Chapter Thirteen

Sam woke up in the base infirmary. Judging by the soft lighting and the silence, it was night-time. Sitting by her bedside were Daniel and Teal'c.

"Hey, Sam." Daniel said softly.

"Hey." She greeted them, sitting up carefully. Her whole body felt like one huge bruise.

"What time is it?" Sam asked.

"It is twenty three hundred hours." Teal'c replied. He paused a moment then asked, "ColonelCarter, are you well?"

"I'm fine, Teal'c. Just a bit bruised." Sam made sure to inject some lightness into her voice, for her friends' sake.

"Where's J… General O'Neill?" She asked, remembering where she was.

"Jack's gone to his office."

"His arm…"

"It's fine, Sam."

"How come I was still asleep?" Sam asked.

"Dr Brightman said you were emotionally exhausted. She gave you a sedative." Daniel answered.

"How is Jack?" Sam asked quietly.

"Physically fine, like I said. Emotionally…" Daniel paused, "…he's Jack." He brightened up. "You shoulda seen him pull rank on the Special Ops guys. I thought that colonel was gonna cry when Jack told them who he was."

Sam smiled weakly at that. "And Cassie?" She asked.

"She's at my apartment. She'll call you tomorrow. She's the one that called us, when you disappeared. Gave the switchboard lady a mouthful when she wouldn't put her through to Jack's office." Sam smiled again.

There was silence between the three members of SG-1. Sam noticed Daniel and Teal'c sending each other looks.

"Guys?" She asked.

"ColonelCarter, PeteShanahan is dead." Teal'c said.

"Way to break it to her gently Teal'c." Daniel said.

"Its okay, guys."

"Really?" Daniel asked, studying her face.

"Daniel, he tried to kill us. He tried to…" Sam suddenly found herself fighting tears at the thought of what Shanahan had been about to do to her. "…hurt me," she said, adding, in a quiet voice, "He tried to take Jack away from me, and he nearly succeeded."

Daniel nodded. Sam saw Teal'c shoot him an 'I told you so' look, something he had developed over his nine years among the Tau'ri, she suspected.

"When can I go home?" Sam asked.

"That would be now."

Sam looked up to see Jack's outline in the infirmary doorway. The lights were directed away from him, so she could not see him clearly.

Jack walked into the infirmary. His arm was bandaged, but not in a sling. Shanahan's shot must not have been too bad.

"Just a scratch." Jack said, in response to her unspoken question. "I thought I told you guys to rest?" He said to Daniel and Teal'c.

"That's good, coming from you." Daniel said. Jack glared at him. "We were just going, weren't we, Teal'c?" He added hurriedly.

"Indeed." The big Jaffa inclined his head, smiling. "Good night, O'Neill, ColonelCarter." He said, exiting the infirmary.

"Night, Sam, Jack." Daniel followed Teal'c out of the room.

Jack stood for a moment. Sam realised he looked absolutely exhausted.

"Jack?" She asked.

He didn't look at her, kept staring at the floor. "You okay to go?" He asked.

"Yeah."

"Get dressed, I'll come back and pick you up in five." He turned to exit the room.

"Should you be driving?" She asked his back.

He shrugged with his left shoulder and exited the room, leaving Sam on her own.

They made the drive back to Jack's place in silence. Sam noticed him wincing occasionally, and wanted to tell him to stop, and let her drive, but couldn't seem to stay awake.

The next thing she knew Jack was waking her up. They were in his driveway.

"I didn't know if you wanted to go home yet or not, so…" Jack was saying, his eyes still avoiding hers.

Sam smiled at him, weakly, hoping he saw.

Jack nodded and helped her out of the truck. Sam was a lot weaker than she thought. 'Must be shock,' she thought dimly.

"You want anything?" Jack asked, hanging his coat up.

"Shower." Sam said.

Jack nodded and took her into the bathroom. He turned on the shower, then left, closing the door.

Sam looked after him, wondering at his behaviour. Then shed her clothes and climbed into the shower.

Sam stayed in the shower for a long time, scrubbing her skin. She wanted to get all traces of Pete and that place off her skin. She wanted to feel as happy as she had this morning.

When she finally got out of the shower she pulled on the Air Force t-shirt she'd worn that morning. She left the bathroom and made her way to the bedroom.

Jack was lying on his side on top of the covers, fully dressed, facing away from the door.

Sam climbed into the bed beside him.

They didn't speak. Sam couldn't force herself to stay awake any more. She fell asleep.

When she awoke, Jack was gone.

'Screw this,' Sam thought, 'he can't keep doing this to me.'

She got up and left the bedroom. She was angry with Jack, for hiding from her, for not wanting to talk to her before and tell her what was wrong.

When she found him her anger subsided immediately.

He was sitting on the living room floor, his back against the couch, his knees drawn up to his chest, his hands covering his face.

Sam went over to him and sat down beside him. "Jack?" She enquired softly.

"You should be sleeping." He said, his voice raw.

"I'm fine. You're not. What's going on?" She asked.

He didn't reply. Sam reached forward and, with some difficulty, lifted his chin, so that she could look at his face.

What she saw shocked her. Jack's eyes were red, bloodshot, as if he'd been crying. Sam had never known Jack to cry, he wasn't exactly the type. His eyes were angry, becoming almost black with the emotion.

"Jack…" she began.

"Go back to bed." He said. Ordered.

"No."

"No?"

"You're not going to push me away, Jack." She said, firmly.

"Sam, I almost got you…" Jack broke off and looked away, unable to finish.

"That's what this is? You think that was your fault?" Sam asked softly.

"It was."

"Jack, that wasn't your fault. I should have listened to you; I should have come to the base."

"I should have killed him." Jack said.

"That's not who you are." Sam said.

"That's where you're wrong."

Sam found herself remembering Jack's conversation with the then-ascended Daniel, in his cell at Baal's fortress.

/"You're a better man than that."

"That's where you're wrong!"/

"No, I'm not." She said. "And you're the only person that doesn't see that, Jack."

He looked at her.

Looking at him now, Sam could see all the different Jack O'Neill's she had seen on the memory screen. The innocent nine-year old; the angry fifteen year old; the young Air Force officer; the emotionally scarred man that came back from Iraq; the father, close to breakdown after losing his son, all of them were visible to her.

She pulled him to her, ignoring his best efforts to stop her. She held him, rocking him gently. "This wasn't your fault."

"I almost lost you." He said in a small voice.

"No, you didn't. I knew you'd be there. I knew you'd come for me. I knew you'd make it in time."

"How?"

"We don't leave our people behind." She said simply. She paused, "It's been a long week, huh?"

"Yeah." Jack replied. He looked up at her. "I love you." He said, wonderment in his voice, as if he'd just realised.

"Ya think?" She asked, finally getting him to smile.

"Can we do this?" He asked, gesturing between them.

"I think so. Do you?"

"I want to…"

"And when have you ever not done something you wanted to do?" Sam asked, teasing.

"For about eight years…" Jack said, but he was smiling, he was back.

Sam grinned. "I guess we should make up for lost time then, General."

He grinned back. "Oh yeah." He drawled, leaning forwards to kiss her.

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