Disclaimer: Stargate SG-1 and its characters are the property of Showtime/Viacom, MGM/UA, Double Secret Productions, and Gekko Productions. I have written this story for entertainment purposes only and no money whatsoever has exchanged hands. No copyright infringement is intended. The original characters, situations, and story are the property of the author(s).
Jack woke up with a start. He was lying on the floor in the main room of a small cottage, dressed in a plain brown tunic and pants. He reached over and shook the shoulder of the similarly dressed woman across from him. "Carter?"
She groaned and turned her head to look at him. "Colonel?"
He nodded and slowly sat up holding his head.
"You okay?" she asked.
"Other than a monster headache and scrambled brains... You?"
She raised herself on her elbows to look around, "Same. Well!" she exclaimed when her eyes fell on a small child with blond curls, little more than an infant, sleeping peacefully on the floor between them, "Who's this?"
"You're Carter." She nodded. "I'm Jack. Then this is... Sam."
"You sure?" she asked doubtfully, "What makes you think so?"
"Sam is my other favorite name." His eyes met hers, "Besides Carter."
She smiled brilliantly at him. "Okay, but I'm still not sure you're right about that."
"Then who is she, smarty pants?"
"We'll go with Sam until we have another idea."
"Mm hmm. Told ya." He grinned at her as he got up from the floor and swayed for a minute, "Whoa. Don't get up on my account," he waved a hand at her as he stumbled to the door.
"Where are you going?"
"To look for Daniel and Teal'c," he answered without thinking.
She nodded. That sounded right. "Do you even remember what they look like?"
He considered, "No, but I'll know `em when I see `em. You stay here with Sam. I'll be back in a minute."
When he returned, Carter was playing peek-a-boo with Sam who was giggling for all she was worth. He paused at the door and wished he could smile at the pair. Carter noticed him. "What did you find?"
"Something terrible happened here. I found five dead."
"Daniel or Teal'c?" She asked, concerned.
"No sign of them. And other than those five, the village is deserted." He walked over and picked up Sam who was starting to investigate the cold fireplace. "Not a place to play, little girl! I can't imagine what happened here, but whatever it was," he gestures at his head, "we were caught in it."
"Then why aren't we dead?"
"Everyone else was outside. Maybe we were protected enough in here?"
"Whatever it was I'd guess we knew all about it, but somehow it screwed with our heads."
"You'll figure it out. Something tells me you're the brains of this outfit." He gently disentangled Sam's fingers from the sunglasses around his neck, and handed her back to Carter. "Keep her inside for a while. I'm going to go lay our friends to rest."
She nodded gravely at him as he left, then spoke to Sam, "Well, sweetheart, let's see if we can find something yummy for you, shall we?"
Frasier entered the General's office. In her arms she carried the familiar medical files.
"Anything to report, Doctor?" the General asked.
"All our people who were affected by the energy wave on PX6 391 seem to be recovering. They have headaches, some pretty big holes in their memories, and some scrambled thinking. Dr. Jackson told me he can only remember nine and a half languages. But pieces of a few more are coming back to him. I expect they'll all be fine by morning. The man from the planet who was affected fared much worse. He may not recover fully."
The General studied her, "What does this mean for Colonel O'Neill, Major Carter, and the others?"
"I don't know. And sending a probe back won't help. This form of energy is undetectable by our instruments. We can only measure the effects." Her lips were set in a thin line, "Major Carter could probably figure out a way, but..."
"Do we even know they're alive, Doctor?"
"No, Sir. If they were far enough away, if they were under cover... The energy wave has less of an effect on Earth humans, than the natives of this planet, so there's hope..."
"Send Dr. Jackson and Teal'c to my office as soon as they're able."
"Yes, Sir." The General sat down behind his desk with a deep sigh as Dr. Frasier returned to her patients.
Jack returned from his undesirable task and sat down at the table wearily. Carter placed a bowl of food before him as Sam tried to climb into his lap cooing and babbling. He lifted her and hugged her for a moment. "I can't even remember their names."
"Maybe you really didn't know them." Carter responded, massaging his shoulder with one hand, as she set a few more things on the table.
"A village this size? We must have known everybody! I marked the graves, so we can come back later and do a proper headstone."
Carter nodded and sat down with him, "That's good."
Jack took a deep breath and turned to his food. He realized he was starving. "What'd you girls do?"
"Sam ate some lunch, we played, and she `helped' me make your meal. She's a great little companion." Carter looks over at the kitchen. "I might be the `brains' but I don't think I'm the cook. None of this seems familiar to me. Shouldn't I be able to do this almost without thinking?" She takes Sam so Jack can eat, shows her a toy which instantly delights her.
Jack speaks with his mouth full, "You did a great job by my reckoning!"
Carter smiled into Sam's hands as she tried to show off her new toy, "You're just hungry." She pauses, "Jack, I'm concerned that our `assumptions' are wrong."
"You and me, us, Sam, all of this... Who are Daniel and Teal'c, really?"
Jack shrugs, "This feels right."
"I know. It really does. It's just..."
"Look. You think too much. We have no way of knowing anything for sure right now, so we go with the information we have. If you're right, what would we be doing differently?"
"There you go. Now after I finish this, and may I say, delicious meal, I'm going to see about getting us some new information. Head out, take a look around."
She lays a firm hand on his shoulder, "You stay. I'll do recon."
Jack considers, "Sure" he says, getting up and taking Sam into his arms and kissing the top of Carter's head. "It's about time I got to spend some time with my other woman."
Carter grins at the pair as she picks up a gun and heads out the door.
Daniel and Teal'c enter General Hammond's office in full gear. "We are ready to return to the planet, General Hammond."
"I'm not sure we're ready to do that just yet, Teal'c. What can you tell me about your experience on PX6 391 now that your memories have fully returned?"
Daniel sat down, "We had been on the planet for a week when Jack found the Goa'uld technology. The device Apophis planted near the mine was well hidden. Apparently it was put there when the Naquedah deliveries began. Every time the Nadeelens opened the wormhole to make a delivery, Apophis restarted the timer on the device. When the deliveries stopped the timer ran down and the device went off."
"We began the evacuation as soon as MajorCarter determined there was a threat," Teal'c added, "There was much confusion. ColonelO'Neill requested the aid of SG-11. They were very helpful in getting most of the villagers through the gate."
"We were just about done. There were only a handful of people left when Biera realized her husband didn't have their baby. He thought she had her, she thought he had her... there was a lot of chaos. Anyway, Sam ran back into the village. She said she'd have enough time. When Jack found out, he went after her. Teal'c and I and the baby's father stood at the gate `till the last minute."
"And beyond," added the General.
"We saw the energy wave. It `flowed' out from the foot of the mountain in all directions. Teal'c shoved Jelu in and then he and I dove through. End of story. We saw no sign of Jack or Sam."
"And barely made it back yourselves!" the General knew that they had actually been hit by the very edges of the wave as they entered the `gate. "So this energy wave did no physical damage to buildings or people?"
"You are correct, General Hammond. The wave only affects the mind."
"It was designed to kill the Nadeelens but leave the mine intact."
"I know we can't detect the wave. But I'd still like to send a probe through to determine if there are any visible effects still occurring. Plus we may get some idea of the whereabouts of our people. When we have that information, I'll be able to determine whether anybody is going back to that planet. Dismissed."
Sam returned just as the sun was setting. She too had to pause quietly in the doorway because of the scene before her. Jack had a fire going in the fireplace, and was sitting in a comfortable chair with Sam sound asleep on his lap. His cheek rested gently in her blond curls. He stared into the flames until Carter made a small noise. Jack's head jerked up, almost disturbing Sam.
"Sorry!" Carter whispered, her eyes twinkling at him.
Jack signaled her to be quiet as he gently lifted the limp body and carried her into the other room. Carter followed and watched him lay her down and tuck her in. He came to stand behind her putting his arms around her and lowering his mouth to her ear. "Now this I remember: The joy of watching a child sleep."
Sam frowned slightly. She had no memory of this. But she wouldn't let it spoil the moment, and leaned into his embrace.
Jack took her hand and led her into the main room. He pulled another chair up to the fire. They spoke softly, "What did you find?"
Sam sits, "I covered a lot of territory, but I don't have a lot of new information. I didn't run across a single soul, or any living creature for that matter, nor bodies. There are basically two roads out of the village, which I'm sure you saw this afternoon. One is less traveled and heads straight to the Stargate-"
"Stargate?" he pauses, thinking to himself, "Stargate."
"I know. That gave me quite a pause. I know a lot about the Stargate, I just can't remember any of it." Frustration shows on her face.
Jack nods, time to go on. "What about the roads?" he prompts.
"The other road is much more heavily traveled and branches several times before it ends at the foot of a mountain. There seems to have been some kind of mining operation there, but like everything else, it's deserted."
"Did you go into the mine?"
"By that time it was starting to get dark. I wasn't comfortable exploring it without more equipment, so I came home."
"Smart. Plus, we really missed you."
Carter leans forward and takes Jack's hand in both of hers, "What next, sir?"
Sam closes her eyes, "It comes so very naturally, unlike the kitchen." She grins wryly. "I've bit my tongue several times `cause it doesn't seem to fit this," she gestures at the room, "But it's real."
Jack looks at her, narrows his eyes, studying her, thinking thoughts he doesn't want to think. He knows she's right. Then he leans forward and kisses her deeply but gently. When he finally pulls back, he looks at her, his eyes full of sadness and regret. "I'm gonna get some sleep. It's likely to be a big day tomorrow!"
He leaves Carter staring into the fire.
Two hours later he pokes his head out of the bedroom and looks at her. He hasn't slept either. He walks back in. "Carter? Whatcha doin'?"
He sits back down next to her. "'bout what?"
"What do you remember?"
He cocks his head at her.
"About us." She clarifies.
"Aah!" He settles in, "I remember ice."
"Ice was when I first really loved you."
"You wouldn't leave."
She looks at him, waiting.
"I `ordered' you to leave. You were supposed to leave. You didn't."
"I did." A vague memory surfaces.
"Plus you laugh at my jokes."
She smiles. "You wouldn't leave either. I remember feeling you should leave. Wanting you to leave and you wouldn't. You insisted on trying to save me when there was no chance."
"There's always a chance."
"I love you because you believe that."
"I love you because you let me." He pauses, "And you laugh at my jokes."
She chuckles, "Jack..."
"They're not very good jokes..."
"You are honorable, brave, courageous, a true leader, you always do whatever you have to - Whatever is needed. You sacrifice... "
He interrupts. "Some of `em are funny."
"Jack - "
"I remember a blue gown."
"Blue...I'd never seen you so beautiful. And the fact that you hated it only made you more beautiul."
She shakes her head. She doesn't remember that.
"You're smart, but tough, Beautiful, but dangerous. And you never, ever, take any of my crap."
"There are so many times I remember wanting to give up, expecting you to give up. I can't remember what actually happened, only the feelings. You never give up."
"Ice" He stares into the fire "You came back. You didn't leave."
They stare into each other's eyes in the firelight.
"Big day - "she starts.
"tomorrow" he finishes. "yeah."
They both stand and consider one another. She steps into his arms. He holds her, buries his face in her hair. "G'night Carter."
They both retire to separate bedrooms. They have to. If they started anything now...
The Stargate is dialing up the planet. The MALP goes through and shows a split second image of a squad of Jaffa before it is destroyed.
"I guess Apophis decided to see how well his device worked." Daniel grimaces.
"We do not know that ColonelO'Neill or MajorCarter have been captured. They are both very accomplished in stealth."
"Until you can show me a way to get past that guard, no one is going back."
Daniel hugs himself and frowns in thought. Teal'c turns and leaves the control room.
Jack is up early and is busily packing flashlights and weapons into a pack. Carter walks sleepily into the room with a wide awake and very cheerful Sam in her arms. When Carter sets her on her feet she toddles over to Jack and holds out her arms, "Up! Up!"
Jack grins, picks her up and tosses her a couple times. Sam rewards him with shrieks of laughter. But his face turns serious as he sets her down and arranges the wooden blocks he carved for her the evening before so she can play with them. She giggles and begins to stack them and knock them over. Jack turns to Carter, "I'm gonna check out the mine. It's gotta be the key to what happened here."
"I agree, but should you go alone?"
"Probably not, but we gotta do something, and I'm not putting Sam at risk," he slings his pack over his shoulder. "When she's ready, take Sam and head up to the Stargate. See if anything comes back to you."
"That's an order, Carter." He says it too harshly. And he regrets it instantly, he's frustrated, but it's not her fault. He didn't sleep at all last night. He lay awake thinking about their situation. Wanting to be with her, but being with her the way he wants would ruin everything. The fact that he can't remember what, exactly, he would be ruining makes it ten times more frustrating. "Carter, I..."
She nods. She understands.
He looks at her a beat more, not understanding why she's able to forgive him so easily and so often. He heads out the door as Carter turns to get Sam some breakfast.
As soon as Jack left the house he realized there was action in the direction of the stargate. He immediately decides to change his plans, and heads in that direction. He doesn't get too far before he spots a Jaffa and drops silently to the ground. They are already moving into the town. He sees there is one advanced scout who is getting close to the house, too close. He moves quickly and stealthily around behind him. He means to take the scout out silently and then get Carter and Sam into the forest before they are detected. Jack succeeds in killing the scout without a sound, but not before he manages to bury his knife deep in Jack's side.
Jack stumbles to the house, pauses to catch his breath, and walks in. Carter turns, surprised to see him back already.
"There's trouble. A squad of..." he can't think of the word, "armed men from the gate. Get whatever Sam needs and let's get out of here." He begins to gather up the gear Carter would have worn for herself while she grabs some things for Sam. In less than a minute they are running into the forest together. Carter is carrying Sam while Jack has most of the gear.
"General, we have got to do something!" Daniel exclaims.
"Dr. Jackson, I am aware of your feelings. We don't know if there's anybody to rescue." The general is equally adamant.
"I have been led to believe that the Tau'ri do not leave their people behind."
"Jack's been left for dead before, General, are you going to do that to him again?" Daniel tries to play the right card.
"What do you suggest, Doctor Jackson? Tell me a way to do this without guaranteeing the deaths of several more men. Would Colonel O'Neill and Major Carter want that?"
"What if..." Daniel is searching for a compromise, "send a UAV through. If there's no contact, we'll - give up." Teal'c throws him an eyebrow.
General Hammond stares at Daniel for a beat. This is not about getting them off his case. He wants to mount a rescue as badly as they do, maybe more so.
He reaches for his phone, "Prepare a UAV."
Carter is running with Sam who is crying into her shoulder, frightened by all the commotion. Carter tries to comfort her, but it's difficult in the current situation. The distraction delays her realization that the Colonel is falling behind. She slows to let him catch up, alarm bells ringing, "Sir?"
"Carter, we've got to do a better job of covering our trail!"
She instinctively reaches out a hand to steady him, and accidentally touches the knife wound. He grunts and goes down on one knee. She pulls away a hand covered in blood. "Sir!"
"I'm fine. It's just a scratch."
"You should let me look at that."
"No time. Let's get safe and then you can play doctor."
She helps him to his feet. He puts a hand on Sam who stops crying to look at him. He smiles at her, seems to gain strength from the act, and leads off in a slightly new direction.
The Jaffa have discovered that the village is not deserted. Someone has killed one of their scouts. The new first prime orders a search. The trail into the forest is soon discovered and the squad sets off on the hunt. As a result, the Stargate is only lightly guarded when the UAV flies through. The guards who are present only manage to get a few shots off before it is away. It circles around first to show the current situation at the gate. Then it takes off in a search pattern to try to locate the missing people.
A couple miles from the village Jack loses his footing again. "Sir, you can't go on like this. We have to stop."
He looks at her. "Stop where, Carter?"
She shakes her head. It pains her to see him like this.
Just then the UAV flies close enough to be heard. Carter grabs her radio just as Daniel's voice can be heard. "Come in SG-1!!"
"Daniel! We read you. We are being tracked into the forest three clicks southwest of the village. There are approximately twenty..."She searches for the word, finds it, "Jaffa behind us. The Colonel has been injured. We need back up."
The General's voice is heard, "Major Carter, the UAV showed limited forces at the gate. We will be with you in less than an hour. Hold on."
Jack has fallen into a sitting position during the exchange. He almost goes limp at the news that Carter and Sam will soon be rescued.
"Sir, d'you hear that? They'll be here soon. We just have to go to ground."
"Right. But we split up."
"I'm leaving a trail - "
"And I can do something about that!" Without waiting for him to protest, she passes Sam who has now cried herself to sleep into Jack's arms and whips out the bandages. "This isn't the best job I've ever done, but it'll keep you from leaving a blood trail. Now we double back to those trees, and wait for reinforcements."
Jack, who has been almost silent during Carter's ministrations except for a few grunts and groans, is now very pale. "I told you you were the brains. Lead on." He's too weak to do anything else.
They move back off their trail, careful not to leave any signs of their passing. Carter shouldered all the gear and took Sam, leaving Jack to struggle to his feet.
Daniel, Teal'c and several soldiers come through the gate shooting. The Jaffa are quickly overpowered. They set up a group to keep the gate secure, and head out in the direction Carter told them.
Because of Teal'c's superior tracking skills, they are able to move much more quickly than the Jaffa. Teal'c soon pauses and goes down on one knee. "They paused here for some time. Colonel O'Neill appears to be badly injured. There is a large quantity of blood, along with the trail we followed here." Daniel grimaces. But now Teal'c smiles.
"What?" Daniel asks.
"The Jaffa have continued ahead, but Major Carter and Colonel O'Neill have doubled back. We should find them soon."
Carter has found them shelter, almost a cave, under the roots of a huge tree that fell some time ago. She first lays down her coat to make a bed for Sam before turning to Jack who collapses at the entrance. It's all he can do to keep from crying out when she takes his shoulders and pulls him further under cover. "I'm sorry."
Rather than hurt him by pulling him farther, she scrambles out to cover his legs with leaves and twigs. "Help will be here soon, Jack, hang on."
"Carter," his voice is very weak, "The last couple days were great. I wouldn't change a thing."
"Yeah" she softly agrees. Sam stirs and wakes up. She crawls over to them and Carter pulls her on her lap. Jack smiles up at them and closes his eyes. He looks peaceful. Suddenly he is very still. "Jack?" she asks softly, fearfully. She reaches out to touch his face. "No! Not now. Not when help is so close! Please!" she whispers. She leans down and kisses him.
She hears a noise nearby, but doesn't react except to hold Sam tighter, shielding her. She keeps her hand on Jack.
"Sam?" Daniel kneels down in the opening and peers in at them.
Carter looks at `Sam' and then back at Daniel, "Daniel?"
Daniel knows he needs to proceed carefully. He doesn't know how much she remembers. "How's Jack?"
Carter's eyes fill with tears and she shakes her head. Daniel looks at her in disbelief. He reaches in to check Jack's pulse. "Teal'c!" He kneels next to Daniel, still wary of their surroundings. "We have to get Jack medical help now! I can't feel a pulse."
Teal'c doesn't even speak. He grabs Jack's arm, pulls him from the shelter and over his shoulder in one smooth motion. He steadies Jack with one hand, grabs his staff weapon with the other, nods at Daniel and Carter, and runs into the forest.
"We really should try to give him some cover. Can you two travel?"
"We're fine, but I need to keep her safe."
"I'm gonna follow Teal'c to the gate and come back for you. Okay?"
Sam nods, and Daniel runs after Teal'c. He catches him just as he encounters a small group of Jaffa. Teal'c fires his staff weapon one handed and never stops moving to the gate. Daniel finds decent cover and takes out Jaffa as quickly as he can. When the last Jaffa falls he receives a transmission from Teal'c. "Thank you for your assistance DanielJackson. I have reached the gate. You are free to return to MajorCarter and the child."
"Roger that, Teal'c. Get Jack home."
Daniel returns to the fallen tree and peers into the gloom. He sees Carter sitting and rocking the child on her lap. Little hands are reaching up to touch the tears on her cheeks. "Sam?" he asks gently.
"Why do you call me that?" She asks.
"Major Samantha Carter, that's your name."
She turns to look at him, frowns, "I'm Sam?" Daniel nods at her. "Then who's this?"
Daniel smiles, "I think that this must be Belanna. Her mother has been very worried about her. She'll be very happy to know you succeeded in rescuing her."
Sam frowns and shakes her head, "Her mother? Then I'm not..."
Daniel crawls in and sits across from her. Sam/Belanna leans her head on Carter's shoulder and looks at Daniel with big eyes. Daniel smiles at the baby, and asks as gently as he can, "What did you think?"
The emotions of the last two days are too much. "We woke up alone in a house with a child, what do you think we thought??!!" She almost shouts. Daniel puts up his hands in a sign of restraint, there are still Jaffa around. "And now..." her voice trails off.
"Jack is Colonel O'Neill. He's the leader of our team; SG-1; you, me and Teal'c. We travel through the Stargate to many different planets." He pauses because Carter is nodding slowly. "It's hard for you to remember because the device that scrambled your brain is still active. When we get home you'll remember everything."
Carter wipes at her eyes and gathers up Sam/Belanna. She's ready to go.
At the `gate Daniel pauses to look at Carter who is holding Belanna tightly. "Are you ready for this? Biera will be waiting on the other side."
Carter looks beaten, first Jack, now Sam? But she hugs the baby and kisses the top of her head, then hands her to Daniel. "You do it." And she steps through the wormhole with Daniel and the rest of the squad right behind her.
In the gate room Carter doesn't stop for anyone, not even the General, but heads straight to the infirmary. On the way she ducks into a deserted closet, falls to her knees and weeps quietly. There are just too many feelings, thoughts and returning memories. When she gets herself under control, she walks the rest of the way to the infirmary. Janet is waiting for her, as is Teal'c. Daniel has managed to inform them of everything before she got there. Janet takes her arm when she pauses at the door staring at the empty beds. She had been hoping beyond hope to see Jack there. Janet wants to give Carter a hug, but doesn't want to break her control. Instead she tells her what she wants to hear; "Jack is in surgery to repair the knife wound. He should be out pretty soon."
It was a good thing Janet had led her to a bed because she abruptly sat down as her knees gave way. "How is he?"
Janet sighs, "It's too soon to tell. He lost a lot of blood."
Carter nods, "He didn't even tell me."
Janet continues her examination. When she determines there's no immediate danger she helps Sam lie down and gives her a sedative. Sam doesn't resist. "He'll be here when you wake up." Teal'c moves to sit beside her bed.
In the night, Sam wakes up to see that Jack is indeed asleep in the next bed. She moves around the machines that surround him and takes his hand. She needs to feel its warmth. Teal'c comes up silently behind her and puts his hand on her shoulder. "Doctor Frasier believes he will recover fully." Sam smiles slightly and nods her thanks. Eventually Teal'c moves to get her a chair and she stays there the rest of the night.
At dawn she leaves to go outside and breathe the mountain air. How do you deal with the loss of something that was never yours to begin with? Deep down, she knew all along, so why was this so hard? Jack wasn't dead. She was still on his team. SG-1 was still intact. Things were back the way they belonged. She thought a long time about options and priorities; hers, Jack's, the SGC's, the country's... Finally there weren't a lot of choices. She needed to talk to Jack, to tell him-
"Thought I might find you out here," She jumped when Daniel came up behind her. "Sorry," he grinned, "didn't mean to startle you. I just wanted to tell you that Jack's awake. He's pretty sleepy, but he asked for you." He was talking to air.
Teal'c stood when Carter entered. He nodded at her and moved to gently but firmly usher out a nurse who was hovering nearby. Jack weakly waved a hand at her, "Hey."
She smiled, "Hey, yourself. How're you feeling?"
"Doc says I'm gonna be fine. She says your little bandaid saved my life."
Sam scoffs, "That was a terrible bandage! I'm embarrassed she even saw it!"
"Maybe we should have taken it off?"
Carter shakes her head at his sarcasm. Then takes a deep breath, "Sir-"
"Carter-" they began at the same time.
"Carter, I got something to say, and then you can say whatever you want. I promise I'll listen." She nods. He continues weakly, "I want to share with you something my friend Teal'c told me. I was pretty bummed about...things...when I woke up, and he said. Well, he asked me what leave is."
"Yeah, out of curiosity, what would you have told him?"
"I guess I would have said it's a chance to take a break from your normal activity, do something you really enjoy... I don't know."
"That's about what I said, `course I included fishing. Then he asked me if people mourn the end of their leave."
"Sometimes, I guess we do, a little."
Jack nods, "Then he looks at me with that look he has, and he asked me if I enjoyed my leave." They stare at each other for several beats. "That was it. That's all he said. Took me a while to figure out what he was saying. But, anyway, that's what I wanted to share with you. Now you can say anything you want. Really I'm listening. Ready for anything"
She smiles at him. He loves that smile. She nods to herself. Options, priorities...They're all in place. "Teal'c's a pretty smart guy, Sir."
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