NOTES: This was written for the Sam/Jack ficathon on LiveJournal, for Lytarules.

Twenty-Eight Days

Part One

Sam first heard the whispers while she was showering in the women's locker rooms.

She'd actually finished her shower and was drying off in the cubicle when she heard the door of the outer room open and the voices come in.

"Did you see them?"

"See who?"

"SG-1's back!"

"Back? When? How long has it been?"

"Over a month. The General had given them up for dead after they sent SG-14 through and they came back empty-handed."

"After a month, no wonder! Where were they?"

"P4M-993."

"Of course." Sarcasm dripped from the voice of the less well-informed woman.

"Well, that's all we have to go on - that and the little bit that Jess overheard while she was working the control room."

"And that little bit would be...?"

"They call their planet Pindalyn and it's a matriarchy. And the reason they've been there for a month is because the leader of the planet took a liking to the guys and held them as her slaves."

"Really?" The second woman sounded more amused than horrified. "Can you blame her, though?"

"How Major Carter keeps her hands off any of them is a wonder," the first woman drawled amidst the opening of locker doors.

"Lucky woman! So she had to bargain them back, I suppose?"

"Something like that. I missed the details. My mind was far too occupied with the idea of Colonel O'Neill as my willing slave..."

There was a metallic slam as the locker door was shut, and a moment later the locker room door opened.

"Dream on!"

"A woman's reach should exceed her grasp, Mads, or what's a heaven for?"

The door swung shut behind them, shutting out everything but the sound of their voices receding into the distance. The click of the handle echoed loudly in the now-empty locker room and Sam breathed again.

Then she looked down and realised her fingers were white and bloodless, clenched in her towel.

--

"The local people call their planet 'Pindalyn'," said Daniel, his voice low and carefully even. "It's a matriarchy - of sorts."

The Colonel was less diplomatic. "It's basically a world where the women dominate the men, sir."

Teal'c's deep voice was measured and condemning. "They will use force and brutality to subdue males if they feel it necessary."

"And that was why you were taken as slaves?" General Hammond asked.

The guys fell silent.

Sam stirred. "No, sir."

"Carter."

She didn't look at the man whose fingers now rested on her wrist in warning, hot against the clammy chill of her flesh. She didn't look at Daniel, who kept his mouth firmly shut, nor at Teal'c whose expression held no recriminations.

She didn't look at anyone but General Hammond. "They were taken as slaves because of me, sir."

That surprised the General. "Because of you, Major?"

"Because Akaitah - the woman in charge of the city we first entered - used my safety as a threat to get them to...agree to her terms." She knew her voice trembled, knew that her tension was visible in the careful stiffness of her shoulders, pressed back into the cushioning of the chair.

Her stomach churned, and she resisted the urge to press a hand to her belly to control the nausea roiling through her. Any movement would be noticed by the guys, by General Hammond, and by Janet, sitting quietly down the end of the table - all of them watching her, openly or surreptitiously. She could feel their gazes upon her, questioning, inquiring, piercing, needing.

Sam didn't dare let them see the fragility of her control over her instincts at this moment.

So she remained utterly still and waited for the inevitable question from the General.

"What terms did this woman require?"

It was the Colonel who answered. Naturally. "She wanted me in her bed, sir." The words were bitten off with curt distaste. "Her terms were twenty-eight days for me in her bed, or twenty eight days for Carter in a bower."

"A bower?"

"A brothel," Daniel translated.

The world around her lurched viciously. Sam took a slow deep breath of air and forced herself to concentrate.

"I made the bargain, sir," the Colonel said in a voice too calm and too controlled. "I'd give her what she wanted and she wouldn't touch Carter."

"And Dr. Jackson and Teal'c?"

Sam stared at her hands as Daniel replied. "We weren't included on the original agreement; but neither were we under the terms of protection. Akaitah saw fit to stretch the bargain." His smile was thin and bitter.

"And you were...slaves for twenty-eight days?"

"Twenty-two days," stated Teal'c.

"And the last ten days?"

Silence.

Sam saw the way General Hammond looked from one face to another, seeking an answer that wasn't forthcoming.

"Colonel." It wasn't quite an order.

The Colonel sighed and answered, laying his hands flat on the tabletop. "The last ten days were spent destroying Akaitah's court, sir. Down to the last...woman who used us as playthings."

His words rang harsh and brutal in the room.

Sam shivered.

--