AN: My apologies for the serious lateness of this conclusion... My mom had surgery yesterday, so things have been particularly stressful as of late, however, she's doing well now and I'm hoping I'll be more punctual with my next story. Please R&R!
The three men spent hours waiting for Sam to be ready for visitors. The doctor checked in frequently to keep them updated, reporting that she was a much better patient once she'd seen Jack. They set her arm, taped her ribs, and tended to the rest of her wounds. She was extremely lucky, they all said, not only that she'd been found so quickly, but that her injuries weren't far worse. Daniel, once assured that Sam would be fine, told Jack about a friend of his who'd been thrown from a motorcycle. He'd only flown across the road, but the impact had killed him instantly. Jack just shook his head and thanked Daniel for having kept that news to himself throughout the search.
It was early afternoon when she was finally settled into a room and allowed visitors. Jack winced at the mottled black and blue marks that covered the arm not in a cast. He was sure her legs looked the same from her tumble and he was thankful for the blanket that hid them from view. He smiled when he met her eyes; her face had been protected and didn't have a mark on it.
She smiled brightly, despite the constraint of the contraption on her neck. "Hey, guys. I'm glad you came back."
Teal'c nodded as he as he stepped up beside her bed. "Colonel Carter, we have not left this establishment."
She went to check her watch, but realized it wasn't there. "Isn't it late?" She looked around for some indication where it was day or night, but she found none.
Daniel laughed. "Well, I might have caught a little nap this morning in the waiting room, but Jack did wake me up at three in the morning."
Jack smiled slightly, trying to force himself to appear detached even though everyone present knew better. "You need a new hobby, Carter."
"Like knitting, sir?"
"Yes, like knitting. This one is just far too stressful for your friends."
"I'll take it under advisement, sir." Her brow furrowed when she noticed his crutches. "What happened, sir?"
He looked down, uncharacteristically bashful. "The knee's just not what it used to be, you know."
Teal'c took the opportunity to tease Jack. "Daniel Jackson informed me that General O'Neill was injured in an attempt to find you."
Sam's eyes darted around, trying to figure out if Teal'c had suddenly developed a tendency to lie. Jack wouldn't look at her. Daniel wouldn't meet her eyes. Teal'c's stare remained impassive. "Really?"
Rather than let his friends embarrass him further, Jack decided to answer. "Apparently I can't see in the dark. And there was the matter of the homicidal tree branch that jumped out in front of me."
"How did they find me?" She didn't need to remind them that no one else would have been on that road anyway.
Daniel shrugged. "That's really Jack's department." He glanced at Jack for a moment, hoping he was reading Jack's expressionless manner correctly. "Teal'c and I are going to head out now. We just wanted to see how you were. Get well soon." He leaned over and kissed her cheek.
Teal'c looked perplexed for a moment before he leaned over and kissed her cheek as well. Seemingly ignorant of three incredulous faces gaping at him, he nodded. "I encourage you to heal quickly as well."
Jack motioned among the others. "Should I leave you alone then?"
Teal'c missed the joke and stared solemnly at Jack. "I have no romantic attachment to Colonel Carter. In that respect, I believe you are infinitely more welcome than I." At that point, Daniel dragged Teal'c from the room before he could say anything else, but not before Jack and Sam heard him laughing.
Thoroughly embarrassed and unable to escape the situation, Sam's face burned red. Jack felt bad for her and covered his own embarrassment for both their sakes. "Honestly, Carter, I'm not sure I'm welcome here at all."
The stress of the night had allowed her to block their fight from her mind entirely. "Sir?"
"The whole not letting you transfer thing? I should probably kick myself for reminding you that you're not speaking to me." He met her eyes with a smile spreading across his face. "Although I also seem to remember telling you to call me Jack."
"Yes, sir." She winced. "Sorry, sir." She squeezed her eyes closed as she laughed. "I'll work on that."
He ignored the nearby chair and opted to perch on the edge of her bed. "Are you still mad?"
She shook her head. "I wasn't even really mad at you."
"Could've fooled me."
"I was mad at the situation and I took it out on you."
Jack looked at his hands and realized what he was about to say was the hardest thing he'd ever have to say. He reached out for her hand, mindful of the bandage as he squeezed it gently. "You can go." He didn't even recognize the choked whisper that came out as his own voice.
He glanced up at her, unsure if she was confused or if she really hadn't heard him. "The Alpha Site. You can go. I'll approve your request as soon as I get back."
"I don't want to." There were tears in her eyes that he took to mean she did really want to go, despite her claim.
"No, Sam. I'm not going to hold you back. I've already held you back enough."
She blinked back the tears, unable to wipe them away since Jack was still holding the hand that wasn't in a cast. "I realized something last night." She met his eyes, seeing the same nearly overpowering emotions mirrored there. "I thought I was going to die last night." She sniffled as he reached out to wipe away her tears. "I felt like I was falling forever and I was sure I was going to die. But I didn't think about Mark and my nieces or about seeing my mom and dad again."
"Sam." He carefully traced her cheek with his fingers until they rested against her lips, trying to shush her. "It's ok."
"I thought about you." Her eyes shone with tears, unmentionable fear reflecting in them.
"I know." His voice was choked once again, thick with feelings he'd always tried to hide.
"I have no idea how, but I was there. I felt the whole thing." He expected her scientific skepticism. He expected doubt. He expected a vehement denial that such an experience was possible.
Sam just nodded. "That's why I thought you were there. I felt you."
"That's why I said you could transfer." He saw the shock and confusion on her face before he continued. "No amount of distance is ever going to break that bond, Sam."
She held his eyes for a long time. "I don't want to transfer. I want to resign."
His first instinct was to argue, to try to talk her out of it, to stop her. But he only nodded as he looked away. "Are you sure?"
She squeezed the hand he was still holding. "Aren't you?"
He glanced back at her, a cheeky grin spreading over his face. His voice gained strength as he finally found himself admitting to the emotion he'd been hiding for so long. "I love you."
The smile that lit her face was quite possibly the biggest he'd ever seen. "Sounds like a good reason not to transfer millions of miles away, sir."
He leaned forward until he was just inches away from her face. But then he stopped abruptly. "I thought we covered that sir thing."
She grinned happily as her gaze drifted from his eyes to his lips. "I love you too, Jack."
And that was all he needed to hear to close the distance between them.