Dedicated To Stargate SG1
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Bound and Broken
Email Author: email@example.com
Warnings: Character death, suicide, child death, language (I think!) adult situations...
Pairing: Jack and Sam
Carter and I stepped though the stargate thinking we were headed for a nice quiet planet inhabited by trees, trees and more trees. Oh, and a natural and rather large supply of triennium. A place untouched by man or beast, an oasis in a no mans land of warring system lords and monsters.
Our purpose for going there was to join Daniel and Teal’c, who went ahead of us. SG1 has been on a few tough missions lately, and when Carter and I returned from a week’s downtime, which unfortunately had been spent for the most part, separately, (I did, however, manage to tare her away from her computer long enough to get her to come for a meal with the others and I), we were pleased to hear we would be going off world on a routine mission; to over see the mining of the triennium and to explore for any signs of life in the surrounding area. Your basic, everyday, yaddayadda excreta, you get the point!
Yep, that’s what’s supposed to have happened, but what do they say? “Best laid plans…”
We stepped though the gate, and on the other side; a war zone. This is not the planet, it can't be. Thoughts are buzzing around my head in seconds, questions mostly, ‘where am I? What the hell was that?’ The bright yellow blast zoomed past me at about 100 miles an hour and collided with the stargate, which let out a defining cry of pain in the form of a loud explosion. That woke me up, I can tell ya! I grabbed Carters’ arm and jumped, just as the flames licked the bottom of my boots.
The scene was something surreal. Women and children running and screaming, men shouting, guns firing, flames crackling as they ate at the wooden buildings. Ships flying only meters from the ground emit a loud humming and shooting noise as they slice though the thick smoke filled air. Over all the noise it was a miracle I heard Carter yelp as my full weight landed on her, forcing the air to leave her lungs. Looking down at her I see her eyes close as she fights to regain her breath. I roll off to make the task easier and give her arm a quick squeeze.
“Sorry! You ok?” I ask quickly.
“It’s ok sir, you just winded me is all. I’ll be fine in a few seconds.” She breathed heavily.
“Good. Er… can you make that now?” I ask, raising my body to cover her face as another explosion impacts the earth yards from us, sending debris of dust and tufts of grass flying in all directions. “We should move.” I say, surveying the area with darting eyes, struggling to see through the smoke and confusion, not to mention the fact that night was already setting in.
“Where to?” she asks in a more steady sounding voice this time.
My eyes find it. Hills, in the distance, about 5 miles away, not far but I pray far enough that there is no goa’uld out there.
“Over there,” I point and she rolls on to her belly to see our destination. “If we can get to those trees, hopefully we can slip by unnoticed. No one seems too fussed by our arrival as it is, there too busy killing and being killed. Just wait for that Jaffa to leave and we’ll make a run for it.” She nods, but I can see the same doubt in her eyes that I feel in my mind. It’s not going to be that easy, it never is. Then there’s the guilt, we should be doing something to help these people, some of whom are now being loaded on to a ship by rings. Children, pregnant women in chains, men covered in cuts and burns, being torn from there wives and forced into another part of the ship, the whole thing looks so heartbreaking. But what can we do? There are two of us, totally out in the open and armed only with standard issue zats, grenades and P90’s. There’s no way we could change the way this battle is going, the end result seems already decided.
After a few more seconds a quiet, “sir?” rouses me and I looked over to ware the Jaffa had been standing. He’s moved on. With one last check, I get up, helping carter to her feet, and staying as low as possible whilst keeping an eye out for attackers and a finger hovering over the trigger of my faithful weapon at all times, we run, faster and faster until it is a full out sprint. But then comes the part you just instinctively know to expect. One Jaffa yelled, and blasts followed, mirrored by my own bullet laced music and zat shots from Carter. We don’t stop, not for anything, and we finally make it into the trees, losing the heavily armoured guards there. They may be able to out gun us, but they can't out run us.
Finally, the noise dies out. The gunfire stops and the ships fly away, leaving behind long trails of vapour and a bright burst of light as they leave the planets atmosphere. We hike on and eventually make it to the hills. I was right, or someone up there is watching out for, whatever, this place is deserted. In fact, the whole planet now seems deserted. Night is winning as the sun gives way to its long black fingers, and there is nothing we can do but set up camp and wait for the morning.
One tent is pitched in a place well hidden from the view of flying objects, and hopefully ground troops as well. Just as we finish setting up, the sky splits open and an angry rain plummets down to bite at our skin. We clamber into the tent and turn on a flashlight. I watch as Carter gets the same old green blanket she has had for years, out from her pack and begins to spread it out on the floor of the tent. Neither of us liked just having a drop sheet as protection from the hard and sometimes rocky ground below us.
“So, were do you think we are?” I ask casually, handing her a ration pack. She takes it and opens it with shaking hands.
“I really have no idea, we could be anywhere. I guess the computer must have misdialled.” I nod, unable, for some reason, to take my eyes off her hands. Her skin has gone a pale white, with a purple tinge, and her fingers still shake. The remains of wounds, both from action and from burns and scrapes on this machine or that doohicky still mar her skin. Her nails are short and nicked, and one wears a nasty looking bruise.
“Sir?” I look up to see her head tilted to the side, her eyes trying to meet mine. I allow her the glance before turning to my own ration. Chicken and something…. God only knows what. Hell, it might not even been chicken; a lot of the stuff they give us tastes the same these days.
“The gate got hit; do think that’s broken it? I mean, bad enough that it won’t get us home in one peace?” I ask between bites.
“It’s impossible to tell. I need to have a good look at it, maybe try dialling up to see if we can radio the SGC.” She sighed and looked around her. “We have enough rations here to survive for a least a couple of days. I don’t think we should risk going back until we’re sure that’s its safe.”
“I agree. We’ll stay here until morning and then we’ll go on a scout. If it looks clear we’ll check out the gate.”
“And if it isn’t clear, Sir?” She asks, taking a sip from her hip flask.
“If it isn’t, well, I guess we’ll cross that bridge if we come to it.” I say with a false note of confidence in my voice.
“Don’t you mean when?” I just roll my eyes and she backs down, “if is good.”
We exchange smiles and the subject moves on to dinner.
“Are you liking this?” I dig though my cold mush and look at it with disgust.
“Not really, Sir.” she does the same.
“Why don’t we forget dinner and call it a night. I don’t know about you but I’m kinda tired after that run.” She looks up with that look, the ‘well, you are getting on a bit’ look! “Not that I couldn’t have gone on longer, its just five miles is a long way at a full out run and up hill.” Good save Jack, if I do say so myself.
“Yeah, I know what you mean.” She nods and zips up the airtight food pack, putting it with her kit. She takes off her jacket and puts it at the head on the tent and then goes to remove her boots, but changes her mind, looking up at me with the question as to whether she should keep them on or take them off.
“We could have to run for it in the night, so I think it’s best if we keep ‘em on. Especially as we don’t know the local wildlife!” she smiles and lies back, using her jacket it as a pillow. I dispose of my food, and pull the blanket out of my pack, which unusually I had actually brought with me this time. Normally I would rely on the others, but seeing as this time the others were already there, they had probably snapped up all the gear. I shake out the blanket a little, ‘this could use a wash’ I think to myself as a few leaves and the odd piece of dried mud cling to it here and there. We take half each and spread it out.
For a few moments its silent but for the sound of the still heavy rainfall on the tent making a loud, but not quite as thunderous noise as earlier. Our bodies lay side by side, as they have done on many occasions, but this time its different. For starters, we are alone. Thoughts enter my head of regulations and what people would say, and I dismissed them just as quickly as they come. Now isn’t the time. The two of us are here and alone with no back up. If needs be, we will look after each other, by any means necessary. That’s what you do in a team.
I turn on my side and face her, her eyes are closed and her skin pale, with a slight blue tinge to her lips. I suddenly realise that that need may have come sooner rather than later. Reaching out my hand I place it lightly on her cheek, then forehead. Her skin is ice cold. She turns to face me as my touch startles her. Her eyes lack the shine they had only hours ago. I touch her neck and feel for her pulse. It’s slow. A sign that her body is too cold to generate energy and her heart is slowing down to conserve it. A bit like when animals hibernate, I guess.
I sigh, “Why didn’t you tell me you were this cold?” She just keeps looking at me. “Come here.” I reach over and pull her towards me. She lays her head on my chest the places her arms round my waist. I hold her closer and wrap the blanket tightly around us both, rubbing her back to try and get her blood moving to her fingertips and toes. The last thing she needs is frostbite. I reach down between us and switch off the light, and we eventually fall asleep.
Morning comes and make us all too aware of its presence with its blindly bright sunlit rays, which spread across the horizon of scattered trees, open grass lands and hills, and of course the village, lying silently at the bottom of a hollow, smoke still gently rising from its tortured buildings. Only a silhouette of the stargate could be seen, deep in the shadows of the near by forest, the one that we had only just made it too and then had (luckily) managed to lose the Jaffa in.
The nights heavy rain left the ground soggy under foot, and not the easiest to walk on when you’re trying to get down hills with out falling on your arse and looking like the village idiot, walking round the rest of the day with a nice round muddy stain on your pants! Thankfully, it doesn’t come to pass (although there were a few near misses!) and we both make it safely down the hill and into the edge of the forest, hiding ourselves in a concealed spot, where we can assess whether or not its safe to go on to the gate.
The village is like a ghost town. Not a person in sight, only the remnants of their lives that had suddenly been not only turn outside down by shaken about too. Fallen baskets of laundry, tools, wooden objects such as pots, plates and bowls are left scattered, fruit and vegetables gone AWOL, and half fallen buildings lay in the ashes of there own destruction, litter the area.
“What d’ya think?” I ask Sam, who is now looking more colourful and not quite so pale.
“I think it’s safe. Although I …”
“…Can't help but get the feeling it’s too quiet?” I finish as she nods her agreement. I sigh and tap the barrel of my gun with my fingertips, wondering if it’s worth the risk. It could be a trap. Then again, it might not be. And the sooner we get the gate working, the sooner we can get home and complain about those god-awful ration packs.
“Well, I guess there’s only one way to find out. We’ll take it slow and keep hidden for as long as possible. Keep your eyes open for any movement, I don’t care how small.” I spout out the orders, most of it common sense stuff, and we move out, travailing though the forest back to back to insure no one can sneak up on us.
Minutes later we’re at the gate. A hot, burning metal kind of smell fills the air around us. The gate took a nasty hit yesterday, and the wound still bleeds, like liquid molten from a volcano, on the right hand side about half way down. The chevron located in this general area is totally screwed, and I don’t need a degree in astrophysics to see that! What I don’t know is whether a certain blonde genius I know can fix it.
“Well?” I ask.
“Well what, sir?” she replies, eyebrows raisin in an expectant way.
“Can you fix it?” I tilt my head towards the gate.
“Are you kidding?” she asks with a laugh. “There’s no way… I wouldn’t know where to start, the chevrons are incredibly complex, and even if I did, I don’t have any equipment here.” She looks at me with that ‘don’t make silly suggestions’ look and I throw back the ‘at least give it a go. Macgyver something’ look. She rolls her eyes and walks over to the damaged area.
“What do you want me to do? I can't fix this, not without more equipment, which we can't get without the gate. I think we’ve just gotta face it sir; we’re stuck here until somebody finds us. You never know, maybe the Tok’ra will send a ship.” I shudder inwardly. The Tok’ra, you gotta love ‘em. Or not! I look around, it’s not Kansas, but I guess its home for now. At least there’s plenty of food we can gather up, and there’s the means to make bread, although the mill sitting under a pile of rubble could do with a bit of restoration. I get an eerie feeling of daja vou. I’ve done this before, been stuck on a planet less advanced than us with no way to get home. But this time at least I’m with someone from home, someone who means a lot to me. I can honestly say I’m glad I’m with Sam; the whole ordeal doesn’t seem so bad when she’s around. Nothing seems quite so bad when she’s near.
Of course, I’m not supposed to think that way. I have to remain focused and detached. I have to be able to keep a clear head and make decisions, even if it means the loss of my team members life, and that’s why the regs are there. They know if you care about someone, you may put them first and make stupid mistakes, go out on a limb for them, freeze up or give in to torture if you see them being hurt. It makes you weak and therefore gives your enemy an advantage. I understand that, believe me, I really do, but understanding it doesn’t mean you have to like it. I mean, what the hell makes the military think that you can control or chose who you fall in love with? And what makes them think they have the right to punish that love? I rub my hand over my face and re-adjust my hat. ‘Crap’ I think to myself, ‘I guess if things can't be different, I just have to get on with it. We both do’ I admit sadly.
“All right, it looks like this is home, so let’s make the best of it. What do you say we look round for a house that isn’t quite so…burnt, and move in? I know it’ll be weird, but I’m sick of that tent already, plus, this is more practical.”
“Yes, sir. We’ll need to find a fresh water source; from the look of things, the well’s been destroyed. And maybe some tools wouldn’t go a miss; we can repair some of this stuff and use it.” She says while she walks away from the gate and towards me.
“Ok, you get on the tools; I’ll look for a place to stay. Meet you back here at,” I look at my watch, “it’s 0930 now, and we’ll say 1100 hours. Then we can go find the water together, we could have to walk miles and I don’t want us separated for too long, I still can't be sure we’re alone.”
“Sir.” she nods and starts to walk towards what looks like it was a blacksmith of some kind.
“Keep radio contact.” I call after her.
“Ok.” She calls back over her shoulder and disappears into the shed/hut, moving pieces of fallen debris, careful not to make the damage worse and risk the building collapsing in on her. I turn and begin my search for home.
The houses in the immediate area are too dangerous to even consider, with timber beams falling from the roofs now and then and the thatch completely burnt to ruins on most. One more night like the last and the house that was nearest the gate would be a pile of wood and nothing more. So I take my search a bit further, in hope that the goa’uld have left some accommodation for us. After walking about a mile I finally find it. A small thatched house like the rest, but at least a quarter of a mile away from the focal point of the village. It is hidden by a few pine-like trees, but exposed enough to still get the morning sun in the cloth-covered windows. The rooms are small but liveable, and already contain the basic’s; a stove, a bed (only the one I notice) a table in which I assume is a the kitchen, complete with a pan catching the water runoff, dripping steadily though a whole in the ceiling. “Aw, that can be fixed,” I mumble to myself, looking up assess the damage and catching a raindrop right in the eye!
As I make my way outside again, my watch bleeps at me angrily. 10:45, time to start back to meet Carter. I take a quick look at the garden (a small patch of land containing a few of the local vegetables) and head back to the main square. Five minutes into my journey and my radio crackles into life.
“Sir?” Carter’s voice (well, that’s obvious!)
“Carter? How’s it going?” I ask in a casual way.
“Not bad Sir, I think I’ve got everything we’ll need to get by. At least for now. Where are you?”
“I’m about 10 minutes from your position, north-east. Good news, I’ve found us a place to stay. It could use a bit of a tidy and a few repairs, but its in better condition than everything else round here.”
“That’s good. Umm, sir…” the radio dies out. I try to re-establish contact but it’s no good. It could just be the signal but I decide not to take any chances and break into a sprint back to where I’d left her. That building was on its last legs, it was stupid, STUPID of me to leave her to go in their alone. It seems to take weeks to reach her (although it was only five minutes in reality) and sure enough, I could see from a distance the building had come down. ‘Please let her be ok, please let her be ok’ I repeat to myself as I near the rubble.
“Carter? Carter?” I shout, reaching out to pull some of the rubble away.
“Sir.” Her tiny voice comes from somewhere beneath me. I step back and dig though the wreckage to find her, covered in dust and soot, a tickle of blood running down the side of her head and her body pinned down by a large timber beam.
“It’s ok Sam, I’m gonna get you out. Just hold on, ok?” I have to keep her awake and talking; I know enough first aid to know that. I try time and again to lift the beam, but it will not budge. Finally I get a long strong piece of wood and use it as a leaver. Sam manages to crawl out of her own accord, thank God! But then collapsed on the floor beside me, gasping for air and barely holding on to consciousness.
“Sam, your ok, just take a few deep, steady breaths, slowly.” She tries to comply but I can see the pain on her face. I’ve had enough broken ribs in my time to know the signs, and hers look broken, I’m as sure as I can be of it. “I’m sorry, this is my fault. I shouldn’t have let you go in there alone.”
“Its… ok, not your… fault.” She breathes heavily. I go back and retrieve her kit, and dig out the first aid box. Taking out the bandages, antiseptic wipes and a morphine shot, I set to work. Morphine is the first thing administered, and whilst talking about everything and nothing to keep her awake, I gently lean her against a tree whilst I pulled back her top and wrap her tender and already bruised ribs as tight as her deep sighs of pain will let me. When the worst is done I clean the wound on her head and stick butterfly stitches over it to insure it stays closed long enough to heal. All I want to do right now is get her the hell out of here and back to the infirmary where Janet can look after her and give her the best meds. I hate seeing her in pain, and I hate knowing that I can only give her minimal treatment. She needs better, she deserves better than I can offer. Perhaps in more ways than one.
I carry her back to the house, (or should I say hut?) I’d found and lay her on the bed. I don’t need her to tell me the agony she feels, I can see it in her eyes and I know from experience. But her eyes, they say it all, so much so I can't bear to look in to them, I can't see her go through that knowing that there is nothing more I can do but be there for her.
“Sir…” she lets out an aching groan as I turn to our packs to find the blankets folded neatly within them. I take one out, shake it off and place it over her, careful of her injuries.
“Shh, try to get some sleep. That morphine should be kicking in any minute now.” I sit on the side of her bed and run my fingers over her forehead and though her hair to brush out little bits of debris and ash, watching as her eyes close gently, leaving an un-punctured landscape across her face, of pale, almost ghostly white skin and dark shadowy circles where bright blue eyes should be shining. I will my hand to repeat its rout once more, feeling her feverishly hot skin beneath it and seeing the slight blue tinge around her lips for the first time.
From her peaceful rest she suddenly lets out a shudder and her skin rises with goose pimples. An obviously painful gasp chokes and her eyes open as she fights to regain control over the hurt. As always, trying to be the strong solider. Her hand takes mine in a vice like grip as I try to reassure her and calm her down.
“Stay with me, don’t leave me…please.” She begs though clenched teeth and shallow breaths.
“Hey, its ok. I promise I’m not gonna leave you. I promise Sam. You’re gonna be ok.” Her eyes are on me holding me like a rabbit caught in the headlights. She moves over towards the wall, as much as it hurts her, and signals for me to lie down next to her. I do so, laying on my side, facing her, and pulling up the blanket closer around her. My head moves closer to hers instinctively, my arm wraps itself over her abdomen and I whisper, “Sam, please try to rest, it’ll do you good.” She nods and again closes her eyes, never once letting go of the hand she’d grabbed hold of moments before.
I must have fallen asleep myself, because when I wake up the sun has moved around to take up its resting position on the horizon. Checking that she is still breathing and still asleep I very carefully get up and help myself to another ration pack, before leaving a radio pressed in her hand and leaving to find a water supply. If we were going to survive, that is one thing we have to have.
Water is something that is not usually that hard to find, and today is no different, I am very pleased to say. I followed the direction of last nights rain, and bingo! A stream. I take out the containers I had packed in my kit before leaving and fill each one to the top. The water looks clear enough and it’s fast moving, but you can never be too sure. I get some dry wood from the trees nearby and walk home, slightly more weighed down than I had expected.
Day gives way to night as I light a fire in the hearth, which is located in the centre of the main room, complete with its own chimney and stove. Once I’m satisfied that the fire is good, I place a container of water on the stove and set my watch to make sure that it boils for at least five minutes.
Deciding its time to check in on Carter I head for the bedroom and open the door wide enough to look inside with out disturbing her, but I find her already awake and sitting up.
“Hey, what do you think your doing? You should be resting!” I tell her off
“You sound like Janet!” She smiles.
“It hurts me that you would say that! Besides, I don’t think white’s my colour!” a board smile spread across my face as I see that some of the pain has obviously abandoned her body. Maybe her ribs aren’t broken after all?
“How are you feeling” I enquire with a more serious note.
“Actually, I think either that morphine is really kicking in, or I’m just bruised and in shock.” She rubs her ribs, sighing. “Either way, I think I’m gonna be sore for a while!”
I nod sadly, “take it easy Carter, and don’t make me have to make that an order. I’ve got things covered here for the time being, and I’ll have some water for you in about two minutes, I can mix you up some coffee if you like. I never leave home with out coffee!”
“That’s tempting sir, but I think I’ll pass. Thanks anyway, I just don’t think I can face it right now.”
“Sure. Give it twenty minutes and I reckon the water will be cold enough to drink by itself. I’ll bring you some when it ready. In the mean time, REST!” Hand gestures get her to roll her eyes and lay down again, returning to the wood and rough sheets for a bed.
Three hours later and we’ve eaten, drunk and are now once again sharing the same bed. I offered to sleep on the floor, but she made jokes about my back, and to be honest, the floor…not that inviting! The night passes, as do the days that follow. The days turn into weeks, the weeks into months, and soon four months have passed us by. Carter’s ribs healed nicely, whether they were actually broken I don’t know. We harvested the crops in the land in front of our abode, going by our best guess of when it looked ready and we built a channel to bring the water to us. Things actually were turning out quit well. Sam and I began to lose hope of being found by the thirteenth week of being IMA and came to accept it, although it was hard for both of us. Now we live a quiet life, fishing, farming and doing whatever else we need to do to be self-sufficient.
It has become second nature to us now; going to bed together, getting up with the sun, looking after each other, loosing the formalities of sir and major. We don’t cross that line, just in case one day, they do come for us. For now I am content just that she lies in my arms every night. I forgot how good it feels to have someone to wake up too, something to wake up for.
She walks in to the house, which has had a few…modern touches added to it, slightly chilled from the fresh auterm breeze starting to move in. the winds can be bitter when they roll in off of the hills or even the distant mountains which are tipped with snow.
“Jack, I think we need to search further a field. We need to find somewhere more insulated, or we’re not going to survive the winter. The crop is only enough to last us two, maybe three months, and its going to be at least four before we can start thinking about replanting. Plus, we have no animals to get any kind wool to make extra blankets from. I really don’t know what the locals did. Maybe the goa’uld brought them everything they needed.” She sits at the table opposite me and helps herself to some water.
“Ok, we’ll pack up some gear and head out in the morning. Maybe there’s something here, another village maybe, which can help us?” I stare down at my own wooden mug of water, wishing it was a nice cold bear, before putting it in the sink that I calved and Sam engineered a water supply for and head for bed.
“I’m going to bed, if we’re gonna do this, we’re gonna need enough sleep to ensure we can get out early and have maximum hours of daylight.” She nods her agreement. “Are you coming?”
“Yeah, I’ll be right there.” She smiles.
I head for the bedroom and sit on the bed, take my boots and pants off and get in. These days it’s too cold to sleep in bear feet and I always have slept in a t-shirt. We managed to find a few spare ones lying around and tailored them to our sizes. Sam joins me minutes later carrying a candle carefully in her hands. She places it on the bedside table we had made together (its trickier than it looks you know!) and sheds the appropriate clothing, leaving her dressed to match my own attire, before climbing into bed and wrapping herself in my arms. I breathe in her scent, which is still amazing even after four months on a planet with no showergel or shampoo. She leans over and blows out the candle, whispering a sweet goodnight before we both drift off into a comfortable sleep.
If all of the strength and all of the courage
Come and lift me from this place
I know I could love you much better than this
Full of grace.
Sarah McLanlach – Full of Grace
I wake first, early enough to beat the dawn. Laying in his arms as the sky turns from a deep blue to a colour glowing with the pale yellow of the morning sun, I realise how much this has come to mean to me, how much I need this. I don’t even know if I could sleep without him now. We don’t need kissing and whatnot when looks and his arms say it all. We depend on each other now, and we’ve come to respect and even love each other more for it. I don’t really know why we haven’t crossed that line yet; I guess we just don’t need too.
The sun grows higher and brings with it Jack’s awakening. A small breeze carrying a chill floats through the window and Jack draws me in closer to his chest, protecting his skin from the cold. As he takes a deep breath so close to my neck, it sends a tremor rolling down my spine like an avalanche.
“Morning,” he yawns, releasing me slightly and stretching, then bringing his hand back to rub through his hair. I can't help but smile as I turn to look at him, he’s hair confused as to its rightful place and his eyes still half closed with sleep. He always looks this way in the morning, so innocent and free from the troubles his hectic life exposes him to.
“Morning! We should make a move if you wanna beat the sun today.” He nods and I pat his arm, leaving him to rouse as I roll over and leave the bed. “I’ll make you some breakfast.”
“You’re an angel!” The words are said in a light tone but carry a hidden meaning. I take it at face value for now, its too early for encrypted messages.
Packing up our gear at first light, we move out and head for the mountains, which stretch, ice-covered tips high above the heavy grey, water-laden clouds. A thick white mist hovers above the hills and makes it difficult to see the land it covers. The mist and clouds merge, pierced only by those mountains; you’d have to stand on the shoulders of giants to reach the top. Hours pass with nothing more than mindless chit chat as the last of the summer sun gently heats the land and the mist lifts, condensing and adding to the ominous rain clouds that linger around the sun, threatening to close in on it and engulf it. I begin to wonder if we’ll find anywhere to take shelter before the heavens open and we get a royal soaking.
Before I can even finish this thought, Jack is standing still, hand on to my shoulder, halting me and leading me to follow his gaze. A dark and creepy looking building…no, more of a fortress, looks down on us from its lookout point at the top of a steep slop, filling the area around it with deep shadows. We approach a bit further, but with caution.
“What do you think?” Jack asks as we sit hidden in the gloom the tall walls.
“Seems pretty quiet. I mean, just because it’s a dark and evil looking place doesn’t mean that the people are dark and evil?” I give him my best convincing smile, but he just looks suspicious. “Does it?” I add under my breath, suddenly unsure of the answer myself. Nevertheless we enter the fortress through a large, medieval looking wooden door, which thinking about it, I guess fits in with the rest of the planet, so obviously this isn’t some tourist attraction!
A strange place, dark and ethereal is illumination only by evenly spaced burning torches; wood like poles blazing a deep yellow fire. Eerie shadows creep along the walls and the long corridor echoes with the hum of Latin-like chants. A cold chill runs its icy fingers down my spine; as if a ghost has just walked right though me. The sounds draw nearer and nearer until they seem to be right on top of us.
Feeling the prickling on the back of my neck as the hairs gently rise to stand on end, I turn to see the hooded figures of six creatures rounding the corner at the bottom of the hallway, and watch as they continue their journey towards us. They are dressed in long dark green robes and their hands are concealed in each opposite sleeve. Hoods hang low over their faces so that only their mouths can be seen, and they seem to glide along, like they walk on air.
As they draw closer and their cries fill our minds, a sudden pain shoots through my skull. A pain so strong I fall to the floor clutching my head between my hands. The closer they come, the more intense it gets. When finally they pass (not changing their path and therefore the feet of one passing right through me) seemly not noticing us, it is like every breath is being pulled from my body and I begin to choke for air. They continue, this time fleeing away from us. I put a hand out on the floor to steady myself as my respiratory system craves oxygen. It seems like forever but when they are far enough away again, air rushes back into my lungs making me slightly dizzy as it starts to work on my screaming body.
“What the hell was that?” breathed a heavy voice behind me. Jack
“I have no idea” I just about manage to say, trying to remember how to make words come out of my mouth that sound normal.
“Did you…” he begins, gesturing his hand towards me.
“Feel as though my lungs were on fire?” I finish. He nods. “Yeah.”
“Well, lets not wait around for them to come back. I don’t know about you, but I really like my ability to breath.”
We gather our gear together and head off in no predetermined direction, walking around this maze like place, which quite frankly is giving me the creeps. Jack must have landed on his arm when the ‘monks’ came past, he’s scrunched-up expression when he picks up his bag tells me that much. We find a quiet ‘safe’ place and I take a look at it, my turn to tend to his wounds. It’s broken, his arm that is. I make a make shift sling and splint (which I got the impression he didn’t appreciate very much from he’s yelling of, “ow, damn it woman!” he did however, apologise profusely for this comment, to which I just smiled and said, “Oh that’s ok, wimp.”) My own injuries include bruises (at the very least) and a sore bum (which Jack doesn’t know about, and it’s gonna stay that way.)
Our journey eventually leads us to underground passages, which in turn lead us out the Abbey. Its cold and dark, much like inside. The sound of a large body of water, maybe a sea can be heard close by as it rushes and collides with the shore. The night sky has rushed in with its has moons, lending us a little light to find our way with, the ground is once again sodden where those rain clouds discharged their immense water, and creature’s eyes that appear from no where seem to follow us. I quicken my pace slightly to stay instep with Jack and tighten my grip on the gun in my side pouch. My free hand hangs loosely beside me and once or twice bumps into his leg. I can almost feel him giving me that little look of surprise but comfort and naturalistic ease that accompanies it. He knows I am unsettled, and takes my hand. I never have been a fan of the dark, and especially not when there are castles and hungry animals around! My gun used to bring me comfort when I had to go on watch back in the days… when SG1… oh man, I miss them. Teal’c, Daniel, my dad. Hell, I even miss Janet’s needles!
Sparks fill the chilled night air, and being so dark, we have nowhere to go. We both know we have to go back in there. Back into that place that offers so much in the way of 1950’s horror movie clichés. We don’t have a choice, though you can bet we are damn well gonna avoid those air suckers. Did I just say that? Ok, I have spent way too much alone time with Jack.
We go back into the fortress, following a labyrinth of secret and forgotten about passageways, and eventually find our way into a large room. It’s totally different and out of place to the rest of the fortress. The eeriness and medieval feel is missing, replaced by a clean and untouched, glass room. The ceiling is high, and peeks to a glass dome, that traps the moonlight, splitting its light like a prism, and directing the light beams to the central focus of the room… a stargate. Questions buzz around my head, like why has this place got two gates? Two working gates?
But then everything clears and I’m left with one thought, and it hits me like a ton of bricks. This is our ticket home. Finally, after months, all we have to do is dial seven symbols, and we’re outer here. I look round to Jack, standing still and silent, gazing at the gate with a slight sadness on his face, hidden beneath oar and relief. Does he know what I know, is his heart screaming all of a sudden like mine? If we go home… this, us, is over. We can't have a relationship with the regulations in place. If we go back, can we go back? I know we didn’t cross the line, and I know that we had thought that this might happen, but I didn’t really prepare myself for the prospect of going home and pretending I don’t love him, going back to an empty cold bed, just calling him ‘sir’ again is enough to fracture my heart and break my dreams. I’d prepared myself for the thought it would be him and me from now on, and I liked that thought! I don’t know if I can do it. I don’t know if I can go back to before.
He turns to me, the look on his face matching mine. Without knowing it I must have got my face to mirror my emotions, and wet droplets fall from my eyes. I brush them away and tell him something from my heart. Something I didn’t think I would say but it just comes out.
“Jack, when we get back, marry me?” The words fall out of mouth as if I say them everyday. He moves closer to me and places one hand in mine; suddenly very interested in the way they knit together so perfectly.
“What about SG1?” he doesn’t even look me in the eye as he asks.
“We’ve been gone four months, Jack. They will have replaced us by now, and I’m sure whoever the new 2IC is, is copping just fine. If the SGC still needs me, then I’ll stay on….as a civilian.” I move to get his eyes to meet mine, stepping closer and lifting his face with a lightly placed finger on his rough, unshaven chin. I rest my head to his for a moment before going on, “Jack, being here has made me realise something.”
“Oh? What’s that?”
“I can't live without you anymore. I can't pretend that I don’t love you, that I don’t want you when it’s obvious that I do.”
He’s eyes burn mine, his hands rest on my hips, our bodies are so close, and I swear I can hear his heart beating, or is it mine? They’re the same thing. It’s this drone that is the only sound to fill the room until I prompt him to answer my question.
“Its amazing.” A smile spreads across his face, making me even more confused.
“How much I would give you. Its kinda scary really. Sam, I’ll give you the world, just ask.” he smiles.
“That’s ok, I don’t want the world, well not the kind you mean. You’re my world, Jack. Nothing else matters. Please marry me. I’m asking, no, begging you, please.” I desperately search his face for the answer. His lips curl into a smile and his forehead winkles just a tiny bit as he chuckles.
“Of course I’m going to marry you!” A hand leaves my waist and is on my check in seconds, and then his lips are there too, moving their way steadily to meet my own. I smile as he kisses me, and I drown in all that is he. I am so lost in his kiss, so taken away by the emotion, the relief and happiness of knowing that Jack O’Neill is mine, that I don’t hear them coming.
Our lips part, and almost in slow motion I see him getting further away, moving away from me, his hand grasps mine, but our fingers are sweaty and his hold on me slips away. Noise, there’s a lot of noise, but it’s drowned out as my eyes stay locked on him. The breath in my lungs just disintegrates. Bright yellow shots fire from his weapon; a screaming of a ghostly nature steals more of my precious air. Thunderous beats deafen me as my eyes open and close slowly, trying desperately to keep him in sight. Then I see them. Just dark, swaying cloaks closing in on him, backing him up against the gate. I try to get up and help, but my body won’t let me. There’s a pain, in my neck, something icy and my body is now completely devoid of oxygen. The thunderous beats of my eyes grow slower until they finally come to rest, remaining open, fixed on the one thing I ever truly loved. Jack.
They that love beyond the world
cannot be separated by it.
Death cannot kill
what never dies.
* Jack *
Quickly she’s falling away from me, being pulled by the long claw like fingers of the demon that stands before me. Her face is empty, she doesn’t know what’s happening as he sinks his teeth into her neck and drinks the air from her, leaving her limp and lifeless in his sickly arms that leach night-coloured liquid as stolen oxygen floods their blue, inflamed veins.
I grab my gun, hardly believing only seconds have passed, and start shooting as they close in on me. The bullets have no effect on them, so I change to a zat. Still no effect and they grow closer; so close I feel the breath being taken from me already. Backed up against the gate I do the only thing I can. I hit seven symbols, any, I don’t care, and the as I begin to choke, I hit the orange globe. The gate jumps into action, spitting out a jet of blue water-like material. I duck just time, as the ‘monks’ surrounding me are swallowed by the event horizon.
The last shreds of air being held captive in my lung begins to burn. I fight it off, grabbing the concealed knife from my boot. Blind rage drives me and I charge at the creature standing over her body.
Feeling nothing but a hunger for vengeance and a stony satisfaction, the knife’s clean, cold metal blade sinks into its throat. The screams of previous victims are released as black blood falls from the gash. The animal lays limp on the floor, dissolving from the acid effects of its own bleeding. In seconds it is nothing more than a pile of robes and dust.
I look down at Sam. No air is drawn into her body, and no attempt is made by her heart to beat. I fall to my knees beside her, releasing my vice-like grip on the knife and letting it fall from my red hands. Air floods me, and so does emotion. Her eyes are open and fixed on no particular point. Her face is pale and her lips blue. Dark red blood leaks from her neck where his tooth had been, and is heavily contrast on its snow white canvas. I touch her hand. It’s still warm. Suddenly I fall back into military mode and push aside all the pain I feel.
I lift her head back gently and check that her air ways have not been obstructed by the bite. They are clear, so begin CPR, breathing for her, and massaging her heart to try and kick start it again. But the more I try the more I fear she won’t wake up.
“Come on Sam. Don’t you dare die on me! Not now!” I beat her chest. I think I might be hurting her ribs, maybe even breaking them under the force of my determination not to lose her. But I was always told in training, ‘broken ribs can be fixed’.
“COME ON! Please, Sam.” I shout, before again blowing air into her mouth, emptying my own lungs to fill hers. Her chest rises, and falls again as the air leaves without effect. Pumping her heart three more times, and then repeating as before, her chest raises again. But this time it stays risen. Choking as her borrowed oxygen mixes with her body’s own attempt to breathe its own, her eyes blink.
My fingers are at her neck instantly. She has a plus, all be it weak. I lean down over her and kiss her head lightly, before realising its wet. Tears from my own eyes.
“You had me worried for a minute there!”
A frail smile crosses her lips. “Sorry” she whispers.
Wanting to pull her up, hold her in my arms and not let go, but knowing she needs space to recover, I squeeze her hand reassuringly and move over to the gate. I dial home, and send the signal telling them it’s us.
Minutes later and I am once again standing on the metal ramp, facing a room of armed guards, gun barrels pointing at me and the woman lying in my arms, clinging on to life by a thread. General Hammond orders the men to stand down and the concerned faces of Daniel and Teal’c greet us at the bottom of the walk way.
I feel the blood from Sam’s wound begin to soak through my clothing and I begin to panic. Her head, which I made sure was near my neck so that I could fell her breath, falls limp once more as she loses consciousness. The General doesn’t need me to tell him, in a second he is ordering a medical team to the gate room. Within seconds a full medical team is swarming into the gate room.
“Help her” I beg.
They take her from me and rush her to the infirmary, starting CPR once again. I hadn’t realised she had stopped breathing again. I go to follow but am stopped by a confident by sympathetic hand on my shoulder.
“Let them do their job’s, son.” General Hammond. I turn to face him, my head spinning from the emotion and distress of the last ten minutes. That’s all! Ten minutes and the greatest thing in my life, the most important person and the only one, who could make me feel like… like I used to feel, like I never thought I’d feel again, could be gone. Ten damn minutes.
“Sir.” I respond with a suddenly very dry mouth, so the words crock out, scratching the sides on their way. As an after thought I add, “It’s good to be home.” Which is matched with an, ‘its good to have you home’, but I’m already walking away. I walk at a fast pace, not wanting questions right now. I quickly find my way around the base again, and head straight for the water cooler in the briefing room. I down several cups before I can feel remotely alive again.
“Jack. What happened?” The question I knew was coming, and the very same question I don’t want and probably can’t answer right now. I place the cup on the mighty wooden table and rub a hand over my tried and slightly irritated face, feeling the stubble of having neglected shaving for over a month; the razor in my kit had gone blunt and left me with no other option.
“You know, its funny,” I reminisce with a sad, old voice, “it bugged her at first; the stubble I mean. But she got used to it, the feel of it on her skin, on her neck and back when she slept in my arms. She said it was nice sometimes, when it would tickle.”
Daniels eyebrows knit together and a frown spreads across his face. He doesn’t understand, probably doesn’t even know what I’m talking about.
“Whilst we were on that planet Daniel, we had no one else. After a few months we gave up hope of being found, and we made arrangements. Look, why beat around the bush, you know Sam and I have feelings for one another, the whole base knows I’ve no doubt. We grew closer and…” its no good. Talking about her like this drives the nail in my heart in even deeper. How could this have happened, how and why when we were so close to happiness?
Before he can say anything, I leave the room, brushing past him on the way. I need air and I need something to stop my damn eyes from itching. I try and convince myself that it’s the change in planet that’s making them sore, but I can't fool myself that easily. Something inside me feels empty and cold. I know, I just know that she’s gone; I can't feel her here anymore. I used to be able to just know when she was near me; I’d get that feeling like I was being watched, like a million butterflies were dancing on my skin. So when Janet brings the news, the usual ‘I’m so sorry,’ ‘I tried everything I could’ ‘she’s gone’ speech, I am left hollow. I sit in the cool night air and look up as the stars litter the black curtain draped across the horizon. The stars that once meant so much to me, brought me out of a world of suffering and killing to put me at peace now seem to taunt me. Sitting up there, so high and mighty, controlling the fate of the lives of the people below. Taking away loved ones in the blink of an eye. How could he? If there is a God, how could he do this to me? I have lost my chance at happiness thrice, each time stolen from me prematurely.
I run from the base, not stopping or looking back for anyone. I need to get away, somewhere I can do that thing I usually try and hide from. Think things through. I tell Janet that under no circumstances is she to do anything with the body. That I needed a few hours before I could say goodbye, and I wanted her to still be there when I was ready.
But inside I know the truth, I need to fix this. I need her back. I’m not ready and never will be to say goodbye.
Light pours forth on blinded eyes.
I face the truth of my demise.
I'll not resist, though pain is strong -
The ending notes of one last song.
Deprived of thought, my mind is numb.
At last this final day has come.
The hand of death wraps 'round my throat
As devils cloaked in sorrow float
Around my body, scorched by sin,
But I won't let the demons in.
The image of your face appears.
I cannot wipe away your tears.
They fall so gently to the ground
And say so much yet make no sound.
I reach out toward the brilliant sky.
I've lived enough. Now let me die.
Numb is all I feel. This can't be happening. I can't bring myself to go and she her, coz that would make it real, make it final. I don’t want to believe it, not yet. I want to pretend I’ll walk into her lab and there she’ll be, playing with some new doohicky and nothing will have happened. Everything will be fine again. I’d take back the last four months in a heartbeat just to see her smile again.
I drove home, stopping only for a six-pack of bear and TV dinner, not that I feel like eating, but I promised Janet. Walking through my door, I’m surprised how musty it smells, and how quickly the spiders made themselves at home the seconds my back was turned. My belongings are boxed up; the guys didn’t know what else to do with them. They’d drop by once a week at different times to make sure no one was helping themselves to my stuff, but they thought it best to pack things up, just in case we didn’t come back. I’m sure if I should be grateful or annoyed.
I enter the kitchen, pull the box from the bag, dig into it and pull out a bear, leaving everything else where it is and heading for the front room to plant myself on the sheet-covered sofa. I feel myself sitting on something- the hifi remote. I hit the play button; some nice easy jazz comes on. Norah Jones, I must have left the CD in there months ago. I’ve been a fan of jazz since I was a kid. I close my eyes, taking a long drag on my painkiller for the night as I see her face, her hands, and her body. Feel her skin, hear her voice. She should be here. We should be sitting here now together, eating pizza and her teasing me over buying this album, when really she was glad we’d be living together from now on, coz otherwise she’d have to get her own copy.
The song finishes and the next comes on. Two lines are as loud as thunder in my head; ‘I can't help myself, I’ve got too see you again’. Tears sting! They really cut like knives sometimes. I thought when Charlie died; I thought that I’d never feel pain like that again. Too lose your child is like losing part of your own flesh, like someone has cut your heart out and throw it against a wall, and you watch, helpless as it slowly slides down, leaving a trail of blood behind it, too land in a heap on the floor. This is just exactly like that. A part of me has died, and it’s a part I can't live without.
“Jack?” my eyes are open in a flash. Sam. Standing right there, in front of me. For a second, I forget everything and stand up, moving to hold her close, but she’s gone. Her body that was right there, so real I could smell her perfume just vanishes in a mist and I’m left standing, reaching out to touch an elusion. I can't explain it but a sudden wave of anger and frustration rushes over me. I throw my bear, which collides with the wall, smashing into a shower of glass and alcohol, landing on the carpet and leaving a stain. I can't sit here anymore. I can't be in this house that should have been ours, watching ghosts haunt me. I have to do something to get her back.
Within an hour I’m back at the base, demanding to see Hammond. I explain to him that I have to do something; he, of course, tries to convince me that she’s gone to a better place, that I have to sit back and take it, but I can't accept that. I won’t!
“If you won’t do it for me, do it for Sam. She’s your goddaughter for crying out loud. She’s so young, sir, don’t you think she deserves more of a life than she’s had so far? Don’t you think she should have known love, happiness, before she leaves? General, please!”
“God damn it, I know Jack! But you think I can just give you permission to go bringing people back from the dead? That’s something that only one man has the right to do, and it’s not me, son!”
I rub an irritated hand over my face, paying particular attention to my eyes, damming the river that’s about to flow. I sallow hard and tell him the cold hard truth, hoping that it will be enough to make him understand.
“General, Sam and I were going to be married. She asked me just before…” I can't say it. “Look, just let me use the gate, please. If you don’t, you can tell the grave digger he’ll be getting some more work real soon!” his eyes widen in shock, or is it disbelief, no, he knows I’d do it. He closes his eyes for a second, digesting my words. Sighing sadly, he gives me his consent with a small nod of his head, adding a few words as I leave.
“Be careful, Jack. You’re medalling with a powerful force now.” I nod and almost run to see Daniel. If anyone knows whom I have to talk to, it’s him.
“Well, there’s the Nox. We know first hand that they can revive their dead. But I don’t think they like to interfere if the person has been dead for over a certain amount of time, something to do with irreparable damage. Besides, while you were gone, they had to move and they haven’t contacted us with their new address yet. We expect it any day now.”
“Well, then I guess there out, who else?”
Daniels face had been priceless when I told him everything. He agreed to help me, although he didn’t agree with what I was doing, or so he said. It’ll be different when she’s back. He’ll be glad.
“Well, we haven’t got a sarcophagus and getting one would be too risky, the General would never go for it. The Tok’ra, but I’m not sure if they can actually bring people back from the dead? I mean, they can heal, but can they revive? We’ve recently met a new race, they have the ability, or so they say, to ask the gods to grant life. They are pagans, or like them any way and worship the sun and moon. We have a good relationship with them.”
“Sounds good, let’s go.”
“Why are you doing this? I loved her too but and I see why you don’t wanna lose that, but she’s gone, can’t you let her rest in piece?”
“Daniel, did you ever feel like you’d rather put a gun to your head than spend another day without the only person capable of giving you a reason to breath. The only person who you look at and know that they’re everything to you, they’re you world?”
“Yeah.” He says sadly, looking at the photograph of his wife on his desk before picking up the folder on this new race and saying “let’s go.”
It took a couple of days and some long sleepless nights but the arrangements I made with Jasper paid off. He held up his end of the bargain, and I had managed to convince Hammond that this is a good idea. Daniel did a little research and couldn’t find any reason why we shouldn’t give it a go. Ok, it could be a bit risky, but what’s the worst that could happen? I’m just glad I didn’t have to go behind their backs after all. To be honest, I don’t even know if I could have managed without there help.
Sam’s body, which had been laying the morgue the past few days while her funeral arrangements were being attended to, is clothed in a long white dress that matches her skin in shade. Rigor mortis staked its claim over a day ago, and so as I lifted her lifeless, cold body, her limbs were stubborn to fall into a comfortable carrying position. I felt ailing when I first saw her. After throwing up in the men’s room I managed to pull myself together, but the sight of her is still ghostly.
As we step through the gate, we are greeted by night and a full moon. Jasper awaits us and leads us to a stone monument, very much like Stonehenge on Earth. Daniel said that from what he could tell, these people had descended from early age Celts, and may even hold the key to a question that has plagued archaeologists for years; ‘what’s the purpose of Stonehenge?’ right now I don’t give a damn, I just want Sam back.
I place her body on a stone alter, and step away as several fairy like creatures approach. They have unkept hair in colours of red and gold and wear long white and green robes. Two women begin to work on her, mixing powders and herbs in blows whilst whispering chants. Some kind of symbol is marked on her forehead in a mixture of blood and ash. Jasper comes to my side to translate the happenings.
“You must wear your hood, O’Neill, only the head of the subject may be borne.” I do as he says and place the hood of the navy blue cloak over my head.
“What are they doing?” I ask as they busily light candles and say more chants.
“First they light the candles, to sanctify the space. They anoint their heads and purify the area, ringing a bell to cast off unclean spirits. They will now light the guardian angel candle.” He whispers as I catch part of the prayer they say whilst turning to each direction and light a candle, each a different colour. “This is a time that is not a time, in a place, that is not a place, on a day that is not a day - - I stand at the threshold between the worlds. Before the veil of mysteries. Universal Light, Circle Nigh, Bring my Guardian Angel by. Silver wings about me protect, all negative energy they will deflect. Guardian Angel, I call thee here, to vanquish any doubt or fear. Together now, I work with thee, as God wills, so mote it be.” Is spoken into the night and lost on the breeze.
As the service goes on, herbs of allspice, angelica, bay, burdock and caraway or spread on her body, giving off a powerful scent. An oil mixture of carrier oil, rosemary, juniper and sandalwood is added to a pool, in which she is then placed to float on the surface. Large stones, bloodstone, hematite, green tourmaline, amethyst and citrine are placed on the seven focal points of the body, so Jasper says. Like a protective father I demanded to know what everything was and why it was happening. A stone is placed on her head, between the eyes, on her heart, her wrists and ankles. More prayers are said, more rituals acted out as the night gets later and later, and I begin to feel I have been given a false hope. Cruelly lied too.
But then something happens. As the sun now begins to rise and crosses paths with the largest moon, the rays intermingle and create a colour like no other I have seen before. Pinks, gold’s, blues, whites and oranges fill the land with such a glow that I think this must be what heaven looks like. The glow reaches out and touches Sam, making her look like a sleeping angel. Her body lifts from its pedestal and levitates metres above the ground, the glow now encircling her completely. The stones fall away as her head drops back, lifting her chest higher to the sky. This last for minutes until the sun and moon part once more, and she falls to the ground with a thud. There’s not a signal movement. Her head is hidden under her garments. Finally, I can take it no more; I have to know if it worked. Stepping forward, a strong hand on my shoulder stops me, and instead a priestess goes to her side, lifting away her garments to reveal Sam’s face.
A face whose eyes are now open and looking around, whose lips draw breath once more. Relief floods though my veins with such a force I feel dizzy. I have her back. I have my salvation back. I feel I have been given back a million tomorrows where before I only saw none. Running to her side as soon as the hand on my shoulder leaves, I remove my hood to look at her properly.
I stand before her, a cold chill washing away the relief. Something’s not right. The grey colouring of her skin, the dull pink and blue of her lips, torn by crimson ribbons spilling only the smallest amount of blood and the ghostly shadows under her eyes are to be expected, I suppose, from someone who has been dead and walked the afterlife for more than a day. But that she makes no attempt to stand or speak, that her fingers twitch at her sides and her eyes fill with fear, diluting at the brightness of the morning sun, and simmering beneath salt water pools, each tear fighting to escape until the first succeeds and runs a path away from her eyes and down her skin, landing gently beside her ear, that she may be breathing once more, but not here, not truly alive again, the possibility begins to dawn on me. At least with the Nox, or the use of a sarcophagus, she would have been completely healed. If this hasn’t worked, if I’ve brought her back only to suffer…if I have to loose her again… oh god, what have I done?
like shadows o'er the sun
staring out like the eyes of the dead
and sometimes my soul flickers
when the wind of change blows cold
Tears land beside me with such force; hitting the cold hard stone I lay on, sending the sound of gunshots crying out in silent still air, pounding through my sore head. The surface beneath me is hard and uncomfortable and stones dig into my back. All my efforts become focused on moving, just enough to un-lodge the stones, but I can not.
I close my eyes, focusing on clearing the fog in my mind before concentrating on lifting my arm. I can’t do that; whether I just don’t have the strength or I am restrained I don’t know. I try and move my legs, and still the same hindrance presents itself. I try to speak, to ask one of the many faces around me to help, release me, but I can't find the words, I can't find my voice, lost somewhere in the mists of the vortex that is spinning in my mind.
Panic seeps into my skin and begins a slow crawl along my veins, and my heart begins to beat fast, its pace only saved from quickening even more by the fact that I can still turn my head; at least I have control over that part of my body.
His face is the first thing I see, high above me like some kind of divinity. I know him, I know him well. Something inside of me is screaming this fact into every cell, every inch of my structure. There’s something in his eyes, some kind of fusion of emotion swimming in dark brown rivulets, fighting just to stay afloat and his eye lids act as dams against the cascade of tears.
My own tears quicken their descent as I remember, remember and ache even more. I wish I could scream. I wish I could get up, throw myself into his arms and feel his skin, skin I love as my own, beneath my touch. I want to tell him I’m ok, that it’s all right. I was taken by the arm and lead back to this earth, before I finished my journey, but I don’t mind. Something, some voice said it wasn’t my time to go, and that’s why this worked. I knew Jack wouldn’t accept my death, that he would do anything in his power to change my fate, it’s a burning passion inside of him, you can see it, just beneath his shell, he is so afraid of losing someone else. I guess that’s why I’m back. But why can't I move, or speak, and why does he look so melancholy? Nothing makes sense as my head pounds harder.
He lays a hesitant hand on my arm. My eyes lock on to his touch, its colour merging with my own. My eyes sting and a fresh wave of hot tears fall each track the last tumbling down my check, landing next to my ear with a thunderous outcry.
I can't feel it. His touching me, I can see it, unless my eyes are under some kind of spell? No, his hand is on my arm, in full contact and I cannot feel it. I look down to my wrists. I am not in binds; I am free and yet pinned by an invisible force; my own body is giving out on me. My mind has returned to live out a little longer, but my composition apparently doesn’t want to play ball.
Taken fully into his arms, he carries me the distance to the gate, refusing to let Teal’c take my burden for a while, he carries me through the gate, still not letting me go until he finally places he on the rough nylon green and white sheets of the infirmary. His hands slip from beneath me, and he steps back letting Janet have access, all the while our eyes never looking to any thing other than their parallel pair. Nothing can detach me from his gaze, not busy questions, not needles, or lights shined into my eyes. I am numb to everything but his spirit standing just yards from me, watching over me like a guardian angel, waiting to take me by the hand and lead me away.
An age passes before we are finally left alone. He sits next to me in the darkened room, the light beside my bed being the only source of illumination. Running a hand over my forehead, brushing away my hair that grew surprisingly fast over four months, he lays a kiss on my warm skin. I thank god I can at least feel this, I would go crazy if I couldn’t. But anything from the neck down… nothing.
“It’s gonna be ok, ya know. I know it may not seem like it now, but I promise you, whatever it takes, you’ll get better. Janet thinks that this is only a temporary side affect from your brain being out of it for so long, or something like that, you know this isn’t my thing…science I mean.” He makes a small coughing noise and begins to fiddle with the blanket that covers me, picking at bits of frayed material. His hand moves to mine and he squeezes it, so hard his knuckles turn white.
“Oh, hey, I got you something.” He digs into his pocket and produces a small glinting ring, “I don’t know if you remember this, but just before…well, before it happened, we agreed to get married. I don’t know…blink if you remember?” I blink. I remember, I remember it vividly. “In that case, will you ware this ring? As a sign of hope, as an incentive to get back on your feet, so you can walk down that isle, as something to remember that I love you, no matter what happens.” I can only smile and nod silently as he slides it on to my finger. He doesn’t leave me, not for a second in the night. I couldn’t find sleep, or sleep couldn’t find me for the entire time the moon reined in the sky. I guess I’d had too much sleep recently anyway. They say its good for the skin, but I guess death is just not as refreshing, as my lips are dry and torn, and my skin only begins to return to a normal colour hours after my rebirth.
It’s going to be a long, and I dare say bumpy road, but perhaps I can make it. I guess time will tell.
Sometimes I’m glad for my lack of sensation. The several million needles Janet keeps prodding me with don’t hurt if you can’t feel where she’s sticking them. As days pass I feel nothing more than frustration and longing. I just want to get out of this bed, I am sick of staring at the ceiling, and I am sick of being spoken to like I am deaf. I’m not! I can hear perfectly well. No one means too, but it’s like talking to someone with a different tongue, you automatically shout, thinking they will understand you if you raise your voice.
The worst frustration of all its not being able to speak, to tell Jack to go home and get some sleep, coz he’s face is starting to sag and all the coffee he’s been drinking has put him in a range of strange moods, and I’m not the only one its driving crazy.
They pump me full of drugs, hook me up to machines, run test after test, and I see that hopeful look in the nurses eye dieing the longer this goes on without change. I am beginning to get angry with myself. It’s been a week now, and its so degrading not being able to even feed yourself. Being spoon feed by the people you love is something I never thought I would have to go through, not in my late 30’s anyway.
“Hello beautiful” my eyes shift right as I hear a voice I recognise, one I haven’t heard for a while.
“I turn my back for five minutes and look at the state you get yourself into!” I smile as dad pulls up a chair from near by and sits down. Taking my hand, is head stays low, hiding his face. He does that when he’s upset. When I was 12 I had an accident, fell of my bike and got knocked unconscious. I woke up in a hospital bed with the same man before me, baring the same expression. Fear. Worry.
He rubs a hand over his face and looks up to meet my eyes.
“Selmac might be able to help. I’ve already talked to Gorge. I am going to try healing you.” He sighs in anger “If Jack had come to me in the first place maybe we could have spared you this.” He says. I am left not knowing what he means by that. He would have given up, talked Jack out of it and let his only daughter be laid to rest next to his wife, or he would have joined forces and somehow got a sarcophagus?
“Well, there’s no time like the present I guess. I’ll be back soon sweetie” he kisses me on the head and leaves in search of the healing device we keep on base. 10 minutes later Jack, Janet, and dad are gathered around my bed.
The glowing device is held above me and I feel the warmth as the beam runs over my skin and into my blood. Its feels good, I feel good. I feel the strength slowly return to me, and I can once again recognise my legs and arms. But as the beam moves higher, to my neck, a sudden pain, unlike any I have felt in a long time stings me. Still unable to scream, I scrunch my face up, and water fills my eyes as a reflex. My hands string into life, working once more and following my command telling them to push the healer away.
“What is it? What’s wrong?” Janet checks all the machines I am plugged into, the cardiac monitor screaming high frequency bleeps as my heart races.
“I don’t know” her voice has a note of panic in it. Noting the point of my pain, she turns to examine my neck.
“Oh my god!” That’s not the best thing to say to your patient. I clench my fists as more pain moves through my neck, and I can feel something leech from the wound that had healed and is obviously now being split open again.
“What?” Jack almost shouts, moving to the other side of my bed to take a look. As soon as his eyes lock on it his face turns pale, he looks as though he’s seen a ghost. “Jeez.” Is the only word to leave his lips.
“Ok, I need to take a sample of this, and I want an x-ray, an EKG and an EEG, stat! Its ok Sam, you’re going to be ok.”
I wish people would stop saying that.
when it seems as if your end is drawing near
Don't you dare give up the fight
Just put your trust beyond the sky...
A sample of the eerily similar black blood now escaping from Sam’s neck is taken before she is rushed off for more tests. I go with her as they take her to the hospital designed only for top secret programmes such as the Stargate. The ride there is short, especially in the speeding ambulance. Despite warnings from Janet that the substance could be toxic, I don’t hesitate in holding on to Sam’s hand. I can see fear in her eyes, and I’m not going to scar her more by treating her like some kind of freak. However, I am forced to wear a protective mask.
As soon as we arrive, Jacob and I are left standing in the corridor as she is taken straight into x-ray. I can do nothing but wait now.
“You stupid son of a bitch!”
“What?” out of no where I am suddenly nursing a pain in the back of my head as it collides with a wall, Jacobs hands at my throat. A look occupies his face, one of utter disgust and desperation.
“Do you realise what you have done? DO YOU? My daughter is in there, and something unnatural is happening to her, and you know what I think. I think its your fault.”
“Jac…” Before I can finish he slams me into the wall again. I could push him away, but the worry and sleepless nights have caused the strength to ebb from my body and I am left frozen by the blow.
“You had better pray that she makes it, or… I can’t be held responsible for my actions, is that clear?”
“Crystal.” I choke. He releases his hold on me and I rub my sore neck. I think about responding but the man is still racked with rage, so I head for the coffee machine at the other end of the corridor.
Looking at my watch for the tenth time in five minutes, I begin to pace. How longs it take to run a few tests anyway?
“Colonel’s” Janet emerges out of a near by room, carrying a clip broad.
“What’s going on Doc?” I ask
“Well, Sam has had several tests done, which have taken their toll on her somewhat. She’s resting now and I want it to stay that way, so no visiting for at least a couple of hours.”
“Any news on what that stuff was?” Jacob asks
“From what we can tell, it is slightly acidic to humans, having a PH of around 9. It appears to carry the characteristics of blood, which would make sense, Colonel; you said something similar came out of the creatures that bit Sam.”
“So when it bit her, it somehow transferred some of its blood into her?” I question
“That’s the interesting bit. Come with me.” Leading us down the corridor into a near by vacant office, she places her clip board on the desk and activated the lighted panel, placing Sam’s X-ray on it. Immediately I can see the dark object in her neck.
“What is it?” Jacob asks
“A tooth. But it’s not a normal tooth. Where is disengaged with the creature, the nerve cells came with it. It’s in her neck, and has sunk into her CNS.”
I throw a questioning look.
“Central nervous system. It’s where all your nervous impulses and reactions are controlled and activates. The lower part of the spin deals with involuntary responses, like the knee jerk reflex; when someone hits the right spot on the knee and your leg kicks up, but the part this has affected is higher up, and therefore in the part that deals with controlled responses, like breaking if a child runs out in front of your car.”
“Doc!” I grow inpatient with her long explainations.
“Basically, the signals going to her brain are being interrupted by this tooth. And that’s not all. The tooth was starting to decay, bacteria residue shows that, but I believe the ritual those pagans preformed not only ‘healed’ Sam, but healed the nerves on the tooth. It appears to be ‘bleeding’ for want of a better term. The blood is mixing with Sam’s and her white blood cells are picking up on it and trying to fight it, but the acid is poisoning the cells.”
“Meaning her white blood cell count is very low. She has no feeling is her body because of the location of the tooth, but she does still have lower reflexes. Her voice is gone because the area is swollen and putting pressure on her larynx.”
“So what happens now? Can you remove it?” Jacob asks, standing incredibly still while I fidget.
“I have talked to the General and he has given me permission to bring in anyone I need. I have called a Dr. Murphy, a throat specialist, Dr. James, a leading brain surgeon and Dr. Perkins, who specialises in the nervous system. They’re the best in what they do. The operation is going to be long and complex and given the symptoms I can’t grantee that she’ll make a full recovery, or even survive the operation. I’ll do my best for her, you know that.”
“Yeah, Thanks Doctor.”
No one knows what to say, so we just stand in silence. Awoken by the harsh beeping of Jacob Tok’ra communications device concealed in his civvies, he steps to one side and takes the ‘call’.
“Colonel, can I have a quick word?” Janet almost whispers.
“Sure” we step outside into the busy corridor once again.
“Jack, I heard that you and Sam were….are getting married.”
“Yeah, as soon as she better.” Janet nods and smiles slightly.
“I just wanted to warn you, if she makes it through this, her voice wont come back straight away, she’ll have to have couching, and she’ll need physiotherapy to regain her strength and confidence in her muscles. She’ll need to live with someone 24/7.”
“Yeah, she’ll move into to my place.”
“Ok, well then you’ll need to make some arrangements. I don’t want to jump the gun to much here, so I think we’ll talk more about those after the surgery providing everything goes to plan.”
“Which it will.” I add, forcing the hope not to be stunted by Janet’s use of past tense a moment a go. Sam will make it. She’s strong. She can beat this.
The sound of the door opening causes us both to look up. Jacob appears in the frame, an annoyed and resigned look playing on his features.
“The Tok’ra high council need me back on a matter of urgent business. I have to go. Look, Doctor, can I just see Sam for five minutes, say goodb… see ya later?”
Sighing Janet nods, “But don’t wake her up!” Jacob says his thanks and heads down the hall towards Sam’s room.
“When’s she booked in for the opp?”
“We are flying the surgeons out tonight, but I don’t want them jet lagged when they are in that room, so we will operate tomorrow afternoon. Until then I want to keep her as rested as possible. I will give her some pain killers and other meds to help her white blood cells. This is going to be a bumpy ride Jack, for both of you. Let’s just hope the big guy upstairs is looking out for her.” She places a reassuring hand on my shoulder and walks past me, adding as an after thought, “Get some rest, you’re going to need it.”
I am left standing in the hall away alone as nurses and doctors rush past me. I rub a tired hand over my even more weary face and unabashedly yawn. It’s been a long couple of days; in fact, it’s been a long few months. Looking in the window as I pass, I see my sleeping fiancé and am satisfied that she is being looked after. I leave the hospital and grab a taxi home, climbing into a hot bath and having a good shave before hitting the sac at 2:30am. Sleep isn’t as hard to find as I thought it would be, washing over me and over powering my mind, taking me into a much needed deep rest.
“Feelings are not supposed to be logical. Dangerous is a man who has rationalised is emotions.”
The morning passes, nurses pop in and out checking her stats with fake smiles on their faces. There's no point denying it, she's sick. I do my best to keep her mind off of the approaching operation, talking to her about this and that. Daniel and Teal'c came in earlier and stayed a while, wished her luck in the form of a huge bunch of flowers and balloons. Teal'c carry those did out a smile on her face!
Reading out loud the tail of Bilbo Baggins, I am interrupted by the arrival of Janet and the other doctors who will be working there magic on Sam. We are introduced and told about the procedure but to be honest I'd be less worried if I didn't know the details. I am sent out while she prepared, anesthetised, cleaned up, etc. when I return she is wearing hospital pyjamas and has a cap on to ensure her hair stays out of the way. I am made to wear a mask and gown so that I don't contaminate her.
"Hey. You look sleepy, but I'd be worried if you didn't!" I say nervously. I bend down and touch her cheek with a gloved finger. "I'll be right out here the whole time, promise. I'll see you soon, ok. Just do me one favour, whatever happens in there, don't give up. You're strong, you can beat this. I love you." I go to lay a kiss on her forehead but remember my mask. Looking at Janet she reads my expression and gives me a nod, I remove the mask and lightly kiss her slightly hot skin. When I look back to meet her eyes, they are firmly closed, a sign her anaesthetic is completely working now. They wheel her away into the theatre and I am left standing alone in her room.
"Hey." I look up and see Daniels concerned face staring down at me. I acknowledge his presence with a slight nod, and then go back to my detailed scrutiny of the floor, my hands fidgeting idly in my lap.
"How long has she been in there?" he asks sitting down next to me and handing me a coffee.
I look at my watch before taking the offered beverage. "Four hours."
We sit in silence for a moment; the only sound is that of footsteps and gentle sipping of a hot drink.
"Jacob checked in. He said that he would be back tomorrow with any luck, but he has to go on a mission that he's been working on for months. No one else can go without arising suspicion, and with the current situation they can’t afford for that to happen."
"Current situation?" I question, glad of the distraction.
"Oh yeah, you don’t know. While you and Sam where missing, the Tok'ra suffered a big blow from Anubus. They had a large undercover operation, and I mean large. 250 guys went in posing as converters. Only one really did convert and by the time the others found out they'd been betrayed, it was too late to get them all outta there. 50 made it, but now the gau’ald know about them. They have to lay low for a while."
"Jeez." I answer with only mild ore. I guess I should be a little more concerned, but I just haven’t got room for the emotion too. Again we sink into silence. I sit back and lay my head again the cream coloured wall and let out a sigh.
"Don't worry Jack. No news is good news. You know if ya wanna talk..."
"I wouldn’t know what to say, but thanks anyway." I smile briefly. I just wish i knew that she was ok, that the op was going ok. I can’t stand not knowing.
"The tooth is tangled up in arteries. Ah, I can’t see what I'm doing, I need suction here." The surgeon instructs the nurse to remove the blood obstructing his view.
"That’s better. What are her stats?"
"Pulse is stable, BP is 120 over 90." Janet answers
"How many units is she on?"
"She's had two." she answers referring to how many pints of blood Sam has had.
"Ok, I want 5 prepped. I'm going to start removing the tooth."
"Arh! I can’t stand this!" I almost yell, rubbing a hand over my face and through my hair. I stand up and begin to pace. "Someone must be able to tell me something" I begin walking around peering round corners looking for doctors or nurses. Typical, there where loads of them a while ago.
"Calm down. I'm sure someone will come and talk to us soon." Danny tries to get me to sit back down. It’s at times like this I wish I still smoked! I could do with a drag right now.
A nurse walks past and I grab her, "Excuse me, can you find out how Samantha Carter is doing please. She’s in surgery at the moment, and it’s been six hours now."
"Ok, I'll see what I can do" she smiles and wanders off towards the nurse’s station.
"Thanks." I call after her.
"Shit! I've hit a vessel. I need suction in here now, and get those blood units in here and ready to go now. She’s loosing blood fast. How’s her BP doing?"
"Pressure's dropping." Janet shouts.
"Ok, let’s not lose it people. No one dies on my table major Carter!"
"She's going critical. I'm going to start external massage." Janet says urgently as the machine monitoring Sam's heartbeat and blood pressure yells at her. She begins massaging Sam’s heart.
"Erm, we have a couple of men wanting a progress report, but..."
"Now’s not a good time, nurse." the surgeon shouts. "Someone turn that damn machine off, it’s distracting me. Any change in her stats yet?"
"She's stabilising again, but she’s lost a lot of blood. I've attached another unit but we're going to have to move fast."
"Ok, you heard the lady, let’s get this done."
"I'll go and talk to Colonel O'Neill." A blonde nurse taking notes volunteers.
"Hi there, Colonel?" A nurse approaches me and I practically jump out of my seat.
"Yeah, how is she doing, and why is it taking so long, is she ok?" I ask in a voice I almost don’t recognise as my own
"Whoa! One question at a time."
"Its ok, I know you must be very worried. In answer to your questions, she's doing well. We just had a bit of an incident but she pulled through and we have her stabilised again..."
"What kind of an incident?" Daniel asks
"We started removing the tooth just over an hour ago, but as you know it’s in a very difficult area. We have to be careful not to cause more or permanent damage to her CNS. An artery was cut by accident whilst trying to avoid this, but like I said, we have it under control." Daniel sits down and puts he's head in his hands.
"Look, she's young and strong. We have the best people in there. Please try not to worry. As long as there are no more complications we should have her out of there in another hour or so." The nurse tries to reassure us.
"I'd better get back. Is there anything else before I go back into scrubs?" She asks
"Err, look... just... look after her ok. She's very...very important." I stumble over my words. "Thanks, by the way." I add as I turn and start walking towards the exit, I need some fresh air to replace the stale disease riddled air in the hospital.
Outside the cold November rain washes over me, and I am glad of the refreshment. I stand in the parking lot watching the army ambulances going past, and the guards parading the grounds. Soaked through to the bone I don’t notice the winter air turning the wet on my clothing to a chilling icy suit of armour around me until a breeze sends a shiver down my spine. I take a deep breath and look up at the night sky, remembering the night the rain drove us inside once before. If only we hadn’t gone back, if only we'd stayed on that planet. None of this would be happening.
If I could turn back the clock, I would go back to that night, and I would make damn sure that we didn’t go anywhere near that place. No, more than that, I would go back further, to the day that feisty young Captain walked in, dressed in her official uniform and carrying that ‘I don’t take shit from no one, not even superior officers’ attitude. I’d make more effort to make friends, and not be so quick to judge her by the scientist title. But its all ‘if’s’ and I know I can never go back. I have to live in the here and now, and right now she is in there having this operation, and I should be in there for her.
And so I turn my back on the rain, and go back inside to pace, drink coffee and try and stay calm. The hardest thing about this is that it’s out of my control. I can’t do anything to help; I just have to trust her life in their hands, and hope to god that they don’t abuse that trust.
“Jack, I didn’t know what else to do, so I got you a sandwich. I figured you’d need food by now, you haven’t eaten since she went in there.” Thank god for Daniel. He hands me the sandwich and although I don’t feel like eating, it scars me that I can’t remember the last time I ate.
“Thanks” I tuck in purely because I know my body needs it, not because I really want it.
“Any news?” He asks
“Nope.” I respond. But just as I am about to go in search of it, it comes to me, in the form of a jaded looking Doctor.
“Janet? How is she?” Daniel beats me too it.
“Well, the operation is over now. We got the entire tooth out as far as we can tell. We had a couple of complications, but she has been stabilised now, and we’ll keep a close eye on her. She lost a lot of blood unfortunately, but we have her on a transfusion at the moment to make up for what she lost. It might actually be a blessing in disguise, whatever that thing was pumping into her will have hopefully been lost with the blood. It might give her body a chance to fight back before it starts multiplying again.”
“Is there anything you can do to stop that happening?” I ask
“We are giving her the strongest antibiotics we have. Hopefully they will help. I have take sample I took, so I will go and take a closer look at that, do some tests and see if I can find anything to stop it. In the mean time, she is still sleeping from the anaesthetic. They have her in the ICU. Now I don’t want you to be shocked when you go in, so I’ll tell you what to expect.”
“Ok” I nod.
“Like I said, she’s hocked up and having a blood transfusion, she is on several monitors, so there will be lots of wires and she is currently breathing through a tube placed in her throat, which is attached to a machine to control it. We had to do that because he had to obstruct her windpipe at points in the operation, and she wouldn’t have been able to breathe if we hadn’t. It will come out in a day or two.” The woman tells us.
“God.” Daniel exclaims.
“It looks scary, but it’s necessary. She’s not on an IV line at the moment; we want to wait until she wakes up to do that. You understand she can’t have any food or drink for a few days at least and then we’ll re-evaluate her. She’ll be on liquids for a while once she can have food again anyway, because she will have a sore throat for a good few weeks.”
“Ok. I expected that.” I say, trying to take in all the information. “What about long term?”
“One step at a time.” Seeing the disappointed look on my face she adds “but its looks promising. The fact she survived the operation is already a good sign. In a few days we’ll do some tests, and hopefully she’ll have more feeling. I told you she would need physiotherapy and speech therapy, I will give you some information on that in a day or two. In the mean time, just be there for her, maybe you could get her some things from home, she’s going to be in her for a while; she might like her own clothes? I want visits kept short though. She needs to sleep and rest if she is going to win this fight.”
“Understood. Thank you doc, I just…. Thanks” and with that I give her a hug. “Can I go and see her now?” I plea.
“Yeah. She’s in D2.”
“Thanks.” I smile and give her shoulder a quick squeeze before heading off to find Sam.
This little life
“Young girl don’t cry, I’ll be right here when your world starts to fall”
I sat at her side for as long as I could get away with, hypnotised by the steady sounds of the air entering and leaving her body, the drone of the heart monitor and the ticking of the clock on the wall in her private room. Time rolled past and eventually a nurse came in and very politely told me to get the hell outta there.
I drove around in the rain for what felt like hours, not really knowing where I was headed, but yet somehow I ended up at her place. Pulling up the drive, I switch off the engine and stare at the dark dwelling for a few moments. It looks just like its owner, lifeless and abandoned.
Reaching over, I open the glove compartment and fumble around for a moment, until my hand finally grasps the item I am searching for; a shiny gold key sits amongst my fingers. She gave this key to me the day Daniel went missing a few years ago. Said that one day I might need it for the same reasons as we had needed his key. She didn’t want me to have to pick the lock.
I grab my coat and try to get it on whilst in a sitting position, and finally succeeding I open the door to my truck and brave the heavy downpour. When I reach the step I quickly put the key in the lock and turn it. The door opens with ease and I step inside; locating the light switch using a combination of memory, common sense and touch. The lights flick into life for the first time in months, and the brightness takes me by surprise, causing me to blink.
It doesn’t take long to adjust to the illumination and I venture deeper into the house. Unlike mine, her stuff seems as though it would have been the day she left. I walk through the lounge; her sofa still has a copy of vogue laid open at an article about shoes. The remains of a tube of ice cream are left on the coffee table, complete with spoon, and a rental video box is on the floor near the TV. I bend down and hit the rewind button on the VCR, reading the box as the machine clicks into action. “Sleepless in Seattle, starring Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks.” The VRC finishes and ejects the tape, prompting me to place it back in its box. “Huh, gonna have a pretty big fine on that.” I note as I place it on the table and take the empty ice cream carton to the trash can in the kitchen, throwing the spoon in the sink to join the unwashed coffee cup now creating its own life.
I turn on the hot tape and nothing happens. “That’s weird.” I say out loud, but then it dawns on me, the water must have been cut off either after no one paid the bill or the SGC reported her as missing. The washing up can wait. The bedroom is my next stop. Her bed is unmade, the imprint of her head is still indented on the pillow, and the phone next to her bed flashes with new messages. I hit the play button and go into the bathroom.
“Hi Sam, its Mark. Listen, I haven’t heard from ya in a while, and I’m getting a bit worried. I’m sure your ok, but just, ya know…. Call me. Soon.”
Surely someone told him? I find her wash bag in the cupboard above the sink and put her toothbrush and a new flannel from the airing cupboard in it, then go back to her room.
“Hi, this is a message for Sam Carter. It’s James at ‘Lets go’ garage. Just to remind you your car is due for a service; if you call me back I’ll book that in for you. You have my number. Bye!”
James? She has he’s number does she? I feel a tinge of jealousy rung through me, but that is quickly replaced as I open the top drawer to her dresser. My body reacts as any red blooded males would but I quickly curse myself. Not the time or place to be getting into that state of mind. I pick out a few pairs on panties and there matching bars and place them in a bag I pull down from the top of the wardrobe, brushing the dust off first.
“Hey Sam, its Paula, sorry I wasn’t in last night mate, I was out with that guy, you know, Harry, from the restaurant down town, that Italian place, oh god what was it called…arg, nope, can’t remember, anyways, he’s even hotter when he’s not in the waiters outfit, if ya know what I mean! Look, call me ok, I have so much to tell you! Bye babe!”
Who the hell is Paula? Paula, Paula, oh, Paula! I vaguely remember her mentioning a girl she went to high school with, maybe it’s her. I open the next draw down and pick out some warm looking socks, throw them in the bag and go to the next draw.
“Hi, this is Kelly from ‘Your faves’ just reminding you that you haven’t returned the film you borrowed on the 29th of July. It’s ‘sleepless in Seattle’ if you could return it ASAP, we’d be grateful, thanks.”
“Opps.” I mutter as I pick out two night dresses and a pair of pyjamas.
Looking in the bag on her bed, I try to think what else she might need.
“End of messages.”
That’s when I see it. A picture of the four of us, taken at Lt. Simmons birthday party, last year, sitting on the top of her dresser. I pick up the heavy frame and run my fingers over her; she looked so happy and well. My stomach does a summersault. What if she never walks again? What if I never get to hear her speak again, say my name? I did that to her, because I’m selfish, because I couldn’t let her go. I sink down on the bed as my legs give out on me. Holding the picture tight against my chest, my eyes sting. I have been trying not to let this happen; not show my fear and play the strong soldier, but I can’t hold it in anymore. Why should I? The truth is every second she was in that room, I felt so much terror and gut wrenching pain, and yet I was so numb. How can that even happen? Tears leave my eyes and burn a path on my cheeks. If she doesn’t get better…I’ll never forgive myself. Holding on to the picture tighter for a few seconds as if it were my life line, I take a deep breath and push the emotion back down. Anyone will tell you it’s not good to bottle it up, but anyone isn’t going through this. I would give anything to change places with her, to take that pain on myself. She shouldn’t have to be the one lying in that bed with tubes and machines attached to her. It should be me…
I drop the picture on the bed beside me and zip up the bag before heading back into the hallway, unable to think of anything else she might want. Once downstairs again I pick up her mail and bundle it in my pocket, go into the kitchen and turn off the light, pick the video up off the table and then out the light in the lunge as I leave her house, behind, locking the door on my way out.
Back in my truck I am not sure what to do now. I can’t go back to the hospital, and I don’t want to go home until I know the only thing I will do is sleep. Looking at the video on the passenger seat I decide the first thing I should so is take that back to where it came from. So that’s what I do. A 10 minute drive and almost $40 poorer I walk into the bar opposite the video shop. I grab a beer and sit in the corner, hoping the drink will numb the pain, at least until the morning. I am too tired to feel the raw emotion at the moment. Unfortunately I still have to drive home, so I stop short of being totally drunk and settle for finishing my pursuit of this at home.
A beeping noise pounds in my head. Opening my eyes, it takes me a moment to remember where I am. Looking around I immediately regret moving my head as a sharp pain shots through my neck.
Something is pushing air into my lungs, aggravating my own attempts to do so. I begin to choke slightly, and before I know it, there’s a hand on my forehead claming me down.
“It’s ok Sam. We had to give you a tracheostomy, but it’s not permanent. Dr. Murphy will come and see you later and tell you when he wants to remove it. How are you feeling?” Janet’s smiling face from the end of my bed questions. I make to respond by no sound comes out. I forgot.
“Don’t worry. Once your throat heals we will start speech therapy to get your voice back. I am going to do a couple of tests. Nod if you can feel this.” She takes a pin from her pocket the pulls back the dusty green blanket covering my feet. I can see her pressing the pin into my big toe on my left foot. I close my eyes and concentrate. Relief floods my body like a wave as I block out all the other pain and feel the tiny stab.
“Good. And this?” she repeats the process on my right foot. I nod.
“Great. With a little help, you’ll be up on your feet again in no time.” Moving around the bed she takes my hands and squeezes each finger, one at a time. “I know your neck is hurting, so just nod if you can’t feel any fingers, ok?”
I give a tiny acknowledgement and watch. Thumb, index finger, middle finger, ring finger, baby finger… I nod. I can’t feel my little finger. On either of my hands.
“That’s ok. You have most of the feeling back, which is good. I am confident the feeling in these two will come back in time. The nervous system is a very complicated thing. Try not to worry.” She smiles, takes the pen out of her top pocket and writes something on the chart lying on top of the machines I am connected to.
A line pouring crimson blood into my body aches slightly, its position in the crease of my arm sensitive to its new found feeling. The soreness is more reassuring than troublesome. Janet puts her clipboard down and lifts back the dressing on my wound.
“This looks good. It’s healing nicely. The stitches can come out in a couple of weeks. In the mean time I’ll put a new dressing on there for you, and see to that.” She says pointing to where the tube slices through my throat. “It has to be cleaned.” she adds.
Train on the tracks
“Come now, surly you and I are beyond speaking when words are clearly not enough.” Jane Austin, ‘Mansfield Park.’
I wake up with a start. My head pounds and my back aches. I stand up slowly from my position on the floor in my bed room, and stumble into the bathroom. I run the cold tap and splash the icy water on my face, running my hands over the stubble on my chin before meeting my reflection in my mirror above the sink. The sight takes even me by shock for a moment. Black circles cast my eyes into shadow, my chin is littered with sticky hairs and (disgusting as it is) a little drool. Reaching up to touch my face is when I notice the deep red gash on the back of my hand.
The memories floods back and makes me slightly nauseous. I look round into the bedroom and sure enough, it’s true. The broken glass lays in a heap of strongly smelling beer. I guess the alcohol had the opposite effect; the more I drank, the more I thought. The more I thought the more I didn’t want to think. I thought about the nights since she got ill, the nights I’d spent just watching her sleep, not in our bed, in a hospital bed. Seeing her lying there, helpless… and all I wanted was for her to reach out and touch me. Tell me she could feel my hands clinging to hers, holding on to her. It hurts so much, just sitting there, seeing her try and hold on to something real and normal, but seeing the battle behind her eyes… I lost it. I through the beer bottle against the wall, and started yelling and hitting things. Huh, the neighbours probably think I’m insane. The cut came when I tried to pick up the broken glass whilst my head was still spinning.
I open the cupboard and pull out some cream and a plaster, seeing to my hand and flinching slightly as the antiseptic cream stings. Suddenly a loud bleeping noise causes my head even more pain; my alarm clock. I quickly make it to my bed, and dive across, hitting the switch, and the noise stops abruptly. Rolling over, I close my eyes for a second to try and regain my focus. It’s no good. I go back into the bathroom and turn the shower on, take off last night’s beer and blood stained shirt and throw it in the wash basket, followed by my pants and boxers. Stepping in the shower I adjust the temperature to just hot enough not to scold. For a few moments I don’t bother doing anything, just stand there and lean against the wall, letting the water wash over me.
“Jack” I look up, startled by the sound of her voice
“Its ok, Jack.”
“Sam?” she smiles and moves closer, placing her hands on my hips and pulling me against her. One hand snakes up and runs through my hair, her other staying on my waist. Her lips gently brush against my own, a deep kiss follows.
The water turns cold and when I open my eyes, she’s gone. I curse myself for believing she was real, if it was only for a few seconds as I pick up the shower gel and get on with my wash so that I can get to the hospital and be with her.
The days pass, or so I’m told; I can’t tell anymore. Dr Murphy came to see me two days ago. Finally after a week of having that thing stuck in my throat he agreed to remove it. It was so uncomfortable. They gave me a local anaesthetic, but something sociological let me imagine what it would feel like. Jack stayed at my side the entire time, and bless him he turned a little green at the sight, and had a renewed determination after that to keep his eyes locked on my face, or hands.
After having the dressing changed, as the wound bleed slightly, I was left alone, with no more machines sticking out of me. The more time that passed, the more I could do. Three weeks since the operation, and I am finally off my back and in a chair. Cassey loved it when she came to visit me, found a cute guy down the hall to have a race with.
But no matter how much time passed, I was determined that there was something I had to ask Jack about. The first day after the operation, he came in to see me, and he looked as though he hadn’t slept at all. Not only that but he had a cut on his hand, held together by butterfly stitches. I want to know what happened.
He reads to me everyday, and today is no different. I don’t hear the words, just his voice. It’s like a lullaby. Monday comes and I am sitting in my chair next to the window. It’s the end of November, and there is a thick frost covering the hospital grounds as the weak midday sun tries its best to cut through and melt it, before the night takes hold again. I am startled by Janet’s voice at the door, bringing me back to reality.
“Guess what? You can go home!” she smiles.
“Finally! No offence Doc, but I’m sick of the sight of this place.” Jack says, closing the book and giving me a wink. I smile, and turn my chair around to face them both. I have my arms under control mostly. Sometimes I get numbness in my fingers, but I have been determined to get them working again, and that’s just what I have done.
“None taken, I have several nurses seeking therapy after being exposed to you for more than five minutes a day. And you’re not even the patient. I don’t know how you put up with him Sam!” I smile and shake my head, sometimes I wonder too. Then I remember I know exactly why I put up with him; for starters he is gorgeous, loyal, dedicated, loveable…I could go on.
“Hey!” he fakes a hurt look.
“Ok, let’s not start a lover’s tiff, not if you want to get home before Christmas.” I had forgotten about Christmas.
“Now there are a few ground rules.”
“For starters, I am coming to see you twice a week, to check that dressing and your blood pressure and, well you know the drill. You still have to take the tablets for the anaemia, and the pain killers when you need them, plus I want you to finish the antibiotics we put you on.”
“We can do that, right babe?” I nod.
“Also, Charlotte is gonna make home visits from now on. Jack, you’ve set up the equipment, right?” he nods. “Good. She will show you exercises you can do on your own, but for the first week or so, if you could supervise Jack. Maybe you could join in, loosen that knee up a bit.” He flinches slightly at the mention of his notoriously bad knee. Charlotte is the physiotherapist who has been working with me for the last week or so. She showed me what I had to do to get my arms back in action, and we are moving on to walking once I have down the ground work.
“Your speech therapy starts next week, but you will come here for that. There’s no reason you can’t start at home, but take it slow. I know you Sam, but you need to be patient, or you could do more damage.”
Clearing his throat, Jack eagerly asks if there is anything else we should know. With the shake of her head he rubs his hands together and hopes down off the bed. Janet leaves us alone, going to get my discharge forms.
“I’ve moved everything I think you’ll need into my place. When you’re better we will go to yours and pick up the rest of your stuff.” He says with a satisfied smile. I return the favour.
20 minutes later I am on my way home, jacks house. From now on, that is my home. Feels kinda weird, but in a good way. I always imaged myself living with him. Getting up in the morning, wearing his shirt, and he would come and place his arms around me, trying to kiss me as I clean my teeth. We would have a play fight and it would end with me lying in his arms, breathing in the unmistakable smell of his cologne. A tinge of sadness hits me as I realise things can’t be like that, at least not at the moment.
We pull into the drive, and he jumps out to open the door, then comes back and carries me into the house, placing me on the sofa before putting the kettle on and going back to the truck to get my things in. I look around the room. It’s so different to the last time I saw it. For starters any steps now either have ramps or lifts, the tables have been replaced by lower ones, and there are handles dotted here and there. He sits down on the sofa next to me, handing me a cup of tea.
“Must be good to have some real tea at least?” he says, placing a hand on my knee and squeezing gently, taking a sip of his own drink, which from the smell is probably coffee. I watch him intensely. How could he do this, just give up his whole life, turn his world and he’s house upside down, for me? Why? I know why, but it still amazes me. He is so strong, and brave. I don’t know if I could do this, if it was the other way round? The emotion he feels for me, and what I feel for him…it scares me sometimes, it’s that fierce.
“Looks strange don’t it? Don’t worry, coz I’m here every step of the way, and when your better this can all go away, and we will make this place ours. Or if maybe we can find somewhere else, together, a house that really is ours.” He brushes the hair from my eyes.
I would sell my soul just to be able to tell him I love him right now. I lay my head on his shoulder and pull myself closer to him. He wraps his arms around me and we just sit, basking in each others warmth until the sun sets and the room is plunged into darkness. I fall asleep in his arms for the first time in what feels like a century.
“Holding back the years, thinking of the fear I’ve had so long, when somebody hears, listen to the fear that’s gone.”
I had my first physiotherapy session at home today. Charlotte helped me to do basic exercises on my legs, showing Jack what to do at the same time so that he could help me. It feels good to be doing something positive towards getting better, instead of sitting in this chair day in day out, watching Jack run round doing things for me; things that I should be able to do myself.
It’s pathetic, the way the therapy tires me out; I used to be so fit. I sigh as the water bubbles around me, supporting my legs and releasing some of the tension from the taut muscles, not only in my legs but in my arms too. Stepping in, he sits down behind me, taking my shoulders between his fingers and rubbing gently. I close my eyes and savour the contact; although he is always kissing me and touching me, we haven’t been able to take it that step further, not with me like this. It just hasn’t been an option. He is too busy looking after me to think about that anyway.
He moves his hands over my shoulders, down my arms and up the back of my neck, kneading the muscle and skin slowly before moving so that he is facing me and taking my foot in his hand and repeating the process, this time moving a long my leg to my thigh. He pays the same attention to my other leg.
Determined not to be completely useless, I pick up the bottle of baby oil next to the hot tub and pour a little on my hands, rubbing it on his chest lightly dusted with hair. I work up from his navel to his shoulders before turning him around and massaging his back. I deep satisfying sigh tells me that he needed this as much as I did. It’s not easy for me, but it’s harder for him. He’s the one who has to put up with me, cook for me, help me relearn speech, walk, bath me, dress me. It must be like having an oversized child around….only quieter. I pull him back so he sits between my legs and I kiss his neck and temple. If I can’t show him I love him with words, I can do it with looks, touches and kisses.
The hot tub Jack had installed for me was placed in the conservatory. With only candles burning, we are able to lay back and see the night sky. With December finally here, the nights bring frosts and crystal clear skies, so clear you can see every star in heaven. If I could stop time and put it in a bottle, I would keep this moment forever.
“You did good today, Sam.” He turns to face me. I raise my eyebrows and let out a disbelieving laugh.
“Hey! Stop beating yourself up about this, I can see it in your eyes. I know you hate this, I hate seeing you like this. You know if I could make it all go away I would, in a heartbeat, but it doesn’t work like that. It’s going to take time, and hard work. But I’m gonna be here and we will beat this. Do you believe me?” he asks, placing a finger under my chin and trying to move my face so I am looking at him. i think I believe him, I know damn well he wont let me give up.
I meet his gaze. His eyes reflect the golden glow of the candles, but the dim light adds so much depth to his soul, casting his features in to shadow and the flickering flames dance on his face in places. I smile and nod. He places a kiss on my forehead before doing the same to my lips.
Twenty minutes later we get out. He lifts me out and onto a towel, and then proceeds to dry my legs whilst I do my top half. He gets himself dry, then runs into the bedroom for our nightwear. When he returns he has swapped his towel for boxers and a t-shirt, and is carrying one of his favourite hockey jerseys for me. The work I did today has made me more confident about standing. I can stand alone, but only for a few seconds, my muscles are just too weak at the moment. Once he has slipped the jersey over my head, he helps me to stand and I learn into him as he moves my legs to step into my panties. Although I love him, and I am getting used to it, it is a little degrading. I never thought he would be put panties on me, taking them off, yeah, but not putting them on!
“Have I ever told you you’re beautiful?” he takes my face in his hands and lays a kiss on my lips, before taking me in his arms and carrying me to our bedroom. He sits me on the bed and pulls back the covers, I handle the rest. He climbs into bed the other side and pulls the cover over both of us. Spooned in his arms I fall asleep quickly.
Standing in the kitchen I look out over my out of control garden. I haven’t touched it in months and with winter here, I don’t think I will until the spring. I make the coffee for the two women in the lounge. Janet has come to change same dressing and do whatever else she has to do.
“How is she doing Doc?” I ask handing her, her drink. She takes a sip before placing it on the coffee table and answering my question.
“Her neck is healing nicely; I think the stitches can come out soon. And charlotte said that you made good progress the other day. However I am still worried about your blood pressure. Have you been getting any headaches Sam?”
I look at Sam and too my surprise she nods. Janet takes out a bottle of pills from her bag and hands them to me.
“I thought you might. Those should help.” She says referring to the pills. “I wanted to do a blood test to check on the anaemia, but I think I will do that next time. Taking more blood from you isn’t going to help the blood pressure at the moment. As long as you have been taking the iron pills…?” Sam nods. “Good. You’re probably ok then.” She smiles.
“So Janet… any idea what Sam and I can get Cass for Christmas?” I ask breaking the silence that had descended on the room moments before.
“Erm, a DVD? She wants that one with Tom Cruise in. The one about a sky?”
I shrug, and then look at my fiancé who is chuckling away on the other side of the table. “I take it you know what we’re talking about?” I ask playfully. She nods. Janet roles her eyes then fishes through her bag for something. Moments later she pulls out her mobile.
“I have an idea.” She presses a few buttons, then hands it to Sam. “Can you write what the film is called?”
Sam’s face becomes a picture of concentration as she fights with her own fingers, getting them to press the right buttons. When she hands the phone back to Janet the small woman smiles.
“Vanilla sky.” She announces. I meet Sam’s eyes and give her a proud smile.
“Well, what say you and me go Christmas shopping?” I ask her, not taking my eyes away from hers. She smiles.
Two days later I go too my first speech therapy session. Karen showed me how to do different vocal exercises and I actually managed to make some basic words, things with one syllable; him, her, etc. It took a lot of concentration and hurt my throat a little, but it was worth it.
Jack didn’t come with me; instead he went for a drink with Daniel. It was Janet’s idea and I thought it was a good one. Jack needs a break now and then, it’s hard for him. That was proved the other day. We went Christmas shopping, and everything was going well for a while, except that we kept bumping into people. Trying to get around in general in a wheelchair is hard, but in a busy mall with Christmas shoppers rushing around with huge bags full of presents its even worse. Anyway, was rude about disabled people and basically told me to go elsewhere, and get out of his way. Jack lost it, and I mean lost it! I swear he was gonna hit the guy. I grabbed hold of his tensed arm and shock my head at him, which was all I could do. When we got home he went to the kitchen and got a beer out of the fridge. Most of the evening was spent in silence. He did say one thing though, which I don’t think I will ever forget.
Sitting on the sofa, he presses mute and the TV becomes silent. I meet his gaze.
“Sam, don’t ever, ever let scum bags like that put you down. You’re amazing, and don’t you ever forget that.” he says with a serious look. I place a hand on his cheek and his head instantly moves towards my touch. As my hand reaches his lips, he kisses it gently and squeezes it with his own hand, before turning the sound back up on the telly.
When he picks me up after the therapy I show him what I learnt. That’s how things go for the next three weeks. I have the blood tests and the anaemia has gone, I have more physio and I have more speech therapy. The time just passes by unnoticed. Dad came to visit; he stayed for a couple of days. He seemed a little tense around Jack, but otherwise it was great to see him. General Hammond stopped by as well. He says that once I am better, there will be a job for me, and Jack will start giving lectures on combat strategy for potential SGC personnel, and be a tech advisor for off world mission. Neither of us will be going to other worlds very much, if at all from now on. I was forced to resign from active duty, but I was going to anyway, and Jack says he’s too old for all this running around in mud and rain and being chased by snake heads. We are both still in the military, but because we don’t ‘work’ with each other anymore, the General is willing to over look our relationship, we are both to valuable to lose over something like that.
Christmas day comes. I am woken up by something wet on my face. I open my eyes to a large pink tongue and big brown eyes. No, it’s not Jack. Looking around the small golden Labrador to the smug smile on Jack’s face, I narrow my eyes at him.
“It’s a dog!”
“Umm?” I question. My speech therapy has been going really well. I can say some things, small things. Sentences are hard, and I can’t say Jack’s name. I have tried so many times, I just can’t do it.
“Merry Christmas. Now, I don’t have to tell you that a dog is for life do I?” I look down on the little fluff ball. I have to admit it, he is cute, at least I assume it’s a he?
“He?” I question, Jack nods. “Hello” I say, patting him as he madly wags his tail and bounces around. “Herby.” I smile as I name him.
“What! You can’t call the poor thing Herby. All his mates will laugh at him.” I role my eyes. Herby is a cool name. Getting out of bed, I use the furniture to make my way to the wardrobe and pull out Jack’s gift. He stands up and takes it from me with a childlike excitement in his eyes. I go back to the bed with his help and sit down as he unwraps it.
“Complete season six of the Simpson’s. Excellent! Thank you babe.” He kisses me. I cough consciously and point to the inside of the box. He takes out the first DVD and looks inside. A golden wedding ring is placed in a dark blue velvet bag. He hands it to me and I place it on his wedding finger.
“Just reminding you.” I smile.
“How could I forget? I can’t to marry you. You know I was gonna take you to Vegas this weekend but I thought it was a bit tacky.” He winks at me. I don’t know why but the thought of the two of us in Vegas just makes me laugh.
“Thank you.” I reach out and cuddle him; but he pulls me over and I end up on top of him, and Herby is on top of me, barking happily.
“I dream of a love that even time will lie down and be still for.” – Practical Magic.
Months have passed by now. I am completely healed but for one thing; I still can’t walk unaided. I don’t use the wheelchair anymore; instead I use a walking frame. I have been using for at least five weeks now.
I sit up and rub the aching muscles in my legs as Charlotte packs up her gear.
“You’re doing well Sam, but I want to get you off that frame if we can.”
“Yeah, that would be nice. When do you think we can do that?” I ask
“To be honest, I expected you to be ok by now. I think it’s more a mental thing now than physical. Your muscles are still a little weak but they are strong enough to hold you. My advice is that you try to go for a couple of minutes each day without the frame, try walking across the lounge or something.”
“You really think I can do it?”
“Yeah I do. But don’t try now; you’ve just done enough for today. When I come next week, I expect you to have been practising! But make sure that gorgeous man of yours is there, I don’t want you to get hurt.”
“Ok.” I smile.
“Hey, Sam, I’m just taking the dog out. I’ll be back soon.” Jack comes in and kisses my head before taking an over excited puppy for a walk. “See you next week Charlie.” He smiles at the dark haired woman.
“Bye Jack and bye Sam. I’m outta here!”
“I’ll see you out.” He says. In moments the house is completely empty.
Sighing I look around the room. I don’t know if its just hormones or something else but I suddenly feel angry and sick with myself. I just want a normal life I want a family, I want to get married, and go back to work. I am so tired of being the invalid, of being tiptoed around. I … I want to be how I used to be; independent, respected, ‘one of the guys’. Now I am not trusted to be left alone for more than half an hour. I feel so stupid, and inferior and small. I am nearly forty years old for Christ’s sake! I take a deep breathe and stare at my walking frame with disgust. Without a second thought I stand up. My legs take my weight and immediately scream for help, but I ignore them. Curiously I slide one foot forward and let my shaking limb adjust before letting go on the bed behind me and doing the same with my other leg.
My confidence grows with each step, and I make it about three meters before I feel my legs demand to be heard and have support. I reach out to grab hold of something but miss, and end up on the floor. Tears fill my eyes, but that just makes me angrier. I get up and take another step, but again and I end up on the floor.
Running shaking hands through my hair I cry out. Tears fall like a rain storm, this is the first time I have truly cried since this happened.
“Sam?” His voice comes from the door, and in seconds he is trying to hold me, but I push him away with all the force I can muster.
“Don’t!” I practically spit in response to his startled look.
“Don’t be silly, come on, let me help you” he says reaching out for me with renewed determination. I push him away again and pull myself up into a protective ball.
“Just go away! Please… just go.” I sob. He moves back and leans his back against the wall. He’s only response to my plea is to shake his head and stay right where he is.
After about five minutes of crying my heart out I look up at him and wipe the tears from my red and sore cheeks.
“Why? Why can’t I do it yet? Why do you always stay with me, why don’t you just leave, go find a woman who you don’t have to baby-sit, who you don’t have to bath and dress. Someone you can sleep with. I know that’s what you want. I’ve seen you with that look in your eye. Just go Jack, I can manage without you!”
The look he throws me is one of tiredness; rubbing a hand over his face he looks away and laughs a bitter laugh before looking at me again. “Ever thought that maybe I can’t manage without you. Ever thought that that’s maybe why I brought you back; that the few days you were gone were the worst days of my life. How many times do I have to tell you that I love you? Maybe it’s not getting through to you?” he moves closer to me, his eyes shinning with salty water. “I would kill for you. For you, Sam! I’d walk to hell and back just to see you smile.” A fresh wave of tears cascade down my burning face.
“As for sex, of course you’ve seen that look in my eyes, I’m a man! But that look is for you, and only you. Can I help it if I want to show you how much I love you? I know you want it too. I know it drives you crazy, not just that but not being able to do things yourself. You hate it, I see that everyday. But this isn’t forever. You have just proven that!” He gently takes my hand. I don’t push him away, not this time.
“Jack” I say in a husky emotion filled voice, before pulling him close to me and kissing him softly. He lifts me up in his arms, not breaking our kiss. Before I know it I am lying on our bed, Jack on top of me. He’s hands snake their way around my body, and he looks at me with a questioning look in his eyes. I know what his asking.
“Yes Jack.” I smile.
Sunset roles in across the hills. Here I stand with my husband, Herby running madly around, as the tractor on the fields in the distance kick up dust, beheading the corn and wheat. A warm breeze carries the smell of September while I carry our baby in my belly. I am due to give birth in four months.
Once I got a hold on walking, which took another month after that night, Jack and I sold his place, and my house, and now we have a place of our own. A four bedroom place, with a big garden by a river on the edge of the city. We want a big family, and the child I carry is the first step towards that.
We mostly work from home now, well, I do, Jack spends most of the day fishing or building things for the baby. We are so happy, and I didn’t think that that was going to be possible a few months ago. Finally we have everything we’ve ever wanted.
“I love you Jack O’Neill” I smile and kiss him gently. A cloud of dust covers us and we disappear.
THE END (If you want the happy ending!) TBC (if you want the sad ending.)
Ok, if you want the nice happy ending, for the love of god don’t read the next chapter! If you want to ball your eyes out, I will be writing the sad ending very soon, and oh my, is it sad! You have been warned!
WARNINGS: Don’t read if; a) you want a happy ending, b) you’re prone to fainting at the mention of blood, babies, death, c) you are too young (must be at least 13 people, and I mean that. This one deals with grown up issues very seriously!) Last chapter, savour it!
The last great act
does not begin and end the way we seem to think it does. Love is a battle, love
is a war; love is a growing up."
“I will be back before you know it.”
“Jack, its ok, it’s not like there aren’t things here I can’t be getting on with. We will go to Salt Lake City another time. We still have five months before joiner makes an appearance anyway.”
“I know, it’s just, I was really looking forward to it.” He gives me a sulky look. I lift his chin up with my finger and place a kiss on his lips before handing him his over night bag.
“You’re gonna be late!” I tease as he takes the bag and lets his hand wander under my shirt for a moment to rub over our child.
“Your mummy is mean!” he says in a hurt voice, but the look on my face makes him take it back and leave quickly.
“Call me when you get there” I call after him as he gets in his truck. “Love ya!”
“I will and ditto!” He calls back before shutting the door and starting the engine.
With Jack away giving lectures to new recruits, I decide to finish painting the nursery. We know we are having a girl but we thought we would be safe and go for unisex colours; purple and white.
September has passed and now and the harsh thickness of fall as set in. The weather has turned cold and wet in the last few days, with the river in the back yard beginning to over flow its boundaries just a little.
The almost hypnotic sound of raindrops falling on the skylight is relaxing as I finish painting a stencil of white clouds and step back to admire my work. I wish Jack would call. I hate it knowing he is driving in dangerous conditions. The rain has been falling for over an hour and the traffic guys are saying that a gale-force wind is blowing in, and affecting the downtown area; where Jack was heading.
The traffic is hideous, and night falls quickly. The rain beats down so hard on my truck that even with my wipers on full power I struggle to see the road ahead of me. I can feel the strong winds pushing against the sides of my vehicle.
The first rumbles of thunder ring out over the cold, wet night air. I take comfort from the knowledge that I am now only four miles from my destination. My mind wandering for only a second I don’t see the animal run out in front of me until the last moment. I swerve, slamming on my breaks as I face the brick-wall at the edge of the small bridge. The only thing that runs through my mind is Sam. This is it, the trucks front smashes into the wall, the sound of breaks screaming in my ears and crumpling metal is all I hear. The impact throws me forward into the windscreen.
A flash of lightening almost blinds me as I stare out at the storm. The power went out and I’ve had to light candles. Something doesn’t feel right. He should have been there by now. Maybe the phones are out? I lift up the headset, but there is a dial tone. Still, that doesn’t mean that the phones are working in the city.
The baby is restless. I think she knows I am worried. I try not to think about it, to take deep breaths and get back to reading my book on pregnancy, but its no good, I cant stop looking out the window and then at the phone. Any moment now he’ll call, he’ll tell me I was being silly. He has a four wheel drive, and has been driving for years, of course he’s ok. Right?
“What have we got?”
“Car accident victim, male, 50’s. Hit a brick wall head on. He’s DOA but we need you to call it.”
“Yeah, you’re right. I’m not getting any output. Did you try to resuscitate?” the doctor says.
“For twenty minutes on the scene. He’s head injuries are too extensive, but we kept going til we got here, just in case.”
She nods, looking at the gushing wounds on his head. “Ok, I’ll call it. Time of death 18:07pm. Is there any ID?”
“Have the police taken note of he’s details?”
“Yeah, they are going to his address tonight.”
I sigh and put the book down. Its no good, something is wrong. I know it, the baby knows it. I just wish I knew…what the…? Red and blue lights shine through the dark and my heart starts beating so fast I almost can’t breathe. I run to the door and get there before the young cop has even knocked. His face says it all, its bad news.
“Mrs O’Neill?” He asks in a solemn tone. I nod and step back allowing him to come in.
“Ma’am, I think you should sit down.” I can feel the fear rise in me, making me dizzy and my hands shake. I sit down not taking my eyes off his face.
“What is it?” I ask
“It’s about your husband. I’m afraid I have bad news.” My eyes close and tears fall from under the lids. “He was involved in an accident, on the highway. I’m very sorry, but the paramedics were unable to revive him. He died on the scene. I’m sorry.”
I take a deep breathe and open my eyes, looking up at them. I feel numb for now, but I know any moment now it will seep in.
“Thank you for letting me know.” I say calmly, seeing him out. As soon as the car is gone, I lock the door and turn my back to it, letting my body slide down. The quivering starts and I let out an unearthly scream. My body breaks down and I sob, tears soaking my clothing, and pain wrecking my body.
I stay there as the hurting grows more, hurt not only in my heart. I can see the blood between my legs and I don’t give a damn. I feel the pain, the contractions, but its nothing compared to what I feel in my heart. The longer I stay there the more I scream as the baby starts to arrive of its own accord; the grief sending me into dangerously early labour.
When the sun rises, it sees only a picture of destruction and death. Fallen trees and power lines. Car crashes from last night, building damage. But the sorriest sight of all is the one right here in front of me. My baby girl, barely more than embryo, lies dead on the floor in a small pile of blood, her cold body grey. She didn’t cry, she didn’t even try. I couldn’t take my eyes off her all night; she was supposed to be our new start, our life. But she’s gone, like her father.
With barely enough strength left to stand, I somehow make it to the cabinet in the hall. I know that he planned to get rid of it, but hadn’t gotten round to it yet. I reach up and get the key hidden on top of the unit. Placing it the lock, I turn it slowly and open the draw. Inside is the means to an end. A way to be where my husband and daughter now live ceaselessly. What do I have left to live for known now that they have both been taken from me?
I pull out the small metal object and flip open the barrel, placing a golden bullet in one of the chambers before flicking it shut again. I walk into the front room and stare out at the river; I can almost see him standing there, looking out over the fields. I smile. I know exactly what I am doing, and I know why. I always said I would die for him one day.
I place the cold barrel to my head; gently squeezing the trigger. I feel only a quick sharp pinprick of pain as the gun falls from my hands, landing on the floor with a deafeningly loud thump.
I step out on too the cold wet grass in bare feet. He’s back is too me, but as I walk over to him he turns to face me, one hand in his pocket, the other cradling our baby.
“I didn’t expect you so soon.” He says kissing me as I take he’s arm and smile.
“Hey, we don’t leave our people behind, remember?” I say as I pull the white covers back on our girl and smile at her.
“Yeah, sorry about that.” He looks away for a moment, sadness on his face.
“Doesn’t matter, we have forever now.” I smile, kissing him gently once more and savouring his touch.
The early morning sun rays shine right through us, vanishing us to eternity as we stand watching the slow rise of the heart of our universe. Where we stood only seconds before, now three white doves take flight into the watery yellow sky.