Categories: Angst, Romance
Rating: R / PG-13
Content Warning: Mild Profanity, Adult Themes, Strong Sexual Content (choice of scenes with milder sexual content available, follow appropriate link in fanfic)
Spoilers: Orpheus, Memento Mori, Unending
Author's Notes: Soon after I learned the details of the events in Unending, I decided that I had to come up with a way to make a Daniel/Sam story out of it. I could have gone with an AU story, but that's not what I wanted. Instead, I wanted to take the events as they happened and change a Daniel/Vala episode into a Daniel/Sam story. Since this is not an AU story, the Daniel/Vala content in the episode still happens in this fic, though it is mostly just referenced to rather than shown.
In search of coffee, Cameron Mitchell entered the mess hall of the Odyssey. He went over to the coffee machine and poured himself a cup. As he did so, he noticed Daniel and Vala sitting at a table in the otherwise empty room. As he watched, Vala got up from her seat, leaned over, and gave Daniel a kiss. Then she left, greeting Cameron on the way out.
Coffee mug in hand, the lieutenant colonel walked over to the archeologist, who was hard at work on something. Why the man insisted on continuing to work when they were all trapped forever in this time dilation field was something Cameron didn't understand.
He took a seat across from Daniel. "Whatcha up to?"
"Hmm?" Daniel glanced up from the sheets of paper before him. "Oh, nothing important. But it keeps me busy."
"You know, I'm sure you could find other things besides work to keep you busy. This is a pretty big ship."
"I do other things besides work."
Cameron grinned meaningfully. "Yes, you do."
Clearly embarrassed by what the pilot was implying, Daniel dropped his gaze back to the papers and wrote something down.
"So, how are things with you and Vala?"
The pen halted its movements. "Pretty good," Daniel replied.
"You've been together for around six months now, right?"
The archeologist nodded.
"I have to tell you that I never expected you guy to get together, not with the way you were always at each other's throats. Come to think of it, watching you was often like watching an old married couple bickering, except without the old part or the married part."
Daniel shrugged. "It's not so bad here, I guess because there's not much for us to argue about."
"Yeah, you got that right. No missions or crises for you to butt heads over." Cameron studied Daniel's face, which was once again turned downward toward the papers. "So . . . you love her?"
The archeologist stiffened. Something flashed across his face for the merest instant of time.
"Or maybe you don't," Cameron said, interpreting the reaction.
"That's a really personal question you're asking."
"Yeah, but I think we've known each other long enough for me to ask it."
Daniel sighed. "I care very much about Vala. It's been good since we . . . got together. It had been a long time since I had a woman in my life like that, and it's nice not—" He halted abruptly.
Cameron could guess what he had been about to say. "It's nice not waking up alone."
Daniel's eyes returned to his work, but his attention was clearly not on it.
"I'm still not hearing that L word, Jackson."
The archeologist sighed again, this time in irritation. "Why are you suddenly so interested in my love life?"
"Hey, I just want to know if you're happy, well, as happy as any of us could be stuck for the rest of our lives on this ship."
Daniel began playing with his coffee mug, slowly spinning it. "I . . . I guess I love her, in a way. It's not like it was with my wife. Sha're was. . . ." His eyes looked off into the distance of the past. "I gave my whole heart to her."
Mitchell stared at Daniel's face. "But you can't give it all to Vala."
Daniel shrugged infinitesimally, still not looking at Cameron. "What we have, it's . . . it's enough."
Just then, Sam came walking in. She spotted them and headed over to their table.
"Hey, guys. Are we still on for that game this afternoon?"
"You bet," Cameron replied. "Girl, you are goin' down this time."
Sam grinned. "Dream on, Cam." She looked at Daniel. "How about you?"
Daniel gave her a soft smile. "Sure, Sam. I'll be there."
"Great! We'll see you guys then."
Cameron noticed how Daniel kept his gaze on Sam, watching her until she disappeared through the door. The look in the archeologist's eyes made the Air Force pilot begin to suspect something.
"So, why can't you give your whole heart to Vala?" he asked. "Is it because it belongs to someone else?"
Daniel's gaze snapped back to him. "Wh-what?" He frowned. "I don't know what you're talking about."
Cameron leaned forward. "Hey. Jackson . . . Daniel. We're friends. Anything you say won't go any farther than me."
Daniel was now staring intently at the pen in his hand, frowning deeply.
"It's Sam, isn't it," Cameron said.
"Mitchell, just drop it, okay?"
The pilot ignored the request. "For how long?"
Daniel's angry eyes speared into him. "A long time, all right? Are you happy now?" He grabbed his papers and left the table, storming out of the mess hall.
"Hey!" Cameron called after him. He leapt to his feet and took off after the archeologist. He caught up just as Daniel reached the elevator.
"Okay, I'm sorry I pushed. Sometimes, I get like an old dog with a bone."
"Forget it," Daniel snapped as he punched the button. The doors opened, and he stepped inside. Cameron followed him. Neither one of them spoke until they'd reached the room Daniel had set up as his office. Cameron closed the door behind him.
"Sam doesn't know, does she," he guessed.
Daniel sighed explosively. "Why did you bother apologizing for pushing if you're going to keep right on doing it?"
"Hey, I'm sorry, but I can tell this is really bothering you, and, well, I thought I could help."
Daniel sat at his desk. "No, she doesn't know," he said quietly, wearily.
"How long is a long time?"
"Since I descended."
Cameron took a seat. "And you've been keeping it a secret all this time? Wow, that must have been tough."
"Sometimes . . . a lot of times, actually."
"So, how come you never did anything about it? Because you're teammates? Sure, it might have caused some problems, but you're a civilian, so—"
"That was never the reason," Daniel interrupted. "I never told her because she doesn't feel the same."
"Are you sure about that?"
"Yeah. Yeah, I'm sure. Sam . . . has feelings for someone else."
"Whoa, you mean all those rumors about her and General O'Neill are true?"
"That depends on what rumors you're talking about. They never did anything about it. They'd never have gone against regulations."
Cameron fell silent, absorbing what he'd just learned. So, Daniel was in love with Sam but was in a relationship with Vala, and Sam was in love with General O'Neill but was never able to do anything about it because of the regs. What a mixed up mess.
Cameron studied the man before him. "Okay, I'm going to ask you a question, and I'd appreciate it if you didn't hit me. If you're in love with Sam, why did you decide to get involved with Vala? Is it because we're stuck here?"
"No," Daniel replied immediately. "I mean, no, that's not the only reason. I was just . . . tired of being alone. I've been thinking for a while now that it was time for me to move on, to just get Sam out of my mind like that and find someone I could be with." He smiled very briefly. "I was actually going to start dating." He waved his hands about, indicating the room. "Those plans sort of didn't work out."
"Yeah, the dating scene here is kind of lacking."
"Vala, um. . . ." Daniel's voice halted, and he stared down at his lap.
Cameron knew what Daniel was having a hard time saying. "She wanted you. Yeah, I got those vibes from her a long time ago. Couldn't really miss it."
"Up until recently, I had no intention of . . . accepting the invitation."
"But you finally decided to go for it."
"I thought that maybe it could work, especially after I realized that it was more than just lust for her, that she actually has feelings for me."
"And has it?" Cameron asked.
"Yes, for the most part. Like I said, I care about Vala very much, and I know that she feels the same. It's worked out better than I'd have thought it would."
"Then again, you are stuck on this ship."
Daniel didn't respond.
"Okay, here's another question. If you thought there was some chance that you could have Sam, would you go for it?"
Cameron blinked in surprise. "Why not?"
"Because I could never hurt Vala like that. I couldn't do that to her." Daniel glared at Cameron with hard eyes. "You're not to say a word of this to anyone, Mitchell. I mean it. If someone finds out—"
The pilot lifted his hands. "Not a word of it will pass my lips. I swear. This ship is way too small for me to have an angry archeologist on a vendetta against me." He got to his feet and headed for the door. He paused before opening it. "I know what it's like not to be able to have the woman you love, Jackson. It hurts."
Daniel sighed, looking away across the room. "Yes, it does." His eyes met Cameron's. "But I'm all right. Vala and I have a good thing, and it's enough."
Fifty years. Daniel looked at all his friends, seeing the age on their faces. On those faces was also hope. If Sam succeeded, the past fifty years would be erased, and they would be free. Only Teal'c would remember that those years ever happened. Of course, there was the chance that their freedom wouldn't last for long before they all died, blown to smithereens. But they had all agreed that it was worth the risk.
Daniel glanced at Vala, the woman he'd been with for all these years. Their relationship had not always been easy. Even trapped on this ship, their personalities had still clashed from time to time. But, for the most part, it had been good, as good as it could ever hope to be between them. Daniel had given her as much of himself as he could. It had never been his whole heart, but it was all he could give. He had never told her he loved her, not wanting to speak a lie. Yes, he cared for her very much, but real love, love like what he'd had with Sha're, was a feeling that never grew in his heart for Vala. That part of his heart, the biggest part, still belonged to Sam . . . and always would.
Daniel and Vala left the others, choosing to wait in private for the moment that the years spent on this ship would be rewound. The archeologist had decided that he needed to tell Vala that he had cared about her, that their life together had not happened only because of where they were. She wouldn't remember, but he felt like he needed to say it anyway.
"I want you to know, even if you are gonna forget, that I wasn't with you all these years because we were trapped on this god-awful ship," he told her. "I was with you because—"
Vala cut him off, not allowing him to finish. "I know," she said. "And I want you to know that—"
This time, Daniel interrupted her. "I know. I know." Yes, he did know. He knew that her feelings for him had always been deeper than his for her. She had never said so, perhaps because he had never uttered the words to her, but he knew that she loved him. Had she known that he did not return the emotion? Perhaps she did, and that was the reason why she never brought up the subject. Perhaps it was the reason why she didn't let him finish his statement.
Daniel reached out and took Vala's hand, their eyes meeting as the time dilation field unwound, and all that had been was undone.
Cameron sauntered down the SGC corridor. Yesterday, they'd returned from their first mission since the "Odyssey incident," as he liked to call it, and he was yet again thinking about the fate SG-1 and Landry had escaped. The thought of being trapped forever onboard the Odyssey in a time dilation field was not a pleasant one. He had to wonder what happened during those fifty years that, now, technically, never took place. They'd all agreed not to ask Teal'c about it, although every one of them was dying of curiosity. In fact, Vala was apparently having a lot of trouble with that. Whatever did happen, the pilot figured that it must have been excruciatingly boring.
As he approached Daniel's office, Cameron heard Vala's voice.
"So, I was thinking that we should celebrate our escape with a nice dinner at that lovely restaurant where we had our date that was so rudely interrupted."
"Vala, I've told you before that it wasn't a date," Daniel said, clearly aggravated. "It was just a dinner. That's all. Two friends having dinner."
"Of course it was, dear Daniel." There was a playful note in Vala's voice. "So, how about another dinner that is not a date? I promise that I won't expect you to take me back to your place afterwards and make passionate love to me, although, if you change your mind about that, I certainly wouldn't object."
There was a long pause. "All right."
"Yeah, why not?"
"Is that 'all right' for the dinner or 'all right' for the passionate lovemaking?" Now, Vala's tone had a sultry purr to it.
"The dinner, Vala, only the dinner."
Vala sighed. "What a shame." There was the sound of a chair creaking. "Well, I'd better go decide what I'm going to wear."
Before Cameron could move away, Vala came bouncing out of the office.
"Why, hello there," she greeted with a knowing smile. "Eavesdropping?" She wagged her finger. "Shame on you. Well, if you will excuse me, I need to go make myself even more beautiful than I already am."
Cameron watched the woman walk away down the hall, then continued the last few feet to Daniel's office.
"You heard?" the archeologist asked him.
"Yeah. Sorry. So, you're going on another dinner with Vala."
"Yes, I am. So? Aren't friends allowed to go out to dinner together?" Daniel's tone was defensive.
"Sure they are, even if one is male and the other female."
Daniel turned to his computer.
"But are you sure that's all there is to it?"
That had Daniel's head swinging back in his direction. "What's that supposed to mean?"
"You know what it's supposed to mean. You told Vala that it's just a dinner, but is it really? I'd have to be blind not to see that she wants more."
Daniel didn't reply, his gaze now focused on the desk.
"So, is it more for you, too?"
"No, although I can't deny that I find her attractive. And, yes, you're right. She's made no secret of the fact that she wants more from me. I do care about her."
Cameron knew that there was something else. "And?" he prompted.
"And . . . I've been thinking lately that maybe it's time for me to finally find someone to be with. It's been . . . a very long time. I'm over forty, and I don't want to be alone for the rest of my life. I'm not saying that I want anything like that with Vala, but it's not going to hurt to go out to dinner with her."
"So, you're talking about getting back in the dating scene?" Cameron straddled a chair. "Well, I'd definitely say it's about time. You've been carrying that torch for your wife for a lot of years."
Something flickered through Daniel's eyes before he turned away. Cameron frowned at what he could have sworn he'd just seen.
"It is your wife that you've been carrying a torch for, isn't it?"
Daniel got up and went to one of the walls full of books. "Who else would it have been for?"
"Well, I don't know, Jackson, but I'm starting to wonder. I noticed that you didn't say yes."
Daniel took one of his journals down and ran his hand over the cover. "A part of me will always love Sha're."
"And is there a part of you that loves someone else?"
Daniel frowned. "That's a very personal question, Mitchell."
"Yep, I know. So, are you going to answer it."
At that moment, Sam came walking in. "Hey. I was thinking that we could all go out for dinner tonight in celebration. We didn't get the chance before this last mission."
"Well, I'd love to," Cameron replied, "but Jackson here's got a prior engagement, a date with Vala."
"It's not a date!" Daniel snapped, more than a little anger in his voice. Cameron turned to him and saw that he really was angry. Then the archeologist's expression changed, softening dramatically as he looked at Sam, a warm light in his eyes. "I'm sorry, Sam. I'd love to go out to dinner with everyone, but I did promise Vala that we could have dinner tonight, pretty much for the same reason, as a celebration."
Cameron was staring at Daniel in shock, intently studying the look on the man's face and in his eyes. No. It couldn't be. Sam? Jackson had a thing for Sam?
The pilot was so surprised that he almost missed Sam's response.
"Oh. Okay. Maybe we could do it another night." There was more than a little disappointment in her tone.
"Yeah, that would be nice." An echo of the same disappointment was in Daniel's voice.
At that moment, a plan popped into Cameron's head. "Hey, I've got an idea. How about if we make it a double date?" He held up his hand as Daniel opened his mouth. "Yeah, I know. It's not a date. What I mean is what if we all go out to that restaurant you're planning on taking Vala to? Hell, it's been ages since I got all dressed up for a fancy dinner."
Daniel frowned uncertainly. "Um, I don't know. What about Teal'c?"
"Ah, we can find a third girl. We wouldn't want the big guy to feel left out."
"I don't know. I need to talk to Vala. This wouldn't be what she was expecting."
"Daniel, I don't want you changing your plans just for my sake," Sam said. "We can do it another night."
"Why don't you go ask Vala what she thinks?" Cameron suggested. "If she says she'd rather not, then we'll have our dinner together on another day."
Daniel nodded. "Okay. I'll let you guys know what she says."
Cameron watched him leave, hoping that this worked out. If he was right about Daniel's feelings for Sam, this might resolve some things. If he was wrong, no harm done.
Daniel headed down to the level with the personnel quarters. He knew that he shouldn't be doing this. He knew that Vala was looking forward to a dinner just with him. He really should have said no. So why didn't he? Because he really liked the idea of having dinner with Sam, even if it wouldn't be just the two of them. It had been quite a while since he had a meal out with her, even as part of a team dinner. And it would be a nice dinner at a good restaurant, not a casual meal at a steakhouse. Sam would be dressed up, and. . . .
Daniel halted his steps. 'Dammit, why are you doing this to yourself? There you were, just telling Mitchell that you were thinking about getting back into dating, to get a life, yet the second you have the opportunity to go out to a nice dinner with Sam – alone or otherwise – you forget all about your resolution to get over these feelings you have for her and find someone to spend what's left of your life with. You know this can't be any more than just a dinner with friends. Sam can never be anything more than a friend and teammate to you.'
For a long moment, Daniel stood unmoving, torn over what he should do. He'd already told Sam and Mitchell that he would ask Vala about the dinner, so he shouldn't go back on that. And it really wouldn't hurt just to ask her. If she said no, then he'd accept it and tell them that they'd have to do the team dinner another day.
Decision made, Daniel resumed walking. Reaching Vala's quarters, he knocked. She answered the door, smiling when she saw it was him.
"Daniel." Her smile changed. "Couldn't wait till tonight to see me?"
The archeologist shifted uneasily. "Um. . . ."
Vala's smile vanished. "No. You're not going to tell me that you have to cancel, are you?"
"No, no. I'm not canceling. It's just that, uh, Sam was hoping that we could all have dinner together tonight, a team celebration."
"Oh." Vala pouted. "But I was so looking forward to wowing you with the new dress I got."
"You still can." Daniel blushed when he realized what he'd just said. "I-I mean Mitchell suggested that we all go to that restaurant. Of course, I don't even know if I can get reservations. We don't have to if you don't want to, Vala. I did promise you that we could go to dinner tonight."
Vala searched his face, as if looking for something. "So, all five of us?"
"Actually, it would be six. Mitchell said something about finding another girl to go with us so that Teal'c wouldn't be the odd man out."
"I see." The woman studied Daniel's expression for a moment longer. A brief flicker of disappointment passed over her features, then she smiled. "All right. That sounds like fun."
Daniel looked at her closely. "Are you sure? I don't want you to be disappointed."
Vala smiled. "Of course I'm sure, Daniel. I do admit that a dinner with just the two of us would be very nice, but we can do that another time, and this should be quite interesting. I'm having a hard time imagining Teal'c at a restaurant like that."
That brought a smile to Daniel's face. "Actually, so am I. I'd like to see that."
It turned out that Daniel and Vala would not get the opportunity. Teal'c had been granted permission to go see Bra'tac and Rya'c for a short visit and to check up on how things were going with the Jaffa. So it would just be the four human members of SG-1 going out to dinner that night. Daniel had managed to get a reservation for the same restaurant where he and Vala had their interrupted dinner several months ago. Hopefully, this time, they'd actually get to eat.
Daniel was now at home, looking through his closet, trying to decide which suit to wear. He pulled out the one he'd bought a few months ago and hadn't worn yet. The purchase had been at Sam's suggestion. She'd spotted the suit one day while passing a men's store and apparently fell in love with it. She'd mentioned it to Daniel, telling him he'd look great in it. The next chance he got, he went to look at it. Fifteen minutes later, he was busy arranging for alterations to be made. Daniel knew that the only reason he bought it was that Sam liked it so well. It's not like he needed another suit. He stroked the soft blue-grey material. But it was a very nice suit.
An hour later, Daniel was dressed and heading for the SGC. He would be picking Vala up. The woman had been making noises about someone teaching her how to drive so that she could get a car, but the idea of Vala Mal Doran behind the wheel of an automobile was more than a little frightening, not to mention the thought of all the trouble she'd get into if allowed to wander around in public alone.
As agreed, Vala was waiting at the main gate when Daniel pulled up.
"Thank you for the lovely chat, Andy," she said to the guard.
The man smiled. "Any time, Ms. Mal Doran."
"Oh, please call me Vala."
Sergeant Summer's smile brightened. "Vala."
The woman opened the passenger side door, waving at the guard as she got in.
Daniel turned the car around and headed back down the road. "Are you aware that Sergeant Summer has a girlfriend?"
"Now, Daniel. A little flirting never hurt anyone."
"Oh, I don't know about that. There was a story in the news a few days ago about a woman who stabbed her boyfriend to death because he flirted with a waitress."
"Well, I shall certainly be on the lookout for knife-wielding girlfriends, then."
Daniel smiled slightly and shook his head. He glanced over at Vala. "You look very nice."
She smiled brightly. "Thank you. But wait until you see the dress I have on underneath this coat."
Daniel and Vala were the first of their party to arrive at the restaurant. Though the dress was a bit too flashy for the archeologist's tastes, he complimented Vala on how it looked anyway.
They'd been there for only a minute or so when Cameron arrived.
"Why, you look very dashing, Cameron," Vala said.
"Thanks. You look great, too. That's some dress you're wearing." He took the seat to Vala's right.
Just then, Sam arrived, and Daniel felt the breath whoosh right out of him. She was absolutely stunning. The black cocktail dress she wore was cut simply but in a way that accentuated her slender figure. Her hair was a soft mass of curls, her makeup done perfectly.
"Sam, you look beautiful," Daniel murmured, aware that his mouth had been hanging open.
"Whoa. I second that," Cameron said.
Sam smiled, blushing slightly. "Thank you."
Daniel got up to pull Sam's chair out, and her eyes lit up.
"Oh, Daniel! You got the suit!"
He glanced down at himself. "Um, yeah. Thanks for telling me about it."
"You're welcome. I was right. It looks great on you."
It was Daniel's turn to blush. "Thanks."
After Sam was seated, Daniel returned to his own chair. Vala was looking back and forth between him and the astrophysicist.
"What's this about the suit?" she asked.
"Oh, I was passing by a men's clothing store and saw it in the window," Sam explained. "The second I saw it, I thought of Daniel, and I told him about it."
"Really." Vala studied the suit. "Yes, it is very nice." She smiled at Daniel. "So, how many other things in your wardrobe were picked out by women, Daniel?"
The archeologist frowned at her, not answering.
The arrival of the waiter prevented any further comments on that subject. They ordered some wine and got busy deciding what they were going to get for dinner. Once their orders were taken, they all began to chat.
Throughout the conversation, Daniel couldn't stop himself from repeatedly glancing at Sam. She was always beautiful to him, but she was especially so tonight. Deep down inside, he wished that it was just the two of them here. Even if it wasn't a date, it would still be wonderful.
Daniel was not the only one who was aware of the direction his eyes kept taking. Cameron had noticed as well, and, judging by the look on Vala's face, the pilot was sure she'd also taken note of it. Oh, she was hiding it well, but she wasn't looking quite as happy as she was earlier. Feeling a little sorry for her, Cameron struck up a one-on-one conversation with her. He had to wonder if Daniel and Sam even noticed since they were deep in a conversation of their own at that moment, most of which was going right over the pilot's head.
The food arrived, and everyone began to eat, although the two scientists kept right on talking between mouthfuls. Cameron had seen something like this before between the two of them, but that was at work when they were putting their heads together over a project. It appeared that they could be the same way outside of work as well.
Sam suddenly turned to the other two people at the table. "Oh, I'm sorry. Here we are yakking away and ignoring you."
"Hey, don't worry about it," Cameron said. "Actually, it's an educational experience. It's interesting to find out that you two can be like this both at work and outside of work."
Daniel glanced at Vala, looking a bit shame-faced. "I'm sorry, too. Sometimes, Sam and I sort of. . . ."
"Go off in our own world," Sam finished. "General O'Neill would always just stare at us or leave us alone to 'mind meld', as he once put it." She smiled. "I remember the day Daniel and I met. We were in the . . . the map room, and we . . . well, I guess you could say we bonded while the colonel and Kawalsky just stood there and watched, not understanding a thing we said."
"So . . . you have always been close?" Vala asked.
The archeologist and the astrophysicist looked at each other and smiled.
"Yeah," Sam replied. "We became friends right off. In fact, I knew I'd like Daniel even before I met him."
"How's that?" Cameron asked.
"Well, I'd read his work, and I knew all about what he did for the, um, project. I could tell that he was brilliant, someone who could think outside the box. And I admired his courage for standing up for his beliefs. On top of that, Catherine had said lots of great things about him."
That surprised Daniel. "She did?"
"Of course she did. She was really impressed with you."
"Who's Catherine?" Vala asked.
"Catherine Langford," Sam replied. "She was in charge of the project for quite a while. In fact, she's the one who pushed to get it started again after it was abandoned." She sighed sadly. "I miss her."
Daniel's hand laid over hers comfortingly. "So do I. Sometimes, I still can't believe she's gone."
Sam met Daniel's eyes with a look of shared sorrow. She turned her hand over and curled her fingers around his, giving his hand a squeeze. When they turned back to the others, Daniel noticed an expression on Cameron's face that he couldn't read. Vala's attention appeared to be on her food.
Everyone resumed eating. Deciding that the mood needed to be lightened, Cameron started a new topic of conversation in which they all became involved.
The rest of the dinner passed pleasantly. The two men insisted on paying for the entire meal even though it had not been a date.
"This was great," Sam remarked as they stepped outside.
Daniel smiled. "Yes, it was. Too bad Teal'c wasn't with us, though."
"Well, we'll have to do this again sometime and make sure Teal'c can come," Cameron responded. He turned to Vala. "Hey, I need to go back to the base for something. I'd be happy to give you a lift, save Daniel here from having to make the trip."
"That's not necessary," Daniel insisted. "I can take her back."
"No, Daniel. There's no need for you to go all that way if Cameron's going back there anyway," Vala said.
Daniel looked at her closely. "Are you sure?"
"Of course I'm sure."
"Um . . . well, okay."
"Hey, Jackson, could I talk with you about something for a second?" Cameron asked.
Wondering what this was about, Daniel walked away a few yards with the pilot, far enough that the two women wouldn't hear them.
"You should tell her," was the first thing Cameron said.
Daniel stared at him in puzzlement. "Tell who what?"
"You should tell Sam that you love her."
Shock and alarm flashed across Daniel's face.
"And don't bother denying it, Jackson. I saw the way you looked at her tonight. You're head over heels in love with that woman. And I'm not the only one who noticed."
"Yes, Vala. I doubt that she's going to be making any more moves on you after tonight. If she was as observant as me, she knows that your heart is already taken."
Daniel sighed. "I didn't want this to happen. Sam and I. . . . Nothing can ever come of what I feel."
"Because she doesn't feel the same way."
"Are you sure about that?"
"Yeah, I'm sure. She. . . . I'll just say that I'm not someone she loves like that."
"I still think you should tell her. You might be surprised."
"Thanks, Mitchell, but I made the decision a long time ago that I'd never tell Sam how I feel, and I intend to stand by that. It'll be better for all of us if she doesn't know."
Cameron shrugged. "It's your life, Jackson, but I think you're making a mistake. I think it's possible that Sam feels more for you than you believe she does."
Daniel looked at him sharply. "Wait a minute. You don't really have something to do at the base, do you. You just said that so that Sam and I would be free to spend more time with each other."
Cameron smiled slightly. "I plead the fifth."
Before Daniel could say anything more, the younger man headed back toward the women. With a muttered comment, the archeologist followed him.
Cameron smiled at Vala and held out his arm. "So, lovely lady. Your carriage awaits to take you home."
With a big smile, Vala wrapped her arm around his. "Thank you, kind sir."
The pilot looked at Daniel and Sam. "See you two tomorrow."
"Bye, Cam, Vala," Sam said. As they walked off, she turned to Daniel to see a little frown on his face. "What's wrong? Did you want to take Vala back? I'm sure that Cam would—"
"No, I'm fine about that," Daniel hastily corrected. "I was just thinking about something."
"Something that Cam said to you? I couldn't hear what you guys were saying, but you didn't look very happy when you came back."
"Let's not talk about that. It doesn't matter." Daniel gazed at Sam. He didn't want the evening with her to end, especially now that it was just the two of them. "Um . . . would you like to go do something else?"
Sam smiled. "Something else?"
"Yeah. It's been a really long time since the two of us went out and did something together."
"My gosh. Has it ever. That's really terrible, isn't it? So, what did you have in mind? We can't stay out too late. We both have to work tomorrow."
"I don't know. I guess we could just go for a walk. It's kind of cold, but the stars are out."
Sam smiled again. "I think a walk would be nice, and I know just the place."
Sam gave Daniel some directions, and the two split up to go to their cars. With a feeling of excitement that he could not quash, Daniel followed the directions Sam had given him to a park. The place was deserted, of course, everyone having gone home hours ago.
After a while, the path they were on arrived at a pond. The light of the moon danced on its surface.
"It's beautiful," Daniel remarked.
"Yes, it is. This isn't the first time I've been here at night. It's especially nice in the summer, although there are sometimes other people around then. I like to come here to think."
They resumed walking. After a while, Sam linked her arm with Daniel's. Enjoying the touch far more than he knew he should allow himself to, Daniel laid his hand over the one she now had on his forearm.
"Ten years," Sam murmured. "So much has changed."
"Yeah. Sometimes, it's hard to believe that it's been that long. Other times. . . ."
"It feels like a lifetime."
Daniel nodded. "Of course, it doesn't seem quite as long to me since I'm missing one of those years."
"That was the longest year of all for me," Sam said very quietly.
Daniel looked at her in surprise, but didn't say anything. Sam apparently noticed the surprise.
"I missed you, Daniel, very much. Nothing was the same without you."
"No. Don't apologize. I know you did what you thought you had to. And, as strange as it may be since you have virtually no memory of that year, I think that your ascension helped you somehow, and I mean more than physically healing you. After you left, I thought a lot about that final year, and I realized that I'd been blind to how unhappy you were. After you came back, you seemed more . . . content, or at least you did after you remembered the stuff about Erebus, and we saved Bra'tac and Rya'c."
"I just finally came to terms with some things, put some . . . ghosts behind me. I finally realized that I was where I belong."
Sam put her hand over his. "I'm glad you did, Daniel. I'm glad that you're with us."
Daniel looked into her eyes, and, for a breathless moment, he was lost, so close to kissing her that, when he pulled back from the brink, it scared him.
Hiding his emotions, he looked at his watch. "I guess we should think about calling it a night."
Sam sighed. "Yes, I guess we should."
They reversed their direction and headed back toward the parking lot. All too soon, they were at their cars.
"I really enjoyed this evening," Sam said.
"I did, too, Sam. It seems like we so seldom get the chance these days to be just ordinary people."
"How true that is." Sam laid her hand on his arm. "Thank you for the walk. It was . . . it was very nice." She leaned forward and kissed Daniel's cheek, which surprised the hell out of him.
Daniel stared at her for a heart-stopping moment, then, before he could stop himself, he pressed his lips against hers. The sharp gasp from Sam was like a bucket of cold water on him. He took a quick step back.
"Sam, I'm so sorry. I shouldn't have done that. I just. . . ." He backed up another step. "I'm sorry. We . . . we should go home."
Cursing himself for what he'd just done, Daniel went to the driver's side of his car and opened it. But, before he could get in, a hand on his arm made him turn around. And then Sam's mouth was on his. Daniel's shock was burned away within a second. He wrapped an arm around her and pulled her flush against his body as his other hand tangled in the golden mass of her hair.
There was no nervousness, no hesitation to the kiss. It was deep, and hungry, and shockingly intense. Daniel spun them around and pressed Sam up against his car. He heard her make a sound sort of like a whimper and thought he'd hurt her, but then she grabbed onto him even tighter, grinding her hips against his. Daniel groaned and couldn't stop his own hips from responding. He was very quickly approaching the point of no return, when he would find it impossible to stop. Recognizing that, he broke away from her lips.
"God, Sam," he rasped, breathing heavily. He stared into her eyes, feeling a little shell-shocked. "I didn't think. . . . I thought you. . . ."
"Shut up and kiss me."
Daniel most eagerly complied.
He didn't think it would have been possible, but that kiss was even more passionate than the last. Sam was ravishing his mouth, and he was doing likewise to hers. He didn't realize that she had somehow unlocked the back door until it was open, and he was falling with her upon the back seat. Daniel moaned at the feeling of having Sam lying beneath him. He heard an answering moan from her. His hand went inside her coat to her hips and bottom, then slid down further. He soon came to bare skin and realized that her dress had hiked up. His hand slipped beneath it and traveled back up her body, making Sam gasp with pleasure. She began yanking at his suit jacket in an effort to get it off.
The realization of where they were and what they were about to do there finally managed to make its way past the fire engulfing Daniel's mind.
"Sam," he gasped. "We can't do this, not here, not like this. I want more than that with you."
Sam stared at him with heavy-lidded eyes filled with desire. "So do I."
Regretfully, Daniel got up off her.
"Let's go," Sam said.
Daniel stared at her. "Go where?"
"My place. It's closer."
Daniel's heart began racing. "Sam, a-are you sure about this?"
"Daniel, trust me. I have never been more sure of anything in my life."
He couldn't prevent himself from kissing her again, which she returned wholeheartedly. Their hands began an intensive search of each other's bodies, and it was even harder to break apart this time.
"We need to leave now," Sam panted.
Sam got out and went to her Volvo as Daniel got behind the wheel of his car. He waited until she was inside before starting his engine and pulling out of the parking space.
His hands were shaking as he drove, and it was proving very difficult to keep his attention on the road. He and Sam were going to her place to make love. My God. This was actually happening. After nearly four years of wanting this so badly, it was really going to happen.
Daniel didn't question why or how he could have been so wrong about Sam. He didn't want to question or analyze it. It was happening. It was real. That's all that mattered.
As he pulled up in front of Sam's place, Daniel admitted to himself that he was scared. He was so afraid that something was going to happen to ruin this. More than that, he was afraid that, when morning came, Sam would decide that they'd made a huge mistake. If that happened, it would break his heart.
He kept these fears hidden deep inside as Sam pulled up behind him, and he got out. They said nothing as they walked up to the door, keeping a good foot between them at all times.
Five seconds after the door was shut behind them, Sam's coat was on the floor and they were back in each other's arms, kissing ravenously. Daniel lifted Sam up, and she wrapped her legs around him. Moments later, they were on the bed, Daniel's steamed up glasses having come off somewhere along the way.
This time, there was no struggle to get Daniel's suit jacket off. It was on the floor within seconds, followed very shortly by his tie and shirt. He grabbed hold of the hem of Sam's dress and pulled it upward. She lifted her body up to aid in its removal.
Daniel's gaze slid down Sam's nearly naked body. "You're so beautiful," he whispered. He lowered his mouth to the soft swell of her breasts above her bra. Sam moaned and arched her back, the move a clear invitation for him to do more. Daniel slid his hand underneath the bra and scooped one of her breasts out of its lacy prison. He ran his tongue over the hardened nipple, tasting her for the first time.
"Oh, God!" Sam cried out. She grasped his head, pushing it closer to her breast. Knowing what she wanted, what he wanted, Daniel opened his mouth and took her in. She was making that half-whimpering, half-moaning sound again, rocking upward against him. He was now fully on top of her, her legs bracketing his hips.
So lost in what he was doing, Daniel wasn't even aware that Sam had been working on the fastening of his pants until her hand was suddenly inside. He cried out as she touched him. Her hand on him sent him over the edge of reason. He managed to get his pants and boxers off, his shoes already gone. Seconds later, Sam's bra was off, followed by her panties. And then he was back on top of her, skin against skin, heat against heat.
Sam's mouth peppered kisses upon his upper chest and shoulders, one hand on his buttocks, the other stroking his back as Daniel's own hands caressed her body, his lips and tongue exploring her neck.
Very soon, Daniel reached the point where he couldn't wait any longer. He pulled Sam's head up and consumed her mouth as, with a quick movement, he plunged deep inside her. Their mutual cries were drowned within the caverns of each other's mouths.
Daniel had dreamed of many different ways that he'd make love to Sam, but nothing could have prepared him for the wild, uncontrollable explosion of passion that consumed him upon feeling himself at last within her body. Taking this slowly would be out of the question. Fortunately, Sam seemed to be in the same condition.
Their lovemaking was fast and intense, Sam matching him move for move, her soft cries and deep moans echoing in Daniel's ears. Too many years had passed since the last time he was with a woman for him to have any hope of making it last, and, all too soon, he felt himself racing toward the edge. Wanting Sam to come with him, he reached between them to touch her, but there was no need. With a little scream, she suddenly began quaking in his arms, her whole body tightened around him. Feeling her reach her climax sent Daniel rocketing over the precipice with a cry of his own, coming so hard that his mind blacked out for a moment.
Full awareness returned as his climax ended. Gasping and shaking, Daniel rested his forehead against Sam's, eyes closed.
That single whispered word from Sam made laughter bubble up inside Daniel's throat and come pouring out. Sam joined him in the laugh of pure joy.
They soon quieted. Daniel's lips came down upon Sam's in a long, slow, very thorough kiss that was probably a lot more possessive than he'd intended. But he couldn't help himself. Sam was his, for this night and, he prayed, for the rest of his life.
As their lips separated, Daniel met Sam's eyes. He brushed his fingertips across her cheek, looking for some sign of regret. In her eyes he saw only happiness and. . . . Daniel's slowing heart began speeding back up. Could it really be or was he imagining it, hope creating an illusion of his greatest desire?
Possibly seeing the question in his eyes, Sam cupped his face and smiled up at him.
"I love you," she murmured.
Daniel's eyes filled with tears. "Sam. I love you." Then he was kissing her again, lips crushed against hers.
It was quite a while before their mouths separated. Daniel moved off Sam and lay down beside her. She turned and pulled him tight against her, her leg hooking over his thigh to bring him close from head to toe. They lay like that in silence for several minutes.
Daniel couldn't believe how happy he felt, how utterly, wonderfully happy. He'd forgotten what it was like to feel like this. It had been so very long.
"I never knew," he said. "I always thought it was Jack that you loved."
Sam ran her hand up and down his back. "It was for a long time. I finally put those feelings away for good after he left for Washington, and I was in R & D. I knew that it was never going to happen between us, not even if he retired. The thing is that, during those months I was in Nevada, it wasn't Jack that I missed the most; it was you. I thought about you a lot. I looked forward to every one of your phone calls and emails. When Cam told me that you were in a coma, I almost panicked. I was all set to hop on the next available transport, but we were in the middle of a very delicate project, and my superiors refused to let me go. I was so pissed off that I came really close to resigning right then and there."
Daniel smiled at the thought of a raging mad Sam storming around the corridors of Area 51, terrorizing the poor scientists.
"I was tempted to go over their heads and contact General O'Neill, but I learned that he was with the president. Then Cam called and said you were okay. But I didn't really relax until you called and assured me that you really were all right."
Daniel remembered that conversation, how Sam kept asking him if he was sure he was okay.
Sam began running her fingers over Daniel's chest, her gaze focused upon it. "But it wasn't until after Vala came back from the Ori galaxy that I realized how I felt about you. I was really jealous of her."
Surprised, Daniel looked at her. "You were?"
"Oh, yeah. Big time, especially after she made that comment about you having gone on a date."
"It wasn't a date, Sam," Daniel hastily told her.
"I know, but I was still jealous. I kept wishing that I'd been the one you went out to dinner with."
"I'd have liked that a lot better."
Sam smiled. "Then this would have happened several months sooner."
Daniel chuckled. "You think so, huh?"
"I know so. I was already having dreams and fantasies about us being together. I probably shouldn't tell you this, but, when you were dressed in that leather outfit, it was really hard not to stare."
That made Daniel laugh outright. "I was having the same problem. And let's just say that those leather pants were feeling even tighter than they normally would have."
Sam giggled, a wonderful sound to Daniel's ears.
After laying there for quite some time, soaking in the feeling of just being together like that, they finally decided to get under the covers. As soon as they did, they went back into each other's arms with a contented sigh.
Sam laid her head on Daniel's chest. "So, when did you wake up to your feelings for me?"
Daniel hesitated before replying. "It doesn't matter, Sam. All that matters is that we're together now."
Sam lifted her head and stared at him. "When, Daniel?"
He couldn't quite meet her eyes. "It's . . . it's been a while."
Sam frowned. "When?"
Daniel sighed. "After I descended."
Sam's eyes widened in surprise. "My God. I had no idea. All these years, and I never had a clue."
"I got really good at hiding it."
"I wish you hadn't."
Daniel met her gaze. "Sam, even if you'd known, it wouldn't have made a difference, except perhaps to put a strain on our friendship. You didn't have those kinds of feelings for me back then."
"I don't know. I can't say that for sure. Maybe if I'd known, I'd have started thinking differently about you."
"I don't want to think about 'maybes', Sam, or what might have been." He caressed her cheek. "I have you now. Nothing else matters."
Daniel lowered his mouth to Sam's. The kiss soon progressed to more, and Daniel and Sam made love for a second time, this time very slowly, their lovemaking full of soft touches and gentle explorations.
"I love you, Sam," Daniel murmured against her hair as they lay holding each other in the aftermath. "I will always love you."
"I love you, too, Daniel, very much."
Daniel tilted her head up so that he could look into her eyes. "I don't know what those fifty years on the Odyssey were like, what may have happened, but I do know what I want for the fifty years that have yet to happen. I want to spend them with you."
Sam smiled joyfully. "I couldn't think of a better way to spend them."
Despite the fact that neither one of them got very much sleep that night, both Daniel and Sam were feeling energized the next day. As soon as Cameron saw them, he knew that something big had happened. He managed to get Daniel alone a couple of hours later.
"So, judging by the very big, very pleased smiles that are on yours and Sam's faces, I'm betting that you guys didn't go straight home last night . . . or at least not alone."
"My love life is not up for discussion," Daniel responded firmly.
"Oh ho! Your love life, eh?" Cameron grinned. "Well, well, well. I'm glad to hear that you took my advice."
Daniel sighed. "I didn't take your advice, not really. What happened last night was . . . unexpected."
"Well, however it happened, I'm happy for you, for Sam, too. You guys are going to be great together."
Daniel stared at him. "Aren't you worried that Landry will make one of us leave SG-1? I may be a civilian, but I doubt that the military will like the idea of teammates being involved with each other."
"Daniel, with the Ori threat still out there, there's no way that they'll make you leave SG-1, and I really don't think they'd want to kick Sam off either. They know how important the two of you are. Beside, I'm betting that General O'Neill will go to bat for you."
Daniel frowned. "I wouldn't be so sure of that."
"Why do you say that?"
"It's not something I can talk about."
"Well, I still think that everything will be fine."
It turned out that Cameron was right. Though Landry wasn't pleased at first, he came to accept Sam and Daniel's new relationship. Jack, though initially surprised, didn't have a problem with it and became their advocate, convincing the president that the change in their relationship wouldn't interfere with their effectiveness on the team. He and Daniel had a long talk, during which Jack revealed that he'd stopped feeling anything more than friendship for Sam years ago.
Vala showed no surprise at all when she found out, which confirmed that she had, indeed, realized that Daniel was in love with Sam. She said very little about the whole thing, though she did congratulate them. Daniel had hoped that he was the only one to see the trace of sadness in her eyes, but the fact that Cameron paid a lot of attention to her for the rest of that day and seemed to go out of his way to make her laugh told Daniel that the Air Force pilot had seen the sorrow, too.
Strangely, the one who appeared to be surprised the most was Teal'c. When he returned to Earth to the news that Daniel and Sam were now a couple, he failed to hide the look of surprise that flashed across his face. Several times, Daniel caught the Jaffa staring at him, then looking at Vala.
It was a week later, after everything had been settled and Daniel and Sam had official word that they could both remain on SG-1, that Teal'c came to the archeologist's office with a serious expression on his face.
"Daniel Jackson, there is a personal matter that I must discuss with you."
"Um, sure, Teal'c. What's up?"
"It is about your relationship with Colonel Carter."
"Oh, uh . . . okay. I know that you were surprised about it."
"There is a reason for my surprise, one of which you are unaware. Before I tell you this reason, I must ask you a question. What are your feelings for Vala Mal Doran?"
Daniel's eyebrows rose in surprise. "I . . . I care about her very much. She's a good friend."
"Then you are not in love with her?"
Daniel's mouth fell open. "No. Why would you think I love her?"
"I will reveal the reason shortly. Are you in love with Colonel Carter?"
"Yes, very much. I love her with my whole heart. I have for a long time."
Teal'c nodded. "What I am about to tell you may surprise you, then. When we were trapped onboard the Odyssey, you entered into a romantic relationship with Vala Mal Doran. That relationship survived throughout the duration of our imprisonment in the time dilation field. Based upon what I saw, I had believed that you were content in the relationship."
Daniel leaned back in his chair. "Oh."
Teal'c studied his face. "You do not appear to be as surprised as I would have anticipated."
"Well, I am surprised, but not all that much. You see, Teal'c, I was certain that Sam and I could never be together, that she could never feel that way about me. I never even dared to see if I might be wrong. A while ago, I finally decided that it was time for me to put my feelings for Sam away and find someone to share my life with. Vala . . . well, she has feelings for me. She's, um, hit on me more than once. I've always turned her down before, but maybe I finally decided to go for it. Considering how I was feeling at the time we left on the Odyssey, it wouldn't surprise me if that was the case."
"So, you are saying that your relationship was based upon sex."
Daniel flushed. Talking with Teal'c about sex was certainly not something he'd ever have thought he'd be doing. "Uh . . . I can't say for sure since I have no memories of any of that, but, if it lasted fifty years, obviously, there was more to it than just the sex. Like I said, I care about Vala very much, and maybe, in time, I grew to love her in some way. I don't know. What I am certain of is that, now that I have Sam, I could never want Vala like that. I could never love her like that. It wouldn't be possible."
Teal'c inclined his head. "That is all I wished to know."
"Um, Teal'c, I'd appreciate it if you wouldn't tell anyone else about this, especially Sam. She doesn't need to know."
"I will tell no one, Daniel Jackson. Now that I know the truth of your feelings, I wish to offer blessings on your relationship with Colonel Carter. I have seen the great joy on your face and upon hers. In truth, it is a depth of happiness that I never saw during those years on the Odyssey. I hope that you and Colonel Carter will have at least as many years together as you had with Vala Mal Doran."
"Thanks, Teal'c. That's a wish I have, too."
From his place on the recliner, Daniel watched the people in the living room, a secret smile on his face. Though most of them didn't know it, today was a special day in more ways than one. Fifty years ago today, Daniel's relationship with Sam, the love of his life, took that step beyond friendship and into what it came to be. In six months, they'd be celebrating their fiftieth wedding anniversary.
"Grandpa, grandpa! Look!" cried a little voice. Five-year-old Beth came running up and clambered onto Daniel's lap. She showed him what was in her hand.
"Wow, that's a very pretty piece of milky quartz, sweetheart. You see that gold stuff? That's pyrite. It's sometimes called Fool's Gold."
"How come it's called that?"
"Because some people make a mistake and think it's real gold."
Beth gazed at him adoringly. "You know lots about rocks, Grandpa."
"Oh, not nearly as much as many other people. I did study geology in school, but that wasn't what I studied the most."
Beth nodded. "You're an arche . . . archeologist, like Daddy. I wanna be an archeologist when I grow up."
Daniel grinned. "Well, if that's what you want to be, then that's what you will be."
"But I want to be an astro. . . ."
Daniel's smile broadened. "Astrophysicist?"
Beth nodded. "I wanna be one of those, too, like Grandma Sam, so I can learn all about the stars and planets."
Daniel laughed. "Then I guess you'll just have to be both. Why don't you go show Grandma what you found?"
"Okay." Beth slid off Daniel's lap and scampered over to Sam, who oohed and ahhed over the quartz, giving Daniel a smile over the child's head. The smile filled him with joy, just as it always did. Fifty years, and his love for her had not dimmed even the slightest. These years had brought a lot of pain and heartache, but they had also brought a lot of happiness.
Daniel turned to his son, David Jacob, seeing his younger self in the man's face.
"Charlotte and I are going to go get the food. You and Mom will be fine here with the kids?"
"Sure, we'll be great."
"Everyone else should be arriving soon. Claire called. They're running a little late, but just a few minutes."
Daniel smiled at the thought of his firstborn, as beautiful as her mother and equally as smart. Both of their kids had been blessed with well above average intelligence. David had equaled his father's three PhD's and was a valuable member of the Stargate Program, which was still running after all these years, though it had finally been made public and was now primarily used for the advancement of humankind, the way Daniel had always hoped it would someday be.
There was a knock on the door, and David went to answer it.
"Hey. Cameron, Vala. Come on in."
The two people entered the house.
"So, did we miss anything?" Vala asked with the smile that hadn't changed in all these years.
"Nope, we're off to go get the food now," David replied, "so go make yourselves comfortable."
Cameron and Vala went over to the couch and sat down. David and his wife said a quick "we'll be back" and headed out the door.
Beth came running up to the new arrivals. "Look at what I found!" She showed them the quartz, and they made appropriate sounds of appreciation.
"Beth, maybe you should put it away in your backpack so you won't lose it," Daniel suggested.
"Okay." The little girl ran off to stow her newest treasure.
"She is such a delightful child," Vala said. "But then, so are all of your grandchildren."
"Yeah, unlike ours, which are little hellions," Cameron remarked dryly.
Vala slapped his arm. "That's not true. Our grandchildren are all angels. They're just spirited." She smiled. "They get that from me."
Cameron leaned over and kissed her. "They certainly do."
Daniel smiled at the show of affection. Their relationship had been a surprise to him when it happened. He'd never have expected the two of them to get together. But, as far as he knew, they'd been happy all these years. The fact that they were still together after forty-seven years of marriage must mean that they'd done something right.
At that moment, the reason for the get-together came in the door. Sam got to her feet and hugged her eldest grandson, Danny.
"Oh, we are so proud of you, Danny," she said.
Daniel rose from his chair and shook the young man's hand. "Yes, we are. Being chosen as one of the students to go on that dig on Mydaria is something to be very proud of. Professor Stafford was selecting only the best and brightest. It's a very important dig."
Danny smiled. "Thanks, Granddad. I'm afraid that Mom is of mixed feelings about it."
"Well, she's going to miss you," Sam responded. "It was the same way for us with your father." She put her arm around Daniel's waist, gazing at him lovingly. "But we wouldn't have changed a thing."
Daniel smiled down at her. "No, we wouldn't."
Half an hour later, everyone was gathered in the big dining room, with Daniel seated at the head of the table. He got to his feet, his eyes scanning the faces before him. Into his mind's eye came the faces of the people who were not there, friends and family lost or unable to attend: Mark, Sam's brother, whose ill health had prevented him from coming, General Hammond and Landry, both of them passed on many years ago, Teal'c, who had returned to the Jaffa, married Ishta, and became a leader to his people, and Jack, gone these eight years and whom Daniel still missed to this day. Every one of them was missed. But today was not a day for sorrow; it was one for celebration.
"Today, we're here to celebrate Danny's selection to participate in the Mydarian dig," he said. "I can't tell you how proud his grandmother and I are. We know that this is only one event in what we are sure will be an amazing and fulfilling life." Daniel smiled. "There is something else about today that most of you do not know." His eyes met those of his wife. "Fifty years ago today, Sam and I, after ten years of friendship, became more than friends and started a new life together. I can't imagine any fifty years being happier or more fulfilling than these years I've had with her and the family we created together." Daniel picked up his glass of wine. "So, today, I'd like to propose a toast to both my grandson, Danny, and to that day fifty years ago, the day that made this day possible."
All the adults and older children picked up their glasses, filled with either wine or sparkling grape juice.
Daniel held his glass high. "To Daniel Anthony Jackson and to one of the best and brightest days I ever had in my life."
Daniel stood leaning against the living room wall, watching the kids playing. Cameron came up to him.
"So . . . fifty years," the ex-pilot said.
"Do you ever think about those other fifty years, Daniel, the ones that happened but didn't happen?"
"I still wonder what we did on that ship for all those years."
"I know what I did."
Startled, Cameron stared at him. "You do? How do you know?"
"Teal'c told me a long time ago."
"Well, that's not fair. So, you going to share?"
Daniel shook his head. "No. I never told anyone, not even Sam. It's the only secret I ever kept from her."
"Wow. It must be some secret."
Daniel looked over at Vala. "Yeah, pretty big. All I'll say is that those years on the Odyssey apparently did bring some happiness to me. I had a better life than one would have expected under those circumstances." His gaze went to Sam. "But these fifty years, they gave me everything I could possibly have wanted. I witnessed the end of the Ori. I saw the program made public and accepted by the world. My theories about the pyramids were publicly vindicated."
"And you made a fortune from all those books you wrote and the TV appearances," Cam added with a grin, "not to mention the royalties from that hit movie based on your life."
"Those things don't matter. They're not what's important." Daniel's eyes returned to his wife, who was on the couch with their youngest grandchild in her lap.
Cameron saw the direction of his gaze and smiled. "No, they're not."
"These fifty years are the ones that I'm glad I'll have memories of when I die," Daniel said softly.
Cameron looked at Vala, who smiled back at him. "Me too." He patted Daniel on the back. "Come on, old man. Let's go dig us up a couple of beers and reminisce about the good old days, like men our age are supposed to do. Then you can tell me all about your plans for getting the Ancients to ascend you yet again when it's finally your time to check out once and for all."
Daniel looked at him in surprise, laughing. "And what makes you think I have such plans?"
"Okay, so maybe you don't, but I bet there are a few glowy people out there who do. You have more than one friend on that higher plane of existence, you know."
Daniel shook his head. "I wouldn't be interested," he looked at his wife yet again, "not unless Sam and I could both go and were allowed to stay together."
"Well, that's a given, Daniel. I doubt Sam would let you go without her anyway."
With a smile, Daniel went with his old friend to the kitchen, wondering if Cameron just might be right and what the next fifty thousand years might bring for him and the woman he loved.
It could be rather interesting.