The General drove his car in the evening traffic in Washington to the Dulles International Airport. He looked at his watch and he sighed deeply. He made this movement a lot in the last few hours. Exactly since he got Sam's SMS when she got on her plane in Colorado Springs. He was on delay because of a meeting. When he could drive from the Pentagon, he tried to call Sam. Her phone wasn't connected, so he sent a message to her that she should wait for him in the terminal building.
Sam came home from Atlantis two weeks ago and she got to know what Jack had known for a day: she had been removed from command. He remembered how much the news shocked Sam. After the exhaustive review of the IOA she relaxed. They told her the problem was not her ability.
Few days ago, when they went to Colorado Springs, because of Ba'al's goa'uld removing ceremony, Sam accepted General Landry's offer to come back to the SG-1. Jack had to come back to Washington after the ceremony, but Sam couldn't come with him. She had to speak with Landry about when she would start work due to their wedding.
A smile glided on his face at this thought. He saw her surprised face in front of him, her sparkling eyes because of happiness, when he asked her to marry him some weeks before her Atlantian appointment. That time they didn't have time for the wedding, however this time there is nothing to stop them to get married.
He took his phone because he tried to call Sam, but the clatter of the phone prevented him.
"O'Neill" – he said.
"Hi, this is sergeant Rogers from Metropolitan Police Department of Washington, sir. I found your name and phone number in Colonel Samantha Carter's purse, as a contact person who we have to inform if an accident happens."
"What happened? Tell me for crying out loud!"
"The plane from Colorado Springs to Washington banged into the land while landing, but we don't know the reason."
"What? Oh, my God! What about her?"
"She was taken to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center."
"Thank you! I'll be there right now."
He didn't wait for the man answer something. He threw his phone on the other seat, and he turned his car with a quick movement. He raced to the hospital snapping his fingers at the speed limit. When he arrived he parked with his car at the first free place. He didn't care that he parked in a tow-away zone and rushed into the building. He ran to the information desk and tried to keep cool and asked the young woman who sat behind the desk:
"Excuse me!" – He waited until the woman raised her head from the paper in which she wrote, and then he continued: – "I'm Lieutenant General Jack O'Neill. I was informed now that my fiancée, Samantha Carter, was taken here a short time ago. Could you tell me where she is?"
"A moment, please!" – said the woman.
Jack drummed on the desk nervously while the woman searched in the database.
"She was taken with a rescue helicopter and she is in the operating room. Second floor."
Jack didn't wait for the elevator, he ran up the stairs by two. When he reached he looked around and then he went to the nurse desk. He repeated what he said to the nurse on the ground floor and he added:
"Could you say something about the state of her health?"
"Hi. I have only the information that an air crash happened, she was taken here because your fiancée is an USAF officer. She was taken in the operating room and they called two surgeons to her.
"Are her injuries serious?"
"I don't know any details. I'm sorry, sir." – She looked at him compassionately.
"No problem, thank you." – Jack nodded.
The woman opened one of the drawers and took out a little bag. She overturned its contents in her palm and then she passed them to Jack.
"They had to take off from her these when they carried her in the operating room."
"Thank you." – Jack took Sam's engagement ring and ear rings away from the woman with pale face.
In the next few hours Jack felt that time was hanging heavily on his hands. Even if it's relative… He lost his sense of time while he walked up and down in the corridor. And then the operating room's door opened. A middle-aged woman, who gave a massage to her tired neck, came up to the nurse desk. She signed the paper that was set before her and then the nurse said something to her. The woman turned to Jack and came up to him.
"Lieutenant General Jack O'Neill?"
"Yes, it's me."
"Hi, I'm Dr. Michelle Rainer. Dr. Gear and I operated Colonel Carter."
"How is she?"
"Not so good. A metal shaft stabbed the left side of her abdomen. Because of this she had severe injuries and internal hemorrhages when she was brought in. We could stop her bleeding but we had to take out her left kidney and left ovary because of their severe injuries. Her heart stopped once in the operation we had to resuscitate her."
"Dear God!" – Jack whispered.
"Unfortunately it's not everything." – The doctor continued sympathetically.
"Her backbone has broken. Dr. Gear set the broken vertebras, but we don't know how serious her injury is for the time being. We are optimistic, because the spinal marrow wasn't injured. But we would be able to say more, if her other injuries will recover."
"If…" – Jack repeated almost hopelessly.
"Look, the body of the colonel is strong. It is quite possible that she will recover completely."
"May I go in her room?"
"Yes, of course. She is in the ICU; the nurse will show you the way." – And then the doctor asked the woman who sat behind the desk to show him to Sam's room.
"Thank you!" – Jack nodded to Dr. Reiner and followed the nurse.
The General walked to Sam's bed and his heart sank painfully for the sight. The beautiful face of the woman was covered with bruises and her left eyebrow was split. Tubes and wires hung in all direction. He watched the injured and unconscious woman, but he was trembling with fear that he could lose her now really. He drew a chair to the bed; he sat, and took Sam's right hand carefully. He bent to her and gave a soft kiss on her forehead.
Hours passed and Jack didn't move from beside Sam. He failed to see that the Sun went down and then rose. He propped his elbows against his knees and his chin against his hands and sat discouraged. He stared at Sam in the hope of waking her up. Dr. Reiner and Dr. Gear looked up Sam many times, and then they said every time, that her state is relatively adequate.
The doctors turned up next day early evening again.
"There isn't any change in her state, and it's good news now." – said Dr. Gear to Jack. – "We have to take her. We'll take her to the x-ray for her backbone and a CT for her skull. We would like to know if there is any other injury on her backbone and that she has concussion. The reflex of her pupils is good so in all probability she hasn't got an injury in her nervous system, but we would like to play it safe."
"You must eat something." – Dr. Reiner said.
"I can't. – said Jack.
"Try it. I told the nurses to bring you a more comfortable chair. If you think, you can use the bathroom at the end of the corridor."
The doctor nodded and they pushed out Sam's bed from the ward.
Jack took the doctor's advice and he had a shower. And then he went to the canteen and bought a sandwich and a glass of water for himself. He gnawed his bread, while he was going back to Sam's room. By the time he got back they carried Sam back too and a nurse changed the bandage on her abdomen. Jack was dumbfounded when he watched the ugly, red wound on the woman's nice skin. Dr. Gear wrote something onto one of the case-history and he looked up when Jack stepped in.
"Everything is OK, General. She wasn't concussed and I didn't see injuries in her brain. She hasn't got other injuries in her backbone and the united vertebras are stable too." – said the doctor to Jack.
"When will she come round?" – asked the General.
"Unfortunately I can't say that. A serious trauma happened to her body. It's possible that 2-3 days or 2-3 weeks. It's better for her if she is asleep. She would be in great pains."
"I see and thank you."
"It's my job, General. – smiled the doctor at him. – It would be good for you if you could relax a little. You don't help her if you drop.
"I'm fine, thank you." – said Jack in a peremptory tone.
"As you think. See you tomorrow." – He left Jack and the room with the nurses.
Two days passed since Sam's accident. The nurses and the two doctors often checked her. Every time when they examined her they settled Jack that her stand is stable.
On the morning of the fifth day Jack woke up because something touched lightly his face like a butterfly's wing. He looked up suddenly. His head, which had been lying on the bed near Sam's hand, was touched. He was wide awake in the next moment, and he pushed immediately the button of the nurse caller. One of the nurses appeared immediately in the room.
"She woke up." – said Jack to her before she asked something.
The nurse nodded and then stepped to the phone that was on the wall.
"Dr. Reiner, this is Nurse Martha speaking. Miss. Carter woke up." – she said on the phone and then she stepped to Sam. – "Lie still, please, the doctor will be here immediately."
By the time she said it the doctor and another nurse was in the room. The doctor asked Jack to stand farther back. She lit into Sam's eyes and then she moved her right finger in front of Sam's eyes from left to right and back.
"I'm Dr. Reiner, welcome among us." – she smiled at her. – "I'll draw the tube from your throat. It will be an unpleasant feeling and you'll have a pain in your throat." – She added and she set to work.
Sam had to cough after the movement. Nurse Martha brought a glass of water her immediately.
"Don't raise your head!" – She said to Sam and she took the straw in Sam's mouth.
"Thank you." – Sam whispered.
"Can you tell your name? – The doctor asked Sam.
"Samantha Carter." – Sam's answer was hardly audible.
"What's your job?"
"I'm a theoretical astrophysicist and Full Bird Colonel of USAF."
"Do you remember what happened?"
"The plain was crashed." – She said weakly.
"How many fingers can you see?" – The doctor held three of her fingers.
"Right" – the doctor nodded. – "Tell me if you feel my hand. – And then the Doctor touched Sam's right ankle.
She waited until Sam showed with her eyes that she felt the touch and then she put her hand on Sam's left knee. Sam nodded again.
"How serious?" – Sam asked quietly. – "I think my backbone was injured."
"Yes, it was. It was broken, but the spinal marrow wasn't injured. Dr. Gear, the orthopedic surgeon, set the injured vertebras successfully."
"Will I be able to walk?"
"Yes, you will, certainly." – The doctor nodded. – But you'll have to recover from the other injuries first, before you start the rehabilitation. You were taken with very severe internal injuries. Your left kidney and your left ovary were injured too much and we had to remove them." – She informed Sam. – "Relax. I'll check you up later."
When everybody left the room Jack sat back besides Sam's bed and took her hand.
"You scared me out of my senses."
"I didn't want to." – She smiled dimly.
"Yes, I thought so." – He smiled too and stroked her face.
"How long time was I unconscious?"
"You didn't sit here for all days, did you?"
"Where else could I have been?"
Sam looked into his eyes, which were full of worry and love and a tear rolled down from her eyes. She turned her head but Jack took her chin and compelled her softly to watch him.
"Everything will be OK, honey." – Jack whispered.
He bent to her, kissed her and then he leaned his forehead against her forehead. He tried to give strength to her without words.
Two months passed since Sam's accident. Jack visited her every morning, at noon and evening too. He didn't want to leave her alone. He knew that the accident broke her mentally and physically. The woman didn't complain but Jack saw on her that she was in great pains. A physiotherapist attended her every day and Sam did the exercises with patience without words which involved serious pains.
At last the day came when Sam went home. Jack rearranged the house the previous day because the wheelchair needed place. He bought fresh food early morning and cleaned up. He was very punctual this time. He was in the clinic already at noon instead of the arranged one p.m. He waited patiently until Sam was ready.
"You shouldn't forget you can't sit more than 20-30 minutes. You can lie only on your back or maybe face down. The best is the half horizontal position." – The orthopedic doctor called Sam's attention once again.
"All right" – Sam nodded.
"The nurse will be at your house at 7 a.m. tomorrow and she'll help you with everything."
"Thank you" – Sam said.
They got the final hospital report and the appointments of the physiotherapy at the reception and then they could go home.
When they arrived home Jack carried Sam in his arms to the house and he made her sit down on the sofa. He put a pillow behind her back. He waited patiently when she made herself comfortable and then he sat by her side.
"I'll get the hang of that too at least." – Jack said smiled at her.
"You'll get the hang of what?" – Sam looked at him uncomprehendingly.
"It's gonna be my job to carry you into the house after our wedding, isn't it?"
Sam didn't answer. She looked at her ring. She felt tears run down on her face.
"What's the matter? Do you have pains?" – asked Jack worrying.
"No, I don't."
"So? Isn't it good for you to be home again?
"It is, just…" – Sam's voice came to a sudden stop.
She didn't know how to tell him of her worries without hurting him. She watched in the last few weeks that Jack looked at her worried many times. She felt that the same thought occurred to him too. What will happen if she can't walk again?
"Sam! Tell me what's biting you, please!" – Jack asked.
"Are you sure that you want it?"
"Our wedding. Do you still want to marry me? – She asked softly.
"For crying out loud! How can you ask that?"
"Look at me, Jack!"
"I do." – He stroked her face.
He knew what Sam thought about. They didn't speak about this, but he knew that Sam was afraid of having to live in the wheelchair.
"Do you know what I can see if I look at you?" – He asked with a soft voice and when he watched Sam's questioning glance he continued: – "I see a beautiful, very kind, overjoyed smart woman who I love more than anything. And who loves me too and only God knows why. At least I trust in that.
"Oh, come on! You know I love you. For that reason I can't expect you to stay with me if I…"
"Stop it right now!" – Jack broke off Sam quietly but in an authoritative tone. – Though the registrar isn't here but I say for all that: for better or worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health I'll be for ever and ever with you. Always. I told you once. Do you remember?"
Sam couldn't say anything because of the man's voice that was full of love, so she just nodded for the question.
"Great! I and Daniel worked like a horse to learn to dance. I hope that it wasn't in vain." – Jack grimaced wittily.
"Did you learn to dance from Daniel when I was in Atlantis?" – Sam pulled up her eyebrow surprised.
"I promised you to dance with you on our wedding, didn't I?"
"Ah, Jack!" – Sam sighed and her eyes showed huge love. – "I love you. I love you so much."
"Me too, darling." – Jack kissed her deeply and passionately.
Sam sat on the sofa and watched smiling how Jack put the light on the Christmas tree. She helped him the best she could till now. She used more often her crutches than the wheelchair in the last two months, but she got tired quickly even 5 months after the accident. For now she could help Jack only with her advice.
Jack won against the lights and sat proudly close to Sam on the sofa.
"We did good work."
"You did good work." – Sam corrected.
"We will do next year in the way that we do every year. You will decorate and I will assist for you." – Jack grinned at her. – "It has been nice, hasn't it?
"Yes, it's nice. And big. You bought the biggest tree?"
"Almost." – Then the typical Jack-smile appeared on his mouth that Sam loved so much.
They quietly watched the colorful lights to shine in a few moments, and then Jack's stomach gave voice that they could to eat.
"Shall we eat?" – asked Sam playfully.
"It wouldn't be bad."
"Can you give me my crutches, please?"
"It's not necessary. I have two strong arms. Come." – He took the woman into his arms and took her to the dining room and made her sit down on her place.
Jack cleared the table after the dinner. He took Sam to the sofa and then he asked for patience. He went to the bedroom and then he came back a few minutes later mysteriously and he hid away his hand behind his back. Jack sat close to Sam and revealed his hand with a little package that was in his hand.
"Merry Christmas, darling!"
"Thank you!" – She took it away from him with a smile. – "What is in it?"
"You'll know if you open it." – And gave a kiss on her mouth.
Sam excitedly tore the paper from the square box. She opened the dark blue velvet box and her mouth stood open with amazement. A white gold necklace lay in the box on snowy silk on its middle was a sky blue diamond pendent that was as big as a pea. Near the necklace was a pair of earrings that matched the necklace.
"Dear God! It's beautiful!"
"It was my mother's. She had this on when she married my father. I thought it could suit you." – Jack picked up the necklace and he put on Sam's neck. – "That's it."
"Thank you!" – Sam whispered with tears in her eyes. – "Unfortunately I didn't have the opportunity to buy something to you." – Sam said apologizing.
"Ah, Come on! I didn't think about this."
"However, I have a surprise for you. Though it's not a real Christmas gift, we can call that." – Sam was mysterious.
"I don't understand you. But it's not a surprise." – Jack pulled a funny face.
"You'll understand in a second. Could you sit there?" – She pointed at the armchair that stood some meters from the sofa.
Jack did what she requested. Sam sat out to the edge of the sofa. She propped up herself and she stood up slowly. Jack watched while holding his breath. The thing that happened took the shine out of his bravest dreams. Sam raised up her right foot and she stepped one step upfront with squeezed lips. It was obvious that she needed all of her willpower for the movement but she put her left foot in front of her right foot. She replied twice that movement and she got to Jack who stared at her with open mouth. She stood in front of Jack with vibrating knees.
"My God, Sam!" – Jack moaned gladly and then he wreathed his arms round her waist and sat her in his lap. – "Since when?"
"Circa one week. I didn't want to say I meant it to be a surprise to you."
"Turned out well. I couldn't dream of a nicer Christmas gift than this. Thank you, darling!"
You don't look forward to this." – Sam smiled.
"Why not? It's only one step for you to start to run." – Jack laughed.
"Stylish." – She laughed too. – But I would take you at your word."
"About what?" – Jack looked inquiringly into her blue eyes that twinkled joyfully.
"You won't get off dancing with me at our wedding." – Sam bended her arms round his neck. – "The opinion of the therapist is only 3-4 months and you can keep your promise."
"It will make me happy, honey. There's nothing I long for more than that." – Jack solemnized their covenant with a kiss.