Chapter Seven

Back to the SGC

The procession consisting of the Prometheus crewmen carrying Sam, Janet, SG-1, Colonel Ronson and the rest of the SGC personnel who had carried equipment to the ship came to a halt at the bottom of the landing ramp. The hand off of the stretcher from Prometheus crew to SGC crew was done smoothly, and the SGC members began the short trip back to the Stargate.

As they entered the boulder field, the doors to the Prometheus closed and the ship's engines could be heard preparing for take off. A few minutes later, the SGC personnel saw the ship overhead, on its way back to earth. It would take a few days for them to complete the journey, as they continued their series of short hops and longer cool down periods. Jack knew that this flaw in the Prometheus was something that Carter was eager to help correct. He also knew that with the seriousness of her injury, it was unlikely that Janet would ok her for off-world missions for a while. But, maybe the doctor would allow her to spend some time working on the Prometheus problem if she didn't overdo it. Jack also recalled that Sam had been itching to work on a weapon that would be effective against the super soldiers. He'd have to mention both possibilities to Janet. The two of them should try to come up with relatively sedentary activities for Sam. She didn't seem to have an off switch when she got involved with a project, but if she was working in her lab, they might be able to limit her hours of work, and make sure that she got the nourishment and rest that she'd need. He'd enlist the aid of General Hammond, and the rest of SG-1 to make sure that she didn't try to do too much too soon.

Jack first checked to see if Sam was still unconscious, not wanting her to overhear. Then he told Janet of his ideas. The doctor walking next to him behind the stretcher, considered his suggestions. "I think it's a good idea to find something to keep her occupied for a while. It may be a week or two before she's ready for that, but once she's up and about, you're right, we need to find something for her to do. I'm not just worried about her overworking, but I'm also concerned that if she doesn't have anything else to do, she'll dwell on this experience too much. Some of the things she's said make me think that she believes her hallucinations were manifestations of parts of her own personality, and it sounds like she might not have liked everything they told her. It's true that she will probably need to sort through some things, but she shouldn't get obsessed with it."

"Doc, you do know that I hate hearing expressions like manifestations of parts of the personality, don't you? Just to be clear, we need to keep her busy so that she doesn't spend too much time contemplating her belly button, and questioning the meaning of life, right?"

"Right."

Teal'c, who was bringing up the rear of the procession, announced, "I believe Major Carter has awakened again."

Janet looked over and saw that Sam's eyes were open, but that she looked bewildered. "What are you guys doing here?" She looked around, tried to move, and when she found that she couldn't, asked, "Why am I strapped down? Janet, is that you?"

Janet soothed her, saying, "You were injured on the Prometheus, and we're bringing you home. You're strapped onto a stretcher so that you won't be injured further when we go through the gate." She believed that keeping a patient informed of their status was the best way to keep them calm in situations like this.

The simple explanation was enough to stop the worry that had begun to show on Sam's face, but she still looked dazed. "But why are we on a planet, not Prometheus, and why are you all here?"

Jack spoke quietly, "The ship landed on this planet and we gated to it so that we could bring you back to earth."

"I don't feel that bad, except for a horrendous headache. Why would you have to come get me?" A frightened look was coming into her eyes.

Janet hurried to reassure her. "You had a head injury, and the medics on the Prometheus didn't have the equipment to fully diagnose it, so they called me. The tests seem fine, but since we came all this way to see if you were ok, it just makes sense that we bring you back with us, rather than making you spend another week or so on the Prometheus. You know that I wouldn't risk gate travel if it was really serious. Besides, now you get to test out the Head Trip yourself. If we decide to write up that patent application, you can describe its usefulness from first hand experience."

Sam was calmer now, but Daniel and Teal'c realized that she hadn't recalled either of their previous conversations aboard the Prometheus. Janet had been right when she'd explained that Sam's memory would be spotty for a while. It was disturbing, but at least Janet had warned them to expect it.

By this time, the group had reached the gate. Jack ordered Daniel to dial up earth, and radio through to Hammond to let him know that they were coming through momentarily. Janet spoke to Sam, but made sure that Jack heard as well, since he hadn't heard the discussions aboard the ship.

"Sam, I'm going to give you a sedative now, before we go through the gate. I know that you don't like this, but we have to be sure that you keep perfectly still when we go through the wormhole. I'm giving you a mild dose, so you should wake up shortly after we get home."

Jack looked away as Janet pushed the needle into Sam's arm. He wasn't particularly squeamish about needles, but he knew Carter hated sedatives, just as he did. Maybe they'd been gassed too many times by the Goa'uld to ever want to voluntarily be put under. But Janet's explanation made sense, and when he looked again, Carter's eyes were closed and she was breathing slowly. Janet checked her vitals and pronounced her ready to go.

The wormhole opened with its usual kawoosh, and Daniel called the SGC. "This is SG-1, calling Stargate Command."

Walter answered. "Stargate Command here. Are you ready to return?"

"Yes, But Dr. Fraiser has requested that a gurney be brought to the gate room."

General Hammond, standing next to Walter, answered. "It's already there, son. Bring her on through." To Walter, he ordered, "Sergeant, open the iris. I'll be in the gate room."

On the planet, the men of SG-1 took three of the handles of the stretcher and Lt. Colonel Harper took the fourth. Janet went through first, so that she could be ready to help Sam if necessary as soon as the stretcher exited the wormhole. After waiting a minute or so, in order to not step on top of the doctor when they came through, the men bearing the stretcher were next, followed by the small collection of SGC personnel who carried the rest of the medical equipment.

Coming down the ramp, Janet allowed herself the few seconds it usually took her to adjust her balance and eyes every time she came through the wormhole. When she looked around, she saw a large number of people in the gate room, even more than had been present outside the commissary before they left. She was once again moved by this show of respect for her friend, and made a mental note to tell Sam of these incidents as soon as Sam's mind was fully functioning again.

General Hammond came through the gate room doors just as the stretcher came through the gate. Dr. Fraiser waited until the group reached the bottom of the ramp before checking Sam's breathing and pulse. Hammond assumed that the results must have been normal since the doctor then calmly ordered her staff to bring the waiting gurney over. They quickly transferred the major to the gurney and made their way to the infirmary.

Hammond congratulated the group standing before him. "Well done, men. From your earlier reports, it sounds like the major is going to be fine, and that you've got quite a story to tell about her actions on the Prometheus. Debriefing in half an hour." Although his remarks had been directed to the recovery team, he had purposely spoken loud enough for the entire group assembled in the gate room to hear. Their presence was technically against the regulations, but it was too late to do anything about it now. Might as well make the best of the situation and let everyone know that Major Carter was on the road to recovery, not at death's door. This way the truth would get out as soon as possible, and maybe help to raise morale.

Jack speaking on behalf of the returning group, said "Thank you sir. But the main thanks should go to Dr. Fraiser and the Prometheus crew. They're the ones who took care of Major Carter. We were just the muscle on this one."

In the infirmary, Janet saw to it that Sam was comfortable in a bed, and arranged for the additional tests which could now be performed. She had been reassured by Sam's brief periods of consciousness. Granted, the men of SG-1 had told her that at one point she was still caught up in a hallucinatory state, but the other times she had been cognizant of her surroundings and even recalled what had happened both before and after her injury. Those were good signs. Sam might still have episodes where she might be momentarily unaware of her situation, but if they were lucky, those wouldn't last long, and Sam would be back to normal within a few days. It wouldn't hurt to remind Jack that she might still be disoriented when she came too, so that he'd be prepared if she said or did something which might seem inappropriate.

She couldn't do any more for now, so she decided to call Cassie. This was one phone call she looked forward to. After that, she would head to the debriefing.

The debriefing with General Hammond mainly consisted of retelling Colonel Ronson's story about the attack, the Prometheus' crew 'visit' to the alien ship and Sam's actions back on the Prometheus. They handed over a copy of Sam's log, which they hadn't been able to listen to yet, and gave him a brief overview of the rescue mission itself. Janet gave the general her current diagnosis of Sam's condition and the impact of her injury on Sam's ability to work. "Of course, this is all preliminary until I complete the testing. If the level of injury is what I suspect, she should be back on light duty within a week, maybe two weeks. No team missions for at least a month. But Colonel O'Neill has a couple of projects in mind that might be perfect for the light duty. He can discuss that with you later."

General Hammond told the team that they were on stand-down for the immediate future, but could certainly go out with other teams if needed. He was about to dismiss them, when he remembered another piece of information. "I got through to the Tok'ra, but didn't talk to Jacob directly. I was assured that Jacob will be informed about Sam's return as soon as he makes contact."

Jack looked skeptical at this, but Hammond continued. "I think I actually found a sympathetic Tok'ra, for a change. He seemed to genuinely agree that it was important for Jacob to know about his daughter and said that he would encourage Jacob to come here if at all possible."

Teal'c broke in before Jack could express more disbelief in the honesty of the Tok'ra. "I believe that Jacob Carter would be a welcome aid in Major Carter's recovery. She expressed an interest in spending more time with him after we found Anubis' secret base, but he was called away before they could do so."

Jack couldn't disagree with that statement, so he kept his complaints to himself, and led the other two men toward the infirmary. "I'm sure the doctor won't want all of us hanging out in the infirmary, so how about we all check her out now, and then take shifts. I'm sure it will be easier on Carter if she wakes up to a friendly face and not some surly nurse."

As soon as the words left his mouth, he scowled, and quickly looked around to be sure there were no medical personnel in hearing range. For once, he'd gotten lucky and he hadn't been overheard by the wrong person.

"You knew what I meant, right? It would just be better if it were one of us there whenever she wakes up. From what Janet's said, chances are she'll be disoriented for a while, and if she's confused we can set her straight."

Daniel agreed, but wanted to be sure that Jack wouldn't try to take advantage of the situation. "Ok, but you won't try to mess with her head, will you? You won't try to convince her that she's still aboard the Prometheus and that you're a figment of her imagination? "

Jack did his best to look offended. "Me, mess with anyone's head? Not in my nature, Daniel. I would think you knew me better than that."

"Of course I know you, that's why I'm trying to thwart your evil plans."

"Oh my god, what movies has Teal'c been showing you now?"

A small smile broke out on Teal'c's face as he began to answer O'Neill, but Daniel interrupted before he could speak.

"Never mind that, promise that you won't try to confuse Sam until she's feeling better."

"As if I could confuse her when she's in her right mind. But ok, I promise. Now, on to more important things. Who's going to be in charge of the welcome home party for Carter? You know my only requirement is that there's gotta be cake."

Some time later, Sam woke up and slowly opened her eyes. She winced as the light impacted her vision. Thinking, "Damn, my head hurts. Wonder where I am? It looks like an infirmary, but which one?"

She heard a quiet "Hey." from beside the bed. Recognizing his voice, but still not sure where she was or if he was real or imaginary, she responded "Jackā€¦"

Jack was taken aback by the first-name response. He knew she might still think that she was hallucinating, but now he began to wonder what form those hallucinations had taken. "Excuse me?"

Sam looked over, still a little woozy, and saw the Colonel dressed in his BDU's, not in civvies as he had been on the ship. Whoops, this time it must be real. "Sorry Sir."

"Yes, well, a massive concussion will tend to disorient one."

"How long was I out there?"

"It's all relative Carter, that whole time space continuum thing."

She was just too tired to deal with his humor now. "Sir."

Reading the weariness on her face, he replied. "Four days."

She was clearly surprised by this. "Could have sworn it was weeks."

The brevity of her answers told him how tired she really was. He decided to try to lighten things up again. "Teal'c and Daniel say Hi. They're planning a little bit of a shindig for when you're up and around. There's talk of cake."

That earned him a wan smile. "A cake?"

He grinned in response and proudly replied "My idea."

Another smile, stronger this time. "Can't wait."

All right! He was on a roll now, but Janet would have his ass if he tired her out any more. He better wrap it up and let her get back to sleep. "Need anything? Magazine? Yo yo?"

"I'm fine."

Looking down at her, and realizing how close they'd come to losing her, he said, "Yes you are."

As he turned to leave, she said "Thank you Sir."

"For what?"

What was she thanking him for? She had a vague feeling that his imaginary alter ego told her something important on the ship, and she wanted to let him know that she appreciated the advice. But right now, she had no idea of what that advice had been. Maybe when she was able to concentrate, and had some time to process the events of the last few days, she could thank him for the proper reason. For now, she answered, "Nothing."

"Think nothing of it. I've got plenty of that."

Jack left, and Sam closed her eyes, exhausted by the short exchange. But after a moment, she thought she heard the sound of a small girl singing. She opened her eyes again and smiled. That particular hallucination was one that she could remember clearly and wanted to hold on to for a while longer. In spite of the pain and the confusion still reigning in her mind, she somehow felt that this whole experience had helped her resolve some things. She wasn't sure what they all were, or how it had happened, but she felt more at peace with her feelings than in a long time. She closed her eyes and slept.