'Twinkle, twinkle little star, how I wonder what you are.' The words drifted through the forest, not sung, but spoken, in a voice
she knew well. She crawled out from under the tree, ignoring the pain in her leg.
Grace stood in the forest amusement dancing in her dark eyes. Her expression changed to one of concern when she saw Sam.
The girl turned and walked away.
'Gracie,' Sam called, surprised at the weakness of her own voice.
Gracie stopped. 'You can't stop. You have to keep going.' She turned. 'He is coming, make sure he isn't too late.'
Sam opened her eyes. She hadn't meant to fall asleep, but she was exhausted. She rubbed a hand over her face, feeling the
cuts and bruises she'd sustained on her run through the forest. Her leg ached dully, the sprain prohibiting her movement.
She checked her watch. She'd been running for almost seventeen hours. She wondered if there really was someone here, looking
for her. Her hand was already halfway to her radio before she remembered it was gone, lost in the night.
She listened for a moment, and then crawled out from under the tree. She stood, wincing at the pain that shot through her leg.
She would head for the gate, and try to stay under cover. He was coming. And she was damn sure she was going to be near the gate
when he got here.
When they had arrived, Jack had ordered them to remain by the gate, telling them that if he didn't check in every half hour they
were to wait ten minutes, then head for the rendezvous.
Daniel hadn't liked it, had argued, but Teal'c had taken everything in his stoic stride.
About seven minutes out from the gate, Jack had found Sam's radio and her P-90. The gun was empty. Then he'd found the place
where SG-1 had made camp the night before. Sam's pack was on the floor. He opened it, finding the picture of the kids she carried
and, folded up small, a picture of him.
He put them into his vest pocket and moved on.
Sam stumbled into a clearing and stopped short. Ahead of her were the two remaining soldiers. Their armour glinted matte black in
Sam reached for her sidearm, took aim and fired twice. One of the soldiers went down. Knowing it was empty, Sam dropped the weapon
to the ground and threw herself after it, seeking refuge behind a fallen tree.
She could hear the soldier advancing on her position but she couldn't move. There was no escape.
She felt distanced from the situation, as though she were no longer here, just watching. Her mind registered the sound of P-90 fire, the
sound of the soldier's armour being hit again and again. Then there was the sound of the soldier falling to the floor.
Jack appeared in front of her. 'You wanna get up?' His voice was gentle.
'Not yet,' Sam said.
He nodded and thumbed his radio. 'Daniel?'
'Go ahead, Jack.'
'I found Carter, we got the last of 'em. Sam's injured.'
'We'll make our way to you.'
'No,' Jack said. 'You hold the gate. Send Teal'c.'
Sam looked up at him, wondering at his clipped tone.
'I am on my way, O'Neill.'
Jack gave their position and sat down next to Sam, looking sidelong at her in an appraising way. 'C'mere.' He slipped his arm around
her and Sam leant into him.
'How come you're here?' she asked.
'Where else would I be?' he responded, slightly amused.
'I didn't think you'd come. Procedure-'
'Oh, procedure,' Jack said dismissively. He looked at her, his expression suddenly serious. 'Did you honestly think I'd leave you
She shook her head.
'You thought I'd send search and rescue,' he said. She nodded. Jack reached around and tipped her face up so she was looking at
him. 'I will always find you. Believe me.' He kissed her softly. 'I love you, Sam.'
She looked up at him, too exhausted to respond, too relieved to speak.
Sam woke up in the familiar surroundings of the infirmary. It was quiet, the lights dim, and she realised it must be night time.
She vaguely remembered coming back through the forest, supported by Jack, while Teal'c walked ahead, scanning the area. It
would have been more sensible for Teal'c to carry her, but both she and Jack were reluctant to let go of one another.
She remembered the familiar wash of cold as she stepped through the gate and soft hands on the other side, guiding her towards
the infirmary. Janet had given her a shot of something that made her sleep.
Sam looked in the direction the voice came from. Daniel was sitting on the bed next to her own.
'How are you feeling?'
'A little groggy. Are the kids okay?' She reached for the glass of water beside her bed.
Daniel helped her to sit up and passed her the glass. 'They're fine. We just got Jake and Grace to go to bed an hour ago.'
After a few moments silence, Daniel said, 'Jack's been called to the General's office.' She nodded, hoping Daniel hadn't seen
how disappointed she was that Jack wasn't here. 'They want to renegotiate his resignation.'
'Resignation?' Sam asked, suddenly attentive.
Daniel shifted uncomfortably. 'Maybe you should talk to Jack about that.'
Daniel looked over his shoulder, as though checking for Jack. 'When you didn't come back with us, the Pentagon
decided to relieve Jack of command…'
'… and then he quit.' Sam stared at him, disbelieving, and Daniel couldn't resist adding, 'I told you he loves you, Sam.'
"Daniel, she's supposed to be resting.'
Daniel's head snapped around guiltily. Jack was standing in the doorway of the infirmary, leaning on the frame, his arms
folded across his chest.
Daniel turned back to Sam, his eyes pleading with her not to tell Jack what he'd said. 'See you tomorrow, Sam.' He turned
and walked out of the infirmary, nodding to Jack as he passed him.
Jack walked over to Sam and sat on the bed Daniel had so recently occupied. 'Sorry I wasn't here when you woke up.'
She shrugged, aiming for nonchalance.
'Really, Sam. I'm sorry.'
She looked up at him, startled by the intensity of his tone. He looked almost as exhausted as she felt.
'When did you last sleep?' she asked.
'Doc says you can go home tomorrow, as long as you rest.'
'Day before yesterday.'
'Go get some sleep, Jack.'
He gazed at her for a long moment. Then he slid off the bed, walked around it and pushed it towards her own. Then he slid
off his boots and climbed onto the bed, turning onto his side so he could look at her.
'Are you allowed to do that?'
'I'm head of HomeWorld Security, I can do whatever I damn well please.'
'Someone's been telling tales on me,' Jack said dryly. 'We'll talk about it tomorrow, okay?'
'Now get back to sleep, Doc Fraiser'll kill me if she catches you awake.'
Sleepily, Sam nodded again and shut her eyes. She felt Jack reach out and take her hand in his, holding it tightly.