Title: A Journey Not Ended

Author: Jodi Marie

Summary: Abyss episode tag, S/J affection, S/T friendship

Spoilers: Abyss, not much else

Author's Note: At the very end of Abyss I noticed a couple things when Sam said 'goodnight' to Jack. First it looked like she had something to say but changed her mind. Second, although her hands were not visible on the screen her shoulder moved as if she'd touched him. Instantaneous projection. Voila- fic.

Disclaimer: Borrowed, not owned. Drat.



"Here you are, Sir." Carter set the cup of cold water on the table within O'Neill's reach. There was so much more she wanted to say but this wasn't the time or place and she closed her mouth.

"Thanks."

That single syllable spoke more to her than if he'd recited his last mission report, or more truthfully, one of hers. Just 'Thanks'. Thanks for finding a way, again. Thanks for not giving up, *again*. For not leaving me behind and last but not least, for giving me the strength to chose life in the first place. No matter the outcome, it was worth it.

She smiled down at him, needing one more time to confirm his presence was not an illusion. She reached down and slid her fingers along his forearm until her palm was against his skin and squeezed the muscle slightly. Warm. Alive. Muscles firm and well-toned but relaxed under the influence of a sleep-inducing drug. He seemed far too calm after such a harrowing experience and it disquieted her. She forced her voice to remain calm. "Good night."

She purposefully omitted the 'Sir' and gave him a tender smile before turning away. She knew he was watching her go but didn't turn back. She knew if she did, she wouldn't be able to leave.

She strode out into the hallway intending to go to her lab but got a mere ten feet before she had to stop and steady herself with one hand on the wall. She'd already been briefed on a great deal of what had happened.

The hypothesis she, Teal'c and Jonas had come up with was dead on; not only had Kanan done far more than a quick 'heal the host and jump out', the blending was in every respect a complete success.

Thoughts had merged but so had desires, ambitions and even personality attributes. She wondered if that was why the Colonel had been so sedate since the encounter. His wit was still there, but tempered with something she could only describe as sadness. As if O'Neill hadn't had enough of that in his life.

She breathed heavily and turned so that her back was against the cool metallic surface. Everything, all of it, was ultimately her fault. She knew long before General Hammond had given her the go ahead to speak with him, O'Neill would do the one thing he despised above everything else, for her.

Just because she'd asked.

The responsibility she bore to have that kind of power over him weighed upon her and she slid down the wall to the floor. Her arms encircled her knees and she hugged them tightly. She glanced back at the infirmary doors and blinked back the moisture in her eyes. Who did she think she was to demand this kind of loyalty from another? She blinked again. And who was he to give it so freely?

She heard voices from somewhere around the corner growing louder as they approached. She quickly scrambled to her feet and feigned to move as if she'd just then come into the hallway.

"Major." The two nurses barely noticed her as they walked by and entered the infirmary. As soon as they passed she stopped and put her hand on the wall again for support. The door hung open a minute before drifting closed and she heard muted voices coming from within. The two women were the night shift just reporting for duty. The off-going nurse told them to expect to have an uncommonly quiet night. Her own testament to the current state of the commander of SG-1.

The door shut with a soft click of the latch and the voices were gone. Sam continued to stare at it for another moment before resuming her intended walk to her lab.

Her feet did not listen to her head, or perhaps listened too well to her heart and soon she found herself not gazing into a test tube or squinting at a computer screen but rather in the open air outside the mountain.

It was a cold clear night and the stars were sparkling brightly. She wondered if O'Neill had looked at the sky while he was blended and what Kanan would have thought of his love of the stars. So many things that were uniquely O'Neill were maybe not so unique anymore. Kanan was dead and wouldn't have passed the knowledge on to another host, but still it seemed as if the Colonel had been diminished just a bit by what he'd had to do.

For her.

A hot tear fell and hit her forearm before she realized she'd been crying. She stiffened suddenly at the sound of the gravel on the path crunching as someone approached. Not wanting to be seen like this she looked away.

She could feel the heat of another body close to hers and then a light touch as something was draped over her shoulders.

She turned, intending to decline the offer, but stopped as her eyes met with the large deep brown ones of Teal'c. She was always amazed that such a bold warrior could display this level of tenderness. She'd seen it before several times; Drey'auc, Shau'nak, Ry'ak. He had only gentleness for the loves of his life. It was an honor for him to share it with her.

He spoke quietly, not a whisper but so low his chest rumbled. "Major Carter, he is strong, he will be all right."

She blinked and smiled up at him. Of course he would get right to the point. "I know; I'm just sorry it all had to happen."

"It has become a part of his journey. Whether the effect is good or detrimental depends upon the traveler. You need not worry about O'Neill. It is his destiny to overcome. It is who he is."

"You sound awfully sure of that."

He nodded slowly. "I am."

She couldn't help but feel reassured by his confidence. She grasped his arm and brushed her cheek against his shoulder. "Come on, I'll buy you a coffee."

They went back inside but Teal'c begged off the drink saying he preferred Kel-no-reem to caffeine and they went their separate ways. She went dutifully to her lab but after an hour she'd accomplished little and decided to go get that coffee. The pot in the commissary contained something that even Daniel wouldn't have dared and she didn't feel like waiting for another to be made so she went to the next place that seemed to have a continuous supply of fresh coffee, the infirmary.

It was so dark and quiet it was hard to believe anyone was there. She did catch the eye of the one nurse she saw and waved an empty Styrofoam cup in the air. The woman smiled and nodded her head toward the coffee pot then went back to her paperwork.

Sam filled the cup, adding nothing to it, all she wanted was the caffeine boost, not a sugar high, and turned to the door. On her right was a partially drawn curtain; she could see O'Neill's relaxed face under the dim lights of the monitors.

He surprised her when he opened his eyes and looked at her. She flushed at being caught watching him and was glad at least he couldn't see that. He lifted his hand and held it out to her as an invitation.

Sam quickly glanced back at the nurse and saw her still either engrossed in reports or more likely a juicy novel. She stepped into the curtained off area and moved up along the side of the bed until she was standing just where she had been earlier.

"That won't help you sleep."

She smiled at the cup. "What about you?"

His eyebrows flicked just slightly. "Slept enough in that box to last a while I guess."

Her expression pinched a bit and he moved his hand to touch her arm. "It's okay. Not your fault."

Her eyes fell. "But I was the one who asked. It was selfish of me."

O'Neill's fingers tightened their grip. "I don't think so." His eyes searched hers and his hand slipped back to the bed. His eyes drifted shut and after a few minutes Sam turned to leave.

"He knew her."

The words surprised her. "We know, she told us about the two of them."

"Not Shallin. Jolinar."

Sams breath caught in her throat. She quickly set down the coffee before she spilled it. "Kanan did?"

"Yeah. I remember."

Her knees wanted to buckle. Even though the Colonel said he had no memories of being blended with Kanan and 'woke up' in Baal's prison, it seemed that being forced to remember had removed the block. Now he couldn't *stop* remembering.

"Were they friends?"

"Not really, he liked her though." His hand slid back and touched her hand where it rested on the sheet. "Sit with me awhile?"

Sam's lips pressed into a thin smile and she nodded. There was a chair already at the bedside and she lowered herself into it. As she did he turned on his side so he could face her. Neither spoke, and she began to feel awkward. She busied herself by circling her fingertips over the knuckles of his hand.

He moved his hand slightly to capture her thumb and caressed her in return. "Funny, to remember so much when he didn't even hang around."

"There's more?"

"A lot more I think. Not anything of strategic importance though, mostly feelings and disjointed images." He gestured to the forgotten coffee. "Sip?"

She handed him the cup and watched him take a slow swallow with his eyes closed. He handed it back. "You know Jacob's right about one thing; the Tok'ra can't do coffee."

She smiled and took a sip from the cup, looking at him over the rim. Teal'c's words echoed in her mind. She knew he was right; it would take more than Baal, Kanan, or death itself to end O'Neill's journey. He wasn't done yet.

Eventually he did drop off to sleep and she left the infirmary quietly, this time going straight to her lab and settling in to work for an hour or so before getting some sleep herself.

As she waited for the computer to boot up a shadow darkened her doorway. She looked up to see Teal'c standing there and smiled softly at him.

The Jaffa returned her smile and bowed his head deeply one time, then moved off in the direction of the infirmary.

She tapped the keys to bring up her current project and reached for the cup of coffee that wasn't there. She shrugged, she didn't really need it anyway, she intended to get a good night's sleep tonight, the first she'd had in a long time.

~fin.