DISCLAIMER: I only borrowed them for a while. MGM and whoever can have them back whenever they want.
SPOILERS: Set immediately after "The Light"
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

By Celievamp


Janet waited patiently as the Gate was dialled and the signal from the MALP camera came through. At her request, to preserve doctor patient confidentiality as much as possible the control room was cleared apart from Teal'c. Her four patients were waiting, sitting slouched on the floor in front of the MALP camera. The boy, Loran, looked fine, O'Neill and Daniel looked a little brighter than they had done since this started but Sam... actually she couldn't see how Sam looked. Her face was hidden her arms wrapped around her knees and despite the blanket tucked around her Janet could see that she was shivering. She hadn't acknowledged Janet's virtual presence.

"How are you all feeling?" she asked.

"Peachy, doc," O'Neill said. "Just peachy. Haven't had the urge to punch anything for a couple of hours now. Carter's off her food but the rest of us are fine. Could you see your way to sending through some donuts in the next care package? A keg would go down well. You can't have donuts without beer."

"Or coffee." Daniel supplied hopefully.

"No beer, no coffee, not for another week at least," Janet said firmly. "Donuts I can do in moderation since you've all been so good." She ignored the laconic chorus of `Thanks, Mom.' "Sam - when did you last manage to keep any food down?"

There was no reply. "Sam!"

"Hey, Carter!" O'Neill prodded his II1C's shoulder with an ungentle finger. "Up and at'em airman! Doc wants to know how you're feeling."

Wary, exhausted blue eyes peered out from under the edge of the blanket. "J'net, hi," a raspy voice intoned.

Janet stared in consternation at the woman she would give her heart, soul and sanity for. Twenty four hours ago Sam had been happy, vivacious, almost manic, describing the many wonders her explorations through the Goa'uld pleasure house had uncovered and the possibilities of retroengineering them for use back on Earth. Now she looked like death warmed over. The dark side of the withdrawal symptoms had definitely kicked in.

"Sam, when did you last manage to keep any food down?"

"Don't `member. Not hungry anyway. Tired." the voice trailed away, the blonde head lowering to rest on the hunched knees again.

"Sam, you need to keep your fluids up at the very least, if necessary by IV." There was the faintest of nods in response. Janet looked at Daniel who seemed the most alert. "Daniel - make sure she get some fluids into her and keeps them down. Sam - are you in any pain?"

Her head lifted again, Janet winced as she saw how parched Sam's lips appeared - apart from the dark circles under her eyes there was no colour in her face at all. "No pain... just tired... very tired... miss you."

Janet managed a smile. "I miss you as well. Hopefully this is just a stage in the withdrawal. If you're feeling no better at the next check-in we'll start you on Compazine."

There wasn't even a nod of acknowledgement this time. Janet wondered if she could get permission to go through to the planet. Now that the Light was `out' surely it was safe. Sam Carter did not do illness well. She had a tendency to lapse into depression and given that one of the side effects of withdrawal from the `Light' was an inclination towards suicide, Janet wasn't in the mood to take any chances with the woman she loved.

They had rigged the MALP as a kind of mobile testing station, including blood pressure, basic chemical analysis and pulse monitoring. Telemetry would be relayed back to the SGC. "Sam, I need you to check your blood pressure and your dopamine levels regularly. And try to eat something. You'll feel better, I promise."

Again there was no reply. Daniel sat forward a bit. "I'll make sure she's okay, Janet," he said.

"Thank you, Daniel," Janet smiled at her friend, her smile fading as Sam didn't even react to being talked about as if she wasn't there - something that normally irked her considerably. She was reminded of how depressed Sam had been in the aftermath of Jolinar's death - borderline catatonic. "Okay. Same time tomorrow, people."

It was the same time tomorrow and when the signal came through only the boy Loran was there. He looked scared.

"Loran, where are SG1?" Teal'c asked.

"Sam went for a walk and didn't come back. They're looking for her."

Janet shared an alarmed glance with Teal'c. "When did this happen?"

"During the dark hours. We were asleep. When we woke up she was not here. We searched the palace and then Daniel saw her footprints leading down to the beach.

A disposition towards suicide. Oh god.

A gentle hand on her shoulder. Teal'c must have sensed her immediate panic. "We do not know for certain what has happened, Dr Fraiser. But we must inform the General immediately. I will return to the planet and join the search for Major Carter. We will find her."

Sam opened her eyes. The nausea had receded a little. Now she just felt as if she was suffocating. She could not remember the last time she had been outside. A few hundred yards away there was a long golden beach and the sea. And she was stuck in here. With Them. She wasn't sure which was worse, their grouchy withdrawal-

induced sulks of a few days previously or the high-maintenance hyper distinctly peppy and more than a little snarky mood they had been in for the last day or so. It was strange that they seemed to be at opposite ends of the cycle to her. Maybe it was a hormonal thing. If Daniel asked her one more time if she was feeling all right.

The others were asleep. Swiftly, softly she got out of her sleeping back. Sick of the constriction of army boots she decided to forgo wearing them and enjoyed the feel of the cool tile floor beneath her feet. It gave the illusion of freedom at least. She wrapped her blanket around her shoulders and walked out into the warm night air.

The sound of the sea was very soothing, the surf sizzling slightly as it washed up and down the sand. There were two moons in the sky, one full, pale golden, craters clearly visible on its surface, the other a bone white sickle hanging low in the sky. It was very beautiful and very alien and as the sob caught in her throat she realised just how far away from home she was at that moment. How alone.

She thought about Janet, allowing herself to smile. She could not believe how close she had got to the doctor these past few years, how many of her walls the small woman had broken through. She desperately wished that her best friend, her lover was here to help her get through this but that would mean that she would be going through this horrible withdrawal as well and to be honest she wouldn't wish it on anyone.

Looking back she realized how far she had walked and worried for a moment that she had gotten too far from the power source. Distance from it was definitely a factor with the symptoms. She had found that out the hard way just after they had been stranded here.

They had long since given up the pretence of `checking the perimeter' and were doing their best to walk off the jitters both of them were feeling. It had only been a few days and already she was missing Janet intensely.

"I guess the reality that we may never go home is setting in," she said.

"Oh, Hammond'll keep us supplied with everything we need until we can figure this out. It's a nice beach," the Colonel had said. She hated him, she realized. Hated him and everything he stood for. How the hell was she supposed to cope with this for the next month at least. She did not even try to hide her irritation. "It'd be a good excuse for you, wouldn't it?"

"Huh!" And if that was the level of intellectual conversation she could expect she might just shoot herself now. Or him. It would be a mercy killing. "To do nothing for a while." "What?"

"Forget it." She walked faster, hoping to leave him behind physically as well as intellectually. "That would be, `Forget it, Sir.'"

"Oh, please - you think I'm keeping that up if we're stuck here forever?" "Listen, Major."

"No way."

"That's `No way, Colonel.'" Now he was really pissing her off.

"I'm supposed to accept that. That's the way it's going to be?" she snarled.

"That's the way it is."

"What difference does it make? It's not up to you." The anger faded as quickly as it had arisen leaving behind an ashen bleakness. She was cold and tired and she wanted to go home and curl up in her lover's arms.

"Carter! You're in withdrawal!" O'Neill shouted at her.

She rounded on him. "Oh, I'm in withdrawal!" He had grabbed the front of her shirt and they were virtually nose to nose. She did not bother to hide her anger and contempt for him. She could take him, she knew it. She might have to fight dirty to do it, but so be it. It would be a pleasure to take down the arrogant pigheaded sexist sonofab.

"Yes! So am I."

And so he was. It was useless. Totally fubar, the whole stinking place. He let go of her, took a step back. She turned away and started walking back towards the palace. After a moment or two he followed her. They did not say another word to each other all the way back.

That had been a really shitty day. Almost as bad as the last twenty four hours had been. She walked up the beach towards one of the huge sphinx like statues that seemed to be set at regular intervals along the shoreline, staring enigmatically out to sea. Sam sat down on the soft sand that had piled between the sphinx's paws and contemplated the view. This planet's equivalent of the morning star shone just above the horizon, appearing almost to dip into the hollow of the sickle moon, impossible though that was. She felt okay, considering. Certainly better than she had felt earlier when Janet had checked in. `God, Janet. she must really be worried.'

She rested her forehead on her knees for a moment, her blanket gathered around her to keep off the predawn chill. Drifting, she let her mind fix on the sound of the surf, clearing her head of all other thoughts, all her pent up emotions and confusion, let the simple sound of the sea wash them all clean.

"Sam, you shouldn't be out here on your own," a gentle hand touched her wayward hair, slender fingers combing through it. "Come inside now."

"Sit with me here, just for a little while," Sam begged, looking up at her lover. She was wearing a long white dress, her feet were bare, her shoulderlength dark hair loose, which Sam loved to see. Strangely there were no tracks on the sand to show how she had got here. But she was here, that was the important thing.

"Just for a little while then, and then we have to go," Janet said softly. She sat down on the sand next to Sam, leaning against her, her head resting on Sam's shoulder. Sam rearranged herself so that her blanket wrapped around both of them. For a long time there was a comfortable silence between them, they watched the sky lighten slowly, the darkness fading through indigo, sagepurple and a thousand shades of blue.

"Why are you out here on your own, love?" Janet asked quietly, her fingers lacing through Sam's. "You shouldn't be on your own. Not when you're feeling like this."

Sam sighed. "I don't know. I just couldn't take being cooped up any more. I mean I know that at home days can pass and I don't get out of the mountain and we come here and I'm stuck in that place and. I got so tired of it all. I just wanted to breathe. And to be honest, given the company at the moment, I'd rather be on my own." She paused. "Not you, by the way. I don't want you to go. Ever."

"I understand, it's okay," Janet said. "And I'll stay as long as I can." She reached up, cupping Sam's cheek with her hand, drawing her down into a long, lingering kiss. She moved herself until she was sitting astride Sam's thighs, kissing her way down Sam's throat as her hands began to tease Sam's tshirt upwards. Sam's hands moulded Janet's breasts through the thin material of her dress, teasing her plump nipples into fullness before lifting her arms so that Janet could pull off her shirt. She was pushed gently backwards to lie back on the blanket, Janet's hands resting at either side of her head as her lover looked down on her, her dark hair framing her face, her deep brown eyes enigmatic, her smile transfiguring her face into something of real beauty. "It seems forever since we did this."

"I'm sorry." Sam began to apologise for not giving Janet the time she deserved.

"It's okay. You're busy. I'm busy. it's okay, really it is. What we have. we know what we feel. I know you love me. And you know I love you. The rest is just."

She bent her head, capturing Sam's lips in a searing kiss, pressing her body to Sam's. They were both naked now, wrapped around each other, whispering endearments, touching, kissing, licking, biting, the first rays of sunlight playing across their skin as the day began its journey. Sam came first, arching against Janet's body, almost sinking her teeth into the smaller woman's shoulder with the intensity of it, Janet's own release following moments later.

"Promise me," Janet said fiercely straddling her again, staring down at her, her face and upper chest still lightly flushed from their exertions. "Promise me, Sam."

"Promise you what?" Sam asked. "I don't understand. Janet."

But Janet was gone. The sun dazzled her for a moment. Sam sat up, looked around her in confusion. Had it been a dream? It had seemed so real. She wanted it to be real.

"Promise me," someone said from behind her. Sam turned to see a figure shrouded in black, the veil that covered her face fluttering in the light breeze. "Promise me, Sam. It's not too late"

Sam woke with a jerk as the dying edge of the wave broke over her toes. The dream confused and scared her. Promises. expectations. in her experience they were usually made to be broken, made to be disappointed. Much better to take what was offered at face value. It was just after dawn, the sky a beautiful rose gold. And the tide was coming in. She stood up hastily, let the cool water cover her toes, wash around her bare ankles.

She had been somewhere like this before, a long time ago. Not her exactly, but. she was used to this now. Jolinar's memories. The water swirled around her feet. She tried to recall the exact details but they remained stubbornly fuzzy. An almost aftertaste in her mouth persuaded her that it might be a good thing not to remember. It had not turned out well. So many of Jolinar's memories were like that. They had that much in common. Best not to go there.

Sam curled her toes in the wet sand. She didn't get to the beach nearly often enough these days. But then there was a lot of things she didn't get to do nearly enough. It seemed strange to say, given her day job, but she wondered when her life had got so small. She had been thinking about that a lot lately, with all the things that had happened recently. Being ordered to make a bomb by the Colonel to save one alien race at the expense of another slightly more alien race still troubled her. Daniel had been the one to get them out of that one. She had been the good soldier and followed orders. That weird note with the Colonel's blood on it. The encounter with Shifu, Share's son. More had gone on with that than anyone knew other than Daniel. She wondered what he had learnt about himself in Shifu's `teaching dream'. Something bad enough that when he had unknowingly gone into withdrawal, suicide had seemed a mighty fine idea.

If the Colonel had got to him a minute or two later.

The water was up to her knees now. Even though she had rolled up her trouser legs, the bottoms were getting wet. She should think about retreating back to the beach, above the water line. The tide was coming in fast. She should do something about that. Walk away. She took a step forward, the crest of a wave wetting her to mid thigh.

Well, this was interesting.

The water felt surprisingly warm, inviting. Just a swim, she told herself. I'm just going for an early morning swim, nothing more. It was supposed to be good for the constitution. No other intention than that. Nothing sinister going on at all. And if anything should happen. a tragic accident. She got out of her depth.

Never had a truer word been spoken.

"I'm sorry, Dr Fraiser, but there is no way I will sanction you going through the Gate."

"General. Major Carter may be in need of immediate medical attention. I was very concerned about her condition yesterday during the check-in. She was depressed, barely responsive. SG1 are on day eight of their stay. They have been reducing the power output incrementally each day. I think it is now below the level at which the effects would be addictive. I believe that I could remain there for several hours at least without any side effects."

"Do you know this for certain, Doctor?" Hammond asked, his eyes intent on her face.

She could not lie to him. "No, not for certain, sir. But I am prepared to take the risk." She brought herself to attention. "Sir, requesting permission to join in the search for Major Carter."

General Hammond sighed. "Very well. You will accompany Teal'c. Don't make me regret this Doctor."

"Thank you, Sir."

Janet hurried back to the Infirmary, contacted Teal'c to tell him that she was joining him on the mission and spent the next twenty minutes pulling together everything she might conceivably need. Then she changed into her BDUs, picked up her pack and ran for the Gateroom where Teal'c was waiting.

She remembered now. The last night she. no, Jolinar, it was Jolinar had spent with Martouf. They had been somewhere like this. A beach. It was night. The sea glowed blue with phosphorescence. They had made love. He had tried to dissuade her from going on her mission. They knew Sokar was after her, that an Ashrak was hunting her.

"No one will think badly of you if you refuse the mission, Jolinar. We need you. I need you. Stay."

"I can't. This is important, Lantash. These people are ripe. A few words in the right place and we could strike a real blow here against the Goa'uld. I have to go."

"It will always be like this, won't it?" he said, almost sulkily.

"What do you mean?"

"This fight. It will never be over. It will always be between us. When will there be time for us, Jolinar?"

"One day. That's why we have to fight now. One day our time will come," she said and she almost believed it.

The water was up to mid thigh now, every wave threatening to take her feet from under her. Jolinar was dead. So was Martouf. At the moment nothing she had in her life seemed to compare with that. There was Cassie of course, but she was growing up so fast. She bore little resemblance now to the frightened child who had clung to her so tightly that day. And Janet. If she did not have Janet in her life Sam really thought that she would have given up long ago.

Yet realistically, how long could it last? How could their love possibly survive in the inimical atmosphere of the US Airforce. Don't ask, don't tell. Don't feel. Don't hope.

No hope.

The current was trying to pull her off her feet, draw her down. She debated whether to just let it happen, to make it easier on everyone. She was bound to fuck it up sooner or later. Had to happen. Always happened. Her own family could barely stand to be in the same room as her. Every mission with SG1 could be her last. They had almost lost Daniel a few days ago. Every Goa'uld in the galaxy had them somewhere near the top of their personal shit list. Sooner or later it was bound to happen. She would leave Janet or Janet would leave her. The odds were against them. Her own nature was against them. When the Colonel had been stuck on Edora and she had got herself totally fixated on the idea of rescuing him, bringing him home. She forgot to eat, forgot to sleep, forgot there was anything beyond the closed little world she built for herself whilst she pursued the dream of the particle accelerator.

And there was the little incident with `the room'. The za'tarc detector. Another one of Anise's shining moments almost up there with the Atoniek armbands.

What kind of life, what kind of future could she really offer Janet if she was honest with herself, with her feelings?

How long were you supposed to last when your whole life was a secret, your day to day living, your every move, every thought? How long could you last when your home life became just another secret? How long could you last when the secret lives were incompatible when they acted to destroy each other and your existence became an exercise in walking the precipice between?

The water lapped at her waist. It was easy just to let herself go, to float. The odds were against her. This was for the best.

The waters closed over her head.

Janet traveled through the Gate infrequently enough for her still to feel the stomach churning chills every time she exited. Teal'c waited for her to recover, toggling his radio to see if any of SG1 would report.

"O'Neill, Daniel Jackson, Major Carter, please respond."

"Teal'c - what are you doing back here?" It was Jack O'Neill. He did not sound in good temper.

"Dr Fraiser and I have come through to assist in the search. Have you located Major Carter?"

"The Doc's here! What the hell was George thinking! Bad enough dealing with Carter's own brand of withdrawal PMS without that." there was a muttered aside as Daniel reminded Jack that Dr Fraiser could in all probability hear exactly what he was saying. "Er. no, we haven't located Carter yet. There are signs that she went along the beach but the tide's been in since then and we can't find her trail. We're about two km south of you. er, towards the headland."

"We will come to meet you," Teal'c said.

"Colonel - how are you and Dr Jackson feeling? I thought we had established that going any great distance from the palace increased your withdrawal symptoms," Janet said.

"Not too bad so far. A bit jittery. I'll feel a damn sight better when we locate Carter. We'll keep going towards the headland, see if we can pick up her trail."

Choking, Sam struggled for the surface. She had got turned round, looking back at the beach, horrified by how far away it seemed to be. The rising dunes hid the palace from view but she could see the line of sphinxes.

What the hell had she been thinking? Was this what had happened to Daniel? The sudden bleakness, the feeling that nothing mattered, that nothing she did was of any consequence that she was fated to make horrible mistakes over and over again hurting herself and everyone she made the mistake of caring about. That the world would be a better place without her in it.


The tide was carrying her out and down towards the headland. The water in the current that had caught her was colder than the surrounding waters. She tried to swim against the current, to break out and head back towards the beach but her energy levels were still low and she had never been that strong a swimmer.

She could do this. She would do this. There were still a thousand, a million things she hadn't done, a whole life she had yet to lead. Already the beach seemed nearer. Optimism buoyed her further and she struck out more strongly only to jackknife as the cramp seared through her without warning. The waters closed over her head again.

This wasn't how it was supposed to be. Just a few days ago she had been in her element, studying the technology in the pleasure palace. Well, as much as she could without actually `touching' anything. Colonel O'Neill had been quite specific on that point. He did not want any more nasty surprises. She had been able to make some guesses as to how it all worked. But her fingers had itched to take it all apart and study it in detail. Loran had not been much help in explaining things. And Daniel was still slowly working on the translations, though by the slightly pinkish tips to his ears she did not think it was technical instructions to the equipment on the walls. She had overheard him explaining to the Colonel that it appeared to be some sort of Goa'uld Karma Sutra. The only time she was allowed to touch was when she recalibrated the control to lower the dosage of whatever `drug' they were addicted to. What the point of this place was still escaped her. Perhaps it affected Goa'uld in a different way. All it did for them was make them space out, lose time - where was the fun in that? Forgetting. Perhaps that was the point. The average Goa'uld must accumulate a lot of things in a lifetime that they might rather like to forget from time to time. The luxury of nothingness.

Nothingness. She fought her way back to the surface, managed an agonized breath. The headland was a lot closer now, the sound of the surf louder. It looked like a toss up between drowning and being dashed to death on the rocks. There was a million to one chance she'd make it through without mishap. She'd taken worse odds than that before.

Suddenly, without really understanding it, she knew that Janet was near, that she was looking for her, willing her to be all right. Shame flooded her at the way she had been about to give up, to betray Janet, the undoubted love that they had for each other. God, this thing is insidious, she thought. It said a lot for the Goa'uld that they would make something that twisted you up so much and put it in a `pleasure palace'.

She yelped in pain as rock grazed along her leg, removing a layer or two of skin from the top of her thigh to just above her knee. She felt the warmth of blood welling from the injury and hoped to god that there was nothing in the water with her that was attracted by the scent of blood. The wave buffeted her against the rock again and she tried to get a hold of it before she was dashed up against it and did herself any more serious damage. Beyond the rocks was a narrow shingle beach that was going to be murder on her bare feet. She was lucky that the tide seemed to have turned and that once she had reached the beach she should be relatively safe. And then she could concentrate on getting back to her Janet.

So all she had to do was get beyond this reef of sharp rocks and get to the beach. Nothing simpler.


"Yes O'Neill."

"We. er, we found something, washed up on the shoreline. It's Carter's blanket, no mistaking. Property of SGC stitched in the corner. No other sign though. She could just have dropped it. Doesn't mean.. anything. Tide's turned now." There were noises off, what sounded over the radio link like a muffled argument.

"Look, Daniel doesn't think we can go much further, that we're too far away from the Palace already. The withdrawal's going to kick in something fierce if we don't head back soon."

"Then you must return at once, O'Neill. Dr Fraiser and myself shall continue the search," Teal'c said.

Janet had heard every word. She knew that Sam was still alive out there somewhere. She would know if the other woman was dead. It was not just wishful thinking on her part. There was too much of a connection between them for her not to know. Sam might be in trouble, in grave danger, but she was still alive. And Janet would find her. No other outcome was acceptable.

"She's alive, I know it. I feel it," she said abruptly.

"I am also certain that Major Carter is alive. She is a most resourceful individual," Teal'c said. "And she has much to live for."

Twenty minutes later they had rounded a curve in the beach and saw two slightly bedraggled figures walking towards them. There did not seem to be any conversation between them which was very unusual. The Colonel and the Archaeologist lived to bicker. It was a way of life for them. Sam had told her often enough about the comedy cabaret that was a slow mission with the O'Neill and Jackson show.

Janet remembered that she had been on the point of having him forcibly ejected from her Infirmary when she realised that he was not just acting out worse than usual but showing the early signs of whatever it was had killed SG5 and was on the point of killing Daniel Jackson. The Colonel's dopamine levels had been all over the map: he was addicted as well.

"All those years of just saying no," he groused before coming up with the startling suggestion that the only way to keep the two of them alive was to send them back to the planet.

They were within hailing distance now. "Doc, not that it's not a pleasure to see you as always but what the HELL are you doing here? Did you slip Hammond a mickey or something?"

"I gave him a reasoned argument for coming through to join the search for Major Carter," Janet said. "You've been incrementally reducing the effects of the device for over a week now. I figured it was unlikely to cause instant addiction in me as it did with you. And I have not been exposed to the light. Sam. Major Carter theorized that exposure to the light conditioned your brain for the addiction. So I should be safe. And worst case you have another guest here at your luxury resort for a couple of weeks."

He nodded, unsmiling. "We found the blanket about a klick up the beach, just above the high tide line. There was no other sign of her."

"That's how Loran's parents did it," Daniel said suddenly. "They walked into the sea. just kept going no matter how he shouted after them. Their bodies washed up the next high tide."

"I think we really need to get back," O'Neill said, casting Daniel a worried glance. Janet couldn't have agreed more.

She appeared to be in one piece. More or less. A little scraped up and her ribs had enjoyed happier days but all in all better than it could have been. By the time Sam had crossed ten yards of shingle her feet were getting pretty cut up and she was feeling like Hans Christian Anderson's mermaid who got human form but at the price of feeling like she was walking on broken glass with every step she took. Sam kept going. There wasn't much else she could do.

She was also going into withdrawal again. She was shivering despite the warm sunshine which had already more or less dried out her clothes and she felt totally on edge. Adrenalin soured her stomach and she found herself debating whether it would not be a better idea to just walk back into the sea. But she knew that Janet was looking for her. She tried to keep her thoughts focused on Janet, Janet's face, those beautiful dark eyes, that gorgeous mouth. She could not let her lover down like this.

She thought she heard someone shout her name but dismissed it as the sound of the sea washing against the rocks just a few feet away. She continued to limp along the beach, moving down off the shale onto the sand as the tide receded revealing it once more. It was kinder on her feet but she was still leaving quite a blood trail. She concentrated on putting one foot in front of the other, hugging herself. She was so tired. Five hundred paces and then she would stop for a rest. She started counting under her breath.

`Two hundred ninety one. two hundred ninety two. two hundred ninety three. two hundred ninety.' Sam paused as she distantly heard her name again. She looked up, squinting into the distance. Two figures were running towards her, one large, unmistakably Teal'c, the other small, almost childlike beside the imposing Jaffa. Janet. it could only be Janet.

`Two hundred ninety.' Sam realised she had lost count. Not that it mattered any more. She realised that she had stopped walking, that there was no way in hell that she could set one foot in front of the other without falling flat on her face.

The Jaffa reached her first. "Hi, Teal'c," she whispered. "Didn't expect to see you. Janet." As the small woman reached her side she realised the danger Janet had put herself in. "Shouldn't be here. you'll get addicted too." She had reached the last of her strength. Teal'c caught her as her knees buckled, eased her to the ground, following her down. Janet was already kneeling beside her, checking her over, her expression tight with concern as she took in the bloody scrape down Sam's leg, the bruises visible on her arms and under her shirt as she lifted it to check Sam's ribs. Using water from her canteen she washed the bloody sand coating Sam's feet, exclaiming softly as she saw the damaged skin, blood still oozing from the deepest cuts. Teal'c held his own canteen to Sam's lips and she drank deeply.

"I read your research notes, Sam and realised that it was quite likely that with the light source disabled and the powering down of the device, the levels were below those to cause addiction. I managed to persuade the General that it was worth taking the risk. We were all worried, Sam."

Feebly Sam tried to bat Janet's hand away as the penlight came out to check her neurological reactions. "I'm fine, don't fuss," she muttered. "Just got a little banged up is all. I could have made it back on my own."

"I'll take it that's the withdrawal talking," Janet said. "And your usual pig headed stubbornness. There's no way you're walking any further with your feet sliced up like that. Teal'c will have to carry you."

"Indeed," Teal'c said. Even if Janet Fraiser had not insisted he would still have done so.

"Fine. whatever." Sam was too tired to protest. Janet swiftly dressed her feet though they would need more detailed attention not to mention debreding once they got back to the palace. Then Teal'c took a blanket from his pack and handing Janet his staff weapon, wrapped the blanket around the weakly protesting Major before lifting her easily into his arms. Sometimes she forgot just how strong he was.

She was asleep before they had gone ten yards and she didn't wake until Teal'c set her gently down on her bed roll back at the palace. She opened her eyes to see Janet leaning over her and her very own Three Stooges hovering in the background. Ever the good soldier, she reported in.

"Sorry to have worried you, sir. I went for a walk and got caught by the tide."

"We knew you'd be all right," O'Neill said, his slightly bedraggled appearance belying his words.

"We weren't worried at all," Daniel said.

"But you said." Loran began before O'Neill frowned at him.

"No harm, no foul, Carter," he said. "Just. leave us a note or something next time you decide to go for a walk, okay."

"Yes, sir." Sam winced as Janet eased the temporary bandages off her injured feet and tried to sit up so she could see the damage for herself. Janet looked at Teal'c, some unspoken communication between them and he put his arm around Sam, preventing her from moving any further.

"I wouldn't worry about any more clandestine walks, Colonel," Janet said. "The damage the Major has done to her feet, she won't be walking anywhere for several days at least. Sam, I'm going to have to inject a local anesthetic into the soles of your feet to numb them before I clean the cuts. Some of them are quite deep and there are sand particles embedded in them. And you will need stitches. This is turning into quite the housecall."

"Just don't bill me, okay," Sam said through clenched teeth as Janet carefully injected the anesthetic into her feet. The guys apart from Teal'c who was still holding onto her had already made themselves scarce, something about teaching Loran the finer points of catch.

"That's okay, Sam," Janet said softly. "I'm sure I can think of ways you can pay me back." She smiled up at the Major and for a long moment Sam felt no pain at all.

The End

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