"It was too small, and it was already gone."
Sam understood all too well. She breathed deeply and closed her eyes against the unexpected grief.
She couldn't know that the patient in the next bed, still seemingly unconscious, had heard the same news.
Chapter 24: Finale
He clung to her…desperately.
It had been one hell of a past few weeks.
They'd been tortured, captured before. But Sam wasn't sure she'd ever seen him like this. This was something new.
Clingy, insecure, reluctant to let her out of his sight…
That wasn't Jack.
Overly solicitous, hesitant, unsure of himself…
That wasn't Jack O'Neill, not the man she'd known for so many years.
He was depressed, no question about it.
Of course, he'd never admit it. Maybe it was to be expected after what he'd been through.
This was the first time he'd been allowed to sit up and swing his legs over the side of the bed. She'd sat down next to him and now her head was cushioned against his chest as he held her in a warm embrace. Feeling the tension in his body, Sam tilted her head up to see his face. Without even thinking, she smiled. It was that warm, all encompassing smile that usually made Jack's head swim and his heart skip a few beats. But today, Sam knew it wasn't having the full effect.
"What's wrong?" she asked.
Jack pulled back a bit and held her at arms' length, studying her carefully.
"It's nothing," he said. "Getting used to being back, I suppose."
Sam reached up with her right hand to gently touch then caress his cheek. Jack didn't move, simply sat still and continued to look at her.
"Me too," she said. "This is only our third day back."
"Yeah," Jack said. "And yesterday was the first they let me wake up."
"Dr. Lam wanted to give you time to heal," Sam said.
"Right." Though he gave the correct response, his heart wasn't in it.
Jack pulled away, got up and walked across the small isolation room where he was still confined. Sam had been released yesterday, but refused to leave.
"Sam," he started, his voice low and throaty, "I'm getting used to being alive again. More importantly, reassuring myself you're alright. I heard everything you know."
Sam looked at him for a moment. She wasn't sure what he was saying. It couldn't be. He was unconscious, in a coma for all of it. Wasn't he?
"The fight in the throne room," she said, "you heard it?"
"Yeah," he said, "all of it."
"I didn't know," Sam said. She didn't know what to think. Being helpless during a battle wouldn't be a pleasant experience for her husband. In fact, it would be the worst kind of torture.
"I think Ba'al decided to have a little more fun with me," Jack said sadly. His voice was flat, resigned. "I woke up right after the Jaffa took me. They gave me some drugs. At first, I thought they wanted to put me back to sleep again, but I was wide awake through that brilliant escape attempt of yours. Heard everything, but I couldn't move a muscle, couldn't help you."
Sam saw the sadness in his eyes. Deliberately, she crossed the room to stand in front of him. Her eyes found and held his.
"We made it," Sam said softly.
"But you were hurt," he said. Jack had decided not to reveal his knowledge of the miscarriage. He was waiting to see when Sam would tell him.
"I know," she said. "But I'm fine now. Good enough to get out of here before you."
At that, Jack did smile, smirk at least.
"That you did," he said.
"And very relieved you're still here with me," she said. "I thought I was going to lose you."
Now the tears that had been threatening began to fall.
"Please don't cry," he said. His voice was small and tentative. For a moment, Sam heard Jack O'Neill pleading with her, as if her tears would trigger his own and he couldn't risk it. She had to admit, his sudden vulnerability scared her. It wasn't the time to tell him about the miscarriage and she'd made the doctors promise to leave it to her. She was determined not to add to his burden. The time would come when he needed to know, but not now.
While they were still lost in each others eyes and in their own thoughts, Daniel came bursting into the room in his usual exuberant fashion. The doors swung open before him with a loud swoosh, grabbing their attention.
"Daniel," Sam said, surprised to see him.
"I know, I was supposed to go home, get some sleep," he said apologetically, "but I knew the two of you would want to hear about everybody."
"Everybody?" Jack queried.
"Well the Enkarans at least," Daniel clarified.
Jack looked at Sam. She nodded, realizing Jack didn't even know about Miara beside what she'd told him.
"It's a happy scene back there," Daniel said. "I stayed on Enkara long enough to be sure Lotan and Miara were settled. You should see the Enkarans. They're delighted."
"They're glad to have Lotan and Miara back," Sam stated with surety.
"Absolutely, Daniel said. "Did you know Lotan had a family?"
"Really?" Sam asked.
"Yeah, a wife and daughter," Daniel said. "They were sure he was gone for good."
"She went home with her parents," Daniel said with a smile. "She asked me to be sure to thank you, Sam."
"It sounds like we should be thanking her," Jack said.
Sam nodded. "I don't think we could have made it without her," she said.
"Doctor Jackson, may I could in?" A new, unfamiliar voice called from the doorway.
"Of course," Daniel said. "It's time Jack met you, now he's awake."
"Jack O'Neill, this is someone we all knew a long time ago," Daniel said. "Charlie."
Jack's eyes widened. He studied the young Tok'ra's face. It certainly didn't resemble the sickly boy he'd nurtured during that wild confrontation with the Ree'tou. But Sam had told him how Charlie had helped, the role he'd played in their rescue. And of course, Jack had overheard him talking to Sam in the infirmary only two days ago.
"Do you remember me, Jack?" Charlie asked with the openness of a child.
"Of course I do," Jack said, with as much enthusiasm as he'd mustered for anything since regaining consciousness. "But look at you; you're taller than I am. How did that happen?"
"I believe it is what you call 'growing up', Jack."
Not long after this, Jack started jabbering about being let "out of jail" and generally annoying any medical personnel who would listen. As far as Sam was concerned, that was a good thing. It was the old Jack. More to keep him quiet than anything else Dr. Lam agreed to allow him to go home to Sam's house in Colorado Springs. Washington was out of the question. Stargate Command's CMO had insisted he not get any further out of her sight until he was stronger. Like it not Jack O'Neill was in for some painful rehab as he regained muscle tone and continued to recover from his injuries.
For now that much freedom would have to be enough. At home, the real challenges would begin.
A/N: My thanks to everyone who has stayed with this to the end and special thanks to those of you who have reviewed along the way.
Please look for the sequel Love Is Not Enough, coming soon.