Disclaimer: Stargate SG-1 and its characters are the property of Stargate (II) Productions, Showtime/Viacom, MGM/UA, Double Secret Productions, and Gekko Productions. This story is for entertainment purposes only and no money exchanged hands. No copyright infringement is intended. The original characters, situations, and story are the property of the author. This story may not be posted elsewhere without author's consent. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental. Copyright © 2007 Maggie Eaton

Author's Note: April 21, 2007. Written as a challenge fic to use the word solitudes.

COLD

The cold doesn't kill you right away. It takes a while. It's a silent enemy that tortures you slowly, creeping into every pore and muscle until you know that you'll never be warm again. It steals your will and then quietly lulls you to sleep…a cold sleep that lasts forever.

She was ok the first day we were here; we both were…cold and miserable but still ok. I could literally see that brain of hers kicking into overdrive, the exaggerated processes fueling the light in her eyes as she searched for a solution. She was probably generating enough heat to keep her warm for a while, all those electrons and neurons firing simultaneously in her brain but the cold and lack of food quickly took its toll and she's tired now, almost out of options. She's stumbling more than walking now, falling hard on the ice, her circulation is suffering from the cold and her legs simply won't hold her up. I never ask if she's warm enough, if she's ok. I know she isn't.

She's tired and cold. I watch her lean forward, hands on her knees, trying to renew her strength, trying to ignore her headache and screaming body but I can only imagine her pain. She doesn't complain, doesn't rest. She's working herself to exhaustion. I can see it in her actions, hear it in her voice whenever I'm conscious long enough to talk to her. I've told her to sleep, to rest but she's pretty much ignoring me now. She just keeps on going, trying to find a way to keep us alive; making it her personal responsibility to get us home and angry that she hasn't found it yet.

I have to get her out of here somehow; no sense in both of us dying. She might have a chance outside. Hell, it might be tropical islands or warm green forests up there. There's always a chance, right?

Plan B it is.

She doesn't want to go but I insist. You can bring back help, I tell her but it doesn't sound convincing, even to me. She knows I'm dying, so do I. There's no other way. She has to climb out on her own. I can't help her, can't go with her and I can't see the light in her eyes anymore.

She's climbing now but I can't see her, she's too far above me. I can still hear her though; struggling against the wall, sliding down and then climbing up again, reaching for the top. I scan my icy prison and the solitude closes in around me. I close my eyes and I'm totally alone. I know I'm going to die here, but she might make it; she might survive. If anyone has the strength of will, she does.

I don't know how much time has passed, I think I must have fallen asleep but I feel a gentle warmth beside me; a slight tingling where the warmth is sinking in and pushing back the cold. I finally realize that it's her warmth, that she's beside me, snuggling close. I can hear her teeth chattering as they bump softly against each other and I know she's hurting.

I wonder why she came back. It must have been really bad out there…no tropical islands, no warm breezes just more of the same. It must have been too much for her to tackle in her weakened condition. That's my fault; I should have sent her out earlier. I should have ordered her to go…before she was so worn out and beaten down from this damned cold. That and the guilt of leaving me here was just too much to ask.

We're going to die here and I don't even know where here is. She's done everything she could think of while I lay here like a Popsicle, freezing to the ground and wandering down my own personal trail of regret.

She's warm and soft against me and for one selfish moment, I'm glad she's here. I'm glad she's beside me, snuggled against me as if there's some real meaning to us being here together. I haven't felt that since…

"Sarah."

I didn't realize I'd actually spoken until I hear her answer.

"I'm here, Jack."

I open my eyes just enough to see the tears freezing on her cheeks. I want to touch her, to reach out and ease her pain but I'm so tired and so…

"I'm cold…so cold."

The words slip past my lips, finishing my thoughts aloud.

"I know..."

Her face is pressed against my neck and she's trying hard to hold back the tears but I can hear her voice breaking even though she's barely whispering.

"…It's all right. You can sleep now. It was an honor serving with you too, Colonel."

She's giving up. She's finally accepted that she's dying too but something in me refuses to give up. I have to do something. I can't let this just…happen. We shouldn't be here. We shouldn't be dying like this. I reach for her hand, so small and so cold. It isn't much but it's all the comfort I can give and I'm glad when I feel her fingers wrap around mine.

We'll get out of here, Sam, they'll find us.

She doesn't answer and I'm not sure if I've spoken or simply thought the words. I need to stay awake but it's getting dark and I'm so tired…so cold.

They'll find us. They will find us. Yeah, but not in time.

I turn my head and look at the woman snuggled against my side. Thank you, Sam. She doesn't answer. I'm sorry. I squeeze her hand but she doesn't respond and I quickly push away the thought that she is anything but asleep. I feel a warm tear crawling down my cheek and then my skin tightening as the air around us crystallizes it almost instantly. I close my eyes, hoping that's it's only to sleep.

The cold doesn't kill you right away. It takes a while. It's a silent enemy that tortures you slowly, creeping into every pore and muscle until you know that you'll never be warm again. It steals your will and then quietly lulls you to sleep…a cold sleep that lasts forever.

The End