Line in the sand

Crossing the line

Just how bad a shape was Carter really in?

From Line in the Sand

"Get a medical team, Carter's in bad shape"

Vala sobered and dropped her legs from around Teal'c. She was running as soon as her feet touched the ground; the huge jaffa hot on her heals. She dashed into the house. As her eyes swept the room she focused on Sam's still figure then lifted her gaze to see the look of concern in Cam's blue eyes.

"What happened?" she asked.

"She was shot with an Ori blast weapon. I got here just in time to stop the bastard delivering a killing shot. Sam managed to talk me through getting the device up and running….."

"How badly is she hurt Colonel?" Teal'c asked.

The look on Mitchell's face was all the answer that was needed.

"I will head to the gate and get help," Teal'c said turning to leave

"Tell them it's a stomach wound and that she's lost a lot of blood," Mitchell told him.

Teal'c bowed his head briefly and then was gone. Vala moved closer and knelt on the opposite side of the army bunk to Cam. She fixed her gaze on Sam. The woman was deathly pale her skin beaded with perspiration. As Vala raked her gaze across the blankets covering Sam she was horrified to see the blood that stained them.

"I pushed her too hard," Cam said his voice anguished "I couldn't work the machine on my own…I kept her awake so that she could work out how to fix it, how to extend the field to protect the village…….she told me she was going to die, that I wouldn't be able to save her. I should have let her rest……."

"Cam she would have pushed herself. You know Sam; she would not have just lain back and sacrificed the village to save her own skin," Vala told him reaching out to lay a hand on his arm.

Cam looked at her and then nodded, his eyes moving back to Sam's face.

Vala dropped her hand to the blankets and gently pulled them back to reveal the blood soaked bandages covering Sam's wound.

"I think she needs fresh dressings," she whispered shocked at just how much blood was pooled beneath her friend.

"I used all my field supplies….."Cam began.

"Tell me what you need, I will bring it," a voice interrupted.

Vala turned to see Thilana standing hesitantly in the doorway a look of horror on her face.

"Water and bandages," Vala told her forcefully snapping the woman from her inactivity.

As Thilana hurried away Vala turned back to Cam.

"We need to remove the old dressings. Cameron focus!" Vala cried as Mitchell appeared not to hear her. "Snap out of it! Sam needs us now….you have to help me."

"Okay……okay," Cam acknowledged pushing any uncertainty to the back of his mind." Help me turn her on her side."

Gently the pair rolled Sam until she was facing towards Cam. Both caught their breath as Sam moaned in pain and opened her eyes.

'Shit' Cam swore under his breath. This was going to be even harder if Sam was awake.

"Easy Sam," Vala soothed as Sam cried out in pain and confusion.

"Vala?" Sam gasped. "You're safe?...The villagers?"

"You did it Sam, you extended the force field in time," Cam told her.

"Hurts……" Sam gasped raggedly.

"I know darling just try and stay still," Vala said softly. " Help's on the way."

At that moment Thilana rushed back in with another woman; between them they carried a bowl of water, bandages and fresh bed linen which they laid down beside the cot..

"Vala swap places," Cam told her as he released his hold on Sam's hand.

Vala moved to obey placing herself close to Sam's head so that the injured woman could see her more clearly. Sam's hand reached out seeking contact and Vala took it gently smiling reassuringly as pain filled blue eyes locked with her own.

Sam winced as she felt a needle prick her thigh and realised that Cam had injected more morphine into her system. The pain dulled slightly but Vala could tell from the grip Sam had on her hand that she was still in agony.

"I'm going to put fresh bandages on you Sam, you've bled through the old ones," Cam explained.

Sam nodded her understanding.

Vala almost cried out as Cam began to remove the old dressings causing Sam's hand to tighten painfully on her own. She looked down and felt her heart twist cruelly as she saw the tears that rolled across Sam's pale cheeks.

"Stay with me Sam," Vala told her.

Sam's response was a ragged scream of pain and this time Vala's cry joined her as her fingers were crushed by Sam's convulsive grasp: she stifled it quickly before Sam could realise that she had hurt her and reached out with her free hand to brush the damp hair from Sam's face.

"That's the worst of it Sam," Cam told her as he threw aside the bloody dressings and reached for the new bandages. "Thilana help me. Press the pads against the wounds whilst I bind them okay. Vala we're going to have to lift her."

Vala nodded and shifted her position so that she could force an arm under Sam's shoulders.

"We'll do this as fast as we can Sam," Mitchell told her even as he too placed an arm under her and lifted her. Sam screamed as pain flared anew." Vala get behind her!"

Vala twisted onto the cot and used her body to support Sam as Cam wrapped the bandages tightly around her torso. Vala felt tears sting her eyes knowing there was nothing she could do to ease Sam's distress.

"Too…much…please……" Sam cried weakly.

"I'm done Sam," Cam answered signalling to Vala that they could lower her back to the bed.

Even as Vala moved Sam's body convulsed, her head arching back violently and smacking Vala in the face. As Vala was thrown to the ground Cam managed to grab the writhing woman and lower her to the pillows. Thilana drew back watching in anguish at the scene playing out before her eyes.

Suddenly Sam ceased her struggling and collapsed weakly onto the bed. Her eyes rolled back into her head and she let out a deep sigh before her body went completely limp.

"Sam!" Cam screamed as he reached to check her pulse. "Sam don't do this! Breath damn it!"

Vala pushed herself up off the floor and moved to Sam's side once more. She was oblivious to the blood that poured from her nose as she watched Cam place his hands on Sam's chest and begin to push down rhythmically.

"Vala when I tell you to blow air into her mouth," Cam told her even as he continued the compressions on Sam's chest.

Vala wiped a hand across her mouth and was surprised to feel the warm stickiness of blood. Hurriedly she wiped her sleeve across her nose.

"Now Vala…2 breaths," Cam ordered. "Tilt her head back first, close her nose with your fingers"

Vala did as she was told bending to seal her lips over Sam's. Her heart hammered in her chest as she straightened knowing that Sam remained unresponsive. She stifled a sob of fear as Cam once again began to push down on Sam.

Suddenly the room seemed to fill with people and Vala looked up in bewilderment. Someone grabbed her by the shoulders and pushed her none too gently to the side.

"Okay Vala we've got her," a voice reassured her as she instinctively tried to get back to Sam.

"Colonel Mitchell stand clear we'll take it from here," someone else told Cam also having to physically move him from the prone figure on the cot.

Dazed Vala and Cam stood back and observed as the medical team swarmed around Sam. A nurse began bagging her as another continued with chest compressions. A third medic cut open Sam's t-shirt and sliced through her bra exposing her chest in preparation for the use of a defib machine. Cam looked away in embarrassment but found his gaze once again drawn to Sam as the medic called for the other staff to stand clear. He watched as Sam's body arched off the cot before dropping down and remaining still.

"Charging to 400!" the medic warned "Stand clear!"

Once again the charge caused Sam's body to arch but this time as her body relaxed Cam heard the ragged gasp of air she pulled into her lungs.

"We've got her back for now people. Sarah get an IV line in, lets start putting back some of the blood she's lost. Paul put her on free flow oxygen then get the stretcher ready,"

Thilana came to stand beside Vala and Cam.

"I am sorry that Colonel Carter was hurt helping us," she told the pair." Her wounds were severe and yet she still managed to save us…..she is very brave,"

Cam nodded his mind going back to the scene just before the Ori launched its attack on the village.

"Are you okay?" he'd asked as she bit off a cry of pain.

"No" was her simple reply and he'd realised the stupidity of the question.

He placed a hand on her back helping to keep her upright as her fingers danced across the keypad. Glancing at her he saw the sweat running off her brow and wondered where she had found the strength to keep going. He and she both knew that pushing her body at this stage was not a good idea but both ignored the reality.

Sam pressed the entry key with a sigh of relief. Cam caught the laptop as it slipped from her grasp and with his free hand managed to lower her now unconscious body back onto the cot. He looked to the window as light and sound exploded around them and prayed that Sam had succeeded in expanding the field. As the noise subsided he stood and moved to the window. Elation gripped him as he saw the village and its people, intact and unharmed. He turned as he heard Sam moan and moved back beside her dropping to his knees and grasping her hand in his.

"You did it Sam…you did it" he told her.

Sam's eyes flickered open and she looked at him with an unfocused gaze. He wondered if she had heard or understood his words.

"Honour….serving …with …you.." Sam whispered, each word punctuated by painful gasps.

"You're not going to die Carter. Don't you dare give up on me now!" Cam answered squeezing her hand tightly.

"So tired…..sor……"

Sam's body relaxed and her head fell to the side. Cam reached out to touch her neck and drew in a ragged breath as he realised she was still with him.

"Stretchers ready sir," the medic announced breaking into Cam's thoughts.

Cam returned his attention to the tableau about the cot and saw that Sam had been hooked to a portable monitor and a stretcher had been placed alongside her bed. He watched as the medics lifted her, lowered her to the stretcher and proceeded to cocoon her in blankets before strapping her securely ready for the trip back through the stargate. The monitor was laid beside her head its weak but steady readout the only indication that Sam was clinging to life.

Before the medics had time to lift their patient both Cam and Teal'c had stepped forward to lift their fallen comrade and Vala had taken up a position close to Sam's head so that she could monitor any changes in her condition. The medics knew better than to protest the arrangement and contented themselves with staying close as SG1 moved out.

Thilana walked with them to the gate and then having expressed her thanks watched as the SGC personnel went through the gate.

As Cam and Teal'c came through the wormhole into the gate room a medical team with a gurney met them at the bottom of the ramp. Reluctantly they allowed the team to take Carter from them and place her stretcher onto the gurney before rushing towards the infirmary.

General Landry addressed the 3 remaining members of SG1.

"I'll need a mission debrief but it can wait until we have word on Colonel Carter's condition,"

"Permission to go to the infirmary sir?" Mitchell asked barely acknowledging his commanding officer's words.

"Granted," Landry replied understanding he would have no sense from the trio before him until they were assured Sam was going to be okay.

By the time the three got to the infirmary Sam was in surgery. They endured their post mission check-ups and then took up a waiting vigil in the corridor outside the operating theatre.

Finally a doctor emerged and moved towards them.

"How is she Doc?" Cam asked his eyes looking beyond the man standing before him to the medical team who were wheeling Sam from the theatre. All he could see was a mass of medical monitors and a head of untidy blonde hair before the gurney was moved away.

"Colonel Carter was extremely lucky," Dr Peters told them. "She suffered extensive trauma to her small intestines and her left kidney but we've managed to repair it. Once she's stronger she will need skin grafts. She's in a critical but stable position. It will take some time but I'm confidant she will make a full recovery."

"Can we see her?" Vala asked quietly.

"Go have showers and something to eat, by then she'll be settled in IC and you'll be able to see her," Dr Peters advised them. "That's not optional people. Get out of here and come back when you're sorted," he added as Cam opened his mouth to protest.

"Okay Doc we're going," Cam capitulated and turned on his heals. Teal'c and Vala followed him.

Sam lay unconscious for two days whilst her team mates mounted a round the clock vigil at her bedside despite the protests of the medical staff. On the third day she was returned to theatre for further reconstructive surgery and then the vigil began again.

Early on the fourth morning Vala was sat beside Sam as her eyes flickered open.

"Hey," Vala smiled as Sam turned her head to focus on her. "Welcome back. You gave us quite a scare."

"How long?" Sam whispered.

"We brought you back four days ago," Vala explained. "How do you feel?"

"Sore and very woozy," Sam answered, shifting in the bed trying to get more comfortable.

She moaned as her slight movement sent pain flaring through her side. "Oh boy not a good idea," she gasped as Vala moved closer to assist her.

Vala hit the call button beside Sam's bed and was not surprised to see a nurse arrive almost immediately.

"Colonel Carter, it's good to see you awake Ma'am," the nurse smiled as she moved to the bedside. "Mind if I just check you over?"

"Do I have a choice?" Sam grinned weakly.

"Humour, that's a good sign right?" Vala piped up.

The nurse nodded as she wrapped a cuff around her patients arm and began to check her blood pressure. She moved smoothly and efficiently checking Sam's vital signs and then the dressings before turning her attention to the IV hanging beside the bed.

"Everything's looking good Colonel. I've upped your pain medication slightly now you're awake but you need to take it easy okay, no sudden movements and definitely no work!" the nurse told Sam even as she opened her mouth to ask for her lap top. "It will take time for the hole the Ori blew in your side to heal. Sitting up will put too much of a strain on the injury at the moment. Be patient Colonel."

The nurse shot a warning look at Vala.

"What?" Vala asked innocently.

"I know what SG1 is like Vala. Do not sneak any work in for the Colonel however much she whines," the nurse answered firmly although her eyes danced with merriment softening the impact of her words.

"Damn," Sam cursed under her breath causing both Vala and the nurse to giggle.

"What's the giggling about ladies?" a familiar male voice asked.

"General O'Neill!" the nurse cried in surprise.

"Relax Anna," O'Neill smiled." I just dropped by to see how Carter was holding up. Can we have a few minutes?"

"Of course General," Anna answered and dragged a very curious looking Vala out of the ICU.

"God Sam you scared the crap out of me," Jack told her as he took a seat beside her and reached out to take her hand in his own. "Cam has been going crazy with guilt…"

"He kept me alive………I nearly gave up Jack…..I nearly stopped fighting…" Sam told him tears welling in her eyes as she looked at him.

"Hey you might have thought that but Cam told me how you wouldn't let him blow up the machine; how you pushed yourself to get that shield expanded around the village. You did good baby," Jack assured her his face moving closer to hers." I don't know what I would have done if I'd lost you," he whispered his brown eyes filling with tears of his own.

Sam reached out to pull his face to hers and kissed him.

"I love you," she whispered as he pulled back.

"I love you too baby. As soon as the doctor's clear you we are going to spend some quality time together. I've warned the President that I'll be taking time off to help you recuperate," he told her.

"Wow," Sam sighed "and he agreed?"

"I didn't give him much choice but in return I've got to be in Washington chairing several meetings this week. I spoke to Dr Lam she doesn't think you'll be ready for discharge until at least next week. I'm sorry I won't be here but the guys know the score and will keep you company until I can get back."

"When do you leave?" Sam asked struggling to stay focused.

"In about 6 hours," he answered." Hey how about we both take a nap. I can see you're not going to stay awake much longer and I could do with some extra shut eye."

"Don't go," Sam asked plaintively her hand tightening on his own.

"It's alright baby I wasn't planning on going anywhere," Jack told her even as he moved to sit on the side of her bed.

Swinging his legs up he stretched out beside her. He pulled the side rails up so that he would not be in danger of falling off the bed and then carefully manoeuvred Sam so that she rested in the crook of his arm. Sam moaned as his movement caused pain to flare in her side but then sighed as his arm came around her holding her gently.

"Sleep Sam. I've got you."

Sam had no trouble obeying him and in minutes he could hear the gentle huff of her breathing as her body settled contentedly against him. He closed his eyes and let sleep take him.

Three days later Dr Lam gave permission for Sam to have access to her lap top mainly to stop the constant gripping she got from the recovering Colonel every time she went near her. She gave instructions to her nurses to ensure that Sam rested enough between her stints on the computer.

When Cam entered with a bag of home made macaroons he found a much improved Sam Carter smiling at his arrival.