In her dream she was back in the gateroom holding him in her arms, feeling his blood soaking through her clothes. Jolinar was screaming her death scream in her mind and she screamed right along with her. Narim had his hand on her left shoulder, it was cold and stiff and the grip was bruising. Orlin's presence hovered close to her, a string of energy stroking her cheek, burning her skin. Joe stood in front of her, she could see his shoes, but he didn't touch her. Instead his stare burned through her skull.
Dream knowledge told her that her team, her guys, were standing to the side whispering among themselves. She wanted to cry out but her ghosts closed in from all sides, she was trapped.
“Help,” she whispered, but only the dead heard. And then she was alone, which was even worse, and she could tell that she was being watched. She turned and turned and turned but couldn't recognize the place she was in . . . and the dark grew more and more and more suffocating.
She woke up with an inaudible gasp. She had learned to stifle her screams as a child after her mother died. It was a skill that came in handy in recent years.
She took a deep breath and examined her surroundings. She was on a plane, tired, dehydrated and in various stages of withdrawal. Her head was pounding and the back of her hand itched where an inept physician's assistant had stuck in an IV before throwing her and Teal'c on a plane back to Cheyenne Mountain. It made sense, neither she nor Teal'c could get an extensive attention by a doctor without the proper security clearance. Still the fast paced changes were disorienting and Sam had to rely on Teal'c to get her where she was going.
But he wasn't here right now, up talking to the pilot she guessed. He liked to do that, confer with pilots. Maybe it was a Jaffa thing; maybe he just enjoyed it.
She glanced over to her right; Daniel was sitting beside the jury-rigged bed that the colonel was sleeping on. Actually it looked like they were both asleep. She was oddly relieved; it saved them asking her questions that she wasn't ready to deal with yet.
She absently took a sip of sports drink someone had pressed into her hand as she tried to remember the last week. What day was it anyway? They'd grabbed her on Saturday morning, that much she knew. And it wasn't likely that the guys noticed that she was gone until she was late Monday...But how much time had elapsed since then? Long enough for them to fly to Seattle but...How long had they kept her? Oh God, what if she'd been on a week's downtime? They'd have taken her and done their tests and likely have killed her before they guys even noticed she was gone.
She felt her heart beat faster as her mind processed just how close she'd come to disappearing forever. In an effort to calm herself she took another sip, the artificial sickly sweet grape taste exploding on her tongue.
'Drink this.' A voice pulled her from the drug-induced stupor she was in. Not even Sokar's Blood had made her feel this loopy. Forcing her eyes open she tried to focus upon the face swimming over her. Who was he? Who cares, she was thirsty. Almost against her will she took the straw he stuck in her mouth and sucked in the fluid. A sweet fruit flavor filled her mouth and flowed down her throat. It was warm and frankly unappetizing, but she was too thirsty to care.
All too soon he took it away, leaving her wanting more. 'Don't want you making a mess now do we?' he said as her mind cleared thanks to the sugar.
Tearing her gaze from his she looked around, seeing the green tile walls clean but covered with a fine layer of dust. Where was she? The walls of the infirmary were concrete not...she tried to move and found that she couldn't, her hands and feet restrained. “What's going on? Where am I?” She asked, her voice rusty and thin, her tongue barely working to form the words.
With a smug look he turned and left the room, leaving her laying there, her mouth still full of the sweet flavor.
Shaking herself from the flashback she stared at the plastic bottle in her hand. Were they drugging her again? NO. It wasn't them, she was with the guys. Her stomach roiled and she knew what was coming. Dropping the bottle she yanked the IV from her hand and made her way back to the restroom on spaghetti legs. She barely made it to the toilet before she threw up the meager contents of her stomach, then heaved some more until her abdomen ached with the effort.
Done, she splashed her face with shaking hands, her eyes straying to the mirror, not really believing who she saw there. That was her, right? She was Samantha Carter...they hadn't switched her body, had they? She couldn't remember. Was she still Sam Carter or was she just some big lab rat to be studied and discarded?
Her mind too tired to work it out, she left the bathroom. Feeling distinctly light headed, she sat down on a small bench seat before she fell down. Tired. She was so tired. And cold. She'd been so cold so long; it was almost like the Antarctic, her body cold both inside and outside.
Spying a small lap blanket she pulled it from the cushions and wrapped it around her shivering shoulders. A nap. That's what she needed, a nap. Lying on her side swaddled on the blanket she closed her eyes. It'd all be better in the morning. That's what dad always said. Better in the morning. She'd just wait until then.
Teal'c left the cabin of the small jet fresh from relaying information to General Hammond and ascertaining their time of arrival at Peterson Air Force Base. The general promised to have transportation waiting for them on the tarmac so O'Neill and Major Carter could be conveyed to the infirmary with all efficiency.
Both of them required medical assistance. A physician at the military hospital in Seattle had treated O'Neill and he knew that the man would recover fully. It was Major Carter that he was most concerned about. He'd watched as the adrenaline from her rescue and search for the goa'uld had faded and the woman had seemed to wilt, quietly drawing into herself.
Captivity was difficult upon a person, solitary captivity even worse. He knew that when the four of them were incarcerated they drew upon each other for strength and comfort. She'd had none of that. He continued through the cabin, stopping when he found her seat empty, and the IV efficiently pumping fluid into the upholstery.
Fighting down the panic, where could she go in the small space, he searched for her, his eyes lighting upon her curled up blanket shrouded form on one of the bench seats. Sighing he crossed to her and knelt at her side.
She was asleep, her mouth slightly open. Worried he reached out a hand and wrapped it around her wrist, checking her pulse. It was slower than normal but still acceptable he believed given that she was asleep and undoubtedly still had sedatives in her system.
He looked back at the IV bag and knew that she should still have the device in her vein. However he did not know how to re-insert the needle, neither did Daniel Jackson.
Recalling his conversation with the pilot he knew that they would be in Cheyenne Mountain in a couple of hours. Taking off his long jacket he laid it over her then settled into a nearby chair. He would let her sleep for now.
Sam slowly woke up, keeping her eyes closed as she listened to her surroundings. She was lying flat on her back and the room was cool, uncomfortably cool. She fought the urge to roll over and curl up. She couldn't let them know she was awake. Why not? She couldn't remember. She could hear low voices in the hall. They echoed like the room was underground or empty. She could feel fear welling up in her chest, making her heart pound. Correspondingly she could hear the rhythmic beep of a cardiac monitor speed up. Just like before. When was before? She could remember listening to the beeping for hours, long boring hours while she strained her ears to hear a sound, any other sound other than her own breathing over the beeping.
'It must have been an incredible experience.'
The greedy face of the 'doctor' wanting to hear all about Jolinar the same way Janet had pressed her for details of the lunch she'd shared with Joe. His face anticipatory and eager for her to confide in him about things she'd never talked to the guys about, much less some asshole that had her tied to a bed.
Oh God, was she still there? She heard the beeps come faster and faster as she tried to both still her runaway heart and see if she could move. Ssshhh. They'd hear her, they'd know she was awake. She had to get out of here. Discovering that her hands would move, she sat up, squinting aganst the light. She pulled the leads off the sticky pads stuck to her chest and heard the annoying machine fall silent. Feeling a tug on her left arm she looked and saw the needle and tubing taped, dumping God only knows what into her veins. No more. They wouldn't drug her anymore. She reached for the IV, stuggling to make her numb fingers pick at the layers of tape securing it to her skin. Get it out, she had to get it out. She had to get away before they came back. She couldn't get under the tape, why weren't' her nails longer?
"Sam? What are you doing?" Two small hands settled over hers, stilling her frantic clumsy movements. No. They were back! They'd stop her, do more tests. She tried to pull her arm away from the hands. She had to get it out. "Sam!" One of the hands left her arm and grabbed her chin, making her look up. What? Janet wasn't there? Was she hallucinating now? "Sam. It's ok. You're back at the SGC," her friend said. "You're ok. They brought you back home, remember?"
"Janet?" It was real? They'd really come? It hadn't all been a dream?
"Yeah." The doctor smiled at her. "And I'd really rather you didn't yank that out, I think it's the last uncorrupted vein I could find."
Sam stared stupidly down at her arm noticing several bruises of various sizes and colors with the one on the back of her hand the most livid. She had vague memories of IV's or needles, them giving her drugs or taking blood like a warped pusher vampire. "What happened?" she whispered trying to get her bearings. The plane. That's right, they'd been on the plane, she'd felt so sick.
Janet released her arm and stood back a bit now that the danger was apparently gone. Damnit, she hadn't meant to leave her alone, she had a feeling that Sam's awakening was going to be a rough one. Actually, she'd pretty much known it the moment she'd seen Teal'c carrying the semi-conscious body of their friend into the infirmary. Only Colonel O'Neill's rivaled Sam's stubbornness when it came to being 'hauled around'. All it took was a peek at her unfocused eyes and a quick listen to her low mutterings for Janet to know that Sam was so far out of it she'd likely have little to no memories of the rescue and plane trip home. And just like the colonel, Sam had a habit of waking up swinging, likely a defense mechanism from waking up in too many alien places over the years.
Reaching out, she snagged a cup of water and handed it to Sam, who took it with shaking hands. "I think you had a reaction to something they gave you. Teal'c went up to the cockpit and came back to find you asleep on one of the benches. He didn't really think anything about it until they couldn't wake you when the plane landed." She didn't tell her about the panicked call she'd received when her teammates realized she wasn't asleep but unconscious, or about how she'd been carried into the base cradled in Teal'c's arms. There'd be time for that later. Sam nodded, sipping the few ounces of water in the cup. When it was empty she held it out and Janet poured some more in. "How are you feeling?"
"Fine," Sam said quickly. "Can you take this out?" She held up her IV encumbered left arm.
"You're not fine. And no, I'm not taking it out. You're dehydrated, hypo-glycemic and more than a bit traumatized. Not to mention the fact that your muscles don't take kindly to being forcibly un-used for a week then immediately put back into use. Plus, I have no idea what drugs those guys have been giving you and how they'll react with the naquadah in your blood. I want to keep you in here for a bit until all that stuff's out of your system."
Sam looked around the infirmary feeling panic well up in her chest. NO. She couldn't stay here. She shook her head and let the cup slip from her fingers as her right hand again started to pick at the tape.
"Sam!" Janet reached quickly for Sam's hand.
"I can't, I...please Janet I gotta get out of here," she begged.
"Sam. What's wrong? I know you don't like the infirmary but..."
"It's just like where...." She trailed off and Janet stared at her friend in horror. Damn, why hadn't she put it together before? Saint Christina's. Where better to experiment on a person than a hospital?
"It looked like this?"
Her eyes closed Sam nodded. "A gurney and ...they used those restraints like you used on Teal'c..." Her voice trailed off again and she drew up her legs to her chest and curled her body up.
"Sam...did they...hurt you?" She asked gently. Her exam hadn't shown any bruising in that area, and neither had the exam, but she had to know for sure.
"What?" Sam asked puzzled. "No," she responded still staring off at the distance. Janet stared at her friend pulling into herself, burying her emotions deep inside until she could build that wall of her reserve up to its usual dizzying heights.
It was something she'd seen her friend do one too many times over the last five years. And each time she rebuilt those walls, the foundations got a little shakier. It was time for a little mudjacking.
"Come on," she said, lowering the bed rail and reaching for the bag hanging from the pole. Sam shot her a startled look. "Come on," Janet repeated holding out a steadying hand. Sam took it and got carefully to her feet. Janet led her friend into her office. "The stupid thing may be old but it's comfortable," she said, referring to the ugly green couch residing against one wall. "I'll make you a deal. You get the couch and when that IV is done in a couple of hours I'll take it out, if you make an effort to eat what I bring down here in a while," Janet bargained knowing she'd made the right call when she saw Sam relax.
"Deal," she agreed sitting down on the couch. It took a couple of minutes to get her situated and bedding dragged from a closet. Within minutes she was asleep and after disabling the ringer on the telephone Janet slipped out, quietly closing the door behind her with a sigh.
Now what? Sam sleeping in her office was a stop gap measure at best. She needed time and space to get over what had happened. Oh well, she had a couple of hours to come up with something.
Teal'c walked into the infirmary fresh from briefing the general on the events in Seattle. He knew the man had more questions, namely who could have shot O'Neill, however those questions would have to wait until the general could speak with the colonel since he was not just the victim, he was the only witness to the act. "O'Neill," he said, seeing the man sitting up his left hand scrubbing his face.
"Teal'c. What's up?" Jack asked, banishing the last bit of sleep from his brain. Man did Fraiser's happy juice pack a punch.
"I have just come from briefing General Hammond. He desires to hear your accounting of the events as soon as you feel able to relate them," Teal'c said, coming to stand by his friend's bedside.
"It was dark, Conrad's eyes glowed, Maybourne shot me, what more is there to tell?" Jack complained, shifting a bit and wincing as the bruised muscles in his back complained, loudly. "The next time I see that slimy, smarmy son of a ..."
"Colonel, glad to see you're awake," Janet said exiting her office, quietly shutting the door behind her. "And would you keep your voice down please?" She asked, crossing over to his bed. "People are trying to sleep."
Jack shot a glance over at the bed half hidden by a curtain. "How is she?"
"Actually she's asleep in my office," Janet said. "Colonel, it would help if you could tell me anything about what happened."
Jack sighed. "I don't know for sure. They had a goa'uld which those two bone head doctors put in Conrad to heal his....whatever. Since she's the only person on earth that's been an ex-host they thought that she had some way to get the snake outta him once he was healed. I don't know for sure what happened, we didn't have time to really talk," Jack said.
"So you have no idea what drugs they may have given her?"
Jack shook his head. "No. Right when we got in there they were about to give her something but I didn't pay any attention," Jack answered flashing back to those frantic moments, how his and Harry's steps had quickened when they heard the distinctive sounds of a struggle, the way his heart had stopped when he'd seen the white coat clad goon hovering over her, needle at the ready.
"It was this," Teal'c said, drawing a bottle out of his pocket. "I retrieved it and the other drugs before the local police secured the scene."
"I'm going to want to run some tests on those, Teal'c." Janet took the bottle from him. "Potassium Chloride?" she asked in horror.
"It's lethal within minutes," she reported, blanching a bit. No wonder her friend had been so rattled. She had to have known, or at least suspected.
"Damn," Jack muttered. "One more stoplight," he said, remembering his impatience at how long their drive from the airfield to the abandoned hospital was taking.
"Colonel, do you think Daniel would mind having a roommate for a few days?" Janet asked.
"Sam wants out of here. And given what happened, I can understand why but..."
"You do not think she should be alone," Teal'c interjected.
"Normally, I'd say that she's a big girl, but after what's happened in the last few months..." Janet paused. "She's told me that she's been thinking about selling her house and I know she's not comfortable there anymore. I'd have her over, but Cassie's having some friends over this weekend and I'm going to be up to my ears in teenage girls for three days."
"I know Daniel wouldn't mind, but he's leaving for Chicago tomorrow. The police are closing the books on Sarah's disappearance and they need to talk to him," Jack said. "Maybe he could put it off for a couple of days, or she could go with him."
"There is no need for that," Teal'c said.
"I can go to her home with Major Carter and stay with her," he offered.
"Aah, Teal'c. I don't know if that's such a good idea."
"Why not, O'Neill?"
"We can't be totally sure we got all the bad guys. And if they loved getting their hands on her, they'd have a field day with you," Jack said imagining the feathers that could fly if the NID's two most wanted lab rats were conveniently located in the same unsecured place.
"What if we got the general to authorize a security team to stay outside and keep an eye on them? Then if anyone tried anything there would be help handy?" Janet suggested.
Jack thought about it a minute. Actually, it wasn't a bad idea. He was sure Hammond would go for it, the general had a soft spot about the size of Colorado for Carter. He also knew that the Jaffa would protect their friend with his life if need be. It was something Carter knew as well. "It just might work," he said, looking at Janet.
"I'll call the general," she offered eagerly. "She should be awake in a couple of hours, Teal'c."
He nodded. "I shall prepare and return at that time." He said and left the room.
A tugging sensation pulled Sam from her sleep and she opened her eyes. Janet was leaning over her, the spent IV in her hands. "Perfect timing," she said. "Ed just brought this up." She reached behind her for the tray that had just been delivered from the commissary.
"Already?" Sam slowly sat up; pushing the blanket to one side while Janet set the tray down on the other side. The doctor picked up the cover revealing some scrambled eggs and toast.
Sam instinctively sniffed and felt her mouth water. She literally couldn't remember the last time she'd eaten. Picking up the fork she concentrated on eating.
"Have I got a deal for you?" Janet rolled her office chair next to Sam.
"What?" Sam asked around a bit of toast.
"You can go home, once I get one last blood sample. And you have a week off...as long as Teal'c stays with you."
Sam shot Janet a startled look. "The general would never go for it."
"He's already signed off on it."
"Janet. I don't need a baby sitter. I'm fine," Sam protested.
"Maybe you don't need a baby sitter but maybe they need to be one. Sam. They were worried, really, really worried. The Colorado Springs PD probably hates the sight of Daniel by now, General Hammond called in more than a few favors and the colonel used his own connections to try and find something out. They weren't going to stop until they found you. You may have to make some allowances for them when they start acting all clingy."
"Clingy?" Sam asked skeptically. Clingy was not a word she usually associated with the guys.
"Ssh. Don't tell them I said anything. It'll ruin their macho image," she said impishly.
Sam sighed. "I really hadn't been looking forward to going home alone," she admitted quietly.
"Then it's a deal. You finish eating. I'll go get you some clothes. I do think the general wants a quick word with you, then you're on vacation for the next week."
Sam sat in the passenger seat of the staff car watching the scenery flash by. It was surreal, almost as though the last week had been a bad dream. For the most part she felt the same, just a few sore spots and a lingering headache left as physical reminders of what had happened. And add to that she only had enough real memories to fill a day, perhaps two of her captivity, and it seemed even more like a dream.
But it wasn't. It had really happened. Yet another legacy of Jolinar. Not only did she have different physiology, random memory flashes and the ability to use goa'uld technology, but now she was a lab rat, not for the goa'uld, but for her own kind. The very people she was supposed to be able to trust.
That was the part about this whole thing that scared her the most, she'd lost her last safe haven.
"Ma'am." The voice of the driver pulled her from her thoughts. They were parked in front of her house and the Sargent was staring at her expectedly.
"Ooh. Thank you Sargent," She said, opening her door as Teal'c did the same, unfolding his large frame from the back seat. They both slammed their doors shut and the Sargent drove off, leaving the pair standing on the front walk.
"Keys," Sam said suddenly.
"My house keys. I had them...I...we can't get in," she said feeling frustration well up. Damnit, those ass holes had stolen a week of her life and now they'd robbed her of the simple right of getting into her own home.
"Gaining access will not be a problem," he said, pulling out her keys from the large bag he was carrying and handing them to her.
"Where did you find these?"
"While insuring that no classified material remained at the hospital, we discovered a box containing your possessions and took custody of them," he said.
"Thanks," she grinned. "I wasn't looking forward to canceling all my credit cards and getting a new driver's license." She opened the door and he followed her into the dim interior. It looked pretty much like it had when she'd left last Saturday morning with the exception of the pile of mail on the hall table and the blinds being down. "Make yourself at home," she said tossing her keys on the table, pointedly ignoring the teetering pile of mail. She'd deal with it later. "I think I'm going to take a bath."
"Major Carter." He reached into his bag and drew out a bottle, which he handed to her.
"Calgon?" she asked, reading the label on the pink bottle.
"Have you not expressed your preference for bubble baths?"
She laughed, for what felt like the first time in weeks. "This is perfect. I'm gonna go..."
"I shall make myself at home," he said, a knowing look on his dark face. She disappeared down the hall, her mind going no further than gallons and gallons of steaming water and millions of bubbles.
Sam slowly slid into the steaming water reminded again exactly why she'd bought the house. True it was in a good quiet neighborhood, except for when she had aliens visiting that is, it wasn't too far away from work, and there was a lovely park right across the street. But the one thing that sold her on the house was the bathtub. As stupid as it was, she'd fallen in love with the cast iron tub the second she'd laid eyes on it. It was an antique claw footed monstrosity that was capable of holding untold gallons of water, the kind of bathtub that screamed 'soak in me' in a loud voice.
She laid back, almost totally submerged in bubbles, and let the warmth of the water sink into her muscles. She'd dreamed of her bathtub, literally. While not sparing a dime in acquiring a goa'uld and keeping the creature happy, Conrad's people had apparently decided that heating was optional on their hospital. She'd been uncomfortably cold the first time she'd awoke and the chill just seemed to get worse with each successive awakening. By the time the colonel showed up, she'd felt warmer in the Antarctic.
As she soaked, she let her mind wander. Bits and pieces of the memories of the last few days swirled in her brain. She remembered the goons grabbing her out of the parking lot, her instinctive reaction to fight them, then waiting for someone to yell stop, cut, or something because it just couldn't be real. It had to be some sort of warped training exercise or something. She'd held onto that frail hope right until she felt the needle plunge into her thigh.
She remembered waking up the first time thinking for a minute that something had happened off world again like when she'd passed out from the radiation.
Perversely enough, it had been a sort of relief to realize that whoever the bad guys were it had something to do with the SGC. At least they weren't interested in her per se, rather what she was. She honestly didn't know if she could handle it if they'd raped her. Although if that one had his way....
"Major Carter?" Teal'c's voice pulled her out of her dark thoughts.
"You have been quiet for quite some time. I wished to ascertain that you were well."
She sat up realizing that the water had cooled significantly. "I'm fine. I'll be out in a bit." She reached down and turned on the hot tap to warm the bath water up. Running her hands over her stubbly legs she reached for her razor. No wonder she'd been so itchy. Finished with her legs, she turned off the water and laid back, this time ducking her head under the water so she could wash her hair. To hell with last week. It was history. She and Teal'c had a week off and she wasn't going to spend it moping around her house.
0Hearing the bathroom door open Teal'c looked up to see Sam padding down the hall wearing sweats and a T-shirt. Her hair was damp and her cheeks glowed from the heat of the water. "What are you watching?" she asked sitting on the couch.
"I believe it is a game show." He got to his feet and walked into the kitchen handing her the remote on the way.
"That's right, it is the middle of the day. There's probably nothing on but soaps, talk shows and game shows." He heard the sound of channels changing and knew that she was 'surfing'.
He walked back into the living room carrying two large mugs of hot chocolate. While his team mate had been asleep on Doctor Fraiser's couch he'd spoken with the healer about what he should look out for and what he could do to help her recover.
He owed Doctor Fraiser a great debt for her allowing him to 'baby-sit' his friend. It had been many years since he'd felt as helpless as he had while she'd been missing. Daniel Jackson, O'Neill and General Hammond had all had roles to play in trying to find Major Carter, yet he had been able to do nothing until the time had come to search the hospital. Feeling so useless and extraneous was a foreign feeling for him.
She looked up at he held out the mug to her. "Thanks," she said accepting it. "You're not here to wait on me, you know?" She sniffed the cocoa appreciatively.
He didn't respond, settling for merely raising his eyebrow. One of Doctor Fraiser's suggestions had been to ply the major with a multitude of small snacks whenever he could. To that end he'd spoken with the cook at the SGC and sought the man's advice on which foods he could prepare for his friend. He knew she was a capable warrior, however it made him feel better to do even a small thing for her, like making a cup of cocoa.
"What would you like to do?"
"We have a week off, Teal'c. And I don't really want to spend all of it here. What would you like to do? We could go to Denver, or maybe Cripple Creek if you want to gamble."
"I do not know. What activities would you like participate in this week?"
She sipped her cocoa. "You know, I have no idea." She stopped and started to laugh causing him to look at her in concern.
"You know, the last time I has a week off I had an alien in my living room then, too," she said. "Ok. Whatever we do we can't involve the SWAT team. My neighbors already think I'm a drug dealer or something."
"Since I lack the knowledge to construct a stargate from kitchen appliances, we should commit no acts requiring their assistance," he said gaining a roll of her eyes. "We should spend the rest of today at rest, perhaps obtaining food from an outside source, then decide upon a recreational activity for tomorrow."
She shrugged and laid back with a sigh. "I can do couch potato for a day." He sat back and watched her flip through the channels for the next several minutes her body relaxing and her eyes slowly closing.
He watched her sleep for about an hour, then guessing that she would be more comfortable in her bed rather than on the sofa, he carefully plucked the remote from her nerveless fingers, picked her up in his arms and carried her into her bedroom.
After tucking her in, he slipped out the back door of her house and sat down on her back stoop. As he absently watched the gathering clouds of a typical afternoon thunderstorm he thought and planned their activities for the next day.
She couldn't sit up! She couldn't see! She couldn't feel! Sounds, unintelligible and otherwise, left her mouth but she couldn't hear them. They stole it! They stole her senses like they wanted to steal he life. A great flash of light illuminated her surroundings. An empty hospital room, a metal tray with gleaming instruments, her mother's quilt at the foot of the bed, tinted windows close to the ceiling . . . her mother's quilt?
Slowly, so slowly, her panic receded. She couldn't sit up because she was already sitting up, she couldn't see because the lights were off, the only illumination an occasional brilliant flash of lightening. She couldn't hear herself because her hands covered her mouth, silencing her. Lighting lit up the room followed closely by rolling thunder. She was home, she was . . . safe? No, not safe, not here, not for awhile, maybe never again.
She slipped off the bed and padded toward the kitchen. She needed a drink, something that would warm her whole body and burn on the way down. Her currently rampant paranoia, along with the drugs still in her system, made getting drunk a very bad idea, but she wanted, no needed, escape and for some reason was slightly hesitant about leaving her house.
“Getting sarcastic in my old age.” Her voice was loud even through the thunder. It was comforting and disturbing at the same time. On one hand it proved that she was there, that she was alive, on the other hand silence, her silence, had been the one thing she was able to control while strapped to the bed and pumped full of drugs.
The light was off in the kitchen, she didn't think much of it until she flicked the switch and nothing happened.
“Great,” she muttered to herself. “Storm must've knocked the power out.” She briefly contemplated making a fire but decided that she really didn't have the energy. Resting her head on the cool wall, Sam pictured in her mind's eye where she had left the bottle of rum, and the obstacles in her way.
And then there was someone touching her. She lashed out with fists and feet and teeth and even after she recognized her “attacker”, she kept fighting. She couldn't stop, they had kept her from fighting back and the one chance she had had she had lowered the gun. She was a soldier, she was trained to defend herself, and they barely given her room to struggle.
“MajorCarter.” Teal'c tried to reassure the thrashing woman. “It is I. Teal'c.” Her frantic movements didn't lessen.
“I know damn it! I know!” He allowed her to hit him, only blocking the more potentially painful or dangerous attacks. Eventually she slumped against him, spent. “I'm sorry,” she gasped/sobbed into his chest. “I'm sorry.”
He wrapped his arms around her and impulsively kissed the top of her head. “It is alright, MajorCarter. You are safe now.”
At that Sam stiffened and pulled away. “Yeah sure, safe.” She moved away from him, once more intent on getting a drink. Ignoring the presence behind her, her fingers grabbed the bottle off the cabinet. Feeling suddenly claustrophobic, she shunned the couch and instead went to the back door. Her fingers worked the lock easily even in the dark and she slipped outside, pausing for a moment to breathe deeply of the damp air.
Not caring that the surface was damp she sat on the edge of the stoop, unscrewing the lid and taking a large slug of the alcohol. She could feel it burn its way down to her stomach, warming her from the inside. Times like this she wished she smoked, she thought, desperately needing the stress relief. She took another drink, wiping her mouth off on the back of her hand as she studied the clouds. The lightening was lessening in intensity and the storm was moving away. Between the faint rumbles of thunder, she could hear the whish of car tires on the asphalt and the rhythmic clicking of a train passing miles away.
She drank again and closed her eyes, unconsciously pulling her knees up to her chest. She didn't know how long she sat there, lost in her thoughts and the tiny buzz of the potent drink, but it was long enough for the thunder to start up again as another cell moved over her house. Dispassionately, she listened to it grow louder and louder. "The calm before the storm," she whispered as the first drops began to fall.
She sat there, letting it rain on her. Maybe it'd make her clean, wash away all those tiny things that made her different. Maybe it'd make the haunted feeling go away? Maybe it'd cleanse her of the feeling of that slimy jerk's...A hand on her shoulder startled her, making her scream and shy away, falling awkwardly off the stoop, her bottle of alcohol slipping from her grasp.
"Major Carter. I did not mean to startle you," Teal'c said, standing back. He offered her his hand but she ignored it, scrambling to her feet without his help.
"Damn it, Teal'c! Don't ever do that!" She yelled, pushing past him. He ruined it, he had to go and ruin it.
"NO! Just leave me the hell alone!" she screamed at him running into the house and into her bedroom, slamming the door behind her. God, why wouldn't they leave her alone, she needed to be alone. She couldn't do this in front of anyone. Her hands shaking. she crawled back under the covers pulling them up over her head. She curled herself up into a ball trying to get warm. Nothing happened, she told herself. It's not the first time some guy's eyed you or coped a feel. Just forget about it.
She felt Teal'c enter the room almost before she heard the door open and silently she sighed. Persistent little bugger.
"Major Carter, should I call Doctor Fraiser?" He asked, carefully keeping his distance.
She shook her head, and then realizing he couldn't see it answered aloud. "No."
"Perhaps if there is something that is upsetting you, if you tell me I can fix it," he suggested.
"You can't change the past."
"Something happened that upsets you."
With a sigh, she pushed back the covers, her eyes barely able to see him in the dim light coming in through the windows. "Some asshole kidnapped me and tied me to a bed for a week. Good way to ruin your day," she quipped cringing as she heard herself. She had been hanging around the colonel too long.
"No. There is more. Something else happened that you have not told us."
"Major Carter, in five years this is the first time you have told me a falsehood. I believe there is a saying, 'a burden shared is a burden halved'?"
"It's...nothing really happened," she confessed. "It's...one of the guys, he...he'd look at me...funny. He thought having a symbiote was neat. He was thrilled to meet me, like I was some celebrity or something. I'd wake up sometimes and he'd be standing over me...looking at me."
"Did he violate you?"
"No. There was a few times when I'd wake up and my hand would feel warm or maybe my leg like he'd been touching me or something, but he never DID anything. It's just...if he wanted to, there wasn't a damn thing I could have done," she said, unfelt tears falling from her eyes. "Hell, as drugged up as they kept me, I would have slept right through it." She felt a presence sit on the bed, pulling her into his arms. This time she didn't resist but melted into it, wrapping her arms around him and drawing from his strength. Silently, she cried as he rocked her like he would a child.
Finally the tears stopped and she still laid there, knowing that she should move yet not wanting to. Just on the edge of sleep she felt him shift, preparing to get up and leave her. "Stay," she said, tightening her hold.
"I...there's plenty of room," she invited, releasing him and throwing back the covers. With a slight nod he joined her, lying on his back next to her. She curled up next to him and pulled the quilt back up, cocooning both of them in its warmth. Calmed by his quiet breathing, she was asleep in minutes.
Sam awoke to the unfamiliar but not unwelcome feeling of someone sleeping in her bed with her. She didn't need to open her eyes to know it was 6'3" of Jaffa she was spooned up to. The real question was why? The breeze coming in the open window was cool but not hypothermia inducing cold. Maybe Jaffas are afraid of the dark? She smothered a giggle at the incongruous thought.
"Major Carter, you are awake?" her companion rumbled quietly in her ear.
"Mmm. What time is it?" she asked, still not opening her eyes. He must have had a good reason to crawl into bed with her. And it certainly didn't feel bad to have a nice warm body nestled against hers.
"Three in the morning. You have slept for several hours. Would you like something to eat?"
She shook her head. "Not hungry. You?"
"I do not require sustenance at the present time."
"Teal'c, not that I mind but..."
"Why am I asleep in your bed?"
"You insisted that I not leave you," he reminded softly.
"Oh. Right. I'm sorry I..."
"There is no need to apologize," he reassured.
"It's silly. I haven't been afraid of the dark...."
"Since you were two," he finished. She could hear the smile in his voice.
"When I was a young child a large predatory creature lived in the forests surrounding our home. It is very similar to your wolf. As the sun would set these animals would call to each other in a most haunting voice. For many years I would fear the coming of night and the creature's call."
"What happened?" She asked after he stopped. She could feel him sigh, his chest rising against her back.
"My father was murdered and we fled to Chulak. There are no such creatures there. Oddly enough, I find myself missing the wails of the animals."
Hearing the sadness in his voice, she caressed his arm that was lying over her stomach. "It must be hard for you, being so far away from home."
"I do miss my home. However, even now with the death of Heru'ur, it is not safe. I do not know who has taken possession of the planet. Drey'ac and Ry'ac are safer on the Land of Light."
"I had a friend, she lived in Israel. People kept fighting...still do, over who owns what. There's so much that we take for granted that was precious to her."
"What happened to your friend?"
"I'm not sure, we lost contact. Every time I hear that something's happened over there, I think of her." They laid there for several more minutes, her eyes watching the filmy curtain billow slightly in the breeze, her hand absently caressing his arm as she felt his fingers run through her hair. Oddly enough, she wasn't uncomfortable lying so intimately with her teammate. It felt pleasingly reassuring.
"We...I was most concerned when your disappearance was discovered," he said quietly, his voice sounding loud in the stillness of the room.
"When did you know?" she asked, grateful that she was lying with her back to his front, the lack of eye contact making it easier to talk somehow.
"That Monday morning. When you did not arrive at the appointed time for our debriefing for the next mission, we grew concerned. O'Neill called, then traveled to your home thinking perhaps that you were ill. It took several hours to determine that your absence was not a voluntary one."
"That's what I thought. I mean you guys have no reason to call me on the weekend, and even if you did you'd probably think I was out or something," she said remembering the sinking feeling that in the nearly forty eight hours that they'd held her before her disappearance had been discovered that she could have been taken almost anywhere in the world. That simple fact had scared her above all others. Disappearing was bad enough, disappearing and having no one notice was worse.
"Do you recall much of your capture?"
She shook her head, stilling his fingers. "Just bits and pieces. I'd wake up and they'd give me more drugs, then when I'd wake up again I never knew if it'd been a few minutes or hours. It wasn't until they needed me conscious enough to answer some questions that I could stay awake for any length of time. I almost made it out," she confessed.
"How did this happen?" He asked, not only out of a desire to know but also sensing that she needed to tell someone.
"I got a hold of a scalpel and cut through the restraints. I actually made it to the exit but it was locked and then Conrad was there." She shrugged. "Maybe I should have shot him? I don't know if his guards would have shot me."
"But you did not fire?" He asked picturing the mental image of his teammate strapped to the bed, spending hours cutting through the heavy leather restraints. It spoke of her desperation, also of her determination.
"I thought maybe I could talk my way out. I mean I had no idea where I was, what was beyond that door. Maybe I made a mistake."
"You made a tactical decision. Had the environment outside been a hostile one, you would not have survived long."
"So instead I calmly let them handcuff me to a bed," she said bitterly.
"If prophetic fore-sight were common, there is much we could have avoided," he responded.
She chuckled, letting his sage advice lift her from her dark mood. He was right, if she'd have killed Conrad then they'd have had no reason to keep her alive as long as they did. As it was, it had been a close thing.
She'd read the label on the bottle. A couple more minutes and she'd be lying on a slab right now instead of in her teammate's arms. If her brain hadn't have been still foggy from the drugs, she'd have kissed the colonel when he'd burst into the room with the fine sense of timing usually only found in TV movies. If she was a romantic at heart, she'd be having fantasies about silver haired colonels on white steeds. God, to be the fem fatale. How completely and utterly embarrassing.
A perverse part of her was grateful that he'd been hurt. While he was fussing and grousing in the infirmary, folks could just forget about her part in the whole thing.
She sighed and shifted her position a bit, unconsciously snuggling closer to him. She froze, feeling the unmistakable poking of an erection against her backside.
"Aah, Teal'c..." she felt herself flush in embarrassment. This was something she'd never dealt with, not from a teammate anyway.
"Umm...Do you want me to move?" She asked, looking for an easy way out.
"That is not necessary unless it disturbs you."
"Umm...well. Disturb might be the wrong word."
"You feel embarrassment."
"Let's just say this is a side of you I'm not used to," she laughed.
His hand moved across her stomach, his fingertips caressing the skin through the fabric of her T-shirt. Almost despite herself, she felt her heartbeat quicken.
"I do not see why. You are a very beautiful woman," he said softly, his other hand again fiddling with her hair. "The prospect of your companionship is a much talked about part of the SGC informal communications network."
She smiled then gasped as his hand slid under her shirt to brush over her bare stomach. She could feel his calluses rough against her skin, one of his fingers dipping into her belly button. He tickled her, sending shafts of desire down to her most secret place. She brought her right hand down to cover his, stilling his explorations.
"Major..." he stopped as she guided his hand lower, sliding under the elastic waistband of her sweats. His fingers wormed their way into her panties and through the soft mat of hair guarding the tender folds of her sex. She moaned as his fingers found their target, caressing and tickling along the way. Shifting her legs a bit to give him easier access, she stretched out her left arm, her fingers tangling with his as he abandoned her hair.
His right thumb found her clitoris as his fingers probed her opening, teasing her by lingering at the threshold but not going further.
Grasping his right hand with her own she urged him on, guiding his fingers into her. "Patience," he whispered, slipping only one finger into the damp channel, as his thumb brushed her clitoris again and again, each stroke pushing her higher and higher.
"No," she whispered, desperate to feel him inside her. She pushed with her right hand again, now rocking her hips in time with his thrusts.
"Yes," he insisted, moving away a bit so he could roll her to her back. With his right hand still buried between her thighs he untangled the fingers of their left hands. Reaching down and pulling her T-shirt up he leaned over giving her right breast a wet lick as now two of his fingers plumbed her depths.
"God," she gasped, her left hand grasping the pillow under her head as he took the other nipple in his mouth, sucking gently.
Nipping the erect tip lightly with his teeth he left it and took the other one between his lips, paying it exquisite lip service. Pulling her right hand out of her pants she reached over, fumbling for him. Her questing fingers found their goal and she caressed the hard length through the coarse material of his pants.
"Not yet," he growled, pulling his lips form her breast and kissing his way up her throat as his fingers continued their exploration, delving deeper and deeper into her. He took her mouth with his as a third finger slid into her, stretching the delicate tissue. Surrendering to the sensations, she kissed him back, her tongue dueling with his. She felt the wave building higher and higher as her right hand caressed his rock hard chest, pinching and tweaking his small nipples.
His thumb massaged her clitoris as his fingers swept in and out, caressing and tickling her internally. She closed her eyes and let herself ride the wave higher and higher until it broke onto the shore. She lay still; enjoying the feeling of her muscles contracting around his fingers which wriggled inside her.
"Wow," she gasped after a few minutes.
"Indeed," was all he replied, resting his head in the crook of her neck.
Her hand strayed down again, brushing the hot bulge in his pants. "What about you?" She rubbed against him, feeling it buck under her touch.
"What?" She asked when he broke off.
He pulled his right hand from inside her and stood up. She watched him unzip and slide off his pants and T-shirt, revealing all of his Adonis like body to her gaze. Eyeing the proud erection straining skyward she pulled off her T-shirt and lifted her hips a bit to slip out of her sweat pants. Tossing them aside she pushed all thoughts about the appropriateness and repercussions of what they were about to do out of her mind. To hell with the future, she wanted now.
She laid back and beckoned him, smiling as his warm strength covered her. He lowered his lips and kissed her mouth, propping most of his weight on his forearms. She opened her mouth, letting their tongues dance and enjoying the simple taste of him. Her hands explored his back, tracing up and down the line of his spine, lingering at the tiny depression at the base of his back. She could feel the turgid weight of his erection pressing against her abdomen and her legs slid open, subconsciously inviting him in.
Silently, he shifted his weight and she felt the tip of his shaft at the crux of her thighs. Wrapping her legs around him, she urged him on, breaking the kiss as he slowly slid into her, stretching and filling the void. Pulling out a bit, he slid back in, repeating the movement until he could go no further.
He fought his instincts, staying still within her. He opened his eyes and looked at his lover. Her eyes were still closed, her mind lost in the sensations. Studying her face he was glad to see none of the pain or suppressed fear, only pleasure.
Raising himself up a bit, he trailed kissed down her chin and neck, pausing to lick the tiny drops of sweat from the base of her throat. Gritting his teeth against his body's instinctive need to thrust, he shifted his weight to his left elbow, freeing his right hand to fondle her breast. She gasped as his palm covered her, the erect nipple poking his palm. He took it between his thumb and forefinger, pinching it slightly and making her moan.
Her eyes opened and met his. "God. What are you waiting for?" she gasped, her hands going to his butt, clutching his cheeks to urge him on.
"Tell me what you want."
"You are in control. Tell me what you want," he said, ruthlessly quashing his desires. She needed this, he sensed. For a week she'd been submissive to another's wishes. It was time for her to take that control back. "I will do whatever you want. If you want me to thrust I will, if you want me to kiss you, I will. If you simply wish me to pleasure myself while you watch, I will. You control me, MajorCarter."
Sam stared at the dark, enigmatic face hovering above her. Was he telling the truth? Submissive to her? Teal'c? The ex-first prime who used to conquer planets for a living. The granter of her every wish. It was a fantasy of half the women on the base. Her mind raced, imaging every dirty joke she'd ever heard. Gazing into his eyes, she closed hers, wrapping her arms around his neck. "Call me Sam," she smiled. "And make love to me," she whispered, unerringly kissing his lips.
He groaned softly into her mouth and she felt his hips, he nibbled his way to her ear, nipping her earlobe as her hands again clutched his butt, digging into the firm muscle. This time he responded, speeding up his efforts, his breath quickening.
Surrendering to the delicious feelings delivered to her by the alien, she felt her breathing come into harmony with his as they both reached the pinnacle.
Teal'c awoke late the next morning, something that was not usual for him, yet understandable given the strenuous activities he and ...Sam had engaged in last night and well into the morning.
Easing out of bed, he pulled the quilt over his slumbering companion, resisting the urge to wake her. For a moment he felt a bit of guilt. He was sure what they had done was not what Doctor Fraiser had been imaging when she'd suggested that he keep the major in bed.
In fact, if the woman had a true idea of their activities throughout the night she would be most incensed with him. They'd made love a second time, then again in the shower about 5am. It was after that time that Teal'c suggested that they dress and simply sleep. He was charged with caring for the woman, not driving her into exhaustion.
Padding out to the kitchen, he set to exploring the cabinets. Not surprised to find a lack of food, he contented himself with eggs and toast with a loaf of bread kept in the freezer. That would be one thing for them to do today, travel to a market and purchase some foodstuff. The phone rang and he answered it quickly before the sound could awaken Sam. "Major Carter's residence."
"Teal'c? It's Doctor Fraiser."
"Yes, Doctor Fraiser."
"Is everything OK there?" she asked tentatively.
"Yes, Doctor Fraiser, all is well."
"Has Sam been acting ok?"
"Major Carter's behavior has been as expected," he reported, keeping the events of the past several hours a secret. He knew most humans preferred discretion in such matters. "Is there a reason to be concerned?"
"I hope not. We just go the final results back on Sam's blood work and some of the drugs seized at Saint Christina's. From what we can determine one of them reacts with the protein in her blood. We're not totally sure of the effects. It may simply make her act a little silly, or it may go as far as blocking out her memory." Teal'c felt his heart drop as the implications sank in. Could the events of last night have happened because his friend was under the influence of a drug, not because she wanted it to happen?
Finishing his conversation with the doctor and promising to contact her should anything happen, he set his mind to searching for what to do next.
Sam sighed and rolled over, stretching out under the covers. She couldn't remember the last time she'd awakened with such a feeling of contentment. She hugged the pillow under her head, stubbornly keeping her eyes closed, as if ignoring the coming day would stay its arrival.
As she laid there, she heard sounds coming from the kitchen then the single ring of the phone. Who? That's right, she thought upon hearing the mellow timbre of Teal'c's voice. He'd stayed last night.
Random memories flitted through her head, waking in his arms, whispered confidences, warm naked skin next to her own, gentle hands caressing her, warm lips kissing her bruises to make them better. Oh my God! Had they...she sat up, a twinge of soreness answering her question. They had.
She stared at the far wall. She...he...they...what had possessed her to sleep with...no not totally sleep with, have sex with Teal'c? He was her teammate, her friend. Why the hell had she let her hormones do the talking?
"Major Carter?" The object of her consternation peered around the door. "Breakfast will be ready in a few moments if you wish to freshen up beforehand," he said casually. He sure wasn't acting like a man who'd just gotten laid. Had it really happened or were her memories some random but incredibly erotic dream? "Major Carter? Are you all right?" he asked, coming near but not too near her. Noting his behavior she wondered. What if her memories were not from THEM doing something but from her coming onto him? What if she'd done that, harassed him? Teal'c wouldn't say anything, she knew that. He was way too much the gentleman.
Making her decision in an instant she flashed him a small smile. "Just let me brush my teeth and I'll be right out," she said in what she hoped was a normal voice. She couldn't embarrass him like that. She'd just take her cues from him. If he said anything, she'd go along with it but if he just wanted to pretend last night never happened, she'd live with that too.
Hearing the bathroom door open Teal'c pushed the lever on the toaster and poured the eggs into the pan.
"Hey, Teal'c." Sam stood just inside the kitchen door, her hands clutched nervously in front of her. "Do you need any help?"
"I do not require assistance." He waved the spatula towards her small table. "The food will be ready shortly. What ever you wish to do today, we should plan a trip to a market."
"Ooh right. I was going to hit the store on the way home from the gym, but..." her voice trailed off.
With a skill she hadn't known he possessed, he slid some scrambled eggs to her plate just as the toast popped up.
Reaching over, he handed her the bread, then took a seat, his own plate of eggs and toast in front of him. He peeked at the woman across from him, seeing no sign of the passionate person he'd slept with. She stared at her plate, eating her food with studious precision. She was not comfortable around him. Either she did not remember last night or she regretted it. Silently sighing, he made a decision, last night never happened.
Sam ate her eggs fighting the urge to stare at her companion. She could almost feel the waves of discomfort radiating off him. She'd made him uncomfortable somehow, likely by coming onto him. How could she have been so stupid? God, was a roll in the hay worth messing up the team? She took a deep breath. He obviously didn't want to talk about it or she knew they would be talking about it right now. It never happened, she told herself. That's how you act, like it never happened.
Her eyes scanned the kitchen, skittering over Teal'c's face, and settled upon the calendar hanging on the refrigerator. It was the one she'd gotten from her bank and consisted of pictures of the landmarks and natural wonders of the Colorado Springs area. The picture of the month was of the Royal Gorge Bridge and she grabbed at the idea like a drowning man grabs a life raft. "Hey, you've never been sight seeing around here have you?" She asked abruptly. She knew the colonel occasionally took Teal'c out, so did Daniel for that matter, but she'd never heard of any of them talking about taking him to the more touristy areas.
"DanielJackson and I have went for walks and jogs around the Garden of the Gods, but I have not seen other places," he said, finishing his eggs.
"Perfect," she said, forcing a bright smile on her face. "We've both been cooped up too long. What would you say to a visit to the Royal Gorge Bridge?" She got up and pulled the calendar off the refrigerator, handing it to him.
Teal'c took it, staring at the picture of the suspension bridge over a deep chasm. While he didn't totally understand the Tau'ri fascination with ruining their natural wonders to make them more convenient, he could appreciate the skill involved for such a primitive society to make such a structure. And if Sam...Major Carter could derive pleasure from visiting such a place, so could he. "This looks like a most interesting place. I have heard others speak of it but have never seen it," he said, handing the calendar back to her.
"Then it's settled," she said, taking it and laying the over sized glossy paper on the counter. "Why don't we get dressed? It'll take us about an hour to get there, we can see the bridge, maybe get some lunch and then go from there," she said, picking up his empty plate and putting it in the dishwasher.
Sam steered her motorcycle up the steep twisting roads reveling in the feeling of freedom. This felt so good, getting out on the road with no schedule, no timetable to restrain her. She grinned widely, speeding up a bit, perversely enjoying the way Teal'c's hands tightened a bit at her waist. She hadn't missed his dubious look when she'd announced her plans to ride her bike to Canon City and the Royal Gorge. It seemed he felt the same way about motorcycles as he had about skydiving.
Noting that the traffic was getting heavier, she slowed up a bit. Teal'c may have junior but if she wrecked her bike, she'd find herself back under Janet's tender loving care. And at this precise moment in time, she'd rather lie by the side of the road and bleed out rather than end up in another hospital bed.
They crested the summit and she found a parking space. She turned off the engine and pulled off her helmet, running her fingers through her hair. "You ok?" she asked, when Teal'c made no move to dismount.
"I can see the appeal of this vehicle," he said as she swung her leg over the machine.
"I got it years ago. I was laid up for a bit after the Gulf and bored out of my skull. One day this delivery guy showed up on my doorstep. Seems my dad found this baby on an auction, all beat up. So he bought it for me, along with subscriptions to a couple of magazines. It's taken me years to track down all the parts." She ran her fingertips over the handlebars. "Best gift he's ever gotten me."
Teal'c dismounted, pulling off his helmet, careful not to dislodge the baseball cap he wore to conceal his tattoo. Given its history, he could understand her fondness for the machine.
"Are you ready?" she asked, taking his helmet and hanging it by hers. He nodded and they made their way across the large parking lot, dodging a few cars along the way. It was a beautiful early summer's day, a warm sun shining out between a few scattered, billowy white clouds.
In places the ground was still damp from the previous day's rain and Sam had a good idea that it would rain again that evening. It was a weather pattern they lived with during the summer in the mountains.
Reaching the gate she drew out her wallet and purchased tickets for both of them. "We could have driven across, I guess," she said, handing him his. "But I like to walk it." She pointed towards the huge silver suspension bridge ahead of them. "Do you want to go across now or we could go down to the river or even take the tram across." She said pointing out all the possibilities.
"What is below?"
"The Arkansas River. If we're lucky, some folks might be shooting the rapids. But if it's anything like last time, it's hot down there, not much of a breeze." Sam choked back a grin at the puzzled look on his face as he stared at the seven-foot tall sculptured bushes in the shape of standing mice. The plants were wearing red sequined suspenders and a pair of tourists was posing by them.
"Perhaps later then. We shall cross now."
She followed him as he strode towards the large wooden planked bridge. "Can you imagine what it was like hundreds of years ago? Zebulon Pike was trying to reach Oregon and he came across this," she motioned at the huge chasm they were starting to walk across. "Talk about surprises."
Not answering her, Teal'c walked towards the edge of the bridge, stumbling a bit as the span swayed in the ever present breeze. They were actually lucky that it wasn't horribly windy today. He stepped under a fluttering flag and looked over at the gorge below. "It is quite impressive. How far to the bottom?"
"Umm...1,053 feet if I recall correctly." Sam joined him marveling in the view. It was an incredible sight to behold. She tried to imagine what it could have been like to have been here millions of years ago when the earth split, torn asunder by forces she couldn't even imagine. The rocks were vari-colored granite topped in places with stubborn vegetation. Bolts the size of her arm fastened some of the anchors for the span into the sides of the gorge. A cable about the size of her body ran the length of the bridge holding the weight of the structure and them up, defying gravity. "I think there's a sign. Some guy bunjee jumped off here once." She looked down at the river below, the white water created by it tumbling over the rocks visible even this far up. She heard a whistle and saw that a train was passing. It looked like a toy, but she knew that it was a normal full sized rail car.
"It sways," he said, abandoning the view and moving on.
"Yep. Actually that's what keeps it stable. It needs to give a bit in the breeze. This can be fun." She knelt down, pointing at a hole in the planking. "If you look through the knot holes, you can see straight down."
"I will take your word for it, Major Carter," he said, smiling slightly.
"Ok. But you don't know what you're missing," Sam said, getting back to her feet. They finished crossing the bridge and stopped for a moment, browsing in a gift shop. Despite feeling silly, she purchased a souvenir T-shirt for the pair of them, then they sat for a moment, enjoying a frozen yogurt.
"It seems a lot of work to go to simply to cross the chasm," he said, reading a pamphlet about how the bridge was made.
"We have a bad habit of doing that, crossing things that maybe weren't meant to be crossed, just to do it." Finished with her treat, she sat back, enjoying the feeling of the sun on her skin. Taking advantage of her eyes being hidden by her sunglasses, she studied her companion. Teal'c was seated just a few inches away, apparently absorbed in the historical pamphlet he'd picked up. She watched him read each word intently, like he was studying something important rather than a bit of paper most folks tended to pick up and discard. It always amazed her how fascinated he was by earth culture. It seemed incongruous that a person of his age and experience could still find things to marvel about. Even after five years he still had this air of enigmatic innocence about him that amazed her. At times he was like a child, excited and eager to learn. Other times he was a super-sized guardian angel, knowledgeable about far more of the universe than she was likely to ever see.
And a guardian angel was exactly the role he'd fulfilled last night. He'd been there to protect and care for her...and she'd taken advantage of him.
"I would like to ride this sky tram," he said abruptly, startling Sam out of her contemplation.
"Oh. Right. The depot is up there." She pointed at a steep trail. "Are you up for a bit of a climb?" He stood up, offering her his hand and pulling her to her feet.
They hiked up the narrow trail, pausing at the observation point to admire the view from a different angle. Finally they reached the tram house, Sam breathing a lot harder than she wanted to admit. The muscles in her legs burned from the exertion, oddly enough, it felt good.
They boarded the tram, not surprised to discover themselves alone. It was a weekday and all during their visit, Sam had noticed a lack of people. She found it nice not to have to fight the usual tourist crowds. The attendant slid the door shut, and with a gentle lurch the tram slid away from the platform, swaying a bit as it started its journey to the other side.
Sam and Teal'c were the only two occupants in the large car, so they had their choice of windows to look out of. She leaned her elbows against the sill of an open window, enjoying the breeze ruffling her hair. She looked downstream smiling a bit as she caught sight of an eagle riding the thermals up out of the gorge. She remembered the look on Narim's face a few years ago when he caught sight of an eagle, the first animal he'd seen in his life. She felt a tiny pang go through her. She didn't even know if he was still alive or not. Realistically, she knew there was a chance for survivors, he'd even said a few ships escaped the planet. A part of her wanted him to be alive, yet another part hoped that he wasn't. She had no illusions about his fate, chances are if he survived, he'd be a slave if he was lucky, or a host if he wasn't.
In a way, she held herself accountable for what had happened. She knew she'd played on his feelings for her in pushing him to search for the truth. She'd made him question things, questions that resulted in the destruction of the Tollan homeworld for the second time in a few years. Sure they'd saved earth from being drawn into a useless arms deal, but at what cost? Destroying one planet to save another didn't seem like a good bargain to her.
The car lurched and she instinctively grabbed for the windowsill to keep from falling to the floor.
"We have stopped," Teal'c said, also holding on to one of the rails to keep his balance.
"I wonder why?" She looked down. They were pretty much in the middle of the gorge, the bottom twelve hundred feet below.
'Is everyone ok?' a voice from the small radio on the wall asked.
Shrugging Sam walked over and picked it up. "We're fine. What happened?"
'We just lost power. It should be back in a few minutes.' The voice said. Sam could hear the unease in the woman's voice. No doubt she was worried about having someone panicking.
"Don't worry. We'll just enjoy the view," she said, shrugging at her companion. "Like we have a choice," she quipped, hanging up the radio.
"Indeed. Not even my symbiote could withstand a fall from such an altitude."
Seeing his turn resolutely away from the open windows and hearing the tone of his voice she fought a smile. "Teal'c...do you aah...are you..."
"I am not fond of heights," he stated, spareing her having to figure out how to ask him.
"Well, they usually don't bug me but hanging over nothing is not my idea of fun. How about we just have a seat and wait for the power to come back on?" She suggested, sliding to the floor of the car, her back against the wall. He joined her and they sat there in silence for several minutes. Sam fought the urge to get up and pace as the silence stretched on, becoming uncomfortable. "Teal'c..."
"Assuming we are liberated from this car shortly, do you have any other plans for today Major Carter?" he asked.
"Why do you do that?" She asked abruptly.
"Call me Major Carter."
"That is your name," he replied evenly.
"I distinctly recall telling you that you could call me Sam...and I also seem to recall you doing just that," she said, turning her head to look at him.
"You have memory of last night?" He asked carefully.
"Yeah. Unfortunately," she answered, feeling a warmth on her face that had nothing to do with the close atmosphere of the tramcar.
"I wish then to seek your forgiveness," he said, his face carefully blank.
"Forgiveness? What for? If anything I should be apologizing to you," She said, pushing her sunglasses up on her head.
"I do not..."
"I mean I think I remember all of it. I ...honestly Teal'c, coming onto a guy is not how I normally act. Maybe it was the drugs or something..."
"Oh come on Teal'c. I...we...I'm sorry if I pushed you into doing something you didn't want to," she said in a rush. Her face was burning now she knew.
His brow crumpled in puzzlement. "What exactly do you believe happened last night?"
"We aah...you know." She gestured vaguely with her hands. An extensive vocabulary and she was reduced to sign language.
"And you believe that I participated in those activities against my will? That you coerced me into doing something that I did not wish to do?" he asked, an odd look forming on his face.
"I...you were..." she sputtered remembering their time in the shower, the hot water cascading down their bodies as he did exactly what she told him to...again and again.
"I can assure you, nothing happened last night that I did not wish to happen," he said, a smug look on his face. "However, I was under the impression from Doctor Fraiser that your judgement may have been impaired."
"Doctor Fraiser called this morning. She informed me that one of the drugs in your system could have the side effect of affecting your judgement or memory. Therefore, when you showed no recollection of the events of last night, I believed that you had no memory."
"I thought you didn't want to talk about it because I...Oh for crying out loud," she said, laughing. "This is like some bad movie. Teal'c..." She went on to explain at his blank look. "Nothing happened last night that I didn't want to happen," she said sincerely.
"And I did nothing that I did not want to do," he confessed, smiling at her. "Do you have further plans for today, Major Carter, assuming we are liberated from this conveyance in the near future?"
"Ok. We're back to that. Why do you use my title and last name?" she explained to his raised eyebrow.
"It is a gesture of respect. I know that you have strived for many years to earn your rank, the same way General Hammond and Doctor Fraiser have worked to achieve their respective ranks. When I use your title I honor your accomplishments," he explained.
"But you don't call Daniel, Doctor Jackson, and you rarely call the colonel 'Colonel O'Neill'."
"I had difficulty with your language at first and did not understand that a person could be a doctor and not a healer."
"That explains Daniel," Sam prodded.
"O'Neill...O'Neill's status is unique. On earth he is my leader and I shall obey his orders yet when we are off world..."
"You know more about what's going on than he does," Sam finished.
"When we are off world I consider O'Neill more my equal than my superior. Which is why I address him by his last name. It also does not say colonel on his uniform," he quipped causing Sam to break into laughter.
Just then the car lurched and they started to move. Using the rails to keep their balance, they both got to their feet as the tram finally finished its journey. An extremely apologetic young lady met them at the tram house. "I am so sorry. Are both of you all right?" she asked, genuinely concerned.
"We're fine," Sam answered. "Trust me, it was no big deal."
"Oh. Good. Here." She shoved a piece of paper into Sam's hand. "The manager wanted you to have this, an apology."
Sam read the paper, a coupon good for one free pound of fudge. She turned to Teal'c. "I know exactly what we're going to do tonight," she said, pulling him into the restaurant.
Several hours later the pair sat on the floor in front of Sam's fireplace using some of her recently acquired supplies to make s'mores. Although the day was warm, the night had cooled and they both found the prospect of a fire a welcome one.
After a quick lunch at the restaurant, Sam collected on their fudge and then they left the park, using some of the back roads to make their way to Cripple Creek, which was on the other side of the mountains. They'd spent a few hours playing the slot machines, miraculously coming home a few hundred dollars richer.
At least they'd been richer for an hour or so...until Teal's spotted a Harley parked enticingly in the lot of a local used car dealer. Between both of them, they had enough winnings to buy the slightly beat up machine. The sales person had promised to have it delivered in the morning and Sam knew they now had something to keep them occupied for the week.
"How do you feel about leather pants?" She asked, licking a bit of sticky marshmallow off her fingers.
"Leather pants?" Teal'c asked, toasting his 10th marshmallow of the evening.
"It's a biker thing. You really should wear leathers, it protects you better if you wipe out," she explained picturing the sight of the Jaffa in tight leather pants.... And took a quick sip of wine in an attempt to cool off.
"While it sounds practical, it does not sound comfortable. I believe denim will serve the same purpose."
Sam shrugged. "Ok. Denim it is. I know this place that went out of business, we can go use their parking lot so you can get used to the bike away from traffic. It really isn't that hard once you get your balance. The only hard part is that lots of the other drivers on the road don't pay attention...and you don't have an airbag on a Harley." Finished with her s'more, she laid down her toasting fork and leaned back, lying on the floor, her head pillowed in her hands. She closed her eyes and let a feeling of utter contentment sweep over her. There was a part of her that said she should be uneasy having him sitting so close to her, and it warred with the part of her that said there was literally no one else in the universe she trusted more at this moment, save the colonel, Daniel and General Hammond.
"You enjoyed this day, Sam?" he asked quietly, relieved to see his friend at peace for what seemed the first time in years.
Sam lazily opened her eyes, fighting a drowsiness brought on by the long day, steak dinner and the wine. "You know...I really did. I didn't think about work once today. It's been years since I haven't spent my downtime working on something or at least thinking about something," she answered realizing she spoke the truth. Wormholes, goa'uld and Naquadah reactors hadn't crossed her mind. She felt a niggle of guilt at the thought that there had to be work piling up on her desk, then dismissed it immediately. If they really wanted it, they'd wait.
He laid back, his shoulder brushing hers. "I, too, found today enjoyable," he admitted as she moved closer, resting her head on his shoulder. He stared at the fire as she snuggled closer, her body relaxing despite the minimal cushioning of the carpet they were lying on. "Very enjoyable," he whispered as he felt her heart slow and her breathing deepen into that of sleep.
"Would you look at that?" Jack said, reaching out his good arm to point Daniel in the right direction. The archaeologist turned to see a pair of bikers ride into the parking lot. He recognized one of them, or the bike anyway, as Carter's Indian. The other...He snorted as he realized that her companion could only be Teal'c given his size.
"I didn't know Teal'c could ride a motorcycle," Daniel said, shading his eyes against the morning glare. He watched the pair navigate the checkpoint and park beside them, expertly coming to a precision stop.
"Colonel. How are you feeling?" Sam asked turning off the engine and taking off her helmet.
"Fine, almost as good as new," he answered, shooting Teal'c a curious glance. My, oh my, were heads going to turn, he thought taking in the black Levi's, white T-shirt and denim jacket the man was wearing. He looked like a cross between a Hell's Angel and a male model. "What's with the bike, T?"
"Major Carter and I found this vehicle at a second hand automobile dealer. We purchased it and she spent the last week teaching me how to ride it," he reported, swinging one booted leg over the large chrome plated chassis.
"I didn't spend much of it. You wouldn't believe it, sir. I think it took him like thirty minutes to learn how to ride it," she said, smiling widely.
Jack stared at his second's face, glad to see none of the fear he'd seen in her eyes just a week ago. She was lightly tanned and looked more relaxed then he could ever remember seeing her. It was a good look for her, he thought.
"Well, whatever you guys did, it worked wonders," Daniel said. "Sam, you look fantastic." He stepped forward and gave her a hug.
Surprised, she hugged him back laughing. "Thanks. You aah...you too," she said, slightly at a loss for words.
"So, have we missed anything?" Sam asked, leading the way towards the elevators.
Daniel shrugged. "Nothing really. Things have been so quiet I think Jack's even caught up on his paper work."
"That'll keep the general happy," Sam said as the elevator door opened. The four of them got into the car and rode it down into the mountain.
"So, what's with the bike, really?" Jack asked as they got out at level 11 and switched elevators to finish their journey.
"Teal'c cleaned up at the casinos and wanted to spend his ill gotten gains," Sam quipped, getting out at level 19 so she and Teal'c could go change into their uniforms.
"T? Casinos? Carter, what are you doing to him? He leaves here last week a perfectly respectable alien and you bring him back a biker dude with a gambling habit," Jack teased.
"Nothing I did not want done, O'Neill," Teal'c said as the elevator doors started to close on his commanding officer. Jack watched the pair stride down the hall, not quite understanding what Carter found so funny.
|Summary:||Teal'c helps a friend out in her time of need.|