Summary: Janet rushes to save Sam, but it may already be too late. And what if Sam doesn't want to be saved?
Janet pressed her nose to the window, idly watching the clouds stream by. Her eyes flickered in a meek attempt to ward off the remaining tears in her eyes, but she needn't have worried. She had already cried intermittently for the first half of the flight and she was beginning to think that she didn't have any tears left in her. She had cried softly, the liquid streaming down her face silently, not alarming anyone sitting around her. Mercifully, the flight was fairly empty; she didn't even have someone seated next to her and she was glad for it. She wasn't ready for any prying questions from a stranger making good natured small talk.
In truth, Janet had no idea what she was doing there. What she did know was that something Jack had said resonated in her. Whether or not she really wanted to admit that at the moment didn't matter. Sam was in danger and her mind had put her into autopilot, not letting her think over what she was doing before taking the plunge.
But now that she was alone, eyes loosely fixed in the distance, she wasn't sure she could avoid thinking about the situation. What would she do when she got there? How could she even look at Sam now, after what she had said?
What if she was too late?
Janet bit down on fresh tears and hoped beyond reason that Daniel would be able to talk Sam out of it.
Daniel was wringing his hands, sending fleeting glances to the door every now and then in the hopes that he was just in time to catch Jack heading through the door. He certainly wasn't worried for his safety, of course not, but his timing was another matter. He wasn't sure how much longer he could convince Teal'c to wait, watching Sam the way she was. From the moment he had told Sam about the Jaffa ritual, her face had taken on this strange glow, a look he had seen only on the rare occasions when he thought none of them would see the light of another day. It was as if she was ready to accept her fate.
Teal'c was meditating, seemingly undisturbed by what he was prepared to do. Internally, though, he was struggling. He knew, even with his eyes shut, that Daniel Jackson was watching him when he was not waiting for the door to open. He thought that Teal'c was going to do something that would hurt Sam, and yet Teal'c himself did not understand why Daniel could not understand. The most painful thing humanity has is memory, but it is also the most wonderful. Sometimes, though, he thought, his mind returning to Sam, a line had to be drawn as to what memories were worth keeping. He knew, also, that Samantha Carter was watching him with great anticipation and growing agitation. Her knees were tucked into her chest and she was rocking like a child; he could hear the cot squeaking beneath her. He did not know how much longer he could stand appeasing Daniel Jackson by waiting.
Not once, though, did Sam look at Daniel or at the door. She only looked at two things: Teal'c and the floor. Her mind was racing like a schizophrenic's, filling her with thoughts that frightened her, images of unspeakable things. Things she would do (to herself, to others) if Teal'c didn't help her.
Finally, Sam couldn't take it anymore. She pushed off the bed and seized Teal'c's shoulder.
"I want to do it."
Teal'c opened his eyes and looked down at Sam's hand, which she hastily withdrew. He looked at Daniel, who gave him a plaintive look, but said nothing. He could do nothing to stop them, other than knocking Sam unconscious. But he knew that it would do no good. As soon as she awoke, she would find a way to get to Teal'c.
She was really going to do this.
"You are sure this is what you want, Samantha Carter."
"Yes," she said sharply. She was shaking like someone going through withdraw. "Do it, Teal'c."
He sighed and shifted in order to face her.
"We must reach a deep state of meditation. When you are on the verge on unconsciousness, I will be able to access your thoughts and then guide you into your memories. After that point, only you will be able to control the elimination of those memories that plague you. After a period of time, I will remove you from the meditative state. I must warn you," Teal'c said, "That if you do not decide which memories to eliminate before I release you, you will be in danger of losing all of your memories."
"Will I live?"
"You will function, yes, but you will not know much of your existence. You may revert to the memories of a younger age."
Sam licked her parched lips, dragging her tongue over the rough skin. A memory of soft brown curls danced in her mind, a memory that she wasn't even sure was real. She crouched down in front of Teal'c.
Daniel blew his hair away from his face and searched for something to say that hadn't already failed to change Sam's mind in the last several hours.
"Are you sure, Sam?"
She looked up at him finally, the terrible sadness in her eyes making him ache inside.
She turned back to Teal'c.
"Where do we start?"
"Excuse me, excuse me, sorry, please move!"
Janet, all one hundred and twenty pounds of her, pushed her way through the crowd at the airport, nearly knocking several people to the floor. An older woman cried out indignantly.
"Sorry!" she called over her shoulder, not stopping for a moment. Her eyes were fixed on the doors at the bottom of the stair well and escalators, where she hoped to find the taxi she'd called, and her feet were taking her down as fast as her short legs would allow.
"Hey, watch it!" A young business man cursed as he cleaned the coffee from his trousers. She didn't even bother turning around, because at that moment she had caught sight of a green taxi with a tall, red headed young man leaning against the driver's side door.
The driver turned around sharply.
"Yes," she said, opening the back door and literally throwing herself in. "Let's go!"
"Yes Mam," he said with a grin. "Mark told me you'd be in a hurry."
Janet rummaged through her purse for the number Jack had given her for the cabin, ignoring the driver. He continued to talk, unaware or uncaring that Janet wasn't listening.
"You're lucky I need more hours, lady, because nobody else was gettin' up this early, even with the overtime pay."
"It's almost eleven," she pointed out, gasping when her fingers finally grasped the tiny piece of paper. She immediately hammered the number into her cell phone, willing Sam to pick up.
"Yeah, but it is the weekend. And I had to get up an few hours ago, you know, to get here."
The phone rang several times and no one picked up. Janet checked the number, pulled the cell phone from her face, just to make sure she had dialed correctly. When she confirmed the correct digits and placed the phone against her ear again, someone was repeating her name.
"Jack? Jack, is that you?"
"Who is this?"
"Janet. Janet Frasier."
Daniel turned a little pale and was momentarily at a loss for words. He was in shock; what in the world had Jack said to her that she was calling now?
"Daniel, I know what you're thinking but you can yell at me later. I just want to make sure that Sam is okay, that Teal'c hasn't started-"
"Janet, he's already in."
"In? What the hell do you mean 'in'?"
Daniel covered the receiver and swallowed hard. Teal'c was seated next to Sam, who was lying on the floor. She looked asleep, her respiration low and steady. Teal'c was leaning over her, deep in meditation. Sam groaned in her unnatural slumber.
"Daniel, are you there? Tell Teal'c to wait."
Sam's eyes fluttered and she groaned again.
"You might be too late."
"Daniel? Daniel, are you there? Damn!"
Janet hung up the phone, muttering every curse she knew. Too late? No. No, she couldn't be. Not now, not when she was almost there!
"Can we hurry it up???"
"Lady, I'm going as fast as I can," Kevin said, easing through the thick traffic. Janet pursed her lips and then dove into her belongings. She pulled out her wallet.
"I think we can go faster," she said, dropping three twenties on the front seat.
"Whoa ho, yes we can!"
Kevin pushed his foot down on the peddle and pulled onto the shoulder, racing the line of traffic to the exit.
"Isn't this illegal?!?"
"Only if we get caught!"
The taxi tore up the dirt, billowing reddish clouds puffing up behind the fender, and car after car honked at the reckless taxi driver. They neared the exit and the lane got smaller and smaller. In only five hundred feet, the shoulder closed off.
Kevin veered back into the lane, completely cutting off a large van as the taxi jutted into the exit. The rear fender bounced roughly on road and Janet hit her head so hard she thought she was going to suffer a concussion.
She could hear the driver of the van screaming at them, but Kevin was pulling away so quickly, the engine whining under the strain, that she barely got any one of the obscenities clearly.
Janet rubbed her head gingerly. Kevin turned around with a wide grin on his face. "How's that for faster, uh?" Janet grimaced.
"I should become a race car driver."
"Or a wheel man," Janet said, nursing what was surely going to be a nice bruise.
"Never mind," she said, frustrated. "Just get me there as fast as you can manage. With me intact..."
Kevin turned back to the road and steadily pressed the gas peddle.
"So, ah, somebody hurt or something? You being a doctor and all, I kind of assumed..."
Janet didn't feel like getting into details, so she just nodded and issued a breathy 'yes'.
"Somebody you care about, huh?" He craned his neck to look back at her in the rearview. She looked so sad that he wouldn't have believed her, had she said no.
Janet watched the seat bouncing underneath her and felt her eyes welling up again. Too late, Daniel had said. Even at this pace, she might be too late. Janet turned and looked up into the mirror.
"Yes. Someone I love."
Kevin swallowed and was immediately quieted. The look on the doc's face told him all he needed to know.
"Hope everything turns out okay," he said meekly. Janet just leaned against the car door and sighed.
I hope so too, she thought. I really hope so.
Janet didn't even wait for the taxi to come to a complete stop before she leapt from the car. Kevin called after, asking if she wanted him to stay. She threw another twenty at him and ran for the cabin.
"Well, okay then."
He slowly turned out of the driveway and eased down the dirt path.
Janet nearly tore the door off of the hinges and didn't even attempt to close it. Her eyes darted to Sam, who was laid out on the floor beneath a meditating Teal'c, his hands held loosely at his sides. Sam was sweating profusely, beads of liquid streaming down her body. Her hair was damp with sweat.
Janet slid across the floor beside her and Daniel, who had seen the cab barreling towards the cabin, filled in where Jack had been unable to explain.
"It's a Jaffa ritual used to cleanse the mind of unwanted memories. They use it so they can continue to do monstrous things to people, but Sam is using it to erase her memories of you."
Janet reached out tentatively and stroked Sam's sopping hair. She felt her twitch beneath her like an ill patient with a high fever.
"How do I get her out?"
She went to touch her, but Daniel pushed her away.
"No! If you try to wake her up, she may never come out of it."
Janet looked at Sam feeling helpless. If she woke her up, she was as good as gone, but if she did nothing, she would lose her anyway. Janet ran her fingers through her hair, shaking. She didn't know what to do.
Janet looked up at the unexpected words. Daniel looked as perplexed as she was, yet determined.
"If Teal'c can get into her mind, I'm sure you could. He already opened it; all you would have to do is go in with him. Use him like... like a conduit."
Janet looked entirely lost.
"Daniel, I've never meditated. I can't do this! You have to!"
"Janet, don't you think I would if I could?!? She didn't stop when I was talking to her here. What makes you think my being inside will change that?"
Janet watched him for another moment, but eventually lowered her head in defeat. This was it; there was no way out. If she didn't try, then she was never going to see Sam again.
She took a deep breath and settled herself on the floor.
"Let's just hope this works."
Janet knitted her brow and leaned over Sam, just parallel to Teal'c. If she leaned even an inch further, they could have touched foreheads.
"Good luck," Daniel whispered softly. He rose, adding to the incense that Teal'c had lit. Hopefully, it would help Janet sink into whatever level of subconscious Teal'c was leading Sam through.
The candle light flickered in the dim room, unlit by the sunlight that was fighting simply to break through the surrounding trees. Daniel sat unceremoniously on a cot and settle in to wait.
Janet had heard him move, but the incense was starting to impair her senses. Or, at least she thought it was the incense. She didn't feel very clear on anything, but she was happily surprised to find that her concentration skills seemed fine. In fact, she'd never been able to sit for more than a minute before, at least not this calmly. She breathed deeply and noted that she felt like she was sinking further into a tub of hot water with every passing second.
In a few moments, the heat was beginning to get to her. Hadn't it been cold when she had first burst in the door? It felt like she had entered a sauna. Sweat was dripping from the tip of her nose, falling onto Sam's exposed abdomen. She tried to reach up and wipe her face, but she found that she couldn't. In fact, she couldn't even feel her arm. She couldn't feel her hand. She couldn't feel anything but the pounding in her head and the heat, stifling heat. She choked on the hot air, trying desperately to breathe, but she couldn't. She wanted to get up, call out to Daniel, but she felt herself falling deeper into the suffocating warmth. Now she understood why Sam had been groaning unconsciously and was so hot to the touch.
When she was finally able to open her eyes, she couldn't see anything. Rather, she could see nothing but darkness. She could feel again, thankfully, and the heat was dissipating marginally but steadily, yet she could not see anything but pitch black night.
She stepped forward, surprised to have feeling in her legs again. There was floor beneath her, she knew that much, because the sound of her feet on the ground echoed off the walls she couldn't see. She reached out, hoping to feel something, but the walls were not on either side of her. She took another few steps and, finding that she didn't walk into anything, proceeded at a slow pace. She perked her ears for any sound that wasn't her footsteps.
She repeated the name frequently, hoping each time that there would be a response, but none came. Only the echo of her voice, taunting her.
After what Janet thought was nearly half an hour of walking aimlessly, she began to think she had failed. She hadn't found Sam or Teal'c and she realized quite suddenly that she didn't know how to leave. Would Daniel have to come in and get her?
"Way to be level headed and think things through, Frasier."
Janet spun towards the voice and there was a sudden, violent burst of light that blinded her. When she opened her eyes again, she was standing in the hall of the SGC, facing a young Samantha Carter.
This is one of her memories, Janet thought. This is when we first saw each other.
Sam bit her lip, crying, and waved her hand in front of her. In the next instant, she was back in darkness.
"She must have erased that memory already," Janet thought. If she had only found the first memory, then she still had a chance!
She called out into the darkness and started out at a run. At least if she collided with something, she might find her way into a memory and stop Sam from wiping it away.
But when was the next time they had spoken? There was the first glimpse in the hallway and then...then...
The moment the words were out of her mouth, the light blared again and Janet was in the SGC, this time in her own domain. She expected to see Sam there already, but there was no one. She was alone.
"She must be in the next memory," she said to herself, and just as she was about to try and find the memory of their first briefing together, she heard a familiar voice.
"Now, I'm warning you, Carter, Doc Frasier is sadistic. The woman just likes to cause pain!"
The voice did not match in Janet's recollection; it had to be the real Sam. Janet hid behind one of the larger pieces of equipment and waited.
"Oh, Doc Frasier! Good old Doc-"
Suddenly she was plunged into darkness again and she fell backward, hitting the ground where the object she'd been leaning on had been. There was something, someone, underneath her now.
She scrambled away, and a frightened female voice pierced the darkness.
"Who's there? Teal'c? I thought you said you wouldn't interfere!"
Janet rose slowly, rubbing her pained hip and the new bump on her head.
"It's not Teal'c, Sam," she said gently, nearing where she thought Sam to be. She could hear her breathing.
"Stay...stay away," Sam said fearfully. Janet could hear her backing away and she quickened her steps.
"STAY AWAY FROM ME!"
The burst of light fell over them both and Janet was on the phone. She was in her home, sitting on the couch. There was breathing on the other line.
"Sam, is that you?"
There was no response.
"Sam, this isn't just your memory. This is Janet, the real Janet, I'm here."
And then, rather quietly, there was a voice. It sounded dark and afraid, yet angry.
"You shouldn't have come."
The darkness engulfed her once more. Sam had erased the memory.
"Sam, stop this! Stop doing this!"
The response returned much angrier than she could have expected, but not surprisingly so.
"Why should I listen to you now, Janet? Why do you even pretend to care?!?"
"Sam, I do care-"
The light flooded her again and, when she could see, Sam was no where to be found. In her hands was another phone, but this time she remembered where—and when—she was.
"Remember this, Janet?"
She bit her lip, remembering the terrible, unthinkable things she had said no more than a day ago.
"I remember Janet. But I won't for long."
Slumped back into the darkness, Janet fell to her knees. She couldn't keep up with Sam, emotionally or chronologically. She was one step ahead of her in the memory stream and Janet wasn't going to catch up. She closed her eyes and cried softly.
"I'm sorry, Sam," she said to the darkness. She knew that Sam probably wasn't there anymore. She had probably gotten far enough from Janet in her mind to keep her from tagging along into the next memory.
"Sam, forgive me."
She didn't know where to go. Maybe she could jump to a more recent memory, stop Sam there. But that wouldn't do much, would it? She would have forgotten so much by then. Cassandra, Jack, Daniel, they would all be figments of her imagination by then.
Cassandra. Cassandra loved Sam. Could she really do that to...
Janet stood up straight and concentrated on Cassandra. If Sam could pull her into memories, Janet could only hope that she could do the same.