Jack stood there watching as Sam battled against one of her latest doo-hickey things. Much as he loved to watch Sam work, this was growing frustrating. And that was for him. Sam was getting down-right pissed off with her toy. Daniel had long ago given up, and had gone looking for more of his rocks. Teal'c, as always, was playing sentry. Jack glanced out to see Teal'c standing still as a statue on top of a rock, his head moving slowly from one side to the other. He took guarding seriously. Teal'c had learned at an early age, growing up as a Jaffa in Apophis' command, that to relax on duty was almost certain death. And that wasn't by his enemies, but by Apophis himself. Sam cursed to herself, and Jack looked back to see her sucking a knuckle.
"Carter?" He asked, rising slightly.
"It's nothing, sir. Just a nick. I just don't understand why this won't work. The calibrations I've made seem correct, and I know the calculations are, so I don't know why it won't work."
"Perhaps you need a break, Major." Jack suggested. "You've been working on this for over eight hours."
"I'm alright, sir. I just need to have a look at my notes again." She walked over to her camp desk, sitting down on an upturned bucket, her head immersed in some sort of calculus. Numbers and Jack just didn't go together. Which was why they had Major Samantha Carter on the team. He looked at her do-hickey. It was supposed to be able to measure the amount of that new element tri-something inside a piece of stone. There was some new technology that would do really well with this tri-whatever as it's main substance. It reminded him a lot of that other metal, trinium. They'd decided to mine a planet, and the natives weren't particularly happy with them. Stole SG11, then decided they wanted to destroy the SGC. Oh, Hammond was impressed with that little excursion. But it wasn't Jack's fault. It was a mis-understanding. Really. He looked closer at Sam's do-hickey.
"Ahh, Carter." He called.
"Not now, sir. I'm thinking." Sam's distracted reply came. Jack looked up, surprised, but then smiled.
"Major Carter, report at once!" He barked out. Sam's military training responded, and before she was aware of it, her body had snapped to, and she was standing at attention two feet away from her CO.
"Sir!" She barked out.
"Major Carter, I was wondering. I was looking at your latest do-hickey."
"It's a trimarion reader, sir. It measure the amounts of trimarion inside-"
"I really don't want to know, Carter. However, as I was saying, I was looking at your do-hickey here, while you were studying your notes, when I noticed this little wire here." He pointed out the connecting power cable. It joined the long life naquida battery that the Tokra had given them to the trimarion reader. "It seemed to me, Major Carter, that the little wire isn't connected to your do-hickey." He looked at her. "Would that possibly affect the function of said do-hickey?" His face was poker-straight. She glanced at where he was pointing, then stormed off, swearing like the trooper she was. Jack grinned. Alright, so they'd lost a few hours. But God, it was worth it to one up Dr Samantha Carter, Astrophysicist. He noticed her storm past Daniel, who glanced up, shocked. He stood up and wandered in his usual amble towards Jack.
"What caused that?" He asked, staring after Sam.
"I solved the problem with the Trimarion reader. It didn't have any power, which would be why it wasn't working. She's not happy with me." Daniel looked at Jack for a moment.
"You know, you really shouldn't be grinning like that. She'll be worse."
"Oh I know. I'm working on loosing the grin before she comes back." Teal'c chose that moment to hop off his rock and approach them.
"What is wrong with Major Carter, O'Neill?" He asked, looking in the same direction as the other two.
"She just had her ego tweaked." Daniel informed him.
"I do not understand." Teal'c stated.
"It means that the problem was very simple, but she didn't recognise it, because she never thought to check something so bloody simple as the power connection!" Sam answered, coming back, still annoyed. "And, if you don't mind sir, please stop grinning!"
"Sorry, Carter." Jack wiped his hand across his mouth, trying desperately to stop laughing. Sam muttered her way past him, reconnected the naquida battery and powered the reader up. It whirred into life, tiny lights sparking off the cylinder inside.
"Right. Daniel, do you want start up the digger, so we can get this show on the road?" Sam asked, retrieving her notebook and pencil. Daniel trotted off to do as he was asked.
He was dead. She stumbled through the Stargate, her numb feet finding their balance as she staggered down the ramp behind Teal'c and Daniel. She stood there, listening to General Hammond ask questions, unable to make her mind understand. She stared blankly at him as he asked her something again. She saw Janet come up behind the General, her eyes showing concern.
"He's dead." She heard Daniel say in a monotone voice. "Jack's dead." Then everything went black.
"Sam?" She heard someone whisper from a great distance. She tried to ignore the voice, sink back into the enveloping blackness, but the voice was insistent. "Sam!" It whispered again. She crinkled her face, trying to escape it. "Wake up." She did so reluctantly, opening her eyes to the medical bay, and Daniel hovering over her.
"She is awake, Daniel Jackson." Teal'c observed from the other side of the bed.
"Sam?" She felt Daniel take her hand in his, stroking gently. "How do you feel?" She thought about the question for a long time.
"Tired. Weak. Why?"
"You lost a lot of blood. We didn't even know you were hurt until you passed out on us. Janet saw the blood and managed to catch you...or at least, break your fall. She operated, stopped the internal hemorrhaging."
"How long?" She whispered, trying to wet her lips with a dry tongue. Teal'c saw and reached for a glass of water with a straw. She sipped slowly.
"We've been back just over two days." His words brought her memory back, and she shut her eyes in pain. She mouthed his name, then turned her head away.
"SG2 have a go to retrieve his...body in two hours." Daniel told her, his voice cracking with emotion.
"Have you told General Hammond....what happened?"
"We had a debriefing while you were on the table. The General decided there was no danger in returning for his body." Daniel pushed his glasses up his nose, resettling them. "I requested to go through with SG2, but the General denied my request."
"Mine, also." Teal'c admitted. Janet came over then, moving Teal'c and Daniel out of the way to check on her patient.
"How do you feel, Sam?" She asked, flashing her pen light into Sam's eyes.
"Tired. Weak. What was wrong with me?"
"You had extensive internal bruising from the explosion, as well as a slight concussion. We sealed a tear in your abdomen, and several others close to your lungs. You will feel weak for some time yet, as your blood levels bottomed out. I suggest red wine and steak for the next week, along with bed rest and quiet." She looked at Sam again, this time as her friend. "Are you okay?" Sam shut her eyes quickly.
"I'll be okay. I just need to get back to work."
"Sam, the General gave SG1 a month's stand-down time. Said we needed the time to ...mourn." Daniel told her.
"Mourn whom?" Sam asked. She felt them tense, felt their concern.
"Sam....don't you remember? Jack died on Murios." Daniel told her.
"No, he didn't." Sam said flatly. Daniel looked at her with sympathy.
"Sam, we saw him die. We saw that rock slide cover him completely. We heard him scream. He's dead." His voice was harsh with pain.
"Daniel, we've seen you die, too. Remember? We thought you'd been burnt to death. We heard you scream, saw you burn up. But you hadn't died."
"Sam, I'm sorry. But this is different. It was an accident of our own doing. That hill side collapsed on top of us from the noise disruption we were creating."
"I don't think that was what it was, Daniel." Sam struggled to sit up in her bed. Teal'c and Janet stayed close, listening. "We'd only just started up the digger when the hillside came down. The disruption created by such a short time would not create such a large reaction. Daniel, the whole side came down. And there was no debris. I was hit by the digger rolling over under the earthquake. But the hill itself somehow managed to collapse on itself and not roll away. I think this could be some technology we've not heard of before, or a different life-form."
"A rock based life form?" Daniel asked, a little incredulous.
"Why not? We've met plant base life form, water based life form. Why not earth based? What's not to say that this...thing decided to take Jack for examination, or even to talk to him? I'm not crazy, Daniel. Janet. I honestly think that Jack is alive, and being held.....by whatever created that rock fall." Janet and Daniel looked at each other, weighing up her words.
"It could be true." Daniel admitted.
"I concur." Teal'c said. "There is much out there that we do not have knowledge of."
"So what do you want to do?" Dr Frasier asked, the voice of reason.
"Go back to Murios and find him." Sam said flatly.
"With or without the General's permission." Daniel said. He didn't know whether to believe Sam or not, but he wanted to find out the truth.
"I will join you, Daniel Jackson, Major Carter." Teal'c offered. Sam smiled at him, then slowly swiveled off the bed.
"Sam." Janet objected.
"I'm okay, Janet. Just get me the healing device. I don't have time for anything else."
"Ahh, Sam." Daniel said softly.
"I will succeed for you, Major Carter." Teal'c reassured them both. During the past few months, Sam had been trying to get Teal'c to use the healing device, surmising that the presence of the infant goa'uld would allow Teal'c access to goa'uld technology. Thus far, the experiment had interesting effects. Dr Frasier returned with the healing device, handing it silently to Teal'c. He placed it on his hand, placing the loop over his first two fingers. He placed a hand on Sam's shoulder, holding his other hand up, in front of her torso. He frowned in concentration, staring intently at the device. Within seconds it started glowing softly. There was a soft chiming noise as the device started working. He moved the device over her body, going from her chest to her abdomen. It was here that the device glowed it's brightest. Finally, the glow died and Teal'c stepped back, a pleased look on his face.
"Well, at least that worked." Daniel said with relief.
"Indeed. We can now return to Murios and find O'Neil." Teal'c handed the device back to Janet, and stood waiting expectantly.
"Ahh, Teal'c. We need to get General Hammond's permission first." Daniel reminded him.
"We will get it, Daniel Jackson."
"Well, then. Let's go and talk to him." Sam got off the bed.
"Sam. You might want to change into your uniform first." Janet suggested. Sam looked down, then flushed slightly. The hospital gown reached mid-thigh, and she felt it hanging open at the back.
"You expect me to believe, after telling me that Colonel O'Neil is dead, that he is not?" General Hammond asked incredulously.
"Well.....Yes, General." Daniel confirmed. "Look, I know it sounds crazy, I know it sounds like we can't make up our minds. But I think Sam is correct. I don't think Jack is dead. It's like when I got imprisoned back on P4D968."
"General. We can't be certain that if we go in with mining equipment, we won't be attacked the same way. We need to be careful about this. And if we do go in with guns blazing, we could very well kill a life form that we have no knowledge of, no concept of. All you have to do is let us go through, let us try to talk to this life-form." Sam pleaded. The General hesitated, then sighed deeply.
"I don't know if this is a desire of yours for the Colonel to be alive, or if you are functioning rationally. However, Captain Frasier insists that you are all of sound mind and body, so I will give you a go. However!" He held up his hand to stop their thanks. "You will report back to me in 6 hours, or I will send in SG2 with mining equipment to retrieve Colonel O'Neil. Do you understand?"
"Yes sir." Sam said for all of them.
"Good. You will depart for Murios at 0900 hours. Dismissed."
The three of them stood below the ramp in the Gate Room, listening to Lieutenant Simmons as the gate dialed to Murios. The bright flash, rush of noise and unstable event horizon rushed out to meet them, retracting as quickly, leaving a shining pool inside the Stargate, rippling with power. The three of them headed up the ramp in unison, walking through the horizon without a look back. The gate shutdown moments later. General Hammond relaxed slightly. There was nothing he could do for another 6 hours, until he heard from SG1 again. Hopefully, they had their CO with them.
Whoever said that pain was a state of mind was lying. Colonel O'Neil winced as he breathed in, his chest screaming with the movement of bones and muscle. He'd figured out by touch that he was in a rock cave of some sort. The lack of light made it difficult to tell much more than that. His inability to move more than a few minutes at a time before passing out didn't help, either. He'd no idea how long he'd been here for. When the mountain collapsed on him, he'd been knocked out. He had no way of telling how long for. The only thing he could tell was that he was in a cave that was just big enough to hold him, and there was no exit. He thought of the rest of SG1 and felt a chill go through him. He'd be much happier if he knew what had happened to Daniel, Teal'c and Sam. He could still see their faces, their horrified looks before the blackness overwhelmed him. He could still hear Sam screaming his name, with Daniel as an echo. He opened his eyes, but that made no difference. The blackness remained. He was half afraid that he was blind. The only thing that told him he wasn't was the luminous hands on his watch. He could still see them, so he wasn't blind. Just in a lot of pain, and unable to go anywhere. Not a good situation.
"I really don't appreciate this." He muttered to himself. "Where the hell are they?" He'd tried, when he'd first woken up, to use his radio to contact his team, but no-one answered. He didn't want to know if it was because the radio waves couldn't pass through this rock, or because the others were dead. He liked to think it was the former, rather than dwell on the possibility of the latter. His alarm on his watch went off suddenly, making him jump. He tensed up, waiting for the pain he knew was to come. The rock moved, crushed down on him, making it impossible to breathe. He felt the rock crushing down on his chest, his legs, felt blood trickle down where a sharp edge caught him. He moaned, as much as he could, needing the relief of vocalising his pain. At first he'd tried not to moan, not to scream. He'd relied on his black-ops training to get him through it, but black-ops had never taught him to withstand crushing, movable rock. It eased off for seconds at a time. Time which allowed him to gulp in air and brace himself for the next wave of rock. Three times. Every hour, for five minutes the rock would crush him. Then it would leave him alone until the next hour. The rock pulled back, leaving him to gasp in pain.
"Just try it, Sam." Daniel told her, standing with her in front of the collapsed hill face. "Nothing else makes sense, so why would this?" Sam looked at the rock for a long time, then clicked on her radio, taking a deep breath.
"Colonel? Do you copy? Can you hear us, Sir?" She paused, taking her finger off the button, but there was no response. "Jack, can you hear me?" The radio was silent for a long time, then it crackled into life.
"Sam?" They all heard the whisper. It was full of pain and hope.
"Jack!" Sam and Daniel cried out, stunned. "You're alive!" Sam continued.
"Well of course I'm bloody alive! Where the hell have you lot been?"
"We went back to SGC, sir." Sam said slowly, apologetically. "We thought you were dead, Jack."
"That would be wrong, Carter. Where are you now?"
"We're just outside the rock-fall, sir. Do you know where you are?"
"Major, it's pitch black, and there is just enough space for me to turn from one side to the other, and there's no exit. How would I know where I am?"
"Jack, are you hurt?" Daniel asked over his own radio, hearing a note in his friends' voice.
"I'm hurt, but not bad. I just can't move. And the rock keeps moving, every hour. It's like it's trying to crush me."
"A slide, sir?" Sam looked at the face of the mountain. It looked stable.
"No. Not a slide, this is too regular. I think someone is controlling the rock, making it do this." They all heard him take a deep, uneven breath. "Is Teal'c with you?"
"I am here, O'Neil." Teal'c confirmed.
"Good. Take your staff weapon and blow the stuffing out of this mountain side." Teal'c raised his weapon to obey.
"Sir! That won't work." Sam cried out, to Teal'c and Jack at the same time.
"Why not? Just blast me out."
"Sir, I think that this rock is actually a life form." Sam told her CO.
"Oh, for crying out loud, Carter!" That made her smile even as she argued. This was definitely Jack.
"Sir, think about it. The rockslide happened immediately after we started up the digger, and half a mountainside collapsed on top of you, but you're still alive. This rock fall stopped not a metre from where you were standing, and missed the rest of us."
"It also seems to be able to use time as a frame of reference. You told us that it crushes you every hour." Daniel added.
"That's just the mountain settling." Jack said, his breath short.
"I don't think so, Sir. I think it's this...life-form. I think it's trying to communicate in the only way it knows how."
"Carter, I am slowly being crushed to death by this mountain side, and I'm running out of patience. I want out." Sam opened her mouth to argue, but shut it quickly as the mountain rumbled.
"Carter? What was that?" Jack asked from inside his cave.
"I don't know, sir." Sam admitted.
"What do you mean, you don't know?"
"Jack, the mountain seemed to growl." Daniel leaned closer to Sam, staring at the rockslide. It seemed to be moving.
"Major Carter, do you see that?" Teal'c asked, stepping back slightly.
"I think I do, Teal'c." She stared at the undulating rock. It resembled a brown ocean, rolling waves rippling down the side of the mountain. They stepped back in unison when the waves reached the ground, fanning out around them.
"Carter? Daniel? You three still with me?" Jack asked, tension making his voice harsh and low.
"Ahh, yes sir." She took her eyes away from the rock to glance down at the radio. "We're still here. The rock .....it just moved, like it was water...Or something."
"Very nice, Sam. Do you think you could get me out of here any time soon? I....." There was a sudden silence.
"What is wrong with Colonel O'Neil?" Teal'c asked, a frown marring his fore-head.
"I think he's hurt worse than he's letting on." Sam said, knowing that would be something Jack would do. She looked at the rock. "We have to figure a way to communicate with this thing, get it to release Jack."
"I agree, but how do you talk to rock?" Daniel asked.
"You are the linguist, Daniel Jackson. That is your occupation." Daniel looked at Teal'c in surprise.
"You sounded like Jack just then. Kind of."
"That was my aim, Daniel Jackson. He would have said the same thing." Daniel stood back, trying to figure out a way to communicate with this life-force. He was contemplating static noise when the rock rolled forward without warning, causing Sam to jump back in alarm, and Teal'c to step forward, his staff open and ready to fire.
"Hang on, Teal'c." Daniel said, holding up his hand. Teal'c stood still, an eyebrow raised in contemplation of the order. "Let me try something." He thought about talking with the rock again, talking to it in sign or perhaps in notes. The rock moved forward again, pulsing as it did so.
"It's responding to my thoughts. Every time I think of communicating, it flows forwards." Daniel told the others.
"What do you mean?"
"Watch." He stepped forward, crouching down to get close to the front of the rock. "I would like to communicate with you. We would like our friend back. Jack O'Neil. Do you understand us? We would like to see our friend again." He put all his emotions behind his speech, hoping his bet would come off. The rocks shot straight up, forming a cliff two Teal'c's high. Then retreated on itself. It retreated rapidly, flowing back up the hill in a rewind on it's previous collapse. Within seconds, it had opened up several yards of bare ground. Then the rock bulged slightly, and out came Jack, resting on a bed of rock. The rock flowed slowly to the ground, then thinned out and withdrew, leaving Jack lying on the rough sand.
"Jack!" Sam cried, seeing her CO. She ran forward, and just beat Teal'c and Daniel to him. She took his head in her hands, looking intently for signs of life. He opened his eyes, squinting against the bright sun.
"Hey, Sam." He smiled up at her. "Good to see you." He gave a good impression of a facial shrug. "Good to see, full stop. Thought I was going blind there for a second." He gasped as Sam moved him too quickly.
"Sir?" Sam asked, freezing in mid-movement.
"That....hurts. Can you let off a little?" She eased him back to the ground, then looked at the rest of his body. It was covered in bruises, dirt and blood. It looked as though his left tibia had been broken in several places, and his hands and arms looked as though they'd been through several mincers. Sam gasped in sympathy.
"What the hell did this?" Sam demanded, incensed.
"The rock. It kept crushing me, like I said." He spoke slowly, gasping for breath.
"Why would it do that? Why not just kill you, or leave you alone?" Daniel looked at the hill of rock, puzzled.
"I do not know, but should we not get O'Neil back through the Stargate?" Teal'c stood on guard, staring off towards the fields behind the hill.
"But we don't know ....okay, maybe we should get Jack back to the SGC." Daniel stared down as Jack looked up at the two of them, breathing shallowly.
"Sam." He whispered. Sam leaned closer. "Want you to know...never thought you'd leave me behind. Knew....you'd come back."
"You've done the same, sir." Sam told him, unsure what he was getting at. He looked at her for a long time, not noticing Daniel stand up and head to the Stargate.
"I know." He drew in as deep a breath as possible, his lungs crying out at the movement. "Wanted to talk to you about that. We never did resolve it, did we Sam?"
"Sir, regulations-." Sam started to repeat the same excuse they'd used for the last year.
"Screw regs, Carter." He said harshly. "In case you hadn't noticed, I came pretty damned close to dying. Trust me, the time I spent in that...cave made me do a lot of thinking."
"Sir, you don't want to-." Sam tried again.
"Yes, I do. My job has already interfered with one relationship. I don't want it to be the reason a second time." He was out of breath, but his face looked determined. Sam looked at him for a long time, gauging his resolve.
"Jack." She said softly, wiping a drop of blood from his forehead. "As much as I want to talk about this, right now we need to get you to Janet." She placed a hand over his mouth, canceling his objections. "I insist, Jack. When you get better, we'll talk about this, figure out what we can do." Now it was his turn to stare at her. He slowly nodded, accepting her decision.
"Sam." He whispered, before she could go away. "I.....l-."
"I know, sir. Jack. It's reciprocated." He smiled, as she knew he would.
"You and your big words, Carter." She grinned down at him, pleased.
"Sam!" Daniel yelled, emerging from the Stargate with a medic in tow. Sam stood up and waved, and they trotted up to her, holding a stretcher between them.
"I will re-activate the Stargate." Teal'c announced, putting his staff-weapon away. The three of them slowly rolled Jack onto the stretcher, trying to ignore his wincing and whimpering. They knew the sooner they got him back to SGC, the better. Daniel looked at the hill of rock, emoting his thanks. The hill pulsed back at him.
There was a whoosh as the gate closed behind them. Janet was there, already examining Jack, flashing her favourite pen-light in his eyes. General Hammond was hovering over her shoulder, watching her like a hawk. They'd laid him on a hospital bed, and the medics were trying to wheel him to the infirmary. The crowd in the embarkation room prevented them from getting anywhere. Sam clumped down the ramp, Daniel with her. Teal'c was standing stoically beside the stretcher, ready to assist when the crowd cleared.
"Okay, that's enough, everyone. Out." Janet ordered, putting on her Doctor's voice. She was obeyed instantly. It was fascinating how even those who would like to stay obeyed the doctor. Soon, there was SG1, General Hammond and the medics. "Corporal, take the Colonel to the Infirmary."
"Yes, ma'am." They all watched as Janet guided the bed through the doors, the corporal pushing. Teal'c followed, with Sam, Daniel and General Hammond on his heels.
"Major, please tell me what occurred." The General requested.
"Yes sir." Sam started explaining what had happened while they were on the planet. Daniel blocked out the story, his mind elsewhere. He didn't know which to think about first, this rock life-form, or the fact that Jack and Sam had looked very cozy when he'd came back through the Stargate. Sam had been sitting beside Jack, a hand on his cheek, bending close. And they'd both laughed. Not the usual that's a really bad joke laugh, but an intimate one. He remembered sharing a similar laugh with Sha're. He wondered, trying not to hope, what had happened while he was back on earth. He'd have to talk to Teal'c when he got a chance. They turned into the infirmary just as Sam finished her explanation.
"So, you see sir, it looks like we were right, and the rock is a sentient being."
"What do you suggest we do about it, Major?" Hammond watched as Jack was injected with some clear fluid. Probably morphine for the pain. His 2iC did not look well. There was marks covering his body, and his face was pale and wet with sweat.
"Right now, get Jack, I mean, the Colonel well again. Then I suggest we go back, see if we can communicate with this rock."
"Is that a good idea, Major? This rock managed to do this to the Colonel very quickly. I'm not sure I want to send any of my teams back when they could be subject to the same treatment."
"I don't think so, General." Daniel interrupted. "I don't think this rock knew what it was doing. When I....talked to it, as soon as I asked for Jack back, it gave him back, gently. I don't think it meant to hurt Jack." Hammond looked at him for a long time.
"I will take that under advisement, Dr Jackson."
"Well." Janet sighed, standing back after her initial assessment. "He's got several broken ribs, contusions over 80 percent of his body. Bruising to the lower half, and several dislocated joints in both his arms and legs." She stripped off her protective gloves. "There doesn't seem to be any internal hemorrhaging, but I want to do some x-rays and other tests, just to make sure. I've given him some morphine, which should kick in soon. If I didn't know better, it looks as though he's been tortured for weeks on end." She stared down at Jack, who was listening intently. "Right now he needs rest, and time to get over those broken bones and snapped tendons."
"How long, Doctor?"
"At a guess, General, I would say at least four weeks, perhaps six, before I would recommend duty again. I will be able to give you a better estimate after some more testing." At that not so subtle hint the others left the room.
Sam was sitting, watching her hands as they blurred in front of her eyes. She was leant over, her arms braced by her legs, hands clasped lightly in between. She had been staring at them for so long they seemed to blur and shimmer before her eyes. She had rejected the idea that the blurring was occurring because of water in her eyes. Daniel was on her left and Teal'c was standing to her right, beside the door to the infirmary. The General had gone back to his office to file a report, leaving SG1 waiting for word of their CO. The door swung open, causing an instant reaction in Daniel and Sam, who shot up and stood next to Teal'c, their breath halted in their throats. Dr Frasier came out.
"He's okay. My initial exam proved to be correct. There is no internal bleeding, and aside from the ribs and tendons, he should recover easily. He's asking for you, Sam." Janet said, looking at her friend. Sam glanced at Daniel and Teal'c, then took a deep breath and entered the room. She shut the door behind her.
"So, Teal'c." Daniel pounced, finally able to talk to Teal'c without Sam hearing. "What happened while I was away on Murios?"
"I do not understand, Daniel Jackson."
"With Sam and the Colonel!" Janet explained, sensing a shift in their relationship.
"Are you referring to Major Carter and O'Neil defying your military laws and admitting their feelings for one another?"
"Yes!" Daniel and Janet both cried out.
"Are you also referring to the fact that both Major Carter and O'Neil seem to have put aside their reluctance to commit to each other, and are in fact right this moment declaring themselves?"
"Yes!" They chorused again.
"Then I do not know what you are talking about." Teal'c turned away from them both. Daniel growled low in his throat, but caught a twinkle in his team-mate's eyes, and started laughing.
"Fine, don't tell us anything."
"I did not. I never mentioned the fact that O'Neil told Major Carter to screw regs. And I never mentioned O'Neil's insistence that his present occupation not interfere with another relationship."
"I don't remember you saying anything of the sort, Teal'c." Janet confirmed, trying hard to control her grin of delight. Daniel didn't even bother. He looked goofy with that big grin on his face.
"That is good." Then Teal'c ruined his own fine performance by releasing his own grin, one big enough to rival Daniel's.
"Jack?" Sam called, coming forward. Jack turned his head towards her, eyes open and seeking hers.
"Hey, Sam." He replied, a small smile coming to his face. Sam smiled back, trying to hide her pain at seeing him so tired and helpless.
"You feeling okay, Jack?" Sam absently took his hand in hers.
"Oh, I'm fine, Sammy. Just fine. Can't feel anything anymore. But I do feel hungry. Any possibility of you smuggling a pizza in for Uncle Jack?" Sammy? Uncle Jack?
"Jack, how much medication did Dr Frasier give you?"
"The Doc? Heaps. I love the Doc, you know? She's so nice and she makes all the pain go away. And she always smiles at my jokes." Jack frowned. "No, that's not the Doc....that's you!" He smiled at her. "Hey, Sam!" Sam smiled back, disarmed. He was so innocent when he was high on morphine.
"Hey, Jack." She reached over at took a look at his chart. She let go of his hand to get a better look at his statistics. She heard him start rambling, but ignored most of it, thinking it was drug induced.
"So there I was, looking at this pretty woman across the table from me, and she was offering to arm wrestle me. Then the next thing I know, she's smiling at me. That damned smile always got to me, right from the start. And then she wouldn't leave me, and it was so cold. And I was hurting so bad. But she left me, then she came back, and she smiled at me, told me stuff. After that, I figure she's got to be dead, cause otherwise she'd be yelling at me, or trying to figure a way for us to get out of this black cave. God, it's black in here! I don't like blackness." Sam finally looked up, noticing that he was getting agitated. "It's going to start soon!" He tossed his head around, straining against Sam's hands. "It's coming to finish the job, crush me to death!"
"Jack!" Sam cried, trying to get his attention.
"Get out, Sam! I don't want you crushed too. Oh God, I don't want to die! I haven't told you I love you yet. I don't want to die!"
"Jack!" Sam yelled again. She heard the door open and the next thing she knew, Teal'c was beside the bed, holding Jack down with his immense strength. That freed up Sam, who went up close to Jack's face, bending down to whisper in his ear.
"Jack, you're okay. You're in the SGC. I'm here, Daniel's here. We're all here, and we're all okay. You've told me what you needed to. The rock isn't going to crush you. It's not here. The rock isn't here." He slowly quietened down, listening to Sam talk into his ear.
"Why's it so black then?" Jack started fretting again.
"Because you're eyes are shut." Daniel told him, from the foot of the bed. Jack paused for a second, then opened his eyes.
"Oh. Look at that." He smiled. "I can see when I open my eyes."
"Fancy that." Daniel muttered.
"Okay, I'm going to give him something to help him sleep. He's not doing anyone any good like this." Janet announced, coming over with a syringe full of liquid.
"Hey Doc!" Jack grinned, seeing a friend.
"Hey, Colonel. Hold still now." Within seconds, the drug took effect and Jack slowly drifted off to sleep.
"You staying with him?" Daniel placed a hand on Sam's shoulder. She took a deep breath.
"Yeah." She sat down in the chair beside the bed. Daniel looked at her for a long time.
"Let us know when you need a break. We're just down the hall." Sam didn't reply. Daniel hesitated, then left, Teal'c with him.
She was curled up on the chair, her head resting on her hand, asleep. Jack watched for a long time, content to watch her sleep. He'd done this many times when they were on other planets. Woken up before the others', and lay watching Sam as she dreamed her astro-physicistic dreams. Dreams, he was sure, he could never understand. She snorted softly, curling up her nose at something. Probably some calculation for Wormhole physics that she can't compute. Either that, or in remembrance of his declaration when he was high on morphine. Damn the Doc. She knew how he behaved on that damned drug. It was like a truth serum to him. She snuffled again, and reached up to scratch her nose, the movement waking her. She raised her head, shaking her hair of her eyes, a little disorientated. Then she turned to see him watching her.
"Sir!" She exclaimed, sitting forward and grabbing his hand. Then she smiled wryly. "You'd think, after all this time, and with all that's happened between us, I wouldn't call you sir all the time."
"Habit's aren't all that easy to break, Sam." Jack reminded her. "You need some rest, Sam. You've been here all week. I don't want you stretching yourself too thin."
"I'm fine." She dismissed his worries. When he was better again, when he could get out of that bed without groaning in pain, then she would take a rest. "How are you, Jack? You in any pain?" She stood up as if to fetch the Doc.
"No. Sam, sit down. I want to apologise to you."
"For what, Jack?" She obeyed him, sitting down on the edge of her chair.
"For what I said last week, when I was high on morphine. Just forget it." He looked at her, and saw her eyes turn a cool, cold blue-green. And her jaw set firmly.
"You want me to forget, Colonel?" She asked, and her voice vibrated down his spine.
"I didn't realise what I was saying. I didn't mean..."
"You didn't mean it?" She sounded hurt. Jack struggled to explain.
"No, it wasn't that. I just didn't want to....tell you....like that." He frowned. He never was any good at communicating with the opposite sex.
"Jack." Sam sat forward even further, holding his hand with both of hers. "Jack, you were under immense stress. You believed that you were back in that cave, about to get crushed to death. You thought I was with you. The stress on your state of mind during the past 72 hours would have been extreme. I think I can handle..." She drifted off as he looked at her, his masks down. This was Jack O'Neil. Not Colonel O'Neil. Not Sir. But Jack. She'd only seen this man a few times in the years she'd known him. It was this man that she'd fallen in love with. She was good friends with the other two. Sir was one of her closest work-mates. But Jack had managed, in those few times he'd emerged, to get inside her shell. Seeing Jack emerge now gave her a sense of dread. He only emerged in the most dire of situations. Normally involving imminent death.
"Sam, can you do me a favour?" Jack asked, propping himself higher on the bed. Sam nodded mutely.
"I want you to listen to what I have to say, without interruptions. This is hard for me, so I don't want you rationalising anything. Okay?" Again, Sam nodded.
"When Charlie died, I was a mess. The times I sat there, in his room, with a gun to my temple were so many I lost count. Then, when I got back from Abydos the first time, Sarah had left me. Trust me, my all time low just went lower. I'd lost my boy, he'd shot himself with my gun. I'd falsified a military report, which put my career in danger, so I'd retired. And then I got home to find my wife had left me. I had quite literally nothing left. How I made it through that next year, I'll never know. I took it, to quote a popular AA phrase, one day at a time. Next thing I know, the SGC is formed and I'm running all over the galaxy with two scientists and a Jaffa at my back." He shifted slightly. "I suddenly had a purpose again. If not to boldly go where no man has gone before then to keep you amused and Daniel from killing himself." They both smiled. "So there I am, planet hopping with a guy intent on finding his wife and a woman who constantly shows me up, but at the same time is the only one who laughs at my jokes. How many times did we escape certain death? And the majority of those times were thanks to your lovely grey cells upstairs. Three years went by, and SG-1 got closer. We're a family now, all four of us. That was fine, it was good. I had more than enough reasons' to want to live again. I was enjoying life. Even the bad bits where Daniel died, again. Or we got caught in Hell. Again. Then came that time where I thought I was about to loose one of my family. She was stuck behind a force-field, with Jaffa on their way. It suddenly struck me that she was more than just family. And I couldn't do anything to help her, to save her. It was then that I realised that I was enjoying life because she was in it." He shook his head. "She was it. There was this silent pact between us never to say anything, and I agreed with it. Thought it was best for both of us. I was too old, had too much pain in my past. Besides, it would ruin her career. I didn't give two god-damns about my own, but her's was important to her, and I knew that. But then about six months later, I got caught by this rock thing. It was not....a good experience. Let's just say that I don't want to go through that again. Ever. So there I was, lying there, waiting for the next crush session, thinking that my family was dead, my life was dead. Hoping and praying that I was wrong. I vowed to myself during those hours of black and pain that if I saw her again, I would tell her, and screw the military. So I kind of did. Then I did, but it wasn't quite how I thought it would go. So I'm going to say it again, and see what happens this time." He looked at her, his eyes sad and hopeful. "I love you, Major Doctor Samantha Carter." She smiled through her tears. The door to the room opened, and Daniel popped his head around, mouth open to say something. He froze when he saw the two of them, and hesitated, half in half out of the door.
"I love you, too. Colonel Jonathon O'Neil." She leant forward and brushed her lips to his.
"Don't call me that." He growled, pleased beyond words.
"Jonathon. My name is Jack." She grinned.
"Not according to your medical records. By the way, that was a very long speech."
"I know. I'm tired from it. I think I may just curl up and go to sleep. Shut the door on the way out, will you?" He sounded serious for all of five seconds, then grinned up at her. She grinned back at him, then leant down to kiss him. Daniel quickly and quietly back out again, grinning as he closed the door.
The room erupted in raucous cheers. Daniel was jumping up and down, punching the air. Teal'c was grinning. Janet was cheering, holding on to Daniels' hand to keep him remotely earth-bound. Even the General had a smile on his face.
"You owe me fifty, Janet." Daniel informed the Doctor. Janet grumbled, but pulled out a note and handed it to Daniel.
"I do not understand." Teal'c announced, looking from one doctor to the other.
"We made a bet. I bet that Jack would say it first. Janet said Sam would. I won." Daniel grinned. He looked at General Hammond, suddenly sober.
"General, what are you going to do about this?" The General looked at him blankly.
"About what, Dr Jackson?"
"Sam and Jack." Daniel frowned. Surely Hammond remembered regulations forbidding fraternization?
"What of it? I see no problem."
"But, what about regulations, General?" Janet asked.
"They don't apply to Jack. He's not military." Now they were all very confused.
"Ahh, General Hammond." Daniel pushed his glasses up his nose. "Jack's a Colonel in the USAF. Remember?"
"Colonel Jack O'Neil was announced KIA two days ago. I am not about to rescind that announcement, it would cause confusion and far too many questions that the government cannot answer at this time."
"So, what are we going to do with Jack? SG-1 will want him back when he's well." Janet looked at Daniel and Teal'c, who both nodded to confirm her theory.
"On returning to Murios, the remaining members of SG-1failed to find any trace of Colonel Jack O'Neil. They did, however, recover a refugee by the name of Jak Oneil. On speaking with said refugee and discovering his talents, I, as commander of the SGC, assigned him as joint CO of SG-1, along with Major Carter."
"Jack O'Neil? I don't understand." Daniel was frowning.
"Not Jack O'Neil. Jak Oneil." They heard the difference the second time round. The Jak was a harsher, more clipped name, and his surname was said much faster.
"So he still works for the SGC, but not for the military? That means he and Sam...!" Janet beamed.
"Indeed, Doctor. However, I do not look forward to dealing with Jak when I have no military clout to fall back on." Daniel smiled at the General.
"Get Sam to deal with him when you have trouble." There was now an evil glint in Daniel's eye.
"I agree. Major Carter will have avenue's of control that no-one else has."
"This is all very well, but how is Jack going to react to the news that he is, to all intents and purposes, dead here on earth? Somehow, I don't think he's going to like that very much." Janet looked from Daniel to Teal'c and back again. "You two know him best. How do you think he's going to handle this?"
"I am unsure, Dr Frasier."
"Actually, neither am I. I mean....He can't visit Sarah anymore....but then again, he hasn't visited Sarah in a while.....but he can't just....I don't know." Daniel sighed.
"Well I suggest we find out." Hammond took a deep breath, emphasizing his chest and stomach. "Dr Jackson, you may inform them both of this new situation."
"Gee, thanks, General." Daniel muttered sarcastically, walking out of the General's office.
"I will accompany Daniel Jackson."
There was something banging inside his head. He really wished it would go away. He was concentrating. Sam started talking, not that he could understand her. She finally pulled away.
"Dammit, Sam!" He grumbled.
"Sorry, sir. But they've been knocking for the last five minutes." She got off the bed, re-arranging her clothes as quickly as possible. Jack shut his eyes, and thought hard about fluffy pink bunny slippers. Anything to distract his thoughts. The slippers didn't work, because suddenly Sam was wearing them, and nothing else. Just those pink, fluffy bunny slippers. He quickly directed his thoughts elsewhere. Maybe saurkraut? Or perhaps brussel sprouts. That seemed to work well. He concentrated hard on brussel sprouts. Their taste, smell, texture. Yep, it was working. He opened his eyes, and discovered that it had only taken seconds. Sam was at the door, opening it.
"Daniel." Even Jack could hear the surprise in her voice. As if she was saying, you could have waited. Given us some time.
"Sorry, Sam. Jack." Daniel pushed his way through the door, Teal'c following.
"Whatsup?" Jack sat higher on the bed. It seemed that they'd slipped down to lie flat somewhere during their 'talk'. Not that he'd minded.
"Well, we have some news. For both of you." Daniel smiled his boyish smile, briefly. Teal'c....well, he just stood there.
"And?" Sam was impatient.
"Well....Jack, you're dead." Daniel rushed.
"What do you mean, I'm dead?" Jack was frowning. Not a good sign.
"Well, we were talking to the General.....About you and Sam."
"What about me and Sam?"
"What about me and Jack?" They chorused, both of them feigning innocence and confusion. Daniel rolled his eyes.
"Oh, please guys! You can't really believe that Teal'c and I aren't......privy to some aspects of you.......Ah, I mean, we know......."
"What Daniel Jackson is trying to say is that-."
"We know you two love each other."
"Now, hang on." Jack objected. Daniel held up his hand.
"Just ...wait? Let me finish. As I was saying, we were talking about ...things. And General Hammond told us that you were listed officially, as being KIA. The General, Joint Chiefs and the President decided that too many questions would be asked if you were to miraculously return from the dead. Questions that they wouldn't be able to answer. So, instead, they left Jack O'Neil dead."
"So who the hell am I, then?" Jack was sounding pissed.
"You're officially a refugee. Your name is Jak Oneil. We found you on a recent mission, and brought you home. General Hammond, with the presidents' permission, decided to recruit you into the SGC, as he has done before, Teal'c for example. He decided that you and Sam would be ideal as co-commanders of the new SG-1. So you are now employed by the USAF, but are no longer part of the military." Jack flashed Sam a quick look before frowning, pressing his fingers into his eyes.
"I'm not sure I understand what you're saying. I'm dead? To everyone on earth?"
"I think I understand it, Jack." Jack smiled briefly. Leave it to Carter to figure it out. "What Daniel is saying is that for Jack O'Neil to reappear after being announced Missing, presumed Killed in Action would cause far too many questions. By Sarah, your family, friends. Reporters. To leave you dead negates the need to explain your escape, to explain where you were, why you went missing. We can't exactly say that a living rock decided to take you for a specimen."
"I....ah...Think it was also based partly on the General's knowledge of your situation. And....ah...his way of clearing a path, so to speak."
"He knew?" Sam asked, appalled. Daniel smiled.
"Sam, the whole base knows. You guys aren't exactly subtle, you know."
"Now hang on! We've done nothing against regulations, Danny!" Jack yelled.
"We did not imply that you had." Teal'c told his friend. "Daniel Jackson merely refers to the fact that you are both very....demonstrative with each other."
"And you two flirt. A lot." Daniel added.
"Do not." Jack sulked.
"Been here, done this soo many times before. Let's just say that we figured it out. Anyway...This was the way to clear it, so that you two could be.....regulation free."
"Aren't people going to be a little suspicious about a guy with exactly the same name, who looks the same, talks the same, is the same?"
"But they won't. The only people who will know are those on base, and they're not going to tell anyone." Jack shut his eyes.
"This is way to deep for me right now." They could all hear his exhaustion. "Sam, can you figure this out, and give me the Readers Digest version later?"
"Sure, Jack." She brushed her hand over his forehead. "You get some rest. I'll talk to the General." Jack made some sort of grumpy sound, then was asleep. Sam watched him for a moment, then stood up.
"So, essentially, Jack, the changes will be minimal to you, but major to anyone outside SGC who knew you."
"Sara, Jeremy, Sally." Jack said their names slowly, sadly.
"That's it? What about your family? Parents, brothers, sisters?" Daniel was sitting down on the other side of his bed. Sam was perched on his bed, holding his hand.
"My Mother died about twelve years ago. I was over in the Gulf Territories. Didn't even manage to get back for her funeral. I had no siblings. Dad took off when I was twelve. Haven't seen him since. Don't particularly want to." He shrugged. "Since the first Abydos mission, I basically cut myself off from everybody. I think the only one's who'll be effected by this announcement will be Sara and Anthony, Sara's Dad. Plus the hoardes of adoring fans that follow my every movement." Sam smiled at that.
"So, if it's only a few that will ask questions, why are they doing this? Why not just bend the rules for the two of you?" Janet, standing at the end of the bed, started clicking her pen in agitation.
"I did some research over the last few hours." Sam started. Jack nodded.
"Figured you would. You could never be happy without checking into it yourself." He grinned. That was one of the things that he loved about her. Her independence and intelligence. She poked her tongue out at him, then continued.
"Any way. I did some research on the net while you were asleep. I don't think the General is telling us everything about your 'death'."
"Like what?" Daniel sat forward.
"Like it was staged." Sam said, looking from Daniel to Jack and back again.
"What!?" Jack roared.
"No, Jack! Not your part, but their announcing your death so quickly, and refusing to rescind that announcement. I think that was staged. I looked at some sites that deal in information, technological advancement. Spy sites, basically. And it appeared that you had become infamous, through NID promotion. There was one page that had a price on your head. It was a high one."
"Why would they put a price on my head?" Jack asked, stunned.
"Because you keep bringing in weapons that can be used in defense against our inferior weapons. I don't think the people out there are particularly enamoured of you."
"So, what? General Hammond didn't rescind the announcement to keep Jack alive?"
'That's how I see it." Sam confirmed. Daniel raised his brown in surprise.
"I do not understand. Why would they want to buy O'Neil." Teal'c had an eyebrow raised, this time in confusion.
"No, not to buy me. It's a way of saying there was a contract out. I was on a hit list." Jack looked at Teal'c blank face, then mutely appealed to Daniel to help him.
"He means, someone was willing to pay to have Jack killed." Teal'c bowed his head in understanding.
"So that's why you're now officially dead. And we have to start calling you Jak." Daniel pushed his glasses up the bridge of his nose,
"What's the difference?"
"It's slightly harsher. More clipped. If it was a real name, I would say it was derived from ancient German. Perhaps even a slight Mediterranean influence." Jack held up his hand.
"Ask a silly question." Sam quoted, grinning. Jack sulked.
"Colonel O'Neil. I would be honoured to be considered for one of your stands during the commitment ceremony." Teal'c announced out of the blue. The three Taur'ee turned to look at him, confused.
"Commitment ceremony?" Jack repeated. "What commitment ceremony?"
"Between yourself and Major Carter." Teal'c stood proudly.
"Whoa!" Jack and Sam chorused. "What are you talking about?"
"You and Major Carter have declared yourselves. You will now have a commitment ceremony."
"Since when?" He looked, panicking, at Sam. "Do you get the feeling we've jumped universes here, and missed the whole damned plot?" Sam was silent for a long time. Daniel shifted uncomfortably, then stood up, leaving the medic bay, dragging Teal'c and Janet along with him.
"You don't want to commit?" Sam asked, softly. Jack suddenly froze. He knew this question. Knew this deep, frigid water he was floating in. He knew that if he took a breath wrong, it would cover him and drown him.
"Sam. I didn't mean that. I just....haven't thought that far ahead." He struggled to explain.
"So, what? I'm good enough to fantasize about getting into your bed, but not enough to think about a life with?" Sam pulled her hand out of his, withdrawing into herself.
"Sam! It's not like that. It's just....I've been burned once before, and I'm....not sure if I'm ready for that..."
"So I'm like Sara now, am I? Someone who's just going to pull out at the slightest trouble? If I was like that, I wouldn't be a Major in the US Air Force, Colonel." Oh God, she was back to calling him Colonel. Not a good sign. Fix this, Jack! Quickly.
"You want commitment, Sam? Fine, I'll commit." Sam was shaking her head now. What, did she want blood, too?
"Not good enough, Colonel. I don't want you if I have to force you into this. I shouldn't have to force you into this." She stood, ready to leave. And that's when he saw the glint of tears in her eyes. He hated tears. They got to him every time. And his Major Doctor Samantha Carter crying? Well, you could wipe the floor with him every time.
"Oh, God. Sam." He reached out and grabbed her arm, pulling her closer. "I never manage to say the right things when I'm around you. I thought you knew that by now." He gripped her tight, tucking her head under his chin. She resisted for a brief minute, then relaxed, snuffling into his shoulder. He took a deep breath, thinking things through in his mind. "All I meant was that right now, we need to take things slowly. Learn about each other, away from the SGC. Discover what movies we like to watch. Where we like to go out to eat. Simple things like that." She was silent, still buried under his chin. "I want a life with you. That's what kept me going while I was buried alive. But I don't want to rush in and regret."
"Marry in haste, repent at leisure, Sir?" Sam offered. It was Sir now. Getting closer.
"Exactly. I don't want to repent. Ever. So, as much as I want to commit, right now, I don't think we should. But I do love you, and do want to be with you." He felt her smile into his shoulder.
"And you tell me you never say the right things, Jack." She whispered, then snuggled closer. She'd called him Jack. He smiled, then kissed her hair, blowing out a breath of relief. She'd called him Jack.
"Good news, Jack." Sam said as she saw him hobbling into her lab.
"And that is?" Jack asked, sitting down slowly on one of the chairs. It was only his third day out of the medic bay, and he was still a little tender. Shoes, as he'd discovered this morning, were a complete waste of time and energy. As were jeans. He'd finally settled on a very loose set of tracksuit bottoms and a singlet-top. Which, thanks to the bandages around his rib cage, fit snugly.
"Well, I've been visiting those spy sites that I mentioned before, and the contract has been cancelled. It looks like General Hammond's idea worked. They all think you're dead, out there."
"Well, that's something, now isn't it, Sam?" There was a trace of sarcasm in his voice.
"Jack?" Sam asked, turning to face him fully. He shook his head in anger.
"It's nothing. I'm just itchy. I've been cooped up in this mountain for the past two weeks now. I need some fresh air and daylight. I want to get out of here. I want to go off-world again. I want to heal faster. I want to forget what happened." He snorted. "I want a lot of things, don't I?"
"It's understandable, Jack. You've been through a very tough situation, and haven'' really had time to understand or comprehend what happened to you."
"I don't need an explanation, Carter. I need a reason. Besides, I've been through worse."
"Believe it or not, Jack but I do understand. And we are trying to give you reasons. That's why Daniel and SG6 are back on Murios, trying to communicate with that rock."
"That rock almost killed me, Major! It doesn't need to be spoken to. It needs to be destroyed, before it does the same to someone else." He was snarling now. There was definitely something wrong with him.
"Jack, what is it? What's wrong?" He looked at her for a long time, then sighed heartily.
"I think I just want to go home, curl up and forget the last three weeks ever happened." He glanced away, then looked back her. "Okay, so maybe not all of the last three weeks. Not all of it was bad." He grinned at her. She stared at him solemnly.
"Jack, you know we can't go back to your place. But we can at least get out of here. I can probably take you back to my apartment. At least change the grey walls for white."
"Oh, please! I'm going stir crazy in here." Sam smiled softly.
"I'll just let the General know."
He had his head out the window, doing a very good impression of a dog in a car. A big grin plastered on his face, his eyes shut, head back. Sam couldn't help but grin. Teal'c and Daniel, just returned from Murios, had offered to join them, and although Sam had been glad of their support, she told them that Jack would open up more if there was less of an ....audience. The other two had understood.
"But give us a call if you need us." Daniel had told her as he'd left for his own apartment and more research.
"I offer the same support, Major Carter."
"Teal'c. I know this will be weird for you, but I think you can call us Daniel and Sam by now. We've been together for a few years now. There's no need to be quite so formal."
"If that is what you wish....Daniel." Daniel had nodded, and walked away, Teal'c following after bowing to Sam.
She pulled up at a set of traffic lights, and Jack pulled his head in, still grinning.
"Feel better?" Sam asked, smiling at him.
"You have no idea, Sam. The cobwebs!" The light turned green, and she turned left. A few minutes later, she pulled up outside her apartment. Getting out, she walked up to the front door and unlocked it, before noticing a lack of Jack. She turned to find him standing just in front of the car, his eyes closed, a frown marring his brow.
"Jack?" She asked, trotting down the few steps to him. She touched his arm, and he jumped back, stunned.
"Sam! You scared the crap out of me." She stared at him for a moment, then gently pulled him towards her front door.
"C'mon, Jack. Let's get inside." She led him inside, dropping her keys and sunglasses on a near-by table.
"You want a drink?" She headed for the kitchen. Jack nodded, looking around her apartment.
"You've changed it."
"What? Oh, yes. I got bored with the way it looked, so I decided to change it. What with the off-world bonuses and holiday's that we never seem to get, I ended up with some money to spend. So, here's the result. You like it?" She handed him a beer. Without thinking about it, she had bought a case of Jack's favourite beer a few days ago, on her first trip home.
"Yeah. It's....colourful." He stared at the bright red couch with yellow cushions. The deep forest green rug over deep red wooden floors. The curtains were the same colour as the rug, but with some sort of fleck through it, yellow, like the cushions. The other furniture was either deep redwood or black cast iron. It made for a very nice looking lounge room. "Did you do the whole house, or just the living room?"
"The whole house. We have a lot of off-world bonuses." She grinned, flopping down on one of the couches. She curled up, allowing space for Jack to sit beside her if he wanted. He did. "What do you do with yours? Leave it to earn interest?"
"I buy land. Out in the mountains." He took a sip of his beer, staring off at the wall. Sam waited for him to continue, but he was silent. She nudged him with her foot.
"Jack?" She prodded. He shook his head and looked at her. His face was full of torment.
"I'm having some problems, Sam." He finally said, staring at the bottle he was turning slowly in his hands. Sam was quiet, knowing he would continue. "I just seem to drift off sometimes. Like just then. It's like....I'm talking or walking along normally, then suddenly I'm back in that cave, and I can feel the rock pushing on me. Wanting to kill me." He put the beer down on the coffee table and covered his face in his hands. "I know it's PTS, but it doesn't seem to help that I know what it is. I just....can't seem to break out of this." He sounded out of breath, panicky. "I don't know what to do to get rid of this."
"Have you spoken to Janet?" Sam asked softly, putting a hand on his back. He snorted.
"Doc? Sam, as much as she's a bloody good doctor, she's military. One hint of this, and she'll report it straight to Hammond, and there goes my off-world status. I don't think so." His hands were making fists, their knuckles white with tension. "I'd rather handle this on my own."
"Jack, you're not handling it." She moved closer, sitting upright beside him, her hand rubbing circles on his back, soothing him without thought.
"My mother used to do that." Jack said, noticing her hand.
"Rub my back in circles when I was sick." He smiled. "That doesn't mean you have to stop." She continued, now more conscious of her efforts.
"If you can't or won't talk to Janet, why not talk to me? I may not be a medical doctor, but I think I should be able to help. Or I can talk to someone outside of the SGC, see if they can provide any suggestions."
"What am I supposed to say? I got crushed for hours on end? That's it. Nothing more to it. What, do you expect me to sob on your shoulder?" Jack was harsh. Sam knew that the more scared he got, the harsher, more sarcastic he grew.
"No, Jack. I don't want you to sob on my shoulder. I just want you to be reliable when we next go off-world. And unless you get this sorted, I will tell Hammond myself. Now, you can talk to me or you can talk to Janet. But you're going to talk." Jack watched her for a long time, his hands clasped before him. Then he sighed heavily and nodded.
"You're right, Sam. As always." He sat back, propping his feet up on her coffee table. Sam briefly debated telling him to take them off, then figured in the scheme of things, that was a small worry.
"I was knocked unconscious when the rock fell over me. I mean, I heard you and Danny screaming, but that was it. I have no idea how long after that I woke up, but it was dark. I couldn't move, and I hurt. I could feel blood on the side of my face, dried and crackling. I knew that because I'd felt it many times before. I lay there for a while, mentally searching for broken bones and any other injuries. Then I called out for Teal'c, Daniel. You. Obviously, no one answered back. I kept calling for about half an hour, slowly crawling my way round the cave. I didn't find anything. The cave was small. If I knelt up, I hit the roof. I could crawl five paces in each direction, then came into contact with solid rock face. I was using the rifle butt to beat a pattern on the rock wall, hoping someone would hear it. That was when the first crush happened. It shattered my rifle. I'd left it standing on it's butt and when the rock moved, I rolled over and crouched down, thinking it was collapsing again. I heard the rifle snap, then nothing but pain as the rock pressed down on me, crushing me into the floor below. It hurt. I couldn't breath. IT left off for about five seconds, then started again. And again. After another five minutes, it finally retreated, and I went over to where the rifle had been, but all that was left was shattered bits of metal. Like powder." He ran his hands together, as if letting sand trickle between them. "That crushing happened again, an hour later. I was using my torch this time, was looking around the cave, when it started moving again. I freaked, dropped the torch. I went to pick it back up again, but the rock ceiling had already engulfed it. I just lay there as it tried to engulf me, time and time again." Jack looked up and around, frantically, reassuring himself that a normal white, plasterboard ceiling was above him. "I counted 36 times, the rock would try to engulf me. Three tries each hour. 36 hours, no food, no light. My ribs were broken about three hours into it. I heard them go." He looked at her for a second. "You know, you can hear each one snap? They sounded like twigs that you'd pick up on a walk. Just snap." Sam watched as he started rocking, back and forth, flexing and massaging his hands. "Then it started on my legs, hours later. I could feel it, pressing against my shins, harder every time. It got so that I couldn't not cry out. All my black ops training left me, and I was lying there, every hour, crying in pain." Sam caught the triggering phrase, and held her breath. "And I couldn't see. I could just make out the hands on my watch." He turned his hand over to look at it. "That was the only thing that told me I hadn't gone blind. Otherwise, I couldn't see a thing. Just wait for the alarm to go off and brace for the pain." He was rocking more violently now, trying to comfort himself. It looked like a movement that he'd relied on many a time. Sam got up and crouched in front of him, holding on to his arms. He kept rocking, lost in that world again. This time she grabbed him around the shoulders and hugged him close, rocking with him. He kept rocking for several minutes, then finally noticed that someone was holding on to him. He hesitated for a brief second, then grabbed hold, tightly.
"You're not there any more, Jack. You're back on earth." She repeated the mantra over and over again. He buried his head under her chin, into her chest. He stopped rocking, but she continued the movement herself, feeling that it would help him. She felt the first heave of his chest, and sighed to herself. Halfway there. He cried against her chest for a while. She pulled back eventually, her eyes full of tears of sympathy. She put a hand to his cheek, looking up at him.
"When was it?" She asked him. He knew what she meant.
"It was something that never happened. We never went there." He paused, gathering himself. "Cambodia, about 1994. Just before the Stargate was discovered. We were sent in, eight of us, to retrieve some American care workers that were trapped behind their fighting line. We were dropping at night, and managed to find the care workers before dawn. It was going pretty smoothly. But then I twisted my ankle." He grinned, but there was no humour in his face. "Pretty funny, huh? Special training, all that money can buy, and I twist my ankle on a bloody rock in a river somewhere in the middle of Cambodia. My unit had to continue on without me. I could move, but only at a quick hobble. I ordered them to get the civilians out. I'd follow behind. Kowalski took them out. Far as the US was concerned, it was a successful mission. Except I was left behind, and captured."
"And?" Sam asked, rubbing his arms.
"I was blindfolded and tortured for hours on end. No questions, just pain. Lots and lots of pain. When they'd had enough of torture the American, they dumped me in this cell, no light, just four rock walls running with water. A very solid roof. I figured it was probably concrete. Nothing else could be moveable, but block out the light so completely. This went on for days. They'd bring me out during the night, blindfolded. Play Torture the Prisoner for hours, then throw me back in the cell. When Kowalski finally came back for me, with four of the others, I'd been there for just over a week. I was a mess."
"And Murios brought it back." Sam replied softly. Jack nodded.
"It was like, I hadn't left Cambodia. They'd just found a new version, known as Crush the Prisoner. I'd held out in 1994. I'd come through that with my mind still intact. But this ....rock on Murios? Not a chance of coming out of that sane." Jack smiled again, pityingly. "Funny, huh? Colonel Jack O'Neil. Insane, dead."
"Not insane. Justifiably suffering from Post Traumatic Stress. God! You're not invincible, you know, as much as you'd like for us to think so."
"So now what? One talk session isn't going to cure me of whatever's wrong with me."
"I know. But we'll take it as it comes. Deal with each episode as they appear. For now." She reached behind and handed him his beer. Now considerably warmer than before. He drank it down in one long gulp, while she watched. He handed her back the empty bottle, then rubbed his hands over his face, as though washing it. He looked at her from between his fingers, then dropped his hands to cup her face. He leaned forward and kissed her, very slowly.
"Thank you." He said against her lips. Then kissed her again. She was just getting into the kiss herself, when he drew back.
"What did Daniel find, on Murios? Did he talk to that rock?" Sam shook her head, trying to clear the fog.
"What? Oh, I don't know. I didn't ask." She wet her lips, then stood up, dragging her CO with her. "We'll get them around tomorrow and ask."
"Where are we going now?"
"To bed." Sam pulled him up the stairs towards the bedrooms.
"But.....It's only four in the afternoon." He objected, but not overly strenuously.
"Exactly." She turned to grin at him, then ran the rest of the way, Jack at her heels.
"I had no idea you could cook." Sam said, leaning against a kitchen counter, watching Jack flip a pancake over. He grinned at her.
"When it involves food, I can do anything." He put the last pancake on the plate, then they moved to the table, where sugar, lemon juice and maple syrup waited. Halfway through the first pancake, the front door-bell rang.
"You get it." Sam said, around a mouthful.
"Your door." He said, swallowing his own bite.
"Your team members." She retorted.
"Yours too. Fine." He stood up and went over to the door, opening it to Daniel and Teal'c. "Morning, fella's. Breakfast?"
"Had some, thanks Jack." They followed Jack back to the table, where he sat down and continued eating his pancakes.
"That doesn't look healthy." Daniel commented, watching as Jack poured half the bottle of maple syrup on top of his remaining stack of pancakes.
"Nope." Jack agreed, and dove in.
"You guys want some coffee?" Sam asked, pushing her plate away.
"Thanks, Sam." Daniel sat down opposite Jack.
"I would indeed appreciate a coffee, Samantha." Jack stopped eating briefly, staring at Teal'c.
"Is there a problem, O'Neil?"
"You just called Sam Samantha."
"I did." Teal'c confimed.
"Since when?" He cut another mouthful of pancake and ate, watching Teal'c.
"I have been permitted to call Major Carter by her first name for the last eighteen hours, O'Neil."
"Oh. That's good." Sam returned then, with two cups in hand. Daniel smiled up at her.
"So, Daniel. What did you learn on Murios?" Jack asked, finishing his last bite.
"Well, the rock is a sentient being. It actually has a name, but there's no way we could ever pronounce it. So we christened it Harry. Anyway, it turns out Harry was very like the Nox, in a way. It took him a while to be able to communicate with us. About the third day we were there, it just up and spoke to us. Sounded like the clap of doom, until we realised there were words behind it."
"It spoke to you?" Sam was amazed.
"In English. Harry's the last of his kind on that planet. He says there's more of his kind on some other planets, but he was left as guardian of Murios."
"So what, he tried to kill me for a reason? Oh, good, that makes me feel so much better."
"He didn't try to kill you, Jack." Daniel objected.
"Beg to differ. I was there, and trust me, he was doing his hardest to crush me to death." Jack suddenly stared into space.
"Jack?" Daniel called to him. Sam stood up and walked over to her CO, then squatted down beside him.
"Jack. Jack, it's Sam. We're home, at my place. You're not in Cambodia. You're in America. You're at my place. Jack, you're home. You're not in Cambodia. You're not on Murios. You're home. With me." She held his hand. He shuddered, then blinked his eyes, and was back. He smiled softly at her, squeezing her hand. He looked at Teal'c and Daniel, who were watching with concern on their faces.
"We're dealing with a little problem at the moment. It's okay, they're getting less frequent. Carry on." After a pause, Daniel did as he was told.
"Harry didn't try to kill you. That wasn't what he was doing. It seems a second before he collapsed around you, some ground bug had jumped on to your back and bitten you. The bug poison would have killed you within hours of the bite. The only way to save you was to literally crush your circulation system hourly, to prevent the poison from reaching your heart. I know, it sounds weird, but it worked. Harry was actually saving your life."
"You believe this because?...."
"Harry gave us the bug to study. Captain Murphy did some tests on the bug and it's poison, and Harry was right. Intense pressure negates the poison. Counteracts it in some way. Jack. Harry would like to meet you again." Daniel spoke slowly, unsure how Jack would take this news.
"He wants to meet me again." Jack repeated. "And that would be why?"
"I think he wants to apologise for ....hurting you." Daniel turned the mug of coffee in his hands, concentrating on it.
"I think it would do you good, sir." Sam said, then smiled ruefully. "Jack."
"I concur with Samantha's opinion, O'Neil."
"That would be three against one, then? Do we have to do it now?" He could feel his chest tightening in dread.
"Not now, Jack. When you're ready." Daniel reassured him.
"I'm not too happy about this, Carter." Jack muttered, looking at the stargate as it engaged the wormhole.
"I know, Jack. But I think this is the only way to end those...problems we've been having." Sam stood beside him, Teal'c and Daniel to one side. The event horizon finally steadied, and the four members of SG-1 walked up the ramp, as they had a thousand times before, and then entered the wormhole. It shutdown seconds after they'd arrived on Murios.
"Are you sure about this, Doctor?" Hammond asked from the observation room.
"Sam thinks it's a good idea, and she's closest to the problem, Sir. I tend to believe her. I think Jack needs to face Harry if he's ever to be fit for command again."
"I hope you're right, Doctor." The gate kicked in to life again.
"Incoming Traveller!" The lieutenant called. "SG8 GDO, Sir."
"Open the Iris." Hammond turned his mind to the others under his command. There was nothing he could do for SG1 now.
The wormhole dis-engaged behind them. They'd heard it so many times in the last few years that they didn't pay it any attention as they walked down the stairs. Teal'c had taken point, and was moving forward, even now, his staff at the ready. Daniel, surprisingly, had gone next, leaving Jack and Sam to follow. They made their way up to the original camp site, that Jack had last seen just on six weeks ago. It seemed like six years. SG-7 was inside the camp, eating some rations. Their CO, Major Matthews, shot up and stood to attention when he saw SG-1 and Jack walking towards them.
"Colonel! Good to see you, Sir." He saluted smartly. Jack went to return the salute, then froze and finally dropped his hand.
"I'm not a Colonel any more, Matthews. My name is Jak Oneil." Matthews looked puzzled for a second, then nodded.
"Right. Sorry. What do we call you now....ahh."
"Oneil. I'm used to that."
"Okay. It's good to see you, Oneil. We thought you weren't going to come back." The rest of his team stood up, grinning.
"Had to. Major Carter got control of SG-1 otherwise. Can't have that." He grinned at Sam, who glared at him, then turned away.
"Captain Kudeski, did you finish those readings yet?" She asked the SG-7 scientist.
"Right here, Major." Kudeski responded, holding out a printed piece of paper. Sam studied it for a minute, then looked up, and eyebrow raised in disbelief.
"Are these correct, Captain?" She asked, looking at the figures again.
"Yes, they are, Major." Kudeski grinned, her eyes sparkling.
"What's that, Carter?" Jack asked.
"It's the readings for the trimarion. It's ....through the roof, Jack. With this amount of trimarion, one tonne of the earth from this planet will fuel our needs for the next fifty years." She grinned.
"Really?" Daniel asked, coming to take a look at the readings himself. "W....wow." He grabbed the readings from Carter, studying them closer. "Harry is perfectly willing to give us as much of this stuff as we need. Says it makes him....itch. Or something. He said that it wasn't natural to this planet, that an alien species had infused the earth with this element. All he wants is the mined earth back, so that he can use it."
"That's it?" Jack asked, suspicious. "What, no ritual sacrifice to his god? No demand for ...oh, I dunno, the co-ordinates of our home planet, so he can instigate a take-over?"
"I would not do that, Jack O'Neil." A voice boomed out.
"What the hell was that?" Jack yelled, looking around.
"Ahhh...that was Harry." Daniel informed him, looking up at the mountain side.
"He can hear us?" Jack demanded, his hand gripping his rifle. Daniel nodded, looking a little apologetic.
"Sorry, Jack. I should have told you."
"I requested your presence, Jack O'Neil, for I feel it is my duty to apologise for.....what is the word....causing you mental harm while I was attempting to rid you of the chu'dar poison. It was not my intent to cause you any such harm. I did not have the words to tell you this before. I do now, and I am apologising." Jack stared at the mountain for a long time, his face blank. Sam stepped forward, thinking he was having an attack. He hadn't had one for over a week now. Jack held up his hand as she got near, though.
"It's okay, Sam. I'm not elsewhere. Just thinking." He turned and walked away from the mountain, head down in thought.
"He did not accept my apology." Amazingly, the booming voice sounded hurt and disappointed.
"I don't think it's that, Harry. Jack's the kind of guy who has to think things through a little, try to...."
"He's having difficulty getting his head around the fact that you weren't trying to torture him or kill him. Give him some time, Harry." Matthews finished for Daniel.
"I see. I will wait."
Sam followed Jack away from the camp, watching him as he walked down to the lake and picked up a few stones to skim across the surface. She watched him skim a couple of rocks, one bouncing more that seven times. When he stopped throwing rocks, she came forward, closer to him.
"Jack?" She said quietly, holding his arm. "What are you thinking?"
"I'm thinking, it was obvious. Each hour, this rock. Harry, would crush me. But just as I ran out of breath, it would retreat for a few seconds, allow me my breath back, then it would crush me again. Harry did this every time. Without fail. I never blacked out with pain, I never lost consciousness due to lack of oxygen. Every hour on the hour, he would crush me. Other than my ribs, though, he never broke a bone."
"Daniel said that breaking your ribs was an error in Harry's judgement. He was under the impression that your rib cage was stronger that it was."
"Well, the ribs did happen within the first couple of hours of my waking up." Jack frowned, looking back up at the mountain. "When he first fell over me, I remember pain. Massive, intense pain. I thought it was the rock crushing me. But when I think about it now, I don't think it was the rock. I think it was that bug that bit me. It radiated from my back, out into my shoulders." He took off his favourite hat and brushed his hair back and forth, thinking. Then he walked back towards the camp. Sam followed, a few steps behind.
"Harry." Jack called.
"There is no need to yell, Jack O'Neil. I can hear you."
"Sorry. I accept your apology." Jack turned and walked away.
"Well, that was easier than I had anticipated." Daniel observed, pushing up his glasses.
"Indeed." Teal'c replied.
"Matthews, if it's alright with you, I'll take these readings back for the General to take a look at."
"Go ahead, Carter. We'll continue here for a few more days, get some more readings. Nail down this agreement with Harry."
"I would like you all to come back at some point, and spend more time. But for now, I believe Jack O'Neil would like to return to your planet."
Jack walked straight past Hammond, out of the Gate room. Hammond watched him go, a stunned expression on his face. Sam and the others clunked down the ramp, then stood with General Hammond.
"Major Carter?" He made the address a question.
"He'll be okay, sir. He just needs a bit more time to adjust. He spoke to Harry, and now understands why Harry did what he did. He just needs to get his head around it."
"That could take years, with Jack's stubbornness." Hammond observed.
"I know sir. That's why I need to follow him. Talk to him."
"Then why are you here, Major?"
"Because I was waiting to debrief you, General." Sam told her Commanding officer.
"Dr Jackson and Teal'c can do that. You just follow Jack, make sure he comes back to the SGC fit for duty. Understood?"
"Yes sir." Sam saluted, then trotted after Jack. General Hammond turned to the remaining two members of SG-1.
"Gentlemen, my office in one hour." With that, Hammond walked away, allowing Daniel and Teal'c to clean up and get checked over before their meeting.
"Where are we going, Jack?" Sam asked, sitting beside him in his 4WD.
"To my place."
"Jack....you're place has been closed up. Remember? To the rest of the people out there, Jack O'Neil is dead. Sara closed up your house about three weeks ago."
"I know. Daniel told me. I didn't mean my house, Sam. I meant, my mountains." He frowned. "Well, they're your mountains now. Yours and Daniels."
"In my will. I left the house to Sara, and my land to SG-1. As SG-1 is made up of you, Daniel and Teal'c, you and Daniel now own my mountains. Teal'c can't because he doesn't exist to the American legal community. So you're now the proud co-owner of four thousand acres of Rocky Mountain."
"Four thousand...." Her voice left her. She tried again. "Jack, that kind of land must be worth......"
"It is. Several. Last valuation was at over 8 mil. That was before the last purchase."
"And you gave it to SG-1? Why?" Jack glanced at her quickly, then looked back to the road ahead.
"Because you're my family. I'd put it in my will. Sara never really cared for the outdoors. She was a city girl. I figured she'd never really appreciate the land out here. So I gave her my house, and you guys the land. I know you guys would take care of it." Sam was silent for a long time, stunned. Then she thought of something.
"Jack, how could you afford to buy over 8 million dollars worth of land?"
"Well, I started buying land years ago, when it was a hell of a lot cheaper. And black ops pays almost as good as going off-world. I had a lot of years of black ops. Every bonus, every year I'd buy a few more acres. Before I knew it, I had over a thousand acres. Then two thousand. Then along came SGC. Up went the pay. Within three years, I'd managed to double the amount of land I had. I bought the last 200 acres about three months ago. The price of land around here has sky rocketed in the last five years. And it keeps going up." He turned on to a small dirt track, hidden by trees and grass.
"So how far away is your land?"
"We're on it. But I want to go and look at the new stuff. It's about a fifteen minute drive." There was silence, while Sam looked out the window at the land Jack owned. It was beautiful. Ravines, rivers, some amazing mountain sides. And not a house or a electricity pole to be seen. Jack finally pulled up on the edge of a cliff, and stopped the engine. They both got out.
"That's the new land. Down there." He pointed, and Sam looked. A river ended just around the corner of the cliff, and a waterfall twenty metres high, fell in a gush to the ravine floor below. It looked like a rain forest, with ferns and tall fronds growing between the grey rocks, slick with water. There was too many shades of green to count, and as she followed the path of the river, newly formed below, she saw more and more greenery, and some animals moving around.
"It's beautiful, Jack. Breathtaking."
"That marker, on that rock over there?" He pointed towards a large grey rock, three hundred metres from the waterfall. "That's the end of my land. That's where the Rocky Mountain Reserve starts. The last owner of this piece of land died about three years ago, and I've been in negotiation with the executor over it since then. Finally exchanged contracts..... Let's sit down for a while." He looked around, then found his rock. It was smooth, almost as though hundreds of people had sat here before, staring down at the waterfall and forest below. Sam sat between his legs, watching the spray being kicked up, silent. After a few minutes, she leant back, resting on his chest, her eyes closing.
"Give me another day. Two at the most. I'll be okay then." Jack whispered into her hair. She nodded, then opened her eyes and stared up at him. He grinned down at her. "What? You think I didn't figure out why you came with me? You're checking up on me, for Hammond. I know you told him about the..spells." She opened her mouth to explain, but he silenced her with a kiss. "I'd have done the same thing, Sam. But I'll be okay. What Harry said, and what I realised after that...I just need a little time to get it sorted in here." He tapped his head. "And that can take some time. In case you hadn't noticed, I have a very stubborn brain." Sam snorted, stunned. That was an understatement. He squeezed her in response, then squirmed around a bit.
"Jack, what are you doing?" Sam asked, sitting forward and twisting around.
"Looking for something. Aha!" Jack held up the box in triumph. Sam turned around completely, frowning at him. Before she could ask, though, he grabbed both of her hands, putting the box in her cupped palms. She felt her heart stop and her stomach drop. It was small and velvet. She looked up at Jack, who managed to look serious and nervous. Jack O'Neil nervous was not something she'd seen very often before.
"A couple of weeks ago you asked me a question. I wasn't ready to answer it then. Hell....What I mean is......Ah, shit....I screwed this up, good and proper." Sam smiled. Jack was Jack, even at the most important times, like this. Sam took sympathy on him.
"Jack, repeat after me." Jack looked at Sam, frowning. "Sam." She said.
"Sam." He repeated dutifully.
"Will you marry me?"
"Will you marry me?" He released a breath, then grinned. That was easy. Then he noticed that Sam hadn't replied. "Sam?" She was staring blankly at him. Then she grinned back.
"Of course I will, Jack!" She leapt forward, tearing her hands out of his, and Jack watched, horrified, as the little velvet box went flying out of their hands and sailed over the cliff.
"For crying out loud!" He complained, watching it fall. Sam watched, laughed, then kissed him.
"We can get it later." She told him. He agreed.
Several hours later, Jack had retrieved the box, after scrounging around in the wet rocks and mud. He finally presented Sam with the ring he'd bought. The band was blue, and had a celtic design etched around it. The diamond glowed between the two sapphires. Sam lost her breath when she saw it. It was stunning. The band metal looked familiar, though.
"Naquida. I had Daniel talk to one of the people from Cimmeria for me, and they created the ring, with the stones." He put the ring on her finger, and wonder of wonders, it didn't fit.
"Okay, we'll have to have it sized again." Jack said, putting the dirty box back in his pocket.
"When did you do this?" Sam wanted to know, still looking at the ring.
"Daniel went through about a week ago. They'd got it ready yesterday, and sent it through. I've had it with me for the last fourteen hours. I was counting." She leant forward and kissed him, then sat back.
"Can we go and see Daniel and Teal'c? I want to tell them." Jack smiled, then agreed.
"Okay, this wedding is going to be a little bit.....large." Daniel was looking at the guest list. SGC was invited, of course. As was Cassandra, Jacob and the rest of the Tok'ra. Jack may not particularly like the friendly snakes, but Sam did. So, they were invited. Then there were the many treaty planets that insisted on being in attendance. Once they'd heard that the infamous Jack O'Neil and Major Carter were committing, it was a free-for-all as to who was going to attend. Skaara contacted them from Abydos. God know's how they'd found out. Then there was the Tollan's. Thor had beamed in, insisting on his presence. Lya and her family had briefly visited, offering their support and congratulations. All this warmth and well-wishing was making Jack a little nervous. Scratch that, Daniel thought, watching his friend pace up and down. Jack was scared spitless. Daniel grinned. It was nice to have for once been somewhere Jack was scared to go. Bratac and Teal'c had gone to retrieve Teal'c wife and son and the other delegates from the land of Light. Who of course, insisted on bringing all the refugees they'd taken in. The wedding was getting bigger than the production of Ben-Hur.
"Jack, relax." Daniel told his friend. Jack just shook his head. They'd ended up having to conduct the ceremony outside, or rather, on P4S438. It was the only place they'd found with an ampi-theatre big enough for the crowd that wanted to attend. Luckily, the natives liked Jack and Sam, and also wanted to attend. Teal'c stood by, silently watching as Jack paced back and forth. His eyebrow was raised in surprise. Daniel had to admit it was funny. Jack was sweating with fear. Thor announced Sam's readiness by thunder clap. Jack froze.
"Ready?" Daniel asked.
"It is too late to rescind now, Jak." Teal'c told him. He'd taken this new identity seriously. "Samantha has arrived." Jack muttered something under his breath, then strode out in to the centre of the ampitheatre to the roar of the crowd.
"Alright, already. That's enough." He yelled. The acoustics allowed the crowd the hear him, and they quietened down. Not one of them, including Thor, held a straight face. This was amusing the hell out of everybody. Wasn't that nice? Then he caught sight of Sam and forgot the rest. Daniel, from behind, cleared his throat.
"You need to move forward a little more, Jack." He said. Jack took a couple of steps absently, and Daniel ducked around to join up with Sam, escorting her forward. Jack grabbed hold of her hand as though it were a life raft. They turned to face Jacob, who was presiding over this marriage. It wasn't an official earth marriage. More like a hand-fast from ancient times. Daniel had explained the traditions, but had lost Jack with the first sentence.
"Welcome, Daughter. Jak Oneil. Please, face your friends." They turned around, Sam picking up her skirt to swing it around behind her. Teal'c and Daniel were on either side of the couple, witnessing their declaration. There was silence for a while, until Sam nudged Jack.
"You're supposed to go first." She told him in a whisper.
"Oh. Right. Sam and I are now married." He announced. The crowd laughed quietly. They hadn't really expected any different. But Sam nudged him again, much harder.
"Ow. Okay. I met Samantha four years ago, when she first joined SG-1. She was very.....impressive in that first meeting. She dug her way into my life without me being aware of it. I loved her for a long time before I realised it."
"We all knew that, Jack!" Someone from the back rows yelled down, much to the crowd's amusement. He glared at them, then turned back to Sam.
"Okay, to be quick. I will honour, cherish and love Sam for my life." He nodded to himself, happy with that vow.
"And no, Sam. You can't say Ditto!" Jack and Sam both identified the voice as Janets'. They grinned.
"I had no intention of saying ditto..... Jack is the most irritating, head strong person I have ever met. Aside from my father." She turned around quickly to grin at Jacob. "I suppose that's why I fell in love with him. It just took a while for the brain to catch up with the heart."
"Well I'll say it. Ditto! We all knew that, too Sam!" The same voice yelled from the back rows. Sam peered up, but couldn't see who the hawker was.
"Any way. I vow to continue to laugh at his jokes, to take the time and patience to explain the simplest of concepts to him." They all laughed at this, including Jack. "I promise to love him and support him until my life is done." Teal'c and Daniel turned at this and grabbed their hands and held them together. Jacob held up a bottle of pure water, pouring it over their hands.
"You're bonded. This water shows how two elements, when combined, create something whole. You and Jack are now this water. Two partners, now a whole." Jacob looked solemn for a moment, then grinned like a clown. Teal'c raised his hands, and it was done. Except for the party. Jack kissed Sam, grinning all the while, then they both heard their names called out, and turned, stunned, to see Cassie running towards them.
"Cassie!?" They both cried out. "How did you get through the gate, honey?" Sam asked, immediately realising what Cassie's presence meant.
"I came through a couple of days ago. I'm okay, Sam. Really. But I couldn't miss you and Uncle Jack getting married. Besides, Mum said it would be okay, this time."
"Mum?" Jack and Sam chorused. Cassie flushed, but looked happy.
"It's finally official. I adopted Cassie three months ago. She's been calling me Mum ever since." Janet said, walking up to them.
"Janet! That's wonderful news!" Sam grabbed her friend in a bear hug, then grabbed Cassie and tickled her. Cassie giggled like a little girl, then looked at Jack.
"I'm supposed to call you Jak now, aren't I? You're not supposed to be my Uncle Jack any more." She sounded a little sad. Jack crouched down and started at the teenager.
"Cassie. Whatever my name happens to be, I'm still your Uncle Jack. Don't you forget that. Otherwise I'll come and take Eagle the Beagle back, and give him to someone else."
"No! Okay, then. You're Uncle Jak now."
"C'mon, kiddo. Let these two visit with the others." Janet and Cassie left, and the rest of the crowd gathered round to congratulate them.
"My head hurts." Daniel complained, holding the offending body part between two hands, looking down at the dirt beneath his feet.
"That is because you consumed copious amounts of alcohol this evening, Daniel." Teal'c told him, sitting beside his team-mate.
"I know why it hurts, Teal'c. But that doesn't stop it from hurting." He lifted his head, slowly, and stared at the Stargate before them. It had been activated a couple of minutes ago, allowing Jack and Sam to escape to a planet where Thor could pick them up and take them to wherever their honeymoon was going to take place.
"I wonder where they're going? Probably some exotic planet with a pink sky, purple grass and eight rising moons. Or something like that."
"Eight rising moons? I know of no such planet on our Stargate system, Daniel."
"It was just a fantasy, Teal'c. I'm sure they're just gone to the Land of Light or something." He sat there, thinking quietly for a while, then stood up, dragging Teal'c with him. "C'mon. Let's go find some more alcohol. See if we can get Bratac drunk. And find your wife."
"She has a friend she wishes you to meet." Teal'c told Daniel, following him back to the party, still going hours after the marriage ceremony.
"Really?" He grabbed a glass of something and continued on. "Show me the way, Teal'c old buddy, ol' pal." He grinned.
"Are you sure, Jack O'Neil?" Thor asked from his command deck.
"Yes, I am, Thor. Just beam us down there. We'll be fine. I set it all up before the wedding."
"If that is the case....enjoy your time, O'Neil. Carter." Thor bowed and then disappeared. The world shimmered, and the two newly weds found themselves surrounded by forest and singing birds. Birds that sounded startlingly familiar. Sam looked around, her heart in her throat. Before them was a small cabin, it's lights glowing softly in the dusk light. Beside the cabin was a cliff. She could hear a waterfall, and she turned around to see a dirt track fall away, down the hill. She turned back to see Jack grinning like a lantern. A Jack'o'lantern.
"We're in the Rockies?" Sam breathed. Jack nodded. Sam grinned. "Perfect."
"Shall we?" Jack gestured towards the cabin.
"How did you get electricity run all the way up here?"
"It's not electricity. That trimarion you found? Guess what? It is also a good source of power. Harry told SG-7. They figured out a way to use it as an alternative to electricity. And it turns out that trimarion is a renewable energy source. Give the used metal a 24 day rest period, and after that, it's as strong as ever."
"Really? That's wonderful! That means that we've finally brought something back that can benefit the planet! Oh, it means no more carbon pollution. No more nuclear waste. The implications to medicine are enormous. And that's not including the ramifications it will have on the goa'uld weapons. Did you know that Matthews said that one ounce of this trimarion will effectively null any goa'uld shield? It drains the element inside the weapons, makes them seem to run out of charge, as it were. Daniel was talking to Kudeski, and she said that with more experimentation, we could probably adapt..." Jack watched as Sam started dreaming about the uses for this new element, grinning. Then he leant over and kissed her.
"Sam." He called, breaking her trance.
"Jack!" She said, as though she'd forgotten he was there.
"Much as all this speculation is fascinating, it's my honeymoon. Can we talk about this next week? Or maybe in a couple of weeks? Right now I have other things on my mind."
"Oh....What a good idea." Sam grinned, and they walked inside, the trimarion forgotten.
Stargate SG-1 Fanfiction