Category: Angst, Comfort, Missing Scene
Season: SG-1 Season 8
Related Episodes: New Order Part 2: after Sam's rescue from Replicator Fifth; Abyss, Fire and Water, Unnatural Selection, Children of the Gods
Featured Characters: Samantha Carter, Jack O'Neill
Summary: When memories of Fifth's torture overwhelm her, Sam takes off on her Harley to test herself.
Author's note: Some mild swearing; a minor reference to sexual assault. Not very shippy, but if you look hard you may catch a "moment." Had to get Sam out on that awesome bike! The story is complete; chapters will be uploaded regularly.
Dedicated to all soldiers everywhere who survive war and harsh captivity: You are never forgotten. You are not alone. Seek help.
1. Head Trip
"When are you going to let me out of here? It's been a week, damn it!"
The anguished words rang against the infirmary walls, causing a momentary hush among the medical staff. The normal hum of conversation resumed after a moment. Dr. Wilhelmina Thompson tried for composure at the same question. Again. Major Samantha Carter, lately imprisoned by earth's cruel enemy, the Replicators, was not cooperating in her recovery. In the doctor's medical opinion, Carter needed more than medical supervision. She sighed, hiding her exasperation at the thought of her patient's response to THAT suggestion.
"Major Carter, your system still shows blood chemistry imbalances, you're still anemic, AND," Dr. Thompson held up her hand as Sam prepared another protest, "you're still exhausted. You last slept a full night when?" In the middle of staring her down, the major's eyes began to close and she wavered. The doctor gripped the exhausted officer by the arm. She hoped she didn't have a smug look on her face as Carter jerked awake, mortified.
"I'm truly sorry, but I can't release you yet. This is taking longer than I'd like, as well. I'm concerned that it's lack of sleep that's keeping your body chemistries so out of synch," Dr. Thompson said, watching the patient carefully. The only response was the fisting of Carter's hands on top of the mattress. "Well, you let me know when you're ready to try something else. Come back in the morning, or sooner if you need to." With no response, she quietly left her patient, not very hopeful that she would sleep.
Sam opened her mouth, then snapped it shut. She hadn't slept, not since she returned. Not without horrors too real to be called nightmares. She didn't want to sleep if she couldn't have blessed, silent darkness. It would not come. Only the images. As prisoner in that nowhere space. How she had let Fifth take control...
Dr. Thompson's grip on her arm had alarmed her: she had nodded off in the middle of her argument! Staring bleakly at the far wall, Sam barely nodded to the doctor before she was left alone. She doggedly refused the lethal dreams; she wouldn't relive them again.
Sam sighed and strode out of the infirmary still feeling like a captive. It was futile to argue with a doctor armed with pesky medical proof to show she wasn't ready to go on duty or even go home. Inside her quarters – again –she plopped down on the bed. How she wanted to be in her own home right now! Well, that wasn't happening yet.
Sam shut her eyes and began another attempt to relax. The pull of sleep was strong, but the repulsion of her dreams was even stronger. Fifth had dredged her own monsters from their forgotten crevasses and attacked her with them. Her eyelids tightened. Sam recalled trying to meditate with Teal'c when he found out she hadn't been sleeping. Teal'c was his most calming as he had instructed her, and at first she achieved a measure of peace. Then the visions seeped through. She was back there, where red haze, thick hot dust choked her and burned her eyes.
Bynar! Oh, god, oh god... The visions sprung full-blown as if Fifth still yanked them from her. Jolinar. Sam was Jolinar, feeling her rage and helplessness at her capture. The blinding agony of the torture prod; the hand device boring into her brain; surviving the assault by other prisoners when she was thrown into the prison, too weak to defend herself. Oh, god, not that…. And then on to Jolinar's devil's pact with Bynar; at once protection from further assaults, and submission to only one, his. Every cruel invasive touch, so very real, even now. Sam being forced to swallow the Blood of Sokar; returning to the day her mother died, too many times to count. His painful attempts to mimic human intimacy filled her with nausea and dread.
Sam pressed her fists into her temples. She tried once more to repel the memories, and laid back down. A face, faces floated around the bed, speaking to her softly at first. She recognized Daniel Jackson, her teammate and fearsome archeologist, smiling with his kind blue eyes before he burst into flames. The gruesome picture shimmered and became Teal'c, her other teammate, warrior and loyal friend. He was in the throes of agony from the pain-stick that she administered to his flesh. No, not true! She gasped for breath, slowly, slower until the false vision faded.
And then, there was Jack O'Neill, newly promoted to Brigadier General and her commanding officer. A man more complicated than he would ever admit, yet he could assess his environment and tactical situations as simply as he breathed. He knew them well, and proved time and again how exceptional he was as their mission leader.
Finally, here, Sam felt her tension and anxiety draining. Jack O'Neill did that; made them feel they could do anything, survive anything, because he believed they could. Pleasant memories drifted through her, of chilly nights spent off-world around a campfire. Teasing Daniel for his unswerving ethics, or Teal'c for his seriousness, and even Jack for being so, well, irreverent.
Or failed missions when they retreated hell for leather back to the gate when locals or Goa'uld took umbrage at their presence (or maybe even their breathing). Covering one another, dragging wounded, dodging glider-fire, and making it back safely, if not quite soundly, to the SGC.
But sometimes they didn't get back, or couldn't. The nicer images began to burn at the edges, turning into Jack entombed, sacrificed for them. Gone but not gone. Jack in agony from Ba'al's torture while she watched helplessly. And Fifth's inhuman anger stirring in false memories with ghastly visions, around and around and...
Dr. Thompson was not completely surprised to nearly collide with Dr. Daniel Jackson and the SGC's Jaffa ally, Teal'c. She had grown used to their looks of concern this past week, and their hopeful questions about Major Carter. But, one look at her face, and their expressions of eagerness faded. Sighing, she motioned them to follow her as she made her way to General O'Neill's office. One more person's hopes to dash, she thought. She hoped he knew that she was doing her best.
"Major Carter's recovery is much too slow, gentlemen. Very little has changed. That's all I can say until I speak with the General," Dr. Thompson said. How does it feel to be part of such a close team, she wondered. Major Carter was very fortunate.
"So, we don't have a sedative that actually works on Carter, doctor? How's that possible?" Brig. General Jack O'Neill asked before the doctor completed her report. The thought of Carter not being able to rest after her ordeal was troubling on way too many levels. He focused on the doctor noting her nervousness.
"It's the naquadah marker in her blood, according to Dr. Janet Fraiser's records. Sedatives take longer to effect the major. So Dr. Fraiser developed one that's twice as potent for most humans. I mean, other humans," Dr. Thompson faltered when the general frowned at her words. "She's already had a higher dose than recommended, but it didn't put her under."
"Dr. Thompson, is a sedative only required to relax a person so that they may then sleep?" Teal'c asked.
"Yes, but it's not working. It's as if she's..."
"She's fighting it," Jack said. He expelled a breath and rocked back into his chair. The doctor nodded. "It's been, what, a week? And Carter has yet to sleep a whole night?" Jack asked. When the doctor nodded again, he added, "Then give her enough to knock her out. You said she's going into a decline because her body's out of whack. What difference does it make as long as she can get the rest she needs?"
"I wish it could work that way, General O'Neill. But the truth is, I'm afraid she'll fight that, too. It may take toxic levels to put her out. I don't want to risk it. As it is, we gave her a higher dose last night, with her consent of course, to see if it would work. It didn't, and now she'll have to get some of it out of her system before we dare try again. Several hours at least," Dr. Thompson replied.
"Then how are we to aid Major Carter?" Teal'c asked, unusually solemn. "I offered my assistance in meditation. However, Major Carter could not achieve a restful state. I have rarely seen her unable to focus."
"I have to ask, Jack. There has to be something else there, or..." Daniel turned from the doctor to Jack. But Jack was watching the doctor. Daniel looked at her as well.
"Did you leave something out, Dr. Thompson?" Jack asked, very certain he knew what she wanted to say. He didn't care that his expression already gave away his feelings on the matter.
"There was no brain damage noted in our tests. I'm…uh, still considering options, sir. That's my report," Dr. Thompson replied. She picked up her report and left.
"This is indeed troubling," Teal'c said. He sighed and sat back in his chair with an air of dejection.
"Why didn't you want the doctor to suggest a psychologist? It might help her, Jack," Daniel said.
"You have to ask? I'd rather Carter requested one. The pinheads at the Pentagon and NID don't like post-traumatic stress, and I won't give them an excuse to say she's a security risk," Jack replied sharply. Removing Sam from SG-1 now was not going to happen, he vowed. He wiped a hand through his hair. "What Carter needs is a little space. But I'm almost out of time on this."
"Um, yeah, I was wondering when that would come up," Daniel said.
"Hammond's bought us some room, but they want her full debriefing on this Fifth replicator. I doubt they'll let her sleep it off first," Jack said. Recalling their return, he felt chilled.
Their return from Orilla seemed like other post-missions; they were tired, victorious, alive. Jack was touched that Sam seemed so pleased to see him safely out of the Ancient's deep freezer. But he noticed Sam's distraction almost immediately. She looked like she was watching a bad movie, wincing, shaking her head, and shutting her eyes intermittently. She'd sat apart from them, her back against the wall.
"Carter?" he had asked, approaching her warily. She jumped nearly a foot. When she did look at him, her eyes were unfocussed, as if she was still seeing something else. He wasn't used to seeing Carter confused; that was more his style. "Carter, you ok? Sam?"
"Sir. Oh, damn..." Carter had said before she collapsed. That wouldn't have been a bad thing, considering her recent trials, but she never blacked out. She fought to stay conscious. She babbled about a horse and a farm, and pancakes. Then she dozed, only to awake violently minutes later. In the end, she spent the rest of the trip home restrained in his arms like a child who had thrown a tantrum. "I can handle it, sir. I will," Carter had said, her last words before Thor beamed them back to the SGC. By then she was exhausted and limp, yet stubbornly awake. And giving them the scare of their lives. He'd thought she'd held it together at their debriefing, but Jack learned that was premature.
"Why do you believe there is anything more to add to Major Carter's testimony? She attended the debriefing and gave her report," Teal'c asked, puzzled.
"Well, somebody smells a missing link, and they have more questions. Problem is, I think it has to do with Carter and not Replicators," Jack said, slamming his hands on the desk and standing. Hands shoved in his pockets, he paced the small office. He thought back to his own return after his ordeal with Ba'al. What was Carter hiding? Did he have the right to ask? Could he afford not to? He stopped and looked at his former teammates. "What's she like, when you talk to her?"
"She is reasonable. However, she is unusually restless," Teal'c replied.
"She's lost weight, she looks exhausted," Daniel said. He looked at Jack curiously. "What about your observations, Jack?"
"She looks haunted," Jack answered. "Carter needs our help, but she needs a little time. Let's try to give it to her," Jack said, and dismissed them. He'd wait a bit, then send one of them to check on her later. It wasn't as if she was going anywhere.
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