Chapter Seventy Three
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They had both been told to be good and lay down for observation purposes in the infirmary for the night.
Amber relaxed on the bed, listening to the heated verbal battle Jonathan was having with himself.
He always had this little internal fight when he knew someone else might be right, but he didn't want to let go of his pride and admit it.
It was truly enlightening to listen to someone else's thoughts.
You didn't just get carefully controlled dialogue, but a blast of good, evil, and mundane thoughts all coated with layers of emotion.
Too complex to understand at first, sometimes taking an hour or so before clicking into place.
A blond nurse moved to the side of her bed, distracting Amber.
She hadn't met this nurse before.
"Hello, Dr. Corvores. I'm here to administer a light sedative Dr. Warren believes will help you and the Colonel achieve a deep enough sleep that your link may go dormant."
Amber wrinkled her nose at Jonathan's immediate suspicion.
**They got that...how exactly?**
**Well, they have been working on it the entire time we've been in here.**
**Ask what's in it.**
**Too late. He's already injected it into the IV.**
**I don't understand why they want us to spend the night in the infirmary.**
**Yes, you do.**
**How long until you're out of it.**
**I don't know. Probably a moment.**
**Well, at least if you're asleep, I'll have some peace and quiet.**
Jack looked over where Amber was beginning to sleep.
He yawned, feeling her fatigue.
If he were lucky, though, he wouldn't fall asleep, too.
He was tempted to get some caffeine, but wasn't sure if it would interfere with Amber's sleep and so contented himself with waiting for Teal'c.
The infirmary spooked him way too easily now and he hated that feeling.
He watched the blonde nurse moving around Amber's bed.
"Who are you?"
The nurse looked up at him.
He wasn't familiar.
"I'm Nurse Harkner, sir."
Jack grinned to himself.
He was just getting paranoid about blondes.
Jack settled back against the bedding, waiting for them to force him to take a sedative, too.
After what had to be ten minutes, he realized he could get out.
Carefully getting up, he slipped past each and every person he had to until he was in Daniel's office.
He breathed deeply, knowing Teal'c would go to the infirmary and then to here, looking for him, after he got out of General Hammond's impromptu meeting with SG-7.
As he looked around, a small, opened package on Daniel's desk caught his eye.
Knowing he was the only one there, he walked over and gently lifted it so he could see.
Pulling out a small recorder, Jack grinned.
Daniel had mentioned he was going to get a new one to replace the one Sam smashed.
Now that had been something to see.
Jack saw the tape was completely rewound and was curious if Daniel had put anything on it, yet.
He pushed play.
"Major O'Neill, I want you to recount for me to the best of your knowledge, what happened in Iraq. Remember that you have been ordered to release confidential information, including the nature of your mission there, in this de-briefing and only in this de-briefing. Do you understand?"
Jack stood there, stunned.
He shut the recorder off, but there was no way to shut off the images.
They weren't as strong anymore as they used to be, but they still chilled him to the bone.
At least Amber was asleep and so wouldn't get these.
Jack felt his knees shake a bit and sat down hard in Daniel's chair, griping the desk.
Why would someone give Daniel a recording of his de-briefing?
* * * * * *
"You were shot by a bullet. I am healing you."
Amber looked around, her attention drifting.
"Where am I?"
"Your people left you behind. We rescued you."
Amber immediately quieted as the full implications of that statement ripped through her brain.
They wouldn't do that.
They knew what would be done to her.
How could they...how?
"Who are you?"
"An underground resistance. You are lucky we found you first."
The man's voice echoed, making Amber shake her head, wondering what was wrong with her ears.
"So I can go?"
"As soon as your insides have healed."
Amber began to get drowsy and attributed to her exhaustion the impression that the man's eyes glowed.
* * * * * *
Teal'c walked into DanielJackson's office, knowing O'Neill had taken his first opportunity to get out of the infirmary.
Teal'c smiled to himself as he imagined O'Neill's flight.
It would have been stealthy, but fast.
Teal'c's eyes fixed themselves on O'Neill's white knuckles and immediately moved so he could pry them off the desk.
O'Neill was staring straight ahead at nothing Teal'c could see.
He knew signs of shock and looked for evidence of an attack.
Seeing nothing changed from when he had stepped in here before O'Neill had gone to the infirmary, he tried to get O'Neill's attention.
The Colonel's eyes moved and he relaxed.
"What is this, O'Neill?"
O'Neill's brow furrowed.
"It's the de-briefing I gave after I got back..."
Teal'c's eyebrow raised when O'Neill sighed and ran his hand through his shock of blonde, grey, silver, and brown hair.
It was most intriguing hair.
"After what, O'Neill?"
The Colonel sighed and looked up at him.
Teal'c saw unshed tears and a slow anger built up at the helplessness O'Neill's memory obviously brought back.
He knew from pieces of conversation with O'Neill and listening to what he told the other members of the team that he had been imprisoned before, enduring much, but he was never specific.
Teal'c refused to let him go back to such a time without him.
* * * * * *
The smell of burning flesh grabbed Amber's sense of smell and tangled with it until Amber gagged.
Her eyes shot open and she stared around her.
The motion she'd felt was the sensation a moving vehicle induced.
She looked up, noting the burned corpse next to her with disgust, but not surprise.
Two of the eight men started kicking the corpse, taking what sounded like bets.
Each time a limb broke off, cheers and groans were heard.
Something told Amber this wasn't the first time this had been done.
A large man in the corner shared a look with her for a moment.
The look matched the one the healer man had looked at her with.
Her attention was distracted as the corpse fell in half.
A small pendant fell to the ground from the charred body and was quickly snatched by the large man.
No one questioned him, but they did look at him a bit oddly.
Suddenly, Amber's eyebrows drew together as a thought hit her.
Surreptitiously, she felt her abdomen where she'd taken the bullet.
Nothing, not even a scar.
Had it been a dream, then?
Looking around the truck-like vehicle, she realized she could probably make a controlled jump through the open back if she was fast enough.
Carefully positioning herself while the men were distracted, she slammed the closest one against another and jumped, easily clearing the edges of the opening.
She rolled roughly as she hit the ground, jumped up, and started running.
A low roar sounded behind her and she risked glancing back just as a smaller vehicle sideswiped her from behind.
Her last thought as her body hit the ground, was of how bad a day she was having.
* * * * * *
The Colonel's jaw tightened.
"It was a long time ago, Teal'c."
"Not so long it does not still haunt you."
O'Neill gave a sharp sigh.
"Yeah. It's hard to get over that kinda thing, ya know?"
"I do not know, O'Neill. You refuse to tell me."
"Teal'c...it's rough. I was only there for four months, but I didn't know that until I was released at the end of hostilities. I wasn't sure how long I'd been there."
"Were you alone, O'Neill?"
"No, never alone. At least, I'm pretty sure even when I thought I was alone I wasn't."
Teal'c knew his sarcasm had slipped through without his permission when O'Neill's mouth curved a bit.
"Teal'c, I wish I could tell you, but just having old memories going through my head are bad enough. To re-tell it...to re-live it...I can't."
"Yet you are reliving it, O'Neill. Alone. I see the turmoil the images cause in your eyes....in your soul."
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