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The panic that filled her was absolutely mind numbing. It had taken hold of her the moment she had realized that she didn't have the healing device. Sam took several deep breaths. Okay. No reason to fall apart. Think! What had happened to the device after Janet took it from my hand? She frantically searched her memory.
Running on automatic pilot, she made her way to her lab. She'd been so tired...no, she had been utterly exhausted...by the time Casey had indicated that the cancer had been eradicated from Rachel's body. She'd been able to sense that the healing had been completed...she'd felt as if there had been 'feedback' from the device. She was left to assume that what she had experienced was how the Goa'uld, and any Tok'ra who used the device, knew when the healing was done. It had taken several seconds for her to recognize that feedback, and by that time, Casey had quietly and efficiently let them all know that it was over.
There was no doubt in her mind that one of her friends had the device. Damn it! She'd wanted to be the one to return it...so that the security monitors, had they picked up anything, would have shown her putting the device in Casey's purse, and then bringing it back. She alone would have borne any repercussions had her actions been noted. Now...
She flipped on the lights in her lab. Tossed her purse into the locker beside the door. Great, more reports, she grumped silently, reaching for the folder on the work table. She was so not in the mood to deal with reports right now.
Her fingers brushed against something as she lifted the folder. Her heart nearly stopped beating. She sent up a prayer of relief. The device was sitting on top of the tag that was to remain with it at all times. Right beside her notes concerning the other device that had been discovered, and seemed to be similar.
Before she could completely relax, she heard two airmen talking as they walked by the door to her lab.
"...right there. I mean, it wasn't obvious at first, but when they played the tape the second time, there it was, plain as day. I sure didn't think she had it in her."
"That's something, all right. Who all has seen the tape?"
"Well, so far..."
The voices faded before she heard the full reply. Once again her heart couldn't seem to make up its mind whether to stop completely, or beat so fast it felt as if it were going to explode. There was no way she was letting her teammates go down for this. It had been her idea from the beginning. She had...coerced...them into helping her. For him. Her love for Jack had been her sole motivating factor.
She toyed with the device for a moment. If she went to the general, confessed before she was confronted, would that grant her a bit of leniency? She snorted softly. Sure, life imprisonment instead of execution. Maybe, she thought, she'd just slip through the 'gate. Live elsewhere.
No. She'd made the decision. And given the same circumstances, she'd do it all again. But it was time to face the consequences of her actions. She glanced around the room. She'd miss working here. She'd miss going on missions...even the ones where things went tits up and they were running or fighting for their lives. She'd miss her friends. She'd miss Jack more than anything or anyone else.
Back ramrod straight, Major Doctor Samantha Carter, astrophysicist and second-in-command of the SGC's premier team, was ready to face whatever was the result of her actions.
The general didn't even look up when she tapped on the door, and he barked his command to enter. That he appeared to be in a bad mood was just typical of her luck, Sam thought morosely. And, no doubt, that bad mood was a result of what he'd seen on the security tapes.
The minute he looked at her, General Hammond was aware that something was very wrong. "Major, what can I do for you?"
Standing at rigid attention, her eyes straight ahead, staring at one of the awards that was framed and sitting on a shelf opposite of her, she willed her voice to remain firm. "I just want you to know, sir, that the idea was mine alone, and that I will bear full responsibility."
Hammond frowned. "All right. Now, what is it that you're accepting responsibility for?"
Her eyes dipped to the general. She had expected to see anger. Maybe even disappointment. He was looking at her with a mixture of confusion and curiosity. She began to worry...had she just screwed up? Her conscience poked her. It didn't matter. She had broken the rules. And she needed to deal with that. Come what may.
A A A A A A
Casey had just turned on her computer, was waiting for it to go through the various security scans when she shivered from head to toe. A feeling of absolute dread washed over her. A flash of bright light..."Oh, hell no!"
Daniel looked up in time to see his Wife dashing out the door. "Casey?" He was on his feet, following her. It was possible that this...whatever 'this' was...was related to her dream, or nightmare, the night before. He caught up with her at the elevator. "What's going on?"
"Sam is about to do something very stupid."
"Sam is? What?"
The elevator doors opened, Casey jumped into the car and jabbed the number '27'. "She's going to tell Hammond."
"Tell him what?" Daniel asked a bit impatiently. The look his Wife gave him was all the answer he needed.
"She's going to try to convince him that she acted totally on her own."
"But...she didn't," Daniel stammered.
She rolled her eyes. "Sweetheart, you have a habit of stating the obvious."
"So sue me," he muttered.
The elevator stopped, and the doors opened on level twenty-five. Jack stepped in, a mug of coffee in hand. "Hello, campers."
"Your girlfriend is an idiot," Casey complained.
"Who? What? Huh?"
"Very articulate," Daniel snickered.
"What in the hell is going on?" Jack demanded.
"Sam is about to confess all to the general," Casey replied. She was staring daggers at the light above the door.
When the elevator stopped on level twenty-seven, three bodies shot out as if the hounds of hell were nipping at their heels. Personnel in the corridor flattened themselves against the walls as the three raced by.
"General...she didn't do it alone!" Casey declared, nearly crashing into the door as she sped around the corner.
General Hammond looked up in surprise. "What in the world?"
"Sir, Sam didn't do it alone. We were with her. We helped her," Casey said, breathing hard.
"It was a team effort," Daniel added.
"With my full approval," Jack tossed in.
Sam nearly moaned out loud. If these three bumbling idiots and their big, wonderful hearts hadn't burst in, she was certain she could have convinced the general that she had acted alone.
"What is going on?" General Hammond demanded, rising to his feet.
Glances were exchanged. "It was my idea, sir," Sam said, repeating her earlier declaration.
"But we helped," Casey insisted.
"What was your idea, Major?"
"Sir, on Friday evening, Jack's...er...Colonel O'Neill's sister arrived. She had come here to...well sir, she'd come to tell him goodbye, basically," Sam said. "She had breast cancer, stage four cancer."
"Stage four...I believe that's terminal, correct?" Hammond asked.
Another tidbit of her statement caught his attention. "Wait...she 'had' stage four breast cancer?"
"Yes, sir. You see, I knew that if we could use the Goa'uld healing device on her, we could cure it," Sam explained.
"You brought an unauthorized person into this facility?"
"No, sir. We stole...er...borrowed...the healing device, and Ja...um...we used the x-ray lab at the base hospital."
"That's right," a voice said from the door. "I set everything up," Janet said, stepping into the room. Teal'c was right behind her. Had they not seen Casey, Daniel, and Jack race out of the elevator, they'd have had no clue what was going on. The doctor had the weekend report for the general, and Teal'c had accompanied her, the two having met in corridor.
"Sir," Casey said softly. "We didn't do this for Rachel...Jack's sister. Well, we did. But we did it for Jack. Sir, he carries around more guilt than any man should. Knowing that we have the technology to save his sister, but doing nothing...that would have nearly killed him, sir."
"We couldn't let him go through that, General," Daniel said. "Not when we had options."
Jack ducked his head. Damned eyes were blurry. Must be tired or something. Definitely the 'or something'. He rubbed them with his thumb and index finger.
"You stole the device?" Hammond asked incredulously.
"No one saw it, no one has a clue what happened," Janet insisted. "And we brought it back. It's in Sam's lab now."
So Janet was the one who had returned it! Sam gave her friend a fleeting smile.
"SG-1, Doctor Fraiser, I will meet you in the briefing room in five minutes. We are going to fully discuss this!" the general barked. He wondered if this group had any idea how much heartburn they generated for him. Even when what they were doing was the right thing.
"Yes, sir!" Sam replied, snapping to attention.
The group trooped from the general's office into the adjoining conference room. Sam waited until they were all standing beside the table. "I could have handled this!" she hissed.
"Right," Casey said, staring her friend in the eye. "No way in hell would we have let you fall alone!"
"Sam, you couldn't have pulled this off without us," Daniel said gently.
"I beg your pardon?"
Jack smirked. The Space Monkey had done it now! Those sapphire blue eyes were full of fire.
"Okay, you could have," Daniel amended. "It wouldn't have been easy, chances are you wouldn't have been able to convince Rachel to let you help her."
"Sam, without Daniel's help, you wouldn't have been able to cure Rachel," Casey said softly. "There was just too much."
"A few more minutes, and I probably would have had to hospitalize you for exhaustion," Janet added, her hand on Sam's arm in a gesture of comfort, and friendship.
Sam deflated slightly. Every word was true. "But I could have taken the fall," she said simply.
"You aren't listening, major," Jack said, his voice low. "We're a team. We stand together. And we fall together."
"That is correct, Major Carter," Teal'c said.
The general listened from the doorway. He didn't have the details. But what had happened was so typical of SG-1 that he would have been more surprised if the attempt hadn't been made to save the colonel's sister. Which, apparently they had done. His concern at the moment was the security of the SGC and the Stargate Program. He cleared his throat, strode to his chair.
"I understand that there were several surprise...guests...Friday evening," the general started.
"Yes, sir. I've instructed the major to run any and all tests she can think of to determine just what had those family members crawling out of the woodwork at the same time," Jack said.
The general ducked his head to hide his amusement. "Now, tell me about stealing a piece of alien technology that now belongs to the United States Air Force."
Sam glanced around, received subtle nods from her teammates. "Well, sir. When Rachel told Jack...er...the colonel...well, I was sitting there as well," she clarified, "about her cancer, I could see that it totally devastated him. She told him that she wasn't going to do any chemo, that she wasn't going to spend the last months of her life so sick that she wanted to die."
The general nodded. He glanced at Jack. Noted that the man's eyes were on his hands, which were folded on top of the table.
"Sir, Colonel O'Neill has served his country and been instrumental in saving this planet numerous times," Sam said.
"Both facts of which I'm well aware, major," Hammond replied quietly.
"I wanted to help Rachel, mostly because I didn't want J...the colonel to carry more guilt. I knew that we had devices here, if not the Goa'uld healing device, then possibly something from the Tollans or the Tegerians would have helped. Would have at least made the cancer...manageable," Sam continued.
"But you decided to steal the Goa'uld healing device to try first?"
"And just how did you pull that off?"
Sam glanced at her teammates, then launched into a description of what she had done, how the device had been carried out, how Janet had set up the appropriate appointment for the x-ray lab, and the form that Rachel had signed. Which, Janet informed them quietly, hadn't yet been destroyed.
Janet added that she realized that Casey's input would be needed to know exactly when the cancer had been obliterated, and that Daniel's assistance, as The One, had been required as well.
Hammond sat back in his chair. "Doctor, I want to see that form."
The general shook his head. "I can't believe that you, the premier team of the SGC would do something so irresponsible! I don't dare let this pass...other teams strive to emulate SG-1, and I sure as hell don't need any of them trying to pull off hair-brained schemes such as this! So far, only SG-1 has enough experience in being stupid to succeed!"
Nervous glances were exchanged.
"I'm pleased that the colonel's sister has been cured of her cancer. I'm also relieved that you were smart enough to think up a plausible cover story."
More exchanged glances.
"There will be a reprimand entered into each of your jackets concerning this affair," the general informed them.
Jack cleared his throat. "Uh...formal reprimands, sir?"
"No, unofficial, Colonel."
The nervous glances had changed to shocked looks.
"The reprimand will be for failing to follow established protocol, and keeping me informed of such...activities. From now on, in a situation such as this, I expect to be notified, and a full mission report presented. Any plans necessary will be made and approved by me. I expect a full report concerning this...operation...from each of you. On my desk by five this afternoon. Do I make myself perfectly clear?"
Smiles broke out on every face. "Yes, sir," Jack said, answering for his team.
"Doctor, I want to see that form immediately. To make certain we're completely covered."
"Yes, sir," Janet replied.
Casey smiled at the general. "Thank you, sir."
For the first time since the team had burst into his office, the general allowed himself to smile. "You're welcome. For the record, I understand exactly how each of you were feeling. This issue is bound to arise again. I for one, have no intention of letting anyone in the SGC suffer such a calamity if we can prevent it. While we must maintain secrecy at all times, if we are in a position to offer aid to anyone, which includes citizens of our own country, and especially family members, then I intend to do so to the best of our ability, remaining within the parameters in which we must operate."
The smiles went wider. "That's very generous, sir," Daniel said.
"We deal with death and disaster every day. If we can offer life...a bit of hope, then I believe it's our duty to do so," the general replied. "I want those reports, people. Dismissed."
The team rose to their feet. Watched as the general returned to his office. Sam looked at Casey. "How in the world did you-" She broke off when Casey tapped her temple.
"Don't you ever do anything like that again," Casey said softly. "Like Jack said, we stand together, and we fall together."
"Indeed," Teal'c said. "Is that not what family does?"
"Indeed, Teal'c," Jack said jovially. "Indeed."
"I'm hungry," Casey announced.
"I haven't had breakfast, either," Janet said.
"I was too freaked out to eat," Sam admitted. "I was panicked over the device. Thanks for putting it back."
Janet smiled. "Anytime."
"You know what sounds good?" Jack asked.
"What?" Daniel responded.
"Rooty-tooty fresh and fruity."
"IHOP?" Daniel's eyebrows went up.
"Why not?" Jack questioned.
"Okay, topside in fifteen?" Casey suggested.
The team scattered, intent on putting their work for the day on hold. They would put on their civilian clothes, and go celebrate the fact that none of them would be facing prison time...or worse...for what they had dared to do. Which was what SG-1 always did, in spite of possible consequences...the right thing.
A A A A A A
Rachel paced the waiting room. Bob was still upset...furious actually...that she had submitted to an 'experimental' treatment. As soon as she'd told him about it, he'd been on the phone to Dr. Kulodochuk. Who had wanted to see her immediately. He'd done an exam on her, taken blood, and then sent her for a CT scan. Neither her husband nor her doctor were amused when she pointed out that the radiation from those particular tests was probably more dangerous than what she'd undergone at the military hospital.
When the doctor had demanded to know exactly what had been done, she'd described the procedure as best that she could. Had informed him that Dr. Fraiser had requested copies of any CT scans he performed. Whether or not that would actually happen was anyone's guess, Rachel thought.
When Dr. Kulodochuk had immediately expressed disbelief that a laser could be programmed as Dr. Fraiser had claimed, she felt the first niggling of doubt. Then, when he had declared that it was impossible for the doctor to have succeeded in eradicating all of the cancer in her body in a single hour, her doubts became stronger.
So she paced. Waiting for the results. Insisting, to herself and her husband, that she felt better...healthier...than she had in ages. The fact that her spirit was lighter now that she had made peace with her brother was no doubt partially responsible for her sense of well-being.
"Mrs. Ward, the doctor will see you know," the nurse announced.
Bob stood, wrapped his arm around her shoulders. "I'll sue his ass if there's damage from this," he hissed.
"No, you won't. Because I agreed to the procedure."
"Well, I didn't!"
"I love you, Bob. But in this case, your approval doesn't matter," she replied calmly.
Dr. Kulodochuk was sitting behind his desk, the envelop containing the CT scan images in front of him. His expression was one of disbelief.
"Doctor?" Bob asked anxiously.
"Rachel, are you certain the procedure was only an hour long? And that a laser was used?"
"I know it was only an hour, I heard Doctor Fraiser say something about the fact that the room had been reserved for another procedure at eleven," she replied.
"Doctor?" Bob growled.
"Every anomalous granule is gone. The tumor has been reduced in size, and appears to be...well, burned. I want to remove it as soon as possible, but I believe we can do that rather easily. Your blood work is good. All levels right where they should be. Rachel...you're cancer free!" the doctor announced.
Bob gasped. "You're sure? There aren't any burns or scars or anything? That laser didn't do any damage to her?"
"I have no idea what sort of 'laser' was used," Dr. Kulodochuk admitted. "However, there isn't a mark on her, and there are no signs of tissue damage."
Rachel sat back in her chair, not aware of the fact that she had been holding her breath. Gone! She was cancer free! She was going to live!
"I would like copies of-"
She shook her head. "The procedure was experimental...and top secret. My brother and his friends risked their careers to offer me the opportunity to...participate. I signed a very iron-clad confidentiality contract."
The doctor shook his head. "This is a miracle. If they can perfect this, we can eradicate cancer. The possibility of 'correcting' other cellular damage is mind-boggling. We could be on the verge of medical history!"
"Doctor Fraiser said that it would be years before the procedure had 'cleared' proper channels to be shared with the civilian world, and that the safety protocols are so tight that it would take several more years after that to be accessible."
"I was afraid of that," Dr. Kulodochuk sighed. "However, if the technology exists, it will eventually be available. For now, I'd like to continue monitoring you. MRI every four months."
Rachel nodded. As quickly as the cancer had reappeared, and grown out of control, she wouldn't argue.
"Congratulations, Rachel," the doctor said softly. "It looks as if you're going to live a long, healthy life."
Her smile was as wide as it was full of relief. "Thank you."
"If you start feeling ill, or even suspect that something might be wrong, call me immediately," the doctor said, rising to his feet.
"I will, I promise," Rachel replied.
Dr. Kulodochuk shook hands with Bob. Hugged Rachel tightly. "Have a good week."
"I'm certain I will," she smiled.
She waited until they were the Mustang before turning to face her husband. "Do you have to go back to work this afternoon?"
"Oh, I thought maybe we could lay around in bed. Talk about the first thing that comes up."
He snorted. "Talk about it?"
"Or whatever. I'm sure we'll think of something to do."
Bob grinned. "Oh, I think together we can find something to entertain us."
"I love you."
"I love you too, Rach."
"I'm glad we didn't tell the kids."
"Me, too. This miracle cure would be a bit difficult to explain."
He took her hand, squeezed her fingers gently. "Maybe I'll send your brother a thank-you card."
"I don't have to deal with the thought of losing you," he replied softly.
"I think Jack would be glad to know that he spared you from that fate."
"Really. He's gone through hell, Bob. I know him. He wouldn't wish that on anyone. I'm just lucky I'm his sister, and he was able to...pull strings...to get this treatment for me."
He contemplated that thought for a moment. "Yep, definitely need to send a thank-you note."
A A A A A A
Jack hadn't been home more than a few minutes when the doorbell rang. He glanced through the window. A van from a local florist was in the driveway. What the hell?
He opened the door. "Yes?"
"Colonel Jack O'Neill?"
"Delivery, sir. Just sign here."
Jack signed the form on the clipboard. Accepted the arrangement of colorful flowers. He sat it on the table, pulled the card from the envelope.
He smiled. "You're welcome," Jack whispered. Five faces danced in front of him. "Thanks, kids," he said softly.
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