A/N: This chapter is rated M for violence. Please read or avoid accordingly, per personal preference.

The air pressed hotly against Jack's neck. Pain, his constant friend, sat heavy in his limbs. He cast a tired look around his cell. He was alone, Ferretti nowhere to be found. Alarm flared within him for a brief moment before it disappeared, only to be replaced by cool acceptance. It was just as well. Better the kid be dead than stuck here.

Footsteps echoed somewhere down the corridor, coming closer and closer. Dread gripped him, making his heart race—they were coming for him. He'd barely survived his last go-round, already told them everything. What more could they pull screaming from his lips?

The door swung open, admitting a wave of stink and death that made Jack's stomach turn. What did they want? There was nothing else they could take from him. He had nothing left to give. Nothing left but…

They were going to kill him. He had nothing but his life to give. It was all they could be coming for. He couldn't let that happen. He'd made a promise. He'd promised Sam that he would come home. He had to survive.

A hand landed heavily on his shoulder. Jack lashed out. His elbow smashed into the guard's face with enough force to make his fingers tingle. Spinning with a roar, he struck out again, this time connecting with the guard's smooth jaw.


Sam? Her voice was far away, trapped somewhere deep within the compound. What was she doing here? How had they found her?

"Jack, please…"

They were hurting her. Raping her. No! She didn't belong here. Sam deserved better than to die in this filthy pit. She was innocent. She shouldn't be here.


I'm coming, Sam. I'm coming! She wasn't in this cell, but the guard would know where she was. Rage fueled him, made him lightning-quick as he reached for his would-be tormentor.

Blue eyes flashed up at him in fear as his hands wrapped around a slender neck, and squeezed.

Sam was no stranger to nighttime noises. As silent as Jack was when he sneaked out of bed, he wasn't so quiet when he got downstairs. She'd gotten used to being awakened by sounds of muttering, or the opening and closing of kitchen cabinets.

So when Sam blearily became aware of far off distress, she did what she always did—she reached out to Jack's side of the bed, expecting to find nothing but cold sheets. When her hand encountered skin tacky with sweat, she realized she should have opened her eyes first.

The unexpected contact startled him as much as it did her. Sam bolted upright just as Jack flung out an arm, his elbow catching her across the temple. Her vision flashed white, leaving her blind to the fist that followed. Her lip burst with a splash of blood, coating her teeth with a coppery tang.

"Jack!" she cried, hoping to break through the grip of his dream. He was dreaming. He had to be. "Jack, please…"

A blurry, dark shape took form above her, looming in her clearing vision. She saw a gleam of rage in his eyes, but they were sightless, lacking focus. Her lips parted to plead once more, to wake him, but the sound was strangled by hands clamping down on her throat.

Oh, god. He was going to kill her. He didn't see her, she believed that with all her heart. He wouldn't realize it was her under him until he woke up in the morning and saw her body. What would he do, and found her body lying beside him, not breathing? It would end him.

"Ja—" He squeezed tighter, preventing her from even coughing.

Her hands scrabbled at his ineffectually, her legs kicking instinctively as she writhed beneath his weight. A little whisper of reason spoke to her. He would expect his attacker to struggle. She was feeding into his nightmare.

Sam went as limp as she could, but it wasn't enough. He continued to squeeze, unrelenting. Her vision tunneled; she was running out of time. Her hand stroked his wrist, feeling the adrenaline-fueled tension trembling there. It's all right, Jack. It was all going to be okay.

She squeezed his arm, brief enough that it wouldn't be interpreted as an attack. She squeezed again, then a third time.

She repeated the process, fighting the swirl of unconsciousness tugging at her.

One. Two. Three.


One. Two. Three.

One. Two—Jack blinked.

One. Two. Three.

Confusion filled his eyes, and then horror as he realized who was beneath him, and what he was doing to her.

One—His arm tore away from her as Jack reared back, a cry escaping him.

Sam choked at the sudden influx of air. Her vision pitched, light-headed at the rush of oxygen filling her starving lungs. Jack reached out, shaking, and her body flinched. It was reflexive, without conscious thought. Sam felt him recoil at the sight of it, and knew that single motion had done irreparable damage, as impacting as the pain wracking her body as she coughed.

When her senses returned, she didn't know how long later, she was alone. Turning on the light, she found the sheets red beneath her, bloodied by her split lip. Pain seared her senses, her eye already tightening with the onset of the inevitable swelling. Blindly, Sam reached for her phone, dialing the first number that popped into her head. The number she knew would always be answered.

"Charlie..." Her voice was little more than a croak, and ended with a desperate wheeze as her breath seized in her throat. "Charlie, I need you…"

If Charlie replied, she couldn't hear it. Her vision again lost its struggle to function, and darkness washed over her as her body collapsed. Her last conscious thought centered on one thing, one person alone.


She'd lost him again. Maybe this time for good.