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Self-Medication at Oh-Three-Hundred Hours
The next yawn is nearly wide enough to dislocate my jaw. I have the results of Colonel O’Neill’s lab reports up on the monitor, but the text is drifting in and out of focus, and I decide that maybe Nurse Patterson was right this time. Four hours–-after forty on the job--really isn’t enough rest before coming back on duty.
Oh, good, Patterson did make a new pot of coffee. I can smell it from here, now that I’m paying attention. I try not to advocate any type of drug dependancy, but occasionally you need something to get you through an unusual event, and I think this definitely qualifies. Add some physical movement, and I should wake up enough to do my job.
After refilling my travel mug, I head for the main room of the infirmary. Normal patient rounds can be covered by nurses, by the night staff of doctors. So what if I prefer to check on them myself? Such possessiveness isn’t unknown in the medical profession; our patient’s lives are in our hands, and that breeds an almost pathological sense of responsibility.
The fact that I consider the members of SG-1 my friends has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that my four hours off were spent in dozing on the edge of an adrenaline rush instead of in true sleep. Simply because one event follows another in chronology doesn’t mean it was caused by the first event.
And I do have other patients right now.
I stop at the end of Lt. Randolph’s bed and take a look at his chart. His latest labs came back good, though I check him out personally to be sure–-his color still isn’t what it should be, and while he’s breathing on his own, it’s still a bit labored. He’s out of the woods, but just barely.
I wonder how close SG-7 was. How much the survivors will miss the fallen.
I duck my head just long enough to wipe moisture from my eyes and hang Randolph’s chart back in its place.
Then I pick up my coffee and head around the corner to check on the other remaining member of SG-7. That’s when I hear a noise from further down the room. I turn and hurry back to reach the partition and peer around it.
Sam Carter’s having a nightmare.
That shouldn’t surprise me, but it does. I mean, she’s part of SG-1. That team carries enough collective emotional baggage to supply the entire base, and I’m not counting anything they accumulated before they joined the project.
Teal’c, of course, doesn’t dream at all. I’ve seen the other two human members of the team half-wake, crying (that would be Daniel) or with a shout (Colonel O’Neill, though he often denies having dreamed at all).
Sam usually sleeps like the dead, showing her dreams only in the REM-twitch of her eyelids. Tonight, though, one hand clutches at her blanket as her head turns restlessly on the pillow, as if she’s trying to escape, or as if she’s searching for something. On the heels of my surprise comes a spark of guilt; her team barely made it back alive, and she’s the only one of the four trying to sleep without pain meds and a sedative.
I move, intending to wake her, offer her something to keep the dreams at a distance.
But Sam beats me to it, sitting up with a sharp gasp, one hand finding the bed rail and latching onto it for support. Knees half drawn up beneath the tangles of her blanket, she sits there, eyes closed and breathing hard.
She won’t thank me if I walk in on her like this. After she’s calmed herself down, I’ll try again. I step back but stay where I can observe her. She seemed to be all right when they came back, but I wouldn’t mind checking her vitals again. I have no idea what those Goa’uld cryopods actually do to a human body.
Another couple breaths and Sam lifts her head. Every line of her body is suddenly taut. Abruptly, she turns to her right, towards the next partition over, every scrap of her attention focused in that one direction. I can’t figure out what she’s doing, even when her fingers fumble over the back of her left hand, and the bandage from the earlier IV. Is she even awake yet?
She rolls out of the infirmary bed, moving with a loose, sleep-drunk stagger. I’ve guessed, by then, where she’s headed, but I still can’t figure out why. If she does anything stupid, I’m close enough to pull her back. Otherwise.... There’s a purpose to her motion, and I don’t want to interfere until I understand it.
Colonel O’Neill is behind that partition. Sam stops just short of it and stands for a moment, looking hesitant. Then she bows her head, eyes closed, one hand resting lightly against the partition for support. I wonder if she’s praying; that’s not something I associate with her. Then her head tilts, as if she’s straining to listen. She holds that pose, and her breath, for several long moments.
Her shoulders relax, dropping with a sudden, audible sigh.
Of course. I want to slap myself for being so dense. If that symbiote had succeeded in blending with the Colonel, Sam would be able to sense it. And she can’t, because it didn’t; it’s dead. The Colonel’s fine.
Sam lifts her head. With two quick steps, she can peer around the partition, but she stays there only a few seconds. I know what she sees: the visual counterpart to her relief, Jack O’Neill resting peacefully for once. Safe. Intact.
Another sigh, obviously relieved this time, and Sam is headed back to her bed. I duck back to avoid being seen. Her movements are more sure now, more aware. She tucks herself neatly beneath the covers and rolls onto her side, fingers curled softly under one cheek.
It takes all of ten seconds for me to be sure she’s really asleep. Every line of her face has relaxed, lashes brushing the curve of her cheeks, hair sticking out like dandelion fluff. She looks like a child in this moment of stolen peace. Almost like Cassie.
There’s no way I’m going to wake her now. In fact, I should go find Patterson and bet him twenty bucks Sam won’t stir till after oh-eight-hundred hours. I back away slowly, feeling the weight of my coffee cup (along with the weight of my eyelids) growing heavier. Four hours was definitely not enough.
But I know they’re all right, now. Sometimes the patient knows better what to do for herself than her doctor does. I’ll leave them to it.
Maybe I’ll actually rest this time.