Bending to lace up her boots, Sam sighed. They'd just returned from the first mission after the curious events on the Odyssey, and she was exhausted. It was a fairly basic reconnaissance mission, but it involved scaling some rough terrain to reach the abandoned city. After almost twelve hours, it'd taken its toll on everyone. Even Vala mentioned taking a long nap once they arrived back. That doesn't sound like a bad idea, thought Sam.
She remembered back to before they left through the stargate. Teal'c had helped save them all on the Odyssey and was the only one with memory of their time on board the ship. It had to be killing him, not being able to tell anyone even though the course of events would now be different.
Hearing footsteps echo on the locker room floor, she stiffened. Lifting her gaze, she found Daniel standing before her, regarding her with a bit of surprise.
“Sam ... I'm sorry. I didn't realize you were still in here.”
Grinning, she shook her head. “What do you have to be sorry about? I'm only lacing up my boots.”
Daniel chuckled. “I have bad timing, don't I.”
Her grin faded and she gazed at him seriously, uncertain if he was being sarcastic or actually meant it.
His blush and little cough caused her smile to return. “Sorry. I'd like to hit the showers,” he said, shifting awkwardly on his feet. “But I'll just wait until you're finished.”
As Daniel started to walk away, something triggered inside Sam's brain. A memory, a feeling, or perhaps both.
Turning, Daniel regarded her expectantly.
“I ... I was wondering if you'd like to have dinner tonight,” she said hesitantly. “I need to talk to you.”
Daniel sat beside her on the bench. “I'd love to, Sam. But isn't Mitchell planning another team movie night?”
“He'll understand. Besides, I don't think he'll be up to it, let alone anyone else after this mission.” She gave him a lopsided grin.
“Yeah, but it was worth it. The ruins on that planet were incredible; the architecture having a mix of Greek and Gothic influences,” he muttered, almost to himself. She gazed at him curiously and he chuckled. “Sure, Sam, I'd love to. Do you have anything in mind?”
“How about we eat at my place?” she offered. “We could get take out from The Jade Palace if you feel like Chinese.”
“That sounds good.” Daniel glanced at his watch. “It's almost 6:30. I'll get showered and changed, and then I'll meet you back at your place. You can go ahead and order for us.”
“Will do.” Rising from the bench, Sam briefly gazed at him, then patted him on the shoulder and left to get ready.
Almost an hour later, they were seated on Sam's couch as they'd done so many times over the past ten years, partaking of cartons of Chinese food. Knowing exactly what Daniel preferred, Sam had ordered for him and the food arrived shortly after he did.
Their conversation ranged from the highlights of the mission to plain old small talk. Sam knew there was something important that she wanted to tell Daniel, but she was afraid to do so. So she was avoiding it, and she knew she couldn't keep it up.
Fortunately, he saved her the trouble. “So,” he suddenly said, placing an empty lo mein carton on her coffee table, his eyes never leaving hers. “What’s the real reason you wanted to get together tonight?”
Realizing there was no going back, she struggled to get her thoughts in order. For a split second, she almost considered keeping them to herself again. But there was that little nagging voice in her head, reminding her to come clean or she'd pay the price.
Her eyes flew over to Daniel, sitting quietly, patiently waiting for her to begin. She knew it was obvious to him that this was something important. Taking a deep breath, she began, “Okay. Before I tell you, I need to know something.” Her gaze drifting down to her lap, she forced herself to look at him again. “How do you feel about Vala?”
Daniel coughed, nearly spitting out some of his soda. “Wh...what??” He clearly hadn't been expecting this.
“Do you have feelings for her?”
“I ... No, Sam. She's a friend and I care about her as such, but nothing in a romantic sense. Why do you ask?”
“Because I’ve had this secret.” Sam picked up a napkin and started wringing it between her hands. “But if it you have feelings for Vala, I'll just keep it to myself so I don't end up looking like and feeling like an idiot.”
“Sam,” Daniel said, gently taking the napkin from her hands and looking at her seriously. “I don't have romantic feelings for Vala. I couldn't,” he said quietly, his eyes dropping to his lap, “because I have feelings for someone else.”
Sam felt her eyes widen. “Who?” she whispered.
His answer came in the form of a soft smile as he lifted his gaze to meet hers and gently squeezed her hand. Suddenly, she realized this might be easier than she thought.
“Maybe I shouldn't have said anything,” he then said ruefully, ducking his head. “I mean, with your heart belonging to Jack and all -”
“-Daniel,” she interrupted, forcing him to look at her again. “That's not true.” She shook her head, sighing. “After he moved to Washington, I went to visit him and realized it would never work out between General O’Neill and me. It was then that I realized the full extent of my feelings for you. I wanted to tell you, but by that time I was at Area 51 and you were chained to Vala.” Daniel briefly winced, causing her to smile briefly. “I never had the opportunity to tell you after I returned to SG-1. I guess I was always afraid you were carrying a torch for someone else, and after Vala came back ...”
“You thought that maybe it was her,” he finished, touching her shoulder lightly.
Sam nodded, gazing at her lap again. “I guess I was stupid.”
“Sam, don't talk like that,” he admonished gently, cupping her chin and lifting it to meet her eyes. “You're not stupid. You're the most brilliant woman I've ever known. If you want to know stupid, I thought all this time you had feelings for Jack. I'm glad we’ve both cleared the air here.”
She smiled brightly at him. “Daniel Jackson, I am totally, completely, and forever in love with you.”
“And I am in love with you, Samantha Carter.” Daniel slipped an arm around her. “I'm glad you decided not to hold back any longer, because keeping my feelings for you secret was killing me.”
Sam laughed. It was not an act of ridicule, but one of relief. She felt as if a huge weight had been lifted from her chest.
“What?” Daniel asked, a hint of amusement in his voice.
“We're both so silly,” she replied. “And now here we are, both having declared our feelings for one another, and I don't know what we're going to do about them.”
Gazing at him, she noticed his eyes take on a mischievous spark. “Oh, I think I know where we can start,” he told her suggestively. Before she could say anything, he lowered his lips to hers, initiating a hot, passionate kiss. Sam felt her soul cry out in ecstasy as Daniel's fingers moved along her neck, caressing her flesh before tangling in her hair. His other hand began undoing the first two buttons of her blouse. At the same time, she was reveling in the feel of his cool skin under her hands and the soft strands of his hair as her fingers weaved their way over his scalp.
Wanting to see a further glimpse of what lay underneath, she undid his shirt buttons, slipping it over his shoulders without breaking their kiss. She ran her hands over his smooth and beautifully sculpted chest. Daniel had managed to get her shirt off and was now almost tentatively toying with her bra straps.
She was about to begin work on his belt when he suddenly broke their connection, pulling back and gazing at her with his beautiful blue eyes. “I love you,” he murmured.
Repeating the declaration, she knew this was real. This was her gift for finally revealing her long-held secret. She leaned into him again, taking him into her arms. Their kiss sent glorious tingles through Sam’s entire body.
“Bed,” he murmured against her lips.
A quick glance revealed the sparkle in Daniel's eyes and the rakish grin on his lips. Sam got up from the sofa, her slow smile apparently urging him to join her. Hands caressing, bodies pulsing, hearts racing, they stumbled their way to the bedroom.
Three Weeks Later
Putting the finishing touches on her mission report, Sam hummed happily to herself. Normally, she hated recounting the gruesome details of a mission gone bad, but other thoughts on her mind helped her make lemonade out of the situation.
Added to that, it was a Friday night, and she was due to leave shortly. A few strokes on the keyboard and her laser printer began to hum in the background, spitting out her report. Checking the pages, they were all in order and not an inkblot blemish on any of them. Oh, yeah, life was good. She sat back down at her desk to review the report one more time.
“Colonel Carter,” a voice greeted her from her doorway.
“Hey, Teal'c.” She looked up and smiled, gesturing for him to enter her office.
Slowly making his way up to her desk, Teal'c gazed intently at her, seeming to take special interest in her hands. “I would like to congratulate you and Daniel Jackson on your recent engagement,” he told her, a small, fond smile appearing on his lips.
Feeling the heat rush into her cheeks, Sam uttered a small cough. Neither she nor Daniel had told anyone on base about this yet, although they were planning to soon. “How did you know, Teal'c?”
His smile growing, Teal'c's gaze returned to Sam's left hand. “Is this not the Tau'ri custom for couples who are betrothed?”
Sam briefly acknowledged the ring finger of her left hand, upon which sat a striking diamond and emerald ring. “Um ... yeah,” she finally replied, grinning despite herself.
Returning her gaze to Teal'c, she noted the fondness in his expression. “It pleases me to see you happy.” He paused, gazing at her for a brief moment. “As you are aware, I carry the memories of all we experienced during our time on the Odyssey. I must tell you that you were quite unhappy over that course of time.”
His admission gave Sam pause. “Really? Why?”
Teal'c shook his head. “All I will say is that it involved your relationship with Daniel Jackson.”
His somber tone left her a bit curious, although she knew Teal'c wouldn't tell her or any of them much about that time. Something about what he'd said caused that little memory, feeling, or whatever it was to be activated in her brain once again. “Hey, Teal'c? I know it’s not possible for us to remember anything that happened that whole time we were stranded there, but I can't shake the feeling there's some little ghost of a memory in my head. Some kind of vague feeling of something that happened – almost like a ... unexpected souvenir.”
Teal'c simply quirked a silent eyebrow, prompting her to continue, “It might be just a coincidence, but I think it has something to do with my feelings for Daniel. I wanted to tell him for the longest time how I felt about him, but I was afraid he didn't feel the same way, especially after...” Sam’s voice trailed off, and she sighed. “I’ve wanted to tell him for such a long time, but I just kept putting it off. Something made me finally come out and tell him, open up to him.” She shook her head in slight confusion.
“Indeed,” Teal'c uttered softly, staring intently at her.
Suddenly rising from her chair, Sam quickly made her way around her desk and hugged Teal'c tightly. “Thanks for being there for me,” she mumbled into his chest. When she pulled away, he was giving her his trademark pointed stare again, complete with raised eyebrow. “I mean, over the years we've known each other,” she added automatically.
Teal'c's expression was replaced with a faint smile, and he bowed his head. “You are welcome. Now I must go.”
Sam nodded. “Where are you headed?”
“I must prepare for an evening with Vala Mal Doran.”
Amusement slowly replaced her surprise. “Really? You don't think Ish'ta will object?”
Teal'c's smile was back. “I do not. And from what he has told me, Colonel Mitchell will not object either. We are merely attending a showing of the new Pirates of the Caribbean film. Various statements have led me to believe that she greatly admires the character portrayed by Johnny Depp.”
Nodding, Sam gave him one last smile as he neared the door. “Have a good night, Teal'c.” Sitting back down, she gazed fondly at her ring once more. Even though she wasn't quite sure what had happened to them stuck in that time dilation field, Teal'c's words and that little nugget of intuition inside her convinced Sam it wasn't all that good, at least as far as she was concerned. It made her ever the more grateful she finally opened up to Daniel.
Before her mind could wander any further, she heard quiet footsteps across the room and felt someone come up behind her, wrapping his arms around her. Shutting her eyes, she inhaled deeply and took in his scent: an intoxicating combination of coffee and honey almond soap. It was something she'd come to expect, a near constant over the ten years she'd known him. Feeling him kiss her softly on the lips, she tasted coffee and chocolate, maybe a hint of cream as well. This was something she could really get used to.
“Ready to go?” Daniel spoke next to her ear. “I thought we could eat out tonight at Bella Pomodoro.”
Sam sighed melodramatically. “Again?”
He gave her a mock disappointed look, complete with sad puppy dog eyes. In a serious situation, she'd find it endearing. Right now, though, it made her laugh. “Oh, okay,” she relented jokingly and then waggled her eyebrows. “Only if we can have dessert at your place.”
“Hey, would I ever suggest anything different?” he returned suggestively. “And that's soon to be our place.”
Boy, she loved how that sounded. Laughing softly, she relaxed into his embrace as he kissed her again, this time even more tenderly. “I'm just going to change now. I'll meet you topside in a few minutes.” Separating from her, he headed for the door, stopping only to turn back and again utter the words she'd waited so long to hear: “I love you.”
His loving gaze turned her heart into a pile of mush, and she could feel the sting of tears at her eyes. “I love you, too,” she whispered.
Gazing at his retreating form, her smile threatened to split her face in two. Gathering her things, she moved to shut down her computer and lock up her office.
That night, cradled in Daniel's arms, Sam thought back to the events of the past few weeks, especially of her talk with Teal'c earlier that day. No matter what had happened to them over the course of those fifty years on board the Odyssey, the here and now was all that mattered.
And she wasn't about to change it for the world.