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21 January 2012 @ 11:51 am
Fic: Endurance Past the Point (12 of 19)  
Summary, notes, and warnings are located in the Table of Contents.

Part 12

“General, I have to repeat: I do not think this is a good idea,” Janet’s voice was resolute as she looked around the briefing table at the others: General Hammond, Colonel O’Neill, and Dr. MacKenzie.  “Sam’s reactive episodes have been getting steadily worse.  Daniel and Teal’c called me in a panic the other night when a casual conversation resulted in a massive reaction.  To try to deliberately steer her toward the triggering memories could have dire consequences.”

MacKenzie leaned forward.  “I believe that hypnosis will provide a safe environment to explore those memories.  And even if she does become uncomfortable, we stand a good chance that she will be fine when we back her out of the hypnotic state.”

Jack just barely refrained from rolling his eyes.  He wished someone would look at MacKenzie’s insane desire to treat everything as business as usual when dealing with the bizarre and alien situations at the SGC.  

The general caught Jack’s silent derision and turned to him.  “Colonel?”

“I just don’t see how this could be a good idea.  I don’t think we have any yardstick to predict what will happen.”

The general nodded in agreement, but continued talking.  “Unfortunately, I think that drastic steps may be necessary.  NID has gotten wind of Major Carter’s situation.  They have submitted an official request for her to be remanded to their custody.”  Jack sat up straighter.  “I will, of course, give the request its due, rather lengthy, consideration before I reject it.  They will, of course, proceed up the ladder but I think I can say with some assurance that the next couple of rungs will be similarly disposed.  But it will eventually get to the President’s desk.  While he is sympathetic to us, unless we can give him some concrete reason that she should stay where she is, he will have no choice but to grant their request.”

The room was silent.  After giving them all some time to digest the news, he continued, “Does that impact your opinion at all, Doctor Fraiser?”

“Medically, no.  It still seems like an awfully big risk.  But, given this new information, possibly the risk is worth it.  I don’t know that I’m the person who should make that call.”

The general nodded to the airman standing against the wall, who disappeared into the hallway.  

“I agree. Which is why I’ve asked Major Carter to join us. If no one can provide me with a definitive rationale to either proceed or not, I think the choice should be hers.”

Jack turned to watch as the airman led Sam into the room.  She carried herself straight and tall as usual, habit and pride would allow nothing else, but her movements were just slightly slower than normal, more deliberate as if she had to think about each step.  He had been reading Fraiser’s reports.  He knew that she was losing weight and understood that the doc was worried about the impact her constant pain was having on her overall health.  But he realized something was getting lost in the translation, because he had no idea it was this bad.

He tried to hide his reaction, but she was watching him as intently as he was watching her.  Her eyes never left his face as she approached the table.  She felt the push of conflicting feelings both driving her toward him and warning her away.  There was an almost physical pull to be near him, a welcome calm that settled over her as soon as their eyes met.  But it was almost immediately countered by a surge of the quiet, subliminal resentment that she could only pray was coming from the part of her brain usurped by Ugallu.

She took the open seat next to him, which he felt a rueful sense of relief about.  He didn’t know if he could stomach her sitting across from him, wasted away, in imminent danger of being taken away yet again as he could do nothing but sit by.  As she settled, Hammond began.  

“Major Carter, we have a decision to make today.  Dr. MacKenzie believes that there may be merit to attempting hypnosis in order to ascertain what Ugallu sent you back here to find and how you would relay this information back to him.  Possibly we could even uncover how he planted these instructions in your mind and begin to find a way to neutralize them.  However, Dr. Fraiser has some concerns.”  He drew a breath, ready to turn the presentation over to the two doctors when Sam answered.

“I’ll do it.”

Jack turned toward her.  “Carter?” he said, his tone half-question, half-caution.  

“I have to know, Colonel.  I can’t go on like this forever.”  She looked at him intently.  He saw a fatalism in her expression that he had never seen before and knew that she wasn’t just speaking metaphorically.  She really thought that she wasn’t going to survive this.  And she wanted answers before it took her down.  She silently begged him not to make it harder for her.

He slowly sat back, uttering a resigned, “Yeah,” giving her the only thing he could: his support.

Hammond looked back and forth between the two.  They had obviously come to some understanding, and if Jack was satisfied, then that was good enough for him, at least personally.  Professionally, he needed to assure that she was aware of what was at stake.  

“Very well, Major.  We can set something up for this afternoon, but before that, I would like you to take a little time to talk to Dr. Fraiser about her concerns.  If you want to postpone the session or cancel it altogether, everyone here will understand.”

Sam nodded, knowing that nothing Janet could say would make her change her mind.  


~SG1~


Daniel entered the observation room where Jack was watching them prep Sam for the hypnosis session below.  His face was still buried in the report he was reading as he walked.  “Jack?” he questioned.  “Siler said you were down here.  I need to ask you something.” He looked through the window and stopped, seeing Janet applying electrodes to Sam’s temples, MacKenzie standing to the side.  He looked up at Jack.  “What’s going on?” he asked.

“MacKenzie’s going to try to hypnotize Carter.  See if that gives us some clearer memories.”

Daniel’s brow knit together.  “Are we sure that’s even...”

“No,” Jack brusquely cut him off.

He nodded.  “Okay.”  He played with the edges of the paper as they watched Fraiser checking the display on the nearby monitor.  “Has anyone considered just giving her some time?  Maybe if we just stopped inundating her with questions.”

“We can’t wait.  NID found out what happened,” was Jack’s terse reply.

Daniel knew he was missing something.  “So?” he drew out the word.  

“So they’ve submitted an official request that she be transferred to their custody.”

“What difference does it makes whose custody she’s in?  If she could tell us anything, she would.”

Jack just looked at him, his expression dark.  Daniel could see the anxiety and anger underneath.  “What would they do to her?”

Jack turned away from the window to look at straight at Daniel.  “Well, they’d get her out of the country, away from US jurisdiction.  I guess we should be glad that at least they can’t get her off the planet.  And then they will try anything and everything to get her to talk.”

Daniel shook his head.  It was impossible to contemplate.  “They can’t.  I mean, Jack, it’s Sam.  I can understand when they’re dealing with aliens.  I mean, I still think it’s abhorrent and represents a total breakdown of everything that’s good about being human, but I see how they can justify it to themselves.  But Sam, she’s, she’s not just from Earth, she’s an American citizen, a Major in the Air Force.  Her father’s a general for god’s sake!  How can they think they can get away with this?”

“They will.  They always do.”

“But you can stop this, right?”  Daniel seemed almost childlike in his certainty that Jack held the answer.  

Jack sighed.  “I don’t know, Daniel.  Hammond’s doing everything he can, but I think it’s pretty much a done deal.  Maybe if we can get something today, it’ll be enough to justify keeping her here.”  He turned back to the now dimly lit room to find it empty of everyone other than Fraiser, MacKenzie, and Carter.  It had been decided to keep the audience to a minimum to protect Sam’s privacy.  Hammond would have been here as well, but he was dealing with a team unexpectedly returning early.  He turned the speakers up a bit as he heard MacKenzie’s calm voice start the relaxation process designed to put Carter under.  Daniel was tense and silent beside him.

Jack’s jaw twitched as he thought of the myriad half-formed escape ideas that had been flying through his brain since that morning.  Separate her from the SF guarding her, get her through the gate, take her somewhere deserted, somewhere safe from the NID, safe from Ugallu.  He would do it too, without regrets; he would leave behind his career, his friends, and his planet if he thought it would help her.  

But she would still have whatever mess in her brain that goa'uld had left. She would still be trying to complete whatever task had been set out for her and presumably to return to him. The idea of Carter at Ugallu's mercy again was unthinkable.  She still had more knowledge of how to break through their security than anybody else in the galaxy. Either she would continue to refuse to submit to him, earning her more torture and death and slow insanity or she would break, and torture herself into insanity if he allowed her to live that long.

Jack sighed.  It was obvious that even if he could get her out of there, she would still have to be watched constantly to keep her out of Ugallu's clutches. She would still be a prisoner, and with only Jack to guard her, the likelihood of her slipping away was too high.

They heard MacKenzie begin directed questioning as Sam sat relaxed against an inclined bed.  “I want you to focus your thoughts on the time when you were held by Ugallu.”  Immediately her muscles tensed and her breathing quickened, her face drawn in fear or pain, but MacKenzie reacted just as quickly.  “Major, you are safe.  These are only memories; they can’t hurt you.  You are simply an observer in your thoughts right now.”  She relaxed slightly.  

“He asked you to do something for him.  I want you to picture that in your mind and tell us.”

She spoke in a dull monotone.  “‘Get on your hands and knees.  I want to hear you scream.’”

In the observation room, Daniel dropped into a chair, closing his eyes against images of situations in which those commands would have come up.  Jack kept his eyes pinned on Carter, assessing the tension in her jaw and around her eyes, the way her hands were pulled into fists, and he prayed that MacKenzie was right and that she would leave this behind her when he pulled her out of the hypnotic state.

“Major, I want you to move on from that.  Try to think of a time when he asked you to obtain information that you didn’t yet have.  He wanted you to collect intelligence and report back to him.”

She nodded slowly.  “Yes.”  Janet kept an eye on the monitor next to Sam.  They had turned the sound off to not interfere, but she saw the numbers start to climb.  

“Tell us about that memory.”

There was silence.  Everyone was holding their breath, hoping that maybe they would miraculously get the answers they needed in the next few minutes.  Sam opened her mouth.  “I...  He...”  Her words were forced and choppy.

Jack couldn’t read the monitor from his distance, but he could see the minute the displays started going haywire, blinking red lights appearing in several sections.  He could see Fraiser moving quickly to Carter’s side, speaking to MacKenzie but he had no idea what she was saying because all that was coming through the speakers were Carter’s agonized screams.  The two doctors were struggling to keep her from throwing herself off the bed as her entire body went through multiple convulsions.  Jack and Daniel were on their feet and out of the room like a shot.

As they entered the isolation lab, they could hear MacKenzie’s voice counting down, trying to bring Carter out of the hypnotic state.  As he hit one, her eyes flew open, but there was no silence, no relaxation.  They could now make out halting words through the noise.  “God, stop, please make it stop.”

Janet looked at Jack and Daniel as they approached.  “Help me keep her still.  I need to give her a shot.”  They held her as still as possible as Janet quickly grabbed the prepared hypodermic needle sitting to the side and administered it.  Thirty seconds later, the screams had subsided to whimpers then silence as the tension ebbed from her body and she slumped back against the bed.  

Neither Jack or Daniel seemed inclined to stop touching her as Janet pressed the button to recline the bed, so that Sam was laying down instead of sitting.  She looked at the two men, hovering over their teammate and then at MacKenzie, standing a few feet away, looking shaken.  “I gave her a fairly potent mix of pain reliever and tranquilizer.  She’s going to be out for a few hours.”  The unspoken ‘I told you so,’ hung heavily in the air.

The psychiatrist shook his head, sincerely regretful.  “I am sorry.  I really thought we could avoid this.”  He gave a last look at Sam laying still and pale on the bed and walked out of the room.  

Jack became aware of Sam’s skin under his hand and realized he was still gripping her arm.  He relaxed his hand and slowly pulled his arm back.  On the monitor, the flashing red lights were quiet.  He nodded at Fraiser.  “Thanks for your help, Doc.  Keep me apprised of the situation.”  He took a deep breath and turned for the door.

Daniel watched him leave, feeling the edge of his building anger begin to cut through his self-restraint.  He silently followed Jack out into the corridor, the acid in his voice making the older man stop and turn around.  “Well, that went well, don’t you think?”

“You want to say something, Daniel?”

No, he didn’t want to say something.  He wanted everything to go back to normal, he wanted Sam to be safe and whole and part of the team again.  And he was pretty sure that Jack didn’t deserve his anger, that this disastrous episode hadn’t been his call.  The final decision had probably rested with Fraiser or Hammond, or maybe even Sam, but Jack was standing right there.  Jack, his actions defended by Sam even as she was falling apart, walking away from her again.  And while some part of his mind knew that she was right, his fear and helplessness needed something to vent against.  And he was standing right there.

“We just proved their case, Jack,” he said bitterly.

Jack huffed.  He didn’t feel like playing these games with Daniel today.  “What the hell do you mean?”

“You just proved to the NID that there is something there for them to find, that maybe if they push hard enough, they’ll get it; that Sam’s the enemy!  You did the exact opposite of what you wanted to do.”  His voice had gradually increased in both volume and hysteria as he spoke.  Jack looked up and down the corridor, glad to see it empty with the exception of Sam’s guard.  He grabbed Daniel by the arm and pulled him into an empty lab.  

“You think I wanted this, Daniel?” he asked roughly.  The archaeologist didn’t answer, the flare of his anger already dying out, leaving him tired and drained.  “Dammit, no one wanted this.  But there are no good solutions here and we’re just trying to find the best one in a big pile of shit.”  Jack sighed, running his hands through his hair.  “I’m not giving up, Daniel.  I want her safe too.”

They stood there looking at each other for a few minutes, uncharacteristically quiet.  Daniel could see in Jack’s eyes that he would fight to the ends of the galaxy, but he didn’t even have a plan A this time.  Daniel knew that he and Teal’c didn’t have a clue what to do.  And their ace in the hole who always pulled out the last second saves was currently drugged to the gills to save her from excruciating pain.  Finally Daniel nodded.  “Yeah, Jack.  I know.  I just feel so damn helpless.”  

“Yeah,” Jack seconded, before heading back down to update Hammond on the results of the hypnosis.  As Daniel watched him go, it occurred to him that maybe there wasn’t going to be a last-minute miracle.


~SG1~


Janet was updating some files in her office when she received a call from the nurse staying with Sam informing her that their patient was beginning to show signs of waking.  Janet checked her watch as she headed back to the iso lab; it had only been an hour and a half since she’d administered the medication.  Sam should have been out for several more hours.  

She could hear Sam’s weary groans as soon as she entered the lab.  The nurse was waiting to update her.  “She’s only just now opening her eyes.  BP is slightly elevated but stable.  All other vitals are in the normal range.”

“Thank you.  Could you find Dr. Jackson and let him know that she’s waking up?”  Janet hurried over to Sam’s bedside.  She had assured Daniel just an hour ago that it was safe for him to go ahead and take a break because Sam wouldn’t wake for hours.  She smiled brightly at Sam as she opened her eyes with a wince, even in the dimmed lights of the lab.

“Janet?” Sam asked groggily.  “God, I hurt.”  Every part of her ached and throbbed.  

Janet looked at her critically.   The pain should only be residual aches from the muscle tension earlier.  She worried that triggering such an extreme reaction may have raised Sam’s baseline pain level.  “I’m sorry, I can’t give you any more pain medication just yet.  You had a very large dose not too long ago.  If you can hang in there just a bit longer, maybe another hour or so, we can give you some more when we move you back to your room.”

Sam swallowed a whimper at the idea of waiting.  She knew that Janet wouldn’t prolong her pain unless it was absolutely necessary.  She took a slow deep breath and forced a small smile as she nodded.  

“It didn’t work, did it?”

“No.  I think you remembered something, but you weren’t able to tell us anything.”  Sam started to tense up again as she tried to remember what had occurred in her mind.  “Don’t think about it right now.  Just try to relax.”

Sam laid back on the pillow, trying not to laugh at the idea of relaxing through this pain.  Her eyes wandered around the lab and lit on the window from the observation room.  She had seen the colonel up there earlier.  His back had been to her as he talked to Daniel, but he had been there, so close.  She had been willing him to turn around and look at her, but before he did, MacKenzie had been ready to begin.  

Daniel arrived and spent the next hour talking quietly to her, trying to distract her from the pain until Janet okayed the next dose of medication.  Afterwards, he and Janet accompanied her back to her quarters and got her settled in bed.  Daniel said, “We’ll try to make sure someone’s here when you wake up, okay, Sam?”

She nodded and mumbled, “Need... to talk.”  The medication was already kicking in and it was getting harder to form the words she wanted to say, but she was pretty sure that she hadn’t gotten her point across.  “Have to tell him...”  Daniel leaned closer, trying to hear what she was saying.  Her eyes fluttered closed.  Daniel sat for a minute, then left, satisfied that she was asleep.  He contemplated her words, wondering if she was trying to tell them something, or if it was just the medication talking.


~SG1~


She was breathing shallowly, pretty sure that he had cracked a rib or two in that last barrage.  Trying to muster her strength while he was conferring with the Jaffa who had interrupted.  Too soon it seemed, he returned to her.  Steeling her resolve, readying for more physical attacks, her stomach fell when she saw him lift the hand device.

Agony spread through her whole body, her blood felt like it was on fire, all her muscles contracting at once, every nerve ending screaming.  Dimly she heard him talking, but she couldn’t make out the words.  Then suddenly, it was over.

She opened her eyes slowly, feeling a strange disconnect as she saw the walls of her quarters with his words still ringing in her ears.  Still feeling hazy from the medication, she let the sounds run through her mind over and over trying to parse out the words in the pattern.

“Your friends are near....   little time...  our advantage... you must do this for me....”  Images of glyphs dancing through her brain.

She struggled to a sitting position and stumbled to her feet, hurrying to her desk. Her body was slow in reacting, still depressed by the narcotics. Pain coursed through her as she grabbed a pen and quickly scratched seven symbols onto a legal pad. Her breathing was labored and the marks on the paper were dancing in front of her eyes. Above it she saw she had scribbled 'Ugallu'. The pen fell from her shaking hand.  She tore the sheet off the pad and held it momentarily, fighting the urge to rip it into pieces.  Mustering all her will, she folded it and slipped it into her pocket.  Staggering back from the desk, her breath coming in gasps, she fell to the floor, moaning, unable to push the pain away anymore.