Her first conscious thought: Why did it hurt to breathe?

In fact, why did everything hurt? There'd been somewhere else moments ago. Somewhere that didn't hurt. Somewhere safe and warm and if she could just let herself go again, let herself sink back into safety and warmth… Maybe she could find it again…

She was sitting on the dock, the sun warm on her face, a gentle breeze off the water ruffling her hair…

Only it was so hard to breathe. And suddenly she was in the water, drowning: sinking, struggling to breathe. Struggling to surface despite the weight pulling her back down because there was something else she should be doing. Something else she had to do.

She must not sleep. Had to stay awake because… because… Because…?

Damn it. Why couldn't she think? Her thoughts lay in fragments, yet the urgency remained. Disjointed memories lay tumbled together in her mind, and she knew they were important. There was a village-- and a device. The Ori -- and blood. Her blood…

Jack. She needed to survive. She needed to tell him, to make sure he knew...

Her eyes flew open. Instead of the village 'library', she was miraculously back at the SGC. And instead of Cam's worried face… "Jack."

He was leaning over her immediately, one hand tightening around her fingers as the other brushed across her forehead, tucking back her ever wayward hair. "Yeah, baby, I'm here. You're okay," he murmured gently, but the light dancing in his eyes had already reassured her of her condition more certainly than mere words ever could. And reassured her of his, as well.

She smiled, pain momentarily forgotten at the sight of him. "You too."

"You betcha," he joked. Then, more seriously, "Mitchell told me what happened. You did good, Sam. And Mitchell helped me realize…" he paused, and she was surprised when, instead of the awkwardness she had expected, he smiled proudly as he announced: "We have officially decided to blame the entire fiasco on the politicians."

She laughed, surprised and delighted that he really did seem to be okay, and that maybe the image which had haunted her nightmares – the image Daniel had shared one night years and years ago of Jack before that first mission through the Stargate -- might finally fade. The sudden movement, however, sent a new wave of pain through her and she couldn't hide the groan which followed.

His smile shifted rapidly to concern. "Sam?"

"I'm okay.. just…" she gestured vaguely, unable to really be more clear in the face of the pain.

"Damn. Dr. Lam mentioned you might need something more when you woke. Let me…" He reached for the IV tube curled on the bed next to her and scrambled for the device attached to it. "Here." He passed it to her. Sam had been on an infuser pump before – too many times before, frankly – and Jack knew that only too well. She gratefully pressed the button which would send more pain meds coursing into her veins. They worked quickly, and she felt the familiar drug-euphoria wash over her.

Jack smiled at her, obviously recognizing her response himself. "Feel better?"

She yawned.

His smile grew wider.

Her eyes closed. But, before she slept. "Jack?"

"I'll be right here." And though she knew the next word he said, she never heard it. She was already asleep. "Always."