouth off with the security cameras in here and
No, I never agreed to anything like that, Jack
You nodded your head and said 'Youbetcha' when I asked if
you would leave it alone after that Za'tarc test thing... see,
now you've got me saying words like 'thing...'
No, I said the 'Youbetcha' after you asked if I had lied
on the original test, not in agreement to anything else, and the
security cameras just show an image, but no one watching has any
idea what I'm saying, here, and even with one side hanging so
still that it would scare me to death if I didn't know better,
you look so good, I could just kiss you right about now, and even
Daniel knows about that, and...
Jack, my career in the military is over, and don't think
I don't know it. The only reason I don't resign right here and
now is because I need the insurance deal that comes with the job,
but don't go thinking that you're the only one who's affected by
you being here, because my heart hasn't stopped racing since the
minute you walked in, and I don't want you seeing me like this,
She would have gone on, but Jack interrupted.
or Sokar, or Anubis, or whoever, that I get to see you again,
'cause it might just kill me if I wasn't able to, and so help me,
I'm gonna eat your meatloaf if you don't eat it first...
I'd rather eat you, Sam declared, realizing that it
really no longer mattered if she stuck to the Regulations or not.
Even the threat of a possible court-martial didn't carry much
weight with her anymore. What was a court-martial review board
going to do to her, anyway, that hadn't already been done? And
who in their right mind would try to attack an accident survivor,
besides? There was a certain amount of freedom and power that
went with her new position in the world, Sam realized for the
first time. She glanced up at the security camera in the corner
of the room, and stuck her tongue out at it in derision, then
rebelliously placed her right hand squarely on top of O'Neill's
hand lying on the covers on the bed, where he grabbed at her
fingers and pushed his unhesitatingly through hers. But his body
still hid the sight from those people potentially watching in the
security office, just to be on the safe side.
My father would
kill me if he saw this, Sam whispered.
He... or your Mom... has already tried, O'Neill
reminded her, and squeezed her fingers with his hand.
just as glad that they failed,
There was silence for a minute, then Sam's new voice uttered
For all the world, it looked like a reunion scene between
two old friends to the security camera in the corner, but to
Carter and O'Neill, it meant so much more when he lifted her good
hand up to his forehead, and pressed it there, beyond grateful
that he could still do that and still get caught at it. In fact,
he wanted to turn and mouth to the camera,
Bring 'em on,
but he was tactful enough not to want to put the new base
commander in that position on his first day back at his old
Nice of him, wasn't it? He thought so.
* * *
Two days later, Sam had gotten fully dressed for the first time since the accident, and was sitting on the bed in jeans and a sweater, reading. A nurse or intern or noncommissioned soldier... Jack wasn't certain... approached Sam's bed, and Sam smiled as she saw what the... person... held in her hands. She immediately set aside her book, and reached for the computer in its case that the woman was carrying.
The nurse/doctor/intern/soldier/whatever handed the computer
case over with a smile.
Now that you have something to do,
maybe, you'll stay in bed, huh? she half asked, half
Sam grinned... sort of... as she lifted the laptop computer
from its case and slithered the chord from her bed to Jack, who
was sitting near her bedside, also reading a book. He gave in to
the inevitable and plugged the computer into a wall socket on his
side of her bed.
Maybe I will be good, Sam said
behind her half grin, some of her mischievous humor finally
showing through her actions.
But don't count on it. Her
grin... half grin... widened as she looked fondly at the computer
keyboard under her fingers. She still could only lift the right
side of her mouth, but the left side twitched upwards... Jack
saw it move.
turned to face Jack.
General O'Neill, you have a phone
call, she told him.
Jack looked up, met Sam's puzzled glance, then nodded.
Fine. Thanks... The office maybe? he suggested to Sam.
Won't be long.
But Sam was already lost in surfing the Internet on some strange and unpronounceable topic. She didn't even fully notice when he slipped from his chair to cross over to the wall phone receiver, which had been left resting on a pile of white sheets.
O'Neill, he said into the handset, and idly watched
Sam across the fairly empty room.
General? asked a soldier,
It's one of the guards
at checkpoint Alpha... He continued,
We have a visitor
for Colonel Carter. He needs 'escorted' into the
An outside visitor? Jack was confused as to who the heck it
could be. As with himself, he realized that Sam knew no one
outside of the SGC, much as it had been for him when he'd
commanded SG-1. Perhaps it was a relative?
Should I come
Please... I have a Mr.... Shanahan... here...
God. Chills crept over Jack's body until a sour
feeling of unrest settled in his stomach. He managed to say,
I'll be topside when I get there, before hanging up the
He stood by the wall for a moment, thinking. What could that man possibly want? he asked himself. His vision centered on Sam as she typed one handed on her computer, and he felt his jaw harden. If that man... Pete... declared he wanted to get back together with Sam, he had a little surprise coming this time. There was no way that he, Jack O'Neill, was ever going to let Sam Carter go without a fight. Not now.
He was grim-faced and tight lipped when he recrossed his steps to Sam's bedside.
Who was it? Sam asked... actually, got louder rather
than asked, but who was quibbling at this point?
It's Pete Shanahan, Jack told her without mincing
Sam stopped typing in the middle of a phrase and looked at
him. She swallowed, coughed, then tried to give him a comforting
What did he want?
Jack shrugged to show that he truly didn't know.
to run topside and 'escort' him down here to see you.
He doesn't have clearance now.., Sam started to
I know, Jack said, and he did know. It had been one
of the happiest moments in his life when he'd filled out the
paperwork that denied security clearance to Pete Shanahan after
Sam had officially announced the breaking of their engagement.
He patted her once on her leg, and said,
I should get going,
then. Want me to stick around while he's here, or would you like
Um... Sam seemed unsure.
finally suggested, asking it as a question, as if she were being
quizzed over the final answer.
With a heavy, thudding heart, Jack turned to leave after
tersely nodding his head once, but she caught hold of the edge of
his shirt with her right hand.
But don't go too far? she
asked, making Jack grin a huge grin.
Youbetcha, he said, and his heart eased just a bit
with his return gesture.
I'll be right outside the door...
nervously chewing my fingernails. He gave her a smile of
reassurance, then drifted away, out of the Infirmary.
Jack squinted against the sunlight as he left the mountain, and walked across the parking lot toward the checkpoint.
Three men... soldiers, according to the M-19s they were carrying... stood at the entrance to the underground base, and a fourth man leaned against the hood of a green car. That man straightened when he saw the three men leap to attention; the General had obviously arrived.
Pete turned to regard Jack, while Jack continued to squint in the strong light.
I'll take over from here, boys, O'Neill said, and the
three soldiers visibly relaxed. Then, he pointed towards the
first available visitor's parking space, and Pete got into his
car without a word of hello or thanks, and moved his car into the
space. Jack walked alone towards the entrance into the mountain
base, his hands fisted inside his pockets, and not caring if his
fists showed for once. In fact, he hoped they did.
Pete exited his vehicle, and said,
Thanks for this,
General, I really app...
Jack interrupted him with a face looking as cold as if it
had been carved from the rock of the mountain itself,
you want, Shergan?
Pete audibly sighed.
I know that, Jack answered shortly.
Pete sighed again, and propped his hands on his hips.
You know, I hate it when you do that.
Jack smirked, his gesture more a feral grin than a charming
I know, he said.
I repeat, what do you want,
Pete sighed for a third time, as if that was all he could
I came to see Sam, see how she's doing...
She's fine, she'll live, Jack replied.
Relax, General, I'm married, Pete informed.
Jack was so surprised, he practically choked on the word as
Pete grinned disarmingly.
With a baby girl on the way in
just a little over two more months. So, you see, Sam is
perfectly safe with me. Sandy would have a few words to say to
Sam if she gave any indication that she wanted to get back
She won't, Jack said so fast that he made Pete
A little quick on the uptake, aren't you? Pete asked.
Pretty sure of yourself, there.
You know, Jack lazily answered.
I never did like
Pete looked at him assessingly for a moment.
did you give me such good clearance? he asked.
Clearance that you obviously no longer have, Jack
pointed out, but Pete merely glared at him, and finally raised a
For Sam, Jack eventually responded.
wouldn't have to make up some outlandish story, or lie to her
Pete continued to stare.
Fair enough, he said at
last. Then he stared again.
I'm not really all that
surprised to see you here, he said.
Although the guys at
the gate said you aren't the head honcho around here
But I'm still Sam's indirect CO, and I take care of my
people, Jack threatened.
Pete only laughed in response.
Some more than
others, he noted.
Sam's a member of my old team, Jack tersely reminded
and as such, she gets...
The General's concerned treatment? Pete interjected.
Look, General O'Neill, I'm not here to cause trouble or
Then why are you here, Shanahan? Jack
Pete shrugged, and put his hands in his coat pockets.
see Sam, let her know I'm still there for her, even though things
have changed between us.
As long as they stay changed, Jack said.
Pete laughed again.
Will you relax, already? Geez, Sam
and I were once engaged... she dumped me. I got over it. I just
want to see how she's doing for myself before heading back to
That's all? O'Neill inquired again.
That's all, Pete repeated.
Jack gazed at the younger man with both eyes still
squinting, though no sunshine penetrated the covered parking lot.
Make sure that's all.
As I told you, Sandy would clobber me as hard as a rotund
stomach will allow her to clobber me if I say anything of a
romantic nature to Sam.
Jack continued to stare for a minute, then said,
got this big guy named...
Teal'c... Yeah, I remember him... Not a very welcoming
kind of guy.
Teal'c's got an acquired sense of humor, Jack told
Is that what it is? Pete asked.
And I thought it was just because he didn't like
He didn't... doesn't, Jack told him brusquely.
least, he didn't, as he told me... on repeated occasions, if I
Pete laughed again, which was not at all the reaction Jack
had anticipated that he make.
You people sure are a
close-knit bunch, he said.
I never could compete with
Jack felt his solid stance relax a bit at this comment.
We were part of a team, and...
You're all important... yeah, yeah, I know, Pete
But some are more important than others,
Jack stared assessingly one more time.
Could be, he
Pete laughed again, a light sound that was at odds with the
words they were saying to each other.
Well, at least you
didn't lie to me.
I figured there was no point in that, Jack said.
Then Pete blurted,
I could never compete with the team,
or with you, and I always knew it.
I didn't realize we were in a competition, Jack
Pete sized him up.
Oooohhh, we were, and you won, hands
It wasn't anything I ever did to.., Jack began to
Pete cut him off.
Oh, I know that now, and knew that
then, he said.
I was... He thought for a moment.
I was... just a little slow on the uptake, he finally
Sam set me straight.
She's that way, Jack hesitantly said. Is
this guy for real? he wondered, not for the first time.
How is Sam, anyway? Shanahan asked.
Jack stared at him, and finally answered,
Her left side
wants to curl up, he told Pete.
She wears all kinds of
splints at night to...
Thinking that I'm thinking I had a close call, right?
Noooo, O'Neill admitted.
I figure I can cut you
About time, Pete said.
I know some criminals who
aren't as hard assed as you are.
Thank you... that's probably the nicest
thing you've ever said to me.
That's not saying much, Pete said next.
Jack moved off at long last towards the elevators leading
down into the mountain. Then, he gave a gesture that meant for
Pete to follow him.
Just as long as we understand each
Pete laughed one more time.
I know that you hate
I hardly know you, Jack corrected.
Yeah, whatever... But just as long as you get
me into this monkey house so that I can see Sam, I'm
You can talk to her alone, Jack told him.
You're not going to be there? Pete was surprised,
according to the sound of his voice as he fell into step with
I'll be right outside the door, Jack told him.
Still don't trust me?
At Sam's request.
You mean to tell me that she doesn't trust
You'd have to ask her that, Jack said.
Pete gave a thin smile.
Maybe I will.
* * *
Jack sat just outside the Infirmary in the hallway while Sam was talking to Pete Shanahan. He was a bit too worried about what could happen if he went too far afield, so he tried his best to get comfortable in the chairs outside the Infirmary, chairs that had been made more for affordability than comfort. He didn't know how Teal'c had even managed to squeeze into one on that day Daniel had picked him up from the Peterson Airfield.
And thinking of Daniel seemed to bring the man right to him.
Jack had been seated in the chairs for only a few worry-infested
moments before Dr. Jackson rounded the corner at a half jog, his
arms so full of file folders and reports that it was a wonder he
could even see where he was going. In fact, if Jack hadn't said,
Hi, Daniel, as he hurried by, he probably wouldn't have
noticed the General sitting outside the Infirmary, looking a
Daniel stopped in the hallway, peered at the Infirmary
doorway, looked at Jack sitting on the chair, then asked,
she do... Throw you out?
Good one, he said, then answered,
No, Pete Shanahan's inside at the moment. I'm giving him and
Sam a little privacy.
Privacy? barked Daniel, as the surprise at the
visitor's name nearly made him drop all his files.
I am, I admit, Jack told him.
But not as crazy as
you're going to be when you have to pick all those files up from
where they fall on the floor. Come on, Daniel, why don't you
give half those folders to me, sit down, and keep me company for
Daniel appeared confused.
Why? he asked.
there something you want to talk about?
Jack gave a quick sigh of exasperation.
No, it just
makes the time go by faster if I have you here to talk to... and
I like to talk to you... though I can only understand
about a third of what you have to say.
Yeah, I'm kind of like Sam is in that...
How is Sam, by the way?
Spewing technological garbage every other
About back to normal, you mean? Daniel asked.
As normal as normal can get right
Daniel sat heavily in the chair next to Jack, then gave him
half the pile of file folders in his arms.
Well, I have to
say that I wouldn't have believed it was possible, but then, I
should have remembered that if anybody could get her out of
this... funk... that she's in, it would be you. I guess that's
why I called you in the first place.
I'm glad that you took the initiative, then, Jack
said as he squirmed and tried to get comfortable.
You know, I
think they made these chairs for ten-year-olds instead of...
He tried to remain judicious,
Over forty? Daniel spluttered.
I thought you were
Jack tried to give Daniel his best poker face.
told you that, I'll be sure to kick his ass the next time I see
You told me that, Daniel remarked.
Oh... Well, I'll try to kick my own ass, but it'll be
hard... Might be a sight worth seeing.
Daniel laughed as he propped his arm on the top of the pile
of folders in his lap, then held up his head with his hand.
If Sam could kick your ass... Now that I might like to
Don't be such a doomsayer, Jack responded.
might do that yet.
I won't hold my breath, though, if you don't
Jack glared at him.
You are a doomsayer. The
problem with you is that you see Sam every day just when she's
getting done with therapy. Have you ever been to a
therapy session? he asked.
Daniel thought for a minute.
Not that I can think
Well, they're hard, let me tell you that.
It's a wonder Sam doesn't collapse after each session with her
Physical Therapist. I know that I would.
So you're saying that she's a lot further along than I
can predict when I see her? Daniel inquired.
She's already standing on her own, Jack said.
never knew that she had such good balance. I mean, I could have
Don't count her out just yet? Daniel asked, to make
Jack shook his head.
Nope, you shouldn't count her out
Well, that is good news to hear. I'll have to
tell Teal'c about this... He's been asking about her, you know,
but didn't want to come out and really ask about
For crying out loud, why not? Jack inquired,
You know how Teal'c is... Doesn't want
to show that he's too concerned, or anything. Might give the
wrong impression, you know.
Jack's brows darkened.
You tell him that it's much
better to ask his questions, and to just be concerned, than it is
to wonder all the time. Then Jack turned to regard Daniel.
Say, he's not working for the Insurance Company on the sly, is
Daniel pursed his lips and shook his head.
Not that I
know of. Why? You having trouble with them?
Trouble is they're middle name, Jack responded dryly.
I was just thinking that I could get Teal'c to yell 'Cree!' or
something over the phone to them. Might bring them around a bit
faster, he added.
I'll mention it to him. Who knows? It
might be the best way that he can help with this mess. And it
is a mess, no matter you look at it.
It's not over, yet, Daniel, just remember
that, Jack told him, then leaned back so that his head
rested against the wall behind them.
Sam's got more fortitude
than either of us ever realized. And I'm not just saying that,
either. I would have been a suicidal mess by now, not the
cheery, popular workaholic that she is.
Maybe, Daniel half agreed with him.
you remember that it's because you're here that she's as
far along as she is.
Jack squinched his eyes shut in suspicion.
Oh, I don't
know about that. She would have dragged herself out of her mood
on her own... eventually, he added.
But she didn't have to, and that's a
damned good thing.
That's what friends are for, Jack firmly replied.
Daniel gazed at him.
Is that the reason you're gonna go
with, even now? he asked in incredulity.
That you and Sam
are just friends?
Jack was a bit taken aback by Daniel's chastising tone.
Because that's a load of bull...
... bullhockey... and you know it!
Daniel, Jack argued.
I'm her superior officer...
sort of... so, for God's sake..!
You're also in superior denial, Daniel finished for
Come on, Jack, at least admit it to me... I'm part of
the old team, remember? And what's the Air Force going to do to
her, anyway? Court-martial her?
You never know, Jack said in a warning tone.
Yeah, right, Daniel said, as if he didn't quite
believe what Jack was intimating.
When pig's carry
When domesticated equines prevail during the day..,
When we win this war... again... and defeat the Ori once
and for all.., Daniel responded.
Jack halted playing the game that he and Daniel had going
for a minute as a new thought struck him. He finally asked,
Hey, Daniel, can you hang out here for awhile and 'escort'
Shanahan back to the surface for me?
Yeah, I suppose so, but
Jack didn't let him finish.
Good. I've got something I
need to think about for awhile, and this might be the only chance
I get to be completely on my own, if you know what I
Anything I can help you with? Daniel asked, like a
good friend would.
Jack shook his head.
No, but I might need your car to
run a few errands later, and I need you to see that Shanahan
makes it topside, and leaves.
Daniel shrugged halfheartedly, clearly not quite
understanding, but willing to help in whatever way he could.
All right, you just tell me what you need, and I'll get it for
you. In the meantime, you... think, he ended lamely, knowing
that Jack had never been a great thinker. Asking for some quiet
time to do something he wasn't known for was quite an anomaly.
You're not exactly the thinking type, you know, Jack.
Adversely, Jack smiled at his comment.
Now you sound
like Carter... always a little skeptical. Jack leaned
towards Daniel and whispered,
Actually, I think all the time,
but don't tell anyone; it might ruin my reputation.
Daniel looked surprised for a moment.
sure. But if you think so much in reality, how does having a
reputation that you're not a thinker change
Jack leaned over even further.
If people don't expect me
to think much, then I pleasantly surprise them when I do.
Suddenly, Daniel smiled.
Oh, I get it... low
expectations, and all that.
Still smiling, Daniel went on,
You have my word that no
one will hear it from me.
Jack grinned back at him.
Thanks, buddy, he said,
then settled even further into his chair near the wall.
could potentially do more for Sam than you know.
Whatever you say, Daniel said, and then Jack was
gone, even though his body remained in the cold plastic chair.
His face took on the slack appearance of someone bored out of his
skull, but his eyes remainedalert to any alterations that went
on in the near vicinity. There was no doubt he was thinking,
hard, about something in particular, but if you didn't know it,
then you would never have guessed the truth.
Daniel also settled more firmly into his chair beside Jack's slumped form, and waited for Sam to be done visiting with Pete Shanahan.
* * *
Fifteen minutes later, Pete appeared at the door to the
Infirmary, his eyes lighting on Daniel as he stood and juggled
the file folders in his arms for a moment before setting them all
on the chair he'd just vacated.
Dr Jackson, it's good to see
you again! Pete greeted.
Likewise, but I'm a little pressed for
time right now, so if you're all finished talking to Sam, we can
be on our way to the surface.
Pete appeared surprised.
What, General O'Neill's not
showing me out?
I've got some things I need to take care of, Jack
interjected before Daniel could say anything more.
leaving you in Daniel's capable hands. Don't worry, you'll be
fine... Probably better off than with me. He, too, rose,
and deposited the pile of folders onto his chair as the two men
started off down the corridor. Jack watched them go,
disappearing into the elevator that ultimately led to the
surface, then he moseyed slowly back into the Infirmary to see if
Sam wanted him to do anything for her before he left the SGC.
So, what did Shergan have to say? Jack asked Sam as
he approached her bed.
Shanahan, she automatically corrected him.
Right, I knew that, Jack said.
She grinned at Jack's attempt at humor.
Pete didn't want
much, she told him.
Did you know that he's married and
has a baby girl on the way?
Yeah, he told me. Jack now carefully
regarded her for a minute.
Does that bother you?
Sam seemed genuinely surprised by the question.
she asked, then said,
No. And then she glanced down at
the covers on her bed.
Actually, I'm kind of
Jack furrowed his brow a little.
Sam continued to glance down, looking embarrassed, but
Yeah. I mean, that was a close call I had!
I'm lucky that I woke up to reality when I did.
This clearly astonished Jack, but it was a nice
Close call, huh?
That could have been me... married... to
Pete... no thanks!
Rather save the world, and all that stuff, huh? Jack
Sam visibly brightened.
Well, yeah, she admitted.
I know that most people will think that I'm finished for
good... I mean, what's an accident victim able to do, anyway,
Oh, I wouldn't quite count you out just yet, O'Neill
said with a determined expression on his face.
Sam smiled her lopsided smile.
Pete seems to think that
I should be put out to pasture, and let the younger, more agile,
kids take over. That my day is done.
Then, forgive me for saying this, but
Pete's an idiot.
Sam smiled again.
Yeah, I know. It's so frustrating to
hear that kind of defeatist talk, too. I feel like I'm beating
my head against a wall, trying to get people to give me another
Speaking of chances, Jack said hastily.
some errands that I need to run, and now's as good a time as any
to do it. He regarded her.
Will you be all right here
alone for awhile?
Sam seemed a bit flummoxed at the quick change in topic, but
she did her best to keep up with the flow of the conversation.
Oh, sure, I'll be just fine on my own. She looked around
the area near her bed.
In fact, I might take the opportunity
to sleep for awhile... trying to talk so much to Pete really wore
I thought so, Jack told her.
You look a little
under the weather to me.
Sam grinned as she straightened the covers on her bed, then
climbed under them with Jack's help.
That shows how well you
can read the expressions on my face... I am a bit under
the weather right now. I could have lived perfectly happily if
that conversation with Pete had been about fifteen minutes
shorter, but Pete just had a lot to say, I guess.
I guess. Jack grimaced again, which left no doubt as
to what he thought of Pete Shanahan. He moved to leave, still
grimacing. But, he asked her,
Do you need anything before I
Still sitting up, Sam gestured to the curtain resting on its
track around her hospital bed.
If you can draw the curtain
for me... Thanks. That will make it a little darker around my
bed. I might actually sleep, then.
Jack shrugged; Sam had never wanted the curtain drawn
before, but he was willing to try something new if she wanted it.
Gamely, he drew the curtain from wall to wall, effectively
cutting her completely off from the sight of the others in the
Sam crooked the finger of her right hand.
here a minute.
Though it nearly killed him to retain enough control of his
emotions to get that close to Carter, he complied.
do you need? he asked, then he grinned.
You got a wrinkle
in the blankets, or something that you want me to fix?
Sort of, Sam answered vaguely, and tilted her
Where? O'Neill asked.
Um... Sam paused, looking at him in indecision for a
moment. That look changed to one of an unusual sense of
determination as she replied in a whisper,
Here. With an
expression of controlled trepidation and fright, she reached out
with her right hand and tenderly traced his lips with her index
Jack barely allowed himself to breath for fear of breaking the fragile spell of boldness that had stolen around her. Then, her finger roamed from his lip to his cheek, and back again, right before she gave into the temptation he saw stealing across her features, and tentatively kissed him full on his lips.
Jack melted quickly from surprise to fullhearted acceptance of her actions. He felt his skin tighten at first in shock, then relax under her touch. Trembling, he responded to her feathery caress with a lightness of his own that nearly drove her to distraction.
Jack, please.., Sam quietly muttered as his fingers
rose to gingerly cup her cheek, just as she had done, and then
splay into the ends of her hair.
Please what? he whispered. He was kissing her
temple, now, sliding his lips to her ear. Sam actually groaned
aloud under his actions.
Please stop? Or please don't
Sam hitched a breath, and tilted her head back to allow him
the best access as possible. However, it was getting hard to
breathe normally as she panted,
Don't stop. Plllleeeaaassee
don't! She placed her good right hand on his waist, then let
it travel slowly up, under his shirt.
That feels too good to be part of a dream, Jack
breathed in her ear, and kissed her again, harder, more firmly,
more demanding. Sam answered his need with light passes of her
own. His vision blurred, and whirled with each touch she gave
him. In another second, he was kissing her again, and Jack
thought he would explode at the carnal sensations that flooded
What's left of my mind likes this quite a lot, Sam
declared, and, throwing off her remaining natural restraint, slid
her hand from his waist to his behind, exploring the strange, new
What little restraint Jack possessed at this point
disappeared as he touched her with the most freedom he'd ever
illustrated. But he had to retain a fraction of control of this
situation before it spiraled totally out of his control.
The security camera couldn't detect what they were doing behind
the curtain, but he and Sam were still in the Infirmary, for
crying out loud! So, he continued whispering,
You still have
more left of your mind than anyone else has to begin with.
His argument was as mixed up as his insides were changed to goo
with each one of her caresses. He was sure he was going to
explode right there in the Infirmary. But he was too busy
brushing his lips across her skin to think too heavily on the
meaning of his thoughts at the moment.
Are you sure this isn't one of the many thousands of
fantasies that I've played over the years? he went on, still
in a whisper, asking his question of her, and teasing himself as
No, no dream, no fantasy.., she denied.
Then, Jack was too busy paying attention to the smell, the
feel, of the essence that made her 'Carter' to pay so much
attention to her words.
You do smell almost too good
to be real, he whispered to her.
Sam kissed him one last time, slowly, seductively, promising
much more with the action. Then she drew back several inches so
that she could look his dreamy expression.
I think that I
know what I want, she said in a low voice that no one else in
the medical facility could possibly hear.
And right now, what
I want is you.
Jack grinned at the taste of her skin still on his lips. He
purposefully licked his own lips in a slow show of enjoyment as
Good thing that I want the same thing then, or you
would probably have to...
...kick your ass! Sam quietly finished for him, and
Jack grinned back, but reluctantly stood away from the bed.
The immediate lack of contact between them left a cold feeling of
wrongness under his skin, like an itch that he just couldn't
scratch. He did his best to ignore it, and looked at her in
I gotta go, he said then,
or I'm not
gonna make it out of here, ever.
Still grinning, Sam snuggled down to lie on her bed.
Just wanted you to know everything before I lost the nerve to
You build up that nerve whenever you like! he
whispered. Jack leaned down once to kiss her cheek, but didn't
dare kiss her lips if he ever wanted to get out of the Infirmary
in the near future.
Anything I can get for you while I'm
Nope, Sam said with a shake of her head.
everything I want right here.
Jack pulled up the blankets a little tighter under her chin,
then stood back to stare at her.
Even with a disability to
your left side, you're still beautiful, he said.
Sam smiled... sort of.
I've been so busy the last few
years being a soldier that I forgot how important it is just to
be me... thanks. It's an especially good thing to hear coming
from you, she shyly admitted.
Jack grinned down at her.
You can be Sam Carter, the
woman, for me at any time you want.
You aren't too bad yourself for a man who's
Have you been talking to Daniel? he asked,
Of course, she answered slyly.
With you gone, who
else did I have to pester?
The less said on that subject, the better, Jack told
Sam grinned up at him.
I like my men well seasoned,
Jack actually laughed, then.
Good thing, cause that's
what you got.
Sam kissed his hand resting on the sheets beside her face.
You better leave now, or you'll never get out of here, because
I'll never let you go... and I'll never get any sleep, she
Who needs sleep? Jack asked, but he kissed her once
more on the cheek, then headed slowly through the break in the
curtain by the wall.
Sam grinned even after he was long gone.
* * *
The second Jack left the Infirmary, he collapsed back against the first available set of cinder-blocks that would support him. Smiling sappily at nothing, and sighing, he melted against the wall behind him. Had what he thought just happened actually just happened? he asked himself, not quite able to believe his luck. Had one of his biggest daydreams just come true? And did he have Pete Shanahan, of all people, to thank for it?
Jack still had his attention drawn inward when Daniel
appeared around the corner, coming from the elevators after
showing Pete Shanahan to the surface. He stopped, looked up and
down the hallway, expecting to see some utterly beautiful sight,
according to the expression of total bliss on Jack's face, then,
when he didn't see anything unusual, asked,
Uh... Jack? Is
there anything wrong?
Jack visibly shook his head to bring himself out of the
pleasant trance he was in.
Wrong? he echoed.
could be wrong?
Daniel went on,
Well, you looked like you saw...
Jack cut him off.
I didn't see anything. When
Daniel continued to look confused, he added,
Ah, hell... I'll
tell you all about it when you're older. In the meantime, can I
borrow your car?
Daniel's confusion was growing.
You want my car?
Yes. Jack nodded.
I have some errands I need to
run while Carter's sleeping...
Daniel hesitantly fished in the pocket of his BDUs until he
was able to pull out his keyring and hand it to Jack.
careful with my car, he warned.
It's leaking oil.
I'll return it in better condition than it's in right
now, Jack promised as he grabbed the keys from Daniel.
Thanks, buddy. This helps out a lot, he went on, then
continued down the hall as if he had no concerns in the world.
He disappeared into the elevator that carried him towards the
lowest level and the way to the new base commander's office
before it could be instructed to carry him to the surface.
* * *
An hour later, Jack returned to the Cheyenne Mountain Infirmary to find that Sam was still asleep. But her right eye popped open when he tried to back carefully out through the curtain and leave her to her nap.
You winked... I didn't know you could do
that, he accused in a whisper.
Sam sleepily yawned and rolled over.
I didn't know for
sure that I could do it at all. I've never tried doing it before
Jack grinned at her, but could think of little other than
the feel of her soft, delectable lips.
You're not stuck on
your side, I see. Since you don't need any help rolling out of a
tight spot, I'll just go and put these things in my
quarters... Then he noticed the romance novel resting on the
table between her bed and the next bed over. He picked it up for
a closer examination.
I thought you read romances only on
your palm pilot so that other people won't know what's going
on... what are you doing with this?
Oh, that. Pete gave it to me... Said his
wife reads them all the time and that this author is particularly
good. I thought I'd try it. It seemed that some light reading
might be a good thing every now and then.
Jack grinned, then reached into the plastic bag he was
carrying in his left hand.
Then you won't mind that I got
this for you as good light reading when you need some. He
pulled out a new book.
Sam took his offering.
'What to Wear to a
Seduction?' she read off the front cover.
Jack was quick to tell her.
I got it as a way to tease
you because of the title.
Sam laughed at the words on the front cover, and at him.
Good tease.., she declared, then stared at the book.
don't know... What does one wear to a seduction?
O'Neill leaned in close to her on the bed.
he whispered, and grinned, and quickly grew excited just
thinking about touching her.
Sam giggled... Can Sam Carter actually giggle? Jack
idly wondered... and arched her right eyebrow while her left
didn't move at all.
Sounds... relaxing, she agreed in a
The clerk of the book store assured me that it was so
relaxing that... Grinning, and half laughing, Jack leaned
over Sam's bed rail, and kissed her straight on her mouth while
he allowed his hand to slowly meander across her deliciously
It amazes me how much I love you, he
whispered against her cheek.
Sam smiled... he could feel her make the gesture.
you more, she declared.
Sometimes I feel like I've always
loved you... Her words trailed off as she kissed him once
more in the quiet of the Infirmary.
In seconds, Jack was lost to the sensations she was wreaking in his stomach, that went zinging through his groin... With no warning, he suddenly felt the twisting sensation turn to the familiar, sweet, tight feeling of pleasure as it enveloped him in a flash of emotional fire that swept around his heart, and left him trembling as he rested, leaning against her shoulder.
Sam giggled again... Giggling twice in one day?... and
I'll take that as a compliment.
Jack had to laugh with her low rumbles of humor.
do, he told her.
God, that hasn't happened since high
Wonderful, Sam sarcastically said, and grinned.
can comfort myself with knowing that I make you feel...
And act, Jack interjected.
... like a teenager, Sam finished.
Oh, Jack negated, and shook his head back and forth,
rubbing against her neck. God, that feels good!
is just a number, anyway. His words drifted off as Sam
laughed again. Then he carefully straightened, thinking how
embarrassed, humiliated, totally marvelous he felt at his recent
actions. Then he shrugged out of his coat, and hung it from his
arms in front of him to hide the wet spot marring the front of
his trousers. He hefted the shopping bag that he was carrying in
his other hand.
Think I'll just take these to my quarters...
and change clothes, he told her.
Sam laughed one more time.
You've always made me
smile... even if I can only do it with half of me right
Jack smiled back at her, and kissed her quickly on the lips
so that he wouldn't have time to get lost in the sensation of
feeling her again. But he said,
I'd rather have only half of
you than anything else in the universe right now.
He left her with that thought hanging in the air between them, and slipped through the curtain and out of the room.
* * *
About a week later, Jack had everything pretty well sized up, he figured. At least, he knew everything there was to know about Sam Carter's rehabilitation. Some things, Sam probably wished he didn't know, but that was neither here nor there; Jack was learning more medical terminology than he'd ever needed before, or wanted to know, but in the long run, it had to be a good thing. Right? He fervently hoped so.
For example, he knew that Sam's accident had attacked the back, right side of her brain, the part that handled motor functions, and that was why her left side was the only part of her that had been afflicted, as the right side of her brain controlled the left side of her body. She had retained her memories, her knowledge, her personality... It was like being with a half normal, half limp replica of the old Sam Carter, who was now more temperamental than her old self, but was still speaking in technical terms that flummoxed Jack and always had. Though, she spoke, and he heard, each word with new, outwardly illustrated, affection.
When he wasn't helping Sam through the therapy sessions that her three therapists had concocted for her personal torture, Jack was delivering messages between her old team and Sam, or talking to doctors, or fighting with Insurance Companies, or... He was so busy, he barely had time to stumble wearily into his bed each night. When he thought about how much trouble he'd originally had attaining clearance for the dark, cave-like dwelling called the 'guest quarters' on base, he had to laugh, so that he wouldn't cry. He figured that, like Daniel, at least his sense of humor was still intact.
The current team visited Sam most days during the evening hours, when they didn't have other, pressing obligations, and it was then that Jack told Daniel that 'the arm person' was called an Occupational therapist (Jack had a hard time wrapping his mouth around that particular phrase), and that Sam's recovery was going much faster than anticipated. Of course, according to Sam, things were far slower than she wanted them to be. But she was making enough progress that after only about six weeks, the doctors were already talking about sending her home.
The team was excruciatingly careful about not mentioning going off-world to Sam, as Jack had asked them to refrain from mentioning things that she would miss, and they also didn't say a word when a new resident brain was assigned as lead scientist to the base. Daniel managed to fill up the remaining time with lighthearted chatter about his newest translation problems, Teal'c looked on stoically, and Cam and Vala, two people Jack really didn't know, were supportive about Sam and her therapy. Cam took particular interest in her therapy, and Jack remembered that Sam's new team leader knew better than the others what life in therapy was like.
Still, Sam was hardly mollified by the team's secretiveness, and downright morose when she got to talking about her projects that weren't hers any longer in a lab that wasn't hers any longer, either. That laptop computer of hers was more lifesaving than anything that the team did, though, for all their good intentions.
Hey, Sam, Jack asked one night, as he propped his
feet on the end of her bed and made himself comfortable.
What's a three letter word for... He looked again at the
copy of the crossword puzzle of the week sitting in his lap.
'Ass,' Sam answered vaguely, more interested in what
was showing up on her laptop screen than in the puzzle that Jack
was currently doing. Then Sam looked at him, stunned.
can't believe I just said that. She paused, and blinked.
You must be rubbing off on me, she said.
Oh, very funny, Jack said, scowling.
have something a little screwed up, there, Carter, he intoned
Sam scanned the screen in front of her, redirecting her
attention back to her computer. Then, she had to scan what was
on the monitor screen again before she truly understood what was
Then look in the Thesaurus if you don't believe
me, Sam said, gesturing at the end of her bed where a pocket
sized paperback book rested on the covers.
I already did that, and it wasn't in there, Jack told
Well, start thinking, then, Sam suggested.
That doesn't help me much, Jack told her.
Sam grinned, telling herself that Jack O'Neill was more of a thinker than he wanted to admit. But she couldn't let him know that!
I can't do it for you. Sam paged down once again,
using her left hand for the command. It was at all of her
therapists' insistence that she use her left hand as often as
possible for the mundane tasks in life. That way, she
strengthened her arm without having to consciously try to
strengthen her arm. It was very advantageous for her, but it
made many things simultaneously very awkward, and she dropped
things more often than she used to, which led to frustration,
which brought out more of the Carter temper than Jack had ever
You know, Jack said as Sam accidentally hit the wrong
key on the keyboard, erased everything that she had spent half an
hour typing, then slammed her right fist into her mattress before
she regained her self-control enough to sigh and rub at her head,
as if it hurt, and was interfering with her typing. She snapped
her computer shut and placed it on her bedside table behind Jack
with her right hand. She may be partially walking now (as long
as she could hold on to somebody or something), and her left hand
may have been muscular enough to type, but even she wasn't dumb
enough to try to pick up a computer with her left hand;
computer's were heavy, and God forbid she should ever drop
I think I like this new temper you've
tapped into; it makes you more Human, especially when you're
throwing things around the Infirmary with that right hand of
yours. I didn't believe it was possible, but I think your aim is
actually improving. No one would have ever guessed that would
happen a month or so ago.
Maybe it's just luck, Sam suggested, still sounding
vague in her whispery, flat tones. Her speech was definitely
improving, but her voice was still only a shadow of what it had
Suddenly, Jack laughed.
What's so funny? Sam asked, looking up.
Jack locked his fingers behind his head and leaned back.
I was just thinking that your voice is nothing but a shadow of
what it used to be.
And you find that funny? Sam tried to ask, and failed
in raising her voice at the end of the question. Jack had to
figure out her inquiry by the question's context, instead.
He answered what he thought her query had been.
you're voice is so much softer, now, that it's just a shadow...
not quite what it was before... a shadow... Get it?
Sam smiled in amusement... sort of. She lifted the right
corner of her mouth, and the left side twitched.
one, she sarcastically said, then blinked her eyes, and
peered at her jeans as her legs were still on the blankets and
sheets on her bed. She was still fully dressed, and was just
sitting on top of, instead of under, her blankets. She had one
eye open and one eye shut.
This double vision that I still
have is going to drive me insane, she commented.
So, wear that patch thing the doctors gave you, Jack
I don't really fancy looking like a pirate, she said,
and that's what I'll look like if I wear that thing.
Then she rubbed at her temples with the fingers of her right
Ah, ah, ah! Jack said, stopping her from using her
right hand. He watched as she sighed in aggravation, then
switched to rubbing her left temple, instead.
looking like a pirate doesn't give you a headache, Jack
noted, then rose to rub at her head with his own fingers.
Sam arched into the head rub, closing her eyes for a second.
God, that feels good, she commented.
You'll do more
for my headache than my medicine will. One thing besides her
temper that had changed was the fact that now Sam suffered more
headaches than before, but she got more head rubs because of it,
so she figured that the situation was a balanced trade off.
She also took more medicine than before, and her bills reflected the change, unfortunately. The Insurance Company currently refused to honor the prescription drug plan that had been promised, and more than once, Jack had been forced to yell at the Company's representative in what he called his 'General bark.' Though it was loud, the raise in his voice always worked, and he at least got a little agreement out of them... until the next time he was forced into battle over something equally as mundane. The System Lords had obviously taken lessons from most Insurance Company representatives, he decided. He was truly considering having Teal'c stand by when he next called the Insurance Company, just in case he needed the Jaffa to make more convincing threats than he could.
Sam arched her neck, making tingles tighten across Jack's
fingers, encouraging him to keep rubbing.
You should start
your own massage business, Sam told him, and arched the other
way, causing more than tingles in Jack.
He cleared his throat, tried to keep control of his
emotions, and went for a nonchalant tone.
You know, Sam, I've
Never a good sign, she teased. Several quiet moments
went by as they both paused, deep in thought. Finally, Sam
And? What were you thinking about?
Jack swallowed, but went on in spite of a case of nerves that caused his stomach to twist and jump. Shouldn't have eaten that extra slice of pizza, he thought then.
Go on, Sam prompted once more.
I've been thinking, Jack stated again.
slated to go home next week, right?
And it won't come soon enough for me, Sam said, once
again with her lopsided smile that Jack secretly found incredibly
endearing. But he would never tell her that. The information
might go to her head, and then where would he be? He answered
his own mental question; stuck in an Infirmary with an arrogant
head patient, and no where to run. Although, he conceded to
himself, he wasn't sure that he exactly wanted to run,
Anyway, Jack said, after the protracted silence.
You're going home, and at the same time you're getting a
medical discharge from the Air Force...
You mean, they're washing their hands of me, Sam
stated with an ironic twist to her lips.
Jack hated it when she got so self-disparaging, but
continued, ignoring her interruption.
You've already said that.
Carter, will you shut up? Jack said then, losing his
hold on his own temper.
I'm trying to get to a point,
Well, hurry up, and then you can rub my feet,
Any other orders for your slave? Jack teased.
Sam shrugged, or rather, gave half a shrug.
about it, then let you know.
Anyway, Jack continued with his head rub,
As I was
saying before you so rudely interrupted me... You're going home
next week, taking the medical discharge from the Air Force that
they're offering, and because of that, you'll lose all your
insurance coverage, such as it is.
Sam's expression fell.
I have to think on what to do
about that, yet.
I was thinking myself... Suppose I retire at the same
time? Jack quietly inquired.
Sam gazed at him in slight astonishment.
questioned in amazement.
Jack set her a half grimace.
I... uh... sort of... sent
in the paperwork several weeks ago, he finished his
confession in a quick rush of words.
Sam pulled her head away from his electric fingers so that
she could stare at him.
What do you mean? She peered at
You did what?
Jack loved the way she looked at him with her two eyes, but
seemed to gaze beyond him with pupils that were not quite moving
at the same time. He shook his head to clear it of Sam's
semi-magnetic gaze. He made certain that he had moved to stand
in front of the security camera's view so that no one could
eavesdrop, or lip-read, as the case may be, on their quiet
It means exactly what it sounds like, Jack
explained his wish to retire, and shrugged his own shoulders.
You're going home. But you're not really in any condition to
be all by yourself...
I'll manage, Sam said immediately.
I'm not sure that I want you just to 'manage' Jack
I'll be fine, Sam repeated, her voice sounding
Jack whispered, then, for her ears only,
Have I ever told
you how much I love your stubborn streak?
Sam... sort of... smiled.
Several times, she
In a voice that was so low it was almost continuing his
whisper, he said,
Anyway, what I was thinking was... And
here, Jack knew he had to be careful of that very stubborn streak
which he claimed to love.
What if..? What if..?
He stood closer yet to her bed, and lowered his voice even
Okay... You, medical discharge. You, home all by
yourself. Me, maybe retiring, with lots of free time on my
hands. Me, maybe retiring, bored out of my skull while alone,
and thinking about you and your 'managing,' wishing with my whole
heart that I was with you all the time, instead. Me, hoping that
rather than letting me be bored to death, you'll save me with
your excellent company by letting me hang around so that you
don't have to 'manage' all by yourself. Then, he shrugged
And... hoping... that... maybe... you might want me to
hang around because... because you want me to... hang around,
he softly finished.
Sam stared at him, puzzled.
What, exactly, are you
saying here, Jack?
Jack sighed, grimaced, then sighed again. At last, he
I'm trying to ask, though not very well, apparently,
what you think about promising to save me from a retirement full
of... What I want to ask is... He looked at her, then, his
affection warring with his sense of trepidation, both showing so
clearly in his eyes. He touched her fingers with his, just
briefly, and whispered,
Sam, do you think you could...
maybe... be my... wife? He reached into his front trouser
pocket and pulled out a ring that had already been removed from
its deep blue velvet box. The diamond ring that he'd bought
twinkled among the other debris in his pocket, and he made sure
that he still stood in front of the security camera, so no one
could see what he was doing. Hopefully, his action seemed as if
he were showing her something he had found and simply stuffed in
his pocket for safe keeping.
Sam's mouth fell open. Then it snapped closed... never a
But, Jack, Sam protested right away.
I'm... Well.., And she gave him a look of part hope,
part agony, and nervously said,
I'm... Well, I'm damaged,
she finally got out.
Who would want me, now, anyway?
Me? Jack hazarded to guess.
I'm damaged, too,
though my damage is on the inside, and yours is on the
But.., Sam protested again,
The doctors say it's
dangerous for me to try to have any children. She paused,
again, then softly confessed,
They're so afraid of what the
hormones will do if I ever become pregnant that I voluntarily had
a tubal ligation the day after I woke up.
Thank goodness, Jack responded, though he was
secretly horrified that anyone trying to help his Sam would let
her undergo such a procedure for a future that was tentative at
best. But, he kept up his original pretense so that she wouldn't
think he was horrified at her, instead.
I'm too old for
You're not too old, Sam scoffed, but sat, staring at
the offered ring in spite of her protests. Eventually, she gave
an incredulous bark of laughter... sort of... and met his gaze
with her own.
Lightening that only they could see ignited something
between them. Sam blinked after another star-struck, buzzing
moment, then asked in a whisper,
Then... why? as if she
suspected his reasoning, hoped, but was afraid to admit that she
Jack sighed dramatically, and he was reminded of Daniel's
love of drama.
Because of a million different reasons, he
Sam's brows raised questioningly... sort of.
What..? Do I have to spell it out for you? Jack
incredulously inquired, trying to look injured when he really
I guess I'm just dense, Sam declared, bringing up
another one of their favorite, shared, jokes.
It was Jack's turn to scowl, this time.
dense... You just take great pleasure in acting like
Well, then, enlighten me, Sam half challenged. half
God, Sam! Jack suddenly ran an agitated hand through
his own hair, messing up the silver strands to make it hang in an
untidy heap on his forehead. He grabbed onto her fingers again,
and preceded to quietly and emphatically hiss,
Because I love
you! Not a day goes by when I don't find myself wanting
desperately to kiss every inch of your body, even the damaged
side! He ended with,
And if I don't finally ask, I'm
going to be as certifiable as you are!
Sam shrewdly peered at him.
I'm trying hard not to get
swept away in the moment, here...
Go ahead, get swept away, Jack instructed.
Sam suddenly widened her eyes and stared at him with genuine
surprise on her face, and abruptly changed the line of her
Jack stared straight into her eyes.
As serious as I've
ever been about anything, he sincerely answered.
Sam stared at him again, then her mouth fell open.
Close your mouth before you start drooling, Jack told
Though I like it when you drool, you might not.
Sam suddenly smiled at him.
Do I get to drool over
you? she asked then, having fun with the double meaning in
her words; it was common knowledge that it was perfectly
acceptable to drool over a good looking person, but someone
suffering from an accident like hers might seem to drool for no
apparent reason whatsoever. Sam preferred to drool with good
reason... She knew she was staring at a perfectly good reason
right in that instance.
Jack squinted, pretending to think. He was as aware as she
was as to the double meaning in her question.
You get to
Sam smiled again, as big a smile as she could at the time.
The emotion she was feeling reached all the way into her blue
eyes, which lit up.
Is that a 'yes?' Jack wanted to know.
Sam smiled again.
God, I hope so, she forcefully
Jack's heart thundered in his ears, and the sigh of relief
he blew out echoed in the quiet room. He grinned and squeezed
Sam's hand, the most he could do in front of the security camera.
But he squeezed extra tight, and his smile was so big that it
threatened to crack his own face in two.
Good, was all he
said, but it was enough.
Sam carefully took the ring he was offering to her out of
his palm, then looked at it, hidden from security's view by his
bulk. It rested where she placed it on the sheets, twinkling
again, but Sam didn't dare raise it any nearer to her eyes for a
closer inspection. Her breathing was shallower than it had been
before, and she couldn't help the smile that seemed stuck fast to
her face. She glanced at Jack, and he was grinning back at her,
too. Emotion swirled and swelled in her heart, and she had to
whisper to him,
I can't wait to get out of here to show you
how much I love you.
Jack smiled even more at that thought.
You just told
me... That has to count for something.
Sam continued in a low voice,
I'd rather throw my arms
around you, and kiss you senseless, than whisper it to you in the
Now that sounds very promising, Jack said
back, his low voice not reaching much beyond the end of her bed
in the quiet room.
Sam still grinned as she reached for her new ring, and shoved it in the pocket of her jeans in order to keep its presence a secret awhile longer, yet.
Their voices must have been nothing but a light murmur in the military room, though they were too busy smiling at each other to say much. Sam slid her fingers across his, and that simple touch sizzled more, and went straight to her heart with her new knowledge of their situation enhancing her emotions.
It was quiet in the Infirmary as Sam smiled and touched Jack's hand, but they were so lost in each other's gaze that the distant sound of weapons fire barely penetrated their subconscious minds. It was the added noise of the occasional staff blast that finally stirred their foggy brains.
The smile slid off Jack's face as he listened intently for just a second, and Sam, always attuned to what Jack was doing more than she wished to admit, listened also. The noise was quickly coming closer to them in the Infirmary.
That sounds like.., Sam started to say with her brow
furrowed in frown lines of concentration.
Jack finished her comment in a habitual whisper.
staff weapons. Then, stunned, he looked at her.
Goa'uld! blazed across his brain, followed by more words
and concepts that came too fast for him to sort into real
sentences. Infiltration! Base! Hide!
Quick as a flash, Jack had grabbed Sam around her waist and pulled her off the bed to land on top of him in a heap of arms and legs on the floor.
Two scoots later, they were both carefully concealed under the bed, and Jack's hand was over Sam's mouth as his other arm squeezed her waist. Sam breathed hard, pulling his hand down as she better understood his intentions. But, understanding aside, she was still so surprised and frightened that she squeezed his hand ever tighter as they tried their best to become invisible while hiding under the bed.
That comprehension came none too soon as the sound of armored boots clanked eerily down the hall and into the room. There was more noise: staff blasts, weapons fire, screams, groans, mindless confusion... It all coalesced into the scariest sound that Jack ever thought he would hear while in the SGC.
It was the deep, tinny, reverberating sounds of someone
infected with a Goa'uld symbiote.
They will make excellent
hosts; take them to the holding room near the Stargate and Lord
Ahmen. You, you, and you; stay behind while I make a final sweep
of the room.
There was the sound of retreating Jaffa armor and more cries and groans as the medical personnel were herded towards the door. Jack pulled Sam even closer to his chest and prayed that the alien soldiers wouldn't think to look under the beds.
Barely breathing enough to make an arresting sound, Jack and
Sam lay, curled up together as the Jaffa walked further into the
room. The one who had spoken before must have glanced cursorily
around the medical bay, before he spoke again,
I see no one
left alive. Inform Lord Ahmen that these facilities are under
our command. Then stay with the prisoners... Go!
There was once more the sound of clanking Jaffa armor on the tile flooring of the Infirmary, then all was quiet for several moments. Finally, Jack motioned with his hands that he wanted Sam to stay where she was while he wriggled out from their hiding place and peeked around the end of the bed next to hers in order to see what was going on.
Barely daring to breath, Jack slid his head around the bed and peeked up. There was nothing out of the ordinary to meet his gaze. So he carefully slid some more across the tiles until he was even with the end of the bed next to Sam's. What I wouldn't do for one of those spying telescope things right about now, he thought, and had to grimace at the SGC's, and his, general lack of preparedness for a Foothold situation.
And speaking of Foothold situations... Lord Ahmen must be an unknown System Lord. The Jaffa that Jack had heard spoke of a Lord Ahmen like he was a well-known threat... but Jack didn't think he had ever heard of a Lord Ahmen before.
But, not one to let his circumstances overly bother him, knowing how quickly the tides of battle could turn to favor one side or the other, Jack snapped his attention back to the present predicament, then slowly inched forward, and snuck a glance around the end of the bed, keeping his head low to the floor.
Jack didn't observe any of the Jaffa feet that he secretly dreaded seeing, and he pulled his head back to sneak a look over the top of the bed. His knees were screaming at the pressure he was forcing them through as he continued to kneel on the hard tile floor, but he ignored the sensation as he slowly raised his head and peered into the room.
Empty. The room was empty.
Well, the room was empty of anyone else alive, Jack amended to himself. He glanced around at the bodies of a few medical staff, some Jaffa warriors, and one or two American soldiers lying at odd angles on the floor and across computer chairs near the walls. Even the guy.., the patient with the broken leg... What was his name..? Stephen..? lay back on his bed, looking as if he were resting except for the presence of the large, ugly, staff wound in his chest. It leaked blood, which ran onto the sheets under him, staining everything a bizarre shade of purplish maroon. A nurse or doctor lay over his arm, also clearly dead.
Jack reached back under Carter's bed, touched her shoulder to get her attention, then motioned the 'stay' command one more time before he slid out again, then made his way slowly up the room, using the beds as cover to hide behind and conceal his form from anyone who happened to glance into the dimly lighted room. Another minute later, Jack had eased the Infirmary door closed and turned out the lights.
Jack! Sam urgently whispered into the gloom, risking
her position under the bed in her anxiety over his
Almost got it..! Jack stage whispered back.
There! A second later, the lights came back on, filtering
even under the bed, now.
Unable to roll out on her own, Sam did her best to slide against the tiles until she felt the comforting familiarity of Jack's hands helping her to slide into the open, where he helped her to sit up and lean against the bed opposite their position on the floor.
The second Sam was sitting up, Jack pulled her into him and
held on tightly to her.
God, I've never been so scared that
we would be found! he said into her hair by her ear.
thought of you being killed or forced to be a host... He
clutched her tighter as he became slowly aware of the solid feel
of her hands on his back in their first, fully shared embrace in
Sam was the first to pull back, but she held onto his arms
for balance as well as to give him her support.
happened? Were those Jaffa I thought I heard? Here? In the
Jack sat back to look her in the eye.
I don't know
what's going on. But, yeah, those must have been Jaffa. There
are a few who are dead up by the door. The security camera has
been blasted away, so it's a good bet that these guys know what
they're doing, what to aim for, how to stay undetected until it's
too late... I closed the door to the Infirmary and shoved a
sheet under it to keep the light from leaking into the hallway in
case anyone walks by. He pulled her close again, and slid
his hand down her hair.
I can only think that they've landed
on the mountain somehow... that's their typical MO... then they
must have taken over the base or something...
We're on our own here? Sam asked, her voice muffled
by his shoulder.
Looks that way... No one knows we're alive in here, and
with the door shut, it will stay that way. No one will ever pay
attention to a closed, locked, door.
Sam pushed back from him again.
We have to do something,
How? came Jack's harsh reply.
There are two of us
against an entire army!
Think... think.., Sam told herself. She looked
sideways, as if she were mentally going through their options,
until her features suddenly lit up.
We can sneak into the Armory!
And what good will that do? Jack asked.
blow them all up, there has to be more than one ship out there,
and you can barely lift a P-90 and keep it up for very long.
Plus, we have no rings, and no Stargate now... Just what do you
suggest that we do?
Sam shrugged her half shrug again, bit her bottom lip, a
characteristic habit of hers that showed she was deep in thought,
then her eyes landed on her closed laptop computer.
virus, she announced.
A what? Jack asked.
A virus means taking
out the entire Jaffa Army that's down here, and it will take so
long to infect their bodies that we'll probably all be dead
No, Sam interrupted.
Not a medical virus... a
computer virus... you know... Jack shook his head. She went
on to further explain,
Teal'c told us about it... It's
something that can communicate to the other ships on the same
frequency that runs between their ships and tell them remotely to
shut off all power... Better yet, to blow up the ships... Kind
of like the Goa'uld version of the Internet... I'm sure that I
can write a virus to give commands like that to all the ships in
this Lord Ahmen's fleet at once.
Jack looked at Sam, considering her suggestion. But...
Can you write something like the virus that you're telling me
Sam considered as well.
I think I can. Then she
I know I could have six months ago, and probably now,
though I'll type out the program a lot slower than I used to be
That's not what I asked, Jack whispered.
get sidetracked, here. Then, he repeated,
Can you do
something like this?
Sam regarded him with the eyes of a soldier staring at her
General. At last, she nodded.
Give me enough time, and I'll
Then we need to sneak onto that ship they must have with
them... through the Stargate, since I doubt you're up to walking
to where the ring site must be located outside their
And that means we have to take over the Embarkation Room,
and every Goa'uld that I know of has used the Embarkation Room as
a sort of headquarters...
Yeah, talk about walking from the frying pan into the
fire, O'Neill muttered.
We're still going to need the things kept in the Armory,
then, especially if we plan to try to infiltrate a Goa'uld mother
They both remained quiet for a minute, thinking fast. Then
Jack held up a finger for her attention.
What if.., he
started, then paused, thinking again. He went on,
What if I
dress up in one of those warrior outfits of theirs, and you
pretend to be my prisoner? We can get into the Embarkation Room
that way. He paused to stare hopefully at her.
shouldn't excite any interest if we look the part of conqueror
What about clearance? Sam asked immediately, hating
to dampen his idea, but more determined to ask the questions that
needed to be considered, and shed some doubt where she thought it
needed to be shed.
My clearance was changed not long after
the enlisted personnel thought... well... they all thought I
would never need clearance again. And you didn't have clearance
to begin with.
Jack thought on her words, then looked at the sight of Stephen and the doctor, or nurse, or whatever she was, lying over him. He stood, walked over to them both, then, grimacing, went through each of their pockets until he held two identi-cards in his hands. Then, he jogged back towards her.
Here, sudden clearance has been granted to you... Major
Hathaway, he said, reading a name off the card before him.
Then he shoved it at her as he placed the other card in his back
Congratulations, he intoned sardonically.
Sam took the card, using her right hand (it suddenly didn't
seem very important to use only her left hand), shoved it into
the back pocket of her jeans that she was, thankfully, still
wearing, and stared at him.
Have I ever told you that I love
that sarcastic commentary that you give?
No, but I kind of wondered... You always
used to smile whenever I said something sarcastic... I used to
do it just to see that smile of yours...
Sam laughed, snorted, then whispered,
sneaky of you...
Youbetcha, Jack said, smiled, then asked,
sure you can walk as far as the Armory, then the Embarkation
If you hold onto my arm so that I don't fall, I think
I'll be all right. Sam considered again.
With any luck,
my natural tendency to trip will only enhance your image as the
evil Jaffa guard on duty with a prisoner.
Jack kind of grunted, and grimaced again.
Yeah, with any
luck.., he said.
* * *
Many hours later, Jack peered into the little room set aside as the doctor's office just off the main Infirmary room. Janet had used this room as her personal retreat, and he always thought of her whenever he saw it. But, most importantly, it had electrical outlets and a desk with a matching, fairly comfortable desk chair. Currently, Sam Carter was seated in that chair, trying her best to be careful while typing on the keyboard of her laptop computer, which was set up on the desk. She was currently staring at the computer screen, reading through what she had just written.
Sam, Jack whispered at her as he peered through the
office door at her seated in the CMO's chair.
How much longer
will this take? he hissed.
Sam glanced at him.
You're not going to like hearing
Tell me anyway, O'Neill demanded.
Sam sighed tiredly, and wiped at the sweat on her forehead.
Well, I've finished writing the virus, but I really think I
should take a few minutes off first, then check over my work,
make sure I didn't make a mistake, save it all to these
disks... She held up two red plastic three and a half inch
disks that she had found in the desk drawer.
Then, I need to
get my medication, in case this entire operation takes longer
than we think it will, just to be on the safe side, and
then I'll be ready to go.
Jack gazed at her.
That long, huh? he deadpanned.
Well, let's get your medicine...
I need to take it now, anyway. I can tell; I'm starting
to get tight again.
Jack went on,
Okay, we'll get it all at once, right now,
then go. I'll take the first watch while you rest for a few
minutes. He tiredly gazed at her.
I'm used to
watching, he told her.
General, Sam said with a tired smile of her own.
Are you trying to tell me that on missions off-world, you used
to watch me while you had guard duty, and I slept?
Jack shrugged, and defensively held out his hands.
I couldn't help it, exactly. Did you know that when you're the
deepest asleep, you snore?
I do not.
Jack grinned back at her.
Yes, you do. I've seen
it. Then he amended,
Or heard it, rather.
Sam was quick to whisper back to him,
And, if you're
gonna play dirty, why, then, did you always pretend to be less
smart than you are? She rose from her chair, and he offered
his arm so that she could hang on to him while they made their
way over to the medication cart.
I've always wondered about
that, she added.
Pretending that I didn't understand something.., Jack
started to explain as Sam rifled through the drawers, pulling out
bottles of pills.
Well, Jack admitted, blushing a little.
Who would be the natural person at explaining things to me,
then? he asked.
Sam paused in her rifling and gaped at him.
pretended that, Jack? Just to get me to explain things to
you? His blush deepened. She shook her head.
think, I explained so many concepts to you over the
Yeah, Jack agreed.
It worked really well. No one
ever suspected the truth... they just thought I was the dumb
Sam suddenly smiled with extreme satisfaction.
though, she said, surprising him.
You knew what I was doing? Jack did some gaping of
Sam gave an even bigger sort of smile.
Of course I knew,
and I always thought it was deviously clever of you, and so
cute... But I knew that you couldn't possibly just be the 'dumb
Colonel' that everyone thought you were. She dumped a
handful of pills onto the cart, and from there, shoved them into
the left front pocket of her jeans. Then, she moved on to the
next bottle of pills on the list of medications written beside
her name on the medical chart. Finally, she said,
them all. Now, to take what I need for tonight... She held
on to the edge of the cart, and from there, wriggled over to the
This used to be so much easier.., she
muttered. Then, she filled a plastic glass kept in a pile by the
sink, and swallowed her medication.
Good thing my swallow
muscle has always been fine, or this could have gotten
really interesting, she sarcastically noted.
Don't go all cynical on me, Jack warned.
my job. Then he quickly kissed her.
camera, Jack explained when she glanced questioningly at him.
He shrugged again.
Well, I had to do something while
you worked, so I looked around the room... tried to see what's
here that we can use....
Sam continued to stare, then she smiled.
So, what'd you
Not much, really. But I did get to
thinking that we don't need to go to the Armory... We can use
what we have right here! And suddenly he lifted a Zat gun to
hand to her.
And I found one of these. Easier for you to
control than a staff weapon.
Grateful at the thoughtfulness of his gesture, Sam said,
I have to admit that the thought of creeping into the Armory
like a pair of thieves didn't thrill me.
I cooouuulldd demonstrate to you what might thrill
me, he suggested then, yet played at looking at her with
Sam glanced up at him, but was far busier concentrating on
standing on her own than she was on looking at him.
what's that? she asked vaguely, still trying to divide her
concentration between standing, and what he was saying, and
having little luck. It was difficult for her to multitask so
much now. Listening to somebody speak while she tried to do
something else completely separate usually meant that whatever
the speaking person said didn't truly enter her conscious
Thus, she was taken completely by surprise when Jack tapped
her on the arm and turned her towards him. He whispered,
I've been thinking...
Again? she teased.
He glared at her, then went on to explain his thoughts.
Very funny. But actually, what I want to suggest is that we
don't go into the Embarkation Room at all, but shoot like hell as
fast as we can from the outer doorways on both sides of the room.
No one will be expecting it, first of all, and it will cause
total confusion, secondly. Plus, the Jaffa inside the room will
have to shoot at us through the doors, making their aim haphazard
at best, while we can shoot at them in the open room.
We're much more likely to hit them that way? Sam
Jack the military strategist nodded.
Sam nodded back.
Sounds like a plan to me. I'm all for
shorter walks all around.
I thought you would be, Jack said, and grimaced
again. He led her back to the CMO's office once more, and the
chair it provided.
Wait here, then, while I dress in one of
those Jaffa armor uniforms of their's.
Sam's call made him pause.
Don't put on the top half
until you have my computer case slung around your neck...
Jack did come to a halt by the office door.
thinking, he said, then disappeared into the room beyond.
During the wait, Sam took the opportunity to read through her program one last time, finding several mistakes in the process. Oh, good thing I caught that before going onto a mother ship, she thought to herself, and decided not to point out to Jack her mistake in telling the ships to begin the firing process instead of the self-destruct process, and locking that self destruct process out of the main computer to avoid any future tampering. Wincing, she continued reading until the end, made the adjustments to it that she needed to make, saved the entire program, then packed up her computer.
By this time, Jack was finished donning the lower half of the armor belonging to one of the Jaffa guards who had died in the original battle for the Infirmary. He hid a P-90 on his torso, and included the computer that Sam had confined inside the carrying case that had been hidden under her bed, at the head, next to the wall.
Careful with that, Sam cautioned, but O'Neill didn't
have time to show concern for what was, in technicality, a piece
of equipment. He was far more concerned in getting Sam through
the coming ordeal alive and fairly healthy. He finished
dressing, but wasn't too concerned by how he gave Sam shivers of
dread when he slid the headpiece of the armor shut.
Now, stay low, Jack instructed through the armor, his
and aim high. The prisoners will be forced to
kneel before their god, and all that crap, but the guards and
Lord Ahmen will be standing up, so shooting them will be fairly
simple when they're that high up. Being low to the ground will
also act as a cover for you in a place where there really isn't
much cover, so go low and stay there. He paused for
Anything else? she asked in a businesslike tone of
Jack recognized her tone as one often used on the missions
they had shared... businesslike and brisk.
Yes, he said,
grateful that the accident hadn't affected her memory at all. He
could count on her to keep in mind all his instructions, and to
logically deduce what she couldn't recall.
I need to leave
you alone for about a minute as I sneak to the other door into
the Embarkation Room. Don't worry, he soothed automatically
when he noticed her disturbed expression.
You'll have a Zat
gun, and the element of surprise. And if you hold on to the card
reader stuck to the outside wall, you should be fine. We'll
synchronize our watches so that we'll open the doors at the same
time... He showed her his watch hidden inside his left fist.
I didn't know you were such a worrier, Carter, he
commented, falling back on their habitual terms of address in a
I didn't normally have to face on army of Jaffa, she
sardonically told him.
Would I lead you into a dangerous situation? he
asked, then amended his question when she looked at him
One that's too dangerous?
Sam was forced to shake her head as she stood up in preparation to leave the doctor's office in the Infirmary.
You got your ID card? Jack asked.
Sam pulled the card from her jeans pocket before shoving it right back into its hiding place.
Good, Jack said, and lifted his staff weapon from the
chair he'd laid it on.
Just be sure to open your door at the
right time... At exactly 10:31.
Sam set her watch to coincide with his.
Oh, added Jack in the tinny voice of a Jaffa guard.
Don't hit me by mistake - I'll be the one left standing up at
the end, he said. At her nod, he took her arm and said,
Okay... let's go. At a gentle tug on her sleeve, he moved
them both towards the Infirmary door.
Together, they moved down the corridor, Jack clanking at a slightly slower pace so that she could keep up with him without too much trouble. Still, about every third step, Sam lurched as she lost her balance, but Jack dared not help her too much. Her stumblings really did appear as if he were half dragging her to the Embarkation Room.
They reached the door in their goal corridor, and Sam took her ID card out of her pocket, then grabbed a firm hold onto the card reader with her left hand.
Okay... I'll leave you... now! Jack whispered
urgently, and Sam pressed the timer on the side of her watch as
Jack disappeared around the bend in the corridor, aiming for the
blast door on the other side of the Embarkation Room. This was
the first truly dangerous point in their mission, as Jack
couldn't open the door on the other side, and protect her at the
Nervously, Sam hung on to the card, the Zat gun, and the card identifier with all her might, and simultaneously tried to keep her eyes peeled for enemy soldiers. She thought she heard the sound of approaching footsteps a dozen times, but each alarm proved to be the product of her overwrought imagination, a hallucination brought on by her medication, or both.
But when she was swinging her head back around to gaze up the corridor towards her lab, disaster struck in a form that neither she nor Jack had anticipated. As her chin swung around, it knocked askew the ID card that she was clutching in her left hand, and she clumsily dropped it to the floor as a result.
Shit! she whispered, frantically wondering how on
Earth she was going to lift the valuable piece of plastic from
the floor in time to run it through the reader in order to start
firing at the enemy Jaffa without leaving Jack to fight the same
She peered down at the card lying innocently on the tiles, then swallowed. She had no choice but to retrieve it from the floor. But once she got down far enough to pick it up, she didn't know how she was going to get back up again to run her card through the reader affixed to the wall.
She would cross that bridge when she came to it, she decided. One thing at a time. Break the job down to manageable pieces, she reminded herself. Her therapists had given the same advice to her over and over again, and they said that, if she faithfully followed those directions, she would be guaranteed to solve almost any problem. But, somehow, she doubted that her therapists had had this particular kind of dilemma in mind when they first advised her with this distinctive brand of action.
Carefully, Sam grabbed onto the edge of the blast door's frame that stuck out from the wall, remembered to force her knees to bend, and sort of slithered down to the floor just as the familiar clank of enemy warriors filled the corridor. When a group of Jaffa showed themselves as they walked around the corner, Sam was ready for them. Staying low, Zat gun aimed high, she fired indiscriminately into their ranks, pumping energy shots into the group over and over again.
The second the final soldier fell, stunned, to the floor, Sam rolled over, grabbed the card, and purposefully ended upright on hands and knees, leaning with her back against the wall. She then used the wall as leverage, and pushed, hard, against the cinder blocks behind her. The first few beeps from the alarm inside her watch sounded as, teeth gritted in concentration, she pushed herself up just high enough to shove the card through the reader. Then, gasping, she dropped back to the floor as the blast door slid open on the command she had given to it. She could only hope that Jack had been able to open the opposite door at the same time.
The situation inside the Embarkation Room was exactly as Jack had predicted. Jaffa warriors stood inside the room, near the prisoners, and a person in gold armor was standing, totally exposed, at the middle point of the room. Sam figured he must be Lord Ahmen. She was glad for once of the Goa'uld penchant for arrogantly standing out in the open. She dropped back down to lay on the tile floor, pretending to be dead, Zat gun curled up under her second arm.
The minute the door was completely open, she jerked her arm
around, and yelled as loudly as she could,
Hit the deck!
Though her voice wasn't exactly loud enough to reach the far end
of the room, enough of the kneeling prisoners heard and
understood her command, for they fell forward in one swift
motion, leaving Sam free to fire her weapon in short, fast blasts
of zinging, violent, blue energy.
She remembered to aim high, swinging her arm wildly to create as much confusion as possible as she pumped blast after blast into the room. She didn't even look to see if the other door was open first. She just kept commanding her muscles to fire her gun, knowing that her reflexes weren't as quick as they used to be, so she mentally acknowledged that she had to fire more often rather than less often to bring down the same amount of enemy soldiers.
When she heard the clank of an approaching enemy patrol she didn't stop her assault to deal with them. Rather, she rolled sideways into the room, using the open door as cover, and continued firing, barely missing a beat. Several seconds later, she swung her gun around and fired it out the door, felling one soldier after another with little regard to what she was doing.
Suddenly, before she could swing the Zat gun back into the
room, she felt a hand on her shoulder. The clank of lowering
head gear entered into her consciousness, and the yell,
Carter! Stop! It's me! in her ear brought her finger to
It was Jack. She would recognize his voice anywhere, and halted her assault only after he told her to stop. He placed his staff weapon beside him on the floor, then leaned down to clear away the hair that had fallen into her eyes. He pulled the gun from her hand, deactivated it, then left his hand on her shoulder as they surveyed the room, trying to ascertain whether or not they had accomplished their goal.
Smoke, dust, and other debris marked the Embarkation Room from one side to its other. Even the blast windows showed the scars of battle, but the Stargate stood, untouched, at the end of its ramp of corrugated metal. And all around the room lay the stunned or dead bodies of the enemy Jaffa.
Sam wearily dropped her head onto her curled arms, and tried to concentrate on breathing as her heart thundered on an adrenaline rush that made her fingers and toes tingle. She felt the urge to keep firing into the crowd in the Embarkation room, and fought the urge as she sucked in air from her place on the floor.
Sam was so busy trying to breathe that she missed, but felt, the brush of colder air stream by her as someone vaulted around her body and out of the room. Half a second later, she could hear that same person jumping up the stairs and into the Control Room, where three fast blasts of another Zat gun turned the entire room a hazy shade of blue. A second later, that same someone came back into the Embarkation Room, stepping over her spread eagled legs.
Daniel! Sam heard Jack yell.
Good shooting, and
fast thinking. Here, keep watch while I get out of this blasted
suit! And lock those blast doors! The last thing we need now is
more Jaffa to cope with in here.
The blast doors slid shut with a reverberating clang, then locked, as several curses shot through Sam's mind when she realized that neither she nor Jack had remembered to watch the 'Gate Control Room, but glad that Daniel had been able to keep his wits about him, and handle the problem in his own way. She felt Jack's hand leave the back of her shoulder for a second, replaced by a hand belonging to someone else, and she rolled onto her back to see what was happening in the Embarkation Room.
Sam first realized that it was Teal'c, not Daniel, who awkwardly patted her shoulder in somewhat comforting movements as he tried his best to soothe her. Jack was stripping off the many pieces of the armor that was simply getting in his way now that his and Sam's initial attack was over. There were more men in Jaffa armor lying on the floor than she had first counted, and at the head of the room lay a being clothed in gold, near the stairs leading to the Stargate ramp.
The minute Jack was free of his camouflage, he pulled the Zat gun into his hand again, and quickly fired three successive bursts of blue lightening into the form of Lord Ahmen lying in a crumpled heap at the front of the room. The Goa'uld first died, then disintegrated as Jack shot at him.
Was that entirely necessary? Sam heard Daniel ask
Jack as the smoke from his blasts cleared out of the air.
Jack instantly responded,
Yes, that was soooo
necessary... Now, no one can use a sarcophagus on him, and bring
him back from the dead to fight another day, or anything like
Good point, Daniel muttered, but Sam heard every word
he said, as he spoke quietly to the floor.
Teal'c, help me sit up, please, Sam requested next,
grabbed onto Teal'c's outstretched hands, and levered herself
into a sitting position. The momentum of the movement made her
dizzy for a minute, but the sensation quickly passed as she
curled her legs into a crossed position on the floor.
I can take things from here, she said, and with nothing more
than a head nod, Teal'c strode several feet away to stand next to
Jack, one of the discarded staff weapons firmly planted in his
Who's in charge here? Jack asked Daniel and Teal'c.
Jack gazed at them questioningly.
And what the heck are you
two doing here?
Us? Daniel responded, bemused now that all the
excitement was over.
What are you doing here? We
heard that the Infirmary was under Jaffa control, so we had
counted the both of you as lost to the enemy.
Jack answered simply,
We hid. he looked at Daniel
And what have you been up to?
Daniel was quick to comply with his answer.
know that General Landry's dead... He was one of the first
people they all shot... no leader to rally around, you
Damn, Jack regretfully said in a low voice.
Daniel went on,
That makes you the senior officer, I
guess. And 'what are we doing here?' he reiterated Jack's
original question back to him.
We were trying to repel
the Jaffa army when they surrounded me and Teal'c, and captured
us. That was fifteen minutes or so ago. He gazed at Jack
over the top rims of his glasses.
The question is, what the
hell are you and Sam doing here? Really?
Rescuing you, looks like. Then, he
relented and told him,
Carter's got an idea for taking out
Ahmen's entire fleet... We came here to secure the Stargate
before 'Gating over to the mother ship that's gotta be on top of
Daniel nodded to affirm Jack's suspicion about the presence
of a mother ship parked on top of Cheyenne Mountain, but went on
to stare blankly at him for a moment, and said,
I thought you just told me that you plan to 'Gate to a Goa'uld
mother ship through an impervious Jaffa Army with nothing but
yourself and a person who can't even walk, let alone defeat a
bunch of trained enemy soldiers.
Jack took the time to glare at his team member.
when are you going to figure out that Carter should never be
discounted in an equation?
Now you're beginning to sound like her, Daniel
accused, not letting him finish his comment.
words that are longer than two syllables... Then, he
blinked, and harshly continued,
Are you sure you're feeling
all right? He lifted up a hand to feel Jack's forehead for
signs of fever, and Jack swatted his hand away.
Will you cut that out! Jack fiercely demanded.
Look, Carter wrote a computer virus that should infect that
ship on our mountain, then instruct the rest of the fleet
currently sitting in orbit somewhere near Mars to explode in a
huge fireball... If we first find the right frequency they're so
that we can send our virus... Come on Teal'c, tell him, or I'm
gonna have to knock his block off.
The ex-Jaffa warrior gazed at Daniel as blandly as Jack was
staring at him.
O'Neill is correct, he told his friend in
his dry voice.
A computer virus will essentially render the
Goa'uld ships useless in space and on this mountain. Then he
It is a wonder that none of us thought of this
Daniel gaped for a second before visibly shaking his head.
And you said that Sam wrote this virus? he asked. Then he
Sounds like a movie we all once saw...
Sam had listened to enough of the conversation that now she
simply had to intrude on it, as she knew more about what
she and Jack planned to do than her two friends.
Where do you
think I got the idea? she rhetorically asked Daniel with a
twinkle in her eyes. Then she went on to try to explain,
computer virus should be able to travel among the ships to their
network hub, after I synchronize my own machine with the
oscillating Goa'uld network frequency... She let her voice
drift away into silence as their blank looks at her technological
words only increased the more she talked.
Think of it as the
Goa'uld version of the Internet, she suggested then.
the ships are linked together, and should be penetrable without
much trouble. All we have to do is tell them to explode, and
Big fireball in the sky, Jack said, finishing for
Sam continued, more hesitantly when it was clear that Daniel
didn't believe her capable of doing any of what she was
describing. Still, she had to make one last attempt at defending
herself, and her idea.
It should work just fine, she
In... theory... anyway.
Daniel glanced at them both, still skeptical.
theory? he asked disbelievingly.
And Sam wrote this
little computer virus... thing?
Jack glared at him again.
Do you know of any other
computer expert currently on base? he scathingly asked.
Then, he dismissed Daniel's skepticism for more pressing
Now, I need you and Teal'c to suit up in vests...
Steal them off someone, or something... just get them. And get
some weapons, too. He glanced at the two men standing at his
side, wearing confused expressions on their faces.
I need you
two to come with us so you can watch our backs, he explained.
Then, almost as an afterthought, he asked,
Oh, yeah... Since
Carter can't climb stairs yet... Do either of you know how to
dial the 'Gate?
Teal'c answered immediately.
instructed me on the dialing protocol, he said.
I am more
than proficient at the task you seek to accomplish.
Fine, Jack said, already distracted from Teal'c's
response. He walked over to a Jaffa warrior who was just
beginning to stir, and asked him,
I suppose such a ship that's
as advanced as the one sitting on top of our mountain right now
has a Stargate?
The anonymous Jaffa soldier grunted an answer that Jack
understood, but Sam was too far away to completely detect as
intelligible conversation beyond the sneering,
course.., that the Jaffa warrior said.
Good enough, Jack answered him, then demanded,
What's the address?
The enemy warrior glared back at Jack.
I will never
reveal the secrets of Lord Ahmen.
Fine, have it your way, Jack said, then pulled the
trigger of the Zat gun, and was looking around the room for
another soldier to harass as the first victim fell back to the
Daniel pushed his glasses up his nose.
Don't you think
that's being a little harsh, Jack?
Harsh? Jack echoed.
Tell Landry that I'm being
too harsh, and then put me on report... I don't exactly care,
anymore. It's the same kind of treatment we could expect from
Thaaaaat's... another good point, Daniel told him,
conceding to Jack's argument, then moved to finally assist the
General by finding the next victim writhing on the floor. All
the other Jaffa warriors were still unconscious.
Jack pulled the soldier up to face him.
address on your ship... what is it?
This man only laughed right in Jack's face, and the General
grunted once before shooting the soldier with his Zat gun, and
moving on to a third soldier.
Got what I need, or do you want
to join your friends here?
This third Jaffa warrior glanced at his comrades. Then he
I am an undercover Tok'ra agent... Please... I
will tell you what you seek, but do not say anything...
Gotta love you Tok'ra, he
sarcastically said under his breath, then glanced at Daniel as
the one person that he knew was most likely to have a pencil and
paper in his pocket.
Daniel, you got something to write
Sure. Daniel handed over a small spiral notebook and
a pencil stub. Then, at Teal'c's expression of curiosity at the
fact that his team member was able to produce the revealed items,
shrugged, and defended himself,
You never know when you're
going to need to write something down.
That is most wise, DanielJackson, Teal'c declared.
I, too, must acquire one of these...
Notebooks, Teal'c, Jack filled in for him. Teal'c
nodded just as the Jaffa soldier finished scribbling the 'Gate
address on the tiny piece of paper. He handed it to Jack, who
delivered it to Teal'c's waiting hand.
suggested, and saw Teal'c weave his way to the door prior to
arriving in the Control Room. Jack turned back to the soldier
dressed in his Jaffa armor.
Since I don't want to be known as
the guy who uncovered an undercover agent... He shot the
Jaffa before he had the chance to finish his statement. Then he
disengaged the Zat gun, and tossed it in Sam's direction.
Hey, Carter, use this...
Sam caught the undeployed weapon, then dropped it to the
floor. Her sigh of aggravation sounded throughout the room.
Why do I have to be so darn clumsy? she grumbled
rhetorically to no one in particular as she drew out a knife,
then, very carefully, proceeded to cut off the lower hem
of a BDU tunic from one of the dead SGC personnel. Once she had
a long strip of free material, she tied each end of the piece of
cloth to the hand grip and barrel of the Zat gun. Then she slung
the loop of free material over her head and shoulders. That way,
she could still fire the Zat gun at an enemy, but she wouldn't
have to constantly support the weapon's weight with her arms.
When she was finished with modifying her weapon, she replaced her knife, and then dug through the pockets of her vest, and drew out an energy bar. But before she could open the prepackaged meal, she dropped it to the floor. Fully irritated at herself now for being so klutzy, she growled and hit the floor with the flat of her right hand before regaining control of the anger she was feeling that had been directed at herself. She sighed, then calmly retrieved the energy bar, and continued in opening its sealed packaging.
Don't you just love that new temper of hers? Jack
flippantly commented to Daniel with a hint of a grin on his face
before turning back to the job at hand.
yelled over the noise and confusion in the Embarkation Room.
You in here?
Cam Mitchell wove through the crowd of soldiers, SGC staff,
and medical personnel as he drew closer to Jack.
General... Just tell me what you need, and I'm there.
Jack turned fully around to gaze at the man who had replaced him and Colonel Carter as leader of SG-1. More enthusiasm than he had ever witnessed before met his eyes. The fact that Jack himself had personally chosen Mitchell as team leader meant that he was confident in the man's leadership abilities... But he'd never seen anyone look so much like... like a child at Christmas before. Sort of reminded him of himself...
Jack didn't waste any time on salutations.
I need you to
stay here on the mountain, gather a rebel faction, so to speak,
and reclaim the base. That means, use whatever means you deem
necessary... capture the Jaffa alive and hold them, or...
Teal'c's voice filtered down to them from his place in the
Control Room near the computer bank.
A Jaffa soldier will die
for his god before he will willingly surrender. You must keep
that in mind, and show them no mercy if you are to retake the
base. Amplified by the microphone leading into the
Embarkation Room, Teal'c's voice snapped with authority.
It snapped with volume, as well. Jack wriggled a finger
around in his ear a few times as he slowly said,
You heard the
man, our resident expert on all things Goa'uld.
You want me to stay behind? Mitchell clarified, then
at Jack's nod, embarked on his own argument.
With all due
respect, General, I think it's a bit too dangerous for you to be
wandering onto a mother ship with nothing but a few weapons, a
computer virus, an archaeologist, and a...
Jack interrupted him before Mitchell was able to voice his
reservations about Sam's presence on this mission.
you got against Daniel?
Mitchell sighed dramatically, and Jack had to think that the
man was more like Daniel than he realized.
I have nothing
against Daniel, Mitchell told him.
But there's no one on
this base who can argue that, while Daniel and Teal'c are an
addition to any team, they're not military, and...
And you are, therefore, you should be the one going with
me? Jack asked quietly, and Mitchell nodded. Then, Jack
leaned forward, closer to Mitchell's ear. He lowered his voice.
The truth is that I need to know that the base is in hands
that belong to a man used to command... You.
Me? Mitchell ascertained in some surprise.
Jack continued to speak quietly,
Look, after being
together as a team for so many years, I know exactly how Daniel
and Teal'c are going to respond in any given situation. I know a
lot less about you, but, like them, I trust you with the
well-being of the base.
YYYYYeeeaaahhh... Mitchell pseudo agreed, all the
while, encouraging Jack to continue with a wave of his arm.
So, the General added the last bit of incentive that he
could think of on such short notice.
Mitchell, most of the
Jaffa are down here... Those Goa'uld'll have a skeleton crew, at
most, on board the ship where we're going.
Mitchell drew himself to attention now that he had a
definite enemy to fight against.
I'll have the base reclaimed
by the time you get back from your mission on board the mother
ship. I won't let you down, General, you can be sure of
that. He drew in a deep, encouraging breath.
Good, Jack said with a nod, a blink, and a slight
I know I can count on you. With that last bit of
solace, Jack patted Mitchell on his shoulder before the current
leader of SG-1 left the General's side and disappeared into the
crowd. In the next second, Mitchell was organizing the
distribution of captured weapons, armor, and personnel like a
Jack grinned in satisfaction.
Sam quietly called him closer to her.
Jack lost his smile when he knelt down beside her and
Have you ever noticed that when a person says 'With
all due respect,' it really means that they have no respect
whatsoever for what that person is trying to say?
Sam grinned and nodded, but in a low voice, inquired,
you see the way Colonel Mitchell kept glancing in my
direction, as if he had a question that he wanted to ask about
me, but was determined not to ask it?
I kinda got the impression that he's not
entirely convinced of the fact that we need to bring you along
with us on this little jaunt of ours. That he knows something we
Sam rolled her eyes.
As if an accident victim who can't
walk on her own yet has no business even considering tagging
along with you guys on this mission, she added. Then, she
sighed in obvious aggravation.
I get so tired of that
Patience, Jack suggested.
Let the world come
around to the truth of the situation in its own time. He
comfortingly patted her on the shoulder. Instead of a comforting
caress, the action came off looking like a move that was awkward
as hell, which perfectly suited his and Sam's need to hide their
relationship from prying eyes. He continued to encourage,
It'll happen... sooner or later.
Sam sighed again, then, in an attempt to distract herself
from her disquieting thoughts, asked him,
Do you really know
about the mother ship only having a skeleton crew to man
Jack pursed his lips. Then, he shook his head with such a
tiny amount of movement, one had to look close to even see it.
No idea, he whispered to her.
Sam silently laughed.
Just being the General,
With the right incentive, you can get a
person to do just about anything that needs to be done.
Sam laughed again.
I'll remember that, and be suitably
doubtful of all your future orders.
I would never use that kind of emotional manipulation on
you, he bluntly whispered to her. But when she looked at him
with a raised eyebrow that made him wonder if she'd been taking
lessons from Teal'c, decided that now was the appropriate time to
address another, fairly touchy, subject before they left through
Look, there's something I want you to
know... He sighed, peered at the floor under his boots, then
I think it's a bit... safer... for you... if I
continue to call you 'Carter' while we're on this mission... this
job, save-the-world stint, whatever you call it... and you should
keep calling me 'General.' I don't want to cause you any trouble
at the last minute, or anything, after all.
Sam was touched by his thoughtfulness on the subject.
had already decided that what people don't know about how I feel
about you won't hurt them, she said, speaking in metaphor
about the emotions she and O'Neill had recently shared with each
other. She took another bite of the energy bar, swallowed, then
General... and I'll keep calling you that... count
me into this little scheme of yours.
I thought this was your baby, O'Neill negated.
You wrote that computer virus. Just as long as it works, and
tells the ships on the mountain and in orbit of the planet to
explode, you'll have Earth's eternal gratitude.
And if I made a mistake while writing that virus, and
nothing happens to the ships in orbit? she queried out of
Jack glanced at her.
I have every confidence in you,
he told her.
Thanks, she said in sarcastic
I know that wasn't a
compliment. She took a third bite of the energy bar in her
hand, chewed, swallowed, then regarded it while she made a face
I had forgotten how awful these things are...
Who decided to use these, anyway? Even I can make better
tasting bars than this!
The Stargate then started to make a noisy circle of locking chevrons, and O'Neill helped Sam to her feet in preparation for leaving the SGC as she stuffed the last of the energy bar into her mouth. If she had something else to eat, she would eat that, but she didn't, so... Air Force rations beat starving any day of the week, according to Sam.
With little fanfare, and even less notice, Jack, holding Sam up by a supportive hand on her arm once again, stood at the bottom of the ramp leading up to the 'Gate, with Daniel beside them. They waited for the familiar swoosh of energy and matter to fill the already noisy room with more noise, and then sent a MALP that Sam had noticed hiding behind the Stargate through the event horizon as the noisy confusion in the room began to sort itself into a semblance of order, all converging around Colonel Mitchell as he stood in the center of a crowd of people, and barked orders, reminding the three of a younger version of General O'Neill.
When the MALP sent back to the SGC the images that denoted a completely deserted room on a Goa'uld vessel, Teal'c joined them to tell them that a party of Jaffa did not await their arrival on the other side.
Jack grinned at Teal'c's news. An empty room meant that they were not expected, which in turn meant that it was a good bet that they were so unexpected that they should have little trouble reaching the ship's bridge, where Sam assured them that the computer interface that she needed to send the virus among Lord Ahmen's fleet was bound to be located. As missions meant to save the world went, this particular one was starting out on the right foot, Jack decided, trying hard not to let the more cynical side of his personality creep through his subconscious, and into the foreground of his mind.
They moved up the ramp, and slowly disappeared through the Stargate... only to re-emerge seconds later in the Embarkation Room on the Goa'uld ship. Jack could tell that they had arrived on board the ship by the red coloring of the walls, and the dim lighting. Why do Goa'ulds like the color red so much? he silently asked himself as they descended into the room, and Daniel and Teal'c moved stealthily to the door while he and Sam hung back, but with weapons held up, and ready to use if necessary. Fortunately, that need never arose, as the corridor outside the room was as eerily deserted as the room itself had been.
Where is everybody? Carter whispered into his ear as
she stared up and down the corridor at the emptiness.
Maybe on a picnic? Jack suggested with his usual
amount of bravado coloring his voice.
A picnic with cakes and tea, Carter said under her
breath, just as Teal'c gestured at them with his staff
This way, O'Neill, he quietly instructed.
But the quiet of his voice was entirely unnecessary as the
corridor continued to remain empty.
This is weird, Jack
commented in a whisper.
It's almost as if they didn't expect our coming over
here, so they didn't bother to guard what they didn't think would
get attacked, Daniel said as he stared in puzzlement at the
emptiness of the halls.
Typical Goa'uld arrogance, Jack stated in
Continue on through this corridor, Teal'c instructed
them. In spite of the apparent desertion of the corridor, he
maintained a battle readiness with his weapon.
He paused outside another door that led into the hall they
were currently hiding in, then gestured inside.
bridge, he said.
The door opened, they all filed through into the room
beyond, then the door shut them all in. Jack turned to the
ex-Jaffa, and, in his regular voice, told him,
day I'm going to have to learn that sense of stoicness from you,
that way of being quiet in the face of danger...
Don't pretend to accomplish something that will never be,
O'Neill, Teal'c advised with a straight face.
Don't think I can do that? Jack asked.
teach an old dog new tricks, and all that?
Teal'c simply stared at his CO.
No, he answered
I don't think you have the ability for the calmness
necessary to be a Jaffa warrior. You are much better at making
noise to confuse your enemy than in using stealth,
Jack appeared confused.
Thanks, I think, he replied
with a shake of his head. He wondered where his black ops
training fit into the Jaffa warrior legend, but decided for once
in his life to keep his mouth shut on his thoughts.
Now what? Daniel asked, ignoring Jack and Teal'c's
conversation in order to bring their attentions back to the
matter at hand. After all, they were still on a Goa'uld vessel,
in a very dangerous situation... It didn't really matter if
their lives were being threatened at the moment or not.
Jack lowered Sam to the shiny floor near a panel under a
We wait, he suggested. He unslung the
laptop computer carrying case from around his shoulder, handed
the entire contraption to her, then took up a defensive position
near the door.
Wait? That's all?
Sam had already unzipped the computer case, and was lifting
her laptop from its Velcro straps.
It will only take me a few
minutes to find the right Goa'uld frequency. As long as I have
no trouble matching it, I just send the virus. Then, she
It's not a big operation this time.
No blowing anything up, then? No
stealing death gliders at the last minute? No daring exploits or
Jack looked at him in exasperation.
Just guard the door
and make sure nobody enters, Daniel. That's all you have to do.
Carter will do the rest.
Got it! Carter said, as if confirming Jack's comment
about her 'doing the rest.'
Now, for uploading the
virus.., she muttered, then opened the appropriate program
and continued to work.
Now, if we just had a way back to the
Embarkation Room on board so that we wouldn't be noticed leaving
here, our jobs would be even that much easier.
Teal'c said to him, then,
This is the bridge of a Goa'uld
ship, O'Neill. It comes equipped with rings in case of a
Jack looked at him in surprise.
There are rings
Indeed, Teal'c intoned.
Why didn't you say so in the first
place? Then he nodded, and answered his own question.
know, I know... I didn't ask.
You did not, Teal'c defensively told him.
Yeah, yeah, Jack said impatiently.
are they? Where's the controls, I mean?
They are here, Teal'c said, then pointed at a panel
at the front of the ship.
Jack stared through the front windshield at the trees he saw
showing through the canopy window before glancing at the ring
Can you work them?
Now that I know the coordinates of the
Embarkation Room, I can send us there, or anywhere inside the
ship, or the SGC.
Sweet, Jack said appreciatively.
They are only two man rings, so I can only send two of us
at a time, Teal'c explained.
Not a problem, Jack said.
Just as long as we get
to the Embarkation Room...
That's it! Sam told them then in an excited
That's it? Daniel asked in incredulity.
Too easy, huh? Jack told him, and helped Sam gather
up her technological paraphernalia, and stuff it inside the
pockets in her computer carrying case.
But this was never a
huge operation or anything.
Geez, me and Teal'c could have done this.., Daniel
Know anything about computers, Daniel? Jack asked
over his shoulder.
Sam was the one who wrote this virus that
she sent. It was on her computer... It was her
Okay, okay, I get the picture, Daniel said with a
nervous shove on his glasses. They slid up his nose in a
Then shut up, Jack told him.
I know... Stop being such a doomsayer, Daniel said,
Okay, Jack intoned, taking command of the small group
Daniel, you and Carter go first. I don't want
her here in case we have some trouble at the last minute, and we
know the Embarkation Room on this ship is empty. Teal'c and I
will follow before you can take a deep breath.
Got it, Daniel said, and for once didn't question
Jack's orders as he pulled Sam to her feet and wrapped a
supportive arm around her waist. He grinned at her, and asked,
How ya holding up?
Actually, Sam told him,
Now that the virus is sent
and all the excitement is down to waiting for the next hour to go
by to see if it all works like it's supposed to... I'm kind of
tired, she admitted.
Well, at least you have an
excuse.., he said. But then the energy of the lowering rings
cut off his voice as he and Sam were suddenly whisked away in a
stream of coalescing matter and light.
Now, it's our turn, O'Neill quipped. He stood in the
center of the bridge, and Teal'c pushed some buttons on the panel
before hurrying to join him in the center of the floor as the
rings descended again. Then, in a blaze of light that would
never be able to penetrate the tightly sealed bridge door, the
two disappeared, only to reappear a second later in the ship's
Jack looked around at the deserted space.
Well, that was
easy, he muttered, then turned around to prop up Sam.
Daniel, dial us home. Now, if we only knew for sure that we
weren't walking into a Jaffa trap...
Sam gestured then at the strap of her computer carrying case
once again slung around Jack's shoulder.
Computer... send it through
Jack glanced at her, his irritation showing through in his
gaze in spite of his effort to hide the emotion.
I can't read
your mind, Carter. Spit it out, he ordered.
I can interface my computer with the MALP,
create an imaging program on the screen, and we can send the MALP
through the 'Gate first to make sure if friends or enemies are
waiting for us on the other side, she explained after she had
taken a cleansing breath.
Jack looked back at his other two companions.
you she's spewing technical... um... words. He held onto her
with one hand, and unslung the computer pack with the other. He
lowered it and Sam to the floor near the MALP.
Okay, go to
Sam scooted to her computer, and began unpacking the machine
one last time. Jack didn't even pretend to understand what she
Hope this works, he said under his breath.
One eye trained on her monitor, Sam held out her hand in a
commanding gesture of her own.
Remote control, she
demanded. Daniel handed the controls to her, and she made the
MALP swivel on the ramp and crawl back towards the activated
Oh, look, Jack said,
Be glad for those doohickeys, for once, Sam muttered
They've saved your butt...
Daniel finished for her.
And what a cute butt that is,
Jack, he teased.
Oh, shut up, Jack growled.
Daniel knew he had touched a nerve, but didn't have time to follow up with another comment, as Sam informed them all that the room in the SGC seemed to be clear of Jaffa. Only military personnel were milling about. She packed up the computer again, then held up a hand to be yanked to her feet unceremoniously by Jack.
Sorry, he said, as she bobbled against him, but he
sounded far less apologetic than his words indicated. If Daniel
didn't know better, he would have assumed that Jack just wanted
to pull Sam into his waiting embrace. He stared at them in a
shrewdness that wasn't highly habitual to him, but knew at the
same time that they didn't need to send an IDC code through
first, as no one was available to watch the code computer
programs installed in the Control Room. This must especially be
the case, particularly since the MALP had already successfully
gone through the 'Gate. At least, he hoped that was the case,
With as little fanfare as when they had left the SGC, the four friends entered the Stargate, and a second later were deposited back on the familiar ramp in the even more familiar Embarkation Room. They walked down to the waiting steps that led to the floor.
Someone, close the Iris! Sam called over the noise,
and wondered if anyone would actually hear her in the cacophony
in the Embarkation Room, but the Iris had soon slid closed after
her sort of yelled command.
Ooookay, she next told them.
I think I need to sit down now before I fall down.
Is that not a movie quote? Teal'c asked as he tried
to help Sam to sit on the bottom step of the ramp.
It's a night for movies.., Daniel said, then went on
at Teal'c's show of obvious confusion.
Doesn't matter, he
Jack unslung the computer again and laid it down next to
You okay? he asked, trying hard to mask the concern
in his voice.
You going to faint on us or something?
God, that would be embarrassing, Sam thought, and
with determination, shook her head.
No, but I think this is
as far as I can go in one night. She slid down until she was
leaning against the ramp, closed her eyes, then appeared to be
doing exactly what she had sworn she wouldn't do.
Damn! Jack swore.
Medic! he yelled.
need a medic up here, STAT!
Teal'c lay a calming hand on his leader's arm.
she is merely asleep, O'Neill, he cautioned the older man.
There is no need for this alarm.
Jack barely heard him as he leaned over Sam.
Already? Sam muttered as her eyes fluttered up.
Is it morning already? She glanced in incomprehension at
the three men staring down at her, concern written all over their
Don't wanna get up yet. She pushed at Jack's
hand, then shut her eyes, and put out her hands to catch herself
just in time as she dived towards the ramp.
Daniel caught her flailing figure, and eased her the rest of
the way down.
Yep, she's gone, he said, then fended off
the two medics who rushed over to them.
She's asleep, he
No worries, just Jack overreacting, as usual.
Thanks, guys, he said as the two men drifted away after
ascertaining that Sam was only asleep, not mortally wounded, or
dying, as Jack's tone of voice had indicated. Then he turned to
You're going to have to stop being so... dramatic,
Oh, shut up, Jack told him, and glared.
everything from you, he accused then. He lifted a sleeping
Sam gently into his arms.
Okay... the Control Room, he
I wanna know the second those things blow.
Teal'c followed, but had an expression of bemusement on his
They have been told to explode, not 'blow,' he
Not like the Earth custom of blowing bubbles
in a bath, for example...
* * *
Hours later, Sam was aware that someone was leaning over
her. She felt the hard metal flooring of the Control Room
leaving marks on her side, but seemed unable to get away from it
when she rolled over onto her back.
What? she asked,
squeezing her eyes shut against he glare of light that filtered
through her lashes. Was she dreaming? What the heck was she
doing in the Control Room?
Is it morning?
Jack's voice broke through the roaring sound in her ears.
Sam... you gotta wake up...
Go away! Sam demanded, then rolled over onto her
Too tired, for crying out loud...
She heard someone chuckle, then felt another annoying shove on her arm.
Geez! she said when the... whatever it was...
wouldn't go away.
Jack caught her arms before she could completely club him in
Whoa there! Sam, wake up!
Sam blinked her eyes open. The Control Room at the SGC
slowly came into focus.
Huh? she asked.
be in the Infirmary?
Sam? Jack said again, and leaned down even further so
he could be at eye level with her.
Sam, I've got something to
Sam glanced at her watch, and she noted that it said 0220.
Suddenly, she sat up and drew in a sharp breath.
work? she demanded to know.
Did the virus work? Did the
ships blow up?
Jack reached out for her to hold her steady so that she
wouldn't fall sideways into the wall behind her.
Breathe... just breathe.
Jack! she yelled... sort of.
Yeah, it worked, Jack told her then.
sixteen hundred minutes and thirty seconds, the biggest pair of
meteors ever to strike each other in space collided together...
officially. But I don't think anybody's buying it this time.
The President called, and said to tell you
Sam hung her head, as if she had another one of her
Oh, God, I feel awful... like I have the worst
But you can't even drink alcohol, not with the medicine
that you have to take, Jack pointed out to her.
Sam appeared to be highly annoyed.
I know that! My head
hurts, that's all.
All the effects of a hangover without any
of the fun.., he muttered.
Now, what is it that you wanted to show me? Sam
asked, trying to redirect his wandering attention.
Sam appeared to be even more annoyed.
You woke me up to
tell me that the President called? Couldn't that have waited for
Jack gave a start.
Oh, no! That wasn't it... He
held up a white envelope in his hand.
I talked to General
Hammond while I had The White House on the phone...
Did they invite you over for a party or
You're so cute in the morning if you
haven't had enough sleep...
Okay, okay... He showed her a letter that he took
from inside the envelope.
Look what Daniel found in his
A letter... How quaint.
Not just any letter, O'Neill corrected.
the letter. It's been just sitting in Daniel's box for
what must have been several weeks, addressed to me in care of
What is it? Sam inquired as she took the letter, then
squinted sleepily at it.
What's it say?
That I should kill Daniel, O'Neill commented. At
Sam's look of horror, Jack smiled.
No, I won't, I promise...
Well, he amended,
I really do want to kill him for
not looking more often in his in-box... but you should read the
So Sam squinted even harder at the letter. She had
difficulty, as her fingers kept grabbing at the wrong part of the
piece of paper, and covering the words typed on the page. She
scowled; she was so uncoordinated when she was tired!
signed by a General, Sam noted.
General Ivan Flint.
She glanced up at Jack.
I don't know a General Flint.
He's Hammond's... What should the man be called?
Hammond's partner, for want of a better word. Jack
appeared irritated with his need to explain something when he was
obviously very excited.
The point is... Read the first
paragraph, he ordered.
Sam did. Then she dropped the letter.
Jack grinned as he saw that she got it.
retired! he announced loudly, not caring who overheard him.
I have been for a half a month, and didn't even know
Does that mean..? Sam couldn't put words to her
thoughts. They were zipping through her mind too quickly, and
she was too tired to latch on to any thought in particular.
So O'Neill had to lean down and whisper in her ear,
on your ring... It doesn't matter who sees it, now.
Sam grabbed hold of his sleeve, then pulled herself onto her knees. Trying to balance when she didn't have the energy to do anything but sleep was interesting. She fell over twice when she tried to stick her hand into her jeans pocket.
Jack smiled mischievously at her.
Need any help?
Sam eyed him, her look practically spelling out the danger
he was in. He ignored the threatening expression on her face,
and smiled instead of heeding her look. At last she managed to
wriggle her fingers into her jeans on her own and stay upright at
the same time.
Got it! she muttered. Then, concentrating
hard, she pulled her fingers out of her pocket, holding the
engagement ring he had given to her between the end of her index
finger and the material of the pocket. He carefully reached
forward, grabbed it, and slipped it out.
There! Then he looked at her.
Are you kidding? Sam asked, scaring O'Neill half to
death with what he thought was her immediately negative answer.
Then, she soothed his jangling nerves by adding,
marry me, or I might have to do something really sad to
you for interrupting my sleep like this!
Jack laughed in relief.
Here, this is yours, I
think. He slipped the diamond ring onto her finger.
Now, take me to bed, please? Sam demanded.
falling asleep again here on the floor.
That's not very flattering to me, Jack commented as
he lifted her, and aimed for the stairs leading down from the
Hey, Walter, I'll be right back... hold the
fort for me!
Sam peered over Jack's shoulder.
Does that guy ever go
to bed? she asked.
No! Jack told her, and tightened his grip.
stop wriggling so much. I wouldn't want to drop you here on the
stairs, he told her.
That would hurt.
Huh, Sam grunted. She closed her eyes, and snuggled
in closer to him.
You just wanted a good reason to get me
into your arms.
Is it working?
Sam couldn't help but grin at his tone, and nod.
working very well, she said.
Too well. I may not want to
Jack cocked his head.
That wouldn't be so bad.
When do you want to get married? Sam suddenly
She felt Jack shrug his shoulder.
I don't know... When
are you getting released from the Infirmary?
Next Thursday, Sam replied sleepily.
Then how's this weekend for you? Jack asked.
Jack shrugged again.
I don't want to wait.
Apparently you don't, Sam commented. She wriggled
around a bit again as they moved into another corridor leading
towards the Infirmary.
I won't be able to find a dress that
fast, you know.
I don't care of you come to the wedding wearing jeans and
a T-shirt, Jack told her.
Just so long as I marry
Jeans and a T-shirt.., Sam muttered as Jack turned
into the Infirmary.
And comfortable. Jack lowered her to her bed and
began removing her shoes prior to throwing the covers over
Jeans and a T-shirt... But Sam was already
Jack grinned. He leaned down and kissed her softly on the
cheek. And he didn't have to draw the curtain first in order to
My kind of wedding, he said, and his grin grew
even wider. Then he walked back out of the Infirmary, carefully
dodging the nurses and doctors Mitchell had assigned to duty as
* * *
Jack spun around in the line at the local Starbuck's coffee house when someone called his name.
The crowd of milling people waiting to pay parted to let a
woman through to the front counter.
Jack O'Neill? Is that
Jack stared at the woman again, and he found himself
focusing on short blonde hair. He squinted.
Sara wound her way around all the waiting customers until
she was in front of Jack.
I haven't seen you in...
Oh, man, it's been ages! Jack said, just as the
teenaged boy behind the counter told him,
Five thirty one,
Jack passed over a ten dollar bill to pay for the two
coffees he had resting on the counter, then stuffed the change he
received into his front pants pocket before picking up his two
cups of coffee. He saw Sara gaze at the two to-go cups in
curiosity, and he smiled.
Oh, no, they're not both for me!
Well, one of them is. The other one's for my wife. God, he
loved saying that! Even after all the intervening years, it
still hadn't grown old.
Yeah, I heard that you had gotten married again, she
Um... yeah, Jack told her. Sara didn't appear to be
upset by this news, but one never knew.
Someone I used to
That tall woman? Sara inquired then.
What was her
Another voice suddenly dropped into the conversation.
Sara nodded her head once.
That's it! I met her very
briefly that night at the hospital all those years ago...
But Jack wasn't entirely listening to her. He found himself
staring into the eyes of Pete Shanahan as he materialized from
out of the crowd. He stood and stared at them over Sara's
What is this... old home week? Jack
sarcastically asked as he gazed at Pete.
Pete laughed at the couple in front of him.
Um, no, just
down here doing some shopping with...
Yeah, Jack interrupted.
What was your wife's
name..? I'm terrible with names.
No you're not, Sara contradicted.
You've got a
great memory... or has something changed?
Jack sighed: caught, and by his ex-wife. He did a
double-take before answering her question; had he really ever
been married to her? he wondered. Those years seemed more like a
dream to him than anything else.
Sandy, he told them both
with a sense of finality to his voice.
Pete laughed again.
Yeah, that's right... Sandy.
Sara turned to him.
Not Sandy Shanahan? She works at
Softees in Denver?
Yes! Pete said with enthusiasm in his voice.
you know her?
Know her!? Sara exclaimed.
She's my best friend's
Pete suddenly snapped his fingers.
Wow, Jack grunted.
This is weird.
Sara shook Pete's extended hand.
Jack's eyebrows reached for his hairline.
O'Neill any longer?
Sara glanced at him.
Um... no, she answered, looking
I've been remarried for five years now.
Again Jack's brows rose.
Five years, huh?
Pete gestured back and forth between Jack and Sara.
take it you two know each other?
Jack gave a weak smile.
This could get a little
awkward, he said as Sara blushed.
Wait, Pete said while giving them both a quick run
down with his eyes.
'O'Neill?' Are you two related or
Jack cleared his throat while Sara softly explained for
We used to be married a long time ago.
God, I'm sorry! Pete blustered, and stuffed his hands
in his pants packets.
Um, I mean... sorry that I didn't
understand right away, not...
That's perfectly all right, Sara was saying to Pete
with a slight smile on her face. An expression of curiosity
added itself to her gesture.
I've never met Sandy's husband
before. I didn't know that you knew Jack.
Pete gave her a tiny grin as he rocked onto the balls of his
Oh, yeah, me and the General go way back.
That's one way of putting it, Jack couldn't help
muttering under his breath.
'General?' Sara asked of Jack, then.
I had no
Retired, Jack stated immediately, to keep her from
getting the wrong idea.
Sara's eyebrows rose in appreciation this time.
again? she asked with a friendly nod of her head.
thought you and the Air Force were going to go on forever this
Well, not exactly.
What did they do... toss you out on your ear? Sara
Jack was more than uncomfortable now.
No, Pete answered before Jack could explain. He
turned to regard the General, then.
You got married, didn't
I retired first, Jack was sure to say in defense of
Sara grinned in a show of tolerant understanding. She
The Air Force doesn't allow for married officers
Um.., Jack hedged. Finally, he explained,
my second in command, and still in my indirect chain of
Understanding lit Sara's eyes.
Cynically, and with some amusement, Jack whispered,
But Sara caught Jack's attention with her next innocent
Where does Mr. Shanahan fit into all this? she
I mean, I know you, Jack, and it's clear that Mr.
Shanahan does, too, but that doesn't explain how..?
Pete answered her before Jack could say something that would
soften the truth a bit.
Sam... Jack's wife now... was once my
fianceť, he told her. Then he indicated Jack.
General here was always my... He turned to accusingly ask
What were you, anyway?
Jack couldn't help but think Your competition? But
he didn't say that aloud.
Sam broke off that engagement long
before we were married, though.
According to the half smile on her face, Sara sensed the
slight amount of natural animosity between Jack and Pete, but
before she could say more than,
Jack's right; this is
awkward! the crowd parted again, and they were joined by a
Hey, Jack, did you get one for... Sam's voice
stopped as she stared at her husband standing beside two people.
Then, her gaze settled on Pete Shanahan.
Oh! Pete! Hi!
Wow, what a long time it's been!
Jack handed the coffee in his right hand to Sam.
Careful, he warned then.
It's pretty hot.
Pete was staring at Sam.
Sam! he said.
Sam smiled, though the gesture didn't reach all the way to
her eyes, Jack noticed. But she was too busy thinking that Pete
was probably looking for signs of her earlier accident to see her
Thanks! she said to Pete's
An afternoon off from work really does wonders for
you, I guess. She turned to Jack.
I'm glad you talked me
into it, Jack.
Sam, Jack said then.
This is Sara... I don't
think you've officially met her before.
Sam grinned, and held out her hand for Sara to shake.
Nice to... Then, the smile fell from her face, to be
replaced by an expression of sudden comprehension.
O'Neill? she asked.
Well, Johnson now, Sara told her. She and Sam slowly
Pete stared at them in curiosity.
I would think you two
would have met before now.
No, Sam said with a shake of her head.
doesn't let me get out much.
You still in the Air Force, then?
Sam shook her head.
No, I own a small computer company,
now... a programming firm.
Yeah, Jack piped up.
She has six employees at
Six! Who would have thought!
And makes meals for the Air Force in her
Well, Sam said with a forced smile in order to change
the subject, and stop the obvious boasting her husband was doing
to her benefit.
We do have something of a schedule today,
Jack... we better get going. Sam slid her fingers into
Jack's free hand.
It was nice to see you again Pete... and it
was nice to finally meet you, Sara.
Pete smiled at them both.
Yeah, nice seeing you again,
Sam... Jack... Sara. Then the tiny group broke up as Jack
and Sam drifted towards the door.
Sam smiled as she led her coffee drinking husband away.
When they had moved out of the store, Sam leaned in and noted,
He was going to bring up that whole accident business, I could
Jack also spoke to her.
But that was so long ago.
Things are so different now.
Not all things, Sam said as she blew on her coffee
before drinking, and grinned at Jack.
No, Jack grinned back from behind his cup.
Daniel's still as absentminded as ever.
And as big a doomsayer as he ever was, Sam filled in.
Just like Pete, actually.
Little does Pete know what he's really missing, Jack
said then, his face split by an even wider grin. His free arm
snaked around Sam's waist.
Sam returned the gesture, this time letting the smile light
up her eyes for him as she squeezed him a bit with her arm.
Oh, I hope he knows, she commented.
Just a little
Jack chuckled at what she said.
Sam just grinned at him as they walked down the sidewalk to
where they had left Jack's truck.
Yeah, she finally said.
* * *
Three years later, Sam read in the newspaper society page that Pete and Sandy Shanahan had divorced after eighteen years of marriage. They had two kids surviving the relationship, an eighteen-year-old daughter named Ellen, and a sixteen-year-old son named Michael.
Two years after that, eighteen-year-old Michael Shanahan moved to Colorado Springs, and became Sam's twenty-third employee. She just grinned when she heard his name, but Jack laughed outright when she told him.
And it was all because she had written a virus twenty years before, and saved the world.
Nope, it never got old to think that, Jack decided, and grinned again, watched Sam as she tried to program her computer, and read the newspaper at the same time, and was once again glad that she had thought to write that computer virus in the first place.
Yep, Jack thought with a contented smile, thinking of Sam's accident... the blooming of their relationship... the Goa'uld invasion attempt... his and Sam's last days at the SGC...
Jack sighed again, and smiled. You just never knew what life would try to throw at you next.
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