Staring Into the Abyss Parts 1-7

Pairings: Sam/Janet
Category: Independent/Action
Rating: R (For Violence)
Title: Staring Into the Abyss
Date: 3-01-99
Disclaimers: They don't belong to me and I do this just for the fun of it. I thank ShowTime,the writers, and actors for creating the characters for me to play with. I know a small disclaimer but they are all product of showtime and gecko.
Time Sequence: second season after Jacob has joined the Tok'rah

| Ch. 1-7 | Ch.  8-14 | Ch. 15-21 | Ch. 22-28 |

Staring Into the Abyss
by Michelle

Part 1

Sam thrashed in her bed finally wrenching herself from the nightmare she had been enduring. She sat up taking deep breaths trying to control her ragged breathing. She could feel her T-shirt clinging to her as a trickle of sweat ran down her cheek. She focused on the room around her and the soothing silence that dulled the screams from her dream. She finally found a steady rhythm to her breathing feeling the pounding of her heart slow as she calmed.

She swung the covers back swinging her feet over the side of the bed. As she stood she could feel the slight tremors coursing through her legs. She glanced at the clock noting it was 3am. She made the all to familiar trek to the bathroom stopping to collect a fresh set of clothes before stripping and stepping into a scalding shower. Sam reclined against the wall resting as the water flowed over her washing away the physical remnants of her nightmare.

The interruptions to her night had started almost two weeks ago and the dreams had become steadily more vivid as the time progressed. Tonight's dream had been the worst so far she thought as she turned to face into the spray leaning her forehead against the wall. At first the dreams had been little more than a minor nuisance waking her for a few minutes then she would fall back to sleep. But over the past few nights falling back asleep had been impossible. That was if she was even able to get to sleep at all. Bedtime was now bringing a deep sense of dread every time she crawled under the covers. The fatigue from her sleepless nights was catching up with her and the rest of the team had begun noticing the signs that something was wrong.

Sam stepped out of the shower toweling off quickly before donning her fresh set of clothes. Wiping away the steam from the mirror she looked closely at her face taking in the smudges beneath her eyes and the fine lines at the corners of her eyes hinting of the tension she was feeling. She wandered into the bedroom knowing that any further sleep was out of the question for tonight. The clock read 4 am, leaving three hours before she was due to meet with the rest of the team for the daily briefing. Quickly pulling on her sneakers and grabbing a towel Sam headed for the small gym hoping to pass the time quickly.

The workout moved slowly as the events from her nightmares fled by in disjointed bits and pieces. There was little reason for her nightmares she kept telling herself it was just the work of an overactive imagination combined with the residual memories from Jolinar, the Tok'rah she had been blended with briefly. Jolinar's memories of being tortured had left an imprint on Sam, although she was sure her feelings were dulled by the fact that the symbiant had died, they were still amazingly clear. That combined with the fact that her father had recently blended with another Tok'rah were the only explanations she could find to explain why she was seeing him as the victim of torture at the hands of the Goa'uld. A shiver ran through her as a fragment of a scream from the dream raced through her mind. Sam finished, showering again before she dressed for the briefing.

The meeting ran its usual course although her distraction caused her to receive a few long looks from Daniel as well as a few side glances from the Colonel. She wasn't fast enough to make it out the door before Daniel cornered her.

"Sam, something has been bothering you for a few days and we have all noticed it not to mention you look like you haven't slept in weeks. What is going on?" Daniel asked.

Sam felt a pang of guilt as she saw the concern in his face but she wasn't ready to talk about her fears right now. "I am fine, Daniel, I have just been really busy catching up on the back log of testing from our previous missions. I am fine really " she said giving him a brief pat on the arm as she slipped out the door not wanting to deal with the worry she new she was causing him. Daniel was a good friend and he had a kind heart but this was something she just did not feel comfortable sharing.

Skipping the mess she moved on to her lab wanting to close herself in with her work escaping the worried looks and concerned questions from her teammates. She would handle this she didn't need to bother them with her problems. The morning passed quickly as did the afternoon. Sam continued in her work oblivious to the time until she heard a soft knock at her door. She looked up as the door opened slightly and a dark head popped in glancing around the room until it came to rest on her.

"I thought I would check in and see how you are coming along on that artifact from PHY 1306." Janet said as she slipped into the room closing the door silently. She moved over to Sam her eyes briefly taking in the fatigue that shone from her face. "I think you might want to call it a night, Sam, you are looking a little tired. Not to mention pale," Janet said as she raised a hand to Sam's forehead for a moment satisfying herself that Sam wasn't running a fever but her skin was cool to the touch about as accurate a reading she could manage short of hauling her down to medical for a check-up. She hadn't really come down to check on any of the ongoing research she had received a visit from a very worried Daniel earlier in the day and had decided to check in on Sam herself. She was surprised when Sam recoiled from her touch standing abruptly. Janet withdrew her hand looking at Sam quizzically. That had been completely out of character for her.

Sam had been unprepared for Janet's touch and had recoiled involuntarily. Her nerves were taut from the fatigue and what had felt like a constant undercurrent of fear running through her, growing as the night hours had drawn closer. She was embarrassed over her reaction and had trouble facing Janet's questioning gaze.

"I'm sorry, Janet, I am just a little tired and you caught me off guard for a minute." The excuse sounded flat even to her own ears as she watched Janet's reaction.

Janet eyed Sam uneasy with the feeling she was picking up from the woman who always seemed to exude a quiet confidence. Janet had always admired the quiet strength that Carter had consistently displayed but right this minute she could almost sense fear rolling off of the normally calm woman she had come to know. She wanted to reach out instinctively to offer assurance but held back unsure of the response as well as exactly what was going on with Sam.

"It's ok Sam no harm done," she said smiling hoping to put her at ease. Something was definitely wrong, Daniel had been right. However getting it out of Sam would not be easy, even in the most unguarded of times Sam was not known to confide any personal problems. Her father's recent illness being a prime example. Janet knew she would have to tread lightly if she hoped to get to the cause of Sam's distress.

"I am about to get some dinner would you like to join me?" Janet asked hoping that she could at least get Sam out of her lab.

The thought of going to the mess was uncomfortable for Sam. She felt an instinctual need to withdraw from a crowded environment. She felt too raw and exposed to allow herself to be so exposed. She began to decline when Janet interrupted her.

"Actually, Sam, I was going to head home to cook dinner if you would like to join me. Since there is a safety stand down day tomorrow you are welcome to stay at my house for the night." Janet had watched the emotions flicker across Carter's face at her suggestion of dinner, knowing that she had intended for them to eat in the mess. The emotions crossing Carter's face at that thought had alarmed Janet. Not so much the emotions themselves as the fact that they were so plainly visible on the normally unreadable Sam. For Sam's emotions to be so close to the surface her defenses really had to be down. The thought of ordering her to medical briefly crossed her mind before she dismissed it as the wrong tact to take.

She watched as Sam considered her suggestion surprised to see a brief flash of relief as well as something that looked almost like hope cross her features. The longer she stood here the more concerned she became.

"Thank you, Janet. I think that a night out of this place will do me some good. Give me a few minutes to throw together some things and sign out." Sam said as she slipped out of the lab. Maybe, just maybe if she was away for the night she would get a brief respite from the nightmares. At least I hope that's what will happen, she thought.

Chapter 2

Janet allowed herself small glances at the woman seated next to her as she made the drive to her house. Sam had seemed to relax slightly as the distance from the compound had grown. Janet hoped that as the night progressed Sam would continue to loosen up and maybe confide in her a little of what ever it was that had been disturbing her. As she neared her neighborhood she gave her full attention to her course. It was still early and often the neighborhood children would still be out playing, holding on to the final light from the ending day.

Sam felt a small measure of calm begin to settle over her as the distance from the complex increased with every mile. She could feel the weight of Janet's gaze every so often and as well as her concern despite her attempts to appear nonchalant. She was grateful that Janet had not forced a conversation during the trip, allowing Sam to rest in the companionable silence that surrounded then as they approached the outskirts of town.

She was touched by Janet's concern and appreciative of the restraint she had showed by not pushing her for information. She felt some of the tension drain from body as her confidence grew that away from the complex and the Star Gate she would be able to get some rest. She noticed that they were slowing and she withdrew from her thoughts to focus on her surroundings.

They moved through a quiet neighborhood the shouts of laughter from children playing broke through the silence. Sam rolled down the window surprising herself with the overwhelming desire to be a part of the games she watched being played in the dusk. The warm spring air hit her and the light smell of honeysuckle caused her to take a deep breath. She felt a small smile steal over her face as memories long forgotten from her childhood washed over her. For the first time in what seemed like ages she felt a lightness. It was almost as if she had stepped out of a stale and arid box into a paradise. She shook herself mentally chastising herself for her flight of fancy. It was nothing more that a warm spring night it just seemed so much more in the face of the nightmares she had been having. It was ridiculous to glorify it as anything more her practical side preached. Of course the small smile on her face remained.

Janet had been surprised when Sam had rolled down the window gazing at the children with a wistful smile on her lips. She felt a jolt as her heart caught a little at the expression on Sam's face. Exactly what was going on with Captain Samantha Carter that she would so unconsciously be reaching out to the world around her. Janet pulled into her driveway almost sorry to break into Sam's reverie.

Sam realized they had stopped and she took in the house. It was a modest 2 story brick with a lattice work of delicate flower carefully sculpted along various sections of its face. The flowers contrasted with the black shutters that framed every window. Sam thought is projected an aura of friendliness and beauty. 'It fits its owner.' Sam surprised herself with the thought. "Your house is beautiful, Janet," Sam said as she stepped out of the car, retrieving her bag from the back seat

Janet was pleased with Sam's approval of her house not realizing how much her opinion mattered until she heard it. She pulled her brief case from the back of the car and made her way up the steps Sam following. "Thanks, Sam, I am glad you like it." Janet moved through the front door flipping on the front lights as she moved through the house. She tossed her briefcase on the couch as she walked by "You can set your bag anywhere, Sam. I will show you your room later," she called out behind her as she riffled through the kitchen cabinets hoping she had enough groceries in the house to make a presentable meal. Sam had followed her into the kitchen and was watching her as she pulled various items from the cabinets and opened the fridge to begin rooting through its contents.

"Would you like something to drink, Sam. I am a little limited on selection but I have a bottle of wine, 3 beers, Milk, and... hmm... I think this was the juice formally known as orange," Janet said as she removed that particular item from the refrigerator altogether.

"You weren't planning on having dinner at home tonight were you, Janet?" Sam asked as she surveyed the items laid out on the counter before turning her gaze on Janet.

Janet paused before answering unsure of exactly what to say. "No, I wasn't, Sam, but to tell you the truth I didn't like the idea of leaving you alone tonight and I may be wrong but I don't think liked the idea of being alone either." She stood waiting for Sam's response.

"You're right, I am glad you invited me over, Janet. Thank you" The last was said in a considerably lower tone and Janet felt its sincerity reverberate through her.

"Well you haven't actually tried my cooking yet, so you might want to hold off on the thanks," Janet teased as she pulled out the bottle of wine. "Is this ok? It's the only thing I am sure gets better with age," she joked, warmed by the smile her comment brought to Sam's face as she nodded.

Janet poured the wine into glasses handing one to Sam as she headed over to another corner of her kitchen to locate some of the cookware she would need for dinner. "I hope you like spaghetti. Its the only thing I have all the ingredients for," she said sheepishly.

"Actually, it is one of my favorites," Sam replied as she moved around the spacious kitchen taking in the small touches that defined its owner. She took a sip of her wine as she leaned back against the counter watching Janet as she busily prepared the sauce. Sam enjoyed the quick concise movements that readily diced the various ingredients that followed each other in quick succession into the pot. "So tell me, who was it that asked you to check in on me? Daniel or Jack?" Sam asked. She watched Janet's hands pause as she considered Sam's question.

"It was Daniel," Janet replied and Sam felt a small pang of disappointment that Janet had been prompted to check on her. "He was concerned about you, but even if he had not come to me, I would have come looking for you Sam." Sam felt a small thrill that she refused to acknowledge as she took another sip of her wine.

"I knew you had been withdrawn lately. I have barely seen you in my lab. I was worried but I had chalked it up to missing your dad along with the repercussions of meeting the Tok'rah and dealing with Jolinar's memories. But today when I saw you I knew it was much more than that. If you want to talk Sam my ears are always open." Sam felt a quick pang at the mention of her father and Jolinar. She nodded in Janet's direction as she pushed away from the counter moving out of the kitchen.

Sam studied the livingroom. Although she had been here many times before to see Cassie she had never really taken the time to study Janet's house. "How long have you been here Janet?" Sam called back as she allowed her hands to travel across the various books lining the shelves of one case.

Most of the books had strong backs and Sam absently allowed her fingers to travel over the titles. She had loved to sit in her father's study when she was little fascinated by all the books. Really that was probably where her love of science and the quest for knowledge had been born. She had spent hours in there soaking up every iota of information she could. Delighting in her attempts to impress her father with her skill when he was home. She felt another pang as she recalled the expression on his face as she would share her latest discovery. He had been proud then and she flashed back to their conversation such a short time ago when he had told her he had always been proud of her even when he thought she was a satellite geek. She smiled fighting back the quick tear that had risen to her eye at the memories.

Damn, Janet thought as she saw a wall come down between them. She wasn't sure what she had said that had caused the sudden shift in Sam but it had definitely pushed her in the opposite direction that Janet had planned. She watched Sam's retreating back as she left the kitchen. She barely caught Sam question as she moved out of site.

She finished throwing the last of the veggies in the sauce and set the water to boil. She wiped her hands on a dishtowel as she followed Sam's trail. "Actually, I have been here almost a year," she said as she spotted Sam at one of the bookcases her hand resting along the spines of the books.

Janet watched as Sam raised her glass to take a sip of wine, her back still to her. She noted a slight tremble as it reached its destination and she moved slowly across the room toward her. Sam seemed to have sensed her approach she turned moving in the opposite direction still refusing to turn and look at her. Janet reached out to grasp her shoulder feeling a slight tremor beneath her fingers. "Sam?" she questioned quietly.

"I don't want to talk about it, Janet," Sam replied the slight quiver in her voice betraying the depth of her distress.

"Alright, Sam," Janet acknowledged allowing her hand to slip from her shoulder.

She knew that know was not the time to push her. "Well, dinner should be ready in about ten minutes if you want to wash up the bathroom is down the hall to the right," Janet said giving Sam the time and privacy to regain her composure.

The remainder of the evening passed in a relatively comfortable silence. Janet prodded no more and the remaining conversation centered around neutral topics. Once the kitchen had been cleaned, Janet found herself fighting off a serious case of the yawns. She struggled valiantly to hide her exhaustion from Sam but found herself failing miserably. She finally gave in to her body and showed Sam to her room.

"The bathroom is through there and there are towels in the cabinet. My room is right across the hall so if you need anything just let me know. Feel free to eat anything in the kitchen if you get a midnight craving, assuming you can catch it of course" Janet teased remembering the contents of her fridge. "I'll see you in the morning, Sam" she said as she headed out, leaving Sam to get ready for bed. Janet paused just long enough to change into one of her favorite nightgowns and to brush her teeth before slipping beneath the covers. She fell asleep almost as soon as her head hit the pillow.

Sam eyed the bed hesitantly as she prepared to go to sleep. She drug out her routine as long as possible before sliding between the covers. She felt the exhaustion of the previous days steal over her almost immediately slipping into a deep sleep.


Janet bolted awake at the sound of a bloodcurdling scream. She was scrambling out of her bed. Her disoriented thoughts collided in a jumble as they attempted to form a coherent thought. The scream sounded again and Janet's brain finally came fully awake the voice she was hearing was real and it sounded like Sam. She fumbled blindly before ripping open her door. She caught herself as she stumbled across the hall in her haste to get to Sam's room.


The screams brought Sam fully out of her nightmare. It took her a moment that she had been the one screaming. She struggled to catch her breath, disoriented as she took in her surroundings. She heard a fumbling at the door and a muffled "Sam" as the door began to open. Janet, she was at Janet's house she remembered. The nightmare's sharp edges began to recede slowly.

Janet moved into the room coming to a stop next to Sam's sitting form. She reached out to turn on the lamp next to the bed. Sam hand shot out catching her wrist in a firm grip. "No, don't turn on the light" Sam requested as firmly as she could manage. She knew she looked horrible when she came out of the nightmares and she didn't want to see it reflected in Janet's face. She also had found the darkness soothing in the moments after she awoke from these dreams. Janet hesitated briefly at the request before taking a seat on the bed her wrist still in Sam's grasp.

"Are you alright, Sam?" she asked. She could feel the tremors coursing through Sam's forgotten hand. The screams had been terrifying and Janet wondered what dream could have caused such terror.

Sam had reached a point where she could breath slow deep breaths when Janet's question came. She wanted to assure her she was fine that it had just been a bad dream. But even her self-delusion wasn't strong enough to fool her into believing she could pull off that deception with Janet. "I have been having some vivid nightmares and they have been getting stronger each night. It has been making it difficult for me to sleep," Sam finally admitted realizing she was still holding Janet's wrist she slowly released her allowing her hand to slip back under the blankets.

Janet listened to the strain of Sam's voice as she confided that the nightmares had been causing her distress. "Why didn't you come and see me I could go given you something to aide your sleep or we could have done some sleep tests to try and pinpoint the cause of the dreams," Janet demanded.

It had to be more than just simple nightmares for Sam to have refused to follow any course of action that could have curbed the dreams. Sam was aware of the many available treatments for this sort of thing the only explanation that Janet could come up with was that Sam felt they were untreatable. Considering Sam's knowledge and background Janet found that unlikely. She sat waiting for Sam's response unhappy with the darkness that forced her to rely on Sam's words without the benefit of observing her physical reactions.

Sam tried to formulate an acceptable response. She knew she did not have the luxury of the average response. She was to well informed and "I don't know," wasn't going to cut it with Janet. Sam fought the urge to get up and pace as she tried to think of something.

"I didn't want this to become part of my medical file. I didn't want to give you an excuse to pull me from the team while we worked tried to figure out a few bad dreams," Sam finally said, acknowledging to herself that these reasons were true although not the most terrifying. She truly was afraid that if she began to talk about the nightmares they would become real. She had never been superstitious before but something about these dreams made her feel as if the only thing keeping them from becoming a reality was that they were locked in her mind.

Janet listened to Sam's explanation catching a thread of truth in her words but she felt that Sam was holding something back. She patted Sam's leg and was startled when Sam made a move to get out of the bed. Janet rose as Sam stood appearing to teeter for a moment as Janet reached out to steady her. Janet noted that Sam's shirt was soaked and clung to her body like a second skin. Sam seemed to have realized Janet's discovery as she moved away from her touch.

"I am going to take a quick shower. I will be right back," Sam said as she was briefly outlined by the light of the bathroom before closing the door.

Janet reached out finally clicking on the bedside light. She surveyed the tangled blankets reaching out to find that the sheets were as damp as Sam's shirt had been. These were some nightmares she thought as she stripped off the sheets and remade the bed. She tossed the damp sheets into a laundry hamper and stopped in her bedroom to pick up a small bag before returning to Sam's room. She sat down on the bed patiently waiting for Sam to reappear.

Sam did not allow herself to stay under the soothing spray of the shower as long as she would have liked. She knew Janet would still be waiting to talk to her when she finally decided to return to the room and she did not want to cause anymore worry than she already had.

Toweling off Sam took a few extra minutes with her hair trying to remove as much of the water as possible before running a quick comb through it. She pulled on her dry shirt and shorts folding her damp clothes and leaving them on the sink before taking a deep breath and opening the bathroom door.

Sam found Janet sitting on the bed glancing in her direction as she heard the door open. She also noticed the bed looked like it had been remade. She appreciated the thoughtfulness of Janet in having removed the damp sheets while she was in the shower. She took a seat on the opposite side of the bed as Janet stood and came around to rest in front of her. She had a small bag that she sat next to Sam taking out a stethoscope and a blood pressure cuff. Sam rolled her eyes as Janet began checking her over.

Janet noted Sam's response to her impromptu check up.

"Well Sam if you had just come to me originally I wouldn't be sitting here at" she took a peak at the clock, "One am in the morning giving you a quick check up" she responded dryly. She noted that with the exception of a slightly elevated BP everything seemed normal. She pulled out a syringe and a small bottle preparing to give Sam something that would help her rest

Sam watched Janet with little concern until she pulled out a small vial and syringe. "What is that?" she asked her voice rising slightly.

"It's a mild sedative it will allow you to get some rest Sam. You are exhausted and it is interfering with your ability to function. This should allow you to get some uninterrupted sleep," Janet said as she prepared the sedative.


Sam said as she stood abruptly a sliver of fear running through her uncontrollably.

If she was sedated she might not be able to wake herself from another nightmare.

Janet was surprised by the vehemence in Sam's voice and took a step back as she stood. There was something in her voice in the way that she stood that seemed to communicate fear. But of what, of her, of the sedative, of what?

"Ok, Sam, but you need to try to get back to sleep. Your body cannot keep on like this." Janet said as she laid a hand on Sam's shoulder to guide her back to the bed. Once Sam had sat Janet returned all of her things to her bag setting it on the floor. She lifted the covers so that Sam could slide under them. Once Sam was settled, Janet reached out, flipping the lamp off. She turned in the darkness headed for her own bed when Sam's voice stopped her.

"Janet, would you mind staying for a while?" Sam requested quietly. Janet was surprised by the request but touched and relieved that Sam seemed to be reaching out even if slowly for help with whatever was going on.

"Sure, Sam," Janet said as she returned to the bed. She took a seat and was surprised when Sam moved over pulling the covers back for her to slide under. Janet settled herself into the warm spot that Sam had just vacated finding that the fatigue that had been so overpowering just a few moments ago had fled. She lay there listening to Sam's easy breathing, noting that she was still awake also.

Sam tossed in the bed a few times turning from one side to the other every few minutes trying to find a position that would lull her to sleep as her mind worked through the jumble of images that fled across it. It had been selfish for her to ask Janet to stay, She knew she must be keeping her friend awake but she drew comfort from the presence behind her. She felt a threat of tears that she fought back as a few of the more painful bits of the dream surfaced.

Janet turned on her side facing Sam's back as she tried to find a way to help Sam get back to sleep. She reached out a hand to gently rub Sam's back, feeling her stiffen at first before relaxing to the touch. Janet could remember her parents doing this when she had been small and suffered night terrors. The soothing touch had always lulled her back to sleep with a feeling of security.

Sam had been jolted by the touch of Janet's hand and had almost pulled away before giving into the comfort that the touch had conveyed. Sam felt much of the self-imposed control slipping as Janet offered her support through the gentle caress. The tears started to fall slowly at first before becoming a small torrent. Sam failed at keeping the cascade of erupting emotions from Janet as she felt the hand pause as Janet moved closer.

"Sam," she whispered her hand now on Sam's shoulder as she gently tugged to turn Sam to face her.

Janet had realized as she was drifting off to sleep that something had changed. She could feel the slight shudders under her fingers and realized that Sam was crying. She moved closer turning Sam to face her trying to offer some comfort. She was surprised when Sam finally turned burying her head in Janet's shoulder her silent sobs racking her in Janet's arms that had come up to encircle her. Janet made soothing sounds stroking Sam's back as her other hand entangled itself in Sam's hair absently noting the silkiness of it against her fingers.

The sobs began to taper down and shortly were replaced by a deep even breathing. Janet realized that Sam had fallen asleep with her head still on her shoulder and an arm draped across Janet's chest. She lay there thinking about the woman she held. She had always cared for Sam and had even felt the occasional pangs of attraction at various times but then Sam was a very attractive woman. The feelings she was dealing with now were new and she wasn't sure where they had come from. She felt an overwhelming tenderness and a deep need to shelter her from whatever was causing so much pain. She was surprised to find that the tight band that had constricted around her own heart when she had realized Sam was crying.

Her arms tightened involuntarily and Sam mumbled incoherently as she moved a little closer, her breath falling gently on Janet's neck sending small shivers down her spine.

'Why now' she thought 'after all this time' and as she lay there her hand still entangled in Sam's hair the answer came in a moment of clarity. She had never seen Sam as approachable before. She had always kept her distance emotionally from everyone it was just a part of her you didn't get to close. But right know she was vulnerable and she had allowed Janet to see her this way and Janet had realized what was behind all of the barriers that Sam had put up and was drawn to the possibilities. But what happened when Sam was back in control. What if all she needed was a friend to lean on. The thought pained Janet and she pushed it from her mind. This was ridiculous. Sam needed a friend right now and Janet would have to deal with her feelings herself. The last thing Sam needed was an added stress of a would-be lover. Janet would take events as they unfolded remembering that.

Chapter 4

Sam drifted awake slowly becoming aware of the body beneath her and the arms casually draped around her. She held still as she felt the steady rise and fall of Janet's breathing beneath her cheek. She took a moment to enjoy the closeness that she rarely allowed herself. Once she had fallen back asleep she had finished the night without another interruption and she felt rested fully for the first time in days. She slowly disentangled herself from Janet's arms trying not to wake her. The morning was still early, the first rays of dawn barely touching the bedroom windows.

Sam silently slipped out of the bed glancing at Janet's sleeping form for a moment before grabbing her bag and heading for the bathroom. She quickly changed into a pair of jeans and a comfortable button down shirt. Her mind turned over the events from the night before and Janet's soothing presence. Her fingers paused as she felt a tingling run through her body as she recalled waking up with Janet's arms wrapped around her. She looked into the mirror catching a flush on her cheeks.

"A penny for your thoughts Sam" Janet teased as she stood leaning against the open doorway.

Sam jumped startled by Janet's silent approach as the flush deepened. 'No I don't think you want to know my thoughts Janet,' Sam said silently as her blush deepened.

"I was thinking that I feel better than I have felt in weeks. Thank you for having me over last night Janet," Sam said sincerely.

Janet smiled, not believing Sam completely as she had watched the blush on Sam's cheeks deepen as she had turned to face her. "Well, I am glad I could help but we both know that whatever is causing the nightmares isn't gone. I want you to come in with me today so I can run a few tests Sam," Janet requested holding Sam's gaze while she waited for her answer.

The phone interrupted the silence between them and Janet frowned as she turned moved across the room to pick it up. She held it to her ear for a second before motioning to Sam.

"It's for you."

Sam moved over to Janet taking the phone from her fingers. The conversation was brief and she returned the phone to its cradle as she looked at Janet. "SG-1 has been recalled for a mission," Sam said.

Janet took in the information not at all happy with the turn of events. Although Sam looked much better than she had yesterday Janet wasn't convinced that sending her on a gate jump right now was the best idea.

Sam noted the hesitation in Janet's response and felt a ball of dread begin to well up in her chest. "Janet we need to get going the General has called a briefing in 1 hour" Sam urged her.

"Sam, I am not sure I can clear you medically for a jump. After last night I am not sure what the consequences of your nightmares or their affect on your sleep could have on the team or mission," Janet said hating the look of disbelief and anger that crossed Sam's face at her words. "I have to know what the cause of the nightmares is and what they encompass to make a better judgement," Janet said.

Sam was shocked that Janet might actually pull her from active status. She realized Janet was serious as she searched her face. "Fine get dressed I'll tell you what you want to know on the way to the base," Sam said, not meeting Janet's eyes as she turned to get her things together.

They both met at the front door ten minutes later. Janet had dressed casually throwing on a pair of jeans and a light pull over sweater. Sam didn't speak as they exited the house heading directly for the car as Janet locked up. Sam took her seat in the passenger side as Janet slid behind the wheel. Within moments they were out of the neighborhood and on a silent stretch of road. Janet glanced in Sam's direction a few times before Sam finally began to speak.

"When I was linked with Jolinar, I felt completely out of control. Like I was constantly fighting for my body. I did not realize she meant me no harm and was no threat. I never had a chance to really know her. After she died she left me with a jumble of feelings and memories that I have had to work through having no idea what most of them mean. One particular experience was her torture at the hands of the Goa'uld. I can't even begin to tell you the things that she endured. I don't have the words for the pain." Sam paused as she thought about the Tok'rah that had briefly joined her in her body wishing she could go back and have a chance to talk to her." Sam paused before continuing.

"The memory of the torture has always been clear maybe because it was so recent in her mind when she joined me I don't know. But I had never felt like I was experiencing it like I have been the past two weeks." Sam stopped hoping this would be enough for Janet.

Janet listened to Sam account catching the notes of stress rising in her voice. Sam stopped and Janet looked over waiting for her to go on.

"There is more though isn't there Sam" Janet gently prodded as Sam nodded.

"In these dreams it is not Jolinar that is enduring the torture it is my father I see and the Goa'uld have me there using me to force the host to reveal the secrets of the Tok'rah. The pain of the torture is bad enough but the pain I am watching my father endure is worse." Sam stared out the window feeling as if a great relief had been lifted from her as she talked. She felt Janet's hand reach out and take her squeezing it as she spoke.

"Sam it is perfectly understandable for you to be worried about you father considering what has happened. You put yourself under a lot of stress and you won't confide in others. The nightmares are probably just a manifestation of the concerns you keep bottled up combined with the memories of your visitor," Janet said.

"I know Janet this is what I have been telling myself for 2 weeks. I know, but knowing it doesn't seem to be helping," Sam replied mournfully.

"Look, Sam, I will make you a deal. If you promise to talk to someone about these night terrors when you return I won't pull you from active status." Janet awaited Sam's response as the minutes drug on. "Sam ?"

"Alright, Janet, on one condition as long as it is you. I don't want some stranger poking around making notes about intimate details of my life. Agreed?" Sam asked.

Janet thought over the proposal for a moment. She wanted to help Sam but she was afraid she was rapidly reaching a point where she could no longer be objective. However she would cross that bridge when she got there she decided as she nodded her head in agreement. She withdrew her hand from Sam's as they approached the main gate to the base. They passed through quickly and were seated in the conference room within minutes.

Although Janet didn't normally attend team briefings she didn't think her presence would be a problem. She traded a few quick jokes with Daniel while Sam sat quietly to her left.

The General entered the room within a few minutes taking his seat at the head of the table. "I am sorry to call you people in off rotation, but you have been especially requested on this mission."

"Well there's a surprise, General. I thought most of the missions we had run lately had left most of the natives we encounter throwing parties as we stepped through the gate," Jack countered dryly.

The General gave Jack a somber look as he opened his folder. "Actually, Colonel, we have received word from our new allies," he continued as he registered their newfound attentiveness to their briefing.

"We received an incoming visitor 2 hours ago that transmitted the signal that Daniel had given the Tok'rah to use in case they wanted to contact us. Apparently there was one spy left that had not been uncovered in their move to their new planet. However, this spy did not choose to transmit the new location of the Tok'rah world to the Goa'uld deciding that had been a lost cause in its previous attempts. Instead he managed to kidnap the most influential Tok'rah in the colony in order to gain access to the information from his mind. The additional problem is that this man also contains an incredible amount of strategic and defensive information about our home world." By this time the entire team knew the General was talking about Jacob and they were looking over to Sam to gauge her reaction.

Sam sat completely rooted to her seat struggling to breathe as the news smothered her. She felt as if her world had just fallen out from under her." She realized that the General had stopped speaking and that her team mates eyes were focused on her. "Well, General, what is SG-1 expected to do? What is our mission?" Sam spoke. She hoped her voice did not sound as funny to them as it had to her own ears.

"The Tok'rah have a tradition of killing themselves before they will allow themselves to be compromised by the Goa'uld. However, since Jacob is a new wild card for them to contend with, they are unsure of exactly what to expect. They fear he would not allow himself to commit suicide and they are unsure of whether the host would force the action upon him. So that is where you all come in. They have a pretty good idea of where he was taken but they do not want to risk magnifying the situation by having any more of their people captured so they have requested SG-1 to assist since they know you and you know them. Is everyone comfortable with that?" He paused for a moment before moving on.

"In front of you is a packet of information on the planet you are headed for along with a issue list of supplies. We do not have time for simulated training due to the nature of this mission. I am sorry. The jump is scheduled to go in 6 hours make the most of your time people." Hammond stood up laving the room with Jack close at hand going over a few of his concerns as they exited. Teal'C was not far behind. Daniel remained for a moment looking over to Sam.

"You ok, Sam?" He hesitated not quiet believing her nod before he followed his teammates exit leaving Sam and Janet alone in the conference room.

Janet sat quietly for a few minute before breaking the silence. You only have 6 hours, Sam, you had better get moving," she said gently.

"I don't think I can stand up right this minute," Sam finally admitted, looking to Janet with a stricken gaze. "I am surprised you didn't have the General pull me from active status after what I told you in the car earlier."

"Do you think you are a danger to this mission or the rest of SG-1 Sam?" Janet asked waiting for the honest answer she knew she would get.

"No, I think I can complete my assignment without any problem," Sam said quietly.

Janet nodded. "I think you are the best judge of what you are capable of right now and if you think you are up for this then I am willing to support that," Janet said as she sat back in her chair. Silence blanketed the room as both women sat contemplating the upcoming mission.

Chapter 5

Sam had finally stood after what had seemed like an eternity. Her legs felt weak as she turned to leave the conference room. As she was passing through the door she realized that Janet was following at her heels. She took a few more steps determining that it appeared that Janet was not going to let her out of her sight. She came to an abrupt halt in the corridor turning to face Janet.

"Janet, I don't need an escort as I prepare for the jump. I am fine. " Sam said quietly hoping that Janet would not hover until their jump time. She felt a pang as she saw the momentary hurt in Janet's face that her words had caused. "Janet." She was silenced by Janet shaking her head as she held up a hand.

"No you are right, Sam. You are a grown woman you don't need me dogging your every step. I am sorry, if you need anything I will be in my lab." Janet turned quickly and walked away before Sam could reply.

'Damn' Sam thought. She hadn't meant to hurt Janet's feelings and she knew her tone had been short. She fought down the urge to follow Janet and apologize. She had a lot to get done before the scheduled jump. She turned and headed for the armory.

Janet made the short trip to her lab a jumble of emotions. It seemed unreal that this morning she had been lying in bed with Sam and now in less that 6 hours Sam would be going through the gate to possibly face what was the worst nightmare of her life. She again debated the wisdom of allowing Sam to go when she knew what had been plaguing her for the past couple of weeks. She stepped into her office pulling on her lab coat absently. Sam would have told her if she thought she would endanger the mission. 'Or would she when this concerns her father?' a little voice nagged at her. 'Yes she would,' Janet thought silencing the voice in her head.

She looked up as she heard the door to the lab open. She was not at all surprised to see General Hammond poke his head around the corner.

"I've been expecting you, General. Come in and have a seat." Janet said, motioning to the chair in front of her desk.

"I don't have much time, Doctor, so since you know why I am here why don't you give it to me straight," Hammond replied as his bulky frame filled the doorway.

"I think she can handle the mission, General," Janet countered.

"There has been some concern lately that she has been distracted and that may be having some personal problems," Hammond probed.

Janet took her time with his comment choosing her words carefully. "She has been having a little trouble sleeping. I think the cause has been brought to light. It won't effect her ability to function as part of the team."

Hammond nodded "Well, you are their doctor and if you say she is good to go, then I will take your word for it", he said leaving sitting as she contemplated her decision.

'I hope you haven't lied to me, Sam, and I hope I haven't been blinded to doing what is best for you,' Janet thought as she checked the clock.


Sam finished the last of her preparations for the jump. She adjusted a few of the strap on the web belt fitting it to a more comfortable position. She checked her watch. She had fifteen minutes before she had to be at the gate. That should give her enough time to stop and see Janet she thought as she navigated the corridors to the lab.

She entered looking for Janet finding the office empty she felt a sharp jab of disappointment. Maybe she had decided to go back home since technically she was off for the day and wasn't really required for the jump. Sam felt a slight shadow of depression at that thought which she quickly shook off as she made her way to the gate room.

Sam entered with two minutes to spare. The team quickly checked over their assignment details on the planet they were about to visit. They expected to meet little resistance until they neared the Goa'uld encampment. It was to be a small garrison outpost with little outside support. That didn't matter however the Goa'uld technology and weapons made even a few highly dangerous. Their only edge was to be the surprise of their arrival therefore they would need to conceal their presence for as long as possible. The last of the checks were completed and the team looked up to the control center to receive their final cue.

Sam was surprised to find her gaze captured by Janet as she looked up. Janet offered a small warm smile with a short thumbs up gesture. Sam felt a slight fluttering in her chest as she returned the gesture. She turned back to the gate feeling a lightness she hadn't before as they moved up the ramp and through the gate.

Janet had decided to watch the jump in the control center. She had wanted to see Sam before she left and had given up on receiving a visit from her finally walking to the control center 20 minutes to the jump. She had waited impatiently for Sam starting to worry when she had finally entered the gate room with 2 minutes to spare. Her breath had caught at the sight of blond hair moving through the doorway.

She berated herself knowing she was rapidly becoming to close to Sam. The thought froze as Sam looked up and their eyes had locked. Janet reacted involuntarily with the smile and thumbs up, embarrassed to have been caught staring. She watched as Sam face softened and a smile crossed it in return. Janet watched Sam's back as she stepped through the gate swallowed up by the shimmering light. The gate deactivated and a silence fell in the gate room.


Janet had just turned from the gate when a klaxon sounded and one of the Comm operators began running his hands over a series of switches. "General we have an incoming visitor displaying the Tok'rah's signal signature" the airman called out.

"Open the Iris" the General barked in the direction of the control operator.

The Iris opened once again the shimmering light of the gate flooding the room. Three figures stepped out of the light and onto the ramp. The head figure strode down the ramp quickly looking up into the control room as he neared the end. Janet caught her breath as she looked down into the face of Jacob Carter.

Chapter 6

Janet stood shocked as she remotely registered the General's orders for security to the gate room. She watched as a detachment of guards flooded the room leveling their weapons at the newly arrived visitors. She heard Carter's voice as it entered the control room over the speakers.

"We need to speak we have found an infiltrator among our group that was tracked to this gate. His departure was accidentally uncovered when he attempted to return unnoticed," Jacob stated plainly as he eyed the weapons leveled at his group. "Obviously his visit has damaged our alliance," the voice of the host reverberated.

Janet looked over at the General as he struggled with this new information. She could see him debating on whether this was a Goa'uld trick. A mask fell over his face as he stepped to the microphone. "I will be right down," he said, flipping the switch back to the off position.

Hammond turned to leave issuing final orders before he left the command center. "I want the iris locked down and I want the gate room sealed as well as the shielding on the Gate control lowered. It is only to be raised on my command." He received an acknowledgement of his orders and turned to leave before being caught by Janet.

"General, I would like to accompany you." She watched the flicker of emotion crossing his face and jumped in before he could deny her request. "I know you want to limit the possible casualties if this is a trap, but I believe that is Jacob Carter and I would like to be there to get to the bottom of this with you." Janet mentally crossed her fingers offering a silent thanks when he nodded almost absently. They made their way down to the gate room clearing a group of guards at the door.

As they entered Carter turned to approach, but was stopped short by a guard. He gave an exasperated look to Hammond. "Do you mind?"

Hammond waived back the guard. "Ok, Jacob, tell me exactly what is going on"

"I don't know what is going on. That is why I am here. We captured the Tok'rah that returned to our world but have been able to gather little information as of yet. When we discovered he had appropriated the communication device and visited here we thought we should investigate. It was agreed that I would come because of my previous experience and, personally, so I could get a chance to see my daughter." Jacob confided leaning a little closer as he said the last.

Janet watched Carter as he spoke, splitting her attention between his words and Hammond's reaction. She felt a ball of dread welling up in her as she realized that for some reason SG-1 had been set up. Hammond seemed to be coming to the same conclusion as he took in Jacob's words.

"I think we have a very serious problem, Jacob. The Tok'rah that visited us told us he had been sent to request our assistance in a rescue mission."

"Rescue who?" Jacob broke in.

"You," Hammond replied. "We were told that a traitor had managed to kidnap you and had delivered you to the Goa'uld. We were given a location to gate to and a recon of the area and forces that were holding you. We were told that the Tok'rah did not want to risk capture of anymore of their people in the operation."

Janet watched Carter digest the information, the Tok'rah surfacing to speak."The Tok'rah would never request something they were unwilling to do themselves. It is also very unlikely that one of the council could be kidnapped as we are always under the eye of our escorts to prevent this very thing," she said as Carter's arm swept in the direction of his companions. Carter spoke again "Who did you send after me?" he asked, a shadow falling over his face as he anticipated the answer.

"SG-1 was specifically requested," Hammond answered, confirming Carter's suspicions.

Janet felt light headed as she followed the thread of conversation, realizing SG-1 was definitely in trouble. Hammond had already reached that conclusion himself stepping over to a phone he picked it up ordering the control room to recall SG-1. He stood for a few minutes before returning the handset to it's cradle. "They can't get a response."

Janet fought down her urge to demand something be done immediately to return the team. She knew that whatever had happened the only way to get SG-1 and Sam back was to discover why they were wanted by the Goa'uld in the first place. She turned her attention to Jacob "Why would the Goa'uld want SG-1?" she asked.

Carter focused his attention on Janet's question. "What is the one thing that SG-1 has that is unique and would appeal to the Goa'uld." he asked waiting for them to come to the same conclusion.

"Sam has been blended with Jolinar and contains his memories of the resistance," Janet answered in almost a whisper.

Jacob nodded as the Tok'rah once again spoke "Exactly, they would be unable to capture one of our group and they have been unable to pinpoint us in one place long enough for total annihilation. However, obtaining the memories of Jolinar they would be greatly aided in defeating our cause. They also know that as a human without a symbiant to guide their actions Captain Carter would be unlikely to attempt self destruction to protect the Tok'rah. From what they have learned of your race as have we is that you will continue on despite all signs of defeat in a hope that eventually you will win out. However the Goa'uld are merciless and it is unlikely that your Captain Carter will be able to resist their methods of extracting information," she finished. Janet watched as a look of loathing and fear passed over Carter's face as the symbiant's memories filtered through his mind fully informing him of what his daughter had in store.

Janet felt her heart stop as the words and Carter's reactions registered on her mind. The impact of the danger the team had stepped into hit her with the force of a train.

"We have got to figure out a way to get them back," Jacob said, breaking the temporary silence. "I want you to form a rescue team while I return to talk with the traitor. Do you have the coordinates that were given for the planet destination." he demanded briskly.

Hammond nodded as he signaled a guard ordering him to retrieve the gate destination from the control room. He turned back to Carter. "I know you want her back, Jacob, but I can't send a team in to an obvious trap. There are probably Goa'uld all over the place," Hammond replied evenly, hating the situations that forced decisions that left good men and women stranded.

"I will be back with assistance. Do not send the team until we are here to accompany them. We have as much to lose if they get Jolinar's memories as you do if they compromise the team." Jacob replied. He received a nod of assent from Hammond and turned making his way up the ramp quickly.

Hammond ordered the iris opened and the sequence started to return them from their departure sight. They stepped into the gate quickly disappearing. Hammond turned to Janet seeming to notice her for the first time. "Well doctor what do you think"

Janet drew her eyes from the gate to respond to Hammond "I think SG-1 is in a lot of trouble General." His agreement to her response was reflected in his eyes.

Chapter 7

The team tumbled out of the gate as they reached their destination. Sam stumbled in Daniel as she regained her footing. The jumps were always a little disorienting and it took a few seconds to set the world right in your mind. She glanced around at her teammates noting that everyone seemed to be alert to their surroundings and all were here. She looked to the Colonel as he scanned the perimeter.

He turned pulling out a map that they had been given of the surface detailing the route that they needed to take. She and Teal' C flanked Daniel, and Jack keeping watch as they oriented the map to their surroundings. They reached an agreement and Jack placed his map back in his vest.

"We should be about an hours walking distance from where they are holding Carter. No talking and keep your eyes open there is no telling what we mind run into out here. " he said giving them a long look.

They all nodded and followed as he turned and led the way. Teal'C fell into an easy pace beside Jack and Daniel fell back to take a close position to Sam. The terrain was rough and uneven outcroppings of boulders rose up a few hundred yards from the gate presenting a hovering gray presence.

Jack was uneasy the terrain did not allow for a clear line of sight. There were too many places for someone to conceal themselves. Of course that could also work in their favor if they had enough warning. His ears strained as they continued on their path the only sounds to break the silence were the crunching of loose rocks beneath the boots of his team. They came to the outline on rocks and moved through a narrow opening that put them on the other side. They had only moved 30 feet into the new area when a group of Jaffa stepped out of the rocks to confront them with their weapons leveled. The team froze and Sam and Daniel quickly looked behind them finding the route blocked as well. They looked back to Jack as he eyed the Jaffa surrounding them knowing they had no chance of shooting their way out. They stood staring at their enemy waiting for the next move.

The wait was short as a figure rounded the Jaffa stepping into view. Sam saw Daniel stiffen as he realized that it was Apophis the Goa'uld that has taken his wife. She tensed waiting for his reaction. You could never tell if Daniel was going to make a move after using his brain or if it would come from his heart. She felt a slight surge of relief as she realized he had chosen to hold his position.

Apophis walked leisurely toward the group stopping to examine Teal'C as if he was a distasteful experience best left forgotten. He spent a short time with Jack and allowed his gaze to linger on Daniel before moving his attention to Sam. He must have given some sort of a signal to the guards because they quickly closed the distance and within seconds the team was disarmed, not that they had much of a choice the minute they had been surrounded they had known what the outcome would be.

"We are here looking for a friend of ours. We heard that you had him over for a visit" Jack said breaking the silence. Apophis turned a cool stare on Jack.

"We do not have what you seek, but you have brought us what it is that we wish," he said as Jack gave him a puzzled look that turned to understanding as Apophis turned his attention to Sam.

Sam didn't think her heart could beat any faster until she heard his words as his gaze turned upon her. She felt her heart painfully slam into her chest. She attempted to maintain her calm as she processed what was going on.

"Now, wait a minute" Jack was unable to finish his thought as a Jaffa struck him from behind sending him to his knees. He gasped for breath as tears temporarily stung his eyes.

Sam looked from Jack to Apophis still reeling from the events. She caught Daniel's look out of the corner of her eye. He seemed as bewildered as she felt. Sam looked back to Apophis as he spoke.

"I have no use for the rest. Return them to where they came from," he commanded as he turned.

"Wait what are you going to do with Captain Carter?" Daniel asked stepping out to block Apophis's path.

Apophis gave him a long look. "You wish to know what I am going to do with her?" he asked silkily as Daniel nodded.

Apophis's hand shot out, encasing Daniel in a cocoon of energy. He was caught up in the light unable to move. Jack attempted to go to his aide but was pinned to the ground by a Jaffa. Apophis apparently felt that he had enough and released Daniel who immediately collapsed to the ground. Sam managed to wiggle out of the grasp of her captor and fell to Daniel's side. She lifted his head cradling it as she felt for a pulse. Her heart stopped and she felt a cold shock roll over her as she found nothing. She looked over to Jack catching his gaze as he struggled to lift himself up from the force pinning him to the ground. She knew her face said it all as his struggles momentarily stopped. She felt herself roughly grabbed from behind and half lifted as she was drug in tow of their receding leader. She could hear Jacks short curses before they were silenced.

Jack was finally able to rise quickly making his way to Daniel. He could not believe he was unable to find signs of life. He looked to Teal'C and than to the guards. Teal'C finally spoke.

"We should take Dr. Jackson to the gate now, while they are still willing to allow us to leave."

Jack gave him an incredulous look, "What about Carter?"

"We cannot help her in our current state. However, if we return Dr. Jackson quickly there may be something that can be done for him by Dr. Fraiser. Our dying in a fruitless attempt to save her would serve no purpose."

Jack knew his words were correct and they both worked together to lift Daniel as the remaining Jaffa hovered close by. They quickly made their way back to the gate and Jack stood for a moment at the dialer trying desperately to remember the sequence they had repeatedly attempted to teach him during various training exercises. He entered the coordinates hoping he was right and made a quick promise to himself to pay more attention in the future. They stepped through the gate the weight of Daniel momentarily lifted before they stepped out into the familiar confines of the Gate room. He called out an order to close the iris as he and Teal'C quickly headed for medical.


Janet had returned to her office still reeling from the events of the past 24 hours. She sat down heavily at her desk the worry she felt for Sam weighing on her. She laid an elbow on her desk resting her head in her hand for a moment as she closed her eyes. She took a deep breath and opened her eyes noticing a folded piece of paper that had not been on her desk before she left. She reached out opening it to read the words.

In case I forgot to tell you earlier,
Thank you for last night and for today.


Janet felt a fresh wave of concern roll over her. It was amazing how such a short note could squeeze her heart with such emotion. She folded the note and stuck it into the pocket of her jeans. She sat back in her chair, thinking about the woman had been lured away in Goa'uld trap. A feeling of helplessness washed over her and her frustration intensified.

She was brought out of her thought as a commotion in the infirmary disturbed her.

"Doc, Dooocc," she heard the familiar voice of Colonel O'Neilll as he rounded the corner to her office, grasping her arm and dragging her toward the infirmary. "We have an emergency. "

Janet felt a tendril of fear course through her at the urgency in his voice praying that is was not Sam. She felt a wave of shame roll over her at the relief she felt when she saw Daniel Jackson on the bed. She quickly scanned the room as she moved over to him but did not see Sam. Her concern for Sam however was quickly replaced as she realized the seriousness of Daniel's condition. 'Seriousness' she berated herself the man was technically physically dead.

She cleared the room as her assistants continued setting up the various equipment to monitor all functions and let them know if his body could still survive as basic resuscitation protocols were implemented. She felt the mantle of responsibility settle over her as she orchestrated the efforts of her people. Out of the corner of her eye she saw the General pull O'Neilll the rest of the way out of the room. She felt all intrusions recede to the back of her mind as she concentrated on the task at hand.

Continue to Parts 8-14

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