by Suz email@example.com
Disclaimer – MGM/Gekko/Double Secret own them.
An episode addition for ‘Abyss’, so contains spoilers for that episode. Sorry about no WiP: lack of muse, plus the fight I’m having with a cold that seems to have been trained by Mike Tyson.
There's someone sitting next to his bed. He's not sure who it is because the form is fuzzy (or more likely, his eyesight is as he slowly wakes up), but when he distinguishes the colour of the hair, he knows who it is. "Carter?"
The form moves, her features reaching clarity as she lifts her head, blinking heavily. "Sir?"
He grins. Or at least manages a small smile. He's exhausted. "You look worse than I do."
"Sir!" She's completely awake now, rubbing the sleep out of her eyes even as she shifts closer. "How are you feeling?"
Well, his bones feel like they're full of lead, he's still covered in a fine sheen of sweat - despite the fact that he's now apparently through the worst of it - and if he doesn't get something to drink soon, his bladder is likely to turn into a giant prune. "Fine." Studying her face, he frowns. "What about you?"
"Me?" She's obviously surprised at the question.
She has dark circles under her eyes. "You don't look like you've been sleeping very well."
Retreating, she pulls back the hand that had been on its way to touch his arm. "We've been worried about you. You know...trying to find a way to bring you back, waiting to hear what your prognosis was...whether you were going to be all right."
"Thanks Sam," He reaches out and touches her instead. "Don't tell the boys this, but I'm lucky to have you as a friend."
She's absolutely still, as if terrified that the slightest movement might set off a nuclear reaction.
He notices, his hand tightening briefly over hers. "You okay?"
"Fine," She says stiffly, before making an effort to look like she's relaxed. "It's just...I can't remember the last time you used my first name." She seems awkward saying it, as if she's not really sure she should be.
He's confused. "I know I don't tend to use it very much, but there's nothing wrong with it. I mean, we are friends."
"Right," She agrees, seeming only slightly relieved. She doesn't pull away, but she doesn't cover his hand with her free one, either. "Friends."
Yeah. He's definitely confused.
The first session with MacKenzie goes as well as can be expected. Jack still hates those things - the fact that they're called 'sessions', that he's supposed to talk about what he's feeling, that MacKenzie nods in understanding at everything he says when he really has no idea what he went through.
He knows MacKenzie is a good guy. He knows he's just doing his job.
He hates him anyway.
He hates him because, despite the fact that he loathes the entire process, it does start to work. He feels better.
How can it possibly work that fast?
It doesn't, of course. Long after he's released from the infirmary and sets up in the quarters on base it was strongly recommended he take for a few weeks, he's plagued by nightmares.
They vary from night to night; different locations, different supporting characters, different outcomes. The only thing that doesn't change is *him*. *He's* there every single night, and that's what he can't talk about, especially to MacKenzie. *Him* and what he wanted to know.
He can't even talk about that to himself. He knows that much, but he doesn't know *why*.
His brain makes less and less sense, even to him.
Teal'c and Jonas visit him frequently.
Fraiser puts him through his paces, giving him the physical to end all physicals. He's never done so much running or breathing or lifting before in his life.
Sometimes, when he's jogging on the treadmill, he spies Sam watching from outside the doorway. She always pretends she isn't, that she came to see Fraiser or that she has something to report.
He knows better, and openly teases her about it. It's nice that she cares.
This time, both she and Fraiser frown.
He keeps running.
SG-1 are put back onto the mission list. While he still has 'issues' (and really, who doesn't?) he's cleared for light active duty. A simple recon. It's a cakewalk - everyone knows that it's a cakewalk - but it's better than sitting in his quarters, flicking his watch as if counting the remaining seconds of his life away.
It's good to walk up the ramp again: the familiar sturdiness, the clang of his boots against the metal. Nodding at his teammates, he leads the way through.
He's missed this one hell of a roller coaster ride. Despite how fantastic it is, as many times as he's made the journey he does get used to it. It's not quite as amazing anymore.
Today, after being held back for a few weeks, he appreciates it.
He steps smoothly onto another world, instinctively breathing out as he emerges. He starts issuing orders even though everyone knows what they're doing. It feels good, being able to tell someone to do something.
It feels in control.
Pointing in the general direction of their destination - ruins that the UAV picked up five klicks away - he jogs down the steps the gate is resting on and speaks. "Tally ho, campers."
Teal'c, as has become usual for him of late, smiles.
They arrive at the ruins, which live up to their name. There's not much left - just a few walls - but already Jonas is doing a bad impression of Daniel; gasping, thinking, running his bare fingers over bricks so old he really should know better.
Teal'c stands guard, as always. There's a deep sense of satisfaction and interest he derives from it; Jack doesn't think he's ever once seen the guy get bored despite the fact that he just stands there.
Only that's just it. He's not just standing there. He's watching, listening, learning, calculating. Jack discovered a long time ago that when it seemed Teal'c was relaxing, he was actually doing a hundred different things.
Carter is kneeling on the ground, swirling the blue liquid contents of her sample tube around, confirming the lack of naquadah. Not even a trace. Whoever lived there previously, they probably weren't Goa'uld's.
Jack already knows that. Though there's not much, there's enough of the buildings left to see that they weren't particularly grand, or opulent. These were simple, if tall, buildings that served little more function than protection from the elements.
Before long, he can feel his interest begin to wane. Determined not to get bored on his first mission away from The Quarters of Hell, he focuses intently on anything and everything. A few shards of grass struggling to push free from beneath a clump of mud, Jonas' constant mutterings, the constancy of Teal'c's posture, an alien bird squawking across the sky.
Carter staring at him.
Ambling towards her, he tries to draw her attention as she turns away. "Hey,"
Faking surprise, she smiles. "Hi sir."
Here they went. "Don't go literal on me, Carter."
She shrugs, bending down to the ground and looking away from him as she rummages through her pack for something. "I really don't know what you're talking about. Sir."
He knows a lie when he hears one. "I was in special ops, Sam. I was trained to know when someone was watching me - especially when they've been doing it with all the subtlety of an elephant on roller skates. What's up?" An idea crosses his mind; something he can understand her being concerned about. "If you're worried about the Kanan thing-"
"That's just it," She interrupts, almost arguing as she lifts her head to meet his gaze. "I know that you're pissed about what he did; I *get* that you're pissed about what he did..."
He had every right to be. So much for the 'sharing' thing. It was easier not to think about it. "Yeah?"
"But that's all you talk about," Her words soften the longer she keeps talking.
That makes no sense whatsoever. "What are you talking about? It's not like I bring it up in every conversation. Frankly, I try not to talk about him at all."
"That's not..." She closes her eyes, frustrated, before opening them again. "Whenever you do talk or mention something about what happened to you while you were..."
"High-jacked in my own body?"
"...gone," She concludes, ignoring the barb. "You only talk about Kanan." And then she reaches her point. "I've never once heard you mention Ba'al's name."
Just the sound of that word makes his head hurt, pound, his hand want to come up and press against his forehead.
He can't think about that. "There's nothing to talk about."
"Well how about talking about something else?"
Grabbing helplessly onto a different subject, he all but jumps up and down. "Sure. What?"
Her voice is even quieter, her eyes casting a gaze towards the other half of the team, turned away from them. Then her eyes flutter back towards him, and she speaks. "I'm...concerned about you, sir."
Relieved, he grins and bends down until their faces are only a few inches apart. He’s so lucky to have her as his second in command. "I’m gonna be fine-"
"You keep calling me Sam," She interrupts again, urgent, whispering, staring. "You don’t do that."
This again! "I don’t?"
She’s almost pleading with him now. "Not anymore. Not since..." Her words vanish, as if unsure.
His confusion has multiplied ten-fold. "What the hell are you talking about? Since *what*?"
And something happens. He’s not sure what it is – some sixth sense, maybe – but before she responds he glances towards Jonas. He doesn’t know why or how, but the wall Jonas is next to but turned away from starts to crumble.
He pushes his body up, his foot slipping in the mud. "Jonas!"
She’s already moving, her boots finding a purchase that puts her yards away from him in mere moments. "Jonas!"
Engrossed with something, Jonas is only now starting to turn around, eyes widening as he sees the dust and stone begin to shake free. He backs up but not fast enough, not nearly fast enough.
And then Sam’s there, her speed causing her to impact against Jonas and propel him out of danger, but her actions result in a change of their fates. The momentary collision slowed her down, and as she starts running again, it happens.
The last piece of resistance that had been holding the wall up snaps, and it begins to fall.
He’s there, he’s going to dive under the falling bricks, but something is grabbing, holding him back.
"It is too dangerous!"
"Let *go*!" He’s kicking, struggling, punching, but he’s no match for this particular Jaffa.
She disappears completely beneath the rubble, Jack personally feeling every impact of every brick as it hits the ground...and he remembers.
What Ba’al couldn’t know. What *he* couldn’t even know if he didn’t want Ba’al to use it against him: what he’d forced himself to forget.
The reason he doesn’t call her ‘Sam’ anymore.
The movement, the rumbling, the shaking finally stops.
Teal’c lets go.
Jack bursts forward to where she’s fallen, trying not to lean on anything as he frantically grabs brick after brick, not caring where he throws them, as long as they’re away from *her*.
Coughing, choking on the grit and dust filling the air, he places his left hand over his mouth as the right continues grabbing, throwing, searching.
The others are there too. Teal’c shifting twice as much as anyone else, Jonas murmuring "Oh my God," from where he’d fallen over after she pushed him. And then he’s up, helping.
Jack’s left hand moves – "Carter!" – and his eyes are beginning to sting as he tries to blink away the dust it’s getting incredibly difficult to see through. "Cart-" He coughs roughly. He should drink some water. But that would mean stopping.
This is what Ba’al couldn’t know about, even more than Shalen.
He wanted to go back for her.
Another brick; another five. How big had this goddamned wall been?
He wanted to save her.
A partially exposed leg. "Carter!"
The rampant joy at finding a sign, any sign.
It eggs his movements on, faster than the maximum speed he already thought he was moving at. Her body reveals itself quickly after that, the three men working together now that they know exactly where she is.
Her legs, tucked up against her body, her arms lifted up to protect her head. At least she’d been able to do that much.
"Carter!" He moves carefully, uncomfortably kneeling on a few bricks that aren’t touching her. His fingers automatically find their way to her neck.
She’s not moving.
But there’s a pulse.
His hand wants to move, tightening its hold on her. There’s lots of bruising, but no blood that he can see. How is that possible? Didn’t that kind of thing usually...kill people?
But he should know better. This is Carter.
She’s groaning, her arms beginning to move away from her face. "Ankle..."
A solitary bark of laughter escapes. If an ankle is all she’s complaining about, they really did get off lucky. But... "Anything else?"
She rolls off of her right side, onto her back and coughs once before speaking wryly. "Dust inhalation. And some-ow!" She winces, and stops moving. "Serious bruising on my back. Shit..."
"Ribs?" She’s all right. All right. How?
Shaking her head, she winces again. "Think they’re okay. Frankly I expected worse."
The relief is almost painful. His body sags, his head sags, he reaches out to touch her...
And remembers who he is. Where he is. *What* he is.
They help her up, and she stumbles. He lets Teal’c take her weight as Jonas takes a guilt trip, while he runs ahead to the gate. The faster they can meet up with Fraiser, the better. He needs her to be okay, and though he thinks she will be, he’s not taking any chances.
He tries not to think as he runs, his chest still heaving from his exertions, but it’s useless.
He couldn’t let him know. He couldn’t let them know. He couldn’t let *anyone* know.
He keeps running.
Not even himself.
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