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Title:Convolutions - Chapter 18. Journey's End

Content Level: Suitable for all audiences G/T

Content Warnings: Profanity, Violence.

Disclaimer: Stargate SG-1 and its characters are the property of Stargate (II) Productions, Showtime/Viacom, MGM/UA, Double Secret Productions, and Gekko Productions. This story is for entertainment purposes only and no money exchanged hands. No copyright infringement is intended. The original characters, situations, and story are the property of the author. This story may not be posted elsewhere without author's consent. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental. Copyright © 2005 Maggie Eaton

Note: As always, any and all mistakes are my own.

Previously –

"We just have to wait and see."

"Well, you're wrong about that! I am so not waiting!"

Chapter 18. Journey's End

Jack stormed into the labs like the irate madman that he was. His six-foot plus frame identifying him as an imposing menace, keyed up and ready to take on anything. Daniel followed close at his heels anxious for the scientist that failed to provide the desired answers and hoping he could act as a buffer between them and Jack; thankful that Jack didn't have a weapon.

"General! It's good to see you, Sir!"

Jack stopped and took in a deep breath but his demeanor didn't change in the least.

"What's the progress on the antidote, Jennings?"

"Um, well, nothing definite yet but we're working around the clock, Sir. We should know something in a few days, maybe a bit longer."

"You've got twelve hours, Jenson and then I'm kicking the whole lot of you out of here! You've had this stuff for what . . . weeks now? If you haven't figured it out yet, you aren't going to!"

He spun on his heels to face Daniel who instinctively pulled back just a fraction.

"Daniel, I want you to keep an eye on this and if there's still nothing by 1700 hours I want you to call me!"

"But that isn't twelve hours, Jack."

"Daniel!"

Jack's voice resounded about the room followed by clinking glass as someone dropped a beaker, startled by his sudden outburst. Daniel, however, simply slipped into his submissive personality and looked innocently back at Jack.

"Sure, Jack. What are you going to do?"

"I'm going to see Landry and then rattle a few cages. I'm sure there are lots of scientists that would just love a crack at this! 1700 hours, Daniel, don't be late!"

"No! No, of course not!"

"I mean it!"

Jack held Daniel in his penetrating stare while the silence in the room seemed to expand across the known universe.

"I know, Jack. I understand. 1700 hours."

Jack turned and hurried out the door and Daniel heard the scientists behind him literally breath a sigh of relief. They were all still standing frozen in place when he turned to look at them, five sets of condemned eyes hoping for reprieve.

"Better get to it, fellows. I don't think he was kidding."

The men exchanged alarmed glances and then began moving to their assigned tasks and whispering to each other, as Jennings walked up to Daniel.

"What's happened, Daniel?"

"Sam's in a coma, Matt. We're losing her."

"Oh, God."

"Just do your best, ok. We're running out of time. Oh, and Jack . . . really wasn't kidding."

Jennings nodded his head and went back to work while Daniel sat at a nearby table searching his mind for any avenue they hadn't yet explored.

OoOoO

Jack burst into Landry's office with the same finesse that he'd shown the scientist and the other General listened attentively for a long time before speaking. Jack was his friend but he'd never seen him like this. So he sat quietly behind his desk while Jack paced and ranted loudly about the lack of progress from the labs, never touching on the exact subject that was bothering him most. After ten minutes or so, he stopped and collapsed into the chair in front of Landry's desk.

"Feel better now, Jack?"

"No, Hank! I don't."

Then he was up again and moving, pacing the floor in the absence of anything positive to do.

"I'm losing her. I have to do something!"

"Ok, just take it easy. We'll call in the Chinese specialists and there's a guy in Germany, too, I think. Anyone else you want?"

"Thor?"

"The message's already been sent, Jack but he hasn't responded."

Landry paused then, seeing his friend in a new light and realizing for the first time just how much Sam really meant to him. Not that Jack would ever admit it but it was obvious, at least to him, losing her would devastate him, he might not ever recover. This was the woman that made him complete, that once in a lifetime love that so few were lucky enough to find and he resolved silently to do all he could to save her . . . and Jack.

"Why don't you go check on Sam and I'll make the calls. You have my promise, Jack; we'll do all that we can. We won't give up."

Jack turned to look at him and Landry saw the rage evaporate as quickly as the morning mist, all the fight going out of him only to be replaced by a deep sadness in his eyes.

"I'll call you as soon as I know something."

"Thanks, Hank."

Jack dropped his head, whether in worry or a bit of shame, Hank didn't know and didn't care then he watched silently as Jack left his office and headed back to Sam's bedside.

OoOoO

Jack became a permanent fixture in the infirmary. His cell phone could accept no more messages and his emails went unanswered. He phoned General Baker to advise him of the changes in Sam's condition and then he had ensconced himself beside her bed where three days later, he still waited.

His orders had been carried out and precisely twelve hours after he had issued them, Daniel informed the scientists of the arrival of reinforcements. They were to share all they had learned and then step back, allowing the new recruits a chance to find the solution. He hadn't removed them from Stargate Command only because Hank had convinced him that he was overreacting due to his personal involvement in the situation and that even though unsuccessful, they were doing their best.

Jack returned to her bedside and had sat impatiently waiting ever since that conversation. He'd held her hand and stroked her hair, he'd talked about the things they'd done together and the things they still wanted to do. He'd promised her anything . . . anything if she'd just come back to him.

Jack scrubbed a weary hand across his features and wondered how Sam dealt with these guys on a daily basis. She would have been able to talk to them, fill in the missing points that they just weren't quite getting but he couldn't do that. He just hoped one of them would find the missing piece of the puzzle before it was too late.

The nurses moved about quietly doing their jobs and not wanting to disturb him as he spoke in hushed tones for hours at a time. They were amazed that the usually quiet general could keep up such a running conversation for so long a time. They were also impressed by the strength and dedication that he showed for Colonel Carter.

Daniel appeared frequently to stand by his side or sit across from him and update him on any signs of progress, always attempting to raise his spirits and assure him that they would find the solution. Then he would disappear again to see if there was any more news or to sleep while Jack remained and waited.

Dr. Summers did everything in her power to get him to leave for a few hours and rest. She pleaded with him, pulled rank; finally insisting that she would sedate him and have him forcibly removed. At that point, General O'Neill advised her that it would be her final act as an Air Force officer or as a doctor, if she dared to carry out that threat. His eyes told her he meant every word and she accepted defeat, ordering instead that a small cot be moved into the room next to Sam.

Jack sat beside the bed holding her hand in both his own and staring at her sweet, peaceful face. Three days. Three days and she was still holding on but he knew she was growing weaker each day and slipping deeper into the coma. He'd heard the regretful whispers of the nurses when they thought he was sleeping but he had no intent on giving up on her. She was strong and she wanted to live.

He had just started to talk to her again when Daniel burst into the room. A brilliant smile illuminated the features of his face as he skidded to a stop a few inches from Jack.

"Jack! They've got it, Jack! They found it!"

He was on his feet before Daniel finished speaking, eyes-wide, daring to hope.

"The antidote? They found it?"

"Yes! They found it, Jack! They're on their way now!"

A few minutes later Dr. Summers injected the serum and then stepped back to wait beside Dr. Jennings. Jack's eyes were locked on Sam, searching for the slightest reaction or movement.

Fifteen minutes later they were still waiting.

Jack turned towards Daniel with unasked questions filling his eyes and then his gaze traveled slowly around the room, finally coming to rest on Dr. Summers.

"She's weakened considerably over the last few days, Sir. It may take longer than we'd thought."

"It will work though, right? You're sure?"

"Yes, Sir, it will work."

Jack nodded and turned back towards Sam resuming his vigil. He didn't seem to notice as the hours passed and the room slowly emptied until he was again alone with Sam.

OoOoO

Twelve hours later, mid afternoon of the fourth day.

"Well then, why isn't she waking up?"

Jack's voice was loud and full of frustration as he stood beside Sam's bed talking to Dr. Summers. The past few hours had worn on him more than he'd realized.

"We just have to wait, General. I'm sure she'll come round soon."

"I'm tired of waiting, Doc."

Jack turned away from Karen and towards Sam, his emotions were on overload and his composure was beginning to wear thin under the strain of keeping them in check. He'd had enough waiting to last a lifetime.

"Carter!"

He barked out her name and Dr. Summers jumped slightly then looked at Daniel in surprise.

"Sir! Please!"

"Come on, Carter! Wake up!"

Jack reached out a hand and started to pat her cheek impatiently, then grasped her chin and shook her head slightly.

"I don't think that will help, Sir!"

"Carter, I am ordering you to wake up! Do you hear me, Carter? Now, right now! "

Sam didn't even flinch at his tone as Jack attempted to intimidate her into consciousness. Daniel finally stepped up and placed a hesitant hand on his arm.

"Jack! That isn't helping you know. She can't hear you."

"How do you know that, Daniel? Carter's brain never sleeps! She can always hear me, she just needs to fight back!"

"Sir, perhaps a softer tone?"

Jack threw a chilling glare in her direction and she shrugged innocently.

"I know you want her to wake up, Jack. We all do but this really isn't. . . "

"Dammit, Daniel! Don't tell me how to act and don't tell me how to handle Carter!"

"Handle her, Jack? She's your wife not some green recruit that you can bully!"

"Oh, please, Daniel! How many times must we have this same argument? Or haven't you noticed that we approach things differently?"

"Hundreds, Jack! And yes, I've noticed. I've noticed you never listen!"

"I listen when I need to listen but this isn't one of those times, so back off!"

"That's always your answer, isn't it, Jack? You're right and I'm wrong. How about considering someone else's point of view for a change?"

"Are you saying that I never considered your point of view, Daniel?"

"Yes!"

"Dr. Jackson? General?"

Karen tried to step in between the two men who were suddenly arguing over nothing but they ignored her, stepping to the side to avoid her interference. She let out a long sigh, crossed her arms and waited.

"I always considered your point of view, Daniel which is why we ended up in prison or enslaved as mine workers or the evening's entertainment for some slimy, overdressed snakehead!"

"That isn't fair, Jack, it wasn't always my fault! And your antagonistic attitude put you in harm's way more than once!"

"Saved your ass a few times, too Danny boy, as I recall! And no, it wasn't always your fault but you damn well made your fair contribution so don't stand there and tell me that I never listened to you! The fact is I listened too much! Now, you can either shut up or you can leave but Carter is going to wake up! If I have to shake her, or shout at the top of my lungs, I'll do it. If that doesn't work maybe I'll try firing off a P-90 in here and see if that gets her attention!"

"Jack?"

"What!"

His voice boomed the word across the room in the same volume he'd just been using on Daniel, chopping it off quickly in a short, terse question.

"Too loud."

Soft, slurred words seemed to echo in the sudden quiet.

Both men turned towards Sam in unison. As the room went deadly quiet they turned quickly back to stare at each other in shocked silence. Then with no visible signal or communication they both bolted towards Sam, Daniel on one side of the bed and Jack on the other.

Their heated argument was forgotten in less than a heartbeat as Jack knelt beside the bed reaching for Sam's hand. When he spoke his voice was soft and loving.

"Hey, Carter. You awake?"

"Either that . . . or hell."

Her voice was weak and halting but Jack chuckled softly as he pressed his lips against her hand and then glanced guiltily at Daniel. She was conscious enough to be irritated and that was a welcome change after watching her still, almost lifeless form for days.

"Come on, Sam, time to wake up. Can you open your eyes for me?"

"Too tired."

"I know, baby, but you need to wake up and talk to me. Can you do that?"

She was already slipping away, her hand relaxing in his as he held on tightly.

"Try to keep her talking, General."

"Carter!" Jack raised his voice slightly again and Sam's body jerked in response.

"Sir?"

"Open your eyes, Carter! Look at me."

Her fingers curled around his again and squeezed lightly as she struggled against the darkness that held her captive.

Daniel stood by silently and Dr. Summers had joined him placing two fingers on Sam's wrist to check her pulse as they watched.

"Ummm . . .can't."

"Come on, Carter, let me see those baby blues."

A soft chuckle escaped her but it sounded more like a gasp for breath.

"What?"

Jack tickled her cheek lightly and his voice was teasing but there was a sense of pleading, too as he tried to pull Sam back from the brink.

"You heard me, open your eyes. We'll take a vacation . . . blue skies, pearly white beaches, a gentle wind through the palm trees. Come on, Sam, you love the beach."

"I thought she hated sand, Jack."

Daniel looked up innocently meeting Jack's eyes in a sincere stare.

"Keep talking, Sir, I'll be right back!"

Karen jogged out of the room and headed for the medical supply cabinet, quickly filling a syringe with a mild stimulant and returning to Sam's bedside. She injected the liquid into the tubing and placed her hand back on Sam's wrist, then nodded her head as the General met her eyes.

"It's just a stimulant. Keep talking, Sir."

Jack was nothing if not impatient, even with the strength of hope tugging at his heartstrings.

"Dammit, Sam, open your eyes! Please."

Heavy eyelids quivered and lashes fluttered gently as her fingers curled tautly around his and Sam struggled to do as he asked. The muscles in her face tightened, almost grimacing as she forced each small movement.

"That's it, Sam, you can do it. Come on."

Jack's face broke into a full smile as she blinked once, twice and then locked onto his eyes. Daniel's smile almost matched Jack's as he fidgeted nervously beside the bed.

"Hey, Carter!"

"Sir."

"How ya doing? Feelin' ok? Anything hurt?"

". . . shoulder."

Jack's eyes moved to her wounded shoulder. It should have been well on its way to healing but the infection had eaten at her flesh and it was still an ugly, weeping hole beneath the bandages.

"Ok. Just lie still. You're gonna be ok."

Jack looked at the doctor for guidance and she nodded for him to continue.

"You remember what happened, Sam?"

Her eyes fluttered closed and he leaned in quickly.

"Stay with me, Sam! Look at me and tell me what you remember."

"Tired, Sir."

"No! Sam, stay awake! Come on now, talk to me."

There was a long pause while they waited for her to respond but she only shook her head slightly. Finally, Jack grasped her shoulders and shook her gently.

"Sam!"

"No . . . stop, Jack."

She was almost whining, her voice unknowingly expressing her exhaustion.

"I'm sorry, Sir, maybe we should let her rest a bit longer."

"But, Doc, you said . . ."

Jack stopped mid-sentence and turned back towards Sam. He stared at her for a long time watching as her breathing began to slow and she drifted back towards sleep. He didn't want to lose her in that unreachable darkness and he expressed his determination in a single word.

"No."

Then he leaned in and kissed her. He pressed his lips against hers and happily noted their welcoming warmth instead of the blazing heat that had plagued her. She was still for a long moment and then returned his kiss, gently and sweetly warming all the cold, neglected places in his heart. Then he pulled away slowly watching the small smile that danced across her lips.

"Who?" She whispered quietly, eyes still closed.

"What! You're killing me here, Carter!"

Dr. Summers exchanged a puzzled look with Daniel who just shrugged and smiled.

"Open your eyes and see."

"Um . . . tired."

"You've been sleeping for days, Carter. Can't spare a minute for your old CO?"

She slowly opened her eyes again and looked into Jack's face. He was sitting on the bed, leaning over her and effectively blocking out the presence of the others in the room.

"Hi, Sir."

"Hi, Carter! That's better! Now, you know me?" His thumb smoothed a gentle line across her cheek as he spoke.

She huffed out two short grunts of laughter.

"Yeah, I . . . know you."

"Good. Know this guy?" He lifted his hand and motioned Daniel forward.

"Hi, Sam."

"Daniel."

"It's good to see you. Feeling better I hope!"

Sam just smiled slightly and moved her head a bit trying to discern the figure standing patiently behind him.

Jack followed her eyes and waited as Sam studied Dr. Summers, feeling her fingers tighten slightly around his in what he suspected was confusion.

"Hey, how about me?"

"What?"

"Tell me who I am. What you remember."

"O'Neill . . ."

"And?"

"SG-1. CO."

Jack's shoulders seem to sag a bit as they watched him and then Sam's eyes seemed to twinkle with a devilish gleam

"My favorite CO." She clarified.

"Yeah?"

"Um hmm."

"Well that's a little better."

Sam smiled, really smiled as Jack stared at her adoringly and Daniel moved quietly out the door with Dr. Summers close behind him.

"Man of my dreams?"

"Hey, even better."

"Love of my life?"

"That's the one."

Jack reached strong arms around her and pulled her close in a gentle hug, smiling insanely when her arms closed around him.

OoOoO

Sam slowly became aware of hushed voices invading the space around her and struggled momentarily to open her eyes. Daniel and Jack were sitting facing each other, talking quietly and drinking coffee.

"So it wasn't the new guys?"

"No, Alan Wainsley actually. Seems he's been working around the clock almost since the day he was released from the infirmary."

"Released?"

"Yeah, seems he was one of the scientists that we rescued."

"So, I guess he has a crush on her, right?"

Daniel chuckled and across the room, unseen by either of them, Sam smiled.

"Probably."

"So, what was it? What finally worked?"

"It was . . . um . . . beta, feta, megitone . . .something. You know I really don't remember."

"What!" Jack growled and then chuckled as Daniel stared at him innocently.

"Well, Jack, I'm not a botanist you know."

"No?"

"No."

"You sure?"

"Yes, Jack, I'm sure."

"What's the difference? Isn't it all the same language?"

"Well, yes . . ."

"And you are a linguist."

"Well, yes but . . ."

"So?"

"So what?"

A soft chuckle broke their concentration and they both turned towards Sam. She had turned her head slightly to look at them, her smile still accentuating her features.

"Leave him alone, Jack."

"Why?" He teased then moved close to her. "Hey, beautiful! How ya doing?"

"Ok."

"Yeah? Really ok? Or is this like that "fine" thing you always do."

"No, I'm really ok. A bit tired but ok."

"That's great, Sam!"

"You ok, Daniel?"

"Yeah, I'm great, other than Jack pestering me, I'm terrific. It's good to see you're feeling better."

"Yeah . . . about that . . ."

Jack's eyes widened as he waited for her to finish the sentence.

"What?"

"I'm not sure I . . . remember what happened. It's sort of mixed up."

"It's ok, baby, you've been sick for a while. It'll come back."

Sam's eyebrows raised in surprise as she looked at Jack.

"Baby?"

Jack turned a quick glance at Daniel who was biting his lip and then shrugged his shoulders quickly as he met Jack's stare.

"Um . . . yeah. We, uh, might have a few things to talk about."

"We? As in you and me?"

"Daniel?"

Jack gave a slight nod of his head towards the door and Daniel practically jumped from his chair.

"Uh, right! I'm going. Glad you're better, Sam and I'll . . . see you later."

"Daniel, wait!"

"Sorry, Sam. Gotta run. Later, ok?"

Then he was gone and the door was closing behind him.

"Sam, I . . ."

The door opened suddenly and Daniel poked his head inside again.

"Sorry. Jack . . . don't beat around the bush this time, ok? Give us all a break and just tell her."

"Daniel!"

The door slammed and when Jack turned to look at Sam her eyes were wide in a silent question.

"Tell me what, Jack?"

"That I was . . . concerned about you. That I still care."

"You do? More than you're supposed to?"

"A whole lot more."

"And you're a general." Her fingers brushed against the star on his collar.

"Yeah."

"My general?"

"Yeah."

Jack looked away, not wanting to go where she was heading.

"Thank you, Jack."

"For what?"

"For holding on. For pulling me back. For loving me."

"I do."

"I know."

"Then you know . . ."

"My hero."

"No." Jack shook his head refusing that title adamantly.

"Man of my dreams?"

"I hope so."

Her voice softened and her hand reached out to his as he looked up again quickly, a touch of confusion mixed with hope stirring in his dark eyes.

"Love of my life?"

Jack held her gaze for a long moment watching the small smile that threatened to spread across her lips. And finally he answered, repeating the words of the night before as she had.

"That's the one."

The End