Lost and Found
With her face buried so deeply into the pillows, the twin sounds of the alarm clock and Sam's heartfelt groan were muffled to Janet's ears. They were still loud enough to wake her, and even if they hadn't been, the shifting of Sam's warm weight against her as she reached over to silence the offending appliance would have been enough. With a sigh, Sam molded herself more tightly against Janet's back.
"We have to get up."
"I got up forty-five minutes ago," Janet mumbled.
"Mm-hmm. I got up, took a shower, got into my uniform, put my face on, and now I'm sitting in the kitchen drinking a cup of coffee and reading the morning paper."
"You let me sleep in, that's nice," Sam said, placing a light kiss against the nape of Janet's neck.
"Nope," Janet said, smiling. "You got up, too. First you did a load of laundry, then you cooked me breakfast, and now you're doing the dishes."
She felt Sam shake with laughter behind her, and joined in after a few seconds. "Ah, domestic bliss," Janet added, sending them both into another fit of giggles. Finally, reluctantly, Janet sat up, rubbing her eyes. They really did have to get up.
"Come on," she said, tugging the covers away from Sam's body. "Do you want to leave first this morning, or shall I?" The words were spoken lightly, but Janet felt a pang of bitterness course through her. She hated having to hide her relationship with Sam, making sure they rarely, if ever, arrived at the base together, always watching themselves in public.
"I'll cook you breakfast," Sam said sleepily, hugging her pillow. "So you can head out first." When Janet turned to give her a look, Sam opened one eye, then sat up. "I can cook eggs," she said. "Jeez, you burn one pan of lasagna around here and you're branded for life," she added good-naturedly, swinging her long legs over the side of the bed and reaching for a pair of sweat pants. "How do you want your eggs?" she asked.
Janet gave her another dubious look, then shrugged. "Over easy?" she asked, hopefully.
Sam hesitated for a moment, biting her lip, then grinned over at her. "You're sure you don't want them scrambled?"
Laughing, Janet nodded her head. "On second thought, how about scrambled?"
"Scrambled," Sam repeated, running a hand through her hair and heading for the door. "I'll go wake Her Highness up."
"Good luck," Janet muttered as she made her way to the shower.
When she stepped into the kitchen, Sam was just the finishing the eggs. Janet walked up behind her and wrapped her arms around Sam's waist. "Good morning," she said, squeezing slightly, before letting go and taking a seat at the small table in the breakfast nook.
"Sam, I'm impressed. These aren't burned, or runny, or anything," Janet teased as Sam placed the plate in front of her. She'd actually been expecting the worst.
"Ha, ha," Sam said, making a face at her. "What's on your schedule for the day?" she asked, sitting and taking a sip of coffee.
"Everyone's here for a change, so unless someone slips on a bar of soap in the shower it should be a pretty quiet day catching up on charts for me. What about you?"
"The colonel wants us to spend the morning on some hand-to-hand drills."
Janet put her cup of coffee down carefully. "There goes my slow day."
"I don't think he meant to hurt Daniel the last time," Sam said quickly.
"Uh-huh," Janet said, nodding. "I got the whole story. From both sides. According to the Colonel, Daniel zigged when he should have zagged."
Sam nodded. "And Daniel insists that the Colonel told him what move he was going to do, then changed his mind at the last minute."
"So which was it?"
"I have no idea," Sam said with a shrug. "I was sparring with Teal'c. One minute the colonel was telling Daniel to keep his hands up, the next Daniel was sprawled out on the mat with a bloody nose. He was such a baby about it, too," Sam added.
"Men usually are," Janet observed dryly.
"I mean, if I had a dollar for every bloody nose I got in combat training I could pay someone to build my reactor for me. I guarantee Daniel will mention it today when we get to the workout room."
"Well, he's male. And a civilian. He can get away with complaining about it."
"Hey, speaking of hand-to-hand, you're probably due for a refresher," Sam added, grinning. "Maybe you should drop by during our session today."
Janet fixed her with a wide grin. "So, when do you guys go out again?" she asked brightly, obviously changing the subject.
Sam just laughed, then waved a finger at her. "You're going to lose your gate clearance if you're not careful," she warned.
"It's not like the medical teams ever go through unless the area's secured," Janet said.
"Yeah, but we both know an area can go from secured to dangerous without warning. The medical teams have been lucky so far. The requirement's there for a reason, Janet." She reached out and touched Janet's hand. "And I'd feel better knowing you were up on at least the basics."
With a sigh, Janet nodded, touched by Sam's concern. "You're right, of course. I'll talk to Major Sands about it today," she promised, recognizing the wisdom in Sam's words.
"Good. As to your other question, we're sending a MALP through to P3R-1257 later today. If it sends back anything interesting, we'll check it out right away."
They both looked up as Cassie stumbled into the room rubbing her eyes. Janet glanced at her watch. "Oh, you are going to be so late. The bus'll be here in half an hour and we can't drive you in if you miss it."
"Want some eggs?" Sam asked as Cassie plopped down in a chair.
Cassie took a moment to think about it. "No," she said, frowning. "Cereal."
Sam looked a little guilty. "I ate the last of it last night," she said apologetically. "That's why I offered to make breakfast," she added, smiling at Janet.
"So what am I supposed to eat?" Cassie asked peevishly.
"I'll make you some eggs," Sam offered.
"I don't want eggs."
"Well, there isn't any cereal," Janet said. "We'll go grocery shopping tonight after work. How about some toast?"
"I don't want anything," Cassie said dramatically, then got up and left. Janet rolled her eyes at the girl's retreating back.
"She'll change her mind once she's dressed," Janet said, getting up and smoothing out her skirt. "Just throw the dishes in the dishwasher. I'll take care of them when I get home."
Sam caught her arm as she moved past her toward the garage, then stood and wrapped her arms loosely around Janet's waist, pulling her close and kissing her.
"You know," Janet said, resting her arms on Sam's shoulders, "We're going to see each other at the base in an hour."
"I know. But I can't do this," she said, nuzzling the soft skin just below Janet's right ear, "on the base."
Janet closed her eyes, allowing herself to relax against Sam for a moment. Sam reached up to cup her face gently with both hands, bringing their faces together to kiss her once softly, then again with such tenderness that Janet gave serious thought to going in late this morning.
"Or that," Sam observed pressing her forehead against Janet's once they parted. Janet was delighted to see that Sam was more than a little breathless. "And I think if you don't leave right now we're both going to be really late for work," she added, her voice a little ragged.
"Right," Janet sighed reluctantly, slipping away from Sam. As tempting as the thought was, she knew it wouldn't be a good idea. It was definitely time to leave.
Sam hustled a still-grumbling Cassie out to the school bus then made her way to the base. The guard at the front gate informed her that the base was on red alert and that her presence was requested in the control room. The elevator down into the bowels of Cheyenne Mountain took forever, or so it seemed, and Sam rushed impatiently through each security check point. Red alert could mean anything, from MALP telemetry that indicated Goa'uld activity on a planet, to an unexpected incoming wormhole, to an overdue or injured SG team. Upon reaching the SGC, Sam picked up her pace through the corridor until she was practically running.
Dashing into the Control Room, she quickly acknowledged General Hammond and Colonel O'Neill, who stood looking grimly down into the Gate room. "What's happening?" she asked, glancing out the observation window and noting that the iris was still open and the gate was inactive. The red alert wasn't because of an incoming wormhole then.
"A tunnel in the pyramid SG8 was investigating on PT7-393 collapsed about half an hour ago. Major Hilling is dead." At that, General Hammond's eyes dropped to the floor for a moment before he continued. "Doctor Lewis and Captain Smith are trapped. Lieutenant James made it out and was able to get a message through to us. I'm sending a medical team through, along with SG3 as backup."
"Daniel and Teal'c are getting geared up," O'Neill added. "You should do the same. We'll stand by as backup."
Sam nodded, but when she turned to go, her gaze fell on the Stargate just as Janet and several members of the medical staff, dressed in fatigues and flack jackets entered the room, carrying several large pieces of equipment. She froze as the realization hit her like a ton of bricks. A medical team meant Janet, Janet and a collapsing building that killed and injured and trapped people. Their conversation of just a few hours ago about the danger to medical teams echoed through Sam's mind, seemingly mocking her just as Janet turned and indicated that her team was ready to go. She did not react to Sam's presence in the Control Room, though Sam knew she could see her easily.
Swallowing, Sam blinked, and tried to reign in her emotions. Deliberately turning away from Janet and the activating Stargate, she faced Colonel O'Neill. "I'll be ready in ten minutes," she said.
O'Neill nodded, then frowned. "You okay, Carter? You look a little pale."
Sam shook her head quickly. "I'm fine, Sir. I'm just...I play...used to play...racquetball with Major Hilling..." She allowed her voice to trail off. It wasn't a lie, not exactly. Fred was a good officer, and her friend, and the thought that he was dead made her feel sick inside. But she couldn't tell O'Neill the real truth, not without getting herself and Janet drummed out of the military. For the sake of appearances she could be concerned without being overly concerned. Janet hadn't even gone through the gate yet and she had a job to do just like Sam did. The most she could do was pray for Janet's safety and be ready to go in case anything happened.
Reluctantly, O'Neill nodded again, effectively dismissing her. As she walked through the hallways, absently passing technicians and security personnel, Sam's mind was in a turmoil. This is supposed to be the other way around, she told herself, recognizing the irony of the situation. Janet had never said a word about it, but for the first time Sam wondered if this was how Janet felt every time she went through the Stargate with SG1. Sam had faced down Goa'uld as well as superior technology and all manner of danger since joining the SGC. She had felt afraid in those situations, but it was nothing compared to the sense of panic the though of Janet going off into unknown danger was causing at the moment. It was nearly debilitating.
"Get a grip," she muttered to herself, telling herself that the feelings of helplessness at the prospect of doing nothing but waiting was feeding into the panic. Sam once again marveled at how much of this Janet had to deal with on a fairly regular basis, and resolved to sit down and have a long talk with her about it once this was all over. Just a short time ago they'd been laughing about the domestic turn, complete with a moody pre-teen, their relationship had taken. Sometimes Sam forgot just how dangerous their jobs were, took for granted the small, everyday things. And now she was being reminded, in what could potentially be the worst way possible.
"SAM!" Daniel's sharp exclamation cut into her thoughts as she collided with him in the hallway. She noted that he wasn't dressed yet, and that he was holding several photographs in his hands. "Sorry, sorry," he said, stepping back quickly. "Did Jack fill you in?"
"Yeah," she said. "The medical team was just going through when I left the Control Room," she added after a few seconds, hoping Daniel didn't notice the way she had to force the words out, despite her best efforts to sound casual.
But Daniel was too pre-occupied with the photographs in his hands. He looked up at her, his eyes wide. "We have to..." He pushed past her. "I've got to..."
"Got to what? Daniel?" Sam asked, grabbing him by the arm. He waved the photographs in her face as if that explained everything, then tried to shrug out of her grip. "Daniel?" she asked again, tightening her fingers around his forearm.
Daniel sighed in exasperation, then shoved the photographs into her hands. "The pyramid SG8 was investigating looked like a pretty standard variation on the Egyptian pyramid. We've seen them on dozens of planets. When I looked at these photographs a couple days ago I gave them the usual warnings about secret passages and booby traps and so on. Lewis was with them, and she's a pretty good archeologist, so I didn't think there'd be any problems."
"But there were problems," Sam said quietly.
Daniel held up his arms and waved his hands in the air in frustration for a moment. "I don't know. It could be that it's just collapsing because it's old. Or there was seismic activity. But maybe not. They could have tripped something. There are legends of traps that could cause entire pyramids to collapse into rubble to prevent grave robbing and desecration. I've never actually seen it but--"
"You think they might have triggered a trap?" Sam interrupted, wincing inwardly at the note of hysteria she heard creep into her voice. "General Hammond is getting ready to send a rescue team into that pyramid," she added hastily. "They may have already left," she added, shoving past Daniel and rushing down the corridor. God, she had to stop Janet.
"That's what I was trying to tell you," Daniel said from behind her. "This is all my fault. I should have..."
"It's not your fault, Daniel," Sam said over her shoulder. "You couldn't have known."
"Yeah," she heard him say quietly. "But Jack asked me if I wanted SG1 to investigate this and I said no. I didn't tell him why, but I thought it looked pretty boring, and I wanted to spend some more time with the artifacts from PR6-857. Maybe if I'd..."
"Then one of us would be dead and two of us trapped," Sam said angrily, pushing the image of Janet coming to her rescue if things had happened differently abruptly away. "Daniel, it doesn't matter why, and there's no point in blaming anyone. It just happened, and we have to stop it from getting any worse."
She and Daniel found General Hammond and Colonel O'Neill still in the Control Room. Sam wasn't surprised; she knew General Hammond would stay there until the situation was resolved one way or the other. The Stargate stood still and silent, though the number of technicians still moving around in the Gate Room indicated that it had probably just disengaged.
"General, you have to call the teams back," Daniel said. "Or at least let us go out there to help."
"Daniel," O'Neill said slowly. "Why?"
"I can't be sure, but I think SG8 may have triggered a booby trap of some sort. You can't send any more people in there."
"And I can't leave two people trapped in there, either," Hammond snapped.
"It may be too late for them," Daniel said quietly. "The whole pyramid may be coming down."
Hammond was silent for a moment, his lips pressed into a thin, tight line. "I won't accept that, Doctor Jackson. You said you can't be sure about this, is that correct?"
"Yes, sir," Daniel said, quietly. "But surely you don't want to send anyone else to their deaths if I'm right."
Sam tried not to visibly wince at Daniel's words.
"Sir," Sam interjected. "Let SG1 go. Daniel can help determine whether or not it's safe for people to go into the pyramid, and he can help us to disable any additional traps if there are any."
Hammond took several long moments to mull it over, while Sam made a conscious effort not to shift nervously from one foot to the other. Finally, he looked over at O'Neill. "Colonel?" he asked quietly.
Sam watched as O'Neill looked first at Daniel, who looked back at him intently, then at her where he lingered for a moment. She tried to keep her expression neutral. Finally, he turned back to General Hammond. "Request permission to join SG3, Sir."
"Permission granted, Colonel. Be ready in fifteen minutes."
"Yes, Sir," O'Neill said. Turning to Sam and Daniel he waved his arm at the doorway. "You heard the man. Fifteen minutes. I won't add that the two of you should be dressed already."
Sam didn't need a second invitation, instead opting to sprint down the corridor. Behind her, fading into the distance, she heard Hammond say "Open it up, Lieutenant. Get Colonel Makepeace on the line."
The thing Janet liked the most about Stargate travel was stepping through on the other side. Never a big fan of roller coasters, she'd decided early on that this was the mother of all rides. Usually, her trips through the Stargate left her little time to marvel at the thought of standing on another planet light years away from her own, and this one was no exception. Lieutenant James, sporting an ugly gash on his temple, stumbled toward her as soon as she stepped through. Janet had just enough time to set down the case of medical supplies she was carrying before James practically fell into her arms. Propping her up with her shoulder, she waved to two medics to give her a hand, and together the three of them eased the lieutenant down onto the ground. As Janet pressed two fingers against the injured man's wrist, she was vaguely aware of Makepeace and the other members of SG3 quickly securing the area.
"We've got to get back in there," Lieutenant James said urgently, trying to pull his arm away. "The whole damn thing is going to come down."
"All right, Lieutenant," Janet said, soothingly. "First, lets get you taken care of." She turned to one of the medics standing beside her. "Get that head wound cleaned up, and check his vitals. Colonel Makepeace is going to want to talk to him in a few minutes."
Turning, Janet quickly scanned the area. The Stargate was located about 100 meters from the entrance to an enormous pyramid. A smooth stone walkway lead into the pyramid, and in the distance Janet could see a thin haze of dust lingering at the mouth of a large square entranceway at the base of the structure. For as far as the eye could see there was nothing but the rough, low hills, scrub brush and cactus-like plants of a desert. The pyramid was the only sign of civilization for miles.
It was hot, very hot, and Janet made a mental note to herself to remind everyone to drink plenty of water. She didn't have time to waste treating people for dehydration on top of everything else.
"Get the first aid station set up over there," she ordered pointing to a flat, clear area about halfway between the Stargate and the pyramid. Confident that her people knew what they were doing, she jogged quickly over to Makepeace, intent on getting his assessment of the situation.
Makepeace acknowledged her presence with a curt nod, but before Janet had a chance to speak to him the Stargate suddenly came to life behind them. Makepeace put a hand on his radio and waited. Sure enough, after a few seconds, General Hammond's voice came on the line.
"Colonel, what's your status?"
"Medical is getting set up. My men have secured the Stargate and the surrounding area. Doctor Fraiser and I were just about to take a closer look at the entrance to the pyramid."
"Negative on that, Colonel. You are to wait for SG1 before sending anyone into that pyramid. That's an order."
"Yes, Sir. Makepeace out." The Stargate remained active, meaning, Janet assumed, that SG1 would be coming through soon. And as irrational as it was, she couldn't prevent a brief flash of anger from passing through her. She'd seen the look on Sam's face earlier, the worry in Sam's eyes broadcasting out to her even from a distance. She'd deliberately chosen not to acknowledge it, and had, in fact, been relieved when Sam had turned away. Their relationship was difficult enough without one of them being over-protective of the other. As hard as it had been in the past, Janet had always made a conscious effort never to interfere with Sam's duties as a member of SG1, no matter how dangerous those duties might be. She expected the same respect and professionalism from Sam in return. Instinctively Janet knew that the sudden change in plans was Sam's doing, and Janet decided she'd better have a damn good reason for it or there'd be hell to pay later.
"Lets go talk to your patient, Doctor," Makepeace said, drawing Janet abruptly out of her own thoughts. The two made their way back toward the Stargate.
One of the medics was just finishing bandaging the wound on James' forehead. Janet noted that it was fairly superficial and didn't look like it would even require stitches. However, she was still concerned about the possibility of concussion, and listened intently as the medic filled her in on James' vitals.
"Thank you," Janet said, pulling a stethoscope out of her pocket in order to do a more thorough examination. "Any dizziness, nausea?" she asked, holding up one finger for the lieutenant to track with his eyes.
"I'm fine," he said impatiently. "Why aren't you in there digging them out?"
"Want to tell us what happened, Lieutenant?" Makepeace asked, ignoring the man's question.
Sighing, James shook his head. "I have no idea, Colonel. One minute we were on our way toward the main chamber. At least that's what Lewis thought. The next thing I know the whole place is shaking. There was a...a huge stone, and...it fell...on Major Hilling..." The lieutenants voice was becoming strained, his movements increasingly agitated. Janet shot Makepeace a warning look.
"So you just walked straight down that passageway there," Makepeace said, turning and indicating the opening at the base of the pyramid.
"Yeah, straight there. Lewis was going on and on about it."
"Lewis and Smith are still alive as far as you know?" Janet asked. "Do you have any idea what condition they were in?"
James took a deep breath. "I don't think it was good, Doc," he said, licking his lips. "Smith got knocked down by a bunch of rubble. And I think part of the wall fell on Lewis. I heard them coughing, so I know they were still alive."
"But you made it out?"
James nodded. "I must've passed out as soon as I put out the call for help," he said helplessly. "But yeah. I was watching the rear."
"Okay, Lieutenant," Janet said. "You just sit here and rest for a few minutes. I'm going to send you back to the SGC."
"No, No!" James said, jumping to his feet. "I have to stay. I have to stay!"
"Sit down, Lieutenant," Makepeace barked at him, and James instinctively sat back down. "You'll do what the doctor tells you to do."
"Yes, Sir," James said, reluctantly. As Janet pulled Makepeace aside, she saw James pass a shaking hand across his eyes out of the corner of her eye. The sooner they got him back to the infirmary the better, she thought.
"He got out," Janet said as soon as they'd moved away from James. "That means the passageway might still be clear. We have to get in there," Janet said, glancing past Makepeace's shoulder at the entranceway to the pyramid. "Lewis and Smith could have severe internal injuries. They may not have much time."
"They may be dead," Makepeace said grimly. "For what it's worth, I agree with you, Doctor, but you heard what General Hammond said. Nobody goes in there until SG1 gets here." He paused, his eyes sliding over to the Stargate and Janet sensed that he was choosing his words carefully. "But, you are the CMO," he said slowly, his eyes moving slowly back to hers. "Is it your medical opinion that we need to get to those men right away?"
They were skirting dangerous territory, and Janet knew it. They had standing orders from the base commander. A medical over-ride of said orders was not something to be taken lightly, and was, really, an over-ride that would be on incredibly thin ice. But Janet also knew that every second they stood around waiting for SG1 to arrive put those trapped people one second closer to death. General Hammond was back at the base; she and Makepeace were here, dealing directly with the situation. They couldn't afford to wait.
"Lets go get them," she said quietly, marveling at how easy the decision was once she had a co-conspirator. But when Makepeace hesitated momentarily, Janet licked her lips and added "I take full responsibility."
To her surprise, Makepeace grinned at her. "Ah, to hell with that, Doc. Hammond can hang both our butts out to dry for this one. I'm not in the mood to sit with my thumb up my ass waiting for O'Neill and his little band of misfits." Whatever small part of Janet bristled at the unprofessional way Makepeace spoke of SG1 was swallowed up by her immense relief at the prospect of doing something, even if it was nothing more than determining how badly the passageway keeping them from the injured men was blocked. Makepeace was right; it beat sitting around on their hands.
Makepeace whistled sharply to two of his men, as Janet called out instructions to the medical team. Then the four of them ran quickly up to the entrance. Janet glanced back, once, at the Stargate and wondered how mad O'Neill would be when he arrived to find them gone. Then, putting that thought, along with the thought of how worried Sam was going to be about this, Janet turned and followed Makepeace into the dark, dusty tunnel.
"Come on!" Sam barked at Daniel from the doorway of SG1's dressing room. "We were supposed to report to the Gate Room five minutes ago. The colonel and Teal'c are waiting." Sam had spent the last five minutes urging Daniel to get ready faster and had even tried to help him with the buckles on one of the equipment belts. He'd slapped her hands away angrily, glaring at her.
"All right, all right," Daniel said impatiently, shrugging his pack onto his shoulders and slapping his hat down onto his head. "Lets go." He folded the handful of photographs from the MALP in half and tucked them into the cargo pocket of his pants as he followed Sam down the hallway.
Sam barely noticed Daniel struggling to keep up, despite his longer legs, as she strode quickly to join O'Neill and Teal'c for weapon check. An airman handed her a sidearm, which she quickly tucked into a holster at her side. This was followed by her usual rifle which was slung over her shoulder and immediately became a part of her body. Sam did these things automatically, with an ease borne from having done these exact same motions hundreds of times before.
In a way, the familiarity, the routine of getting ready for a mission was calming her down, and she wondered if perhaps she'd over-reacted. Just because Janet was out at the scene of an injury didn't necessarily mean that she was in any immediate danger. Makepeace would keep her safe, she thought. And Janet wasn't impulsive or reckless, Sam reminded herself. She'd be fine. They'd go through the Stargate and find everyone waiting for them on the other side and everything would be fine.
"OK, kids," O'Neill said genially, and Sam put an immediate stop to her mental babbling, "Lets go give Indiana Jones a run for his money."
"SG1," Hammond said over the loudspeaker. "You have a go. Report back every hour."
Sam stepped through the Stargate without waiting for O'Neill to give her a go-ahead signal. Whatever his reaction to that slight breach of protocol, it was lost in the sudden cold and sickening sense of motion that accompanied travel through the wormhole. Normally, Sam tried to focus on the nearly instantaneous journey through the wormhole, memorizing and cataloging each passing sensation, no matter how fleeting, for later study.
But not today. This time what was waiting on the other side was far more important than giving her scientific mind minute facts to mull over late at night when she couldn't sleep. She'd feel better once she saw with her own eyes that Janet was safe and sound.
Just as she stepped through the event horizon to the other side, Sam had a revelation. None of this would be worth doing without Janet, she realized. She wondered just when it had happened, tried to pin down the exact moment when the journey, all of this, had become worthwhile only because she had someone important in her life to share it with.
But there was precious little time to reflect on this new awareness, this unfamiliar surge of emotion, as she stepped away from the event horizon and into the hot, dry air of PT7-393. There would be time for reflection later; now it was time to get to work.
Out of habit, she scanned the area. Two of Janet's medics stood near a makeshift first aid station tending to a pale, dusty and distressed-looking Lieutenant James. Two members of SG3 were watching the perimeter, rifles slung casually over their shoulders. Except for a slight breeze, everything was quiet.
As Daniel, Teal'c and O'Neill emerged through the Stargate Sam felt her heart start to hammer in her chest. The pyramid was off in the distance, and neither Janet nor Makepeace were anywhere to be seen.
As if confirming her thoughts, O'Neill stepped up beside her and said, "Looks like Makepeace started the party without us." His tone was light but forced, and Sam detected more than a little irritation behind his words.
"Doctor Fraiser must be with him," Sam said quietly, impressed with herself that her voice was neutral, giving nothing of her inner turmoil away. When this was all over, Robert Makepeace, colonel or not, was a dead man, Sam decided. Providing Colonel O'Neill and General Hammond didn't finish him off first.
Reaching up, O'Neill switched his radio on. "Makepeace!" he yelled into it. "This is O'Neill. Makepeace, report in!"
The four of them stood there for a moment, listening intently. There was a surge of static, then Sam was certain she heard Makepeace's voice but couldn't make out anything intelligible.
"Say again! Your signal is breaking up. Please repeat."
More static, and unintelligible gibberish. Finally, O'Neill switched the radio off in frustration. "We'd better get after them. Daniel, time to do your stuff. Carter, any idea why the radio isn't working?"
"Uh, there could be a substance inside the pyramid causing interference. A power source, or a particular type of mineral. I'll have to look around inside to be sure."
On the way to the entrance, O'Neill paused to talk to the medics who were tending to James. Sam had to grind her teeth to keep herself from sighing in frustration when one of them confirmed that Makepeace, Janet and two members of SG3 had gone into the pyramid to see how bad the damage was, and if possible get the wounded people out. Impatiently, she decided she couldn't wait for James to finish his story, and started to make her way along the path that lead to the only visible entrance to the massive structure.
"Carter!" O'Neill called out sharply after she'd moved only a few steps in the direction of the entrance. Drawing up, she closed her eyes for a moment, then turned and faced her commanding officer.
"You got a hot date in there or something?" he asked, though there was little humor in his voice. His words made her blood run cold.
O'Neill shrugged. "Wait here with the medics. Daniel, Teal'c and I will check out the passage."
"But, Sir..." Sam started to protest. There was no way she was waiting out here.
"That's an order, Major," O'Neill snapped, moving past her. "Doc wanted James sent back to the SGC. Make sure he gets a warm send off, then hold down the fort. And make sure to report in to General Hammond at the top of every hour. We'll be as quick as we can."
Sam bit her tongue to prevent herself from any further protest, and nodded. Mutely, feeling completely helpless, she watched as the rest of her team made its way to the base of the pyramid. At the entrance, they paused to discuss something that Sam couldn't hear, Daniel consulting the photographs he'd carried with him, before they finally disappeared from view.
With a sigh, she turned back toward the temporary first aid station and motioned toward James. "Is he ready to travel?" she asked the medic standing closest to her.
"Yes, ma'am," he said.
"Get him ready, then. You go with him."
The medic had just helped James over to the DHD and was preparing to dial when Sam felt a tremor run through the ground. It wasn't enough to throw her off balance, but the vibration traveled up her legs and body, setting her teeth on edge. Instinctively, she turned back toward the pyramid, her legs pushing herself toward it without any conscious thought. Dimly, she saw that the two members of SG3 were also running toward the entrance.
Sam was still twenty meters away when an enormous cloud of dust shot out of the entrance, engulfing and billowing around her. Her mouth and nose constricted from the fine coating of dirt, causing her to gag convulsively. Stubbornly, she forced herself to push forward, ignoring the pain in her eyes and throat.
A solid, hulking shape materialized abruptly in front of her, and it was all Sam could do to veer out of its way. It took her a moment to realize it was Teal'c, with Smith slung over his shoulders. Sputtering and choking, Daniel and O'Neill, both supporting people, staggered in his wake. It took only a cursory glance for her to ascertain that neither of the soldiers being aided out of the pyramid was Janet. Before she could move past him, however, Teal'c placed one heavy hand on her shoulder and forcibly guided her off the path to the edge of the cloud.
"What happened?" she gasped, drawing in a huge lungful of clear air.
"Don't know," O'Neill said, releasing his charge and leaning over, coughing violently. "Lewis is dead. Fraiser and Makepeace are still in there."
"We have to go after them!" Sam said, panic suddenly giving strength to her limbs. But before she could move O'Neill grabbed her wrist.
"It's no good," he gasped, shaking his head. "It's blocked. Big slab of rock. Nobody's getting in or out through there.
She was lying on the lumpiest, most uncomfortable mattress ever made, Janet decided. It felt like a boulder was digging into her back just below her left scapula, and her body was twisted at the waist at an awkward angle. For several long moments, she struggled to remember why on earth anyone would put rocks in her bed.
That was the problem, she realized, her eyes snapping open; she wasn't on earth. Her light, still clipped to the front of her vest, though the clear plastic lens had cracked revealed a ragged expanse of ceiling directly above her.
For a moment she was still, carefully assessing her physical condition. Aside from the discomfort of the rock beneath her, there didn't seem to be any significant damage. She wasn't in any pain, her arms and legs were relatively free of debris, and both feet twitched immediately when she tried to move them experimentally.
Satisfied that she was uninjured, Janet sat up slowly, flexing her limbs. When she was sure everything was in working order she slowly got to her feet and scanned the immediate area, hoping that everyone else had gotten out safely. Green and Ramirez, supporting Smith, had been ahead of them, Makepeace bringing up the rear, when the tunnel had begun to collapse around them.
Turning to her right, which she thought was the way out, though she realized it was easy to get turned around in the dark, Janet saw that the way was completely blocked. Shifting around, her light panned across the expanse of dusty tunnel, but she saw no sign of anyone.
"Makepeace?" she called, surprised at the way her voice rasped in her throat. She pulled her canteen off her belt and took a small sip, rinsing the dust out of her mouth. "Makepeace?" she called again, pleased that her voice sounded stronger.
"Over here..." she heard him call out from just outside the range of her light, the words groaned more than spoken. Cautiously, Janet crept forward, certain that even more of the tunnel would start to cave in on her any second, until she spotted a patch of dusty tan fatigues lying amidst a clutter of cinder-block sized rocks.
"God, you're a mess," Janet observed as she fell to her knees beside him. Makepeace was lying on his back, his face streaked with blood and dirt. There was no rubble on top of him, but his right leg was bent at an awkward angle beneath him; Janet didn't need to be a physician to know it was broken. Blood poured from a wound at his hairline too, streaming across his forehead and dripping down his temple.
"Did Green and Ramirez get out with Smith?" he asked, though the last few words came out as a choked cough.
"Your guess is as good as mine, Colonel," Janet said grimly as she shrugged her pack off her shoulders. Opening it, she reached inside and pulled out a medical kit. "That leg can't feel too good," she observed, scrabbling through the kit until she found the morphine.
Makepeace snorted at her, then coughed again.
"This'll take a few minutes to work, but it should help." She was going to need to set that leg, she realized. She could use one of the aluminum support rods from her pack as a splint. It was still going to hurt like hell and they only had so much morphine. Who knew how long it was going to take before the rescue teams managed to reach them.
"Our escape route?"
Janet merely shrugged, but remained silent.
"Guess I really screwed up." Makepeace's words were slightly slurred.
"Well, for what it's worth, I think we both did." She used a piece of gauze to wipe the blood away from his head wound, noting that it looked fairly superficial. "Here, keep pressure on this," she added, grabbing his hand and pressing it to the pad of gauze at his forehead.
"Look, Doc," Makepeace said, pulling the pad away. Janet immediately pushed his hand back into place. "Go on. Maybe there's another way out of this place. If you find it, you can send someone back for me."
"Colonel, I'm not leaving you," Janet said firmly. As if to emphasize her words, she shifted to sit beside him, resting her chin on her knees. "They're going to get us out of here. While we're waiting, I'm going to set your broken leg as soon as the morphine kicks in."
"Doc..." His voice was low, filled with exasperation.
"Don't you 'Doc" me!" Janet waved a finger in his face. "We'll get out of this, all right. You just have to stay with me until help gets here. Can you do that?"
He was quiet for a moment, and Janet was certain he'd seen through her bravado. She spoke with far more confidence than she felt, but she also knew she had to keep his spirits up if they were going to have any chance of making it. After a long moment, he nodded slowly. "OK, Doc," he said. "I'll give them twenty-four hours to get us out of here. This time tomorrow, if we're still stuck down here I want you to try and find your own way out. Something tells me this pyramid isn't done with us yet. There's no sense in both of us dying down here. That's an order."
Reaching down, Janet snapped his flashlight off, realizing that they both needed to start thinking about the long term. That meant conserving as many of their supplies as possible. "We'll make that decision tomorrow," she said quietly.
She heard him sigh in exasperation. "Boy, defy one order and it all goes to your head, doesn't it?" he said, though Janet caught the good humor in his voice.
"Look who's talking," she snorted. "Are you feeling comfortably numb yet?"
He grinned weakly up at her. "Good enough to know I don't want you touching my leg with a ten foot pole," he said.
"Ooh, is that another order I can disobey?" she asked. She emptied her pack and used her field knife to cut away the nylon holding the rods in place. Freeing two of them, she set them on the ground beside her and leaned forward, getting onto her knees beside him again. Grasping his ankle, she paused, placing a hand lightly on his chest. "This is going to hurt."
"Just do it," he growled.
Makepeace made a good show of it, but by the time the bones slid back together he had thrown his head back and was screaming at the top of his lungs. Janet wasn't doing so great herself--his yelling in the close space unnerved her, and she found she was soaked with sweat by the time she finished.
"All right," she panted, leaning against the wall opposite from where Makepeace was sprawled. "You did good. Try not to move it." She crawled over and quickly splinted his leg, using the aluminum rods and strips of nylon she'd cut from her pack.
"Don't suppose I can get another shot of morphine," he asked as she worked, his voice strained.
Janet shook her head. "We don't have that much. I think it's a good idea to try and make it last as long as possible."
Swallowing deeply, Makepeace reluctantly nodded. "Guess I'll have to find some other way to take my mind off the pain, then," he said. "What's our supply situation?"
Janet liked that. Checking supplies gave them both something to do, even if it was for only a short while. She listed the items she'd pulled from her own pack, then went through his, dismayed at the limited amount of items they were carrying. They had food, water and limited medical supplies for a few days. And that was about it. The SGC better engineer a rescue soon, Janet thought. Every time she looked into Makepeace's eyes she knew that he realized it too, though neither one gave voice to their worries.
"You ought to turn your light off," Makepeace said. "We should only turn it on when we need it," he added, almost apologetically. Janet didn't like the idea of sitting around down here in the dark. But she knew he was right. Slowly, she reached up and thumbed the switch.
The darkness was oppressive, a sudden physical presence pressing down on her. Janet didn't think she'd ever been in such complete and utter darkness before, not even late at night deep in the heart of Cheyenne Mountain. There was always a light on somewhere there, no matter what time of day it was. Here, there was nothing--Janet couldn't make out even the faintest outlines of shapes around her, and knew that no amount of time down here would help her to adapt to that.
"You should try to get some rest," Janet said quietly. Leaning forward, she shrugged out of her vest, then took her jacket off, draping it across his chest. That was actually about the last thing she wanted. What she wanted, if she couldn't have light, was for Makepeace to keep talking to her, to use his voice as some sort of buoy in the darkness. She felt ridiculous for feeling this way; she hadn't been afraid of the dark since she'd been a child. But now, even though Makepeace was less than two feet away from her, she felt absolutely alone. The thought terrified her.
"Is it okay for me to sleep?"
"That's a pretty superficial wound," Janet said after a moment. "I don't think there's any danger. I'll wake you up every few hours, just in case. How's that?"
Makepeace was silent for a long time, and Janet was certain he'd dozed off. Then his voice floated out of the darkness. "If it's all the same to you, Doc, I think I'll stay awake for a while longer." Whether he sensed her fear, or was unnerved himself, Janet didn't know. Any protest she might have had died on her lips, however. She'd be glad for the company.
"Suit yourself, Colonel," Janet said softly. "But if you get tired, just go ahead and close your eyes."
"So, tell me Doc. What didn't you do today that you wished you'd done?"
"You mean other than follow orders?" she asked innocently, earning a soft snort of laughter from her companion.
"You know what I mean." His words were mumbled, slurred together.
"Oh, I don't know. Lots of things I suppose."
"Oh yeah," he said. "Name one."
If there'd been light, she knew he'd be able to see the dubious and suspicious expression on her face. "You first," she said slowly.
To her surprise, Makepeace chuckled loudly. "Fair enough. I'd ask Carter out."
Janet felt her jaw drop in shock. This was a surprise. Makepeace was a pretty hard-nosed marine, and it had never occurred to Janet that he'd be interested in anyone at the SGC, least of all Sam.
It must be the morphine talking, she decided, finding her voice again after several seconds. "Really," she said flatly. It sounded lame, even to her ears, but she didn't know what else to say.
"I figure what the hell, what have I got to lose. The worst she can do is turn me down."
Definitelythe morphine, Janet thought.
They were quiet for several minutes, Janet taking the time to digest this new side of Colonel Robert Makepeace. Usually she prided herself on being unflappable; very little surprised her anymore. Then again, usually she was in her infirmary where everything was safe and familiar and, most importantly, well-lit instead of trapped inside a pyramid on a planet located thousands of light years from earth.
"You're turn," Makepeace said softly, cutting into her thoughts. "What would you do differently today?"
Janet didn't answer right away, taking a few moments to really think about the seemingly innocent question. There were so many things she'd do differently, she realized. Things she might not ever get to do again if their present situation got even the tiniest bit worse. She'd give in to temptation and take Sam back to bed, she thought, thinking about their brief farewell of just hours ago. She'd take her time making love to Sam, savoring every kiss, every caress, not wasting a single second worrying about being late for work.
The images that thought provoked brought the sudden sting of tears to Janet's eyes. There were so many things she had to say to Sam, feelings she hadn't taken the time to even begin to sort out until this moment. They'd fallen into a comfortable pattern, one that was too easy to take for granted. The thought that Sam might not be there someday, might not make it back from some mission, had certainly crossed Janet's mind from time to time, but she'd quickly clamped down on those feelings, pushing them aside to deal with later. Never once did she imagine that she might be the one to not make it back. Either way, it was something almost too unbearable to contemplate.
"Doc?" Makepeace's whisper cut into her thoughts again.
Janet was overwhelmed with a sense of loss, and for a moment struggled to find an adequate, neutral answer. She reached up and angrily brushed the tears out of her eyes. "I'd--" she began, the paused to swallow. "I'd say goodbye to Cassie. I didn't say goodbye to her this morning before I left for work." That's because she'd simply assumed she'd see Cassie later today. Her answer seemed to epitomize all the regrets suddenly surging through her. When she got out of this, Janet decided she and Sam had a lot of things to talk about. "I don't think this is a good topic for discussion," she added, her voice tight. She didn't add that if they kept it up it was only a matter of time before she'd burst into uncontrollable tears. That was the last thing she wanted to do at the moment.
If Makepeace was going to say anything, it was cut off by a sound, faint at first, but gradually growing louder. Janet shifted, instinctively turning her head in its direction. Listening intently she finally identified it as a grinding noise, and realized it was the sound of stone sliding slowly across stone.