DISCLAIMER: The story, and characters and anything and everything
else concerning SG: SG1 belong to MGM, Gekko, Secret Productions
etc, they are so not mine and no money is being made from this and
no copyright infringement is intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: This is a reworking of the first version of "Your Guardian Eyes" which was far too long for the series it was part of. And it was also the opposite of fluffy.
SPOILERS: Season 2 "In the line of Duty"
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author
I Miss Her
I miss her. I miss Sam so much that it hurts. When I look into the eyes of the creature that has taken her body, extinguished that brilliant mind that beautiful soul I want to scream.
Her eyes are the same. It fooled me. I didn't realise. Okay, yes I was insanely busy with almost 100 injured and desperate natives flooding my infirmary and the hospital but I always thought
I always thought that Sam's soul shone from her eyes, that all you had to do was look into those beautiful crystal blue orbs and you would know the essential Samantha Carter.
I did her post mission exam for god sake and I missed it. I know that by then it was too late. Jolinar was already inside her, the damage to Sam was done but I could have spared her watching Cassie being threatened. I could have spared Cassie her terror at seeing the person she loves transformed.
I missed it. I could not feel it under her skin. Because she had gone in through Sam's mouth there was no apparent entry scar. Perhaps we had grown blasé. Perhaps I let my professionalism slip because this was Sam, this was my girl and that meant only good things, didn't it? And I would know the instant there was anything wrong, right? Right. I know now that Jolinar was Tokra, an expert in infiltration, at hiding in plain sight. But I prided myself on being something of an expert in Samantha Carter. And I did not notice. I looked into her beautiful blue eyes and I saw my Sam. I saw what I expected to see. I missed it. I saw the abrasion on the back of her throat and I did not make the connection. I let her down. I let everyone down.
Jolinar let me feel Janet touch me, let me hear her speak as she chatted on about Cassandra as if everything was all right, everything was normal. And then I realised that she didn't know, that she could not tell the difference between me and the Goa'uld. I lost a little heart then. I had thought that if anyone would realise what had happened it would be my lover, my soulmate.
Jolinar punished me for nearly tripping her up over Cassandra. I think that was the last time I was able to do that. Janet's inability to tell that something was wrong with me opened the door for her. I realized that I was truly lost. After I left the infirmary Jolinar took us back to my quarters and she spent hours going through my memories, learning how to be me.
I shudder, remembering how helpless I felt, how alone ironic since I was sharing my consciousness with another entity. I would never be alone again. How could Janet not have realised that something was wrong? How could she not have realised as she looked into my eyes that it was not me looking back at her?
Later when they do realise what is wrong Jolinar lets me see the fear in her eyes and the pain at my loss. And the tenor of my thoughts the vicious "Good, she's hurting," feeling that rises in me sickens me and I wonder what the hell is going on with me that I can get even the smallest bit of satisfaction out of Janet's pain. At that moment all I want to do is cradle her in my arms and kiss away her tears. But by then I'm locked in the brig and Jolinar is in full control of my body.
I keep seeing myself threaten Cassie. She is in Janet's office, painting a rainbow. I come in. She runs to embrace me. I hold her close. Jolinar holds her close. We hold her close. And then we realize. Cassie knows that something is wrong and Jolinar knows that Cassie can sense the naquada. I start to scream, shout, beg. I will let her do anything to me, inhabit my body for ever if she will walk away from Cassie now.
Cassie runs from me, runs from Jolinar to hide behind the couch. I stand over her. I hear my voice, Jolinar's voice threaten to kill Cassie if she says a word to anyone. And then to my relief we walk away.
But the relief is short-lived. Jolinar is desperate to get away from something called an ashrak. We head back to the SGC. SG1 are supposed to be going out to scout a new home for the Nassyans. She is going to use it as an opportunity to get away, to keep running.
"Stand down campers. We're on a hold."
Cassie saved me. She got over her fear and told the Colonel. He took me down, injecting me with enough sedative to fell a horse. But Jolinar still tried to take herself and everyone else down with her, threatening to pop a grenade.
She was terrified, too used to running. I kept trying to tell her to trust the Colonel, to tell him about this ashrak (whatever that was) but she was not listening to me.
Her fear made her careless. The Colonel saw an opportunity and used it. He jabbed me full of sedative. We looked up, saw you watching from the observation deck, saw the panic, the fear in your eyes as you realised that I was not who you thought I was. I tried to get you to surrender, to hold it together for both our sakes but you threatened them.
A second dart hit us. Jolinar fought with Jack, punching him out, gaining herself enough time to arm a grenade. Her thoughts were chaos. Our thoughts were chaos. It was getting harder and harder to fight against the sedative. And you, you were still watching us, watching me from the observation window. Your face was so pale, your eyes dark sorrowing.
I did not want your last sight of me to be like this. I knew what you must have been thinking. Nothing of the host survives. Nothing.
I was already a ghost.
Jolinar fought hard against the drugs but we were already exhausted. I tried to break free as her hold on reality weakened but I could not. We went down together.
I was frozen, watching that creature threaten us. The amount of sedative circulating in her system should have been enough to floor an elephant. And then one of the airmen put a second dart in her. And she was still on her feet. She swatted the Colonel aside as if he was nothing! Inside I mourned for the loss of my love. For the creature that had taken her I felt only hatred. She had murdered my beloved. She had threatened my daughter. I watched her prime the grenade.
Nothing of the host survives. Sam was already dead, lost to me. If we believed what the Goa'uld told us. But they had talked to Skaara when Klorel was incapacitated. Sam could still be in there somewhere. And I would not give up on her, not whilst her body still drew breath.
I was already running for the stairs when her legs went out from under her and Jack O'Neill wrapped his hands around the grenade, locking the trigger in place.
I had no idea how long she would remain unconscious so we used our heaviest restraints and got through the tests as quickly as possible. On the ultrasound and the MRI the symbiote showed up as clear as day, coiled around her brainstem. I wanted to cut it out, burn it from her but I knew from Dr Warner's notes that I would be probably condemning Sam to life as a quadriplegic, if she survived the procedure at all.
But there had to be something I could do. A drug that would keep the symbiote quiescent and allow Sam to control her body again. And how had Cassie known? Maybe it was something to do with the traces of naquada that were still in her blood, the residue from the bomb that Nirrti had implanted in her chest.
I was obviously going to need to review our post-mission testing procedures. I had examined Sam myself after all and found no external trace. How had it got into her?
The scratch at the back of her throat. It had gone in through her mouth. How? How had it managed to get Sam into such a position that she was helpless against it?
Think. Think it through, Janet. Sam was in the middle of a battle zone when it happened, helping wounded and dying Nassyans through to the Gate. Maybe the Goa'uld was in one of the Nassyans and something happened to it, to the host. Sam had done field medic training since the Antarctic debacle. She knew CPR. One of the natives had been a host. He or she had been injured, dying. Sam had given someone CPR. The Goa'uld had used the opportunity to jump bodies, going into Sam.
In the briefing Colonel O'Neill confirmed my theory.
"Oh my God, she was giving some guy on that planet mouth-to-mouth. There was blood but she said the guy just bit his tongue before he died."
I made my immediate recommendations anyone who came through the gate had to have an ultrasound or an MRI as we could no longer rely on there being any detectable physical signs such as an entry scar. And that anyone who had had any contact with the Nassyans was checked immediately.
Daniel asked the question; "What would a Goa'uld be doing in a Nassyan man in the first place?"
Beyond speculation that it was a deliberate attempt at infiltration no one had any answers to that. Someone was going to have to interrogate the prisoner.
And we had to keep Sam safe. No one wanted to think about what would happen to her if NID got wind of what had happened. They had wanted a live Goa'uld to study for a long time.
The Colonel was put in charge of interrogating the prisoner. Teal'c quietly advised him how to approach it: "Assault the Goa'uld's ego. Make him appear foolish. He may then reveal the things you wish to learn simply to make himself appear more powerful I have seen many Goa'uld strategies revealed and certain victories lost because of Goa'uld arrogance. It is the Goa'uld's greatest weakness."
It was his last piece of advice that floored everyone.
"When you speak to her, do not see your friend."
Exactly how did we do that?
She held me in close control. I could see and hear everything but there was nothing I could do. She had full motor control. I was just a passenger and I didn't even have backseat driver privileges.
We woke up in the holding cell. There were several bruises and needlemarks on my arms but they were fading fast as Jolinar healed us. Janet had obviously done her tests, probably taken bloods and given us I mean me, must think of this as `me' not `us' an ultrasound, probably an MRI. So you got your picture taken, Jolinar of Melkshur. We have your face on file now.
I wondered what Janet had found. Hopefully something that would help get me out of this mess or at least enough to help anyone else in the future.
She is ignoring me, focusing on maintaining her stance. She keeps me out of her thoughts, but I can tell she is worried. We have surprised her. She didn't expect the Tauri to be so advanced. She didn't expect the Gate to be secured. The IRIS surprised the hell out of her. I got that much before she locked me out.
Then the Colonel came in to the cellblock.
"So, you and I have got to have a little talk. You really screwed up here you know. I mean, you really blew it."
Jolinar was made of sterner stuff than that. She would not be belittled or intimidate but unlike other Goa'uld we had come across she didn't resort to arrogance and bluster either.
"You are weak."
I heard her internal voice in my mind. *Do not call me Goa'uld. I have already told you. I am Tokra.*
*I don't know what that means. And what you've done, what you're still doing to me feels pretty much like a Goa'uld by the way.*
She ignored me and focused on the Colonel again. "Your tactics will not work on me."
The Colonel stared bleakly at us. "Not buying it, huh?"
"You must let me go."
I didn't bother telling her that that was not going to happen. She had already rifled through my memories, studied our military through my eyes. She knew how we worked.
"You really have no idea why this is happening." We turned our back on him and went to sit on the cot. Again I got the impression that I was just a small part of a much bigger picture. If we played this right we could learn a lot about this Tokra and their relationship to the Goa'uld. Were they a faction within the Goa'uld or a separate but close evolutionary development? Were Tokra born or made was it a tribal thing or a political affiliation?
"And I guess you don't feel like telling me."
*Why don't you tell him and me the truth. You're running scared. That's obvious. Maybe we can help you.*
*Be silent!* The coercive blast was horrendously painful. We sat in the shadows and glared through the bars at the Colonel. The Colonel glared right back.
Jolinar broke first. "Let me go." She got to her feet, approached the bars. "Let me go through the Stargate. I will find another host and send your friend back to you."
"You can do that? Leave a host without killing them?" This was news to me as well. I wasn't too afraid or too proud to beg for my life.
She paused. "Yes. It is possible, but not easy. I could die, but I promise I will try."
The Colonel pointed out the flaw in her plan. "The Nassyan man died first that is why I left him. He was beyond my natural abilities to heal."
"What were you doing in him in the first place?"
Jolinar sidestepped answering that one. "Carter's mind would be intact. She would return to you as you knew her before."
"You know I can't trust you."
"I could have killed you and many others when you stopped me from going through the Stargate."
"You didn't want to die yourself." I felt that strange yearning again and this time got an image, just for the briefest moment. A man's face. Young, fairly handsome. Incredibly blue eyes. He meant something to Jolinar. There was such a wealth of emotion, of yearning attached to that image. And a lot of guilt. He would not approve of what she was doing now.
" I am too valuable."
My voice and yet not my voice. At least there was no mistaking that I wasn't in charge.
"Which is exactly why we'll never let you go." The Colonel turned and began to walk away from us from me.
"I have done nothing to harm you. But you would not let me go even if you did believe me," Jolinar said. Then she did something that scared me spitless. She used my voice again. I felt her pressure me. *What do you call him when the two of you are alone? I must make him trust me. It is the only way *
*Jack I call him Jack*
A lie. I could count the number of times I had called the Colonel by his first name on the fingers of one hand. I expected her to detect the lie but she didn't. By then she was juggling too many things, I suspect.
"Oh God, he's telling you the truth! Please, Jack! No, Jack! Please, don't leave me, please! Give me a chance! Don't leave me like this! Please!"
He didn't even look back. I felt her thoughts grow heavy and dark with defeat. "What will it take?"
She chose to open up to Teal'c, telling him things she'd been previously concealing from me. "Jaffa, you must convince the humans to let me go."
"The Tau'ri have become very powerful in the time since the Goa'uld reigned here. Certainly the System Lords will not allow this to go unchecked. I can provide the humans with information that can help them defend against attack."
I sensed her surprise at the news that Apophis had already tried to attack the planet and had failed. Whoever she was, she had been out of circulation for some time.
*You will tell me everything you know about this attack and how you defended yourself.*
She didn't frighten me as much any more. *Get bent.*
"Then a more powerful assault is already being planned."
Teal'c shook his head. "They are not fools. They believe you are here to plant a seed of that destruction."
I knew that wasn't true. She'd been inside me for almost a day without being detected. She had plenty of opportunity for sabotage
I had access to most secure areas on the base including top level computer access, the armories, the storage bays. Hell, I had the makings of several naquada enhanced explosive devices just lying around my lab and the knowledge of how to construct and arm them. But she hadn't done anything like that.
It was strange. I felt her come to a decision. She calmed immediately. "Not all Goa'uld are the same. There are a few that oppose the System Lords and their ways. You must have heard of the Tokra." There was a sense of pride in her voice.
Teal'c was not so easily persuaded. "Every Goa'uld seeks power for his own reason and would betray his own brother to achieve it."
"Some seek power for a greater purpose. Not every Goa'uld is an enemy to the people of this planet. The Tokra are real, no matter what Apophis has told you."
"I have yet to meet one."
This was it. This was one of her secrets. By the importance she attached to the revelation: a big one. "You have now. I am Jolinar of Melkshur."
Teal'c had heard of her. He did not speak again, but watched us appraisingly for a moment before leaving.
*He recognized your name* I said.
*Yes. I am no friend to Apophis. I had heard his First Prime turned Sho'vah. That must have hurt his pride greatly. No wonder he wishes to destroy your world.*
*Can you prove you are who you say you are?*
*Unfortunately, we do not carry identification.* The tone was dry, laced with a certain amount of humour. It was startling to realise that under different circumstances I might have liked this woman except she wasn't a woman. She was a symbiote.
*What are you so afraid of? Why were you hiding among the Nasyans?*
*An Ashrak is hunting me. He will not stop until he finds me and kills me in the traditional manner.* From the sickening sensation I was getting from Jolinar I gathered I really didn't want to know what kind of death we had to look forward to should this Ashrak find us.
Several hours passed. I think I slept. Although I think we had established a certain level of trust, Jolinar continued to keep me under tight control, locked in my own mind. I sensed her sifting through my surface thoughts and memories. Since our conversation about the Ashrak there had been no further revelations from her side. I woke to find her talking to Daniel.
"You care about Samantha Carter as much as O'Neill and Teal'c."
"Yes, I do," Daniel said quietly.
"Yet this is the first time you have come to see me."
*No!* I shouted at her. *Don't do this to him. If you've been rummaging around in my mind you must know what the Goa'uld did to him. They took his wife! They took his brother in law! Leave him alone!*
She ignored me. Daniel ignored her. "I came to see if you could give us a description of the Ashrak."
"I will know his face only in the moments before he tortures me to death killing your friend along with me."
"Well, there's no way he's getting in here."
"You are not stupid, Daniel. Nor am I."
"He doesn't even know for sure you're here on this planet, let alone in this base."
"He is a Goa'uld, he will find me. It's what he does. Letting me go, trusting me is the only chance of saving your friend, Samantha."
"Then I'm sorry." Daniel stepped forward. "I'm sorry, Sam."
*Don't be,* I wanted to tell him. *You're doing the right thing.*
"Alive, I can be a powerful ally. Dead, I am useless to."
"Then you're gonna have to give us more than empty promises."
What she said next astounded both of us. "I can give her back to you." Desperately I tried to find some chink in her armour to find out if she was lying or not.
*Don't you dare lie to him about this. Don't you dare. If you're just doing this to lead him on, to hurt him. I will fight you, Jolinar. I will fight you so damn hard every second of every day. I *
Jolinar continues. "I'm not talking about Samantha, Daniel. I'm talking about Sha're. I know where she is."
I will never forget the conflicted look in Daniel's eyes, the knowledge that just for a moment he was prepared to do a deal with the devil and sacrifice me, my future, to get some news about his wife. I don't think I've ever been so relieved about anything as I was when he turned back to the door and waited for the guard to let him out again.
Half an hour later my worst fears were realised. Janet came to assess my condition. Jolinar remained silent but rigidly in control throughout her examination unless it was to answer a direct question from Janet. Janet was pure professionalism, her mask in place, her eyes guarded. I could only guess at how much she was hurting.
"She cares for you very deeply," Jolinar said suddenly. "It is useless to regret, but if I had known "
"What you would have checked first before stealing her body?" Janet asked harshly. "You say that Sam is in there, that she is unharmed, but you won't prove it. How can we trust you?"
"It is likely that I will die soon. I will do everything that I can to ensure that Samantha survives. This I promise," Jolinar said.
"I don't think you're in the position to make any promises," Janet said, checking my temperature then my bloodpressure. From the slight lessening of tension around her eyes I gathered that whatever else Jolinar was doing she was at least keeping my body in good order.
*Let me talk to her, please* I begged.
*It could help your situation if we can get Janet on our side. She can see that you're not harming my body and if she knows that I'm still alive in here *
*Why not?* I was aware of the winging tone in my mental voice and got a sudden flash of myself using the same tone on my father when I was about sixteen when he found out I'd been out on my bike after curfew. Then I got grounded for a month. This time my incarceration looked like it could be permanent. *Please, Jolinar. Let me at least say goodbye to her. You've seen my thoughts. You know what she means to me*
*Do you think you are alone in your loss, Tauri? Do you think that I did not have a lover waiting for me? Be silent now or it will not go well for you or for your mate.*
Jolinar refused to acknowledge Janet's presence any further, going to sit in the shadows at the back of the bunk, steadfastly ignoring my desperate pleading. Janet stared at us for a long moment as if committing my face to memory and then turned and left.
I wondered if I would ever see her again.
The Ashrak came. Jolinar stood ready, defiant to the last.
"Kree shak, Jolinar. By decree of the Goa'uld System Lords you will die with dishonour by the power of the Hara'kash."
"Hear this. The days of the Goa'uld System Lords are numbered. Tell them that I died with hope. My death only feeds the fire that burns strong in the Tokra."
*Prepare yourself, Samantha. I cannot completely protect you from what is to come * As her voice faded from my mind the pain began. My brain, my nervous system seemed to be on fire, my blood, my bone marrow cooking. I screamed so hard but there was no one to hear. I heard Jolinar scream but I don't think that we made a sound. Pain locked our throat. Then we were on the floor, the ashrak standing over us, the terrible light of the hara'kash still playing over our skull, burning through our synapses. Just before I lost consciousness I felt Jolinar let go, detaching herself from my mind. I was alone again. I was going to die alone after all.
The Ashrak left me for dead, making his escape only seconds before the Colonel burst into the room. They must have passed each other in the corridor. He leant down, touched my face, told me to hang on, that help was on its way, Janet was coming with the medical team. Then everything went away.
I don't think I've ever seen Sam looked so pale, so lifeless. All I knew was that she had been attacked with some sort of energy weapon. There was a residual redness on her forehead, around her eyes and on the back of her neck that was reminiscent of the burns we had seen before from sustained use of a hand device. She was completely non-responsive. She still had a faint pulse but it kept fading out on me. I rode the gurney with her all the way to the Infirmary, keeping up the heart massage, whilst Alicia bagged her.
She was just to say still with us when we lifted her onto the table. The EEG was a nightmare. At first I thought it was feedback and then I realised we were seeing not one but two sets of readings
one from the Goa'uld and one from Sam. The technician worked to isolate them so we could see clearly what was going on. Sam's pulse was erratic, her body beginning to shut down due to the massive systemic shock she had suffered.
It soon became clear that the Goa'uld was dying. Sam was just too weak to survive on her own. I had everyone on standby to resuscitate her once the symbiote was gone. Then the monitor flatlined. We were no longer receiving output from the Goa'uld. Sam's readings continued to slip to critical levels.
"Try another milligram of epi, then prepare for de-fib," I ordered. Then I held up my hand as Sam's readings suddenly improved. Her pulse strengthened and her heart went out of defib. A few breaths of enriched oxygen and her colour improved slightly, her SATS coming out of the critical zone.
To my amazement, Sam was trying to open her eyes. Such a quick return to consciousness was a good indicator that any brain injury was minimal.
"You did it, Sam. You won," O'Neill said. I wasn't so sure. Sam looked sorrowful. She quickly became agitated, which was the last thing she needed to be right now. I grasped her hand, giving her something to focus on. Amazingly she was trying to speak.
"It wasn't me." She seemed dazed, lost.
O'Neill blundered on. "Oh yes it was. You hung in there. You beat it."
Sam shook her head. "The Goa'uld gave its life for me. It saved me." She closed her eyes, unable to stop the tears sliding down her pale cheeks. Enough was enough.
"Colonel, Sam obviously needs to rest. And there are a lot more tests we need to run to check for long-term consequences from her experience," I said. "You can come back and check on her tomorrow."
My staff were preparing to transfer Sam to one of the monitored beds. She was going to need close observation for the next few days at least. My primary concern was whether we were going to need to remove the dead symbiote from her spine or whether it would be safely absorbed into her body.
And then there were the emotional and psychological ramifications to consider. From what I could see at the moment Sam seemed to be experiencing a form of Stockholm Syndrome: identification and empathy with her captor as a result of extreme dependence upon her. And being a captive within your own body I couldn't imagine what she had gone through. We needed Sam to tell us. Unfortunately it didn't look like that was going to happen any time soon. As we mapped the changes in her physical body Sam slipped further into a state of extreme depression, becoming almost catatonic, no interaction with any of us. It hurt to see her like this. It hurt so much.
She gave her life for me. Jolinar. Perhaps she was right. Perhaps the Tokra were different. In the end she proved herself to me. In her last moments she gifted me with her memories, her experiences. They're so vivid, so overwhelming. She did so much, risked so much. If I lived a thousand years I couldn't achieve half of what she did
Not all of it was good. You don't lead the life that she led, out beyond the edge and have many happy memories. There's so much to work through, not just the memories, but the other things.
She's still inside me. Her dead body is still lodged around my brainstem. I know that the medical staff have met to discuss removing it but Janet explained that it was felt the risks to my health were too great to do it unless complications set in. Apparently my body is absorbing and disposing of the dead tissue by itself.
That nice Captain Carter with the dead alien in her brain. That's going to look so good on my service record.
My body is changing as well, apparently. There are alien proteins in my bloodstream and something else that looks as if it is naquada. Something I have in common with Cassie, then. If that is how she was able to detect Jolinar inside me then it could be a useful skill out there beyond the Gate.
If they ever let me out again. I'm never going to get my Gate clearance back.
What's the point of any of it? Perhaps I should just make it easier on everyone and resign. Just disappear. If I'm permitted. They could keep me here forever. Protective custody. I am compromised after all. Dead alien in my brain, remember. A lab rat for Area 51 BioDivision to play with.
Why did she bother to save me? Why did she give her life for me?
You are dead. So why do I still remember? Why does your presence still occupy my thoughts. A little while ago I was terrified that I would never be alone again. Now I feel so alone that it's a physical pain. I miss you. Jolinar my captor, my saviour, my enemy, my friend, my demon, my guardian angel. I miss you.
Cassie. Cassie's here. How can she stand to look at me, to touch me? I threatened to kill her. Jolinar threatened to kill her. The others are here as well. And I realise that since Jolinar died I have never been alone. Janet or one of my team have been here all the time, talking to me, holding my hand, willing me to come back to them. I was just too lost in myself to hear.
Cassie says something that might be `You're going to be okay'. I wish I could believe her. I can't hear what she's saying but I can feel her next to me, her small body snuggled up to mine. Blood calls to blood. Naquada calls to Naquada. We are the same. And she needs me. She needs me to be strong for her. I reach out, touch her hair lightly with my fingers, stroke it, the contact grounding me as well. The darkness inside begins to lift a little. I'm not alone after all.
Sam responded a little when, at O'Neill's suggestion I brought Cassie in to see her. I had explained to Cassie that the Goa'uld was gone, that Sam was herself once more just a little unhappy at the moment. I explained about depression and that it might mean as if Sam looked as if she was ignoring her, even though she probably could hear everything that Cassie had to say. O'Neill and Daniel had more or less the same talk with her as they waited outside Sam's room in the Infirmary.
"Cassie, she's just a little sad right now. But I'll bet she cheers up when she sees you."
When she knows that you're not afraid of her. That you've forgiven her even if she did nothing that needs forgiveness. It was Jolinar who threatened you, not Sam. But Sam seems to have taken all the guilt for Jolinar's actions onto her own shoulders. And its eating her alive.
We watched Cassandra climb up onto Sam's bed and settle in beside her. "Sam. It's me." She pulled at Sam's unresisting body, turning her and we all held our breath as Sam seemed to focus on her, to really see her. She looked so sad, so lost. This had to work. Cassie smiled reassuringly at her. "You're going to be okay." She snuggled up to the woman, her arm across her chest, their heads touching. She continued to talk softly to Sam, none of us dared get close enough to make out what she was saying. As we watched, Sam raised a visibly shaking hand and began to stroke Cassie's hair. Half an hour later they were both asleep.
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