Undomesticated Equines
by Constance Eilonwy (a.k.a Dotfic)
written: 12.29.2004, revised 2.22.2005, posted to Heliopolis 4.14.2005 and to fanfiction dot net 10.9.2005
Summary: Spoilers for Season 2, "Message in a Bottle," and references to Season 1, "Solitudes." Inside Sam Carter's head during "Message in a Bottle."
Disclaimer: Stargate SG-1 is the property of MGM and Gekko Film Corp. Thanks to the stargatefan dot com website for the transcript for "Message in a Bottle." Huge thank you's to Missy and Amy for the beta reads (it's all Amy's fault I'm writing SG-1 fanfic in the first place, it is!).

She feels like a coward.

Anyone she confided this to would reassure her that she was not, that she was dedicating her whole energy to saving the Colonel's life and stopping the spread of the microorganism. There simply wasn't time to stop the studying of the data, the pouring over the sheets of text Daniel took from the orb, to pay a visit to the man pinioned to the wall of the Gate room.

All this is very true, yet still she feels like a coward because she knows that while she is working to save his life, a part of her is relieved she doesn't have the time. If she did, she'd feel as if she should go to him, and she's afraid.

When the orb plunged the rod through the Colonel's shoulder, he'd twitched helplessly, face contorted with pain. Sam almost ran down into the Gate room before she remembered who she was and that the best way she could help the Colonel was to start gathering data on the thing that had attacked him. It was Teal'c who ran in, Teal'c whom the Colonel begged for help, Teal'c who was ready to take up an infinite number of weapons until the Colonel was freed.

Having Teal'c in there with him made the Colonel's helpless easier for her. Last time, she'd been alone, with no fierce, big warrior to help save the Colonel's life. This time there was also Janet racing in with her medical team, there was Hammond barking orders, there was Daniel to translate texts. They were all excellent at their work, all comforting. There was something about Teal'c, in particular, that made this bearable. It wasn't just that she wasn't alone. Teal'c had a unique presence, a dedication, that made her feel as if the Colonel would be safe if Teal'c was standing guard.

Part of her clinically began to analyze the problem and look for solutions. She heard herself calmly but urgently answering Hammond's questions or telling him what she recommended. The other part of her might start shivering convulsively any moment, as if she were surrounded by ice and snow.

Ten hours, chipping through the ice, ignoring her numb fingers, the blisters, her own flagging strength. Hours more trying to get the damned DHD to work. Connections, crystals, wiring were all instinctual to her; if she focused on those she could almost forget the Colonel lying nearby unable to walk, barely able to speak. Almost. So cold in the cave that her tears stung her already chapped cheeks and made her even colder. She'd managed not to cry much, just while her head was down inside the DHD. Not at all while the Colonel could see or hear her.

She'd worked through it, the moisture blurring the complex innards of the device, using her fingers as much as eyesight to show her what went where. Data was irrelevant. It was purely a question of the stamina of her fingers. Her not inconsiderable skills as a mechanic failed her.

It was a relief that it was only her analytical abilities that were called upon now; she could bury herself in screen after screen of numbers and sheets of text, knowing she was doing the very best she could for him, that this was where she was most needed.

Alpha, gamma, delta, EM, Farenheit, X-Axis, Y-Axis. It was a familiar language. She could lose herself in it, just as Daniel lost himself in translating the orb's text. Just an intellectual puzzle. Except it wasn't just that. It almost never was just that at the SGC. But whatever their situation, the language of science skimmed effortlessly through her mind, logical, absorbing, like staring at water running over the stones of a creek.

Not now. Now it was a stacatto beat.

Alpha...how high is the Colonel's temperature?...gamma...is he in pain...delta...we should have prevented this...EM...is he still alive...Farenheit...should go see him...X-Axis...never seen him in this much pain...Y-Axis...should have prevented...

Others went in to him. Janet with her IVs and her stethescope and her BP gauge. Siler with his blowtorch. Teal'c stood guard, surely determined that even if he couldn't battle the microscopic, he would battle something and to hell with anyone who told him he couldn't.

Janet makes her stop work to come and get her booster shot. If there is time to get a booster shot, there is probably time to stop by the Gate room on the way and say hi to the Colonel. In her last trip to the control room, he doesn't look well. She can see the sweat shining on his face even in the dark illumination of the UV light. The microorganism covers one half of his face like a phosphorescent spider web. He's too still. He's not even shivering.

It's not that difficult to make herself go to visit Simmons in the infirmary. Almost easy, in fact. It hurts her, in a clean, uncomplicated way. It gives her a lump in her throat to think of him dying. She offers him words of comfort, flattered by the boy's admiration, sorry he has to suffer, mentally vowing he won't die. It's withstandable. She doesn't feel sickened at her own uselessness, doesn't feel the urge to kick things, to scream, in order to make a device work that won't work no matter what she does, no matter how many hours, no matter how many combinations she tries.

Simmons doesn't scare her. The man sitting on the ladder, barely conscious in the Gate room, scares her.

She stands before the Colonel; she can sense Daniel, Teal'c and the General behind her. Now Teal'c isn't the warrior at the front of the line. She is.

Take a step. Move towards him.

"Sir? Sir, I don't know if what we are about to try is a good idea or not, but you have the right to know. You might not survive it."

And it's okay now, even with the General standing there watching, to do what she's been aching to do since it started. She takes his hand.

It's limp and clammy. Unresponsive. Please, Jack, are you in there?

His fingers tighten around hers.