Dedicated to all those ladies that have been more help than they'll ever know. Adi who isn't afraid to say that it's a dumb idea, Arnise who's always practical, Yam whose encouragement is always appreciated, Sue who keeps me on the medical straight and narrow, Sel who's not afraid to question. If it weren't for you ladies I'd have written even more drek than I already have.
"Somebody please tell me things are red," Jack requested, squinting his eyes and reaching for his sunglasses.
"The ground does indeed possess a scarlet hue," Teal'c said.
"There's a lot of iron in these rocks, sir," Sam said, shaking her head in amusement. "Like Garden of the Gods."
"You mean that's not fake?" he teased.
"No, sir," she answered, rolling her eyes.
"I swear that's what those guys are doing climbing all over them, touch up work," he quipped.
Daniel clipped on his sunglasses, reaching to pull his hat on his head to protect his face from the sun. "You ought to know, Jack, you sit on your roof watching them with your telescope," he quipped, not bothered by the older man's killer look.
"I've seen it," Daniel answered. "You either watch those guys or you're peeping into the windows of that house with the woman who…"
"Aah," Jack said, cutting him off. "That's enough from you…the man with a pair of binoculars on his balcony."
"There are eagles nesting on the roof of the building across the street," Daniel said.
"Yeah, and I have some prime beach front property down the block…"
"I hate to break up this little bout of true confessions," Sam spoke up, grinning. "But we're due back in three hours and it's gonna take at least that long to gather the samples," she said.
Jack nodded, motioning her on. "Lead the way," he ordered and the quartet fell into an easy pattern, Sam and Teal'c on point with Jack and Daniel hanging back, still bickering slightly.
It was an easy walk, the relatively barren landscape meaning that they didn't have much to worry about from the 'aliens sneaking up on them' point of view. This really wasn't a concern at the moment, the UAV showing no signs of any form of life other than small animals and a few birds. The temperature was comfortable, in the low eighties with a low humidity and a constant breeze that cooled and refreshed.
The Stargate was located at the base of a large hill, one of a ring of hills that circled the clearing, looking a bit like the bottom of a large crater. It was facing perpendicular to the cliff. Jack imagined if her looked from the air, it looked like a hash mark on a watch face. A huge crevasse cut across the crater, neatly bisecting the five mile wide crater in two.
In the distance, Jack could see the glittering of a small stream cascading down the face of one of the hills and meandering its way across the bottom of the crater until it flowed down into the crevasse, disappearing into the bowels of the planet.
Fortunately, they didn't need to cross the stream to reach the sample sites. The UAV hadn't shown any naquadah on the planet, just normal minerals, so it had been Hammond's determination to just investigate what they could easily reach, making sure that there were no valuable mineral deposits, before returning home to, more than likely, classify the planet as 'slightly interesting but too much work'.
One Month Later
"Is that it?" Jack asked, leaning against the back of Daniel's chair and looking out the window of the teltac. They'd exited hyperspace several minutes ago, making their way through the planetary system at a slower and safer speed.
"Yep," Daniel answered. "P3Y3F4."
"It looks different from up here," Jack said, trying to match his memories of the planet they'd visited for a few hours a month ago with the large ruby and amber colored marble quickly filling the screen.
"Yeah," Daniel said. The Tok'ra piloting the ship spoke to him, his alien words sounding like gibberish to Jack. For once, they hadn't been able to find a Tok'ra that spoke English so it had fallen to Daniel to be the translator and liaison with the alien. "He wants to know where to set down," Daniel translated after a second.
"Wherever they are," Jack answered, glancing over his shoulder as Doctor Fraiser joined them. It was very much more the exception than the rule when the doctor made a house call, especially one that consisted of a six day round trip across the galaxy, but, fortunately, General Hammond had agreed that these circumstances certainly required the presence of a medical professional. Jack really hoped that the woman would get to spend the trip back fussing and catching up on gossip rather than really having to work.
"He doesn't know where they are," Daniel answered.
"What do you mean?" Jack answered. "Do that scanning thing."
"It doesn't work that way, Jack," Daniel said.
"Why not?" Fraiser asked.
"The scanners can tell the presence of life forms, but not what life forms they are."
"And your report said there was plenty of animal life," Janet said.
"Right," Jack agreed with a sigh. "Can he find the Stargate?" He fought his frustration as Daniel translated, hating the time that it took to basically ask every question and answer twice.
Daniel nodded. "He can find it," he relayed. "Do you think they're still there?" Daniel asked.
Jack shook his head. "I don't know. Carter'd want to fiddle with the gate, assuming it survived. There was a water source although the vegetation was a bit sparse," he said, relaying his remembrances of their short visit to the planet, this time from a strategic and survival point of view. He shrugged; knowing that his assessment based on a few hours might bear little resemblance to the experiences of his two teammates who'd spent the last month marooned on the planet. "They may have moved on, abandoning the gate in search of easier pickings." He refused to mention the other, more ominous, possibility. That one or both of them hadn't survived, that the only life signs the Tok'ra was reading was that of the small deer like creatures they'd seen and that those two black bags he'd seen Fraiser place into the cargo hold would be put to use.
He sighed again, pushing himself away from Daniel's chair. "Tell him to put it down close to the gate," he ordered. "We'll search that area first. If they're close, maybe they'll hear the ship come in and come investigate."
He ushered Fraiser back to the cargo area, quickly gearing up as he heard Daniel relay his instructions to the Tok'ra, then follow him into the cargo hold as well.
Several minutes later the ship swooped and Jack held out a steadying hand to the bulkhead. The ship set down smoothly and they made their way to the door. "He's gonna wait for us, right?" Jack asked, as the door opened revealing a Mars-like landscape.
Daniel didn't reply, instead rolling his eyes and following him out of the ship. Jack walked a few yards away, and then paused, turning a slow 360 to get his bearings.
It hadn't changed, not much anyway. His mouth went dry as his eyes settled on the fresh scar on the alien landscape, the broken away hill side a darker, brighter red than the surrounding area, almost looking like the planet had suffered a grievous wound, one that still hadn't healed.
For the rest of the afternoon, Jack and the others followed Carter around, gathering samples from a large circle in the base of the crater. Here and there, he could see the tracks of small and larger animals in addition to other unmistakable signs of their presence.
The rocky terrain was studded with sparse vegetation, reminding him of the area around Colorado Springs, a dry near desert terrain, barren most of the time but springing to life with the presence of enough rain. The vegetation surrounding the stream seemed to attest to that fact. The plants had thick, waxy leaves, some of them covered with spines like cacti. He sighed in boredom, pulling off his hat to scratch his head. "Carter?"
"Almost done, sir," she said, glancing up at him.
He made a face and turned away, walking over to Teal'c who gave him an unsympathetic look. "Our situation could indeed be worse, O'Neill," he said.
"Really? Do tell," Jack requested.
"There could be snakes," Daniel said.
"Or leeches," Sam spoke up.
"Or scantily clad women offering wedding cake," Teal'c said causing Daniel to laugh at Jack's expense, and Carter to suddenly develop a fit of the coughs.
Sam packed away the last of the samples and got to her feet. "I'm done," she declared.
"Sweet," Jack said. "Let's go home while I still have some pride left."
Teal'c helped Sam put the samples into her pack and they started to make their way back to the Stargate, barely visible in the distance.
The sun was starting to set, casting one side of the crater in deep shadow and painting the other side an eerily vibrant red. Jack led the way, listening with half an ear as Carter and Daniel quibbled about what to eat for dinner once they got back and the merits of Mexican or Chinese cuisine.
It didn't take them long to reach the gate. "Dial it up, Daniel," Jack ordered, stepping aside. Sam stepped away, slipping her pack off her shoulders and opening it up. "Carter?" Jack asked, frowning.
"I never got a sample of the water, sir," she said. "It'll just take a minute."
"Make it seconds," he requested as she walked a few yards away to the small offshoot of the larger stream. The gate opened with its characteristic whoosh and Daniel sent the code, nodding to Jack when the confirmation was received. "Go," Jack ordered, following Daniel up onto the platform. He watched Carter lean over the stream, scooping out a small amount of water with the bottle while Teal'c stood close, in between them.
Jack heard a low rumble begin. At first he thought it was the roar of a far away airplane until he remembered that they were on an alien planet. The next instant he thought it was thunder and looked up, frowning when he saw no clouds, just clear purple sky.
He caught movement in the corner of his eye and turned his head, staring in horror as he saw the side of the hillside break away and start to come tumbling down.
Time slowed to a nightmarish standstill as he looked back to his team, instantly doing the math. He saw the look of horror on Teal'c's face; Carter slowly getting to her feet as if her mind couldn't quite comprehend what her eyes were telling her. "RUN!" Jack screamed, knowing that there was no way in hell they'd ever make it.
He saw Teal'c run at Carter, literally picking her up by the scruff of her neck and pulling her to her feet. They stumbled forward, the previously precious samples falling unheeded to the rocky ground.
Jack looked back up, the first small pebbles skittering across the platform and striking his face, cutting tiny gouges that he didn't even feel. He set his feet, struggling to suppress his instinct to dive for the gate and the safety it provided.
He turned back to Sam and Teal'c, reaching out to wave them forward. He never saw the large rock that stuck his side, never felt as it drove him off his feet, the momentum pushing him towards the event horizon. He fought against the overwhelming pull of the wormhole, his free hand struggling to gain purchase on the stone platform.
He heard Carter's startled cry and turned his head, having only a second to see her and Teal'c before the wormhole swallowed him, bearing him to safety and leaving half of his team to their fates.
"Is that where the gate was?" Janet asked, pointing towards a large pile of rocks and boulders.
"Yeah," Jack replied flatly, unable to stop the depression that huge pile of rocks made him feel. No chance. They'd had not chance to dig themselves out. Maybe with a couple of earth-movers and a steam shovel, but not two people working with nothing but their hands.
He stooped down, picking up a small rock. Or maybe a little more than their hands, he thought, his eyes picking out the unmistakable signs of an explosion. Carter and her C-4. It'd saved their butts more than once. But it hadn't been enough this time. It would have taken pounds and pounds of C-4 to make a dent in the tons of rock now burying the gate.
She had to have known that, but it hadn't stopped her from trying.
And at least it was confirmation that one of them had survived the landslide.
"It's flooded recently," Daniel said, pulling Jack from his memories.
"Huh?" Jack asked, shaking his head slightly.
Daniel kicked at the sandy ground with his boot. "Look at the debris," he said, motioning around them. "It's flooded recently."
"That creek bank isn't very high," Janet said. "And sandy soil makes floods common. Plus any rain that falls on the inside of any of these hills will run down here."
"Yeah," Daniel agreed, squatting down to get a closer look at a blooming plant. "These weren't here before either."
"Study botany on your own time," Jack growled, knowing that he was being ill tempered, but not caring. "Your little flood also wiped out any tracks. If Carter and Teal'c aren't still around here, we'll have no idea where to look."
"Keta. Moihra mahe." Jack turned, frowning at the Tok'ra walking towards him. The man was pointing up at one of the hills.
"The rocks are blocking a lot of the scanner. But he says he thinks he sees some heat signatures up there."
Janet shaded her eyes, squinting. "Could that be a cave?"
Jack reached into his vest, pulling out a small scope. He followed the directions, looking intently. "Could be." He handed the scope over to the doctor who also took a look. "Could also be a trick of the light."
"Only one way to know for sure," Daniel said.
Jack nodded, taking the scope from the doctor and leading the way up the hillside.
As he walked, he tried to study the ground, looking for some sign of his missing teammates. A foot print. That's all he wanted, a footprint, a discarded MRE wrapper…some sign, no matter how little, that they were still alive.
Unconsciously, he flexed his arm, reveling in the slight twinge of pain from the barely healed bruise there. He'd almost broken it, Fraiser had said, the bulk of his jacket barely absorbing enough of the force to protect the limb.
He was glad it hadn't happened that way, if for no other reason than it would have taken a hell of a lot more convincing to get Hammond to let them go on this mission had he been disabled in some way.
As it was, he knew they were here only because Hammond had a bit of a soft spot for him and his team, a soft spot Jack exploited for all it was worth. And he had a feeling Hammond knew if he didn't authorize the mission, he and Daniel would have found a way.
"The water didn't make it this high," Daniel remarked.
"Colonel?" Janet said, a small note of hopefulness in her voice. He turned to see her holding up a tiny piece of plastic. "Candy bar wrapper."
Jack nodded, not wanting to suggest that just because there was a wrapper, it didn't mean that someone they knew had eaten it. He continued making his way towards their goal, seeing as they drew closer that Daniel had been right, it was a cave.
Teal'c heard the gate open and watched Major Carter hurriedly scoop out a small sample of the water. She'd started to grab a water sample from the larger stream earlier in the day but had been distracted by one of the native creatures that were running around and then, apparently, had forgotten about it.
"Coming," she replied, capping the small tube. He heard a low rumble over the sound of the gate and curiously looked up.
Several yards away O'Neill was also looking up and to the right and he followed his gaze, staring in horror as a huge hunk of the hillside broke away.
"Run!" O'Neill screamed.
Teal'c lunged for Carter and roughly grabbed the back of her jacket, unceremoniously hauling her forward.
They ran, tripping over her discarded pack as the first rocks pelted the gate platform.
Time stopped as he realized that they'd never make it.
The colonel stood there, motioning them forward as they ran, their boots slipping over the uneven ground.
She cried out as a large rock struck him hard, pushing him off his feet and through the gate. Realizing that running forward would only deliver them to their death, Teal'c crashed into Carter, his weight throwing her to the ground.
As he reached the opening of the cave, Jack slowed, pulling his gun to bear. "Carter? Teal'c?" he called out. Getting no response, he motioned to Janet to stay back. He heard Daniel also draw his gun and he pulled off his sunglasses, letting them hang around his neck.
He slowly entered the cave, smelling the faint odor of a recent fire. Someone had been in here, not too long ago and that fact gave him a bit of hope. Maybe they'd left because of the flood?
The too small light from his flashlight caught a flash of green and he felt his heart stop. He quickly played the light around, making out two shapes and nothing else. "Clear," he said. "Doc, get in here."
He knelt at Carter's side, reaching out to take her pulse, relieved to feel the small flutter beneath his fingers. Daniel hurried past him, doing the same to Teal'c. "He's alive," he said.
"Same here," Jack answered as Fraiser joined him. She nodded and Jack helped her roll Sam over. Jack could see that something was wrong, despite the obvious fact that she was unconscious. Her hands were scratched and bruised and he could see a ragged bandage wrapped around her arm, rust colored stains and dirt making the once white fabric look garishly dark against the paleness of her skin.
He could see the faded remnants of old bruises, injuries he guessed she'd sustained in the original rock fall. Her fatigues were dirty and torn, the same as Teal'c's. They'd survived being marooned, but Jack could tell that it hadn't been easy.
"She's dehydrated, and malnourished," Janet diagnosed. "But other than the injury to her arm, I can't see anything wrong with her."
"Janet?" Daniel said, calling her over to him. "He doesn't look too good."
Jack looked over to his friend. "Daniel?"
"It looks like he's lost thirty pounds," Daniel said.
"His blood pressure's low," Janet said. She moved around and reached down, picking something out of the dirt.
"It's an epi-pen."
"An allergic reaction?" Daniel asked.
"One of the uses, yeah," she confirmed. "That would explain the low blood pressure and his unconscious state." She turned to look at Jack. "We need to get both of them to the ship. I can't do anything here."
Jack nodded. "I can get Carter. Daniel, go get the Tok'ra, we can use his muscle to get Teal'c down that hill." Jack looked around the cave, recognizing the signs of a camp, a small pile of battered belongings, two primitive beds, the canteens sitting neatly on a rock. His heart lurched at the pathetic attempts of normalcy while they'd obviously been struggling to survive. "Doc, can you pack their stuff up real fast? Just shove it in the packs."
"They might want it. We should take it back with us and let them decide."
"Yes, sir," she said.
Jack reached down and picked Carter up, shaking his head a bit at how light of a burden she was. If Teal'c had lost thirty pounds, she'd lost at least half that much. They were alive, he reassured himself. That was the important part, they were alive. The rest could sort itself out later.
Teal'c ignored the feeble protests of Sam and remained on top of her as the last of the rocks skittered down the mountainside. Finally deeming it safe, he moved, allowing her to sit up as the both coughed harshly in the settling dust.
"You ok?" she asked, reaching out for him.
He got to his feet, holding out a hand to help her up. "Oh my God," she said, stepping forward. The dust was starting to settle, revealing a pile of rocks several meters high. "Can you see any of it sticking out?" she asked over her shoulder.
"I do believe it is totally buried," he said, knowing the hopelessness he was feeling was evident in his voice. They were trapped.
"No, it…" she sputtered, taking a deep breath and deliberately collecting herself. "Ok, if the gate can survive a direct meteor strike and long term exposure to a black hole, it can survive a simple rock fall," she reasoned.
"In the past, the DHD has not proven to be as resilient," he reminded her.
"We can manually dial," she insisted.
"Major Carter, this vast quantity of stone will not be easily moved," he told her, loathe to crush her hopes, but knowing that she needed to accept their fate and put her thoughts to survival.
"We don't know how deep it's buried, and all we have to do is clear off the main ring itself, we can use the kawhoosh to clear the rest."
He looked at her, acknowledging the determination in her eyes. He knew there would be little he could do to dissuade her from her task. "We shall investigate the possibility, however I still believe our priority should be to see to our survival. There is not much to forage in this crater and we do not have enough supplies to survive for long."
"If we can get the gate open, we won't need supplies," she reasoned.
He looked at her, then nodded his assent, knowing only time would tell who was right and who was wrong…and he hoped it was not a decision that would cost them their lives.
Janet slowly pulled the needle out of Sam's arm, expertly taping a cotton ball over the tiny puncture to stem the flow of blood. She could feel the steady thrum of the engine beneath her feet and glanced over at her other patient, mentally debating whether to start the woman on a second IV or to save it for Teal'c.
She'd brought a larger than normal medical kit with her for the rescue, but, as it turned out, hadn't brought enough IV's.
As soon as they'd been settled in the teltac, she'd started both of them on the intravenous solution to combat the dehydration both of them were suffering from. Unfortunately, several hours later, they were both still unconscious. A state that was making Janet wish that she'd had some way to bring along some sort of portable lab, or better yet, some way to get her patients back to the infirmary faster.
She knew part of Sam's problem could be the infection in her arm. Once they were on board the ship, she'd redressed the woman's wound, not surprised to discover that it was infected, the skin a hot, angry red under the filthy bandages. She couldn't tell what had caused the wound, it didn't look like any sort of laceration but more like a large collection of some sort of bites although she knew the swelling and infection may have been distorting things. She hoped the intravenous antibiotics she'd put with the woman's IV would help combat the infection and that she could keep blood poisoning at bay.
Near-starvation and malnutrition took more tolls on a body than just the obvious loss of weight and muscles, she knew, and the only way to know for sure if they weren't suffering from something more insidious was to run some full lab workups on the blood samples she'd just taken.
She felt a faint stirring under her hand and looked down, relieved to see Sam's eyes flutter open. "Hey," she said softly, taking Sam's hand in hers. "How you feeling?" Sam remained silent, frowning as she tried to discover where she was. "You're on a teltac," Janet said, sensing her confusion. "You're gonna be okay," she reassured the woman.
"Teal'c?" Sam said, her voice rough as she tried to sit up.
Janet easily held her down with a hand on her shoulder. "He's still unconscious." Sam craned her neck and Janet shifted to allow her to see her teammate. "I found an epi-pen in the cave," she prodded. "Can you tell me what happened?"
Sam turned her head back, closing her eyes. "He was hungry," she whispered.
Teal'c stood beside the small waterway, his eyes studying the water intently. There appeared to be little aquatic life on this planet, only a few insects and small fish. Certainly nothing that could provide any sort of sustenance. At least they would have a water source of some type, he thought acknowledging that their term of survival would be mere days instead of weeks without it.
His eyes settled on the tracks and he studied them intently. The creatures on this planet were small, about the size of a large human house cat. Their cloven hooves and long thin legs told him that they were swift afoot, which meant his only real chance of catching one of them was to lay a trap, unless he could convince Major Carter to abandon her fantasy of digging out the stargate.
He glanced over at his teammate, a wave of frustration washing over him. For a human as intelligent as she was, she was also incredibly naïve. Freeing the Stargate was a fool's errand. She had no concept of just how deeply it was buried and that they had a greater chance of sprouting wings and flying back to Earth than they did of exhuming the device.
She needed to abandon her fantasy of returning to Earth and set her sights upon their own survival.
The food in this crater was too sparse to maintain their lives at anything but a basic sustenance level. They needed to abandon this place and search for somewhere more hospitable, definitely somewhere with a larger and more reliable water source.
He could see signs of debris that told him that this crater flooded. And if it flooded, it was not unreasonable to presume it also suffered from drought.
The vegetation consisted of only a few succulent plants, all looking similar in appearance. The narrow selection suggested to him that this left the vegetation in the crater in a precarious situation.
Among his travels, he knew that if all the plant life was similar, it would not take much of an atmospheric change to eliminate those plants…and anything that depended upon them for survival.
Filling both canteens, he placed the last of their water purification pills in them and shook them gently, before getting to his feet and starting back towards the Stargate.
At the moment, they were camped close to the Stargate, for sheer ease of movement. The debris he found told him that they needed to alter their plans. They needed to find a camp site up the hill somewhere, high enough to be safe from any flooding that may occur. And, even though he had seen no signs yet, there was still the possibility that this planet harbored some sort of large predator, a predator they would be extremely vulnerable to exposed as they were on the crater floor.
As he approached, he could see that she was still applying herself to freeing the Stargate, apparently caring little about the precariousness of their situation and their impending lack of food.
With a heavy sigh, he plopped one of the canteens down, silently spinning on his heel and stalking back across the crater floor. If she desired to waste her energy on a futile gesture, so be it. They needed food to survive, and if she was not yet ready to accept their limitations, he would do what he could to insure that they had adequate supplies once she surrendered her fantasy and accepted reality.
Sam slowly opened her eyes, the subtle vibration of the ship felt in her very bones, even through the extra bed roll she was lying on. Usually she was used to it, she even took a bit of comfort in it, like white noise, letting it soothe her to sleep. But after a month of near silence, the constant sound grated on her nerves.
She carefully sat up, not because she really wanted to, but because she knew if she didn't deal with the irritating pressure on her bladder, she'd really embarrass herself.
"Hey?" She turned to see Daniel making his way over to her. "You're awake."
Not in the mood to talk, she simply smiled, still trying to get to her feet. "Hang on, let me help you," he said, hurrying over. He helped her to her feet, tightening his grip when she swayed slightly. "You ok?"
"Yeah," she said softly. "Lightheaded."
"That's not surprising. I don't even know if you should be up walking around," he said, his voice gentle with concern.
"I need to, aah…" she nodded towards the back of the ship and the sanitary facilities there.
"What? Ooh." He got her meaning, his cheeks flushing a bit to match hers. "Ok. We can do this." He turned them around, slowly guiding her towards the restroom.
"Sam? What are you doing up?" Janet hurried over to their side.
"She needs to aah, you know," Daniel said.
"That's good," Janet said, reaching out to feel Sam's forehead. "And I think your fever is down a bit too." Sam closed her eyes, cringing with the indignity of being talked about like she wasn't even there. Why the hell did Daniel have to be paying attention? She could have just quietly slipped into the head, taken care of business and laid back down without anyone being any the wiser. "If you're feeling up to it, how about a quick wash?" Janet suggested. Sam nodded, the prospect of clean clothes being enough to banish her misgivings.
Janet left them, digging in her pack for some clean clothes while Sam and Daniel continued on their way, arriving at the bathroom just as Janet caught back up with them. "I think we can handle it from here," Janet said.
"Good," Daniel said, releasing his hold on Sam. "Just yell if you need me," he offered.
"Thanks, Daniel." Janet closed the door, shutting them in the small room. Overall, the teltac wasn't big, which meant that, in reality, Sam's walk-in closet at home was larger than the bathroom on the ship.
It consisted of a shower stall, toilet and sink and barely enough room for the two of them. "Why don't you go ahead and use the bathroom and I'll get the water started," Janet said, offering Sam the most privacy she could.
"Ok," Sam said, her fingers fumbling a bit as she tried to unbutton her pants. She succeeded and took care of business before bending over, struggling to pull her socks off her feet. Someone had removed her boots, which was probably a good thing since even the simple task of peeling off her socks seemed to be beyond her.
"Here," Janet said, kneeling down to deal with the socks. "We'll just get you a quick shower then something to eat and I'm willing to bet you'll feel a hundred percent better," she said, not impatient with Sam's slowness at all.
She helped her peel her filthy t-shirt over her head and removed her bra. "The water's nice and warm. There's even a ledge in there where you can sit down if you need to." Sam started to peel off the bandage on her arm. "Just leave it," Janet said. "We'll change it when you're done."
Sam nodded, slowly getting to her feet and stepping into the shower. She sighed softly as the warm water started to run down her body. "You ok to wash yourself?" Janet asked, holding out a washrag that she'd already soaped.
"Thanks," Sam said, taking the bit of cloth and slowly rubbing it over herself, unable to deny how good it felt to finally be clean.
Janet stayed outside, leaving her some semblance of privacy, but Sam knew that she'd also taken a quick look, visually examining her for any other injuries she hadn't been able to see before. She ducked her head under the water, reaching for the soap to wash her hair.
Finally, mindful that the ship had a finite amount of water, she turned off the tap, not surprised when Janet was right there, wrapping her in a towel. She helped her back over to the toilet and handed her a second towel, letting Sam dry herself off. It took her a few minutes to get dressed. "I don't suppose you have a toothbrush in there?" Sam asked, cringing at the gummy feel of her mouth, more noticeable now that the rest of her was clean.
Janet grinned, pulling out a travel brush and small tube of toothpaste. "All the comforts of home." Sam took it and quickly cleaned her teeth, taking a moment to sip some water. "Let's go rebandage that arm then get you something to eat," the doctor suggested.
Sam agreed, following her out of the bathroom. She made her way back to her pallet on the floor, still lightheaded but not quite as bad as before. She sat down and Janet sat beside her, pulling her med kit close. Sam watched as she cut off the soiled dressing, revealing the damaged skin underneath.
It looked different than it had the last time she'd seen it. A large ragged wound marred her arm, its outline red and swollen. "Can you tell me what happened?" Janet asked, using a swab to smear antibiotic cream on the injuries. "These look like bites of some kind."
"Yeah," Sam agreed.
"Bug bites?" Janet questioned.
Sam shook her head. "No, there weren't really any bugs there."
"I don't know," Sam said. "They just…something bit me."
"Ok," Janet said after a minute. "Well, they were infected, but I'm sure you knew that. I gave you some IV antibiotics before you woke up and as soon as we get some food into you, I've got some pills for you to take. They're already looking a little better than they were yesterday, so I think they'll heal without any problems."
"That's good," Sam said distractedly, staring past Janet to the supine form of Teal'c. "Why isn't he awake?"
"Teal'c had a little tougher time than you did. Men naturally have less body fat than women. So when his body ran out of fat, it started on the muscles, that's why he lost so much weight, and probably why it's taking him a little longer to wake up."
"He got sick," Sam said.
"How do you mean?"
"He was allergic to something on the planet," Sam said.
"The epi-pen?" Janet asked.
Sam nodded. "It got really bad. I thought he was going to die."
"Well, he didn't," Janet reassured her. "A few good meals and some rest and he's going to be fine, just like you," she said. "I'm gonna go get you something to eat," she said, getting to her feet.
Sam watched her leave before turning her attention back to Teal'c, her hand absently stroking the fresh bandage. Despite the doctor's reassurances, she wasn't going to believe that he was getting better until she saw it for herself.
It was her fault he was sick. If she'd have just remembered the sample, just been better, none of this would have happened.
Teal'c watched as Sam contorted her body, trying to get leverage on the large rock. He saw her glance at him and knew that she was angry, that she likely felt betrayed by his refusal to aid her. She had been working nearly non-stop for the past week, fixated on her futile task to clear the stargate.
He had been gone all day, stalking game on the other side of the crater. He'd returned a few hours earlier, proudly carrying the carcass of one of the animals, which he'd set to skinning and gutting where the stream fell into the abyss, using the deep crevasse as a garbage dump.
He'd managed to start a fire with some gathered firewood, something that was just as scarce in the crater as was food. Checking that the meat was cooked, he drew his knife, hacking off two haunches of the animal. He walked towards her, studying the site as he walked. While he'd been hunting, he could see that she'd made some progress on the Stargate, but not nearly enough. He knew that nothing short of mechanical assistance would clear the stargate. "Major Carter? Major Carter," he insisted when she ignored him. "You must eat."
"Save me some," she muttered, pulling away and walking unsteadily over to another rock.
"Here," he said, shoving the ragged haunch of the animal in her face.
She shook her head, ignoring the smell of the roasted meat. "I said later."
"Eat now and I shall aid you," he said, grabbing her arm and spinning her away from the rock. He pushed her gently so that she sat on the boulder and shoved the greasy meat into her hands. "You will find your task easier with sustenance."
"You'll help?" she asked, taking a bite of the meat.
He nodded as he chewed. "I shall," he said after he swallowed.
"I thought you thought this was stupid?"
"I do not believe it is a valid way to spend our time," he said, taking another bite. "We must find a better camp and a more reliable source of food and water."
"You got this," she said, holding up the odd drumstick.
"It took me several hours to successfully track and kill this creature," he said. "The herd that lives in the crater is not large. Even killing one creature every other day, it will not take us long to decimate their numbers."
"If we leave the crater, we give up on getting home," she said, taking a drink of the water.
"Teal'c…" she started, breaking off. He dropped the haunch of meat and hunched over, staggering away from her. "Teal'c?" She abandoned her dinner, quickly moving to his side. "What's wrong?"
He tried to talk, the hard won meat slipping from his grasp. It felt as if someone was choking him, as if someone's hands were wrapped around his throat and cutting off his air. His fingers fumbled for his neck, trying to clear away an obstruction that wasn't there. He felt her arm around his back as his stomach clenched and he vomited.
It was poison, the meat had to be poisoned. He struggled to breathe, to warn her as his knees gave out from under him. He barely registered her leaving his side, returning in a few seconds. She roughly pulled the neck of his jacket down and plunged something into his upper arm. In just a few seconds, he felt his throat starting to relax and he slumped to the ground, darkness overtaking him and he knew no more.
Jack walked over to Sam's pallet, two small containers in his hands. Fraiser had told him that Carter was awake and he'd volunteered to bring the woman some food, hoping that he could also find out what all had happened on the planet.
"Feel better?" he asked, sliding down to join her on the floor.
"Yeah, thanks," she said absently, self-consciously pushing her damp hair away from her face.
He opened up the container of juice, pressing it into her hands. "So, what happened?" he asked.
"On the planet," he prodded as she took a sip of the juice.
She nodded. "The landslide buried the gate." He waited, tamping down his impatience to give her time to relay the tale. "We tried to dig it out, but it didn't work." She looked down, fumbling a bit with the juice carton.
"You used the C-4," he said.
She nodded again. "Didn't work like I planned. The debris was too big for us to move, so I thought the C-4 would help break it up, but it just created another landslide and made things worse."
"That happens," he soothed.
"It shouldn't have happened, it should have worked," she said softly.
Jack ignored her, knowing that if she had her mind set on feeling guilty, there wasn't much he could say to change it. "Hunting not work out?" he asked, trying to change the topic.
"You had plenty of ammo left. I remember lots of wildlife."
She shook her head. "Didn't matter."
"Wasn't edible," she said, setting the juice down and wrapping her arms around her chest, her injured arm cradled close.
"What do you mean?"
"There was something, you couldn't eat it without getting sick."
She looked down, not meeting his eyes. "Vegetation?"
She shook her head. "Same thing, ground water too."
"Rain water," she interrupted. "If we could catch it before it hit the ground, it was ok. I'm sorta tired, sir," she said, changing the subject abruptly.
"Sure," Jack said, knowing she was avoiding something, but not wanting to push. He gave her what he hoped was a reassuring pat on the shoulder. "Get some rest. We'll be home in about twenty-four hours."
She nodded, lying down on her side and pulling the sleeping bag up to her shoulders.
Jack watched her for a second, then got to his feet, making his way up to the front of the ship where Daniel was hanging out.
Teal'c slowly opened his eyes, fighting the unfamiliar feeling of weakness that swept over him. He felt ill…something he had not experienced since he had been affected by the large insect bite.
It was now dark, and he presumed several hours after his attack. The flickering firelight was the only illumination and he turned his head, frowning at the sight of Major Carter studiously working on something laid out in front of her. "Major Carter," he gasped, frowning at the horrible taste in his mouth and the soreness of his throat.
She immediately turned her head, abandoning her task and crawling over to him. "Teal'c." She knelt beside him, reaching out to keep him lying down. "You're ok."
"Indeed," he said, accepting her help as she held his head up, allowing him to drink.
"I think you had an allergic reaction," she said. "Probably to the meat."
He nodded, feeling too weak to offer any other explanation. "What are you doing?"
"If the gate can survive centuries buried in a glacier, it can probably withstand some C-4," she said. "I was thinking if I can break the rocks up smaller, it'll be easier to move them and unbury the gate."
"Teal'c," she interrupted. "Those animals are our main source of food. If you can't eat those…" she paused. "Foraging isn't going to be an option. We need to get off this planet." She gently pushed him back down. "You need to rest, let Junior do his job."
Too drained to offer a protest, he did as she ordered, closing his eyes and letting comforting blackness consume him.
Teal'c opened his eyes frowning at the dimness of the light. It was late, he must have slept far longer than he was used to. He had been doing that a lot lately and it worried him. He was unused to this persistent weak feeling and the illness that had plagued him since his first attack three weeks ago.
He was dying, he knew that now. They both were, but he knew that his condition was far more perilous than hers even though she had been working nearly non-stop on clearing the stargate.
Her idea with the C4 had worked, to a certain extent. It had broken up some of the larger rocks, but it also triggered another landslide burying the gate a few feet deeper. Fortunately, they'd already moved their camp further up on the hillside, taking refuge in the cave prior to the land slide. It was a longer walk for her, however the shelter was necessary from both the heat of the day and the chill of the night, especially as their supply of easily accessible wood was dwindling.
He heard a crack of thunder and felt his heart lurch. Rain. It was going to rain. And she was down in the crater. The crater flooded.
Struggling to his feet he made his way to the cave opening, trying to see her through the sheeting rain. Water was already starting to gather on the crater floor and he could see her struggling to make her way from the debris field to the path leading up to the cave.
He could hear water starting cascade down the crevasse, the current making it harder and harder for her to get to the safety of the cave. Knowing that she would need help he started down the path, slipping slightly in the mud. He got closer and saw her reach for the rock face, slipping when a rock broke loose and she fell into the water.
Nearly throwing himself down the path he thrust his hand into the water immensely relieved when his fingers grasped a struggling form. Drawing upon strength he didn't even know he still had, he pulled, throwing his weight back to get her from the water.
She surfaced, coughing and sputtering and he pulled harder, the extra weight of her sodden clothes making his task even harder.
"We must get higher," he yelled, digging an unforgiving hand into her jacket. Still coughing, she simply nodded. He stumbled and she threw herself at him, pressing both of them into the muddy rock face and as far away from the edge of the path as possible.
Finally they reached the cave and she fell to her knees as he collapsed beside her, his chest heaving.
Relieved that she was still alive, he slumped, feeling weaker than he ever had in his life. Almost too tired to breathe, he closed his eyes, not sure if he'd wake up, and not even caring.
It was several hours later when he next awoke, slightly surprised to find himself covered with both of their blankets. He sat up, searching the cave for his companion. She was in the corner, her back against the wall. The unmistakable stench of vomit filled his nostrils and he studied her, concerned that she was ill. "Major Carter?"
She looked towards him, her face clearly startled. "Teal'c. You're awake," she said.
"Are you ill?"
She shook her head, slowly crawling towards him. "I'm ok. You?"
"I feel…better," he said, surprised to discover that he was telling the truth. He did feel stronger than he had in days. Perhaps he had managed to attain kelnoreem. He got to his feet and went to the opening of the cave, looking out. "The water is receding quickly, however it will be morning before it is safe to journey to the crater floor."
"That's good," she said, looking away. She reached for the blanket, pausing for a second and closing her eyes.
"I'm just gonna lay down for a minute," she said, her voice oddly weak. She crawled over to her pallet and curled up, pulling the blanket over her. Frowning slightly, he attributed her behavior to her near drowning. He gathered their small collection of firewood and started a fire knowing that they both needed some warmth. Once the flames were flickering away, he sat down beside it trying to attain kelnoreem. Perhaps he would assist her in clearing the rubble in the morning, presuming the water receded by them.
Sam sat in her living room, grateful to hear Daniel's car finally drive away. He'd been so nice, offering to drive her home after Janet had released her from the infirmary. She knew the doctor would have preferred keeping her, at least overnight, but fortunately, for her at least, during their absence SG-8 had had a little run-in with some Jaffa, and all the beds were occupied. Bad for them, although it made it easy for her to talk her way into going home and resting there.
On the way, Daniel had insisted upon stopping at the grocery and getting her some food, something he knew she needed because even if she'd had food at home, it had surely spoiled during her absence.
Leaning forward, she plucked a small stem of grapes from a bowl of fruit Daniel had placed on her coffee table, studying the small orbs in the waning light. They were her favorite, the red seedless kind and she popped one into her mouth, savoring the sweetness that exploded on her tongue. She ate a second one, then stopped, her stomach roiling with nausea.
Damn it, it should be going away by now. She'd felt sick like this ever since they'd been rescued, even a few days before then if she was honest with herself. Then, she'd attributed it to the infection, but she didn't think that was the case right now. The antibiotics had been helping, when she could keep them down.
She knew something was wrong, and that she needed to tell Janet…but that was the last thing she wanted to do. Janet would ask questions, questions Sam wasn't quite ready to answer yet.
"I shall accompany you," Teal'c said, slowly pushing himself up.
"What?" Sam asked.
"You cannot liberate the Stargate without assistance," he said, reaching out to grab the wall of the cave, fighting the nearly debilitating lightheaded feeling that had started to plague him again.
"Teal'c." She stepped forward, offering him her support. "You need to rest."
"Resting shall not improve our situation," he said stubbornly, his voice far gruffer than he was used to. Why was she not accepting his assistance?
"And neither will you if you fall on your face and break your neck," she said coldly, moving to look him in the eyes. "It'll be ok," she said, softening her voice. "I can't work on the gate and take care of you at the same time. If you want to help me, save your strength so that I don't have to carry you."
He stared at her for a few minutes, then nodded, reluctantly sitting back down, his frustration tempered by his sudden and extreme exhaustion. She retrieved his canteen, filling it with water from the recently refilled reservoir just outside the cave and brought it back to him, making sure that it was within easy reach. "I'll be back in a few hours," she promised, waiting for his affirming nod before she got to her feet and left the cave.
Several hours later he slowly opened his eyes, the sunlight on the floor of the cave telling him that it was past midday. Major Carter normally returned about this time to check on him and to take a short respite from her labors in the cooler shadows of the cave they'd found for their shelter.
His teammate had been most quiet in the past few days. He worried that she was exerting herself too greatly. He felt very weak, and while she had not been stricken by the allergic attacks as he had, she also did not possess the level of strength he did.
Concerned that perhaps some misfortune had befallen her, he pushed himself to his feet, using the ragged walls of the cave to pull himself up. Leaning on his staff weapon, he slowly made his way to the entrance of the cave, squinting his eyes shut in defense against the bright sun.
He looked to the Stargate site, his heart lurching when he did not see her laboring there.
Afraid that something had happened to her, he painstakingly made his way down from the cave, his eyes scanning the crater intently. Thus far, they had seen no evidence of any other forms of life or dangerous creatures, but he knew that something could have escaped their notice.
He caught a flash of movement and he turned, not believing what his eyes were telling him. Stunned, he could do nothing but watch, his fear and worry replaced by an overwhelming rage. Her betrayal cut through him like a knife and in that instant all he desired was to live long enough to see her death.
Janet made her way through the mess line, adding a fresh blueberry muffin to her cup of yogurt and mug of coffee. Scanning the room, she frowned at the sight of three members of SG-1 seated at one of the tables.
Picking up her tray, she wound her way through the maze of tables and joined them. "Doc," Jack acknowledged.
"How's Teal'c doing?" Daniel asked.
Janet stirred some sugar into her coffee, catching Sam out of the corner of her eye. She noted the woman stiffening slightly at the mention of Teal'c's name. "He's fine, as far as I know," Janet answered. "It's going to take him some time to get his strength back…both of you, actually," she said, catching Sam's eye.
Sam smiled back slightly. "Excuse me, I need to go take care of something," she said, setting down her fork and abandoning her breakfast of French toast.
Janet frowned as she watched her friend hurry from the room. "Did that seem odd to you?" Janet asked the pair.
"Carter's middle name is odd," Jack said, finishing his cereal and picking up his glass of juice.
"You know Sam," Daniel excused. "She hates it when she thinks people are watching her."
"Oh, come on, Jack. You've been shoving food in front of her…and Teal'c every day for the past week."
"Colonel?" Janet asked.
"You're the one that said they both needed to gain weight," he said, directing his comment at Janet.
"They do," the doctor agreed. "And they have." She shook her head. "That's not what I'm talking about."
"Then what's wrong?" Daniel asked.
"Have you seen Sam with Teal'c, together, since we brought them back?"
Jack looked to Daniel who shook his head. "I don't know."
"If I didn't know any better, I'd swear they were avoiding each other," Janet said.
"What exactly are you saying, Doc?" Jack demanded.
"I'm saying I think something happened," Janet said. "Something neither of them will talk about."
Sam walked past Captain Miller's lab, for once not intrigued by the words spilling out into the hallway. He was experimenting on something and normally she'd peek her head in…but not right now. Her right hand absently rubbing her left arm, she stepped into her lab, taking refuge in the solitude.
She'd greeted the dawn this morning, still nauseous and still haunted by the memory of their last day on that planet. She closed the door behind her and leaned against it for a second, before pushing herself up and crossing to her bench. She had work to do, she always had plenty of work to do.
Janet walked into her office and sat down at her desk, carefully setting her coffee down. Movement caught her eye and she looked up. "Teal'c? Are you ok?" she asked, unused to seeing him in her infirmary.
"Doctor Fraiser, I am well," he said. "However, I seek your assistance," he said.
Sam sat at her desk, muttering under her breath for the fourth time as she tried to concentrate on the report. This was silly, she wasn't accomplishing anything. She looked at her watch. Janet should be done by now. She needed to go talk to her, needed to, but didn't want to.
It was silly, she knew. She hadn't done anything wrong, only what she'd been trained to do. So why did she feel so ashamed?
Getting to her feet, she signed off her computer and made her way to the door, coming to an abrupt stop when Teal'c imposed himself at the threshold. "Major Carter," he said as she backed away.
"I need to speak with you," he requested.
She heard a few raised voices in the hall and frowned, trying to look past him to see what was going on. "Teal'c…" she started, breaking off as a heavy force struck her knocking her to the ground.
The next thing she knew, rough hands grabbed for her, pushing aside smothering debris. Teal'c pulled her to her feet, dragging her from the room. Barely able to see, she simply followed as he made his way down the hall, leading them away from the explosion and towards a quieter section of the SGC.
She felt him push her down to sit on the floor and kneel beside her. "Do you require medical assistance?" he asked as she coughed harshly.
She shook her head and waved him off, closing her eyes. "I'm fine," she said. "Thanks."
She pulled away from him and he let her go.
He turned away as Doctor Fraiser appeared around the corner. He motioned the healer forward while stepping back. "Sam?" she asked, kneeling by her side. "Are you hurt?"
"I'm ok," Sam said, trying to push off the doctor's questing hands.
"Major Carter was stunned although I do not believe she lost consciousness," Teal'c reported, ignoring the woman's dark look.
"Better safe than sorry," the doctor said. "Teal'c, can you help her down to the infirmary?"
"I'm fine," Sam said, getting to her feet. "I can make it on my own."
"Teal'c will help you," Fraiser insisted. "Or I will call for a stretcher and have you carried."
Sam closed her eyes and nodded, not too fond of the physician's conditions but disliking the alternative even more.
She started to make her way down the hall, taking a back route to stay out of the way of the emergency personnel working on dealing with the explosion. Teal'c trailed behind her, staying close enough to help but keeping his distance, as if sensing that she didn't want to be in his presence.
They entered the infirmary, the room busier than usual, but thankfully not too busy given the severity of the explosion. One of the nurses waved them towards a bed and Teal'c followed Sam as she followed the instructions, picking out and hopping up on one of the beds.
Teal'c moved to stand several feet away, relaxing slightly when Doctor Fraiser bustled into the room. "How bad is it?" Sam asked.
Fraiser shook her head. "Just minor injuries, fortunately. Some artifact Captain Miller was studying was booby trapped, but they figured it out in time to get out of the room."
"That's good," Sam said absently, unbuttoning and sliding off her fatigue shirt. Teal'c observed, knowing that if the doctor wanted privacy she would draw the curtains. As her shirt slipped down revealing the thick bandage on her arm she saw him stare, his eyes seemingly riveted on the gauze covering. His face paled and in that instant, she knew that he remembered.
He heard the shuffle of footsteps and knew that she was returning. Fighting to suppress the rage that roared in his ears, he remained seated, not acknowledging her presence as she entered the cave. "Teal'c, how are you feeling?" she asked, sitting down on her pallet, her shoulders set in a tired slump.
He ignored her, still struggling to control his anger. He had not felt rage like this for a very long time and it both scared and invigorated him.
"Teal'c?" He heard her got to her feet, making her way over to him. "Are you all right?"
She laid her hand on his forehead, the touch destroying what little concentration he had left. "Hataka," he snarled, roughly batting her hand away. She cried out, staggering back. "Did you think I would not know?" he demanded, getting to his feet.
"Teal'c?" She stared up at him, a puzzled expression on her face.
He reached out, grabbing her wrist, ignoring her cry of pain. "How long?" he asked.
"How long have you plotted against me?" He pulled her to her feet.
"What are you talking about?" she asked, trying to free her wrist from his iron grip.
"I saw you," he said, taking pleasure in her reaction. If he had any doubts about her guilt, he had them no longer.
"Teal'c, let me explain."
"NO! Do not lie to me," he interrupted. "You found food and you planned to keep it for yourself," he accused.
"No!" she protested. "It's not like that."
"Liar!" He pushed her away and she fell, tripping over the survival blankets lying on the ground that served as their beds. To his amazement, several plump leaves from the plant spilled out of her pocket, scattering themselves across the metallic surface. He reached down, scooping them up.
"Teal'c! NO!" she yelled, struggling to her feet and lurching towards him.
"You shall not trick me," he said, pushing her away. "Perhaps I should kill you," he said, advancing towards her. He shoved the leaves into his mouth, chewing and swallowing as his now free hand dropped to his knife. "The noblest sacrifice a Jaffa can make is to sacrifice himself for the survival of his peers," he said, advancing towards her.
"Teal'c," she cried out, backing away. Within seconds she was backed against the wall and he watched her eyes dart around him before she ducked, trying to scurry away from him.
She picked up her zat, which had been lying on the floor for days and armed the weapon, holding it in shaking hands. "Stay back," she ordered.
Ignoring her, he advanced, his eyes not seeing a friend and comrade, but a betrayer. How long had she deceived him? For how many days had she gorged herself upon the food source, hiding that fact from him? How many times had he accepted her gestures of caring and concern and been lied to?
Was she doing it simply to survive or was it part of some larger plot? What if they'd meant to maroon him all along? What if she'd just miscalculated and found herself a victim of her own trap? She was trying to kill him but lacked the honor to do it face to face, she sought to starve him like some animal.
He had killed men for less…and he would kill her.
Tightening his grip on his knife, he advanced.
"Teal'c?" Doctor Fraiser's voice cut through the awkward silence. Sam looked past Teal'c and saw the colonel and Daniel join them, both men breathing heavily, suggesting that they'd dashed from wherever they'd been to the infirmary.
"T, you ok?" O'Neill inquired, shifting his gaze from Sam to the Jaffa.
"Yes," he answered, taking a deep breath.
"You don't look ok," Daniel said, frowning a bit.
"I merely need to meditate," Teal'c said, stepping away. He turned and left the infirmary, ignoring Doctor Fraiser's calls. Sam looked to her teammates, desperately hoping that they weren't curious enough to press her for answers.
Janet watched Teal'c go, frowning a bit when she heard Sam's soft sigh of relief. "Would you guys excuse us," she said.
"Colonel, don't you have damage to assess or something?" she said, giving him a pointed look.
"Oh, yeah," he said, getting the hint. "Come on, Daniel." He grabbed the man's arm. "Let's go…assess."
They left and Janet pulled the curtain shut, affording them some privacy. She made a show of taking Sam's vitals and checking her out. "You know, Teal'c just came to see me," she said casually.
"Before the big boom, he was here. He wanted to discuss something with me."
"Yes, actually it was. He had this theory from the planet and wanted to ask my opinion." She stepped back, moving to look Sam in the eyes. "These aren't bug bites, are they?" she asked, taking Sam's left arm in her hands.
Sam slowly shook her head. "No," she admitted softly.
Sam fired the zat, cringing as she watched him fall, his muscles contracting uncontrollably. Her hand shaking, she dropped the weapon, torn between running away and helping him.
It was stress; it had to be the stress. Moving to check on him, she knelt at his side, rolling him to his back. She checked his pulse, closing her heart lurching when she found it weak and thready under her fingertips. She dug the epi-pen out of her pocket and administered the drug, even though she held little hope of it working.
He was dying, she knew it, she could feel the life force slip from him, the stress of the zat being too much for him to recover from. Steeling herself, she rolled up her sleeve and peeled down the stiff, dirty bandage. She winced as the material pulled on the scabbed wounds, reopening a couple of them. Her arm was swollen and sore and she knew it was infected.
With the clarity of hindsight she realized that she hadn't found a solution all those days ago, all she'd done had been to prolong the inevitable. Regardless, she pulled up his shirt, sticking her hand into his pouch and pulling out a wriggling, squealing Junior. The symbiote fought her; he wasn't expecting this. She'd never pulled him out before, only laid her arm across the opening to his pouch, but she didn't have time to be discreet now. Teal'c didn't have the time.
Holding him securely, she positioned her arm in front of his head, shaking it slightly to get his attention. She watched him look at it, then felt him struggle in her grasp. Taking the chance she released him, crying out as he lurched forward, sinking his teeth into her arm.
"Janet, it was the only way," Sam said, cutting her off. "Junior was killing him, he was almost eating Teal'c alive. That's why he got so sick. But once I found out I could eat the plants I thought if I could eat and feed Junior, then he'd keep Teal'c alive and…"
"Sam," Janet interrupted. "That's what he thought happened. What you didn't know is that the symbiotes have a sort of venom in their saliva. I'm guessing it's like an anti-coagulant that mosquitoes or leeches use. You weren't allergic to stuff on that planet, but you are to that venom. You feel sick, don't you?" Sam nodded. "That's why. You're having a reaction to that substance. That's why you're nauseous. I can give you something for it. We think that if we can cure the nausea and you start to eat some more, it'll flush the venom from your system."
"That would be good," Sam said, settling for the understatement.
Janet nodded, walking over to the cabinet and pulling out a bottle and syringe. She readied the injection and motioned for Sam to roll up her sleeve. "Why didn't you say something before?" she asked as she gave her the shot.
Sam sighed. "I thought it was just me and that it'd go away," she said. "I was actually going to come see you when things started blowing up."
Janet nodded. "You know, Teal'c asked me about something else."
"Would you say his behavior was a little…off?"
Sam shook her head slightly and shrugged. "I don't know. I guess. Things got…tense sometimes," Sam said, the tone of her voice suggesting that 'tense' was an understatement.
"I'm not surprised," Janet said. "I analyzed the blood sample I took right after we got you guys onto the teltac. Teal'c's testosterone level was five times the normal level," she said.
Sam shook her head, clearly not understanding Janet's words. "Teal'c needs to ask Bra'tac the next time he visits, but the theory we have is that Junior manipulated his hormone levels, making him more aggressive than normal, probably as a survival tactic."
"Think about it, Sam. If Teal'c starves, Junior starves. If Junior wants to survive, he needs to make sure Teal'c does. And if food is short, it's the aggressive Jaffa that gets the food. Survival of the fittest." Sam stared at her for a few seconds, her mind obviously processing the information. "Sam," she said, laying a hand on her friend's arm. "He couldn't help it any more than he could…stop breathing." Sam broke their gaze, looking down at her hands. "Sam, what happened?" Janet asked softly.
She shook her head. "I can't…" She hopped off the table, pulling away from Janet. "I need to talk to him," she said.
"I'm talking to him," Sam declared, hurriedly walking from the room. Janet shook her head and sighed, knowing the only way she'd stop Sam would be to sic the SF's on her.
Teal'c heard the door open, the tingling along his spine telling him who his visitor was even before he opened his eyes. Steeling himself, he opened his eyes as she shut the door, restoring the dark solitude of the room. She crossed to him, seating herself on the floor.
"You are feeling better?" he asked.
She nodded. "Yeah. Janet gave me a shot. She also told me that you two talked," she said after a few minutes. He nodded, remaining silent. "I didn't tell you about the leaves because…it would have been cruel."
"The last week," she said, absently massaging her arm. "The first time was after I nearly drowned, Junior did it all by himself. I woke up and he…Then I noticed how much better you felt and I started to do it while you slept. I could eat and I thought if I could eat and feed Junior then he'd help you and keep you alive," she explained.
"You were not allergic," he said.
"No. Although it took me a while to figure it out," she agreed. "I was hoping to buy us enough time to unbury the gate and get us home."
"The last day…"
"Janet already said, it wasn't your fault," she interrupted.
"The last day," he repeated.
He reached out and took her arm, turning it to expose the bandage. "I should have told you but…part of me was afraid you'd say no and…he was killing you, Teal'c. I couldn't let Junior keep killing you. If he stayed alive, you stayed alive."
"If he had killed you, I would not have wanted to survive," he said softly.
They sat in silence for several minutes, their breathing and the gentle hiss of the candles the only sound. Finally, he released her arm, getting to his feet. "Come."
"Where?" she asked, accepting his hand up.
"They have just added something to the commissary that I wish to try."
"I believe it is called Ben and Jerry's."
Sam laughed. "Teal'c, that's ice cream."
"So I understand."
"It's ten am," she said, following him out into the hall.
She stared at him for a second. "You have a point," she agreed. "I don't suppose they have hot fudge?"