Too Close To Home
"Hey, Sam—ready to go?"
Major Samantha Carter looked up from her cluttered desk, pushed an errant lock of hair out of her eyes—and smiled.
Framed in her laboratory doorway was Dr. Daniel Jackson. Dressed casually in blue jeans and a white T-shirt, with "Explore the Possibilities" emblazoned on the front, he reminded her of a small boy about to take his first field trip. A small boy, until you realized he came equipped with 6’ of height, brown hair, a nice set of shoulders, and killer blue eyes lurking behind those wire-rimmed glasses. A smile played about his lips.
"Hi, Daniel," Sam said, beaming back at him, matching his smile tooth for tooth. "Just let me enter this last piece of info and we can get started."
"Sounds good," he said, stepping inside the lab. "What can I do to help?"
Sam tossed him a set of keys. "Just load your gear into that old Jeep parked out front."
"I saw that when I drove up," Daniel remarked, making a deft, one-handed catch. "That’s an old Army-surplus Jeep, isn’t it?"
"Yeah," Sam said, laughing. "Pepe’s not very pretty, but he can hold his own on narrow, twisting roads."
"Pepe?" Daniel’s right eyebrow rose a fraction.
"Yeah. Carole got that from an old Michael Douglas - Katherine Turner movie, ‘Romancing the Stone’. Seems there was a little Jeep in that one named Pepe."
"This is Carole’s? Why am I not surprised...," Daniel said jokingly.
"Don’t knock Pepe, Daniel," Sam said, her voice teasing. "He’s Carole’s pride and joy—and she is letting us use her cabin for our getaway."
Daniel raised his hands in mock horror. "Wouldn’t dream of it, Sam," he said. "I’ll go stash my stuff and wait for you outside."
* * * * *
Some thirty minutes later they were on their way, Sam behind the wheel, the specter of Cheyenne Mountain fading rapidly in the distance.
Sam felt wonderful. That Saturday had dawned bright and sunny; not too warm, with the morning cool enough to caution that colder weather was on its way to the Colorado mountains.
The road ahead was remote, unpaved but driveable, the mountains surrounded them, the Jeep was topless and the wind blew through her hair. She took a sideways glance at Daniel. He had his right leg cocked up, foot on the dash; his left hand loosely grasping the back of her seat. His eyes were closed and he seemed lost in thought.
It was still hard to get used to him with short hair. But, Sam smiled wryly, either way he was attractive, and totally oblivious of how he affected most members of the opposite sex. She’d heard the nurses talk about him—Lord knows he’d been in the infirmary enough for most of them to become, er, rather intimately acquainted with him. It seems Col. Jack O’Neill and Daniel Jackson were favorite topics of conversation during late night coffee clatches.
"How you holdin’ up, partner?" she yelled in his direction, the wind snatching the words from her mouth.
"Huh?" He opened his eyes, then smiled at her. "Oh, fine, Sam, just fine. This was a wonderful idea. Thanks for asking me. Sorry Jack and Teal’c couldn’t make it."
His words brought a rush of color to her cheeks and she was glad he’d closed his eyes again.
Actually, the Colonel and Teal’c weren’t along because—well ---
Teal’c and Jack had been together when Sam revealed her plans for a three-day getaway to nurse Carole Hanlon’s isolated cabin. As she made her way down the hall to speak to them, she remembered when the idea for the retreat first began:
The foursome was enjoying their first serious stand-down time in more than two months. The last trip off-world had been unpleasant, to say the least, with one missing DHD, one minor Gou’ald attack and what could have amounted to a serious concussion for Colonel O’Neill.
Daniel had spent a lot of time beside Jack’s bedside in the infirmary, until Dr. Janet Fraiser pulled Sam to one side and ‘encouraged’ her to draw Daniel’s attention elsewhere.
"I don’t know what it is about the Colonel this go-round, but this concussion has left him with a nasty headache and an attitude to match," she told Sam quietly. "It’s as if he has one good nerve left and Daniel is inadvertently jumping all over it. Please rescue the poor guy before the Colonel goes postal and does or says something he’ll regret."
So in front of Jack, who was presumably asleep, Sam got Daniel to relinquish his vigil to help her plan this trip.
In the hallway with Teal’c and Jack, Sam found out that the Colonel hadn’t been as ‘asleep’ as she’d thought.
"This trip is a great idea, Carter," Jack had said, waving his hand dismissively, "but Teal’c and I have some things to take care of here. Besides, you and Daniel planned it; you and Daniel should enjoy it together."
"But, sir...," Carter began.
Jack turned away. "Thanks for asking, Carter. You two have a great time."
"Yes, sir," she said, her look of disappointment not quite as sincere as one would have thought.
As she walked down the hall, Teal’c eyed the Colonel.
"I do not understand, O’Neill," he said, a brief look of puzzlement crossing his normally impassive features. "What ‘things’ do you and I have to ‘take care of’?"
"Oh, come on, big guy," Jack jabbed Teal’c playfully on the shoulder. "Can’t you see this is the perfect opportunity for the kids to get to know one another better?"
"I thought Major Carter and Daniel Jackson already knew each other quite well," was Teal’c’s reply.
"Well, in some ways, yeah." Jack’s brown eyes twinkled. "But in others, they’re just beginning. Hell, Teal’c, maybe some sparks will fly this weekend."
"You are hoping for a fire, O’Neill?" Teal’c looked more confused than ever.
"Different kind of sparks, my friend," Jack said, patting Teal’c on the back. "Sam needs someone in her life and Daniel has mourned long enough for Sha’re. Besides," he said, grinning impishly up at the big Jaffa, "I’d give my right arm to see you in a tuxedo."
"I do not wish you to lose an arm, O’Neill," Teal’c replied. "And, what is a tuxedo?"
"It’s like a formal dress uniform, only a lot more uncomfortable."
"And why should I wish to wear a tuxedo?"
"Well," Jack searched for an explanation. "Men usually wear them at a wedding."
"There is to be a wedding?"
Jack shook his head. Sometimes Teal’c’s literal translation of all of his colloquialisms was just.... Jack managed a wry smile. "I’ll explain it all to you later, Teal’c—over beer and pizza."
* ****
On his side of the Jeep, Daniel opened his eyes and gave Sam a sideways glance.
She really did look lovely today. Daniel realized, with something akin to a punch in the stomach, that Sam was one of the prettiest women he had ever known. Like—Sha’re—only different. A natural beauty. Blonde hair, sparkling blue eyes, flawless skin, and a great figure all too often hidden underneath those unisex military fatigues.
And smart. Sam was one of the most intelligent people—male or female—Daniel had ever met. She was the only person in the SGC Daniel could talk to about anything scientific. They were like a pair of identical twins when it came to pondering the mysteries of the universe and the stargate.
Yep, Daniel thought, Sam was one of those all-too-few persons whose eyes didn’t completely glaze over when he started talking. She gave as good as she got and they’d often found themselves deeply engrossed in some scientific theorem at four in the morning, sharing a pot of lukewarm coffee.
And Sam was more than a study-buddy; she was a friend. A real friend. Daniel hadn’t had many of those in his life, but since joining the SG-1 team, he’d come to learn the real meaning of friendship—and family.
Teal’c was Daniel’s personal guardian angel, and Daniel had massive amounts of respect for this quiet Jaffa who had given up a wife, son and homeland to fight against the Gou’ald.
Colonel Jack O’Neill. How could he begin to categorize Jack? A superior officer, a crackerjack leader, and a damn fine man. He and Jack had known each other the longest. He knew that when they had first met, the colonel had considered him a royal pain in the ass. Later came a kind of grudging respect and now—well, Jack was his closest friend. A combination of older brother, father and best bud—all rolled into one tall, lean, wisecracking package.
But Sam—ah, Sam.
She had always been there, always kind, always willing to listen, always understanding. A really good friend.
But Daniel had been so wrapped up in Sha’re—having her, having her love—then losing her. So many dead ends. So many false hopes. Only to find her again—and lose her again, this time for good. His heart had been on such an emotional roller coaster these past few years it was difficult to get his head stuck back on straight and try to rebuild his life—
And to look at Sam as possibly more than a friend.
But could she ever—ever—feel that way about him? And how did he really feel about her? Those were two of the things Daniel desperately hoped to discover on this trip. He admitted rather guiltily, perhaps it was for the best that Teal’c and Jack didn’t come along. This way he could have Sam all to himself. That way they could really talk, really open up. See if there was something more than friendship between the two of them. Deep down he’d always believed it was Jack who caught Sam’s eye. They were so simpatico, so—in tune. Always flirting. How could he, a geeky archaeologist, hope to hold a candle to the handsome, bold, vibrantly alive leader of the SG-1 team? Didn’t Sam simply consider him a younger brother? He was just going to have to be as charming as he knew how this weekend. Which, to his way of thinking, wasn’t very.
Daniel opened his eyes to find Sam glancing at him. She saw his look, flushed, and turned her head, but not before she saw a smile cross his face.
"What? What? What are you grinning at, Daniel?"
He couldn’t help himself. He laughed and said, "Sorry, Sam. It’s just here we are on a comfortable weekend away from the base and you’re still dressed in those godawful fatigues. I would have thought you would have opted for something more comfortable."
Sam made a face. Well, Daniel was partially right. She was wearing combat boots and fatigue trousers, but she’d shed the customary jacket for a plain white T-shirt. And, dammit, she did think her fatigues were comfortable.
Daniel, on the other hand, looked like a grad student on his way to an archaeological dig, with his jeans, T-shirt and desert boots. Although he and Sam were very close to the same age, he appeared younger than he really was. Even Colonel O’Neill sometimes referred to him as ‘the kid’. But, Sam noticed, with a growing awareness, there was nothing ‘boyish’ about that chest and those shoulders underneath that snug white T-shirt. After being surrounded for years by brawny Marines, Sam found she leaned toward men who were built more like Daniel—not too tall, "nicely" muscled; fit, in a non-jock-like way.
"Fine, Dr. Jackson," she said teasingly. "I still look like a soldier and you still look like a teaching assistant, but I assure you that I’m perfectly comfortable."
"Surely that’s not all you brought, is it, Sam? Do I get to look at fatigues the whole weekend?"
She eyed him then, and a flush slowly crept across his face, realizing how his words had sounded. She grinned as he squirmed slightly, then eased up on him.
"No, Daniel, these aren’t the only clothes I brought. Am I going to see you in something other than jeans and a T-shirt?"
He answered, grinning back at her. "I sure hope so, Sam, I sure hope so."
They continued to banter—teasingly, shyly—back and forth, as the Jeep continued its climb up the mountain. The area was growing more remote, with steep cliffs looming on one side and dizzying drop-offs close on the other.
Somewhere up on the mountain, a small rock dislodged from the place it had occupied for hundreds of years, and began to roll slowly. As it gathered momentum, it began to knock other rocks from their places, gradually building a small shower of dirt, other small rocks and larger boulders.
And just as Sam and Daniel rounded a particularly hairy curve, the mini-landslide began to rumble down towards them.
Daniel heard it first and glanced over toward the cliffside.
"Sam!" he shouted. "Careful! Landslide!"
Sam looked to the side, saw the rubble careening down almost on top of them—and jerked the wheel—hard—to the right.
The Jeep’s tires squealed and its ancient body shook, as the front tires lost their grip on the dirt road—and headed over the side of the cliff.
* * * * *
To Sam, the ride down seemed like it was in slow motion; as if she were outside of her body watching the whole thing happen. She gripped the wheel like a madwoman, fighting the Jeep to keep it upright. Bushes, branches and underbrush tore at them and the vehicle as it careened down the incline.
Beside her, Daniel gripped the dash. She could hear his voice—quiet, calming: "Easy, Sam,’ll be’ll be okay..."
Then, the Jeep hit a large stump, lurched over, slammed down on its right side, and slid another 200 feet down the mountainside.
Sam was thrown clear, landing with a thud on her left shoulder. She felt the pain engulf her and the lights went out.
* * * * *
When she awoke, afternoon shadows had begun to alter the ground around her. She shook her head to clear it, then realized her mistake when lights danced in front of her eyes. She felt a metallic taste in her mouth and realized it was blood—she had bitten down on her lower lip hard enough to break the skin.
Her left shoulder throbbed; she had several long, ugly, bleeding gashes on her arms and the left leg of her fatigues was torn, revealing bloodied skin beneath. She also had one hell of a headache.
She hurt; she was dizzy; she was disoriented; she was alive.
It took her a minute to remember what had happened, then she looked down the incline and saw the Jeep, lying on its right side, about 100 feet below her.
Oh, God. Oh, shit. Daniel.
It was too quiet.
"Daniel?" she yelled. "Daniel? Dammit, answer me! DANIEL!"
No answer.
She began to make her way, carefully, down to the Jeep. Her left knee gave out and she stumbled to the ground, landing on her severely bruised left shoulder. The pain nearly put her out again.
She got to her feet slowly, and limped to the Jeep.
Daniel was lying on his back just outside the overturned vehicle.
What she saw sent her heart racing to her throat.
Somehow the windshield of the ancient Jeep had managed to sheer off and shatter; the frame and pieces of glass littering the ground around him. Only one large piece remained.
That piece—still attached to the corner of the frame—had angled itself up and through Daniel’s back, coming out of his chest just under his right shoulder blade, effectively pinning him to the frame and ground. The tip of the broken pane poked out through the front of the shredded, bloodied T-shirt. In addition, his chest oozed blood from several smaller glass cuts. God only knew what his back looked like.
Sam’s hand flew to her mouth, stifling a cry. She made her way awkwardly, slowly, over to him and knelt as best she could beside him.
She pressed trembling fingers on his carotid artery. The pulse was erratic, very faint, but there. By all rights Daniel should be dead. He wasn’t.
The wound in his shoulder seeped blood; his breathing was labored and shallow, indicating cracked or broken ribs, and possibly a punctured lung or internal injuries. She wasn’t sure what other injuries he had.
His eyes were closed; his glasses missing. He was breathing through his mouth—short, rasping breaths. His skin was clammy and he was very pale.
"Oh, Daniel," Sam breathed. "My God, I’m so sorry."
As she knelt beside him, she looked back up the mountainside—and the implications of the accident and their current situation almost overwhelmed her.
The Jeep was almost invisible in the brush; the angle they had slid down hardly visible from the road. She felt for her ever-present cell phone. "Shit!" It had been in her left pocket and was now in several pieces.
She looked back at Daniel, tears filling her eyes. Dammit, she wasn’t going to cry! She stood and reached down, to see if she could pull him off the piece of glass impaling him—but then realized the angle of the glass and his weight prohibited her from attempting this, even if she’d had two functioning arms. Daniel was in very bad shape.
She knelt back down by him, leaning in close. "Daniel? -- Daniel? -- Danny?" she touched his shoulder gently. "You with us?"
The eyes that had been shut eased open. Pain-filled confused blue eyes looked into hers.
"S-sam? Wh-what happ’nd?" he could barely force out the words.
"We were in an accident, Daniel, in the Jeep. You’ve been injured."
"Ca - can’t move, S-sam. So - somethin’ holdin’ me. Hu—hurts."
// No shit, Sherlock,// she thought. "I know, Daniel, I know. Just relax. I’ll think of something."
Slowly, kneeling there, she took stock of the situation. Gazing back up at the mountainside and the lengthening shadows, she knew that it wouldn’t be long before it grew dark. They didn’t even have basic camping necessities—Carole’s cabin was fully-stocked, so they really just brought enough personal stuff to see them through three days of rest and relaxation. They were trapped down here—no medical supplies, no flares, no phone, no radio—and her shoulder throbbed painfully every time she moved her left arm. She’d just have to work with her thankfully dominant right hand.
She turned her attention back to Daniel. The cuts on his chest had stopped bleeding, but a trickle of blood ran down his side from his shoulder. He was still breathing—raspy and shallow—but breathing. And, mercifully, he was unconscious. She knew it was going to be up to her if she and Daniel were to survive this ordeal.
She took stock of the situation. No radio or phone. No one around for miles. No way to get herself, let alone Daniel, back up the mountain. It seemed hopeless. She almost laughed from the irony of it all—here they were, not more than two hours from the Mountain, as the crow flew, and less equipped to deal with a disaster than when they went off-world. Still, you never thought of needing guns, medical supplies and other equipment for what was supposed to be an idyllic weekend away.
// Stop it! // she mentally shook herself. //You’re a soldier, damnit—act like one! //
Okay, what *did* they have? Luckily, Daniel had insisted on bringing some bottled water, and two large plastic jugs lay near the Jeep. Good. They hadn’t split on impact. Not much, but it was better than nothing. A rain tarp was nearby—she could use it to rig a makeshift shelter. She wished it were a different color other than green—red, perhaps, or yellow—something which could draw attention from passing motorists or planes—if there were any.
She was sure there might also be something useful in the canvas duffels they carried.
First things first. Daniel.
She moved up closer to Daniel’s left side and began a careful examination. The light would soon fade and she didn’t relish doing this in the dark. Since neither one of them smoked, there were no matches or lighters and the prospects of a fire seemed remote, and she knew the night would be chilly.
Sam rocked back on her heels and felt along Daniel’s right thigh and lower leg and found a simple fracture of the fibula. She drew a pocket knife from her fatigues and slit the right pantleg of Daniel’s jeans up to the knee. The break was clean. No bones sticking through skin. The leg just needed to be splinted to keep Daniel from moving it, and the best time to do it was while he was still out cold.
She looked around and saw two young saplings that had been snapped at the base when the Jeep hit them. They were just about the right length. Branchless, they were each about three feet long.
What to secure them with? There was some rope in the back of the Jeep also, but it was too long, and too thick for her to cut one-handed. Besides, that could prove useful later.
She unzipped Daniel’s duffel and pulled out a sturdy leather belt. She whipped off her webbed one and dug for the other webbed belt she had in her duffel. They would have to do.
Kneeling down, she handled Daniel’s right leg gently. He moaned, but did not regain consciousness. She placed the saplings on either side of the leg and wrapped the belts snugly around it—one at the ankle, one below the break and one on the knee. If she could find something else to make it more secure, she would, but right now this would have to do.
His left leg and arm were fine, and the hip and pelvic area fine also. The only blood on his jeans seemed to be from his right shoulder and chest. The right arm appeared to be fine. She couldn’t feel anything broken. She couldn’t afford to turn him, not with that glass through his shoulder. She could only pray he hadn’t broken his back.
She felt around his head and neck. Other than a few small glass cuts, he had no head or facial trauma.
His chest was a mess. Mostly superficial, from what she could tell, but bad enough that infection could set in if those cuts weren’t treated.
Speaking of cuts—her left arm throbbed and she looked down to see fresh blood. This activity had re-opened her deep gashes. She needed to doctor herself before she could help Daniel further.
After cleaning her wounds with some of the bottled water as well as she could, she tore strips of one of the other shirts she had brought and bound the gashes in her arm and her leg. Then, one-handed, she awkwardly rigged the tarp partially over the overturned Jeep, providing a canopy of sorts. This could protect them from the wind and rain, if any came, and would keep the sun off Daniel during the day.
The sun slipped down behind the mountains; a beautiful sunset followed. Sam didn’t notice. She continued to search through both their belongings, trying to find anything useful to help them through this ordeal. She didn’t find much.
Daniel had brought a large bottle of Tylenol. Sam gulped down four, hoping to lessen the throbbing in her arm and shoulder. She glanced over at Daniel. Lord knew he would need something stronger if—when—he came to.
In addition, there were five candy bars, two flashlights, a bottle of suntan lotion, and in her makeup kit she had a small pair of cuticle scissors and a pair of tweezers. She had about half a bottle of toner left, and made a mental note that the alcohol in it could help prevent some of their wounds from infecting.
It was dark now, and the air was noticeably cooler. Sam pulled her jacket over her shoulders and gently covered Daniel with his. She had gathered most of the glass around the area and tossed it away from the crash site, so she settled down beside Daniel.
This close she could hear his rasping breath. It frightened her that he had been unconscious so long, but she truly didn’t know if he could bear the pain if he regained consciousness. She didn’t know if *she* could bear it. In his short life, Daniel Jackson rivaled Job for all the trials and tribulations he had endured.
Daniel was an accident magnet. Sad thing was, although he brought some of that trouble on himself by being so excited, so wrapped up in the new worlds they visited that he didn’t always exercise caution, many times trouble just sought out Daniel. It seems like they were kindred spirits.
Before joining SG-1, most of his troubles had been emotional, mental. The death of his parents when he was a small boy, being bounced from foster home to foster home, being so damn intelligent it prohibited him from forming any normal relationships with kids his own age.
And, there was his work. Daniel had veered from the norm when it came to scientific theories about the origin of the pyramids, the meanings behind many historical beliefs, and, as such, had been shunned—even ridiculed—by his peers in the scientific community. And now, now that he had proven most of those pompous jackasses wrong, he couldn’t even share his discoveries. It was all too hush-hush, too top secret.
But since joining SG-1, it had been a physical and emotional roller coaster for Daniel. Sam didn’t even want to touch on Sha’re and the whole business of Abydos. Daniel had had more than his share of bodily injuries, too, including death, near-death, possession, you name it. But always the young man bounced back, still full of wide-eyed wonder, implicit faith in his fellow team members and a unshakable belief in the basic goodness of people in general.
She settled in closer to Daniel. He moaned something unintelligible, moved his left arm restlessly and then was still.
Tomorrow she would cut off what remained of his T-shirt and try to treat his chest and shoulder wounds, but for now, it was dark and she ached all over. She’d overexerted herself, and, despite the Tylenol, was in a considerable amount of pain.
She closed her eyes and tried to sleep—sleep was what she needed. But it didn’t come. She was all too aware of the man lying beside her. She reached over and grasped his left hand, squeezing it slightly. He did not return the pressure. She edged a little closer, pressing against his left side. He felt cold despite the covering of his jacket. She spread her jacket over both of them and gently began to stroke his left arm. As if by instinct, she could sense his head turning toward her. Their heads touched, she lifted up and kissed him gently on the forehead, then settled back down. In seconds she was asleep.
* * * * *
Sam awoke the next morning to birds singing, the feel of someone’s hair tickling her cheek, an ache in her left shoulder and a raging headache.
It took her several seconds to realize where she was, and then the full force of yesterday’s events hit her squarely in the gut and she jerked up.
It was his head that had been against her cheek. She looked him over. He had not moved during the night. She felt the pulse in his neck, and then placed her hand gently on his forehead. By some miracle, he was still alive.
His skin felt warm, feverish. Something needed to be done about the cuts on his chest. She was also sure the glass through his body wasn’t helping, but there was little she could do about that.
First, she doctored herself. After changing the makeshift bandages on her arm and leg, she changed from her torn fatigues into a fresh pair. She couldn’t knot her shoes, so she left the laces loose and tucked inside her boots. She also couldn’t get her T-shirt off over her head, so she left it on.
For breakfast she had more Tylenol, one of the candy bars and some of the bottled water, then began searching through her duffel for something to use to wipe the blood from his chest.
Her hand found something silky. Pulling it out, she realized it was the nightgown she had bought especially for the weekend. Long, flowing and sleeveless, it was white silk with a low cut bodice and a pink ribbon threaded directly under the bustline.
Tears welled in her eyes as she held it up before her. She had brought it in case the weekend with Daniel turned into a special event. Well, it was certainly turning out to be unforgettable. She was sure Daniel wouldn’t regain consciousness any time soon.
She was wrong.
"S-sam?" a weak voice behind her spoke.
"Daniel?" she couldn’t keep the amazement out of her voice. Dropping the nightgown, she turned to him, kneeling beside him. She grasped his left hand and looked into his eyes.
They were pain-filled, but clear. And lucid.
"My G-god, S-sam," he rasped out. "Wh-what happened?"
"We had a wreck, Daniel. You broke your leg and a piece of the windshield is keeping you pinned to the ground. I would have called Colonel O’Neill, but the phone is smashed."
"So," he said weakly, "do-doesn’t look good, r-right?"
Those blue eyes looked deeply into hers. She couldn’t lie.
"No, Daniel, it doesn’t. But there’s always hope. Are you thirsty?"
He nodded slightly. She wet a clean T-shirt and drizzled water over his lips, not daring to raise him up.
"I’m going to cut this shirt off you and try to clean those wounds on your chest before they become infected. It’s gonna hurt. I’d like to give you some Tylenol, but you’re going to have to lift your head to take them. Think you can do that?"
Again, a slight nod. She shook four Tylenol in her left hand and gently put her right hand behind his neck. A moan involuntarily escaped his lips as he moved.
He managed to get the Tylenol down, and she began to cut off the shirt with her pocket knife.
She split the shoulder seams and neckline, then wet the shredded shirt with water. The blood on his chest had caked and dried, causing the shirt to stick to the skin. The water would dissolve the clotted blood and make the shirt easier to remove.
Daniel shivered involuntarily as the lukewarm water hit his chest, and his hand clutched Sam’s right leg convulsively. He blinked his eyes furiously as tears of pain welled up and trickled down his cheeks.
Sam stopped what she was doing and stroked his forehead.
"Daniel," she said, "Daniel—I’m so sorry. I wouldn’t hurt you for the world, you kn--,"
"S’okay, Sam," he said through clenched teeth. "I-I know. I trust you. D-do what you h-have to do."
She continued to stroke him. "We’ll just wait a minute. Let the water and the Tylenol take affect."
"Ta-talk to me, Sam," he whispered. "Ne-need to hear y-your voice." And he closed his eyes.
Tears welled up in hers, but she blinked them away. "Did I ever tell you about the time the Colonel and Teal’c let me go with them on one of their weekend getaways? You were off-world with SG-9, and they were getting antsy being on stand-down—you know how the Colonel chafes under any kind of prolonged inactivity—well, they got this wild idea to take a camping trip in Pike National Forest—you know, wilderness trails, living off the land, all that—and I thought I’d packed wisely for the trip—gear, sleeping bag and all—and the first night we set up camp, I’m hoping for a great meal cooked over the campfire—something like river trout—and I find that all Jack has packed for food is beef jerky and beer. Lots and lots of beer. No frying pans, no corn meal, no salt, no pepper, no bread, anything...," her voice drifted off as she noticed Daniel’s breathing had slowed, become more rhymthic.
No response.
She breathed a silent prayer and began to peel the shirt away from his skin.
The water had loosened the material, and it came away easily, but the sight was not pretty. She carefully eased the shirt off the piece of glass and surveyed the damage
The wound in his shoulder was ugly. The skin was torn around the protruding tip and the wound still oozed. His chest was dotted with more than a dozen glass cuts, some deep; others more superficial; some with the glass still embedded. She got out her tweezers and began to pick slivers of glass out of his skin.
* * * * *
Jack was awakened early that morning by the shrill ring of the telephone.
"Who in the hell...?" he muttered, as his hand snaked out from under the covers to snatch up the receiver. He and Teal’c had downed more than a few beers last night at his apartment. After Teal’c left, Jack, feeling lonely and out of sorts, had ventured out to a local sports bar to take in a game on pay-per-view. One thing had led to another and he found himself involved in a serious game of pool until around three a.m.
"This had better damn well be important..," he growled into the receiver, when he heard Teal’c crisp tones on the other end.
"O’Neill. I hope I did not awaken you."
"Well, you did, Teal’c. Don’t apologize."
"I was not going to apologize, O’Neill."
"Oh? Well - um - fine. What’s on your mind?"
"I have had a premonition. A feeling that Daniel Jackson and Major Carter are in danger."
// In danger of breaking base regs about no fraternizing among team members //, Jack thought. Aloud he said, "I’m sure they’re fine, Teal’c—nothing to get bent out of shape about."
"I am standing upright, O’Neill."
"Just a saying, Teal’c—look, just relax. Tell you what. If they’re not back first thing Tuesday morning, we’ll take a drive up and look for them, okay? Probably meet them coming back down the mountain."
"But, O’Neill...," Teal’c began.
"Say goodbye, Teal’c," Jack said simply—and hung up the phone.
* * * * *
The work of picking glass out of Daniel’s chest was tedious, painstaking. Sam breathed a silent prayer under her breath, thanking God that it was her left arm that was injured and that Daniel was still unconscious. She couldn’t have done this left-handed.
There. The visible pieces had been removed. She very gently began to run her fingertips over some of the other larger cuts, trying to sense any buried glass within them.
She had wondered how it would feel to run her fingers over this firm, muscled chest, but certainly not under these circumstances. Her eyes filled with tears again, and this time she succumbed to a few. Oh, Lord, she thought, this was not how things were supposed to go. Right now she and Daniel should be laughing, talking, his blue eyes sparkling at one of her hopelessly corny jokes. They should be outside walking in the sunshine, or sitting over the breakfast table enjoying those last cups of strong, rich coffee, or—perhaps even sharing a kiss over that coffee, if they’d discovered their relationship had a deeper foundation than friendship.
She shook her head. This wasn’t helping. She turned her attention back to his chest.
The cuts looked okay, now that they had been cleaned with water. None of them were bleeding excessively, just weeping a little where she had removed glass. His shoulder was another matter. It still oozed, despite her best efforts to clean it, and the skin around the glass was puffy, angry, and small red streaks began to angle out from the wound. Infection was setting in.
She laid a hand on his forehead. Warm, but not yet excessively so. She wet a piece of T-shirt and placed it across his forehead. He turned his head slightly in her direction, but his eyes remained closed.
Sam stood, gingerly flexing her left arm. The shoulder was still painful, but she found she still retained limited movement. She unwrapped the bandage on her arm and examined her cuts. She didn’t like what she saw. One or two of her gashes were beginning to puff up. She made a quick decision and reached for her bottle of toner. Dashing a healthy dose on a scrap of shirt she applied it to the wound—and quickly drew in a sharp, shuddering breath, tears stinging her eyes. Holy Hannah! That really burned! She blew on her arm, actually gasping for breath, and slowly the stinging sensation went away. She wouldn’t be able to use this on Daniel unless he were conscious. This would be sure to make him jerk and tear that shoulder further.
She applied a little more, grimacing and gasping, then rebound her arm.
That done, she decided to take a short walk around the crash site. Maybe there was a trail somewhere, or perhaps they could be seen from another vantage point.
Her search turned up only one important item. Daniel’s glasses. Miraculously, they hadn’t broken when they flew off his nose. Looking at the lenses, she had a brainstorm.
Ten minutes later found her bent over a small pile of kindling—angling the glasses to where the sun focused through one of the lenses on one section of dried grass. For the longest time, nothing happened. She grew cramped from holding the glasses so still, and sweat ran down her back between her shoulder blades and trickled down her forehead. Then—was that a wisp of smoke? Yes! The little pile of kindling burst into flames. She quickly added more wood, and secured the area with a circle of stones.
She rocked back on her heels, pleased with the results. The fire would be a definite benefit tonight. It would also help keep them warm—last night had been chilly. Not to mention someone—please, God—someone might see the fire and investigate.
They were well into their second day of this getaway adventure. They were expected back sometime Tuesday. Inwardly, Sam groaned. She had somehow sensed Jack might be in on her little "I-want-to-get-Daniel-alone" scheme, and he probably wouldn’t force the issue if they ran late. He would just assume the best.
She moved back over to where Daniel was lying, shaded by the tarp. Her stomach rumbled and she picked a candy bar, slowly unwrapping it. She had just taken a bite when she heard a weak "S-sam?"
She put down the candy bar and turned to Daniel.
"Daniel. How are you feeling?"
"Well—n-not too hot," he admitted. She laid a hand on his forehead. On the contrary, he * was* hot. His shoulder was definitely inflamed. Before she tried to treat it further, she’d try to get some more water down him, and perhaps a bit of the candy bar.
"You thirsty, Daniel? Hungry? Could you eat a little?"
"J-just water," he mumbled. "P-please."
She smiled. Always so polite. Never wanting to be a bother.
"Found your glasses. Want me to put them on you?"
"N-not just yet." Then he said, "So-sorry to be such trouble, Sam."
"Stop it, Daniel," she said, but not harshly. "You aren’t being any trouble. I’m the one who got us into this mess, y’know." She’d fashioned a makeshift cup from the cleaned-out lid of her pressed powder container and eased his head up.
"Hmm," he said, as he drank. "Water s-smells like you."
She blushed. "Well, you are drinking out of one of my cosmetic jars. Don’t think it will poison you."
"Smells good," he said, as she lowered his head. "S-sam?" he said, his blue eyes meeting hers. "This is n-not the weekend I’d hoped for," and he smiled a slight, self-deprecating smile.
"Me either, Daniel," she said, smiling back.
* * * * *
Jack O’Neill was not a happy camper.
If he didn’t know better, he would swear that Teal’c was being -- a wart. An absolute wart. An absolute pain-in-the-ass wart.
When Jack had reported to the base, Teal’c had found him immediately.
"Perhaps I did not make myself clear this morning, O’Neill," he began, but Jack held up his hand.
"Oh, you were clear, Teal’c. Crystal, as a matter of fact." He attempted to cajole the Jaffa. "Ease up, big guy. We’re not off-world. You don’t need to stand guard over Daniel on *this* trip—in fact, I’m sure he’s in capable hands." Jack grinned at his remark. Teal’c failed to see the humor.
"Oh, for cryin’ out loud, Teal’c, go clean your staff weapon—or something. You’re driving me crazy." Jack exclaimed, starting to walk away.
Teal’c grabbed O’Neill by the arm and swung him around.
Jack was astounded. "What the...?"
"I am serious, O’Neill. We must take immediate action."
"And I’m serious, too, Teal’c—relax. I promise—first thing Tuesday, okay?"
He could tell his answer didn’t satisfy the Jaffa. He didn’t care. He was up to his eyeballs in reports, briefings and staff meetings and the last thing he needed was a moody former First Prime to Aphophis shadowing his every move.
As Jack walked away, Teal’c said to himself, "Perhaps a visit with Dr. Fraiser...,"
* * * * *
It was late afternoon of the second day. Sam had attempted to clean a few of Daniel’s wounds with the full-strength toner, but he had been unable to keep from wincing, and thus, tearing his shoulder further. So, she settled for using the half empty water jug and diluting the toner, and now bathed his cuts with the extremely mild astringent.
Daniel was exceptionally patient. He tried to remain as still as possible as Sam gently, continually, ran a scrap of T-shirt soaked in the mixture across his chest and face. He knew she was trying to halt the growing infection and to bring his temperature down. He couldn’t keep from trembling, however, every time she approached his right shoulder.
Her heart broke for him. So, she engaged him in conversation; anything to take his mind off the pain.
He was much too warm, she thought, biting her lower lip, her left hand unconsciously stroking his left shoulder and her right continuing to sponge off his face and chest. His energy, that spark, was flagging, and dark smudges had begun to appear under his eyes. His breathing had become labored and raspy again. For a while they had talked about the last mission off-world, and about a few of the artifacts he had brought back recently.
Daniel loved to talk. But not today. In fact, lying there, eyes closed, he had become so quiet she was afraid he had lost consciousness again. She stilled her movements.
His voice startled her. "Don’t s-stop, Sam. Yo-your touch feels good."
She blushed at the almost intimate quality his words contained. Although she was sure he didn’t mean it *that* way—did he? "Penny for your thoughts, Daniel," she said quietly. "What are you thinking about?"
His answer took her by surprise. "You."
"Me?" her voice sounded high-pitched, squeaky. She cleared her throat and tried again. "Me? What about me, Daniel?"
"Oh, Sam....,"his voice trembled slightly. Sam’s heart lurched in her chest. She didn’t like the direction in which this conversation seemed to be heading. Far too serious. Still...
"What? What is it, Daniel? You can tell me," she said, her hand brushing some damp strands of hair off his forehead.
Daniel shifted uncomfortably, then hissed in a breath as his body complained about the unexpected movement. He looked up, eyes clouding with renewed pain. She was looking at him so earnestly, he could almost swear there was something akin to real affection in her eyes.
"I-it’s just," he drew a deep breath—as deep as he could. "Well, I really was l-looking forward to sp-spending this time with you."
"To what, Daniel?" she almost held her breath.
"Wanted to tell y-you how much you m-mean to me, Sam, probably a l-lot more than you’re supposed to."
Her eyes widened. "But, but I thought...Sha’re.." her voice trailed off, hating herself for bringing up this subject.
Daniel sighed, eyes heavy. "I’ll always l-love Sha’re, Sam," he said quietly. "But...she’s g-gone. And I can’t mourn forever. I just w-wanted to see if, perhaps, you and I..."
He felt something wet hit his left shoulder. He looked up and noticed a tear trickling down her cheek.
"S-Sam?" he asked, alarmed. Sam rarely cried. "Y-you okay? Y-you in pain? D-did I say so-something wrong?"
She smiled. A beautiful smile, considering the circumstances they were in.
"No, Daniel," she whispered, bending close to his left ear. "Everything you said was very right. You mean a lot to me, too. I’d hoped we would have had a chance to talk about it this weekend."
His eyes lit up. Some of that spark was back. "Really, Sam? Even if - if we n-never go be-beyond friendship, I-I just want you to know how much I-I do care..."
Tears welled in her eyes, Oh, God, she prayed silently, this is so not fair. "I know, sweetie," she whispered. "I care, too. Very much."
Ever so carefully, she moved closer to him. And kissed him.
Sparks didn’t fly. The earth didn’t tremble. But it was still heartbreakingly sweet.
"Oh, God, S-Sam," Daniel moaned. "Y-you don’t know how long I’ve w-wanted to do that."
"I have a feeling I do, Daniel," she whispered. During the kiss, however, she was alarmed at the heat that was radiating off his skin. "Right now, however, I need to get more water down you—and some more Tylenol, okay?"
He nodded.
As the sun began to set, she put more wood on the fire, and finished the candy bar she had started earlier. To be honest, she wasn’t feeling so hot herself. Despite the toner she had poured liberally on her arm, the skin looked more inflamed than earlier, and she was also beginning to feel feverish. The Tylenol didn’t seem to be helping.
The fire helped provide some needed heat against the cool night air. She had pulled the majority of their clothes out of the duffel bags, making makeshift pillows for them. Despite his fever, she piled some clothes on top of Daniel, to help prevent him catching a chill sleeping bare-chested.
She snuggled next to his left side, feeling the heat pouring off him. She breathed a silent prayer that he wouldn’t be disturbed by bad dreams or get too restless—that shoulder was bad enough without him tossing and turning. Then fatigue overcame her and she drifted into an uneasy sleep.
* * * * *
She was dreaming. Everything was too bright, too loud, too fast. She and Daniel were trapped. Daniel was dying. She kept calling to Jack—but he and Teal’c couldn’t find them, couldn’t see them. They kept walking right past the spot where she and Daniel lay. The ground was sticky beneath her. Her blood. Daniel’s blood. Too much blood. She kept stretching her arm out, trying to grab the Colonel’s pantleg as they passed, but she kept missing. She heard a ‘Help me, Sam,’ gasped in her left ear, felt Daniel give a deep, shuddering sigh, and then he was quiet. Too quiet. She panicked, screaming, "Daniel, noooo-oo!" Then she began screaming at the top of her lungs. "Here, Jack! Teal’c! Anyone!"
Sam jerked awake, her arm throbbing, head pounding.
She turned quickly toward Daniel. Oh, please, God, don’t let him be..
He wasn’t. But he was very feverish, breath shallow, raspy.
She lay back down beside him, nestled in to his left side as close as she could get without jarring him. Eyes closed, she prayed fervently. // One more day, dear Lord. Get us through one more day....//
* * * * *
That next day stretched out interminably. Try as she might, Sam could not bring down Daniel’s fever. He was unconscious most of the time, and not very lucid when awake. She was so afraid he was going to become delirious and start thrashing around, which would do untold damage to that shoulder.
So she maintained her vigil by his side, constantly sponging his chest and face, forcing water down him, talking softly to him, and all the while she felt herself getting weaker and weaker. She couldn’t use her left arm at all now, and even the slightest movement sent ripples of pain through it—from wrist to shoulder. She wanted to do nothing more than close her eyes and sleep. Sleep. But doing so could very well be fatal to both of them.
So, she drew on some untapped reservoir of strength from deep inside, stubbornly dug in, and fought that feeling, as the day slipped by and night came once again. Tomorrow was Tuesday. Tomorrow help would come. Tomorrow they would be rescued. Tomorrow...
* * * * *
The sun was just barely peeking over the horizon when Jack stumbled out to the parking lot. Teal’c, Janet Fraiser, and—was that Carole Hanlon? -- were waiting by an Air Force Jeep. Boxes of what looked like rescue and medical supplies were stacked in back.
"Jeezus, Teal’c," Jack moaned. "Do you know what time it is?"
"You said first thing Tuesday morning, O’Neill," Teal’c replied.
"Yeah, yeah, I know what I said. Okay, campers, let’s get rolling."
* * * * *
Carole drove; Jack sat in the passenger seat beside her; Dr. Fraiser and Teal’c in back.
The first hour was uneventful. No one spoke much. Until they started the climb up the mountain, Jack sat with his eyes closed. Any more sleep, he knew, was useless; Jeeps made notoriously bad beds. Instead, he couldn’t help thinking what a mistake this was.
// Jeez, // he thought to himself, // They’re probably not even up yet—and here we come in like the cavalry, // And, no doubt, interrupt what he hoped might be a very cozy little interlude between the young archaeologist and Jack’s 2IC.
He opened his eyes. This place certainly was remote. Very pretty. Very remote.
The Jeep rounded a sharp curve in the road. The mini-landslide suddenly loomed ahead of them. Carole slammed on the breaks. "What the...?" Jack said, then his eyes fell on the set of tire tracks going over the side of the cliff...
Was it possible to have your heart leap into your throat and hit the pit of your stomach simultaneously?
The rest of the party was out of the Jeep and peering over the side before Jack was able to tear his eyes away from those tracks. Janet was shading her eyes and Teal’c’s voice boomed out: "There. I believe I see something."
Carole and Janet gasped. Jack just stared in the direction of Teal’c’s pointing hand. He could barely make it out. Carole gasped, "Pepe!", and Jack could just see the remains of a Jeep—flipped over on its side—partially buried in the underbrush. And, what looked like smoke from a fire curling up nearby.
"Damn!" he muttered. "Oh, damn!"
A flurry of activity followed. Carole was on the phone, calling in reinforcements. Teal’c and Jack rigging a way to make their way down the embankment; Janet readying the medical supplies the Jeep carried.
Teal’c started to descend first: Jack stopped him. "No, Teal’c, you stay topside. I’ll go first—we may need to get Dr. Fraiser down there pronto."
Teal’c nodded.
In a few minutes, Jack was inching his way down the steep embankment. Intent on what he was doing, he was almost unaware of the litany he was muttering under his breath. "God. Sam. Daniel. Jesus, let them be okay. Hang on, Sam, Danny-boy. I’m on my way. Please, God, let me find them alive."
He reached the overturned Jeep. Quickly his eyes took in the scene.
Sam and Daniel were lying together, partially shaded by a tarp that had been secured over part of the Jeep. He called up the mountain: "Teal’c! I’ve found them! Get Dr. Fraiser down here pronto!"
Sam’s eyes fluttered open at the sound of his voice.
"C-colonel? Is it really you?"
"Lie still, Major. Help is on it’s way. Where are you hurt?" He knelt beside her.
"Left a-arm, mainly, s-sir. It’s Daniel—he’s.."
Jack drew the makeshift covers off Daniel, saw the glass shard, the cuts, the leg, and swore, "Shit! Oh, shit!" He gently laid a hand on Daniel’s forehead, felt the intense heat.
"Dr. Fraiser! Janet! Get the hell down here!"
"We are almost there, O’Neill." He heard Teal’c’s deep voice from nearby.
Sam was struggling to sit up, but Jack eased her back down. "Lie still, Carter. Dr. Fraiser’s on her way."
"So - so glad you’re here, sir," she said weakly, nevertheless flashing him a bright smile.
"Me, too, Carter," he replied, placing his hand on her good shoulder. "You two never made it to the cabin?"
"No, sir, we-we didn’t."
She could see the flash of pain in his eyes as he mentally calculated how long they’d been out here—injured, alone, relying on their wits to survive. But he merely said, "Musta been one helluva weekend."
Jack heard a rustle nearby. Carole and Janet were coming toward them, carrying what medical supplies were available.
Jack couldn’t remember the last time he’d heard Janet Fraiser swear—on duty, that is.
She was looking at Daniel.
"Dammit. Oh, dammit."
But he was hearing her now.
"Yeah," was all Jack could say.
"How’s Sam?" she asked, but before Jack could speak up, Sam answered the question.
"Bruised my left shoulder, but it’s mainly my left arm that’s the problem. Think the gashes on it are infected. Bumped my head, scraped my leg; I’ll be fine."
"Carole, see to Major Carter," Janet barked. "Colonel O’Neill, I’m going to need you over here."
Carole helped Sam up and moved her near the other side of the Jeep, knowing that Dr. Fraiser and Colonel O’Neill were going to need all the working room they could get.
"Carole," Janet called out. "How long before a medical team gets here?"
"They were dispatching one as of fifteen minutes ago, doctor."
"Land or air-based?"
"Land, I think."
"Get back on the horn. Tell them we need a chopper. Now. Tell them to bring a wide back brace. We can’t risk dislodging this glass until we get Dr. Jackson back to the base. And tell them they’re going to have to bring equipment to get Major Carter and Daniel back up the incline. They’ll have to land on the road; there’s no place near the wreckage to set down the chopper and we can’t risk having him air-lifted out of here. With too much movement I don’t know what this glass will do."
* * * * *
The next half hour passed in a blur. Sam let Carole ease her into a sitting position on the other side of the Jeep and watched numbly as she set up an I.V., administered antibiotics, and cleaned and re-bandaged the wounds on her arm. "So sorry about Pepe, Carole," Sam said. "I know he meant a lot to you."
"Shh, Sam, it’s okay," Carole shook her head. "I can always get another Jeep. You and Daniel are irreplaceable."
With all her heart, Sam wanted to be by Daniel’s side as they worked over him. Carole sensed it and said. "Let Dr. Fraiser do her work, Sam. Daniel would want you taken care of. I’ll let you know what’s going on. Now, lie back, close your eyes. Let the drugs do their work." She looked deep into Sam’s eyes. "Daniel will be all right. He’s a fighter." Sam nodded, tears threatening to sneak out of the corners of her eyes. She lay back, closed her eyes, and began to drift as the medication began to take effect.
* * * * *
Jack sat there, clasping Daniel’s left hand tightly, while Janet quietly, efficiently, worked over the severely injured man. Soon she was joined by Carole, and they piggy-backed drugs and antibiotics on a freshly set I.V., then wrapped his chest as carefully as possible and resplinted his leg.
"Sam’s worked miracles, Colonel," Janet said, busy cleaning the wound on Daniel’s shoulder. "These wounds are infected, but not as badly as you might expect after three days of exposure. What she did here may have saved his life. It’s certainly kept him alive thus far."
She sat back on her heels, pushing the hair out of her face and sighing.
"Damn!" she exploded again. "Does he have a death wish? If I had a dollar for every time I’ve had to put him back together I could resign my commission and retire to Florida."
Both Jack and Carole cast glances her way.
Janet looked a bit guilty. "Sorry—sorry. I didn’t mean to blow up like that—it’s just...," she gestured at Daniel. "This—this is just so unfair. Daniel doesn’t deserve this." Her voice caught in her throat. "No one does, but....especially...someone like Daniel..."
Jack sighed, and patted her on the shoulder. "I know, Janet. Our resident humanitarian has a knack for getting the crap knocked out of him on an all-too-regular basis."
Their words were cut short by the distance sound of helicopter blades and Teal’c’s strong voice shouting, "They are here, O’Neill, Dr. Fraiser."
Jack swore if he lived another eighty years, he’d never be able to shake the mental picture of Daniel lying on that grassy mountainside with that hunk of glass through his chest.
Even Teal’c—immovable, unflappable Teal’c—paled a bit when he first saw the young linguist. Carefully, tenderly, as if he were handling one of Daniel’s rare artifacts, he helped the medical crew lift Daniel on to the wide backboard, taking care not to jostle the glass or the young man excessively.
Teal’c had Daniel’s shoulders and the glass shard; another medic braced Daniel’s hips, two others were on either side of his legs; Jack cradled his head. In mid-lift, Dr. Fraiser stopped the group.
"Hold him there for just a second," Janet said. She knelt down and peered under him, gently touching his back. "Ah-h-h, here’s part of our infection problem. A couple of sizable chunks of glass are embedded in his back. Plus this windshield’s filthy—and the entry wound on his back is festering. Okay, let’s get him up the hill. Quickly."
They started up the mountainside, ropes around their waists, carefully, slowly pulleying the stretcher upwards.
Jack was right by Daniel’s side, the young man’s hand clasped tightly in his.
Sam’s stretcher followed close behind. Carole was beside her, helping to steady her.
At one point, the stretchers stopped, everyone in the party taking a well-earned breather before they continued the arduous journey to the top. Sam saw Daniel’s head move slightly, saw Jack lean forward as if to catch his words, and wondered what Daniel might have said. She’d have to ask later. Right now, she was more focused on personal pain, concern over Daniel’s condition, and relief at being rescued.
* * * * *
She didn’t have a chance to get near Daniel on the flight back—he was surrounded by medical personnel. Even Jack had been pushed aside—they needed the space to monitor vitals and ensure they could keep the patient alive long enough to get him back to the infirmary. If his heart were to stop, reviving him with the glass in his chest would be dicey—at best.
Due to that limited space, Carole and Teal’c took the Jeep back. So Jack huddled with Sam, both watching Janet and Dr. Warner work on Daniel.
"Wish I knew what was going on," Sam said softly.
Jack immediately picked up on the vibe. Looking deeply into Sam’s eyes, he believed he could see more than ‘friendly concern’ mirrored there.
"Ah, Daniel’s tough—he’ll surprise us once again. Besides, he’s in the best possible hands, Carter. Fraiser and Warner won’t surrender him without a fight."
"I know, sir," she whispered, looking very close to tears.
It suddenly hit Jack like a punch in the gut. My God, what she—what both of them—had been through these last three days. This was supposed to be a "getting-to-know-you" weekend away in a beautiful setting. Two young people having an opportunity to discover if they had ‘feelings’ for each other. Instead, it had been a nightmare of pain, blood, and fear.
He slid in beside Sam’s good side and cradled her in his arms. Her blue eyes looked up at him in surprise.
"Car—Sam," he said, surprising her again by the use of her first name. "I’m so sorry. What you and Daniel had to go through—damn, if only I’d listened to Teal’c when he said something was wrong. If anything happens to him—to you—"
"I-it won’t, sir. We’ll be f-fine. Like you said, Dan-Daniel’s to-to-tough," her voice quivered, and broke. Tears began to flow down her cheeks. Tears of release. Healing tears. "So-sorry, s-sir," she choked.
Jack just held her closer to his chest. "Sh-h-h, Sam," he whispered, lightly stroking her hair back from her face. "Don’t apologize. Don’t say anything. Let someone else be strong for you now." And rocking gently back and forth, he held her as she cried.
* * * * *
Daniel’s surgery had to be done in stages, because of his weakened condition. The immediate concern—the glass shard—was removed first. Additional operations followed to repair the damage done to his shoulder and chest.
At first, the prognosis wasn’t good—the SG-1 team had long ago deciphered Janet’s body language and expression, so they knew she was not optimistic after the first surgery. However, Daniel stubbornly clung to life and the following days saw a gradual improvement.
Jack and Teal’c took turns at Daniel’s bedside. And they kept Sam appraised of any change in condition. After three days, Janet declared Sam well enough to pay Daniel a visit.
* * * * *
"Just a few minutes, Sam," Dr. Fraiser cautioned. "He’s heavily sedated and may actually be asleep."
Sam made her way slowly towards Daniel’s bed. There was Jack—in his familiar chair, with his familiar blanket and pillow.
His face lit up when he saw her.
"So, Carter." He smiled, resisting the urge to hug her because of her bandaged shoulder. "Janet’s letting you take a little spin around the block?"
She smiled up at him. "Yeah—out on good behavior." Then she hugged him. Felt his body stiffen at first, then relax in her embrace. She looked up at him—the worry, the guilt etched on his face, mirrored in his eyes.
"No one blames you, sir," she whispered.
"I blame myself, Carter," he said quietly. "God knows enough people tried to tell me to..."
"You couldn’t have known, colonel. If I’d been in your shoes, I would have reacted the same way. And thanks, sir—for everything." She kissed him, softly, on the cheek.
Then she looked over at Daniel and her face softened.
Jack took the hint. "I think I’ll let you two kids catch up on old times," he said. His hand gripped her good shoulder firmly, warmly, briefly. "Glad you’re on the mend, Sam."
"Thanks, Jack," she said.
He left the area. She made her way to Daniel’s side.
"Daniel? Danny?" she whispered.
The thick lashes fluttered for a moment, then his blue eyes met hers. "Sam—hey." He smiled weakly. "H-how are you?"
She pulled up a chair and began to stroke the hair on his forehead.
"Doing fine, sweetie. How about you?"
He shifted uncomfortably, drew in a sharp breath as something—leg? ribs? chest? back? shoulder? -- pained him, then exhaled slowly. "Not too bad."
She had to smile.
He caught the look and said, his voice weakening, "S-sam?"
"What is it, Daniel?" She leaned in closer.
"Y-you owe me—weekend getaway. Wanna go back. Do it right. Y’know. Firelight. Coffee. Good conversation. Get to know you better."
Sam’s smile lit up the room.
"S-sam?" he questioned. "Next time—drive up—take a tank, okay?"
"You got it."
His eyelids fluttered closed, his breathing eased.
She leaned over and tenderly kissed him on the forehead.
* * * * *
Jack leaned heavily on the wall outside the infirmary, seemingly lost in thought.
"We almost lost them this time, Jack," Janet’s voice was behind him, her hand on his shoulder.
Jack sighed wearily, pinching the bridge of his nose. Yeah—another long night in the infirmary loomed before him. If it hadn’t been for Sam’s courage, clear-headed actions and inventiveness, Daniel’s inner strength and tenacity, Teal’c’s premonitions and both his and Janet’s persistence, he might be operating with half a team now, and—more importantly—facing the prospect of a lifetime minus two of his very best friends. Oh, yeah, this was gonna be good for a bit of major guilt-trippin’. And, of course, both Sam and Daniel held him blameless. He kept going back to seeing the rescue squad bring Daniel—slowly, painfully—up the mountain. Danny had kept grasping his hand in his good left one, wincing at every jarring step, and saying over and over, "K-knew you’d come, Ja’k. Knew we could c-count on you." It wasn’t until they stopped that one time that Jack was actually able to hear what Daniel had been saying. Oh, yeah. Salt to an already over-inflamed wound.
Another hand on his shoulder. Teal’c. "They will recover, O’Neill. We are still all together."
"Yeah," Jack sighed, "but this time, Teal’c, this time—it was just a little too close to home."

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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.