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19 January 2012 @ 10:15 pm
Fic: Endurance Past the Point (8 of 19)  
Summary, notes, and warnings are located in the Table of Contents.


Part 8


The next morning found Sam feeling better than she had since her return.  She had managed a whole night’s sleep and was actually hungry enough to grab some breakfast on her way to meet with Janet.  


“Well, Sam,” said Janet looking at her records.  “I’m happy with everything but your weight.  You’re just not gaining back at the rate I was hoping for.  Are you eating?”

Sam was happy to be able to truthfully say, “Yes, I just had breakfast.”  She didn’t mention that other than that, she hadn’t finished a complete meal.  The headache, which seemed to suppress her appetite, had receded overnight, so there didn’t seem any point to mentioning it now.  

Janet searched her friend’s eyes, trying to make sure she was telling the truth.  “Okay.  But I want to know if you begin experiencing any unusual symptoms: dizziness, extreme fatigue, anything at all.”  Sam nodded.  “And remember that you’re meeting with MacKenzie tomorrow morning after your checkup.”  

“I know, Janet.  I’ll be here.”  Sam smiled.  “Can I get to work now?”

“Go on.  I’ll see you tonight.”  Janet turned to answer the phone ringing on the wall and then called out to Sam.  Sam paused while Janet put the phone down.  “That was the colonel.  He’d like you to meet him back at your quarters.”  

The doctor’s pointedly questioning look was met with a bewildered shrug from Sam.  

As she approached her quarters, she saw the colonel standing there with his arms full of stuff.  Drawing closer, she realized that the stuff was mostly comprised of posters and photos.

“Sir?” she said questioningly.

“Open the door Carter, I can only do this so long before I drop everything.”  She opened the door and gestured him into her quarters, where he carefully dumped the whole pile on her bed.  “I was thinking that since you’re stuck here for a few more days, you might appreciate something more... colorful to look at than sheets.”  

She picked up a framed photograph of the four of them and blinked away the tears that were springing up.  “Sir, this is yours.”  She wasn’t sure if she was more touched by the fact that he had brought all this for her, or the fact that he had known just what was behind the midnight decoration craze.

He shrugged.  “You can give it back to me when you get some of your own stuff in here.”  He looked at the pile.  “I probably got more than you technically could fit in here, at least with good taste, but I wasn’t sure exactly what you’d like.  So, just take whatever you want.  I won’t be offended.”

She smiled.  “Probably no landscapes in there, huh?”

“Absolutely not.”

She went to one of the sheets and yanked.  “I guess I can be a little late to the lab today.  Care to help?”

Together, they set about sticking up posters and hanging picture frames.  Sam gave the framed team photo a place of honor on her bedside table. When they were finished, she looked around with a huge smile on her face.  Jack stuck his hands in his pockets as he realized her smile was yet another thing that he had almost lost for good.  

She stopped and quickly traded her excited smile for her Aha! smile.  “I know that look,” he commented.

“Colonel, I think I figured out what to do with that device!”

Jack nodded.  “I knew you would, Major.”

“I’ve got to get down there, maybe get Siler and Blaine to help out.”

“Blaine?” Jack questioned.

“Lt. Sarah Blaine.  She just started here, right before...”

“Right.” Jack vaguely remembered Sam introducing him to some earnest new science geek.

She shrugged.  “I am technically her boss.  I should probably see what she can do in the lab.  This should be a good task to start on.”  She looked around the room again.  “I really can’t thank you enough, Sir.  But I kind of really want to get started.”  She nodded toward the door.

“What?  Oh yeah, don’t let me keep you, Carter.  Go, work your miracles.”

She smiled and breezed past him, out the door and down the hall.  It wasn’t until she was riding the elevator to the lab level that she realized the lights were just a bit too bright and felt the pain creeping through her skull again.  She walked down the corridor to her lab, scolding herself for trying to do too much with the decorating, and entered the blessedly dim room.  Taking a deep breath, she got to work.


~SG1~


Jack had watched her disappear down the hall before a glance at his watch told him he had to hightail it to the briefing room.  Hammond had called him that morning and asked to meet with him, Teal’c, and Daniel.  Slipping into his seat at 1000 on the dot, he waited for the general to speak.

“As you know, I believe that it is time for SG-1 to resume their place in the mission rotation.  I was hoping to give you a few more days lead time, but we’ve had a couple of things come up and I need you to take a recon mission scheduled to depart tonight at 1800.”  He indicated the files placed in front of each of them.  “All pertinent information is in there.  You should be able to complete your surveys and return here within 18 hours.  Any questions?”

Jack checked with his team members before shaking his head.  “No questions, General.”

“Good.  See you this evening.”  The general withdrew to his office, leaving the three men looking at each other.

“Well, this feels wrong,” Daniel commented.  

They looked at him.  “In what way?” Teal’c inquired.

“Well, you know, the three of us going offworld and Sam staying here.  How do you think she’s going to react to that?”  

Jack cleared his throat.  “She’ll understand.”  He waited for agreement but none was forthcoming.  “Right?”

“Right,” said Daniel slowly.

“Indeed,” contributed Teal’c.  

None of them looked particularly convinced.  

“Perhaps one of us should inform her of our imminent departure,” Teal’c said, looking pointedly at Jack.

“Oh, you mean me?” he asked, feigning surprise.  “Yeah, I’ll go talk to her in a bit. Maybe convince her to take a break for lunch while I’m at it.”


~SG1~


Jack finished the reading the briefing materials and sat back in his chair.  He looked at the clock and figured that he had time to grab Carter for a late lunch before prepping for the mission.  He headed for the elevator, smiling to himself as he remembered their morning.  It had been amazing to see a glimpse of the old Carter, smiling and excited and, of course, rushing off to her lab.  

He exited the elevator on the lab floor and immediately heard an explosive thump.  He rounded the corner and saw smoke wafting out of Sam’s lab, could hear raised voices, and then the alarms sounding around him.  He started to run down the corridor.  

A young brunette exited the lab coughing and leaned against the far wall; he assumed that was the Lt. Blaine Carter had mentioned.  Then he could hear Carter shouting, “Just forget it, Siler!”

“Major, wait!” came Siler’s voice as he followed into Jack’s view.  She passed the colonel in the doorway, unaware of who she was pushing out of the way, throwing her arms up to ward off any intervention then stalked angrily down the corridor.  

Jack carefully peeked into the lab.  There was no sign of flames but through the smoke, he could make out the device they had brought back from Ugallu’s base.  Siler was trying to decide whether to go after her.  “Siler, is Major Carter injured?”

He shook his head.  “Not that I could see, Sir.”

“Then let’s let her walk it off for a bit.  What about you two?”  He indicated Siler and Blaine.  

“I’m fine, Sir,” Siler answered.

Blaine took shallow breath, trying to control the coughing, and said, “I took a lung-full of the smoke, but other than that I’m okay, Colonel.”

“What happened here?”  The general arrived with Daniel and Teal’c in time to see Sam turn the corner out of sight, obviously agitated.

“There was an... accident.  The device from Ugallu’s base is fried,” Siler offered.

“God, poor Sam,” Daniel murmured.  “That was our only lead.”

Hammond looked at Siler, who seemed uncomfortable and unusually subdued.  “How did this happen, Master Sergeant?”

Siler cleared his throat, looking at anyone other than Colonel O’Neill.  “Major Carter, she... well, she connected the power incorrectly.  It’s what caused the explosion.”

They all looked at each other, perplexed.  Teal’c commented, “Major Carter does not make mistakes.”

Jack looked at the still smoking remains of the Goa'uld device on her tabletop and blew out a sigh.  “I guess there’s a first time for everything.”

Hammond was perturbed.  He was concerned about Major Carter as well as the continuing possible threat that Ugallu presented. Another round of coughing interrupted his train of thought.  “Lt. Blaine, I want you to get yourself down to the infirmary, get checked out.  You too, Siler.  Then I want the two of you to move this device into one of the other labs and find out if there’s anything salvageable.”

After their acknowledgement of his order, he turned and strode back the way he came.  Jack looked at Daniel and Teal’c.  “I’m going to go find Carter.  If I know her, she’s kicking herself right now.  Maybe I can help prevent permanent damage.”

It took him some time to find her.  She wasn’t in her on-base quarters, in the infirmary, or the control room.  Finally, he found her in the cafeteria, digging into a full tray, with a vaguely unfocused expression on her face.  He eased into a chair opposite her, slightly worried when there was no reaction.

“Carter,” he said.  

She jumped slightly as her eyes refocused to see her CO sitting there.  “Sir, I’m sorry...  were you saying something?”

He shook his head briefly.  “Not yet.  Just came by to see how you’re doing.”

She shrugged ruefully.  “I was just thinking, Sir.  I don’t know how I managed to do that.”  

“Ah, Carter, so you made a mistake.”

She looked sharply at him.  “The device is destroyed, isn’t it?”

“Well, it looked pretty toasty to me, but Blaine and Siler are going to have another crack at it later.  I know you wanted the information in there; maybe we can still get something.”  He could see her jaw set as she bit back her unhappiness with not being on the repair team.  He sat back.  “What happened, Carter?”

She looked bewildered.  “I don’t know, Sir.  I... thought everything was fine.  By the time I saw that the wires were cross-connected, it was too late.”

Jack thought about it.  Teal’c was right.  It was unusual for her to make a mistake.  Maybe they were rushing things getting her back into work.  He leaned forward, lowering his voice, even though the cafeteria was mostly empty at this time of the afternoon.  “Do you need some more time?  Maybe when Fraiser gives you the okay, you could take some leave, go visit Mark and the kids.”

He knew the instant the words were out of his mouth that they were a mistake.  She sat up straighter and her blue eyes became steely.  “Are you saying that I’m not up to doing my job, Sir?”

“No, no, no, no.  Not at all.  I’m just offering you the option, in case you hadn’t thought about it.”

She pushed back from the table and stood up.  “Understood, Sir.”  Without looking back at him, she turned and left the cafeteria.  

Jack watched her walk away, shaking his head and sighed.  “I shoulda sent Daniel,” he mumbled.

Sam headed directly for her on-base quarters, fury still pulsing through her.  She was a little taken aback at the level of hostility she had felt for the colonel and was just praying to make it to her room without running into anyone else.  She tried taking some deep breaths, willing her heart to stop racing.  She reviewed their conversation.  Of course he was worried.  It was his job.  And he hadn’t said anything out of line or that even hinted at placing blame.

But after that spectacular blunder, she didn’t think his concern about her fitness came anywhere close to hers. Of course, he didn’t have all the facts.  She reached the door to her room and slipped inside, quickly locking it behind her.  Leaning back against the door, she tried again to remember connecting the power leads to the device but it was just a big blank void.  

She knew that trauma could manifest itself in a variety of ways and that she should report this, but it was just so embarrassing.  The whole experience had been humiliating: being captured, unable to escape, not to mention what she had suffered at Ugallu’s hands.  Now she was back it was still no better: confined to base, the dreams, and now she couldn’t even do her job.  She just wanted it to be over.  

She felt the heat of tears building behind her eyelids and pushed off the door.  Feeling lost and helpless, she fell onto the bed sobbing as she fell into a fitful sleep.  

She sat on the small dock, trailing her feet through the calm water below.  Vibrations in the wood beneath her announced his approach and a smile crept across her face.  She felt him ease down behind her, then his lips against her neck, gently skimming her skin, his breath warm in the cool dawn.  Her breathing quickened and she tried to turn into him, but he held her shoulders firm.  She watched the light play on the water through half-closed eyes as his hands moved from her shoulders, down her bare arms, meeting as they moved across her belly before diverging again.  One hand moved to her breast, the other tracing the lines of her bikini before dipping beneath the cloth.  All the while, his lips and tongue traced intricate patterns along her neck and shoulders.  Her eyes closed as she gave herself over to the feeling.

The tension built inside her and her breathing turned to panting gasps.  “God, Jack,” she groaned, tilting her head back to rest on his shoulder.  His fingers moved slowly and deliberately, teasing but never quite fulfilling her desire.  “Please,” she whispered.  She opened her eyes to look up at him.  The wrong eyes, the wrong face looked back down at her, a cruel grin, a flash in the eyes...

Sam’s eyes flew open, her body on the edge of orgasm even as her mind processed the dream a second behind.  Throwing herself from the bed, she only just managed to reach the small lavatory before vomiting.  The waves of nausea kept coming until well after her stomach was emptied.  Shaking violently, she lay on the floor relishing the feeling of the cold seeping into her bones.  


~SG1~


Jack and Teal’c were undergoing their pre-mission physicals in the infirmary when Jack realized that he hadn’t gotten around to letting Carter know that they were leaving.  She had made it pretty obvious that she didn’t want to see him right now and it was getting close to gate-time.  

“Doc, can you do me a favor?”

“Sure, Colonel.  What do you need?”

“I didn’t get a chance to let Major Carter know that we’d be offworld.  Can you mention it to her when she stops by this evening?  Just let her know that we’ll be back sometime tomorrow.”

Fraiser nodded.  “That’s no problem.   Well, you two are good to go.  Any idea where Dr. Jackson is?”

The missing archaeologist rushed into the infirmary a second later.  “Sorry I’m late.”  He slipped his jacket off, so Fraiser could attach the blood pressure cuff.  “Jack, did you hear?”

“Hear what, Daniel?”

“Siler said they actually were able to download some data before that thing blew up.  It looks like some sort of navigational chart.  He’s thinking they might be able to come up with some theories where we could look for Ugallu.”

Jack blinked.  When did their luck ever go like that?  “Cool,” he said.  

“Major Carter must be relieved that they were able to obtain some useful data.”

Fraiser nodded to Daniel that he was finished and he shrugged back into his jacket.  “Actually, Sam wasn’t there.  Siler thinks she’s been in her quarters all afternoon.”  He glanced at Jack, aware that he had already taken too much responsibility for their disastrous lunchtime conversation and hoping he wouldn’t add this right into it.

Jack looked at his watch, hoping that maybe time had stopped and he could find five minutes to go apologize to her.  No such luck.  Sighing, he said, “Okay, let’s head out.  We’ll go, we’ll survey, and Carter’ll have this all figured out by the time we get back.”

Janet watched them leave, hearing the bravado in the colonel’s voice masking his deeper fear that today wasn’t the anomaly they all hoped.


~SG1~


Janet saw the next shift of infirmary staff report for duty, made rounds with the night duty doctor bringing him up to speed on their patients, and still Sam hadn’t shown up.  She wondered if she was avoiding her after the earlier incident.  Recalling that Daniel had heard that Sam was holed up in her quarters, Janet said her goodbyes and made her way to Sam’s room.  

Knocking briskly on the door, Janet waited a minute.  She didn’t hear anything, but that didn’t necessarily indicate that Sam wasn’t there; the doors were thick and and hid sound from inside quite well.  She knocked again and waited.  With a sigh, she ran her ID badge through the scanner by the doorway and punched in the medical override code.  While this may not technically be an emergency, Sam had missed a mandated medical checkup.  

She stepped into the darkness of the room and knew immediately that something was wrong.  “Sam,” she called, keeping the door behind her open until she turned on a lamp.  Closing the door, she surveyed the room.  The bed had been slept in, but left in disarray.  The door to the bathroom was open and she walked over to see Sam laying nearly facedown on the floor, not moving.  

“Sam,” she said louder as she dropped to her knees next to her friend.  Turning Sam over and finding a pulse let her relax at least somewhat.  Her face was pale, except for dark circles under her eyes.  There was a distinct smell of sick in the room and on Sam.  Janet got up, turned on the light, and grabbed a small towel from the wall hook.  Wetting the towel, she sat next to the major and gently wiped her face.  She kept talking softly, trying to get her to wake up.  

After a minute, Sam started to move.  “Janet?” she questioned as she pushed herself to a sitting position.  She felt chilled and stiff and all the muscles in her abdomen were screaming at her.  

“There you are,” Janet said.

“What happened?” Sam asked, looking around.  

“Well, I was going to ask you the same thing.  I came looking for you when you missed your appointment tonight.”

“I missed... Wait, what time is it?”  Sam’s face clouded as she tried to figure out how she had lost the whole afternoon.  Then memories of her earlier dream flooded through her conscious mind.  She paled, shaking.  “Oh my god.”

Janet rewet the towel and held the cool fabric against the back of Sam’s neck.  “Deep breaths, Sam.  Just try to relax.”

She reached up to wet another cloth for Sam’s forehead, keeping a close eye on her friend.  Sam was keeping a close eye on the toilet, but trying to breathe deep, slow, and regular.  The feeling of nausea passed and she leaned back against the wall.  “I think I’m okay now.”

Janet helped her up and into the other room, seating them side by side on the bed.  She twisted to look at Sam.  “You feel up to talking about it?”

Sam swallowed.  She didn’t even think she felt up to thinking about it, much less saying it out loud.  “Dreams,” she said shortly.

“Memories?” Janet probed.

Sam shook her head.  Her voice was shaky as she pled, “Janet, I just can’t... not right now.”

Janet would accept that.  Sam had MacKenzie to act as her therapist which freed Janet up to be her friend.  “Okay.  You hungry?  We could go get some dinner.”

She had serious doubts as to whether she could keep anything down, but she was also desperately hungry at this point.  She nodded and stood up alongside Janet.  As they approached the door, she stopped.  “Is Colonel O’Neill still on base?”

Misunderstanding her reason for asking, Janet rubbed her arm sympathetically.  “No, Sam.  I’m sorry.  One of the reasons I wanted to see you was to let you know that he, Daniel, and Teal’c had to go offworld.  The colonel asked me to let you know that they will be back sometime tomorrow.”  The doctor was perplexed when she saw something resembling relief in Sam’s eyes.  “Let’s get dinner and then I think I’m going to stay here tonight.  Not as your doctor, as your friend,” she emphasized as she saw Sam’s ‘I’m not an invalid’ attitude start to surface.

Sam actually managed to eat a little bit of dinner and then the two women returned to her quarters.  They sat talking about anything not related to Sam’s current condition: how Cassie was doing, movies, books.  Janet even let Sam go on for half an hour about the errors in a recently published text on string theory.  Eventually, Sam started to nod off and lay down in her bed, Janet making herself fairly comfortable on the cot they had had brought in for the night.  Janet continued to talk in a low voice until she was sure Sam was asleep, then closed her eyes herself.  

Several times during the night, Janet woke to Sam crying out, but nothing on the scale of what she had seen earlier.  At these points, she would sit on the bed next to Sam, gently rubbing her back and calming her back to a restful sleep.  

Morning was announced by Sam’s alarm clock.  She awoke feeling fairly refreshed for the second day in a row.  Janet excused herself to go freshen up.  “I’ll see you in the infirmary in half an hour, Sam.  And don’t forget you’re meeting with Dr. MacKenzie afterward.”

Sam nodded her assent, wondering if there was any way she could get out of discussing the dreams with the shrink.  Probably not.  Janet may be her friend, but as her doctor and CMO of the base, she would be obligated to share indications of mental distress with the psychiatrist.


~SG1~


She sat facing MacKenzie as he prepared his recorder.  Ready, he asked, “So, Major Carter, how are you doing today?”

“I feel okay right now,” she answered honestly.  

“Right now?” he clarified.

“I’m still having dreams.  Or, really nightmares I guess.”

“I see.  And do these nightmares continue to be reflections of your memories of your captivity?  Or have they changed in some way?”

“I guess they’ve changed.  I mean, a lot of it still has to do with what happened, but there are some differences.”

“Describe the differences, please.”

There was silence in the room for a few minutes before Sam could bring herself to actually say anything.  “Sometimes, the people involved are different.”  MacKenzie just continued to wait without saying anything.  

“Sometimes, instead of Ugallu and his goons, it’s my team.”  She couldn’t bring herself to say their names in connection with the dreams.  She kept her eyes firmly focused on her lap until MacKenzie spoke.

“So why are you angry at them?”

Filled with disbelief and anger, she coldly snapped, “I’m not.”

“Your dreams would seem to indicate otherwise.”

She rolled her eyes.  “God, you just really never get it, do you?  I trust these men with my life.”

“So where were they when your life was being taken from you repeatedly?”

“What the hell?”  She was shaking now.  “They did everything they could.  To imply otherwise...”

“Major, please calm down.  I agree that everyone here did everything they could.  I know that you know that.  But knowing that intellectually doesn’t change the fact that you may still feel anger at the situation.  Feelings aren’t objective, they aren’t rational.  It’s okay, necessary even, to feel and acknowledge them.”

“There are no feelings, okay?  No anger.  They’re just dreams.”  The tension in her voice seemed to belie her statements and MacKenzie decided to push just a little farther.  There was something going on with her but he couldn’t quite put his finger on it.  

“You said yourself that you trust them with your life.  You were captured, tortured, raped, killed.  It seems reasonable that at some point, you would have questioned that trust.”

She sat quietly for a minute.  She had never lost faith in their intentions, but had to admit to herself that she had despaired of ever being rescued.  She shook her head.  “It doesn’t work like that.  You trust that they will try.  But we all know that sometimes trying just isn’t going to be enough.  I took the risk willingly and I will not hold them accountable.”

MacKenzie sighed.  Her defense of her team seemed genuine.  “It just seems to me that for some reason, some part of you is perceiving them as the enemy.”

She took a deep breath.  What the hell did this guy know about enemies?  “Let’s just move on, okay?  I’m sorry I brought it up.”

MacKenzie did move on to other subjects but found Sam to be sullen and recalcitrant for the remainder of the session.  Finally, he turned off the recorder and stood up.  “I will see you again in a few days, Major.”

She didn’t say anything as she walked out of the room.  Still so rattled by what the stupid, idiotic, head-up-his-ass shrink had brought up, she was at her lab before she remembered the disaster from yesterday and so was pleasantly surprised to see that it had been cleaned up sometime in the intervening hours.  She also found Lt. Blaine hard at work analyzing data on a laptop.  She listened while Blaine excitedly shared the news of the snippets of data recorded and together, they started spitballing ideas on how to make these fragments make sense.  If Lt. Blaine noticed how often her new boss would bring her hand to her temple, or shield her eyes from the overhead lights, she didn’t say anything.

 
 
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