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A Storm of Shadows
Janet had banned most of the personnel from the infirmary, with the intention of performing all of the tests herself. Jessie had regained consciousness fairly quickly, but was definitely retreating into herself. The hardest part for Janet was telling Cam that he couldn’t come in. She knew Jessie was near the breaking point, and she didn’t need anything that might end up tipping her over. She pulled Jessie’s medical file, noting the date of her last Depo shot. Rolling a chair over to the bed, she began questioning Jessie.
"Jess, what makes you think you’re pregnant? You’re still within the safe zone from your last injection." She watched as the young woman’s eyes filled with tears, but her affect was blunted.
"I’ve been having morning sickness, mood swings, breast tenderness. I can even tell you when I ovulated, though at the time it didn’t dawn on me that’s what was happening. I didn’t think…if I had realized…"
Janet reached out and took Jessie’s hand, squeezing it reassuringly. "The Depo shot prevents ovulation, so you don’t become pregnant. You had your last injection not long before Neowe."
"That was before I got stuck in the sarcophagus," Jessie said quietly. "It ‘fixes’ everything, remember? Apparently even a Depo injection."
Janet sat back, her mind racing through the possibilities. "Okay, first things first." She went to a cabinet and retrieved a specimen cup. "Give me a urine sample, and we’ll do a pregnancy test."
Jessie did as Janet requested, and a few minutes later they were looking at the plus sign showing in the results window. Jessie curled up into a fetal position on her left side, staring straight ahead.
‘Damn it,’ Janet thought silently. She had never considered the possibility of a sarcophagus neutralizing contraceptive injections. Going down the list of tests to perform, Janet next drew several vials of blood. She figured she’d go ahead and do the routine post mission tests along with the serum pregnancy test. Processing all the vials appropriately, she then turned her attention to the quantitative beta hCG results. Frowned when she saw the level.
"Jessie? I need to know, as close as you can remember, actual dates…when you were in the sarcophagus, when you thought you were ovulating, and when Kutkh…well, when you had sexual intercourse." Janet was relieved when Jessie actually focused on her. The young woman had gone through an intensely traumatic experience, and Janet was worried about her level of withdrawal.
"The sarcophagus…I’m going to have to guess on that one, because I don’t remember being in it." Jessie frowned. "It was the day Colonel Mitchell was supposed to return from Washington. Pisano and I were hoping to get back before he did. Pisano and the children escaped. One of Ba’al’s guard fired his staff weapon and hit me. I remember Kutkh bending over me, telling me he was going to fix everything, picking me up. I blacked out, and woke up on board the ha’tak, completely healed. I…I managed to hold Kutkh off for about a week…six or seven days. I remember trying to think up an excuse the day he…that it happened. I thought about pretending to be sick, but I knew he’d just stick me in the sarcophagus. It was then I noticed the crampy twinges on the right side of my pelvis. If I had thought about it, I would have realized that’s how it felt when I ovulated, that it wasn’t from the injury, but I had other things on my mind."
Janet nodded as she made notes. "Mittelschmerz pain, from the egg being released. It usually happens midcycle, counting from the first day of the last period. Did you experience any bleeding after the sarcophagus?"
"Well, if the sarcophagus re-set your cycle, it sounds like you emerged at what would have been the end of the period. Take five to seven days, and add it to the six or seven days post sarcophagus, and it would be midcycle for you." Janet showed Jessie her notes. "The thing is, your hCG level from the pregnancy test on your blood is low…very low. Under normal circumstances with an accurate time line, your level should be at least 25,000, if not higher. Right now it’s right around 1500. Usually that would mean one of three things—the pregnancy timeline was miscalculated and you’re not as far along, you’ve had a miscarriage, or you have a blighted ovum, which is a gestational sac but no baby. An ultrasound will give us a clear diagnosis."
Jessie gave her consent, but if the truth be known, she really didn’t care. She had suffered enough at the hands of Kutkh that a pelvic exam and transvaginal ultrasound didn’t even show up as a blip on her radar. Of everything that had happened, being impregnated by a Goa’uld was the thing that had broken her spirit, and taken away any hope for what might be considered normal. In her eyes, she had lost everything.
Janet watched the screen as she performed the ultrasound. Finding the gestational sac had been easy…the measurements were consistent with an eight to nine week pregnancy. The sac itself, however, was empty. No yolk. No embryo. No baby. Janet had never thought she would feel such elation or relief from seeing a blighted ovum, but given the circumstances it was a blessing. She could even see where it was already starting to detach, nature taking its course and the body ridding itself of a nonviable pregnancy. And while Jessie seemed to relax a little when Janet gave her the news, showing her the evidence on the screen, she remained withdrawn. Not catatonic, but consistent with shock and severe depression. Janet talked with her at length, getting enough information from her single word answers to ascertain she needed inpatient treatment. As such, she placed a call to her friend, Dr. Crystal Bailey. Janet wouldn’t entrust anyone except her with Jessie’s care. She had the clearance needed, as well as the expertise. In Janet’s eyes, it was the best chance Jessie had at making a full recovery.
Jessie needed no convincing; she was more than willing to go. The rest of the gang understood, for the most part. Cam, however, had concerns, which he expressed privately to Janet.
"Jessie’s not crazy," he said as he tried to wrap his mind around what had happened to the woman he loved.
"I didn’t say she is, Cam. However, she has been traumatized, not only the physical injuries she sustained, but being drugged and raped over an extended period of time. And that’s just the parts she’s talked about. I don’t know to what extent the abuse goes to, physically and mentally. She’s got to be able to process it, talk about it and move past it before she can resume any type of normalcy. She’s pretty withdrawn, which is fairly common when dealing with these types of situations."
"Can I see her?"
Janet looked down at her desk. "I’m afraid not. She made it clear she wants no visitors, and she has the right to request that. I put in a call to Dr. Bailey. She’s a good friend of mine, and her specialty is helping survivors of sexual abuse. She works out of the Air Force Academy Hospital, and is the one best suited to give Jessie the help she needs. I think she would do better in a residential setting, rather than the psych ward at the hospital, and the treatment facility Dr. Bailey runs is the best there is." Janet knew Cam was hurting, but there was little she could do to change that. "This isn’t going to be a quick fix, Cam. It’s going to take time. Even when she’s released from the residential facility, it’s going to take time before she gets close to being her old self."
The pain he was feeling clearly showed on his face. "Is there even a chance of that happening?" he asked quietly.
Janet pressed her lips together in a tight line. "A chance…yes. She’s a strong woman, but I have a feeling she went through more than what she’s told us so far. The best thing we can do is be supportive, don’t make any demands, and give her time to heal." She tried to be encouraging. "Don’t give up on her, Cam."
"I won’t, Janet," he said, shaking his head. "I can’t." The young Colonel stood to go. "She’s everything to me—I am not going to lose her."
The next few days settled into a quiet uneasiness. Even though Jessie was back, things weren’t ‘right’, not by a long shot. That there was nothing anyone could do to help the process along made it that much worse. Business continued as usual, but the spark wasn’t there. Casey had taken a break to grab some coffee, but found herself drawn to Cam’s office. The door was closed, and normally she would have continued on her way, but something compelled her to knock lightly before opening the door, not waiting for a reply. She quickly stepped inside and closed the door, plunging the room back into darkness except for the illumination of the computer screen reflected on Cam’s face, the silent tears a testament to the pain he was experiencing.
"Cam?" she said softly, not wanting to intrude, but needing to just the same.
"Hey, Case," came the muted reply, his eyes not leaving the screen.
"Whatcha doing?" She contemplated calling Daniel, or Jack, but held off for the time being.
The silence stretched out before he finally replied, "Wondering if we’re too late."
Casey approached the desk cautiously, curious as to what had his rapt attention. "Too late?"
He finally looked up from the screen, and the raw pain reflected in his expression hit Casey like a physical entity. "I noticed it, when I got in and first saw Jessie. It’s even more apparent in this clip that son-of-a-bitch handed to me when I bought her. It’s like she’s not there anymore."
Casey felt a chill envelope her at his words. "Is…is it something I can see?"
Cam’s chair creaked as he scooted it over slightly, giving her room to come and stand beside him. He clicked the button on the mouse, restarting the video.
Casey leaned over slightly to get a better view of the screen. At first was more than mildly alarmed upon seeing Jessie and three other women obviously garbed as odalisques, with a lone male with them in the room. Clearing her throat, she uttered one word. "Kutkh?" Turned to see him nod. Although she was concerned about what she might see, she knew it was imperative that she witness what Cam was talking about, why he thought they might be too late. The audio was low, so Casey adjusted it so she could hear what was happening. Was surprised to hear music start playing, which turned to shock as she recognized the tune. Where the hell had they gotten music from Melissa Etheridge? Putting that thought aside, she watched as Jessie danced for Kutkh. That he was…pleased…with her performance was evident, which surely wasn’t an easy thing for Cam to witness. But, Casey soon realized exactly what Cam had been talking about. Kneeling on one knee, Casey got on eye level with the monitor, watching Jessie’s face. The first song morphed into the second one.
"No emotion," Casey whispered. "It’s like she’s…blank."
Cam’s voice cracked slightly. "It was the same when she was sitting in the room with the other women, when we were watching them through the two-way mirror. It’s like she’s not there anymore. Even when we got out and made it to the Tok’ra outpost, it was the same. At first I thought it was the adrenaline from the escape, the shock from the nanites. But in the meeting, when she wouldn’t even call me by my first name…"
It was at that moment in the video that Ba’al came into view, yanking Jessie up by her wrists, demanding to know about the Tauri music. Casey was more than surprised to see the anger, the venom reflected in the young woman’s eyes, especially given her precarious position and being threatened by Ba’al. After he had put her down, that she had the audacity to taunt him about his delicate senses even had Casey questioning Jessie’s sanity. The video went blank soon afterwards.
"No fear." Casey turned to Cam. "She had absolutely no fear with Ba’al there. The only time you have no fear like that, is when you have nothing left to lose." Understanding dawned on her at that moment. "She already thought she was pregnant during that video. Nothing left to lose, nothing to fear."
Cam leaned his head against the back of the chair, staring blindly upward. "If I had just gotten back earlier…or had taken Jessie with me to Washington…"
Casey placed her hand on Cam’s forearm. "Don’t." She knew he’d drive himself insane if he continued on that track. "Nothing you could have done would have changed this. This was coming, regardless." Casey tugged on his arm until he looked down at her. "You both knew the third shadow was going to be the hardest challenge of all, but the main thing was not to lose sight of your bond. Thoyetlini said for you it would be the eagle and jaguar would guide you through this. That would be strength, courage, wisdom, intuition, trusting your instincts. For Jessie it was the leopard and the raven, having the strength to overcome inner demons, communicating with the dream world, listening to what lies within. The raven is the keeper of secrets, great magic and healing. A shape shifter." Casey pointed to the computer. "That’s what you were seeing there, an example of a shape shifter." Casey tilted her head slightly to the right, staring at something only she could see. "Jessie hid herself, protected what is essentially her in order to deal with what she had to endure. She’s not…gone, just…hidden." She focused back on Cam. "Once she ‘tunes’ back in, listens to what’s inside, listens to herself, she’ll overcome what she went through. You have to be strong…strong enough for the both of you. You’ve got to trust your instincts, know that she will find her way back, and be strong for her even when she doesn’t think it’ll work."
"I hope you’re right Case," Cam whispered. "Of all the times you’ve predicted stuff, I hope to God you’re right on this one."
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