by Suz firstname.lastname@example.org
Disclaimer - MGM/Gekko/Double Secret own them.
Spoilers for 'Solitudes', 'Beneath The Surface', 'Paradise Lost' and 'Metamorphosis'. 'Metamorphosis' episode addition. As ever, feedback would be appreciated.
Muted light. Hard, unpleasant smells. The subtle murmur of far off conversation. Her head gently resting against his shoulder.
It was easy to imagine he was *him* again; that she'd just been laughing at something he'd said, that he - they - were free to say whatever the hell they wanted. Either the first thing that came to mind, or the most important.
But he wasn't *him*...and she was dying.
He hadn't voiced the fear and never would - that wasn't how he worked - but they'd both seen twice now what happened to the poor bastards who'd ended up in that machine. The puddle behind him that they were both trying and failing to ignore was testament to her fate.
The fear, sudden but expected flared up in his gut again. He clamped down on it the way he always did, instead focusing on just watching her. She was wet, not just sweating but *wet*. Was what Fraiser had said happened to Alaban happening to her already? Were her...cells breaking down?
There was the fear again. He was beginning to realise he was going to have to get used to it, but that was the kicker:
He never would.
If he'd made it through some six years and he still hadn't managed it, what were the odds he would now?
She moved away from his shoulder, and he instantly missed the pressure. It was so rare, so...close. They just didn't do that anymore. But then hovering on the edge of death probably made you not care so much about the regs. Why else would she do it?
As she kept moving away, Jack realised she was actually moving *towards* him in a different way - her head was lowering, slipping forward from his shoulder. Suddenly grabbing the top of her arms to stop an uncomfortable landing, he gently lowered her body until her head was resting on his lap.
Her face was turned away from him, but from this angle he could see that her eyes were still closed. Her face still wet.
And as much as he loved the contact, and as stupid as it was, she was going to get a crick in her neck. Hating feeling useless and knowing this was all he *could* do - therefore, it was what he *would* do - he held onto her shoulders and carefully pulled her up.
"Sir?" She asked weakly as she rose with his help, eyes fluttering open but not for long.
"Easy," He said, shifting the both of them to make if easier for her to lie down on the 'mattress'. He left the bed completely, standing up and still supporting her weight. "Just making you comfortable."
"Liked where I was," She complained, but not objecting, as he lowered the top half of her body to the bed, then lifted her legs up.
When she was as comfortable as she was going to get, he sat on the edge. "Me too," He confessed, instinctively fighting the reply that wanted to come out, but hell - if it made her smile, if it helped her at all, he could risk it. He could be Jonah again for a while. "A little *too* much, if you catch my drift."
It worked. A noise that on any other day would have been easily identifiable as a chuckle emerged.
"Hey," He teased. "What have I told you before about giggling?"
What should have been a smile became a grimace, her eyes still closed. "God..."
His right hand clutched onto his own thigh, digging in deeply. "Can I do anything?" Helpless, helpless, *helpless*.
"You are," She breathed as she winced again, her left hand lifting off the bed.
Jack didn't hesitate, his right releasing his thigh to grab hold. It was almost slippery, but he couldn't feel repulsed. "I swear to God," He muttered, staring at their joined hands. "I'll make that bitch pay for what she's done to you."
"No," She argued, making him glance up to her face to see that her eyes were open. "We won't figure...out the machine without...probably only chance to save...these people." Speaking that much had obviously drained her: she immediately closed her eyes again.
"And you," He replied, but mostly to himself. When Niirti was done with Jonas she'd undoubtedly come for him next. It didn't seem likely to him that she'd experiment on Teal'c given that she was only searching for 'perfect human' hosts. Being a Jaffa he didn't quite qualify - the whole snake in the stomach thing.
And when they came...and when they took him to her...maybe he could do something. He wasn't counting on any act of kindness from a Goa'uld, but he *had* let her go once before. What was happening here was his fault. What was happening to *Carter* was his fault. How could he not even try?
"Don't," Carter warned, shaking her head as if reading his mind. It wasn't a surprise.
He feigned ignorance. "What're you talking about?"
"Don't," She repeated. "She'll never go-oh!" The pain returned, apparently stronger than ever, causing her head to tip back and her hand to constrict around his.
Jack cursed under his breath at the strength of her grip, but didn't pull away. "Well," He croaked, when the pain had subsided. "Now I get why you wanted to hold hands. It's a pain thing, isn't it? Like women who are giving birth; they don't want to hold their partners hand for the support, they want to *hurt* them the way they're hurting."
She managed a tight smile, her voice barely there. "Caught,"
"Well you're doing a good job." Man, if the way she was holding onto him hurt that much, what was *she* going through? "Try and get some sleep." Maybe if she could, she wouldn't feel it.
He had to believe it.
With a faint nod she closed her eyes and visibly tried to relax her body. She stayed that way for some forty minutes (what the hell was Niirti doing with Jonas?), though it was obvious when the pain hit. Her body would tense, her brow would furrow, and her hand would tighten around his.
Jack did what he could; murmuring stupid little phrases, promises that she had to make it because she still had to go fishing, threats not to leave him because he really didn't think he could cope with Jonas without her.
When she finally, eventually, fell into slumber, his whole body slumped forward, his chin almost grazing his chest.
Her hand was still moist. Maybe even more so.
His hand was gonna have some pretty obscene bruises.
Teal'c. Quiet. Probably watching the entire time. Probably watching with that too-knowing gaze. "Yeah." It wasn't a question. He figured it didn't need to be.
"She missed you greatly."
Lifting his head, he swivelled to stare at his buddy. It was obvious what he was referring to...he looked back down at her. Frowning, even in sleep. Occasionally twitching.
Part of him actually hoped that she never woke up.
She'd missed him. He'd known it internally of course, but it was quite different to have someone else actually say it to him. That meant that she must have been...obvious. She didn't really do obvious.
But she had this time. "I think I know how she felt."
Footsteps. Jonas was being returned - not looking particularly worse for wear. Jack took one last look at her. He'd do whatever he could to try and make these idiots see sense, but if it didn't work...he'd do what he had to.
He squeezed her hand one last time.
He let go.
He stood up.
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