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).
Opening: Gate room. Normal procedure for off world activation
Sg-1's code is received, they were returning pretty much on time, for a change. Everyone on base breathed a sigh of relief at the expected safe return of yet another SG team. In the infirmary, Janet was still tense. This is SG-1. She has learned to memorize their schedule and refuses to relax until she knows they are all home and medically cleared. She makes a point of being the one to examine them when they return. `They ain't back yet, boys...'
The shimmer of the gate was broken by Daniel and Teal'c stepping through together, as calm as could be. But then, unexpectedly, the Gate closed behind them. General Hammond immediately became concerned, "Where are Captain Carter and Colonel O'Neill?"
Daniel and Teal'c exchanged glances and looked back at the gate. Daniel responded, confused, "I have no idea! It was a perfectly normal mission! I found some artifacts, Sam was taking soil samples, Jack was bored to death..."
"I assisted the Captain, nothing out of the ordinary occurred."
"Then where are...?"
The General was interrupted as the Gate kawooshed open. Everyone turned expectantly as Carter stepped through and stopped at the top of the ramp. Her eyes, void of any expression, stared straight ahead, she was virtually catatonic. Almost immediately behind her the calm ripples were broken again as a bloodied and unconscious Jack appeared. It looked as though someone had held him upright and pushed him in. He stumbled once and crumpled to the floor without a sound. He brushed against Carter in his fall, but she showed no sign of having noticed.
Concerned by the delay in hearing something that would assure her they had returned safe and sound, Janet had already started towards the Gate room. They would probably give her a hard time about showing up, but she needed to see for herself that her fears were not, once again, realized. As a result she was already coming through the door by the time a medical team was called for. "Ohhh no!" She ran to Jack and knelt by the still form. "He has a pulse," she announced, "but it's very faint..." She continued to work over him, "Captain?" she glanced up at Sam, "Captain Carter!" There was no response, but there was no visible injury either.
The Doctor decided not to stop working on Jack's extensive injuries. She was trying desperately to keep what was left of his life from flowing away. She knew her techs would take good care of Sam.
Sam allowed herself to be led to the gurney, offered no resistance as she was gently maneuvered onto it, offered nothing, didn't even blink. There was no response to Daniel's increasingly urgent calls as he tried to get through to her, tried to find out what happened.
After Sam's gurney left the room, Jack's heart stopped. "We've got to get him to the infirmary! Now!" They loaded Jack's body onto the second gurney and rushed him out, with Janet onboard performing CPR. Daniel and Teal'c stared after them, stunned by the sudden turn of events.
In the infirmary, Doc managed to get Jack's heart started again and they rapidly prepped him for surgery. There was still no response from Sam, but Daniel noticed a frown had appeared on her face as if she were concentrating very hard on something.
Several hours later, her worried teammates sat beside Sam as Jack was wheeled into the room and placed in the next bed. Janet and her nurses worked smoothly to hook up all kinds of monitors, IVs, and his breathing tube. The reassuring beep of his heart monitor filled the room. Daniel straightened slightly as he noticed Sam's face change and become calm. Keeping one eye on Sam, he asked for an update on Jack.
"At the moment, he's `fine.'" The Doctor quipped, using the Colonel's favorite word. "The machines are doing everything for him right now." She waved a hand in their general direction, "When we wean him off those, we'll see."
When she saw Daniel was not satisfied by her (purposefully) cryptic answer, she sighed, "I don't know, Dr. Jackson. I don't know. With his injuries, there's no way he should've made it this far. Anybody else and things would be looking pretty grim... but..."
"O'Neill is strong. He will fight this." Teal'c moved to stand guard over his friend.
Dr. Frasier reluctantly decided to tell them the truth. She spoke quietly, "He was tortured. Again." She could see it shocked and pained the team to hear it, "He was methodically, purposefully injured." She looked at Teal'c, "Can he `fight' this," she cringed inwardly at her memories of last time, "again?"
"He will fight." Teal'c spoke as if saying the words out loud would make them true.
It was a long night. Daniel dozed uneasily on the spare cot. Teal'c reached a light state of kel'noreem, wanting to be aware of any changes in his teammates.
When Janet came in to check on her patients, she was not surprised to see them.
"How's Jack?" Daniel asked.
Janet finished making some notes, "I'm surprised you're awake. You should really get some sleep..." The Doctor saw in his face that there was no point in continuing and decided to answer his question, "He's about the same. Still, at this stage, I'm glad to see him holding his own, although I don't know what's holding him together."
Carter's thoughts: "What's holding him together? Well, truthfully, not much, but I'm working on it."
"Carter?" barely audible.
"Wha...?" He lacked the strength to continue. Carter tried to fill in the blanks for him. "What am I doing in your head? I'm keeping you alive at the moment. I'll explain later. Please, Sir, just relax and let me work. I'll try to make some of the pain go away."
"Tha'd be nice... What happened?"
"Don't think about it just now, Colonel. You were injured. We're putting you back together. You're going to be fine, just like always."
The suggestion, for once, was just too tempting. Jack felt himself drifting in Carter's capable hands, away from the pain, away from the effort required just to breathe. He didn't have the energy to argue...
"What do we know about Sam's condition?" Daniel asked.
Janet shook her head, frustrated, worried, "Nothing! There is absolutely nothing physically wrong with her. There's nothing mentally wrong that I can detect. We've done brain scans, an MRI... Her brain shows an unusually high level of activity, but it's within normal limits. Other than the fact that she seems to weaken whenever we move her, I don't know what to tell you. I can't think of anything else to try. You've been observing her more closely than anyone, can you tell me anything?"
"I've seen her expressions change, so I believe she's `in there.' I just can't get her to respond to anything."
Janet turned to Teal'c, "Have you ever seen anything like this?"
"It resembles an extremely deep state of kel'noreem I have seen Jaffa Masters achieve. But I did not believe the Captain to have skills in that art."
That night the infirmary was dark and quiet. The only sounds were from Jack's life support machines. "Carter?"
"Hey, Colonel, I'm glad to see you're waking up."
"Am I awake?"
"Not technically, no..."
"Why are you in my head? - Carter, you know I don't like being in the dark."
"Nothing I can do about the lights, sir." A ghost of a smile passed over Carter's lips.
"Sorry Sir, I know I should be concentrating on your healing... I'm just so glad to see you improving. I'm new at this, y'know."
"New at WHAT, Captain!?"
"I realize you don't remember what happened on the planet, and I'm glad. But I'll try to explain quickly, I really need to get back to work. I'm not sure what will happen to you if I get too distracted."
"We were captured back on P3Z 487, but there were empathic people there who `linked' our minds. It was their belief that you would be able to survive the... your injuries... if we...were..."
Carter paused while the memory of the last few days sunk in.
"Ohhh... Ohh yeah..." Jack's voice weakened.
"I'm so sorry, Jack. You shouldn't have had to go through that again."
A pause, Jack's thoughts were a whisper.
"No. It wasn't like before. This time I... wasn't alone."
"No, you weren't."
"My turn to be sorry. You should not have been there... experienced that... in any form."
"I'm glad I was."
More quietly, fading, "You don't mean that."
"Yes, I do, Jack."
A warning alarm filled the room. A nurse came at a run. Janet moved to check on Jack. "His blood pressure's dropping rapidly! We're losing him!"
The alarm quit. Janet paused, surprised, "It's back, right where it should be. How...?"
"Doctor, look..." An intense frown faded to a gentle smile on Sam's face. Daniel, Janet and Teal'c looked at each other. What was going on?
Hammond's Office: Daniel and Teal'c were in the midst of a discussion with the General.
"We have to go back, Sir. Obviously something happened on that planet that Teal'c and I were not aware of."
"We believe it to be some advanced form of mind control."
"While we *thought* we were going about our business, something terrible was happening to Jack, and maybe Sam. We've got to go back."
"And it's for exactly that reason that you can't. There are unknown hostiles on that planet..."
"Sir, we've got to know what happened!"
"Not until we have more information!" the General paused, "Has there been any progress? Any chance of asking Captain Carter, or Colonel O'Neill what happened?"
"No, and there may never BE that chance unless we find something that can help them. Can we at least send a probe through?"
"I will take that under advisement. Dismissed!"
"Dr. Jackson, I am every bit as concerned with getting SG-1 back on its feet as you are. But I'm not going to accomplish that by putting its other two members at risk! Dis-missed!"
Teal'c and Daniel decided to get something to eat. "What happened to us, Teal'c?"
"I do not know DanielJackson. I have experienced attempts at mind control before, but they have always been unsuccessful. Apparently the fact that there are two minds in my body makes it impossible."
"Could any of the races you've encountered before be responsible for this?"
"It is unlikely. When the Goa'uld discover their abilities, they are immediately destroyed."
"Whole races of people? Wiped out because of their *abilities*!?"
Teal'c just looked at Daniel.
"Okay Colonel, now how do you feel?"
"Peachy. Just wish I had a little *privacy.*"
"Look, this kind of awareness takes some getting used to. Not that I don't appreciate what you're doing, I'm just not a big fan of having company in my head. Do you think any of this will last, after?"
"It's not supposed to... I don't know. I'll try backing off. You sure you're ready to take over?"
"Guess we'll find out..."
Janet was in the room checking her patient's vitals. Her presence was the very reason Sam chose this particular moment. She knew that, more than anything, Jack needed to get back on his own as soon as possible, but she was not at all sure if he was strong enough yet.
Janet paused in concern as all Jack's readings suddenly lessened in strength. She frowned when she noticed Sam's readings get stronger at the same moment. Jack's readings seemed to hold steady, if weaker than before. She was glad when Daniel and Teal'c returned just at that moment. "This may sound weird, but do you get the feeling there's a connection between our two patients? Daniel, when exactly did you notice Sam's expressions change?"
"Uh, let's see. She seemed to be concentrating on something while Jack was in surgery, but she relaxed when he came in..." His voice trailed off.
"And we observed a faint smile when a crisis in O'Neill had passed."
"Just now I saw the Colonel's readings dip while Sam's rose. There's got to be a connection."
"And in the gate room when they first returned," Daniel started getting excited, "Remember? Jack's heart stopped just after Sam was wheeled out of the room!"
"I knew you'd figure it out! Now maybe you can quit worrying about me. But then again, maybe now I can `wake up.' Colonel? How're ya doin'?"
Weakly, "Yeah. You go ahead. I'll be right here..."
Reluctantly, worried for Jack, Sam slowly opened her eyes and spoke softly. "Hi guys."
"Sam, are you okay? How do you feel?"
"I'm fine," she answered more weakly than she expected, "Just tired."
"Tired!" Daniel grinned, "You just slept for over 48 hours! What's going on?"
"I was," she looked over at Jack, "busy."
She looked back at three expectant faces. "This is going to take a little while to explain."
"Are you okay? Is Jack okay?"
"I'm fine, really. Not hurt at all. Jack is not... I *think* he'll be okay now."
"So there is a connection? What happened?"
"Yeah." She smiled, "Oh, this is a long story..."
Janet took this moment to butt in, "Then maybe it should wait. Dr. Jackson, Teal'c why don't you report to the General that we should have some kind of answers for him in the near future. He's been almost as anxious as you two! Sam, I'm going to give you a mild sedative so you can *really* sleep."
"NO!" Sam panicked at the thought of leaving Jack really alone, "I mean, I'll rest, I promise, I just need to be able to respond if he...needs...me."
"Oh thanks for the vote of confidence." Jack came through to her conscious mind, very dry, very tired.
Sam smiled wryly at Jack, "I'm not going anywhere just yet." She didn't want to admit how worried she was, didn't even think it, because Jack would hear.
Janet turned and faced two men who had no intention of following her suggestion. "Gentlemen?" The look in her eyes left no doubt, and for once, they both obeyed.
When they returned, Sam was dressed and sitting on the side of the bed facing Jack. She didn't even notice their approach.
She jumped, grinned, "Hey."
"You were communicating with O'Neill?"
"Yeah, sort of. He's not doin' so great. I was just..." She hesitated, "He'll be okay for awhile, why don't we step outside and I'll explain." She paused, as if listening, and looked back at Jack, "Watch your mouth, Colonel! Remember, you've got work to do! And I'd be very surprised if you started shirking your *duty* now."
They stepped into a nearby meeting room, and Sam sat, exhausted, and rested her head in her hands. "He needs me out of there for awhile, apart from him. He needs to concentrate on healing and all he does is put on this `show' for me. He's not as strong right now as he thinks he is. Why can't he just be vulnerable for five minutes?!"
"O'Neill is not comfortable with those feelings for any length of time."
General Hammond joined them quietly, alerted to events by Dr. Frasier. He set a recorder on the table. "Maybe this is the easiest way to do the debriefing."
Daniel, sitting across from her, spoke: "Sam, can you, please, explain now? What happened? Why don't Teal'c and I remember anything?"
"Ohhhhh, I'm SO glad you don't!" she took a deep breath, and then began her story, "We were attacked the minute we stepped through the gate. They were guarding it. Somehow they were able to hide from the MALP so we wouldn't know."
"Goa'uld, sir. A minor `god,' I don't believe he has any power to speak of. I think that's why they were hoping to capture some `Tau'ri warriors,' so they could," she faltered, "get information from us."
With a deep breath she continued, "They captured Jack, sorry, the Colonel and me right away." She tried to keep things official, to downplay the intense connection she felt to Jack. "But Teal'c and Daniel - disappeared!" She looked around at the incredulous faces. "I didn't know what was going on at first. I was just trying to stay alive, and aware of the Colonel's position. He was already injured at this point, weakened, I think that's why they - chose - him."
"Just take your time, Captain."
"We were imprisoned, and during that time we were `contacted' by our new friends." Here she began to get animated. "There are some amazing `people' on that planet, General, wonderful, peace loving people. They're very primitive technologically, but they are amazingly advanced mentally. They are telepathic, empathic, it's incredible! Daniel, you'd love them! They explained right away that you and Teal'c were perfectly safe. Then they told us what they had done. They have the ability to `project' thoughts and feelings into the minds of others, even the Goa'uld and the Jaffa, although it's much harder because there are two minds to deal with. So they just convinced us and the Jaffa that you had disappeared. And they convinced you that it was a normal mission. They knew from previous experience, and frankly so did we, that the Goa'uld would try some form of `coercion.' But they had watched this particular goa'uld's - procedure - before and they knew how brutal it would be. They were unable, for some reason, to just break us out right away, so they `linked' us. They believed that if we went through it together, we would be better equipped to survive. And they were right."
"How did they `link' you?"
"That's their word, sir, but it fits. Colonel O'Neill and I are telepathically linked, but it's more than that. I have an unusual insight into..." she struggled to explain, "I'm not a medical doctor, but I have an acute knowledge of the state of Jack's injuries, and the ability to influence healing in his body. Come to think of it, it's probably similar to what Junior is able to do for Teal'c. Not that I really want to compare myself... to... Well, anyway, they created the link to help the Colonel survive..."
She paused and nervously looked around the room; her eyes came to rest on the General. "Do I need to go through everything they did to us? I mean, to Jack? I mean, the Colonel? Sorry, Sir."
"That's alright, Captain, why don't you just tell us the story in your own way, and we'll ask any questions we need to. I think it's pretty clear from Colonel O'Neill's injuries what went on during those 48 hours."
Daniel winced, "So, in essence, you *both* went through it all?"
Sam looked back at him for a beat, her face bleak. He reached across and held her hand.
"All of a sudden the Jaffa just stopped. Then they all went tearing off. Apparently the empaths had projected a feeling that they desperately needed to be somewhere else right away."
"Giving you the opportunity to rescue O'Neill and escape"
Sam nodded. "They must have organized a massive `attack.' Simultaneously projecting thoughts into the Jaffa so we could escape, and telling you it was time to gate home. I also believe they were able to convince Jack he wasn't as hurt as he was. There's no way he should have been able to keep breathing, much less moving towards the gate. I was very - aware - of his condition, his injuries, his pain... They conveyed to me that once we were through the gate I alone would be responsible for his life, his healing. The connection was very intense. At first, I wasn't aware of anything else. As he heals, I am less aware of him."
"Are you connected to him now?"
"Yes. Anything you want to ask him?"
They all looked at her for several moments.
The General finally spoke, "Is there anything he wants to add?"
Sam's eyes suddenly widened and she gasped, "Colonel!"
She looked at the General and in her `official' voice responded, "Sir, the Colonel's `comment' is not appropriate, nor does it add anything to my report." She paused, "No, it doesn't... doesn't... DOESN'T!"
"Sorry, Sir. Colonel O'Neill, although comatose and still near death (if he doesn't shut up and heal) hears everything I hear, and vice versa. It's annoying! Sir!"
At that moment they were interrupted by the gate alarm. "Off world activation!" came over the speakers. When they reached the control room, they learned it was the world SG-1 had returned from. But there was no incoming traveler. Puzzled by this turn of events, everyone watched the gate close by itself without anything coming through. No one noticed Daniel straighten and frown for a moment. They never even opened the iris.
As the General made sure the gate was well guarded for the time being, Daniel suggested paying a visit to Jack. Sam was reluctant. "You don't understand. This isn't a normal recovery. In essence they've changed the way he heals, made it more active than passive. He needs to concentrate. He's nowhere near out of the woods, as much as he likes to pretend. Right now, I'm a - distraction. Physical distance between us will help him to heal."
"Okay, I'll visit Jack. Teal'c, why don't you take Sam to get a cup of coffee, or something?" He walked off towards the infirmary.
Teal'c, seeing how tired Sam looked, suggested that instead they visit her quarters. As they neared her door, Teal'c turned to her. "I know you are reluctant to lose alertness, CaptainCarter, as I would be. However, I will alert you immediately to any changes in O'Neill's condition."
Sam considered Teal'c and nodded, "Yeah, maybe you're right. I'll just..."
Suddenly Sam stiffened, on her face was an expression of horror, and if not for Teal'c's quick movement, she would have collapsed to the floor.
Teal'c lifted her into his arms and set off at a dead run toward the infirmary.
Coming through the door Teal'c saw Daniel bent over the Colonel. Janet was unconscious on the floor. He quickly put Sam on the nearest bed and approached Daniel from the rear. But `Daniel' or whoever now controlled him, already knew he was coming. Before Teal'c reached him he grabbed Jack, dragged him off the bed sending IV stands and equipment crashing, and held his limp body like a shield in a typical hostage stance. A voice that was not quite Daniel's spoke. "Take me to the Stargate or I will kill him!"
Teal'c followed Daniel and Jack through the halls. Airmen and marines lined the halls at regular intervals, ready to shoot. As `Daniel' dragged Jack into the gate room he faced General Hammond who was standing on the ramp.
"Activate the Stargate! Send me home!" demanded the alien.
"Why do you desire this?"
The alien/Daniel turned to face Teal'c, "The Tau'ri will ruin everything. I! I will ascend to power along with my Goa'uld!"
"You will be a slave."
"I will be first prime! I will have power!"
"You will have nothing."
"Teal'c!" the real Daniel broke through, "Get Jack! He's dying! And if he dies, Sam will die too!"
"Of course!" the alien was back in control before Teal'c could reach them,
"They are linked! Do you not know what this means?!"
"Listen, Son," The General's most diplomatic voice, "No one has to die. What are your demands?"
"Send me through...AAUGH! Send us through the stargate, and I will send them home!" Daniel and the alien fought for control.
"I will not allow O'Neill to fall back into the hands of the Goa'uld"
"Open the gate." General Hammond decided on diplomacy. Teal'c is not pleased.
"NO!" Daniel tried, "Once Jack is..."
Teal'c began to approach slowly, one step at a time, knowing Daniel would try to cause a distraction.
The alien dragged Jack past the General towards the Stargate, Teal'c followed.
As he reached the surface, Daniel broke through once more, "Teal'c! If the distance between them is too great they both die!" At this the alien laughed, admitting the truth, believing he had won. But he had miscalculated both Teal'c's speed and the General's agility. Teal'c grabbed Daniel, subdued him and dragged him back and away from the Gate, as the General pulled Jack from his grasp.
General Hammond nodded for the Gate to be closed as he lowered the limp form to the floor and cradled Jack's head in his hands.
The Gate closed, but almost immediately opened again. Instantly, one of the empaths stepped through. He smiled, and everyone immediately felt more at ease. He bent to touch Jack, sincere regret in his voice, "I am sorry. This should not have been allowed to happen." He seemed to be referring to their original capture, to Jack's injuries. "Jel'ad has been secretly obstructing our efforts for quite some time." He looked up at the General, spoke urgently, "Get them physically close, quickly. His link, she is strong." He straightened as General Hammond called for a med team who immediately rushed Jack back to the infirmary. The empath walked over to where Teal'c held a struggling Daniel. He looked at Teal'c, "DanielJackson will be fine, Jel'ad cannot harm him. His telepathic control is unusual, but there will be no damage." He held his hand out towards Daniel, palm down, fingers spread, "Come Jel'ad." His voice was full of sadness and regret. "You must come."
"NOOOO!" screamed Daniel angrily, and then he collapsed against Teal'c.
A now calm Daniel looked up and watched the empath back slowly away. Just before he left, he stopped and addressed the room: "I am sorry. We, too, have our `criminal element.' Jel'ad will be punished. It is my hope that once we have repelled the goa'uld from our world our two races can become friends. Farewell." As he waved his hand over the room, a good feeling flowed from him, and he disappeared. The Gate closed.
Teal'c looked down at Daniel. Daniel responded: "I'm fine. Let's go." They rushed to the infirmary.
Jack and Sam were both on life support in spite of that fact that Sam had no injuries. Janet was urgently tending them, a new bandage on her forehead.
Daniel stepped forward, "Hey, Doc, I'm...sorry..."
She looked at him with a frown, but did not stop tending to Jack, "Why?! Wasn't you! Don't you think I'm used to that kind of thing by now?"
"I'm still sorry."
"You'll be even sorrier if you don't get out of my way! Look, do something useful. Talk to Sam. Make her hear you. I don't know if she can do it this time, but she's his only chance!"
Daniel realized Janet was angry, not at him, but at the one who destroyed all her work to save Jack. And scared because she knew how close Jack was to losing his slim hold on life. He sat beside Sam. He was scared too. Both his teammates could be lost. He took her hand in both of his. "Sam. Jack. I know you can hear me. Come on. I never yet saw a screwed up mission you two couldn't figure a way out of. Work together now. You can do this! ...Please."
Teal'c came up and rested his hand on Carter's shoulder.
"Colonel?! Listen to Daniel!"
"Can't. - too - tired. Hurts."
"C'mon Colonel, what's the bad news?"
"Carter. - Go on. - Leave me - alone. - sleep."
"That's not sleep sir."
"...death...?" he sounded disinterested.
"You heard Jel'ad. You go, I go. And I'm not ready, so get your butt in gear, and fight." Sam knew the most powerful motivation for Jack was the safety of his team. Maybe her danger would be enough to bring him back from the brink.
"Carter..." his usually strong voice was so very tired, so quiet, fading.
"Fight!" tears in the voice, "I can't do this alone, sir. Jack? Please!" a whisper: "fight..."
"Sam?" Daniel and Teal'c exchanged looks while Carter struggled between them. A tear slipped from her eye. Daniel lowered his forehead to Sam's fist and they waited.
"Are they still here?"
"You know they are, sir."
"Oh for crying out loud, isn't that a little ridiculous?"
"We're not exactly out of the woods yet, Jack."
"Well... The trees are so pretty this time of year."
Sighs, "How's your breathing?"
"You know how it is. In. Out. In. Out. Bo. Ring!"
"Think you can do it without a tube down your throat?"
"What do you think?"
"I think Janet's right. The `annoying little boy stage' is a good sign."
"Heyyy! When'd she say that? I didn't hear her."
"You weren't there."
There's a brief pause.
"I'm always here Carter. Just like you."
"Hmm?" She realized he's no longer talking about their immediate problem.
"You're always there, right where I need you. - Thanks."
Carter smiled gently.
Daniel relaxed at the sight.
Even Teal'c took a deep breath. Four days of waiting had not been easy.
"I'm gonna have a chat with the boys. Will you be okay for a minute?"
"I'm giving you my very best sarcastic look right now."
Jack's eyebrow twitched.
"I'll use my imagination."
Sam's eyes opened just a slit. She spoke softly, "Hi guys... I think we're back."
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