Radiant Day

He looks so different. It's as though someone has switched the colonel with an elderly man who is too tired to live anymore. I shudder at the all too apt comparison. Daniel's got him secured tightly and keeps telling me to go. I'm afraid to. I feel that if I leave now, I'll never see the colonel alive again. My hands are fluttering around of their own volition, nervously holding onto the colonel while my mouth rambles on, telling Daniel about what he should do to keep shock from killing the colonel. As though by imparting the knowledge I'll somehow be able to keep this from happening. I know it's stupid and illogical.
I'm just really, really scared.
I'm afraid I won't get the chance to tell the colonel what I think he needs to hear. After the entity probe transferred me into the SGC's computer systems, my world became barren and desolate. A void, empty of sound, touch, smell. Unending cold. I was in there forever, even though Janet assures me it was only a few hours. The nothingness was so pervasive it felt an eternity. And it continues. It's followed me these past few weeks, distorting what was happening around me. I've been alive and breathing, but not completely aware.
Had I not been caught up in my own torment, I'd have understood why he seemed to be avoiding me. He was probably seeing me as an empty shell, just like he looks to me now. It's horrifying. I think deep in the recesses of my mind, I knew I should have approached him, told him I was fine. That he did what he had to do. I've been such an idiot. Didn't even know what was happening here, really, until it was far too late to prevent it. Should have had my eyes open and facing outward instead of inward.
Should have taken the hand so willingly offered. Teal'c. That same hand is on my arm now, steady as always. He seems pale in the bare moonlight, grim lines grooving his face. It's the only indication of his concern for the colonel. Through that, even, he's got time for my petty needs.
I've been aware of Teal'c's almost constant presence at my side. He always appeared just as the nothingness reasserted itself within me. Perhaps I did lean on him a bit, took him for granted without even realizing it. That happens so often with Teal'c, from all of us. We just expect him to be rock solid. I'm realizing more and more how unfair that is to him. When this is all over, I'll have to thank him. God, when this is all over, the colonel might be dead.
I'll never be able to wash the image of him being gored out of my mind. The blood gushing from the immense hole in his stomach, pooling out of him so fast... It's amazing he's even still alive. I suddenly need to throw up.
"Go, Sam!" Daniel hisses.
What am I doing? I force the bile back down my throat. It burns all the way. I should have made it to the 'gate already. Daniel's voice is strained both from anger and fear. His eyes blaze into me over the colonel's head. Just like they've been blazing into me for weeks, watching me as if I was a volatile chemical about to explode. Afraid of me or afraid for me, I'm not sure. What I am sure of is that even had I wanted to ask him about it, Daniel would have scuttled away before I could have even tried. I've seen him do just that, with a look of miserable shame plastered across his features.
I shake my head. Daniel's right, there's no time. Scanning the colonel again, wishing he'd wake up and deliver a smartass comment, I sandwich his hands between mine and squeeze. They're icy and don't move under my touch. I swallow convulsively and slide away on my butt. Teal'c takes my place, blocking the colonel's still figure. I can only see Daniel's pale face, tinged a morbid blue from the dim light. Eyes closed in a long blink, Daniel looks...not right. Sick fear creeps into me.
He opens his eyes and looks right at me again. Mouths 'hurry', scrunches his eyebrows together and switches his gaze to the colonel. Teal'c backs up and rises, offering his hand yet again. I take it. Seconds later, I'm on my feet and running. Want to look back. Know I can't.
Three minutes. I've mentally clocked the distance in my head, and I think we can make it in three minutes. I push my legs to pump harder and harder, calling up every ounce of reserve energy I possess. The vision of the colonel, lying motionless in Daniel's arms is more effective than a carrot dangling on a stick. The pallor of his face and the wound in his abdomen are crystal clear in my brain, overriding the need for rest my feet scream for. It's only half a kilometer.
Scanning the path ahead, I make sure it's clear before I turn my head to locate Teal'c. He's been a couple of steps behind me the entire way, breathing ragged. Something's wrong. He should be in front of me, leading the way. A quick glance shows a few steps have become a few meters. He catches my eye and shakes his head, pointing with his chin for me to continue. Tells me to pay no mind. I give in for now, only because of the urgency of the situation for the colonel.
I can see the Stargate now, gleaming beautifully in the sparse light. I slow my pace and allow Teal'c to come up to my side. As one, we reach the DHD. While I dial as quickly as my shaky hands will allow, gasping for air, Teal'c puts a hand on his stomach and bends almost in half. My concern increases a thousand fold. Something must have happened to his symbiote when he leapt over that bull. Why would he hide this from us?
I don't have time to think about it. The 'gate gushes open and I punch our code into the GDO, waiting just long enough to get the green light. Teal'c stays hunched over, and up close I can see he's sweating and his skin has taken on a sallow appearance. I can't help but think of Daniel's blue face and wonder if I should be concerned about him, too.
Taking Teal'c by the arm, I'm startled to feel him shaking. I instantly wrap my left arm around his waist and try to drape his right arm around my shoulder. He's balking, muttering something in Goa'uld. Damn male pride. I thought Teal'c was impervious to that particular trait. Grumbling back at him, I pull him to the event horizon and jump through.
We arrive back at the SGC in a tumble of arms and legs. He's falling before I can ease him down, though I'm pretty sure his mass would have prevented me from helping him too much anyway. The SFs stare dumbly at us as the 'gate shuts down.
Impatiently, I scream, "We need a medical team now!"
General Hammond strides in with a stiff gait, hands clenched at his sides. No time, no time, no time! I already know the questions are going to eat into what little hope remains for the colonel.
"Major, where are Colonel O'Neill and Doctor Jackson? What happened to Teal'c?" he predictably asks.
I'm frantic with irritation, the words falling out of my mouth so fast the general just gapes at me as if I'm speaking Asgard. I sigh, ready to begin again when Janet runs in and up the ramp to Teal'c. I've got a hand still wrapped around his right forearm, and it doesn't seem to want to let go.
"Sam, you have to let go of him and tell me what's happened," Janet calmly orders.
Her voice does the trick. Rational, yet warm. My hand lets go and I look at both General Hammond and Janet. I can feel the tears welling and for once in my life I'm not ashamed of them.
"I think something happened to his symbiote," I gasp, still a little out of breath from the run and my earlier attempt at speaking. "We met the natives, who made Colonel O'Neill, Teal'c and Daniel participate in some sort of ritual involving jumping over a huge bull. The colonel's hurt bad; we couldn't move him."
The medical team is lifting Teal'c onto a stretcher, already wheeling him away. Janet's following them closely, loudly conveying orders. She halts at my words, waving the medical team on without her and trotting over to the general and I. My eyes follow Teal'c out of the 'gateroom. I want to run after him and I want to run back through the 'gate at the same time. How am I supposed to choose which of my friends' lives is more important to me?
"Ritual? What exactly is Colonel O'Neill suffering from?" Janet inquires, rubbing my arm and gently easing me down on the ramp.
I want to scream at her. Why is she here, not with Teal'c? It takes a moment for me to register she's probably already told her staff what to do until she can get there and they are perfectly capable. Augh, I'm not focusing on the important stuff. Have to pull it together.
"They apparently have an age rule for men. The colonel, Daniel and Teal'c didn't meet requirements," I stutter quickly. "They wouldn't let us leave and they made them jump over this big bull to prove they were fit...Hathor... Thought Teal'c made it. There wasn't any blood, he seemed to be fine."
"Slow down, Sam," Janet soothes. "We'll take care of Teal'c. His larval Goa'uld is extremely resilient. I'm sure he made it back in time. What about Colonel O'Neill?"
My head is down, but I feel her shift. I know she and the general are staring at me. Oh, God. Focus. Focus.
"He...didn't make it over the bull. God, there was so much blood. I think he got caught up on one of the bull's horns. He's got a wound, pretty big, I don't know, in his abdomen. Possible internal injuries," I spout, hoping I'm being coherent.
"Doctor, how quickly can you have a medical team in place?" General Hammond breaks in.
Good. I'm not completely hysterical. I can't figure out why my brain is in complete control, but my mouth refuses to comply.
"I'm on it, sir. Ten minutes," Janet snaps. "Sam, how long ago did this happen?"
"I don't...I'm not sure," I fumble. I really don't know. "An hour. Hour and a half, tops."
"Shit," Janet curses.
I don't think I've ever heard her swear before, and it brings control back a little bit. Lifting my head, I see her short figure dashing out of the 'gateroom at a dead run. I stare at the open door in a trance. My concern for Teal'c is still there, but I know I need to go back for the colonel. There might be enough time for me to go see Teal'c for a second. I need to see him, just to make sure Janet is right about his symbiote.
"Major, are you all right?" General Hammond breaks into my thoughts. "Walk with me to the infirmary. What about Doctor Jackson, was he injured as well?"
Oh, God. His question brings back the unsubstantiated fright I felt back on PX9 763. Daniel's unnaturally blue face pops into my head. What if he's hurt too, but didn't tell us? The faint suspicion of fear suddenly resurfaces. I stop in my tracks, didn't realize we had started walking, and meet the general's worried gaze.
"Major?" he encourages.
"Sir, Daniel didn't look hurt, but..." I blurt, and then stop for a moment. I have a really bad feeling. "But I didn't even know Teal'c was hurt until we were almost back here."
The general puts a hand on my shoulder, guiding me back into motion while asking, "Do you have reason to believe he may be hurt?"
"Nothing concrete, sir. He did seem...off," I stammer. The bad feeling is snowballing. 'Off' for Daniel usually signifies something a lot more serious.
"We'll tell Doctor Fraiser to plan for that likelihood," General Hammond assures, looking almost as fearful as I feel.
We're at the infirmary and now that we are, I want to run away. There's a flurry of activity in the far corner and I can see Teal'c laying motionless on a gurney. Doctor Warner is at his side, lips moving. I'm heartened to see Teal'c responding, though even from here I can see he's having difficulty. The doctor is tentatively poking around his pouch, and I wince when his symbiote is withdrawn. It's barely moving and I see bright blue streaking its entire length.
Blood. There seems to be an exorbitant amount of it. God, all this time, it's been bleeding to death inside of him. I don't know how it could have become injured, leaving his person perfectly fine. Doesn't matter. Doesn't matter. I just want Doctor Warner to be able to fix it fast enough to save Teal'c's life.
Janet is rushing around, screaming at a couple of nurses to get their butts moving when she catches sight of the general and me. She glares at the frazzled nurses one last time before heading over to us, a worried expression replacing her already stressed one. Uh oh. I must be really transparent right now, because the first words out of her mouth set me at ease.
"Don't worry, Sam. Doctor Warner is confident he'll be able to save Teal'c's symbiote. Teal'c's in pretty bad shape, but I think he can make it while Junior's getting repaired," she evenly relates, keeping one eye on the activity behind her. "Now, you said there's some sort of age stipulation for the men on PX9 763? Both the nurses I've assigned for the rescue operation are female, so they shouldn't have a problem, right?"
I shake my head. A couple of nurses, Janet and I might not be enough, especially if Daniel's hurt, too. But she doesn't know Daniel might be hurt. I have no idea if we should expect some type of reception by the Cretinians. I was hoping they'd still be occupied in the arena, only now thinking of that not being the case.
"Doctor Fraiser, there's a possibility Doctor Jackson may also be injured. To what extent, we are uncertain," General Hammond informs her. "I'm going to request SG3 accompany you, as need may be."
Janet looks like she wants more details on Daniel, but looks at me, nods and scurries away again, calling out to her staff to gather additional equipment.
"Sir, there's a danger the Cretinians, the native peoples, may become aware of our presence. We didn't get very far out of the village. If the...ceremony," I almost choke on the word. "Is still taking place, they could be at risk."
"Were the people advanced enough to pose a real threat?" General Hammond asks.
"No, not really, sir," I concede, but I'm still worried. "There are quite a few of them, though. It wouldn't take much to overpower us."
"It's a chance I'm sure SG3 is willing to take. I'll make them aware of the situation. They'll be in the 'gateroom in ten minutes," the general immediately considers and rejects the threat. "Major, are you certain you want to go back to the planet?"
"Yes, sir. I have to," I hastily answer.
"Very well. I'll see you in ten."
General Hammond departs with one last look at Teal'c. I don't follow his exit, instead turn toward Teal'c's bed. He looks exactly like he did when Machello's happy little slugs nearly killed him. He survived that, for a longer time than this. Teal'c will live. I know it. I still feel the need to go over and make certain.
Teal'c lifts the corners of his mouth for me as I draw up to the side of his bed. A pang snares through me. Even now, he's extending that hand. I literally take his hand, surprised to find it cold, but pleased when I feel a slight pressure. He's shirtless, the criss-cross on his abdomen appearing fragile. Empty. I can't stop staring. His voice breaks my trance.
"I will be fine, Major Carter," he whispers, sounding anything but fine. "You must return to PX9 763 and retrieve O'Neill."
"General Hammond is briefing SG3. I'm on my way now. Don't worry, Teal'c. We'll get them home," I tell him.
Not sure if that's all true. We'll get them home, but will the colonel be alive? I'm feeling a knot right in the middle of my back, punching me over and over. It must have been building for hours. Rolling my shoulders in the hopes of loosening it, I'm frustrated when it doesn't work. Actually seems to aggravate the stiff muscles even more. I think there's only one thing that will get rid of the discomfort. And I can't be standing here to do it. I have to go with Janet and SG3 to get the colonel and Daniel.
"I should go. I'll check in on you when we get back," I say softly and put my other hand on top of his, duplicating the gesture I gave the colonel.
Teal'c nods and closes his eyes. God. My certainty falters. I don't want to leave him like this. What if he won't be fine? He opens his eyes again.
"You must go now, Major Carter."
Now it's my turn to nod. I swallow and pivot away from him. Janet is standing at the door, waiting and watching Teal'c worriedly. She doesn't want to leave without knowing for sure he's all right either. We have no choice. Doctor Warner is a good doctor and Teal'c is stable. We need Janet on that planet.
She matches my strides with a slight jog as we stalk down the corridors. We're at the 'gateroom in record time. General Hammond and SG3 are waiting for us, equipment for me lying on the floor. All of them look as tense as I feel. I scoop it up and am ready to go just as the Stargate comes to life. The general gives me a last minute once over and for a minute I think he's going to make me stay behind. Or try, anyway. His face changes from hesitation to resignation and he nods once. I brush by him toward the event horizon and follow SG3 through.
Renewed energy fills me once my feet hit the dais on PX9 763. Instead of pointing the way for SG3 and the medical personnel, I'm running toward the colonel and Daniel. The only clue I have the others are following is their thundering footsteps and the sound of snapping twigs. The sun has partially risen, coloring the sky pastel pink and peach. I'd normally enjoy the serenity of the sight, but all it seems to induce now is increased agitation. My heart greatly wants to believe the colonel made it through the seemingly endless night, but my mind isn't quite there yet.
Three minutes. I did it before. It can happen again. Will happen again. The colonel will be alive. Daniel is not injured.
I can see their huddled figures leaning on a tree and unmoving. Someone is at their sides. Alekos. Fury at his being there surges, making my legs push even harder. Had I the breath, I'd scream at him to get the hell away from them, but I can't spare it. I get about 25 feet away when I notice minor movement from Daniel. Alekos draws back abruptly, facing me. He's clearly upset, skin seeming to stretch across his cheekbones. Ohnonono.
"Hurry! You must help them!" he calls.
Them, he said them. Shit. I'm on top of him, roughly shoving him away. Janet's right behind me, gasping for air. Bad, bad, bad. This is bad. Daniel's eyes are hooded and it looks as though he sees me, but I'm not sure. What's wrong with him? Closing his eyes now. No, Daniel, don't! There. Is that a smile? No. Not sure. The colonel looks dead is he dead? Janet? Please not dead.
I peel back the blanket covering them. Janet gives a little gasp. They've shifted around; the colonel is now sideways on Daniel's lap with his head against the chest. The colonel's arms are crossed gruesomely and Daniel has his right arm wrapped around the colonel's back, snaking around to the front, where he's holding the arms at the wrists as if constantly checking for a pulse. God, that's probably exactly what he is doing. Daniel's left hand is balled in a fist and resting on the colonel's stomach. It's tinged pink. I can't tell if it's a blood or an illusion from the rising sun. Blood.
Neither have responded since we got here. Janet elbows me aside, issuing commands to her poor nurses. I tear my eyes away from the sight to spear Alekos, "What's wrong with Daniel?"
"I...I was not able to determine," the dark complexioned Cretinian stammers. "He simply said he was hurt. There is no visible injury."
SG3 have surrounded Alekos and he looks suitably petrified. A brief spasm of pity for him hiccups through me. Doesn't last. The soldiers above him are scanning the perimeter, weapons ready for anything. There is silence from the village, so I think the festivities are done. Festivities, right. Those that survived are probably sleeping easy, knowing they have another year to live.
"Sam, can you give me a hand, please? We have to break their hold so I can try to stabilize Colonel O'Neill and determine the nature of Doctor Jackson's injuries," Janet is all professional, snapping me into action. Her hands are flying around rapidly and efficiently. I shuffle closer to the two men as she looks over my shoulder, calling, "Sergeant, can you please get both the backboards ready? I don't think Doctor Jackson is going to be walking anywhere. You. Did Daniel tell you where he was hurt?"
"No," Alekos jumps as Janet starts interrogating him. "I tried to keep them warm and aware, as Daniel seemed to think it important to do so."
Janet frowns, waggling her arms at me. She's trying to pry Daniel's arms away, but he's resisting. It might be muscle stiffness. I think he's afraid to let go. Even though he's unconscious, it's as if he senses the need for warmth and pressure. I rub his biceps in the hopes it will get him to relax. It takes maneuvering, but we finally release the colonel and get a reaction from Daniel. I think I liked it better when he was silent. Daniel groans, barely audible, and his eyes move back and forth behind closed lids. Janet is still frowning over the now prone colonel, feeling his pulse. Please let there be a pulse. Nodding. Relief peeks its timid head around a corner in my mind, not fully sure if it should make its presence fully known.
She checks the colonel's wound briefly. It's not bleeding anymore. I don't think she can do much for him here. I split my attention between easing Daniel to the ground and watching the colonel for signs of life. Alekos is hovering over Daniel and me. He seems genuinely concerned and sorry for what happened. I wish I cared. Maybe someday I'll be able to, but it definitely isn't going to be today. All I want is for him to go away. Giving him a glare worthy of Teal'c, I focus on Daniel.
Janet is trying to assess his condition, but with no idea what to look for, her job is extremely difficult and seems to be taking too long. Then I see it. His T-shirt has slid up, exposing a small amount of skin on his back and torso. I point my finger and Janet immediately moves to his left side, lifting the shirt more. An ugly bruise wraps its way around from his back to his abdomen, deep and purple and bad. Really bad. He had that when carrying the colonel how did that happen he was fine he was fine.
He's not fine. I fall back onto my butt and Janet is swearing like a sailor, calling for her nurses to help get Daniel situated on the backboard. He's strapped in and ready to go in seconds, but hasn't made another sound. That can't be good. Janet didn't even give him anything for pain, she's in such a hurry. SG3 divides into pairs, two assigned to each of the injured men's stretchers and we're moving toward the 'gate. I want to run as hard as before, but I know we can't; it'll just jar the colonel and Daniel.
I'm running in a fearful daze yet again. My head suddenly feels as though a mattress has been jammed into it, leaving no room for coherent thought. If the Stargate was beautiful before, it's about 200 times more so now. I'm at the DHD and punching the glyphs with venom as the rest look ready to throw themselves through the wormhole before it can even settle within the ring.
Two steps behind the stretchers and SG3, I emerge from the 'gate to see just the tail end of the medical entourage as it exits the 'gateroom. General Hammond is standing there, face grim as he watches me tremble my way down the ramp. Now that I'm home, I seem to have lost the ability to walk on my own. The general takes my forearm gently and leads me toward the infirmary. His expression is still bleak and panic ensues. Teal'c? Is it Teal'c? What, what?
As if sensing my trepidation, he blurts, "Teal'c's going to be just fine, Major. Right now I'd say Colonel O'Neill and Doctor Jackson are more of a concern."
Th...they could still die. No. Not going to think like that. Can't think like that. Janet will work on one and Doctor Warner the other and everything is going to be all right. The general's first sentence finally sinks in. If Teal'c really is going to be all right, it makes it much easier for me to think the colonel and Daniel will somehow pull through. I need to verify for my own peace of mind that I heard the general correctly.
"Teal'c's okay? Really?" I ask uncertainly.
"Doctor Warner was able to repair the damage quite quickly and easily. Even if he hadn't been able to, I was fully prepared to send SG6 on a search for a replacement symbiote, Major," General Hammond explains. "There's no way I'd let Teal'c die without a fight. Doctor Fraiser won't let them die without a fight."
Bless him. I know the chances of just falling upon a spare symbiote are slim to none, but I needed to hear those words more than I realized. The scene I glimpse inside the infirmary belies the assurance. Controlled melee probably best describes it. SG3 are exiting as the General and I approach, their faces look regretful. My heart skips three beats.
"Doctor Fraiser says to keep both of you out here. She'll let you know when she can how they're doing," Sergeant Thomas breaks the news.
No. I don't want to stay out here. I have to be in there. Pushing my way past the sergeant, his big hands clamp onto my arms and halt my movement. General Hammond lays his hand on my shoulder and physically turns me back around.
They don't understand. I can't be out here all alone.
All alone.

Okay, it's time for them to wake up. Because the longer I sit here, the angrier I get. Teal'c has been awake on and mostly off for the past two days; he's meditating now. The colonel and Daniel haven't really been lucid at all. I know I have no good reason for my irritation with them, but damnit, I've been out here pretty much in solitary vigil for 48 hours now. General Hammond stops by as often as he is able - which is not often at all and Janet's always here. But she's not HERE.
Amazingly, the colonel didn't suffer any internal injuries. I'm still trying to figure out how a person can be gored by an animal weighing close to a thousand pounds and not have any organs damaged. Or survive at all, for that matter. It's not a subject I particularly want to think about, but with little else to do, it keeps springing up. Janet is monitoring me as closely as she is the colonel, Daniel and Teal'c, making sure I eat, sleep, breathe. I'm grateful and annoyed by it at the same time. There's nothing wrong with me.
I restlessly tap at the ever-present bag of blood hanging by the colonel's bed, wondering how I can make the blood enter his body faster. I really need one of them to wake up and talk to me. I'm assuming it will be the colonel. He was only in surgery for a couple of hours, and Janet let me in once he was in Recovery. I haven't really left the infirmary since.
That's not strictly true. I sat on the hard plastic chair I squeezed in between the colonel and Teal'c's beds while waiting for news on Daniel. His surgery lasted much, much longer than the colonel's. Not certain how long, as I feel asleep and when I woke I was miraculously in the VIP room. I have no idea how I got there, but I'm pretty sure I'd be embarrassed if I knew. By the time I'd figured out up from down and raced back to the infirmary, Teal'c had been awake and fallen asleep again and Daniel had emerged from surgery. Janet assured me they all were going to be fine.
My mind still doesn't want to believe it. The colonel looks drained of all life and Daniel...I weaseled it out of Doctor Warner that there was more than one tense moment during his surgery. Turns out Daniel's lucky to be alive, too. Janet told me it looks as though he was kicked in the back right above his left kidney, hard enough to tear it. All that moving around afterwards would have been agonizing and dangerous. So dangerous, he worsened the internal bleeding from his torn kidney. He's lucky the damage wasn't irreparable. I can't believe he was able to disguise his pain so well I didn't even really suspect. I don't know whether to be alarmed or impressed.
If we had been even a few minutes longer in rescuing them, I don't think either the colonel or Daniel would be laying here. Teal'c either. The general exaggerated when he said Doctor Warner repaired Junior easily. Apparently there were a number of close calls during its surgery as well. Without any Goa'uld blood handy to transfuse into the little bugger, there was doubt whether or not it could repair itself once helped along by the doctor's stitchwork. And of course, the fact Teal'c has been so out of it for two days is a clear sign of how close it was for him.
You know, now that I think about it I have damn good reasons for being angry with all of them. They didn't mean to get injured almost beyond repair, but how dare they try and die on me? And how dare Teal'c and Daniel try to pretend nothing was wrong with them! What, did they think I wouldn't figure it out? I'm suddenly flashing on the memory of the colonel insistently mentioning Teal'c, then abruptly dropping the subject. He knew Teal'c was in trouble. Son of a... Oh, I am pissed. And you don't mess with a pissed Major Samantha Carter, especially not one who's been through an emotional wringer.
This more than qualifies for wringer status. I bat at the blood bag with too much force, sending it flying onto the colonel's bed. Okay, so I need to calm down. Despite the anger, I know it's not really fair to pounce on them right when they wake up. Will they wake up already! I hang the bag back on its hook and stand up, stretching aching muscles. I've got two chairs set up now, one between the colonel and Daniel and one between the colonel and Teal'c. I move to the one next to Daniel and take his hand in mine. I've done this periodically with all three of them, needing the physical reassurance myself as much as Janet tells me they do.
My anger subsides as I stare at Daniel's fingers. I doubt he meant to deceive me, probably just wanted to get the colonel home. I know Daniel very well, so it wouldn't surprise me if I he tells me just that. Even if he did he must have thought he was sparing me more pain. I can see his points, but that doesn't make his concealment any easier to accept. Listen to me; I'm essentially having a conversation with Daniel in my head. Scary that it's probably quite an accurate discussion.
"Major Carter," Teal'c's whisper is husky and quiet, but it fills the space between us like clap of thunder.
I spin in my chair to see Teal'c's open eyes blearily seeking out my location from two beds away. Somewhat reluctantly releasing Daniel's hand with a squeeze I hope he can feel, I rise and run over to Teal'c. It looks like he's ready to stay with us this time, eyes much clearer than his previous attempts at consciousness.
"Hey, Teal'c," I whisper back, taking his hand. "Welcome back."
He still looks utterly exhausted, but graces me with a nod and half-smile. I should go get Janet or Doctor Warner, but I need a few minutes alone first. I don't plan on saying anything. I just need to sit here and make sure he really is alive. There's so much I have to yell at and thank him for, I don't quite know where I'd begin anyway.
Teal'c surprises me by raising our entwined hands to my face and brushes my cheek. I feel wetness on my fingers and am abashed. How the hell did I start crying and how the hell didn't I notice it? I'm a major in the Air Force, for crying out loud. I should be able to control my emotions better. I give one last glare at our hands as he shakily lowers them again, turning to his face. He doesn't look like he's disgusted with my display of tears. Actually, he looks pleased.
Before I can figure out what he's happy about, Janet comes bustling to his bed. I quickly let his hand go so she can have full access, discreetly eliminating the remainder of the moisture from my cheeks. I will not let Daniel or the colonel see the same thing. Nope. Well, Daniel, maybe. But definitely not the colonel. I hope they don't wake up at the same time. Don't know what I'd do then.
"Well, hello, Teal'c," Janet is saying as she fiddles with his monitors and hands him a glass of water, which he immediately drains. "Are you back with us for good this time?"
"I believe I am, Doctor Fraiser," Teal'c answers good-naturedly. He sounds stronger already. "My symbiote has successfully recovered."
"If things keep looking this good, you'll be out of here in no time, I promise," Janet assures him. She looks pointedly at me across the bed, "That way you can make sure Major Carter gets enough sleep."
"It would be an honor," Teal'c agrees to the task. "O'Neill? Daniel Jackson?"
Oh, God, I'm an idiot! I meet Teal'c's inquiring gaze, relieved to see he doesn't seem irritated for my omission on their conditions. In fact, his deep eyes seem to be telling me he needed the silence for a moment as much as I.
"They're going to be just fine, Teal'c," I give the same canned answer I've been receiving. But this time I'm sure it's true. "Neither of them has woken up yet, though."
Janet fusses over Teal'c silently before shifting over to the colonel and finally Daniel. She clucks a couple of times to herself, jotting notes to each of their files before rejoining me next to Teal'c. "I don't anticipate it'll be much longer for either of them."
"That is good to hear," Teal'c simply states.
Yes, it is.
"Doctor Fraiser, may I speak with Major Carter alone?" he asks.
"Of course. But, Sam? If they wake up, please come get me right away," Janet orders, waiting for my nod before walking back to her office.
I watch her go and then turn back to Teal'c. He's studying my face as if looking for something in particular. I have no idea what it could be, but I know he won't keep me in the dark for long. Teal'c's style is not subtle by any definition.
"Are you well, Major Carter?"
His question jolts me. Wh...what? He's just gone through a near death experience and he's asking me how I'm doing? Jeez, did the tears before somehow make him think I was a basket case? That I'm ready to break into a million pieces? I'm still totally embarrassed about the whole thing. Don't let him mention it.
"Let me rephrase the question. Do you no longer feel unseen?" Teal'c cuts to the quick.
Damn. I knew Teal'c understood my feelings in the past month, but to actually hear someone vocalize them in such a...real way is a shock. And as he's asking, I'm realizing I feel different than I did before this mission. I feel me again. Don't know why, don't know how. To come so close to actually being alone might have been just what I needed to break from the restraints in which the entity probe left me. I open my mouth and snap it shut again. I don't know how to tell him I really am all right now.
"Good," Teal'c murmurs, alleviating me of the burden.
"Thank you, Teal'c. For being there, even if I didn't realize it," I whisper.
"You would do no less for any of us, Major Carter," Teal'c dismisses. "Will you stay for a while?"
"I'm not going anywhere until Laurel and Hardy wake up," I joke, mood lightening tremendously.
"Stanley Laurel and Oliver Hardy are in fact deceased, Major Carter," he solemnly answers. "It would be impossible for them to wake up."
I open my mouth to correct him, realizing as I do he fully understood what I meant. So I laugh instead, "Let me guess? The colonel forced you to endure a marathon of their movies? I'm so sorry!"
He merely smiles fleetingly and nods once. We allow silence to take hold again. With some people, silence is always awkward. With Teal'c, though, it says so much. I know he didn't mean to hurt me by not disclosing his injury, just like Daniel didn't. I can live with the deception both because the intent was good and because both of them knew how dire the colonel's condition was. And because they're both...all three of them, can't let the colonel off the hook...alive and staying that way. Now, if they had died, I'd have had to kill them.
"Major Carter?" Teal'c calls, squeezing my hand.
Whoa. I only closed my eyes for a second, but my head is doing the whole disoriented, just-woke-up-abruptly spin thing. I struggle to remember when I last had a decent night's sleep. Oh, right. VIP room. I really don't want to end up there again.
"Yeah, I'm up!" I cry out, legs jerking when I sit up straighter. Coffee. Just need a cup of coffee.
"You should rest," Teal'c lectures. "You do not appear as healthy as usual."
Teal'c's politically correct way of saying I look like all kinds of shit. I could use a shower. Yes, a nap, too, but that's not going to happen quite yet. Janet will have to sedate me to get me out of this room for more than 15 minute intervals. I'm bigger than her. Like to see her try and bully me. Never mind the fact Janet can make the colonel tremble with fear.
"Gee, thanks, Teal'c. Right back at you," I snap.
"Indeed," is all he bothers to say.
"How long was I asleep? Janet didn't see me, did she?" I nervously ask, tossing my head the direction of her office.
All right. I admit it. I love Janet like a sister, but she can be terrifying. When my defenses are down, she's the last one I want to mess with. She beats my pissed off, wringer mode by all counts.
"It was but a few minutes, Major Carter. Doct - "
Dual croaks interrupt Teal'c. We both jerk at the pitiful sounds coming from the colonel and Daniel. Great. Together. They had to wake up together. What are the chances of that? Oh, who the hell cares?! The colonel and Daniel are finally waking up. Teal'c urges me away from his side with a nudge to my hand, his fingers releasing their grip. I'm embarrassingly quick in running to stand between their beds. Janet, have to get Janet or she'll have my head.
She can have it. I'll even put it on a silver platter for her. I need to see both of them open their eyes first, then I swear I'll go collect her. She'll understand. I hope. My head is swinging back and forth between their faces so quickly I'm starting to get a headache. It's classic 'watch pot never boils' syndrome. I sneak a look at Teal'c and find him straining up from his mattress, doing the exact same thing. It's not really working, for either of us, but I can't think of anything else to do.
There! I saw brown. I know I did. I lean closer to the colonel as he stirs around weakly, face flinching slightly as his wound protests. He groans, then groans again because of the pain caused by his first noise. Oh, boy. I can feel the tears from both sympathy pain and relief spring into my eyes. I really have to work on this little problem I seem to have. Daniel would reiterate...Daniel!
I turn from my examination of the colonel's face to Daniel. Lots of eye movement, but still not open. The head wagging resumes. Maybe Teal'c and I should just pick one of them and keep our focus there. He can have the colonel; their beds are right next to each other and all. It has nothing to do with my inability to keep my eyes dry. I give him a jiggle to let him know my intentions and turn completely toward Daniel.
Blue eyes are staring at the ceiling, unquestionably confused. I inch closer to his bed, taking his hand in mine, careful not to disturb his IV. The movement gets him to lose the thousand-yard stare, his head falling toward me without any semblance of coordination. After two days of inertness, it's a beautiful thing.
"Hi, Daniel," I whisper.
"H..hey, Sam," he scratches back, wincing at his sore, dry throat.
Janet has had their bed stands prepped for their awakenings since they were wheeled in here, more for my benefit than theirs, I think. Somehow knowing she expected them to wake up and get better made it more solid for me. I lift the glass of water to his lips and watch as he swallows a few sips.
"Thanks," Daniel whispers.
"Anytime," I smile. "It's good to have you back."
"W...what about me?" the colonel's voice faintly flows over to us, filled with indignation. "Thanks, Teal'c. Seriously. Daniel's not the only one who's an invalid, you know."
Only awake a minute, and already the colonel's got his smartass cap on. Dutifully, I change my stance to face both of them, but I don't let go of Daniel's cool hand. He's got quite a strong grip on it. The colonel is looking expectantly at me and Teal'c has got himself out of his bed. Ooh, I'm sure Janet's going to have something to say about that. Teal'c looks ready for her, though, with a hand on the colonel's shoulder that doesn't look to be moving it anytime soon. I think we all need some type of physical reassurance right now.
Yep. The colonel flops his free arm toward me, and I take it readily. I'm suddenly feeling like I'm in the middle of a tug of war game, me being the rope. In this game, though, there isn't any tugging. We've formed some type of bizarre chain. My, haven't we become mushy? If this continues, people are going to start saying the SG in SG1 stands for 'Sappy Gang'.
"Jack, don't be an ass," Daniel cracks.
Okay, maybe not. I can't help but give a little chuckle at that. Leave it to Daniel to take the wind out of the colonel's sails. The colonel scowls over to Daniel, but then gives a flash of a smile.
"Welcome back to the land of the living, Colonel," I softly tell him what he wants to hear.
He stares at me for a few seconds, saying nothing. He doesn't have to. He's actually looking at me for the first time in weeks. The corners of his mouth threaten upward again, and this time it sticks. I smile back, wholeheartedly glad to find I don't have a trace of tears in my eyes. And if I had them, I wouldn't be ashamed of them, because I swear I can see the colonel's eyes dampening. He'd swear up and down it was due to drugs or the dryness of the air or something, but I know the truth.
"You too, Carter," the colonel whispers. "You too."
I press his hand before turning back to Daniel. He's kept his gaze on me as well. His hand hasn't let up, though I feel him trembling beneath his touch. Daniel treats me with a rare smile. He's not examining me anymore. His face doesn't reflect fear at all. It's good to see that expression disappear and have his usual one back. I've missed it. I've missed him. I've missed all of them.
Now I'm stuck. I need to get Janet, but I don't really want to break free. Brusque footsteps and feigned irritation take care of my dilemma.
"Major Carter, did I or did I not tell you to come get me when Colonel O'Neill and Doctor Jackson regained consciousness??" Janet clucks, inserting herself right between the colonel and me.
She forces our hands apart, turns briefly to me with a twinkle in her eye and then gives Teal'c a fierce glare. To my utter shock, Teal'c cows from her daggers and withdraws his hand from the colonel's shoulder before she can forcibly remove him. He slinks back to his bed with a hanging head.
I'm so caught up in the scene, I don't notice Daniel's panicky attempt to let go of my hand. A sharp tug finally clues me in and I splay my fingers obligingly. Damn. I've never seen my teammates so nervous. Even if all of them have just come back from the brink of death, I wouldn't be surprised to see them leap out of their beds. Hell hath no fury like the good Doctor Janet Fraiser. Too bad they don't know she's a terrier - horrendous bark, very little bite. Her act to intimidate is effective and so needed to bring the mood of the room back up from the depths.
Still reluctant to leave the immediate area, I linger only steps away while Janet fusses over Daniel and the colonel. Very little has been said about this horrifying mission, or about the past few weeks of awkwardness between us. But I'm one hundred percent confident it's going to be a great day.
With plenty more to follow.
The End

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  Hawk50 Nancy Bailey Carrie AnnO  
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Disclaimer: Stargate SG-1 and its characters are the property of Stargate (II) Productions, MGM/UA, Double Secret Productions, and Gekko Productions. This story is for entertainment purposes only and no money exchanged hands. No copyright infringement is intended. This is a parody for entertainment purposes only. The original characters, situations, and story are the property of the author. This story may not be posted anywhere without the consent of the author.