Title: Letting Go
Category: Episode Tag for Desperate Measures, Drama
Spoilers: Desperate Measures
Pairing/Character: Sam/Jack friendship
Summary: Sam and Jack come to terms with what happened with Adrian Conrad.
Author's Notes: I just wanted to add a little more friendship into the fold.
Disclaimer: Stargate, Stargate SG-1 and all of its characters, titles, names, and back-story are the property of MGM/UA, Double Secret Productions, Gekko Productions, SciFi Channel, and Showtime/Viacom. All other characters, the story idea and the story itself are the sole property of the author. This story cannot be printed anywhere without the sole permission of the author. Realize this is for entertainment purposes only; no financial gain or profit has been gained from this fiction. This story is not meant to be an infringement on the rights of the above-mentioned establishments
Sam hesitated by the door, unsure if she should proceed. Colonel O'Neill appeared to be asleep – if his open mouth and slack jaw were any indication – and he had a couple of machines monitoring his vitals. Peaceful wouldn't be the word she would use to describe him, but she didn't want to disturb him nonetheless.
This had been her fault.
"Are you just going to stand there all day?" he asked, surprising her. He'd opened his eyes and was watching her, though his face was unreadable, leaving Sam feeling just as uneasy as when she'd first entered the room. Her gaze fell to the stand by his bed that was stacked with books.
"They're not mine," O'Neill said with a sigh. "Daniel feels the need to come by every hour to read to me."
Sam bit back the urge to smile as she finally made her way inside the room. This was only her second time visiting him since they'd returned to the SGC. She had wanted to give him space and some time to heal and recuperate. Though, just based on the amount of material piled by the bedside, she knew that Daniel must have been here numerous times.
She picked up one of the books. Symbolism in the Fourth Dynasty. With a half-smile and a half-grimace, Sam held up the book, waggling it to get the colonel's attention.
"Shoot me now," he mumbled, wincing as he shifted his arm. "Again."
Sam chuckled and put the book back. "If it's bothering you, why not just tell Daniel? I'm sure he'll back off and give you some space."
O'Neill just rolled his eyes. "Since when does Daniel listen without putting up a fight?" He glanced over to the pile of books and gave them a dismissive hand wave. "They put me to sleep anyway."
Sam nodded, turning her head away from him so that he couldn't see how amused she was over the whole thing. She seriously doubted that he was hell bent against any company whatsoever, but she wasn't going to call him on it. Instead, she eased herself into the chair by his bedside.
"How are you feeling?" she asked.
"Oh, like I've been shot."
She grimaced and looked down at her hands.
"Relax, Carter," she heard him say. "It's not your fault. I've been shot before anyway."
She wished she could absolve all fault in what had happened. But there was a part of Sam that couldn't let go. She always had this drive to be better, to push that extra mile, to be more. She wasn't even sure why. But it was there, and it was undeniable.
Which made any fault or loss feel like an insult, a failure. Part of her felt that she should have been stronger so that she could have foreseen the danger and spared everyone else. She couldn't abide any sign of weakness, whether it was physical or emotional. She couldn't come to terms with it. Not when she had to fight in a man's world.
There was another part of her that tried to listen to reason. She knew that there was nothing she could have done. She had tried all that she could. Maybe that's what bothered her the most. Or maybe it was because she had come so close…
She set her jaw, chastising herself for letting her thoughts get the better of her. She only remembered that she wasn't alone in the room when she felt O'Neill's eyes on her.
His lips were tight, face stony, with a hard, tetchy quality to his eyes. Yet, remarkably, they were also soft, concerned, and he seemed to teeter on the edge of wanting to say something, but unable to do so.
She could read beyond the contradiction in his face, touching upon part of the root of his mixed emotions. She felt them. She knew Daniel and Teal'c felt them as well.
They had almost come too late. She almost hadn't made it.
And now they were dealing with that reality.
"Don't," Colonel O'Neill said, his voice firm and his gaze unwavering. "Just don't."
But Sam couldn't. Not this time. "Sir…"
"Drop it, Carter. Just let it go."
She twisted her fingers and winced, still overcome by the images of being tied down, knowing that if she didn't act fast she would likely die. She could still taste her fear and feel the adrenaline as it pumped through her blood, propelling her forward. And yet, no matter what she did, it didn't matter. She couldn't escape.
O'Neill was still gazing at her. There wasn't just sympathy there, lurking in his face, but genuine compassion. He understood.
"It's over. It happened," he said. "You're all right. Everything worked out fine. Sometimes you just have to let it go."
Sam nodded, feeling some of the tension start to melt away. The images remained, as well as the shame, but when she studied her commanding officer's face, she could read the confidence there, the unspoken support. Colonel O'Neill believed in her.
Sam found herself smiling, her first authentic smile since they'd returned from Adrian Conrad's hideaway. "Thanks, sir."
"Good," he said, appearing more lively already. "Now, see if you can find Teal'c before Daniel gets back here. I need my Gameboy as a distraction before I have to learn about…" He grabbed a book and glanced at the title. "Babylonian counting systems."
She chuckled, watching O'Neill groan as he tossed the book back on the stand. "Yes, sir." She made her way back to the door, stopping to pause and sneak a glance back toward O'Neill. He was watching her, the corners of his mouth still turned upward, his eyes soft and forgiving.
She knew she could count on him. She knew she had Daniel and Teal'c as well. Maybe that's all she needed right now.
It would take some time, but that didn't seem to matter much anymore. In the end, she knew she'd be okay.
And that was the greatest lesson Colonel O'Neill could ever teach her.