Title: Punishment

Author: Gail R. Delaney

Rating: PG

Pairing: Sam/Jack

Summary: Daniel is dying. Jack and Sam have to face the truth behind their pain... and look inside.

Disclaimer: I don't own Stargate, Stargate SG-1, Jack, Sam, Teal'c, Daniel... none of them. Don't make any money. Never will. This just had to be done.

Genre: Angst

Timeline: During Meridian

Feedback: Absolutely!

Archive: It will be posted to my site, and at

Placement in episode: Immediately before Sam visits Daniel and tells him she doesn't understand why people can't tell the ones they care about how they feel.

Sam wandered the halls of the SGC, searching for somewhere quiet that she could allow the raging emotions that warred in her chest to be released. The intense pain, as she tried to reconcile with herself the thought of losing Daniel, pressed out from her heart and made it hard to breathe.

She heard the crash, like a tank barreling through a concrete wall, and jumped. A glance up and down the hall told her no other personnel had been within earshot, and didn't hear whatever it was. Sam jogged down the hall towards the on base gymnasium.

As she rounded the corner into the room, she realized what the sound had been. A rack of dumbbells and benchpress weights lay scattered on the floor, surrounding the bent and mangled framework of the rack that had once held them. Jack stood amongst the wreckage, his back to the door, and Sam froze in her spot.

He clenched his hands at his side, the muscles of his upper arms bunching and twisting as he fisted and released his hands. From here, she could see the tension that stretched across his shoulders beneath the black of his tee shirt. Jack looked around the room, seeming desperate to find what he needed, and Sam could only hold her breath.

She watched as he took three long strides to reach the large punching bag hung in the corner of the room. Tears burned her eyes as he let loose on the inanimate object all the anger and fury she realized boiled inside him, demanding release.

"God. Damn. Son. Of. A. Bitch," he ground out, accentuating each word with a slam of his bare knuckles against the leather.

As he drew his hand back, Sam saw the bloody streaks across his knuckles, and with a sharp intake of air, she ran into the room.

"Colonel! Stop!"

He spun around, his fist drawn back, and the intense pain that twisted his features stopped Sam short. Jack stared at her for a moment, the only sound in the room their rapid breaths. Then Jack looked down at his hand, straightening his fingers as a rivulet of blood dripped to the soft mat floor.

"Sir..."

"Leave me alone, Carter," he ground out as he moved to walk past her.

Sam grabbed his arm, and he spun back to face her.

"Sir, this is hard for me, too."

"No!" He yanked his arm free and raised his hand, demanding without words that she stop talking.

Sam tried to breathe as he walked away. "Jack..." she said softly. "We don't have to go through this alone."

"I do."

"Why? Jack..."

He stopped at the door, and a deadly silence took over the room. The air became heavy with the tension, almost choking her. Jack's head fell forward, and she fought to steady her breathing as she watched him rein in all the fierce emotions that had driven him just moments before. Power and strength... and above else, control. That was Jack.

His eyes were dark when he turned around, his bloody hands hanging at his side. "I'm the biggest son of a bitch you'll ever meet, Carter," he said in a rough, deceptively calm voice that sent chills up her spine.

Sam could only shake her head slowly. She didn't understand. Many times in the last five years, she had seen the shadow of self-recrimination in her commanding officer's eyes, but never so deep as now.

"Sir, there is nothing you could have done... no way you could have known. If any of us had any idea this could happen..." But she trailed off, seeing in his eyes she had missed the mark.

It wasn't about what had happened to Daniel. It was more.

Taking a steeling breath, she walked forward until she stood just inches from him. Close enough that she could lay her hand on his chest, and lean into him, if he would have allowed it. He stared back at her, his gaze never wavering from her own, and she felt as though he were looking into her soul. He frightened her, but not for herself, for whatever war raged inside him.

"Why, Jack?"

His lips parted, just slightly, enough for the heat of his breath to whisper across her cheek. "Because, as much as I can't stand seeing Daniel lying there... dying ... I thank God, Carter." She held her breath. "I thank God it's not you."

Then he was gone, the force of his departure making her sway, and Sam sucked air into her lungs. His absence filled the space around her, suffocating her, and she crossed her arms over her body to try and ward off the devastating cold that seemed to sink to her bones.

"I know, Jack," she whispered to the empty room. "I know."