Chapter Eighty Two
*No, we have a farce.*
*No...think about it. We give the Tok'ra hosts, they tell us what to do. No exchange of technology or knowledge, just warnings and instructions. All patronizingly given. I'm with Washington there.*
Jolinar went silent for a moment, realizing how serious he was.
*Martouf did mention that Heru'hur's daughter had finally been rescued.*
*Yeah, but I didn't think about it at the time except to try to remember if she was mentioned in Egyptian history.*
*She is young...younger than Teal'c. It is highly unlikely she will be in your older books. As far as we know, she has never been to the Tau'ri.*
Amber's muffled scream ripped through Daniel's response, bringing everyone around to her.
Jack held her tight, trying not to scream, too.
Her next howl caught halfway, descending in racking sobs.
Her...his memories were filling his mind, too, now, but in pieces.
He watched, as if in the third person, as he went home.
Sara threw her arms around his neck, begging him to swear never to leave again, and then he was checking on Charlie in his room only to find him curled up in his and Sara's bed.
Amber shuddered against him, her strength spent.
He stroked her sweat-drenched forehead, trying to get through her anger and grief.
Finally, as she realized she was home and it wasn't a hallucination, her emotions came under control and the intensity of his memory lessened.
Jack smiled grimly, knowing he always remembered the bad things much more easily than the good things.
He smiled as he felt her come back to reality.
Her dry, crackly voice startled him.
**Do I sound as bad as I think I do?**
**Yeah, but it's a good bad. Better than what you've been doing.**
**I never knew.**
**Shh...you should never have found out.**
**My brain hurts.**
**I know. So does mine.**
**The link feels different.**
**Yeah, I know. Apparently we were implanted with something...no one knows exactly what, yet, and yours has been reported as removed. We'll need to carefully test the link again, to see what's changed.**
**I'm tired, but I don't want to sleep.**
**Yeah, I know.**
Coherent thoughts died and Jack concentrated on sending good emotions through the link, knowing they salved the bruising in his mind and might do the same for her.
Amber was sitting up, now, sipping the water Janet held for her.
**How did you live with that?**
**Yeah, I can feel that, too. I'm craving...something.**
**Don't. I mean, I know you can't help it, but don't give in to it. I'll help you.**
**That's why you only drink beer.**
**It's the only alcohol I can really safely handle, and even then I've stupidly cut it close a few times.**
**Ugh...I'm seeing, distantly, the re-hab centers.**
**I managed to go dry, not even drinking beer...until Charlie died. Then I didn't go dry until just before I was re-activated...**
Jack froze, feeling Amber slip into another memory.
He grasped for her mentally, but lost her as she drowned in another bad memory.
Gasping for air, he tried not to re-live it with her...succeeding only when Janet's hand clutched his arm, catching his attention.
Amber was sitting on Charlie's bed, in Charlie's room, with Charlie's things...and her gun.
The name filled her with grief, blunting her ability to see anything but his precious baseball glove, the Midget League award he'd been so proud to win, and the photo of him actually smiling for the camera in his little uniform.
I killed my son.
The horror rose in her heart as fast as the bile rose in her throat.
Her eyes descended from the photo and became fixed on the gun in her hands, her son's room closing in on her mind as she tried, desperately, to grasp that he was truly gone and it was her fault.
No way to atone.
He wasn't going to come running in, Sara calling out for him to shut the front door behind him as usual.
The cycle seemed to be unending.
Numbness...her heart chilled in its grip.
Then blinding rage, pain driving her anger until her eyes felt like they would burst from the force of her emotions.
All directed at herself.
There was no one else to blame.
Her mind would fasten on a memory and push it away as the pain gripped her.
Vertigo made her tip sideways a bit as the cycle led to sadness, a deep empty hole where Charlie's laughter should be.
The sadness led to numbness again.
Four rapid knocks breached her solitude just enough to make her fully aware of the way she was holding her gun.
Sliding the .357 magnum under Charlie's pillow, she tried to care who was at the door as it opened.
"Excuse me, Colonel O'Neill. We're from General West's office."
The words danced across her ears, recorded by her military mind for future review, but ignored by her conscious self in favor of her memory...her son dying from a head wound.
How could she have left the gun out?
"Sir, we're here to inform you you've been re-activated."
She might as well have taken him, held him down, put the gun to his head and pulled the trigger herself.
She couldn't even make a sound, her throat was so constricted with unshed tears.
I killed my son.
Jack finally shook her body, finally knocking her out of the memory.
His body was trembling with fatigue...her fatigue.
Amber sat up, horror in her eyes at the amount of stress and pain she'd gone through in such a short time.
She felt as if she'd aged years even though Jonathan was telling her it had only been hours.
Her brain felt as if it had been kicked and stomped on.
So did the rest of her body.
She knew it had to be psychosomatic, but her body didn't believe her.
Pain shot through her every time someone moved on the bed.
Knowing this, Jonathan kept still, earning her eternal gratitude.
Amber found her voice, trying to keep it from cracking.
"So what's going on?"
Hammond turned to her, and she fixed him with a gaze that froze him.
She knew she'd changed.
She couldn't help it.
"Colonel O'Neill and yourself were given some type of implant that was..."
Amber waved him on, sipping from the water glass again with Janet's help.
"Jonathan told me that. I mean what else do you know that isn't on those papers."
"I know a lot of things, but I don't like continually being put on the spot. I've done nothing wrong, except maybe disobeying orders by telling all of you this."
Amber sighed, apology in her eyes.
**He's in shock.**
**Everyone's in shock. You scared the bajeebers outa everyone. I'm still scared.**
**I know. I'm sorry.**
**Not your fault.**
Jack scooted so he was sitting against the headboard, noticing Daniel whispering to the General.
Amber curled so her head was in his lap and groaned.
She didn't have a single area that didn't sting or ache as she moved.
Jack looked up, catching Janet's eye.
She looked gorgeous with her brownish red curls just brushing her shoulders as she checked Amber's feet as gently as she could.
Amber groaned again, but this time it wasn't from the pain.
**Sorry. Can't help it.**
**I know, and it's definitely better than what I was just in, but please keep it low-key for a little while.**
**Not to worry. She's taking this really slow.**
**She's not the only one.**
**I keep expecting her to realize how old and battered I am. There are three guys I can name off the top of my head who've been trying to get with her.**
**So tell her or arrange for someone else to tell her and then see whether she stays with you.**
**She's not actually with me.**
**Oh please. Jonathan, if she were any more with you, you'd be married.**
Jack grinned at the image that brought to mind.
Amber just moaned and tried, unsuccessfully, to push it out of her mind.
She had enough to deal with without thoughts of Janet Fraiser running through her mind.
"Doc, why are you checking her feet?"
Janet looked up at him, her brown eyes concerned.
"Sir, they're moving strangely. I noticed it as she moved. They don't actually show damage from what I can tell without X-rays, but they're definitely reacting to pain."
"My feet were...well...hurt. She's probably just...umm..."
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