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Fanfic: Lost and Found - Part II

For disclaimers and author's note see Part I.

 

Lost and Found - Part II

He hadn’t found her.

Jack climbed out of the glider, exhausted both from the long flight he’d made and the failure. He’d stayed out longer than most of the gliders, desperately searching for something; anything that would give a hint for where to look, where to find her.

Twelve days and no sign. They were due to meet up with the Daedalus in twenty-four hours; the search along the axis would have been ostensibly completed. The Pentagon would expect them to return to normal operations; they’d declare Carter dead and arrangements would be made for someone to take over on Atlantis.

His chin lifted in mute rebellion. Well, they might give up but he wouldn’t. Sam was somewhere out there. She was alive and fighting to get home. He believed it because he couldn’t bear to believe anything else.

Jack stripped off his flight gloves and made his way into the changing room. He stopped at the sight of the woman sitting on the bench between the lockers, her expression hidden behind a curtain of dark hair.

Vala.

He was so not in the mood for her antics.

‘Vala,’ Jack began with exasperation, ‘this is the men’s changing rooms. Out.’

‘I’ve been waiting for you.’ Vala lifted her head and the glimmer of tears stopped Jack in his tracks.

She was crying? He felt a moment of panic. Where the hell was Daniel?

‘They threw me out of engineering and they won’t let me take one of the gliders and I want to do something!’ Vala rushed out as she barrelled to her feet and began to pace. ‘Everyone understands if Daniel wants to get in a glider with Teal’c but if I want to go along? It’s a no!’ She turned away from him and swiped at her face. ‘Sam’s my friend too and...’

‘You can come with me next time.’ Jack hurried out.

Vala spun back around to him with suspiciously dry eyes.

His own narrowed.

‘Really? Thank you!’ She launched herself at him and hugged him hard; he didn’t respond and she pulled back.

Jack folded his arms over his chest and regarded her with a wary even stare. ‘Have to give you credit, Vala, you almost had me there.’ He replied coldly. Damn it. He was too tired to deal with her crap.

Vala opened her mouth to protest, took one look at him and closed it again. She sniffed. ‘What gave me away?’

Jack just continued to stare at her.

She sighed, conceding the game but she continued to look at him hopefully. ‘OK, but can I still come with you in the glider?’ She read the reply on his face and sat down huffily. ‘I meant every word you know.’ She folded her arms. ‘I do want to do something. I care about her too!’

And she did; Jack knew that underneath Vala’s defensive bluster was genuine caring. The two women were good friends; surprising at times given they were like night and day but there it was. He felt a pang of empathy. Maybe the former thief’s crap had been well-justified at being thwarted in her attempts to contribute; he knew he’d be raising hell if he couldn’t actually do anything to help. As it was he and Ellis had gone a couple of rounds on Jack going out with the gliders. The Colonel hadn’t been keen on risking the Head of Homeworld Security. Jack had finally pulled rank to end the debate; Ellis’s protest was on record but Jack couldn’t bring himself to be concerned about the potential political fallout when he got home.

Jack sat down beside her. ‘You can come with me.’ He conceded. He held up a finger before she could react and she mimed zipping her mouth shut. ‘On one condition.’

‘Anything.’ Vala agreed swiftly.

‘No more tricks.’ Jack said firmly.

She nodded furiously and stuck out her hand. He grimaced but shook it.

‘Now, scat.’ Jack said bluntly.

Vala headed out but half-way to the door, she turned and ran back to him, wrapping her arms around him and hugging him fiercely again. ‘She’s going to be OK. I won’t believe anything else; I won’t.’

Jack felt his throat close up. He slowly put his own arms around her and hugged her back, unable to reply.

o-O-o

The lizard was following her.

Sam was certain of it. Either that or she was going nuts. Possibly, Sam conceded, it was the latter. She’d spent ten days on the planet with no-one to talk to, no-one around. Nothing to do but follow the river and hoped it led somewhere. Her lizard friend had been with her every step of the way. Usually it stayed back and only approached during her rest stops. It had finally deigned to eat the nuts and berries she offered, grabbing them from her hand and darting away again to eat them at a safe distance. Sam knew she really needed the food but she didn’t mind the loss; she was just pleased with the company. She’d named her companion Toto because all in all she felt like she had landed in Oz; a strange unknown world, and all she wanted to do was to go home.

The feeling of isolation had gotten worse during the last day. She had entered dense woodland and the sense of the walls closing in on her was overwhelming. Not to mention it made staying by the edge of the river difficult. Sharp downward inclines had appeared between her and the water; trees blocked the way. She watched her footing but it was hard going especially when her body was exhausted from too little sleep and not enough food.

The river was wider; the flow faster. There had been a series of rapids that under normal circumstances she would have loved to have kayaked through. As it was they had indicated that the river was becoming dangerous. She had stayed in the shallows to bathe the previous evening but she could feel the pull of the flow on her legs and ankles.

The wildlife was also getting bigger. Her clams and plankton had disappeared but the fish were a more reasonable size, providing a filling meal when combined with some of the nuts and berries she continued to collect. The woodland had also offered fruit trees and creatures that looked like birds but acted like rabbits. She had managed to trap one the night before and had roasted it on the fire. It tasted like over-stewed rhubarb. She’d almost gagged and wasn’t sure that she was going to try another despite the fact that the leather jumpsuit had become roomier than when she had first donned it.

She would have given anything for a proper shower, a toothbrush and clean clothes. A bed, Sam thought longingly. With crisp cotton sheets, firm pillows and Jack, his arms wrapped around her and his legs tangled with hers, keeping her safe...

Sam grasped a nearby branch to lever herself upward. Her sleep was filled with dreams. She’d woken that morning certain that she would find Jack beside her the dream had felt so real and she had almost cried at the reality.

Her lips thinned. She just had to keep going. She had to believe she would find help; had to believe she would make it home.

Think about something else, Sam instructed herself brusquely. Her mind zipped back to her command; Atlantis. It was a beautiful city. There was so much of it still unexplored; so much of it unknown to them. Sam had read Elizabeth’s journals; of the exploration of the city with each new day bringing some new discovery. Sam had experienced it herself and she could see how addictive it was; how the city beguiled and seduced its occupants into a fierce attachment for its towering spirals and hidden rooms. It was no wonder Daniel had wanted to explore it so badly...

He’d been on the list for her job; Sam was sure of it. Daniel could even have been the collective IOA’s preferred choice; he was a civilian, the foremost expert on the Ancients, his diplomatic skills were second to none and he had enough military experience that he could have qualified as an honorary Air Force Colonel even if he didn’t see it that way. She figured it was the Replicators that had swung it her way in the end; she was the foremost technical expert on them. Daniel had been nothing but gracious about her appointment though.

She had wondered briefly if he would lobby to come with her but at her leaving party he had quietly confessed to her that as much as he wanted to be in Atlantis, he figured with her absent, Jack needed him more in the Milky Way. Sam had agreed, understanding that Daniel wanted to stay around and support Jack. The two men had a loyalty that preceded SG1 and she respected that. As Daniel’s friend she was disappointed not to have him in Atlantis, but as Jack’s wife she was more than happy that her husband had his closest friend around while she was so far away.

Daniel would be with Jack as soon as they heard the news that she was missing and she...

Her foot slipped.

She felt her ankle twist sharply as she went down, her arms flying out to try and save her as she tumbled down the steep incline toward the river.

Branches tore at her clothing; scratched her face and hands as she sought to stop her descent. She landed with a thump against a rock, her head slamming against its brown hard surface.

She literally saw stars; her vision darkening as she fought for consciousness. She lay where she was panting. Her eyes cleared; pain arrowing through her temple. She lifted a trembling bloody hand and winced at the lump her fingers found.

Sam slowly manoeuvred into a sitting position. Stupid, she berated herself. So stupid. The last thing she needed was an injury. She grimaced as her ankle screamed a protest at being shifted. She probed it delicately; wiggled her toes inside her boot. A sprain. She didn’t think she’d broken it. It would be best if she left the boot on. She tracked her fall back up the hill with her eyes. She saw her pack and walking staff strewn towards the top where she had dropped them.

The lizard looked at her from its position by the staff. Its colour had changed to a muddy greeny-brown enabling it to fit in with the forest floor. She watched in amazement as it nudged the stick, rolling it downwards to her.

‘Thank you.’ She stuttered.

It bounded away again and returned dragging her pack. Her initial surprise abated, she considered it with new eyes as it retreated to a safe distance.

‘I probably shouldn’t have assumed you weren’t intelligent.’ Sam murmured. ‘Because you are very smart.’ She wet her lips. ‘Do you know what I’m saying? Do you understand me?’

The lizard blinked at her but it didn’t move or speak.

Sam sighed and gingerly touched her head again. Her fingers came away smudged with fresh blood. ‘I guess I should fix myself up.’

It took her a long time to crawl the remaining distance to the river’s edge, to wash away the worst of the blood and to wrap her head with the grey cloth soaked in water. She had a concussion; shock. She managed to build a small fire by the rock and huddled beside it. She would take the rest of the day and night to recover, Sam thought muzzily. She would start walking again in the morning. Her eyes fluttered closed and her last sight was of the lizard standing guard over her with a look in its eyes that reminded her of Teal’c.

o-O-o

Jack stormed into his quarters and slammed the door behind him. It made a resounding bang that pleased him. He marched up to the window and tried to catch his breath. His body vibrated with anger.

They’d met up with the Daedalus two hours earlier and the joint briefing on progress had been tense given the lack of success.

Both Caldwell and Ellis had expressed concern at continuing to search given the likelihood that any residual radiation signatures would have decayed given the time since Carter’s abduction. McKay had asserted they had no idea how long the signature would last; it was unknown; it was possible it was still out there.

The argument had been loud and passionate; tempers rising on both sides. Jack had kept quiet. He could understand Caldwell’s and Ellis’s position; they had their crews to think about. In the case of the Daedalus, it had already been out in the Pegasus galaxy two weeks beyond its scheduled return. The crew deserved to head for Earth and downtime. The Apollo similarly was facing an extended assignment – one that would keep extending the longer they searched. They’d already covered the length of the axis and found nothing. Moreover, in the midst of the discussion, they’d received new orders via Teyla, who had been left in charge of Atlantis, that the IOA were demanding the return of Sheppard, McKay and Ronon to the city.

But he also wanted what the Atlantis team and SG1 so desperately wanted; to continue the search. The Atlantis team had lost too many; they didn’t want to lose Carter too. He’d seen the lurking guilt in Sheppard’s eyes, the question of whether it should have been his team with Carter and not Bailey’s. McKay had been as vocal as ever; he and Ellis seemed to have some kind of pissing contest going on. Daniel had been SG1’s advocate; making the case for continuing to search with clear logic and a sense of compromise. They’d all looked to Jack for the final decision.

Jack had wondered if he’d had any right to demand they continue the search; had considered the needs of the two crews, of Atlantis itself; he’d tried to do what he’d always had to do; act as General O’Neill and not as Jack, the man in love with Samantha Carter. But there was a compromise and he’d taken it: the Daedalus would return to Earth, dropping the Atlantis team at the nearest Stargate so they could travel back to the city. The Apollo would continue onto Atlantis back along the axis, continuing to search at jump points spaced between the ones already tried. Caldwell had offered to do the same on their journey out of Pegasus.

It wasn’t enough, Jack thought angrily. What he wanted was to commit every resource at General O’Neill’s disposal to finding Carter.

The door opened behind him and Daniel stepped inside the room. Jack could see his reflection in the window as Daniel walked up to join him. They didn’t speak for a long moment.

‘It’s a good compromise, Jack.’ Daniel said quietly. ‘You did the right thing.’

‘And if we don’t find her?’ The angry question tumbled out before Jack could stop it.

‘You would have still done the right thing.’ Daniel sighed and folded his arms over his chest, sending his open BDU shirt askew against the black fabric of his t-shirt. ‘Sam would understand, Jack.’

It didn’t comfort him that Jack knew Daniel was right. Carter would understand. She faced the same challenges as he did balancing their professional lives as Colonel Carter and General O’Neill with their personal lives as Sam and Jack. Jack looked up at the ceiling. He’d hated the balancing act when he and Carter hadn’t been together but since they’d married, he hated it more. He’d even recommended her for the damned Atlantis position because it was the right thing to do.

‘The Daedalus has left already.’ Daniel informed him. ‘I think the Atlantis team were unhappy about being sent back to the city.’

‘They’ll survive.’ Jack muttered. He wasn’t exactly thrilled himself. He snorted. He was an idiot.

‘You’re not an idiot.’ Daniel remonstrated gently and Jack realised belatedly that he’d said the words out loud. ‘You can be an ass but you’re not an idiot.’

‘Thank you.’ Jack said dryly.

‘No problem.’ Daniel smiled at him and for a second the tension lifted.

Jack rubbed the back of his neck feeling the muscles unknot slowly as he accepted the decision he’d made and his thoughts turned to Carter. Was she OK? Was she being tortured? Had she escaped already but hadn’t found her way back yet? He sighed heavily.

‘Mitchell was going to start the calculating the next set of glider sweeps.’ Daniel said, nudging him. ‘You coming?’

Jack shook his head. ‘I just need a minute.’

Daniel nodded, his blue eyes shining with compassion. ‘Want some company?’

‘You’re giving me a choice?’ Jack asked.

‘Well, no,’ Daniel admitted, ‘but I thought,’ he shrugged, ‘you know; I’d ask anyway.’

It was so like Daniel that Jack had to smile. It faded a moment later.

‘We’re going to find her, Daniel.’ Jack asserted forcefully.

Daniel met his fierce gaze with one of his own. ‘Yes. We are.’

o-O-o

Sam was hot. Too hot. She felt as though her entire body was burning up. She’d woken that morning with her brain feeling fuzzy and shivering. She’d barely had enough energy to relight the fire, have some water and to curl up in a better position to sleep. Walking any further was out of the question.

She shivered. She was ill. Her wounds seemed OK; there was no obvious sign of infection but she was undoubtedly sick. Sick and injured. It was the worst thing that could have happened. She had no medication with her; there had been no sign of anything purporting to be a first aid kit in the spacecraft when she’d searched it. Her body would have to fight the infection itself.

The lizard had seemingly abandoned her overnight. It had disappeared and Sam felt its absence. She wished it had stayed. It had made her feel less alone thinking it was with her.

She slipped in and out of sleep. Every time she woke, she’d drag herself to the river, bathe her face in the cool water and drink before she returned to the rock and the fire. The fourth time she woke; her body convulsed, harsh coughs wracking her lungs and burning her throat raw. She struggled to breathe and lay helplessly on the ground.

Suddenly, her lizard friend appeared beside her out of thin air, a human-looking woman beside it. Sam gasped for breath and her eyes widened as she took in the woman’s features. She reminded Sam of Lya of the Nox. She had the same small figure, the same delicate features and the same wild lilac hair and violet eyes.

The woman looked at her and reached out a hand to Sam’s forehead. Sam tried to scuttle back but the rock was behind her and the hand landed. The woman looked at the small lizard and it was as though a silent conversation took place between them. The lizard abruptly left again, vanishing before her eyes. Apparently she had been right the day before; the lizard creature was an intelligent life-form.

Sam wet her dry, cracked lips. ‘Please. Help me.’ The voice whispered out, barely audible to her own ears.

The woman hummed under her breath as though in reply. Her other hand moved to rest over Sam’s chest and Sam realised the woman was somehow listening to her breathing; her heartbeat; making a medical assessment.

Another human appeared; a male this time. He hurried over to Sam and gestured. Another silent conversation took place over her; Sam could sense it. She began to panic. What if they believed her a threat? She was so vulnerable...

Easy, child.’ The voice appeared in her head like magic. ‘You are safe.’ She smiled. ‘We are of the Nox.’

Sam found her eyes caught by the woman’s violet gaze. A second later, her stomach lurched as the forest blurred away and she found herself lying on a small couch. Her clothes disappeared but before she could cover her nakedness, they were replaced by thin white pyjamas, not too dissimilar to medical scrubs but made of some kind of silky fabric that cooled her body and soothed her aches. Sam felt the woman’s hand against her brow again and felt the siren pull into sleep.

Do not fight it.’ The woman cautioned. ‘We are healing you. Rest easy, child.’

Sam blinked desperately. A part of her wanted to stay awake; to be on guard against what they would do; to witness it; to ask questions. But her body pulled rank and she drifted into a deep sleep.

When she woke again, sunlight streamed into the room she occupied. It was all white; the deep cushiony floor; the linen on the bed; the walls and the ceiling. She greedily drank from the jug of water on the table beside the bed before she pushed the covers back and swung into a sitting position on the edge of the bed.

She checked her arms and hands. They were free of the violent red scratches that had marred them after her fall. A brief check of her head confirmed that her bump had gone. She just felt incredibly weak. She attempted to get to her feet. She wobbled; her legs trembling beneath her unsteadily. She grimaced but staggered over to the window.

Her mouth fell open. She was in a room at the top of a tower; all around her was a bustling city; incredibly advanced; small bullet-like crafts whizzed by in the air along with a number of reptilian creatures that resembled drawings of dragons. It was breath-taking.

A movement behind her drew her attention and she looked over her shoulder to find her healer and lizard companion beside the bed.

‘Hi.’ Sam smiled weakly. ‘Thank you.’ She gestured at herself. ‘I’m Colonel Samantha Carter.’

‘We know who you are, child.’ The woman smiled. ‘I am Neeya.’

‘I didn’t realise there were Nox in the Pegasus galaxy.’ Sam commented.

‘This is our home.’ Neeya smiled. ‘A small number of our brethren departed many thousands of years ago to explore. We believed they had been lost. It is wondrous to us to know they are safe and thrive still.’ She sat down and patted the bed. Sam walked over to her and sat down with relief. She was exhausted.

‘You have taken many hours to heal.’ Neeya chided her. ‘You need to rest.’

‘I am incredibly grateful for your help,’ Sam began urgently, ‘but I need a way to contact my people; to return to them. If I could get to the Stargate...’

‘We have no Stargate.’ Neeya broke the news with gentle compassion. ‘And we have no space-worthy craft. We have no need to explore; we have everything we need here.’

I don’t. The unspoken words trembled on Sam’s lips and she firmed them as though to prevent the words from escaping. Neeya’s eyes widened anyway and Sam realised she had read the truth straight from her mind. Sam dropped her gaze.

Neeya reached out and stroked Sam’s long hair back over her shoulder. ‘Do not worry, child. We can send you home.’

‘How?’ Sam asked.

‘We can transport you there through space.’ Neeya said matter-of-factly.

‘Translocation?’ Sam questioned. She remembered how Neeya and the lizard creature seemed to just appear and her own fuzzy trip from the forest to the medical room.

Neeya nodded. ‘But it will take more than I to perform such a feat.’ She smiled and stood up. ‘I will arrange it.’ She disappeared before Sam could say anything, leaving her alone with the lizard.

Sam smiled at him. ‘I owe you a big thank you.’

It beamed at her and hurried across to push its head into her hand. She petted it gently. ‘I guess Dorothy is going home, Toto. I wish I could take you with me but I think you belong here.’

The lizard purred and Sam smiled brightly for the first time in days. She was going home; she was going home to Jack.

o-O-o

Jack ran onto the bridge of the Apollo and started out at the blanket of stars. ‘What happened?’ He demanded briskly, turning for answers to the Apollo’s commanding officer.

‘We just fell out of hyperspace.’ Ellis explained.

‘Why?’ Daniel asked as he came to a halt beside Jack.

‘Lieutenant?’ Ellis prompted the technician at the engineering console.

‘I’m not sure, sir.’ The Lieutenant grimaced. ‘All systems are reading normal. I can’t explain it.’ She looked up apologetically from the monitors. ‘I recommend we run some tests before resuming course, sir.’

‘Granted.’ Ellis said firmly. He swivelled back to the front. ‘Captain Tennyson, start the long range sensor sweeps for the radiation signature. We might as well do something useful while we wait.’

Jack blew out a relieved breath.

‘We could take the gliders out.’ Mitchell jumped in. ‘Do some jumps from here.’

Jack nodded. ‘Sounds like...’

Jack.

Jack stopped abruptly. He frowned. He could have sworn he’d heard Carter calling his name.

‘Sir?’ Mitchell asked, concerned.

‘Jack?’ Daniel turned to him inquisitively.

It had finally happened, Jack thought tiredly. He’d finally gone nuts. ‘Sorry,’ he waved at them, ‘I was...’

Jack.

He stopped completely still. There it was again. Her voice.

Jack.

‘General,’ Ellis began.

‘Shhh!’ Jack raised a finger impatiently. ‘Don’t you hear that?’

There was complete silence on the bridge.

‘Hear what?’ Ellis inquired, his tone properly respectful. ‘I don’t hear anything, General.’

‘It’s Carter.’ Jack said firmly. He looked around as though he would find her standing amongst them.

Daniel exchanged a worried look with Mitchell. Ellis looked at them pointedly; he expected them to step in because it was clear Ellis wasn’t going to insult a two-star General by suggesting he’d gone loopy.

‘Jack, maybe you should get some rest.’ Daniel said softly. ‘Maybe all of us should. It’s been...’

Jack.

Jack shushed him. ‘There it was again.’

‘I didn’t hear anything either.’ Vala admitted, her mobile face a picture of confusion as she leaned on the back of the navigator’s chair.

There was a sudden crescendo of noise as everyone began to talk again rushing to confirm they had also heard nothing.

Jack.

‘Quiet.’ Teal’c demanded. He silenced everyone effectively. His dark eyes darted to Jack’s in wide understanding. He’d heard her too.

‘You can hear something, Muscles?’ Vala asked urgently.

‘Indeed.’ Teal’c straightened; his hands clasped behind his back. ‘I believe I heard Colonel Carter.’

Daniel’s eyes widened and he spun around to Jack, speculation in his blue eyes. ‘Maybe she’s trying to communicate somehow.’ He gestured at Jack. ‘Try talking to her.’

Jack turned back to the front of the Apollo and took two steps towards the window. He cleared his throat self-consciously. ‘Carter?’

Jack.

The air in front of him shimmered. He could see her and the gasp behind him told him everyone else could see her too. She stood in front of him as insubstantial as mist. Her blue eyes were open, her long blonde hair loose around her shoulders and she was wearing white pyjamas.

‘Oh God.’ Vala’s choked whisper drifted across the quiet bridge. ‘She’s a ghost!’

No. Jack rejected that thought violently as he reached for Carter unthinkingly. His hand pushed through the unnaturally thick air surrounding her and closed around hers. She was real. Her fingers opened and tangled with his.

‘Come on, Carter.’ Jack ordered as he tugged her ruthlessly. ‘Come on.’ For a horrifying second, he felt her fingers slipping from his and her form wavered in front of him.

Please. Jack.

Her desperate plea resounded through him. She wanted to come home but he could hear her exhaustion.

‘Don’t you dare give up, Carter.’ Jack muttered under his breath. ‘Fight, damn it!’

Her hand solidified around his again. He tightened his grip immediately and yanked. The air around her gave way with a loud pop and Sam fell forward, a thin bundle of white silk that Jack caught, lowering her onto the floor gently.

Sam’s hands fisted in the material of his shirt but she registered where she was before closing her eyes tiredly. ‘Sir?’ She said weakly.

‘I’ve got you, Carter.’ Jack whispered in her ear, hugging her closely to him. ‘I’ve got you.’

She slumped against him, all her energy gone, and he yelled for a medic as the others surged forward and the bridge erupted in a chaotic babble.

Carter was home and she was safe.

That’s all that mattered to him. All he cared about. His world was solid and right again.

He held on tightly. I’ve got you.

o-O-o

She was home.

Or more accurately, Sam mused as she took in her surroundings, she was in an infirmary bed on the Apollo. She drank in the sight of Jack, sleeping in the chair beside her, his hand resting over hers on the top of the covers. How had it happened? The last thing she remembered was...

Sam stood nervously in the middle of the circle. Toto stood off to one side; she’d already said her goodbyes to the lizard.

Just think of home.’ Neeya said to her as the large group of Nox gathered around her. They began to chant.

Sam closed her eyes. She should think of Atlantis; her command. She should return there. It was closer than Earth and she had a feeling it was going to take a lot for the Nox to just send her there.

But...her mind kept drifting to Jack. He would be worried about her; missing her. Just as she was missing him. She wanted Jack.

And suddenly, he was stood in front of her but she still couldn’t reach him. The air was like pea soup; cloying and sweet, heavy around her. She thought she was probably caught in some kind of energy field between the Nox world and the Apollo. She tried to move but it had been so hard and she had been so tired. She heard Jack tell her to fight; his brown eyes fierce on hers. It took the last of her energy but she made one last leap...

Her hand tightened around his.

Jack’s eyes blinked open immediately. He cleared his throat and straightened. His hair was askew; his jaw shadowed with overnight growth. He looked exhausted and her heart twinged painfully in her chest. She knew she had been the cause of his worry and lack of sleep.

‘Hey.’ Jack greeted her, his fingers rubbing against hers.

‘Hey.’ Sam replied. She accepted the drink he handed her and sipped up the water gratefully. ‘You look tired.’

Jack shrugged as he replaced the water glass on the cabinet. ‘You’re the one suffering from exhaustion.’

Sam’s lips twitched. ‘We make a right pair, don’t we?’

Jack grinned at her. ‘Yep.’ He brushed his thumb over her knuckles and took a breath, his expression sobering. ‘Bailey, Gent and Jones didn’t make it. Hissock survived.’

She knew Jack had known she’d want to know but it didn’t stop her from flinching nor the guilt that rose up her gullet. She’d hoped; she’d so hoped they would all be fine. She blinked back tears and her hand tightened on Jack’s.

‘You want to talk about it?’ Jack asked mildly.

She glanced at him. He wouldn’t push it; she could see it in his face. If she wanted to wait until her official report, he’d understand. Her gaze shifted to the ceiling; the pattern of the tiles.

‘They thought I was Elizabeth.’ Sam began quietly. She filled him in on everything; her escape, the planet, the lizard.

Jack listened carefully, not interrupting her. His grip had tightened almost painfully when she’d told him of her fall and the subsequent infection. His expression lightened as she explained about the Nox.

‘Got to love those guys.’ Jack murmured. He raised her hand and kissed the palm gently.

Sam cast an anxious look toward the closed door. They were alone but aboard the Apollo they were still ostensibly on duty, General and Colonel, just as they were on any Air Force base or craft.

Jack smiled in understanding. ‘Teal’c’s standing watch outside.’

She got his message that they wouldn’t be disturbed and suddenly she couldn’t bear that he was so close and still so distant. She wanted him closer to her; needed him closer to her. She let her fingers wrap around his and tugged at him to join her on the bed.

His eyebrows rose. ‘Carter?’ There was a laugh in his voice but he climbed up willingly. He remained on top of the covers as they shifted to cuddle against each other. His arm slid around her shoulders; hers around his waist, her head rested on his chest and she closed her eyes at the solid, reassuring presence of him, breathed him in, listened to his steady heartbeat under her palm.

‘How long?’ asked Sam as she felt his lips graze her forehead.

‘Not long.’ Jack admitted, knowing without further explanation needed that she wanted to know how long they had to spend together. ‘We’re rendezvousing with the Daedalus in an hour. They’re only half a day out from a Stargate. You’ll join Sheppard and the others; gate back to Atlantis.’ He paused. ‘SG1 and I will transfer to Daedalus and make our way back to Earth. The Apollo will continue onto Atlantis with its supplies.’

They lay together for a long while; holding each other.

Sam moved eventually, lifting her head to look at him.

Jack smoothed a hand over her cheek, leaned forward and kissed her gently. For moments, nothing existed but them. He inched away and gazed at her with warm chocolate eyes filled with so much love for her that her heart skipped in her chest.

Sam smiled. She’d been right the first time, Sam realised. She was home: she was with Jack.

fin.

Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
pamspam
Jun. 24th, 2009 05:39 pm (UTC)
Thank you...a lovely way to spend an hour in the garden with this :)
rachel500
Jun. 24th, 2009 07:27 pm (UTC)
Thank you for the comment! Glad you liked it :)
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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