The first sounds that Jack hears as he begins to resurface is the steady rhythm of a heart monitor and Daniel’s voice.
“I know you don’t want to hear this,” he speaks slowly and quietly. “You have to tell Jack-”
“Daniel,” a soft female voice replies with a sigh, it’s Carter. “Please, can we just… can we just not talk about it right now.”
“Carter…” Jack mumbles, fighting against the fog in his head that refuses to clear. In a second he feels a soft hand on his shoulder and hears Daniel calling for Fraiser. He knows that he is in the infirmary but unable to recall why.
“You’re okay Sir,” Carter whispers, she feels close and he wants to open his eyes to see her but his body won’t cooperate and he begins to drift back to unconsciousness. “You’re okay.”
Sam gently wipes the sweat from Jack’s brow as he lies motionless with his head resting on her lap. He’s pale and his skin feels hot and clammy under her fingers. She knows the infection that had started from a staff wound is spreading through his body and that he won’t be able to hold on for much longer. After three days of captivity she and Daniel have run out of water to try to keep his temperature down and his moments of lucidity are becoming less frequent.
Sam, Daniel and Colonel O’Neill had been on a simple follow up mission to meet the people of P3X876 when they had been attacked by Jaffa. The Colonel had been hit by the first staff blast which had taken them all by surprise. Sam and Daniel had tried to fight off the attackers but there were too many and after being zatted her world went dark. She woke up in a small cell with Daniel and the colonel for company.
She has tried to think of every single way to get The Colonel home but Zipacna’s fortress is impenetrable. She and Daniel had tried to fight when the Jaffa came to their cell, that only resulted in them becoming bruised and battered. She wishes that Teal’c had been with them rather than with visiting his son, with him they stood a chance. They simply can’t fight so many without weapons and without their fellow team mates. Sam uses her free hand to trace what feels like a particularly nasty bruise along her cheek bone. She looks down as her CO takes a deep breath and seems to be coming back to consciousness. Daniel, who had closed his eyes to rest, immediately stirs and makes his way towards his friend.
“Colonel,” she whispers, her hand stroking his cheek for comfort.
“Carter…” he rasps, his eyes filled with tired confusion. “Still here?”
“We’re still here Sir.”
“This… doesn’t look good…” he can barely keep his eyes open as he speaks.
“We’re gonna get you out of here Jack,” Daniel speaks with a feigned confidence.
“Not this time,” pain envelopes his entire body. His lungs are on fire and every breath hurts.
“Sir,” Sam speaks quietly, “Daniel is right. We’re going to find a way to get you out of here.”
“Jack, we’re going to do everything we can, okay? You’re going to be okay.” Both Daniel and Sam share a worried glance, one that betrays their deepest concern, the concern that they will not be able to keep their promise to their team mate.
“No way.” Sam cuts him off, trying to hide the thick emotion in her voice. “No one gets left behind, remember?”
Jack’s eyes flutter closed and she knows that he’s out again.
“We’re not leaving him.” She tells Daniel, swallowing the lump in her throat.
It seems like hours later when Zipacna finally graces them with his presence.
“What a pleasure it is to see you again Major Carter, Doctor Jackson,” he speaks with a huge grin on his face. “Such a shame O’Neill isn’t awake for the reunion.”
“We need water.” Sam stares at him, unwilling to reveal even an ounce of her panic.
“Yes, he does not look like a well man.” He can’t hide his delight.
“We need water.” Sam repeats, anger building in the pit of her stomach. He meets her eye and stares at her with a morbid curiosity, he has never seen this side of her before. When he last saw her she was barely noticeable, O’Neill and the Sholva had taken all of his attention but there she was, defiant and unwavering.
“We need to get him help,” Daniel speaks in a softer tone but with as much malice. “A, a sarcophagus?” he suggests, knowing that Zipacna is unlikely to want to save Jack but desperate and willing to try anything to keep his friend alive.
“You wish for me to save him?” he can barely contain the surprise in his voice. His grin widens as the two humans simply stare at him. He turns on his heels and walks out laughing.
“Oh, what happened here?” Nurse Thomas asks Sam in the safety of the SGC a mere hours after they’d arrived home. Her bright smile and youthful enthusiasm is completely out of place in the dark, quiet infirmary. She runs her fingers along small cuts on Sam’s palm and lifts her other hand to find a set of matching marks.
“Uh,” Sam stares blankly at her palms.
“Looks like you dug your nails in pretty hard?” her bright smile fades for a second and Sam can see the beginning of a look of concern in her eyes.
“It was a close call…” Sam offers with a small smile and pulls her hands out of the nurses grasp. Her body aches from sheer exhaustion, now that she knows her CO will be okay she longs to shower and sleep. She is grateful when the young woman ends the check without too many questions, questions Janet would have asked had she not been busy with Colonel O’Neill.
“I have thought about your request,” Zipacna enters the cell with two Jaffa at his side. “I am willing to let you go home.” Daniel and Sam both look up at him with surprise. Zipacna feels a bolt of excitement as he watches Samantha Carter’s eyes widen as she looks from him to O’Neill, he can see the hope building within her.
“Why?” Daniel asks, suspicious as to why any Goa’uld would ever let them leave.
“Even a God must show mercy.” He speaks slowly, his eyes never leaving Samantha Carter.
“What-“ Sam starts only to be cut off.
“Do you wish to leave or not?” Zipacna snaps. He will not let the humans know that he has only a handful of Jaffa who remain loyal to him. He has spent a year avoiding the other system Lords and knows that as soon as they know about SG1, even if he kills them, they will track him down and kill him. He wishes to draw no attention to himself.
“What? That’s it? We just walk out of here?”
“Yes Doctor Jackson. There is just one thing that I require in return.” He watches as the younger man’s shoulders tense.
Jack wakes for the second time to find Daniel next to him with a look of deep concern on his face.
“Am I dying?” he asks, staring intently at the man in front of him.
“Jack,” a small smile appears on Daniel’s face. “No, you’re going to be okay.”
“Tell that to your face.”
“Oh, sorry,” Daniel lifts his frowning brow and forces a smile. “How are you feeling?” he asks, relieved that his friend is okay. He had genuinely thought that he would have to watch him die in that cell.
“I’ll live, thanks to you and Carter.” Jack can’t help but notice as Daniel shifts uncomfortably in his chair. “Is everything okay?”
“Yeah, yeah it’s just… It was a close one, Janet says if we’d got you back even a few hours later you wouldn’t have made it.” He swipes his hand across his face, exhaustion starting to sink into his bones. “She says the antibiotics she gave you are working nicely and the staff wound is healing well.”
Jack speaks after a few moments of silence, genuinely concerned for his friend. “Have you had any sleep at all in… how long were we gone?”
“Four days, it felt like weeks. And uh, little bits of sleep here and there.” Daniel is a second away from explaining that Sam had had even lest rest than he had but he stops himself. He doesn’t want to bring her into the conversation.
“How did we get out?” Jack asks, “One minute we were in the cell the next I wake up here. Did Teal’c find us? Did Thor beam us out of there?”
“It wasn’t quite that simple,” Daniel offers with a forced laugh. “We uh, we managed to get the upper hand over the Jaffa. They got sloppy.”
“And you and Carter are okay?” he asks, wondering if Daniel is truly exhausted or if there’s something he isn’t telling him.
“A few bruises here and there but uh, you were the main casualty on this one.” There is something uneasy in the way Daniel speaks, Jack can’t quite place his finger on what it is but it’s there.
“Go get some sleep.”
“Sam, there’s no way you’re doing this.” Daniel can barely contain the rage building deep within him. He wants to hit something, he wants to scream.
“The dirty… How could he even think that it’s something that you would consider?” He paces in the cell. Zipacna had left just moments earlier, leaving Sam to think about his proposition. “You’re not doing it. There’s no way-“
“Daniel, calm down.” She closes her eyes for a moment, she can’t remember the last time she slept. She feels like they’ve been in the cell watching Colonel O’Neill slowly die for weeks.
“Calm down? Sam, he wants you to-“
“I know what he wants me to do. I heard what he said.”
“And the way he looked at you.” Daniel shudders. Daniel knows that if Jack were able to he would be saying exactly the same thing. He would never forgive Daniel if he knew that he had let her even consider bargaining with Zipacna. He knows that Jack would rip the son of a bitch apart for even thinking of Sam in that way.
“Daniel…” she speaks slowly after a few moments of silence, “this could be our only chance to save him.”
“Sam, you can’t seriously be thinking about doing this? You can’t!” Daniel stares in disbelief. Sam looks down at the Colonel as she cradles his head in her lap, as the life slowly seeps out of him. She thinks about his words just months ago, his confession that he would rather die that lose her and heart begins to ache. She can’t imagine a world without him.
“Sam,” Daniel places a soft hand on her shoulder, forcing her to meet his eye. “You don’t have to do this. We’ll find another way to get him home.”
“Daniel, I’ve tried everything,” tears fill her eyes as the reality of the situation begins to sink in. “This is the only other option.”
“No, no, not this. Look at me, we are going to get him home but not like this.” He almost sounds like he has convinced himself.
“He’s going to be okay. Teal’c will find us, or we’ll find a way out. You have to promise me that you won’t do this.”
Sam closes her eyes as the Colonel’s words repeat in a loop in her mind, “I would rather die myself than lose Carter.”
“Sam?” Daniel speaks, fearing losing not one but two of his best friends. “Promise me.”
When Daniel wakes in the cell hours later to find Sam missing he realises that she hadn’t made her promise to him, she had made it to Jack.
Sam lies in her bed in her quarters wishing that she was at her house. Although she is exhausted she cannot sleep. Every time she does she thinks of the mission, of what she almost lost, of what she lost. She’s so relieved that the Colonel will be okay, that is the most important thing but she is so overwhelmed by the reality of what happened in that room.
Sam keeps her eyes pressed tightly closed as Zipacna groans and collapses on top of her. She can taste blood in her mouth, having bitten her lip so hard that she drew blood. Her finger nails bite into the palms of her hand as she refuses to unclench her fists. He had been rough, as she anticipated, but she hadn’t once made a single sound, even when he had tried his hardest to get her to cry out.
She fights the urge to throw up as he remains on top of her, crushing her as he recovers from his release and struggles to catch his breath.
“You are magnificent,” he whispers, his lips pressed against her ear. She keeps her eyes closed, struggling to contain the tears that threaten to spill. Sam’s skin crawls and she wants nothing more than to push him off of her and find her P90. She fights the nausea that has been tormenting her since she was collected from the cell and walked willingly into Zipacna’s chamber. She tries to think of Colonel O’Neill. She silently tells herself that it doesn’t matter how bad she feels right now because she’s saved him, she won’t have to live her life without him. He’ll live.
Zipacna rolls off of her and she can suddenly breathe again. She opens her eyes and pushes herself up, immediately reaching for her clothes with shaking hands. As soon as she is fully dressed she turns to him, her skin crawls as he stares at her with desire and smug new found knowledge of her body.
He calls for his Jaffa and they enter. Sam refuses to meet their stares, they know exactly what she’s done. They grasp her arms and begin to lead her towards the door.
“Wait,” Sam calls, speaking for the first time since entering the room.
“You need not worry Major Carter, I am a man of my word.” He turns to his Jaffa. “Take them to the Chappa’ai.”
Daniel stands as he hears the keys in the door. He has no weapons but he’s ready to kill whoever comes through the door. A deep fear has built in the pit of his stomach since he woke to find Sam gone.
He isn’t prepared for the door to open and reveal his friend. She is pushed through the small door of the cell by two Jaffa who simply stand at the entrance.
“Let’s go,” she avoids Daniel’s wide eyed stare and moves towards the Colonel and checking for a pulse, her hands still shaking.
“Sam,” Daniel crouches next to her, concern plastered all over his face.
“Daniel, we don’t have time for this. We have to get him home.” She stares at her commanding officer, unable to look at her friend, to acknowledge the disbelief or disappointment in his face. She needs to get them home, if she looks at Daniel she will fall apart and that is not an option.
She prays that Daniel will stay quiet as she has begged but she knows that her friend will struggle with keeping her secret. She can’t stand the thought of them knowing, of him knowing. He would never look at her in the same way again. It’s no coincidence that her composure only begins to slip as she thinks of her CO’s response, she feels the walls begin to crumble for the first time since she’d allowed the monster to put his hands on her. She closes her eyes and instantly feels Zipacna’s weight on top of her, diving from the bed to the bathroom she makes it just in time as the feeble contents of her stomach are emptied into the toilet bowl.
“Daniel, I’m fine. I just want to forget about it.” Sam had been waiting for Daniel to bring it up again, she had been rehearsing her answer. They had spoken briefly in the infirmary whilst waiting for Colonel O’Neill to wake but she knew that Daniel would want to speak again. He found her in her lab just moments earlier and closed the door before asking how she is.
He stares at her, unconvinced by her answer. “Sam…” he starts, hesitating, “I know that you don’t want to talk about it but I don’t know that that’s the best thing to do given the circumstances.”
“We’re all alive. We all made it home. Let’s just focus on that.” It’s this mantra that she has been repeating in her heard since they arrived back on earth.
“I think we should focus on what you had to do to get us home-“
“Daniel,” her voice is full of warning and he notices her fists clenching and unclenching. “I’m not talking about this-“
“He raped you.”
Her entire body tenses and her eyes widen as they meet his stare. “It-“ she takes a shaky breath. “It wasn’t-“
“Yes it was.”
“He gave us an out and I took it. It’s as simple as that. I’m not talking to you about this again.”
He can feel the anger radiating from her as she speaks. Seconds later she is gone.
Daniel looks up from his latest artefact as Jack enters his office and feels immediately uncomfortable. He has done his very best to avoid his friend, taking only short trips to the infirmary to drop off things he had requested such as multiple yoyo’s. He isn’t used to hiding anything from his teammates, especially Jack and he realised very quickly that if he was to keep Sam’s secret then he would need to stay away from Jack, just for a little while.
It has been six days since they had made it home. Sam has spoken very little about her ordeal, in fact she was avoiding him completely after their last conversation. He felt uneasy about keeping a secret of such magnitude but he refused to take another choice away from his friend.
“You’re out of the infirmary!” He says with fake enthusiasm. He watches as Jack winces slightly, he is obviously still in pain.
“What’s going on with you?” Jack asks, getting straight to the point. “You’re being weird.”
“What? Me? Nothing.” He speaks quickly, too quickly. “It’s just been a really busy few days.” Jack refuses to break eye contact as Daniel offers a half hearted smile. He can see that Jack isn’t buying it but the older man says nothing more on this occasion.
Days later Sam is continuing to avoid Daniel. She’s relieved that, with Colonel O’Neill on light duties, there is no reason for her and Daniel to be in the same room, no missions, no briefings. She doesn’t want another conversation about what happened, not with him, not with anyone. After their last conversation with she had barely made it to her bathroom before vomiting. She feels sick every time she thinks about what happened in that damn room.
She thinks about the word that Daniel used and she hates him for using it. She wasn’t held down, she walked in to the room on her own but she didn’t want to do it, Zipacna knew that. She knows that consent under duress isn’t consent at all but she cannot stand the thought of someone associating her with that word. She just has to get through the next few days, maybe weeks and she’ll be okay, just like she was after Jolinar.
If ever it feels like it’s too much, like the pressure in her chest may consume her completely then she reminds herself that Jack O’Neill did not die on P3X876, and neither did she.
“Jack…” Daniel throws his hands into the air. “Would you just let it go?” He exclaims as Jack continues to demand answers. It is the third conversation of this kind and Daniel is struggling to stick to his tsory.
“Daniel! Something is going on here. You are Carter are avoiding me, your mission reports don’t add up. There is no way that you two could have carried me whilst shooting several Jaffa. Who dialled the gate?” Jack knows that something is wrong with his team mates but he can’t figure out what it is and neither one of them is willing to share.
“So Carter carried me and covered your ass at the same time?” he asks. Daniel opens his mouth to speak but nothing comes out.
“Fine! I’ll go ask Carter.”
“No!” Daniel almost shouts, knowing that Sam didn’t need this kind of confrontation. “Jack, I just need you to trust me about this. Please. We’re home, we’re alive, can we just leave it at that?”
“Is this something to do with Carter?” he asks, reflecting upon Daniel’s outburst at the mention of her name. Concern begins to build in the pit of his stomach.
“She’s my second in command, if she was compromised in any way I need to know.” The concern has quickly turned to fear. What if she was tortured? What if something awful had happened to her while he was unconscious?
Daniel’s face drops in defeat. He knows that Jack is too clever to be fooled by the lies in their mission reports and he knows that he won’t give up until he gets an answer.
“Zipacna let us leave. There were no Jaffa at the gate, Sam and I dragged you through the gate. That’s the truth.” Daniel says monotonously, closing his eyes for a moment and praying that Jack will leave it there.
“Why would he let you leave?”
“Daniel, why would a Goa’uld just let you leave? Let all of us leave?” he glares at his friend, getting angrier with every second, both of them now shouting at each other.
“Because he… because he had already had what he wanted.”
“What he wanted? What the hell does that mean?” Jack asks, his frustration becoming more than evident. “Daniel, I swear to God-”
“Sam!” Daniel exclaims, his voice thick with emotion. “He wanted Sam.”
“What do you…” he trails off as all of the pieces begin to fit together.
“You were going to die. He offered us an out and she took it…” He repeats Sam’s words quietly as if it could somehow justify the horror of the situation, the anger is gone from his voice. Part of him knows that Jack would have found out sooner or later but he hates himself for being the one to break Sam’s confidence.
“Are you telling me….” Jack stares blankly at Daniel as all of the pieces of the puzzle come together. He struggles to speak as a deep rage builds deep in the pit of his stomach, as the realisation of what happened on that god forsaken planet hits him. “That he… That he... That Carter…” He grips the side of Daniel’s desk so tightly that his fingers hurt.
He makes a move to leave and Daniel is in front of him in a shot. “Don’t do this now-“
“Get out of my way Daniel.”
“Jack, take some time to think about this. This is the last thing Sam needs-“
“Get out of my way,” he practically growls. Daniel takes a deep breath before stepping aside.
Sam can’t help but flinch as she sees the Colonel at her door looking more furious that she has ever seen him before. He eyes are wide, his chest heaving with every deep breath he takes and immediately knows that he knows. She clenches her fists and prepares for the anger, for the shouting and the disappointment. He steps inside her lab. He opens his mouth and she briefly closes her eyes, waiting for the onslaught of rage. She can feel the cuts in her palms from her fingernails and immediately forces her hands to unclench.
Jack opens his mouth and closes it again. He had known everything that he wanted to say as soon but now, as she stands in front of him he can’t do anything but stare.
“Daniel told you…” she says, and he doesn’t think he’s ever heard her sound so small. He nods, his voice lost as he watches her take a shallow breath. He stares at the faded bruise along her cheek and neck and feels sick when he thinks of the other marks that must cover her body.
He had marched towards her lab in a rage, ready to shout and shake the life out of her without having really taken the time to understand the significance of what Daniel had told him. Now stood in front of her he sees the bags under her eyes and the way her shoulders slump in defeat. Suddenly the rage is gone and he wants to ask her how she could ever think that he was worth that? How she could have sacrificed so much and given so much of herself just to save him?
“I’m…” she starts, her eyes wide with fear. “I’m sorry.” She manages to whisper. Of all the things that she is frightened of, it’s his disappointment in her that scares her the most.
He takes two steps forward and puts his hand on her shoulders. “Look at me,” he whispers, his voice thick with emotion. He can’t imagine how much she is hurting, he feels a deep ache in his chest as the weight of what has happened to her sinks in. “Carter, look at me.”
Sam meets his gaze and is shocked by the anguish she finds etched into his face. She releases a shaky breath, struggling to stay composed. She can’t fall apart, not now, not in front of him.
“You have nothing to be sorry for. Nothing.” He has never meant anything more. She saved his life. She sacrificed something that no one should ever have to sacrifice to bring home.
“Major Carter-“ they step away from each other as soon as Siler enters the lab.
Jack had left Sam’s lab as soon as Siler had walked in. He felt the rage beginning to build as he thought about grabbing a P90 and going back to find the snake headed son of a bitch who had touched her. Daniel had found him and talked him out of it, he also explained how it had all happened. The conversation ended with Jack’s hand in a cast and a dent in the nearest wall.
“Carter,” Jack knocks on the door of her quarters. He has finally managed to calm down and she is free from whatever potential disaster had taken up her day. He hears movement coming from inside her room but waits but hears nothing more. He thinks about walking away, about going back to his quarters but he knows that it would be pointless, he wouldn’t be able to sleep. He needs to see her, he had been too angry and shocked to say the right thing before, to even ask if she was okay. He needs to know that she’s okay. “Carter,” he knocks again before twisting the handle of the door and slowly enters her room.
His heart sinks as he sees her.
She’s sat on the floor with her back against the wall and her knees pressed against her chest. She looks completely and utterly defeated.
“Sir,” she swallows the lump in her throat. “I can’t talk to you about this, not now.”
He can see that she is barely holding it together. He nods and walks towards her slowly before sitting next to her. “Okay, but I’m just gonna stay here if that’s okay?” he asks softly.
They sit in silence and he glances at her occasionally. She finally breaks the silence by turning to him and admitting that she couldn’t let him die.
“I know,” is all that he can offer, not convinced that he could say much more without his voice conveying his distress. He’s torn between thanking her and begging her to never again even think about sacrificing one ounce of her soul to save him, he isn’t worth it. Just months ago he told her that he would rather die than lose her, that he would do anything for her but he can’t stand the thought that she has now proven that the same is true for her.
“I…” she closes her eyes for a second. “The symbiote would protect the host from any…diseases.” She ignores the fact that his jaw tenses a she speaks. “And there’s no risk of pregnancy.” His shoulders sag slightly, she thinks its relief.
“You don’t think that Fraiser should-“
“No.” Sam stops him. “I don’t want this being common knowledge-“
“You have nothing to be ashamed of Carter.” He needs her to know that this is the truth. She doesn’t answer him, he knows why. He knows the misplaced shame that this carries. He knows that as her commanding officer he should report this, but he also knows that she won’t want to be treated like a victim. After a while he speaks, “I’ll do whatever you want with this. This is your call.”
He doesn’t think everyone knowing will help her to recover, some people need that support but not Carter. She has his support and Daniel’s and he knows that they will both keep a close eye on her to make sure that she’s coping.
They return to silence. This time Jack breaks it.
“How are you doing?” He asks, it feels like a stupid question but it’s the only one he can think of that might get her to open up.
“I’m okay,” she lies. “I knew what was going to happen if I went into that room. I made that choice-“
“It wasn’t much of a choice.” He tells her quickly, knowing that she is probably trying to justify what happened in her head, to play it down.
“Some people have it so much worse.” She had been told during her training about the danger of rape. Sometimes she feels stupid for feeling traumatised about what happened. She walked into the room willingly, she wasn’t dragged kicking and screaming, she wasn’t held down.
“It doesn’t make what he did any less evil.” He watches as she slowly nods. He hates Zipacna for touching her, for even thinking about touching her but he hates the bastard even more for making her feel like she somehow chose this, that she isn’t allowed to feel violated because she agreed to his disgusting demand. “Do you want to talk about it?” He asks, preparing himself to hear the words and details that will haunt him for the rest of his life.
“God, no. I want to lock it somewhere in the back of my mind and never think about it again.”
“It doesn’t really work like that.” Jack knows too well that trying to avoid dealing with trauma only leads to more trauma. “Nightmares?” he asks, watching as she slowly nods.
“It’s the fear,” she starts, unsure of whether to continue or not. It’s about so much more than what she did, what Zipacna took.
“The fear?” Jack asks when she stops speaking.
“The fear that… everything is different now. The fear that I’m changed forever because of this.” She takes a deep breath before continuing, “And the fear that you… that you won’t-“ she stops, unable to finish her sentence. The irony that saving his life could ultimately lead to her losing him is not lost on her.
He reaches for her hand and slides his fingers between hers. “There is nothing that could ever stop me from… This changes nothing.” He speaks with a quiet conviction.
A single tear slides down her cheek and he tightens his grip on her hand. He watches as she finally gives in to the inevitable grief that has been imposing itself on her since their escape from captivity. He wraps his arms around her and holds her as her silent tears turn to sobs.
It takes three months for Jack to track Zipacna. He beats him to death with his bare hands.