Crossroads and Consequences
by Dinkydow

Part One

Samantha Carter bent over her laptop, adjusting the firing sequence of her latest virtual naquada reactor design. A knock on the door startled her and the laptop clattered to the floor unnoticed.

Suddenly, Sam was back with the Replicators. As if she were a spectator watching a movie in which she held the starring role, she watched the scene unfold.

Jack's evil bug twin, Thing One stood at the door of her lab, leaning casually on the door, a smirk on his face.

"Whatcha doin', Carter?"


He stepped into the room, and Sam gasped. It wasn't her Jack. It was Thing One. Jack's name for them had been very appropriate. As usual.

"Don't call me that," she instructed, her voice harsh with strain and. . .fear?

"What?" His, no, 'Its' eyebrow quirked upward, so familiar, and yet so bizarre.

"You aren't him, so don't call me Carter," that said, she stood, eyes boring into its artificial face. Whether this act of defiance was meant to convince herself or that THING that she was strong enough to resist whatever they had planned, she had no idea. Maybe it was best not to think about right now.

'Yeah, follow Jack's advice, Samantha. Don't think so much.'

It chuckled, a hollow sound that had no warmth or humor in it. "Ya think? By the way, welcome to your brain. You like?"

"You mean. . . ?" She looked around wildly.

"Yeah, sure, yabetcha. All this is taking place inside that cute little blonde head of yours." It tapped the side of its head and smirked mockingly.

Its words echoed inside her head. "All brought to you courtesy of your not-so-friendly neighborhood techno-bug-man. So, are you a happy camper . . . happy camper?"

Sam flinched and squeezed her eyes shut; her arms grabbed the side of her head as if in pain as the mocking words echoed surreally inside her brain. The flashback had seemed so real; as if she were back there experiencing everything all over again. One hand reached down to her thigh and she pinched the skin hard between her fingers. When it hurt, she sighed in relief. Pain was a distracter that grounded her to the reality of her rescue from the horrors of the Replicators.

'I used to feel safe here, deep within the SGC. It was my safe haven, my favorite place to lose myself in my work, my retreat from real life problems, like relationships, or the lack of one. No anymore though, not since Fifth.'


She recognized the voice immediately, and that too helped ground her to the real world.

"Sorry, sir. You startled me."

She ducked her head away from him and bent over to retrieve her laptop from the floor. If she were lucky, nothing had been broken and no data had been lost, but with the way her luck had been running, she wouldn't hold her breath.

From the sound of his footsteps, Sam could tell Jack was walking toward her and she deliberately turned her body so he wouldn't be able to see her embarrassment.

Jack knelt down next to her, foiling her strategy. "I can see that. Hasn't that sort of thing been happening to you a lot lately?"

"It has? I hadn't noticed." Sam kept her head down and concentrated on the retrieval of the fallen computer.

"That's probably because you've been burying yourself in your lab." Jack tugged the laptop out of her hands and scooted it away from her feet. Then he helped her stand.

"Did you need something, sir?" Sam shrugged away from him.

"Nope, just wondering what you're doing still working at 0230 in the morning, that's all." Jack tapped the face of his watch, which caused Sam's gaze to jump to his hands and then his face.

Jack was still dressed in the same fatigues he'd worn all day, and the black circles under his eyes told the story of sleepless nights.

"I could say the same about you, sir." Sam smiled, and hoped he didn't notice the bags under her eyes. She suspected he'd been sleeping as well as she'd been since they'd returned from their latest escapade with the Replicators, in other words, not at all.

Jack shrugged and stuck his hands in his pockets. "Yeah, well, I'm beginning to think that sleep is overrated. You?"

It was Sam's turn to shrug. "Oh, you know. A few hours here, a few hours there . . ."

Jack nodded and rocked back on his heels. "I'm not surprised, considering all the crap you've been through lately. As if meeting up with Fifth wasn't enough, you had to put up with a week of being debriefed by General Hammond and the NID. Just that alone would be enough to keep you up at night."

"I seem to remember you being there too, sir. I'm not the only one they put through the wringer." She bit the inside of her mouth thoughtfully. "Any idea when they'll release us back to full active duty?"

Jack looked pensive and shrugged. "When the new Doc feels we're back to normal, whatever that is. She told me that you're not eating or sleeping."

Sam looked down and caught sight of the temporarily forgotten laptop. She knelt down and cradled it carefully in her arms, grabbing it as a delaying tactic that would give her time to think of an excuse he might believe.

She turned and placed it on the bench, well away from the edge. "Haven't been feeling hungry lately, that's all. Plus I've been trying to catch up on all the work that piled up while we were gone."


Sam's eyes snapped to his brown ones.

"I don't believe you. Did you keep your appointments with Mackenzie?"

"Yes, but then, you know that, sir." Sam's lips thinned as she grimaced with distaste.

"You're right, I do." He paused and licked his lips. "Did it do any good?"

Sam looked down at the toes of her boots and wrapped her arms around herself in a hug.

"No," she whispered.

"Didn't think so." He paused. "Bad dreams?"

She kept looking down and rubbed her arms, savoring the sensation it brought. "You might say that." Sam looked at Jack noting how tired he looked. "You?"

For a moment, he looked startled, then sighed and scrubbed his hand over his face. "Yeah, me too."

Sam looked away, not sure what to say.

'I'm not really surprised Jack is having nightmares, not after what he went through at the hands of Fifth and my own evil twin. My God, how can he stand to look at me after what that Techno-bitch did to him? It's a wonder he can stand to be around me after I left him there with those THINGS! God, why do I have to care so much about that man! He's my CO! Why won't these feelings just go away? All this "stuff" is not only against the regs, but it's damned inconvenient. God, now I'm even thinking like Jack. Ya think, Carter?'

Sam sighed in frustration as her eyes darted to Jack's face and then away again. Her CO didn't look so good. In fact, he looked like he'd lost weight since their return and she knew he'd been ordered to see Mackenzie too.

'Admit it, Samantha Jean Carter; there is no way you can stop worrying about this man. Not after all you've been through with him. Not after all the times he's sacrificed himself for you.'

She scrubbed her arms again, reveling in the reality of the rough texture rubbing against her skin.

'So go ahead and worry, not that it will do any good. This man is at least as stubborn as Dad when it comes to accepting help, even when he needs it. I wonder if he kept his appointments with Mackenzie. I'll bet he couldn't talk with that shrink either.'

Raising her gaze off the floor, Sam peeked from under half-closed lashes at the man standing in front of her. As usual, he'd picked up something and was fiddling with it. She smiled and held her hand out to him in a familiar gesture. Jack smiled apologetically and placed it in her hand, his fingertips brushing ever so gently over her palm. Despite herself, she shivered as his fleeting touch sent tingles all the way to her groin.

To distract herself, she turned away to place the purloined object back where Jack had snagged it. Taking a deep breath, she turned to face him with her hands laced safely behind her back. It was safer that way, for both of them, in that it prevented her from grabbing him right there and kissing the smirk right off his face. She smiled despite herself at that mental picture, and then felt a stab of guilt.

'You're not exactly acting like you're engaged to be married, Sam. How can you be thinking like this when Pete is waiting for you right now? Is that why you're not going home?'

Totally oblivious to the man in front of her, Sam bit her lower lip as she continued her inner conversation.

'But then again, Pete hasn't exactly been supportive of my job, and me since I came back. And then there's always my relationship, or lack of one, with Jack. What am I supposed to do about that? Why does life have to be so damned complicated? Why can't life be as easily managed as one of my equations?'

Jack cleared his throat noisily. "Earth to Carter?" He waved his hands in front of her face. "Anybody home?"

Sam blinked her eyes and then wrapped her arms around her middle again. "Oh, sorry, sir. I was thinking."

"So what else is new? Anybody ever tell you that you think too much?"

Sam looked startled and then smiled when she saw his smirk. "All the time, sir."

"You want to go for some coffee?" Jack smiled almost apologetically. "I mean, since we're not going to get any sleep tonight anyway. You look like you could use a break."

"Sure, maybe the commissary will have cake." Sam smiled. "Just give me a minute to close this program." She tapped out some commands on the laptop and then closed it.

Jack sipped his coffee and eyed the woman sitting across from him. Despite the fact that she looked like she hadn't slept in two weeks and had lost ten pounds, she looked beautiful. A black dot floating on the surface of his coffee grabbed his attention and he dipped one finger disdainfully into the hot liquid and then wiped it on a napkin.

Sam's snicker caught his attention. "What?"

"Has anyone ever mentioned that you're finicky with your food, sir?"

"No . . . not lately." He shrugged and looked at the stained napkin. "Oh that. Just don't like stuff floating in my cup of Joe, that's all."

Sam snorted, and then choked on her piece of pumpkin pie. Her hand clamped over her mouth as her eyes watered, gasping for breath. Jack watched concerned as her coughing subsided. He slid her cup of coffee near her elbow so she could take a sip when she was ready.

Sam cleared her throat and loosened her collar before sipping at her now lukewarm coffee. "Sorry, sir. Went down the wrong tube."

Jack peered dubiously at the inside of his cup again, sighed and then set it down. "It happens. You up for a barbeque at my place this weekend?"

Sam's eyes widen in surprise. "Me?" She squeaked, and then cleared her throat.

"Yes, you, along with Daniel and Teal'c. I was thinking about inviting Josh and Kay too."

"Josh and Kay?"

"You know, the couple from the prison. I'd promised to invite them over sometime, and since we were planning to have a cookout, I thought it might be fun to have them over too." Jack waggled his eyebrows. "Hey, it was Daniel's idea for the cookout. He said there'd be cake."

Jack smiled and leaned on one arm, cradling his cheek with one palm. "I can make sure it's chocolate with butter cream frosting," he wheedled.

Sam took another sip of her coffee and watched him over the rim before setting it down. "It's a deal, sir. I'll be there."

"That's great." Jack sighed. "Yep, just hunky dory."

"Isn't Kay a counselor?" Sam looked at Jack quickly and then back down at her empty cup.

"Yeah, I think so. Is there a problem with that?" Jack's fingers began drumming nervously on the tabletop, then stilled when he saw that Sam had noticed.

"No. Not a problem with me, sir. I was surprised, that's all."

"No crime in having someone over for a cookout that just happens to be a counselor. Is there?" Jack raised an eyebrow in an attempt to look innocent; he had the feeling that she wasn't buying it though.

No, sir. No problem at all." Sam smiled nervously. "I think I'll try to get some sleep after all. It's kind of late, you know."

"Yeah, sure. Get some sleep, Carter. I'll go and um, tackle that stack of requisitions on my desk." Jack smiled and rubbed his hands together in mock enthusiasm. "Yep, that's what I'll do. That'll put me to sleep in no time."

Sam smiled and shook her head, pushing her chair back under the table. Then she picked up her dirty plates and balanced them in one hand. "That should do it, sir. I'll see ya later."

Jack stayed seated, his thoughts a million miles away from the commissary. He was worried about Carter; she looked like she'd been in the middle of a flashback when he'd come to visit her at the lab. From his own experience, he knew how real they could seem, and how disconcerting they were.

He scrubbed at his face and sighed. Jack had gone home only once since Thor had beamed them back to the SGC, but had returned after only a couple of hours, unable to remain there because of the jittery feeling he'd felt. He'd avoided leaving the base since that one attempt. It wasn't something he was proud of, but he couldn't face going home right now. His memories of their most recent misadventures with Fifth and his bug twins kept him from being able to relax there.

He wondered what the night sky looked like, if the stars were out. In the past, he'd spent hours stargazing through his telescope. His rooftop observatory had been the one place where he could escape from the horrific reality of his life, his safe haven. Fifth had robbed him of that, and he hated him for it.

He'd attempted finding peace there during his one visit home, and had frozen on the ladder, caught in the vision of the Techno-bitch cornering him and touching him. He scrubbed his face again, reliving it all for a split second and shuddered as his skin quite literally crawled. Resolutely, he pushed those thoughts away. He had a job to do. He was General Jack O'Neill and no freaking Bug Person was going to make him less a man than he already was.

Jack glanced around the commissary, and checked out its occupants. It was empty, no one had seen him zone out, thank goodness. He pushed back from the table and headed to the coffee urn with his cup. After that, he had a date with an overflowing inbox.

'No doubt about it, Walter will make sure that inbox of mine always stays full. How did Hammond ever do this? He made it look so damned easy. There are some times when I love being at the helm of the SGC. I've even grown to love being "the man" and dodging those pricks who are out to stick it to me. On days like this, though, I wonder why the hell I didn't retire a long time ago. If I had, maybe I'd be the house husband for Carter and we'd be working on getting her knocked up.'

'Instead, I'm still here and so is Carter and we're both miserable, I have the feeling that she hasn't been able to bounce back from this latest debacle either. Not that either one of us have. Maybe Kay could help. I'll bet Josh would be just the ticket to help out with maintenance at the SGC. Siler's got a workload that would kill an elephant, so I know he wouldn't turn down any help I could round up for him. So, now I just have to convince them both to join our happy band of campers.'

Armed with hopeful thoughts and a brimming coffee cup, Jack headed for his office.


Original Header/Footer Information:

Title: Crossroads And Consequences Part 1
Author: dinkydow
Sequel to "Repercussions From The Interview" and "What Fools These Mortals Be Sequence", hurt/comfort, drama.
Rating: PG-13
Season: Season 8
Spoilers: No chocolate to deal with pesky hot flashes and no whipped cream for your pumpkin pie. Oh, those kind of spoilers? None that I can think of, except "New Order" in Season 8.
Warnings: Deals with the after-effects of rape and violence. Some language.
Summary: Jack and Sam still have some healing to do after their escape from the Replicators.
Disclaimer: Nope, still don't own any of them. Couldn't afford to if I did and don't have a mountain to hide them in. Showtime/Viacom, MGM/UA, Double Secret Productions, Gekko Productions do. I wrote this for entertainment and won't be making any money for it, so please don't sue. But, if you guys want any help with scripts, or Jack, just give me a holler.
Dedication: To our fighting men and women and the loved ones who have to watch them march in harms way.
Author's Notes: Here's another Dinkyfic. Many thanks to Linda and Jolene for being my betas. Original characters are the property of the author and may only be used with my permission.