Pairing: Sam/Daniel, Daniel/Vala implied
Takes place in Season 10 (vague spoilers for series finale?)
Subjects: Friendship, Angst, Unrequited Love/UST
Pairings: Sam/Daniel, Daniel/Vala implied
Spoilers: Children of the Gods, Absolute Power, Moebius, Memento Mori, and possible spoilers for Unending, the series finale.
Summary: Sam has a conversation with her future self and learns a valuable lesson.
Disclaimer: The usual stuff, I don't own them, I'm just borrowing them.
Author's Note: This story is based on some vague spoilers I heard for the S10 finale. It will probably end up totally inaccurate, so in that case, please consider this AU. From what I've heard so far, I have a few misgivings about this episode and I hope to address them here. This fic is unbeta'd.
“So, how many years are you retired now?”
“It'll be three years in November. I started working here just over a year later.”
Sam nodded. She was still amazed to just be talking to her future self. In a mission that seemed quite familiar to the one where they ended up in Egypt, 5000 BC, SG-1 had traveled in a puddle jumper and discovered they could visit the future. Because of a glitch in the computer, Sam couldn't tell if this was an alternate reality future or their actual future. They wouldn't be staying here long, though, so there was no need to worry about entropic cascade failure if this was an alternate universe. Part of the glitch was resolved, and Sam learned that they were in the future of their own reality.
At any rate, she was able to locate her counterpart's whereabouts: a Museum of Aeronautics and Space here in Colorado Springs. Twenty years in the future, Samantha Carter was retired from the Air Force and working as a curator and researcher. She was looking quite good for someone in their early sixties. Her face showed only a few faint lines of age, mostly in the form of laugh lines. Her long, blond hair, barely sprinkled with gray, was swept up in a bun. She was wearing glasses, but they were small and rimless, adding to her intelligent, distinguished appearance.
“It's just amazing,” Sam mused. The older Sam furrowed her brow and cocked her head to the side. “I mean, that we're able to visit our own futures, see what could happen to us.” She gestured around the museum's cafeteria with her hands.
“I always thought it was dangerous to visit one's own future,” the older Sam countered. “One should never know too much about her own future.”
Sam gazed at her in disbelief. “You're kidding me. You have seen 'Back to the Future II' at one point or another in the past. Don't tell me you didn't, because I remember.”
Briefly rolling her eyes, Samantha snickered. “Yeah, for all the outright discrepancies involving physics and the laws of the universe that movie presented ...”
“Oh, God, you sound just like Doctor McKay.”
Samantha gave her younger self a crooked grin and laughed softly once more. Her smile faded and was replaced by a wistful look. “I guess you're right,” she said quietly. “It wouldn't hurt to find out what happens to ourselves in a future time, especially if we think we can prevent certain things from occurring.” She then dropped her gaze to the napkin in her hand.
Sam looked at her curiously. Her older self appeared to be brooding. “What's wrong? I mean, you are happy here, aren't you?”
Sighing, Samantha gave a slight nod. “Don't get me wrong; I do love this job. It's been the best thing for me after retiring from the Air Force. But I'm not as happy as I could be. Something is missing.”
“What do you mean?”
Samantha gazed at Sam but didn't say a word. It could only mean one thing...
“General O'Neill?” Sam guessed.
Samantha lowered her head. “He passed away two years ago,” she replied, dropping her voice. Sam initially reacted in surprise, and then her eyes filled with sympathy. “Anyway, there wasn't anything between us. Jack retired about five years ago and I thought we could be together, but he wasn't interested. He said it was too late, he didn't want to have a family at this age, and we really didn't have anything in common.”
“I'm sorry,” Sam told her.
“Don't be,” Samantha insisted, shaking her head. “I realized we were too different. My feelings for him didn't go much beyond physical attraction and I didn't think we could be very happy together. It was then that I realized I had feelings for someone else. But it was too late for me to act on them.” Dropping her gaze again, she bit her lip.
Sam looked her in the eyes. “Who?”
“Daniel,” Samantha replied softly.
Sam was confused. “Why couldn't you act on them?”
Pause. “He's with Vala.”
Whoa. Sam felt like she was dealt a heavy blow to her stomach. She thought she'd always seen some type of attraction between Daniel and Vala, but she didn't think it was serious. She certainly didn't think they would end up together. “What?! How?”
Samantha sighed. “About eleven years ago, the Stargate Program was shut down. We had a new President who began cutting defense spending left and right, and that included funding the SGC. Since the Goa'uld and Ori were all defeated, he didn't see any reason for keeping the 'gate open. Daniel and I argued that it was necessary for learning about other cultures and new forms of technology, even medicines. The President considered making it a civilian operation, but that didn't go anywhere. Anyway, with the 'gate shut down, Vala decided she liked staying here on Earth. Daniel took his responsibility of her seriously and had her move in with him. I guess their feelings for each other grew in that time. They were married a year later.”
Sam noticed how tense and uncomfortable Samantha was in sharing this information. She didn't blame her one bit. Her older self's admission of feelings for Daniel had caused her own to surface. She wondered how far back they went. She was attracted to him back when she first met him on Abydos. The attraction was mostly to his mind, but she didn't overlook his pleasing physical attributes either. In time, it grew but was sidelined by the attraction to Jack and the now unrealistic notion that they could have a life together. Her feelings for Daniel ended up buried. Now they were resurfacing with a vengeance.
“Where are they?” she blurted out, referring to Daniel and Vala. A part of her wanted to race over to their place of residence and demand that Daniel explain himself. That would be just crazy, though. She'd have no one to blame but herself for the current situation.
“They still live here in Colorado Springs. I see them every once in a while, not very often,” Samantha answered tersely. Standing, she grabbed her tray and walked over to the trash, depositing her garbage. Sam followed suit, joining her outside the cafeteria. The older woman's eyes searched their surroundings, as if she was trying to decide which part of the museum to show Sam next.
Before she could say anything, her eyes settled on a familiar-looking couple. She softly elbowed Sam, who turned to look at them. She recognized them almost instantly.
It was Daniel and Vala. Daniel's light brown hair was miraculously the same color – not a trace of gray. It was also quite short, about the length he'd had it when Shifu appeared to them six years earlier ... well, now twenty-six years earlier. He was also sporting a goatee, and she could see Samantha offering it a look of annoyance. Sam herself had always preferred Daniel clean-shaven. Perhaps most notable was that he wasn't wearing glasses, making Sam wonder if he now wore contacts or had had laser surgery at some point. Apart from the shorter haircut, goatee and absence of glasses, Daniel didn't look much different at all. He certainly didn't appear to be sixty-one years of age. He had perhaps gained a pound or two and had a few lines around his eyes, but he still looked quite good.
Vala herself did not look even a day older. Her hair retained its raven color, but was now kept in a neatly trimmed, chin-length, A-line Bob with short bangs framing her eyebrows. She wore some small, tear drop style gold earrings and a green sweater with a boat neck. Daniel had his arm around her waist and with them was a young boy. Sam guessed he was about eleven years old. As he gazed at one of the exhibits, Vala reached down and mussed up his shaggy, dirty blond hair.
“Is that ...?” Sam started, leaning into Samantha.
The older woman cut her off with a quick nod. “ ... Their son, Adrian. They tried to have a child for a few years, but Vala was unable to conceive. They ended up adopting him as a baby almost a year after they were married.”
Gazing at Samantha, Sam could see the pain in her older self's eyes. Just seeing Daniel and Vala together was bothering her and she appeared to be putting on a brave front. When they finally noticed Samantha, Sam turned her head and disappeared into the crowd. She then stood behind a pillar and watched.
Vala was smiling at Samantha warmly. Daniel had a smile as well, but it didn't seem as warm; rather it looked slightly awkward in nature. It didn't sit right with Sam.
“Hello, Sam,” Vala greeted. She turned to look at her son. “Say hello, Adrian.”
The boy appeared disinterested. Vala nudged him hard. “Say hello, Adrian,” she repeated strongly.
“Hello,” he said, gazing at the floor.
Samantha forced a smile. “Hi there, young man.” Her gaze returned to Daniel and Vala. “Daniel,” she acknowledged her old friend.
“Sam,” he replied with a nod.
“Still not going to shave that mangy old gerbil, are you?” she teased, pointing to his goatee.
“Leave me alone,” Daniel retorted, rolling his eyes.
Sam expected to see Samantha laughing, but an awkward silence filled the air instead. She was also a bit stung by Daniel's behavior. It reminded her of the way he'd react to Vala and her annoying innuendos. Was he now treating Sam the way he'd once treated Vala?
Vala pierced the silence between them. “Well, I think it's quite sexy, darling,” she told Daniel, tracing a line across his chin with her finger.
Daniel replied with a slight chuckle. “And that's all that matters,” he said, kissing her on the cheek as Adrian rolled his eyes. Sam witnessed Samantha tensely balling up her fists down at her sides. Yes, this was really bothering her.
“Well,” Samantha spoke up, interrupting their reverie. “It's nice to see you guys here. If you have any questions about anything, let me know.” Vala and Daniel nodded. She continued, “Maybe we can have a snack later in the cafeteria --”
“-- We can't. We have to get Adrian home for the sitter. We have dinner reservations tonight,” Daniel interrupted.
“Oh. Okay. I'll ... see you later, then,” Samantha told them, sounding very disappointed.
The couple nodded, offering her smiles that seemed fake to Sam before continuing down the museum corridor. Now she really felt like going up to them and reading them the riot act. How could Daniel act so annoyed and cold toward her older counterpart? She hadn't done anything to deserve such behavior, as far as Sam could tell. She wondered if Samantha and Daniel had had a falling out at some point beforehand.
She was about to ask the older woman when she spotted her hurriedly making her way toward the Ladies room. Sam quickly followed her inside.
“What was that all about?” Sam asked.
Samantha stood in front of the mirror in the empty restroom, dabbing her eyes with a tissue. “I know what you're thinking. We had a fight or something, right?”
“Uh ...” Sam started. She merely shrugged.
“Once he became involved with Vala, everything was all about her. After the program was shut down, we all went our separate ways but stayed in touch. He started withdrawing from all of us. Teal'c told me they'd get together once in a while, sometimes with Cam, but he hardly talked to me anymore.”
“I noticed he was annoyed about your joke. The way he acted reminded me of the way he'd react to Vala,” Sam offered.
Samantha nodded. “I know. Things changed so much when they entered their relationship. I couldn't tease him anymore. He'd either brush me off or find me irritating. I had no idea what his problem was. I still can't figure it out to this day. All I do know is that he doesn't treat me like a friend. It bothers me enough that I never acted on my feelings for him; the fact that he doesn't seem interested in our friendship any longer makes it worse. I could accept that we can never have a relationship if we remained good friends. That is the one thing that's missing from my life.”
Sam laid a comforting hand on her shoulder. “I never thought Daniel was the type to just abandon his close friendships. Is there any way you can talk to him and get to the bottom of this?”
“Believe me, I've tried. He denies anything is wrong. He says it's all in my mind, and our friendship is as good as it ever was,” Samantha told her, frustration in her voice.
“Well, it didn't seem that way to me.” Sam paused thoughtfully. “Oh, God, I'm depressed. This is what I have to look forward to.”
Turning, Samantha put her own sadness behind her and gazed sympathetically at her younger self. “Do you have feelings for Daniel?” she asked.
Sam took a deep breath. “Yes,” she nodded. “I always admired him and felt some attraction for him, but I can't decide when my feelings for him grew. Maybe they were there the whole time. What you told me about your feelings for him has caused them to resurface.”
“Then you have to act on them,” Samantha nearly pleaded in a small voice.
Sam gazed at her. “I realize that now. I'm just afraid that he may not have the same feelings for me.”
“What makes you think that?”
“I don't know ... I guess we just don't seem as close as we used to be. Ever since Vala has been with us, we don't spend much of our free time together. He even took her on a 'date', even though he insisted that it wasn't one. It was ...”
“... Dinner between two friends and coworkers,” Samantha finished.
“Listen, just because he spends time with her it doesn't mean he has romantic feelings for her. Not long after they married, Teal'c told me he thought Daniel had real feelings for me, and that my inability to act on them made him think I wasn't interested. That might have driven him closer to Vala.”
“I guess that would make sense.”
Samantha held her gaze. “Sam, you have to do something. Tell Daniel about your feelings before you lose him. Our actions have consequences, and so does our inaction. I learned that the hard way. You still have the ability to change the future. If you want things to be different, if you want to have a happy future with Daniel, you need to let him know how you feel about him. Do it soon.”
Sam stared back at her older self. The crackling of the walkie talkie in her vest pocket suddenly interrupted.
“Sam, the computer is back online. We're about ready to go,” Colonel Mitchell said.
“I copy. I'll meet you back there in an hour,” she answered him.
“Roger that. Mitchell out.”
She turned back to Samantha. “I have to go.”
The older woman nodded, patting her on the shoulder. “Take care of yourself, and remember what I said.”
“I will,” Sam returned quietly. Giving her counterpart a final hug, she turned and left the room. On the way back to where the jumper sat cloaked by a lake, she thought about what Samantha had told her. If this was what the future would bring, she had to do everything in her power to make sure it wouldn't happen. She couldn't bear to see herself this upset.
Despite what her older self told her about Teal'c's remarks, Sam knew there was always a chance that Daniel didn't have the same feelings for her, but it was a chance she just had to take. If it meant a happier future for herself, there was no reason to question it.
When she reached the jumper, she found Daniel sitting with Teal'c in the back, as Mitchell and Vala sat up front, fiddling with the controls.
“Yep, we're goin' home now!” Cam exclaimed happily. Vala turned to him, giving him a smile. Sam sat between Daniel and Teal'c.
“So, how do things look out there?” Daniel asked.
“Oh, not too different,” she told him simply. “I think some things could be better, but ...”
“Are Daniel and I married?” Vala suddenly interrupted.
Sam opened her mouth but no sound came out.
“Vala!” Daniel exclaimed, both shocked and annoyed at the same time.
“Just joking!” she returned. Turning toward Cam, she gave him a cute wink.
Sadly, Sam knew the answer to her question. Her thoughts on the future and her feelings for Daniel resumed and she delved deeper into them during the journey back to their time.
She didn't know how long they had been traveling when she felt Daniel put a hand on her shoulder.
“Huh? Um ... what?”
“You've been very quiet. Is everything okay?” Daniel asked, concerned.
She gazed at him for a moment, nodding slowly. “Yeah. Everything is fine.”
Having made it back safely, debriefed General Landry on what had happened, and written up her report, Sam now found herself standing in front of Daniel's office. There was just one thing she needed to do, to bring complete closure to this entire experience. She knocked on Daniel's door.
The door opened after a brief moment, revealing a curious Daniel. Sam breathed a sigh of relief that no one else, particularly Vala, was with him.
“What's up, Sam?” he asked.
“Are you free now? I really need to discuss something important with you, Daniel,” she told him.
“Sure,” he nodded. He stepped aside to allow her entrance and then closed the door behind her.
As she sat beside him, he gave her a little smile that instilled some hope inside her. Maybe, just maybe, her worries were for nothing.
Whatever the case, she was acting on her own advice. Whether it would be enough to change the future for the better, she wasn't sure. But she owed it to herself to try.