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Sam's question about where Daniel was taking her was answered as they pulled into the parking lot for what many claimed was the finest restaurant in Colorado Springs.  It was also one of the most expensive.  Sam's mouth fell open.

"Daniel, do you have any idea how expensive this place is?"

"As a matter of fact, I do," he replied with a little smile.  And that's all he said as he found a parking place.

Upon entering the restaurant, Daniel gave the Maitre d' his name.  After looking up the reservation, the man called for a waiter to take them to their table.

As they walked through the restaurant, Daniel did not fail to notice all the looks that Sam got from the men they passed.  He stepped just a tiny bit closer to her, placing his hand on her lower back, just below where her dress ended.  He was tempted to put his hand higher just so that he could touch her bare skin, but he didn't want to take too many liberties.  After all, this was their first date.

Sam felt Daniel's hand upon her back and had to contain a shudder.  She wished that he'd put it just a wee bit higher so that she could feel him touching her skin.  She had noticed more than one female head swiveling in their direction, and the look many of them had given Daniel was definitely admiring, some of them even a bit predatory.  She sent a glare in the direction of a couple of them.

Both Sam and Daniel were glad when they arrived at their table, which was tucked away in a corner, affording a nice bit of privacy.

The waiter asked if they'd like some wine, and Daniel ordered a bottle that Sam knew was quite pricey.

"You know, it really isn't necessary to spend all this money on me, Daniel," Sam told the archeologist after the waiter was gone.  "It's not like you have to impress me."  She smiled.  "You impressed me the day we met.  Heck, you impressed me even before we met."

Daniel was both pleased and a little puzzled by the comment.  "How's that?"

"When Catherine told me that she was going to try to recruit you for the, um . . . project, I decided to find out a little more about you, and what I read was quite impressive.  It's not everyone who can master twenty-three spoken languages, probably a dozen dead languages, and earn three doctorates all by their mid-twenties.  I read all the papers you published, and I thought they were quite good, even if they weren't on my field of expertise.  During the two weeks that you were working on the project, Catherine gave me periodic updates.  She talked about you a lot."  Sam smiled again.  "She became quite fond of you, you know.  She said that she wished she'd hired you when they first started trying to figure out the coverstone.  She told me that I'd like you.  Judging by what I'd read and heard, I thought so, too."

A memory came to Daniel's mind.  "Ah, so that's why you said that."

"Said what?"

"In the map room, after I stumbled upon the reason why you hadn't been able to connect to other . . . locations, you told me that you knew you'd like me."

"Oh, yeah.  I did say that, didn't I."  Though a lot of horrible things happened that day, she would always be grateful that it brought Daniel into her life.

"Okay, back to what I was saying before," she said.  "It is totally unnecessary for you to spend this kind of money on me."

"I know that, Sam.  I'm not doing this to impress you; I'm doing it because I want tonight to be special.  We could have gone to Denny's or some other place like that, but Denny's isn't special . . . and it's not even close to being good enough for a date with you."  Daniel laid his hand over hers.  "A date with you deserves a place like this.  It deserves more."

Sam blushed slightly at the compliment.  She gave his hand a little squeeze.  "Have you been here before?"

Daniel shook his head.  "I never had a good reason to."

"You never brought another date here?"

Daniel stared at her.  "Sam, you should know better than anyone that I haven't dated since Sha're."

"Not even once?"

The archeologist shook his head.  "Not even once.  After Sha're died, I really didn't have any desire to date."

Sam nodded.  "I guess I knew that.  I mean, I thought that was the case.  But it's been over four and a half years.  I thought that, maybe after you . . . came back, you might have gone on a date or two.  I mean, you seemed to be in a better frame of mind about her death, like you'd finally moved on."

"No, not even after that."  Daniel looked deeply into her eyes.  "My heart was already taken, even though I didn't know it yet."

The return of the waiter prevented Sam from responding.  He poured Daniel a bit of the wine.  The archeologist tasted it and nodded his approval.  The waiter filled his glass, then Sam's.

"I will be with you shortly to take your orders, sir, ma'am," the man said, then left.

When Daniel looked at Sam, he found her staring at him.

"What?" he asked.

"Oh, nothing.  You just seem to be awfully familiar with what you're supposed to do in a place like this."

"Oh.  Well, I may never have been to this restaurant before, but I have been to places like this, though not often.  When I was a post-grad at UCLA, I dated for a very short time a girl whose family had money.  I took her to a place like this on our first date and made a huge dent in my bank account.  I knew that our relationship was doomed when I realized that she expected me to take her to expensive restaurants on every date."  Daniel grinned.  "Since I am an anthropologist, I make an effort to learn the proper way to act in whatever culture or environment I find myself in, and that includes fancy restaurants."

Sam gave a little laugh at the comment.  "Yes, you wouldn't want to offend the natives."

"Or the Maitre d'."

The couple looked over their menus.  They had just decided what they wanted when the waiter returned.  Their orders taken, he, again, left them to their privacy.

"So . . . anthropology.  Was that Ph.D number one, two or three?" Sam asked with a smile.

"Two.  Philology was number one, the one I got at UCLA.  Archeology came last, although, for a while, I was studying for both the archeology and anthropology doctorates at the same time."

Sam gazed at him curiously.  "Okay, explain to me the difference between philology and linguistics."

"Well, putting it simply, linguistics is the study of language and its structure.  Philology is the study of the structure, historical development and relationships of languages.  There's a lot more to it than that, but that will give you the general idea.  In my studies, I focused on the decipherment of ancient writing systems and on comparative philology, which deals with the relationship between different languages."

"So, every time someone calls you a linguist, they should actually be calling you a, what, philologist?"

Daniel smiled.  "Try saying philologist too many times, and you'll get tongue-tied.  Linguist is a lot easier to say and for people to understand.  Besides, philology is a form of linguistics, so it's not actually wrong to call me a linguist."

"As much as you love archeology, I'm surprised that you didn't get that doctorate first.  Of course, I know that you love the study of languages, too."

"It was mostly a matter of money.  UCLA was able to award me a full scholarship.  I knew that I wanted to pursue a doctorate in philology, and they have an excellent linguistics program.  In fact, its doctoral program has been consistently ranked as one of the top two or three in the country. They also has an excellent anthropology department, and their Institute of Archaeology is very good, too, but I knew that, for advanced archeological and anthropological studies, one of the best places to go in the U.S. is the University of Chicago, especially because of the Oriental Institute.  I'd have gone there from the beginning, but the year I first applied, they couldn't offer me a full scholarship since there were none left available.  You have no idea how happy I was when I applied again and managed to get one.  I was afraid I wouldn't have a chance."

Sam almost smiled.  She never stopped being amazed by how modest Daniel was about his brilliant mind.  "Why the doubt when you'd already gotten one from UCLA?"

"Well, I always thanked Mister Foster for that one.  He was my high school principal, and he pushed to get me that scholarship.  He was, um, kind of impressed by how many languages I knew at the time."

"Oh?  And how many was that?"

"Uh, at graduation, it was sixteen spoken languages.  I could also read several dead languages."

Sam's eyes widened slightly.  "At fifteen years old?  Wow.  That's amazing."

Daniel shyly ducked his head, something that Sam had always thought was adorable.  She had to wonder if his reaction to praise was because he got so little of it growing up.

"Hey, how come we're talking all about me?" the archeologist asked.

"Because I realized that, even though we've known each other for all these years, there are still a lot of details about your life before we met that I don't know."

"I could say the same about you, Sam.  So, I vote that we change the subject to your life."

Sam shook her head.  "I'm boring, well, at least until I got in the service, then things got more exciting."

Daniel gazed at her with an earnest expression.  "Sam, your life could never be boring to me."

It was Sam's turn to duck her head shyly.  "Thank you.  I'm glad you feel that way."

Daniel grinned.  "So, come on.  Give!  I'm all ears."

The rest of their evening at the restaurant was spent with the couple sharing things about their lives that they'd never talked about with each other before.  Sam especially loved the tales Daniel told about his years on archeological digs with his parents.  It made her wonder how different he would be if his mother and father hadn't died when he was so young.

As the evening went by, Sam realized that she should never have been nervous about this date.  She and Daniel were such close friends and were so compatible that there could never be a question of a date with him being good.  Neither one of them had any expectations that the other couldn't fulfill.  Yes, there was still the question of what would happen after the date, but whatever it was, Sam knew that she was ready for it.

Before the couple realized it, three hours had passed.  Deciding that they should probably leave, Daniel paid the check and headed out to the car with Sam.

"Thank you, Daniel.  This was really nice," she said, looking at him as they walked, her arm linked with his.  "I can't remember ever having a nicer date."

Very pleased, Daniel smiled at her.  "Thank you, Sam, but the date's not over yet."

"It isn't?"

Daniel's smile turned a bit mysterious as they reached the car.  "Nope."  He opened the passenger side door for her, not saying anything more.

As they drove, Sam didn't bother asking Daniel where they were going next since she suspected that he wouldn't tell her.  She was once again surprised when they arrived at one of the classiest night clubs in town.

Sam looked at her date.  "A night club?  Since when are you familiar with night clubs?"

"I'm not.  I had to do some asking around to find out which ones I'd be interested in, the ones that aren't full of twenty-somethings dancing to loud rock music."

Rather than rock music, the song being played by the night club's band was a lovely ballad, perfect for slow dancing.  Daniel and Sam managed to find a table near the dance floor.  Sam ordered a drink, but the archeologist just got a club soda, deciding that, because he was driving and because of his need for caution with alcoholic beverages, the wine he'd had with dinner should be it for the night.

They'd been sitting, enjoying the music for only a few minutes when Daniel rose to his feet.  He held out his hand to Sam.

"Dance?" he asked, his voice soft and low.

Sam felt a little thrill pass through her as she took Daniel's hand and let him lead her to the dance floor.  The moment he took her into his arms, she knew that there was going to be no personal space between them tonight.  He pulled her close, wrapping his arms snugly around her waist.  Loving the feel of his body pressed against hers, Sam wrapped her arms around his neck.

Shortly after they began to dance, the band ended the song they had been playing and started another one.  The female lead singer stepped up to the microphone and began singing.

Have you ever been in love?
You could touch the moonlight
When your heart is shooting stars
You're holding heaven in your arms
Have you ever been in love?
Have you ever walked on air?
Ever felt like you were dreamin'?
When you never thought it could
But it really feels that good
Have you ever been so in love?
Have you ever been in love?
You could touch the moonlight
When your heart is shooting stars
You're holding heaven in your arms
Have you ever been in love?
Have you?
The time I spent waiting for something that was heavensent
When you find it don't let go
I know
Have you ever said a prayer
And found that it was answered
All my hope has been restored
And I ain't looking anymore
Have you ever been so in love?
 Have you?
Someplace that you ain't leavin'
Somewhere you're gonna stay
When you finally found the meanin'
Have you ever felt this way?
The time I spent waiting for something that was heavensent
When you find it don't let go
I know
Have you ever been in love?
So in love
You could touch the moonlight
You can even reach the stars
Doesn't matter near or far
Have you ever been so in love?
Have you ever been in love?
Have you ever been in love?
So, in love

As the last notes of the song faded away, Daniel leaned forward and whispered into Sam's ear, "I have."

Sam lifted her head and gazed into Daniel's eyes, seeing the meaning of his words reflected in the blue depths.  He gave her a smile filled with warmth and love, then pressed a long, lingering kiss on her brow.

Feeling happier in that moment than she ever had in her life, Sam gave a contented sigh and rested her head on Daniel's shoulder as they continued to dance.

By the time they left the night club, it was nearly midnight, yet neither one of them was the least bit tired.  The drive back to Sam's house was made in companionable silence.

Daniel walked Sam up to her door.

"I can't tell you how much I enjoyed tonight, Sam," he said, gazing at her openly.  "It was fantastic."

Sam smiled.  "Yes, it was."  She drew in a deep breath.  "Would you . . . like to come in?"

Daniel reached up and caressed her cheek.  "I want to say yes so badly, Sam.  You have no idea how much.  But I'm going to say no."

Sam blinked in surprise.  "Why?"

"Because I love you, so much that there are no words.  When we make love, it'll be forever for me, no going back to the way it was before, not ever.  I want . . . everything from you, Sam, no doubts, no fears, no hesitation.  I don't know if it's my abilities or just normal instincts, but I feel like you're afraid of something, holding back, and, until I don't sense that anymore, I have to say no."

Daniel placed a soft kiss on Sam's lips, then strode away down the walkway.  As he stepped around to the driver's side of the car, he paused and looked at her for a very long moment, then he smiled softly, got in the car, and drove away.

Sam stayed where she was for another full minute before finally going inside.  As she locked the door, she realized that Daniel was right.  He'd told her more than once tonight that he loved her, yet she hadn't said the words back to him.  She was still afraid, terrified that, if she told him, something awful would happen.

Sam remembered what the hallucination of her father said.  "I know you have denied yourself the experience because you think that it must inevitably end in pain and loneliness.  It's time to let go of the things that prevent you from finding happiness.  You deserve to love someone and be loved in return."

Sam closed her eyes.  It was time that she let go of this fear and let herself love Daniel all the way.  She looked at her watch, calculating how long it would take Daniel to get home at this time of night.  After waiting a couple of minutes, she dialed his number.

"Sam?" Daniel said questioningly upon answering the phone.

The major smiled at the fact that he'd known it was her.  "Psychic powers, Daniel?"

"Caller ID.  I got tired of all the telemarketers.  Is something wrong?"

"No, nothing's wrong.  I just . . . I didn't thank you for such a wonderful date."

"Yes, you did, earlier, when the date wasn't over yet," he responded teasingly.

"Ah, yes, that's right.  Well, thank you again."

"You're welcome, and thank you for the wonderful date, too."

There was a moment of silence.

"Um, I'd really like to go on another one," Sam said.

"Me too," Daniel murmured.



"That sounds good.  Not the same place, though.  I don't want you to break your bank account."

Daniel chuckled.  "I'm not a starving college student anymore, Sam.  My bank account can survive places like that now, maybe not every day, but definitely more than once."

"Even so, once is enough for now."

"Okay.  You can pick the restaurant this time."

"Well, since I'm picking the restaurant, I'll pick you up this time."

"Um . . . okay.  I guess that's only fair."

"Good.  I'll see you tomorrow night, then?  Six o'clock?"

"Sure.  I'll see you then, Sam.  Good night."

"Good night."

Sam hung up the phone, smiling.  Tonight had been wonderful, but tomorrow night . . . tomorrow night would be even better.

Author's Note: Lyrics are from the Celine Dion song "Have You Ever Been In Love". To hear a portion of the song, CLICK HERE.

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