Author's Note: I'm not sure what happened to the first chapter. I might have been when I fixed the soldiers. Sorry about that but this is now the first chapter once again. Thank you to Kamikashi for letting me know.
Thank you also to all those who helped me with this story. You know who you are and I thank you all. :)
The pain came over him in waves. He could no longer remember how long he'd been there. After nearly escaping, they had moved him and all the other men elsewhere. It was harsher, more brutal in this prison than the first one-more pain, much more pain.
His eyes drifted closed; somewhere outside his cell there were new noises. He turned his head, trying to hear them better, to identify them. Once more, there was the stomp of boots and the sound of harsh voices; he tensed trying to prepare himself for what was coming, but a new noise was added to sound of the boots: the steady rhythm of gunfire.
Struggling to find his unused voice, he called, "In here." He could understand himself but he was unsure that anyone else could.
Ignoring the new pain it caused, he reached out for the tin plate and cup that held his water and stale bread from the day before. Stretching out his hand, he grasped them, spilling his only source of food and water for the next few days. Smashing the two of them together, he tried to make as much noise as he could. Hopefully someone would hear.
There was silence. Using all his remaining strength, Jack managed to do it one more time, hoping that would be enough, as the blackness took him.
When he woke up next, he was floating and the pain was gone. He tried to sit up, but a hand restrained him, and it was followed by voices. At first, the voices filled him with fear: the voices meant questions, and then more pain when he refused to answer.
He listened for a moment, quickly realizing that these voices were different. They were soft and worried. Someone bent close, "What's your name, soldier?"
His mouth opened to tell them his name, but the words wouldn't come, only a croaking noise.
A hand patted his shoulder, "It's all right. We'll figure it out and get you home. Just lie still and sleep."
He tried to tell them he had no home to go to, that he was alone. Jack closed his eyes, he was so tired and the drugs were strong, as they pulled him back into the void. His last thought was of Hanson; he would soon be able to find her...
Samantha Carter stood in the kitchen of her new home-the one she and Charlie had chosen together. She was living another woman's life and raising somebody else's child. Some of the pictures on the walls were of Sam, but most were of a life she had no part of.
She loved a man who may or may not be dead, and now she was his son's mother. Worst of all she had left him behind.
The phone rang, startling her. She took a deep breath, knowing who it was. He always called at this time each evening: right after dinner, when he knew she was home. Looking at the caller ID, she could see his name: Jonas Hanson.
She broke off the engagement a few weeks before she left for Iraq. How could she marry Jonas when he hit her? It was only once but that was all it took: one slap that had resulted in five stitches to her arm. At first, Jonas seemed to accept her decision. About a month ago, the calls began.
She had answered at first, but something about his voice scared her; she began to ignore the calls. Not knowing what else to do, she commenced taking her level three-advanced hand to hand combat class, just in case. There was more than herself to protect now, there was Charlie.
Looking out the window, she watched Charlie playing in the backyard. The phone kept ringing, but she ignored it, finding strength in Charlie to continue. She didn't move until the doorbell rang, just as the phone stopped ringing.
Sam stared at the door, scared. Was it Jonas at the door? Had he finally come for her?
Wringing her hands, she crossed to the door, looking through the peephole. On the doorstep was Major Charles Kawalsky, one of Jack's friends. She leaned against the door, relieved, but only until the questions began bouncing around her head. Why would he be here? She hadn't seen him since the court martial.
Opening the door, she took a deep breath. "Kawalsky, what are you doing here?"
"Sam, may I come in?" he motioned to inside the house. "Where's Charlie?" he asked searching the immediate area for the boy.
Sam's blood ran cold. Had they finally been able to confirm that Jack really was dead? Did they ultimately have a body to show them?
The official story was that Colonel Jack O'Neill had been killed in the line of duty around sixteen months ago in Iraq. She had almost convinced herself that what they told her was the truth, even though she had seen him alive less than twelve months ago. So had Kawalsky.
When she had met Jack in that prison cell, she had been so naive. Even though it was her second tour of duty, she had never really seen the war, not up close and definitely not personally. Her gender had screened her from it; she had never seen the death and sickness it brings.
But her eyes had been opened and her world was never the same. It all began with a small malfunction with the computer on her AWAC radar plane and an emergency landing at a remote base. She had been recalled to the main base by convoy. When she protested leaving the plane behind, Sam had been told that they would send someone else to fix the problem and fly it back.
Early the next morning, Sam climbed into a Humvee and headed across the desert. The convoy moved, slowly leaving a trail of dust across the scorching hot desert. Sam tried to sleep, but it was too hot. Instead, she just stared out at the barren landscape, wondering what she was doing here.
The Kevlar helmet on her head felt alien and heavy, making her sweat more than from the effects of the temperature. Three other men were in the vehicle with her. Their eyes never stopped scanning for danger as the clutched their guns, ready for anything.
Everything was foreign. She was used to seeing this from the air, but right here on the ground, the world looked so very different. She could see the devastation and the destroyed houses and imagine the ruined lives that had once lived there.
About five hours into the trip, the convoy passed though a small village and everything went south. The streets were empty, but you could see people peeking out from the windows watching, waiting. An eerie silence fell over her companions as they drove through the village. On the outskirts, the lead Humvee was taken out by a roadside bomb.
Suddenly everything was in chaos. All around her, the sounds of gunfire and screams of the wounded and dying filled her ears. She had no choice but to react as her vehicle jerked to a stop. All around her, there was the steady drum of gunfire, smoke, and the smell of blood.
Reaching out she took one of the dead man's weapon. The gun kicked a little as she fired it for the first time. People fell around her, bodies of both the attackers and the attacked.
The roar around her was deafening and all she could think about was going home. She never knew what happened, only that she lost consciousness and woke up on the way to a prison, where she met Jack.
She was in that hell with him for two weeks and in the end she had to leave him behind.
A hand fell on her shoulder, "Sam, are you all right?"
Swallowing, she pulled herself together, opening the door wider, "Yes, I'm fine, please come in. Have a seat in the living room. Would you like anything to drink?" She asked, heading into the kitchen. Gripping the sink, she struggled for control. Grabbing a glass, she listened to Kawalsky, as she drank the whole glass of water.
The Major spoke again. "No, thank you. I can only stay a moment." He paused. "Sam, sit down." He waited for her to sit before continuing. "There's news of Jack. He's alive, they found him. The Brits raided some prison over there and they found him. He was in pretty bad shape."
Sam closed her eyes and dropped her head into her hands. Then the tears started; Sam knew she had no claims on him but he was alive and she was happy. Charlie would still have his father, and just maybe someday...
Lifting her head, she looked Kawalsky in the eye, "How is he? Where is he? When can we see him?" The questions were fired in rapid succession.
Kawalsky held up his hands. "Whoa, one at a time." Fidgeting he continued, "They found Jack a couple of weeks ago, but they wanted to make sure that he would pull through before they notified the family. The doctors kept him sedated most of the time; he doesn't know about Sarah yet. He will arrive at the Academy Hospital tomorrow. He's ready to be released, they just wanted to keep him there for a while longer."
It was then that Charlie came bounding in, carrying his baseball bat and ball. After sitting down on the arm of Sam's chair, he noticed her tears. "What's wrong?" Then his eyes fell on the man sitting across from Sam, dressed in Air Force Blues.
"Why are you here?" Fear filled his eyes, "Nothing happened to Grandpa Jake did it. He's all right?"
The boy had lost too many people from his life, and he knew that Jacob was sick, just like his mother had been.
Sam wrapped her arms around the boy. "This man knows your dad and he has good news. They found him. He's alive. In a few days, we will be able to go and see him. He came home to you, just like he promised he would."
Kawalsky left soon after that, making Sam a promise to call her as soon as Jack arrived.
Turning her head, she looked at Charlie. She loved that boy with his shy smile and his quick sense of humor, and there was no way she would give him up, even though his father was now alive.
A little while later, Sam sat in her bedroom studying a photograph of Jack O'Neill. He was alive! Part of her wanted to jump up and down, but what would he think when he saw her? When she met Sarah, Sam had no idea that she was Jack's wife. She had only seen a woman who needed a friend. Someone to listen to her, and to try and ease the burden she carried.
She had been back from Iraq for about two months, and was working inside the Cheyenne Mountain Complex, when her father was diagnosed with cancer. This meant daily trips to the hospital to see him as he went through his first round of chemotherapy.
On one of those trips she had found a little boy in the hallway crying.
Kneeling at the boy's side, Sam asked, "Are you all right?" She knew this was the cancer wing, and that somebody in his family was sick.
Charlie looked up. His eyes rested on her blue uniform. "Mom's sick and Dad's dead. He said he would come back but this time he didn't. I ran when they told me. I ran away and now I can't find my way back to Mom's room again. She'll be worried."
"I understand, my dad's sick too. He's in that room over there." She pointed to one of the doorways. "He's a General. Would you like to meet him while I talk to a nurse? I bet she can help us find your mom."
The boy nodded and Sam offered him her hand. "What is your mother's name?"
"Sarah Miller." He said as they walked into the room together.
Jacob Carter looked up as his daughter came into the room with an eight or nine year old boy. "Dad, I would like you to meet..."She stumbled, as she realized she didn't know the boy's name yet.
"Charlie." the boy smiled.
Sam led him to her father's bedside and sat him down. "Why don't you teach him to play chess while I see if I can find his mom? She's in the hospital somewhere."
A smile crossed Jacob's face, "I can do that. Would you like that, Charlie?"
The boy nodded. "Dad started to teach me but then he got deployed to Iraq. He was going to continue when he got home, but that won't happen now." Both adults could hear the sadness in his voice.
Jacob nodded for Sam to head out the door and she left the two of them alone while she went to locate his mother.
It didn't taken Sam long to find Sarah, the hospital staff had been looking for Charlie. Sam had returned him to his mother and that was the beginning of a whole new chapter in Sam's life.
As Sarah deteriorated, Sam took on more and more of Charlie's care. Until about three months ago, Sarah was hospitalized to die. The two of them watched her slip away from them, and there was nothing they could do to stop it or save her.
When the doctors told Sarah that there was no hope, she immediately brought up the idea of Sam adopting Charlie. Her ex-husband was dead and she wanted to know that Charlie would be safe. Sam had no reason to argue, and agreed to take the boy.
Just after Sarah's death, Sam entered the O'Neill house for the first time to pack up Charlie's things. While they were in his room, Charlie had shown her a picture of his father. Imagine her surprise when she saw the man she left behind in Iraq smiling back at her from inside the frame.
Now he was coming home and what would he think when he found out who she was and what she had done? Lying back on the bed she clutched the picture to her chest hoping he wouldn't hate her, the choices she had made then, and she was now wondering if she had done the right thing after all.
There all fixed. I don't know what happened. :)