Title: STRANGER DANGER
Author: Kate Davis
Category: S Drama/Romance.
Rating: PG [a couple of graphic descriptions]
Spoilers: None
Archive: Please email me for permission before archiving.
Summary: A new doctor joins the SGC and takes an immediate interest in Sam. How will Jack react?
Disclaimer: All characters and places are the property of MGM, World Gekko Corp and Double Secret Productions. This piece of fan fiction was created purely for entertainment purposes and no one made any money from it. No infringement on copyrights or trademarks was intended.

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He was not great in height, but as he strode proudly through the corridors of the SGC, one could be forgiven for thinking he was much taller than he was. As he walked, he held his head high and confident, but his eyes darted around the hall and briefly into each room where the door had been left ajar, hoping to catch a glimpse of the secrets inside.

'It's even more wonderful than I thought' he said to himself, and a small smile twirled across his lips in anticipation.

He'd been briefed on the whole Stargate project for weeks now, but this was his first introduction to the Cheyanne Mountain facility. At first he had thought it was a joke - a prank someone was pulling - but he quickly realised, after a personal phone call from the President, that this was no game. He'd been selected by the big man himself to participate in a top-secret project, due to his achievements in the medical domain and military experience in the field. There had been all sorts of conditions, but the scariest had been was he prepared to face his own death and the death of colleagues frequently. He was used to that, though. He'd been a military doctor for ten years.

"Here you are Sir, the infirmary." The young solider turned the door handle and pushed it open before saluting the man.

"No need for that Captain, I don't outrank you. I'm just a doctor." His smiled widened.

The soldier blushed a little and nodded slightly in recognition of the statement before returning to her post.

"Ah Doctor Richards, I presume."

Once his eyes had finished adjusting to the dark he saw the owner of the voice.
"Doctor Fraiser?"

"Of course, welcome to your home away from home. I'll just finish up here and then I'll give you a tour of..." her voice silenced by the sound of alarms blaring and the unmistakable hum of the Stargate stirring into life. People yelled in the hallways and ran past the infirmary door in the direction of the gate room. Boots squeaked as they brushed the spotless floor.
He felt Doctor Fraiser brush past him.

"Here", she said, reaching into a cupboard and tossing him a white coat, "looks like you're going to have a fast initiation."

Alex Richards had topped his final year at medical school and had been working in a hospital since he was sixteen to gain some sort of experience. He'd received his field qualifications in a war zone in Kosovo, working with the Red Cross. He'd seen patients in the most horrifying pain, and had told many mothers that he could do nothing more to save her son's life and that they'd had to let him go. He'd seen blood gush from every orifice of the human body. After almost 20 years he'd become quite desensitised to the human side of it. He was by no means uncompassionate, but it never hit home anymore. Still, nothing prepared him for this.

A huge black man with a gold insignia on his forehead, introduced later as Teal'c, carried in the body of a man in his late forties and placed him on one of the infirmary beds. He was covered in burns and all of sudden his body convulsed rapidly and he began to spew the remnants of that morning's breakfast from his mouth.

Alex was usually so quick to react but stood unmoving until Janet's voice called "I'll take this one you take her."

He jumped into life "What's happened?"

A blond woman was being supported between a soldier and another man dressed in some degree of military attire. She had a deep gash on the back of her head, burns on her arms and wasn't moving at all, which was somehow worse than her team mate's violent convulsing. One of the men, introduced later as Daniel, answered his question.

"He was looking into what appeared to be a some sort of force-field, when part of it seemed to dematerialise, and something grabbed his leg and pulled him through. She stepped forward to try and grab him when I called out. She turned and tripped over a rock smashing her head against another the way down. Her foot touched the barrier and the something grabbed her and began to pull her in. I held onto her while Teal'c fired his staff into the field. Then in tossed Colonel O'Neill back through and reformed back into a solid barrier."

While Daniel had been talking he'd been working on the woman. His hands moved quickly around her head inspecting the gaping wound. He opened her eyes and pointed his torch into them, taking various readings and shouting out orders.

"What's her name? What's her name!?"

"Major Samantha Carter", replied Teal'c.

"You - take her pulse, you - hook up that blood, you - take her temperature. Sam, Sam can you hear me. Wake up for me, Sam, wake up! It's all right, you're back in the SGC - you're safe. Wake up Sam, Sam can you hear me?"

He continued examining her head before replacing the wad of cloth and applying firm, but gentle pressure.

"The bleeding from the wound on her head won't stop until I can stitch it up."

"All right... he's okay... he's okay..." Doctor Fraiser muttered half to herself. "Just let him rest and keep up those injections and pay attention to all the monitors. Call me if there's any change."

She leapt from Jack's side to Sam's.
"I need to stitch this up immediately... you - assist us over here, hold that on her head. Firmly."

He worked quickly. Dr Fraiser was monitoring her heart and holding her hand. His stitches were small and neat. He kept so focused and was finished quickly.

"She's just barely alive."

"Now that gash on the back of her head has stopped bleeding she might come around. I think she'll make it okay."

"You think? You better be damn sure."

The sound of a deep voice startled him. A large man in uniform strode in, over to Jack's side first, then Sam's.

"She's all right, isn't she? I mean, she will be..."

"Oh yes, General", grateful he'd taken quick note of the man's decorations, "if she comes out the coma."

"The coma..."

"I'll bathe her face and arms and try to relieve the burns" Janet interrupted.
He went and washed up, changing his coat and stepped outside. He let out a breath he hadn't thought he was holding. The wound was so deep. It was such a delicate place on the head he thought her chances of full recovery were quite low. Shame really, he thought, she was really something.

The General walked outside the room then. "Sorry about the abrupt introduction. I'm General Hammond, I'm in command of this facility. I hope you're as good as they told me you are. I don't know what we'd do without Major Carter around here."

He shook the doctor's hand. Alex nodded, excused himself and returned to the room. The man had woken up and apart from hardly being able to speak, he seemed to have recovered sufficiently to be in the clear. Sam wasn't so good.

"Her pulse is erratic..." he heard someone mutter.

He walked over to her and it was at that moment he realised how beautiful she truly was. Dr Fraiser had wiped away the blood from her face - it was untouched and she was very attractive... it appeared she was just sleeping, with a look of peace about her face.

"It's touch and go, Dr Richards" said Dr Fraiser.

"Call me Alex, please", he replied without looking in her direction. He looked at the monitor and took Sam's hand in his own.

"Janet", she replied.

* * *

The days passed slowly and there wasn't a whole lot for them to do. Jack had checked himself out much to both Doctors' annoyance after a few days in the infirmary. It appeared his burns were superficial - the moment he passed through the wall had been brief - Sam on the other hand had been stuck in it for a few seconds.
Alex spent every hour by her side, stroking her hand and reading from a large, well-loved book.

"...quietly shining to the quiet moon."

Jack walked awkwardly down the corridor and swung into the infirmary. Seeing, the new doctor by Sam's bed he stopped short. The only light in the room was above her bed, and the doctor was using it to read from that book of his.

"What if you slept? And what if, in your sleep, you dreamed? And what if, in your dream, you went to heaven and there plucked a strange and beautiful flower? And what if, when you awoke, you had the flower in your hand?" The hand that wasn't stroking Sam's arm turned the page of the book that was balanced on his knee.

Jack cleared his throat. Alex closed his book quickly and turned around.
"Don't you ever sleep?" Jack asked him bluntly.

"I think Samantha is doing enough of that for all of us", he smiled sadly.
Jack was a little surprised how much his heart burned with rage when he spoke her name.

"But I am a little tired... well my voice is anyway. Will you do me a favour and sit with her?"

"I will sit with her..."

"Thank you" Alex replied, cutting off the rest of Jack's snide comment.

He cringed at the idea of Alex Richards thinking Jack O'Neill would do him any sort of favour.
Perhaps Alex thought he was cringing at his poetry book so on his way out he held it up.

"Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Great poet - my favourite. Thought Sam might like it - you know it might bring her out of it."

"Well, so might speaking to a friend - to someone she has met instead of some hot shot doctor."

Alex nodded and retreated from the room towards his quarters. Jack moved to her bedside and sat down the chair recently vacated by the evil Doctor Richards.

"I haven't any of that poetry stuff to read to you Carter. But I do have something to say. Despite any other qualities doctor Richards may have, he seems to be a good doctor and he seems to think the longer you don't wake up the less of a chance you have of ever waking up. So I want you to wake up now Carter. I need you to wake up now. I don't want to begin to imagine a life without you in it. You must want to wake up. Fight through whatever is stopping you and wake up. I know you're strong enough - you don't have to prove it to me. But I'm asking you, I'm begging you... I bet you never thought you'd see me do that. Please Sam, please." He took her hand anxiously, in contrast to Alex who took it confidently, and massaged in gently in his own.

At some stage he must have fallen asleep, because he woke up to the sounds of the two doctors returning in the morning. He opened his eyes at the sound and found his head was on Sam's shoulder. He quickly pulled back as they appeared in the doorway.

"Oh, Colonel. How good of you to keep her company", Janet's eyes shone with a deep secret.

"Think I might go and finish off that paperwork", he drifted off, blinking a little as Janet flicked on the main light.

"Okay Colonel."

Jack smiled a little at the thought that Sam would never know that he had, so to speak, 'slept' with her, but as passed Alex Richards his smile faded.

"May I speak with you for a moment - outside?" Alex asked.

Jack nodded and followed him.

"Have I done something to offend you, Colonel?"

Jack stared right back at him. "Just back off a little on Major Carter all right? At least while she's not awake to defend herself."

"I'm her doctor and I'm trying to save her life. I'd do the same for you."

"You'd hold my hand and read me poetry?"

"I'd do what I've been taught helps people out of comas. What I've seen helps people out of comas."

"Just back off a little."

"If I didn't know any better I'd think she was your girlfriend or something. If she is you should have told me..."

"She's my friend, that's all, but I know her very well and she doesn't like people... people like you", Jack emphasised the final word with a unsubtle hint of disgust.
Then another voice joined in their argument.

"If you two would stop trying to better each and get in here... she's waking up."

Jack shoved past him and entered the room first. Seeing her awake and taking in her surroundings, he said, "Hey it's good to have you back, Carter."

Dr Richards strode to her side and looked at the monitors and then into her eyes for the first time. He felt himself grow weak at the site of her deep enchanting blue eyes, but kept his composure.

"Hello. I'm Doctor Alex Richards - the new SGC doctor. I've been looking after you."

"And what if, when you awoke, you had the flower in your hand? Was that you?" she asked.
He smiled "It's my favourite piece of Coleridge's work."

"Coleridge? I studied him in high school. That line brought back so many wonderful memories of... I'm Major Samantha Carter."

Jack flinched. Samantha.

"It's a pleasure to finally meet you Sam."

She smiled at his familiarity and was a little shy in his presence and she blushed ever so slightly as he touched her shoulder, the place where Jack had been sleeping not a few moments ago.

"I hope now you can tell me something about yourself, I've been hearing so many wonderful things from your colleagues."

* * *

Sam relaxed on her sofa, watching a video. She had taken many weeks off work on both Alex and Janet's advice and the General's insistence, and she was due for her first shift at the SGC since the incident in a couple of hours. There was still plenty of time, however, to get ready. She hadn't thought she'd enjoy 'Shakespeare in Love', but on Alex's recommendation, she had rented the movie the day before.

Ding ding dong.

She paused the tape and stood up, a little shaky from sitting for so long. She opened the door, without peering through the window panel. If she had, she mightn't have been so surprised. A giant bunch of flowers with legs was standing before her.
"Oh my..." she began.

Alex appeared from behind the cluster of colour. "I just wanted to thank you for another wonderful evening."

Sam smiled and took the flowers, setting them on her hall table. Last night had been wonderful, she thought, but no more wonderful than any of the others. He had been asking her out every opportunity he got. Then she said "Alex that wasn't necessary."

"I know. But I needed an excuse to see you. And to ask if you were free again tonight."

Sam flushed deep crimson. "I, I, have to check..."

"Oh, sure", Alex said, his face falling for a brief second. "Well, give me a ring if you can make it. Talk to you later, Sam." He leant forward and kissed her ever so gently on her cheek.

"Yes. Goodbye". She watched him get into his car and drive away, before touching the placed he had graced with a kiss and closing the door behind her. She leant heavily against it. For each time he asked she had refused on at least two other occasions. Sam had no idea what to do. She didn't want to let Alex think she was looking for something serious, and she couldn't just turn away from Jack...

Where did that thought come from? She realised suddenly, pushing her hands through her short blonde locks. Was that really all that was holding her back from a wonderful relationship with Alex? A prolonged unsupported fantasy? Men.

After placing Alex's gift in a vase, she returned to the sofa, sinking into its soft leather beneath a blanket, before hitting the play button on the remote control.

'If not you, then why not him?', Gwenyth Paltrow's character said. The words slammed into Sam's heart and she felt her stomach grow weak. Sam hit the rewind button and let it run for a couple of seconds. 'If not you, then why not him?' Gwenyth repeated.

Sam sat up. She reached for the phone and dialled a mobile phone number. "Hello Alex. It's Sam. I'd love to go out tonight."

* * *

Jack had been prowling the SGC for what seemed like ages, looking for Sam. He couldn't help but get the odd impression she was avoiding him. He had deeply missed their conversations lately, and he had decided that if he didn't at least ask her to dinner tonight, then he never would.

Finally, he saw her emerge from her quarters in civilian clothing. He was about to run up to her, when she quickened to pace to meet someone else at the end of the corridor.
He rounded the corner in time to see Alex Richards take her hand, and begin kissing her lightly on the lips.

"Sam!" The word escaped his lips before he had time to think about holding it in.

She spun around, surprised at his use of her first name, and he realised for the millionth time how beautiful she was. How he longed to take her hand like that, and to be so comfortable in her presence.

"Colonel?" She replied, not losing her cool for more than a fleeting moment.

"Ah...", was all Jack managed.

"Colonel was there something you wanted to tell me?" she asked, calmly.

He looked into her sparkling blue eyes and wanted to say so many things. How he would do anything to make her happy. How he would leave the SGC if it meant he could be with her. How he would never betray her trust. But he didn't.

"Colonel O'Neill, was there something you had to say?" Alex abruptly requested.

Jack flinched at the intrusion of another voice, but it pulled him back to reality.
"Ah... the General would like SG-1 to meet with him early tomorrow morning to discuss the following day's mission".

"Thank you, Sir, but I got the General's memo. Was there anything else?"

She looked into his warm brown eyes and silently pleaded with him to say something - any little thing - that would let her know if he reciprocated her feelings strongly enough to act on them.

"No. No, I guess not. See you tomorrow Carter."

She watched the Colonel's retreating back and wanted to drop Alex's hand and run after him. She wanted to tell him the thousands of things that had been swimming inside her heart for years. She wanted him to say them first. Except that she knew he wouldn't. And she knew she couldn't.

Sam turned to look beside her and into the captivating eyes of Dr Richards. Her Dr Richards.
"Are you coming, Sam?"

'If not you, then why not him?' The words still echoed in her mind.
'If not Jack, then why not Alex?'

"Yes - let's go." He pushed the lift call button and kissed the top of her head.

She couldn't risk losing what she had with Alex for something that might never eventuate... 'It just wasn't meant to be' she thought. But a niggling notion in the back of mind told her it wasn't going to be simply because neither of them had enough faith in their heart.

Alex pulled Sam carefully into the lift and she smiled weakly at him. Alex meant a lot to her - he had saved her life - she liked him a lot and it was clear how much he cared for her. There was one thing that bothered her, even as the cool surface air brushed her face. Which is greater, the love that is confirmed or the love that doesn't need to be? She knew Alex loved her because he not only said it with his actions, but with his heart, his eyes and his smile.

Jack had never said it at all. And yet he didn't need to - she had always known.

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Copyright © AUGUST 2000 Kate Davis

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