A/N: So. This is different. Into the Fire is probably the shippiest episode to date, bar none. There But for the Grace of God and Solitudes have their shippy moments, but this episode...wowsers! You have Jack eyeballing Carter on the cryo table, that sexy as hell moment when she's pressed up against his back as they hide from the Jaffa, and then there's the hug. THE hug. I don't often do mid-ep 'what are they thinking as this happens' stories, but this episode begged for it. There will be a second story to follow this, a more proper "campfire" story. There's a campfire in here, or...at least a fire.
Annnnnd....here we go with Season 3! Feedback is always answered (well, if you give me an email addy to which to respond!).
Set during Into the Fire.
Out of the Frying Pan
Sam ducked behind a pillar and waited for the heavily armed Jaffa to pass. She swallowed the fear that was threatening to rise up and choke her, concentrating instead on blowing out long, slow breaths. Every instinct she had screamed to hurry! Every moment that passed meant another moment of agony for him and she couldn't stand it. She closed her eyes and listened as the Jaffa passed, focusing on her breathing. On reigning in her fear.
In and out, focus, Samantha. Focus. Your life...his life...depends on it.
As the footsteps faded away she tucked her chin low and raised her P90, peering slowly around the corner.
Damn it! Where the hell is... There. On the floor. This was the right room. The white-smocked form of the woman who had zatted Colonel O'Neill in the quasi-gateroom was slumped against the wall, apparently unconscious. As she stepped closer, the woman's eyes fluttered open. Sam leaned in close to hear her words, wincing at the familiar deep echoing voice that indicated the presence of a Goa'uld.
"Forgive me, there was no other way."
Sam's eyes widened as she realized, "You're the Tok'ra."
The woman nodded and gestured toward the console at one end of the room. "Those controls are set. Activate them."
Realizing the woman must have put the Colonel into the cryogenic tank again, Sam quickly rose and activated the panel. The Tok'ra spoke again, her voice weaker now.
"The Goa'uld within is gone. The cryogenic process destroyed it before it had a chance to meld with the host. He will revive automatically." Even those short sentences seemed to drain her and she once again slumped to her side against the wall.
Sam, her heart in her throat, raced around to the pod containing her CO. She impatiently pulled the buckles aside, resting her hand briefly on the Colonel's still damp chest. She was relieved to feel it rise and fall suddenly as he began to regain consciousness. As his eyelids started to flicker she leaned close. "Colonel?" Oh, God. Please be in there. Please. She again rested a hand on his chest, closing her eyes as she concentrated. "I don't feel its presence. You're going to be all right." She knew those last words were more for herself than him. She turned to try to find him something dry to wear and came face-to-face with Hathor.
As the Goa'uld raised her hand and activated the hand-device, Sam slowly sank to her knees. She flashed back to just a short time before, huddled in the hidden Tok'ra tunnel with the remnants of the rescue party. She'd been desperate to get back, frantically grasping at any straw that she might use to convince Makepeace to leave her behind. Finally she'd hit on one, destroying the power generators.
"Request permission to go back and try to shut it down." Sam held her breath, hoping the Colonel would buy it. Before he could say anything, Daniel spoke up.
"I'll go with you."
No. The last thing she wanted was to have to protect Daniel. It was bad enough that she was about to defy Makepeace's orders and go back for her CO, but she didn't want to drag Daniel down with her. Scrambling, she glanced down at his still bleeding leg and then sent him a fierce, steady look, praying that he'd get it. "No Daniel, you're hurt."
Makepeace cut off Daniel's protest. "I'll send an SG team along to back you up."
God! What was it going to take! Sam shook her head, then leaned forward, her voice earnest. "Even if I can knock out the generator, you're going to need everyone you've got to take on those towers." Pleasepleasepleaseplease...just...shut up, all of you! I need to do this...alone. Please. I need to go...now!
She blew out a breath as the rigid Colonel finally nodded. "All right. If you can, blow the generator just before our reinforcements come through. We'll try to take on the towers at the same time. That might give us the tactical advantage we need."
Sam barely acknowledged his instruction before turning and racing back the way they'd come, mentally retracing her steps to get back to the Colonel...her Colonel...as quickly as she could.
Sam's eyes rolled back and she fought to stay conscious. Hathor frowned and muttered something Sam couldn't quite catch, then leaned in closer. The pain in Sam's head suddenly intensified and then was just as suddenly cut off. She collapsed to the floor, breathing hard and trying to stop the room from spinning. She was vaguely aware of voices around her, one high and defiant, the other low and angry. Very angry.
Suddenly Sam was jerked to her knees. As her head snapped up she turned and saw him. Colonel O'Neill. Before her. A desperate, almost wild look in his eyes.
Sam blinked, trying to clear the fog in her head. "Sir, what happened?"
The Colonel held her, his hands tightly gripping her shoulders as he stared at her, almost as if he couldn't believe his eyes. "Oh, God," he breathed as he yanked her body to his.
Stunned, Sam could only go with the movement as her CO wrapped his arms around her, his hands coming up and gripping her shoulders. The relief in his voice as he'd pulled her to him shook her. It took her a couple of seconds to respond and suddenly the mist that had fogged her brain was lifted. Oh my God! He's...he's alive. Oh, thank you, God. Thank you. Sitting there, knee to knee, their bodies touching from the waist up, Sam could only cling to him as tightly as he was holding her. He was shivering as he clutched at her, his head buried deep into her shoulder. Sam closed her eyes and held him to her as tightly as he was holding her. She'd never been held so...desperately...before. So fiercely. All thoughts of rank, propriety, regulations, and the orders she'd defied to get here were gone. For the first time in her life Sam couldn't think clearly. Her mind was a churning sea of emotions, awash in the overwhelming feeling of relief in holding him and being held in his arms.
He's alive, he's alive, he's alive, he's alive.... The words chased themselves around in her head and Sam finally understood.
She loved him.
Here, in this parody of the safest place she knew, surrounded by so many who wished them dead, Samantha Carter came face to face with something she'd been denying for more than a year. Something to which she had been too frightened to admit. As they clawed at each other, each trying to pull the other still closer, Sam finally let go. Gave in to her need...in to her fear. And in that moment she realized that there wasn't anything to be afraid of. She'd lost her heart and found it again in the same instant. She'd lost it to the man whom she held so tightly in her arms, who was still shivering so hard he was making her shake as well. She'd found it in the way he was holding her in return, his upper body pressed so tightly against her own. As another tremor rocked them both, Sam asked again, "Sir? What happened?"
His voice shaking as badly as his body, O'Neill finally ground out, "Hathor's...gone."
Sam could still sense the Naquadah in him, faint though it was. The Tok'ra had assured her that the symbiote wouldn't have had time to "blend" with the Colonel, that the cryo chamber would have killed it, but she had to ask. Her fingers opened and closed, grasping desperately at his shoulders as she spoke, her voice laden with fear and uncertainty. She could hear the tears in her voice and for the first time in her career couldn't bring herself to care. Please... "What about...you?"
Impossibly, O'Neill hugged her tighter, but his words eased the fear gripping her throat. "C-cold. S little chilly...but…I'm me. I'm me."
Her eyes closed again and relief flooded through her. It was him. Inside. And it was him, holding her so desperately. How long they sat there, Sam didn't know. She was content to keep her arms around this man until he wanted to let go. Sam explained to the Colonel about Makepeace's rescue attempt and both listened as the Tok'ra told them how to find what they needed to. It was a testament to how cold...how shaken...her Colonel was that he held her to him even as she briefed him. That alone was enough to make her hold him even tighter.
Finally she felt his tremors slow and she eased back when he did. Even then they maintained contact. The Colonel kept his hands on her upper arms and Sam cupped his elbows with her hands. She didn't know how he felt, but she needed the contact.
With the Tok'ra's instructions, the reality of the situation came crashing down on Sam and she leaned back heavily on her knees. Oh my God, she thought. I really, really love him. I would have... Now Sam began to shake as she realized that she had seriously considered remaining here—dying here—had she not been able to recover him. The realization that he held that power over her shook her to her core. Even more powerful was the sudden understanding that she wasn't afraid of him having that power. She tried to rise and couldn't make her legs work. The Colonel reached down to help her up, his eyes on hers, silently asking if she was okay. Sam simply nodded as they exited the chamber, aware that as the Colonel led the way out of the chamber he had yet to release her hand.
Shaking her head to clear it, Sam frowned as she followed the white-clad figure of her CO. The high emotion of a few moments before was fading and with it came the realization of what her epiphany would mean for the future. She'd defied the orders of a senior officer to return to an enemy base to free her Commanding Officer. She had done so knowing full well she was more than likely giving the enemy another Tau'ri hostage and thereby putting Earth in jeopardy. She had manipulated the situation to her benefit, essentially lying to Makepeace, in order to go back for...the man she loved.
Oh, this is bad, Samantha.
There was going to be all kinds of hell to pay for this, she was sure. Realizing with a start that he still held her hand in his, she ducked behind another ornately decorated pillar and pulled him into the empty room behind them both.
"Sir," she hissed as another patrol passed by.
"What is it, Carter?"
Sam reached down and pulled her sidearm out of its holster. "I thought you might want this."
O'Neill looked down as she placed the weapon into his hands, then shook his head. "Uh, no thanks, Carter." He slowly opened and closed his hand, grimacing in pain. "A bit too stiff."
"Sir?" Sam reholstered her weapon and took his hands in hers. Oh God! No wonder! "Your hands are like ice, Sir!" How had she missed that before? She bent and blew on them, briskly rubbing them with her own.
"Yeah. I'd kill for one of our little campfires about now, Carter."
"Yeah, me...oh wait!" Sam kept his hands in her left as she reached around into the pocket of her ALICE vest. "Daniel shoved these–"
"Carter, I don't think we have time to light a fire!"
O'Neill was crowded close beside her and Sam could still feel him shivering. She gave his hand a squeeze, aware that the usual physical distance they almost always kept between them was gone. She didn't know how he felt and she knew this new absence of personal space would disappear as soon as they were back home. But for now she simply took advantage of it. Finally finding what she was searching for, Sam pushed her CO against the wall and leaned in close, tucking her shoulder into his chest and sharing what body warmth she could. She reluctantly released his hand as she fumbled with the small packet. Tearing open the outer wrapping, Sam pressed the oblong shape into O'Neill's hands. She wrapped her own fingers around his hand again, rubbing to stimulate the circulation on the outside.
"Carter, I...oh." The Colonel leaned closer as his hands began to warm. "Sweet."
"Can't hold it for too long, Sir, it heats up to about one hundred and sixty-five degrees, but...for now..."
Sam, her body still pressed to his to get him as warm as possible, looked around the small room in which they'd hidden themselves. There wasn't much they could use here...unless... She leaned past the Colonel, peering into the shadows. "Sweet," she whispered. Her attention focused on her discovery, she missed the flash of surprise that crossed O'Neill's face at her unconscious adoption of his favorite phrase.
"Sir. I think I found a quicker way out. There's a ring platform here." She looked up at him, slightly startled to find his face so close to her own. "We can, um...use it."
"When we get out of this, we need to...let's just say that I'd like you to stick around after the next team night."
Sam swallowed, her heart suddenly beating so hard inside her chest she was certain the Colonel would hear it. "Sir?" She was pleased that the word didn't come out as a squeak.
"I think we need to discuss...some stuff."
"Um...yes, Sir." She started to pull away but stopped as he, his hands still wrapped around he chem pack and covered by her own, tugged her back.
"I...thank you for coming after me, Carter. You're...hot!" O'Neill's last word was more like a strangled yelp.
"Sir?" Sam jumped as O'Neill jerked his hands from hers, dropping the chemical heating pack onto a pile of gold-edged robes.
"Ow! Hot! Hot!" The Colonel blew on his fingers, then raised an eyebrow to Carter. "You weren't kidding, Carter."
"No, Sir. I wasn't." She quickly checked his hands and then crossed to the ring controls. As O'Neill stepped inside she reached and held out her sidearm. His fingers brushed hers as he took it from her, sending an entirely different kind of shiver through Sam. She punched in the control sequence and quickly moved to join him within the circle etched into the floor. As they waited, back-to-back and weapons at the ready, she glanced over her shoulder at him. "Colonel?" her questioning voice was soft.
"You're welcome. I know you'd do the same for me."
"You bet your a–" The echoing buzz of the descending rings drowned out O'Neill's words and the two disappeared from the room in a flash of light. Just as quickly as they'd arrived, they were gone, leaving behind an empty room and a now smoking pile of forgotten robes. As explosions begin to rock the building, the smoldering fire sparked and soon there was a small blaze burning where the two officers had been standing.
A blaze just about as big as a campfire.