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The next day, Sam began making preparations for the date.  She knew that Daniel wouldn't be expecting what she had planned, and she was more than a little nervous that everything was going to work out okay.

It was six o'clock on the dot when Sam pulled up in front of Daniel's house.  The archeologist came out only a moment later.  He walked up to the car dressed in black slacks, a light grey sports jacket, covered by his winter coat, and a beautiful dove grey shirt, open at the collar.  Sam had told him to dress casually.  He'd decided on something that could be called casual but also looked nice.  He figured that he could dispense with the jacket if it was too dressy.

As Daniel got into the car, he saw that Sam was wearing a lovely dark green dress with a full, flowing skirt.  He couldn't see what the rest of the dress looked like since it was hidden by her coat.  She'd left her hair down, but had curled it more than usual, which made her look years younger – and made him want to run his fingers through the golden locks.

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

Sam grinned.  "You'll have to wait and see."

Daniel also smiled.  "Ah, I see.  Turnabout is fair play, eh?"

"You bet.  You wouldn't tell me last night where we were going, so I'm doing the same."

"Fair enough."

Daniel settled back for the drive, but began to frown when they soon entered a very familiar neighborhood.

"Um, this is the way to your house, isn't it?"


Daniel stared at her.  "Did you forget something?"


The archeologist didn't say anything further as they pulled onto Sam's street and then parked in front of her house.  The major got out of the car.  When Daniel didn't do likewise, she stuck her head back in the car.

"So, you going to sit there all night?" she asked with a little smile.

Wondering what Sam had up her sleeve, Daniel got out and followed her to the house.  He came to the conclusion that she had gotten it into her head to cook for him for their second date, something he had not expected.  If he had known, he would have told her not to go to all that effort.

Daniel's thoughts did not prepare him for what he saw as they stepped inside.  An eight-foot-square roll of fake grass had been laid out in the middle of Sam's living room.  Sitting upon the grass was a red and white checkered 'picnic blanket', and on that blanket was a great big picnic basket.  There was the sound of chirping birds and a breeze rustling through tree limbs, apparently courtesy of Sam's stereo and a nature sounds CD.  The roses Daniel had given Sam were acting as a centerpiece.

His mouth hanging open, the linguist turned to his date.  "Sam, what's this?"

"Why, it's a picnic, of course," she answered.  "Don't you remember our conversation about picnics and their romantic value?  It's too cold to have one outside, so I decided that we'd just have to have it inside."

Daniel turned back to the indoor picnic and stared at it for a few seconds longer, and then he laughed.

"There have been a few times in the past when you surprised me, Sam, but this takes the cake."  He looked at her with a smile.

"Then you like it?" Sam asked just a little uncertainly.

"I love it.  I think it's great.  Come on.  Let's go start the picnic.  I'm starving."

The couple took off their coats, and Sam put them in the closest as Daniel sat on the blanket and peeked into the basket.  There was fried chicken, macaroni and potato salad, some fruit, cans of soda and bottled tea.  Also in the basket were paper plates, napkins and plastic forks and spoons.

The two began dishing out their food.

"There is one huge advantage to this picnic," Daniel commented.

"What's that?"

"No bugs."

"Well, there'd better not be, otherwise, my first call tomorrow is to the exterminator."

Daniel took a bite of chicken.  "Mmm.  This is great breading.  Where'd you get this?"

"Actually, I made it," Sam replied.

Daniel's eyebrows rose.  "You did?"

Sam frowned at him.  "Don't look so surprised.  I can cook, you know.  I finally decided one day that I was tired of frozen dinners and takeout.  I'm not great, but I get by."

"No, it isn't that," the archeologist hastily told her.  "It's just that I'm surprised you didn't save yourself the time and effort and go to KFC instead.  That would have been fine with me, you know."

"Yes, I know, but I wanted to do the cooking.  I think it makes it more special that way."

Daniel gave her a warm smile.  "Yes, it does, and I'm really flattered that you'd go to all that effort.  Thank you.  My taste buds thank you, too.  This is way better than KFC."

Sam gave him a pleased smile.  "It's my mom's recipe.  This is actually the first time I've used it."

"Well, you did great.  What about the salads?"

"I made them, too, but they weren't recipes from Mom, just out of a cookbook."

Daniel tasted the potato and macaroni salads and liked both of them.  "They're good.  I like the cheese in the macaroni salad.  That's different."

"Uh huh.  I thought it sounded good when I read the recipe."

Daniel looked around at everything she had done.  "Sam, you must have spent hours preparing all of this.  I'm feeling really guilty now.  All I did for our first date is make a dinner reservation."

"Hey.  I loved our first date," Sam told him with feeling.  "It was the best date I've ever had."  She looked intently into the eyes of the man sitting beside her.  "I'm not exaggerating, Daniel.  I really mean that.  Not a single date I've ever been on before made me as happy as you did last night.  It was wonderful."

Daniel ducked his head.

"Besides.  Remember what I said before," Sam added.  "I like both picnic dates and romantic dinner dates, and yesterday's date was the most perfectly romantic date I could imagine.  I'd have been delighted if it could have kept on going all night."

Daniel met her eyes.  "Me too," he said softly.

Something in the quietly spoken words made a little tingle pass through Sam.  She returned her attention to her food.  She'd been eating for a few minutes when she realized that Daniel was watching her.  She met his eyes.

"You really are beautiful, Sam," he told her.  "I like the dress.  It's a great color on you."

Sam looked down at herself.  "Thank you.  It is pretty, isn't it.  Not really what you'd wear to a picnic, but I fell in love with it when I saw it.  While we're on the subject, I really like that shirt you're wearing.  It looks like silk."

"Not hardly.  I'm not that much of a clothes horse, not even close.  The wonders of cotton and polyester blends is usually more my speed."

"Uh huh, and what about that gorgeous suit you wore last night?"

"Well . . . that's a little different.  I figured that I'd have to have a really nice suit to even come close to looking good enough to be seen with a knockout like you."

Sam could tell that he'd been completely serious about what he just said, and she was both extremely pleased by the compliment and unhappy about what it said regarding his self-image.  She stared at him for a long moment before speaking.  "Boy, you really are blind, aren't you."

Daniel frowned.  "What do you mean?"

"You didn't see all the women who were giving you the eye at the restaurant last night?"

"What?  No, you've got to be mistaken.  All I saw were all those men who were staring at you."

"Oh, trust me, Daniel, I'm not mistaken.  I'm also not mistaken that more than one woman at Saturday's party would have jumped at the chance to give you more than a hug and a kiss on the cheek.  Tell me, Daniel.  Do you ever actually look at yourself in the mirror?"

"Yes, of course I do, but I honestly don't see anything all that special.  Yes, I'm in a lot better shape now than I was a few years ago, but, compared to Teal'c . . . well, it would be hard for any man short of a bodybuilder to compare to Teal'c."

"Well, I happen to think that you compare to Teal'c just fine.  Personally, I was never all that turned on by an excess of muscles.  I once dated a guy who was into bodybuilding, and, whenever he held me, it was like I was snuggling up to a rock.  There was nothing soft or comfortable about him, just a bunch of perfectly sculpted muscles.  He also had an ego to match the size of those muscles.  To be honest, I prefer a guy whose physique looks more natural, like he got his muscles the old-fashioned way, with regular exercise and good hard work, not by spending hours a day pumping iron in a gym."

"Um . . . I do do some of that, too, you know."

Sam smiled.  "After all the times we've worked out together at the SGC gym, I definitely do know that.  But you don't take it to extremes.  That's the point I'm making."

"And Teal'c?"

"Teal'c's an exception.  For one thing, unlike with some men, being that muscular really suits him.  It looks natural.  He also doesn't have all those muscles just to look good.  He probably never even thinks about how his physique would be very attractive to a lot of women."  She studied Daniel.  "And, obviously, neither do you about yours."

Daniel's gaze dropped to his plate of food, which now sat on the blanket.  "I didn't start hitting the weights to attract women."

"I know, Daniel.  Why did you?"

"After Sha're died, I was . . . really angry.  Exercising helped vent the anger and kept my mind off how much I was hurting.  My attitude about a lot of things changed after she died.  Before, my main reason for going through the gate was to find and free her.  Afterwards, it was to find her son and stop the Goa'uld, the race responsible for what happened to her.  After I found Shifu, what was left was my desire to put an end to the reign of the Goa'uld.  The weightlifting, training more with Jack and Teal'c, becoming proficient at firing a P-90, it was all a way to sublimate my pain and anger and to increase my ability to fight the Goa'uld."

Sam thought about that, understanding why Daniel had reacted in that way.  "But you didn't really start hitting the weights in a serious way until after you descended."

"Yeah.  During those two months that I had no memories, I felt really helpless.  I didn't know who I was or anything about my life, and everything I tried wasn't working to bring my memories back.  I spent those two months doing a lot of manual labor.  It helped keep my mind off things and made me feel less helpless."

"But what about after you started remembering?"  Sam recalled something.  "When you began having the memory flashes about Bra'tac and Ry'ac, you told me that you had been wondering if you could do more good if you were still ascended.  Does that have something to do with it?"

Daniel gave a little sigh.  "Yes, I guess it does.  I had a lot of doubts about whether or not I could really make a difference as just an ordinary human being.  I know it probably sounds silly, but building up my body, making myself physically stronger, made me feel stronger and more confident in other ways, too.  After I remembered what happened on Erebus and realized that I could accomplish more as a human than I was ever allowed to as one of the Ascended, I decided to keep going with the exercising since I physically felt better, and there are advantages to being stronger, especially on missions."

"I can understand how you felt that way.  A lot of people, both men and women, take martial arts classes to feel stronger and more self-confident."

Daniel and Sam resumed eating, turning the conversation to other things.  Once the meal was finished, the major fetched something out of the kitchen cabinet.  She handed the sack to Daniel.

"What's this?"


Daniel opened the bag and grinned.  "Chocolate walnut cookies."

"Uh huh.  And, before you ask, no, I didn't bake them.  I'm not that great a baker, and I wanted to make sure they were good.  They're from your favorite bakery."

The next few minutes were spent consuming cookies with tall glasses of milk.  After they were done, Daniel helped Sam clean up and put everything away.

"So, what do you have in store for me next?" Daniel asked.  "I'd suggest a walk in the park, but we'd freezing out there, and it could get rather boring just strolling around your living room."

In reply, Sam went to her stereo and put on some other CD's.  A slow love song began to play.  She came back to Daniel.

"Care to dance?" she asked, smiling.

"Love to," Daniel replied as he took her into his arms.

For the next half-hour, Daniel and Sam danced at the center of Sam's living room in time to the music.  The archeologist sang along with a couple of the songs, telling Sam with a cute smile that he was serenading her.  Daniel had a very nice singing voice, and Sam loved the idea that he was singing for her.  They even got together for a duet on one of the songs.

"This is a nice CD," Daniel commented.

"I just got it.  It has a nice mix of songs, though I didn't realize when I got it that it has some sad ones, too.  I only glanced at the titles since I was in kind of a hurry.  I was aiming for romantic."

"Ah, but there is something kind of romantic about a doomed love affair.  Look at Romeo and Juliet."

"I'd rather not.  You and I have already died too many times to be thinking about lovers who committed suicide."

Daniel gave a chuckle, and Sam looked up at him.

"What?" she inquired, curious about Daniel's reaction.

"Oh, I was just thinking about the reaction that last statement would incur if we were on a dance floor right now, and someone overheard us."

Sam laughed.  "Yes, it would earn us some looks, wouldn't it.  You, the colonel, Teal'c and I could all have places in the record books on number of deaths.  No, I take that back.  Teal'c's only died twice, hardly worth mentioning."

That comment made Daniel laugh, too.  "You know, it's really scary that you can say something like that, that having died only twice makes it no big deal."

"Yes, it is scary, isn't it."

They fell silent and continued dancing, Sam's head lying upon Daniel's shoulder as he rested his on her hair.

Just then, a song Sam knew very well began to play.  The moment it did, a wave of sadness washed through her.

I'm so tired of being here
Suppressed by all my childish fears
If you have to leave
I wish that you would just leave
'Cause your presence still lingers here
And it won't leave me alone

These wounds won't seem to heal
This pain is just too real
There's just too much that time cannot erase

When you cried I'd wipe away all of your tears
When you'd scream I'd fight away all of your fears
And I held your hand through all of these years
But you still have
All of me

You used to captivate me
By your resonating light
Now I'm bound by the life you left behind
Your face, it haunts
My once pleasant dreams
Your voice, it's chased away
All the sanity in me

These wounds won't seem to heal
This pain is just too real
There's just too much that time cannot erase

When you cried I'd wipe away all of your tears
When you'd scream I'd fight away all of your fears
And I held your hand through all of these years
But you still have
All of me

I've tried so hard to tell myself that you're gone
But though you're still with me
I've been alone all along

When you cried I'd wipe away all of your tears
When you'd scream I'd fight away all of your fears
And I held your hand through all of these years
But you still have
All of me

The song was almost over when Daniel realized that Sam was silently crying, her face pressed into his shoulder.  Instantly concerned, he looked at her.

"Sam?  What's wrong?"

She shook her head, wiping away her tears.

Knowing that something had really upset her, Daniel led her to the couch.

"Okay, tell me what's wrong," he insisted.

Sam sniffled a couple of times, wiping her face with a tissue.  "It's nothing, really.  I'm just being silly.  It's just . . . that song.  Not long after you ascended, I heard that song on the radio, and it just . . . God, it made me think so much about you and how much I missed you.  I tried to tell myself that you were gone and that I needed to get on with my life, but, everywhere I looked, I saw your face and heard your voice, and . . . and I just couldn't. . . ."  Her voice choked off.

Daniel pulled her into his arms.  "I'm so sorry, Sam.  I never meant to hurt you."

"I know."  She lifted her head and looked at him earnestly.  "You need to know that I don't wish that you didn't ascend.  I know that, if you'd stayed, if you'd let Dad heal you, you would never have been completely healthy.  I wouldn't have wanted you to be doomed to that kind of life.  I just wanted you back so much."

Daniel held Sam for a long, silent moment.  Finally, she pulled back and wiped her face.

"I'm sorry I ruined the evening, blubbering like that."

Daniel lifted her chin so that she'd look at him in the eyes.  "You didn't ruin the evening, Sam.  I had a great time.  And I'm glad that we talked about this.  I know that you guys missed me while I was gone, and I know that I must have missed you. . . ."  Daniel's voice trailed off, his gaze falling away from her face.

"Daniel?  What is it?"

For several seconds, the archeologist didn't reply, and Sam was starting to get worried.  She was about to speak again when Daniel let out a little gasp.

"Oh, God," he whispered.

"What?  What's wrong?" Sam asked anxiously.

Daniel abruptly got to his feet.  He strode away a few paces.  "I remember Nirrti, Sam," he said in a tight voice.

"What?  What do you mean?"

Daniel turned back to her.  "I was there!  When Nirrti had you guys prisoner, t-the experiments!"

Sam's face paled.  "You were there?"

Daniel spun away.  "Dammit!  She wouldn't let me help you!  I wanted to-to-to heal you, to do something, even if it was just to make the pain go away, but Oma said no.  She said I couldn't interfere.  She wouldn't even let me talk to you.  God, I was so angry.  I wasn't trying to change something on a galactic scale!  All I wanted to do was help you."

Daniel's last words were spoken in a pain-filled whisper.  Sam immediately got to her feet and went to him.  She wrapped her arms around his waist.

"It doesn't matter now, Daniel.  All that matters is that you were there with me, with us, and that you wanted to help."

"I felt so useless, Sam.  All that power, and I was useless."

"Which wasn't your fault.  There is nothing but the stupid rules of the Ascended to blame for that.  I know that, if it had been up to you, you'd have kicked the Goa'uld right out of the galaxy, their tails tucked between their legs."

Daniel let out a little laugh.  He hugged Sam to him.  "Thanks."

"There's nothing to thank me for."

Deciding that they'd had enough of dancing, Sam turned off the stereo.  "Would you like some coffee?" she asked.

"Yes.  Thanks."

Sam fixed the coffee as Daniel leaned against the kitchen counter, staring at the floor with a slight frown on his face.

"Want to talk about it?" Sam asked.

"What?  Oh.  No, this isn't proper date talk."

"Ah."  Sam didn't say anything more for a few seconds.  "This is the second memory you've gotten back of that year in just the past few months."

"I know.  I think that remembering about Jack and Baal was because of being in that place, which was so much like the cell he was in.  But this time. . . .  Ever since I came out of the stasis, I've been getting little . . . flashes."


"At first, I didn't understand what I was seeing, but I'm pretty sure now that I'm starting to get back my memories of that year I was ascended.  I've been seeing quick flashes of images, stuff I didn't recognize, places and people I have no memory of seeing during my life before or after my ascension."

"Do you think it has something to do with the download?"

"It's possible.  Maybe it jogged something loose, knocked through whatever wall Oma put around those memories.  I mean, we knew that at least some of the memories had to be in there.  If they weren't, I'd never have been able to remember about Erebus.  But I'd given up on ever getting any more of them back."  Daniel gazed off into the living room.  "I don't think I want to remember them now."

Sam turned to him fully.  "Why not?"

"Because every real memory that I've gotten back so far was one in which I failed one of you somehow.  I'm afraid of what else my memories will show, what other people I let suffer and die as I just stood and watched.  And I don't . . . I don't want to remember about Abydos, about how I failed them, too."

Sam stepped up to him and took his hands.  "Daniel, look at me."  The archeologist's eyes met hers.  "It was not your fault," she said very slowly and firmly, "none of it.  What did I say before?  It's the rules of the Ascended that are to blame.  If it hadn't been for them, you'd have broken the colonel out of that place.  If it hadn't been for them, you'd have healed me, taken care of Nirrti, and gotten us all out of there.  And, if it hadn't been for Oma or whomever it was that stopped you, you would have dealt with Anubis, and that weapon would never have been fired.  Abydos would still be there.  The other Ascended are to blame, not you.  If you'd been allowed to, you would have used your power to save lives, to help people, just like you're doing now with the abilities you've gained.  I am so proud of you, Daniel, of what you're doing.  I know that Colonel O'Neill and Teal'c are, too."

Sam pulled Daniel into a tight hug, which he returned.

"So, I don't want to hear you saying anything more about failing us," Sam told him sternly.  "You have never failed us."

"I wouldn't say that.  There was the sarcopha—"

"Ah!" Sam interrupted as she pulled back, sounding very much like Jack.  "The sarcophagus incident wasn't your fault either.  Besides, even though you were addicted to that thing and your mind was all messed up, you still managed to get us free.  You didn't forget about us and leave us in that mine to die.  You came through for us in the end.  I doubt that many others in that situation would have done the same."

Sam turned away and poured each of them a cup off coffee, which told Daniel that she wasn't going to listen to him talk like that anymore.  He smiled secretly, grateful for her unfailing faith, trust and support.

They took their coffee into the living room and settled back on the couch.  They drank in silence for a while.  At last, Sam set her cup down, knowing it was time to tell Daniel what she needed to say.

"Daniel, there's something I have to tell you," she said.  The archeologist's eyes immediately went to hers.

She drew in a deep breath.  "It's about what you said to me last night.  You were right.  I have been afraid."

Daniel put down his cup.  "Of what?"

"Of . . . loving someone.  Do you remember what I told you before, about how I hadn't wanted to get involved with someone because I was afraid that I would lose them and be left alone?"

Daniel nodded.  "I remember."

Sam let out a sigh.  "Even though I know it's ridiculous and stupid, I just couldn't help it."  She met Daniel's eyes.  "Deep inside, I still feel that way.  When I thought you had died, I believed that my black widow's curse had struck again."

"Sam, you can't think that way," Daniel told her.  "You're not cursed," his gaze drifted off, "although I can understand how you felt.  For a very long time, I felt as if I was cursed to never have anyone in my life for very long.  After I lost my parents, my childhood was spent going from foster home to foster home, never having the chance to get really close to anyone.  By the time I entered college, I'd gotten used to not having any close relationship, so I didn't encourage any.  It wasn't until I became one of Doctor Jordan's assistants that I formed any close friendships.  I lost all that when I chose to go public with my theories.  And then Catherine hired me, and I went to Abydos.  For a fantastic year, I had a wife who loved me and thousands of people that I could call friends and family.  Then I lost all that, too."  He returned his gaze to Sam.  "With the exception of Nick, which was never a very close relationship, the friendship with you, Jack and Teal'c is the longest and closest relationship I've had since the day I was orphaned."

Though Sam knew that Daniel hadn't intended to make her sad, that's what his words did.  Even before she met her teammates, she had been blessed with several long-lasting friendships, some of which still existed, though they were not as close now as they were before she joined the Stargate Program.  And, although, for many years, she had not been close to her father, he had still been there.  There had been her brother, too, even though they were estranged for a very long time.  It made her realize that, compared to Daniel, she had been lucky.

Unaware of Sam's thoughts, Daniel continued.  "Sometimes, things just happen, and, no matter how bad they are, it isn't because of a curse, or bad luck, or God, or even fate.  That's just the way it is.  There have been times when I've had a hard time seeing that, when it seemed like I'd been designated as the universe's whipping boy, but it's true all the same."

Daniel's eyes looked into Sam's intently.  "Narim's, Martouf's, and Jonas Hanson's deaths had nothing to do with your feelings for them."

Sam sighed.  "I know, Daniel.  That's what my mind keeps telling me, but it hasn't stopped me from being afraid.  For all these months, I've been afraid.  I didn't want to have those kinds of feelings for you because this voice deep down inside kept telling me that, if I did, I'd lose you."  She shook her head.  "But I can't deny it anymore.  I can't run away any longer, and . . . and I don't want to."  She took his hand.  "I want this.  I want us to be more than friends."  Her eyes looked deeply into his.  "I love you, Daniel.  I have for a long, long time."

Author's Note: Lyrics are from the Evanescence song "My Immortal". To hear a portion of the song, CLICK HERE.

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