A/N: Does a 2 year gap between Stargate SG-1 stories count as just being MIA or totally and utterly dead in the water? Oh well, it's been a long time since I wrote anything, let alone Stargate, so I hope you'll forgive me (i.e. leave constructive criticism on what needs improving/changing) if this is a load of hogwash. Anyway, I hope you enjoy this and it's not too confusing or OOC.
A/N 2: Just wanted to clear up something that came up in the reviews: this is NOT a romance story. I couldn't write romance if I had been taught to by the greatest romantic novelist ever (past, present or future). This story is all about the drama, angst and hurt/comfort.
Disclaimer: It's nae mine, so dinnae sue, aye?
It was everywhere. Trapped under her fingernails, caught in the hundreds of creases which criss-crossed her hands and fingers, smeared up her forearms. It dribbled over the backs of her hands leaving dark ominous streaks standing out starkly on her pale skin. If she looked down now, if she so much as glimpsed the tips of her shaking fingers then it would be there. It would not matter that she had just showered, it never did. It would all be true.
It was tempting to just turn off the glaring lights, shut her eyes and slump to the floor with the cold concrete wall propping her up. Maybe then it would not have happened, not for a few hours anyway until someone came looking for her. The conspicuous absence at another briefing would be just another reminder. But instead she took a deep breath, steeling herself for the inevitable, but at the same time arguing that it was just her imagination. Her very competent, very persuasive imagination.
It was everywhere... Clenching her eyes shut, she twisted the hot tap on, shoving her hands under the water and scrubbing feverishly. It was scalding hot, but at least it was not red. Even as that thought crossed her mind, the water changed colour in her mind's eye. Her eyes shot open and she stared in horror at the sight of blood pouring from the stainless steel tap. It coursed over her knuckles, the contrast of the bright red against her sheet-white skin almost blinding in its intensity.
Her hands were shaking again. She grabbed at the tap and jammed it off. Taking a shuddering breath, she tried to think of where else she could go, where she would not be reminded of the sight. She slammed her palm against the mirror behind the sink. There was nowhere else. Everywhere she went splashes of blood followed – the 'gate room, the lifts, the infirmary and pretty much every corridor in between. Even if she went to work in her lab she would end up staring for hours as flashes of red soaked her hands. It burned like 4M sulphuric acid on unprotected skin. Over and over again she would scrub them. And it still would not go away.
Maybe it was all in her head. Maybe she should go to the infirmary; if it were not for Janet refusing anymore visitors she would be there, even though it was not her watch. But she had just spent two days in there and even seeing the doctor, with her soft, concerned voice as if she was about to fall into an unimaginable number of quark-sized pieces, was another reminder, no matter who else was there.
"Come on, Sam. Let's go get all that blood off your hands and get you cleaned up." Nothing could ever wash the blood away.
It had been raining, and it was not only the damp ground that gave it away. There was that faint whiff of iron in the still air. The smell of rain; there was a word for that – Daniel would know it, and she probably knew it too, could probably even explain why the rain had a smell. It reminded her of a time she had stood next to a rusted old boat and the scent had permeated her senses until it was all she could smell over the salty sea air. It reminded her of countless training missions where the little cutlery they had was corroded from decades of use, scrubbing and being constantly damp. It reminded her of blood, fresh and warm, like from a cut on your finger, or pouring from a chest riddled with bullet wounds, the sharp, metallic tang that filled the air when they coughed and spat blood.
Sickening, that was a fitting word.
She pushed open her front door and slammed it behind her as she hurried inside, hoping the nauseating smell would not follow. She took several deep breaths and then made her way to her bedroom, stripping off her jacket and slinging it onto a chair in the hall. She wanted nothing more than to collapse onto her bed and fall asleep. That way, when she woke up it would all have been a terrible dream. It was only three in the afternoon – a little earlier than her usual bedtime, but she did not care. She just wanted to wake up. After wrenching her thick curtains shut, she peeled off everything but underwear and pulled on an overly-large t-shirt and sank onto her bed.
Tossing and turning, she realised that she was never going to get to sleep at this rate. The room was stifling – the hot sunlight being trapped by the dark material of her curtains. She did not want to open the window for fear of the horrible metallic smell coming back, but she also wanted to sleep – at least then the smell would eventually go unnoticed. She threw back the covers and strode to her window, winding her arm around the edge of the fabric so that she could grip the window latch. She pushed and it fell open easily. Breathing a short sigh of relief through her mouth as cool air seeped into the room, she went back to her bed and lay down again.
Childish, excited chatter drifted through the open window from her neighbour's back garden and for a moment she relaxed, focusing on the voices to keep her mind occupied. She slowed her breathing and was almost asleep when her muscles went rigid. Along with the noise from next door, a smell wafted in. They were having a barbecue, that was all. Nothing sinister. They were simply cooking steaks over hot coals and gas flames. Innocent fun. Except the steaks were burnt around the edges and smelt just like the charred edges of staff weapon blasts she had witnessed countless times. A few had been too close for comfort in the last three days.
No sleep today, Samantha, she thought as her mind brought forth images she would much rather forget.
She is sitting staring at her hands when a monotonous beep interrupts her thoughts, not that she is not grateful for the distraction. It takes a moment to remember where she is. The incessant beeping is coming from the kitchen, where she is cooking her evening meal in an oven that somehow sounds inexplicably like the heart monitors of the infirmary, the ones she knows are in use right now. Only this beep is reminding her that she is hungry and needs to eat. It is more regular and faster than the heart monitor has been listening to over the last few days. As she wanders into the kitchen she slams a hand against the control panel of the oven, managing to hit the button controlling the buzzer. It was taunting her, reminding her how her heart monitor should sound.
She pulls open the oven door and peers inside at the sloppy mess that was supposed to be lasagne – it needed another ten minutes. She reached up to reset the timer but her hands were shaking before they had shut the oven door. All because the buzzer sounded like a heart monitor. Her hand diverted its path to the temperature dial and she twisted it all the way to zero. Takeaway it is, then, she thought bitterly as she realised how pathetic she was being.
Her stomach at least contented to have some quantity of food in it no matter how small, she felt like she could sleep for a week. Her brain had other ideas – as soon as her eyelids slid together a piercing scream rang out. It sounded so close, but when her eyes flew wide and she scanned the room there was no one there. She knew that scream – the one reserved for special, painful events – but the owner was not in her house. Taking several deep breaths to calm herself, she shut her eyes again and began to work through the exact science behind the Stargate and wormhole physics, going right down to the smallest detail she could think of just to keep her mind occupied.
As she approached the figure on the ground everything around her seemed to fade until it was an irritating buzz of static at the edge of her mind. There was no screaming anymore, just sporadic low moans and short, sharp, hitching breaths. She pressed all the bandages she had on her against wounds that sucked and slurped with each rattling breath, trying to tune out the muted groans. They were possibly four of the scariest sounds she had ever heard. Other hands reached out with more field bandages and held them against the wounds she could not cover. Somebody shook her shoulder and she started, shifting to stare up at them. They needed to go; the Jaffa reinforcements would be here soon and it would not matter how many bandages they had – by the end of any stay at the Goa'uld's pleasure one of them would be dead.
Mumbled words drew her gaze down to where a head lay cradled in her lap, glazed eyes imploring her to listen. The slurred speech had something to do with leaving, that they would only be slowed down and put at an even greater risk, but at that point she stopped listening. Her eyes turned from soft and pleading to cold and hard as she rallied her determination and remaining strength. Her voice sounded foreign as she answered the pleading with a hard edge to her best tone of command. She secured as many of the bandages as she could and then stood up. She heard a few more incomprehensible words, a curse and then Teal'c carefully lifted the limp figure off the ground.
We'll all make it, she told herself.
Thin oil, that was what this felt like. Thin oil with sand mixed in to really screw with the mechanics of your pride and joy motorcycle, outboard engine or precious rusted ancient artifact. Only she was pretty sure lubricating oil was not warm when it was first squirted into the metalwork. Her hands were slick with the stuff and there was the annoying and unnerving feeling of it dribbling up her forearms and under her sleeves. It seeped between her fingers as she pressed relentlessly against a shuddering wound. In any other circumstance it might have felt more like being gently tickled, but today it was anything but pleasant.
She could feel her hands rising and falling jerkily as shuddering breaths fought to get air into underinflated lungs. She could feel every wince, every silent scream of agony, every muscle spasm as they contracted against the pain. There was a harsh cough and her hand slid easily off the wound. A fine mist of red droplets sprayed into the air and blood trickled from the corner of pale lips. She ripped a bandage from her tactical vest and squashed it against the small pool of blood that has formed around the smallest of the bullet wounds.
The rest of the injuries have been bandaged, all except for the charred staff blast that clumsy hands tried to irrigate. She motioned for it to stop and blood began to well up again. The ragged, burnt edges scratched her palm as she pressed a hand to the blackened flesh. She looked around for another bandage but instead found a green BDU jacket held out in front of her. It was nowhere near ideal and about as sanitary as the ground they had been lying on for the last twelve hours on this mission, but it would have to do.
She was about to stand up so they could evacuate when she felt a shudder run through the head supported in her lap. It was not unusual but it felt different; more desperate and intense. Immediately she pawed at the depression between the trachea and sternocleidomastoid muscle where first aid training had told her was the best place to find a pulse. Soaked with blood and shaking badly, her fingers kept slipping until she grabbed them with her other hand.
In one second she took in that she could feel her own heart racing in her chest, but under her fingers the skin was still and worryingly cool. And then the next second she almost yelled in relief as blood pulses under her fingertips. It was not a strong pulse by any stretch of the imagination, but it was there nonetheless. Then it was gone. She scrabbled frantically to find it once more. She felt the head in her lap loll to one side and the muscles rested against her legs go lax. She was pretty sure her own heart stopped right then.
"Please," she whispered urgently. She looked around for someone to help but they knew as well as she did that no one could survive those injuries unless they had a sarcophagus, but right now that was not an option. Desperation overwhelmed the rational part of her and she wanted to scream at them to do something, anything. Daniel shaking his head with his jaw clenched tightly spoke for all of them. There was nothing they could do. He was gone.
A/N: Let me know what you think, please. Hopefully I'll have the other part up around the start of next week sometime...