Convolutions Chapter 15. Total Eclipse of the Heart
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 struggled with all her strength but to no good, her foot was caught and there was nothing she could do to free herself. The water was rising around her and even as she continued to search for a way out she began to accept the fact that she might not make it. So be it. She'd go down fighting.
She held her breath and ducked beneath the water trying to reach the debris that was preventing her escape. Bubbles rose slowly to the dark surface as she released her breath and pulled against the collapsed rock that held her. Pulling one last time she expended all of her air and was forced to rise to the surface gasping for live-giving breath, her foot still trapped painfully beneath the rocks.
Her hands came up to smooth her hair away from her face, squeezing the excess water to drain down her back. Alone in the darkness, Sam suddenly realized that her actions might not have been a great idea. She was shivering from the cold now and crossed her arms to try and rub some warmth back into her limbs. If the team didn't find her soon it would be too late. She wasn't going to be able to free herself and she'd die here, cold and alone. Those thoughts chilled her even more as the water continued to rise, lapping against her chin as she pulled and twisted in her futile efforts to escape.
Panic was slowly welling up inside her as thoughts of her impending fate filled her mind and the events of her life swirled in a multicolored funnel of missed chances and regret. She'd always known her death was possible but this was never how she'd pictured it; she didn't want to die and she certainly didn't want to drown. It seemed like a cheat to die like this, after all she'd survived didn't she at least deserve to die in pursuit of the enemy, as a guardian of freedom as she had lived? Stretching as much as possible, she raised her chin above the waterline and wondered why she was alone. Where was the rest of SG-1? Why weren't they here?
"Colonel! Daniel! Teal'c!"
Sam yelled into the darkness, pausing between each shout, then she stilled her movements completely and listened as the echo came back to her again and again. When the echo died and no answer came, she stretched her body to her physical limit and shouted again.
"Colonel! Colonel O'Neill!" And as tears began to slip down her cheeks and her mouth began to fill with water she made one last effort. "Colonel! Colonel! Help me! I'm here! Jaaaack!"
Then she was coughing and sputtering as the water began to choke her and she closed her mouth against it, no longer able to call for help. She was barely able to breath and was fighting the impulse to thrash at the water, grasping for purchase where there was none.
As her eyes closed in resignation a voice yelled out of the darkness, calling her name. Suddenly there was a splash behind her and strong arms encircled her waist, trying to pull her free. Unable to speak, she raised a hand to touch Jack's face and shaking her head, pointed to her foot.
Without hesitation he disappeared into the cold, black depth that surrounded them and in a few moments she felt the weight begin to lessen as he moved the rocks that trapped her. He popped back into view and grabbed onto her, pulling her face above the water as he yelled almost frantically.
"Pull, Sam! Pull your leg free!"
They both pulled but she shook her head and he dived again as she waited. Suddenly the weight that had rested on her leg eased a bit more and she tugged hard sinking beneath the icy water as her leg pulled free.
"Jack! Help me!"
Then she gave into her fear and began to thrash about desperately as strong arms pulled her into a safe embrace and warm hands stroked long trails of comfort along her back.
"Sam, it's ok! I'm here. You're all right!"
Sam clung to the familiar voice. She wrapped her arms around him and held on until her fear subsided and then tentatively opened her eyes. Still gasping for air, Sam ran a shaking hand along the cool white sheets as she relaxed into the comforting arms that held her. One hand went up to brush back the hair that had fallen into her face and her eyes widened at the touch. Her hair was completely dry. Placing both hands on his shoulders, she pulled away completely and stared with obvious confusion into his concerned eyes.
"Daniel? Where's Ja. . .the Colonel?"
"He's not here, Sam, you were dreaming."
"Not here?" Sam sat up and wiggled her foot. There was no pain. "Dreaming?"
She collapsed back onto the pillows and stared up at him.
"Not...not here? Where is he, Daniel? What's happened?"
Daniel placed his hand on her shoulder, rubbing softly, trying to soothe her pain.
"You don't remember? Nothing at all?"
"I was trapped in a cave. The Colonel pulled me out and then . . . I was here."
Her brow furrowed and her eyes moved restlessly as she searched her mind for more details. Jack had been with her, she was sure of it.
"Um, no, Sam. That was a long time ago. You, um . . . you were shot and there was an infection. You're still recovering . . . but you're going to be ok." Daniel's voice was shaking a bit as he recounted the story for her again, touching the bandage on her shoulder as he spoke. "Can I get you anything?"
Sam shook her head slowly, still silently searching her memories for the answers and finding only confusion.
Jack dozed restlessly as the plane streaked across the sky towards MacDill Air Force Base. Disturbing dreams battling against restful sleep as thoughts of Sam mixed with unfamiliar faces and glowing eyes. Again and again he drifted away only to be snatched roughly from his rest by his growing worry for Sam or a vivid flash of dark memories.
Finally he jerked violently awake, slamming his helmet into the side canopy as he reacted to the sound of Sam's voice calling for help. With every muscle tensed, he looked around the cockpit and then rubbed his hand across his face in frustration as he came fully awake and aware.
"You all right, Sir?"
"Um, yeah, fine. Just...nothing...I guess. How much longer?"
"We'll be there in a few minutes, Sir. Half an hour at most."
"Good. That's good."
Jack leaned back in the seat and tried to recall the dream that had awakened him. He was sure that Sam was calling him; that she was in real danger but deep down he knew it was just his concern surfacing in his dreams. He stared out into the darkness and whispered, "I'll be home soon, Sam."
He arrived at MacDill near exhaustion but still anxious to get home. Protocol demanded that he report to the base commander upon arrival and he was almost dreading maintaining the "Nelson" deception but at this point it was easier and faster than the truth.
He knocked and waited for the command to enter, then turned the handle and stepped inside.
"Colonel Nelson, Sir."
The gray haired officer sitting behind the desk finished signing the document in front of him and then looked up.
"Colonel Nel. . .Jack?"
"Jack, what the hell . . .? What's going on? This notice says that Colonel Nelson will be reporting, not General O'Neill!"
"Yeah, that's a bit tough to explain, Tony." Jack dropped the hand he had raised in salute as a smile tugged at his lips. "It's good to see you. What are you doing here?"
"Oh, it's just a temporary thing. Carlson is on vacation and I'm filling in. Didn't you get the memo, General?"
"Uh, no. I must have missed that one."
Jack chuckled softly as he moved to sit in a chair in front of the desk.
"Ok, Jack what are you doing here and what do you need? The head of Homeworld Security does not just drop in to say hello."
"Actually, Tony . . . I need a ride home. I'm on my way to Colorado and I need a plane that'll get me there in a hurry."
"Yes, well, correct me if I'm wrong but didn't you just come in on a Navy jet? And since when is Florida on the flight path to Colorado?"
"Well, you know me, Tony!" Jack's eyes sparkled with mischief. "I could tell you but then I'd have to shoot you."
Tony laughed at the clich that slipped so easily from Jack's lips as he started to pull forms from a file in his desk.
"You haven't changed, have you, Jack?"
"Not much, I guess."
"Ok, well, I'll get a plane lined up. When do you want to leave?"
"As soon as the plane's ready."
"Well, in that case, General, you'll need a pilot, too."
"I don't think that's necessary, Tony . . ."
"Well, unless that's an order, I think it is. You look like hell, Jack; you're exhausted, anyone can see that. I'd rather not be responsible for you crashing into the deck somewhere between here and Colorado."
Jack opened his mouth to protest but Tony cut him off.
"I assure you, it's not a problem, General. We'd be happy to provide a pilot to take you to Colorado. Now, why don't you get changed and get something to eat while I make the arrangements."
Jack smiled up at the man he hadn't seen in years and finally gave in, knowing he was right. It was probably for the best and his safest chance at getting back home to Sam.
Once he'd changed into the provided fatigues he followed a somewhat nervous airman to the commissary where he welcomed a warm meal. The food revived him, restoring some of his energy and when he'd finished, he made another phone call to Colorado.
It was approximately 0800 and Dr. Summers wasn't in the infirmary but a nurse informed him that there was little change. He asked to speak with Sam but the nurse was hesitant to wake her, saying that she had had a restless night. Jack breathed a long sigh but decided that she was right and that Sam probably needed the rest more than she needed to talk to him. He asked the nurse to give Daniel the message that he was on his way to Peterson and then hung up the phone and headed for the airfield. With any luck he'd be at the SGC by around 1400 and he could check on her personally. That, he decided, was much preferred to a long distance phone call.
The soft voice repeated in Sam's head until finally she opened her eyes.
"Colonel Carter, you must awaken."
"What? What is it, Teal'c?"
"You require nourishment, Colonel Carter. It will serve to increase your strength."
"I don't want anything, Teal'c."
"Colonel Carter, O'Neill will be most displeased if he discovers that you are refusing sustenance. A warrior must fuel the body as the opportunity arises in order to be prepared for battle, is this not true?"
"Yes, Teal'c, but . . ."
"I will request that the nurse assist you."
"No, Teal'c. All right, I'll try to eat something. Where's Daniel?"
"Daniel Jackson is resting in his quarters."
"And the Colonel?"
Teal'c cocked his head slightly at her question. He knew that she had been informed of Jack's promotion in rank and was concerned that she had again forgotten this information. He paused for a moment, considering whether to correct her error and then decided against it, seeing no reason to cause her further concern.
"O'Neill is not on base at the moment but he will arrive shortly."
"Oh, yeah? What's he up to?"
Sam squeezed the words in around bites of food, discovering as she began to eat, that she was really hungry.
"I am not aware of his activities, Colonel Carter."
"Slipping up, Teal'c?" She smiled broadly at him as the big Jaffa stood stoically near her bed. "I thought it was your turn to keep track of the Colonel."
Teal'c stared back at her calmly, carefully considering his answer in a long silence.
"No, Colonel Carter, I believe that in fact, it is your turn."
Sam chuckled softly and continued to eat her lunch while Teal'c stood almost silent guard at her side, responding only if she asked a question or made a comment to him.
He did not express his concern or ask how she was feeling. He was simply there, his loyalty and concern expressed in that simple fact and Sam felt comforted at his willingness to allow her to direct their conversation or his acceptance of her silence, whichever she preferred.
He was sitting quietly beside her when Mitchell entered the infirmary.
"Hey, Sam! How's it going?"
Sam glanced at Teal'c to judge his reaction to Mitchell's appearance. He didn't seem surprised so Sam accepted this visit as normal.
"Colonel Mitchell. I'm fine, thank you."
Her tone was respectful but somewhat cool. The memories of Mitchell were vague at best but there was an underlying current of rage racing through her that she couldn't explain. Her mind sought the answers for those feelings but there was nothing that she could readily identify.
"Um. . . anything I can get for you? Need anything?"
"That's nice of you but no. My team is taking care of everything."
Mitchell turned a quick glance towards Teal'c and nodded briefly.
"Oooook, well, just say the word if anything comes up. I'll be glad to help if I can."
Sam's forehead wrinkled as she squinted her eyes slightly at his apparent concern and then she glanced at Teal'c whose expression had not changed. Sam interpreted that to mean that her slight uneasiness was a product of the infection plaguing her mind and having become familiar with the slight confusion, dismissed it almost immediately.
She nodded and Mitchell smiled broadly at her for a few seconds before turning to leave the infirmary.
"Yes, Colonel Carter?"
Suddenly Sam realized she didn't even know what to ask and bit down on her bottom lip in quiet thought.
"Um, never mind. Nothing, I guess. I'm kind of tired. I think I'll take a nap."
"I will remain here."
Sam looked up into Teal'c's solemn face and smiled, grateful for the friendship that kept him at her side.
"Thanks, Teal'c but if you need to go, I'll be fine."
He dipped his head slowly as a small smile tugged at his features. Sam shifted into a comfortable position and closed her eyes, confident that he would remain in silent vigil beside her while she slept.
The elevator doors slide noisily open to allow Daniel and Jack to step free of the car. Jack moved hurriedly, his determination obvious in his stride. Not so easily apparent was the fact that he was focused on Daniel's voice, absorbing his rapid-fire briefing as they moved along. Daniel seemed to be talking even faster than usual as they made their way down the hall to the infirmary but Jack didn't miss a single word.
"For crying out loud, Daniel! Give me a break! I won't upset her!"
"But that's just it, Jack! She's already upset!"
"Well then, it won't be any different than the last time I was here, will it?"
"The last time you were alone together you..."
"...you weren't there, Daniel."
"You were fighting, Jack."
"I didn't come here to fight with her, Daniel! And sick or not, I think Sam is completely capable of telling me to leave if she doesn't want me here! Don't you?"
"You? Maybe. But I'm not she'll have the same reaction to General O'Neill or even Colonel O'Neill . . ."
Jack stopped in his tracks and turned to face Daniel with a stunned look tugging at his features. He hated to admit it but Daniel was right. Sam had always been respectful and if she truly believed that there was no personal relationship between them she would rely on her military training to dictate her response.
"Ok. You might have a point there."
"So, I'll take it slow but I am going to see her."
"You should talk to Dr. Summers first, Jack. Let her explain it to you."
"You've already done that, Daniel. Look, I said I'd take it slow. I know you're worried about Sam. So am I. I'll be careful, ok?"
He patted Daniel on the shoulder, then turned and was moving towards the infirmary door before Daniel could speak again. Daniel watched as he disappeared inside and crossed his arms in thought, speaking aloud to no one in particular.
"I just hope you can do that, Jack. It might not be easy."
Jack stopped and took a deep breath as he entered the room. The infirmary was relatively quiet. Most of the beds were empty and it wasn't hard to figure out that the one with drawn curtains was hiding Sam. He made a final mental adjustment attempting to force his return to CO status and then started across the room.
He pushed aside the curtain and stepped into the small area where Sam lay. His eyes slowly searching over her, taking inventory of her condition and as he stopped at the foot of her bed a small smile spread across his lips. She was sleeping, although not peacefully and Teal'c stood silently at her side. Jack pulled his eyes away from her long enough to meet Teal'c's calm, dark eyes and he nodded slightly as Teal'c bowed in greeting then moved to his side.
"She doesn't look injured."
Jack spoke barely above a whisper as he continued to watch Sam.
"The bullet penetrated her left shoulder."
Jack's eyes moved to that area and he could see the bulk of a bandage beneath the gown she wore.
"She seems restless. Is she drugged?"
"She is not and her sleep is frequently interrupted by nightmares."
Jack turned as he felt a soft touch on his arm and saw that Dr. Summers was now standing beside him.
"Doctor. How is she?"
"She's very ill, General. Teal'c?"
"I will be outside, O'Neill."
"Thanks, T." Jack turned back to Dr. Summers and she could see the beginnings of tears in his concerned, dark eyes. "Well?"
"The poison from the bullet settled into a tiny lesion in her brain. The antibiotics are helping but they aren't stopping it completely. Plus, there's a chemical reaction with the naquadah in her blood stream that's causing the lesion to become inflamed and it's slowly increasing in size."
Dr. Summers paused waiting for Jack to absorb her words as she watched him watching Sam. A single tear crawled down his tanned cheek and his knuckles were white from gripping the footboard of the bed.
"What can you do?"
"Well, continue the antibiotics and maybe surgery, but that's a last resort. For now, she's slipping back and forth. Her memories are erratic . . .sometimes changing very rapidly."
"Is she in pain?"
"It's mostly headaches, loss of appetite, general confusion due to the memory loss and of course, there's still a bit of pain from the actual wound but it's healing so nothing too severe."
Jack moved his hands, clasping them in front of him. Dr. Summers saw his jaw move as he clenched his teeth in an effort to maintain control and she waited patiently for him to speak, completely aware of the stress he must be feeling. His eyes were still locked on Sam and he was staring with such obvious affection that there was almost a tangible connection between them.
"Will she recognize me?"
"I believe so but it's possible that she won't. She has consistently recognized Teal'c and Dr. Jackson but doesn't seem to remember Colonel Mitchell."
Jack didn't speak or turn to look at her, he simply nodded his head showing that he understood.
"Why don't I leave you alone for a while and if you have questions later I'll be nearby. Just try not to upset her. She may say some odd things, General. Things that are years in the past to you may seem like yesterday to her."
This time he did look at her and took a deep breath as he did so, nodding his head again slowly. Dr. Summers patted him tenderly on the shoulder and left the room quickly, leaving him alone with Sam.
For a long time he stood there, totally still, at the foot of her bed watching as her chest rose and fell with each breath or she turned in her sleep restlessly. Her face contorted as if in pain and she moved an arm randomly, her fists clenching and her lips moving as if trying to speak but unable to find the words.
Finally, he moved to the side and carefully sat down beside her on the bed. Her body jerked slightly as the bed shifted with his weight and he placed his hand on her abdomen to calm her. She grasped his hand instinctively and held on as she turned her body towards him mumbling softly in her sleep.
He watched her for a long time as she settled back into sleep and his thumb rubbed soothingly against the back of her hand. He stared into her relaxed features wondering what dreams were playing behind her closed eyelids and how she'd react to him when she did awaken. Then his mind went further, worrying about the words Dr. Summers had spoken and if they would find a medicine to pull her back from the brink of darkness.
His thoughts wandered to all the mornings he watched her wake up beside him. Bright blue eyes peeking out from sleepy lids as she snuggled into him and entwined their bodies in a comforting embrace. He wanted to hold her now but knew he shouldn't, not yet. He pushed the hair away from her face and leaned in to press his lips against her forehead, closing his eyes and concentrating on that one small act of affection with his whole being.
He was just pulling away from her when she moved slightly and whispered, "Jack."
"It's ok, Sam, it's just me. Go back to sleep."
He moved his hand lightly through her hair, stroking it lightly as he'd done a hundred times before but this time she didn't still beneath his touch. She mumbled his name again and then her eyes were wide open. Brilliant blue pools of light were suddenly searching his face and then staring at him in confusion.
"Yeah, it's me. How ya doin'?"
"They told me you weren't here, Sir."
"I'm sorry, Sam. I wanted to be here but. . ."
"It's all right, Sir, I understand."
"I'm here, now and I'll be here as long as you need me."
Sam looked around the room as if checking to see if they were alone then she turned back to him speaking hesitantly.
"Um . . . did you just kiss me?"
Jack pressed his lips together chiding himself for not controlling his emotions and causing her even more confusion.
"Um, yeah." He rubbed his thumb against her hand absently. "I guess I did."
When he looked up she was staring at him in wide-eyed disbelief but she was also squeezing his hand a bit tighter.
"You really shouldn't do that, Sir."
Jack smiled. He let the smile warm his face until the corners of her lips began to tug upwards in response. Then he leaned in close and whispered.
"Well then, don't tell anyone."
"I'm not . . . dying . . . am I?"
"No, Sam, of course not! You're going to be fine. Why would you think that?"
"Well . . . you don't usually . . ."
"All right, ok. I got a little carried away. You looked like you . . . could use a little . . ."
He squirmed as his body communicated his search for the right word.
"Kiss it and make it better?"
Jack's eyebrows rose dramatically and he pointed at her with his index finger, smiling mischievously.
"Sir, I don't . . . remember what happened."
He could see the worry rising in her eyes almost as if a cloud had covered the sun and he hurried to reassure her that all was well.
"Don't worry about that, Sam, it's the infection. Dr. Summers says it's affecting your memory somehow but we're gonna fix it."
He shrugged his shoulders and made a goofy face hoping she'd believe him and relax again.
"So . . .how ya feelin? Any pain?"
"A little headache and my shoulder . . ." She lifted her shoulder testing the nagging pain she felt there. "Ow!"
"Easy, Carter. You were shot, too."
Her eyes snapped up to meet his again and he could feel her pulse increasing rapidly.
"Hey, it's ok. They're filling you up with antibiotics and you should feel better soon but you need to relax and rest all you can. Feel like telling me what you do remember?"
"I . . . I don't know, it's all mixed up . . ."
"Whenever you feel like it, then."
Sam shook her head slowly as her eyes filled with tears that she struggled to control. She looked down at their intertwined hands and squeezed lightly.
"Thank you, Sir."
Jack allowed a brilliant smile to color his features as his eyes kept contact with hers.
"You bet. Anything you need? Can I do anything?"
"Would you mind calling Pete, Sir? Let him know I'm here but won't be home."
Jack felt his breath catch in his chest as he searched her innocent eyes. He struggled to quickly control the many emotions that were threatening to break free. He had to maintain control.
"Um, Sam, that was . . ."
She was watching him closely as he stammered, the rest of his sentence dying on his lips. There was something in his eyes she hadn't expected, some deep emotion that she couldn't identify.
"I know you don't really like him, Sir and I'd ask Daniel," she continued slowly, "but he's not military . . . and since I don't remember or even know how long I've been here, I just thought . . ."
Jack had looked away, staring down at his feet and brushing at imaginary dust on his uniform.
"He's all right . . . isn't he?"
"I'm sure he's fine, Carter."
He stared at her for a long moment and then stood to his feet, squeezing her hand lightly as he released it and determined to do what was best for Sam and ignore his own feelings, however hard that might be. Back to denial.
"Sure . . . whatever you need. I'll . . . check on it."
"Thank you, Sir."
Jack nodded slowly as he continued to stare quietly into her eyes then without explanation he leaned in and placed another kiss on her forehead.
"I'll be back later, Sam. I have some reports to work on but you call if you need anything, ok?"
Sam shook her head slowly, eyes-wide at his actions and his obvious concern. His hand grasped hers for one final squeeze and for a moment she thought he was going to lift it to his lips but he stopped and simply released it, then turned and walked away.
She watched as he headed towards the door lifting one hand to his face as if brushing at something near his eyes and a sadness seemed to settle over her as he disappeared. She felt alone and vulnerable, something was wrong . . . something.
When he'd leaned in towards her, she'd expected him to kiss her, really kiss her not just brush his lips against her forehead but she had no idea why. And now with him gone, the silent fear was reaching out for her again and she pulled the blankets up close around her, curling into a ball, her mind racing through everything she could remember. Maybe Jack would get Pete clearance to visit and he would tell her what everyone else was hiding. She closed her eyes and felt the sting of warm tears against her eyelids as she drifted into troubled sleep.
Daniel was pacing quietly in the hallway outside the infirmary waiting for Jack to return. As he turned back towards the door, he saw him exit and stop, scrubbing both hands roughly across his face. His shoulders seemed to slump for a moment then he raised his head to look at the ceiling, shaking it slowly from side to side. Daniel approached quietly and laid a comforting hand on his shoulder.
"Are you ok, Jack?"
Jack turned and quickly lifted his eyebrows in some vague expression as his eyes met Daniel's.
"Yeah, just peachy."
"Is Sam ok?"
"She's . . . I guess . . . for the moment, yeah, she's ok."
"So, what happened?"
"She asked me to call Pete . . . let him know she won't be home."
"Oh, God, Jack, I'm sorry." Daniel watched quietly as Jack struggled silently with his emotions.
"Well, at least it wasn't Mitchell."
Daniel frowned, totally surprised by that comment.
"Um, I don't think I understand that."
"Neither do I, Daniel, just forget I said that."
"Ok. What are you going to do now?"
"See if I can find him."
"But Jack . . ."
Jack cut off his words with an impatient voice.
"Sam gets what she needs, Daniel. If it's Pete she needs then I intend to get him here."
"But Jack that was over a year ago and besides it will probably be different the next time she wakes up. She's been asking for you . . . she's never asked for Pete!"
Jack stared into his eyes with a look that was all too familiar to Daniel. It was the same look he had seen hundreds of times before, the all out fierce look of a warrior in pursuit of his enemy. He was about to speak again when Jack brushed past him and moved hurriedly down the hallway. Daniel stood frozen for a moment then started to jog to catch up, calling out to Jack as he stepped inside the elevator.
"If you want to help, Daniel, that's great. You can start by finding Pete Shanahan."
"Jack!" Daniel paused but decided it was best not to anger Jack right now; he was obviously almost overcome with worry for Sam and trying to do what he could to help.
"Ok, Jack. I'll find him."
Jack nodded and released the door, allowing it to close in front of him. As the car began to move Jack leaned his head against the wall, banging it softly against the cool metal.
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