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Chapter 3

Jack O'Neill, Daniel Jackson, Teal'c and Dr. Fraiser were all gathered in the briefing room, waiting for General Hammond. As soon as the General had heard that another member of SG1 had touched the sphere, an emergency meeting was called.

Each of the people around the table had a remarkably similar grave look on their faces. All of them had their eyes trained on the table, except for Jack, who was still staring at Daniel. In fact, he was so focused on the archaeologist that he didn't even notice Hammond come in the briefing room and therefore jumped up quickly when he heard his heavy voice boom out.

"Okay people, I need some more information here. Dr. Fraiser, how is Major Carter doing?"

They all looked up to face Janet, who had not been very forthcoming with information lately.

"Well Sir," she started, "she's not doing good. We started her on a course of antibiotics, but without knowing more about this virus, I don't see what else we can do."

Hammond nodded.

"I also took a sample of Dr. Jackson's blood to see if he was infected", she continued quietly.

At that point, Daniel jumped in: "General, I'd like to request that I return to the planet."

"What?" rang out in Hammond's as well as Jack's voice.

With a sideward frown at his 2IC, the General turned back to the archaeologist and continued: "Why would you want to go back, son?"

Only now did Daniel look up to face Jack. Still coming face to face with a pair of blazing eyes, he turned to the General: "There were keys on that sphere, Sir. Sam and I were trying out a combination when she fainted. I think that if I insert the right code, this virus, or whatever it is, will go away."

"And how do we know you won't end up in a hospital bed, just like Major Carter?" Hammond asked him.

"We don't Sir, but I'm fine now... So please just give me a chance to try and fix this. I already touched the device so I won't be putting anyone else's life at stake. And honestly, I think it's the only option we've got."

General Hammond sighed. "Fine. Colonel O'Neill, you will accompany Dr. Jackson to this planet but under no circumstances will you touch the device, is that understood?"

Jack looked pretty pissed, but still managed a reasonably polite "Yes Sir."

*

The two men didn't speak a word to each other as they walked towards the building where the device was located. Jack had that stubborn look on his face; jaw locked and eyes trained straight ahead. Daniel rolled his eyes.

"Look Jack, I know you're upset, but I really think this will work."

O'Neill looked at his friend and said: "Why?"

Daniel knew Jack wasn't a man of many words, but his answer still surprised him.

"Why?"

"Yes, if touching the device infected Sa.. Carter a couple of hours ago, why would you touching it now, cure her?" Jack said impatiently.

Jack clearly wasn't listening before, Daniel thought bitterly.

"Like I told General Hammond, I think we have to insert a code. The virus is probably some sort of defence mechanism to avoid that the device would fall into the wrong hands. Pressing the right keys would be like entering the right security code into an alarm system. Before you came in, I had just told Sam I knew which keys formed the right combination."

By now, they had reached the room, still filled with the bodies of the Tok'ra. Daniel glanced at Jack, and approached the sphere.

"Look," he said, "see this inscription?"

Jack nodded.

"It's kind of like ancient Latin, it might even have belonged to the Ancients..."

"The point, Daniel!" Jack interrupted.

"Right, well, it says 'Think of the greatest source of power'. Now, if you put the word for 'think' next to their word for 'source', you get a new word."

Daniel saw he wasn't making any sense to Jack. Still, he ploughed on:

"It's a rare dialect, so I can't be sure, but I think this word means 'knowledge, wisdom'. Wouldn't you say knowledge is the greatest source of power?"

"Sooo, it's a riddle?" Jack asked. Daniel looked relieved; finally Jack was working with him. "Yes, I think if we press the keys that say source and think... Well, we'll have answered their question", he concluded somewhat lamely.

Jack nodded. He looked at his friend and saw the determination on his face. "Fine," he said, "go ahead."

Daniel smiled and raised his hand. Slowly he pressed the first key, then the second.

The sick feeling in Jack's stomach increased when nothing seemed to happen. Then, suddenly, the two keys lit up. Not sure whether this was a good or a bad sign, he looked over to Daniel, just as his friend was engulfed in a bright light and disappeared.

"Oh for crying out loud!" Jack O'Neill yelled out to the now empty room.

*

One furious and very anxious Jack O’Neill exited the stargate in a hurry. With determined footsteps he made his way to the infirmary, pointedly ignoring General Hammond’s astonished “Where is Dr. Jackson?!”

Arriving at the infirmary, Jack stopped short when faced with the woman causing a fuss in the ward. Janet and three nurses were currently more than occupied, apparently trying to revive his favourite major. 

Meanwhile, General Hammond had caught up with him, evidently still expecting O’Neill to inform him of the whereabouts of Daniel Jackson.

Jack sighed. He knew he owed the General an explanation, but he wasn’t even sure what happened to Daniel himself. Besides, he wasn’t quite keen on leaving Sam now. It actually seemed like Janet got Sam’s heartbeat back. 

Allowing himself a small sigh of relief, Jack entered the infirmary without waiting for Janet’s consent. His eyes searched out the beautiful blue ones of the woman he had come to care for, more than he should.

Unfortunately, Sam’s eyes were still closed, and she lay motionless on the military blue standard sheets. Panic rose like a bubble inside Jack’s chest and he immediately glanced over to Janet, who was already standing by his side, clasping his arm reassuringly. “Sir,” she said quietly, “let’s step into my office.”

Jack could only nod slightly and let Janet steer him away from the bed and into her small office. Facing him from the other side of her desk, it occurred to Janet how small the man in front of her looked. He looked lost in thought, his brows furrowed and his eyes dark.

“Sir?” she tried. Jack tried to focus on the doctor’s voice, but his mind seemed determined to keep him occupied with the image of Sam’s body, just... lying there. He shook his head, trying to clear his thoughts and faced Janet. “Um..., how is she?” he asked gravely.

“Not good,” Janet answered him honestly, “in fact, Sam’s just lapsed into a coma.”

The bubble of fear suddenly spread out throughout Jack’s whole body and sucked the air out of his lungs. He felt positively faint, and as his wobbly legs could no longer hold him, he collapsed into the nearest chair. He rubbed a shaking hand over his eyes, thinking: ‘This is not happening...’

“How did this happen?”, he asked Janet dejectedly. She glanced up at him as she explained: “As far as I can tell, Sir, this device injected a virus into Major Carter’s bloodstream. The reason it wasn’t noticeable before is probably because her body did not react to it immediately.”

She paused, searching for eye contact, but getting no response from Jack’s dull eyes, she continued on anyway:

“I believe this virus reacts to the presence of a Goa’uld symbiote, which is why it had a lethal effect on the Tok’ra. Now of course Sam doesn’t have a symbiote, but the virus seems to have been triggered by the residue that Jolinar left in her system, which is why it infected her slower.”

Jack nodded, but Janet wasn’t sure that he had understood a word of what she had just said. He proved her wrong, however, when his grave voice rung out:

“So can we come up with an antidote for this thing?”

Janet sighed. “It seems highly unlikely Sir, we’ve tried a course of antibiotics, but honestly... I wouldn’t even know where to begin.”

Janet Fraiser stepped back and left the colonel some room to deal with the information privately. 

*

As Jack wandered back to the hospital bed and let his body collapse into the closest chair, numerous moments flashed before his eyes.

All the times that this woman had ended up in a very similar condition, lying in a hospital bed, with the rest of the team, and especially him, fearing for her life.  And how, miraculously, they had been able to save her every time. It seemed almost too good to be true when he thought about it now. Sam had put her life on the line for him, for her team and for the planet more times than he could count, and now some alien device was gonna be her downfall? 

He pinched the bridge of his nose, wondering ‘why he hadn’t been there to stop this from happening? Damn it, why was she always so damn stubborn?’

His head hit the mattress as the frustration, grief and anger poured out of him wave after wave. 

Feeling like she was witnessing something the colonel would rather keep private, Janet left the infirmary quietly and set out to inform General Hammond of Sam’s condition.

*

"God Sam, please wake up." Jack begged. He took her hand in his and stroked her cold fingers.

"You can't leave me Sam, you just can't...", he continued. "I'm not sure I can go on without you Carter. I need you. I... love you."

Finally, he had said the three words he had been afraid to admit for a long time. All this time it had been cropped up in his chest, and now he had finally said it. But it didn't help him at all, he didn't feel free, or relieved. Sam couldn't hear him, and that made him feel even worse.

It was too late. He had finally picked up the courage to admit to himself how he felt about her, but it was too late.

A tear ran down his cheek, and he wiped it away forcefully. Angered by his own weakness, he jumped up and sent his chair flying backwards. "Damn it, Carter, WAKE UP!", he yelled.

Just then, Janet Fraiser entered the infirmary? "Sir?", she asked. Jack looked at her and tried to control his voice. "What?", he said. "Daniel just came through the gate." Jack's eyes grew wide as he processed the information. Without so much as a glance backward he flew out of the infirmary and raced to the gate room.

Daniel Jackson was standing at the briefing table, talking to General Hammond. His voice was raised and he seemed very agitated. Barely one foot through the door, Jack had already questioned his friend and teammate: "Daniel, for crying out loud, what happened?"

"Jack!", the archeologist cried out. "Finally, look, I know how to save Sam!" he said urgently.

Jack looked at the General, hoping what Daniel was saying was true. Hammond however shook his head, "You know the procedure Jack, Dr. Jackson was off-world, alone, he could be compromised, we need to make sure he is who he claims he is, before we let him anywhere near Major Carter."

Before Jack could protest, he added "You said yourself that he disappeared before your own eyes."

Unsure of how to disagree, Jack looked at Daniel, hoping that his look would convey the urgency of the situation. "General," Daniel started quickly, "I was barely gone, and time is of the essence if you want to save Sam. I can help her, you just have to trust me", he pleaded.

Hammond sighed and looked at his 2IC. He cared about Samantha Carter as well, but this was definitely not protocol. Seeing the desperate look in the two men's eyes, he decided to give in. "Go", he said shortly.

In the infirmary, Daniel hurriedly explained what had happened to him: "The device transported me somewhere, to a place where the builders of the device used to live. I suppose it was a virtual environment...", he trailed off.

"Daniel", Jack snapped.

"Right, well anyway, the people who built this were not Ancients, but they knew them and inherited some of their knowledge. They were confronted with the threat of the Goa'uld and decided to leave their legacy in a sphere, which would present their descendants with all their knowledge, but which was deadly to the Goa'uld."

Jack nodded. "So you know everything they knew?" he asked. "Yes, but sadly they weren't that much more evolved than we are now. They lost the war to the Goa'uld, but the virus that killed the Tok'ra is definitely still useful", Daniel stated. "As I know what made up the virus, I also know how to cure it. I can save her, Jack", Daniel said.

*

Samantha Carter woke up to a tingly feeling in her thigh. She felt slightly nauseous and thirsty. She tried to remember if she had gone drinking the night before, but that seemed highly unlikely.

Opening her left eye slowly, she immediately recognized the ceiling of the SGC base infirmary. Suddenly, her memory returned, 'the sphere', she thought.

Lifting her head to locate the source of the tingling, she noticed that the head of her commanding officer was lying on her lap.

The pressure had caused her leg to fall asleep. Smiling, she realized that he must have fallen asleep sitting by her bedside. She didn't dare to disturb him, so she lay her head back down carefully.

Minutes later, Janet entered the infirmary. Barely pausing to register Jack O'Neil's position, she rushed over to Sam when noticing she was awake. "Sam?", she asked, "How are you feeling?".

Sam smiled, "Fine, Janet", she said, "I could use some water though." Janet nodded and headed off to get her friend a drink. Suddenly, she felt the pressure lift from her leg, as Jack O'Neill's head popped into sight.

"Carter", he whispered.

"Hi Sir", she smiled. 'He looks awful', she thought. "How long have you been sitting here?", she asked carefully. Her commanding officer just grimaced.

"Ah, I see you're awake Sir?" Janet asked, walking back into the room.

"Uh, yep."

Sam swore she saw O'Neill blush a little, but decided it was probably her imagination. Instead, she decided to focus on Janet.

"What happened?", she asked for what felt like the millionth time.

"You're fine", Janet comforted her. "Daniel figured out how to save you, it seems that the sphere was not intended to harm us, but the residue of Jolinar in your system caused it to attack."

Sam nodded, she remembered Daniel talking about the goal of the sphere back on the planet.

Noticing that she still looked confused, Jack chipped in: "The sphere took Daniel somewhere where he learnt all their secrets, he says the damn thing was like their legacy to future enemies of the Goa'uld".

At Sam's look of curiosity, he continued, "Not much there though, Daniel says they weren't much more evolved than we are."

She nodded disappointedly and sank back into the bed. "You should get some more rest Sam," the doctor said sternly, "I'll go inform General Hammond."

Jack watched Dr. Fraiser walk out the room. He took the chair and sat back down next to Sam's head.

"Sir?", she questioned.

"Carter, I…", he sighed. Was this really the right thing to do? Bother her with his feelings? His eyes wandered to her pale hands, resting on top of the sheets. Thinking back about all the times he had come to sleep by her bed, anxiety eating up his nerves, he decided to soldier up and be brave.

"I love you", he stated plainly.

Sam sucked in her breath. "Wha… What?"

Jack smiled. "I love you, Samantha. I have for such a long time. And I can't hide it anymore, I won't. You have to know how I feel. When you were lying here, as good as dead… my heart froze over. I need you Sam", his eyes pleaded.

Heart thumping in her chest, she looked her superior in the eye. Thousands of questions popped up in her head, but for now all she said was, "I love you too Jack", and smiled.

*THE END*