First foray in the painful minefield that is Jack/Sam and SG1.
Multitudes of thanks to Tricki, as always, for beta et al xxx
They were on the ass-end of another Egyptian planet when the first struck.
Teal'c was on watch a few yards from the camp when Carter woke to strange, strangled noises within the cave. Unrecognisable words, high-pitched whimpers, deep guttural growls that she began to realise were in Colonel O'Neill's timbre.
Quickly grabbing her side-arm, she sat up and threw off the sleeping bag, focussing her eyes through the flickering fire-light on O'Neill.
She expected to see a figure looming over him, or some kind of imminent danger, but she soon suspected he was in the throes of a nightmare.
His arms were at his sides struggling against invisible restraints, his eyes moving rapidly, head seemingly stuck like glue to the pillow.
"Sir?" She whispered, scrambling to his side. Jonas was still sound asleep, not yet attuned to the light-sleeping the job required. He could give a Kelno'reem-ing Teal'c a run for his money.
"Sir, wake up," she told him, her voice a bit louder. "It's just a dream." He didn't wake, his eyes screwing shut and hands balling painfully into fists.
Her hand faltered, laying atop his sweaty arm. "Colonel!"
She smoothed a hand down his temple, wondering if she could soothe him back to sleep if she couldn't wake him. "It's just a dream. Jack?"
His eyes snapped open, dragging a deep breath as he sat up, nearly knocking Sam over.
"It's okay," she told him, her hands on his arms keeping him from lashing out. "It's Sam, Jack. Carter. You're on P4X-322." His eyes were searching around, panic still etched across his features as he kicked out of the sleeping bag. "Jack, it's me. Look at me, Jack."
His eyes suddenly locked on hers. "…Is it really you?" He asked, echoing the words of the Lo'taur's vision.
"It's me. You were having a nightmare."
He raked a hand over his face and through his sweaty hair.
She leant over him to his pack, passing his water canteen. He took a gulp and blew out a breath, "Thanks."
"Ba'al?" She asked, hesitantly. He nodded, embarrassment beginning to colour his cheeks. "You wanna talk about it?"
He shook his head, taking another drink before looking around Sam to where Jonas still slept deeply.
"He didn't even stir. And Teal'c's still on watch by the entrance."
He nodded again, still dazed, nausea and fear continuing to course through his veins. "Yeah. Thanks. Go back to sleep."
She smiled softly, squeezing his arm again before crawling back to her bag.
She slept light enough to know Jack didn't sleep at all.
The next morning, he was sat on a rock tying his laces when he could suddenly smell coffee. He looked up to find Sam with a proffered cup, her fingers wrapped around her own. "Thanks, Carter."
She sat down next to him, watching Teal'c and Jonas pack up their kits a little way from camp.
He inhaled the caffeinated aroma, feeling his senses already beginning to wake as he looked over the desert vista. "Are you going to send me to Doc Fraiser for a psych eval?" he asked, leaning his elbows into his knees.
She mirrored his stance, studying him for a second; his chest was puffed out in challenge, his knuckles almost white as they clutched the metal cup, his eyes contradicting his steeled nerves. "Only if you report me to General Hammond for not addressing you as 'Colonel' or 'Sir' at some points last night."
So, no then."
"No," she smiled, taking a sip of the sludge they recognised as coffee. "Honestly, with some of the things we experience, I'm amazed we all don't have nightmares. Maybe we should all go to Fraiser for an evaluation."
They shared a scoffed laugh before Teal'c announced they were prepared to leave.
It was a few weeks before another attack. Another Egyptian planet – they decided it must be the indescribable heat that reminded his subconscious of the acid torture – and another debilitating nightmare.
She tried calling him 'Jack' earlier in this attack and, again, it woke him with a start.
By the third, Sam had announced to the team they should take two two-man tents and save room in their packs for more water, considering the heat readings the M.A.L.P. was relaying from the three-sun planet. Jack agreed, thanking her silently with a nod of the head as they headed to change before embarkation.
It had happened again, but she was already by his side this time. She rolled over, placed a hand on his arm and then his chest. "Jack," she whispered. "Jack, wake up." She called his name one more time and he awoke with a jolt. She slid her hand back to his cheek and turned his face to look at her. "It's me. You're okay."
He swallowed hard, nodding and blinking sweat into his eyes.
Her fingers stroked over his stubbled chin and settled over his pounding heart. He interlaced his fingers with hers as she cushioned her head into the crook of her other arm. Her eyes fluttered closed again, once she was sure he was okay, still facing him.
After the fourth, her head was pillowed on his chest, his nose in her hair as he whispered, "Daniel was there."
"In the holding room. He told me that you and Teal'c had had an idea and I should hold on."
She placed her chin on her hand and looked up to him. His eyes were focused on the apex roof of their tent. She didn't know what to say so waited for him to continue. "I asked him to end it."
"Jack," she breathed, not questioning her use of his first name when they were like this.
"I couldn't stand it anymore. Ba'al was digging into places in my head and that acid… I've never felt anything like it. I couldn't take it anymore."
He hadn't mentioned Daniel in his report, nor that he had wanted to die. Her stomach churned into a knot of nausea.
"I shouted at him for not doing anything to help me get out but he probably saved my life by just appearing there. Isolation can do things to a guy."
She swallowed down a dry throat, feeling like she wanted to crawl away to throw up. "I'm glad he was there," she told him, before adding, "I'm sorry we weren't there sooner."
"No," he looked down to her, her blue eyes glistening with tears in the barely-there light. "You actually did save my life. You got me out."
He looked at her so earnestly that she didn't know how to reply. She traced her fingers over his stubbled cheek as his hand drew shapes over her back. "Well, technically, Yu saved your life."
"Remind me to thank Yu one day."
"You're welcome," she hid her smile into the back of her hand before her eyes turned dark. "We didn't know where you were. General Hammond practically declared war on the Tok'ra at one point."
"We were running out of options and ideas because we just didn't have the manpower to go up against Ba'al's fortress. Then Teal'c Kelno'reem'ed and though of Yu."
"Aww, that's sweet," he joked, earning a dig in his side. "Sorry, no more puns."
"But then we weren't certain Yu would even take the bait," she raised an eyebrow, challenging him to make a joke.
He held up a free hand in defence. "Thank you. And by 'you', I mean you."
"It was a joint effort."
"I'm sure a pretty sizeable chunk of it was you, though. And thank you for this," he waved his hand, hoping she understood he didn't only mean their current position, but her help since the nightmares began.
"Maybe we don't mention this in our reports," she laid her lips on her hand, wishing she could just remove the barrier.
"Add it to all the other things omitted over the years…" his fingers traced above her collar, igniting the bare skin, playing with the ends of her hair.
He heaved a sigh, her head rising and falling with his chest. "Hey, go to sleep," his hand retraced its path to the fabric of her shirt as he pulled his other hand from beneath his head, checking his watch in the low light. "We have to kick snake-head butt bright and early."
She rested her ear against him, hearing his heart beating and thanking whoever she could that it did, "Bright and early."