Colorado Springs, CO
November 12, 1999
Jack pushed open the heavy door with his shoulder and cautiously made his way into the quarantine room. The usual precautions had been taken according to Fraiser but it looked a bit more extreme to him with all the protocols and the plastic bubble she'd told him was behind the curtain. Probably because of how long Sam had been off-world.
After the door had closed, he walked up to the curtain and peeked inside. "Ready for a visitor?"
"Jack," Sam said, relief sounding in her voice.
"Hey." He smiled at her and was pleased when she returned the gesture. She was dressed in the dreaded hospital gown, sitting on an infirmary bed and looking incredibly out of place. Her daughter was leaning against her side. "So, can I come in?"
Sam's smile widened and she nodded, beckoning him over with her hand. "Technically, you're already in the room."
Yanking the curtain to the side, he stepped up to the bubble. "Well, yeah, but there's still this… barrier. I didn't want to intrude, in case you ladies weren't decent yet."
"The Doctor brought us these gowns to replace our clothes," she said, smoothing a hand over her thigh. "It feels strange."
"Didn't know we had them in kid size."
"One of the nurses had to cut their smallest for it to fit Ife."
Jack couldn't help but smile when he looked at the adorable girl, who was alternating between looking at him and shyly turning her face into Sam's side. The gown was still too large on her tiny frame and her little feet barely peeked out at the bottom. "Well, I'm sure the Doc will get you regular clothes soon, after you've been examined."
Sam ran a gentle hand over Ife's arm as she looked down at her daughter. "Earth clothes will probably feel just as strange."
"Two years is a long time," he said softly.
"Two years, three months and two weeks. I saw the date on my chart."
There was sadness and something else he couldn't define in her eyes when she looked at him. "It feels like a lifetime ago."
He nodded, although he couldn't imagine what it was like for her. The only comparison he could make was from when he'd returned from Iraq, after four months as a POW. At the time, a lot had happened and it seemed like everyone had moved on which angered him, but it really paled in comparison to two years. "You've been through a lot."
"But I'm home now," Sam said, as if having to remind herself. Pulling her daughter even closer, she sighed, "We're home now."
"And you're safe. Both of you."
Her smile was wan, but there was gratefulness mixed into it. "Thanks to you."
Jack took the two of them in and shook his head. "Think nothing of it."
"I know it must have cost you, Jack."
"Not as much as what Grieves did to you," he countered.
She sighed, "Jack…"
He held up his hand to stop her from saying anything else. It hadn't been repaying a favor he didn't even owe and they both knew it. But he didn't want to examine his motives for bringing her back too closely. Not now. The most important thing was that she – and Ife – were home and unharmed. "It was worth it, Sam."
She opened her mouth to reply but then his alarm went off and she just looked at him inquiringly.
"Crap," He turned off the watch's alarm and sent her an apologetic look. "Sorry, I've got to go. Hammond had to call the President and told us to get back, well, now, for a debriefing."
"That's okay. The nurses took our things and said the Doctor would be back soon for our examination."
Jack knew, having briefly spoken to Fraiser when he asked permission to visit Sam. "I know. I'll be back later, okay?"
Sam smiled and seemed to relax a bit. "I'd like that."
"Want me to bring anything with me? I could smuggle in some good food."
She laughed and indicated the plastic. "Somehow, I doubt that."
Doctor Fraiser flipped through some pages on the chart, a small frown on her forehead. "I don't know if you remember this Captain, but before you went on your mission you underwent a pre-mission medical exam. Back then I told you we use the pre-mission exams as baselines for the post-mission exams and I have yours, from two years ago, here."
"Guess things have changed in that time."
"Very much so." Fraiser stopped writing and looked up when Ife giggled and her expression softened. "Not in the least because of your daughter, I'd imagine."
Sam reached for the blood pressure cuff Ife was playing with and took it away, before pulling her into her lap, holding her close. "But I thought you said everything looked good?"
"I said the initial exam didn't give me any cause for serious concerns. Your vitals, while slightly deviating from your last ones, are within normal limits. However, you're underweight, have very little body fat and considering your medical history, I wouldn't be surprised if you are actually anemic now. We'll know more once those blood samples I took have been analyzed."
"So, we have to wait?"
The Doctor nodded and laid the chart down. "Yes, for now. Some of the tests will take longer than usual. Aside from the normal blood tests, we'll also have to check for any contagions and that might take a bit longer. You've been gone for a long time, living on several different planets from what I've heard. Who knows what you or your daughter picked up in that time – we can't risk the two of you being carriers to alien strains that could infect others here."
"We haven't come down with anything."
"When was the last time Ife was sick?"
Frowning, Sam tried to recall a time. Only to realize there were none. "She's never been sick."
Doctor Fraiser's eyebrows rose in surprise. "Never?"
"No. She's never had a fever or even a cold."
"What about you, Captain? When was the last time you came down with something, aside from the infection to your gunshot wounds?"
"Well, there was this one time when I had a bad reaction to the water I drank. But that's the only time I can recall."
The CMO reached for the chart again and made some notes. "Do you remember how long ago this was?"
She shook her head, having already explained how difficult it was to keep track of time off-world. "No, but it was shortly after I used Thor's Hammer to kill Herit – the Goa'uld inside of me. It was on a Jaffa planet, so they all had symbiotes to filter the water for them. It took me a while to realize it was the water that made me sick and then I asked Bra'tac to get me the materials I'd need to make a portable water filter. It hasn't happened since then."
"Okay, so after you lost the Goa'uld. Before or after Ife was born?"
The fear of losing the baby she was carrying flashed through her as she thought back to that day, making her shudder. "Before. Ife's never had unfiltered water."
"Okay. Well, this is definitely interesting. Perhaps the naquadah left behind by Herit strengthens your immune system," Fraiser mused aloud. "My daughter has naquadah in her blood too and she's never had a cold, either. I wonder if your bloodwork will be similar to hers. It's definitely intriguing and I'll make sure to make a note of additional blood analysis."
Rubbing her daughter's back, Sam sighed. "Are we talking days? Longer?"
"I really can't say at this time, Captain."
"And we'll have to remain quarantined until you know."
Doctor Fraised looked at her with sympathy in her eyes but nodded in confirmation. "I know this probably isn't the homecoming you were expecting."
Sam shrugged. "I figured there'd be a quarantine. Wasn't sure how long it would take and I have no idea how Ife will handle it." She sighed and briefly glanced at her daughter, who was leaning heavily against her. "She's been… different. Ever since Jack, er, Colonel O'Neill, and his team came for us she's been very quiet and a bit shy. It's not like her."
"It's a major adjustment for her, too."
"I guess… But it's not like she's not used to traveling and settling into strange places."
"Maybe she just needs some time, Captain."
The first few days on Utcha Ife had been unsettled and Sam had blamed it on there being no Jaffa around, aside from Bra'tac. Before they arrived on that planet there had been a string of Jaffa worlds and they'd also spent a lot of time with the growing Jaffa Rebellion. Sensing someone's symbiote still felt strange to Sam but it was all Ife knew, so she'd figured that was the problem when there were only humans around. Holding her close often helped, since they both had naquadah in their blood. Sam idly wondered if that would show up in the blood tests – or would one have to be searching for it?
There were no Jaffa on Earth, with the exception of Teal'c. But Sam had expected Ife to have gotten used to being around humans after all the time they spent on Utcha. Of course, it was also possible Ife sensed Sam's tension and reacted to it… "Some food and sleep will probably do her good," she said.
"I would like to examine her before a nap. Do you think she can hold out a bit longer?"
"Yeah, that won't be a problem," Sam said, stroking her daughter's hair. "She'll need to be fed first, anyway."
Doctor Fraiser smiled as she watched them. "Are you breastfeeding?"
She nodded and lifted Ife from her lap, placing her next to her on the bed. "Yeah, breastfeeding seemed safest, but she'll occasionally drink juice or filtered water too. And she usually eats some fruit or vegetables too."
"What did your usual diet consist of?"
"Well, fruits, nuts, seeds and vegetables mostly," Sam said. "It really depended on the planet we were on. When there was small game we'd try to eat some meat every few days. Fish was something we'd eat too, but poultry was rarer. Sometimes we also had grains and flour and made bread or the alien equivalent of it."
The Doctor turned another page on the chart and presumably wrote down the diet Sam had been living on for the past two years. "That doesn't surprise me considering your vitals and low body fat."
Sam watched as the woman started collecting the items she'd need to examine Ife. "So, we're done?"
"Well, I'd still like to take some x-rays of your shoulder and hip," she said, referring to their earlier conversation about Sam's injuries from the shooting, "but I'm afraid that will have to wait until we get the portable x-ray machine from the Academy Hospital."
"I told you, I doubt you'll be able to see anything. There was no sign of either wound after I came out of the sarcophagus."
Doctor Fraiser nodded, "Yes, we've had some experience with our people using sarcophagi, but I still need to take those x-rays. However, for now I'll focus my attention on your daughter. I might need your help to keep her calm…"
Major Davis was taking center stage at the debriefing, going over the statements both Moac and Bra'tac had made, but Jack's mind was elsewhere. Namely a few levels up to the infirmary, where Sam and her daughter had been taken into quarantine.
Of all the ways he'd imagined their reunion to go, her showing up with a baby hadn't been one of them.
God, he couldn't imagine what she must have gone through! He'd thought living off-world with Bra'tac was rough, but add a little baby to the mix… Jack couldn't believe she'd managed to survive. The thought of Sam having to escape the Goa'uld while heavily pregnant, being forced to give birth off-world and being on the run with an infant for so long was just incomprehensible.
"… anything to you, Colonel?" General Hammond's voice interrupted his train of thought. "Colonel O'Neill?"
"I was asking if Captain Carter had mentioned anything about a child to you during the few meetings you've had."
Jack shook his head, still wondering why she hadn't done so. "No, Sir. I was as surprised as everyone else when she showed us her daughter."
Hammond seemed pleased by that, as if he'd suspected Jack had kept it from him. "And the child is Captain Carter's?"
"Well, um, she didn't actually say," Daniel said slowly, a pensive look on his face. "But-"
"Oh, I'd say so," Jack said, interrupting him. His teammates probably hadn't gotten a good look at the girl, but he'd caught a glimpse of her face before she turned away shyly and even more up close when he briefly took her from Sam. "Pretty unmistakable with those eyes."
"Captain Carter and the girl shared a connection only known between mother and child," Teal'c stated.
The General sighed and made some notes before he looked up again. "I suppose we'll know more once Doctor Fraiser has finished the medical examination of both Captain Carter and the girl."
Major Davis looked to Hammond, "We're going to need to get a birth certificate and social security number for the child, Sir. I'll go through the usual channels at the Pentagon to obtain them the way we normally do for aliens residing on Earth."
"Um," Daniel spoke up, "maybe this is a dumb question, but shouldn't we ask Sam how old she is first?"
"We will have to get creative with the child's birth date regardless, Doctor Jackson."
"Ife," Jack said, clearing his throat. "The girl's name is Ife."
Major Davis nodded and made a note of it, "We'll have to ask Captain Carter about paternity, too."
Jack was taken aback by the man's insensitive remark and at the same time relieved Sam wasn't present to hear it, but before he could say anything about it Hammond spoke.
"I don't think that will be necessary until we have spoken with Doctor Fraiser, Major."
"Considering what Sam has, um, been through at the hands of the Goa'uld, I don't think we have to guess or even confront her with that question," Daniel said a little defensively.
It reminded Jack that Sam's situation had to affect Daniel too and not only because he and Sam had been pen pals – it probably hit a little too close to home, after Sha're.
"I appreciate your concerns Doctor Jackson," Davis said, "but I think it's important there is no room left for speculation."
"I concur with Daniel Jackson."
Hammond nodded in reply to Teal'c's comment. "We will speak with Doctor Fraiser about Captain Carter and her daughter's health first. Perhaps they have already discussed the subject of paternity during the examination."
"If that is not the case though, we will need to broach it with Captain Carter, General."
"Oh, come on, Davis," Jack said, unable to stay silent. "What, do you want the birth certificate to say 'Skaara, host to the Mighty Warrior Klorel and son of Apophis, date of birth unknown and born on Abydos' under the box of father?"
"Colonel O'Neill makes a good point, Major," Hammond said. "The father's information cannot be listed and will simply say 'unknown'. Therefore, I see no reason to question Captain Carter about the child's paternity at this moment. Perhaps once they have settled in and the Captain's state of mind has been evaluated we could broach the subject. But I will leave the professionals to make that judgement."
Major Davis nodded and made some more notes. "Yes, Sir."
"Do the rest of Moac and Master Bra'tac's statements confirm what we suspect happened on Captain Carter's first mission?"
"Yes, they also support what Colonel O'Neill already learned from Master Bra'tac and Captain Carter a year ago."
Daniel frowned, "I thought Sam's name had already been cleared."
"It was, Doctor Jackson. However, my superiors might not be too pleased if their statements contradicted any of the information previously obtained."
Teal'c raised an eyebrow at the General's reply, "It has been more than two years since Captain Carter disappeared from P3X-425 and since then, she has spent much time with Master Bra'tac and Moac. Could they not have colluded to ensure their statements would support one another?"
The Major seemed shocked at the suggestion and he gaped a few seconds, as if trying to find the right words. "But… but do you think they would do such a thing?"
"Of course not, Davis," Jack said, making a dismissive wave with his hand. "Jaffa, and Bra'tac and Moac in particular, take their honor very seriously. Teal'c is just playing devil's advocate."
"Captain Carter doesn't need to worry about charges being brought against her. Thor has retrieved the device Lieutenant Colonel Grieves claimed she had stolen, the med kit, removed bullet and other evidence SG-1 retrieved from P3X-425 and all that combined with their statements are more than enough to clear the Captain's name, especially in light of Grieves' affiliations," Hammond said.
Major Davis nodded in agreement. "She is free to go once Doctor Fraiser determines the quarantine is no longer necessary. Well, we'd have to rectify her death certificate, grave, identity papers and financials first and inform her next-of-kin…"
The General took over again, sighing heavily. "Unfortunately, Captain Carter's father passed away a little over a month ago and that leaves only her brother, who I will inform of the situation personally after I've spoken to the Captain."
"What's the cover story for the outside world, Sir?" Jack had already discussed it some time ago with Hammond, but that had been before they knew about Sam's daughter.
"We'll stick to an undercover mission on foreign territory, Colonel. As for the child, well, I think I'll leave that explanation up to Captain Carter herself. I wouldn't want to presume about the details she's willing to share." General Hammond then turned back to Davis. "Did Master Bra'tac relay any other relevant information? For instance, about the Jaffa Rebellion?"
Major Davis made a face and looked down at his notes. "I got the impression Master Bra'tac is a Jaffa of few words, Sir. He didn't deem it important to… elaborate. Not even when I asked. To be honest, I was pleased he even finished his statement about Captain Carter, short as it may be."
Jack grinned at that and even Teal'c seemed to suppress a smile. "Sounds like the old coot, Sir."
"Sam did mention something about journals," Daniel said. "I'm sure she can tell us more about the Jaffa Rebellion, especially if she made notes."
"Well, she is a scientist," Jack admitted, "and from what I've seen, they tend to make notes of everything. Detailed notes, Sir."
"That might very well be the case. A debriefing with Captain Carter will follow once Doctor Fraiser gives the okay and I'm sure the Captain has many tales to tell," General Hammond said. "For now, though, her health and that of her daughter are what matters most."