Stargate SG1 is somebody else's, probably MGM/Gekko Corp/Sci-Fi, and I freely admit that whoever's it is, I'm borrowing their show and they retain all rights, etc.
Author's Note: This is a thank you to everyone who has supported my Stargate writing to date and in particular the folks at Gateworld. This is my contribution to the Sam/Jack Ship Day currently in progress on the forum there...
This story is really a set of missing scenes/tag to Line in the Sand in Season 10. It does have major spoilers for that episode and mild spoilers for Season 10 and SGA Season 3's The Return. It also has references to practically every key Sam/Jack moment in Stargate and it is therefore unashamedly Sam/Jack fluff so if you don't like the pairing, please turn way now.
Blind panic was something Jack O'Neill rarely experienced. The first time had been the moment he had realised he was being left behind in Iraq; the second when he had heard the shot that had killed his son and known somewhere in his heart that Charlie wasn't going to be OK. The third time he'd been separated from Samantha Carter by a force-shield, the sounds of the approaching Jaffa getting ever closer as he hammered at the control panel helplessly and she begged him to leave her. He hadn't left; he loved her too much to leave; would rather have died himself than to have lost her.
Somehow, he'd managed to control the panic in their missions after that. It teased at him occasionally; when Sam had gone missing on Earth, when he'd raced to save her from a Kull warrior, when Niirti's experimentation almost killed her…but those times he'd controlled it. He'd focused on finding her, on saving her, because if he hadn't, well, he didn't kid himself; he and blind panic would have been close friends and that was unacceptable in the field when she and others counted on him to get the mission done.
It had got more difficult in the past year when she risked her life still going through the Stargate and he fought the fight on home ground; dealing with the petty politics and bureaucrats that had to be dealt with so they could keep the Earth safe. Panic hovered at the edges of his consciousness when SG1 went MIA or he knew they were on a dangerous assignment but he knew she'd rearrange the laws of physics to come home to him; she'd done it once to bring him home to her. He could admit the panic lurked more than it had when he'd been out in the field with her but he'd never regretted his decision to take up the President's offer to transfer to Washington.
It had given him the freedom to be more to Sam than her CO and a respected colleague and trusted friend. He was her husband now; her lover, confidante: her partner in life and closer to her in ways he had never imagined. He wouldn't change it back but it meant he wasn't with her when she took the shot to her back; when she'd lain dying on a planet far away. The call from his old friend and the SGC commander, Hank Landry, telling him Sam had been injured and that it was bad, hadn't elicited blind panic at first. Landry had been careful to tell him quickly that a med team had gone through and stabilised her; that she was on her way back. So, he'd held it together while he ordered his aide to clear his schedule, held it together as the Daedalus followed his order to beam him directly to the SGC. Rank and position had its privileges.
Landry had been unsurprised when Jack had beamed into the control room. Jack had arrived just in time to hear Walter Harriman confirming it was SG1 coming through the wormhole, just in time to race down the stairs into the gate room and watch as they carried an unconscious Sam through on a stretcher and placed her on a gurney. He was proud that he'd still held it together then; allowing himself nothing more than taking her hand in his as his brown eyes scoured her pale, grey face, sheened with sweat and pain. The SGC CMO had placed a hand on his arm.
Carolyn Lam's dark eyes had shone with compassion; she was one of the few along with Landry and SG1 who knew the truth of his relationship with Sam. 'I need to get her to surgery stat.'
He'd immediately let go of Sam's hand and had stepped back. He had watched as Carolyn snapped orders at her med team and Sam was carried away. Jack had followed after them, through the never-ending corridors. He'd followed the progress of his wife right up until the surgery room doors had slammed shut in his face. That was when it hit him; nothing but blind panic.
Jack might have fallen – OK, would have fallen if it hadn't been for Teal'c. The Jaffa took hold of his upper arm and led him to the waiting area in the corridor. Jack didn't so much sit on the bench as he collapsed onto it. He lowered his head, and pressed the heels of his hands into his eyes. He took two deep breaths; in and out, in and out. He rubbed at his chest, trying to ease the tight feeling there before he glanced up at his friend.
'What the hell happened?' Jack was suddenly furious, anything to prevent the feeling of helplessness that invaded him.
Teal'c sat down beside him. 'I have failed Colonel Carter and I have failed you.'
The quiet statement drained Jack's righteous anger. 'What happened?' He asked again, calmer.
'She was shot.' Teal'c said matter-of-factly. 'Yet she saved us all.'
'Of course she did.' It was said without any heat and Jack rubbed his face tiredly. 'How bad, Teal'c?'
'It is a serious wound.' Teal'c admitted.
The approaching footsteps had Teal'c rising; Jack stayed where he was – he wasn't certain he could stand. He barely glanced at three figures approaching; Landry, Cameron Mitchell and Vala.
Landry cleared his throat awkwardly. 'How're you doing, Jack?'
'Peachy.' Jack replied, not in the mood for pleasantries.
'She'll pull through this, Jack.' Landry offered gruffly.
'Is that a guarantee?' Jack bit out before he waved a hand in a vague apology. 'Ignore me, Hank. I'm just…'
Vala suddenly slipped onto the bench beside him, wrapped her arms around him and hugged him hard. Her head pressed against his chest, her dark hair brushing his chin.
Jack freed one of his arms and patted hers, bemused at the silent show of support. She let go.
'I miss Daniel.' She sighed. 'He always seems to know what to say whereas I usually worry I'll say the wrong thing and then I say the wrong thing anyway and…' her voice trailed away and her eyes gleamed brightly with tears. 'I'm sorry. I couldn't heal her. There was too much damage.'
Her confession sent a chill down Jack's spine. 'Thank you for trying.' He managed to say the words eventually.
'Sir…' Mitchell stopped as though unsure what to say to the senior officer.
Jack looked up at the young Lieutenant Colonel. An apologetic and tentative blue gaze stared back him. He figured the younger man was waiting for him to yell at him or worse. He couldn't quite find the words to reassure him he wasn't going to do either.
Mitchell let out a slow breath as Jack remained silent. 'Sam saved us on the planet, sir. She was badly injured but she managed to get the device working and saved the entire village.'
Jack nodded jerkily. 'Teal'c said.'
'Speaking of which,' Landry said gently, 'we should go and debrief. The IOA is waiting on a report.'
Jack grimaced. The IOA. It was their fault Sam had been on the damn planet in the first place. They'd wanted to test the phasing device against Sam's own advice that the doohickey wasn't ready. He was barely aware of Landry pulling Mitchell and Vala away; of Teal'c's adamant refusal to go.
Jack squeezed his eyes shut and remembered the last conversation with his wife.
'It's not ready for such a full scale test.' Sam complained.
'You really think so?' Jack asked, concerned at the anxiety in her voice. He adjusted his hold on the phone he held, a frown dancing across his face.
'I don't know.' Sam admitted a little hesitantly. 'Maybe I'm being overly cautious but I just have a bad feeling and…'
Jack waited patiently for her to continue.
'I'm scared I can't do it.' She admitted.
He revelled in the knowledge that she confided her fears in him; something she'd only rarely done when he'd been her CO but something she was doing more now he was her husband. 'You'll do it.' Jack said confidently.
'You're biased.' Sam accused him laughing.
'Yeah.' Jack admitted. 'But, hey, I'm allowed. You've saved my butt and the world more times than I can remember.'
'No pressure then.' Sam muttered.
Jack leaned back in his chair and propped his feet up on the expensive desk. 'I could…'
'No.' She cut him off before he completed his offer to help her get the mission pulled. 'I can fight my own battles.'
'I know.' Jack said a little defensively.
Sam sighed heavily. 'I think maybe it's just because Daniel's missing and you almost didn't make it back from Atlantis but everything just seems…harder right now.'
Her soft confession had him wishing he was with her and not stuck in Washington. 'I know.' He repeated, the simple agreement letting her know she wasn't alone.
He heard her take a deep breath. 'How hard can it be to get it to work anyway?' She said.
He smiled and knew at the determined note in her voice that the device would work and the test would be a complete success. She was committed to it so nothing would stand in her way. 'I love you.' The words slipped easily from his lips; the freedom to say them still sending a rush of happiness through his veins.
'I love you too.' Sam said happily. 'I'll call you when I get back.'
'I'll be waiting.' Jack said lightly.
The waiting was going to kill him, Jack thought restlessly as his eyes strayed back to the clock. She'd been in surgery for four hours. Four hours. That was bad.
'O'Neill.' Teal'c touched his arm and Jack turned to see Carolyn approaching from the other end of the corridor. Her surgical scrubs were bloody and he swallowed hard at the grave expression on her face.
Jack rose unsteadily to greet her. 'Doc?' His voice was barely a croak.
'She's out of surgery and in recovery.' Carolyn told him briskly. 'She lost a lot of blood and we had to repair some internal damage but she's doing well.'
Jack nodded. 'Can I see her?'
Carolyn gestured at him to follow her. Sam was in a private recovery room; the only occupant under the sterile lights. She was hooked up to every machine possible, the steady beep of one keeping time with her heart. Jack was oblivious to the doctor as she continued to talk, to Teal'c who followed him inside the room. Everything faded but her. He made his way to Sam's side. His hand gripped hers tightly and he brought it to his lips, gently kissing her knuckles before he leaned over and placed another soft kiss on her forehead. He awkwardly reached for the stool behind him, not wanting to let go of her as he sat down.
'Stay with me, Sam.' Jack whispered as the panic that had gripped him relentlessly during the long wait receded at the sight of her; the feel of her. 'Stay with me.'
Sam surfaced slowly. The fog in her head barely lifted as she opened her eyes and stared out unseeingly at the grey ceiling and bright light. She blinked. Jack's face swam in front of her. He looked worried; his warm chocolate eyes intent on hers; his face tired and worn. She couldn't understand why he would be worried as she closed her eyes again and slipped back into unconsciousness.
The second time she woke up fully, the anaesthetic had worn off and the pain medication wasn't enough to keep her under or to dull the pain. She groaned.
'Sam.' Jack grasped her hand and she squeezed it tightly.
'Hurts.' She gasped; her throat raw and dry.
Jack threw Teal'c a look and the Jaffa left to get Carolyn.
'Hold on,' Jack said softly, 'they'll bring you something.' He pushed an ice chip against her chapped lips and she swallowed it gratefully. The pain brought another moan and Jack's face tightened with concern. He looked frantically at the open door.
'Don't leave me! Please, Jack. Don't leave me.' Sam was aware of her plaintive tone and didn't care; she needed him.
'I'm not going anywhere.' He assured her. He kissed the palm of her hand and fed her another ice chip, his fingers lingering on her lips. 'I'm here. I'm right here.'
Carolyn swept in along with a nurse and they started to check Sam's vitals with a brisk efficiency. Neither shifted Jack who stayed right where he was with Sam's hand tightly clutched in his.
The doctor smiled down at the patient. 'Nice to see you awake, Colonel.'
Sam grimaced as another wave of pain hit her. 'Hurts.'
Carolyn nodded at the nurse. 'Push another ten milligrams. Keep her on fifteen minute obs, please.'
Sam ignored the nurse and Carolyn as they dealt with her medical equipment and left. She focused on her husband. 'Jack.'
'I'm here.' Jack said. 'You remember what happened?'
She struggled with the question. 'I got shot.'
His lips quirked. 'Anything else?'
'The others…' Sam said anxiously. 'Are they…'
'They're OK.' Jack hastened to reassure her. 'Teal'c's right here.' He gestured at the Jaffa to come forward.
Teal'c clasped her free hand warmly. 'It is good to see you well, Colonel Carter.'
Sam frowned at him, taking in the deep lines of his face and sunken eyes; the dirt and dust that covered him from the planet. 'You're not looking so hot, Teal'c.'
'I will return to my quarters and rest.' Teal'c allowed. His fingers gently squeezed against hers before he let go.
'Teal'c.' Jack stopped the Jaffa as he reached the door.
Teal'c turned back, his eyebrow rising in characteristic inquiry.
'Thanks.' It was only one word but it carried a wealth of meaning.
The Jaffa's face softened inexplicably and he bowed his head before he left the couple alone together.
Sam's gently freed her hand from Jack's and reached upwards, her fingers running over the bristles of his jaw before her palm settled over his cheek. 'I thought I wasn't coming home this time.'
He flinched inwardly but listened intently as she continued.
'I told Cam about the letters.' She confessed. 'For Cassie and everyone.'
He brushed the fringe back from her stricken face. She had written the letters after the battle to hold the Supergate. She had been adrift in space for so long; had seen so much destruction and seen so many die in front of her that it had brought home her mortality. He sometimes wondered if there was a letter for him; she had never said there was and he would never ask. He didn't want to know.
'I almost gave up.' Sam whispered; her voice filled with remorse. Her hand slipped from his face and he caught it, tangling their fingers.
Jack hushed her. 'Almost doesn't count. You made it.'
Her blue eyes filled with tears suddenly. 'I'm so sorry.'
'Hey.' It was Jack's turn to cup her cheek in his hand, to gently wipe away the tears that leaked from the corners of her eyes and travelled down her face. 'I don't blame you; I've been there myself a couple of times.'
'I didn't want to leave you, you have to know that.' Sam said urgently. 'I just…I hurt so much and it was so hard…'
'You made it.' Jack repeated. 'That's what's important.'
They were silent for a while as Sam collected herself and brought her churning emotions under control.
'Do you regret it?' Sam asked softly.
'What?' Jack asked.
'Leaving it in the room for so long.' Sam expanded. She caught the surprise in his chocolate eyes before he could cover it. They rarely mentioned the za'tarc incident that had prompted their first public confessions of feeling feelings even though they were together. Habit, Sam thought wryly; they'd kept it in the room for so long. Her lips twisted. 'When I…I was thinking we've had so little time together together, you know and…'
'Sometimes.' Jack admitted honestly. 'Sometimes I regret that I didn't find a way sooner.'
'We.' She corrected him tiredly. 'We're in this together.'
'Yes, we are.' Jack smiled at her lopsidedly.
Sam was smiling as her eyes fluttered shut and she lost the fight to stay awake.
Jack perched on the stool, slightly hunched over with his feet propped up on a lower ring and his arms resting on his knees, his hands loosely clasped together. His eyes were affixed to Sam's sleeping face. It had been almost forty-eight hours since Sam had woken from her surgery. He hadn't moved from the infirmary, had changed from his dress blues into the more comfortable BDUs in the room. He hadn't wanted to leave her.
They'd spoken again of her ordeal; of her fears that she would die. She had also told him that Mitchell had encouraged her not to give up; that he had helped pull her through it, got her focused. It was natural, Jack reassured himself, that he felt a little jealous; that the thought that it should have been him ran through his brain. Yet he knew it was better that it wasn't him – the pesky regulations that had kept them apart for so long existed for a reason.
He tried to picture it in his mind; tried to picture how he would have reacted if Sam had been so badly wounded on a similar mission with him. Being there for her wouldn't have been a problem, he knew that, but would he have had the objectivity of mind to phase the building or to think about saving the village? He hoped so. Despite his lack of objectivity about Sam he'd still tried to the right thing – they both had. Hell, he'd even shot Sam once to prevent the computer entity within her destroying the base. The memory of him sat beside her in such a similar way to his current position and Janet Fraiser telling him Sam was gone; that it was time to switch off the machine, drifted through him and he shifted restlessly. It had been a miracle Sam had come to him then and that she'd come back to him after her latest injury seemed another miracle and down in no small part to Mitchell.
Jack frowned. He should thank Mitchell really but the other man hadn't exactly been around to thank. Jack was aware everyone was giving them space and he was grateful for the most part. He figured it was only a matter of time before the President or the Joint Chiefs recalled him to Washington and he wanted to take advantage of the time he had with Sam. Mitchell had only stopped by once when Sam had just been out of surgery and still unconscious. Teal'c had since informed him that the Lieutenant Colonel was back out in the field with SG2, chasing up a possible sighting of Daniel; Vala had gone with him.
He looked up to find Teal'c beside him. 'She's sleeping.' Jack told him needlessly. His eyes narrowed as Teal'c regarded him evenly. Jack held up a hand to ward off the inevitable question. 'I'm good. I don't need to talk.'
Teal'c arched his eyebrow.
'Don't give me the eyebrow.' Jack retorted huffily. He straightened and folded his arms over his chest. He sighed at the knowing look on the Jaffa's face and turned away, looking again at his wife. 'I should have been there.'
'I have observed Colonel Carter felt the same frustration at her inability to be there for you during your ordeal in Atlantis.'
Jack nodded slowly. Sam had said as much to him when he'd returned. He still didn't want to talk about it; he changed the subject. 'How are you doing after the whole Prior mind probe thing?' He asked.
'I am fine.' Teal'c answered. 'I fared better than Colonel Carter.'
Jack glanced at the Jaffa and caught the lingering sense of guilt in his friend's expression. 'She's going to be OK.'
'If she had died…' Teal'c began hesitantly.
'But she didn't.' Jack cut him off. 'You can't be there every time, Teal'c.'
'Indeed.' Teal'c replied.
Jack's gaze snapped to the Jaffa's suspiciously and he sighed at the triumphant gleam there. 'Sneaky.' He commented.
Teal'c acknowledged the accusation with a slow tilt of his head.
Jack ambled into the briefing room with a sense of impatience. He had been called to the control room to take a call from the President and he knew it was the recall he had been dreading.
Walter nodded briskly at Jack. 'General Landry said you could use his office, sir. He has a meeting at Area 51.'
'Thanks, Walter.' Jack said, making for the room. He sat down in the leather chair and picked up the red phone. A few minutes later, he replaced the receiver with an unhappy frown and glared at it. He leaned back in the chair and rubbed his hands through his silver hair furiously. He had been ordered back to Washington; the President had been regretful but insistent. Sam was recovering well and the President needed Jack for meetings with the IOA on what to do about the Asuran situation facing Atlantis.
Damn Replicators, Jack mused. A shudder ran through him as he remembered his trip there. He'd thought he'd seen the last of the Replicators but the Pegasus Galaxy version was just as annoying and difficult to beat. 'Colonel Carter felt the same frustration at her inability to be there for you during your ordeal in Atlantis.' Teal'c words came back to him.
In many ways, he had wanted Sam with him during his time in Atlantis, and yet in other ways, he was pleased she hadn't had to go through another Replicator experience. God knew he could have died a happy man without undergoing the whole hand in the head experience again himself.
He looked around the office taking in the changes Hank had made since he had taken over the SGC command. The desk had shifted, the wall covered with different accolades and pictures than in the days of Jack's command. Jack leaned back in the chair. He'd never felt comfortable in the office or the chair, he acknowledged. He should never have taken the position.
He wondered again that he had; he could barely remember the reasons why anymore. Something to do with the mistaken impression that as the Man he would be able to do what he wanted, he remembered with amusement. He'd soon lost that delusion. He's started out with the intent to keep going on missions with his team but he'd only managed one; a trip to deal with Maybourne and the time travel puddle-jumper. That had been good; him and Sam in the small ship together, fighting the Goa'uld. It had felt like old times.
He had realised quickly that his promotion to General had definitely meant that he couldn't do what he wanted at all. He had questioned himself constantly in the first months, had come close to resigning on one occasion when he had watched his team go through the Stargate without him, disappear and for a while he had believed they had been captured by Ba'al. But that hadn't been the only moment. He'd been on the verge of reconsidering the gig when Sam had gotten engaged to Pete Shanahan. After that it didn't seem to matter. He'd thought she was happy and he hadn't wanted to stand in the way of that. He tried to move on himself. He glanced around the room again in amused resignation. He had been dumped by Kerry in the office; dumped because she had seen right through him when Sam had come to tell him about her second thoughts on marrying Pete. Kerry had known immediately Jack was head over heels in love with Samantha Carter.
He had to admit he couldn't really pinpoint when he had fallen in love with Sam; his eyes drifted out to the briefing room – the scene of their first meeting. He'd been attracted; impressed; a little taken aback at the offer to arm wrestle. He'd been equally exasperated and enthralled at her delight in the wormhole and the fluctuations in the event horizon. He'd noticed she was beautiful whether she was dressed in blue silk or a tank top.
He'd wanted her when she'd kissed him under the influence of a virus; had wanted her when he'd kissed her alternate universe version…but he'd known he cared about her more than he should when he'd found her dying on the floor of a cell he had put her in after a Goa'uld assassin had attacked her to get to the Tok'ra symbiote who had taken her as an unwilling host or before that when Sam had begged him not to leave her.
He sighed. He was going to have to leave her. They'd both been expecting it but it was still going to be difficult. The President had at least given him a few hours to say his goodbyes. Where was a time loop when you needed it, Jack thought grumpily. The kiss he had given Sam in the last one came back to him and brought a smile to his face.
The alarm sounded.
Jack was on his feet and heading into the control room before the realisation that he no longer needed to be there hit him.
Colonel Reynolds gave him a brief nod; the SG3 leader was acting commander in Landry's absence. 'Sir?'
'As you were.' Jack said easily. 'I heard the alarm.'
'Unscheduled incoming wormhole.' Walter announced. 'Receiving IDC. It's Colonel Mitchell.'
'Open the iris.' Reynolds ordered crisply.
They went down the stairs together to greet the returning team.
'Any joy?' Reynolds asked as Mitchell bounded down the ramp, Vala and SG2 just behind him.
'Dead end.' Mitchell reported. His blue eyes seethed with frustration. 'Whoever they saw it wasn't Jackson.'
'We'll debrief in an hour.' Reynolds said before he left to return to the control room.
SG2 made their way out, leaving Mitchell and Vala alone with Jack.
Mitchell shuffled a little under Jack's regard. 'How's Colonel Carter doing, sir?'
'Doing much better.' Jack assured him. 'You should both stop by and say hi.'
Vala visibly brightened. 'Well, if you gentlemen will excuse me, I think I'll do just that.' She sauntered off before they could reply.
'You have a minute, Mitchell?' The inquiry was out before Jack could reconsider it.
Surprise flared in Mitchell's eyes but he covered it quickly as Jack led the way up to Landry's office and closed the door. The Lieutenant Colonel assumed an at attention position.
Jack perched on the edge of the desk and shoved his hands in his pockets. 'I wanted to thank you.' Jack suppressed his smile at confounding the younger man.
'Thank me, sir?' Mitchell repeated.
'Sam told me you helped her keep focused on surviving.' Jack said simply. 'So, thank you.'
'She got herself through it.' Mitchell countered. 'I'm just pleased she made it, sir, especially with Jackson still missing.'
'You guys haven't had the easiest couple of weeks.' Jack commented.
'No, sir.' Mitchell agreed. 'But then nobody said this gig was going to be easy.'
Jack smiled wryly, thinking of his own musings a few moments before in the office. 'No gig is easy, Mitchell.' He hesitated a little before he gestured at Mitchell. 'You're not the first SG1 leader to lose Daniel, you know. I've lost him, Carter lost him.'
'You always found him again though.' Mitchell pointed out.
'You'll find him.' Jack said confidently. 'Or he'll find you.'
'You really believe that, sir?' Mitchell asked.
'I do.' Jack replied.
Mitchell nodded. 'Belief itself sometimes makes all the difference.' He murmured.
Jack frowned. 'What?'
'Nothing, sir.' Mitchell gestured awkwardly. 'Just something that came up on the planet.'
Jack nodded. 'I'm leaving for Washington first thing tomorrow. I'd appreciate it if you could keep an eye on Sam for me. You know; make sure she eats, rests, doesn't work too hard.'
Mitchell straightened proudly; obviously delighted to be trusted. 'I'd be honoured, sir.'
'Good.' Jack pushed off the desk. 'I'm going to head down there now. You want to come with?'
Mitchell considered it for a moment and regretfully shook his head. 'I should probably shower before the debrief and you two will probably want to spend tonight together…'
Jack's eyebrows shot up.
'I mean, obviously not that way, sir.' Mitchell hurried to correct his statement. 'I mean just spending time in each other's company and…'
'Relax, Mitchell.' Jack said amused. 'I knew what you meant.'
'Ah, yes, sir.' He gestured. 'Tell her I'll stop by tomorrow.'
'I will.' Jack dismissed the young officer and watched him leave with an amused shake of his head. He wandered back down to the infirmary.
He watched Sam from the doorway unnoticed for a long moment. She was propped up with pillows, talking with Vala quietly. Teal'c had obviously left the two women alone and Jack was struck by the contrast between the blonde and brunette. They were unlikely friends but their relationship seemed to be heading that way, Jack realised.
Sam looked up suddenly and smiled at him. 'Hey.'
'Hey.' Jack walked the rest of the way and pulled up his usual seat. He gently took Sam's hand in his. 'So what are you girls gossiping about?'
'Daniel.' Vala replied immediately. She sighed loudly as she slumped back in her chair. 'Sam was explaining it's not the first time he's gone missing.'
'Nope.' Jack agreed. He hid another smile; it looked like he and Sam had been giving the same pep talk to the newer members of the SG1 family. 'He goes missing all the time.'
'Well, he should stop.' Vala declared roundly. 'It's very annoying.'
'You miss him.' Sam commented.
'Yes.' Vala sighed again. 'I do.' Her eyes lifted up to glare at them both. 'But you're not to tell him I said so.'
Sam exchanged an amused look with Jack. 'He'll turn up.'
'He always does.' Jack added. 'Just when you least expect it he'll come waltzing through that door.' He motioned at the open doorway. They all looked over at it. 'Waltzing.' He repeated.
Sam ducked her head to hide her smile; Vala frowned.
'Or if you're very lucky,' Jack continued, 'he'll turn up naked.'
'Naked?' Vala smiled brightly. 'Really?' She leaned forward, her mobile face alive with curiosity. 'Tell me more.'
'I'll tell you another time.' Sam promised.
Vala looked over at her and Sam jerked her head a little at Jack. Vala took the hint. 'I'll leave you two alone.' She patted Sam's hand and made her exit.
Jack shook his head. 'You know I was just giving that same pep talk to Mitchell.'
'You were telling Cam Daniel was going to show up naked?' Sam asked amused.
Jack grinned. 'Just that he was going to show up eventually.'
'They don't know him like we do.' Sam commented, snuggling back into her mountain of pillows.
'There's that.' Jack said. He clasped her hand in both of his. 'Mitchell said he'd stop by tomorrow.'
'Good.' Sam said. 'I want to thank him. He was great on the planet.'
'Belief itself sometimes makes all the difference?' Jack repeated. He smiled at the look of confusion on Sam's face. 'Mitchell mentioned it.'
'He was right.' Sam said a little self-consciously. 'He told me to believe in something that would get me through.'
'So what did you believe in?' Jack asked interested.
'You.' Sam replied honestly. 'Us.'
Jack leaned over and kissed Sam softly. For a few minutes, they sat in silence.
Sam regarded him thoughtfully. 'You've been recalled, haven't you?'
'Tomorrow morning.' Jack told her.
Sam nodded; she'd been expecting it. Her fingers rubbed over his. 'Thank you.'
'What for?' Jack asked taken aback.
'For being here for me.' Sam said quietly.
Jack held her eyes with his. 'Always.'
Mitchell fingered the flowers and looked at the locked door with consternation.
'Perhaps we should find another way to complete the mission O'Neill has assigned us.' Teal'c suggested.
'You heard his instructions, Teal'c.' Mitchell muttered. 'Sam gets released from the infirmary in an hour. He believes she'll head straight here to play with the phase machine. The man just wants to surprise his wife with these.' He thrust the flowers at Teal'c.
The Jaffa reached out and gently pushed Mitchell's hand away from his face. 'We have already tried Sergeant Harriman's access card without success.' He commented.
'That's because Sam added the keypad.' Mitchell said frustrated. 'There has to be a way in.'
'Maybe this will help.' Vala's loud voice startled them both.
Mitchell sighed and he closed his eyes briefly. 'This is supposed to be a covert op, Vala.'
'Sorry.' She whispered. 'I thought this might help.' She held up an access badge.
'That is Colonel Carter's access badge.' Teal'c identified it with an approving glance at Vala.
She beamed at him. 'It took a little bit of finessing I can tell you.'
'The badge is useless without the password.' Mitchell argued. 'Who knows what that is?'
Vala shrugged. 'How hard can it be? Most passwords are usually personal to the user and we all know Sam so this should be easy.'
Mitchell opened his mouth to argue and snapped it shut again. 'Password is fishing.' Sam's confession on the planet echoed in his head…it couldn't be that easy, could it? He waved at the badge reader with the flowers. 'Try it.'
Vala rolled her eyes and slid the badge through. She regarded the keypad thoughtfully. 'OK, how about…'
'Fishing.' Mitchell said confidently. 'Try fishing.'
Teal'c raised an eyebrow.
Vala obediently pressed the buttons. The door slid open.
Mitchell ignored the curious stares of his team-mates. 'Teal'c…'
'I will acquire a vase.' He stated.
'What do I do?' Vala hissed.
'Stand guard.' Mitchell said. He handed the flowers to Teal'c and plucked the note the General had given him out of the breast pocket of his BDU shirt. He placed it next to the vase when Teal'c put it down, the flowers neatly arranged.
Mitchell crossed to the phone on the wall and picked it up. 'Yes. General O'Neill's office in Washington.' He was put through with a speed that surprised him. 'General?'
'Mitchell.' Jack greeted him excitedly.
'Mission accomplished, sir.' Mitchell reported.
Sam made her way to the lab gingerly. She had only been released from the infirmary and she wasn't quite back on the active duty list. Still, she mused, she was feeling well enough that she could get organised and run some simulations on the phase device. She needed to come up with a solution for the power issue that had caused the device to fail in the first attempt to create a field on the planet.
She reached for her access badge and frowned when it wasn't in the pocket she remembered. She patted her other pocket and found it. She shook her head, confused at the oddity as she slid it through the reader and tapped in her password to the key pad. The door opened and she walked in, stumbling to a halt at the flowers beside the machine. Beautiful, long-stemmed sunflowers. She stared at them for a long moment.
How had Jack managed to sneak them into the lab this time, she wondered, amazed. He'd done something similar the year before to cheer her up but as far as she knew Jack had been locked in meetings in Washington for the past few days, not to mention with the additional security of the key pad not even Walter's badge – which had provided Jack with entry the previous time – provided complete access any longer. She walked over and picked up the note beside the vase.
'Just because I can. Love, Jack. PS. Give you flowers, I mean, not break into the lab.'
She smiled. It was almost an exact replica of the note he had given her the year before.
The phone rang right on cue. She crossed to it and picked it up gleefully.
She smiled at Jack's voice. 'They're beautiful. I love them.'
'I had help.' Jack admitted.
'I figured.' Sam twirled the cord between her fingers. 'Vala stole my badge, didn't she?'
'I'll never tell.' Jack said with a laugh. She heard a noise in the background where he was and knew their time was up. He confirmed it a moment later. 'I've got to go.'
'I will.' Jack promised. 'I love you.'
'I love you too.' She responded before the call ended and she put the receiver down. She tapped it thoughtfully. 'I really need to change my password.' She mused out loud as she wandered over to touch the blooms with the tips of her fingers. She loved that Jack gave her flowers but really…she had to stop making it so easy for him.