Warnings: Mature for language, violence, torture, non-con, adult themes, and some temporal meandering.

Part 1: History

Prologue

Daniel hasn't thought about Sam much over the years. At first because it hurt too much, and later because he honestly had much more important things on his mind, like Anubis and trying not to die. There simply hadn't been time to mourn old losses, not with so many fresh ones to deal with.

When he did allow his mind to turn to her on occasion, wondering what she was doing, where she was, this is not what he imagined. Never for a moment did he think she would be on a planet as primitive as this one, as distant and detached from what is going on in the galaxy.

On Cimmeria, time stands still, not all that different than the last time he was here, half a dozen years and a lifetime ago. Here on this insignificant planet, Thor's Hammer and the Protected Planets Treaty ensure that no one cares what Anubis may be up to, or that Earth is his favorite playground.

Daniel feels the familiar twist of anger his stomach, maliciously wondering how long delicate, sheltered Cimmeria will stand against Anubis when he finally gets around to finishing off the Asgard. Will they expect the Tau'ri to rush to their aid?

How will they feel when they realize no one is coming?

There is a whisper of conscience somewhere reminding Daniel that this isn't what he's supposed to be like, but anger may be the only thing still holding him together so he ignores it. Always ignores it.

They always said he's the constant one.

Focusing back on the woman in front of him, Daniel takes in the long hair intricately braided into a single plait over one shoulder. Her clothing is homespun, rough fabric gathered across her shoulders, billowing outward until cinching in at her waist above a full, rusty colored skirt. Her bare toes peak out just under the hem.

There is hardly anything left to identify her as Sam Carter. In fact, the only recognizable element is her rapt attention on the task before her, the unyielding concentration on the project in her hands. Only rather than a computer, book, or piece of technology, it's a small square of cloth and the silver flash of a needle as she works small details into the surface.

The walls of her small two-room home are covered in complex quilts that look like star charts and fractals, and he's torn between laughing and raging. Is this really what the great Sam Carter has become? A glorified seamstress?

Her hands haven't stopped working the cloth since they arrived. Daniel wants to rip it from her hands. Earth is gone. They'd lost. Doesn't that mean anything to her?

Doesn't it mean anything that they have one last chance to make everything right?

"Sam," he says, reining in his anger long enough to kneel down in front of her, one hand reaching out to touch her knee. She tenses under the contact and he feels another beat of disappointment. He thought five years would have been enough…to what? Heal her? Bring her back?

So much for his starry-eyed optimism dying with the rest of Earth.

Fool.

He removes his hand, sitting back on his heels, and tries to get her attention even for a moment, looking for some sign that she's listening. "We really need your help."

She doesn't look up, doesn't respond, her eyes intent on the methodical movement of her fingers.

"Dammit, Sam!" he snaps, his hand closing over the cloth. He barely resists tugging it from her grasp, too many nights with no sleep, too many friends and colleagues dead to hold his temper. "Are you even listening?"

"Daniel Jackson," Teal'c says, the warning clear.

Daniel pushes back to his feet, pacing away from her until he's staring blindly at a wall, sucking in a breath in an attempt to rein his frayed temper.

Teal'c is speaking now, laying out their most recent Hail Mary plan to defeat Anubis in an even voice, explaining why they need her. Daniel lets the words flow over him, trying to ignore the hollowness of them. In front of him, one of Sam's quilts comes into focus and this close he can see her tiny stitches across the puckered surface of bright colors and abstract patterns.

Glyphs and equations and constellations are rendered in precise, miniscule lengths of thread. He reaches out, running his hand down the surface.

Oh, Sam, he thinks, the anger dropping away only to uncover a deeper well of anguish. Now he remembers why anger is so fundamental. Without it, it's too easy to get sucked down. Like Sam.

How did everything get this far?

Behind him Teal'c's voice abruptly halts mid-sentence and Daniel turns to see Sam's hand on his arm, her eyes boring into his. Having ensured the attention of both men, she holds out one hand, mimicking writing across her palm.

Daniel digs through his pack, pulling out a notebook and pen, his heart thudding.

Maybe…

Sam takes them from him carefully, pausing to let her fingers slide across the smooth surface of the paper as if a precious thing. Shaking herself free of the moment, she haltingly writes a single line of text, flipping the notebook closed when she finishes.

Pushing to her feet, Sam hands the notebook and pen back to Daniel and reaches for the quilt he'd touched, pulling it down and folding it carefully before handing it to Teal'c.

Teal'c receives it solemnly, his hand pressing over hers for a moment as he takes it. Sam reaches up and touches his cheek, her eyes traveling over his face.

Teal'c is the one to break contact, stepping back away.

Sam nods once, her eyes sad, and then turns and disappears further back into the rear of her house.

Daniel follows Teal'c out the front door, squinting against the sun.

"Well?" Cam asks, jumping up from the stump he's been sitting on, meeting them eagerly.

Daniel shakes his head, Cam's eternal optimism grating against his skin.

"She's not going to help us?" Cam asks. He's heard stories about the great Sam Carter for years, the accolades that have taken on near mythic proportions after all this time. He wants to believe she is capable of anything.

Daniel remembers that, too.

"Why not?" Cam asks, looking back at the modest home.

As they head down the hill towards the gate, Daniel hands the notebook to Cam, letting Sam's words speak for her.

Some things you just don't come back from.