Looking Through Your Eyes

By Flotternz & Tarra O'Neal

Email: flotternz@yahoo.co.nz and IrishLas413@msn.com

Status: Complete, First in a series

Category: Hurt/Comfort, Angst, Romance

Pairings: Sam/Jack

Spoilers: Divide and Conquer

Season/Sequel Info: Season 5 AU (After Desperate Measures - Before Meridian)

Rating: PG

Content Warnings: None

Summary: When Sam goes blind, Jack takes it upon himself to take care of her.

Disclaimer: Sadly we don't own SG-1, or that lovely graying, brown eyed Colonel...*sigh*! Oh woe are we!! Anyways... Stargate SG-1 and its characters are the property of Stargate Productions, MGM/UA, Viacom, Double Secret Productions, Gekko Productions and the Showtime and/or Sci Fi networks. No infringement is intended to the above parties. This is for entertainment purposes only and no money exchanged hands. The original characters, situations, and story are the property of the author. This story may not be posted elsewhere without the consent of the author.

File Size: 260 KB

Archive: Dyiallias II - http://www.dyiallias2.bravepages.com and anywhere else please ask.

Author's Note: Song credits - "More Than Words" by Extreme, and "Looking Through Your Eyes" by LeAnn Rimes.

Feedback: SWEET!!! We love feedback!! The more we get, the more we write, and everyone's happy!! (

**********************************************

"Trees!" Colonel Jack O'Neill complained as he walked down the steps that led from the Stargate to the clearing below. "Why does it always have to be trees? Why can't we just for once go to a nice planet with a beach that stretches on as far as the eye can see?" *With palm trees and bikinis. * His eyes unwillingly slid to Carter at the thought.

*Rein in those thoughts, O'Neill; she's your 2IC for cryin' out loud!*

Squinting, he glanced up into the sky. Two moons? They'd been told it was daytime . not night. They shouldn't even be called moons. They were bright enough to be suns. Pulling off his sunglasses, he tugged his cap on a little tighter. "So how far away is this 'temple' Carter?"

With one hand on the P-90 strapped to his shoulder, he scanned the surrounding area, trying hard not to notice exactly how close the Major was standing next to him. Trying hard not to let on how her closeness affected him.

"The UAV detected it five miles west of the Gate, Sir"

"Okay, campers, let's move out," Jack announced, taking up the lead.

They walked at a steady pace. By Jack's estimate they would reach the crumbling temple within a few hours. * Maybe those moons will have gone down some by then. Man, I'll be glad to get back to Earth; a less lighted planet.*

****************************************

Jack kicked at the loose rocks on the ground outside the temple. Daniel was happily deciphering some 'incredibly ancient language' on some ruins in the next section of the temple. Knowing how Daniel tended to get himself into trouble, especially on boring planets, Jack had sent Teal'c with him

Ack!! He was so bored! Another wonderfully boring mission to PQRS- something something something.

"Hey, Carter what planet is this again?" He directed his question to where Sam was working around some more ruins a few feet away.

"PX1-980, Sir," she answered, absorbed in her work.

"Hey, Carter, whatcha got there?" Jack asked as he ambled over the rubble lying in the entryway.

"I think it's some sort of thermal device, Sir," Sam said, still probing the object with various tools to achieve readings.

"You know what you're doing right?" he asked, peering over her shoulder.

She stopped what she was doing and turned her head to look at him. "I could do it much better if you weren't hovering over me," she commented jokingly.

Jack stepped back, throwing his hands up in a gesture of surrender. "Okay, okay, you're the scientist! I'll just be over here doing my own important thing." He moved around among ruins trying to find anything that looked remotely interesting. He wasn't overly surprised when he didn't.

He found a stone slab in the corner and decided to take a five. Carter could hold down the fort for that long. His knees were killing him. Though he wouldn't let anyone know that. Wouldn't let her know that.

"This is amazing!" Sam exclaimed, rifling through her pack for another scientific measurement tool.

"What's amazing?" Jack asked staring out what used to be a window, at the rapidly darkening sky.

"This device seems to be an early example of the First Law of Thermodynamics," Sam said in awe.

Jack knew that if he didn't ask her, she'd tell him anyway, so he thought he would humor her by feigning interest. "Refresh my memory. What is the first law of dynamic thermals?"

"Thermodynamics is when heat is converted to another form of energy, or even when energy is converted to heat, when there is no loss of energy," she explained, still engrossed in her discovery.

"Oh, well that's always good to know," Jack commented not knowing at all what she was talking about. He looked back out the window, picking up his daydream about beaches and bikinis. * Hmmm....*

A sudden hum of energy pulled him from his reverie.

A primal sort of panic filled Jack as he turned at the unusual electronic sound. He might not know much about the machines that Carter tinkered with, but he had been around long enough to know the sound of a timer counting down. Counting down fast too!

"Carter, get out of the way!" he yelled as he began moving towards her. Until he had spoken she had still been working on it, trying to deactivate it. At the sound of his voice she began backing away from it. His warning didn't come quickly enough.

The explosion reverberated through the temple, knocking Jack off his feet and knocking the air from his chest. His mind hazy, he lay gasping, trying to draw oxygen back into his lungs. His eyes slid shut unwillingly as he lost consciousness.

All over his body he could feel little spears of pain. His head throbbed; his ears were filled with an unbearably loud hum. He forced his eyes open, a sinking feeling growing in the pit of his stomach.

What about the rest of the team?

Carter?

That thought was enough to spur him on. He struggled to push himself up, ignoring the stabbing pain in his head and the spears that jolted through his chest at the movement. * Oh yeah, definitely broke some ribs! * Sitting, he allowed himself to look around as soon as his vision cleared.

Teal'c was behind him, standing in the entrance with the help of his staff weapon. Jack could see Daniel lying not far from the Jaffa, but it looked like he was moving. It was Carter that filled him with a more immediate concern. She wasn't moving.

"Teal'c, check on Daniel".

His pains temporarily forgotten, he pulled himself to his feet and staggered the few meters to where Carter lay. He fell to his knees next to her, unable to remain on his feet any longer. His shaky fingers found her throat, searching desperately for a pulse, for some sign of life. His relief was overwhelming when he felt it under his fingertips. Slow and thready, but it was there.

He set about trying to check on her injuries. She was lying on her side, her back to him. Her uniform was shredded. Taking a breath he rolled her onto her back, hoping against hope that she wasn't burnt. He breathed a sigh of relief when he saw that other than some pretty bad cuts and bruises, her face was pretty much unscathed. He was sure that it wouldn't be the same for the rest of her body.

"Sorry, Carter", he murmured to her, knowing that she couldn't hear him. "But I gotta check". Hastily he ran his hands over her arms and legs, only really looking for more obvious signs of injury. Her shoulder was at an awkward angle; dislocated, he guessed. He was also pretty certain that her left leg was broken, but that was all he could tell.

Blood was seeping from the numerous cuts all over her body; another quick check showed that none of them were bad enough to worry about. She still hadn't woken up, and Jack was starting to get worried. Guilt began to gnaw at him. * I should have warned her sooner! I should have gotten to her faster!*

He knew he couldn't have, that there was no way that he could have gotten to her in time. Guilt was strange that way, no matter how much a person told themselves that they did all they could have done, something deep down nagged at them that they could have done more.

Jack glanced up as he heard footsteps behind him. Daniel and Teal'c were standing above him. Daniel didn't look too great; Teal'c had an arm around his waist, keeping him on his feet. "How is she?" Daniel asked, the concern on his face evident.

Shaking his head, Jack's attention returned to Carter. "Not good. Near as I can tell she has a dislocated shoulder and broken leg, but she's still out. We have to get back to the Gate".

"I concur, O'Neill."

Jack pushed himself back to his feet, thankful that most of the dizziness seemed to have passed. His head still pounded and his ears were still ringing, but it was tolerable- it had to be. He had more important things to think about than a little headache. He had to get Carter back to the SGC, and to the medical attention she needed.

Leaning down, he carefully slid his arms under her and tried to lift her as gently as possible. He flinched as he stood up, jarring her slightly. *I'm so sorry, Carter.*

**************************************

General Hammond was waiting in the control room when SG-1's code was confirmed on the monitor. Something must be wrong. They weren't due back for another twenty-one hours. He grabbed the intercom microphone and ordered a medical team to the Gate room. He made his way down as quickly as he could. If something was amiss, he wanted to be the first to be apprised.

He met Dr. Janet Fraiser as the heavy metal blast door slid open to allow entrance into the Gate room. The medical team had already prepared the gurneys, having learned to always expect the worse, especially when it concerned SG-1.

The wormhole flashed open and stabilized shortly before four figures stumbled or were otherwise carried through. Teal'c held his staff weapon loosely in one hand, as he supported the injured Daniel with his other arm. Jack followed shortly behind, with an unconscious Carter in toll. His breathing was labored due to his cracked ribs.

The medic team rushed up the ramp. They secured Daniel to a gurney, ignoring his protests that he could make it to the infirmary on his own. Janet hurried to Jack's side, concern flashing across her face at the sight of Sam's limp form. She looked questionably at Jack, seeing worry lines obvious on his face.

"She was knocked out. She hasn't shown any signs of waking up. Her shoulder is dislocated and I'm pretty sure her left leg is broken." Jack's response escaped in a rush of breath; pain from his own injuries noticeable in his voice.

Janet directed a medic to take extreme caution when they proceeded to strap Sam to the gurney. Jack watched with guilt-ridden eyes as she was transported to the infirmary. He should have done something ... anything.

General Hammond was waiting for Jack as he descended the ramp rather painfully. Hammond's blank mask was replaced with one of concern, when he took in the sight of the remaining member of SG-1 still in the Gate room.

"What happened, Colonel?" He asked. "I thought this was supposed to be a routine mission." He continued the puzzlement apparent in his voice.

"Yeah, so did I," Jack answered, barely audible as he visualized something ... someone ... that wasn't there anymore. He snapped out of his reverie long enough to give the General a brief explanation.

"We found a device. Carter was investigating it when a timer went off. The thing exploded, knocking us all out. We all came to, except Carter. She's been unconscious for the last two or three hours."

Though the description of events was vague, the General accepted it, and ordered the Colonel to the infirmary.

******************************************

Janet flicked her penlight off, just slightly discouraged. Sam was showing no response to the light. Meaning it could be a concussion, and though she didn't want to even consider it, a coma. Her BP levels were elevated, but the monitors that she was hooked up to kept Janet apprised of any sudden changes.

There were contusions covering Sam's face and arms where she assumed the blast combined with debris, impacted with her skin. First-degree burns covered her fingers, but nothing a little triple-antibiotic ointment wouldn't cure.

Sam's shoulder was dislocated, as the Colonel had earlier assessed. Janet wrapped a bandage securely around the injured shoulder, and had placed her arm in a sling for support.

Her left leg, though, was another matter. It was indeed broken; a definite fracture in her fibula. With the help of one of her nurses, she spent the last forty-five minutes setting the bone and fitting a cast. She really didn't like setting bones, especially when the patient wasn't even conscious for the procedure. It unnerved her not knowing the patient wasn't aware of the events occurring around her.

Looking at her watch, she thought she'd better go check on the rest of SG- 1. Since she was Chief of Staff, so to speak, she wanted to make sure that all of her patients had completed their post-mission physicals.

Janet turned back to face Sam, and was still mildly shocked to see her friend in such condition. Sam's pallor was nearly colorless, the bruises a stark contrast to her usually flawless complexion. Sam was her best friend. She was the strongest person she knew, in mind and in body. She was definitely not someone you would label frail, but looking at her just now...she couldn't dismiss the image. There were very few times she had seen her friend anything but healthy.

Mentally shaking herself, she walked out of Sam's room in search of the remaining team members, especially the ones that tended to dodge the medical exams. Namely, Colonel O'Neill.

***********************************

Jack sat by Carter's bedside, nearly asleep. He was grateful for the painkillers Janet had given him; the pain in his chest had dulled down to an unpleasant burning every time he took a breath.

Still, he fought off the pain that still lingered, as well as his fatigue, unwilling to move from his spot by her bed.

He heard soft footsteps behind him and turned to see Daniel entering the room.

"Has there been any change," the young archeologist asked as he stepped up to her bedside.

Jack tore his eyes from Carter to look up at his friend drowsily. "Nope, none at all," he replied with a sigh.

"Why don't you come and get something to eat, Jack?"

Jack looked back at Carter as the understanding dawned on him that this wasn't just a social visit; Daniel was trying to get him out of the infirmary for a while, probably at the behest of Janet. Although the gesture was touching, Jack just wasn't in the mood for it.

He'd been sitting here since Janet had released him from the infirmary, nearly seven hours ago. The nurses had chased him away periodically; he'd simply hovered in the hall until they were finished and then returned to his spot.

He had to stay here; he had to be here when she woke up. He had to know she was going to be ok.

"I'm not hungry," he replied gruffly.

He could hear Daniel shuffling his feet, obviously trying to decide whether he should push the issue or leave it alone. Much to Jack's relief, he seemed to decide on the latter.

"Ok," he sighed, "Well would you like a coffee then?"

"Yeah, that'd be great."

Daniel left the room quietly, almost unnoticed by Jack, whose attention was back on the woman on the bed. She looked so small and fragile to his eyes, lying there in that bed. Her broken leg was elevated on some pillows, her arm in a sling across the chest to prevent any jarring. Her face covered in scratches and bruising.

He felt responsible for what had happened to her. There was always a measure of responsibility when a member of his team was injured, but he felt it more acutely now.

He should have done something.

"I'm sorry that I couldn't have done more, Carter," Jack whispered, leaning his head sleepily against her bed.

"Please wake up. We need to know you're ok . I need to know you're ok." He could not say the words that were forefront in his mind. His emotions and thoughts were in turmoil. He was warring not only with guilt, but with the realization that she meant more to him than he thought possible. "Please wake up, I don't want to lose you . not like this. I need you. I love you."

Had he not been holding her hand so tightly in his own he may not have noticed the almost imperceptible pressure against his fingers. His first instinct was that it was his imagination, that it was wishful thinking.

He leaned closer to her ear, cast his voice lower. "Carter, can you hear me?"

There it was again, so tiny, so weak, but it was there. She was waking up. He was torn. He knew that he should go and get Janet, but he didn't want to leave her side. He didn't want to let her go.

Daniel chose the right moment to return with the coffee. Hearing his footsteps Jack stood and swung around, keeping his tight grip on her hand.

"Get Janet! She's waking up!"

***********************************

Sound was the first sense to return to her pain-shrouded mind. She could hear something . or someone. It was familiar, it was comforting. She felt herself drawn in by it, pulled back from the mantle of unconsciousness.

The more it drew her back, the more it grew in clarity. A voice, one she knew well. One she depended on, that she got strength from. It was calling to her, begging her to come back from the brink. As the tendrils of unconsciousness dropped away, she felt the pain more acutely. She wanted to retreat back into the darkness, but the voice called her back.

"Please wake up. We need to know your okay . I need to know your okay."

The words meant nothing to her, she couldn't comprehend them. But the voice held her. It was so full of pain. Why was it so full of pain? She had not heard it like that in such a long time. She had never heard it pleading. Was it pleading for her?

"Please wake up, I don't want to lose you . not like this. I need you. I love you."

Need? Love? She still didn't quite understand what was being said, but they wrenched at her, yanking her even further from the edge. She knew those words, they were powerful, they were important.

The pain was worse here, far worse. There was something else . touch. She could feel it, wrapped around her hand. So warm, so welcoming. It let her forget the pain for a moment. Reflexively she tried to respond to the touch, tried to draw strength from it. It hurt more, the concentration, to try and move her fingers just a little. It was enough.

"Carter, can you hear me?"

The voice had changed, the pain replaced by something different. Hope. She recognized it then, as some of the fog dissipated from her mind. *Colonel O'Neill.* She could not form words; she could not move nor open her eyes. She did the only thing that didn't hurt much at the moment. She flexed her fingers a tiny bit more.

"Get Janet! She's waking up!" He sounded almost excited now, his voice more animated.

The rest of her senses were returning now. Oh, the pain was exquisite. A small, involuntary moan escaped her lips. Motion hurt, painfully; slowly she opened her mouth a crack, enough to lick her lips. Her confusion was growing. *What happened to me?*

A hand touched her hair gently. "Don't worry Sam, we're here . you're gonna be okay."

Sam? He rarely ever calls me Sam. The thought spurred her on. She had to know what was happening. She had to move beyond the pain to get the answers she needed, but her body did not want to respond. She licked her lips again, the action hurting a lot less the second time round.

"How . where?" Her voice sounded pathetically weak even to her own ears.

"Ssh . don't worry. There was an accident . an explosion, but your okay now." His voice was so gentle, so calming.

Mention of the explosion bought her memories crashing back. The planet with the bright, bright moons. The device that she uncovered. The ear- piercing sound the device emitted. Jack's frantic warning to get away. Then nothing.

"Oh God," she murmured. "Daniel . Teal'c?"

"I'm here, Sam. Teal'c is fine too."

It was Daniel's voice. He sounded far away. Slowly, she tried to open her eyes. Her eyelids were heavy; they didn't want to respond. Gritting her teeth against the new bout of agony she forced them open only to find darkness.

"Why aren't the lights on?"

The room fell quiet. *What is going on?* She struggled to fight the confusion that was clouded her mind. *What haven't they said anything?*

"The lights are on Sam," the voice belonged to Janet. She sounded surprised.

*Is this some sort of cruel joke?* "No they're not", she replied, her voice annoyed. "If they were on I would know it. I would see.."

That was exactly it . she couldn't see.

Fear began to twist her stomach. *Why isn't anybody saying anything? What is happening?* She felt a sob rising in her throat, but choked it back down. She could feel Jack's hand clutching hers tightly, gently stroking the back of her hand with his fingers.

There was a soft touch on her face, Janet she guessed as she felt the gentle touch around her eyes. She heard a small click which could only be Janet's penlight, and felt a slight pulling at her eye. She couldn't see any light.

"Janet, what's happening?" She was scared, so scared. The silence wasn't helping; it was making it worse, so much worse. "Janet? Please," she pleaded.

The doctor's sigh was barely audible, but Sam heard it like it was a shout. "I'm sorry, Sam. I . I wasn't expecting this side-effect. I think you might have retinal detachment, but I can't be sure until I run some tests."

"So I'm blind?" The words were painful to say. Blind . it burned her tongue. *How can I be blind?* Disbelief battled with the onset of horror. *How could this happen?* It changed everything. Her career was over. Everything was over.

"Yes," Janet's voice was quiet, remorseful.

"No," Sam snapped. "I won't accept that! I can't be . how can I be?"

"It's possible that the trauma from the explosion caused the retina to detach from the back wall of your eyes. It's rare that it happens to both, but considering the force of the explosion it's possible. I'll be able to tell you more when I can do some tests, but I can't do any tests until the swelling goes down."

Sam could feel her control snap as the finality of Janet's diagnosis set in. "I don't care about that Janet! Is it permanent?"

"I can't tell for sure."

"In other words it is?" She yelled, trying to sit up despite the pain.

Jack pulled his hand from hers to push her back against her pillows. "Sam, please, calm down," he said comfortingly.

She didn't want comfort. She didn't want to calm down. She wanted answers. "Don't you dare tell me to calm down, Colonel!" She yelled, "Why should I calm down? It's not going to bring my eyesight back is it? So why the hell should I be calm?"

"Sam this isn't helping," The Colonel's voice was firmer now. "I'm sure Janet will find a solution."

"How can she find a solution when she doesn't know for sure what is wrong? Don't you understand . my career is over! Everything is ruined!"

The tears came then. Big gasping sobs racked her body. *It just isn't fair!* She shut everything in the room out as her sorrow overtook her. She was oblivious to the arms that wrapped themselves about her shoulder, the gentle touch on her knees, the words of consolation from her friends. None of it mattered anymore.

The prick in her arm did not startle her; she did not even notice or feel it. Her sobs turned to quiet whimpers as the sedative took effect and she relaxed into the welcoming arms of sleep. At least she could forget for the moment.

***********************************

Sam lay in her infirmary bed, not daring to move until she could no longer hear the clickety-click of Janet's heels in the corridor beyond. She shouldn't be doing this to her friend, she knew that, but she couldn't help it. She was so angry at the moment.

The sedative Janet had given her had worn off hours ago, and she had been unable to rest since. Her pain had dulled to a tolerable level thanks to the pain killers, but it did nothing to dull her mind. A mind that had been working overtime with recrimination and self-loathing.

It felt like some sort of surreal dream, more like nightmare. It did not feel real to have a life so full of color and then to suddenly be plunged into darkness, so complete like some sort of horrific abyss. But it was real; she was blind, and there wasn't a single thing she could do about it.

It couldn't be permanent. She was certain that anytime soon her vision would clear up, that she would be able to see something. Even if it was blurry it was better than nothing. She could not accept the idea that the rest of her life was going to be shrouded in darkness. It just wasn't going to happen; she wouldn't let it.

A knock on her doorframe drew her attention from her inner musings. She had not been alone for more than five minutes since she had woken the second time. She had no time for any of them. She did not trust herself to talk without yelling, so she chose not to talk.

Her head automatically turned in the direction of the knock before she realized that she could not see the person standing at the door. She flinched unwillingly. Some habits died hard. This was one she was going to have to break quickly.

"Carter?"

She would have known that voice anywhere, regardless of what it said to her. It was the voice that had brought her back from the brink. It was the voice that had brought her back to this. No, she couldn't blame him for this, anymore than she could blame Janet for not coming up with a helpful solution.

"I just spoke to Janet," his voice was closer; he was next to her bed now. "I came to see if you were okay".

*No, of course I'm not okay!* She wanted to respond angrily, but his voice was so rich with concern that she couldn't bring herself to add to his misery. "No, I'm not okay," she whispered.

She could feel a weight settling on the bed as a strong arm wrapped around her shoulders. She could not stop herself from tensing at the touch. She was not going to cry; she was not going to show any more weakness in front of her friends.

"Please," she murmured, shrugging off his arm. "I don't want your pity."

The arm disappeared from her shoulder, but he remained on the bed, so close to her.

"Sam," he said, touching her hand softly. "I'm not here to pity you. I'm here as a friend . a friend you can talk to."

She could feel her temper slipping again, but she tried her hardest to rein in the anger. "I don't want to talk about it. I'm blind, what is there to talk about?"

The weight shifted off the bed jostling her. "There is a lot to talk about. In fact I came here to tell you something."

Sam tried not to appear interested, but his words piqued her curiosity. What?" she asked, her tone more hostile than she had expected.

He sighed irritably, loudly enough for Sam to hear. "I just spoke with General Hammond. He has granted me a leave of absence."

Sam felt her jaw drop. The idea was unthinkable. Why did he want to leave the SGC now, when SG-1 needed its leader the most? "Leave of absence," she repeated the words dully. "Why?"

The weight reappeared on the bed, a hand grabbed hers. "Because you need someone to help you out for a while. Janet is releasing you tomorrow and you need someone with you while you adapt to these changes."

She felt her control snap. *Of all the condescending, pedantic things to say and do! How dare he?* "Changes? I'm *blind* Colonel . but I'm not a *baby*. I don't need to be coddled by anyone, let alone by you!"

"I'm not trying to coddle you Carter!" She could hear his voice wavering, like he was trying to keep himself in check. "I am doing this because I'm your friend, because I want to help you through this. Because I care!"

Again the weight moved off the bed and she could hear him pacing loudly. "We can't reach your father, your brother has a family; he can't leave them for long. What other options do you have? Hire someone, a stranger in your house? You need someone there for you and I want to be that someone!"

"Why do you want to do this for me?" Her voice was tinged with disbelief and confusion. She didn't need anyone to help her. This was temporary . it had to be. But if it wasn't, she would need help. She was aware of that, but she didn't want to ask anyone for help. It would be like admitting defeat.

The pacing stopped. She could imagine Jack looking at her, his expression unreadable as usual. "Because I think I could have done more on that planet . I didn't and now you're here . your blind and it's my fault!"

The guilt in his voice tore at her. She knew he was being ridiculous. There was nothing he could have done to prevent this; he had been too far away. "It was an accident, sir. There was nothing you could have done. I don't want you doing this because you feel obligated to do it".

She realized her slip the moment the words left her lips. She had just given him the approval he was seeking without even making the conscious decision. She was furious that he had backed her into the corner over this, but a small part of her was touched that he wanted to do this for her.

"I don't feel obligated Sam. I want to do this."

She sighed, frustrated and desperately unhappy. How could she say no? "I don't have much choice, do I?" she asked bitterly. "Fine . you can be my babysitter".

***********************************

Jack was waiting outside Sam's room when Janet came out. She had helped Sam get dressed, as the cast made it very complicated to accomplish even the smallest of tasks. He ducked his head around the edge of the door. It looked like Janet had found some of Sam's civilian clothes for her to put on. Pants were out of the question since she had that cast on. He couldn't help but stare at her appearance. Sam was very beautiful out of uniform. She was wearing a floral print skirt and a pink top. He crushed the images surfacing in his head, as the guilt crept back.

As he stepped further into the room he looked closer at her. She was sitting on the bed; her fingers gripped the edge, her knuckles turning white. The rest of her frame tense.

Sam turned her head slightly at the sound of his booted feet. He figured he might as well let her know he was there, instead of freaking her out.

"Are you all ready to go? Got all your stuff you want to take with you?" he asked, feeling like he was talking to a zombie.

All she did was nod her head in response. That clenched his heart tighter. *Will she ever be able to forgive me?*

Jack slung her duffle bag over his shoulder and helped her to the wheelchair waiting off to the side that Janet had left for them. Taking hold of the handles, he steered her out of the room and in the direction of the elevator.

The elevator ride up was unsettlingly quiet. Sam didn't say a word and he didn't feel like talking to himself, which was what he would have been doing. So he kept quiet also. The doors opened not a moment too soon. He displayed their military IDs as they made their way out of the complex.

Jack pushed Sam to his pickup, avoiding as many of the bumps in the pavement that he could. Even when he did hit a rut, Sam never made a sound.

In fact Sam had been really quiet. She'd been that way since they'd had their argument about him taking a leave of absence to take care of her. He kept telling himself that she was just being stubborn. But another part of him, the dark guilty side, told him she despised him for what had happened to her. His rational side reassured him that it wasn't like that at all, however his rational side just wasn't loud enough.

He opened the passenger side door and lifted her out of the wheelchair, careful not to bump her broken leg. As he settled her in the seat and buckled her seatbelt, he couldn't help but let his eyes roam her impassive face. Where was the effervescent smile that always danced on her lips? The mischievous sparkle in her eyes was gone, replaced by a cool emptiness.

Sighing, he stepped back and closed the door, making his way to the driver's side. As he slid into his seat, he noticed it didn't even faze Sam. She was still staring blankly ahead, if you could call it that. Ever since she had found out she was blind, she had withdrawn into herself, refusing to believe the diagnosis, refusing to talk to anyone. He pulled the truck out of the parking lot, and turned in the direction of her house.

He really wished they could have gotten a hold of Jacob, but the Tok'ra were on some secret mission, and he couldn't be contacted. Her brother was too far away to rely on in the current situation. So that left Jack. Not that he minded any, in fact he wanted to do this. He felt he owed it to her, after all that had happened. He just wished she would say something, anything, to let him know the same old Carter was still there.

Jack glanced sideways. "Are you hungry? Do you want me to stop somewhere and get ya something to eat?"

"No." Sam's visionless eyes remained forward.

"No, you don't want me to stop anywhere, or no, you're not hungry?" His brow crinkled with concern. She was really starting to worry him.

"Both."

"Can you say more than one word at a time? I'm having a hard time carrying a conversation with myself," he said, trying to make an attempt at humor. Anything to bring down the wall she'd built up around herself.

Still, she made no comment.

"How 'bout burgers? I can make a quick stop at the grocery store to get the fixings for them. I'll make 'em myself. You ever had an O'Neill Secret Recipe Cheeseburger? No. Well, once you've had one, you'll never want one of those generic fast food burgers again."

"Fine," she commented as she leaned her head against the cool glass of the passenger window.

Jack's eyes drifted to her again. The darkened sky cast shadows on her face, making her look much more vulnerable.

He turned his eyes back to the road, focusing his attention to the small grocery store up ahead. He pulled into the parking lot, and shut the engine down. As he grabbed the handle on the door, he turned back towards Sam.

"I'll be right back, okay. Quick as a blink." He said, but then mentally kicked himself at his last comment. *Man, I'm such a jerk. Why don't I realize what I'm saying before opening my mouth?*

Jack dashed quickly into the store, not wanting to leave her alone for very long. Finding all the necessary ingredients, he took up a place in the check-out lane. Finally, it was it his turn. He pulled out some cash and tossed it on the counter, telling the cashier to keep the change, and hastily made his way back to his truck.

As he approached the vehicle he noticed Sam was still leaning against the door. Her eyes were closed and he could see wetness shining on her cheeks. His hand reached out involuntarily to touch the window where her face was. He closed his eyes in pain; not for himself, but for her. Though he never would tell her, he believed the same thing she did; that her blindness was permanent. Her life had changed in a matter of twenty-four hours. She'd had it all. And then it was ripped out of her grasp, by the cruel hands of fate. He dropped his hand and opened his eyes, and he was startled to find Sam looking back at him. But then he remembered all to well that she couldn't see.

He jerked back and rushed around to the driver's side, got back and revved the engine. Again he set course for Sam's house. Maybe once he settled in a familiar environment, she would ease out of her shell. He could only hope anyway.

***********************************

It is strange how, after so many years of having both sight and sound, you don't realize how much your senses are dulled until you have to rely on just one.

Sam was listening to the many sounds filling her ears. The whoosh of cars going by. The sound of the wind whistling through the crack in the window. The sound of Jack's fingers tapping the steering wheel. Even though she couldn't see anything, she could visualize it perfectly. *It is incredible how much you take for granted until you don't have it anymore.*

She'd been going over things in her mind for the last hour or so. She was devastated, to say the least, about being blind. Being a child of science, she relied on the theories she could see. How was she to run experiments and work on projects without her eyesight? That was just it though; she probably never would again. She had lost the most precious gift she'd ever been given, and she didn't even know until it was too late.

She didn't realize Jack had been talking to her, until he said he'd be right back, and then got out of the truck. She vaguely heard him mention something about a grocery store, but she hadn't been paying that much attention.

She exhaled the frustration she was feeling. Pitying herself wasn't going to solve anything. No matter how much she denied it, to herself and everyone else, she was just going to have to deal with the finality of it all. She was never going to see again.

Sam could feel a slight tickle on her cheeks; she reached up and was surprised to find tears tracking down her cheeks. Her hand was about ready to scrub the evidence from her face, but then she stopped. She didn't care who saw them, she didn't bother to hide them.

A shiver ran up her spine. A feeling unlike she had ever experienced before, coursed through her body. This was totally different from when she perceived Jolinar's feelings or thoughts. This was something...different. She turned her face towards the glass, as if to look out, but the reality slammed back into her. She was really going to have to get used to this.

She heard the driver's door open again, and turned her head. A cool breeze wisped into the cab, followed by the scent that was distinctly Jack. A musky, out-doorsy scent. One that she would always associate with him, whether she could see him or not.

***********************************

Jack applied his foot lightly to the brake as he coasted to a stop in front of Sam's house. He switched the ignition off and hopped out of the truck. Good thing there were street lights, because it was pitch black. No moon or stars out tonight.

He walked around to the passenger side, making sure Sam wasn't leaning against it before he opened it. He wasn't sure how he was going to get her and groceries into the house together. He decided to take her in first and get her settled in.

She already had her seatbelt undone and ready for him to lift her out. She surprised him when she reached her arms out to him. She had been distant all day; he figured he would have to coerce her to let him help her. However, that one small gesture was as far as it went. Her face remained expressionless. He slid his arm under her knees, his hand brushed the sensitive skin above her calve. He felt goose bumps erupt over her legs and arms, causing chills to run through his own body. *How did I ever think I could be this close to her and not react?*

Her arms wrapped around his neck and she laid her head on his shoulder. His heart lurched. *Maybe I made a mistake. Maybe I should have tried harder to contact Jacob or her brother. Maybe I should have let Janet take care of her. Maybe...*

*Jack, you gotta pull yourself together. She needs you... and you need her.*

He walked slowly up the sidewalk so as not to jar her. Good thing he already had her key grasped in his hand, or else he would've had a hard time getting to it; holding her and all.

When he reached the door, he bent down a bit to reach the lock. With a small struggle he got the key in the lock and turned it, and the door swung open. He hit the light switch with his elbow, the room flooding with light. His eyes squinted at the sudden change.

He looked at Carter and a wave of sadness, and remorse overwhelmed him. Her blank eyes were focused on his face, whether she knew it or not. An invisible hand wrapped its constrictive force around his heart. This was killing him seeing her like this.

This wasn't Carter.

This was an empty shell...an impostor living in Carter's body.

Having nudged the door closed with his foot, Jack proceeded further into her house.

"You can put me down now," she uttered softly.

"You want the sofa or your bed?" Jack asked full of concern.

"Bed."

He weaved his way around various pieces of furniture and down the short hallway to her bedroom. He again hit the lights with his elbow. Treading over to her bed, he laid her gently on top. He arranged one of her pillows under her injured leg. His hand lingered a moment too long on her knee, because her head shot up. She searched for him with unseeing eyes, almost frantically.

"I'll go get the groceries in," he managed to choke out, finding his voice at last.

Carter nodded her head, giving him his leave.

He made his way back to the front door, quicker than he had the first time. The knowledge that he was deeply affected by her closeness, spurred him on. He nearly stumbled down the steps, as his mind was not on his current task. He reached into the truck and pulled the sack of groceries into his arms. Making dinner; that is what he was going to set his mind to doing. Something neutral. Something safe.

***********************************

As soon as Sam no longer felt Jack's presence filling her room, she sat up. She did not need babying. I may be blind but I'm not helpless. She swung her legs over the side of the bed, careful not to jostle her broken leg. She mentally pictured the layout of her room in her head. She could "see" her dresser off to the side. She wanted to get into something more comfortable than what she had on. She stood up, getting her bearings before she attempted to take a step. Straightening a little, she continued to hold onto the bed for support.

She took small slow steps, hanging onto the image in her head. *Almost there, just a few more steps.*

After what seemed like an eternity, her hip nudged against the edge of the dresser, rattling some bottles and picture frames. She was slightly out of breath; the weight of the cast drained all of her energy. She leaned against the dresser and shifted her weight to her good leg.

She gingerly removed the arm that had been dislocated from the sling. She was going to need both of her hands for this task. She felt around for the knobs on the drawer. When she was sure she had grasped the right set of knobs she gave it a slight tug. She felt around in the drawer for the item of clothing she had in mind. Finding it, she smiled triumphantly. She could do this after all.

She shook out the old comfortable pair of sweat pants. She draped them over her shoulder so she could take her skirt off. She found the zipper on the side and undid it. The soft material of the skirt floated to the floor, and she lifted her casted leg first then her good leg. Once out of that she brought the sweats down lower. With the support of her right leg, she lifted her broken leg a few inches so she could hook the pants leg over it. It seemed so simple in the scenario in her head, though testing her theory she found it wasn't so easy. The cast was too big around for the pants leg. Discarding that article of clothing, she went in search of another.

Maybe shorts would be a better alternative. She dug deeper into the drawer. She sifted through her clothes. She could nearly discern what they were by the texture of them. When she thought she was going to have to go to another drawer, she came across a pair of cotton shorts. She gauged the width of the leg holes, hoping the cast would fit through it.

Again propping her hip on the edge of the dresser, she went about her chore. She successfully got her broken leg through the leg hole, and set about getting her other leg through. Just when she thought she had it, she lost her balance. She grabbed at the first thing her hand came in contact with. Unfortunately the doily covering the dresser top was not stable enough to hold. She crashed to the carpeted floor, perfume bottles and picture frames following behind her.

The fall stunned her, but when she realized what had happened she just lay there. Too weak to try to get up, and too discouraged to continue.

***********************************

Jack was removing the grocery items from the paper sack when he heard a crash from Carter's room.

"Oh, God..." Thinking the worst, he raced through the house to her room.

His breath caught in his chest when he saw her lying on the floor motionless and in a state of undress. He dropped to the floor and ran his hands over her face, checking for wounds. When he found none he continued to her arms, and lastly her legs. On the inventory of her legs he saw that she had been trying to put on some shorts. She managed one leg okay, but the other wasn't even close. He deducted that must have been when she lost it.

His eyes went back to her face and found her eyes closed. Surely she didn't knock herself out. Not on carpet. Deciding to finish dressing her before replacing her back on the bed, he reached for the shorts that were askew on her legs. He tried not to look anywhere else but the essential parts, her legs. He tried, he really did. He had to shut his eyes to gain control, as he pulled the shorts up and around her waist. *This is Carter for heaven's sake. Carter.*

That's when he heard the choked sob. His eyes flew open. *Maybe she had hurt herself.*

"Carter? You okay?" He asked, his voice low and soothing.

Another sob was his answer.

*Oh God!*

"Carter, are you hurt? Please answer me."

She started crying harder then, the sobs wracking her body. Jack pulled her into a sitting position and lifted her onto his lap. He held her close, his arms wrapped securely around her. She buried her face into his chest.

He could feel her sorrow seeping into his own body. He wished with all his heart he could take her pain away. She didn't deserve this. No one deserved this.

He didn't say a word, knowing she needed get it all out

After several long minutes, her sobs subsided, followed only by an occasional hiccup. She lifted her head as though to look at him, but then remembered...again. She pulled away and slid off his lap.

"I want to lay down now," was all she said to him. She drew back into herself again; trying to avoid him by not speaking.

He helped her stand, as she didn't want to be carried again, and assisted her as she hopped on her good leg, to her bed. She turned on her side away from him and remained silent.

Jack left the room, discouragement and guilt weighing heavily on his shoulders.

***********************************

Jack perched on the edge of the bathtub and ran his hand through the water, testing it. *Perfect. The right amount of bubbles.* Grabbing a couple of small bottles from the counter he uncapped them and added a couple of drops to the bath. Sara always used them in the bath when she wanted to relax, sandalwood and lavender.

He hoped that she liked this. He was still worried about her. Sam had withdrawn again since she had her fall. He had tried to get her to eat and drink but she had refused. He had thought that her breakdown might have helped her a little, allowed her to open up a little more. Instead she had remained silent and distant.

Occasionally the sound of her sobbing would reach him. The sound tore at him. He wished he could do more, but when he had tried to comfort her again she had shrugged him off. He wasn't going to force her to do something she didn't want to do, so if she didn't want to be consoled he would respect her wishes.

She needed to sleep. She was exhausted, but she was so upset she couldn't. He hoped that the bath would relax her enough to make her drowsy.

He knocked on her door and opened it. "Carter?"

She didn't answer. She was lying on her side, her back to him. He could see the shudders running through her body with the force of her tears. A lump formed in his throat as he approached the bed uncertainly. He didn't like this, seeing her so distraught and being unable to do anything about it. The only thing he could do was be there, show her that he was there for her.

Gingerly he perched himself on the end of the bed and touched her ankle. She froze and her tears cut off abruptly. He could see her eyes were open, blinking unseeingly. He wanted so much to pull her into his arms, hold her against his chest as she wept but he couldn't. Something held him back.

"I drew you a bath . thought it might help to relax you a little".

Her head lifted off the pillow a little, as if she was about to look at him, then realized she couldn't. Her face twisted with anger and sorrow. It hurt him so much to see her like this.

"Come on, it might make you feel a little better," he was trying his hardest to sound reassuring.

She nodded slightly, and sat up. She looked hesitant, and Jack instantly realized why. She was wondering how he was going to get her into the bath without looking at her. Thankfully, he had it all organized . he hoped.

"I don't think that's such a good idea, sir."

"You have to trust me, Carter . I won't look. I have your bathrobe ready and a plastic bag to protect your cast."

"I can't take a bath in my bathrobe," she snapped.

"No, you can't." His mind was working overtime trying to come up with a solution. The idea had been a good one at the time, but he'd failed to think of this. How was he going to do it? How was he going to handle getting a naked . semi-naked . Carter into the bathtub.

Then he had it.

"Well if you don't mind getting a towel wet just wrap it around yourself and you can take it off when you get into the bath".

Grudgingly, Sam nodded her head in agreement. "Fine." Slowly she pushed herself up into a sitting position.

Jack quickly left the room to get a towel, bathrobe and one of the bags that Janet had given them to wrap the cast in. Handing the towel and robe to Sam, he waited outside the room to let her get ready. Second thoughts began to plague him. Maybe it wasn't such a good idea. He hadn't thought about how much his closeness to her might affect him.

"Colonel?" Sam's voice sounded so small and uncertain to his ears. "Um, I uh ... could you help me?"

He opened the door cautiously, wanting to help her, but unsure of how he could handle it himself. He knew she had had problems earlier changing clothes, now she was in the process of undressing. The thought sent shivers and hot surges through his body. *Control yourself, Jack.*

He stepped further into the room. Sam's back was facing him; she had her robe on, so he wasn't sure what the problem was. As he rounded her, he saw her clutching the top part of it closed with her nervous hands. She was shaking.

"Carter?"

"Um, Sir, I uh ... can't get my shorts off," she explained, her voice slightly shaky.

Jack's eyes went lower and sure enough he saw the bright blue cotton shorts peeking out from between the gap in her robe. *Oh God, how am I going to manage this?* He had barely made it when he helped her the first time. Only this time he would be uncovering skin, not vice versa. He didn't know if he could do this, even though he knew he had to. He knew he would eventually end up seeing her in a state of undress. He was going to be staying there for at least the next six weeks, until she got her cast off. So it would only seem obvious that he would be in this position.

He hadn't thought of this when he had made the decision to do this. He had not chosen to help her out of his feelings for her, thinking that it could be a way to get close to her. He had made the decision because of the guilt that he had felt. Guilt that was rapidly giving way to his feelings.

"Sure, Carter," he replied, hoping his voice didn't give away any of the apprehension that he was suddenly feeling.

Trying hard not to look, he reached out to touch her shorts. His hands were shaking. *Get it together man!* He squeezed his eyes shut as he gently tugged at the shorts. Oh, this is too close. His finger brushed her thigh causing an involuntary shiver to course through his body. *Oh, God.*

He managed to pull the shorts past her backside before turning her and guiding her back to the bed to sit down. With her sitting down, it was easier to slide the shorts off past the cast, but Jack felt like a wreck. He studiously avoided looking at her face, ashamed at the feelings that were being evoked in him. He felt like a dirty old man, for entertaining the thoughts in his head.

He pulled them off with a relieved sigh. "There you go. Should we get the cast wrapped now?"

He wondered if it was a flush that he could see coloring her cheeks or just his imagination. Her head turned in his direction. "Just give me a moment to wrap the towel around me."

Again he stepped out of the room, sagging against the wall. He silently cursed at himself. *What happened to all my military training? Has it suddenly just upped and left me? I've been in worse situations than this and handled them with much more ease than I've had handled this one, supposedly simple, predicament.*

"Oh Jack, you've fallen hard now, haven't you?" he muttered.

"What was that, sir?"

*Crap.*

"Nothing Carter. You ready yet?"

At her okay he re-entered the room, thankful that the bath towel he had given her was long enough to be seen below the hem of the robe. *This is fine . piece of cake.* He quickly set about covering the cast and ensuring that there was no chance of water getting in.

Satisfied, he stood and slid his arms underneath Sam. Ignoring the twinge in his ribs that the motion caused, he straightened and lifted her. His breath caught in his throat as her arms slid around his neck. Carrying her into the bathroom, he gently placed her on the toilet seat.

As she removed the robe Jack busied himself with rechecking the bath water and bubbles. *Still perfect.* He returned his attention to Sam and had to swallow the lump that suddenly formed in his throat. She was naked under that towel. One little slip would mean embarrassment for the two of them.

He picked her up even more carefully and lowered her slowly into the tub. "Keep your leg up," he reminded her as he lowered her into the water. "It's not too hot is it?"

"No," she sighed. "It's perfect . just right."

Pulling his arms out from under her he gently took hold of her leg and guided it into the sling he had jimmied above the bath. Satisfied that the cast was completely out of the water he stepped away and dried his arms, trying his hardest not to look at Sam.

She was wriggling, obviously attempting to remove the towel. He couldn't help himself; he could feel his eyes sliding in her direction.

*Stop it Jack!*

He turned and found himself looking at her reflection in the mirror.

He bit back a frustrated groan and scrubbed a hand across his face. He needed to get away, to get some space between himself and the naked woman in the bathtub. The naked woman he loved and couldn't do anything about. He couldn't take advantage of this situation.

"I'll just be in the kitchen. Give me a yell if you need anything."

"Colonel?" Her voice had a high, urgent tone to it. "Please, will you stay. talk to me? I don't want to be alone."

He couldn't resist that plaintive tone. He couldn't resist her. Biting back the little voice that was telling him this was a bad idea; he perched himself on the toilet seat. *Oh, I hope those bubbles last!*

"Carter, why don't you call me Jack? We're not at work, we don't need ranks. It's so formal."

"Fine, but only if you stop calling me Carter!"

Her voice sounded almost joking, but the pained undertone belied it. It still hurt him, to hear that and know that it would be there for a long time. That there was nothing he could do to prevent it.

"So," he started. He began rubbing his hands together, trying hard not to focus his attention on the beautiful naked woman in the bath next to him. "What do you want to talk about?"

"I don't know," Sam sighed sleepily, resting her head against the lip of the bath. "Just talk to me about anything. Tell me about your childhood."

***********************************

Sam hadn't thought it possible that she could be so relaxed, not so soon after her "accident". But she was relaxing, her various aches and pains oozing away thanks to the blissfully warm water she was soaking in. She could almost feel herself forgetting all her problems. Almost.

She was surprised that she found Jack's voice such a comfort. Even more surprising to her was that his mere presence consoled her. Her anger at him for assisting to help her was rapidly fading. She was thankful now that he had insisted, that she wasn't being helped by a stranger.

He was talking to her, but she had no idea about what. She inhaled deeply, breathing in the soothing aroma of sandalwood and lavender. How had he known to use those oils? In the course of the last few hours she had quickly learned that she had underestimated Colonel Jack O'Neill. She knew now she had a lot to learn about this man.

He had been so generous and giving in the last few days, since the accident. He had been patient, put up with her yelling and her stubborn refusal to accept the truth of the situation. Steadfastly remaining near her in case she wanted to open up to him. She had been told that he hadn't left her bedside during the time she was unconscious, though at the time she hadn't really cared. Now she was beginning to. *Why does he care so much?*

She knew he had feelings for her, but why did he still want to be around her, knowing that she could no longer do any of the things that he loved? They no longer had anything in common.

She had given him a fright when she had fallen earlier. She had scared the living daylights out of herself. But she was having trouble forgetting how tender he had been as he straightened her clothes and consoled her as she wept. Tenderness was something she had never associated with Jack O'Neill.

Now this bath. It was a sweet gesture, one she appreciated a lot more than she probably let on. It was just what she needed after several days confined to a bed in the infirmary. She allowed herself to relax, to wallow in this luxurious tub.

"Sam?"

His insistent use of her name drew her from her musings. "Yeah?"

"I asked you if the water was still ok . or do you want me to add some more hot water to it?" His voice held a touch of humor to it, telling her that he knew that she wasn't listening to what he was talking about.

Now that he had mentioned it, she did notice that it was a lot cooler, nearing lukewarm. "Mmm . some more heat would be nice."

Sam could hear him getting up, almost feel him leaning over her to reach for the tap. She heard the squeak of the tap turning, then felt the water cascading into the bath.

"Tell me when it's warm enough, okay?"

"Hmm mmm," she replied.

She felt the need to be doing something constructive. Sitting up slightly, conscious of the fact that she didn't want to show too much flesh, she began feeling along the edge of the bath. Where was it?

Her hand come into contact with something squishy and cold and she couldn't help but smile a little. She picked up the sponge and set about trying to find the soap. A strong hand gripped hers, turning it over to face palm up and opening her fingers at the same time. A bar of soap was placed in her hand.

She smiled, more at the touch than anything else. "Thank you, Jack."

Jack. It felt unusual saying his name. She was so used to calling him Colonel or Sir that it was going to be hard to break the habit. She had to admit though that it felt nice on the tongue.

"Would you like me to scrub your back?"

The question caught her completely off guard, and she could tell by the thump of Jack sitting back on the toilet and the soft sigh that he hadn't expected him to ask it either. The problem was that she really did want to say yes. Was it appropriate? But why did appropriateness even matter anymore, she was no longer in the military, therefore they were no longer privy to the same limitations that they had been three days ago.

"Sure," she replied shyly, holding out the soap and sponge.

She could hear him moving, and then her hands were empty. Sitting forward she crossed her arms over her breasts, covering herself. His motions were tentative at first, but the slow circular motions picked up a little in speed and pressure. It was blissful. Sam couldn't remember the last time that she'd had someone doing this for her, and Jack O'Neill was great at it. She let out a deep breath, relaxing even more. This felt too good.

But as quick as it started it finished. She sighed and leaned back against the tub sleepily. Maybe it was time to get out. Her exhaustion had caught up with her; she was ready for sleep. Hastily she washed the rest of her body, noticing that Jack had gone awfully quiet all of a sudden.

Was he watching her? Was he embarrassed?

"Jack?"

"Yeah?"

She knew this was going to be difficult, but she couldn't stay here all night. "I think I want to get out now".

Sam could hear him swallow loudly. Obviously the same thought had registered with him. Getting her into the bath had been difficult enough, getting her out was something else entirely. She sighed knowing there was going to be no easy way around this. It's not like she could just stand up.

"Okay," he replied, his voice was quiet.

*Oh to hell with it.* "Jack I think the easiest way to do this is just give me a towel and let the water out. I can cover myself with the towel and when the waters gone I can just stand up."

"I guess there's no other way".

She could hear him getting up; then felt a towel touch her arm. She trusted him not to look. She knew he wouldn't. Taking the towel, she pulled out the plug with one hand and quickly arranged it over herself, hoping that she had managed to cover herself completely.

The water made a sucking sound as it all disappeared down the drain. She could feel her leg being moved and guessed that Jack was taking it out of the restraint. Her leg was laid down gently in the bathtub. "Do you need some help standing up?"

"Umm . yeah I think I do."

His hands wrapped around her arms and he pulled her up as gently as he could. She struggled to hold the towel in place as she was pulled to her feet, the sudden shift in orientation shifting it. She could feel a blush warming her cheeks. His hands were moved and she could hear his feet shuffling before something was wrapped around her shoulders. Her bathrobe.

Smiling gratefully she pulled it around herself awkwardly. She finally managed to get her arms through the sleeves, tie the robe around her and lose the towel without showing off too much flesh.

By the time Jack had carried her back into her bedroom she was exhausted. Rubbing a towel over her hair to get the excess moisture off, she lay back against the pillows intending to rest for a few minutes. She fell into a deep sleep almost instantly.

***********************************

The muted sound of sobbing drew Jack out of his sleep. He had been sleeping lightly since he had gone to bed, subconsciously listening for any signs that Sam might be in trouble. Not that he had really been able to sleep anyway. His thoughts had been disturbed since Sam had had her bath.

He had thought he would be able to maintain his focus when he had decided to take on the task of helping Sam out. He had thought that his personal feelings wouldn't get in the way. He had been wrong, terribly wrong. He had loved her from afar for so long, of course the sudden closeness to her would affect him.

Sam had fallen asleep almost as soon as he had laid her on the bed after the bath. He had been right in thinking that she was exhausted. She was more than exhausted if that was even possible.

He had gone to bed shortly after, his body protesting with their own aches and pains. His ribs burned with every breath. It was worth it though, rather than trusting some stranger to look after her, to do it himself. It just felt right.

Sliding out of the bed, he pulled on a pair of tracksuit pants and padded to Sam's bedroom. He had left the door open so he had a better chance to hear her call if she needed help.

He knocked quietly on the door to alert her to his presence. "Sam? Are you okay?"

Her sobbing cut off abruptly, as if she was surprised that he was there, that he had heard her. Jack could still hear her sniffling as he stepped into the room. Sam was sitting in the chair by the window, facing out into the darkened night. He could see her form silhouetted by the moonlight flowing in through the open curtains.

Jack rushed over to her and kneeled in front of her, searching her for any signs of further injury, worried that she might have hurt herself trying to get from the bed to the chair. Seeing none, he brought his eyes up to her face. "Sam," he whispered questioningly. "Tell me what's wrong ... please."

Tear trails shined on her cheeks, the sight ripping at his heart. He wasn't sure if she was aware of it, but she turned and looked straight into his own eyes. "I feel so ... alone. Like everything is closing in around me."

"You're not alone, Sam . I'm here for you. I won't let you be alone." Jack reached out and took her hand in his to reinforce his words with actions.

A lone tear ran down her cheek as she closed her eyes for a moment, a mournful look crossing her face. "You won't understand, Jack," she sighed.

Reaching out, he wiped the tear from her cheek. "Try me."

"It's hard to put into words. I just . in less than a day everything I took for granted has been taken from me," she started. The tears began rolling down her face again. "What did I do to deserve this?" Sam whispered into the darkness.

Jack brought his hands up and cupped her face. "You did nothing to deserve this. You are the most generous, kindest, bravest person I know."

"If anything that should have been me in that blast," he went on unable to stop the words leaving his mouth as the guilt rose again.

"No ... but I..." Sam stammered.

Jack rose to his feet and pulled Sam to her feet with him. He took her place in the vacated chair and eased her onto his lap, cradling her. Sam stiffened when he put his arms around her, but then relaxed to his soothing touch, finding comfort in the strong arms enveloping her.

Sam's arms snaked around his neck as she settled her head on his shoulder. "Why are you doing this to yourself, Jack?"

"Doing what to myself?"

Sam sighed softly. He could feel her warm breath whisper across his throat. "Torturing yourself . blaming yourself for what happened when there was nothing you could have done?"

Jack closed his eyes, trying so hard to ignore how good it felt to hold her in his arms. "I could have done something, Sam," he replied adamantly. "I just know that there was something else I could have done to have prevented this."

He could feel her bristling in his arms. "You're wrong, Jack. I don't blame you for what happened . it was an accident. You know that, and I know that, and we just have to accept it."

"I can't accept it, Sam, any more than you can."

She turned her face back into his chest and tried to choke back a sob. Instinctively he wrapped his arms tighter around her. "I'm trying to accept it. It's hard, Jack, so hard. How am I supposed to accept that I will never see again? That I can no longer do any of the things that I love?"

She started sobbing again. "It's just not fair, Jack. I don't want to live the rest of my life in darkness. I don't want to never be able to see the faces of my loved ones again. I don't want to be alone!"

"Sam. You can still see us, just in a different way."

He took hold of her arms, disentangling them from his neck. Taking her hands he guided them until they touched his face gently. "Look at me this way".

Jack could feel his hesitation as her fingers lingered on his face softly. He tensed, closing his eyes as her fingers began their slow exploration of his face. His breath froze in his chest as he felt them run lightly over his lips. He could not help the involuntary shiver that ran through him.

Her fingers continued their exploration. Her light touch moved to his chin, her nails scraping across his stubble. He opened his eyes, unable to shut out the images running through his head. Her fingers moved to his temple, hesitating at his hairline, but moving further as though with a will of their own. He swallowed against the lump in his throat.

He looked into her eyes. If he didn't know that she couldn't see, he could've sworn he could see her eyes sparkle with ... pleasure ... love? He was also aware that if she could see his eyes she would find the same thing matched in them. He wanted her, now more than ever. He wanted to show her that she would never be alone; not as long as he still breathed.

His arms lifted, almost of their own volition, reached out to touch her face gently. He couldn't help himself. Closing his eyes he brushed his fingers along her jaw line, wanting to experience it like she was. Her skin was so soft, so delicate. He couldn't stop. He traced her eyebrows, down her nose, across her cheeks, relishing in the feel of her silky flesh under his calloused fingertips.

His hand tingled with the sensations stirring in him; he hesitated for a brief moment. Slowly, cautiously his fingers moved to her lips. This was dangerous, so dangerous, but it felt so right. She sucked in a sharp breath as his fingers moved across her lips. He felt them part slightly. * Was that an invitation for something more?*

She licked her lips; he could feel her tongue brush over the tip of his finger. He was lost to her in that instant. Leaning forward slightly he captured her lips with his and pulled her closer to him, unable to restrain himself any longer. It just felt so right to be holding her in his arms, to be kissing her.

He tangled a hand in her hair as the kiss deepened, pulling her even closer to him in the same motion. Her hands dropped from his face to settle on his shoulders. His very bare shoulders. The touch caused goose bumps to rise on his flesh as her hands swept down to explore his chest.

The groan rose unbidden deep in his throat. This was wrong. This was very wrong. No matter how right it felt . it was still wrong. This was not the sort of comfort Sam needed. He was taking advantage of the situation. Reluctantly he broke the embrace and with it the spell.

He sat silent for a moment trying to catch his breath. He had dreamed of that moment for so long, and when it had finally come, when they weren't under the influence of some alien virus, they were themselves and not their alternate versions, they weren't caught in some endless time loop, he had stopped it.

Why? Was it because she was blind? Upset? Was it because of his pervading guilt? He didn't know.

"I'm sorry, Sam," he whispered, conscious that her face still hovered inches from his own. "I shouldn't have taken advantage of you like that."

"You didn't take advantage of me, Jack", she scoffed. "You just showed me that I can still experience things, but in a different way."

He could still feel her hands, pressed lightly against his chest. He tried hard to suppress the thoughts that he shouldn't be having. "You should try and get some more sleep."

He stood, still holding her in his arms and moved to the bed. Placing her gently on the bed he straightened, watching her dolefully. Oh, how he wanted this to be different! He couldn't help the regret that was flooding through his emotions. Pulling away from her was the hardest thing he had to do, no matter how much he told himself that this wasn't the right time.

He could hear Sam's sigh as he released her, and though she was blind her eyes were fixed in his direction. She reached out, her hand groping in mid- air. A look of panic flashed across her face as her hand met only thin air. Seeing the panic, Jack reached over and took the hand, holding it tightly in his own.

"Please, Jack, I don't want to be alone tonight."

She sounded so frightened and uncertain, so unlike the Sam Carter that he knew. He couldn't resist her. He couldn't deny his desire to help her, to hold her and comfort her. He settled himself on the bed next to her, fighting back his sudden apprehension. Nothing was going to happen; he wasn't going to let it happen.

"Hold me, Jack," her voice was tiny, almost childlike.

She was on her side, her back to him. Rolling onto his side he slid closer to her, pressing the front of his body to the back of hers, spooning his body against her. He placed his arm across her waist, pulling her closer to him, fighting the impulses that the close contact was causing through his body.

He pressed a soft kiss to the back of her neck, feeling her already relaxing and succumbing to the arms of sleep. "Good night, Sam."

***********************************

Sam lay in bed relishing in the slight breeze coming from the window. Jack had gotten up during the night to open it, when she had become hot.

*Jack.*

He had stayed with her the entire night, holding her. Whenever she would awaken from a thoroughly unpleasant dream, he was there to comfort her, hold her tighter. Without knowing it, he had directed her to the road to recovery. His patience and diligence touched her more than anything ever would. That said a lot more than words ever could, she realized. He was willing to give up six weeks of his life for her, to make sure that she would get better. She decided today would be the day to accept the changes in her life. She would have to sooner or later. *I owe it to myself... and to Jack. No better time than the present.*

Her hearing was becoming more attuned to her environment. *Guess I will have to rely on that from now on*, she thought. She heard bare feet padding down the hallway. *Jack.* A smile lit her face as she thought of him. She thought of the kiss they shared last night, brief it was. *Even so, it was wonderful.* She could feel herself blushing. *Geez, what am I, a teenager?* She laughed at herself.

She knew the moment that he entered her room. That was another sense she was becoming aware of. The ability to detect peoples' presences. *Okay...Jack's presence*, she thought, causing her to giggle slightly.

A wonderfully exquisite aroma wafted from the doorway. *Is that...bacon?* She didn't realize how hungry she was until that moment. She hadn't wanted to eat anything last night. Now she was famished.

"You're awake!" Jack announced mildly surprised.

"Yeah," she answered him with a beaming smile.

A soft chuckle rang in her ears as he approached her bed. The bed dipped as he settled himself next to her, placing a tray across her legs. He placed a napkin in her lap, and took hold of her right hand. Her stomach lurched at his touch. Even after being held by him all night, his touch still set her skin afire. He placed a cool metallic object in her hand. A fork. Her mouth lifted.

"Do you wanna try, or do you want some help first?" He asked, just slightly granting her some independence.

"I think I want to do it on my own," Sam said, as she attempted her first step to recovery.

Sam felt around on the plate with her fork. When she finally thought she had it, though not sure what, hooked on the end of her fork, she brought it to her lips.

The cold metal touched her open lips, but nothing else. She felt something drop on the napkin in her lap. She sighed lightly.

"It's okay, I'll get it," Jack offered. His hand retrieved the fallen food item and placed it on her fork for her.

She lifted the fork again, leaning forward a little to meet it. It made it to her lips. Then sheer sensation. *This is the best omelet I've ever tasted. I knew that Jack could cook, but this is incredible!*

"This is great," she managed to say around the mouthful of food.

Jack laughed lightly beside her, making her skin flush. If this was how she reacted to his every action, she didn't know if she would make it six weeks with him...alone. She didn't think she cared, though. She was happy at the moment. If this was how she felt with him around to help her, then maybe it wasn't such a bad idea after all.

She did achieve the small task of finishing her breakfast with Jack's help. He let her take her time, and tried to let her accomplish it on her own. She was grateful he was there. She would have to let him know that later. Right now though, she was enjoying the moment alone with him, as he helped her finish her juice. She wiped her mouth with the napkin, and leaned back against the headboard, thoroughly contented.

"So do you want to get dressed now, or stay in bed a bit longer?" Jack inquired, giving her a choice.

Sam chewed on her lip, thinking. It felt good lying in bed, but she wanted to get up and face the day...face the world. She thought she was ready.

"I want to get up," Sam answered, already pushing at the tray on her lap.

"Okay, there's no hurry. Take it easy. Here let me help you," Jack said, fussing over her.

He removed the tray and set it off to the side. She flipped the covers off, and proceeded to scoot to the edge of the bed. Jack's hand encircled the elbow of her good arm as he assisted her to rise from the bed. She stood, and her head started spinning. She couldn't see, but she was dizzy. *Must be everything catching up to me*, she thought. She remained still for a moment, willing the nausea to pass.

"Are you okay? Do you need to lay back down?" he voiced his concern.

Sam pressed a hand to her stomach, as though to push away the sick feeling lingering there. She inhaled a cleansing breath. "Yeah, I think I'll be okay."

"All right. What do you want to wear?" he asked.

"Um...I don't know. Can you just lead me to my closet?"

"Sure. No problem." Jack led her to the other side of her room. She could hear him sliding the closet doors open.

"I want to do this on my own," Sam reasoned turning in his general vicinity.

"Well..." His voiced sounded strained, and she knew he was remembering last night's incident.

"Seriously. I want to do this," she affirmed.

"If you promise me that you will call me the minute you need help. Okay?" He countered, leeriness lacing his voice.

"I promise." Sam smiled back at him.

"Hold on..."

Sam heard him pulling something over the carpet across the room. He placed her hand atop the back of the wooden chair that usually graced the corner of her room.

"For stability," he reassured.

She couldn't hold back her smile. He thought of everything.

"I'll be right outside your door if you need me, okay," he said, still hesitant.

"Okay. And Jack?" she added.

She heard Jack's feet shuffling on the carpet as she pictured him turning towards her.

"Yeah?"

"Thanks." Her voice went soft as she turned back to her closet. She heard him pad across the room and her door shut softly, causing a small smile to grace her lips.

***********************************

Jack was leaning against the wall when he heard Sam call his name. He wasn't too worried, since her voice was void of urgency. He turned the knob and let himself back into her room. What he saw next caused his face to break into a huge smile.

Sam had managed to dress herself. She had found a lime green wrap around skirt and a pinkish pull over top. *Not Cosmo worthy at all.* But he wasn't going to tell Sam that. It would probably make her feel worse. And he didn't want to do that. *In fact she looks kinda...cute.*

"Ya all done?" Jack asked trying to keep the amusement out of his voice.

"I think so. Do I look okay? I mean do I match and everything?" Sam asked worriedly.

"You look great," He encouraged her. He was glad she couldn't see him right now, for he knew he was grinning like a fool.

Jack eyed her from head to toe, pleased nevertheless at her appearance. Anything beat the crap out of those baggy BDUs any day.

"Do you want me to help you into the living room? So you can prop your leg up or something? Janet did say that you should keep it elevated for at least a week," Jack urged as he slipped back into nurturing mode.

"Yeah, I think I'm ready to sit down. This kind of wore me out," Sam admitted.

Jack made his way over to her and set the chair off to the side, making sure to remember to put in its place later. He lifted Sam into his arms, his heart beating a cadence as he did. If he thought it couldn't get any worse, Sam trustingly put her arms around his neck, making his heart go into overdrive.

"I could have walked you know," she said lightheartedly.

"I'd rather be safe than sorry. Maybe I'll let ya later," he said, trying to be humorous; anything to get the lump to recede in his constricted throat.

He carried her into her living room and set her carefully onto the sofa. He found some throw pillows and used those to prop up her broken leg. Sam sighed in relief as the pressure was taken off her leg. Jack had been squatting by the coffee table adjusting the pillows when he looked up at her face and caught her look of utter contentment. He'd thought he'd never see that look on her face again, and it pleased him.

Jack stood up, his knees popping causing him to wince. *What I need is a nice hot shower...or maybe a cold one after the way last night and this morning has gone,* he thought wryly.

Sam was leaning her head back on the sofa, her eyes closed.

"Sam? Do you think you will be okay while I grab a shower?"

"Sure," she said, her eyes remaining shut.

Jack headed towards the bathroom but faltered at the edge of the hallway. "I won't be long."

"Take your time, I'll be fine," she assured him.

Seeing she was obviously lost in another world, Jack continued down the hallway. When he stepped into the bathroom he rummaged through the linen closet to find a towel. As he waited for the water to warm up he brushed his teeth. He saw his reflection in the mirror and shaving crossed his mind, since he was displaying a bit of five o'clock shadow. Scratching the idea, he figured it didn't matter one way or the other, since Sam was the only person present, and couldn't see it. He winced at that last thought.

The steam floated out of the shower, and the mirror started to fog up. Jack pulled his t-shirt over his head and tossed it on the floor. He'd thrown it on to make breakfast. He didn't want grease to splatter on him; that could be painful. He stuck his hand under the spray from the showerhead to gauge the temperature. Almost there. He undid the tie on the track pants and kicked them off as they reached his ankles.

Jack looked at his reflection in the mirror. *Oh for cryin' out loud!!* He'd forgot he'd been wearing those boxers. The black ones with little red hearts. They were a Christmas gift from Teal'c of all people! Daniel and Sam had taken him to the mall to shop. They however forgot to go over the proper gift-buying etiquette with him. That, or else he had one heck of a sense of humor. The big guy never cracked a smile when Jack had opened the gift, although Daniel and Sam had been nearly rolling on the floor with laughter. Yep...he almost returned them. But he didn't want to hurt Teal'c's feelings if he ever found out. So he'd hung onto them; one could never have enough undergarments.

Shucking them he stepped into the warm spray shooting down on him. The heat of the water seeped into his sore muscles. Rivulets cascaded down his back and pooled at his feet to join the small stream slipping down the drain. Jack's eyes drifted closed and he leaned his forehead against the wall of the shower, allowing the water to pellet his skin. He hadn't enjoyed taking a shower this much since...well...never that he could remember. His muscles ached; his knees were protesting that he was even standing.

Feeling guilty that he was enjoying even this small pleasure while Sam was out there alone, got him into gear. Jack grabbed a bottle of some kind of herbal shampoo. He hoped it wasn't too flowery; wouldn't do for a Colonel in the United States Air Force to smell like roses. He popped the cap and took a whiff. Not bad; sorta like... sunflowers? Not that he knew what sunflowers smelled like. But that was what the bottle said, so he would take its word for it.

He squeezed a gob into his hand and put the bottle back. He rubbed his palms together to get the shampoo to lather and then ran his hands through his hair. He worked his fingers through his hair and then stepped under the water again. Suds ran down his face, down his body. Once his skin was squeaky clean he turned the knobs, shutting off the water.

He stepped out onto the bathmat and grabbed the towel he had set out. He rubbed it over his hair, briskly drying it. He then wrapped the towel around his waist to search for his clothes.

*Well crap!* He'd forgotten to bring clean clothes in with him. He eyed the track pants he'd just taken off. *Oh, that isn't going to happen. Not easy to get into right after a shower.* He could sneak out and grab some clothes before Sam found out. This was one time he was glad she couldn't see. That would've been quite an uncomfortable situation.

He left his discarded clothes on the floor; he'd pick them up later. He laughed at himself. He never thought he would've been tracking through Carter's house in nothing but a towel.

As he walked into the living room, he casted his eyes toward the sofa. And froze. Sam was gone. Panic rose in him. Then he heard glass shatter in the vicinity of the kitchen. It felt like he'd been sucker punched. He moved as fast as he could in a towel, unsure of what he was going to find. Terrified of what he was going to find.

***********************************

Sam sat quietly on her sofa as Jack's footfalls disappeared down the hallway. She was alone. The word had a different meaning to her now. Even knowing that Jack was still in the house, even being able to hear him pottering about faintly somewhere else, the darkness was so complete that she could not help feeling completely alone and isolated.

Having to rely on her other senses was difficult, having to hone them to a higher degree than she had ever had to before. Even after such a short time she could tell the acuity of her senses were changing, becoming more attuned to everything around her.

Trying not to dwell on her loneliness, she tried instead to concentrate on each sense. How else was she supposed to relearn her surroundings but by touch, sound and smell?

Taking a deep breath she could smell the bacon and eggs from breakfast, the strong odor of coffee brewing on the percolator, the woody, musky tone of Jack's aftershave. Underneath it all she could smell something soft and flowery, with a trace of lavender. Potpourri. She always kept some in a small bowl on the table.

She had never realized how loud background sounds could actually be. She'd never really paid much attention to them before. The sound of the shower running, the clicks of the coffee percolator heating the pot, the clock on her mantel ticking softly. Outside sounds were louder too; cars traveling down the road, a lawn mower running down the street, the grasshoppers chirping.

The tone of the water changed, telling her that Jack must have hopped into the shower. She had a feeling that the bathroom door was still open, knowing Jack would be listening out in case she called him.

Thinking about water, Sam realized she was thirsty. That coffee smelled too good, and she knew Jack made the best coffee in Colorado. Gathering her resolve she stood up, drawing on her memories to visualize the room. *I can do this, I* will *do this!* She needed to prove that she could do this, to herself, and to Jack.

Bending down she groped around, feeling for the coffee table. Gripping the edge she took two steps to the right, her hands sliding off the end of the table. Conjuring up her memories, she was certain that she now had a straight line from the living room to the kitchen.

She took a tentative step forward, sliding her foot in case there were any obstructions before her. Swinging her arms in a semi-circle in front of her, she made sure her path was clear before sliding her foot forward again.

Another step, she pushed forward, her confidence growing. Another step, then another. She had a feeling a wall was close. Putting her hand out she brushed it with her knuckle. The doorway. She took another step knowing that she was now in the kitchen.

Sam kept on moving forward until she bumped into a stool. The breakfast bar. She couldn't help the smile pulling at her lips. *I made it!* A couple more steps and she would be at the counter. Using the bar to guide her she moved on, her other hand in mid-air ahead of her until it bumped the counter.

"Yes," she congratulated herself.

She began side-stepping across the counter, her hand out, looking for the percolator. She could hear its clicking; the strong smell of the coffee was next to her. Her fingers brushed the warm handle of the coffeepot. She knew she kept her coffee mugs next to the percolator. Stretching her hand out she felt the cool ceramic mug and pulled it over to her.

She gripped the handle of the pot in her hand tightly, pulling it off the hotplate. Her hand began to shake at the unexpected weight. Resting it on the counter for a moment, she gripped the bottom of the mug and tried lifting the pot again.

She had the pot tilted ready to pour when her hand began shaking again. She couldn't stop it this time, the handle slipped from her grip. It happened so fast. The pot hit the counter, spraying hot coffee everywhere, before it bounced onto the floor and shattered. She let out a little shout as the hot liquid burnt her hand.

Instinctively, she squatted down to pick up the shattered remains of the coffee pot, desperate to clean up the mess she had made. She began feeling round on the floor, searching for the shards. She felt a sharp prick in her palm and realized one had found her.

Furious at herself for doing something so foolish, she stood up, feeling tears pricking her eyes. Behind her she could hear footsteps racing down the hallway. *How did I manage to screw up something as simple as pouring a cup of coffee?*

"Sam?" Jack sounded almost frantic. "Sam, are you okay?"

She tried to fight back the sob rising in her throat but she couldn't. Her hand stung, and the taste of failure was rich on her tongue. She could hear Jack padding carefully towards her, felt his strong arms wrapping around her, lifting her up. She cupped her hand tightly in the other, holding it against her stomach.

His bare chest felt damp against her cheek, as he carried her back into the lounge and settled her on the sofa again. She could feel him sit on the couch next to her, pulling her hand towards him. She couldn't help but relax a bit as she felt him gently open her fingers to look at the wound. It did feel nice to have someone to care for her. It felt nice for that someone to be Jack.

"This isn't too bad, Sam," he said softly, placing her hand on his leg. She could feel his hand against her cheek, wiping her tears away. "Talk to me Sam. What's wrong?"

She couldn't concentrate. She could feel the soft terry toweling under her hand and realized that Jack had just gotten out of the shower. She felt a flush warming her cheeks. He was sitting here semi-naked trying to console her.

She swallowed, trying to compose herself. "I just gave myself a fright."

"Why didn't you wait for me?"

His tone was mildly placating, but it was so full of concern that she couldn't get angry at him. "I wanted to see if I could do it for myself. I wanted to prove to you that I could do it."

"Sam, you don't need to prove anything to me," he whispered, taking her hand gently in his. His voice had changed subtly, the concern metamorphosing to something else, something deeper. She gave a start when she realized what it was. *Could it be love?* It was certainly more than affection.

"Don't I?" she asked, so softly that she wondered if he heard her.

He let go of her hand, cupping her face gently instead. "No, you don't. You never had to prove anything." His voice had grown husky.

Sam closed her eyes. "If I don't do things on my own how am I going to manage my life?" she whispered. "You can't be here forever."

"Why not?" Jack's voice went even softer.

"Because you have your own life to lead. I can't bother you with mine," Sam said, nearly choking on a rising sob.

"What if I want to be bothered with yours?" Jack's soft breath brushed across her face.

Tears slipped unbidden down Sam's face as her heart began to pound harder. She had dreamt of this moment for so long, now that it was here she could hardly believe it. It wasn't exactly how she pictured his feelings to be expressed, but she had never known what she should expect. *He still wants to be with me?*

"Do you?" she choked out. She found it hard to believe that despite everything that had happened in the last week, he would still want to be with her.

"More than I ever thought possible." He was so close; she could feel his face hovering near hers. She could hear the love in his voice, so pure, so unadulterated. "I love you, Sam."

Sam could feel her heart fluttering as he said the words that she had wanted to hear for so long. Her breath caught in her throat. "I love you too, Jack," she whispered, barely able to get the words out.

Her body erupted in fire as his lips joined with hers. She may be blind, but she had fireworks exploding behind her eyes. The kiss began gently, but as she deepened the kiss, it became demanding. It was as if she had to do this, had to have these feelings to know that it was really happening ... to know that she was alive.

As her hands snaked themselves around Jack's neck, he leaned closer to her. She could feel the heat from his shower emanating from his body, through her blouse. His hands were splayed on her back, holding her closer to him. Good thing she was sitting, because her legs had turned to jelly. She heard a groan from low in his throat. This time it wasn't one of disgust; it was more carnal ... more urgent.

She felt lightheaded as his lips moved from hers and down her neck. She tilted her head back involuntarily, so his searing lips could have better access. Her fingers inched their way from his neck to his head; her fingers clutching for dear life in his damp hair. A whimper escaped her lips as the stubble from his cheek rubbed across the sensitive skin in the crook of her neck. She urged his head up, needing to feel his lips on hers again. He pulled away from her reluctantly, and settled his mouth on hers once more.

Sam hoped fervently that he wouldn't stop this time, because she didn't think she would survive it if he did. They had already fallen too far now, to climb back to the top. She leaned back on the sofa, Jack following her, pressing his body against her. It was like years of looking at each other from a distance, being with each other daily and not being able to do anything about it was catching up with them. It was like coming home.

Jack's lips were working magic on hers. She had never been affected this massively before by a kiss. The one other time she had shared a kiss with Jack didn't even compare to this. Of course, at the time she had been infected with an alien virus, so she couldn't really remember all that much. On the other hand who knows if they'd kissed at all after that ... what with all the strange mind control devices and foreign moon shine that they had encountered, they may have engaged in more unconscious kisses than she was aware of. However, nothing on this earth ... in this universe could match what she was feeling at that moment.

***********************************

Jack was in Heaven.

He had decided that he must have died and gone to Heaven, because he had never experienced anything like this on Earth. Never before had he experienced this much passion from one woman. The woman he loved. The woman he had loved and hadn't been able to have for so long.

Now he had her, he wanted to show her exactly how deeply she had affected him in the years he had known her. How deep his feelings went for her. He wanted her to know that he would be there for her no matter what. He was never going to let her go.

His body was on fire. Flames shot over his skin where Sam's hands roamed. The sensations intensified by the skin to skin contact. He hadn't felt this way for a long time. He hadn't felt so . alive. All because of this woman in his arms. This beautiful, vibrant and passionate woman.

He felt complete.

Careful not to hurt her injured leg, he settled his weight on her, needing to get ever closer to her. Clothes were becoming a hindrance. He needed to feel her, all of her. He moved his hand upward to her blouse, running his hand up underneath it.

He wanted to take this slowly, they had the whole day ahead of them, why rush things? Sitting up, he disentangled himself from her embrace. That being said, he wanted to be somewhere a bit more comfortable than her couch.

He stooped and picked her up, nearly losing the towel in the process. He was going to be losing it soon anyway, so he wasn't too bothered. Straightening, he felt Sam's arms slide around his neck and she pressed a chaste kiss to his chin.

He barely managed to bite back a feral groan as her lips traveled slowly down his throat. She nipped lightly at the sensitive flesh of his neck, igniting more pleasures he had long forgotten. "If you keep that up we're not going to make it to the bedroom," he grated breathlessly.

Jack could feel her laugh softly against his neck, her body vibrating gently against his, the sensation sending him closer to the brink of losing himself completely. He couldn't believe how happy it made him feel. He held her to him as tightly as he could; he never wanted to let her go.

Making it to Sam's bedroom, barely, Jack laid her gently on the surface of the bed. Her arms were still firmly wrapped around his neck. Craning her neck up and applying a little pressure to his neck, she drew his head down for another kiss. He pulled away from her breathlessly, wanting to look at her again.

Whether she was wearing BDUs or a dress, she was the most beautiful woman he'd ever encountered. And the cast didn't even take away from her attractiveness. Just the few seconds he was separated from her was too long. He had to touch her, had to feel her skin against his, had to love her.

He edged his body up against hers, the friction causing lightning to shoot through their bodies. Her unseeing eyes were glazed over. A flush had spread across her face. Not one of embarrassment, but one of passion. Jack was struck with amazement. He was doing this to her. He was putting that glow on her face. His loving her was causing that. The revelation blew his mind away.

Not able to restrain himself any more, his lips found hers again. Their legs tangled in the others. Jack's fingers twined with Sam's as he drew them above her head. A rushing ringing sound roared in his ears. Is this what happened when one loved someone so fully and completely.

Sam's teeth grazed his bottom lip, making him to groan loudly. He heard her mumble something, but he couldn't make it out. He disregarded it, for nothing could be as necessary as what he had to do right then. Her mumble grew more insistent, as did the blaring ring in his ears.

"Jack," she said breathlessly against his mouth. His lips covered hers once more, silencing her pleas.

"Mmm, Jack, the..." She wasn't upset, he could tell that much by her tone. He could also tell she didn't want to stop, so why was she trying to get his attention?

Once more she called his name, which eventually brought him out of the haze he had been floating in. He pulled away, yet not that far; just enough to look at her face and gauge what the problem was.

"Jack... the phone!"

"Huh?" Her reply didn't register in his love-fuddled mind.

"The phone ... it's ringing ... you ... better answer it," she said, catching her breath.

Jack blinked his eyes several times before he realized what she was saying. He lifted up and the roaring in his ears transformed to the ringing tone of the phone. He moved to the edge of the bed, trying to compose his thoughts before picking up the receiver. He reached out and plucked the evil interruption from its cradle.

"Hello?" He croaked out.

"Jack?" Daniel's voice asked from the other end. "Is everything all right there? I didn't interrupt anything, did I?" Daniel rushed forward.

"Uh ... no. Just got out of the shower." Jack said his eyes drifting to Sam on the bed behind him. She looked better than he felt. He felt like he'd been put into a flight simulation at 100 Gs, and ripped out of it backwards.

There was a look of contentment on her face, and exasperation at the interruption. If she were a cat she would have been purring. Reaching out a hand, she felt along the bedspread until her fingers brushed his back. He shuddered at the simple touch.

He rubbed his hand across his face, trying to concentrate on what Daniel was saying, but wanting nothing more than to hang the phone up.

"... wondering if she was up to some visitors. Cassie has been driving Janet crazy since she found out. So what do you think?"

Jack's eyes slid back to Sam. She was looking as impatient as he felt. "It might not be such a good idea today, Daniel. Sam's taking a nap at the moment. She's exhausted. What about tomorrow?"

"Oh . ok," Daniel sounded a little surprised. "That shouldn't be a problem. I'm sure Cassie will understand."

"Of course she will," Jack replied, a little too impatiently. He wanted desperately to get back to the woman lying next to him.

"Is everything okay, Jack?"

"Yeah everything's fine ... why?" Jack insisted, kicking himself mentally for adding that last question. That just gave Daniel an opening to go on with his drabble.

"I don't know ... you just sound ... odd!" Daniel responded, his voice generating curiousness.

Okay, Jack thought, it was time to end this. "I'm fine, Daniel. Sam's fine. Sam's sleeping. We're all fine. Everything's peachy."

Jack really didn't care if he was short with Daniel at the moment; he was too concerned about the fingers that were inching their way up his back. His mind was fogging over again. He was finding it hard to focus on the conversation at hand.

"Oh . okay then," Daniel replied, his voice skeptical. "Well, as long as you're both okay I guess I'll go then."

Her nails brushed the sensitive and ticklish skin on his side. A tiny groan forced it's way through his clenched teeth before he clamped it back. *Crap, I hope Daniel didn't hear that!* "Umm . yeah," he managed to choke out. "Call tomorrow and we'll organize a time for you all to come around."

He flashed a glance at Sam. Her eyes were closed, a smile on her lips. Oh God . he wanted her so badly, he wanted to show her that Jack O'Neill was no slouch when it came to satisfying a woman, to satisfying Sam Carter. He could hear Daniel saying something, but he'd tuned it out, his attention fixated on the woman next to him.

"Umm . sure. See you tomorrow, Danny," he murmured dismissively, absently putting the phone back down on the receiver.

He turned his full attention back to Sam and saw a delighted smile on her face. "You did that on purpose, didn't you?" He could barely hold back the laugh that was crawling up his throat.

"And what if I did?' She purred flirtatiously. Rolling over onto her side, her hand drifted across his side to rest on his stomach, tickling the skin gently.

He groaned and leaned over her, capturing her lips in another mind-numbing kiss. He could feel her relax completely, her hand slacken on his stomach. Reluctantly he pulled his lips away from hers. Leaning back he tangled a hand in her hair and drank in her appearance. Was it possible to love her more and more with each passing moment?

"So." he slurred, unable to hold himself back any longer. "Where were we?"

***********************************

Daniel was about to hang up the phone, feeling confused and more than a little annoyed at the reception he had just received from Jack. *What was his problem? It was almost like I interrupted something important.*

He was at the point of pulling the phone away from his ear in disgust when he stopped. There was no tone telling him that the phone had been hung up at the other end. There was no tone at all.

"Hello . Jack?"

There was no response. *What the hell is going on? Is Jack messing with me again?* But he could hear something, muffled in the background that kept him glued to the phone.

"You did that on purpose, didn't you?"

It was Jack's voice, muffled, Daniel had to strain to hear it clearly, but he could hear the amusement in the other mans voice. *What the hell is going on?*

He knew he should hang up the phone, but he couldn't. His curiosity had the better of him, which was generally a bad thing. He wanted to know what was happening. *Why had Jack sounded so breathless and vacant when he had answered the phone? Why had he been so quick to tell him that Sam was asleep? Why had he been in such a rush to get off the phone?*

Then there was a groan. Daniel wasn't sure if he had heard what he had for certain; it was cut off so quickly. But he was almost certain that it was a groan. He had a suspicion though, and that was enough for him.

"And what if I did?"

The voice was unmistakable, but he had never heard it like that before. He almost dropped the phone in surprise. Now he was truly dumbfounded. *Why had Jack lied to him about Sam having a nap? Sam and Jack flirting?* Ok, that in itself wasn't unfamiliar, but he could hear something else in their voices, something that wasn't normally there when they spoke to each other.

There was no inhibition in their voices. It was almost like the barriers that they had put up between them were no longer there. Daniel couldn't explain it; he didn't understand it.

He heard Jack groan, and it certainly wasn't a groan of displeasure. The opposite in fact. Were they doing what he thought they were doing?

"So." He could hear Jack slurring. "Where were we?"

A delighted squeal came over the phone line. There was no doubting that it was Sam, and it quickly became apparent to Daniel what they were doing. Blushing furiously he quickly hung up the phone, a grin tugging at his lips. *I knew it!*

He turned around to meet Cassie and Janet's expectant faces. "Well?" Cassie asked impatiently.

Daniel cleared his throat, tried to wipe the smile from his face, but it was impossible. He was happy for his friends. Happy that they had finally found each other and amazed that it had taken them such a short time to do it.

"Daniel?" Janet pressed.

She was watching him with a bemused expression on her face. He could tell by the look on her face that she knew he had heard something.

"Oh . Sam's having a nap at the moment. Jack said she's exhausted. He suggested that maybe we all go around tomorrow."

Cassie's face fell, exactly as Daniel had expected it to. Thankfully, Janet stepped in. "She's having a difficult time at the moment, Cassie. We have to wait until she's ready to have visitors; we can't force her into anything she doesn't want."

"I know," the girl replied in a small voice. "I just wanna see that she's okay."

Janet wrapped her arms around her daughter's shoulders, but she was watching Daniel intensely. "Oh, I know that, Cassie. Why don't you go and start on your homework?"

Cassie groaned, but pulled out of the embrace, nodding. "Yeah, I know, Mom."

As Cassie's back disappeared up the stairs, Janet rounded on Daniel, her arms across her chest. "What's going on Daniel? What did you hear?"

He could feel a flush rising on his face again as he stepped up to her and wrapped his arms around her waist. He shouldn't have continued listening. If they weren't willing to tell anyone what was going on yet, he didn't really have the right to either. *Heck, Janet and I haven't told anyone that we are involved yet either!* Leaning forward he pressed his lips to hers in a pathetic attempt to distract her.

She pushed against his chest and pulled out of his arms. Taking a step back from him, she fixed him with a glare. "Daniel?"

He sighed. He should have known better than to try and distract Janet when she was curious about something. "I . umm. They ." he cleared his throat. "Well, Sam wasn't asleep."

Janet's mouth opened in surprise. "Why did Jack lie to you?"

Daniel was about to reply with a sarcastic comment when he noticed her expression changing. "They aren't. Are they?" she squeaked.

He couldn't help but smile. Man, he was happy for them. "Yeah, they are."

A grin filled her face and she practically leaped into his arms. "Oh, that is great, Daniel! Do you think maybe we can tell them about us now?"

He wrapped his arms around her. He could never get tired of holding her in his arms. "We should have told them when we got together," he pointed out. "But yeah, we should tell them. tomorrow."

Janet stood on tiptoe to reach him as her lips met his in a quick kiss. "Good. Because I don't like keeping secrets from our friends. It's been hard enough just keeping Cassie quiet about it. She's been chomping at the bit to tell Sam." Janet smiled.

Daniel laughed. "Yeah, I can imagine. I don't like hiding this either." Daniel leaned down again and greeted her lips with his own. This was getting a bit too serious for the living room, and with a teenager in the house no less. He was sort of glad that Janet's bedroom was at the opposite end of the house from Cassie's. Because at the rate that he and Janet were going, that's where they were going to end up.

***********************************

Sam was subconsciously aware that she was in the state between asleep and wakefulness. She could "see" Jack in her mind, causing her to smile. In her dream sated state she drew on every image she had ever stored in her memory of Jack. He was smiling that smile that he only reserved for her. The smile that told her without saying a word what he felt for her. She may not have the sense of sight anymore, but she would always have these images...these memories.

A new dream formed and she could feel butterflies drifting over her face. She scrunched her face, causing the butterflies to flit away into the sunlit sky. She settled back into the warm comfort of her dream once again.

Then the most pleasant sensation materialized on her lips. That touch...she knew that touch. The touch that made her lose all concept of thought. That was Jack's touch. She sighed without resignation. The touch was drawing her closer to its source. As her body connected fully with his she couldn't remain unaffected any longer.

She stretched her body up against his, knowing full well how he reacted. Knowing he was watching her. That was another thing she could distinguish without sight. She knew exactly when Jack was watching her. She could feel his eyes on her, feel his love radiating through the room.

Sam opened her eyes and saw something, but it was gone as quick as it came. She just chalked it up to exhaustion and the amazing love-making that had taken place earlier. Before she knew it, Jack had rolled her onto her back and his lips were on hers cascading across the surface ever slowly. Her hands traveled over his body. She weaved her fingers in his hair, loving the texture of it. Her other hand, though, as if with a will of it's own, moved down his back and rested on his behind. She gave it a small squeeze, knowing how he would respond. Not much later, he moaned and pulled away from her grudgingly.

"If you're wanting to get up anytime today you're going the wrong way about it." She heard the grin in his voice.

She smiled and blinked and saw something again. A foggy white light off in the corner of her eyes. *What was that?* She couldn't see any images, just light. Again, like the first time, it was gone as quick as it had appeared. She smiled again, pushing her uneasiness off to the far reaches of her mind.

"We wouldn't want that now would we?" she joked back.

Jack's chest rumbled with laughter, as his stomach did with hunger. "Normally, I wouldn't say no . but I'm starved. I don't know how we survived last night with no lunch or dinner!"

"I guess we just had better things on our minds," Sam giggled, thinking about the previous day... or night.

"On our minds... on our bodies... on our..." She brought her hand up to the sensitive flesh below his ribcage and nipped it with her fingers, smiling guiltlessly as she did.

She felt Jack flinch and he pressed his body closer to her again. "Inflicting pain will get you no where, Carter."

"Oh I think it will...you didn't seem to mind too much when I..." Her explanation was shortened as Jack captured her lips in another of his wonderfully mind-numbing kisses.

He did finally pull away slowly, though still continued to snatch quick pecks from her contented mouth. "You wait here. I'm gonna get us some munchies. Hold that thought," she heard him say through her haze, as his weight was first removed from her and then the bed.

Sam settled back into her pillows as she listened to Jack's footfalls disappear down the hall, feeling contented. A lot more contented than she had ever thought possible after her accident. So this is what it felt like to be truly, completely in love with another person. It didn't even compare to Jonas, or Martouf, or anyone she had ever thought she was in love with in the past.

Rolling back onto her side her thoughts drifted back to the wonderful night that she had spent with Jack. Part of her wished that they had never waited so long before admitting how they felt about each other. She wished that they had decided to toss the regulations aside after the Za'tarc testing, consummated their burgeoning relationship earlier.

She could feel the warmth from the sunlight flowing in from the open curtains, and a slight breeze rolling over her naked body. She smiled, turning her face in the direction of the windows. She opened her eyes slowly.

She could see light.

She had thought what had happened before had been a freak thing, something her imagination had conjured up. Now she was beginning to think she was wrong. She could tell the difference between light and dark, whereas before all she could see was darkness.

*What is happening? Did this mean what I think it does? Am I getting my eyesight back?*

Sam felt a little knot of fear form in her belly. She didn't want this to happen, not if it meant that she would lose everything that they had managed to build last night. She didn't want to lose Jack, and that was going to happen if her eyesight came back. She never thought she would entertain that thought.

She closed her eyes, immersing herself in darkness again. *Why did this have to happen?* A day ago she would have welcomed it, been thankful that it hadn't been permanent. But then a day ago everything changed, her priorities changed. The idea of going back to the job she loved paled when she thought that it would mean losing the man she loved. She couldn't lose him.

Maybe it was just a freak thing, something that would pass. Opening her eyes with a small glimmer of hope, she sank back into her pillow. It was still there. What was she going to do now?

Tears began tickling her eyelids as she hugged her arms around herself. She had to tell Janet . and Jack. She couldn't . not yet. She had to be certain. She had to hold on to the illusion for a little longer before she shattered it. She fought the tears back, desperate to hide them.

Clinking in the hall drew her attention back to the present. Jack had the breakfast prepared. She forced her thoughts to the back of her mind, and put a smile on her face, as he entered the room. The aroma of coffee and pancakes wafted over to her making her stomach growl in anticipation.

His happiness washed over her in waves. She could feel it from across the room. It was contagious. "Oh, that smells wonderful, Jack!"

The bed shifted as he settled his weight on it. He moved to the head of the bed and scooted beside her so they could share the tray. The wonderful fragrances wafted to Sam's nose, invoking hunger pains to make themselves known.

Jack laughed. "Looks like I'm not the only one who's starving."

Sam joined him in his laughter and briefly laid her head on his bare shoulder. Jack placed something on her lips. From the scent of it, it had to be a strawberry. She opened her mouth and bit off the tip of the fresh fruit. The juices escaped the side of her mouth, but before she could reach up to wipe it away, Jack's lips were on hers, his tongue slowly removing the juices.

Sam's mouth turned up at his actions, and he drew away slightly. "I thought you were hungry."

"I am," Jack's voice grew husky.

"Jack!"

"Okay, fine." Jack said as he settled back against the bed, draping an arm around Sam's shoulders.

Sam giggled, but soon ceased as his fingers were doing anything but behaving. His other hand brought something once more to her mouth. More strawberries. This time covered with whipped cream. She took a bite and the sweetness filled her mouth.

She tried to concentrate on eating the thoughtful meal Jack had prepared, but his hand...his fingers were running up and down her arm. A simple, yet not so innocent touch. Warm chills raced through her body, firming her resolve that she couldn't end this yet.

The weight of the tray was swiftly removed from her lap, and was replaced by the well-toned figure of Jack. *Well, it looks like we aren't going to get any eating done.* That was fine by Sam. Her hunger was replaced by other more important feelings at the moment.

Jack moved his body against hers, carefully maneuvering around her broken leg, making her giggle. Not that it was funny or anything. It just amused her how caring he could be at a time like this. Her bout of giggles stopped when his lips found their way to the flatness of her stomach. *Oh...this is.... pure bliss.*

Though it had to be hours, their love making ended in what seemed like an instant. Jack still held her in his arms, lightly caressing the soft skin on her shoulders. Sam rested her hand on his chest, running her fingers through the soft, curly hair. They just lay there, enjoying the feel of each other, and the comforting silence.

Jack sighed heavily making her smile. "Well, it seems our first plan was foiled. Wanna try again?"

"Can I think about that and get back to you," Sam responded with a grin.

"Umm, I'm thinking...no!" Jack's chest rumbled under her cheek.

"Well, if you insist," Sam mock grumbled. She sat up in bed so Jack could get up. As he rolled over to the side of the bed she heard him moan.

"Oh, crap!"

Sam felt him fall back onto the bed, concerned at the tone in his voice. "What is it, Jack?"

She reached her hand out to grasp his arm. He had her worried now, what could possibly be wrong after the wonderful night they had just spent together?

His shoulders began shaking. He was laughing. "You remember Daniel calling yesterday?"

Sam had no idea where this was going. "Yeah."

"I . um," His laughter was still there, but dampened down as a somber tone filled his voice. "Well, in the heat of the moment I . uh . didn't completely hang up the phone."

"You what?" Her voice was filled with disbelief as she struggled to come to terms with what he was saying.

"The phone was off the hook all night."

Sam couldn't help herself, couldn't prevent the laugh that rose from her chest. *He didn't hang up the phone? Had Daniel heard anything? Does it even matter?*

Sam's stomach ached by the time they had both managed to control their laughter, but it was worth it. *Of all the stupid and crazy things to do, to not hang up the phone!* They didn't know if Daniel had stayed on the line anyway so it wasn't worth worry about. They were going to find out sooner or later anyway.

"How about you put the phone back on the hook and we'll make a start on this day? For starters, I think we're well past due for some brunch," Sam suggested around the giggles that kept creeping up on her.

"Sure thing," Jack replied, smacking a quick kiss on her lips. "Need some help getting dressed?"

***********************************

Jack pulled the back door shut behind him and examined the kitchen quickly. All clean and tidy again. He let out a deep breath; it had been a busy morning.

After he and Sam had finally dragged themselves out of bed, which was the most difficult thing he'd had to do in a long time, he had settled Sam on the sofa and set about cleaning the house. The mess from the coffeepot was still in the kitchen; left untouched the day before. He also changed the sheets on the bed and caught up with Sam's washing.

He was ready to settle down on the sofa and snuggle for a while with the woman he loved. He could hear the stereo playing quietly in the living room. He couldn't remember putting it on, though he realized now that he probably should have. The words flowed over him. Oh how appropriate they were.

*How easy it would be to show me how you feel More than words is all you have to do to make it real Then you wouldn't have to say that you love me Cos' I'd already know*

He felt himself drawn by the music, a soft love song by the sounds of it. Slowly, he followed the sound crossing the kitchen to stop in the doorway to the living room. He was captivated by the sight before him, his heart swelling with love for her.

Sam stood in the middle of the living room, her back to him, swaying in time to the music. She seemed oblivious to his presence, which in itself was unusual as she seemed to have developed a sixth sense whenever he entered the same room, like she knew he was there.

*Now that I've tried to talk to you and make you understand

All you have to do is close your eyes

And just reach out your hands and touch me

Hold me close don't ever let me go

More than words is all I ever needed you to show*

She was beautiful; he could never grow tired of looking at her. What had he ever done to deserve her love? He watched her move, the slow sway of her hips, and couldn't help the familiar stirring he felt watching her. He took a few steps, closing the gap between them.

He felt her stiffen as he wrapped her arms around her waist and matched his sway to her own. Her back was still to him, pressed firmly against his body. He leaned his head down, pressing her lips gently to the crook of her neck. He inhaled deeply. "You smell so good."

The song ended, replaced by another soft romantic song. As he listened to the lyrics he wondered if it was a fluke that these songs came on. There was no way Sam would have known what CD was playing. It was like it was written for them.

*Look at the sky Tell me what do you see Just close your eyes and describe it to me The heavens are sparkling with starlight tonight

That's what I see through your eyes*

Her shoulders shook gently under his lips. He smiled, overwhelmed by his feelings for her. He never believed that he would fall in love with another woman after Sara, never believed that those feelings would ever be reciprocated.

Jack had lost count of the number of times he had pinched himself, trying to work out if he was dreaming or not. He most definitely was not. He smiled, his lips still pressed against the soft skin of her neck.

*Here in the night, I see the sun Here in the dark our two hearts are one It's out of our hands we can't stop what we have begun And love just took me by surprise Looking through your eyes*

He sucked gently at her skin, spurred on by her short moan of pleasure. He felt exactly like he did in high school. Like it was the first flush of love, only it wasn't, this was his second chance, and he wasn't going to blow it. He was over the moon; he was beyond that; he felt like he could walk on water because of the depth of his feelings for her.

His head down, his eyes still closed, he turned her around in his arms and continued their gentle swaying to the music. He pulled her close, reveling in the feel of her body pressed to his, as she tucked her head under his chin. It felt so right, their bodies molded against each other perfectly, like they were destined to be together, if he believed such a thing ever existed.

*I look at myself and instead I see us Whoever I am now it feels like enough And I see a girl who is learning to trust

That's who I see through your eyes*

He didn't, but he felt complete, holding this woman in his arms. He pulled his lips from her neck, planting a kiss on her forehead as he lost himself in the moment. He had never imagined that everything would have turned out this way when he asked for the leave of absence from General Hammond. He wondered if he was glowing.

An unusual sensation caught his attention, drawing him from his musings. Moisture. Surprised, he pulled away from her slightly, enough to look down at her, to see her face. She was crying.

He stopped moving, she stopped with him. He cupped her face gently in his hands, pulling her face up to look at him. "Sam . honey . what's wrong?"

She twisted her face out of his grip, looked away from him. "I can't tell you." Her voice sounded so sad, and there was something else . guilt?

He held her tighter, wanting to help her, wanted to make her feel better. Her grief made him feel almost sick to his stomach. He had to know what was wrong. How after such a wonderful day and night that anything could possibly move her to tears.

"Of course you can tell me. Have I done something to hurt you?'

"No, of course not," she replied irritably. Her voice was so full of pain; the tears continued to flow down her cheeks. "You would never hurt me Jack, I know that."

"Then what is it?"

Her face turned up to him, twisted with misery. "I can see something."

It took a while for her words to register. *She could see something?* Then it sank in and confusion took its place. It was wonderful, more than they could have ever hoped.

"You can see something? Oh, Sam, that's great!" He pulled away from her slightly, enough to look down at her face. "Why are you so upset?"

She craned her head up to face him. Her face was pale, the moist streaks running down her cheeks obvious. He brushed them away with his thumbs as he cupped her face again. "Think Jack."

*Think? Think about what. Sam was getting her eyesight back, what could possibly be wrong with that?* Now he could take her up to the lake with him, he could take her to the movies, to a hockey match. They could do all the things that he had always wanted to do with her.

*Everything except be with her.*

It couldn't be possible; they couldn't lose everything after taking so long to get it. He wasn't willing to let it be that way. There had to be some way they could be together, they just had to think of it.

"Oh, Sam," he murmured, pulling her back to his chest and enveloping her in his arms. "We'll sort something out . there has to be a way."

"I don't think so, Jack," she sobbed into his chest. "I think we have to make these next few weeks memorable . live them to their fullest."

Jack could feel tears pricking at his eyes as he thought about it. There was nothing they could do. He hugged her closer, resuming their gentle sway to the music. There might be nothing that they could do to remain together, but he vowed that they would make the most out of the short time they had, until they could be together once again.

***********************************

To be continued...