author: claira
rating: pg
summary: angstcakes. post one hundred days. sam/jack.
a/n: thanks to anna, allie and julie.
disclaimer: i do not own

[ s h a t t e r e d ]


Sam turned the lock in the front door and leant against the back of it, letting the cool wood support all her weight. Horrible day. Unbelievably horrible.

Throwing her scarf and keys onto a table, she peeled her jacket off and hung it on the hook next to the door.

“Oh, boy,” she murmured, looking at the layer of dust that had settled over everything in her absence. Trailing a fingertip along the hallway table, she walked toward her kitchen, already bracing herself for the ruin that lay ahead. Looking at the top of her finger, she grimaced at the dirt she’d swept up.

That much dust could settle in a week?

It had only been a week – hadn’t it?

How long had it been? She’d been staring blankly at her breakfast, thoughts of the particle beam generator doing in lazy circles within her head, almost – almost ten days ago, Sam decided. A crucial concept had clicked succinctly into place and she had thrown everything into the sink and rushed to Base… and if the smell emanating from the kitchen now was anything to go by, her food had mutated in her absence.

Sam paused looking at her table – there were still complex equations scrawled almost illegibly in the dust, and she swiped it angrily with the sleeve of her shirt. What had it been for? She had gone without sleep, gone without food, worked long into the night – hell, worked through the night on many occasions - and all to bring back a man who hadn’t wanted to be rescued.

She had seen the surprise and hurt flicker in his eyes when she had curtly turned down his invitation to a ‘celebration’ night at O’Malleys, but the pain she felt at hurting him was nothing to the white-hot anger flooding her at his callousness. Sam slumped into a chair and buried her aching head in her hands. Bastard. He hadn’t even thanked her.

Resentful, bitter tears filled her eyes. It’s not his fault, she told herself silently. It’s your own for even thinking for a second that you meant anything to him. Lifting her chin resolutely, she stood slowly, aware that any sudden movements would send her head spinning into oblivion.

“Sam, you need some sleep,” she told herself, trying to shake the mistiness away. It only made her head throb worse and she winced. She’d stopped taking heavy painkillers weeks ago – it interfered with her thinking process, and the accumulated effect of many days without relief was starting to overwhelm her.

Moving carefully into the kitchen, she downed two tablets and then surveyed the mess surrounding her, wrinkling her nose in distaste. The freezer was empty and there was nothing edible in the fridge. Sam cleared the sink, dumping the dirty dishes and bowls haphazardly on the counter, and set about stacking the dishwasher.

She had just finished scraping off the worst of the congealed food when there was a tentative rap on the door. Sam closed her eyes for a moment. She did not want visitors. Not tonight. Tussling briefly with the temptation of just ignoring the door, she gave in and bolted on emotional armor.

“Coming!” she called. Swiping a dish towel on her way down the hallway, she wiped her hands dry before opening the door.

Janet was standing outside, wrapped up to her eyes in a woolen scarf, which she pulled down, smiling sheepishly.

“Hey,” Sam said, a little perplexed to find her there.

“Hi,” Janet replied. “I just thought I would stop by and see how you were – you left Base pretty quickly – ”

“Yeah,” Sam murmured, shrugging slightly before looking up and smiling. “Well, come in,” she said, gesturing with the dish towel that was still in her hands. “It’s a bit dusty, I’m sorry,” she continued, walking back down towards the kitchen, “It’s been a while…”

She watched Janet peer curiously around the living room. Dust particles plumed into the air as Janet tossed her scarf carelessly onto the sofa and Sam winced, hoping the doctor hadn’t noticed.

“Can I get you anything?” she asked. Janet’s gaze flicked past her to the open, empty fridge and bare cupboards and Sam flushed, shifting her weight nervously from one foot to the other. “Not that I have much – I haven’t had a chance to go shopping yet.”

“When was the last time you were home?”

“Oh – I don’t know.” She rubbed her forehead. “Ten days ago?” she finished tentatively. “I’ve lost track.”

“And you are off-world *tomorrow*?”

“Yeah – P3X-532 - we have a peace treaty to negotiate, and the Colonel wants to get back into it straight away,” Sam replied, bending over and continuing her excavation of the fridge.

“He didn’t give you any time off?”

“No.”

There was a long pause.

“Sam, I don’t think you are fit for active duty –”

“Janet!” Sam stood up, her face twisted in agitation. “You can’t - I have to go. I can’t –” she trailed off, and Janet stared at her, seemingly bewildered.

“You can’t what?”

Sam pressed her lips together and swallowed. “I can’t – can’t –” she stammered, unable to voice the thoughts screaming in her head.

“You can’t disappoint him?” Janet filled in softly.

Sam nodded, not trusting herself to speak.

“Sam –” Janet broke off, shaking her head. “Sam, you have no reason to be ashamed of being tired. You’ve worked yourself into the ground – I’m sure that the Colonel would underst –”

“I’m fine, Janet,” Sam cut in, her voice tinged with anger.

“You’re NOT, Sam!” Janet finally exploded, gesturing wildly with her hands. “You haven’t been eating, God knows how long it’s been since you’ve had a good nights sleep - you’re a walking disaster! I can’t clear you.”

“You have to clear me,” Sam retorted, desperation and fury vying equally for position in her voice.

“I outrank you,” Janet snapped back.

Sam glared at her, swiveled angrily on her heel and accidentally knocked a glass of the bench top.

Janet grabbed futilely for it but Sam watched it fall with an awful, blank expression, not even reacting when the glass hit the floor with a sharp crack. It smashed into thousands of sharp, shiny pieces, littering the floor with pinpricks of light.

Emotionlessly, she crouched down and reached for the first big piece. It cut her; a bright bead of blood oozed to the surface of her skin and her self control shattered like the glass, the fragments tearing deep at her insides. Putting her hands over her face, she broke into horrible, wrenching sobs and rocked back, sliding down against the cupboard door and leaning heavily on it.

“Oh, Sam,” Janet murmured, kicking fragments of glass away and dropping down on her knees beside the sobbing woman. “Come here,” she soothed, putting her arms gently around Sam, whose body continued shaking with the violence of her sobs.

“What happened?” Janet asked, when Sam’s tears seemed to be abating slightly.

Sam took a deep breath and looked at Janet. “He – he – didn’t want to – come home,” she answered, her voice holding disbelief and deep hurt. “And,” she continued, stumbling, her eyes again welling with tears, “he met some - other woman there – and he -”

She ran out of words and wiped at her eyes.

“Come on,” Janet said gently, helping Sam to her feet. “You need a shower.”

“You’ll clear me?”

“I’ll check you in the morning. Now, where is your bathroom?” she asked, handing Sam a Kleenex.

“Second door on the left,” Sam replied, blowing her nose firmly.

“Good. I’ll get the hot water running and you get whatever you need,” Janet said, prodding her gently ahead of her.

***

Once she was sure that Sam was in the shower, Janet sat down in one kitchen chair and shook her head. What a mess, she thought ruefully, looking around at the disheveled house. How could Sam, a woman already on the verge of a physical breakdown, be expected to cope with this mental kick in the guts from her C.O.?

Especially, Janet thought, remembering a particular conversation with Sam early on in the project – especially when it’s likely the man in question means more than he should.

The doctor traced a pattern idly in the dusty tabletop, and listened to the water flowing in the shower. Then she rolled up her sleeves and marched into the kitchen.

When she left over an hour later, Sam was in bed, there was food in the cupboard and the kitchen was clean – but Janet didn’t feel any happier about the whole situation.

***

“Anything else, Ma’am?”

Sam looked from the single piece of toast on her tray to the surprised cook. “No, thanks,” she told him, smiling tiredly, and picked her breakfast carefully off the counter. The smell alone of the bacon and eggs alone was making her stomach churn.

She had woken an hour before with the alarm clock beeping at her, sending bursts of pain though her head. It had been almost as bad a hangover - even the tiniest movement had sent storm clouds rolling in and it had only been with mammoth effort that she’d made it to Base at all.

Scanning the commissary, she spotted her team far over in one corner and threaded her way through the empty chairs towards them.

“Carter." He gave her a cursory nod, and Sam flinched a little at his dismissive tone.

“Sir,” she replied, placing the tray carefully on the table and easing into her chair. It felt so much better to be still - no movement making her head pound or her vision shimmer dangerously.

Daniel watched her careful, tentative movements and his eyes flashed over her disheveled appearance. “Sam – you okay?”

“Fine.” She managing a smile in return.

Daniel’s eyes narrowed slightly. “Are you sure?”

“I’m fine, Daniel." She picked up her toast and took a defiant bite out of it, disproportionately aggravated when she saw Daniel and Teal’c exchange a worried glance.

Jack looked over at her from behind his mission report.

“Is that all you are eating?” he asked, looking from her food to her with something like disbelief in his eyes.

Sam lifted her chin and met his gaze squarely. “Yes, Sir,” she answered.

“You should eat more,” he said, turning back to his report.

An angry flush spread over her cheeks and she looked down at her cold toast. Her stomach rebelled at the thought of swallowing it, but Sam internally conceded the point. She did need to eat more. There was a 10-mile hike involved in the mission.

Taking another bite of her toast, she gagged, and took a quick swallow of her coffee to wash the offending mouthful down.

Jack watched her. “You look awful,” he told her, surprise evident in his voice. “Didn’t sleep well?”

Daniel choked on his coffee, but Sam didn’t notice the spray of liquid across the table. She was too busy keeping her anger and hurt buried deep under a mask of professionalism.

“Something like that, Sir.”

“Carter?” There was something like suspicion in his eyes. “Maybe you shouldn’t come on this mission.”

There was a stunned silence, and then both Daniel and Teal’c began speaking at once.

“Jack-“

“O’Neill-“

“It’s fine, guys,” Sam cut in loudly, sending both men a pointed look. Transferring her gaze to Jack, who hadn’t noticed the glares he was receiving from both his teammates, she rose to her feet. “I’m coming, sir,” she said firmly, anxious to leave before her emotions were blatantly obvious to all.

However, she had moved far too quickly and her head spun in ever-faster circles. Her tray slid out of her hands and clattered to the floor, but Sam didn’t notice; she was clutching tightly onto the back of the chair, trying to hang onto the little amount of light that remained in her vision, but black mists were swirling invitingly around her consciousness.

“Sam?” Daniel’s voice seemed to be coming from far away. “Sam! Someone catch her!”

His call came just in time, and the quick reflexes of a Captain passing saved Sam from hitting the floor. She had crumpled, her face blanching and her head lolling back as the surprised airman cradled her awkwardly in his arms.

Daniel was already half out of his seat. “Someone call Doctor Frasier,” he commanded, moving swiftly around the table and helping the bewildered airman lower Sam’s limp body onto the floor.

By the time Janet rushed into the commissary, Sam was sitting up, and the color was starting to return to her cheeks. She looked up as Janet shoved Jack out of the way and dropped down beside her.

“No mission,” Sam said, smiling piteously.

Janet placed a professional hand on Sam’s forehead. “No. Infirmary.”

Sam nodded and tried to stand. Her legs collapsed underneath her, and she sat down again swiftly. “How embarrassing,” she half whispered, glad for the relative emptiness of the commissary and the shield that Teal’c and Daniel were forming.

Teal’c stepped forward. “I will help you, Major Carter,” he told her gently, offering his hand.

Sam took it gratefully, and the Jaffa helped her to her feet, placing one arm along her shoulders. Jack moved forward, but Daniel surreptitiously edged him aside and slid an arm around her waist.

Jack was left alone, ignored completely as the odd-looking trio left, Janet marching behind them.

***

“What’s wrong with her?”

Janet turned from the official looking pieces of paper she was looking at and glanced at him.

“You don’t know?” she replied, swiveling on her heel and moving further into the infirmary.

Jack shrugged slightly. “Does she - have a virus?”

Janet laughed bitterly. “No, thank goodness, or she might be a lot worse than she is.” Turning, she scrutinized Jack. “You really have no idea, do you,” she stated with seeming incredulously.

Not really having any way of rebutting the comment, Jack switched tactics. “Can I see her?”

“No. She’s sleeping.”

“Oh,” Jack murmured, a little nonplussed by Janet’s abruptness. “She’ll be fine, right?”

“Yes, in time,” Janet said, without looking around.

“Good… should a week be enough?”

“What?”

“To reschedule the mission.”

Janet’s body seemed to still for a second, and then Jack saw her shake her head.

“What?” he asked, his voice rising defensively. “Have I missed something?”

Janet sighed, and turned around. “Colonel,” she said, her gaze pining Jack to the wall before sliding over him dismissively. “Just - talk to her.”

***

Jack found Daniel in the commissary, alone at a table littered with paper and obscure looking stones.

“Why aren’t you in your office?” Jack asked, sitting down opposite him and reaching for a gadget.

“The light’s blown,” Daniel replied, taking the artifact out of Jack’s hands with practiced ease and studying it carefully.

Jack fidgeted for a second. “I talked to Janet,” he finally blurted out.

Daniel nodded.

“What is wrong with Sam?”

Daniel looked up briefly. “I’d say she’s just very tired. And she hasn’t been eating well,” he told Jack, before resuming writing.

“Janet just expected me to know,” Jack muttered into the tabletop.

Daniel raised his eyebrows slightly but didn’t look up from his translations.

“How was I supposed to know? I’ve been gone three months!”

There was a sharp slap as Daniel slammed his notebooks down onto the table.

“Yes, Jack, you were gone three months. And it would have been a hell of a lot more if Sam hadn’t burnt herself out creating that crazy machine to bring you home.”

Jack stared at his friend for a second. “Oh,” he said inadequately.

“Yes,” Daniel continued, keeping his voice low by a supreme amount of self-control. “It might have been a fun three months for you – “

“It was not fun!”

“She barely slept!”

“I was stranded!”

“She just collapsed!” Daniel hissed, gesturing almost viciously to the area where the event had happened. “Jack, did you even *thank* her?”

Jack looked anywhere but into the younger man’s accusing stare. Daniel shook his head slowly.

“Does she mean *anything* to you?”

“Daniel -” There was a warning note in Jack’s voice.

Daniel opened his mouth to say something, paused, and shut it again. Sweeping his notebooks and pens together into a jumbled heap, he shoved his chair back and stood abruptly.

Picking up the sheaf of papers, he walked away quickly, leaving Jack feeling very alone amid the crowded commissary.

***

Sam shifted feverishly on her pillow, trying to both cool her flushed face and ease the bitter ache lodged like a thorn, deep in her soul.

Somewhere in between the innumerable equations and the endless mugs of bitter, lukewarm coffee, she had stopped seeing him as her C.O. He had simply become a man she had missed with an intensity that neared physical pain.

With a small whimper, Sam curled her body around another pillow and crumpled the material viciously with sweaty fingers. How could she have been so *stupid* to even begin to care for him more than she should?

A prickly heat crept over her face as she remembered his dismissive look that morning and Sam cringed further down into the sheets. She didn’t want to have to face the repercussions of her collapse in the commissary.

The door creaked as somebody entered to room, and Sam lay completely still as the person stepped her way. It was him; she knew the stride of all of her team, and she did *not* want to talk to him. Not now. Not when the pain was still too raw and almost unbearable.

The curtain swished as he entered her little section of the infirmary.

“Carter?”

She didn’t answer.

“I know you’re awake…”

Of course he did. Sam let her shoulders fall slightly in defeat. She heard him take a step forward.

“Are you okay?”

“I’m fine, sir,” she told him, trying to inject some sleepiness into her voice, shuffling further down into the blankets and willing him to leave.

He didn’t. She felt her body dip as the mattress sank underneath his weight and then fingers gently touched her shoulder. “Carter?” he said tentatively.

Against Sam’s better judgment, she rolled over, and sat up slightly.

“Are you –” Jack fumbled to a stop, his words halting as he took in the ice in the depths of her eyes.

“Sir?”

“Well…”

She refused to give him an inch. How dare he be concerned for her *now*?

“I didn’t thank you, did I?” His question completely floored her.

“No.”

“Ah.”

There was a long silence. Sam traced the creases of the sheets with fingers that trembled.

“I’m sorry. I should have thanked you,” he said softly, reaching out and brushing her knuckles with his fingers.

The tender gesture broke her anger and brought a rush of much more turbulent emotions to the surface. Recoiling slightly, she tried to bring the conversation back to less dangerous, more professional grounds.

“It’s my job,” she said softly, shrugging.

He inclined his head toward her.

“No-one gets left behind,” Sam elaborated, wishing he would move further away.

He nodded, his gaze drifting off her and becoming pensive. Suddenly, he laughed, and Sam looked at him curiously.

“I taught the boys in the village how to play poker,” he said, smiling at her. Sam managed a tight smile back and then looked down at her lap, twisting her fingers together as an irrational wave of hurt submerged her soul. She had been working night and day on a machine that would have won her countless awards and he had been – playing poker?

Jack chuckled again, and Sam felt something squeeze her chest painfully as the look on his face softened from amusement to tenderness.

“Laira didn’t speak to me for a couple of days after that,” he said quietly, with his voice carrying a gentle tone Sam had never heard him use before.

The last vestiges of a hope Sam had barely acknowledged shredded within her, and she swallowed, hard.

“I’m tired,” she said abruptly, shifting down into the blankets and refusing to meet his eyes.

“Carter?” His surprise was evident.

“Please, sir, just go,” she said tightly, rolling over and pulling the sheet up around her.

Her bed creaked as he stood up, but Sam didn’t turn over; one hot tear had already trickled onto the pillow, spotting it with a darker blue.

She felt him pause beside her, and his hesitancy sent sharp pangs of guilt through her; she knew he was confused, even hurt by her dismissal, but her throat was closing and she didn’t trust herself to speak.

“Sleep well,” he said, after a long pause.

There was a moment of silence, and then his shoes squeaked on the linoleum as he turned, and Sam heard the curtain rings grate on the metal runners. The material swished softly back into place, and the infirmary door clicked shut.

She held back the tears until she could no longer hear his footsteps echoing in the corridor – and only then did she allow herself to cry.

[ b a c k ]

    
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