Pairing: Sam & Jack
Warnings: Explicit sex
Prompt: A/U fic where Sam is the one who receives a medical discharge.
Small summary: See above.
Author’s notes: Back-up fic for geneeste
; set late Season ThreeBROKEN
“I thought there was supposed to be a welcoming committee.”
The gate whooshed shut behind them and when O’Neill brought his weapon up, Sam automatically did the same. It was a gloomy, overcast day; the clouds dark and hanging low over the mountains that surrounded the valley where the Stargate sat. The structures of the town visible in the distance looked deserted and abandoned. The entire valley had a forlorn air; no light, no smoke from the chimneys, no signs of life at all.
“Indeed,” Teal’c replied. “SG-13 reported the inhabitants were most eager to form an alliance.”
Daniel looked just as perplexed. “Maybe they had second thoughts.”
Sam saw the Colonel frown and knew he was weighing their options. She shivered slightly in the damp air, she wasn’t sure why, but the whole valley had just taken on a menacing air.
“All right, kids,” O’Neill finally said, stepping off the last stone step that led from the gate. “Watch your step.”
Sam looked over at Daniel, who merely shrugged and followed after Jack. Sam went next, breaking off to the right of the dirt road that led from the gate, her eyes continually scanning the forested area around them. She looked over her shoulder and saw Teal’c following behind, walking right down the middle of the road. Sam smiled and turned back, stepping through the rough grass when she felt something hard beneath her foot.
A loud explosion filled the air, dirt and debris flying everywhere. Blown off her feet, and with the wind knocked out of here, she felt her head ringing from the power of the blast. The ground was cold and hard, though she could still feel the heat from the explosion; the air was full of the smell of cordite, singed clothing and burned flesh. Sam tried to get up, but she couldn’t; her eyes wouldn’t focus and her legs felt numb. Dazed, she laid on the ground, vaguely aware of the shouts of her team mates. Once the ringing in her ears diminished, she could hear the Colonel yelling.
“God dammit, Daniel! Dial the gate!” His face loomed over her, his eyes full of fear.
“Sir,” she whispered, trying to grab his sleeve when he knelt down next to her, but her arm wouldn’t obey her.
“It’s all right, Sam,” he said, his hands moving briskly over her body, her arms, her chest, her hips, her legs…. His face lost all its color and he looked sick, which scared her, but then his expression grew hard and angry again and he yelled, “Daniel, is that gate open yet?”
Sam forced her head to turn and she saw a blurry figure that must’ve been Daniel standing by the DHD, his hand pressed to the center crystal.
“Got it,” he yelled, looking over at them. It was hard to focus, but she saw the same worry and fear in his face that she’d seen in the Colonel’s. She wanted to reassure both of them that she was fine, just had the wind knocked out of her, but her head was starting to spin again.
“Daniel, go through and get the medical team in the gate room. We’ll be right behind you.”
Her eyes fluttered shut then; it was just too hard to keep them open. A firm hand patted her cheek, jostling her, and her eyes flew back open. “Stay with me here, Carter.”
“Yes, sir,” she replied, her speech slurred. She was starting to feel cold and why was he taking her belt off? She bit back a cry and groaned, pain spreading through her when she felt him wrap the belt tightly around her right thigh.
His face loomed over hers again and this time she could barely see him. “I’m sorry, Sam, this is going to hurt.”
She wanted to ask him what was going hurt, but then he was standing over her and she realized Teal’c was there too. She did cry out then, when Teal’c scooped her up in his arms, excruciating pain racing up from her toes and through her entire body. Each step Teal’c took towards the Stargate made the pain that much worse. It was too much and she finally gave up on the fight to remain conscious, slipping into oblivion as the event horizon closed around them.
The first time Sam woke up she was so overwhelmed with pain she could barely focus on where she was or what was happening. The lights were so bright and there were so many people around her, tugging at her clothes, poking her with things, that she felt totally panicked. She started flailing wildly, but strong hands held her down and when she finally recognized the woman bending over her and shining the bright light into her eyes, she almost cried with relief.
She moved her lips, struggling to say her name. “Janet,” she croaked, her voice a mere whisper amongst all the noise and controlled chaos of the infirmary.
“Its okay, Sam.” Janet’s gloved hand smoothed her hair back off her forehead. “You’re going to be all right.” The doctor’s voice trembled and Sam saw the same fear and worry in her eyes that had been present in her team mates. If she was going to be all right, why did everyone look so scared?
“Janet.” Her voice was a weak whisper as she tried to get the doctor’s attention again, but all she heard was her brisk voice, calling out orders.
“Get her prepped and into OR One right now. And get that orthopedic specialist from the base hospital here ASAP!”
“Doc, is she going to be alright?”
Sam recognized that deep voice immediately. The Colonel was there, that in itself made her feel better.
“I’ll be able to answer that question once we get her into surgery and I can assess the extent of the damage.”
Damage, that didn’t sound good. Sam reached for Fraiser’s sleeve, but then she felt someone moving her legs and she screamed as the worst pain she’d very felt tore through her body. She dimly heard Janet’s voice over her cries.
“Careful with that leg!”
“Janet,” Sam sobbed, “it hurts, make it stop.”
O’Neill’s angry voice sounded distantly. “Dammit, do something for her!”
“We are Colonel, we are.” Janet’s voice sounded tense. “Ten milligrams of morphine, now!”
Janet’s face swam before her vision again. “It’ll be okay, Sam. Just try and relax.”
She wanted to scream again, not because she was in pain—because she still was—but because she finally realized something was seriously wrong with her. But it was too late, she felt the morphine coursing through her blood stream and it was easier to close her eyes and drift away again than it was to try and fight.
The second time she woke up, everything was quiet. She was warm and almost comfortable and she wondered for a wild moment if she was dead. But then she heard the steady beep of a heart monitor, the soft whirr of various pieces of equipment and the occasional sound of voices talking quietly in the background and she knew she was alive. She felt like crap, her body ached all over, her hair even hurt. With each increasing moment of consciousness, she was aware of the various IV’s and other tubes that were running in and out of her and she vaguely remembered talk of the operating room.
Opening her eyes, she blinked and squinted, even though the lights were low. She immediately recognized where she was and felt a surge of relief that she was in the infirmary at the SGC. She tentatively moved her arm, trying to feel for the call light, but even that small movement sent pain through her and she moaned softly.
“Major Carter, are you in pain?”
“Teal’c.” She forced her eyes fully open and saw his reassuring presence in the chair next to her bed. He pressed something into her hand.
“You have merely to press this.”
She felt the button on the device and pressed it, immediately feeling the drug go into her system. “What happened?” she whispered. Her mouth felt so dry and it was an effort to talk.
“You do not remember?”
She tried to remember, but her brain was going all fuzzy again. “We were on PX6-992. There was no one there.”
“That is correct.”
“Were we attacked?” She forced herself to focus on Teal’c’s face; his normally placid expression was filled with concern.
“You were injured.”
Injured, of course, that’s why she was in the infirmary. “The Colonel? Daniel?”
“They are fine.”
“Good, that’s good,” she murmured, closing her eyes as she felt the morphine start to work. She heard footsteps and then sensed movement by her bed.
“How is she?”
It was the Colonel, she tried to open her eyes, but it was too hard, everything seemed too hard.
“She awoke briefly.”
“Does she know?”
What didn’t she know? She was starting to get scared again and she managed to move her hand, reaching for him, and felt his larger one close around hers. “It’s okay, Sam. Go to sleep. I’ll be here when you wake up.” His voice and his presence reassured her and she drifted off once more.
The next time she woke up, her disorientation was so brief as to be barely noticeable. Sam knew right away that she was still in the infirmary, that she had been injured and that the rest of her team was safe. She smiled weakly, though she was sure it was more of a grimace. This wasn’t the first time, nor would it be the last time.
Slowly opening her eyes, she tried to shift her position in the bed, but she felt a curious heaviness in her legs and they wouldn’t obey her. Before she could make any sense of it though, she heard a thud as if someone’s feet had hit the floor and then the Colonel loomed over her. He looked haggard and exhausted and she smiled tentatively at him, wondering vaguely what he was still doing in the infirmary.
“Doc! She’s awake!”
She heard the familiar sound of Fraiser’s heels clicking across the floor, the curtains around her bed were pulled aside and then the doctor was beside her bed, smiling down at her. “Nice to have you back with us, Sam.” Janet’s fingers were cool against her wrist as she felt for her pulse. “How do you feel?”
Now that she was more awake, she realized she ached all over. “I’m not sure, Janet,” she confessed. “I don’t remember what happened....” She frowned, fragments of memory returning to her. “There was an explosion.”
Janet’s fingers slid from her wrist, taking hold of her hand, her brown eyes full of compassion and Sam started to feel scared again. “What happened?” she whispered, looking from Janet to the Colonel.
“You stepped on an explosive device,” O’Neill finally said, as if the words were dragged out of him.
His words didn’t make any sense. “What?”
O’Neill’s voice was terse and his eyes were dark with an anger that she knew wasn’t directed at her. “Evidently when the inhabitants of PX6-992 left their planet, they left the area around the gate booby-trapped. When SG-3 went back to the planet, they found the entire area around the gate was surrounded by land mines.”
“Janet,” she looked to Fraiser now, gripping the doctors’ hand tightly. “I don’t understand.”
“Sam, honey, you stepped on a land mine. We did everything we could, but your right leg was so severely injured, we had no option but to amputate.”
She could feel that ringing sensation in her head start up again, but she fought it. “No Janet,” she said, her voice shaking. “You’re wrong, I can feel my legs.” Releasing her grip on Fraiser’s hand, she tugged at the sheets, groping for the bed controls, but the Colonel was there before her, raising the head of the bed. “I can feel both my legs…” Her voice trailed off and she looked in growing horror at the sheet that lay over her…her left foot was an obvious lump under the pristine white sheet while her right leg ended…abruptly below her knee.
“Oh, god,” she moaned, closing her eyes on a wave of nausea. “No, no, no,” she panted, she was breathing too fast she knew, but she couldn’t seem to help it. This couldn’t be happening to her, it was all a horrible nightmare and if she tried hard enough, she’d wake up and everything would be all right, she’d be all right….
“Carter! Snap out of it!”
Her eyes flew open at the command in his voice and she locked her eyes with his. She suddenly realized he was holding his hand now, her fingers gripping his so tightly they hurt. She took a shuddering breath and forced the hysteria down, deliberately relaxing her grip and taking slow breaths. And she must have been successful, because both the Colonel and Janet looked relieved. But she could still feel the panic, and an even deeper despair, building inside of her. She deliberately let go of his hand, though she wanted to do nothing more than cling to him, and looked at Fraiser.
“I’m sorry,” she murmured, her voice catching slightly. “It’s just a…shock.” She almost lost it then, the hysteria bubbling back up inside her and threatening to escape, but she held on. “I think I’d like to be alone now.” She closed her eyes then and concentrated on her breathing, praying for them to go away and leave her alone.
She felt Janet’s light touch on her shoulder. “I’m going to have one of the nurse’s bring you something to help you relax.”
Sam nodded her head and she heard Fraiser walk away. She waited then, holding back her tears, when she heard the Colonel sigh heavily and his hand lightly touch hers again. “We’ll be here, Sam. When you’re ready.” Once she heard the heavier tread of his boots as he walked away, she let her tears escape, crying silently for her lost foot…her dreams…her life.
Sam watched dispassionately while Ryan, her physical therapist in the inpatient rehab unit, rewrapped her stump. So far she’d been the perfect patient, doing all the right things. She didn’t flinch from looking at her right leg, which now ended abruptly at about six inches below her knee joint, the skin still slightly reddened, the scar puckered and jagged looking. All the doctors and therapists continually reassured her that her leg was healing properly, no infection or other problem common to traumatic amputations, continually telling her she’d be up and walking with a prosthesis in no time.
“There you go, Sam,” Ryan pronounced, flashing her a cheerful grin. He stood up and went over to the sink, washing his hands. “I hear you’re being discharged today.”
“Yeah,” she said, rolling the leg of her sweat pants back down and neatly fastening it closed with safety pins. “I’ll be coming in as an outpatient.”
“Good,” he said. “I should still see you then.”
“Ryan….” Her voice trailed off and she looked down a bit self-consciously. She didn’t really know what she wanted to say.
“You’ll be fine, Sam.” He laid a hand on her shoulder and she looked up, his eyes were kind and understanding. “Everyone is nervous about going home.”
She summoned a smile for him. “I suppose you’re right.” She grabbed her crutches then and doing as exactly as she’d been taught, stood and as gracefully as one could on crutches and one leg, and started down the long hallway to her room.
Once in her room, she switched to just one crutch and dragged her duffle out of the tiny closet. She didn’t have much to pack, which gave her way too much time to think. She’d been such a perfect patient that now, when it was time for her to go home, she couldn’t tell anyone she was scared to death. In the hospital she didn’t have to think about her future or what she was going to do the next hour…the next day. It was just enough to get through the physical therapy and rehab she was subjected to everyday. At least in rehab she had something to focus on, a schedule, an agenda. But once she got home…. Well, it didn’t really matter what she wanted, life happened and she had to deal.
And, if she was honest with herself, she was scared that once she was released, she wouldn’t see Jack anymore. She smiled slightly, folding her pajamas and putting them in the duffel. He was Jack now and she looked forward to his visits far more than was wise or comfortable. She looked forward to Teal’c and Daniel’s visits too, but not as much as Jack’s. It had been awkward that first visit and she wondered what they could possibly talk about to fill up an acceptable amount of time for a friendly visit, but then he’d pulled out the magnetic chess board and everything had been all right. He had visited her almost everyday and he never ceased to amaze her. They talked, he told lame jokes that made her laugh and slowly started to share stories of their lives before the SGC and the Stargate.
Occasionally, especially after she felt herself sinking deeper into something more than just friendly affection for him, she wondered if he only visited because he felt responsible for what had happened, though she really had no way of knowing, since they carefully avoided any mention of what had happened to her—and her leg. But it was nice and sometimes when he looked at her, she thought she saw something more than friendship in his eyes. But then it would vanish and she was sure she had been mistaken.
But then again, what would any man, much less one like Jack O’Neill, see in her now? A one-legged former Air Force major with a medical discharge and a boxful of medals that she couldn’t tell anyone about? Shoving the rest of her clothing into the duffel, she zipped it up and sat down on the bed, suddenly worn out. She knew it was irrational, but when she looked down at her feet and only saw one, she didn’t always feel so rational. When she’d stepped on that mine, not only had she lost her leg, she’d lost her career and a job she loved more anything.
There was a brief knock on her door and when it swung open, Daniel stood there. “Ready to go?”
She frowned. “I thought Janet was going to take me home?
He smiled, stepping further into the room. “SG-17 came in hot, nothing too serious as it turns out, but still enough to keep her stuck there for awhile. So she asked me, she knows how anxious you are to get home.”
Daniel was right, she was anxious to get home and she ignored the disappointment that filled her because Janet had asked Daniel to come get her instead of Jack.
He picked up her duffel and looked at her over his glasses. “So, how do we spring you from this place?”
Sam smiled, picking up the shiny new backpack purse that Cassie had given her as a get well present and slipped it on. Grabbing her crutches, she led the way to the nurse’s station, where she was given her prescriptions, duly instructed and finally officially discharged. Even though she assured them she could make it to the front door on her own, one of the nurse’s aides accompanied her and waited with her at the front entrance while Daniel brought his car around.
Getting into the front seat of Daniel’s Lexus was harder than she’d anticipated and she was suddenly relieved that Janet hadn’t asked Jack, she wasn’t sure how she would have managed to get into his big truck without looking like a one-legged idiot. But manage she did; Daniel stowed her crutches in the backseat and they were off. It was a beautiful fall day in the mountains, the air was crisp and fresh and she was so glad to be out of the hospital. Rolling down the window a little bit, she let the cool air blow in on her. She really hadn’t been in the rehab unit that long, just a little over three weeks, but it seemed like an eternity now. Or maybe it was just that what was left of her life seemed like an eternity.
Forcing her unexpectedly gloomy thoughts aside, she concentrated on Daniel’s light conversation instead and before she knew it, they pulled up in front of her house. She felt some of the heaviness in her heart lift at the sight of her little house. Daniel turned off the ignition. “Glad to be home?”
“Yeah,” she said, not surprised at the understanding she saw in his eyes. Determined to make it into her house on her own, she didn’t wait for Daniel to come around and open her door, but he was there anyway, handing her the crutches and standing back out of the way while she maneuvered herself out of the car. It was still a bit awkward, real life wasn’t quite as cooperative as the hospital, but she eventually made it. And Daniel was patient; his only comment was that the next time he’d have to remember to not park so close to the curb.
The porch stairs were easy after getting out of the car and before she could hold onto her crutches with one hand and fumble through her backpack purse for her house keys, Daniel pulled one out of his pocket and opened the door for her. “Thanks,” she murmured, determined that next time she’d be more organized. But her small moment of pique didn’t last for long when she walked through the door and into the security of her home. It felt so good and she just stood for a moment in the foyer.
“Where do you want this?” Daniel asked, holding up the duffel.
“In the bedroom, I guess,” she said. He nodded and slipped past her. Stepping carefully on the wood floor, she slowly made her way back to the kitchen. As she suspected, the refrigerator was full and so were the cupboards—courtesy of Janet and Cassie, no doubt, so she wouldn’t have to worry about grocery shopping for awhile. Of course, since she hadn’t been released to drive yet, getting to the grocery store could prove difficult. There had been talk about fitting her car with hand controls, but she’d been too focused on her recovery while she was in the hospital to think about how she was going to drive once she was released.
Maneuvering her way into her living room, she gratefully sank down onto her sofa; she was more tired than she realized. She heard Daniel walk down the hallway and then go into the kitchen, cupboard doors opening. Too tired to investigate, she pulled the coffee table closer and put a pillow on it so she could elevate her stump and just waited; when she finally heard the sound of the tea kettle whistling, she knew what he was doing.
“I hope hot cocoa is okay,” he said when he walked into the room, carefully carrying two steaming mugs.
“Perfect,” she said, taking the hot mug from him. It smelled wonderful and she took a careful sip. Daniel took a seat in the armchair by the fire place, sipping his cocoa. Sighing softly, Sam felt herself begin to truly relax for the first time in…well, weeks.
“So,” he said, looking at her over his mug of cocoa. “When are you coming back?”
She was confused and looked at him uncertainly. “Coming back where?”
“To the SGC.”
Sam couldn’t believe he was so callous as to ask her that question when she remembered this was Daniel. “You do know,” she said slowly, “that I’ve been given a medical discharge, don’t you?”
He nodded. “Yeah, I know you’re not in the military anymore, but that doesn’t mean you can’t come back to the SGC.”
She shook her head, setting her half full mug of cocoa on the coffee table. Suddenly self-conscious of her maimed leg, even though it was hidden by her sweat pants, she pulled the afghan off the back of the sofa and draped it over her legs. His gaze was steady and she flushed slightly. “Cold.” He nodded, but she knew she hadn’t fooled him. And he looked like he still expected an answer from her.
“I don’t know what I’m going to do, Daniel,” she finally admitted. “I’m not officially out of the Air Force for two more months, when my medical leave is up. Plenty of time to decide.”
“You can still work at the SGC,” he persisted. “Be a civilian contractor, like me.”
“Maybe,” she replied absently.
He looked like he was going to say more when he suddenly stopped and looked at his watch. “Damn,” he muttered. “Sam, I’ve got to go. SG-8 is due back within the hour and they’re bringing back video of these ruins with hieroglyphs that, at least according to Rothman, are unlike any we’ve ever seen.” He stood up, downing the rest of his hot cocoa and then looked at her, his eyes all earnest but she could tell he was already a million miles away. “You’ll be all right?”
“I’ll be fine.”
He smiled, pressing a kiss to her cheek. “Just call if you need anything.”
“I’ll be fine!” she told him, hoping it was the truth. She started to get up, to see him to the door, reaching for her crutches. She heard him run water into his empty cocoa mug and then his footsteps down the hall before she had even gotten her crutches maneuvered to where she could stand up.
“Don’t bother to get up, Sam. I’ll lock the door.” His voice rang down the hallway and she slumped back down on the sofa when she heard the door slam and the lock turn. God, she couldn’t even do something as simple as walk her friend to the door to say goodbye. For the first time since she’d learned of her injury, she felt the hot wash of tears. All her fears and the frustrations of the past few weeks erupted in a bout of crying she couldn’t seem to stop, so she gave up trying. She knew she had so much for which to be thankful, and she was grateful that her injuries hadn’t been more severe, but she was scared and tired and she didn’t know what she was going to do.
When her tears finally gave out, she curled up on the sofa, clutching a tissue and falling into a light doze. She didn’t think she’d actually been asleep when her cell phone rang some time later. Scrabbling for her purse, which thankfully was right by the sofa where she’d dropped it, she managed to get it answered before it went to the voice mail.“Sam? Are you okay?”
“I’m fine, Janet,” she reassured her friend, working her way to a sitting position. “I was just taking a little nap.”“Oh, I’m sorry, honey.”
“No, that’s okay, Janet.”“Listen, I’m calling because Cassie and I are going to get pizza for dinner tonight and we thought maybe you’d like to join us. Papa John’s is right on the way to your house and we can pick it up, along with a couple of salads.”
Sam smiled faintly. She knew Janet had ulterior motives for her offer of dinner, but she really didn’t want any company on her first night back home. “Thanks, Janet. But I think I’ll take a rain check. I’m not really hungry and I think I’m going to have an early night.”“Okay honey, if you’re sure.”
Sam could hear the concern in her voice, but she really didn’t want to have to explain her puffy eyes and her red nose to her friend. “I’ll be fine, Janet. Tell Cassie that maybe we can get together this weekend.”“All right. Yes, just a minute, Cassie. Look Sam, I’ve got to go. Call if you need anything?”
“Don’t worry, I will.”“All right, talk to you later.”
“Bye, Janet.” The connection went dead and Sam sighed, setting the phone down. She looked at the clock, more time had passed than she’d thought and while she wasn’t really hungry, she knew she should eat something. Locating her crutches where they’d fallen along side the sofa, Sam slowly got to her feet, almost catching one of the crutches on the edge of the coffee table, but she caught herself in time and made her way into the kitchen.
Heating up a can of soup took on a whole new dimension when done on crutches, her feeling of triumph fading when she realized she’d have to eat it standing in the kitchen because there was no way she could walk with her crutches and carry a bowl of soup to the dining room table. She sighed heavily, leaning against the counter and eating the soup, she’d been so focused on the loss of her foot, she hadn’t even considered the practical aspects of not being able to walk and use her hands at the same time.
Feeling more and more discouraged and exhausted with each and every activity that took ten times longer, she finally decided to go to bed, remembering halfway down the hall to her bedroom that her phone was back on the coffee table in the living room. Swinging around on her crutches, she cursed softly when she almost lost her footing, retracing her steps back to the living room, where she snatched up her phone and stuffing it in her purse, she swung it over her shoulder and started what seemed the unending trip back to her bedroom.
Getting ready for bed had never seemed to take so long and while she wanted nothing more than to soak in the bathtub, she just didn’t think she was up to trying to get in and out of the tub by herself, much less rewrap her stump once she was finished. So in the end, she settled for washing her face and brushing her teeth before pulling on a simple sleep-T. Making sure her crutches were safely stowed by the bed, she shut out the bedside lamp and slipped under the covers. It felt so good to be in her bed, she almost started to cry again.
Curling up on her side, she hugged one of her pillows and tried to not think of anything, especially her future because she was only starting to appreciate that instead of solving all her problems, coming home had merely given her new ones to deal with.
Sam rolled over and looked at the clock on the bedside table. Two a.m., why did her bladder always wake her up at two a.m.? Yawning, she threw the covers back and got out of bed, she tried to stand and then cried out, falling flat on her face. Stunned, she laid breathing heavily for several minutes, her cheek pressed into the carpet and her legs tangled up beneath her.
God, she had forgotten. How could she have forgotten? She felt the tears that never seemed far from the surface now that she was home well up in her eyes again. Cautiously straightening her legs out, she lay on her side and tried to decide if she’d managed to hurt herself. Beyond a few aches, she seemed to be okay and her bladder was still full. She laughed shakily; at least she hadn’t wet herself.
Deciding it was too much effort, and since she was already on the floor, she crawled to the bathroom, pulling herself up onto the toilet by grabbing hold of the sink. It wasn’t very graceful and certainly not pretty, but she didn’t care. What did it matter if she used the crutches or not? Using the sink again, she pulled herself up and leaned against it, balancing on her remaining leg. She managed to wash her hands and then hanging onto the door frame, she actually was able to hop a few steps before she had to lower herself down onto her knees again to make it across the room to the bed.
Crawling into bed, she lay panting, feeling as worn out as she had when she’d gone to bed. God, she hoped it got easier, she hoped her mind would eventually remember that she didn’t have two feet anymore. She had been pinning all her hopes on getting her prosthetic foot, but unless she wore it twenty-four seven, she’d still have to deal with going to the bathroom in the middle of the night.
Sam slept fitfully the rest of the night, but at some point she must’ve fallen into a deep sleep because the next time she woke up, the sun was shining brightly through bedroom curtains that she knew for a fact had been closed when she’d gone to bed. It wasn’t the sun shining into her room that had woken though, it was the sound of a power drill in her bathroom. More curious than alarmed, once she’d identified the sound, she sat up in bed and looked around while deciding whether to get out of bed and investigate.
The leather jacket slung over the foot of her bed identified her unexpected visitor, but it didn’t explain the power drill. She knew he could move stealthily when needed, or else she had fallen into an exceptionally deep sleep. Probably the latter, she decided wryly, given her adventure during the middle of the night.
Stretching, she felt only a few extra aches, and this time she made sure she had her crutches before she got up. She stood there for a minute wondering what to do when she realized her robe was hanging on a hook behind the bathroom door. Her sleep T-shirt was a respectable length, but it left her legs completely exposed from the tops of her knees down. Janet had been the only one of her friends who had actually seen her stump, and that was because she was also her doctor.
Then, for better or worse, the decision was taken out of her hands when Jack suddenly appeared in the bathroom doorway, his hair mussed and dressed in casual clothes, a serious looking power drill in his hand.
Jack’s eyes lit up when he saw her and he smiled. “Sorry, didn’t mean to wake you.”
“No, that’s okay, I mean,” she stuttered, stiffening slightly when she realized his eyes were roving appreciatively up and down her body. “I should have been up hours ago.” When it seemed like his eyes were lingering on her legs—or lack of them—she asked, “Just what are you doing here?”
“Oh.” His eyes flew back to her face and he grinned. “Come and see.”
Giving him a curious look, she made her way across to the room to the bathroom door, acutely aware of his eyes on her as she walked with her crutches. His smile never wavered and he stepped aside to let her in, following behind her.
“I meant to install these before you got home.” Two shiny new grab bars were bolted to the tile wall surrounding her bath tub, along with a third one on the wall next to the toilet.
“Oh, Jack,” she murmured, unbelievably touched by his thoughtfulness. Before she could think about her action, she pivoted on her leg and balancing with one hand on his shoulder, she placed a kiss on his cheek. When she would have pulled away, he stopped her, setting the drill down on the toilet seat and then wrapping one arm around her waist and the other around her shoulders. He lowered his head and she waited breathlessly for the sweet brush of his lips against hers, letting her crutches clatter to the floor so that she could wrap both her arms around him.
It was perhaps the most perfect first kiss she had ever received, sweet and tender and with just enough passion to make her want more. When he finally lifted his head, she wasn’t ready to let go of him just yet and she buried her face against his throat and let him support her. “Thank you so much,” she murmured huskily.
“You’re welcome,” he rumbled, holding her close.
It felt so good just to be held by him that when she felt his arms start to loosen, she held him even tighter. She felt him hesitate for a moment, but his arms remained around her, one of his hands running soothingly up and down her back. “What’s the matter, Sam?” he asked quietly.
She took a shuddering breath and fought back the incipient tears again, trust him to get right to the heart of the matter. “I’m so scared,” she whispered. She felt a huge rush of relief with just admitting to someone else that she was scared.
“I know, sweetheart. I know.”
She felt a rush of warmth at his use of the endearment and decided she could probably get used to having him call her sweetheart. But now that he’d asked, she found she wanted to tell him. “I just don’t know what I’m going to do,” she confessed shakily.
“Get a peg leg and a parrot and sail the open seas?”
Her sob turned into a watery chuckle and she rubbed her cheek against his shoulder. “You know what I mean,” she chided.
“I know,” he said. This time when he loosened his arms and held her shoulders, she lifted her head and looked at him. His dark eyes were so full of compassion and caring she almost started crying right then. “You’ll learn how to live with only one foot and you’ll go on.”
That was only part of the problem and she really wasn’t sure she could make him understand. “It’s just that…I don’t know who I am if I’m not in the Air Force.”
“Doctor Samantha Carter, if you think your only value to anyone resided in your right foot, than you’re not as smart as I think you are.”
God, she hated it when he made sense, and she knew with time she’d believe it in her heart as well as her head. “I know that.”
“Hammond will take you back in a heart beat, in fact, he’s holding your lab for your return. And granted, it won’t be as Major Carter, but we still need you. Hell, if you don’t want to come back to the SGC, I’m sure there are at least half a dozen companies that are just drooling at the thought of stealing you away from the Air Force.”
His lips curved in a smile that melted her insides before he once more turned serious. “And while I hate like hell what has happened to you and would undo it if I could, don’t think for one minute that I’m going to pretend I’m sorry that you’re no longer in the Air Force.”
“Always looking for that silver lining, aren’t you?” she teased.
“You know me, Mister Optimistic.”
She laughed then and he grinned back at her. “As much as I’ve enjoyed our conversation, don’t you have a physical therapy appointment at 1130?”
She didn’t question how he knew about her appointment, no doubt Janet had arranged for him to drive her. “What time is it?” she asked, reaching for his left arm and twisting around so she could read it—1045. “Damn, I won’t have time for a bath. Go,” she said, balancing against the sink and giving him a push. “Oh, and take your drill.”
“Yes, ma’am.” He reached around her, grabbing the drill and heading out the door.
“And make me some coffee, please!” she called after him.
If Sam had thought her biggest challenge that day was getting into Jack’s truck, she had been sadly mistaken. Teresa, her outpatient therapist, made every bad ass drill sergeant she’d ever known look like a pussy cat. The woman was relentless, all five feet and maybe one hundred pounds of her. But she felt good after their session and even found herself promising to do the strengthening exercises Teresa had taught her. But even as good as she felt afterwards, she knew her ass was dragging as she slowly made her way to the door where Jack had dropped her off.
As promised, Jack was waiting to pick her up, standing casually against the passenger door, looking exceptionally hot in his leather jacket and sunglasses. She still felt the teeniest bit guilty thinking of him that way, old habits really did die hard she guessed.
“Good session?” he asked when she got closer, opening the door.
“Yeah, she really put me through a workout. Better than a personal trainer,” she joked. Sliding off her purse, she threw that onto the front seat and then holding both crutches with her right hand, she reached for the interior grab bar with her left and with a subtle boost from Jack, heaved herself into the front seat. Jack took the crutches from her and stowed them on the floor behind the front seats, before shutting the door. She watched him walk around the front of the truck, his movements graceful and fluid, and she felt some of her earlier self-doubts start to creep back. She’d never walk or move gracefully again, even with the best prosthetic.
The driver’s door open and he jumped in, his effortless movements seeming to mock her own inability to get into the truck without help. “Hungry?” he asked, glancing at her while he fastened his seatbelt.
Distracted from her self-pity, she realized she was hungry and said, “Yes.” And then remembering the effort it took to get in and out of the truck, added quickly when he started the engine. “But just the drive-through.”
“Whatever you want,” he replied.
He pulled in at the first fast food place they came to where he ordered a cheeseburger and she finally decided on a grilled chicken burger. He raised an eyebrow, but placed their order and by the time he pulled up in front of her house, she had devoured the sandwich and almost all the fries.
“Remind me to feed you next time before you go to PT,” he said with a laugh.
“I didn’t think I was that hungry,” she admitted sheepishly.
Sam opened the door and Jack quickly opened his. “Wait, I’ll help you.”
“No, it’s okay.” She could do this on her own, she knew. Grabbing hold of the grab bar, she scooted to the edge of the seat and then slid down, landing on her foot. Pivoting, she grabbed her purse, slipping it on and then pulling her crutches out. She almost lost her balance then, but Jack was there, ready to steady her and she flashed him a triumphant grin when she stood in front of him.
Her smile faded somewhat when she remembered she was being praised for being able to get out of a truck, which, truth be told, wasn’t such a great accomplishment after all. Reaching back into the truck, she grabbed her fast food bag and started the slow journey up the drive to her front door, leaving Jack to close the truck’s door. To his credit, he walked alongside her and she stepped aside, letting him open the door with his key. One of these days, she decided grumpily, she was going to have to retrieve all the house keys that were floating out there.
He held the door open for her and then said, “I’ve got some groceries out in the truck, I’ll be right back.”
Sam nodded and then stood indecisively in the foyer. She wanted him to stay, but she didn’t want him to feel obligated and the fact that she was worrying about it didn’t improve her mood or lessen her indecision. But her muscles were also starting to ache and she knew she was sweaty and really needed a bath…and she still didn’t want him to leave. But she discovered she needn’t have worried. Before she could make up her mind about what to do, he was back, several plastic groceries bags in hand. His eyes narrowed when he saw her still standing in the same place and she wasn’t surprised when he made the decision for her.
“Go take a bath, try out those grab bars.”
She took a deep breath. “You’ll still be here?”
His eyes were steady when he looked at her. “I’m not going anywhere, Sam.”
There was a promise in his eyes that she couldn’t mistake and she nodded, before slowly heading down the hall. Determined not to over-think his presence in her home and his continued presence in her life in spite of her disability, she decided to enjoy her bath.
The bathroom was small enough that once she was in there, she was able to discard the crutches and it wasn’t long before she had the tub full of hot water and lots of bubbles. Sitting on the toilet seat, she crossed her legs and carefully unwrapped her stump, folding the dressing neatly so that she could put it on when she was finished.
It still startled her sometimes, when she saw it and while she had tried to remain detached, she had discovered that wasn’t very healthy in the long run. She had very little recollection now of the actual explosion. Early on she had gone over everything she could remember of the few minutes before the accident, wondering if there was anything she could have done different, if there was anything she should have noticed and didn’t. But she’d also discovered that wasn’t very healthy and had mostly given up on trying to answer the unanswerable question of ‘why her?’
The grab bars Jack had installed were perfect and she was able to sit on the side of the tub and easily lower herself in without worrying that she was going to fall in. And the hot water felt heavenly, the only thing that would have made it perfect would have been candles and a glass of wine, but for right now, she’d take the hot water and bubbles. She soaked for a long time, running more hot water when she needed it and actually finding enough energy at one point to wash her hair. It would probably dry all funny, but she didn’t care.
Closing her eyes, she sank deeper into the suds when she heard a knock on the door.
“Sam? You okay in there?”
Sitting up and sending the water sloshing, she quickly called out, “Yes, I’m all right. What time is it?”
“You’ve been in there almost an hour.”
“Okay,” she replied, feeling a bit guilty that so much time had passed. “Give me a minute and I’ll be out.”
It was slower getting out than going in, but she eventually managed, courtesy of the grab bars, to get out of the tub and onto the toilet seat. Drying off wasn’t that difficult and she stood at the sink briefly, running a comb through her still damp hair. It curled low around her neck and she automatically made a mental note to get a haircut when she remembered it didn’t make any difference anymore. No one cared and no one was watching whether her hair hung over her collar. She wondered idly if Jack liked long hair or short hair better—along with the question of whether she’d actually ever wear her hair specifically to please a man.
Banishing that train of thought, Sam balanced on her leg, and using the sink for added support, she grabbed her robe from behind the door and put it on, pulling the sash tight, before giving in and grabbing her crutches. Pushing the door open, she stepped into her bedroom.
The late afternoon sun shown through the bedroom window, dappling the room in sunlight and shadow, and she felt a pang of disappointment when, at first, she didn’t see him. But then her heart skipped a beat when she saw him lying stretched out on her bed, propped up on pillows with his hands behind his head. His lips curved into a lazy smile when he saw her and she walked toward him, the appreciative gleam in his eyes totally counter to how she knew she must look—her hair shaggy and hanging limply, besides the obvious crutches and missing foot.
His smile was inviting and she ignored the butterflies in her stomach, sitting down on the edge of the bed and facing him. Mindful of her crutches, she leaned them against the wall.
“Feel better?” He sat up slightly and reached out, lightly running his fingers through her damp hair.
“Yes, thank-you,” she murmured, delighting in the shiver that ran through her at her touch. “The grab bars worked perfect.”
Scooting a bit awkwardly closer to the center of the bed and leaned forward, resting her hand on his chest. Sam told herself she was just going to thank him for the grab bars, when she brushed his mouth with hers, but once their lips met she discovered she wanted so much more. Jack groaned softly and his arms went around her, pulling her closer until she sprawled against him. The passion she’d sensed in their earlier kiss was in full force now and she couldn’t get enough of his kisses. When one of his hands slid down her back, pressing her closer, she shifted, curling her leg around his, when she suddenly froze.
“Oh god,” she exclaimed, abruptly dragging her mouth from his and sitting up. She tried to scoot off the bed, but one strong arm went around her waist, stopping her.
“Sam? What is it?” He sounded genuinely confused and she felt miserable.
She closed her eyes and took a deep breath, vividly aware of how her robe gaped, leaving her feeling incredibly exposed. Keeping her head down and refusing to look at him, she mumbled, “I forgot….”
Two firm, yet gentle fingers, tilted her chin up. His expression was tense. “What? What did you forget?”
Tugging on the hem of her robe and folding her legs beneath her, she confessed. “I forgot to wrap my…stump after I got out of the tub.” The look of relief on his face would have been comical if she hadn’t felt so distressed. She started to scoot closer to the edge of the bed, hampered by her desire to keep her stump hidden from him. “I’ll just go get the bandages.”
“Don’t worry,” he said, “I’ve got it.” Before she could even protest—and long before she could even hope to get to her feet—he was off the bed and into the bathroom, returning with the small pile of gauze and elastic bandage that she’d left on the back of the toilet.
He seemed oblivious to her distress and sat back down the bed. “Come on,” he said. It was her turn to be confused, until he tugged on her ankle.
“No,” she said hurriedly, “I can do it.” She held out her hand to him, waiting for him to hand her the bandages.
His steady gaze met hers. “Let me help you.”
She initially thought they were involved in some kind of power struggle, but when she looked in his eyes and saw the uncertainty he couldn’t disguise, it dawned on her that maybe they both had issues regarding her injury. She’d trusted him with her life and she suspected she’d grown to love him as well…feeling incredibly vulnerable, she uncurled her right leg and carefully rested it on his lap.
Sam discovered she couldn’t be quite as dispassionate about her missing extremity when her almost-lover was looking at it and she wondered whatever had possessed her to think she was even remotely ready to let him make love to her—much less let him see her injury. His fingers were incredibly gently when he ran them lightly along the still red and puckered scar.
“Does it hurt?” he asked, glancing at her, his eyes shadowed.
“Not really,” she answered, surprised at his question. ‘It itches sometimes.”
Jack picked up the rolled gauze and started wrapping it expertly around her stump. “Do you ever get that pain? That phantom thing?”
“No…sometimes I think my foot is still there, but I’ve never had any phantom pain.”
He was finished with the gauze and he started with the elastic wrap next. After several rounds he asked, “Is that too tight?” She shook her head, watching his hands while he finished his task, fastening it with the safety pin and then smoothing his hands over it, letting one hand come to rest warmly on her knee.
“There, good as new.”
The silence in her bedroom was deafening and she looked at him, a sick feeling in her stomach. His eyes flew to her face and he looked horrified. “God…Sam…I’m sorry, I didn’t mean—”
“What? Didn’t mean what?” she asked, pulling her leg off his lap. She could feel all of the insecurity that had been simmering inside her for weeks break through her control. “That’s just it, isn’t it, Jack? It’s not good as new and it never will be.”
“Sam, please, listen to me. You know this,” he gestured to her leg, half hidden by her robe now, “doesn’t matter to me.”
She wanted to believe him; she wanted to believe that it didn’t matter that everything she had ever wanted and known in her life had blown up along with her leg, but she couldn’t, because she wasn’t sure she believed it herself. “Look at me, Jack. Just look at me.” She shifted, exposing her maimed limb. “How can it not matter?”
“What do you want me to say, Sam?” His voice was laced with frustration. “That you’re not a whole woman? Because that’s just stupid. That you’re broken? There are all kinds of broken, some of it you can see and some of it you can’t.” He looked away briefly, before he spoke again, his voice rough. “I still have nightmares about that day. I hear the explosion and see you laying on the ground, covered with blood…your leg all mangled.”
Sam thought she had really gotten to know Jack O’Neill over the past few weeks, but she didn’t recognize this man and it scared her. He didn’t have fears and insecurities…and he especially didn’t have them about her. But his eyes were dark and haunted, his pain—just like her fears—finally breaking through to the surface. She didn’t want to loose the fragile intimacy that was developing between them and just maybe two broken people could heal each other….
“It wasn’t your fault,” she said, breaching the gap between them and resting her hand on his thigh. “You couldn’t have known.”
“It was my job to know.”
Sam didn’t want to argue with him; she’d had this same argument with herself dozens of times since she’d woken up and found she was minus her right foot. She had never blamed him and she never would. “Maybe…and maybe it just happened and no one could have prevented it.”
“If you really believe that, Sam,” he said, his voice laced with urgency, “then believe me when I tell you that your stump doesn’t make you any less desirable.”
What she did next was harder for her than anything that had happened since she’d woken up in the infirmary at the SGC and discovered she’d lost her leg. She had trusted Jack long before she’d been injured and it was that trust that gave her strength now. Slowly sliding her hand down his thigh in a lingering caress, she pulled at the tie on her robe with hands that trembled.
Once it was loosened, she rose up a bit awkwardly on her knees, the robe falling open. Letting it drop from her shoulders onto the bed, she leaned into him, resting a hand on his shoulder to help her balance. He was so still, she could barely feel him breathing when she cupped his cheek with her other hand; his eyes were still dark and unfathomable and she whispered against his lips, “Show me.”
She felt his breath sigh out across her lips and then his arms were around her, his lips capturing hers in a kiss that was surprisingly tender. Oddly, his restraint reassured her and she was the one who deepened the kiss, nipping at his lower lip with her teeth, requesting entrance. When he opened his mouth to her, she cupped his face between her hands, their tongues meeting in slow and leisurely touches that soon had her panting breathlessly. Her leg muscles started to tremble, the strain of maintaining her balance on her knees starting to show, and she found herself leaning more heavily against him.
He must have sensed her discomfort, because his arms tightened around her and he carefully lowered her to bed. Gratefully stretching her legs out, she murmured a low protest when he slipped from her embrace. “Don’t worry,” he murmured, kissing her before he slid off the mattress, standing at the side of the bed. “I’m not going anywhere.”
It was difficult for her to lay naked before him while he was still dressed, though she realized that wouldn’t last for long as he started unbuttoning his shirt. She was fairly certain that a one-legged woman, naked except for an elastic bandage around what was left of her leg, was not an erotic sight. But then again, when Jack looked down at her, his dark eyes gleaming with fierce desire, maybe she was mistaken.
Her self-consciousness didn’t last for long though, not when she was so easily distracted by the play of his muscles when he pulled his shirt off, exposing the firm muscles of his abdomen and chest or the almost casual way he unfastened his belt, his fingers moving deftly as he stripped. She barely had time to appreciate his lean body before he crawled back onto the bed with her, but she wasn’t going to complain, she decided, when it meant that she could touch him now.
And touch him she did, everywhere she could, stroking and caressing his shoulders, his back, his chest. All done in between the kissing, which seemed to require a lot of her fragmented attention. His mouth was demanding and he seemed intent on kissing her everywhere, trailing maddening kisses down her throat, along her collarbone and finally to her breast.
His cheek was rough against her soft skin when he nuzzled her breasts and she whimpered, her hands clenching in his hair when he sucked a tight peak into his mouth. His insistent caresses were having their desire effect and Sam shifted restlessly beneath him, moaning with pleasure when he sank more of his weight on her, his hard, lean body pressing her into the mattress.
If she had any lingering doubts as to his desire for her, they were swept away in the raw passion with which Jack made love to her. His hands were sure and confident when he touched her, her muscles trembling helplessly with each shattering caress. When one large hand finally feathered lightly across her belly and settled warmly between her legs, she arched against him, groaning his name softly. His long fingers slipped easily through her slick folds, finding her more than ready.
But finding her ready evidently wasn’t enough, when he slid first one, and then two fingers into her. Sam groaned, her hands clutching at his shoulders while, her hips moving rhythmically against him with his intimate caress. She whimpered at the loss of his touch when he slowly drew his fingers out in a leisurely caress, but then he settled his hips back on top of hers and she automatically made room for him cradling him between her thighs.
Sam shivered when his rigid penis rubbed against her slick folds and she urged him closer, wrapping her legs around him, when she suddenly froze. So caught up in the frenzy of their mutual desire, she had forgotten and she suddenly didn’t know what to do. Even though he hadn’t shown any revulsion when he’d touched and rewrapped her stump, she was afraid that the intimacy of their embrace would shatter when he felt her stump pressed against his skin. Her sudden withdrawal was painfully obvious and when Jack braced himself on his elbows over her and looked down at her, his eyes full of confusion, she felt even more unsure.
“Sam,” he said, his voice husky, “what’s wrong?” His fingers lightly brushed at her hair and the obvious tenderness of his touch made her want to weep. She didn’t want to disappoint him, yet she seemed hell-bent on doing just that.
“I don’t know….” her voice trailed off weakly and she gestured vaguely towards the foot of the bed.
He frowned for a moment, but then comprehension filled his face and he smiled tenderly. “Let me help,” he rumbled. Shifting his weight to his right arm, she couldn’t help but moan softly when his hips pressed more firmly into hers. His lips curved in a lazy smile at her reaction and his left hand traveled down her side to her hips, leaving a trail of fire in its wake. With more gentleness and care than she thought possible, his hand slid beneath her right knee and pulled her leg up around him, her bandaged stump resting against his firm butt.
“Better?” he asked, thrusting his hips against her once more.
He made it seem so easy and while she felt slightly foolish, she also knew that she hadn’t been wrong to trust him. “Much,” she murmured, wanting to bring him even half the pleasure his tenderness had given her, she eased a hand between their bodies and stroked his erection, urging him on.
“God, Sam….” Jack groaned at her touch, dropping his forehead briefly to hers. After a long moment he lifted his head, his heated gaze burning into her and she felt his entire body tense against hers and then he started moving ever so slowly, broaching her willing body, taking her so gradually, she thought she was going to die, until he was finally seated fully inside her.
It was almost too much…he was almost too much, but she didn’t want him to ever stop, so she forced her tight muscles to relax, exhaling raggedly and pulling her thighs higher around his lean hips, the presence of her maimed limb the last thing on her mind. With her unexpected movement, Jack groaned harshly and his hips jerked against hers, taking her even deeper before he slowly pulled out of her and the process started all over again.
He drew out their lovemaking until they were both dripping with sweat, her cries of pleasure interspersed with soft pleas and demands that he never stop until it was finally too much and his insistent caresses tumbled her over the edge into a free fall that left her wracked with pleasure and sobbing in his arms.
Sam held him with arms that couldn’t seem to stop trembling as he continued to thrust heavily into her until he was the one crying out her name and groaning with pleasure, his hips jerking against hers as he filled her with his seed. His breathing was ragged and she could feel the fine tremors in his muscles when he finally collapsed against her, burying his face in her throat. She continued to hold him, stroking his hair and letting her legs slowly relax around him.
“No,” he muttered, his hips pressing back down when he caught her right leg under her knee again and pulled it back around him. “Don’t move….” He nestled closer, slowly relaxing against her and she closed her eyes on a wave of pure contentment.
In the dark days immediately after the explosion, Sam had wondered if she would ever feel truly happy again. She had experienced perfect moments in her life before the explosion, those rare and fleeting moments of utter peace and contentment when everything seemed right with the world and anything was possible. And this moment, with Jack cradled in her arms and her body, was the first perfect moment in her new life. With time—and Jack’s help—she knew it wouldn’t be the last.
“It’s probably not too late to get that peg leg.”
Sam smiled and shook her head, not looking up from the magazine she was idly flipping through. Some things never changed and Jack’s sense of humor was one of them. He had taken the afternoon off to come with her to the final fitting for her prosthetic foot and while she would have done fine on her own, she appreciated his effort. But it wasn’t really all that amazing. Since that afternoon at her house when they’d first made love, he had practically moved in with her. At first she thought she’d feel smothered by his presence and that he’d try and do everything for her. But he hadn’t, he’d let her find her own way back to independence, only stepping in when needed or asked.
She shouldn’t have been surprised when their personalities and living habits meshed so well, working together for the last three years had probably given them an edge. Oh, they still had their moments, and probably always would, but if she had learned anything since the explosion, it was to not worry so much about the ‘what coulds’ and ‘what might have beens’. And while she still had the occasional doubts and insecurities regarding her maimed leg, he was always right there with her, helping her through her darker hours.
Giving up on the magazine, Sam looked up and glared mildly at him. “I doubt General Hammond would appreciate a peg leg on his newest civilian scientist.”
His grin was unrepentant. “What do you think he’d say about an eye patch and a parrot?”THE END