Disclaimer: Not mine.

Rating: PG, Spoilers: New Ground. Episode insert: New Ground.

Notes: I... have not re-watched, so I apologize if I got some of this wrong. This is less a fic and more a 'this is where her head is' kind of thing. I'm sorry if you're not a fan of Sam and Jack as people with deep feelings for the other. Title is a line from Something for Kate's Manmade Horse (which has great stuff... "ask me how I am, ask me how I'll be. And then stand and watch and hope..." erm, anyway.)

I Picture Myself...

by Ana Lyssie Cotton

The. Hell.

Samantha Carter woke up all at once, and stared up at the ceiling. White. A breeze flittered across her check, and she shifted on the bed (bed?), feeling the slight scratchiness of recently-washed sheets (someone forgot a dryer sheet).

It was mundane enough. Bedroom, walls, ceiling, a door if she looked to the right, a window somewhere (she never had been able to sleep well without a window open, it felt too much like drowning), a bedside table. She sat up, pushing the covers off and staring down at herself. OK. Those appeared to be her hands and legs and body, but the nightgown was new (and when the hell had she lost her sense of style? Did Cassie suck it all away with her boy band fetish?). She grimaced at it, and reached up to run a hand through her hair--

Hanks of it, long strands of it, shit. When the hell had she grown her hair out?

(What's the last thing you remember?)

Fifth. Pain almost unendurable, memories dragged to the surface and scattered to fall where they could like jagged-edged bricks across sensitive skin. (We left him behind. Betrayed him.)

But this wasn't torture. This was... Different. Strange. New.

The hair reminded her again, and she got up and walked over to the window, stared out. A farmhouse? Barn, paddock, gates and fences and piles of hay. This felt so unreal that she went to the mirror and stared into it.

Long blonde hair. It looked. Wrong.

Awful, really.

Again, she wondered where her sense of style had gone.

But that was her face, if not exactly her hair (and who am I to argue with your choice of careers? Aw, dad, you're so sweet). She poked at her face, felt the flesh give as it should, and grimaced.

The mirror-image grimaced back.

She pulled open a drawer, eyed the socks there, and wondered. Two minutes later, she was pulling on a pair of jeans and a shirt that she had to have gotten from someone else. Maybe Daniel. But it was blue, and it was soft and so she felt comfortable in it. (and the drawers had been arranged as she would have done them. Socks, underwear, shirts, sweaters, pants...)

The boots were an easy choice.

Moving through the house, she tried to find anything familiar. She could remember imagining as a child, building stories in her head of the perfect place to live. And her mother and father would be there, and Mark would be... otherwise occupied, because sometimes she liked to have her parents all to herself. (and that happens never, now. She can't even have Dad to herself, because now it's Dad and Selmak. Not that she isn't grateful.)

It felt like every farmhouse seen on TV, or in movies, or a full-page spread in some magazine with 'Living' in the title. A conglomerate of boring and kitschy that might have appealed to her. At the age of, say, eight. When she went through the stage of desperately wanting a horse of her own.

(Between wanting to be a photographer and wanting to be a rodeo clown. Mark used to taunt her about the latter.)

The outside air was brisk, and she headed towards the barn, hoping to find that she wasn't alone here (slimy cold metal legs tickling at her skin and she wants to scream at the twisting in her brain, but there's only nothingness to see). Someone was feeding the horses.

Sam Carter knows this isn't real. She can't convince herself otherwise, because it's just not possible to go from being tortured to--this. Wherever this was.

For just a moment, she almost expects to see someone else. Expects the illusion of happy romance and perfect companionship to be meshed with the appropriate person. Because, in the end, there's only one fantasy she never cares to admit to. (Fifth didn't dig deep enough.)

Because it's not Jack O'Neill who's standing there, treating her like someone to be cherished.

It's Pete Shanahan. And, yeah, part of her thinks this is strangely nice.

(fingers pulling digging twisting--)

But this isn't her ultimate fantasy anymore than an Electra Complex would be.