DISCLAIMER: Insert the standard, I don't own anything, just borrowing them for a moment.
SPOILERS: No specific episode or Season, though Hathor is mentioned. Janet is around so Heroes didn't happen This is actually something I wrote a long time ago I'm not sure I've gotten everything right, but oh well...
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
Pain. The whip fell, again and again, the pain like fire streaked across her back. She couldn't focus on anything but breathing, on forcing the air in despite the raw agony, and on not making a sound. She would not make a sound, would not give them the satisfaction of hearing her pain. And that took every ounce of will power she had. She found herself reciting the periodic table, each element punctuated by another blow, another jolt of raw pain and another stifled cry as she fought to keep her legs beneath her. Time hazed and blurred, she half suffocated as her legs buckled beneath her, her weight held only by the collar on her throat. The pain continued. She stumbled, but somehow managed to keep her feet. She lost track of the elements, somewhere past mercury.
And slowly she realized it had fallen silent around her.
The initial beating had been vicious fueled perhaps by the frustration that the others had escaped through the gate. She had been kicked and pummeled almost into unconsciousness, the metallic taste of blood was strong, gagging her by the time they seemed to tire. She hardly remembered the journey that had followed, half dragged between two of the men, her feet uncooperative beneath her. And then this.
She twisted her hands, her wrists raw where the heavy stocks had rubbed them nearly bloody, her jaw was bruised from repeated impact from when her legs had failed beneath her. She straightened as much as she could, her legs still rubbery and uncooperative. From what she could see, the men were gone.
God, everything hurt. She could taste blood, feel wetness oozing around her sides as she stood awkwardly bent forward, her head and arms pinned. The world dimmed as she sagged against the heavy wood. She forced herself to concentrate. Falling unconscious was not an option if she collapsed she would likely be suffocated by her own weight on the stocks holding her.
God, Carter, keep it together.
The stocks. Heavy wood, she had heard the solid thud as the top had closed on the bottom. But had it been fastened? She couldn't remember if the wood had been latched down, or if the assembly was held by its own weight.
Move carter move carter move carter move.
Experimentally she braced herself upwards, her position awkward. And felt the wood move. Barely. Even as new pain lanced across her shoulders, her back, and as new warmth trickled down her sides as blood started anew.
Half a dozen attempts later and she collapsed, free, gasping for breath as pain ricocheted from every extremity to her core. Her lungs burned, but she rolled to her feet, forced herself to move, and willed her peripheral vision to clear.
Breathe. The pain was still very real, but she was free, and apparently no one had been left to guard one half dead prisoner. She noticed with almost clinical detachment the stocks did have a locking mechanism - they just hadn't bothered to use it. That underestimation fueled her exhausted body - and the instinct to flee was stronger than the overwhelming urge to collapse. Barely. She remembered being stripped of her vest before being placed in the stocks. There. Her vest, her GDO, even her gun unfamiliar technology left as useless, or to be examined later. She stopped just long enough to pull on her vest, hissing as cloth pressed against raw wounds, strapping her GDO to a bloody forearm. She stumbled out of the clearing, back into the relative safety of the forest.
The familiar klaxon signaled the offworld gate activation, the gate room a flurry of activity as marines took up defensive positions around the now active gate.
"Its SG1's signal " Simmons voice echoed in the gate room, and the marines seemed to tense even more if possible SG1 seemed to have the ability to bring more than their share of excitement. And the rest of SG1 had returned hours before, less than unscathed.
The wormhole surface rippled then broke as a fatigue clad figure stumbled through, the shimmering mercury surface recovering before disappearing as the wormhole disengaged. The figure stood, off balance and seemingly out of place on the ramp at the center of attention.
"Major Carter " Hammond's voice was amplified from the control room; Carter raised her head marginally and visibly wobbled. Even from above it was obvious there was something seriously wrong.
"Medical team to the gate room."
"Medical team to the gate room "
Carter blinked, still shivering from the recent trip through the gate, and tried for a moment to remember why she was there. She had been trying to get somewhere, but she was so tired and everything was so heavy. She lifted her head and tried to focus. She should say something but seemed to be having some difficulty finding her voice. Armed figures in green, somehow not a threat, white shirt in the window above. General Hammond that was the voice. And a white lab coat right in front of her.
"Sam, do you know where you are?"
Janet Fraiser had been enjoying a quiet afternoon until SG1 had returned through the gate under heavy fire. And short one member. She had pushed away her concern and had taken care of the injuries that busied the medical staff. It was only afterwards that she really let the thought sink into her mind. Sam was missing off world. Sam.
And then hours later the unexpected gate activation had brought her to her feet and toward the gate room even before she heard the announcement. It was SG1's signal. She had been waiting for it, hoping for it.
It was Sam. It had to be.
Janet stepped into the gate room and stopped. It was Major Samantha Carter. But even before she had a chance to be relieved, even from across the room Janet could see she was hurt. It didn't take a medical degree to see it. Everyone in the room seemed to freeze, for a moment Janet forgot to breathe.
The shock of short blonde hair was dusty gray, and matted dark crimson above her ear, around behind her head. Head injury. Blood marked her temple, smeared across a cheek and jaw already swollen with dark purple bruising. Her throat was red, raw. And there was an off-balance unsteadiness in her stance. The familiar figure seemed to waver where she stood, balance shifting unsteadily before the automatic weapon in her hand dropped with a clatter to the gate ramp decking. And that broke the spell.
"Sam, do you know where you are?" Janet stepped closer, noted the blood that stained her hands, bruised knuckles, wrists abraded raw, a cut on her arm deep, hours old but still bleeding. Familiar ice blue eyes wavered from above, settled with apparent difficulty on Janet herself. Concussion?
"Hi Janet." The voice was thick, but Janet found herself relieved at the apparent recognition. "How did you get here? Whoa " And then Janet found herself catching unsteady forearms as Carter dropped to her knees heavily, she just barely managed to keep the other woman from completely hitting the deck. How did she get here? Where? The question worried itself across Janet's mind even as she braced the suddenly boneless Major.
"I need a gurney." She called back over her shoulder then realized Sam's fatigues were ripped under the flak vest she wore. What the "Come on Major, I need you in the infirmary " Sam's head lolled forward, and suddenly Janet caught a glimpse of more blood, the back of her neck.
"Hang on, hang on. Careful Come on Sam." Peterson was helping her, lifting Sam to the gurney that had materialized. Whatever adrenaline had gotten the Major here was clearly dissipating Carter was growing increasingly sluggish. Janet could see the signs. She was in shock. Her lips were already blue.
"Sam, I need you to stay with me. Can you do that Sam?" The gurney was moving, Janet automatically checked her patient over even as she trotted alongside trusting by experience that anyone in the corridors knew to clear out of their way. Sam's eyes were open, but moving erratically, and seeming to struggle to focus. When she spoke her words were slurred, but deliberate.
"What 're you doin' here Jant?" The familiar blue eyes settled on her for a moment, troubled. Janet took the moment as the elevator door closed to pull out her penlight. "Where are we Sam?" She checked pupil response as Carter stopped to consider the question. Uneven dilation, sluggish response. Definite concussion. "We're going to need a catscan." This to Peterson, even as she turned her attention back to her patient. Pulse weak and thready. And the gurney was moving again and now in the infirmary.
"Don let 'em cat..ch you here " Janet glanced sharply at Sam her voice was weaker, distant somehow. She brushed back blonde bangs. "We've got you Sam. It's ok, we'll take care of you."
She reeled off half a dozen orders even as they efficiently transferred Carter to a bed, trying not to notice how much blood was smeared on the just clean sheets of the gurney that had taken her from the gate room. Her gloved fingers moved through the familiar blonde hair, dusty now and matted with blood. There was a bloody gash just above her left ear; an area the size of her hand already swollen and discoloured. Sam had been beaten the injuries left no doubt. These weren't the marks of higher technology. It was repeated blunt force trauma. Her face was bruised, the worst of it staining her cheekbone and jaw a mottled purple blue. She had been restrained by a collar of some type; her throat was raw and abraded in an even band, her collarbone was bruised. Left shoulder was swollen. Clinically Janet noted all of this as she continued her examination, pausing as they worked to remove the battered fatigues. Sam hardly seemed to notice as they sliced her sleeves and pulled away the tattered remains of the front of her uniform, for now leaving her in a familiar but stained gunmetal gray tank top. Sam's attention was elsewhere, muddied, her eyes drifting closed if she hadn't already been lying down, Janet wasn't sure she would have even been able to sit. Janet noticed this, and then stopped to take a breath as she finally realized what she was seeing.
"Sam, what did they do to you "
God. More bruising, red, mottled blue, almost black in areas. Her arms, her shoulders, collarbone and chest. And lower. Janet's fingers settled gently on an area beneath Carter's tank top the ribs were caved in. Broken. One of Sam's hands rose unsteadily from the mattress and closed over Janet's wrist, the familiar long fingers unusually clumsy, but gentle. "Isnt safe herrre, you go back." Janet heard the words and paused, taken aback. Whatever hell had been inflicted on the Major on that planet, she was still living it.
As an afterthought Janet gave the order to keep SG1 out of the infirmary. They didn't need to see this. No one needed to see this. The catalogue of injury went on and on. Both wrists were bloody also obviously from restraints, one forearm sliced deep. Bruises and abrasions on her legs.
Too much blood.
Janet noted the blood smeared on Sam's skin, her sides, her stomach, drying on the fabric of her fatigues. Where was all the blood coming from? Janet felt her mouth go dry.
"What did they do to you Sam?" Carefully she eased the fingers of one hand around Carter's waist, slid them underneath. And found the skin hot, uneven, and wet. Oh god. "Her back. Get her up. Get her over." Carefully they eased Carter onto her side familiar recovery position even as Janet eased the half open vest away. Under the utility vest her fatigues and the standard black t-shirt were shredded. But Janet had already known what they would find Sam had been flogged. It was the only word for it. Janet took a deep breath as she eased the wet fabric away. Her back Janet's fingers hovered over the mutilated surface - her back was an unrecognizable mass of bloody welts. "Cut it off. Don't pull. Careful."
Sam felt herself falling, her legs no longer able to support her suddenly too heavy frame. She felt the jarring impact on her knees only distantly; the world was fading. And then she was grounded. Janet somehow was there where had she come from? And there were reassuring hands secure on her arms. The world was still spinning, but at least she was anchored. Sort of. She couldn't make her body move. Dumbly she tried to focus, could see the doctor speaking but couldn't hear the words, not over the sound of blood rushing in her ears. Janet's mouth was moving but the words were distorted somehow. Sam felt herself falling And then found the world shifting, pain skittered through every nerve ending, the pressure on her back too intense. And then realized it wasn't pressure she was lying down. How did that happen?
"Sam, I need you to stay with me. Can you do that Sam?" Words came into focus, though it took an effort to decipher the sounds. And then Sam realized she knew the voice. Janet, it was Janet. No that wasn't right. What if they came back? Words. She needed to warn the doctor. She struggled; disoriented by the feeling she was moving, by the unfamiliar shapes moving overhead, by the heaviness that paralyzed her. By the pain that radiated through her with every motion. Concentrate Sam.
"What are you doing here Janet?" She was wearing her lab coat, not BDUs, the white coat would be like a beacon. Somehow Janet seemed unconcerned. Where was the rest of SG1? "Where are we Sam?" Bright light, disorienting momentarily she was blinded as she focused on the words. Where were they? Janet was speaking again, but Sam couldn't focus in time. Why wasn't Janet listening to her? Why didn't she understand? She tried one more time, the effort draining what little energy she had left.
"Don't let them catch you here." God it was hard. For a brief moment she imagined her mother was there, brushing her fingers through her hair the way she once did. No. It wasn't her mother. It was Janet. And it was Janet's voice she heard as darkness closed her peripheral vision. "We've got you Sam. It's ok, we'll take care of you." The touch was comforting. She wasn't alone. She drifted. Vaguely she was aware of voices, but it was like they were speaking a different language. There were hands on her face, gentle, tracing her jaw, then back into her hair, finding the swollen mass where she had been kicked. Sam felt the examination move lower, down her throat, felt cool air on her skin as her fatigues were removed. Knew she should care, but didn't have the energy, was just grateful to be lying down.
"Sam, what did they do to you "
Janet's voice. Sam drifted closer to consciousness. God Janet, you have to get away. She fumbled for the fingers she felt against her aching ribs, missed but settled for the arm she found instead. "It isn't safe here, you should get back."
"What did they do to you Sam?"
Weeks. It had taken three weeks of traditional medicine and Tokra healing devices to piece Samantha Carter back together again. Physically. Most of the scars were gone not even the Tokra devices could remove all of them. Still, Janet had insisted on time off, and General Hammond had agreed. Sam had resisted wanting to get back to her lab, back to work but Janet Fraiser was the CMO, and medically, her word was law. Sam Carter was *not* going to lock herself away in her lab and pretend nothing had happened.
Janet Fraiser knew she should be at least a little discouraged by Sam's single mindedness, but a part of her couldn't suppress the grin at the familiar stubborn argument. They'd had the same discussion, or variations of it, every day for the past week. Sam wanted to work. Janet prevented it. Simple. The discussions had strayed into the downright inventive, and Janet had enjoyed herself thoroughly admittedly somewhat at Sam's expense. Still, she knew it was mostly because Sam just wasn't good at relaxing. She never had been, but now Now the doctor and the friend in Janet needed to keep Sam from withdrawing further into herself. She didn't do it so much here, with Janet, as she did elsewhere and Janet was grateful for that. But she still would skitter away from unexpected contact; the memories of the beatings were still too raw and too new.
"I think, its time " She felt, more than saw Sam's interest renewed.
"Time for what?" Janet lifted an eyebrow, but turned wordlessly and headed into the house from the sun-drenched deck she didn't have to turn to know Sam had only hesitated for a moment before following. The house was only moderately cooler than the heat of the summer day, but at least it was less humid. And had its perks. She opened the fridge door and pulled out a beer, turning and shutting the door as she faced the Major behind her.
"Oh." Sam settled into a stool at the kitchen counter, and Janet had to admit she was impressed the Major didn't even ask. She'd been on heavy meds for much of her recovery, and alcohol was a strict no-no. But Janet knew the last week of hot, humid summer weather had been a trial. And Sam's meds had been reduced
Janet twisted open the beer in her hand, absently wiping the condensation off the bottle with her thumb.
"I've been thinking this would go down really well right now " She examined the bottle for a moment and then raised it to her mouth, taking a deep draught of the familiar cold liquid. Oh, that was good. She closed her eyes for a moment, then came back to the present and found herself being watched.
She saw Sam's eyebrow quirk upward, and gave the other officer a break. She crossed the kitchen in three easy strides, and extended the bottle forward.
"Here. Drink up." For a moment Sam hesitated, but then seemed to realize Janet wasn't teasing this time. She settled with a satisfied sigh into the stool behind her, and relieved Janet of the still sweating bottle.
"Thanks Jan. You have no idea how badly I want this."
"Mmmm. No problem." She returned to the fridge and got herself her own beer returned to clink bottles with Sam before they each took a drink. Rather than sitting, Janet was content to lean on the counter, watching Sam as she downed the remainder of her beer in three swallows.
Janet regarded her own just started beer motioning the taller woman to remain seated when she silently asked if she could get herself another. "Take it easy Sam. You haven't had anything for a while." Janet retrieved another, then glanced back before shutting the fridge.
"Ok, this one a little slower. Doctor's orders."
Sam was relaxed, certainly as relaxed as Janet had seen the other officer in a very long time. She was idly playing with the label on her bottle, and answering Janet's questions with remarkable candor. Janet was feeling pleasantly buzzed herself, but not enough to not feel a small shiver as she listened to Carter, coolly and clinically describing what had happened on PX23469. It was almost as if she was watching it happen. Watching as Sam covered SG-1s emergency retreat, having rescued SG-8, and with O'Neill unconscious from a glancing blow. What had happened afterwards, how she had been captured, and what had happened over the next five hours was sickening. Sam had never spoken of PX23469, not willingly. Her debrief had been short, to the point, and uncharacteristically lacking in detail. As though she didn't remember. But Janet knew she did. Sam was one of the most brilliant and detail-oriented officers Janet had ever met her reports were thorough, and clear, and resonated with depth. If Sam's debrief had been short on information, it was only because Sam hadn't wanted to share.
And Janet now knew why.
She had seen the damage that had been done. And even seeing it, even having had to patch together what had been left hearing the words was far worse. Sam's words were clinical and descriptive and seemed to come from a third person narrative as if she hadn't even been there. It was horrifying.
Sam was a little buzzed. She knew it, but it had been so long, and it felt so good right now. And Janet was with her, she was safe, she would be fine. Sam pushed the empty bottle out of her hands; she had found herself answering Janet's questions when they came. Most were easy, some were fun - some were not. PX23469. The topic came up, and for some reason she didn't shut it down. Janet asked, and Sam heard her own voice, remembered every vivid detail of that day. The smell of the moss, the dappled sunlight on the forest floor, the burning ozone smell of Teal'c's staff weapon, the chatter of controlled gunfire into the air as they retreated. Remembered ordering Teal'c to carry the Colonel when he fell, Daniel sent ahead to dial. And she had covered their retreat. The smell of sweat and anger as she was surrounded, as the Stargate fell silent after her team's escape. And then the white hot pain in her head with the first blow that actually connected. Realization she could cut half of them down with her P-90, tempered by the knowledge they were only armed with clubs and knives. It would be a massacre. And somehow knowing it would be far, far worse if she killed half their number. Wondering now if she shouldn't have just taken that chance.
The sheer overwhelming number, more than a dozen, and more spilling out of the darkness of the forest. Every kick, every cut, every lash, unending as they took turns, in pairs. The metallic taste in her mouth, the warmth and wetness of blood oozing across her skin and soaking her fatigues. The tightening of her skin where smeared blood dried as she was dragged away once she had fallen into semi consciousness. And then the stocks. The beatings, then lashing that continued until the ale ran dry, until the men tired and retreated to their camp and the warmth of the fires for the night. The smell of meat cooking on the fires, and the taste of her own bile and blood, killing whatever appetite she once had.
She heard her voice and it was as if it wasn't her own, it was just a story told by a stranger.
Eventually she ran out of words.
"Hey." Janet reached forward and closed her hand over Sam's wrist, as the silence stretched for a moment. "Hey, its ok Sam. You got out. And you got out by yourself. We would have come for you they were sending a team back. But you did it all by yourself. You never gave up. Remember that."
Sam lifted her eyes to Janet's; her gaze flickered then fell down to her own forearm, just above Janet's hand.
"I can still feel the knife there." The words seemed to hold no emotion, just a blank statement of fact, distant and cool. Janet could see the scar it was one that wouldn't be erased the wound had been particularly bad. She remembered the blood. She could see now that Sam was quite certainly drunk.
"I know. It will fade. You won't feel it."
"More scars." Janet tilted her head slightly. This Sam she wasn't that familiar with maybe talking about the hell she had gone through was wrong maybe it was too soon. She had never seen Sam like this. It was eye opening. Sam, SGS wunderkind, was more human than anyone at the SGC would possibly know. She solved the mysteries of the universe, faced down "gods", and single handedly saved the world on regular occasions, but she didn't have all the answers. And she had scars. No one seemed to remember that.
"We all have scars Sam." She rubbed a thumb on her own bicep, briefly and almost without realizing it, and Sam's eyes glanced upwards recognition flickered.
Janet was surprised how quickly Sam remembered the source of the imperfection on Janet's arm Janet herself occasionally forgot.
"When you saved the world from Hathor's resurrection, yes." Janet nodded, teasing, and Sam tipped her head slightly.
"When *we* saved the world." She corrected. And smiled. And Janet had to shake her head in return but couldn't find a damn thing to say. Leave it to Sam to do that to her.
She grinned and tipped back the rest of her beer. She headed back to the fridge for replacements.
"Come on, let's go back outside. We spend enough time inside at the mountain."
"Yep, doctor's orders."
She didn't have to turn to know Sam was following.
To Be Continued
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