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Daniel's eyes were glued to the images on the computer screen.  The team at the Ancient outpost had sent some video and photos to him via satellite, and he was now pouring over the text.  He really wished that he could be there in person.  It was more than just the crumbling ruins of a city once inhabited by the Ancients.  It was a fully functional outpost, and it was right here on Earth.

There was only one thing that was keeping Daniel from going to General Hammond and pleading that he be allowed to go to Antarctica right away: Sam.  Now that his life was no longer hanging in the balance and the threat of Anubis was gone, he was really thinking about what happened at his house between the two of them.  After waking up to find Sam lying beside him during the trip to Taonas, he had openly flirted with her, and she had seemed to welcome it.  In fact, Daniel was wondering what would have happened if Jack hadn't picked that moment to come check on them.  Daniel was seriously considering asking Sam out on a date while they were on leave, which would be starting tomorrow.

The archeologist's attention returned to his computer.  He began speaking the text aloud in Ancient, only half-aware that he was doing so.  He was so engrossed in what he was reading that he didn't become aware that someone was approaching until the person had entered the room.  Daniel turned to see Sam just inside the doorway, a look of horror on her pale face.  Seeing the expression, Daniel immediately stood up.

"Sam?  What's wrong?" he asked urgently.

"Y-you were speaking Ancient," she whispered.

"What?"  Daniel glanced at the monitor, realizing what she must have thought.  "Oh!  No, Sam, it's okay!"  He took a quick step forward.  "The Antarctic team sent over some stuff, and I was reading it.  Instead of translating it aloud, I ended up reading it in Ancient.  I'm okay.  Really."

Sam's body relaxed from its tense stance.  "I thought. . . ."

"I know.  I'm sorry.  I didn't mean to scare you."

Sam sighed.  "I guess it's going to take time for me to get over the fear that, at any moment, it might start all over again."  She moved further into the room.  "It's like there's this . . . this time bomb inside your brain that could go off at any minute.  And it's a little frightening.  It's funny, but I never thought that I'd be unhappy about having a potential source for advanced technology, but I honestly wish that you didn't still have all that stuff inside your head.  I've been thinking that, the next time we see Thor, you should ask him to remove it."

Knowing how excited Sam got over new technology, Daniel was a little surprised by her announcement.  But then again, she had watched him 'die', so he could understand why she wouldn't want to take the chance of it happening again.

"Sam, though I can't say that I'm delighted by the knowledge that what happened to me could happen again, I can't throw this away.  It's too important.  We don't know when a time might come that we'll really need something that's in here."  Daniel tapped on the side of his head.  "At least, now, I know what to do if it does happen again.  And, if all else failed, there is the stasis chamber at the outpost.  It could keep me in stasis indefinitely, until Thor could be contacted and come to help.  So, no matter what happens, I'm not going to die . . . well, at least not from this."

"Well, it still scares me."  Sam sat in a chair.  "Daniel, what was it like?  The download didn't affect you exactly the same way it did the colonel.  He didn't keep zoning out like you did, and he barely remembered any of the stuff he did."

"It's hard to describe.  There were times when I felt so out of control, yet other times when I felt like . . . like my mind was wide open and free.  Sometimes . . . sometimes, I felt like I wasn't even human anymore.  The knowledge I had was so incredible, so vast.  It's no wonder that our brains are incapable of consciously containing it all."

"But it can unconsciously contain it all?"

"Apparently so, or at least mine can."

"When did you begin to suspect that?  I mean, you must have had some idea that was possible when you put yourself in stasis."

"I got to thinking about what happened those times that I fell asleep and what we talked about concerning it."

"About your subconscious blocking some of the knowledge from your conscious mind while you slept."

Daniel gave a nod.  "It dawned on me that, each time that happened, my subconscious was safely holding all that knowledge.  The problem was that the stuff kept leaking back out into my conscious mind.  I realized that, if I could figure out a way to put it all back into my subconscious and somehow keep it there, I'd be okay.  But I was pretty sure that, to do that, I'd have to be in the equivalent of an unconscious state.  I knew that, with biofeedback, I could lower my brainwave pattern down to a low delta frequency."

"But you did a lot more than that."

"Yeah.  I was dying, running out of time.  I knew that the stasis pod would keep me alive, lower my body functions to a level that would allow me to survive, prevent more damage from happening.  When I couldn't get to the pod, I chose to put myself in stasis until I'd managed to store the Ancients' knowledge in my subconscious.  Even then, I wasn't certain that the knowledge wouldn't eventually start leaking back out.  I'm pretty sure now that, as long as I don't start poking around in my brain for it, the knowledge will stay put where it is."

Sam didn't say anything for a while, a question coming into her mind, one that she'd thought about several times already.

"Um . . . there is something that I've been wondering if you remember," she finally said.  "When you were working on the transport rings, I asked you something.  Do you remember anything about that at all?"

Daniel frowned.  "I think I remember you being there, but I can't remember anything you said."  A memory teased at him.  "You helped me with what I was doing, didn't you?"

Sam nodded.  "Once I figured out what you were doing, I gave you a hand, although, to be honest, I didn't help much.  You were operating way above my abilities."

Daniel shook his head.  "You know, even though I remember doing that stuff, it just doesn't seem like it was really me.  It feels so surreal now, all except what happened right at the end.  That is very real to me.  I remember taking control of the weapon and attacking the Goa'uld ships, and I remember after it was all over, trying to tell you to put me in the stasis chamber."  His eyes met Sam's.  "You were holding me, telling me not to die.  You were crying."

Sam nodded, swallowing the lump that had just formed in her throat.

"I tried to tell you not to cry, that I wasn't going to die, that I was just . . . going to sleep for a while."

"I wish I'd understood you.  Those hours that I thought you were dead, they were so. . . ."  Sam's eyes filled with tears.  "God, I've never hurt that much in my life."

Daniel took her hand in his.  "I'm so sorry, Sam.  I didn't mean to put any of you through that."

Sam's turned her hand upward and wrapped her fingers around his.  She gave him a somewhat weak smile.  "I know you didn't, Daniel."  Her smile faded.  "But I can't forget that, if you hadn't been able to put yourself in stasis, you would have died for real.  I've lost you too many times already.  I can't lose you again."

Daniel looked into Sam's eyes, seeing the lingering trace of grief there.  He gently touched her cheek as the last uncertainty he felt about asking her on a date disappeared.

"Sam, I was wondering if. . . ."

Watching Daniel closely, Sam became puzzled when his voice trailed off, and his eyes widened slightly.  She was even more surprised when a huge smile beamed across his face.

"Yes," he suddenly said.

Sam's brow wrinkled in puzzlement.  "Yes?"

Daniel's smile got even bigger.  "Yes."

Sam shook her head slightly.  "Daniel, what are you—"

"Yes, I'll go on a date with you."

Sam gasped, her eyes going wide.  "Y-you remember?"

Daniel's smile was now a full-blown grin.  "Uh huh, just now.  You were right, Sam.  That was really lousy timing for asking a guy out."

Sam grew a matching grin and laughed.  "Sorry.  I couldn't help myself.  You have no idea how many times I'd tried to ask before then."

Daniel's smile turned slightly mischievous.  "Oh?  How many times is that?"

"Um, I believe it had been six times by then, five, if you don't count when I decided to kiss you instead when I came to your house."

Daniel laughed.  "I sure can't complain about that decision."

Sam also laughed.  "I bet you'll never guess when the first time was."

Daniel frowned in concentration.  "Hmm."  All at once it hit him, and his eyes widened again.  "That's what it was that you came to ask me just before my house blew up?"

Sam pouted.  "Darn.  You guessed."

"Wow.  Well, that definitely makes up for the lousy timing of the last time, because that was really, really good timing.  Your attempt to ask me out saved my life!"

That thought dimmed Sam's playfulness.  "Yeah."

Daniel grew serious as well.  "I would be delighted to go on a date with you, Sam.  I would be delighted to go on that date tonight if I wasn't confined to the base."

"So . . . tomorrow night?"

Daniel gave her a nod and a smile.  "Tomorrow night."

"Good.  I guess we can talk about the details later?"

The archeologist nodded.  "That'll give me time to plan something nice."

Suddenly feeling a bit nervous, Sam rose to her feet.  "Okay.  I, um . . . I'll see you later, then."

Five minutes after Sam had left, the smile was still on Daniel's face.  His mind was so focused on the upcoming date that he failed to sense the presence of a certain Air Force colonel until it was too late to adopt a bland expression before said Air Force colonel came in.

"Well, someone looks mighty pleased with something," Jack remarked.  "Care to share?"

"No, not really."

"Hmm.  You know, I just spotted Carter a couple of minutes ago, and guess what.  She was humming.  Now, the last time, in fact, the only time I've seen Carter humming was when she was dating that Pete guy.  So, I gotta ask myself what would be hum-worthy this time?  Could it possibly have something to do with the ear-to-ear grin a certain archeologist had on his face when I just came in now?"

Daniel sighed, knowing that there was no point in acting innocent.  "All right, if you must know, Sam and I are going out tomorrow night."

"Out?  As in out on a date?"

Daniel nodded.

"A real date?"

"Yes, Jack, a real date, romantic dinner and everything, though the particulars haven't been worked out yet."

Expecting a wisecrack from Jack, Daniel was surprised when, instead, the older man smiled happily and said, "That's great, Daniel."

"What, no less than amusing remarks about how long it took us or asking if I even remember what to do on a date?"

Jack's face was completely serious.  "Not this time, Daniel.  I'm really glad that this is happening.  There were those few hours that I believed you were never going to get this chance."

That quickly sobered the archeologist.

Jack pushed that sad thought out of his mind.  He patted Daniel's shoulder.  "Well, I'll leave you alone to plan your big date."  He turned to leave, then paused.  "You do remember what to do on a date, don't you, Danny Boy?"

'I knew it!' Daniel exclaimed in his mind.  "I think I can figure it out, Jack," he said aloud.

"You sure?  'Cus, if you need any help, I can give you some pointers."

Daniel glared at him.  "Jack, how long has it been since the last time you were on a date?  And, no, Kynthia and Laira don't count."

"How come?"

"Because Kynthia drugged and seduced you, and Laira . . . well, you didn't date her."

"Fine.  Then it's been a while, not since the last time that Sara and I went out to dinner."  Jack glared at Daniel.  "Unless that doesn't count either."

"Well, technically, it wasn't a date since you two were already married, but we can count it."

"Well, thank you very much," Jack said sarcastically.  "And what about you, Mister Honorary Monk."

Daniel smiled.  "As it so happens, I dated Sha're."

"You did not!  You got yourself hitched to her the day we got there!"

"I'm talking about afterwards, Jack, after you guys left.  Yes, by the laws of the Abydonians, we were married, but, since I didn't get the pleasure of getting to know her first, I insisted that we have at least a couple of dates before . . . well, before you know."  Daniel blushed slightly.  "Dating isn't a custom the Abydonians have, so I had to explain it to Sha're.  She laughed at the whole idea, wondering why we had to do something like that when we were already married.  I insisted, so we had a date . . . well, sort of.  Sha're fixed dinner for us, and I lit some candles and laid down a few furs for us to sit on.  We spent the evening sharing things about ourselves, getting to know each other better."  A gentle smile touched Daniel's face.  "It was really nice."

Jack smiled, too.  "And how many of these dates did you go on before you got down to the . . . business of being married?"

Daniel's blush returned.  "Well, um, just . . . just the one."

Jack had to squash his grin with an effort.  "Ah, I see.  Okay, Daniel.  I have confidence that you do remember how to date.  Just don't forget that you and Carter aren't married . . . well, at least not yet."

With a smug smile, Jack left, feeling pleased and content that his best friend was finally going to get what he so desperately wanted.

Janet stared at Sam in surprise as she came into the infirmary.  The astrophysicist looked extremely happy, her steps springy and light.

"Well, you look pleased about something," the doctor said.

Sam smiled.  "Can we talk?"

"Um, sure.  Just let me take care of a few things first.  You can wait for me in my office."

Janet finished her rounds, then met Sam in the office.

"Okay, so what's got you looking so happy?  Oh, by the way, I've heard about what was going on at the party.  A couple of my nurses said that they almost feared for their lives when they tried to get close to Daniel.  It seems that there was this Air Force major who was glaring daggers at any female who dared to approach the man her arm was latched onto."

Sam looked suitably embarrassed.  "Okay, so I might have overdone it a little.  I just got tired of seeing him get mauled by everything with breasts."

"Ah, the green-eyed monster strikes again.  Well, I don't think you'll have to worry about that again, at least not around here.  Most of the women got the message loud and clear.  If not from first-hand experience, then from others telling them.  They know that you've staked your claim."

Sam blushed, embarrassed that every woman on the base now knew that she wanted Daniel for herself.  Oh, well.  Once word got out that she and Daniel were dating, everyone would know anyhow.

"So, back to my original question.  Why so happy?" Janet asked.

"Daniel and I are going on a date Monday."

The doctor smiled delightedly.  "Really?  That's great, Sam.  So, you finally asked him out?"

"Well, yes, but, uh, not just now.  This is sort of a . . . delayed response."

"Excuse me?"

"Never mind."

Janet studied her closely for a few seconds.  "Okay.  So, are you nervous?"

"A little, but I know it's going to be good.  I mean, it has to be good, right?  Daniel and I are already really good friends.  We get along great.  We have no trouble finding things to talk about.  So, why wouldn't it be a good date?"

"Yes, you are very good friends who get along well, but this is a date, Sam, with all the hopes and expectations that come with a date.  Things are a little different on a date than they are on a friendly dinner with a friend."

Sam sighed.  "Okay, I lied.  I'm more than a little nervous.  I want it to be perfect.  I don't want Daniel to be disappointed."

"Sam, he's in love with you.  I seriously doubt that any date with you could disappoint him.  Besides, he's probably as worried about the date being good as you are."

Sam nodded, trying to calm her nerves.

"So, where are you going?"

"I don't know yet.  Daniel is going to make the arrangements."

"Well, Sam, I'm sure that you'll have a wonderful time, no matter what you do."

As soon as Daniel was allowed to leave Monday morning, he started making arrangements for the date.  He had already phoned in the dinner reservations yesterday, wanting to make sure that he got a table for the restaurant he'd chosen.  It was a very expensive restaurant, the kind that Daniel would never go to except on an occasion like this.  He knew that fancy restaurants were not something Sam had any interest in normally, but he wanted this date to be special, one that neither of them would ever forget – not that he would forget anyway.  It was with Sam that he was going on a date.  It would be special to him even if they went to McDonald's for a Big Mac and fries.

While Daniel was making preparations for the date, Sam was at home, agonizing over what she would wear.  She'd gone through the entire contents of her closest, twice, and just couldn't find anything that she felt was good enough.  And what about her hair?  Up or down?  Curly or straight?  Oh, man, what about the shoes?

'Get a grip, Sam.  It's just a date!' she told herself, followed immediately by, 'Yeah, a date with Daniel, the man you are head over heels in love with.  When was the last time you had a date with someone you felt like this about?'

Sam abruptly sat on the bed as the answer came to her.  Never.  She had never dated or even been involved with a man that she truly loved, not like this.  Jonas Hanson, Narim, Martouf, Pete.  She had cared deeply about all of them, but she had not been in love with any of them, not even Jonas, the man she was going to marry.  Not even Jack.

God, she had been so delusional.  Daniel had been right when, while under the influence of the sarcophagus, he'd said that she had never really known what love is.  Even in the years that passed since then, that remained true – up until the day she realized that she was in love with Daniel.  With Jonas, she had loved an illusion and the idea of being in love.  With Jack . . . physical attraction, admiration and respect, and the feelings of a friend had grown into an infatuation that she couldn't let go of even though she knew that she should.  She had thought that she knew what love was, but she had been wrong, for real love had been there all along, all these seven years, and she didn't recognize it for what it was.  Sam smiled.  Now that she did, she intended to hold onto it and cherish it for the rest of her life.

The major got to her feet and left the bedroom.  Grabbing her purse, she headed out the door, intending to spend a whole lot of money on the dress she would wear for her first date with the only man she had ever really loved.

Daniel drummed his fingers impatiently on the steering wheel as he waited for the light to change.  For the hundredth time, he glanced at his reflection in the mirror, hoping that he looked okay.  He then chastised himself.  'What difference does it make?  Sam knows what you look like.  She's seen you covered in dirt, exhausted from lack of sleep, sick, injured, even dead.  It doesn't matter whether or not you look okay.'  He glanced in the mirror again.  'I hope I picked the right tie.'

The changing of the light to green put a halt to Daniel's thoughts.  A couple of minutes later, he was pulling up in front of Sam's house.  Grabbing the object that sat on the seat beside him, Daniel got out of the car and walked up to the door.  He set what he was holding out of sight on the porch and, taking a deep, steadying breath, knocked on the door.  Maybe twenty seconds passed when the door opened – and Doctor Daniel Jackson, holder of Ph.D.'s in archeology, anthropology and philology, was rendered utterly speechless.  His mouth fell open as he stared at the vision before him.

Sam's hair was piled on top of her head in a mass of curls, a few soft tendrils escaping to fall down her neck and the sides of her face.  She was wearing a halter top black cocktail dress that clung to every curve like a second skin.  Its v-neck displayed a tantalizing amount of cleavage.  The rounded hemline dipped to mid-knee at the sides and rose to several inches above the knees at the front.  Slowly following the long line of her legs, Daniel saw that Sam had on a pair of open-toed sandals that wrapped around the ankles and bore three-inch stiletto heels.

"Wow," he breathed, finally discovering his voice.  "Sam, you look . . . wow."  Okay, so he'd found his voice, but still seemed incapable of putting to use any of his usually impressive linguistic skills.

Apparently, Daniel's lack of higher language skills was okay with Sam, because she blushed and smiled brightly.  Then she took her turn at ogling.  He was dressed in an expensive, beautifully tailored charcoal grey suit that fit him to perfection, showing off his strong, broad shoulders.  Beneath the suit jacket was a royal blue shirt that somehow managed to make his incredibly blue eyes look even bluer.  His black tie had diagonal blue stripes that matched the shirt perfectly.  The thought went through Sam's mind that he looked good enough to eat.

"Wow, to you, too, Daniel," she said, very tempted just to forget the date and drag him straight into the bedroom.

The archeologist blushed at the compliment.  "Oh!  Um, I have something for you."  He bent over and picked up a cut glass vase full of a dozen blood-red roses, which had been hiding out of Sam's sight.  The major gasped and took the bouquet.

"Oh, Daniel, they're beautiful!  Thank you.  Come in, and let me put these on the table."

As Sam headed to the dining room, Daniel came into the living room, finding his eyes drawn to the expanse of bare skin on her back and the sway of her hip.  Clearing his throat, he dragged his eyes away before he was caught ogling again.  If possible, he was feeling even more nervous now than he did before.  Sam was so beautiful.  How could someone like her have any interest in a guy like him?

Sam got her coat and let Daniel help put it on.  The cold air nipped at Sam's bare toes as they walked to the car, making her question the wisdom of her choice in footwear, but the sexy black sandals had called out to her the moment she'd seen them, just like the dress she was wearing did.  It, too, was not very practical for this time of year, but she had wanted to look sexy for Daniel, so long sleeves and a high neckline just wasn't going to cut it.  She was glad that she'd made the choice she did, even if she was a bit cold now.   The look that had been on Daniel's face when he first saw her made her present discomfort worthwhile.

Daniel opened the door for Sam and waited for her to get in.  He then shut it and went around to the driver's side.  A moment later, they were on the road.

"So, where are we going?" Sam asked.

Daniel smiled slightly.  "You'll see."

Sam fell silent, wondering what surprise Daniel had in store for her.

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