He had been wrong to think there were no cells on that level just because he hadn't seen them.
They dragged him back along the passage, oblivious to his protests, lifting him just enough so that he was unable to get any real purchase on the floor, and he was grateful for the protection of the heavy boots he wore as his feet scraped over the uneven ground. The cell to which he was taken was nothing like the one he and Jack had shared the night before. Lightless, airless, running with damp and redolent with decay: he shuddered as the guard pushed him, stumbling, into the chamber and in the first moment he finally found some insight into what Jack must have endured during his captivity all those years ago. Sokhar's planet wasn't hell - this was.
The door to this cell was not made of stone but of heavy iron and swung arthritically on rusted hinges that screeched in protest as it was forced shut, slamming into place in the metal frame with deafening force. He was reminded of a tomb he had once visited, dark and dank, the way in barred with steel doors to keep out tomb robbers; the difference then had been that he was with a dozen other people and could come and go as he pleased. The sound of the door closing now was slow to echo away, then there was only silence and darkness and solitude. .
Treading slowly, lifting each foot and placing it carefully down before throwing his weight onto it for the next step, he felt his way inch by inch to the wall somewhere ahead of him, lost in the gloom. It was cold beneath his fingers and its surface was wet and - slimy. So, he had been right about the sound of running water, the rear wall here obviously ran alongside a river or, from the pervading stench, a sewer. Well, at least his captors wouldn't have to worry about killing him. A few hours in here and he would probably be carried off by some nasty little disease...
Not that he cared. Nothing mattered anymore, not now that he had lost Jack.
Moving away from the outer wall, he found a dry patch near the door and sat down to await whatever fate had been chosen for him. The only light came, via a grille in the door, from the torch out in the passageway and did little to alleviate the darkness. Against this backdrop of almost-black, his mind replayed the last moments with Jack. Well, at least now he knew who - or what - was responsible for their capture and for the execution of the other SG team they had found near the gate. The only question as yet to be answered was which one of the Goa'ulds had taken Jack as host, and how. Had he been given an ultimatum, as Hathor had done - become a Goa'uld host or watch his friends die in agony - or had he been taken by physical force, as Sha're and Skaara, unable to prevent what was being done to him? Either way, Daniel could only begin to imagine what Jack - the part of him now locked away - must be enduring at that moment. During Skaara's Triad on Tollana they had been able to prove, once and for all, that the host did survive and had gone on to learn from the Abydosian just how much of what the hosts body was forced to do by the parasite, was retained in the mind of the host, even after separation.
Drawing up his knees, he rested his folded arms on them and lay his head down. God, what a mess! Was this the breakpoint, the moment at which things truly could not get any worse? Sam and Teal'c were missing, Jack had been taken as host by a Goa'uld whose powers and intent were as yet an unknown quantity, and he himself was once more out of the game, locked up here to await his fate.
And then he remembered....
**Take him to the cells and put him with one of the others**. Jack had said that. Well, he was in the cell, so the others must be... where?
"Is anyone there?"
Silence... and then... the muffled sound of movement, laboured, full of pain. Something scraped on the ground - a boot? - and a raw throat coughed as if to clear an airway.
Relief was fleeting - "Sam? - as he went forward one... two... three paces, caught his foot against something hard and went down heavily on his knee.
He crawled to the sound of her voice, one hand for balance, the other stretched out, seeking contact. And then she was clutching his hand and he was pulling himself towards her, laughing and crying at the same time, barely able to catch his breath as he swept her into his arms. Alive! She was alive!
"Sam... Oh God... Oh Sam..."
He was sobbing his relief into her hair even as he felt her hot tears trickle down his neck. She was shaking, not a response to the unexpected reunion but a terrified trembling that cut through her whole body, forcing her breath out in tiny, frantic gasps, his name repeated over and over in a litany of disbelief.
"It's me," he promised her. "It's okay, I'm here... I'm here..." He could see the pale oval of her face now as his eyes adjusted to the darkness, and he smoothed her hair back and pressed his lips reassuringly to her forehead. She was hot and clammy, feverish. His heart plummeted. Infection? Not surprising in here but how the hell was he supposed to deal with it!
"Thought you were... dead," she whispered. "They said... was... the only one..."
"No. No, I'm here." Then something else occurred to him. "The only one?" he repeated and felt her head motion assent against his chest. "So - where's Teal'c?"
"Don't know." Her voice, weak and thready, sounded frightened. That hurt. He couldn't recall ever hearing Sam frightened before, not like this. "Haven't seen anyone since.. woke up... Feels like days..."
"Actually it's only been... less than forty-eight hours... At least, I think it has. On the other hand, we had no way of knowing how long we were unconscious, so it could be... much longer..." He was babbling, he knew, and he shook his head, reaching for his scattered thoughts and gathering them together. If they were to get out of this he had to keep a clear head.
Shifting to sit beside her, he bumped against her in the darkness as he reached an arm around her shoulders, but her sudden cry of pain slashed through him even as she pushed him away again, forcing him to release her. Doubled over in agony, she sobbed out a stream of expletives as she clutched at her left leg, and it was then he remembered what Jack had said about one of their attackers maybe having an M-16. So, she had been shot. Still, if it was only in the leg it might be painful, but at least it wouldn't be life threatening.
"Here... Let me take a look..." he offered but she didn't move, remained hunched over, and when he reached to shake her shoulder she sagged and rolled to the side, barely conscious. Fear slithered through him as he eased her back against the wall, her head lolling weakly from side to side. Pain had drained the blood from her lips and face, her skin translucent against the dark of her uniform, and she could hardly open her eyes in response to him. Oh this was not good... Not good at all...
Moving to her other side to allow as much of the light as possible to fall across her, he began a hesitant examination of the injured leg. He didn't want to hurt her again, but it was unavoidable in these conditions, even though he worked as gently as he knew how and watched her face for any flicker of response.
She had ripped the cloth open around the wound and what appeared to be a linen handkerchief - once white, now soaked with blood - protruded through the opening. With a muttering of 'Sorry Sam', he grasped the pant leg and ripped it wide, exposing her leg from thigh to ankle. He knew he needed water and recalled seeing a container near the door. Far from fresh and smelling even less appetising than the water from the pump in the other cell, it was better than nothing and he carried it over.
Dried blood had sealed the handkerchief to the outer edges of the wound: dribbling water from one hand, he eased the cloth away, pausing each time she flinched from the touch. What he found, once the wound was fully exposed, made him shudder, a sick feeling starting in the pit of his stomach as he revised his earlier prognosis: maybe you could die from a thigh wound after all, if it was left untreated.
The bullet had gone through the fleshy outer part of her thigh, an inch or two below the joint: he wondered, was 'through-and-through' good or bad? He tried to remember what Janet had taught him but fear of his own ineptitude now muddled the lessons in his mind. Whatever, the wound was open, a sizeable chunk of flesh missing. If they got out of this she would have one hell of a scar to boast about. It needed stitching, but that would have to wait, and so too would anything approaching a sterile dressing with which to staunch the blood still oozing from the torn tissue. He and Jack had quickly found that, with the exception of a solitary handkerchief, they had been stripped of everything they carried, from weapons down to the last stick of gum he had slipped into his pocket on the way out of the locker room and he guessed it would have been the same for Sam, which meant he would have to - improvise. Great. Using part of her clothes was out. She had been sitting in the filth for more than a day and her uniform was caked with - well, with a sewer running along the back wall maybe it wasn't a good idea to go too deeply into what might be mixed in with the mud. Suffice it to say the wound was already inflamed and it would hardly be likely to improve things if he let any more crud get into it.
Think 'infection', he told himself, Think blood poisoning... gangrene... He rubbed a hand across his face, wishing Jack was here. He'd dealt with this kind of thing before in combat situations. Jack would know what to do...
"Jack." The word slipped from his lips and he screwed up his face as he remembered - there was no 'Jack' anymore, at least, not one who would be in any hurry to help. Damn!
Sam's pain-filled moan brought him back to reality. Her temperature was up and the restless rocking of her head from side to side warned that she was slipping away from him. Whatever he had to do - whatever he could do - had to be done now.
Dragging off his coat, he placed it carefully across her legs, keeping it as far off the filthy floor as he could while he tugged his t-shirt over his head. It had been soaked with sweat several times during his stay in the other cell, but compared to hers it was pristine. Pristine? But surely after crawling across the jagged ground his top had been ripped in a dozen places... And then he realised: this was Jack's top, switched unconsciously in the cell when they had stripped down in the fierce heat. He swallowed hard and pushed the memories aside to be dealt with later.
Pulling on the jacket again he zipped it, stuffing the t-shirt safely inside, then searched his pockets once more. If only he had something - even a tissue - to act as a barrier over the open wound. Nothing. Okay, Danny-boy, time to get familiar, he thought wryly as he began a thorough search of first her pants pockets, then her coat. No field dressings - but then, he hadn't expected to be so lucky - no handkerchiefs or tissues. He sighed and was about to give up when his fingers closed around something small and cylindrical wedged at the very bottom of a pocket. It was pliant to the touch and, more out of curiosity than any real hope, he pulled it out. Next moment he let out a whoop of relief as he realised what it was and thanked every deity, real and man-made, that Carter was a woman.
Nestled into his palm, safe and snug and, above all, sterile in it's plastic wrap, was a lone tampon.
A memory kicked in, something he had seen or heard, or read somewhere about how some bodyguards carried a tampon as part of their emergency 'kit' because they were sterile and highly absorbent and could be used to 'plug' a bullet wound.
He worked quickly after that, cleaning the deep furrow as best he could with the water, tearing the t-shirt into strips to use as a bandage, packing the wound with the little white cylinder and securing it in place. There was no way of knowing if he had done the right thing, if he had helped or only made things worse, but he had done all he could do with his oh-so-limited resources and now all that remained was to wait and hope.
For what? For Jack to come and rescue them? For Hammond to send another team through the gate? Hardly likely on either count. And if another team did come through, what then? Another ambush? Another massacre? Whatever happened, it would probably be too late for Sam.
Leaning against the wall, he eased her down until she lay across his legs, her head resting against his bare chest. Hands that shook from the combination of lack of sleep and food, and the stress of the situation, his fears for her and Teal'c, his despair for Jack, brushed the matted hair from her face and dribbled water over her cracked lips. Maybe they would be lucky and the monster that now controlled Jack would end their lives swiftly. On the other hand, maybe they would all end up as Jaffa. There was no way of knowing how it would go for them, although he knew which he would prefer.
Sam cried out in her sleep, the frenetic movement of her eyes beneath the blue tinged lids evidence that she was battling demons of her own as the infection spread through her body. He soothed her with soft words and gentle caresses, his lips murmuring against her fevered skin as he bowed his head to hers. He would stay with her, he vowed; whatever happened, he would stay with her.
After all, what more was left for him to do?
Go to Part 8