||Cam waited, tapping his foot against the concrete wall, arms folded. He hummed a few lines to some obscure song and went back to waiting, foot tapping, arms crossed, and eyes on the floor. He heard people walking back and forth, felt them look at him. They must be wondering why I look like I lost my best friend, Cam thought vaguely.
Well he had. Sort of.
His 2IC and resident doctor of Archaeology had been presumed dead for the past three, almost four, months. It was enough time for any commander to become a bit crazy and wonder when it was okay to start digging through the pile of personnel folders. Cam stared at the ceiling; he had in fact started to interview potential people to be posted on SG-1 as Colonel Carter and Dr. Jackson's replacements. He wondered how long he would have to re-contact them before they heard.
A door swung open, rubber gloves snapped and Cam merely closed his eyes.
"I know you are awake, Colonel Mitchell," Dr. Lam's voice said softly as she leaned against the wall with her shoulder. "I also know you never went to your quarters, possibly never slept..."
Cam held up a hand and popped an eye open. "Can the berating wait? How's my team?"
Carolyn sighed. "They are okay. Both physical and mental trauma it looks like. Dr. Jackson was trying to get up and kept insisting that he return to the planet to bring the people back. Colonel Carter is quiet, not really responding to the commotion of the infirmary."
"Well, I'm no doctor, but I can't say I'm surprised. Jackson is one hell of a passionate man, and Carter has been through a lot too. I don't hear anything now, did you sedated Jackson?"
"Yes, he has some bad lacerations and hairline fractures on his ribs. The way that man moves I am surprised he has not broken them," Carolyn sighed again and signed a quick note as one of the assistants passed by. "They are both dehydrated too, but Jackson is on an IV drip for a while. I thought I saw Colonel Carter moving over to his bed. With all the things they have been through, I think it may help if they are finding comfort in one another."
Cam led Carolyn down the hall. "What kind of comfort?"
"I am not going to discuss that with you. I have to talk to them first."
"I thought you did," Cam said, swiping his badge, waiting for the elevator to glide to their floor.
"They are a bit too fresh to the whole thing. Time is what they need. It's possible they were tortured and saw horrible things. We need to give them time."
Sam stroked Daniel's ruffled hair, still long and shaggy. She propped herself up on one elbow and looked down at him in the dim light of the overhead lamp, imagining him in his dirty cream colored wraparound and baggy pants. Leaning down she kissed his forehead and sank wearily down beside him, cradling him in her arms.
Dr. Lam had bandaged Daniel, making him wince as she carefully prodding the black and pale yellow spots on his chest and back. Sam herself had been tended to by a nurse who avoided eye contact and seemed rather cold but seemed to have a gentle touch when it came to tending to her own scrapes, bruises and several deep cuts. They were then handed a pair of blue scrubs, 'SGC' stamped on the pockets of the top and pants, and escorted to a private room right off the main infirmary.
Sam planted another feather kiss on Daniel's cheek, feeling herself drift away to join him in sleep like they had done so many nights.
It had been Daniel who had looked up as the familiar deep voice gently asked, "DanielJackson?" He had lifted his teary blue eyes to meet the deep brown eyes that were flooding with relief.
"Teal'c," he had said, looking back down at the golden head of Sam. "Sammy, look who is here," he had whispered.
Sam had turned, peering and wiping tears away, at the black man who crouched in front of them. A smile burst through as she turned and flung her arms around Teal'c. Teal'c smiled, and placed an arm gently around her in return. They got up and with Teal'c directing, moved outside the fenced area, past the beheaded bodies and toward the small group of workers who still stood clinging to one another.
Sam and Daniel walked slowly toward the fatigued clad men only to be guided toward one of the ATVs that stood silently by. A smiling Cameron Mitchell hopped on and turned the beast on. "Welcome back to the other side!"
They smiled and nodded, clinging to one another as the vehicle launched its way down the small hill and down the dirt road. Daniel nuzzled close to Sam's ear and once more kissed her lightly as he told her they were almost home.
"Ha! I told you they are never dead!" General Jack O'Neill's voice boomed as he came up the stairs and burst into the open room where Sam and Daniel, Cam, Teal'c and a bemused Vala stood. "You know you had another memorial? It was lovely. I said a few nice words. We all cried."
He was clapping them both on the back, and then as a second thought, pulled them each into a bear hug. "You both owe a lot of people some words; there was a bet on whether or not you were really dead, and once we had the service, well, you know how it is."
"It's nice to know the SGC has its pool open for anything," Daniel said solemnly. "I hope there was some good food at the service."
"Oh the best, Danny-boy. I mean, common, you guys 'dead' for the what, the fourth time? That is no excuse not to have great food," Jack went on.
"Glad to hear it, Sir," Sam nodded.
"Can we sit for a few moments?" General Hank Landry asked as he entered to room. "General, nice to see you made it. You hopped a red-eye to get here I'm guessing."
"What and miss seeing the two undead people come back, not dead?" Jack said awkwardly. Spreading his hands he replied, "General, please."
"I don't blame you. Welcome back Colonel Carter and Dr. Jackson. As you can see we all are very glad to have you back.
"Now as standard procedure, you will not be let off base for the next few weeks, and we will make sure you both are adjusting to being back to the SGC alright. If there are any special requests - besides going back to the planet - just let me know. Being in your positions for nearly four months deserves some latitude," Landry said, smiling. "Now, on with the briefing. Just take your time and start from the beginning as much as you can."
Sam and Daniel shared a brief glance. Daniel looked down to his hands, devoid of the ring he and Sam shared. They had agreed that it was best to keep them hidden as they worked the fields, safe guarding them from the elements. Sam covered his hands, which had begun to shake slightly, with her own and, giving them a squeeze, turned toward the group, beginning their story of when they first set off for the "other tribe" to "negotiate with them" and Din's double crossing.
Daniel refilled the drinking glass again and handed it to Sam, never stopping for a moment to refill his own glass or telling the curious onlookers about how they had learned to heat the small hut they shared.
Cam looked between them and gave a small smile. He could imagine how he would have learned to heat up a small hut himself with a certain doctor. The smile quickly fell away as his eyes darted toward her father - one General Landry. Cam went back to watching how naturally Carter and Jackson were communication and how effortlessly they shared the briefing. Glancing down at his watch he held a gasp - they had been talking for three hours straight. He felt the chair beside his move and looked up to see General O'Neill slump a bit in his chair, hands stretched out and silently making circles.
A pause in Daniel's monologue gave Cam enough time to jump in. "Sir, I think Dr. Jackson and Colonel Carter have been talking for long enough for this session. It�s close to lunch time, perhaps we should break?"
Landry pulled his eyes away and nodded. "I think that's a fine idea. We'll meet back here at 1500. Colonel Mitchell, you still owe me a report on the previous mission before this one. You have until 1400 to get it on my desk. Dismissed."
Cam nodded and joined Carter who snapped up, and General O'Neill beside him, stood as Landry went back to his office. Daniel got up, relief in his eyes as he looked at Sam, Vala already entreating Teal'c to have "some food those people seem to think is food", while Cam turned to cast an eye over to the window that over looked the Stargate.
"I bet you guys have not had a decent meal in awhile," Jack said as he went over to Sam and Daniel. "I guess you will have to endure some of the SGC's special cooking for a bit."
He gave a chuckle as both Sam and Daniel, Cam trotting after them, followed their former leader toward the elevator. Jack swiped his badge and turned back to the couple. "I suppose the food here is better then anything they were serving. Frightening thought as it is, I am sure the food here is rather appealing."
"I'm sure it is," Daniel said softly. "Personally I can't wait for real mashed potatoes with white sauce."
"Some roast beef with corned hash," Sam added. "With salt."
"I like it with Tabasco sauce personally," Cam chimed. All three of them grinned as Jack made a face, showing what he thought of the whole menu.
"Well, like I said, anything on the menu is better then what you had," Jack said, nodding. "Let's hope it's not toxic. I can't believe we ate that stuff for years."
"Must be nice living in the ivory tower, sir," Sam said, coolly.
"Not an ivory tower, Colonel. It's Washington," Jack said crisply. He eyed her as she walked ahead and gave a raised eyebrow at Cam, silently asking, "What's her problem?"
Lunch was neither mashed potatoes, nor roasted beef, but the two ate the hot dogs in slightly doughy bread as if it was the creme de le creme. Cam and Jack, amused for their own reasons, watched as Daniel and Sam savored every bite. The mustard was passed, ketchup and salt, pepper and butter followed. Finally, wiping off the crumbs, and eating them too, they sat back, speaking some foreign language. Jack looked at the two and smiled as he cleared the trays and got up. Moving to the small mugs stacked next to the pots of coffee, he looked at the young woman behind the counter.
"Um, are there any bigger mugs? Maybe some specialty coffee? I have two very caffeine deprived teammates who could use their usual stash," Jack asked, hooking a finger behind him. "Big mugs. Huge."
The woman smiled and handed over two mugs that dwarfed the regular issued mugs. He carefully picked his way back to the table that Sam, Daniel and Cam were still at, interrupting a conversation.
"I have to get back to Washington, but wanted to give you the best present of all," Jack said as he set the bugs down. Beaming he straightened. "Coffee."
The two scientists looked at him, the mugs and at each other. "Thank you sir," Sam said, wrapping her hands around the mug. Breathing in the steam she closed her eyes.
Jack smiled as well; it was great to have her - and Daniel - back. His eyes drifted to her long fingers and he noticed, with a hint of surprise, a small, slightly un-tanned portion on her ring finger. "Well, I must go."
Daniel wiggled his fingers as Jack left, glancing over to his wife - just Sam now - as she took in the heavenly sent that had long ago passed from their memory.
"I should be getting that report done now myself," Cam said, scrapping the chair back. "It's great to see you two back. Get some rest, don't let Caro- Dr. Lam poke you too much." He flashed a smile at them and left.
"It is nice to be back," Daniel said softly.
"Yes it is. But there are still a few unanswered questions before everything goes back to 'normal,'" Sam answered. "I don't think there is a normal anymore."
Daniel nodded and inhaled his own coffee, letting the liquid wash his fears away.