O iron nerve to true occasion true,
O fallen at length, the tower of strength
Which stood four-square to all the winds that blew.
(Ode on the Death of the Duke of Wellington --Tennyson)
Chapter Eight: Tower of Strength
By the time Sam woke it was nearly 1030, and she was surprised how late she'd slept, despite the time she'd finally gone to bed. She found herself being a bit angry that Janet hadn't woken her, but that must have been a good sign since apparently it meant nothing had gone wrong. Dragging herself from the uncomfortable cot in her crew's quarters, Sam hastily smoothed out the wrinkles in the BDUs she'd changed into before going to bed, then headed straight for Jack's room on the hospital level of the SGC.
Sam found Janet finishing up changing Jack's bandage when she entered the room. As the doctor smiled over at her, she strode forward and noticed that Janet had apparently cleaned him up since he was now wearing a pair of hospital bottoms instead of the bloodstained sweats he'd had on from before. Closing her eyes, Sam sucked in a steadying breath as she caught sight of the faded bruising along Jack's ribs that had still been healing. She was silently grateful that Janet had already covered the gruesome gunshot wound with fresh bandaging, not needing further reminder of what Pete had done to him.
"Pete Shanahan's still alive," Janet said softly in a neutral voice, looking up at Sam slowly. She sighed, noticing her friend's uncomfortable expression. "The policemen guarding him at the hospital called General Hammond for Colonel O'Neill's written statement on the accident, but the General told them they'd send it over as soon as the Colonel was well enough. They'd like a statement from you as well Sam," Her voice became gentle and comforting. "General Hammond said that you can hand a statement over to him whenever you're ready."
Clenching her eyes shut, Sam took a slow, deep breath and chewed her bottom lip.
"They'll lock him away Sam, for what he's done to both of you," Janet moved over to her and grasped her hand with a reassuring squeeze. "Don't worry,"
Smiling tightly and forcing her eyes open, Sam's focus immediately shifted over to Jack. "How's he doing?" she asked in a slightly unsteady voice.
"Good," Janet answered quickly. "His vitals are steady and everything, he's just sleeping normally. I'm sure he'll be waking soon. It's a good sign he was able to sleep nearly through the whole night, considering what was left of it." She regarded Sam cautiously for a moment before deciding to shift the subject. "Cassie's here. One of the SFs picked her up for me last night since I wasn't able to go home."
Sam traced her hand along Jack's brow gently before saying anything. "Where is she now?" Turning, she smiled briefly at the doctor, grateful for the shift in conversation.
"Teal'c and Daniel took her to the commissary for breakfast, I'm not sure if they're still there now though." Fiddling with the tubes and electrodes attached to Jack's chest as she spoke, Janet pulled the blanket up over him. "I haven't eaten yet myself, want to get something to eat with me?" she asked conversationally, watching Sam staring fixedly at Jack.
"No," Sam mumbled quietly, sinking into the chair beside the bed. "I just want to sit here until he wakes up."
Patting Sam's shoulder understandingly, Janet gave a short nod. "I'll bring something down for you."
Looking up for a moment, Sam smiled gratefully at her friend. "Thanks Janet."
"How long?" Daniel paced back and forth within the confined corridor.
The repeating question didn't seem to faze the Jaffa warrior. He simply kept as still as ever and answered the same as he had been for the previous times the question had been asked. "I am unsure, Daniel Jackson." Hands clasped behind his back, Teal'c stared steadily at the closed door to the ICU room. "I am sure Doctor Fraiser will allow us to enter the room when she believes O'Neill is fit enough to accept visitors."
Pausing in his movements, Daniel sighed loudly and crossed his arms. "Sam's been in there awhile,"
Teal'c just gave a short nod. "Major Carter has indeed been at O'Neill's side before he returned to consciousness this morning."
Daniel's brows drew together quickly before rising. He released a breath noisily before shoving his hands in his pockets, anxious to see his friend. Neither he nor Teal'c were there when Jack woke the other night and hadn't heard too much of his condition. All that they knew had been straight from young Cassie's mouth, and all she told them was that he was sleeping like a ghost. Teal'c certainly hadn't understood what the child meant by that, and was ill-at-ease with the news, as much as he showed it. Daniel explained that the young girl had only meant that Jack was pale, but only after he'd figured out Cassie's observation for himself.
Jerking in surprise when the ICU door opened, Daniel looked to Dr. Fraiser expectantly, hands now free from his pockets. "Hey, what's going on?"
Smiling disarmingly, Janet idly fiddled with the stethoscope around her neck for a moment. "Don't worry, everything's fine now. I just had to set the Colonel up with a new IV needle after he tore it free when he woke."
Teal'c rose an eyebrow as Daniel cocked his head to the side in confusion. "Why'd he do that?" the archaeologist asked curiously.
Janet sighed softly. She hadn't wanted to cause more reason for concern by explaining the whole situation, but realized they'd be more worried if she didn't tell them. "Colonel O'Neill had a bad reaction with the combination of meds he was on. It's effects caused a bit of delirium and I had to readjust his drug levels."
"Wow," Daniel muttered with surprise. His brows knit together once more as he took a step closer to the doctor. "Can we see him now?"
"Mm-hm," Janet nodded and turned to head back into the room. She paused with a hand on the doorknob. "Sam's been keeping him calm while the new drugs start to take effect, but he may still seem a bit delusional, so don't be too alarmed if you find that he's acting a bit strangely."
Teal'c rose one eyebrow slightly, then stepped into the room following Doctor Fraiser and Daniel.
"It's okay now Jack, please, take it easy," Sam whispered gently, pressing a hand to his forehead and looking into his hazy brown eyes.
He had finally stopped struggling to get up when the pain of his injuries became too much to ignore. Jack dropped his head back into the pillow and blinked slowly. When Sam adjusted the oxygen tube under his nose he seemed to be able to focus a little better. "Sam?"
"I'm right here," She smiled gently, running a hand through his hair before turning to realize they had visitors now. "Teal'c and Daniel are here too," Sam sent her friends a silent greeting while she let Jack take in the information.
Jack shifted his head slightly to peer at his friends. "Hey guys," he mumbled weakly with a faint grin. A confused look came across his face and he blinked slowly. "Where are we?"
Sam frowned with a soft sigh. He was still obviously a bit delusional.
Daniel blinked before answering his friend. "You're in the hospital at the SGC Jack, you were shot." He told him calmly.
With one eyebrow raised slightly, Jack mouthed an "Oh," before blinking slowly. He jerked suddenly, startling Sam and Daniel. Teal'c remained still and silent. "Where's Sam!" He gasped suddenly with wide, glazed eyes.
Pressing her hand down on his right shoulder to try and still his movements, Sam sent a pleading look toward Daniel and Teal'c, each moving over quickly to help prevent him from getting up. "Jack, I'm right here," she told him firmly but gently, now placing her hands on either side of his face to get him to look at her. "Look at me," Sam instructed with forced calm. "I'm right here,"
Jack's mouth opened slightly as if in surprise. He was struggling to focus again, eyes widening and closing several times. "Did 'e hurt..you?" he slurred, desperate to keep his gaze locked on Sam.
"No," she answered after a moment with a sympathetic smile. "I'm fine Jack," Sam brushed at the hair along his brow before taking his hand.
Janet stepped in, looking between the three friends. "I think it's time we let the Colonel rest. He still needs for the drug levels to even out in his system." She had thought he'd been more coherent before, but now it was obvious that Jack was still quite out of it.
It took a little over an hour for Jack to be acting more normal with a new controlled amount of drugs in his system. Sam had stayed with him while he went through the worst of the delusions, and when Janet was confident that he wasn't about to pass out, she brought a little bit of food and had Sam try and get him to eat some.
Jack was sitting up in the bed with extra pillows stuffed behind his back, a tray pulled over his lap with a small bowl of red Jell-O on it. He was staring at the transparent red blob with disinterest, a slight frown on his face. "Pete dead?" he mumbled the question aloud suddenly.
Sam was surprised at the abruptness of the question. Caught off-guard, she fumbled momentarily for a response, then remembered what Janet had told her. "Um..no. He's at the Memorial Hospital under police custody."
Eyes lowering, Jack's face was as stoic as Teal'c's normally was while he thought back to the other night. He remembered being shot at point-blank range with Pete's spare revolver, then struggling against the pain and blackness to reach for the fallen pistol that Sam forced the man to drop. Jack had fired without hesitance, shoving Pete away before crumpling back against the floor with the reassurance that Sam was safe.
"Jack," Sam pulled him back from his reverie and reached out to grasp his hand. "Are you okay?"
"Yep, fine," he answered with a forced smile, his voice lightened.
Although Jack was trying to make it seem like he was feeling much better and everything, Sam could tell that he was far from ready to be up and about. He was much too pale for Sam's liking, and even though he tried to hide it, she could tell how weak he was. "Do you want to rest?"
"No," he sighed, bringing up a hand to rub at the crease in his forehead. "I've been doin' enough of that," Jack mumbled with a slight scowl. Turning to Sam, he rose an eyebrow slowly. "Think maybe the Doc'll let me outta here? I can do the resting thing at home no sweat."
Sam just smiled sympathetically at him. "I seriously doubt it, but maybe she'll let you go in a few more days if I promise to stay with you."
"You'd do that?" Jack look at her skeptically with a hopeful grin on his face.
"Sure," she nodded affirmatively with a smile. "If you'll let me," Sam gestured toward the Jell-O on Jack's tray while he continued grinning. "Now, you gonna eat that?"
"Nah, I'm not hungry," he sighed, the once-happy expression faltering. Jack grimaced at the thought of eating anything else, having just barely finished the small portion of food Janet brought for him. His side hurt, and all he wanted to do was go back to his house with Sam and pick up where they'd left off before Pete barged in on them, looking for revenge.
Pulling away the unwanted tray, Sam sunk back into the familiar chair by Jack's bed. She noticed he seemed to be tiring, but was fighting off sleep as much as he could. Refraining from mentioning it, Sam stayed quiet and chatted with him softly until he was no longer able to battle the darkness that threatened to claim him and finally slipped into the arms of Morpheus.
Within a few days Jack was feeling much better, and Janet was actually seriously considering sending him home. He'd had plenty of visitors in the past couple days, including all of SG-1, along with General Hammond and Cassie on several occasions. Mostly Sam kept at Jack's bedside, keeping him company, talking and sharing meals. She'd even been sleeping on-base, concerned that something would happen if she went home. Sam wasn't willing to take that chance.
Sam was currently talking with Janet, assuring the doctor that things would be fine if she were to send Jack home. "I'll request some leave so I can stay with him, I'm sure the General will understand. SG-1's on stand-down for now anyways unless we're needed by the other teams."
Sighing reluctantly, Janet tilted her head to one side, contemplating the idea, but ultimately giving in. "Alright, but only if General Hammond grants you leave. And you've got to make sure the Colonel continues to take the propper medication and refrains from doing anything strenuous that could undo his stitching."
Smiling, Sam nodded before hurrying off to speak with the General.
Shaking her head slightly with a smile, Janet folded her arms and left her office to go tell the Colonel the good news. She already knew how grateful he'd be to finally be let out of the infirmary and off-base.
Although Jack was ecstatic to be released from the infirmary, he wasn't too happy about being led off base in a wheelchair. Even though he was determined to leave on his own power, Janet strictly forbid it, warning him that if he strained himself now he'd just wind up back in the hospital by the next day. Slightly disgruntled, but using his better judgement and deciding to obey, Jack did a little negotiating, promising to take it easy and follow all of the doctor's rules if she permitted him to spend time at his cabin while under Sam's care. Janet agreed after a reassurance from Sam that she'd be strict with him.
After they'd stopped at both her place and Jack's to pack a few things, the pair were making their way to Minnesota. Despite Jack's few protests, Sam had insisted that she drive her Volvo instead of taking his truck. The weather wasn't too bad now, just a bit snowy with leftover, melting snow from the past few storms. Since it wasn't much cooler than forty-degrees, there was a small chance of the roads being icy, making it much safer to drive.
The ride from the base to Sam's, then to Jack's, and packing their gear had really taken it's toll on the injured man and he soon fell into an exhausted sleep. He lay slumped against the door on the passenger side, pressed up against a pillow that Sam had given him to take along, figuring he'd get tired on the ride there.
Occasionally Sam would sneak a peak over at Jack, once in a while noticing his face twitch slightly in pain when she drove over a bump in the road. Her brows furrowed in sympathy before her eyes returned to the road, wanting to reach the cabin soon to save him from anymore discomfort. Sam had given Jack some painkillers before they left, as per Janet's request, but he was still pretty weak and required some propper rest without being jostled around the passenger seat of a car.
While coming to a stop nearly an hour later in front of the cabin, Sam shifted the car into park without turning off the engine. Deciding not to wake Jack quite yet, she got of the car, leaving the heat on for him, then dug into her coat pocket to take out the keys to the cabin he'd given her. She wanted to bring in their things and go inside to turn on the heat and other necessities like lights and such before getting him up.
After managing to get the fireplace going and turn on the boiler so they'd have hot water and heat, Sam put on a few lights and returned to the car, having already brought hers and Jack's bags inside. She knew the wheelchair used to get Jack from the base to the parking lot was safely tucked away in the trunk of her Volvo, but she was debating whether or not to take it out right now. Guessing that Jack might be a little groggy once she woke him, Sam figured him to be a bit more unsteady on his feet, but also knew him well enough to know he'd probably argue that he was able to make the short distance from the car to the cabin without the chair.
Getting into the driver's seat, Sam reached for the keys and turned off the ignition before tucking them away in her pocket. Leaning over, she gently placed her warm hand over the side of Jack's neck, not wanting to shake his shoulder because she knew that the left collarbone was still bothering him some. "Jack," she called gently, stroking her thumb lightly over his neck as she tried to wake him.
He snorted suddenly and jerked his head, tired eyes fluttering open.
Having pulled her hand away from his startling movements, Sam smiled disarmingly as he turned to her, managing to focus. "Hey," she whispered gently. "You awake? We're here."
"Yeh, I'm up," Jack mumbled, groaning softly as he straightened in the seat, no longer leaning against the pillow and the passenger side door.
Smiling gently, Sam helped him out of the car and wrapped an arm around his waist while leading him into the cabin. She guided him over to the cushiony, worn old couch which he sunk into with a content sigh.
Feeling much more awake now, Jack patted the cushion on his right and slung an arm around Sam's shoulders after she sat down and leaned into him. They sat quietly for a moment, warming up by the fire just holding eachother. "You okay?" he asked softly, suddenly, breaking the comfortable silence. There was so much meaning to that simple question, and Jack knew it.
Sam snuggled closer to him and took in a slow breath with serious consideration. She thought about recent events, her mind going over everything that had happened in the past couple weeks. Finally, she hummed with satisfaction and nodded into Jack's shoulder. "Yeh, I think I really am." Sam's worries with Pete were over, and she was now confident he'd be locked away for a very long time. In that time she'd be with Jack, the one she'd loved for a long time. And they'd be happy together.
Deciding to lighten the mood, Jack shifted and playfully nudged Sam, grinning when she craned her neck to look at him. "So... Dinner?"
Note: I jus' wanna say a big thanks to all the readers and reviewers!