It was just after sunrise when Kane took SG-1 back to the gate. Before they left, Leda gave Daniel a hug.
"It was good to see you, Daniel," she said. "I hope that we'll see you again soon."
"You will. I'll be back soon to continue the discussions on the peace negotiations."
"We'll be looking forward to it."
After SG-1 got back to Earth, they briefed Jack on what the situation in Rand was like. Daniel let the general know that he had great confidence that a complete resolution to the hostilities between Rand and Caledonia could be reached.
"That's good to hear, though it is coming a bit late," Jack responded. "Okay, have your reports to me by the end of the day. You guys all have this weekend off, and I want you to take it. I don't want to see hide nor hair of you on this base. Got it?"
Daniel smiled. "We got it, Jack."
"I will take great advantage of the time off," Teal'c said. "There are things to be done to my apartment. I have been told by both Daniel Jackson and Colonel Carter that it is too stark, that I need decorations, though I do not understand the necessity of such things. They serve no purpose."
"It's just to make the place more attractive, Teal'c," Sam said. "More homey."
Teal'c's eyebrow lifted. "Homey?"
"It means comfortable and cozy," Daniel explained.
"I have no desire for my apartment to be . . . cozy."
Daniel tried not to smile. "Don't worry, Teal'c. Your apartment is in no danger of ever looking cozy."
"That is good."
"Well, sounds like Teal'c's weekend is all planned," Jack said. He looked at the other members of SG-1. "What about you two?"
Daniel and Sam glanced at each other.
"Um, Daniel and I will be meeting for lunch tomorrow," Sam told the general. "I haven't made any plans for the rest of the weekend."
"Me neither," Daniel said.
"Well, whatever you decide to do, have fun. I think I speak for all of us when I say that, before we got Daniel back, none of us were having any fun."
"We'll try our best, sir," Sam responded.
Sam spent Saturday morning doing laundry and other things about the house. Keeping busy helped take her mind off the upcoming lunch with Daniel. In the seven plus years that she'd known the archeologist, this was the first time that she was actually nervous about seeing him.
Soon, the time came for her to leave for the restaurant she and Daniel had agreed upon for lunch. When she got there, she saw that the archeologist was already sitting at one of the outdoor tables. She stopped and just watched him for a moment. He had changed a lot in the years she had known him. The Daniel Jackson of seven years ago had been . . . softer in appearance. With his longer hair, youthful face and glasses, he looked more like he should have been on some college campus somewhere instead of fighting aliens all across the galaxy. Of course Sam knew that Daniel's appearance had been misleading, that beneath the harmless-looking exterior was a core of inner strength, courage and determination that never wavered in the face of pain and suffering that would cripple many a man.
And now . . . well, Daniel didn't look quite so harmless anymore. He'd physically matured a lot over the years. Looking at him from the viewpoint of a woman, he was gorgeous, and Sam had no doubt that there would be a lot of women who'd jump at the chance to have him as a boyfriend. She knew that there was more than one nurse on base who wouldn't hesitate an instant if Daniel asked them out.
Sam's ruminations came to a halt when Daniel turned and saw her, giving her one of his beautiful smiles. She went to the table and sat across from him.
"Hey. So, how's your day going so far?" he asked. "Are you following Jack's orders to have fun?"
"Oh, I'm having lots of fun. Doing laundry is always a barrel of laughs. What about you?"
"Ah, well I also had an exciting and entertaining morning doing laundry. The stain removal was especially enjoyable."
The waiter came over with menus. Daniel and Sam spent the next few minutes deciding what to eat and then giving their order to the waiter. As they waited for the food, they talked about 'safe' things, stuff that was in the news, movies that were in the theaters, things like that. When their food arrived, they continued the small talk.
Once their lunch was eaten and the dishes cleared away, silence fell between them. It was broken by both of them at the same time.
"I think that—"
They both halted, then, again, spoken simultaneously.
"You go first."
They let out a laugh.
"Ladies first," Daniel said after the laughter died.
Sam composed her thoughts. "I think we can both agree that what happened last Sunday was not something that either of us ever thought would happen."
"You're definitely right about that," Daniel said.
"Soooo . . . why did it?"
"Sam, I've been asking myself that question all week long."
"And I haven't come up with an answer yet."
"I can understand the first time . . . sort of," Sam said. "Our emotions were high because of everything that happened, and we just . . . let ourselves get carried away. It was just a stupid mistake."
Daniel looked into her eyes. "Then why didn't it feel like a mistake?" he asked softly. "And why did it happen again that night? Twice?"
Sam's eyes fell to the tablecloth, which she started playing with. "I, um, haven't figured that part out yet."
"Well, if you come up with something that makes sense, please let me know, because, as it stands right now, I'm. . . ."
Sam lifted her gaze to his. "You're what?"
"I'm . . . feelings things that I know I really shouldn't."
Sam's eyes returned to the tabletop. "Yeah."
"So, what are we going to do about it, Sam? Just ignore it and hope it goes away?"
"That would be the smart thing to do, wouldn't it."
"Yes, but as someone just recently told me, the heart doesn't always do what's smart."
Sam gave a deep sigh. "Oh, how well I know that." She looked at him. "I honestly don't know what to do about this, Daniel, but I think that the best thing for us to do right now is to take a step back and not do anything at all. If . . . if what we're both feeling right now is real, it isn't going to change in a few days or even a few weeks. If it isn't real, it'll go away on its own, and that will be the end of it."
Daniel nodded in agreement. "You're right. Let's just wait and see what happens."
Sam gave him a smile. "Good. Now that we've got that settled, have you decided what you're going to do for the rest of the day?"
"Nope, I have no idea. Well, no, that's not true. Though Jack was taking care of things at my house while I was gone, I still have no food to speak of. I haven't had time to do any shopping since I got back. My fridge is bare except for various condiments and the beer Jack so kindly supplied me with."
"So, grocery shopping on a Saturday, huh?" Sam gave a little shudder. "I feel sorry for you."
"Yeah, tell me about it."
Sam was silent for a couple of seconds. "Want some company?"
Daniel blinked and stared at her. "You want to go grocery shopping with me on the first day off you've taken in a month and a half? Sam, are you feeling all right?"
Sam laughed. "Yes, Daniel, I feel fine. I just thought it would be nice to spend some time with you. I kind of missed you, you know."
Daniel looked at her tenderly. "I know. I missed you, too." His expression lightened. "But if we're going to spend the day together, we should do something more exciting than shopping for groceries. I can always do my shopping tomorrow."
"No way, Daniel. You went missing for five weeks. I'm not going to take the chance that you'll disappear into the fearsome jungle of the grocery store, and we'll never see you again. We're teammates. That means we stick together no matter how great the danger."
Daniel laughed in delight, something that Sam just this minute realized she seldom heard.
"Okay, Sam. It's a deal. Don't forget to put in for hazard pay for this, though."
"I can't. We're off duty, remember?"
"Oh. Yeah, that's right. So, I guess we're not going to get paid for this, then."
Daniel paused. "Maybe I can find another country on the brink of war instead."
Sam gave a laugh. "Come on, Doctor Jackson. The grocery store awaits."
The two scientists headed over to one of the large grocery stores in town. They stood in front of it, watching armies of women with noisy kids and babies going in and out.
"Okay, Daniel, you take point." Sam said. "And keep your eyes open for unfriendly natives."
"Got it, Colonel. I don't have my sidearm, though."
"Just use your hand-to-hand combat skills, Daniel. You'll be fine."
They turned and looked at each other, their expressions totally serious for several seconds. Then they both broke out laughing.
The grocery shopping actually turned out to be quite fun, which surprised both of them. Daniel gave Sam half of his shopping list, and they made a game out of who could negotiate the confusing labyrinth of aisles and find all the items on their list first. Sam won . . . after terrorizing all the other shoppers by zipping down the aisles like she was at the controls of an F-16.
Daniel and Sam were almost breathless with laughter as they stood in line at the checkout stand.
"I'm telling you, Sam. I saw the look on that poor woman's face as you came screeching around the corner and almost plowed into her. It was sheer, stark terror," Daniel said between laughs. "You're lucky she didn't have the store manager toss you out."
"I think she would have if her kid hadn't started demanding that he wanted to go fast, too. And what about you? I was very impressed by that little duck and weave you did to get through that group of women in the meat department. I didn't realize that you were so agile."
"Yeah, well, judging by the dirty looks those women gave me, I don't think they were all that impressed by my skills."
Sam grinned. "This is the first time in my life that I actually enjoyed shopping for groceries."
"Me too. Maybe we should do this the next time you have to go shopping."
"Yeah, but we'd better pick another store. They might call the cops if we did it here again."
"Agreed. So, as winner of the race, what would you like for your prize?" Daniel asked.
"Hmm. Ice cream."
"Ice cream it is."
They went to an ice cream parlor and pigged out on huge portions of the sweet treat. Afterwards, they slowly headed back to their cars.
Sam let out a groan. "I can't believe I ate that much ice cream. I'm definitely going to have to hit the gym if I don't want to get fat."
"You could never be fat, Sam," Daniel said, the tone of fervency in his voice surprising her. She looked at him to see a blush on his face.
"Thank you, Daniel. It's nice of you to say that."
Daniel merely nodded, still looking embarrassed.
As they arrived at their cars, they both hesitated, neither one of them wanting to end their time together.
"So . . . I guess I'd better get these groceries home before they spoil," Daniel said.
"Yeah. And I guess I should get some stuff done, too." She looked at the archeologist. "You want some help?"
"Putting the groceries away."
"Oh, um, I think I can probably handle it on my own." Daniel paused. "That is unless you want to . . . help, I mean."
"Not unless you want me." Realizing what she'd just said, she quickly added, "My help, want my help." She cleared her throat. "Do you?"
Daniel looked into her eyes. "Yes," he murmured, and Sam got the impression that he was talking about more than putting away the groceries.
"Okay, then. I'll, uh, meet you at your place."
"All right. See you there."
They got in their cars and headed over to Daniel's house, both of them wondering if maybe it wasn't such a good idea.
The first few minutes at Daniel's were spent getting the groceries out of the car and putting them away.
"Well, I'd say that you've got plenty of food now," Sam commented.
"Yeah, I probably shouldn't have gotten so many perishables. With the way our lives are, we never know when we're going to be stuck off-world for several days." He made a face. "I was just very clearly reminded of that fact." He smiled. "If it hadn't been for Jack, I'd have had a real mess to clean up, not to mention a lot of dead fish."
"I know what you mean. I've had to clean out my fridge and throw away dead plants on more than one occasion."
Daniel nodded. "I guess it's the kind of life that would be hard for a, um, significant other to get used to. I mean, being away so often would make it tough for the person you were involved with."
"Yes, you're right about that, but it's a fact of life for many people married to someone in the military, especially during wartime. For people married to military personnel with duties on a ship at sea, it can be months between visits, and the visits are never very long."
"Yes, you're right. So . . . how does Pete feel about it?"
"We haven't really talked about it a lot, although. . . ."
"Pete got, uh, a little perturbed while you were missing."
Daniel leaned against the kitchen counter. "What do you mean?"
"He showed up on one of the few evenings that I happened to come home. I stayed on base most of the time during those weeks. He wanted me to go out to dinner, and I turned him down because I was depressed and upset about not being able to find you. He got a little angry. I know why he reacted that way. He was just worried about me because I was . . . I guess you could say that I was kind of obsessed about getting you back. He said something that really upset me, and I got mad at him."
"You have nothing to apologize for, Daniel. You had nothing to do with it. Well, that's not exactly true since you were the subject of the argument, but that wasn't your fault."
"Well, I'm sorry that I was the cause of you and Pete arguing." Daniel's gaze went to the floor. "I didn't realize."
"That . . . things were like that with you while I was gone."
"You mean that I put my life completely on hold and did nothing but think about you and try to figure out how we were going to get you back?"
"Daniel, you remember how I was when the colonel was trapped on Edora?"
"That was pretty much the same thing. I felt angry and helpless because he was trapped on another planet, and I couldn't easily fix it with some kind of brilliant scientific solution. And I missed him. It was the same way with you. Actually, in some ways, it was a lot worse with you. At least with the colonel I could focus my mind on how we could establish a wormhole to the gate on Edora. With you, the problem wasn't something that could be fixed scientifically. For the first four weeks, I was so frustrated and felt so useless. After I figured out that the radio signals were being jammed, I turned my attention to making the changes to the communications system, and that helped make me feel like I was at least doing something that might help us find you."
Sam paused for a long moment. "When the colonel was stuck on Edora, I had good reason to believe that he was still alive. I knew that he'd gone to the caves to find Laira's son and the girl, and I figured that he'd stay there until it was safe to come out. But, with you . . . Daniel, the odds were so low that you were alive that it was sometimes really hard for me to keep holding onto the hope that you were. That made those five weeks so much harder than the three months the colonel was gone."
Daniel laid his hand over Sam's. "Sam. . . ." he began but then stopped, not knowing what else to say.
Sam turned her hand up and entwined her fingers with Daniel's. They stayed like that for a long moment, both of them looking at their joined hands, the simple touch giving comfort. Then Sam lifted her eyes to Daniel's at the same moment that he looked at her. There was something in his eyes, a warmth, tenderness and love that made Sam's heart do a little flipflop.
Seemingly of its own volition, Sam's body closed the distance between them, and she pulled Daniel's mouth down to hers. Daniel let out a sharp gasp, then immediately encircled her in his arms. What started out as a slow, tender kiss soon progressed into one of insatiable hunger as their hands eagerly began touching each other. Sam arched her body against Daniel, feeling like she was going to ignite from the heat inside her. She was right on the verge of pulling Daniel into the bedroom and saying to hell with the consequences when he tore his mouth from hers.
"God, Sam," he gasped. "This plan of ours to take a step back isn't working."
"What was your first clue?" she asked breathlessly.
He ran his hands across her body, making a little moan escape her lips.
"Sam, we need to stop this now or I'm not going to be able to keep myself from doing something that I don't think either one of us is ready for."
Sam nodded, seeing the wisdom in his words. "You're right."
Very reluctantly, Daniel took a couple of steps back. Sam busied herself straightening her clothing. She then looked up to see Daniel watching her with desire making his eyes a very dark and intense blue. It would be so very easy to lose herself in those eyes and forget all about what they should and shouldn't do. Oh, boy. This was so not good. What the hell was happening to them?
Daniel drew in a very deep breath, trying to put a rein on his runaway emotions. He wanted Sam. There was no denying that. He wanted to take her into his bedroom and make love to her for the rest of the day and night. But was it just lust? If it was, he could handle that. The problem was that his heart was telling him there was a whole lot more to this than just a physical attraction, and that scared him. He knew that it was not a good thing, that it could cause all kinds of problems. But he seemed helpless to do anything to stop it. It was like a raging forest fire had been set, and there was nothing he could do now but stand back and watch it consume every shred of sense and logic that he possessed.
"I . . . I think that maybe I'd better go," Sam said.
"Yeah, that would probably be a good idea."
Daniel watched from the doorway as Sam went to her car, got in and drove away. When he closed the door and turned around, he was suddenly hit by a feeling of loneliness more powerful than he'd felt since well before he ascended.
Shaking off the feeling, he went back into the kitchen. Bypassing the coffeemaker, he fixed himself some tea, knowing that the last thing he needed right now was more stimulation.
He sat at the table and stared down into his cup, thinking about what had just happened and what had been going on since he got back.
For a long time, Sha're had been the only woman he ever thought about in a romantic way. Right up to the time he ascended, he had honestly believed that there would never be another woman for him. But, since his return to human form, his attitude about a lot of things had changed. Many of his ghosts of the past had been laid to rest. And, now, for the first time since Sha're's death, he felt as if he could find happiness with another woman. The problem was that the woman he was starting to feel things for was one of the worst people on Earth for him to feel that way about. It would cause so many complications.
'Sha're, you'd probably just shake your head if you knew about the pickle I'm in. I wish I could talk to you so that you could tell me what to do. You were always so wise when it came to feelings and what people should and shouldn't do about them.'
Sighing silently, Daniel finished his tea and got busy with whatever he could find around the house to do, trying to ignore the little voice inside him that was telling him he should forget about what was safe and logical and follow his heart – a voice that sounded an awful lot like Sha're's.