Summary: Sam and Jack are retested to be sure whether or not they are za'tarcs. This is how the story truly ended. This is a Sam/Martouf/Lantash Romance with a Happy Ending unlike the original D&C which actually never happened (It was a nightmare that Sam had). This is what actually happened.

Rating: K+

Pairing: Sam/Martouf/Lantash

"Italics" - Symbiote-Host communication

Reality Series – Story I

Leaving it in the Room

They were going to retest Colonel O'Neill. Sam realized, just as she was about to slip into unconsciousness, why they had tested positive. She managed to make Janet understand and after administering something to help Sam remain awake; they had sprinted for the testing room. They arrived just in time to stop a disaster.

Freya asked the Colonel again what he was feeling when Sam was trapped on the wrong side of the force field. "I felt…like someone who was about to die."

Sam sent him an exasperated look as the red played on the za'tarc detector. He sighed. "I didn't leave—because I'd rather died myself than lose Carter."

Sam sent him an encouraging look. He stared back into her eyes.

Still not happy with the readings, Freya asked, abruptly, "Why?"

Colonel O'Neill frowned. Okay, here it went, two careers out the window, if someone wanted to make trouble for them, and it ever got out of this room. Damn those frat regs, anyway. He finally found the right word. Care. He cared more than he should as her commanding officer. "Because I care about her…a lot more than I am supposed to."

Sam looked at him with sympathy. No one would ever understand this. They would all take it all wrong. Most of them anyway. Except for Teal'c, Daniel, Janet, and General Hammond. And her dad, of course. He knew her feelings. She glanced down at the machine. The red around the blue in the za'tarc detector's screen was gone. It was all blue.

Freya nodded, saying easily, "You are not a za'tarc."

Sam was put through the same questions, and the results were the same. She was not a za'tarc, either. She stood from where she had been sitting to be retested for za'tarc programming. "Sir," she turned and faced Colonel O'Neill. "None of this has to leave this room."

Colonel O'Neill looked at her as if gauging her sincerity. He nodded seeing none of the emotions he was afraid he would see there on her face. He nodded, saying, "Then,
we're okay with that?"

Sam nodded, "Yes, sir."

He looked at her one last time, delving, sharing one last look with her, before turning to greet Janet, as she entered the room.

Major Sam Carter—Samantha—sat by the infirmary bed and held his hand in hers, stroking his long elegant fingers, and praying to any and all Gods and Goddesses out there that they would help him to pull through. That they would keep death at bay yet one more time.

His face in repose was calm, peaceful…serene. If she had not known that he had a dozen or more bullet holes in him, and had been hit by a zat blast as well, she knew it would not have been easy to tell. Tok'Ra and Tau'ri alike were overwhelmed by the fact that not only had he survived the initial onslaught, but that he was still alive at all.

Of course, without the frantic, desperate, and innovative procedures they had used on him, between the Tok'Ra and the Tau'ri, he would not have been. And, he could still die and leave her here alone and bereft…so far, however, he had not done so, and as each hour passed, she became more tense, awaiting the coming of death—or life. For now, all she lived with was hope.

Jack stood quietly in the doorway, hour after hour, as he watched her. Daniel had gone in and sat with her. Teal'c. Jacob. Anise. Malek. Per'sus. Janet. Hammond. All of them had sat with her, supported her, and encouraged him to live, by talking to him softly. Jack knew that he had to go, too, and do what he could. But, that damn za'tarc thing had him feeling, well, embarrassed. It left him feeling vulnerable and unsure of himself. What to do? What to say? What comfort could he give, for heaven's sake?

He sighed. It didn't matter. If he didn't go, it would put stress on their already stressed relationship. How had this happened, and how had it all become so complicated? He didn't know and standing here asking questions that he couldn't answer wasn't helping her in her vigil by Martouf and Lantash's side. He had to go and he had to go now. He went.

He crossed the floor quietly and pulled up a chair. She made no move to greet him, but then, she rarely moved her eyes from Martouf's face. The only time she released his hand was when they had to do something to him and they made her let go of him. He saw the tracks of her tears and sighed. He was so not good at this.

He decided the direct approach would be best. Clearing his throat, he said, gruffly, "You love him."

"No," the monosyllable was monotone, with no inflection in it to tell him if there was more information coming.

He frowned. "I think you do, Carter…Sam. I think you have very deep feelings for him…a lot deeper than you're admitting."

He heard the soft sigh leave her, and her lashes fluttered, but her gaze never left their face. "Them, Colonel. I meant that I love them, not him. I am sorry. I realize you had no way of knowing what I was thinking."

"Ah." He cleared his throat again, "I see."

"Do you? Do you really? Don't you want to tell me that it is not me? That it is just Jolinar's feelings, and that they really don't mean anything to me?"

"I—I…well, I suppose that's—a—possibility?" He questioned.

She shook her head, slightly. "No, Colonel, it isn't. I have known for quite a while now that my own emotions had become involved with them. Yes, I still carry Jolinar's love of them, but now I have added my own too it. It is not a shadow of her love. It is the full ripeness of my own. It is the reason that the thought of them dying, now, and leaving me when I have only just admitted it to myself, and never had the chance," she shook her head, "or the courage…to tell them of it, is going to make me want to follow them, if they die."

"Don't talk that way, Carter. They, they wouldn't want you to feel that way."

"No. No, they would not want me to, but that doesn't mean that I will not follow them into death, since I did not listen to my heart and follow them during life."

Jack cleared his throat again. "Carter, I know this probably isn't the time, but, what about what we, you know, left in that room. That, those, feelings between us? What about those feelings, Sam?"

He watched her eyes fill with tears as she began to shake her head. "Those words were what the machine could understand, Colonel. It could not distinguish between love of the heart and love of a friend. We have become each other's family, sir. I think you know that, too."

"We told the truth. We do care more than we are supposed to. We are teammates; all the rules say that our closeness will endanger the team. We don't think it will, and we have proved over and over that it enhances our ability to get out of situations alive. If Daniel or Teal'c had been questioned in the same manner we were, they would have had to say the same thing about both of us. They care more for us than they should, and the emotions are reciprocated by us. It is just a fact of our lives."

Finally taking her eyes off the man lying in the bed, she looked at Jack. "I love you, Colonel, as a friend, a mentor, a family member." She turned back and again took up her vigil, gazing at the Tok'Ra in the bed. "I love them with my whole heart and being. I am in love with them as well as loving them. If they die, my heart and soul will go with them."

Jack nodded as he thought over his Major's words. She was right, of course. They flirted. There had been a physical attraction, occasionally. They cared about one another. And, that was the word they had both used, as well. They cared more than they were supposed to. They had not said they loved each other more than they were supposed to.

Suddenly, he felt much better about the scene in the room. It had bothered him that perhaps she cared more for him, in a romantic way, rather than in the friendship way he had meant. He felt relief. This…these emotions she felt and he felt, they were the reason they had both been comfortable with leaving it in the room. There was really nothing worth worrying about, and it could safely be left there.

It was time to give comfort. "Janet said they were able to patch him up, and something kept him from bleeding out, Carter. He's gonna make it. I am sure of it. I have every confidence in Marty and, er, Lantash. They won't leave you now that they know how you feel."

Sam shook her head yet again. "No, they don't know how I feel. I told you; I didn't tell them. I wish I had. I should have, but I didn't. They don't know how much I need and want them to survive. The only time I have told them was just now in the Gateroom, and they were unconscious."

Sam's eyes again filled with tears, so she was unaware when beautiful green eyes cracked open and looked at her. She felt the pressure of his fingers, though, when they squeezed hers very lightly. A very weak, dry, and raspy voice disagreed with her. "That is no longer true, my Samantha, for we have heard you, and we do now know. Colonel O'Neill is correct. Lantash and I will not leave you, now, if there is anyway in which we can survive this."

Sam was standing, now, leaning over him, brushing his hair back gently with the trembling fingers of one hand, while the other one remained clasping his hand. "I believe, from what Lantash has conveyed to me that it is his belief that we will remain with you. He is telling me, to tell you, that between the healing device being used during the surgery, Dr. Fraiser's timely intervention in closing the bullet holes, as well as, sealing the bleeders, and his own ability to begin healing me, once his shock wore off, he believes that we should be up and around before long."

As Sam leaned down and kissed him, she heard Janet's voice. Evidently, Jack had gone for her as soon as he realized that Martouf and Lantash were awake. "You will not be leaving, soon, Martouf, and you can tell Lantash that for me. He can just reconcile himself to being in the infirmary until I am satisfied that all of your wounds are well on their way to being as good as new."

"There were several organs that I had doubts about you being able to keep, luckily, none without which you could not survive. I have a feeling that it is a good thing that I decided to leave them for him to heal. Arwanna did agree at the time that once Lantash was out of shock, he would be able to save them. I am very glad he was able to do so."

"Now, are you and Lantash in a lot of pain? Arwanna and I came up with some things to help Lantash out, so that he will not have to expend so much energy keeping the pain blocked. She will be in shortly to explain to him what he needs to do. It is kind of an experimental thing we have decided to try, since it occurred to both of us that if he did not have to fight the pain for you both, then he could use his energy elsewhere. Whether or not it will work, well, that is the experiment part."

She smiled at him and squeezed his other hand. "I am really, really pleased to see you awake and aware, Martouf, but I also believe that you need more rest. I am sure you probably worked yourself into the ground in the days leading up to the summit, so, rest now."

Noticing the firm clasp he had on Sam's hand, she said quietly, just as Arwanna joined them. "I know you don't want to let go of Sam, but Arwanna and I both want to take a look at your wounds. So, how about if the Colonel takes her and gets her something to eat and drink before she comes back to spend the night with you? Don't worry, I am not about to try to get her to leave, as I already know she won't want to leave you alone. However, I will only agree to her staying in here with you, if you agree to allow her to rest and relax for a bit before she comes back. Deal or not?"

His eyes glowed brightly for a moment, and Lantash came fore. He looked at his Samantha, asking with his eyes what his voice could not say. She smiled at that, saying, "I probably should go eat, Lantash. I should be back shortly, but if you go to sleep before I return, that is okay. I will stay the night; so, don't worry about that, all right?"

"Yes, that will be fine, Samantha. I will see you shortly then." After accepting her kiss and giving her one in return, he looked at the Colonel before setting his lips in a wry smile. "You will care for her, if you please, Colonel O'Neill. She is very precious to us."

"Yup. I'll take care of her and see to it that she eats and drinks, all that good stuff. I imagine Daniel and Teal'c will join us."

"That is not necessary, Colonel, I trust you, and I believe that you will guard her well."

"I will. Come on, Carter. The sooner we go, the sooner they can check him over, the sooner we'll be back, and the sooner he will get better. Let's go."

Sam smiled a full smile, the first one she had given in many hours. "All right, sir." Turning back to her loves, she said softly. "I will be back. Love you. Bye for now."

Jack O'Neill took her elbow to encourage her to leave the room. They saw Teal'c and Daniel approaching and waited for them.

She smiled at her teammates and turned to head for the commissary. She was leaving her heart-love in the room behind them—right where it belonged—with the men that dwelled within her heart. The men she truly loved.

The End