After the infirmary Janet and General Hammond had ordered SG1 to bed, telling them they had to be well rested to go on the rescue mission.
4 hours later they met in the control room having managed no sleep, SG2 returned earlier than schedule due to a Sergeant breaking his leg. General Hammond ordered them to get some rest, having dragged their teammate through the jungle for hours they needed rest. Plus 6 wasn't enough for a rescue mission to a roman level of technology society.
6 hours later an exhausted SG7 and 8 returned with an injured SG3, the natives had decided they made great piñatas. Hammond approved the rescue mission, it would leave in 9 hours. SG1 protested, but Hammond refused to listen, SG7 and 8 were nearly asleep standing in the gate room, he wanted them on top form.
8.50 hours later, SG1 were geared up and waiting for SG2, 7 and 8, the MALP was being prepared. The other teams entered and the gate dialled and the MALP was sent through.
16 guards surrounded the gate in full armour,
"We shock bomb them," Jack said, viewing the images, "Everyone is equipped with armour piercing rounds so any soliders this time our rounds will kill"
"Very well SG teams, 1,2,7 and 8 you have a go" He ordered "bring her home."
Jack returned to the gate room as Teal'c threw the shock grenade .
"Go Go Go" he ordered as they charged through the gate. On the other side the soldiers were down, they teams ensured they were and secured them.
"SG2 guard the gate, SG7 and 8, with me, SG1 on point" Jack ordered as they moved towards the city.
The sun was setting giving them a good cover of darkness. The rows of crosses casting long shadows across the sandy floor. All the teams found themselves avoiding looking to closely at them the sight to horrific to bear except for Teal'c who studied each on giving honour to the fallen warriors. About half way to the city, Teal'c changed direction and began running towards one of the crosses with a brief shout of "O'Neill". All the teams stopped following him and his path. In horror they realised why,
"Oh God Sam" Daniel whispered summing up all of their feelings, hurriedly they all ran to where Teal'c was, lifting the cross down. Sam didn't acknowledge them.
"Suffocation" Daniel said recalling lectures and debates as to how Jesus had died, never so glad that historians loved debating the past, even areas that weren't their own. He began CPR. To the team's relief the breathing became easier.
"We need to get her off." Jack said, wondering how to get the nails out. Major Leukman of SG8 was on it. Getting out of his pack a set of wire cutters. With hurry they removed the nails from the cross placing her onto a stretcher the medic from SG7 attempting to bind the wounds. Further treatment was impossible as they noticed the great doors of the city opening.
"Rightman, Leukman get Carter. SG2 dial the gate were incoming with hostile need medical team waiting" Jack ordered shooting some of the soldiers. This time the firepower from the combined guns was enough to stop the soldiers gaining on them and they all cleared the gate.
On the other side the medical team were waiting on seeing Sam they jumped on her attaching wires, tubes before rushing her to the infirmary.
Arriving she was in the room less than 5 minutes before being rushed into theatre.
SG1 got through their own medicals before sitting outside waiting for news. Jack spent it by pacing up and down, hitting the wall and sitting and fighting. Teal'c looked to be in Kelnoreem, while Daniel had his translation brought up and was muttering in some language nobody else could hope to comprehend.
After 8 hours they all stopped instead just watching the clock. Inside they were all yelling at themselves they should have gone back sooner.
12 hours 43 minutes after Sam entered the infirmary an exhausted Janet emerged. They stood up allowing her to sit although it was more of a collapse.
"Doc?" Jack asked
"She is a fighter, we almost lost her several times, it was close, to close, she was whipped, beaten and hung. Both shoulders were dislocated we had to do some serious surgery to remove the nails, we don't know how much use she will have from the hands and feet. Both lungs were full of fluid we did bilateral chest drains, she is intubated and on mechanical ventilation." Janet started to cry, from exhaustion and the thought of what her best friend had been through. Daniel comforted her hugging her tightly.
"Can we see her?" Jack half asked half begged. Janet nodded
"Only quickly" They all went in, while they were use to the tubes and machines that surrounded someone in the infirmary this was something totally different. Surrounding Sam on 3 sides were machines and 2 nurses, both busy setting them up and monitoring them. Jack took one look and stormed off. Teal'c following.
Daniel waited behind
"Hey Sam you need to fight"
"Dr Jackson if you would like to take a seat here you won't be in our way" the nurse said politely but Daniel got the instructions behind it and quickly sat down.
They took it in shifts sitting by the side of Sam's bed. Waiting for her to wake but not just SG1, other scientists, gate technicians, and even General Hammond sat with her. This continued for 2 weeks, Janet insisting that it was best for Sam to heal in a medically induced coma. She was returned to theatre 2 times to start reconstructive surgery on the nail wounds. After 3 weeks everyone was herded out while they attempted to wake her, even SG1 after much protest.
Easing of the drugs they'd used to keep her asleep Janet sat in the chair, they'd put a tracheotomy into her neck making it easier to ventilate but she knew it was still going to be scary waiting her up. Janet also knew they really needed to assess for any brain damage due to the lack of oxygen.
She noticed slight movement, eyes twitching, mouth opening and closing
"Sam, you're ok it me Janet your safe, we got you, you're back at the SGC, you're on a ventilator which is why you are finding breathing strange, your safe now" She repeated stroking Sam's hair trying to calm her down. She checked the ventilator settings happy to see Sam was taking some of the effort of breathing not leaving it all to the machine. Sam opened her eyes fully, still confused
"Sam do you know where you are? Nod if you do" Sam nodded ever so slightly, Janet smiled but she needed more details to ensure she was orientated
"Are you in a car park?" shaken of a head
"SGC?" a nod, Janet smiled, "Good, squeeze my hand" Janet said running her through some basic movements satisfied. She noticed Sam mouthing, carefully she watched
"Me...team your team there outside, have barely left would you like me to get them?" Sam nodded. Janet called the nurse over telling her to let them in.
They rushed in taking positions around the bed
"Sam, how are you we were so worried?" Daniel began, Jack interrupted
"Give her a break, welcome back Carter,"
"Indeed it is good to see you awake" Teal'c agreed,
"How are you feeling?" Daniel repeated. Sam shrugged slightly the drugs making her feel hazy and spaced out. She looked at Janet and shrugged slightly. Then mouthed,
"Me?" Janet guessed, "You want to know your injuries?" Sam nodded.
"I won't lie, Sam it was close" she carefully told her the injuries leaving out the details of some of the worse injuries. Seeing she was tiring she ordered everyone except the nurse caring for her out. Sam need to heal physically everything else could come later.
Over the next few weeks a pattern emerged Sam would awaken for short periods before going back to sleep, each time she would panic slightly reaching for the trachy tube until she became more aware and was allowed to stay awake longer.
Then came the hard process getting Sam's lung's to breathe for themselves again as they'd grown lazy, having been on the ventilator so long. The physio descended working on her lungs, hands and feet, Sam was tired most of the time and it felt hazy she was aware of where she was and that she hurt but next time she woke up she couldn't remember it. She'd had 9 operations by this point both her hands were wired and bandaged but she had some movement and sensation both her feet had also been wired but were in plaster.
Unfortunately with the growing awareness of the situation came the memoires. With the trachy she found she could only mime words. Whilst normally they could use a letter board with both hands bandaged even that was tricky as pointing required a lot of fine motor skills Sam had simply lost. With over 7 weeks having past SG1 unfortunately couldn't spend every minute by her bed, they had work and missions that had to continue meaning not only did Sam have to deal with the memories but with boredom.
After 9 weeks they managed to wean her off the ventilator and pop in the device into the trachy that enabled her to make some sound. The bones in her hands and feet had knitted together and although there might be future surgeries for now although difficult she could move them slightly and had limited sensation.
For Sam most of it seemed like a bad dream, only remembering dying on the planet the planet then Janet talking to her, random flashes of panic not being able to breath, longer periods of awareness spent coughing and having her trachy suctioned, the guys sitting talking although she couldn't remember what they were saying.
She remember Janet listing her injuries and the operations she'd had, skin grafts, k-wires, washouts, reconstructions, when was that it seemed like yesterday but with the scars healing she guessed it must have been longer.
The guys continued to visit a lot and although Sam really appreciated it she longed for her own space. The nurses were supportive and Janet and the other doctors lovely and the physio strict but fair, with all this Sam just wanted to be on her own to process the trauma. After 3 days of being able to speak, whispers and croaks but better than just mouthing words, McKenzie came. Not being able to do a lot of speaking meant she sat there for 3 hours listen to him rattle on about trauma and stress and how she must be feeling.
It made Sam angry, she had no idea how she was feeling. There was the fact that she'd nearly died, having faced her own mortality in the past this was different, and being called an unknown Solider, was just insulting she wanted to die surrounded by people she loved and at least with her name. The next time McKenzie came she refused to see him. She was sure her military career was over, Janet had told her that her hands would never be perfect, she'd struggle to hold a gun let alone fire it.
The guys were great when on earth each spending at least 3 hours with her both Daniel and Jack bringing their paperwork down, Jack even trying to get Sam to do some of his. Teal'c Kel'nor'eemed and brought Sam small amounts of food. But every attempt to talk about the planet or what had happened got anywhere Sam would either change the subject or just curl into a ball. They were worried, Janet couldn't get her to talk neither could her team, McKenzie stood no chance. It was a group decision to take it to Hammond who approved the search for a counsellor having faced these concerns before but never this serious.
For Sam physically as emotionally she withered, physically she grew stronger, she began walking with a gutterframe, and although every step was painful she knew every step she took was one closer to getting home. Every day she pushed it never taking the easy option to sit down to try again later only stopping when the physio made her or when the pain became too much.
The trachy hole was closed and slowly she began talking with her mouth. Even without it at least she didn't have to worry about the sputum coming out and ruining her nighties. Sam found herself able to talk better, not that she wanted to, but it did mean that with her rapidly improving hand dexterity she could use her laptop and start answering emails of course it did mean that the dreaded mission report could be written, so far nobody had asked but Sam knew it as a matter of time. She started writing it at first was easy, the planet designation, the time of arrival, the gates opening; she didn't include how scared she was watching her team leave her behind despite knowing they had no other option, how vulnerable she felt in the cell all alone. How time seemed to slow beyond all possibilities when waiting for them to tell her her fate. She did write how they'd given her an unfair trial, how they had whipped her and hung her on the cross to die. She didn't include how terrified she'd felt about being left the growing fear the recuse wouldn't come and the tiny bit in her deep down that wished she hadn't been rescued at all. By the end she had a concise, non-emotional military report on what had happened. Not having a printer she emailed it to both Colonel O'Neill and General Hammond with a note to excuse it tardiness.
Then came her discharge from the infirmary 14 weeks after being taken in, her team had volunteered to help her at home. They'd obviously been back here before cleaning out the fridge, putting in fresh flowers in the vases, sorting out her post and paying her bills. Sam was grateful and collapsed in her bed going to sleep. The next few days she tolerated them still only being able to walk short distances and not being able to stretch without pulling the skin graft on her back. Strangely the cream they had got from Abu was helping to heal the skin more than any other earth based cream.
Finally the topic she was dreading was brought up by Janet on one of her check-ups, she told her that they'd got a new counsellor who wanted to talk to her. She was surprised when Sam agreed. Sam deciding she couldn't talk to her team about the feelings of being left behind or Janet of her desperate longing to die.
The Counsellor came the next day, she wasn't what Sam expected. Military, seemingly very formal hair in a tight bun, it was brown, she wore glasses perched on the end of her nose, not the change from McKenzie that she was expecting.
"Hello Major" she greeted
"Colonel, please come in" Sam asked holding her door open.
"Please call me Alice" she asked wanting to try to keep this informal
"Sam then, can I get you a drink?" Sam asked, Alice looked at her struggling now on crutches,
"It's ok, I'll get you one just show me where to go" Sam pointed to the kitchen and Alice went down and got them both glasses of water. Then she joined Sam in the lounge.
"Ok so we will start by discussing me, I find if you know about where my background then it might help you. So I'm rape counsellor but I've worked in other areas too, I qualified later than others via the military." Alice finished being as open as she could, trying to gain Sam's trust.
Sam nodded appreciating it,
"I was whipped," she blurted out, Alice nodded "I think it was because there was a crowd and I was the entertainment, they stripped me naked whipped me, called me a slut, then they tied me to a cross I couldn't walk so they dragged me then nailed me to a cross, with the sign unknown, they didn't even give me a name. I wasn't even worth that" Sam began crying.
"Those feelings don't change though; they invaded your body, and then left you to die"
"How do I survive it?" Sam questioned, "When do the nightmares stop?"
"They don't, and you will. I still have nightmares, I wish there was an easy option a magic pill to stop everything but there isn't. You talk you tell people, it makes it worse it makes it better. Soon you can leave the house again wearing a top that shows your scars. I bet even getting out of hospital has helped. You got more control, you choose when to wake up, what to wear, what to eat. There's no easy answer it's all baby steps."
"I wanted to die, but not there, here" Sam admitted
"I didn't want to be an unnamed solider dying among people I had never met. I want to die with family people who care about me around me" Sam disclosed
"Do you still want to die?" Alice asked
"Sometimes, I get so frustrated, they ruined my life. I can never become a solider again. They took so much, I'll never have the fine motor control to do astrophysics or my own experiments the best I can hope for is a consultant or a lecturer"
"You feel anger?"
"Yes. They took everything from me, they left me" Sam was crying now
"Who left you?" Alice asked keeping calm
"My team, I kept thinking they would come, any minute. They'd never let me get whipped or raped or hung from a cross. We were the best, we fought together and died together. But I didn't I died alone I was waiting for them and I died alone" Sam sobbed
"But you didn't die and they did come, you're here, those that captured you aren't. You did what you had to you survived."
Sam nodded emotionally exhausted
"How are you sleeping?"
"Badly it's too quiet, I'm so use to machines and people I've started sleeping with the TV on" Sam admitted
"That is normal, look I even have a pamphlet on it, post ITU sleep disorder" she handed it over to Sam who read it with relief
"I thought I was going crazy"
"No I'm a professional 'Head shrink' as Colonel O'Neill puts it and you are most certainly not crazy." Alice reassured her. "Now I think we have had enough for now. I've asked Doctor Jackson to stay with you. I find after a session the memories and nightmares are worse. Plus I think you need to spend time with your team. Tell them if you can how you feel"
"I'm not sure I can do that" Sam admitted,
"Ok it's just something to think about if the opportunity comes up, or write them a letter, email heck I've known people sing it whatever helps. Even if you ever let anyone see it I think it's just not holing those feelings up" Alice told her she stood up going to the door sitting on the grass outside Daniel was waiting deeply engrossed in a journal he jumped a mile when Alice called his name.
"Sorry" he apologised standing up brushing some of the grass of himself. Seeing Sam looking pale he walked over hugging her tightly. He knew all of the SGC blamed themselves for not getting their quickly especially Hammond and SG1. He knew deep down Sam blamed them.
"You didn't have to come" Sam said, hugging him tightly, "I know you're busy"
"Never too busy for you," Daniel led her inside, making her one of his special coffee brews.
"So how have you been?" He asked as they sat side by side on the sofa. He had carried the cup in watching as she balanced it between the bandages on her hand to have a sip.
"I don't know." Sam answered honestly, "physically I'm tired all the time, I know I'm, getting better but it seems so slow and I know I'm just waiting for my medical discharge. I know I can work as a civilian but it won't be the same" Sam moaned.
"Working as a civilian isn't so bad" Daniel began, Sam glared at him "It could open up new doors that were previously closed"
"Like what?" Sam asked
"Really are you that dense?" Daniel asked, Sam looked at him blankly, her mind spinning, observing that she wasn't joking and was confused he decided to spell it out for her.
"Who would want a cripple? I have scars on my back I can't walk far can't do anything to complex with my hands. He deserves better than me"
"He deserves to be given the choice" Daniel argued.
"I'll think about it" Sam conceded.
"Good because he is on his way, bringing Teal'c and a pizza"
"Tonight?" Sam asked sounding panicked
"Yes a team night that's ok isn't it?" Daniel checked wondering why this was an issue.
"It's fine" Sam said panicking she hadn't seen Jack in a while and now with no regs she was aware something could happen.
"Good cus I can hear them pulling up"
Jack and Teal'c came in with 3 large pizzas, they settled down watching alien Daniel and Sam pointing out all the plot inconstancies. It was like old times.
3months later Sam had finished physiotherapy. The plasters on her feet had been removed and she could walk on them. The scars were obvious but fading Janet was hopeful with plastic surgery they would be less obvious. The dexterity in her hands had improved so she could type on a laptop and hold a pen a bit with difficulty which she was grateful for. It meant she could work as a scientist at Stargate command. She was no longer military instead now Doctor Carter head of science.
Daniel was right not being military had opened new doors. Mark was talking with her more, she had more time to have some of her articles published, she saw Cassie more than before and she was officially dating Jack O'Neill.
They were taking it slow, getting use to being Sam and Jack not Colonel and Major. Sam still had the occasional nightmare but waking up in the arms of the man she loved helped.