#6 of "Special Things" Series
Pairings: Sam and Jack
Rating: PG (Older Kids)
Summary: Jack likes to share special moments with a special person in his life. But this time he does it because she needs it.
Author's Note: Just a short piece of angst. I thank my beta, Buddy, for working so hard and keeping up with my stories.
Disclaimer: Stargate SG-1 and its characters are not my property. I have written this story for the enjoyment of Stargate SG-1 fans all over the world. No copyright infringement is intended and no monetary gain is expected.
Sam watched Jack stir restlessly in his drug-induced sleep, his brow glistening with sweat and his hands trembling as they strained against the soft restraints attached to his hospital bed.
She frowned, remembering Janet's explanation for those. She'd said that he might hurt himself or others in his delirium. Nobody could predict how he'd react.
Sam had just nodded, remembering Daniel's attack on Janet when he'd been going through the same ordeal. Getting over the effects of the sarcophagus was no walk in the park. And Colonel O'Neill had the potential of being infinitely more lethal than the gentle Dr. Jackson. So she understood. But she still didn't like seeing him tied down to the bed, looking so helpless. Jack O'Neill was not helpless. He was strong, invincible, bigger than life. He was her hero.
Another tear slowly tracked down her cheek as she sat by the corner of his bed and just watched him. She knew that if Janet realized she was again here in the middle of the night after not sleeping properly for days, she'd get an earful. So she had stealthily snuck in and closed the privacy curtain around his bed as soon as the doctor had left for her base quarters to get some rest. Sam just had to make sure she was gone by the time her friend returned at dawn to check on her favorite patient.
Sam needed to be here now. She couldn't be here when he was awake, suffering from withdrawal symptoms and moaning in pain. She'd tried, but she hadn't been able to endure the suffering she saw when he looked at her. She could swear that there was accusation in those pain-riddled brown orbs. So the first time he'd awakened and fixed those anguished eyes on her she had fled, unable to withstand the guilt that overwhelmed her. She'd run to the nearest restroom and emptied her stomach until all that remained were dry heaves racking her trembling body.
Jonas had come to find her. He hadn't said much when he'd eventually discovered her in her darkened lab, sitting in the hidden corner on the cold floor sobbing into her arms. He had just sat next to her and put his arm around her.
"He's going to be fine. He's very strong," he had whispered to her.
"I know," she'd responded quietly. Minutes later she'd added, "It's my fault."
Her new friend had been quick to disagree. "No, it isn't. He's alive because of you," he had gently argued.
But she had just shaken her head, her face still hidden and her tears flowing freely, remembering the long, awful days of not knowing where he was or whether he was all right.
They had acted on faith alone. Faith in their knowledge of the man Colonel O'Neill was. Faith in his will to survive and his ability to escape given the slimmest chance. Faith in his desire to return home. And their faith had been rewarded.
It's the Tok'ra, Sir!" Walter announced, and General Hammond authorized him to open the iris.
Sam was hoping for good news. She was hoping… and dreading at the same time. Hoping for him to be alive, dreading for him to be hurt or worse: bitter and angry with her for making him accept a symbiote when she knew he hated the very thought of it.
So when a seemingly unhurt Jack O'Neill nonchalantly strolled down the ramp with his shirt in tatters, followed by a Tok'ra escort and waving at the SF's in the room, Sam almost smiled. Almost. Until his eyes found hers and quickly looked away.
She felt as if he'd slapped her, but again she acknowledged that he was entitled to hate her, and her eyes dropped to his chest as she welcomed him back. "It's so good to see you, Sir. We were so worried."
"I'm alive," he stated, and Sam lifted her eyes to his again, hoping to see absolution but seeing only the blank stare he adopted when he was trying to hide something. And she chose to believe that he was hiding his anger and resentment.
Jack then moved on, leaving her to follow as a medic led him to the infirmary. So she, Jonas, Teal'c and General Hammond followed him. Once there, and after only one look, Janet instructed a nurse to get ready to admit him. And Sam's heart dropped into her stomach, knowing that she had not been mistaken in her assumptions.
Even though she'd seen the bleakness in his eyes, she'd hoped that he was truly okay. But when Janet had ordered for him to be admitted and he had meekly sat on a gurney and not argued that he was fine, that he didn't need to stay and be poked with needles, that he'd rest at home, she'd known that he'd gone through hell.
"Daniel… make it the last time," she suddenly heard the writhing man on the bed mumble through dry, cracked lips. And her heart broke a little more. Hearing him call out to their dead friend was almost too much to bear.
She stood up for the tenth time and brought the water-soaked gauze to his lips, trying to soothe his pain in a small way.
"I'm so sorry, Sir," she whispered, another tear falling onto the sheet covering his shivering body. Would he ever forgive her? Would she ever be able to look him in the eye again?
As his dry lips eagerly absorbed the cool water drops, his eyes slowly flickered open. Sam gasped, quickly wiping away her tears, hoping that he'd go back to sleep, that he wasn't really lucid.
But his bloodshot eyes remained on her as he trembled with pain, blinking drowsily as they took in her distressed features. They remained fixed on her for a few moments, but then he closed them again, and Sam breathed a sigh of relief when he finally drifted off.
When Janet arrived in the morning, Sam was gone, but the night-shift nurse immediately responded in the affirmative when the doctor asked whether Major Carter had spent the night with the colonel again.
Six days later, Doctor Fraiser had finally allowed a whiny Jack to go home. Teal'c and Jonas had driven him. When he'd asked about Carter's whereabouts, they'd evasively told him something about Janet forcing their friend to stay home and rest "or else." She'd been banned from the base for the last two days, and she wasn't supposed to return until Monday.
"She blames herself for what happened to you," Jonas had suddenly blurted out as Jack had turned on his TV and made sure that his Simpsons' episodes had been properly recorded. At his perplexed look, the young man had just shrugged. Jack had nodded knowingly, and then his friends had left him to rest.
He sat there for a long time, putting on the first show and attempting to pay attention to it. But this treat that normally engrossed and amused him was now completely uninteresting. His thoughts kept drifting off to the anguished, teary blue eyes of his major. Those eyes had been heavy with worry and guilt when he'd emerged from the wormhole, watching him warily as he'd approached her.
He'd looked for her the moment his feet had hit the ramp. She had been constantly on his mind as he'd lain awake in his lonely cell and waited for the next torture session to begin. Thoughts of her had kept him grounded and focused on staying alive, until he'd felt his sanity start to slip, little by little. He'd finally tried to block her memory so that he could demand of Daniel to let him die before he broke and revealed too much.
As Jack approached the tense major waiting at the end of the ramp, his eyes feasted on her figure, realizing that she was even more beautiful than he remembered. He also realized that he was alive because of her, not only because she'd begged him to take the symbiote, but because her image had kept him company during those awful days in Ba'al's prison.
He eagerly took in every detail of her until his eyes met hers, and then he quickly looked away. He looked at General Hammond instead, only briefly glancing at her once more before he started to follow the medic to the infirmary, not missing the stricken look on her face as she started to follow. God only knew what she was thinking. She probably thought he was angry with her.
She couldn't know that he'd avoided her discerning eyes because he'd been afraid that she'd see the horror he'd been through. And he didn't want her to see. He didn't want her to know of his suffering. He didn't want anyone to know.
Those blue eyes had also watched over him at night while he went through withdrawal. He clearly remembered seeing her there more than once. And Janet had confirmed that he had not been hallucinating.
When he'd asked her whether Major Carter had been there during the nights, keeping him company in the silent darkness even though she never came to see him during the day, Janet had reluctantly nodded. She had said no more, no doubt not wanting to betray her friend, but that had been enough.
Something Teal'c had said had also been revealing. He'd said that they had been worried about their "teammates" while he'd been gone. Not their "teammate," but their "teammates." And Jack had just known that they were referring to both him and Sam. She'd probably been driving herself crazy trying to get him back, as she'd done before.
He'd recently come to believe that she no longer held tender feelings for him. During the past couple of years their relationship had suffered and morphed into a tense, distant CO/subordinate one, fraught with moments of intense feelings, both positive and negative. Sometimes he could swear that she really disliked him. Other times he could see that old glint of affection and regret in her eyes. And in some few rare moments, their eyes still met and melted with desire.
He used to share so much with her. He used to make it a point of doing something special with her every once in a while, just to remind her that she was, indeed, special to him. But he hadn't done that in a long, long time.
Without thinking twice, he picked up the phone and called her home. She immediately picked up, her voice a little tense but eager. Caller ID probably had already told her who was calling.
"It's me, Carter," he unnecessarily informed her.
"Yes, Sir. Are you okay? Janet told me she let you go home this morning."
God! He'd forgotten how much he loved listening to her voice. "I'm peachy, just a little tired. I'm supposed to eat well and do nothing but watch my Simpsons episodes."
"That sounds like… fun… for you," she hesitantly commented.
"Not really," he drawled.
"Why not? You love The Simpsons."
"Yeah, I know! It's weird. But…" he paused. Then he went for broke. "Would you come over and watch them with me?"
"Me?" Jack could detect the astonishment in her voice. And the hope. He could swear he detected hope.
"No, the other Carter. Of course you!" he grumpily replied.
"You want me to come over… now?" Oh, yeah! That was definitely a hopeful tone he'd heard!
"Yeah! I have at least eight shows taped. It's a special day. You know, a Simpsons marathon is a special thing and…" he paused again, wondering whether she'd turn him down if he went too far. "You know I like sharing special things with special friends."
There was a long silence at the other end of the line, and Jack unconsciously held his breath. Then he felt a pang of bittersweet guilt when he heard her sob softly. "Carter?"
"How… how can I… after what you just went through… because of me?" she cried.
Jack wanted so much to hold her and soothe away her unfounded guilt. But he couldn't, so he just did what he could. "Carter, I'm alive because of you. Again! I'm sorry I've forgotten to tell you… or show you… lately… how much I appreciate what you do… for me… for us all."
"Sir," she sighed, and he could hear her watery smile in her whispered word of response.
"Are you coming or not? I'm sure I still have some of your Diet Coke in the fridge. We'll order pizza…" he enticed, trying to sound gruff and impatient. Sam was always able to deal with him better when he was ornery.
"I'll be right over. I wouldn't want you to spend such a special day all alone," she said, no longer crying and sounding more like the Sam Carter he knew and loved.
"All right. But stop on your way over and buy some cake. What's a special day without cake, right?"
"When you're right, you're right, Sir. Cake coming right up." Okay! She sounded like she'd gotten over her little breakdown.
"Excellent! Don't be long," he commanded. 'I'm dying to see you,' he did not say.
"Thank you," she whispered.
Jack shook his head. She was thanking him? "Whatever, Carter. Just don't forget the cake!" he grumpily responded.
"Yes, Sir." He could hear the happy smile in her voice, and everything was now right with the world.
He lay back on the couch to wait, closing his eyes contentedly. A special day with a special… friend… and cake! What else could a man ask for?