So, muse, this is for you - and for anyone who, like me, wasn't too happy with the way Unending turned out. I wrote it so that it's still pretty much canon, at least through most of it, but it takes a different turn later on.
Just as a warning, it starts off Daniel/Vala, but the way things end up I'm not sure if D/V fans would like it (unless you don't mind the idea of Sam/Daniel ^^). Oh, there's also some wee dollops of Sam/Cam friendship, Sam/Teal'c friendship, and a pinch of Teal'c/Vala friendship (as well as some implied Cam/Vala 'ship).
Feedback is always welcome - the muse craves it! A big thank you to my friend Amaranth Traces for the beta work. Not sure if you'll see this hon, but the muse and I appreciate you all the same! *hugs*
Now, finally, on with the fic. :) It was too big to put in one post, so I have a link for part 2 at the bottom.
Pairings: See above
Subjects: Angst, UST/Unrequited Feelings, Friendship, Romance
Spoilers: The First Commandment, Fire and Water, Singularity, Fallen, Avalon, Unending
Disclaimer: I don't own them and never will. I just like to take them out and play with them every so often.
Three months. It had to be at least that long, she kept telling herself. Three months since the Asgard sacrificed themselves and gave their technology to us. Three months since I created this time dilation field to buy the time we needed to overcome the Ori ships. Almost three months since I first sat here, trying to find a way to take the ship out of phase quickly enough so that the final blast from the Ori ship would pass harmlessly through the Odyssey instead of destroying it.
She sighed. Boy, this was hard. Harder than anything she'd been presented with thus far. Even harder than blowing up a sun.
What had happened over that course of time? Well, she used the Asgard’s matter conversion technology to create a cello, an instrument she'd always wanted to learn to play, out of thin air. General Landry mostly tended to his plants. Cam spent most of his time by himself. As for Daniel ... Sam didn't see much of him around, but he seemed to find ways to keep himself occupied. Vala, on the other hand, was almost insufferable in proclaiming how very bored she was.
Hearing footsteps, she looked up and found the woman in question strutting into the room. Her face, Sam noticed, was painted with a cross between a grin and a smirk.
Fairly normal for Vala. She's probably back to torment me into doing something fun for a change. Ignoring her like Daniel does will probably do the trick.
“I want to help you,” Vala blurted, coming around to Sam’s side with a little bounce in her step.
That got Sam's attention. “Excuse me?”
Vala shrugged. “I'm quite bored and no one else seems to be up for any fun.”
With a shake of her head, Sam rolled her eyes. This wasn't the time. “Vala, this is hardly 'fun',” she countered, hoping her annoyance wasn’t too evident in her voice. It was strange that the alien woman seemed more ... energetic than usual. Directing her gaze back to Vala, she asked, “What's up?”
“Oh, well,” she began casually, looking away. “Daniel and I just had sex.”
Sam's coughed awkwardly. “What?!”
Vala's only response was a series of coy expressions that had Sam wondering if she was joking as usual. After offering the raven-haired woman a protracted stare, Sam forced herself to recover. “That joke isn't funny anymore. In fact, it was never funny.”
“I'm not joking,” Vala continued in that same light, casual tone.
“-No, I'm being perfectly serious,” Vala interrupted, more sober this time. “I know you don't believe it, but it happened. We 'did it.' After all this time, Daniel has shown me how he really feels. I just wanted to share this with someone, and seeing as how you are the only other woman on this ship ...”
Sam was still not entirely convinced. “All right, look. I know you're bored. I estimate the amount time we've been here is three months, give or take a day or two. We've all found ways to occupy our time. Why don't you find Cam or Teal'c?”
“Cameron is playing chess with General Landry, and Muscles is doing that meditating thing he's quite fond of,” Vala countered. “You still don't believe me. I'm telling you the truth, Samantha.” She brought herself close to Sam and locked eyes with her. “I'm still not sure how or why it happened, but it did. And...wow!”
Forcing a smile, Sam nodded. “Well, I'm very happy for you, then,” she said, still not quite sure if Vala was playing or not. “Now, if you don't mind, I still have a lot of work to do.”
“All right, if you don't need my help ...” Vala conceded with a sigh.
Sam felt her smile falter and did her best to strengthen it as she shook her head. She turned her attention back to her work, but she could still feel Vala's presence in the room, nearly on top of her. Added to that, the unpleasant voice that was casting doubts about her belief that Vala was joking was eating away at her stomach, forcing her to drop her concentration from her simulations. The only way she could resolve the argument taking place in her mind once and for all was to go and see Daniel.
Quickly getting to her feet, Sam hurried around the console and headed for the ship corridor, Vala's “I thought you had work to do. You’re not leaving because of me, are you?” at her back.
As she made her way through the corridors, Sam shook her head in disbelief. How could she let her silly doubts interrupt her work on something so important? She almost didn't want to admit it, but Vala's statement made certain feelings – ones that Sam thought she'd banished for good – rush forward like a tidal wave. She still wanted to believe it was all Vala’s idea of a joke, or that the 'cabin fever' was making her nuts. Even though she didn't show it much, being cooped up on this ship was eating away at Sam herself.
Hopefully Daniel can shed some light on this, she thought as she walked quickly down the corridors. Before she could reach Daniel’s quarters, someone else interrupted her train of thought.
“Hey, Sam,” Cam greeted. “How's the progress going?”
She didn't have to ask what he was talking about. Barely a day of these last three months had passed without Cam asking how much longer she’d be. With a sigh, she shut her eyes. “It's not going at all. I'm taking a little break right now.”
Cam gave her a sympathetic nod. “Well, don't worry. We know you're gonna get us out of this,” he reassured her, patting her shoulder.
Sam barely managed a smile. “Thanks. Hey, you didn't notice Vala acting a little strange, did you?”
Cam's expression became thoughtful. “Now that you mention it, I saw her coming out of Jackson's quarters not too long ago. She was straightening her blouse and acting more flirty than usual. I didn't think much of it. You know how she always bugs Jackson.” He chuckled good-naturedly.
Forcing a small chuckle herself, Sam could feel the rush in her cheeks as she considered the possibility that Vala wasn't joking. For now, she was still giving them both – Vala and Daniel – the benefit of the doubt. “Have you seen Daniel?”
Cam shrugged. “I haven't seen him all night, not since he went to his quarters.”
Nodding, Sam briefly placed a hand on his shoulder. “Thanks, Cam.” She continued down the corridor as Cam walked away in the opposite direction.
She knocked lightly on the door to Daniel’s quarters. Receiving no response, Sam wrinkled her nose, looking down the corridor uncertainly. When her second knock was also met with silence, she tried the handle. It was unlocked. She poked her head into the dark room.
“Daniel? You in here?” she asked quietly.
She heard a small groan and the sound of movement over fabric that urged her to step inside and find her bearings in the dark. Gingerly switching on a small light near the bed, Sam could now make out Daniel's shirtless, sleeping form on the only bed in the room. He'd shifted his position a bit, helping Sam notice his long, bare legs draped over a heap of clothing and sheets.
The sight of a completely nude Daniel – the strong, broad shoulders, well sculpted chest, and the -- oh, my – caused that same unbidden rush of feelings she'd experienced earlier; only now they were joined by arousal. She couldn't remember seeing him naked before; the circumstances surrounding her visitation made it seem awkward. In a flourish, she banished them once more and pulled a blanket over him. He looked so peaceful; Sam didn’t want to wake him. But she knew she wouldn’t be able to concentrate on her work until she talked to him about Vala.
“Daniel?” she asked softly, nudging his shoulder.
For a moment, nothing. And then ...
“Mm?” he mumbled, slightly wrinkling his nose. Sam couldn't stop her grin at his action. No matter how much Daniel had changed over the years, he still wrinkled his nose upon first waking up. And she still found it cute. Oh, stop that, she chastised herself, looking away for a moment.
“Sam?” she suddenly heard, directing her attention back to the man in bed. He was regarding her with bleary blue eyes that seemed to look beyond her. She smiled again.
She felt her smile evaporate instantly, replaced with a frown of distress and hurt as she felt a sharp twinge in her stomach. “I don't know,” she managed to say.
She noted Daniel's confused expression as he became more awake and aware, shifting to a sitting position and tightening the blanket around his waist. “So, anything I can help you with?”
Attempting to hide her hurt behind a cool façade, Sam tried a different approach. “Actually, there is something. I saw Vala a little while ago and she told me something interesting.”
Sam affected a thoughtful expression. “Oh, that you and she’d had sex,” she replied, her tone humorless.
The four-alarm blush that overtook his fair complexion told her that Vala wasn't joking after all. Despite feeling somewhat ill right now, Sam continued, “And Cam told me he saw Vala coming from this room and straightening her blouse, flirting with him.”
Daniel's expression was dubious. “I'm sorry, I find it a little hard to believe she would tell you that,” he said. “Vala has changed so much. Yes, she can still be annoying and likes to push people's buttons, but it's just playful. She doesn't mean any harm, Sam. Look at how she -”
“-Daniel,” she cut him off sharply, bending down to his level and forcing him to look at her. “It's true, isn't it? You and Vala are sleeping together.” She was trying hard to keep the intense emotions out of her voice and expression.
Daniel's eyes narrowed and his jaw was set. “I don’t see how that’s any of your business.” He was visibly angry; angry with her. And it hurt more than she could have ever imagined.
“Isn’t it?” Sam tried to ignore the sting of tears at the corners of her eyes. “I care about you, Daniel. You're my friend. She was bragging about what she did with you, as if you were her latest conquest. Doesn't that bother you?”
“She doesn't mean any harm,” he repeated belligerently, looking upon her with accusing eyes.
She was locked in his gaze. It was cold and angry, and new. He'd never reacted to Sam this way, not even after any bickering between them over the years, the instances of which, unsurprisingly, Sam could count on one hand. Their relationship had been so harmonious, one could very well think of them as soul mates.
Soul mates don't argue like this, she thought, bringing herself back to the present and feeling worse than ever as she finally looked away. Hearing him sigh, she tentatively directed her eyes back to him.
“Sam, I'm sorry. I know you're concerned about me and as your friend, I appreciate that. But, you really don't need to worry about this.” His tone was contrite and lacking an ounce of sincerity.
“Is that all you think of us as, Daniel? Fair weather friends? People who wouldn't give each other the time of day if it weren't for the fact they work together?” she asked, unable to keep the pain from her voice.
“Whoa, Sam, you know it's not like that,” he corrected her, almost sounding hurt himself. “We've been through a lot over the years, and through it all we've managed to stay friends. I'd think that means something important.”
Not expecting his hand on her shoulder, she flinched slightly. “Then what made you choose Vala?” As soon as the words were out of her mouth, Sam winced inwardly.
There was that wrinkle between his brows again; the one that always appeared whenever he was confused about something. “What is this really about?” he asked pointedly, straightening and dropping his hand from her shoulder.
Oh, boy. She'd been meaning to tell Daniel how she'd felt about him. She'd put it off indefinitely, a part of her still trying to convince her she was attracted to Jack, and another part worried that Daniel didn't feel the same ... a feeling that increased in magnitude when Vala had become a regular fixture in their lives.
It was too late now. Daniel had obviously begun a relationship with Vala. Revealing her own feelings for him here and now would just make her feel like an idiot.
But if she didn't tell him, would they continue to eat her up inside? Sam made what, on some level, she knew was a rash decision. “Daniel, I should have told you this earlier. I know it's too late but I have to tell you before I lose what’s left of my sanity. I love you.”
There, it was out. She'd said it now. Surprisingly, his expression remained unchanged.
“I know, Sam. I love you, too. You, Jack, Teal’c, Mitchell... you’re family to me.”
He had misunderstood. It was a small miracle. Sam felt a wave of relief wash over her. Now, she knew Daniel didn’t love her the way she loved him. And she hadn’t made a complete fool out of herself. Until, that is, she heard herself correct his understanding of her confession. “No, Daniel. I don't just love you; I'm in love with you.”
His expression changed to one of surprise, and despite her best efforts, Sam continued speaking. “I have been for quite a long time now. Even when I wasn't totally sure of my feelings, they were always there. I just wasn't in tune enough to recognize it. I should have told you earlier – earlier than this, obviously.” Giving up trying to fight herself, she offered a humorless chuckle. “Now there's nothing I can do about it, and I'm only making myself look foolish, so I'll just go and let you sleep.” The tears were stinging again and she made to rush from the room before she could make the situation even worse.
“Sam, wait,” Daniel called urgently.
Should she heed his voice or just disappear from the room and leave it at that? Something inside her made her turn and do the former.
Daniel was staring at her. He appeared unsure of what to say, but his cerulean eyes seemed to be communicating to her what mere words couldn't. He was sorry. He pitied her for keeping these feelings secret for so long, and perhaps a part of him wished she hadn't. There was also a hint of resignation, that it was too late for them to do anything. He had made a commitment to Vala. Sam and Daniel couldn’t be more than friends, even if he wanted to.
“I'm sorry,” he finally echoed these sentiments aloud.
Staring back at him, she uttered the only words that came to her at this moment. “Me, too.”
And she left his room, never looking back.
Nursing her glass of champagne, Sam gazed at the tableau in front of her. She estimated they'd now been on the ship for close to a year. Back on Earth it was Christmas Eve, or pretty darned close to it. Celebrating the holiday was something they just had to do here, if only to keep up their spirits. It gave them a feeling of normalcy in the midst of a situation that was anything but normal.
Sitting diagonally across from her were Daniel and Vala. Correction: Vala perched on Daniel's lap as if he was Santa Claus. Cam was telling a joke and the two of them were laughing. Good old Cam, trying to make people laugh even though being marooned here was obviously making him crazy inside. Wearing a Santa Claus hat and holding a sprig of mistletoe above them, he gave Sam a chaste kiss. Then he turned and gave another to Vala.
Sam did not miss the fond smile that reached Daniel's eyes as he gazed at Vala and held her closer. The sight made the almost eight-month-old pit in her stomach grow larger.
She tried to quash her moroseness, slapping on a happy face. After all these months, she'd carried off an apparently convincing façade of good spirits in front of her friends. It was all for their sakes, as she didn't want dampen their morale. Underneath it all, though, she knew she couldn't keep this up forever.
Forever. She wondered how long she'd have before the façade would start to crack.
Sam glanced down at her champagne glass in disgust. Sneaking a cursory glance at each of her friends, she strongly felt the absence of the camaraderie they'd shared for so many years. Yes, they were spending pleasant moments like this one together, but they were few and far between; and it just didn't feel the same.
As her eyes settled on Daniel once more, she felt the pangs of sadness grow stronger. She was suddenly reminded of gatherings past and how close they'd been.
She remembered SG-1's celebration after they rescued Daniel from Nem; her and Daniel playing in the park with Cassie; their first Christmas party as a team; even the little party Jack held after they found Daniel on Vis Uban.
The memories of these happy occasions and the closeness she'd felt with Daniel were supposed to make her happy. Instead, they seemed to feed her depression about the current situation.
I can't keep this up. I need to leave.
Rising from her seat with a distinct lack of grace, she made a quick exit from the mess hall, not caring whether anyone noticed.
She returned to her quarters and sat heavily on the bed, pressing her fingers to her temples. How she wished she could find a way to save the Odyssey from imminent destruction by the Ori.
Imminent. There’s a joke. This was no way to spend an eternity. She missed Cassie, she missed her brother and his family, she missed Generals Hammond and O'Neill...
... But most of all, she missed ...
Not allowing herself to finish that thought, she sighed heavily and searched the room looking for some way to occupy her time. The cello propped up against a chair at the far corner caught her eye. Trance like, she slowly approached it, sat down and began to play. Her fingers moved expertly, the bow sweeping smoothly over the strings, drawing out a haunting melody. The notes were deep and mournful, matching her mood perfectly.
Suddenly, the melody changed and the tune became less melancholy. The richness of the notes seemed to come from deep within her soul. The tune was very familiar to her. She and Daniel had attended a symphony one night early on in their friendship. She'd felt a bit down about what had happened to Jonas Hanson, even though there was no love lost between them, and Daniel had suggested going out to help get her mind off it. She was touched by how much he cared for someone he had met barely months ago and enjoyed the performance, especially that of the cellist.
Had she really remembered it after all these years? The melody was something ingrained in her mind, so familiar she didn't need to question it.
Much like her friendship with Daniel, which, at times, she wished was something more. Oh, God, not again. She knew she didn't have a chance with him. Why was she finding it so hard to move on?
Getting deeper into the melody, the familiar notes became more of a heartache than a comfort, causing her vision to blur. She was now reaching the bridge of the song, the part she'd enjoyed the most. She remembered how she'd turned to Daniel, commenting on how talented the woman was. In return, he nodded and offered her a tender smile, seemingly grateful her spirits had been picked up.
Her emotions now reached the highest pinnacle she could bear, and her eyes began to overflow. The tune abruptly ceased as Sam gave into her tears, simply allowing them to fall.
Blinking, Sam gazed at her hands, now showing the signs of age that also covered her face. Her hair had long since grown gray and was now skirting her shoulders. It had been twenty years – twenty years since she got them all into this mess. Twenty years since she first sat trying to find a way to undo it all, to go back to the way things originally were before they left for this mission, before they tried to thwart the Ori ships.
Twenty years since she'd realized how things had changed for Daniel ... and Vala. No, she couldn't go there – again. She tried so hard to force Daniel from her mind and avoid him as much as possible. Seeing him would just be a constant reminder of her pain.
She'd succeeded for the most part. Yes, they'd still have their meals together and she'd sometimes catch the little looks and gestures between him and Vala, but she made a point to ignore it. It wasn't always easy, and she'd still be reminded of the small torch she would always carry for him.
Having just finished another cello solo, silently thanking General Landry for listening to her play – except for Teal'c, she didn't think anyone cared – she decided she'd have a walk around the ship. Her joints fiercely protesting as she rose from the chair, she headed out into the corridor.
Walking past the control room, she did a double take. Daniel was inside, still poring over the Asgard archives. Taking a few steps back, she stood against the door frame, silently watching him work.
I guess some things don't change after all, she thought bitterly. In a way, she envied him, that he could keep this up even though it would eventually be for nothing. Sam, on the other hand ... her low spirits made it impossible for her to continue searching for a solution. In her heart of hearts, she'd do anything to get them out of this, but the way things were now, her motivation had seeped through her fingers.
Before they were stuck here, Daniel had always encouraged her, and sometimes, despite her stubbornness, it was all she needed. But now ...
“Hey,” she forced herself to speak up.
“Hey,” Daniel returned, keeping his attention on the archives.
His warm tone helped her set foot in the room, but she still maintained her distance. “Why do you do it? Knowing everything you learn is going to die with you?”
Still with his back to her, she thought she could hear a faint chuckle. It warmed the edges of her heart, but she let it go no further than that. “I know you guys all think I'm crazy,” he replied, finally stepping back from the archives and nearing her. “But, the truth is ... if I stop, I'll go crazy.” Although her expression remained neutral, Sam smiled inside. Where had she heard that before? “Besides, you haven't given up,” he continued, almost as if looking for approval.
“Yes, I have,” she sighed.
Even amid the lines of age on his face, Sam could tell Daniel was nonplussed by her admission of defeat. “What?”
Sam shrugged. “I mean, what's the point?” She tried hard to keep the bitterness from her voice, but her efforts were wasted. “I've tried, believe me, but it's too hard.”
Daniel still regarded her incredulously. “I can't believe you're saying this. The Sam I know wouldn't give up like that.”
“People change,” Sam told him pointedly.
He bristled. “What do you mean by that?” Failing him an answer, she kept her eyes trained on him. A knowing expression grew on his face and he glowered at her. “Don't go there, Sam. Don't start this again. We've been through it already and-”
With a shake of her head, she cut him off, briefly shutting her eyes. “Daniel, please. I don't want to argue anymore,” she said tiredly. “I know things are different between us, even as friends. There's no point in wishing for it all back if I can't get us out of this mess. Get back our wasted time. I just ... I can't do it. It’s not possible. It can’t be done.”
Daniel's expression suddenly changed, his deep blue eyes clouded with sadness. Feeling a hand touch her shoulder, she exhaled deeply.
“Sam, nothing has changed between us.” His voice was soft and comforting. “Even if it had, it doesn't change the fact that I believe in you, just as I always have.”
She shook her head once more. “This was all my fault. I thought we just needed more time to figure out how to escape. I thought I could-” Sam sighed. “Twenty years. I should have thought of the consequences,” she finished quietly.
“You couldn't have known,” he countered gently. “And don't forget that I insisted we stay here and fight the Ori. So you can blame me if you want to.” A little grin played upon his face, and she allowed herself to smile in return. “Sam, don't give up. You'll find a solution. You're brilliant.”
As his eyes pierced hers, Sam allowed a little more of the warmth into her heart, but was still cautious. “Vala said something a long time ago. At this point, it’s the only idea I have left. To reverse time within the field so we’d have the time we need to escape that blast out there. I haven’t managed to figure out how it could happen. And it could take a while for me to figure out how to do it...if it’s even possible.” She studied Daniel’s expression carefully. “Would you be all right with that? I mean, if it meant everything you'd experienced here would be undone?”
She wasn’t sure what she expected his reaction to be. She certainly hadn’t expected him to simply nod. But he did. “Yes. I don't want to be stuck on this ship forever, Sam,” he replied quietly. “Despite all that's happened, I don't want to live out my life here. I don't want to die here. And I don't think anyone else does either, including you. Am I right?”
She felt a little twinge in her chest as he searched her face. Even though things were different now, she knew Daniel would never lie to her. If he truly believed in her, it meant a world of difference. “Yeah,” she barely whispered.
“If it can be done, you can figure it out, Sam. I’m sure of it.”
Before she could respond, Daniel drew closer to her, and she let him take her in his arms, enveloping her in a soft and warm hug. God, this was a feeling she'd been missing for so long. Sam thought he'd be wary of showing her such affection with the possibility of Vala finding them, but Daniel didn't show any signs of hesitancy.
After the briefest of moments, they parted, Daniel regarding her with a smile.
She smiled back at him. An actual, honest to goodness, heartfelt smile. “Thanks, Daniel. I'm going to try getting some sleep now. I'll be back at it early tomorrow. Your faith in me means a lot.”
“I'll never lose faith in you, Sam. You're my best friend,” he said fondly.
Her smile faltered, her heart aching slightly at those last two words. Sam headed for the doorway. She stopped briefly, glancing back at him, only to find his attention already back on the display from the Asgard archives.
Daniel's words had certainly given Sam some food for thought. Did his belief in her outweigh his desire to live out his life with Vala? It wouldn't have seemed possible to her before. Sam knew that Daniel was a very faithful man. If he started a relationship with Vala, he would be completely loyal to her. His insistence that Sam not give up really had her wondering, though. Had he really had deep feelings for Vala all this time, even before they got trapped on this ship? Had isolation played a role in fostering some feelings on his end? If things were different, would he have gotten together with Vala?
She tried not to agonize over it. The important thing was that he believed in her and encouraged her to keep going. At times, her determination wavered, particularly when General Landry was dying. Sam felt totally responsible for his impending death, despite his reassurances to the contrary, and a small bout of depression followed. Teal’c’s support had been immeasurable. And, as she slowly overcame her grief and guilt, once more, Daniel's words invaded her psyche, making her realize she could save the General’s life by finding a way to reverse time within the field.
It had been Cam’s idea to channel the energy from the Ori weapon’s blast to achieve the goal, and Sam had been the one to make the modifications for his idea to work. But she knew that most of the credit went to Daniel for not allowing her to give up. It may have taken thirty years, and it certainly hadn’t been easy, but it was good to know that, despite the fact that Daniel was in a relationship, he still showed Sam that he cared about her.
This was it. Teal'c had just volunteered to stay old to shut down the Asgard core and sever it from the ship's hyperdrive controls. She had volunteered to do it herself, but once again he had shown how selfless he was, insisting he had many more years to live than her or the others. He'd also proven to her what a good friend he was during these past fifty years. Not only was he there to comfort her when General Landry died, he'd also listened to her regrets concerning her feelings for Daniel, helping to ease her loneliness just a bit.
Either it would work and they'd all go back to where they were before with no memories of all that had happened, or it would fail and they'd all die. As she turned off the time dilation field, she hoped with all her heart it would be the former. Of course, she didn't want to die, and she didn't want her teammates to die. But she also wished for one more chance to reconcile things with Daniel.
The Ori beam penetrated the Odyssey and the ship began to explode around her.
Please let this work.
********************************Link to Part 2