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Fanfiction: Secrets Still Unspoken

Fandom: Stargate SG1
Series: Aftershocks
TAG to Episode: S7 Grace
Rating: PG-13
Author's Note: Sam/Jack UST.  Allusion to Sara/Jack, Teal'c/Drey'auc, Teal'c/Ishta, Daniel/Sha're.  Sam/Team friendship.   
Disclaimer: No copyright infringement intended. Written for entertainment purposes only.

 

Secrets Still Unspoken

Daniel Jackson flipped the book shut and gave up trying to find the reference he was after. He stretched, easing out the kinks in his shoulders and squinted into the darkness of his office. Maybe it was time to switch on another light. He looked down at the translation in front of him and tried to concentrate again. His fingers hovered over the word – maybe it wasn't Germanic in origin despite the culture on P9X739. Maybe it was Slavic although the figures were wrong but the syntax worked…maybe a fusion? Maybe…

He gave a huff as he lost the thread of his deduction for the millionth time. He slanted a look toward the clock. Maybe he could sneak into the infirmary and stand watch over Samantha Carter with Teal'c. OK, so Janet Fraiser had stated only one of the team could sit with Sam but Janet had to have gone home to be with her daughter, Cassie, hours before. He'd barely slid off the stool and turned toward the doorway when it was filled with a Jaffa-shaped form.

'Teal'c?' Daniel frowned, his body tensing. 'Something wrong?'

'Nothing is wrong, Daniel Jackson.' Teal'c said calmly. 'O'Neill has relieved me once again.'

'Right.'

Because Jack had bogarted the place beside Sam since she'd been carried through the Stargate unconscious after almost forty-eight hours of silence from the missing Prometheus. Her injury had been severe enough that as soon as the Prometheus had made enough repairs to get back on course, they'd immediately jumped to the nearest planet with a Stargate and sent Sam back to the SGC. The Prometheus itself was due back to Earth within the next couple of hours.

Daniel waved Teal'c inside the room and slumped back down on the stool. He knew it would be useless to go to the infirmary; Jack wouldn't relinquish his place. Resentment flared for a second before it subsided on a rush of something that tasted too much like pity.

He regarded Teal'c thoughtfully as the Jaffa closed the door behind him. 'Are we going to talk about it?'

Teal'c raised an eyebrow and placed his hands behind his back. 'Of what specifically do you enquire, Daniel Jackson?'

Daniel crossed his arms and raised his own eyebrows.

Teal'c's impassive features smoothed into greater impassivity – something Daniel had never considered possible.

They stared at each other.

'So we're not talking about it?' Daniel sighed. They never talked about Sam and Jack, and he was beginning to think that was a mistake.

'It is not for us to discuss.' Teal'c said with so much certainty that Daniel was almost prepared to agree with him because it had been Daniel's justification for as long as he could remember.

'Isn't it?' Daniel pressed on.

Teal'c gazed back at him implacably.

Daniel wasn't immune to the Jaffa's silence. He shifted on the stool, minutely changing position. He decided a different approach was needed. 'You know when I came back to the SGC I thought for a minute there that there was something romantic between Sam and me.'

Teal'c's eyebrow shot up at an impressive rate.

'Yeah, I know.' Daniel's voice was rich with amusement. 'But I didn't remember Sha're and I didn't remember…' he gestured out toward the door as though Sam and Jack were behind it rather than floors away in the infirmary.

'You and Major Carter have always been good friends.' Teal'c stated with confidence.

'I'm sure that was part of it.' Daniel agreed easily. That, and the truth that Sam was a beautiful woman. 'It wasn't until I suggested the idea to Jack that I remembered.' Remembered how Sam and Jack had been in love for years; how they had ignored it to put the mission and SG1 first. Remembered how he had never said anything overt because to bring it out into the open was to place the future of SG1 at risk and it was all he had after Sha're had died.

Teal'c's eyes gleamed brightly in the darkness. 'You questioned O'Neill about your relationship with Major Carter.'

'If looks could have killed…' Daniel joked. He pushed his glasses up his nose. 'But I also noticed they're friends now. Good friends. Better than they were before I left, I think.' He tilted his head thoughtfully. 'I mean, it's not just them; you and Sam are closer too.'

'You were greatly missed by Major Carter during your absence.' Teal'c said by way of explanation.

Daniel nodded. It made sense that with him gone, both of Sam's remaining team-mates had stepped into the void he'd left behind and tried to fill it. 'So I thought, you know, that maybe Sam still had…feelings even if things were different between them, but I wasn't sure about Jack…until now.'

When he'd seen how close Jack had come to completely losing it when they hadn't been able to track down the Prometheus. When he'd seen Jack spend every available minute at Sam's bedside like a worried lover rather than a concerned CO.

Teal'c's lips firmed. 'They have made their decision, Daniel Jackson. We must honour it.'

'Even if their decision is wrong?' Daniel blurted out. Because Daniel knew that it was. He'd always known it and had even half-heartedly tried to tell Jack that a couple of times because if he had the chance to be with Sha're…he wasn't sure that he could put the mission first.

'Even then.' Teal'c said softly. His face was a picture of sadness and Daniel wondered if Teal'c had already tried talking with Sam and Jack; if he'd failed to convince them to take the chance to be with one another.

Daniel sighed loudly; the whisper of breath echoing in the dark room.

'As I believe O'Neill would say; this sucks.' Teal'c intoned solemnly.

Daniel's mouth dropped open and an unwilling snort of laughter erupted. He watched as a small smile flickered across Teal'c's lips.

'And as a good friend of mine would say,' Daniel said with a smirk, 'indeed.'

Teal'c inclined his head.

'Come on,' Daniel decided suddenly, getting to his feet and patting the Jaffa's shoulder, 'let's go sit with them.' Both their friends needed the support and maybe, just maybe, he could convince Janet to let them all stay.

o-O-o

Jack bounced lightly on the balls of his feet and shoved his hands into pants' pockets, ignoring the confirmation of Jacob Carter's IDC in the background. 'You know I'm sure Doc said something about needing me back in the infirmary for a…thing.'

General Hammond shot him a look that told Jack he knew exactly why Jack wanted to be in the infirmary. Sam wasn't out of the woods and a member of SG1 was stationed at her bedside twenty-four seven.

Jack stilled with a sigh and removed his hands from his pockets. He tried to suppress the urge to fidget, fingers skimming the edge of his green BDU shirt when he failed. He wasn't needed for this, Jack thought grumpily, but couldn't blame Hammond. He wouldn't want to face off alone against a furious Jacob Carter either.

And Jacob Carter was furious; he hit the ramp with a thump of boots and an expression like thunder. He stalked down the ramp and came to a halt in front of Hammond. 'Your office.' He bit out, making it clear it was not a request as he turned and led the way.

Hammond exchanged a chagrined look with Jack but they followed. Jack barely had the door closed when Jacob let loose.

'She was missing and you didn't tell me!' Jacob yelled. A red flush travelled up his neck and suffused his face. He pointed an accusing finger at Hammond. 'We're supposed to be friends, George. How could you not tell me?'

'Jacob.' Hammond sighed. 'Why don't you take a seat?'

Jacob opened his mouth to speak but suddenly froze; his eyes flashed with the light that signalled his symbiote had taken over.

Jack felt his shoulders drop an inch as he rested a shoulder up against the wall of the office. He didn't have a lot of time for the Tok'ra but Selmak was the exception and much more reasonable than Jacob in a temper.

'I apologise, General Hammond.' Selmak said formally. 'Jacob is very upset.' She – he – it – Jack had never quite got a handle on the symbiote's sex – sat down in a visitor's chair.

'It's standard protocol not to inform family members of a disappearance within the time frame the Major was missing.' Hammond's low Texan drawl was comforting and brisk all at the same time.

'Intellectually, Jacob understands this.' Selmak soothed. 'But to learn of Samantha's disappearance from a Tok'ra council member rather than directly from the SGC was upsetting.'

'I apologise.' Hammond replied sincerely. 'I should have realised that the Tok'ra would have contacted you when we requested their assistance in tracking down the Prometheus.'

Jacob's head dipped and Jack straightened from his slouch against the wall as Jacob resumed control. 'Just tell me keeping me out of the loop didn't have anything to do with wanting me focused on the damn Telchak weapon.'

Hammond's eyes widened. 'Hell, no!' He raised one hand. 'You have my word, Jake.' He took a breath. 'I had hoped that we would find the Prometheus quickly before the need to tell you became an issue.'

Jacob subsided, slumping deep into the chair and suddenly looking his age. Jack relaxed imperceptibly sensing the moment of danger was past.

'I'm sorry, Jacob.' Hammond repeated softly. He settled back in his large leather chair; folding his hands over the swell of his stomach and the pale blue uniform shirt he wore.

'It's just…she's my little girl.' Jacob sighed tiredly and rubbed his forehead. 'How badly is she injured?'

Hammond's eyes slid to Jack.

'Doctor Fraiser is concerned about a subdural haematoma.' Jack said. 'But Carter's woken up a couple of times and been lucid so we're all hoping she's on the mend.' She'd called him Jack. The memory of that swept through him; at the way his gut had clenched at the sound of his name on her lips, at the soft look she'd given him as she'd thanked him. He'd done nothing though; she'd saved herself.

Restlessness rose up like an all over body itch. Jack fought to remain standing in position.

'As far as we can tell from Colonel Ronson's report, Major Carter was knocked out during an emergency manoeuvre away from an attacking alien vessel.' Hammond's face darkened. 'She was then left behind in the evacuation.'

Jack knew if Ronson hadn't already asked for reassignment he would have been facing it. Nobody should have been left behind least of all Carter. It was unacceptable.

'Luckily,' Jack chimed in aware his own anger coated the word with an irony money couldn't buy, 'leaving her behind meant that she was able to save all their asses.'

Jacob's face lightened with pride. 'She's something, isn't she?'

Jack pressed his lips together and didn't answer in case just how much he agreed with Jacob's sentiment slipped out. He figured Jacob's reaction to finding out that Sam's CO was in love with her wouldn't be a good one.

'She is that, Jacob.' Hammond drew Jacob's attention back to him. 'I wouldn't be surprised if there isn't another medal in her future.'

Jacob stood up decisively. 'I'd like to see her. I can use the healing device on Sam to mend any remaining damage.'

'Of course.' Hammond said kindly. 'If you'll excuse us, the Colonel and I have some business to discuss.'

The glance Jacob shot Jack was an amused 'rather you than me' note. Jack glared back at him but it had about as much affect as water off a duck's back. Jacob nodded and left the room.

Hammond sighed. 'Well, that could have gone worse.'

'I think we owe Selmak a bottle of the good stuff.' Jack remarked, smiling.

Hammond huffed a laugh out but sobered quickly. He leaned forward and picked up a pen. He pointed at the chair Jacob had vacated. 'Have a seat, Jack.'

Jack's heart sank. It was never good news when Hammond gave him the kindly father smile. He dropped into the seat and placed his hands on his knees. It was either that or he would start playing with the ornament on Hammond's desk.

'I've heard rumblings,' Hammond began, 'about your attitude during the search for the Prometheus.'

Jack grimaced and knew deep down that Hammond was using the Prometheus as a code-word for Carter. 'I realise that I might have, maybe, possibly allowed my concern for the Prometheus to…' he gestured weakly. 'You know.'

Hammond rolled the pen between his fingers and set it down. 'She's a valuable asset.'

'Yes,' Jack replied with a lump in his throat unable to hold Hammond's gaze, 'she is. But my attitude is my problem.' He hoped Hammond got the message.

Hammond placed the pen down and sat back. 'With her rescue of the Prometheus crew, Major Carter has pretty much guaranteed her promotion at the next board.'

Jack looked up from his study of the back of his hands. He frowned at the apparent non-sequitur. 'Sir?'

'I'm wondering whether we aren't doing her a disservice keeping her on SG1 instead of appointing her to lead her own team.' Hammond said slowly. His pale blue eyes were kind but guarded. 'We had to rejig the team before when Doctor Jackson…left. We survived.'

'Carter belongs on SG1.' Jack snapped out without thinking; fear rising up and almost choking him.

Hammond's thin eyebrows rose up his smooth forehead.

'Sir,' Jack said hurriedly, moderating his tone but gripped by the urgency to fix what he had apparently broken. He wouldn't let Carter lose her place on the team because of his stupid inability to hide how he felt about her. 'If Carter's going to lead a team, she deserves SG1.' He waved a hand at his knees. 'Once her promotion is through, I was thinking, uh, about retirement.' He made another abortive hand gesture. 'Or something.'

Hammond considered him for a long moment in which Jack waited barely breathing.

'And in the meantime, Colonel?' Hammond asked.

Jack swallowed hard because apart from one fairly specific conversation when Carter had been taken over by a computer entity thing and another after they'd lost their memories for a time, it was the closest that Hammond had ever got to asking him outright whether there was a problem.

'Carter continues to perform miracles and I get to be her CO.' Jack said tersely. The words 'and just her CO' hovered unspoken in the air between them.

Hammond's lips twisted into a sympathetic grimace that Jack had never wanted to see. 'Very well, Colonel. We'll reassess the situation after the promotion board.'

Jack let the sigh of relief out slowly so it would go unheard. He stood and made his way to the door.

'Jack.'

Jack looked back over his shoulder, one hand tight on the door handle. 'Sir?'

'If you ever need to talk off the record…' Hammond began; his whole demeanour a study in compassion.

'Thank you, sir.' Jack interrupted quickly. He could feel a flush of embarrassment heating his cheeks. His exit owed more to speed than grace.

Jack was at Carter's lab before he realised where his feet had taken him. He cursed and changed directions. He made it to the locker-room and was grateful to find it empty. He sank onto one of the benches and lowered his head into his hands.

God. He'd messed up; messed up big time. He couldn't believe he'd let himself slip up so badly that Hammond had all but given him the talk. He sighed and rubbed his hands furiously over his face.

He'd just been so goddamn worried when the Prometheus had missed its check in; when they hadn't been able to find any trace of the ship along the route. He hadn't been able to hide his anger that he'd let himself be talked into letting her go on the trip; hadn't been able to contain his fear that he'd made another decision that had gotten her killed…

Jesus Christ, hadn't he learned anything from what had happened with the entity? When he'd fired a zat gun at the woman he loved and killed her? He was supposed to have taken a step back; supposed to have let her move on with her life and to have moved on with his. He was an idiot. Somehow he had managed to slide right back to where he'd been when he'd had to shoot her without even noticing it.

And worse, he'd come close to screwing with her career, something that he had promised he would never let happen. Another team wouldn't be SG1, no matter how much Hammond might have dressed it up as appointing her as a leader. Jack knew how much SG1 meant to Carter; he knew how much she wanted the leadership position. She'd earned it too; she'd taken extra courses in strategy and tactics; had worked on her leadership skills taking on projects in addition to her usual duties. She more than deserved the promotion he was sure was coming her way.

Damn it.

She'd called him Jack.

It didn't matter, Jack thought wearily. Even if Carter had feelings for him, still cared about him as much as he cared about her, it didn't matter. It was on him as the senior officer to set the boundaries and protect her.

The sound of footsteps approaching had Jack getting to his feet and opening his locker as though he'd been retrieving something and trying to appear sanguine as SG13 entered, covered in a yellow mud. Jack raised his eyebrow at Dave Dixon, the Colonel in charge.

'No smart comments, Jack.' Dave warned.

'Not even one?' Jack shot back.

Dave glared at him but waved a yellow encrusted cap in his direction. 'Oh, hey! We heard about Carter. She OK?'

'Her Dad just arrived.' Jack commented, giving up the pretence and shutting the locker door. 'He's going to help heal her head injury.'

'Great.' Dave started to strip. 'I don't know what we'd do without her big brain protecting the lot of us.' He yanked his t-shirt over his head. 'Did we hear something about a party?'

'Team only.' Jack smiled at Dave's disappointment. 'But I'll save you a piece of cake.'

Dave sighed and unbuttoned his pants. 'You're no fun anymore, Jack.'

'I was never fun, Dave.' Jack retorted as he made his way out. He rolled his shoulders once he was in the corridor, trying to shake the tension.

He'd done it before, Jack mused as he made his way back to the elevator with a vague thought to find Daniel and Teal'c for some lunch. He had taken a step back, protected Carter. But he'd messed up then too; taken too big a step back. He had to find a balance. Something in the middle for as long as it took to get Carter her promotion and the leadership of SG1.

And then…and then maybe he'd find out if she would call him Jack when she didn't have a concussion.

o-O-o

'All I'm saying is that it's just as well you were there and I wasn't because if I'd found myself alone on the Prometheus like you did, well, let's just say I can't see that ending well. I'm talking major freak out.'

Jacob slowed and stopped to eavesdrop as he neared the room where Sam had been placed. He tried to place the voice.

I don't believe we have met this person before, Jacob, Selmak said.

'McKay,' Sam's voice cut in tiredly, 'not that I don't appreciate the visit…'

'I know – do you know how hard it was to get in to see you? Does no-one in your team actually have a life? Although I guess I can't exactly say anything; pot; kettle. I mean, I love my work but there are times when it would be nice to go home to more than a cat…'

'McKay.' Sam snapped.

'No, no, no! I'm not hitting on you…I promise.' McKay spluttered.

Selmak was laughing inside Jacob's head. We should rescue her.

'It's just…it was really hard getting into see you. If Doctor Glares A Lot hadn't ordered Jackson and Teal'c to skedaddle…'

'Skedaddle?' Sam questioned and Jacob noted the tiredness that weighted down her voice. Jacob began walking again quickly.

'It's a word! And…'

'And perhaps the Doctor's orders indicated that the Major needed her rest.' Jacob said firmly as he stepped into the room.

'Dad!' Sam brightened but Jacob could see white lines etched around her mouth and eyes; the unhealthy grey cast to her skin.

He walked around to the opposite side of the bed from Sam's visitor and took his measure. It was a youngish man; early thirties, dressed appallingly in jeans and a lurid green t-shirt with a clashing purple and yellow striped shirt which he'd left open over it. His hair was a pale brown; eyes as blue as Sam's; with a crooked mouth that was hanging open. It snapped shut.

'Well, I should…' McKay gestured over towards the door. 'Sam.'

'Rodney.' Sam replied back just as formally.

They watched him leave and Jacob smiled when Sam giggled as McKay got out of earshot.

'Sorry, he means well.' Sam said, taking a breath.

'Who is he?' Jacob asked, taking hold of her hand.

'Rodney McKay.' Sam replied.

'I got that much from your discussion.' Jacob pointed out with a touch of exasperation. 'What's his job?'

'He's the lead scientist for the 302 and 304 programmes.' Sam replied, wriggling into a better position on the bed. 'But he gets involved with a number of other projects.' She grimaced. 'He's a brilliant scientist but if you tell anyone I said that I'm claiming it was the concussion.'

Jacob found himself amused. He'd always thought she'd end up with someone like McKay; her intellectual equal.

'So he's not your boyfriend?' Jacob teased Sam.

They'd get bored with each other within months, Selmak predicted inwardly with a snort. You just don't want to admit…

Selmak, Jacob cut her off tersely. You're right; I don't. Can we leave it at that?

Sam looked horrified and pulled her hand free of his. 'I'm not talking about this with you.'

'Hey, I was joking, kiddo.' Jacob moved to soothe her. He sat on the bed. 'I just want you to be happy.'

'I know, I…' She looked close to tears. 'I can't talk about this with you right now.'

'OK.' Jacob agreed softly.

Sam patted her covers. 'Did you finish the weapon?'

'We're having problems with the power unit.' Jacob replied automatically. 'But that's not why I'm here. I heard you were missing from some jumped-up little upstart on the Tok'ra Council and when I got in touch to yell at someone, George he told me you'd been injured.'

She smiled. 'I'm fine.'

'If fine translates as Sam code for has a severe concussion.' The CMO added from the doorway. Fraiser made her way into the room, her heels clicking along the linoleum. She reached into the deep pocket of her lab coat and withdrew the healing device. 'I thought you might want this.'

'Thank you.' Jacob said. He slipped the device over his hand and adjusted the crystal until it lay securely in his palm. He glanced at Sam. 'You know this is getting to be too much of a habit.'

She rolled her eyes at him.

Jacob let Selmak take over; a rush of adrenaline flowed through him as she activated the device and Sam gave a soft moan as the golden glow hit her temple.

'There is bleeding.' Selmak said sofly and Jacob shuddered inside the privacy of their shared mind. 'I am healing the vessels.'

'Good,' Fraiser paled, 'that's good.'

Eventually, Selmak finished and lifted the device away from Sam. Jacob gazed down on her sleeping form and touched a hand to her cheek, sliding back into control of his body. There was a pink flush across Sam's cheek; she already looked better.

Fraiser checked the readouts on the machines monitoring Sam and took her pulse manually. 'She's sleeping.'

'Selmak says she'll need a couple of days rest but then she should be OK to start resuming her duties.' Jacob informed her briskly.

'Would you like to stay with her, General?' Fraiser asked briskly. 'I can have a lunch tray sent to you.'

'No,' Jacob shook his head and winced at the tiredness that dogged his mind and body; the healing device always took it out of them especially since Selmak's age had become an issue in their own ability to heal, 'I'm going to find some quarters.'

Good idea, Selmak said weakly inside his head. I'd like to rest.

'OK.' Fraiser nodded.

Jacob was vaguely aware that she was ahead of him as she led the way out of the room. He had barely taken two steps into the corridor when Selmak pulsed with a faint warning and lost consciousness. Jacob's world went grey as his vision darkened; he staggered into the wall as he was left startlingly alone inside his own head for the first time since he'd become a host.

'Sir?' Fraiser was suddenly beside him; her hand on his arm grounded him. 'Let's get you into a treatment room.'

He couldn't speak to tell her no; he panted for breath, panic clawing at him. Selmak was a silent presence; she was alive but she was out like a light leaving him in darkness. Jacob finally managed to wave off the doctor as she pushed him to sit on a bed.

She reached for her stethoscope. 'Can you tell me what your symptoms are, General?'

Fraiser moved forward and Jacob moved back.

'I don't need an examination.' Jacob protested, glowering at her. 'This is a private matter.' It scared him not to have Selmak complaining and backing him up inside his mind.

Fraiser speared him with a frank look. 'General, you had something that looked close to a combination of a dizzy spell and an anxiety attack. We are doing an examination.' She held up a hand when he went to argue. 'You and I both know that I can countermand any order from anyone of rank in regards to health. If you want, I can take this to General Hammond and…'

'No!' Jacob said loudly.

She raised an elegant eyebrow.

Jacob settled on the bed, disgruntled. He could understand better why Jack called her Napoleon behind her back. 'It's…I already know what's wrong. I don't need an examination.'

'I'd rather be the judge of that, sir.' Fraiser insisted, folding her arms over her chest. 'So if you don't mind removing your jacket…'

'Doctor.' Jacob sighed at the mutinous expression on her face. He desperately wanted Selmak back to help him navigate the conversation. 'I have your word this will remain confidential?'

'Of course.' Fraiser replied immediately, looking vaguely insulted.

'You can't inform your chain of command.' Jacob stated clearly. 'This is a Tok'ra matter.'

'Understood.' Fraiser said. 'I give you my word.'

Jacob squirmed under her impatient eyes. 'My symbiote has lost consciousness. Selmak's old and the healing device uses a lot of energy.' He paused and wetted his lips. 'Selmak's…we've known for some time that, uh, that he's…he's dying.' He felt light-headed with the confession.

Fraiser's dark eyes went soft with understanding. 'I see. Is there anything that can be done?'

'No.' Jacob shook his head. 'Selmak's over three thousand years old; the Tok'ra don't use the sarcophagus and the healing device doesn't work on the issues of old age.'

'Which are?' Fraiser asked bluntly.

'Some loss of memory,' Jacob said, 'but mostly he's finding it increasingly difficult to heal me.' And why he continued the ruse that Selmak was male, he would never know, Jacob mused tiredly. It really didn't matter, especially given the circumstances.

'I see.' Fraiser's eyes raked over him and he knew she was assessing his condition.

He sighed. 'You want to perform an examination.'

'Yes, I do.' Fraiser said. 'Apart from the usual post mission medicals, I haven't performed a full check-up on you since you were first taken as a host. If Selmak is failing, I'd like to monitor your health and help prescribe something which may help support your immune system.' She sighed. 'There is the possibility that your cancer could return.'

'Yes, I've considered that.' Jacob admitted. 'But it doesn't matter.'

Fraiser's eyes narrowed. 'You intend to die along with your symbiote.'

'Selmak is planning to do what Sam's symbiote did. We're still arguing about it.' Jacob corrected as he begun shrugging out of his jacket anyway. A check-up couldn't hurt and if he was able to handle some of his physical ailments without relying on Selmak, perhaps they would have more time.

'You should listen to Selmak.' Fraiser said brusquely. 'As Sam's friend, I have to inform you that it would devastate her to lose you.'

Jacob flinched but he held her gaze. 'You're out of line, Major.'

'Yes, sir.' Fraiser said dryly and he could tell that his emphasis on her rank rankled. 'Let's take a look at you.'

'You won't say anything to Sam?' Jacob pressed for the confirmation.

'I won't because I take doctor-patient confidentiality seriously,' Fraiser admitted with evident reluctance, 'but I think you should tell her.'

'We've been through my dying once before.' Jacob said briskly. 'I won't do that to her again.'

Fraiser nodded. She lifted the stethoscope again. 'Take a deep breath, sir.'

Jacob shook his head and let her continue the exam.

Jacob?

We're being examined by Doctor Fraiser, Jacob informed Selmak as relief rushed through him at her internal voice; her presence swelling from a faint echo to her usual self. We had a dizzy spell.

Selmak's shame filled him up and he shushed her silently.

I should leave you, Selmak said weakly.

No, Jacob replied firmly as Fraiser left with the instruction for him to rest. We have the mission to finish the Telchak device and…and I need you alive.

Jacob…

No, Jacob thought fiercely at her, you don't get to leave me behind.

Selmak's comfort flowed through him, easing the ache in his heart; the pain that flickered through him as he remembered the sensation of loss when she had passed out. He couldn't go on with that kind of void in his mind; he wouldn't.

Rest, Jacob, Selmak instructed him warmly; rest and we will allow Doctor Fraiser to help us live a while longer.

Jacob closed his eyes, reassured. He couldn't tell Sam. Or Mark for that matter. He should call his son while he was on Earth, Jacob realised. There might not be many more chances for him to talk to his kids. The thought filled him with sadness. He instinctively reached out for his symbiote and let her comfort him again.

o-O-o

'Was Dad weird with you too?' Mark Carter asked before Sam had barely got the hello out of her voice.

'Hi, Sam,' Sam shot back, 'how are you? I'm very well; thanks for asking.' She juggled the phone for a second while she finished shrugging into her short brown leather jacket. She walked out of her bedroom and wondered why her brother always phoned her at the most inconvenient times. She hadn't known her father had called him before he'd returned to the Alpha site to continue working on the Telchak weapon.

'Uh, sorry, Dad mentioned that you'd been injured.' Mark hastened to apologise. 'I'm not sure how you manage to get injured doing deep space telemetry though.'

'A piece of equipment shorted out and threw me across the room.' Sam explained succinctly, without mentioning that the equipment in questions was a hyperdrive and the room in question had been the engine room of a space ship. She grabbed her purse and headed into the hallway to make use of the mirror there.

'Ouch.' Mark said but with too much briskness to be sympathetic. 'So, Dad.'

Sam sighed, bent her head and tucked the phone in the space between her shoulder and ear to search for her lipstick. 'What about Dad?'

'Weird, right?'

'No more than usual.' Sam said. She turned to the mirror and carefully applied the make-up, smudging her lips together to blend the colour.

'He told me that he was proud of me.' Mark said almost accusingly.

'OK that is weird.' Sam frowned. Her Dad was notoriously bad at saying things like that. The last time he'd said it to her he'd been dying. But that couldn't be the case this time, Sam thought as she reached for a tissue to blot her lips. Her Dad had Selmak; the Tok'ra symbiote would keep him alive for years. Maybe it was her near-death miss that was the reason; he had looked worried and tired when he'd healed her. She belatedly realised that Mark was waiting for her to answer. 'I don't think it's anything to worry about. I had a severe concussion so maybe, you know…'

'It prompted him into doing his fatherly duty? Yeah, you're right; that sounds exactly like him.' Mark sighed.

'Mark,' Sam checked her watch, 'I'm sorry but I have to go. There's a team night and my friend's picking me up soon.' Teal'c wouldn't be late either; the Jaffa was always punctual.

'Don't hang up! I need to ask a favour…' Mark jumped in hurriedly.

Sam stopped, surprised enough to keep listening. Mark had rarely asked her for anything. 'What is it?'

'I have a friend…'

Sam's heart sank to her shoes. 'No.'

'But I haven't even…'

'I'm not the least bit interested in hooking up with one of your friends, Mark. I keep telling Tricia that; I didn't expect you to jump on the bandwagon.' Her sister-in-law meant well but Sam didn't want a blind date – she knew exactly what she wanted.

An image of Jack popped into her head; grey mussed hair, warm brown eyes, a cocky smirk. God. Her belly fluttered.

'It's not a hook-up.' Mark denied.

Sam rolled her eyes and stuffed the lipstick in her purse.

'Really, he's been working for the Denver PD for the last few months and he's got some case that has him in Colorado Springs for a couple of weeks. I was thinking you'd be a friendly face; someone to show him around.'

'No.' Sam said firmly. She still hadn't quite worked out what she'd been trying to tell herself with her hallucinations on the Prometheus but she was fairly certain it wasn't to go on a blind date with her brother's friend.

'Sam…'

'I have to go, Mark. Say hi to Tricia and the kids for me.' Sam thumbed the hang-up button without hesitating.

She glanced at her appearance in the mirror and tentatively raised a hand to her forehead. She had been so dizzy and confused on the Prometheus. She couldn't remember long periods of time; barely remembered the showdown with the alien vessel and creating the bubble that allowed them to escape the not-nebula. She had no idea who the little girl was and what she represented but she remembered with a vicious clarity the rest of the hallucinations and the painful conversations.

'Sam? I know you have denied yourself the experience because you think that it must inevitably end in pain, and loneliness. It's time to let go of the things that prevent you from finding happiness. You deserve to love someone, and be loved in return.'

Sam closed her eyes. That conversation with the hallucination of her father had been such a crazy mix of things they had spoken about and things he would never discuss with her. But the core of what had been said was the truth; she was scared that loving someone meant losing them. Her Dad had lost her Mom; Daniel had lost Sha're; Teal'c had lost Drey'auc and his first love; Jack had lost Charlie; she had lost a succession of men who had been interested in her, sacrificing themselves because they loved her even if she didn't, couldn't, love them back because of Jack.

Damn it. She kept thinking of him as Jack rather than the Colonel and that was so dangerous especially since the conversation with the hallucination of him haunted her.

'Friends.'

'Hey, this is you talking here: might as well be honest.'

Because that's all they were.

That's all they could be to one another while they remained in the Air Force; in the same chain of command; on the same team. But it wasn't what she wanted. She hoped deep down that she meant more to him than that; hoped that he felt something more than a platonic love for her.

Sometimes there would be glimpses of something; his teasing smile when he invited her to lunch, a flash of affection in his eyes when he bantered with her, warm concern for her when she was injured. But she couldn't let go of the fact that for a time she'd known without question he cared about her more than he should and she didn't feel that from him anymore. Deep down she was so scared friendship was all he felt for her; that his concern was one of a friend for another friend; his love a deep platonic one based on their years in SG1.

'I'd let you go right now if I knew.'

'That easy?'

'I didn't say it would be easy.'

'Then what's stopping you? If you really want to know?'

Sam's lips firmed. In theory it was so easy; she could step up and ask Jack how he felt. In reality it was a complicated tangle of regulations and duty and honour and…and fear that he didn't feel the same about her as she felt about him.

It wasn't just the fear. The regulations were real; she wasn't supposed to be in love with her CO and he wasn't supposed to be in love with her. To admit that she had those kind of feelings out loud would definitely mean the end of her time on SG1 because she couldn't see Jack being reassigned.

Would it be so bad, Sam wondered, staring at herself in the hall mirror. She'd thought seriously about leaving SG1 a couple of times before; when she'd realised she loved Jack, after Daniel had died. She could lead her own team; SG1 would survive without her – they'd survived without Daniel. But she didn't want to leave SG1; the guys were an integral part of her life, of her being – the hallucinations had shown her that if they'd shown her anything.

And there was the mission. Sam had taken an oath that the mission would come before self. She knew the fight against the Goa'uld might never be over, that Anubis was just the latest in a long line of Goa'uld bad guys. More, she believed that SG1 as a team was crucial to that mission. They'd survived without Daniel but they thrived with him – and she had to believe it would be the same if she left. So the thought of leaving SG1 to pursue a personal relationship with Jack felt selfish to her – and to risk leaving SG1 for something she wasn't even sure about?

How could she take that risk?

Or was that the fear talking? She couldn't quite make herself believe that Jack would report her feelings if she confided them; that he would force her off SG1. He might get formal with her again and things might get as uncomfortable as they had the last time they'd stepped back from each other, but Jack having her reassigned? She didn't see that.

The problem was if he felt the same…then what? They went to Hammond and requested a way forward and started seeing each other…loving each other. God, what if she lost him because she wasn't there to watch his back or to come up with a technical solution or…?

Her mouth went dry. Her eyes glimmered back at her in the glass; wide and scared.

Maybe it was the fear.

Hadn't she told herself that, Sam mused. Hadn't she said that if she considered Jack unattainable, he was always safe; she was always safe. There was no heartache to risk; no pain. Not from being with Jack…or from being with someone else.

But didn't she deserve to be loved? Was that what she wanted? Was that why she'd been feeling so restless the past few months?

Sam grimaced. Damn. She faced down alien ships and super soldier warriors but she was scared of loving someone and of simply having a conversation. Maybe it was time she found some courage and talked to Jack; resolve things with him one way or another for certain so she knew; so she could move on knowing.

She sighed heavily and checked she had her cell and her wallet in her purse before brushing a hand over her outfit; the jeans and sweater were practical but the pale blue colour brought out the blue in her eyes; the jacket was a favourite.

The doorbell rang and Sam went to greet Teal'c. Sam quickly settled in the borrowed base car and belted herself in. Teal'c pulled away competently into traffic and for a long moment there was silence between them.

'Something troubles you, Major Carter.' Teal'c commented quietly.

Sam turned and smiled at him. 'Just thinking.'

'Indeed.' Teal'c said dryly.

She laughed but looked down at the purse straps she was pleating nervously in her hands. She stopped immediately and shifted in the seat. 'I guess being alone on a space ship has made me consider some things.'

'I see.' Teal'c said softly.

'It's just…' Sam nibbled at her bottom lip as she turned over words in her head, searching for an explanation. 'You gave up Drey'auc to fight the Goa'uld, right? But you're kind of with Ishta now…' She flushed. 'Sorry, Teal'c. It's none of my business.'

'Do not apologise, Major Carter.' Teal'c glanced across at her with warm dark eyes filled with reassurance. 'You are my sister; you may ask me anything, and you are correct: I relinquished my bond with Drey'auc to fight the Goa'uld and I do not pursue a more permanent arrangement with Ishta for the same reason.'

'Right.' Sam chewed on the inside of her cheek. Teal'c had given up his love life to fight the Goa'uld. Did she have any right not to do the same?

'If I were human I may have made another choice.' Teal'c admitted, surprising her.

Sam shifted to look at him. 'I don't understand.'

'If Drey'auc and Rya'c had been human they could have lived here on Earth with me.' Teal'c said simply. 'But we are Jaffa and I could not ask them to live beneath the ground. If I had been given a choice, I would have chosen for them to remain with me.'

Sam reached out and placed a hand on his arm, wanting to comfort him. 'I'm sorry, Teal'c.' She sighed. 'The NID are still discussing whether you can live off base, aren't they?'

'Their concerns are valid.' Teal'c murmured. 'Although I no longer possess an infant Goa'uld symbiote, I am alien. If I were discovered, I could reveal the presence of the Stargate on your world.'

Sam nodded and subsided.

Teal'c pulled into Daniel's street and brought the car to a gentle stop. He turned and faced her. 'There is no dishonour in seeking a life beyond the battlefield, Major Carter.'

His words were sincere and kind; Sam felt her breath catch in her throat. She patted his hand and got out of the car before she embarrassed herself by bursting into tears. She hurried up the path and knocked on the door.

Her eyes widened abruptly at the sight of the man who answered. 'Jonas!' She sprang forward and wrapped the Kelownan in a tight hug before pulling back sharply. 'What are you doing here?'

Jonas grinned at her happily. 'Someone said something about cake?'

Jack smirked at Sam behind Jonas. 'I found him wandering the SGC corridors after his latest meeting with Hammond.' He waved her and Teal'c inside Daniel's house. 'Fraiser can't make it, she has an emergency surgery; Cassie sends her apologies but she's studying. Wait until you get a load of Daniel's new bed; it's like kiddie sized.'

Sam tried to shake off her thoughts and followed Jack into the den, barely aware of Jonas chattering away to Teal'c behind her on the latest about the Kelownan's negotiations with Earth.

Relax, Sam told herself briskly as she sat down; enjoy the evening and stop checking out Jack's ass.

The film was good; the cake divine; the company better. Sam found herself slowly relaxing as the evening wore on; the last of the loneliness that had suffused her on the Prometheus drowned out with the saturation of her team's presence. But her recovering body wasn't up to a late night and she was yawning at the end of the first movie.

'Time for all good Majors to go to bed.' Jack bumped her shoulder gently.

'Yeah,' Jonas grimaced, 'I should head back too. I was supposed to be back hours ago.'

'Guess that's my cue.' Jack said, standing up and stretching. 'I abducted you for cake, after all. I should get you back.'

'I will return Jonas Quinn to the base, O'Neill; you may escort Major Carter back to her home.' Teal'c said firmly, rising to his feet in an elegant move.

Sam stared in astonishment as Jack glared at their Jaffa team-mate. Was Jack mad at having to take her home? Teal'c's request was reasonable given he would have to return to the SGC anyway and while her house wasn't that far away, it was in the opposite direction. She sneaked a look at Daniel and found him looking at Teal'c with bemusement.

A sudden thought struck her with horror; what if Teal'c was match-making like some crazy Jaffa yenta after her comments in the car? What if Jack and Daniel knew and that was why they were being weird? But…no; Teal'c wouldn't have told them about what she said she was sure about that. She was probably projecting; just because her head was full of her and Jack didn't mean everyone else was thinking the same thing.

Teal'c raised the eyebrow and Jack nodded sharply. Sam's lips twitched; nobody argued with the eyebrow.

'Carter.' Jack prompted.

She got to her feet and hugged Jonas and Teal'c who were already making their way out of the door, waving them goodbye as they stepped out into the cold night air. She tugged Daniel into a hug. 'Thanks for hosting the party.'

'Anytime.' Daniel said, his hold tightening on her.

Sam eased back and poked him in the chest. 'You should call the furniture place and get them to replace that bed.'

'It's fine.' Daniel shrugged, shoulders rising and falling in an easy movement. 'It's a bed.'

Sam rolled her eyes at him.

'Come on, Carter.' Jack placed a single finger on her arm to get her moving.

Sam ignored the nerves churning in her gut as she climbed into Jack's truck. She wasn't going to say anything, Sam told herself firmly as Jack gunned the engine. There was nothing to say. If she said something to Jack…but if she said nothing to him then nothing changed…and didn't she deserve for things to change? To want something for herself?

'You OK?' Jack asked, breaking into her chaotic thoughts and sending them spiralling out of her head.

She glanced over and let herself indulge in watching his profile; noting the faint lines that creased the edge of his eye, the corner of his mouth. 'Just thinking.' She said, repeating the words she'd said to Teal'c on the way to Daniel's.

'I'd be shocked if you stopped.' Jack quipped, turning to smirk at her before returning his gaze to the well-lit residential road. 'What about?'

His tone was warm and inviting; reassuring. Maybe there was a way she could find out how Jack felt about her without a direct conversation. Sam wet her lips and took a deep breath. 'I was thinking about what happened on the Prometheus.' She raised a hand and gestured toward him. 'I had some hallucinations.'

'Yeah, the Doc mentioned something about that.' Jack murmured, frowning. 'She wasn't specific.'

She cleared her throat. 'Well, I, uh, mostly hallucinated people I could talk to; Teal'c, Daniel, my Dad; you.'

'Ah.' Amber light washed over Jack's face as they took the turning that led to her road. 'Did we say anything interesting?'

'Teal'c kept warning me to remain vigilant against threats.' Sam explained, hesitantly. 'Daniel wanted me to keep an open mind.'

'Sounds like them.' Jack said. He darted a look at her. 'So what did I say?'

'You told me to save my ass.' Sam rushed out, grateful that the dark hid her furious blush, and she dropped her gaze to lap.

Jack gave a huff of laughter.

'Anyway,' Sam hurried on, 'my hallucination of you…' she couldn't say it, couldn't breathe all of a sudden.

Jack looked over at her again with worry deepening the lines on his face. 'What?'

'It was probably the reason I called you Jack when I woke up, sir.' Sam blurted out in desperation to say something; anything to cover for what she wanted to say but couldn't seem to put into words.

He brought the truck to a gentle stop outside her house. He looked bemused and she couldn't blame him.

'I realise I might have acted a little abrupt back there,' Jack waved a hand over his shoulder to indicate the moment Sam had mentioned, 'you know when you…but I was just surprised; that's all, Carter.'

His gaze met hers but she couldn't tell in the darkness whether his eyes were guarded or open.

She bit her lip and gathered her courage. 'I know and…'

A phone rang; the shrill tones cutting through the intimate bubble between them like a sharp knife. Jack motioned at the dash in front of Sam. He'd thrown his cell on it when he'd gotten into the truck and it had slid to her side. She reached forward and picked it up, glancing at the display absently as she handed it over.

Sara.

Jack's ex-wife.

All the breath rushed out of Sam's body and she turned away trying hard not to listen as Jack answered the call. She hadn't realised he still talked with her. Or maybe they were trying again. There was no doubt in Sam's mind that Jack had loved Sara, would always love her; they'd had years together before Charlie had died and Sam couldn't believe that kind of history ever went away.

'Hey.' Jack cleared his throat gruffly. 'Can I call you back? Now's not…yeah, OK. Bye.' He threw the cell back on the dash and nudged Sam's arm to get her attention. 'You were saying?'

Sam forced herself to look up but her eyes darted away from his almost immediately. 'It's OK, sir. It's nothing.'

'There seems to be a lot of that going around.' Jack joked, referring to how she had thanked him for nothing when she'd woken up.

She shifted uneasily.

'Look, Carter,' Jack said sobering in the face of her discomfort, 'if you're worried about the name thing, don't be. You know you've had permission for years.'

Sam nodded. He'd given her permission in their first year but she'd rarely taken advantage of it even back then before things had gotten complicated. Calling a senior officer by his first name only added to the rumours about them and she'd wanted to avoid that. When she'd started having feelings she'd tried not to even think of him as Jack. Colonel was safer; the 'sir' a reminder of what he was to her professionally; of the distance she needed to keep. And it wasn't like he was any better; she couldn't remember the last time he'd called her Sam.

'And hey; I understand that sometimes friends might call each other by their friend's given name.' Jack teased gently.

Friends. There was that word again.

Sam's eyes flickered to him. He looked confused; worried and uncertain about what to say; how to help her. She attempted a smile to reassure him she was fine. 'Sorry, sir. I guess I'm just tired.' She gave a small shrug. 'I don't think I'm thinking straight.' Which was something of an understatement.

'So, go get some rest.' Jack ordered briskly but with a kind, warm look that made her heart ache. 'And quit worrying; that's an order, Carter.'

Her lips tilted upward of their own accord. 'Night, sir.' She pushed open the truck door and climbed out. She walked up the path and unlocked her door. She deactivated the alarm and turned to the window just in time to see Jack's truck pulling away.

Jack. She hadn't been able to think of him as anything but since the hallucination. Damn.

Sam grimaced, leaned back against the front door and closed her eyes.

Stupid.

She was so stupid.

She couldn't talk to him. It was too much of a risk. They'd agreed long before to leave their more personal feelings in a room to focus on the mission and nothing had changed to alter the importance of that. She ignored the voice in her head smartly pointing out that it wasn't just the mission she was afraid to risk; the whisper of Sara at the back of her mind taunting her with the fear that he was back with his ex; that he didn't see Sam as anything other than a friend.

Selfish.

It was so selfish to want more. She had Jack's friendship; Daniel's and Teal'c's too. She had Janet and Cassie. Her father. Even her relationship with Mark was a hundred times better than it had been when she had joined the programme. Why couldn't she be satisfied with what she had?

But she did want more no matter how selfish it felt. She wanted the kind of relationship she'd seen her parents enjoy before her Mom's death; love and companionship. Someone to hold her; someone who could tell her she was beautiful openly and honestly without a concern for regulations and responsibilities.

Of course, nobody had said that someone had to be Jack.

The thought jarred her into opening her eyes. Maybe that was what her hallucination had been trying to point out. Maybe she'd been trying to tell herself that she needed to stop focusing on Jack; risk her heart on something attainable; something not mired in complications.

When was the last time she'd even had a date? Explored something other than a man she couldn't have?

Sam found herself moving without having made a conscious decision to do so. She picked up the phone she had discarded on the hall table and dialled her brother's number, fingers tapping impatiently on the wood of the side table while she waited for him to answer.

'Mark Carter.'

'Mark, it's me.' Sam replied crisply. She took a deep breath. 'OK.'

'OK, what?' Mark asked, sounding befuddled.

'OK, set me up with your friend.' Her heart pounded heavily in her chest.

'Seriously?'

Mark's shock had her rolling her eyes. 'Just…just do it before I change my mind.'

'Consider it done.' Mark said hurriedly. 'Look, he gets into the Springs in about a week, I think? I'll give you a call in a few days when I get the exact details from him and so I can give you the complete lowdown but he's great, Sam.' He assured her. 'You're going to like Pete, I promise.'

Pete. Sam closed her eyes again and rubbed at her forehead. 'OK.' She fought the urge to tell Mark to forget it; to take back her acceptance. 'Talk to you then.' They said goodbye and Sam let the phone fall back on the hall table with a clatter.

Apparently, she was going on a date.

With a guy called Pete.

Who wasn't Jack.

Sam put her head in her hands and laughed weakly. What the hell was she thinking?

fin

Comments

( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
rachel500
Apr. 7th, 2011 07:49 pm (UTC)
Hi! Thanks for the comment. It is a frustrating episode. When I first saw it, I was certain that it was meant to suggest that Sam should move forward with Jack - Pete was a horrible surprise!
utah_yoda
Apr. 9th, 2011 04:57 am (UTC)
Arrived by way of Sg1_debrief

I really liked this; it was a great filler for why Sam made the decisions that she did. I also really liked the scenes with Jacob/Selmak; you captured their relationship just like I picture it. Their arguments with each other felt real, and were gut-wrenching.

The line you wrote describing Teal'c as some "crazy Jaffa yenta" made me burst out laughing. I'm still giggling about it.
rachel500
Apr. 9th, 2011 03:06 pm (UTC)
Thank you for the comment! I'm glad you enjoyed and yes, that yenta line was a fave of mine in the fic too. :)
misswelles
Apr. 9th, 2011 03:12 pm (UTC)
ah great story. I definitely think Daniel, Teal and Hammond all know!

Tee hee love how both Sam and her dad are amused and horrified at the thought of Sam and McKay!
rachel500
Apr. 11th, 2011 11:37 am (UTC)
I think amused and horrified probably describes perfectly *my* reaction to Sam & McKay too! Thanks for the comment. :)
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )

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