Part Five

Infirmary, SGC

Sam, Teal'c, and Jonas stood at the foot of Jack's infirmary bed, quietly discussing his condition while keeping watch over his sleeping form.

"Dr. Fraiser says he'll probably suffer withdrawal symptoms from so much time in a sarcophagus, but otherwise she expects a full recovery," Sam informed the others.

"What happened to the woman he went back for?" Jonas asked in curiosity.

"Her name's Shallan," Sam stated. "She decided to stay with the Tok'ra."

"So she may continue Kanan's fight in his name," Teal'c added.

Although they had been trying to keep their conversation quiet, the familiar sound of their voices woke Jack. "Hey...I'm trying to sleep here."

Sam turned around to face him and smiled poignantly, all at once glad that he was safe and yet deeply troubled by the knowledge of the horrors he had experienced. Shallan had been quite thorough in her description of the torture Jack had endured at the hands of Ba'al. The thought of the man she loved being killed over and over again sickened Sam. Although she tried to put on a brave face for Jack, the grief and guilt continued to eat away at her. Unfortunately, the joy and gratefulness she felt at having him back was not enough to alleviate her remorse.

"Sorry, sir...glad to see you're okay."

Jack knew instinctively from her tone that her apology had nothing to do with waking him up. The guilt in her voice went much deeper than that. She blamed herself for what had happened to him, that much was obvious to him.

"Listen...that was a good idea you had there," he commended her, trying to make her realize that it was not her fault – that she had done the best that she could and had miraculously saved him once again.

Sam shrugged and turned to acknowledge Jonas and Teal'c's presence. "Actually, sir... we all contributed to it."

She moved to the side of the bed, desperately longing to reach out and touch his hand. The desire to openly comfort him was strong, and yet she controlled herself. She couldn't tell him of her relief at his return, nor of how much she loved him and had missed him…no matter how great her desire to do so. She had to maintain her professional distance. The most she could offer was, "Do you need anything or..."

"Water..." Jack answered succinctly.

"Sure." She turned around to retrieve the water from another room, taking Jonas and Teal'c with her.

With a forced smile plastered on her face, Sam returned a minute later carrying a cup of water. She was trying unsuccessfully to hide her sorrow and pain behind her cheerful facade.

"Here you go, sir." She placed the water on his nightstand.

"Thanks," Jack replied tiredly, his eyes already closing once again.

"Goodnight." Sam spoke softly as she turned to leave, never realizing that Jack had opened his eyes slightly and was carefully observing her retreating form.

Jack knew there was something decisively wrong as he drifted off to sleep. He knew Sam felt guilty for what had happened to him. She always blamed herself when something went wrong, especially when it concerned him. But there was more to it than that.

Although no one else would have noticed, Sam's demeanor in the infirmary had been vaguely distant. Her eyes and her smile told him all he needed to know. Even though she had clearly been glad to see him, her smile had been bittersweet. Her eyes had been filled with love as he had gazed into them, and yet he also had spied a profound sadness hidden in their depths. In fact, the warmth and pure happiness that usually shone from her eyes was not there at all. It was as if part of her soul had been neatly tucked away for safekeeping in a corner of her heart…as if she were protecting it from getting hurt. Upon realizing this, Jack was immediately gripped with fear.

Something had happened while he was gone…something that changed the way she felt about him. And as he drifted off to sleep, his thoughts were plagued with questions and uncertainties about what the coming days would bring.

The End

TBC in "Desperately" – Part Three in the "In Need" Series.

AN: Thanks for reading and special thanks go out to froggy0319 and trtlsoup2001 for reviewing. I knew this story would struggle to gain an audience because it deals with such angsty subject matter and I can't tell you how much I appreciate the reviews. Part Three of the seriesis almost finished and will be posted by next week.