Convolutions Chapter 17. Fractured Memories
Disclaimer: Stargate SG-1 and its characters are the property of Showtime/Viacom, MGM/UA, Double Secret Productions, and Gekko Productions. I have written this story for entertainment purposes only and no money whatsoever has exchanged hands. No copyright infringement is intended. The original characters, situations, and story are the property of the author(s).
Sam sat motionless, eyes wide and staring in surprise at the man she considered her commanding officer. Her mouth moved slightly as her brain tried to form single syllable words but no sound was forthcoming. He was just standing there, apparently unaffected by the words he had just spoken. His gaze was intense, locked tightly on her face as he waited for her response. She was in shock. The man never even shared what he had for lunch and now this? In the middle of the infirmary? Well, she had asked the question but she'd never expected . . .what had she expected?
She'd been thinking about Pete and their relationship, considering his marriage proposal as she watched Jack sitting quietly on the foot of her bed. She'd been glancing nervously around the infirmary wondering what the gossip mill was turning out regarding his apparent vigil and suddenly realized that she didn't care. She wanted him here. His presence stilled the raging chaos of her mind, filling her with a sense of warmth and contentment. At first she'd thought it was just his alpha-male attitude that calmed her when she felt so vulnerable but then she realized there was more to it than that. The feelings she had long harbored for him had resurfaced and were the primary reason for her doubts regarding Pete. She had longed for a normal life and the Colonel had actually ordered her to "get a life." Even then, she hadn't actively sought out a relationship, it had just happened and Pete had filled all the requirements. Almost.
After what seemed an eternity, she managed a few shocked words.
"Sir . . . we can't . . ."
"Um . . ." Was he was intentionally confusing her? He knew perfectly well why they couldn't have any sort of relationship. "Well, . . . there's the regulations, Colonel."
"General, not Colonel."
Her brow furrowed deeply as she watched him lift a corner of his jacket, waggling it to draw her attention to the star that resided there but never releasing her from his unwavering gaze.
"You're not in my chain of command anymore, Sam. And we can."
"I'm sorry, Sir, I didn't . . ."
"I know. You don't remember."
"No, Sir." She shook her head slightly, expressing much more than her agreement with his statement. "I don't remember your promotion but I do remember that I'm engaged to Pete and that we've probably already had this discussion. Although I hope it was somewhere off base . . .we really shouldn't be discussing this here, Sir. Or . . . at all."
"Sam . . ." Jack's voice hinted of frustration as he moved to sit beside her on the bed and took her hand in his. "You aren't engaged, Sam. You're married."
She sucked in a deep breath and her eyebrows rose dramatically as her head continued to shake slightly in disagreement.
"Yes. You are. You know I wouldn't lie to you. You trust me, don't you?"
"Of course, Sir, but . . . I would not forget my wedding! And if I'm married why hasn't Pete been to see me? Where is he?"
Jack squeezed her hand and smiled his most loving smile as he spoke quietly to her.
"You aren't married to Pete, Sam."
Surprised blue eyes flashed a moment of total confusion before he continued.
"You're married to me."
He held onto her hand and raised his other to her cheek, caressing her skin beneath his fingers and letting them draw soft lines down to her neck. Their eyes were locked as his thumb moved slowly against her warm skin. She moved a shaking hand to cover his and pulled it away from her neck, holding it firmly as she stared down at the band of gold that surrounded his finger. She immediately lifted her own hand and found it bare.
"You were on a mission when you were injured. You weren't wearing your ring. It's probably in your locker." His voice was calm hoping to soothe her as she struggled with reality.
Without warning she pushed him away. He stood but didn't move too far away. He had no intention of leaving.
"No. No! I would remember. It must be some time warp or . . .or, or alternate reality!"
"Sam . . ."
"Get out! I wouldn't forget! I couldn't . . ."
"Sam, you've been ill! You're not choosing to forget. It's just out of your control right now, that's all!"
"Please, Colonel . . . General. Just go!"
"I said . . . no. I'm not leaving you, Sam. Not now. Not ever. Unless you think you can bodily throw me out of here, I'm staying."
Jack smiled. She was still in there somewhere he just had to find her, try somehow to trigger her memories, defeat the poison in her system and help her remember.
"Nothing you can say or do is making me leave here, Sam!"
Their voices were getting progressively louder and a few of the nurses had stopped to listen. They had seen Colonel Carter become extremely agitated in recent days and they were on alert for any unusual behavior.
"Just get out and leave me alone, Jack. I need to think!"
He was watching her carefully trying to decide the exact location of that fine line he shouldn't cross. The one that would make things between them worse instead of better and might send her spiraling into a dark pit of confusion where she'd stop fighting the illness that was threatening her. He could tell her heart was pounding, her system probably flooded with adrenalin and her muscles tight from the tension.
"You can think with me here. I want to be here for cryin' out loud!"
"You . . . are not Jack O'Neill! He would never say that to me! And he wouldn't lie to me."
"Which is the reason for this conversation! Baby, please, take it easy. I swear it's true!"
She shook her head and stared back at him.
"Don't you "baby" me, Jack! You know I hate that!"
A sudden realization struck him as he heard her tone of voice and he laughed.
She stared at him open mouthed and wide eyed unable to believe that he was laughing when she was so furious.
He was still laughing when the pitcher of water from her bedside table sailed dangerously close to his head and splattered across the infirmary floor. Several nurses came running but stopped short, staring in surprise at the two of them, Sam, obviously in a rage and Jack laughing.
"Is everything all right, Sir?"
The nurse's voice was a bit timid as she looked between them and the spilled contents of the pitcher on the floor.
"Everything's fine, Lieutenant. If she'd intended to hit me with that thing you'd be picking me up off the floor."
"Whatever you say, Sir. Colonel Carter?"
Sam shot a glare at Jack before she answered.
The nurses went back to their duties and the room was quiet again. Jack moved to sit next to Sam.
She was pouting and Jack couldn't stop the smile that tugged at his lips.
"How would I know?"
"How would you know what?"
She tugged at the sheet angrily trying to loosen it where he had sat down.
"How would I know you hate being called "baby"?"
Her blue eyes betrayed the anxiety and confusion she was feeling as they searched his. He waited. She turned away, her eyes still moving rapidly but looking at nothing in particular as she tried to reason out his question.
Finally she turned to face him again. She was still upset but no longer angry. Silently she reached for his hand and traced one finger along his wedding band looking up at him with mixed emotions.
Jack smiled and nodded.
"Damn! I don't remember. How can I not remember?"
"So, it's ok? Being married, I mean. You done throwing things at me for awhile?"
Sam chuckled and then turned adoring eyes upwards until they met Jack's.
"Yeah, it's ok. Better than ok. I just wish I remembered."
"You will. We just need to get you well. And if you don't remember, well, I'll just have to win you over again."
"That might be fun."
"Loads of fun!"
They smiled at each other and Jack saw something in her eyes that he hadn't seen for far too long. He pulled her into a gentle hug and held her close not caring about the few still lingering souls who watched. He let go slowly until she was again resting against the bed and then slipped in to sit next to her. She turned into his shoulder and he wrapped a protective arm around her.
"Will you stay?"
"With you? Absolutely. Here? No."
She raised her head so that she could look into his face.
"That's part of it but mainly it's that you may not remember any of this once you fall asleep and waking up next to me might be . . ."
"I was thinking . . . confusing."
"What if I don't remember tomorrow . . .?"
"Doesn't matter, I'll tell you again . . .and again until you do."
"I'll still trust you, Jack. I think I always have."
They stayed that way for a long time, Sam asking questions and Jack answering them patiently. She asked about Jacob again and Jack felt his chest clinch momentarily as he chose his words. She had enough to deal with right now and he didn't want her to relive that pain just yet so he told her he didn't know where Jacob was. It bordered on a lie but could still be construed as the truth; he'd deal with the consequences of that later.
When she began to sag heavily against him he stroked her back and felt the heat rising in her body so he pressed the call button. The nurse appeared and injected medication into the I.V. and after briefly checking her vitals disappeared behind the curtains again.
Her voice was barely a whisper against his chest.
"Time for sleep. Let the medicine do its work."
She nodded and squeezed his waist as he gently slid away from her. He cradled her with his arms until she was again lying against the head of the bed and then lowered it into sleeping position.
He sat beside her, holding her hand and reluctant to let her drift into sleep knowing that when she awoke she wouldn't remember. He leaned in close and placed a gentle kiss on her lips, brushing her hair behind her ear and smiling as her eyes opened.
"I love you, Sam."
"I know. I love you, too."
And then sleep captured her and he was left alone with that thought.
Daniel stepped out of his car and headed toward the security doors, glancing around him as he moved. He sensed someone watching and slowed his steps, coming to a halt as his eyes searched the nearby areas. It was still dark but the early rays of morning light were just reaching for the horizon, kissing the mountaintop with early morning splendor.
He glanced at the guard who lifted an arm, pointing to an area just ahead of him and Daniel took a few more cautious steps. His eyes searched the wooded area surrounding the entrance and finally his eyes fell upon something that didn't quite fit. A slight movement focused his eye on the spot where Jack was standing, leaning actually, against a tree waiting for the sunrise.
For one horrible moment Daniel's heart caught in his throat as he caught sight of Jack, wondering if his presence here meant that Sam's condition had deteriorated during the night, or worse yet, she had lost her battle against the poison and Jack had sought solace in these isolated surroundings. He stood for a few moments just watching and then moved quietly to Jack's side.
"Hey, Jack. What are you doing here?"
Jack turned and in the near darkness Daniel could just make out the shadow of a smile on his face and relaxed slightly.
"Just getting a breath of air. Doc threatened to ban me from the infirmary if I didn't get out of there for a while so I thought I'd take a walk. Sunrise is a sort of sign, don't you think? That everything's going to be ok?"
Daniel grinned and crossed his arms.
"Yes. Yes, I do, Jack."
There was a long silence as the two men watched the sun slip above the horizon and scatter its warming light on the ground beneath them.
"You ok, Jack? Sam ok?"
"She was sleeping when I left but Doc thinks she's slipping a little. There's no improvement."
Daniel saw the tension increase in Jack's lanky form as he spoke softly and continued to stare into the distance. He sensed the subtle signs of resignation and searched his mind for something uplifting to say.
"They're still working on the antidote, you know. It takes time but they'll find something."
Jack nodded but didn't speak.
"Well, at least she knows the situation now . . . about the two of you, I mean."
Jack's voice was matter-of-fact as he resisted telling Daniel that he'd gone through that same scene with her three of four times now over the last few days, each one producing a slightly different reaction. She'd asked about Pete again, too and that fact was nagging at him even as he reminded himself that she was sick and not in control of her actions.
"So . . . did you take care of the problem?"
"Yeah, whatever you were doing before . . . when we couldn't reach you. I assumed it was something important."
Jack straightened and slipped his hands into his pockets stretching his shoulders back as he spoke.
"Temporarily. I have a feeling it will surface again."
"Oh? Where were you, Jack?"
"Ah! Yes, of course. Well, Sam was trying to call you before she was wounded you know."
Daniel smiled as he heard the slight change in Jack's voice that told him he'd just relieved a bit of worry.
"Yeah. She tried to call before we left on the mission and when we got back well, she was desperate to find you. That's when she did the number on the SF's and General Landry."
Jack looked at him with his face void of expression. His eyes moved up and down his length as if trying to see beneath the surface of his skin until finally a slight grin tugged at his lips.
"Um, yeah . . . Hank filled me in."
"How was she doing in the field, Daniel?"
"Um . . . fine. Great!"
"Um, no, Jack, not that I can think of. Why?"
"Run into any Goa'uld lately?"
"Well, there was that thing with . . . Ba'al, but nothing since then."
Silence surrounded them again as Jack turned back to survey the early morning and Daniel watched him closely. He'd changed since his promotion but Daniel could still detect the signs of nagging worry and apparently not all of it was related to Sam. He had both admired and detested Jack's ability to control his emotions and disguise the turnings of his complicated mind. Watching him now, a seed of concern worked its way into Daniel's consciousness as he wondered about Jack's concerns.
Sam appeared to be sleeping peacefully but behind closed eyelids a full-blown battle raged. Gunfire. Explosions. She was running and ducking low behind any available cover. Teal'c was on her right, the Colonel on her left and Daniel was with Janet helping to treat the wounded.
She could feel the heat building in her weapon, rounds exploding out of its barrel at a deadly rate. Teal'c's staff weapon was firing off to her right and she occasionally caught a word or two from the Colonel yelling to be heard above the battlefield noise.
The radio on her shoulder broadcast the intermittent chatter and part of her mind stayed focused on that, listening to the progress, or lack thereof, as the firefight continued to escalate around her.
She heard the Colonel acknowledge they would have to retreat, his voice betraying the adrenaline flowing freely through his veins and his was followed closely by another anxious, authoritative voice crackling through the radio. It was Janet, in full out emergency mode, requesting more time to stabilize a patient.
Another staff blast, this one much closer and off to her left, the sound changing to a dull thud as it found its target. She turned quickly to see the Colonel crashing backwards from the blast. Time slowed as she watched, his hand falling free of his weapon, his body as limp as a rag doll and smoke rising ominously from his chest.
She felt fingers of fear squeezing her chest, threatening to steal her breath away and then she was yelling and moving towards him.
She awakened gasping for air; her breath caught in her chest and her heart pounding wildly as her eyes searched the room. She took a quick inventory of her injuries and noting only a dull pain in her shoulder pulled herself into a sitting position. Her eyes moved slowly around the room and confusion colored her features as she realized she was alone.
Karen Summers was suddenly beside her, checking the monitors, steadying her as she sat erect, feet dangling over the side of the bed.
"Take it easy, Sam. You're ok."
"Where's Janet? Where's the colonel?"
"You were injured . . ."
"I don't care! Where is Janet? And who are you?"
Karen stood still for a moment and then smiled calmly.
"I'm Dr. Summers. Dr. Frasier isn't here just now."
"She's . . . oh, God." Her voice trembled as the memory flashed into her mind. "Oh, God, Janet."
Dr. Summers could see by the look on Sam's face that this was an extremely painful memory and she attempted to soothe her with a calm, caring voice.
"It's ok, Sam."
Karen watched as the reality of Janet's death settled around her, the memory fresh and the pain vivid. Sam swayed slightly on the bed and Karen rushed to steady her, forcing her to lie down again. Sam's skin was hot against her touch and Karen's forehead wrinkled in concern as she eased her down onto the mattress. She hastily checked her vital signs and called for more medication.
By the time the nurse arrived Sam was curled into a tight ball with tears streaming down her face. Karen injected the medication into the I.V. and returned the syringe to the nurse.
"Find the General."
The nurse nodded and moved away quickly.
"Where's Colonel O'Neill? He was wounded. Why isn't he here?"
"He's fine, Sam. You just need to focus on getting well right now."
"No! I want to see the colonel!"
"Sam, I swear to you that he's ok. They are all fine! Just take it easy."
"Janet? Janet is fine? You're lying! She's . . ."
Her words broke off sharply as she hesitated to speak aloud those final words then she pushed herself upright and off the bed, hanging on to the table as her legs trembled beneath her weight. Sam was completely out of control, adrenaline still fueling her responses and blue eyes flashing anger as she considered the words of the doctor beside her. She had just enough memory to make her extremely agitated, bordering on dangerous.
The memories were so vivid that it felt as if she'd just stepped off the battlefield. As her eyes searched the room the smell of weapons fire and burning flesh still filled her nostrils, her ears still ringing slightly from the repeated firing of her weapon. She had seen the colonel go down and knew without a doubt that Janet hadn't made it. So, it stood to reason that if this woman would deny that, she wouldn't hesitate to prevaricate about the colonel, also.
"I'm fine, Doctor but Colonel O'Neill was injured and I need to see for myself that he's here! Out of my way, please!"
"I'm sorry, I can't allow you to leave. You're not well."
Sam placed one hand on her shoulder, using her adrenalin rush to shove her aside as she made her way unsteadily towards the door. Karen called out once more and then pressed the panic button, which alerted all medical personnel to the emergency.
Sam stepped through the door and grabbed onto the first bed, steadying herself as her eyes searched the row of beds along the wall. She was aware of a slight buzzing inside her head and the ringing in her ears was increasing but she had no idea that it was the result of her rapidly rising temperature. Panic began to seep through her as her mind supplied the reason for the colonel's absence and she turned to move away. A young nurse blocked her path and was reaching out to help her but she jerked her arm away, her only goal to locate the colonel.
"Where is he? Where's Colonel O'Neill?"
"We need to get you back to bed, Ma'am."
"Didn't you hear me? Where is Colonel O'Neill?"
The young nurse looked past Sam to see Dr. Summers exiting from the room and she nodded as she stopped a few feet behind Sam.
"I'm sorry, Sam."
Sam turned again to face her, swaying slightly at the too quick movement.
"He isn't here. He's gone . . ."
"Gone? No! No!"
Sam's legs suddenly were too weak to hold her and she started to slump against the bed. She looked back at Karen with tear filled eyes.
"Jack! No!" Then she collapsed onto the floor, unconscious.
By the time Jack had been located and arrived at the infirmary, Sam was again safe and prone in her bed. She was unnaturally still as he stood close to her waiting for Dr. Summers to return.
"General! I'm sorry, Sir, she's slipped into a coma."
"What? What happened?"
"Her fever is continuing to rise, General and she became very agitated after a particularly vivid dream. She collapsed on the infirmary floor."
"Dream? About what?"
His brow was deeply furrowed as he reached out to grasp Sam's hand.
"Dr. Frasier, Sir. I believe she remembered her death. She pushed me aside and left her room but we were able to stop her before she left the infirmary."
Jack nodded. He didn't really understand but it didn't matter. She was in a coma - that was all that mattered.
"Did she ask for me, Doc?"
"Sir . . ."
Jack's eyes turned a heart-stopping cold as he stared at her and remembered the distressed, teary-eyed Carter he'd held in his arms that day. She had seen him go down from the staff blast and it had shaken her to the core. He could still feel her fingers digging into his shoulders as he remembered her holding on to him in near desperation, and for a few brief moments she was not a hardened soldier, she was the woman he loved.
He voice was demanding and almost accusing as he questioned her.
"Yes, Sir. But her fever was extremely high and she was very disoriented."
"So, what now, Doc?"
"We just have to wait and see."
"Well, you're wrong about that! I am so not waiting!"
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