Category: Angst, I guess.
Summary: Sam's suffering some after effects from their last mission.
Spoiler: None really
Archive: Yes, please
Feedback: Greatly desired and appreciated to
Disclaimer: MGM owns 'em, I'm just playing with them for a while. No profit was or ever will be made on this story.
You've started sleeping with the lights on.
Well, 'sleeping' is putting it a little strongly.
Rather, you've started lying in bed with the lights on, while you don't sleep.
You haven't slept since you came back from the mission ten days ago. Haven't felt tired, really.
At work, you just buzz around as usual, solving every little problem in your path, being the good little soldier, the good little major.
Being and doing what everyone expects of you.
Once you get home, you mostly just sit on the couch until it's time to go lie in bed with the lights on.
You shoo Pete away when he calls and wants to come see you. You tell him something to the effect that you are involved in a very top secret thingy which prevents you from having sex with anyone.
Well, the story was a lot more convincing than that, but that was pretty much the gist of it.
You shouldn't be surprised, then, when one day after early morning briefing you get up too quickly, and suddenly it's like you're looking through blinders. Your field of vision has narrowed significantly and you find that kind of interesting until about a million little sparkly things invade the area that you can see out of, and you realize it's way too hot in here.
Sparkly things. Now, there's astrophysicist talk if you ever heard it.
As you try to fumble toward the stairs that lead away from the briefing room, you hear the Colonel say, "Carter?" but you try to keep going. Then the floor suddenly does something you weren't expecting. Through the field of sparkly things you see it sort of shoot up to meet your head, and as you're thinking 'Ow', you hear several male voices shout variations of your name, although their voices sound like they're down a well, and then everything goes black.
You awake to a constant, very annoying beeping in your ear.
You wonder where you are until you open your eyes and see that crack in the ceiling next to the fluorescent light. The one that looks like half of Africa (the crack, not the light).
Ah. You're in the infirmary at the SGC.
You've often toyed with the idea of letting Base Services know about that crack. Maybe they could spackle it or something, but then, how would you know where you were during the many, many times you've awoken to find yourself here?
There should be a bed with your name on it. Right under that crack.
Hell, there should be beds for all of SG-1, for that matter--elsewhere.
And Siler. Siler should get a gold-plated bed.
You realize--shifting your mind back to the matter of the crack in the ceiling, and away from the honorary beds--that the crack has the potential to grow and grow and possibly bring all of Cheyenne Mountain down on your heads someday, but you steadfastly say nothing.
You find that crack reassuring.
"Carter," you hear a voice say, and the other constant of your many infirmary stays makes himself known. You turn your head gingerly to the left, wince a little at the pain in your cheek (speaking of cracks, there's GOT to be one in your head) and there he is, sitting on one of the empty beds.
"Sir," you croak.
He rises, and comes over to your bed and takes your hand. You find that reassuring, too.
He has nice hands.
He has a little grin on his face as he says in a low voice, "How are you feeling?"
You consider this question for a moment, and come up with the oh-so-intelligent answer of:
"Like Humpty Dumpty."
The grin on his face grows, and he reaches up to gently brush a finger across your left cheek bone.
"And all the king's horses, and all the king's men…" he begins softly. "I guess you do. You went down like a ton of bricks. You're going to have quite a shiner, there."
Great, just great.
You resist the urge to ask him if you'd been snoring--or worse--drooling, but it takes some effort.
"What happened?" you ask instead.
"Well, Carter," he says, now sitting on your bed, one thumb brushing back and forth across your knuckles. "It's the most amazing thing. You don't eat or sleep for a significant amount of time, and your body just sort of decides to shut down on its own. Have you ever seen a burnt-out engine? It's not a pretty sight."
"Are you saying I'm a burnt-out engine?" So, you're now a piece of junk with a black eye. How nice. You'd sound more huffy if you had the energy.
"I'm saying your brain, your mind, is a precision instrument, Carter, yours more precision than most. Yours is the Testarosa of brains, and if you don't take care of it, there are consequences, so yeah, maybe that is what I'm saying."
He looks concerned now.
"How do you know I haven't been eating or sleeping?"
"Doc says your electrolytes are way out of wack, you're mildly dehydrated and your blood sugar is in the basement. There was talk of your dopamine levels--but I missed some of that discussion. Doesn't take a genius to figure it out. Plus there's that whole passing out thing."
"So, you going to tell me what's eating at you?"
"It's nothing, really." You both know he's not going to buy that one, but you don't feel up to anything more elaborate.
"C'mon, Carter. This is me you're talking to here." When you don't respond to this, he leans in a bit closer and plays his trump card:
"Here's the deal, you can talk to me or you can talk to MacKenzie."
You gape. "You wouldn't."
"Try me. He's already talking PTSD"
"Crap." MacKenzie's beady-little eyes just light up at the mere whiff of PTSD.
"Exactly. So spill, what's got you so worked up?"
You sit silently for a few moments, and you wonder if he thinks you're still trying to avoid telling him, but as you look up into his face you see he understands you're just gathering your thoughts.
"Sir, can I ask you something? Your voice is shaking a little, damn it.
"Sure. Ask away."
"Does all this," you wave a hand about to encompass all of the SGC, the Gate and all the planets you've visited. "Does all of this ever get to you?"
"All the time." Once again you find yourself being grateful he's understood you. Come to think of it, he always does when you two are talking, really talking.
You nod, and bite your lip, hesitating to take this further. "Do you ever…you know…do the sleepless nights and the not eating because of it?"
He's suddenly become very interested in your hand he's holding. After a few moments he says,
"Oh yeah. I've been there. I've watched many the late night infomercial because of it."
You nod again, and suddenly you find yourself shaking, and your eyes start to fill.
You might cry in front of Daniel or Teal'c, but you never cry in front of O'Neill.
Well, not very often, that is.
When you were a kid, you refused to cry in front of your dad. Jacob brought you up to be the perfect military kid, and you had to be tough. Crying was not allowed. Sometimes you'd stand there and stamp your foot until the urge to cry passed, but you always managed to keep it at bay.
Except when your mom died.
That was different.
It's hard to stamp your foot when your lying in a hospital bed, but you bite your lip and breathe deeply, and it helps.
He resumes looking at your hand as he brushes his thumb back and forth across it, but you see him glance up at you occasionally, and you know he's giving you a minute to pull yourself together.
Ha. Easier said than done.
"So, is it something in particular, or just the whole ball of wax that's getting to you?"
You consider that for a moment.
Let me count the ways.
You clear your throat, and drop your head back to the pillow with a 'whump.'
"You know how you've said I always manage to pull something outta my butt?"
He winces, but nods.
"What happens when I don't, or when I pull the wrong thing outta my butt, what then?"
"Carter," he growls in a voice that says you're spouting nonsense.
And then he says it, "You always do. Come up with the answer, that is."
"NO!" You say loudly, trying to pull your hand away, but he won't let go. "Do you trust me?"
He looks into your eyes then. "With my life," he says simply.
"Well stop it."
He cocks his head to one side. "Now, why should I do that?"
"Because,"—boy, you really wish you could stomp your foot—"I'm not as perfect as you think I am."
He snorts. He actually snorts in disbelief.
"Listen to me, Colonel," You sit up to get his full attention. "Here's how the drill goes, we run into a problem, with the Gou'ald, or whoever is bothering us this time, and I am expected to come up with the 'Perfect Solution'. Sometimes I'm just flying by the seat of my pants, but I come up with some cockamamie plan. Now, I'm the Idea Person, who do you think gets to go execute this brilliant plan?"
His brow furrows a little. "Well, we all do. SG-1, that is."
You make a sound like a game show buzzer. "Wrong. A lot of the time it's YOU who gets to go out and bring these plans to life."
He's really frowning now, and shaking his head. "So? Where's the problem? And your plans are NOT cockamamie."
"Sir, Colonel, I'm not infallible. Someday I'm going to make a miscalculation…"
"And?" He prompts.
"And get you killed. Just like I almost did this time."
You hate that your voice broke on that one.
It's his turn to gape at you. And he does.
For quite a while.
"Carter…" He runs a hand over his head. "Carter…" He tries again.
"Oh, and let's not forget who talked you into taking Canan as a symbiote, while we're at it, shall we?"
"Carter, stop it, you can't blame yourself."
"Can't I? Why don't you? Blame me, that is."
"Because, its NOT. YOUR. FAULT."
You sniffle and wipe a tear away. "Yes it is. What happens when I don't come up with an answer or I come up with one so wrong that it makes things even worse? You can't rely on me like that."
Then the floodgates really open. You've just said aloud the thing that scares you the most.
To your horror you begin to really cry in earnest.
Sobbing and everything.
He pulls you into his arms and without thought you wrap your arms around him and hold on tight, remembering the sight of him lying in the infirmary after the last mission, knowing you'd caused it, and knowing you couldn't bear it if you lost him. It was just another of a long list of concussions and a sprained wrist, along with various and sundry cuts and bruises, but he was hurt, and unconscious, and he lay there so still you found it hard to breathe while looking at him.
He just holds onto you, rocking you a bit and making soft shushing noises ,while he runs his bandaged hand up and down your back, just letting you get it all out of your system.
When you finally come up for air, he pulls back to look into your face, reaches over to the bedside table (without letting go of you), grabs several tissues and hands them to you.
You let go of him in order to wipe your face and blow your nose. When you're done you notice he looks very sad.
He huffs out a sigh, drops his head and shakes it back and forth a couple of times.
"Damn," he says. "You know, Daniel's been warning me about this for years, and I just wouldn't listen. God, Carter, I'm sorry." He looks into your face seriously, and suddenly he looks like he's aged ten years in the last five minutes.
"Sorry? For what? I'm the one who should be sorry, sir."
He squeezes your hand, hard, to get your attention. "No," he says shaking his head. "No. Daniel's been warning me for a long time that I put too much pressure on you to solve everything, and he's right. My only excuse is that I have total faith in you…"
You grimace at this and turn your head to the side.
"I know that you feel a lot of pressure to get it all right, and I…" He shrugs. "I'm sorry. I put you in a bad position, and if I'd known what effect this was having on you…well, hell, I'd probably still ask it of you, but I'd try to let you know I don't expect perfection from you all the time. No one's perfect, Carter."
At this point the nurse comes silently into the room, checks your IV and injects something into the tube before leaving just as silently as she came.
"I just couldn't live with myself if something happened to you because of me," you mutter.
"Because of you? You don't think maybe the Gou'ald should take some responsibility for what they do? Or how about me? If I make some stupid move on a mission, that has nothing to do with your plan? If I jog left when I shoulda gone right, that's my fault and has nothing to do with you or any plan you come up with."
"Ah." He holds up a warning finger. "No 'buts'Carter. There are so many factors at play on a mission that no one person can take all the responsibility if it goes wrong. You understand me?"
You want to. You really want to.
You're not completely sold, but you keep your mouth shut and nod, digesting it all in silence. After a few moments you notice your eyelids are becoming extremely heavy.
"So," he says conversationally. "Okay if I still consider you one of the most valuable members of my team?"
"I think I can live with that." You try to smile, but the effort is pretty lame.
"Good. Think you can sleep now?"
"Yeah, I really think I can."
"Good." He squeezes your hand, gently this time. "Because I happen to know you'll sleep now."
"How?" You really are feeling very drowsy now.
"Because the nurse just gave you enough sedative to take down a fully-grown rhino."
You try to respond, but you're just about out.
Your last image is the Colonel wiggling his fingers at you and whispering softly, "Night, night."
You sleep for two days straight.