Camelot Episode Tag

Thanks to everyone for the kind words about this quickly-written story. I just couldn't go to bed until I finished it last night! But by the time I did, I had been up for almost 22 hours. When I read the story over myself today, I felt it had some awkward passages. So, I've gone in to rework those. Maybe no one else will notice the difference. But, in my mind, it flows much better.

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Sam's eyes widened as she saw the ships coming through the super gate. "My God!" She watched in terror as they appeared: one…two…three…four...each one huge, silent and menacing. The Ori were making their way into the Milky Way Galaxy.

Fascinated, she studied the ships' design, trying to speculate on the strength of their capabilities from the shapes, lights and portals before her. It was an exercise in futility, but the ships had her so mesmerized that her scientifically schooled mind automatically kicked into high gear. What were the capabilities of these vessels? What weaponry did they possess? What systems could she retrofit to benefit her side? If only she could get onboard...if only she could study their systems. If only...she wasn't free-floating in space.

Sam flinched as the reality of the situation began to register in her mind. The magnetic lock that had tied her to the hull of the Odyssey had been broken just before the super gate activated. The massive power surge was probably the cause, she thought. Then, she had drifted away, and she was suddenly, strangely, totally…alone.

She took a deep breath as she tried to steady her nerves. She knew she was too close to the gate for the Odyssey to get a lock on her position. But the battle that was underway would be over soon. Then, she thought, either the Odyssey or the Koralev would come to get her. Or one would break away and maneuver around to pick her up. All she had to do was stay calm…and wait.

Sam shut her eyes tightly, trying to refocus her mind on something…anything…except the vastness of space that surrounded her and the chance that her people would not survive the battle. She feared for them and the billions of people throughout the galaxy. And at this moment, she also feared for her own life.

Opening her eyes, she forced herself to study the super gate. She looked at the pieces, observed the vast event horizon. How had they done it? How were they able to channel the energy from the micro singularity into this massive portal? She had wondered that for months, ever since the Ori's first attempt to construct a huge gateway to the Milky Way Galaxy. But in the time between that experience and this one, she hadn't been able to figure out how the Ori got the parts to hold together in space and what made the gate strong enough to support a stable wormhole.

A low, sarcastic chuckle rose from her throat. The greatest threat that had ever faced Earth was knocking at the door, and she was helpless to do anything…except watch.

At that moment, the irony of the situation hit her. She had left the Stargate program for…personal reasons. But in the time she spent at Area 51, she hadn't felt that the work was fulfilling enough. The research was challenging, but she didn't like the feeling of living on the sidelines. Although she hated to admit it, she found the change hard after being in the midst of the action for so long. She wasn't a spectator. She was a doer, and despite the cutting edge assignments, state-of-the-art equipment and the great minds with which she had worked at the facility, she needed a more active role.

She had returned to SG-1 because of the threat posed by the Ori. She felt it was her duty, but deep down inside, she was also excited by the opportunity to be on the front lines again. The rush it gave her made her feel guilty.

When she discussed her return to SG-1 with Jack, she talked about her obligation to duty. She didn't fool him. He knew. He sensed her restlessness. She had looked into his eyes, and she had seen the understanding there, mingled with the disappointment. But he listened, and he blessed her decision. He loved her enough to know it was something she had to do.

So now, here she was…watching from the sidelines…powerless to do or contribute anything as her own life and the lives of her friends hung in the balance. How ironic. She could have done that from Area 51.

She cursed herself and her decision to return to the action. She had pushed her luck too far this time. Had she let her need for an adrenalin rush threaten the life she had waited for all those years? She thought of Jack, and cursed herself again for doing this to him. They had given up so much to be together, and now, she was jeopardizing it all. He deserved better. But, she told herself, their future would also be threatened if the Ori gained a foothold in the galaxy. So, her choice was die now or die later? She let out an involuntary sigh.

She fought back the tears that were forming, but she couldn't get Jack's face out of her mind. And what about Cassie? Was she going to lose someone else? Although the girl was in college now, she deserved a sense of stability, people she could depend on…and somewhere she could call home. Without Sam, Cassie would lose again. But she would also lose if the Ori reached Earth.

Sam choked down the panic she felt rising within her as she thought of her loved ones, light years away. No...she had to focus on something else! She forced herself to turn her attention to the action beyond the gate. How far away was the battle? Who was winning? She studied the movements of the ships, feeling a strange detachment. It was so surreal…almost as if she were watching a movie instead of a real battle. She felt a lightheadedness that riveted her back to reality. Looking down to check the gauges on her suit, she felt her spirits sink as she noticed her oxygen supply: only three minutes left. She forced herself to take shallow breaths, although she knew it wouldn't make much difference.

She felt a lump form in her throat as she studied the fighting. Years of training and experience told her it wasn't going well for her side. They were taking heavy fire, and appeared to be inflicting little damage on the enemy.

Then, a trio of ha'taks appeared. Sam's spirits rose as the forces of the Milky Way Galaxy were bolstered by the new arrivals. But as the seconds ticked by, she realized that the extra ships were not making a difference. She watched the Ori ships sweep across the sky, their movements seemingly synchronized, their firepower coming in unison. Then, she saw the explosion. One of the Earth ships had been destroyed, but from so far away, Sam couldn't tell whether it was the Koralev or the Odyssey. Where was Daniel? Where was Mitchell? The battle was taking a turn for the worse. The Ori were winning.

So this was it. Try as she might, Sam saw no way out. She said a short prayer—then thought of the people she cared about most—Jack, Cassie, Daniel, Teal'c. She was beginning to feel dizzy again, and this time, the lightheadedness wasn't going away. She knew she was about to pass out.

Her head was swimming when she heard a distant voice calling her name. "Sam, Sam?" Who was it? Jack? Dad? She couldn't tell.

And then, everything went black.

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Why was it dark? Sam stirred from unconsciousness as she heard someone softly calling her name. "Sam, Sam?"

"She moved, Jackson. She's coming out of it."

"Pipe down, Mitchell! She's been out for days. Give her a minute."

"I will get the doctor, DanielJackson."

The voices were familiar. As the wheels in her mind began to turn, she recognized the sounds of her team members talking. Now if she could just see them…but her eyes weren't following her instructions to open.

"Sam, it's ok." It was Daniel again. "You've been sedated, but the doctor is coming. You'll be fine. We're all home. Just take it easy."

Sam tried to remember what had happened last. How long had she been out of it? Why was everyone up and about except her? She tried to focus, tried to force herself to think...but she could only recall the sense of being absolutely alone. Then, it hit her. She realized that the last thing she remembered was floating in space! Her eyes flew open, only to snap shut again at the bright light.

"Teal'c, get the light," she heard Daniel say. "Sam, we're back home. You're at the SGC. Everything is ok," he continued softly.

Sam risked opening one eye and realized the lamp was emitting much less light now. She opened the other eye, and saw Carolyn Lam looking down at her. The doctor smiled. "She's coming out of it. She needs more rest, but a few minutes with you all will probably do her good." Lam added a syringe of something to one of the tubes hanging beside the bed. "I'll check on her in about a half-hour," the doctor told the others. She smiled at Sam again, then turned and left.

That's when Sam noticed the rest of her team: Teal'c, standing tall and strong; Daniel, sitting at her bedside with a bandage on his forehead and Mitchell, sporting a cast on one arm. "Hi," she ventured, and coughed. Why was her throat so dry?

"Here, Sam, have some water," Daniel said gently, pushing a straw toward her lips. She sipped, suddenly aware of how cool and refreshing it felt.

"What happened?" She found her voice again.

"Well," Mitchell began, "you were floating in space, and we…"

"Geez," she heard, as someone else cut Mitchell off. "Surely the mission debrief can wait a little longer."

"Jack!" Daniel exclaimed. "You—you just left for Washington two hours ago. How did you…"

"I know people, Daniel," Jack replied, pulling the archeologist out of the bedside chair and leaning in to kiss Sam on the forehead before sitting down. "I know people, and besides, I finished my business quickly, okay?"

"Whatever," Daniel grinned. "I'm glad you're back. She just started to come around a couple of minutes ago."

"And now?" Jack asked, cocking his head toward the door.

"Now what?" Daniel asked.

"DanielJackson," Teal'c said, "I believe O'Neill is trying to tell us that he would like some time alone with his wife."

"Oh…yeah," Daniel muttered. "Come on, Mitchell. Let's grab some chow." He turned, pushing Mitchell ahead of him. Teal'c followed them, then turned and smiled before closing the door.

"Finally!" Jack exclaimed. "I thought they'd never leave!" He took her right hand in both of his, stroking it gently. "How'ya doin'?"

"I don't even know how I got here," she replied.

"Plenty of time for that later," he said.

"The Ori?"

"They're in the neighborhood, but they haven't found our little corner of the galaxy yet."

"But what…"

"Later, Sam," he said softly, but firmly. "Later. You need to rest."

"I need to know that everyone is all right, Jack."

"We're all fine. Me, Cassie, the three stooges there, and everyone else you know. Even that Vala woman. You're the one worrying people."

"I don't remember a thing."

"If I promise to tell you everything later, will you humor the doc and me and just rest right now?"

"But I need to know….."

"...Nothing else right now." He stood, leaned over and kissed her. As he straightened up, he saw the frustration in her eyes. "All right. Just a little info. You had a close call. You were out of air when they beamed you aboard the Odyssey. We were worried about brain damage, but apparently, that's not an issue. For now though, you need rest." He looked at her solemnly and stroked her cheek before leaning in to kiss her again. He laid his forehead on hers, and spoke softly. "So just take it easy a little while longer, and then we'll explain it all to you."

She nodded, the warmth and closeness of him filling her with a sense of peace. He straightened up and smiled, then removed the jacket of his dress blues and tossed it on an extra chair. As he rolled up the sleeves of his dress shirt, he sat down in the bedside chair and took her hand again.

"I'm feeling sleepy," she complained.

"Yeah, doc doped you up again. She knew I needed a nap."

"Well, if you're going to nap too, sit next to me." She scooted toward the opposite side of the bed.

"I don't want to take a chance with the tubes and stuff…"

"It'll be fine," she smiled. "I'm sure." He gingerly sat on the bed, kicked off his shoes and snaked an arm around her shoulders. She leaned into him. "I don't remember much, but I thought I'd never see you again."

"Same here." She heard the catch in his voice and felt the tears welling up inside her, knowing the emotion it conveyed.

He gently kissed the top of her head, and was silent for a few more moments. "We'll talk about it later, ok?"

There was no reply. By her breathing, he knew that the drugs were having the desired effect. She was asleep.

Jack wiped his free hand across his eyes and turned to stare at the golden head resting on his shoulder. This crazy stuff had to stop! He couldn't stand the thought of her putting her life in danger, just when they had finally begun a life together. He thought those days were over. It was someone else's turn to take up the fight...

He sighed. Then, leaning his head back, he gave in to the long hours and the messages being sent by his own body, and he quickly fell asleep too.

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"Hey, Sam," Daniel called out, "I've brought your favorite…" He stopped in mid-sentence as he opened the door and saw that both Sam and Jack were asleep. "…ice cream." He quickly closed the door before Teal'c and Mitchell reached it. "They're napping. I think we should just let them rest."

"I agree," Teal'c replied. "There are many great battles to be planned and fought. This time of respite is something they deserve."

The three nodded at each other, and walked away, alerting the duty nurse that the patient in the VIP room was taking a nap.