|Primary Characters:||Jack, Daniel, Sam|
|Description:||A Sam double shows up, and at first everyone’s taken in by her. Soon, it turns out she’s got a hidden agenda. The real Sam’s life is in danger, not to mention Jack’s marriage.|
O’Neill stepped through the Stargate, warily keeping a lookout, left and right. So far no gunfire, no shelling, not even any distant explosions. It was close to midnight, local time, and the deep darkness would have shown off any indications of Gu’a’uld activity. This world was under attack, but their probe had shown some human life signs and it had been decided that the survivors would be evacuated. Without turning, the Colonel heard another member of his team arrive close behind him.
Secretly, he was relieved that Sarah hadn’t been assigned to accompany SG1 on this particular operation. He would never say so to her face, but he was uneasy to say the least when it came to bringing his wife along to any potential danger spots. If he had been foolish enough to mention his concern to her, he knew she would give him a piece of her mind.
Two more arrivals completed the SG1 team. The Colonel gave his orders and they split into two groups. In another five minutes SG2 and 5 would be arriving, dividing the perimeter up into partitions. Each group would herd survivors together and begin the evacuation.
The probes had shown a world of very much the same level of technology as their own, but the Stargate seemed to be a recent discovery. Unfortunately, disaster had followed soon enough. Bad luck or some error of judgment? At this point it didn’t matter. The work of the SG teams was to make sure at least a handful of survivors would be able to continue their civilization elsewhere.
By now the silence was beginning to unnerve Daniel. This world had been under constant Gu’a’uld fire, the past two days. Why was everything so quiet, so calm? Gu’a’uld ships didn’t need daylight to obliterate a civilization. Perhaps they were already too late? If the Gu’a’uld considered this world defeated, would there be any survivors left to save?
Most buildings they passed were in a state of destruction unimaginable. Daniel winced when he envisioned this happening on his own planet. Whatever had brought this on the unsuspecting denizens of this world, must never be allowed to happen back home. If they found any survivors, he would try to ascertain what had led to the arrival of Gu’a’uld ships. He was jolted out of his thoughts by a hiss from O’Neill.
“Daniel. Look over there. I saw something move.”
Everything appeared to be quiet and calm, but Daniel had learned to trust O’Neill’s instincts over the years they had been working together on the Stargate project. And there it was. A rustle of leaves in the bushes straight ahead. They had taken cover behind a burnt out car wreck. At least Daniel assumed it had been a car. For all he knew it might have been some small aircraft.
Another rustle and the sound of a foot breaking a dry branch alerted him to the presence of at least one large creature, presumably a human. This caution was grating on his nerves. Weren’t they on a mission of mercy? So why were they skulking behind car wrecks instead of contacting this survivor?
He was about to suggest as much to O’Neill, when the person over in the bushes changed direction and swerved back to their position. Before Daniel had time to react, O’Neill stepped out from his cover and grabbed the runner by the arm.
“Hey. Take it easy. The cavalry has arrived. We’re here to evacuate you folks. Lighten up, man. Oh. Sorry, ma’am.”
O’Neill hurriedly let go of the struggling female he had been holding harder than was polite even under present circumstances.
Now that the woman was standing still, and Daniel’s eyes had adjusted to the darkness, he was able to see her. This world had no moon, he had to remind himself of that. He wondered what that did to the tide, but forced his attention back to the blonde, long-haired woman standing before him. Wasn’t there something familiar about her? That mouth, the tilt of the chin.
“Yes, my name is Samantha. Samantha Carter. How did you know?”
She walked closer and subjected Daniel to an intent stare.
This wasn’t his Sam. He could tell that she had never seen him before in her life. If she was Sam’s double from this world, no, most likely some other world, apparently he didn’t have a double there. Would there have been an O’Neill in her life? There was no jealousy in that thought, not anymore. After all, his Sam, was literally that. His. Not O’Neill’s. Or rather he belonged to her.
“We – uh – have met your double.”
“My double? Oh. Then I guess we sort of know each other. Mr – ?”
“Jackson. Doctor Daniel Jackson. Call me Daniel.”
“Excuse me. We should get going, Daniel. Ms Carter, if you’d like to come along with us, we’ll try to get you to safety. But first we’ll have to look for more survivors. I take it you’re alone?”
There was a barely perceptible pause, but the reply seemed honest enough.
“Yes. There’s just me here. But I know there are others around.”
“Perhaps you could show us to them, ms Carter?”
“I’ll try. Mr – ?”
“Colonel O’Neill. Jack O’Neill.”
“Ok, Jack. Let’s go.”
As they moved out, Daniel almost felt the new Sam’s eyes on him. They seemed to dart from him over to O’Neill and back again. Apparently, she was as curious about them as they were about her. Which was only natural. They hadn’t run into any of their doubles on more than a few occasions.
Towards dawn, they had rounded up about 500 survivors, not counting the pets, livestock and wildlife that were to relocate to a safer planet. If their probes indicated it would be safe to return the next night, they would expand their search area and try to find more survivors.
About 500 would make for a too small gene pool and lead to problems with inbreeding in the future. Some effort had been made to salvage a little of their literature, science and other aspects of the planet’s civilization. What they had found was pitiful. From what they could deduct, this had been a flourishing society. Now all that remained was ruins.
Sam wondered if she would ever know what had caused this destruction. But she had other things on her mind. Meeting her double was unsettling to say the least. She wondered how it could be that the other Sam had been found on this planet. Was it her home? Sam didn’t think so.
Another question that kept popping up in her mind was why the other Sam had never met O’Neill’s and Daniel’s doubles. From what Sam had been able to gather, their doubles’ lives seemed to take similar paths on most alternate Earths. But obviously this Sam’s home was the exception.
Immediately on arrival, the survivors were taken to the infirmary for medical checkups, those of them who needed it. Dr Fraiser even moonlighted briefly as a veterinarian, since a few of her patients begged her to treat the wounds of their pets and livestock. The wildlife weren’t as cooperative. Most of those remained sedated in their cages. After that, the Stargates was activated again, this time to transport the guests to their new home.
By the time the last of them had disappeared through the wormhole, every member of the SG1 team was exhausted. Frankly, a few of them, notably those of the male sex actually decided to keep their uniforms on in bed, merely disarming themselves before bedtime. Sam’s double had been shown to temporary quarters on the base, in anticipation of a more thorough investigation of the circumstances that had led to her presence on the world under Gu’a’uld attack.
More pressing matters had been given priority the night before, but early in the morning, SG1 and General Hammond were most interested in finding out what Samantha Carter had to tell them.
At least most of them. It seemed to Captain Carter that Colonel O’Neill was more interested in watching the other Samantha’s long hair. She knew it was petty of her, but she caught herself resenting the hairdo, the makeup and most of all the clothes of her double. But why should a civilian Samantha choose a military style? With an effort, Sam focused on her double’s story and not the way she looked. Still, it was odd the way O’Neill was staring at her. Not at all the way a man ought to be staring at anyone but his wife.
“Ms Carter, I would like to ask you a few questions. But first, are you comfortable in you quarters?”
After a few seconds of hesitation, Samantha from the other Earth replied that she had no complaints.
“I know dr Fraiser gave you a clean bill of health, so I assume you are well”?
“Yes, I am, thank you, General Hammond. May I ask you a question too?”
“By all means.”
“What is your first name?”
What? Even her voice was vulgar, or so it seemed to Sam. But she forced herself to listen to what the General would reply to this impertinent question.
“Thank you, George. Now what was it you wished to ask me?”
Again there was a stunned silence while Sam and the others tried to digest the fact that her double seemed to be flirting with the General, or were they just imagining that, merely because as a civilian, this woman saw no need to address anyone with their military titles.
It seemed the General himself was quite stunned too, so Daniel stepped in.
“What I think we’d all like to know is how you found yourself on that particular world. Bad luck to arrive there just in time for a Gu’a’uld attack.”
Daniel’s voice was filled with genuine sympathy, but it occurred to Sam that this was a bit of a coincidence. Her double and the alien attack at the same time. Or was she imagining things again, because she didn’t like this woman who wore her face, and shared her name?
“Yes, very bad luck, and unfortunately, my own world was lost to a Gu’a’uld attack some time ago. Some of us managed to escape through the Stargate to whatever worlds we could find.”
“That’s terrible. And you ended up there all alone, Sam – ms Carter?”
O’Neill was certainly taken with her too, Sam noted. His voice was filled with sympathy, as she had never heard him speak to her. No matter what the occasion. Men. A bit of makeup, a sensational hairdo, and suddenly they were all mushy concern for a lady in distress. Momentarily forgetting that she herself would resent being patronized that way, Sam allowed herself a moment of cattiness towards her double.
But she wasn’t here for her own sake, she had a job to do, so she pushed the thoughts away for the time being. This was Sarah’s problem, not hers. Fortunately, Daniel appeared his usual sweet, innocent self. The sympathy for the other Sam clearly would have been offered any other refugee, male or female. Sam had to restrain an impulse to squeeze Daniel’s hand. He might be a civilian, but she was not.
Later that day, a new probe was sent through the Stargate to look for more survivors of the holocaust the Gu’a’uld had unleashed on a helpless world. There were a few, and SG1, 3 and 4 found them and brought them to safety. In the evening, the last of them had gone to their new home, livestock, possessions and all. SG1 felt emotionally drained by all the suffering they had witnessed, and prepared to unwind a bit in the evening.
Teal’c began some kind of meditation, Daniel and Sam retreated to Sam’s quarters. If any of them had seen Colonel O’Neill, however, they might have had a bit of a surprise. As soon as things calmed down a little, he sneaked out of his quarters and found his way to Samantha’s room. He didn’t know what drove him to seek out her company, and if he had, he would have requested an immediate leave of absence to return to his senses at home, with Sarah. As it was, he had a vague idea of offering some reassurance to a deprived and distraught refugee.
She opened her door so fast it seemed almost as if she had been waiting for him, but surely that could not be the case? Whatever her intentions, O’Neill forgot to speculate on them the moment their eyes met. He didn’t really notice women’s clothes, but what this Samantha was wearing took his breath away.
Apparently, she had not come away from her home world entirely empty-handed. The neglige was close to transparent, and the nightgown she wore underneath it was only slightly less so. What color was it? That was another thing O’Neill had no clue about. Something close to red, he assumed, but not quite. Whatever it was, it set off the blue of her eyes, and the blonde hair that cascaded down her shoulders, to perfection.
“Jack. What a coincidence. I was just thinking about you.”
O’Neill felt sidetracked, but finally remembered to open his mouth.
“Uh – Really? Why?”
Her warm smile made the answer to his question irrelevant, and he hardly expected a reply anyway. Wasn’t it up to him to explain why he had decided to pay her a visit?
“I was wondering if you might be able to help me adapt a little. A new world, a new life. Your General was so kind to allow me to stay here, until I can make further plans.”
“Uh. Sure. Ask me anything you like. I think you’ll find this is a good world. More or less. Anything in particular you’d like to know?”
Again that smile. It seemed to reach inside O’Neill and tug at his heart. He felt himself go warm all over.
“This room, it’s not very comfortable, is it? Perhaps you could let me go shopping. You have to remember that I’ve lost everything. My home, my family – everything.”
“I’m so sorry, Samantha – uh – ms Carter.”
“Please, call me Samantha. Why don’t you sit down?”
“Well, I’m not staying, so -“
“Please. Just for a moment. It gets a little lonely in here. Haven’t you ever felt that, Jack?”
“Uh, yes, I guess so.”
For the moment, he conveniently forgot how much time he and Sarah would spend curled up on her bed, the outside world a distant memory. -So stay for a moment. It would make me feel more at home.
“Alright. I suppose I could stay for a few minutes. Anything else you’d like to know?”
“This is all so fantastic. Confusing, but amazing too. The Stargate technology. It has only been a couple of months since we discovered it on my planet, and it seems the planet where you found me only recently began using it as well. These Gu’a’uld – what do they want? Just to destroy?”
Samantha’s blue eyes met O’Neill’s squarely. There seemed to be something different about them, compared to Sam’s, but O’Neill couldn’t quite make out what it was.
“No. They want slaves. Human slaves. But in some cases, it seems all they do is destroy. To make sure no competing warlord uses the planet as a base.”
“Oh. You must think me very naive. All this strategic talk, all these weapons, they frighten me.”
Her voice almost broke for a moment, but she appeared to regain control. O’Neill’s hand shot out and covered hers, where it lay stretched out on the cover of the bed. He squeezed her hand reassuringly, then let go, as if he’d burned himself.
“I need to go. It’s late, you need your sleep. We’ll talk tomorrow. Don’t worry, we’ll find a place for you. Leave everything to us.”
His voice too, was unusually brittle and he got up to leave, rather abruptly. Samantha remained sitting on the bed, a smile flickering on her lips.
“Thank you, Jack. I really appreciate all you’ve done for me.”
“Yeah, well, don’t mention it. That’s what we’re here for.”
In the corridor outside, O’Neill almost ran into one of the guards, patrolling. The man looked at his Colonel with astonishment.
Samantha waited for about ten minutes to make sure O’Neill was safely back in his quarters, before opening the door and cautiously peering outside. No one appeared to be around. With her garments straightened out, and demurely fastened around her, she began walking in the direction of the General’s ready room.
While it was being decided where to send the civilian Samantha, SG1 resumed their duties. Captain Carter still had a gnawing feeling that something was going on, behind her back, that she knew she needed to get to the bottom of. But there wasn’t much to go on, and she decided to wait and watch the situation. If anything was wrong, she knew she’d find out eventually. She considered discussing it with Daniel, but he was such an innocent, and unless she had something very tangible to go on, she felt sure he would merely shrug it off and try to distract her.
Janet might have been a possible ally, but Sam was ashamed to exhibit this catty behavior even in front of her friend, so for the time being, she was unable to do anything about the puzzle.
About two weeks after the arrival of the alternate Samantha, Captain Carter was sent on a mission to Washington, accompanied by Colonel O’Neill and Major O’Neill. They were to be gone for only three days, and SG4 took over their scheduled missions in that time. In the meantime, Daniel Jackson was given some time off.
Naturally, he was free to return to his apartment, but as always, he chose to remain on the base to continue his work on interesting artefacts he had found offworld. It wasn’t unusual for him to continue working well into the night, at least that was the case before his relationship with Sam. This time, however, Sam wasn’t around, so Daniel felt no compulsion to break off work before extreme fatigue made it necessary.
By the time his eyes had developed a tendency to unexpectedly close at more and more frequent intervals, Daniel was coming to the conclusion that maybe it was time to pack it in for the night. At this point he was interrupted by a knock on the door.
Filled with misgivings, Daniel called out to the visitor to enter. Could it be bad news about Sam? Nothing could happen to her. Nothing. But so many things could. A plane crash, even a car accident, a mugger – Daniel hurriedly broke off that train of thought. No need to imagine trouble. His unexpected late night visitor turned out to be Samantha.
“Am I disturbing you, Daniel?”
“No. I was about to quit for the night anyway. What can I do for you?”
She evaded his question, and began to take in his collection of artefacts, all wide-eyed wonder.
“Do you mind?”
Not waiting for a reply, she began picking up and examining the objects on his desk. One or two of them were not safe to handle, and Daniel ran after her, to make sure she didn’t touch any of those. Finally, content with her exploration of the room, she came to a stop, again fixing him with her big blue eyes. When her silence began to be unnerving, Daniel cleared his throat to repeat his question.
“Was there anything you wanted to ask me?”
“What? Oh, nothing really. I’m feeling so lonely on this base. It seems those military men don’t really have anything to say to a civilian. I thought maybe we could talk.”
“Uh. Ok. Of course. It must be a bit daunting at first. Like you say, those military guys seem to think that a civilian must be a moron or something. It never occurs to them that we might have brains as well.”
“You’ll laugh, but I’m ever so impressed with a man like you. All this learning. I never made it through college.”
“Oh. What did you major in?”
“I never had a major.”
At that, she inexplicably giggled. Daniel thought maybe he was getting too tired to follow this conversation. But he was too polite to excuse himself and go to bed. Besides, he didn’t like to leave Samantha in his work room. It was kept locked, for security reasons, and only he and his Sam had keys to it, under normal circumstances.
Again, she giggled, and Daniel felt he was losing track of what the conversation really was about. He couldn’t figure out what this Samantha really wanted from him.
“What? My major? Archaeology.”
“Oh, I see. That must be so very interesting. It always makes me think of Indiana Jones.”
“Oh. Well, in real life things aren’t always that exciting.”
“But you remind me of him. So handsome, so brave. Did you ever teach after you got your degree?”
“Uh. Yes, for a while. I didn’t have much success, I’m afraid.”
“You’re too modest. I bet all the girls had crushes on you.”
“No, not really. In fact, not even my colleagues liked me all that much.”
“It’s their loss.”
“Well, Samantha, I was about to lock up -“
“Oh, please don’t let me keep you. I’m sorry.”
“That’s ok. We can talk on the way to -“
“Alright. Walk me to my room? This base is so confusing. Each corridor looks the same.”
“Sure. Just a sec. I’ll just get my key.”
Two minutes later, Daniel was showing Samantha back to her room, but she was taking her time, stopping at every corner, to ask a question, or to study a sign. Outside her door, Daniel stopped, inwardly hoping Sam’s double would finally call it a night. He was falling asleep on his feet. And to his relief, Samantha really did say goodnight and vanished inside without any more questions.
Sam, Sarah and O’Neill returned from Washington, and went back to work, with the exception of Sarah, who had an appointment with her doctor. Since she wasn’t a member of SG1, their missions could continue as planned. They didn’t encounter any Gu’a’uld activity, neither did they discover anything of much interest.
Much of their work was like that. Routine mapping surveys, cataloguing of worlds that might be inhabited but turned out not to. In many cases, they didn’t even bother to make a visit. The telemetry from the probes were recorded and could later be analyzed.
There had been discussions about where Samantha would settle. She had asked not to be placed in any of the low-tech worlds that had been found for the survivors of the Gu’a’uld destruction. So the search went on. In the meantime, she continued to make friends with the SG teams.
One night, she asked if Sam would like to come over to her quarters for a drink. That seemed about as appealing to Sam as an appointment with her dentist, but she forced herself to smile and accept the invitation. After all, there was no need to be rude. The woman was in a manner of speaking her twin.
Next morning, Daniel was wondering why Sam never returned to his quarters the night before. Slightly concerned he went to see her in her quarters before work. It was a while before she answered the door, and when she did, she appeared surprised to see him.
That was a bit odd, but when she recovered, she smiled and asked him to come in. From what he could tell, she was running a bit late, so he refrained from doing what always came to mind, whenever he was near her, and no one else was around. Something appeared to be different about her today. He wasn’t exactly sure what it was.
“Did you do something to your hair?”
She stared at him rather coldly, it seemed to Daniel. So it wasn’t the hair. And he couldn’t really focus on her appearance when they were due to leave on a new mission in – less than ten minutes, according to his watch.
“Oh. All done?”
“Yes, I’m coming.”
They made it to the Stargate with about two minutes to spare, earning them a stern look from the Colonel, but Daniel knew that unless they actually missed the entire dialling sequence, no one would make much of it.
This one turned out to be just another routine mission. Not that Daniel exactly missed enemy fire or hostile natives, but an interesting culture for him to study wouldn’t have been too much to ask for, he felt.
They returned to the news of Samantha’s disappearance. To Daniel’s surprise, O’Neill appeared to be the one most deeply affected by the news. Personally, he had never felt much interest in her as an individual. Her situation warranted sympathy, but despite the fact that she was for all intents and purposes his lover’s twin, he had never felt very close to her. It turned out no one had seen her leave. She hadn’t been a prisoner, so there was no actual emergency, but it was still odd.
An investigation was under way, but in the meantime, nothing had changed. At least Daniel had thought so, until he knocked on Sam’s door that night. When she opened it, he could tell right away that she wasn’t pleased to see him. If he didn’t know any better, he’d say she had a visitor in her quarters, that she didn’t wish him to know about. But that was out of the question. She would never do that to him.
“Sam? What’s wrong?”
“Nothing’s wrong. I’m just a bit tired.”
“So am I. I was thinking we could – rest – together.”
And he shot her his most pleading smile. But she appeared completely unmoved by it. It was like a cold shower. What had he done wrong? Her next words seemed to confirm his impression that something was changed.
“Sorry, Daniel. It’s that time of the month. Some other night, ok?”
It wasn’t until he was almost back outside his own quarters that it struck him that she had lied to him. He was no expert on women’s cycles, but he knew one thing and that was when Sam’s time of the month came round. It was nowhere near that time. But Sam never lied to him. Was she sick in some way?
Perhaps he ought to return and suggest a visit to Janet. But he felt stupid to even think of something like that. This was after all, nothing he could claim to have any knowledge of. Surprise number 2 arrived not long after. He had only just had time to remove his shirt, when someone knocked on his door. Maybe she had changed her mind. But the smile froze on his lips when he realized who the visitor was.
“Jack? Anything wrong?”
“I gotta talk to you. If this isn’t a bad time?”
“Uh. No. Come on in. I was just about to turn in, but it can wait. Have a seat.”
Too late, Daniel realized that the only chair he had was full of dirty laundry. But O’Neill didn’t seem to notice. He just sat down on Daniel’s bed, leaving his host standing halfway between the bathroom and the bed.
“So, what did you want to talk to me about?”
“Daniel, have you ever made a really bad mistake?”
“When didn’t I make mistakes?”
“Yes. Lots of times. Why? Did you have anything in particular in mind?”
“You love Sam very much, don’t you?”
“What’s this about really, Jack?”
As if O’Neill hadn’t heard his friend, he went on.
“And I love Sarah more than my own life.”
“I know. Jack, what’s wrong?”
He had hardly ever seen the Colonel this distraught. At least not under normal circumstances. When they had been captured by aliens and submitted to some kind of treatment that made them relive their worst moments, things had been different. Very different. But Daniel couldn’t understand what had brought on this distress. O’Neill’s eyes were so filled with pain, Daniel felt his breath catch in his throat.
“Daniel, I – I’ve been such a damned fool.”
“Who hasn’t? Want to tell me about it?”
That did seem to be the reason O’Neill had sought out his friend in the first place, but it appeared to be far more difficult than he had bargained for. But Daniel let him take his time. Drawing each word out of him would hardly help.
“Remember when I thought I was in love with Sam?”
“Well, I wasn’t. Or at least I didn’t think so. But now that Samantha showed up, it seemed like a second chance.”
Daniel could hardly blame any man for feeling that way, but what about Sarah? Hadn’t O’Neill just told him how much he loved his wife?
“Daniel, I cheated on Sarah.”
The question seemed superfluous. The Colonel only nodded absently. His mind seemed focused on his inner turmoil.
“Jack, what are you going to do?”
When he noticed his friend’s reaction, O’Neill hurriedly amended the statement.
“Or Sarah will shoot me, I guess. I don’t know. What would you do?”
“Talk to her. Throw yourself at her mercy. That’s your only option, as far as I can see.”
“Tell me about it. But how could I do this to her? What kind of a man am I? She took me back, after all those years, when I couldn’t stop running. And now I’ve risked it all, for one stupid mistake. You’re right, Daniel. I’m not very smart, am I?”
“I guess not. But who is? None of us is. I mean us men. If we had half the brains of women, I don’t think there would be so many failed marriages in the world. I don’t know what to tell you, Jack. Sam’s kind of my first real girlfriend. There’s never been any opportunity to cheat.”
“Your first girlfriend? Daniel, you weren’t -?”
“You know -“
“No, I don’t know.”
“When I met Sam? No. Of course not. I did go to college. Give me some credit.”
“Sorry. College, huh? Oh, well, better late than never, I guess.”
“I guess you’re not the first to wonder. So, when did you – ? High school?”
“Sort of. Junior high.”
“Are you kidding?”
“Why would I do that? Look, Daniel, this isn’t helping me at all. Can we get back to my problem?”
“Sure. I really think you need to talk to Sarah.”
“I know. But I’m scared. Can you believe that, Daniel? I was in the Gulf War. In Iraqi captivity for two weeks. One time I had to defuse a bomb on my own, without any help from the experts. But this scares me far more. What if she can’t forgive me? I don’t think I can live without her anymore. If I were her, I don’t think I’d give me another chance. This was my last chance, and I blew it.”
“You’ll just have to risk it. Maybe she’ll make you miserable for the rest of your life. But she loves you, Jack. Anyone who sees the two of you together knows that. Give her a chance.”
“Ok. You’re right. I will.”
Suddenly the alarm went off. Both men immediately reacted. Their personal problems were forgotten. At the last second, Daniel remembered to grab his shirt on the way out. It might not be a big deal, but he did prefer to appear fully dressed in public, whether or not he was in uniform.
It seemed to take forever to reach the Stargate room. The doors were locked, but a number of guards were trying to unlock them. O’Neill turned to the nearest man to inquire about what was going on.
“Unauthorized Stargate activation, sir.”
“I just arrived, sir, but guns have been fired. We’re trying to get inside.”
“How many men are in there?”
“As far as I know, two. Excuse me, sir.”
Now the doors had been forcibly opened, and the two nearest guards stepped inside. There was no sound of gunfire this time, so the Colonel and Daniel followed them through. They were too late. The wormhole had closed again, but the iris was still open. On the floor not far from the door, were the two guards. One of them seemed to be badly injured, and judging by his condition, he could be dead. The other was still conscious, but badly injured as well. O’Neill recognized the man as Simpson.
“What happened here, Simpson? Don’t worry about it, a medical team is on its way.”
“Sir. It was Captain Carter. Or maybe that other Samantha Carter. She was armed and she brought the other one with her.”
“What other one?”
“They were both here, sir. And I couldn’t tell the difference. But I assume Captain Carter wouldn’t fire on her own people. She shot Chavez, and when I tried to -“
“I see. Daniel -“
“Samantha did this? And she brought Sam with her. Come on, Simpson. Tell me about Sam.”
“Well, if she was the one being held prisoner, she was tied up, gagged, and the other one was holding a gun to her neck. She didn’t come willingly.”
By now, General Hammond had arrived, along with Teal’c and a few more men. The medical team went about their work quietly. Just as O’Neill had suspected there was nothing they could do for Chavez. He must have taken a direct hit to the chest and been gone in minutes. It was amazing that a woman who had no military training had been capable of this.
“Colonel O’Neill. Do you have a report for me?”
“Sir. Not yet. From what I can gather, ms Carter took Captain Carter and left through the Stargate. Since there were no scheduled missions for the next six hours, no technicians appear to have been present. Ms Carter shot the guards, killing Chavez more or less instantly. Simpson should make it. I talked to him just now.”
“Thank you, Colonel.”
Two technicians entered the control room and began to study the displays. General Hammond and Colonel O’Neill joined them up there.
“Markowitz? Can you tell me where ms Carter went?”
“Yes, sir. These are the coordinates. A planet unknown to us. Shall we send a probe through?”
“Colonel O’Neill, can you have your team ready to leave in an hour?”
“Yes, sir. I assume you mean Teal’c, Daniel and myself.”
“Take major O’Neill. She is still on base?”
“I didn’t realize that Sarah – major O’Neill was back yet, sir.”
“According to my information, she returned three hours ago.”
Daniel could guess how that made the Colonel feel, but he made no comment. Too much was at stake for him to worry about his friend’s marriage. All that mattered was getting Sam back safe and sound. Anything else could wait.
By the time everyone was uniformed, armed and ready, the telemetry from the probe had come in and been analyzed. It was, not unexpectedly, a habitable world. Fortunately, it also appeared to be uninhabited. Was it a coincidence that this world too seemed to have been under Gu’a’uld attack some years previously? At the moment, no one felt inclined to speculate.
Since the world was apparently deserted, General Hammond felt that a team of four would be sufficient. At least officially, the General was unaware of Daniel’s and Captain Carter’s relationship, but despite that, Daniel felt as if the General subjected him to a long hard stare. He met the gaze squarely. There was no way anyone was going to force him to stay behind. Finally, the General nodded almost imperceptively.
When the last chevron was encoded, O’Neill and Teal’c stepped through the Stargate. Major O’Neill and Daniel Jackson followed thirty seconds later. By then, the area immediately surrounding the Stargate was secure.
“Daniel, Teal’c, you go that way. Sarah, with me.”
It was cold. They must have arrived in the middle of winter. Worse, it was getting dark. The sun was close to setting. In less than half an hour they would need to use torches. Grimly, they kept on searching through the deepening darkness.
Daniel didn’t think he’d ever been this cold in his life. But though he noted that fact, it hardly seemed to concern him. He had never had to fight a woman. Gu’a’ulds didn’t count. If he caught up with Samantha, he wasn’t sure what he’d do. She wore the face of the woman he loved. But his Sam needed him and he knew he would do whatever it took to get her back.
After about three hours, Daniel asked Teal’c if he didn’t think they ought to return to the Stargate and rendez-vous with the others. The Jaffa concurred, and they turned back.
There seemed to be plenty of burned out shells that once used to be houses. O’Neill knew that everyone of them might be where Samantha and her prisoner were hidden. He only hoped that while ruthless, the woman wouldn’t have any experience in evading pursuit. That’s where their edge lay. He and Sarah had military training. Their enemy did not.
They had been searching for more than two hours, and they hadn’t seen any tracks in the snow, so the Colonel decided to turn back towards the Stargate. Over there, the terrain was lower and the soil harder so it didn’t show any tracks. If Samantha had found a hidingplace closer to the Stargate, they might not have been able to detect it.
Especially if she had had the nerves to stay low. Besides, it made sense for her to remain in the vicinity of the Stargate, if she intended to leave by it. Or to call for help. That was something that hadn’t occurred to O’Neill until now. What would she be doing on this cold world without any supplies? Naturally she had fled here to rendez-vous with someone. The question was who.
Now they saw the Stargate in the flickering light of their torches. It didn’t take them long to reach their starting point. Dejectedly, they stood around staring in each direction. It suddenly dawned on Sarah that Samantha could have left again already. Of course that didn’t make much sense, but it was possible. She was about to tell her husband that, when she spotted something on the ground some dozen yards away.
“Look. What’s that?”
O’Neill walked over there and bent over to pick up the object. It was a piece of the fabric their uniforms were made of. He snapped to attention, and focused outward. Listening, watching, straining to pick up any sign of the women. And that’s when he saw it. A faint trail. Over there, the frost was covering the ground, but someone had walked across it, recently.
If he was correct in his guess, this would have been after they passed by the first time. This time, she wouldn’t get away. He waved at Sarah to follow. When they had scanned this area the first time, he hadn’t bothered much with this direction. The terrain was flat and there wasn’t much cover. Only some sparse shrubbery, not high enough to hide two grown women, even if they were lying flat on their faces.
But if Samantha had passed this way, there had to be more to this place than first met the eye. Again, it was Sarah who found it. Her eyesight must be sharper, or else Daniel was right about women being smarter. Oh, who was he kidding? Of course they were. O’Neill was at least smart enough to know that brain activity wasn’t his forte. But right now it wasn’t his mind that would be useful.
Sarah was struggling to open the trap door she had found. This close up, O’Neill realized they were standing in the remains of a building. The trap door had to lead to some kind of basement or underground storage facility. Was it luck that had led Samantha here, or had she been here before? Whatever.
“Let me do that.”
Sarah stood back and let her husband take over. The trap door wasn’t locked apparently, just very heavy. Finally, it swung open, noiselessly. That didn’t make much difference. If Samantha was watching the opening, she’d know they had found her hiding place, and she would feel the cold air rush in. Too late for subtlety now. If this was where Sam was being kept, this was where they would go.
“I’ll go first. If everything’s ok, follow me in two minutes.”
“Are you kidding? I don’t take orders from you. I’ll be down right after you.”
The curses issuing from her husband’s mouth appeared to be new. At least she hadn’t heard those when she was in training.
“Done now, Jack?”
“Yes. Let’s go. Would you at least wait until I’m all the way down before you start climbing?”
“Maybe. We’re wasting time.”
And that was a new one too. She rather liked it so she filed it away for future use.
It was hard to climb down, carrying a torch in one hand, and the weapons had to be put away. That gave O’Neill a bad feeling. If Samantha was right below, all she had to do was pick them off one by one. But she wasn’t. He got down to the floor unharmed, and Sarah arrived seconds later. At least men were better at obeying orders. It was nice to be better at something.
The facility might have been military in origin. Either way, it was in far better condition than any other construction he’d seen so far. A shelter? There was even some kind of lighting. So they wouldn’t need the torches after all. The automatic came out again. He noticed that Sarah favored handguns whenever possible. Made sense. They didn’t kick back so much. All in all, it felt good having his wife watching his back. Surely between them they would be able to handle one woman? If only this woman hadn’t had a hostage that meant so much to all of them.
The corridor they were in widened into a larger chamber. Other, smaller rooms could be seen here and there. Some doors were closed, others stood open. Samantha and her prisoner weren’t in either one of the open ones, and after some cautious checking, it turned out that they weren’t in the others either. So they went on. Another corridor, much like the first one. A series of rooms, smaller than the first one, but bigger than the others.
Finally, they heard a noise from one of them. O’Neill knew he didn’t need to tell Sarah to be quiet. Tiptoeing towards the source of the sound, they slowly closed in. This room again was quite large, and there were objects in there, that hid some of it from view. Naturally, Samantha would be in this one.
Scanning the room, they couldn’t see either one of the women at first. Then the noise came again. It seemed to be someone moaning softly. The Colonel and his wife turned in that direction. And there she was. Sam. She seemed to be injured. That bitch had knocked her over the head with something. A head wound. Not good. But at least she was still alive. Another sound. Not far away. Samantha.
“Did you miss me already, lover?”
Again, O’Neill swore. This time inwardly. Sarah would know what Samantha was hinting at, but there was no point in confessing right away. Besides, their personal feelings would have to wait. Now Sam was all that mattered.
“We took you in, let you stay on base. And what do we get for that? You abduct a member of my team. You steal weapons and ammunition. You kill one of our men, injure another. What have you done to Sam?”
“She fights well, even when she’s tied up. I had to knock her out. Ok. You want that woman. Fine. Obviously you can’t get enough. Take her.”
“We intend to. But it’s not that easy. Put down your weapons and return with us.”
Samantha raised her automatic, aiming at O’Neill. A full spray of bullets would take out Sarah too. Apparently they had reached a standstill. Fine. There was no way for Samantha to get out of this place. They would take Sam and –
“Now you leave quietly, and I won’t fire.”
“I don’t think you know how to handle that thing.”
“Don’t I? What was it you said just now? I killed one of your guys and injured another. Think again, lover.”
O’Neill’s gun was in his hand, and he knew Sarah held hers too. If they started shooting, he was sure they’d hit Samantha first. They had the training. She didn’t. From the looks of things, she had been close to Chavez when she fired. This time the distance was much greater. He knew Sarah was thinking the same, unless she was already contemplating her revenge. He had hoped he’d have more time to prepare his confession. Now Samantha had forced his hand.
One round of bullets. Samantha’s head dropped down into cover, and the O’Neills did the same. This was a mistake.
“Sarah, try to get over to Sam and get her out of here.”
“What? I carry her? Don’t think so. You get her out of here. I’ll handle Samantha.”
This time he was out of curses. Of course. Sarah might be able to drag Sam some distance, but not very fast and certainly not up the ladder. He would have to go. But he didn’t want to leave Sarah with this ruthless enemy.
“What are you waiting for? Go.”
She was right. This was the only way to handle the situation. Sam’s only chance of getting out of this alive. He put his automatic on the floor next to Sarah. She’d need the extra fire power. As quitely as possible, he made his way over to Sam. He didn’t like the way Samantha had placed her. She wasn’t far enough out of the line of fire. Before he’d even finished that thought, he saw Sam’s body jump from a direct hit. No. This wasn’t happening. Right in the chest.
But if he got her out of here, maybe – There. Gently he pulled Sam into his arms. It was difficult to move her while staying low, but he managed it. Now he was outside in the corridor. From what he could hear, Sarah still kept Samantha busy defending herself. If Sarah had been anyone else, O’Neill knew he would have relied on her training to handle the situation. But Sarah was adequately trained for this. He had to trust in that.
He never knew how he managed to get up the ladder, but he did. Outside, he was able to walk normally. That helped a bit. But Sam’s body felt so limp and cold in his arms, he was beginning to fear the worst. She shouldn’t be bumped about like this, but he had no choice. He had to take her back through the Stargate and turn her over to dr Fraiser. If anyone could do something for Sam it was her friend Janet. Close to the DHD, he ran into Daniel and Teal’c.
“Sam. O’Neill could only stand before his friend and acknowledge the truth. Daniel’s lover was seriously injured, perhaps already dead.”
“I’m sorry, Daniel. She was hit -“
“Give her to me.”
“I got her. Let’s get back. Teal’c, would you go and help Sarah, please?”
“I will find her, O’Neill.”
“About 50 yards in that direction. A trap door. You’ll hear the shooting from out in the corridor.”
“I will find her. Take Captain Carter back.”
Daniel still couldn’t make himself move. Sam. It couldn’t be. But even in the dim light he could see the large bloodstain spreading across her chest. If he stood around for much longer her life would seep out of her with all that blood.
“Come on, Jack.”
Daniel dialled the sequence and stood back to avoid the blast of energy when the wormhole opened. Seconds later, they were through and back on base.
“We need a doctor.”
It couldn’t have been more than a minute at most, before the medical team, led by dr Fraiser arrived and took Sam away. But to Daniel it felt like hours. Numbly, he watched his lover disappear behind a mass of white coats. He didn’t move from the spot until he felt a hand on his shoulder.
“Come on, Daniel. You can wait outside the infirmary.”
His voice was leaden and apathetic. Somehow he knew it was already too late. He let himself be led in the direction of the infirmary. When O’Neill told him to sit down he did.
“Will you be ok on your own, Daniel? I need to get back to Sarah.”
No reply. Daniel didn’t hear him.
It was obvious that Daniel was in shock. O’Neill felt the seconds ticking away. He needed to get back and help Sarah, but Daniel couldn’t be left like this. When an orderly hurried by, O’Neill called out to the man.
“Dr Jackson is in shock. He needs medical attention. See to it, will you?”
“Yes, sir. Dr Jackson?”
Knowing that his friend was in capable hands, the Colonel allowed himself to turn and run back to the Stargate. Sarah might hate his guts right now, but he wouldn’t leave her on that hostile planet. Teal’c might be with her, but he wasn’t her husband.
In the Stargate room, O’Neill ran into General Hammond.
“Your report, Colonel?”
“Not now, sir. I need to go back. Sarah and Teal’c are still there.”
General Hammond gave the order to activate the Stargate again. While the chevrons were encoded, O’Neill restlessly paced back and forth. Finally the last one was done.
By the time Teal’c reached Sarah, it was all over. Samantha was dead, and Sarah was standing over her dead body with a vacant look in her eyes. The Jaffa knew that look. It had been more than a hundred years since he himself had felt that way. First kill. He put a hand on major O’Neill’s shoulder. Apparently she had not heard his approach. She jumped, then turned to face him.
“It is I, major O’Neill. Let us return to Earth. I will bring the body.”
She gathered her weapons and preceded Teal’c out of the room. They got back to the Stargate in time for its next activation. She expected to see her husband or possibly reinforcements. What she saw jolted her out of her apathy. A woman wearing – No, a Gu’a’uld.
This, on top of everything else. Sarah tried to calculate how much ammo she still had left. She and Teal’c were about to take cover, when the Gu’a’uld called out something in what Sarah took to be Gu’a’uld language. She only recognized one word. Jaffa. So the woman was talking to Teal’c.
Slowly, Teal’c put the body on the ground before the Gu’a’uld, then backed off. Sarah took a few steps backwards too.
Again, the Gu’a’uld spoke and this time, Teal’c pointed in her direction. What was going on? He couldn’t be selling her out, could he? No. Teal’c was loyal. Sarah knew that. Now the Gu’a’uld female spoke again, and this time, incredibly, in English.
“Human woman, is it true that you killed that one?”
“Yes. I killed her. She had harmed a friend of ours -“
“I see. For that, I will let you live.”
“Who are you?”
Sarah was beginning to feel a little less unreal. This at least was something tangible. Something to deal with head on.
“I am Cybele. That – was audacious enough to seduce my lover, Attis. For that she would have had to pay with her life. But she was more difficult to find than I anticipated. We chased her from world to world, but always she was one step ahead. I believe Attis must be on his way to meet her. When he arrives, I shall be here to greet him. Thank you, human woman.”
“You’re welcome. Now will you let us leave?”
Serpent-quick, the Gu’a’uld walked up to Sarah and fixed her with an unsettling stare. When she put a hand on Sarah’s abdomen, she tried to back off, but the Gu’a’uld gripped her so hard, she couldn’t get away.
“You are pregnant. This child will be great among humans. Cherish her. Now, you may leave.”
Again they heard the sound of the Stargate opening. Busy night, apparently. This time it had to be O’Neill. But Sarah was wrong. The man who stepped through had to be another Gu’a’uld. When he caught sight of the Gu’a’uld female, he seemed to shrink in front of Sarah’s eyes. He even took a few steps backwards. But it was no use. The same merciless stare froze him to the spot.
The Gu’a’uld’s choice of greeting reminded Sarah of what Samantha had said, minutes before she killed her. Sarah knew what that meant. Once again, she had allowed her husband to hurt her. And this time –
It was eerie the way the alien had predicted not only that she was pregnant, but that the child was a girl. Sarah had only known that herself for about 24 hours. She shook her head. That mystery could wait. There was far worse to worry about. Sam. Would she still be alive? And when Jack returned, how would it feel to face him?
She didn’t have more time to wonder. For the third time in less than half an hour, the Stargate was activated. This time, it really was her husband. He came alone. As soon as the energy beam had vanished, his eyes sought her out. But she refused to meet his gaze. Not now. She didn’t know what to say, and she felt empty.
Would the Gu’a’uld let them leave? They had to. Sarah had had quite enough of this world. It was time they returned. She noticed that Teal’c didn’t pick up Samantha’s body. Apparently, Cybele had wanted to keep her enemy’s body. What she intended to do with it, Sarah couldn’t and didn’t want to imagine. She was so cold and tired.
When her husband tried to put an arm around her shoulders she shook him off, and ignoring him and the aliens, she began to punch in the dialling sequence. Her fingers were numb and didn’t obey her very well. If she made a mistake – What was the next chevron? She couldn’t remember. Teal’c brushed past her and dialled the last two chevrons for her. At last, they would be going home. Sarah’s legs felt as if they wouldn’t carry her much further.
On the other side, a medical team was waiting for her. She was about to open her mouth to tell them she was ok and they could save the effort for Sam, but suddenly she felt very faint, and the room began to blur in front of her eyes. Everything was so quiet and – The next thing she remembered was waking up in the infirmary. Someone had pulled some curtains around her bed, so she couldn’t see if Sam was still in there. After a few minutes, one of the doctors lifted the curtain and stepped up to her bed. He took her pulse and read the chart.
“Are you feeling better now, major O’Neill?”
“I – uh – think so. I feel stupid. There’s nothing wrong with me.”
“No. You seem fine now. Your husband is waiting to see you. Can I tell him to come through?”
Sarah considered refusing, but she knew that would only postpone the inevitable.
“I’ll go see him instead. There’s no need for me to be lying around like this.”
Dr Metzer studied her intently for a moment, then nodded.
Her husband was waiting for her in the corridor outside the infirmary. He seemed to be about to touch her, and Sarah flinched away as if he was about to hit her. She could tell how much her reaction hurt him, and she took no pleasure in it. After what had happened, his betrayal felt less important. She had killed a person. A human being. Was she ever going to feel ok again? Now she needed to sit down somewhere. Why not her quarters? But first she needed to know about Sam.
“Janet’s still in there with her. It’s bad. I’m not sure -“
“I see. Look, I need to sit down for a second. My quarters. If you want to talk you’ll have to come with me.”
When she got to her door, her hands shook so badly, Jack had to take her key and open the door for her. It only added to her feeling of humilation. Once inside she slumped down on the bed, her strength all but gone.
“Are you ok, Sarah?”
“No, you bastard, I’m not ok. Look at me, Jack. That’s right, look at me. Tell me Samantha was lying.”
Jack looked at her with so much sadness in his eyes she almost felt sorry for him. For him. After all he’d done to her.
“No. She wasn’t lying. I’m sorry, Sarah. Please, whatever you do, don’t leave me. I’ve been a bloody fool, but -“
“You’re right. A bloody fool. You think you can keep doing this to me again and again?”
“I’ve never -“
“You hurt me. You walk away. This time I won’t let you. I need you, damn you. Me and our daughter.”
“You heard me. If it hadn’t been for her, I think I’d have done the smart thing and told you to get the hell out of my life for good. But now that’s not an option anymore.”
“Sarah, I want to make this up to you any way I can. I don’t know what got into me.”
She felt so tired, it almost didn’t concern her anymore that her husband had had sex with another woman. After all, they both knew worse things could happen. But it was no use kidding herself. It hurt. Badly. Maybe it had been a mistake from the start, letting him back into her life. But like she had already told him, it was too late to worry about that now. And all she could concentrate on was the memory of the other woman bleeding to death in front of her. From wounds she herself and caused her.
“Jack, do you ever get over it?”
It took him a little while to work out what she was referring to. Good old Jack. Quick thinking had never been his forte.
“You learn to live with it. Sarah, you had no choice. She was going to kill both of us if she had the chance. And she had already attacked Sam. You did what you had to do. Don’t beat yourself up over it.”
“I know. That’s what they said. My instructors. Do what needs to be done. I thought I would be ok about it. An enemy. One of the bad guys. But she looked just like Sam. And – I was the one who took her life.”
This time, she let him pull her into his arms and hold her. Not as her husband. Just as a fellow human being. And someone who had been there. She had held him in her arms that way, when he came back from Kuwait, eyes empty and a head full of memories. For a while they clung to each other in mutual desperation. Strangely enough it helped a little. After a few minutes, Sarah felt stronger. At least strong enough to get up and back to infirmary. They had to know what happened to Sam.
Outside the infirmary, they met Daniel. The look on his face alarmed Sarah. Was it already too late?
“I don’t know. Janet says – Why?”
He was swaying on his feet and for a moment, O’Neill feared his friend would black out completely. Forestalling that, the Colonel put an arm around Daniel’s shoulders, steadying him a bit.
“Come on, Daniel. Sit down.”
“We have to do something.”
The sound of footsteps in the corridor behind them announced General Hammond’s arrival.
“At ease, Colonel. Major. Let’s sit down. I just heard. Doctor Jackson, I’m so sorry.”
Before they got any further, dr Fraiser opened the door. Everyone present feared the worst. The look on Janet’s face wasn’t encouraging. But she only had eyes for Daniel. She walked over to him and put a hand on his cheek.
“Is she -“
“It won’t be long now. In fact, I don’t know how she’s managed to hold on this long. Come on. I know you want to be with her.”
“Wait. There has to be something we can do. I refuse to believe we can’t save her.”
Daniel looked around from dr Fraiser, to Hammond, to O’Neill, to Sarah and back to Janet again. Pleading with them to find a solution. They all knew what he was thinking about. One of those Gu’a’uld sarcophagi. Daniel had used one of those to save his own life once. But they didn’t have access to any of that technology. Still, there was one thing – O’Neill remembered what Sam had done to save her father’s life. He had been dying and –
And Daniel knew exactly what they were referring to.
“No. No. Sam wouldn’t want that. After Jolinar, she told me she could never accept being possessed like that.”
“Then I’m afraid we’re out of options, dr Jackson.”
General Hammond looked at Daniel, eyes filled with compassion.
“No. I won’t accept that.”
“Daniel. You have to. Sometimes, that’s all we can do. Let them go. No matter how much we love them.”
“No, Janet. The Nox.”
For once, O’Neill’s thinking was as quick as Daniel’s. He remembered how the Nox had brought one of their own back to life after a Gu’a’uld attack. Daniel was right. They had to try. He turned to the General.
“Sir. Daniel’s right. The Nox could save her. Please. Let us go to them and ask for help.”
It didn’t take the General long to make up his mind. Captain Carter was one of his best officers, but she was far more than that. A brilliant scientist, a good friend. If dr Jackson and Colonel O’Neill wanted to try this, he wouldn’t stand in their way.
“Very well, Colonel. You may proceed. My prayers will be with you.”
“Thank you, sir.”
Janet had a hard time believing in this miracle cure, but she knew that nothing they could do for Sam would make any difference, so she had no objections to moving the patient. She led Daniel inside, to the bed where Sam was lying, so unmoving, so pale. Before she let Daniel approach the bed, she took Sam’s wrist and felt for a pulse. Incredibly, there still was one. Weak, irregular, but still there.
Daniel bent down over his lover and gently picked her up. It broke his heart to feel her this limp in his arms, but he forced the feeling down. This had to work, it just had to. If not, he didn’t want to go on anymore. He remembered nothing of the dialling sequence, or the passage through the wormhole.
The memory of the walk through the woods, when Jack was calling for the Nox to show themselves, barely remained in his mind afterwards. Just as always, the Nox seemed to appear out of nowhere. One second the clearing was empty, the next, the entire family of Nox they had met the first time was there.
The female stepped forward and without asking one single question, she saw Sam’s condition. With a gesture, she directed Daniel to put Sam down on the floor.
“Daniel Jackson. If you step back, we will heal your mate. All of you.”
Her hand moved to take in the group of humans who were standing together, not daring to hope for a miracle.
The male and the children gathered around Sam. Their bodies hid her from view and the humans could only wait and hope while they worked whatever magic they possessed. Not a sound could be heard, not even the normal noises of the forest. Daniel held his breath until he nearly blacked out. Not until then did he remember to breathe in and out.
He knew his friends were standing somewhere nearby, but all his attention was focused on the group of alien creatures surrounding his lover. Someone’s hand squeezed his shoulder. Jack. Later he would appreciate his friend’s support. Right now, he didn’t have the strength to think about anything but what was going on only a few steps away.
Now the Nox broke the circle and turned to face them.
“Daniel Jackson. You may go to your mate.”
He couldn’t quite believe what they were saying. Could it mean –
“Is she ok? Is she still alive?”
“Look for yourself.”
The male smiled warmly. At least he assumed it was a smile.
Daniel fell to his knees and finally dared to really look at Sam’s face. Her eyes were open and he thought her color was already much more normal. This was unreal. One second she was slipping away, and no human medical science could do anything to prevent her from fading out. Now –
“Daniel. I thought you’d never find out.”
“That the bitch slipped me a spiked drink and kept me tied up in her bathroom. I saw her cut her hair to look like me. She must have taken my clothes, my makeup.”
“I’m sorry. I should have guessed. You appeared to have changed somehow, but I never thought -“
“Never mind. It wasn’t your fault. What did she want?”
Sarah heard Sam’s question and moved closer.
“She was meeting her Gu’a’uld lover. Attis.”
“Yes. And his lover, Cybele showed up.”
“I see. So that world where we found her, was destroyed for her sake. I can’t believe a human would do something like that.”
“Are you ok, Sam?”
“Jack. Yes, I’m fine. Thank you. What happened? She knocked me out and then -“
“You were hit by a bullet.”
“I died, didn’t I?”
“You came very close. How are you feeling now?”
“Ok, I think. Yes. I’m fine. The Nox did this?”
“You are welcome, Samantha Carter.”
“Well, folks, I hate to break this up, but we wouldn’t want to overstay our welcome. Let’s go.”
Daniel wanted to carry Sam back, but she told him not to be silly. She really was fine. A little weak from the blood loss, but perfectly capable of walking back to the Stargate. That didn’t mean she had a problem with her lover putting an arm around her shoulder to lend a little support. The Nox lived on an idyllic world, but right now, everyone missed even the bare grey walls of their base.
Sarah felt Jack’s hand reaching for hers, and for some reason she didn’t push him away. She would make him pay for his betrayal, but right now she needed his support more than she needed revenge. They had time to work things out. More than six months still to go. Perhaps by then she’d have learned to forgive him.