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Award Nomination

Categories: Angst, Hurt/Comfort, Romance
Rating: PG-13
Content Warning: Mild Profanity, Adult Situations
Spoilers: Zero Hour, Moebius
Author's Notes: This little fic was inspired by a discussion on one of the groups I belong to. It takes place sometime after the end of the series and movies.

Sam was hunched over the intricate workings of an alien device when Jack came walking in.

"Hello, sir," Sam greeted with a smile.  "I heard that you were here."

"Yes, I was just discussing a few final things with Hank."

"It's strange to imagine you being retired, sir."

"Well, I never did really fit in that job at Homeworld Security.  Way too much paperwork and politics.  I was happiest when I was just a colonel on SG-1.  Now that the Ori have been dealt with, the Goa'uld are pretty much history, and the Replicators are history, at least in this galaxy, it's gotten rather boring in Washington.  I'm thinking that I'd much rather be on a lake somewhere, fishing my life away."

"We're going to miss seeing you around here."

"Ah, I'll be dropping by from time to time.  I might even move back to Colorado, although Minnesota will always have first place in my heart.  Haven't really decided yet what I'm gonna do.  At this point, I'm taking things one day at a time."

Sam nodded.

A pause of several seconds passed before Jack spoke again.  "Uh, look, Carter.  I, um, know that, once the retirement is official, this might come up, so I think it's best if we discuss it now."  He shifted his stance, feeling more than a little uncomfortable.  "About this, uhhh . . . thing that we . . . you and I . . . kind of, well . . . you know."  He made a gesture in the air between them.

Sam felt her heart begin to race.  Was he going to ask her out on a date?  After hearing that Jack was retiring, one of her first thoughts was that regulations would no longer be in the way of them having a relationship.

Jack continued.  "Um . . . you know that I've had . . . feelings that I couldn't really do anything about because of regulations.  I've spent a fair amount of time thinking about it."

"Me too," Sam admitted very softly.

"Yeah."  Jack seemed to find his courage and met her eyes.  "Um, Carter . . . Sam . . . you are an incredible woman, smart, passionate, beautiful.  Any guy would be damn lucky to have you, but . . . I'm not the guy for you."

Stunned, Sam couldn't speak as she felt her heart crash its way down into her stomach.

"Like I said, I've had a lot of time to think about this, and I finally realized that we just wouldn't work.  We're too different, Sam.  We don't have enough in common.  If we tried to make a go of it, it might be good for a few months, but, in the end, it wouldn't work out.  I think you know that, too."

Struggling not to show how upset she was, Sam straightened her posture.  "I understand, sir.  You're probably right that it wouldn't work."  She cleared her throat.  "Um, if you will excuse me, sir, I really need to get back to work.  General Landry is expecting my analysis on this."

Jack gazed at her with regret.  "I'm sorry, Sam."

"Yes, sir.  It's all right.  Really it is."  She forced a smile to her lips.  "You are absolutely right about us."

Jack hesitated, not sure if he could believe her.  "Okay.  I'll, uh, say goodbye before I leave tomorrow.  And, Sam, I know that there is a guy in this world who can give you everything you deserve."

Sam gave him a nod, then turned her gaze back to the device.  After Jack was gone, her face crumbled, and a single tear slid slowly down her cheek.

Daniel stared at the tablet, a frown of concentration on his face.  He scribbled a passage down in his notebook.

Just then, Vala came prancing in.  She came up beside him and rested her elbows on the desk, chin sitting in her hands, and gazed at the tablet.

"What's that?" she asked.

"A tablet from P6E-102.  It was found in some ruins that appear to have their roots in ancient Roman culture.  This looks like it's a historical account of a battle that took place."

"How very fascinating."  Vala began running her fingertip in little circles on the tabletop.  "Daniel, I've been thinking that, now that the Ori aren't a problem anymore, we could get back to that date we started last year.  I'm not a married woman anymore, so that wouldn't be a problem."

Daniel had stiffened the second she said the word "date."  Letting out a soft sigh, he turned to Vala.  "Sit down, Vala," he told her gently.

She did so, studying his face.

"Um, look, Vala," Daniel began, picking his words carefully.  "We've been through a lot together.  When we first met, I'd never have believed that we could be friends, but we are.  Even though we don't always get along, I care a great deal about you, but . . . just as a friend."

A flicker of something like pain flashed across Vala's face.  Then she gave him a little smile.  "I know that you haven't been exactly amenable to taking our relationship farther, Daniel.  You managed to resist all of my charms.  After I came back from the Ori galaxy, I was married, and I know that marriage means something to you.  Not that it doesn't mean anything to me.  I'm not saying that, if you'd offered, I would have jumped right into bed with you and had wild, passionate sex."  She paused.  "Actually, I probably would have."  She waved her hand.  "That aside, I'm a free woman now, and I was just thinking that we could at least try and maybe see if there could be something.  I think we could have lots of fun."

Daniel laid his hand over Vala's looking straight into her eyes.  "Vala, I wish I could say that I'd like to try, that I thought there was a chance that we could have something, but I'd be lying both to myself and to you.  It could never be anything more than a fling, and I'm not the fling type, and I can't enter into something with you when I know that, in the end, it could never work out.  We're too different.  There are too many things about each of us that drive the other crazy.  If we tried to have a relationship we'd end up hating each other, and I don't want that to happen.  I don't want to lose what I have with you now."

Vala's gaze had fallen to the desktop.

"I'm so sorry, Vala," Daniel said, feeling horrible.  "I wish I could tell you what you want to hear."

Vala blinked away the sting of tears.  She lifted her head and put on a smile.  "No, Daniel, you're absolutely right.  I was silly to think that we could actually have a relationship.  I mean, look at how we bicker."  She smiled faintly.  "Although I have to say that all that anger could lead to some pretty fabulous sex, and if you're ever in the mood for something like that, I'm certainly willing.  Everyone needs a little mindless sex on occasion."  She got to her feet.  "Well, I'm going to pop on down to the commissary and see what delightful things the cooks have whipped up for dessert."  She headed for the door.

"Vala. . . ."

The woman turned back to Daniel, seeing the sadness and worry in his eyes.  "Don't worry, Daniel.  I'm fine.  We're fine, too."  She then turned and left.

For the next hour, Daniel fought to get his mind back on work, but it was a losing battle.  Finally, he gave up.  Feeling the need to talk to someone, he went down one level and headed to Sam's lab.  But when he got there, he found the door closed.  Frowning, he used his keycard to open it, revealing Sam staring blankly at a device on her worktable, an expression of sorrow on her face.  She looked like she'd been crying.

"Sam, what's wrong?" Daniel asked.

Sam's head shot up.  "Oh!  Daniel.  Um . . . nothing.  Nothing's wrong."

The archeologist shut the door to give them privacy, then came forward and sat in a chair beside her.  "Sorry, Sam, but I don't believe you."

Sam sighed.  "I guess if there's anyone I can talk to about this, it's you."  She met his eyes.  "I've always been able to talk to you."

Daniel searched her face.  "What is it, Sam?"

"General O'Neill was here a while ago.  Um . . . I don't know if you were ever aware of the . . . the feelings we had for each other."

"Yes, I knew," Daniel told her gently.  "I never said anything, but I knew."

Sam nodded.  "Well, he and I talked.  Now that he's retiring, the thing that kept us from getting together would no longer be in the way.  Regulations wouldn't be an issue anymore.  I, um, have to admit that I've been thinking about that ever since I learned of his retirement plans.  But, uh. . . ."  Sam's voice wavered, her gaze dropping.

Daniel immediately knew what the problem was.  "He told you it wouldn't work out."

Sam lifted her eyes to his in surprise.  "How did you know?"

"Just a guess, really."

Sam's gaze slipped from his.  "He said that it could never work out between us because we're too different, not enough in common."

Daniel was feeling a very strong sense of deja vu at that moment, seeing the resemblance between this and his conversation with Vala.

"I'm sorry, Sam," he said.

"The thing is that, after sitting here feeling sorry for myself for over an hour, I realized that he was right and that I should have seen it myself a long time ago.  I guess I was blinded by my feelings for him.  He and I are too different.  I mean, really, what do we have in common?  The program, of course, and the military.  We both like astronomy and motorcycles.  But, as hard as I tried, I couldn't think of anything else.  I love my work and science.  Jack loves fishing and hockey.  I love talking about my work. . . ."

"But Jack doesn't love listening."

Sam shot him a tiny smile.  "Yeah.  What would we talk about every evening after I came home from work?  Stuff in the news?  The weather?  Sports?  Where would we go on vacation?  I mean, Jack's cabin was nice for a while, but it didn't take long before I was really wishing that I'd defied his command and brought my laptop.  If you hadn't been there to talk with, I'd have gone nuts."

"Same here, although I was wise enough to bring some books along."

Sam shook her head.  "For years, I used to fantasize about an ideal life with Jack, but I know now that it was all just a silly dream that could never come true.  We're just not meant for each other.  You and I have way more in common than Jack and I ever could.  And we can actually talk to each other without one of us getting bored."

Daniel shook his head.  "You know, this is actually pretty weird."

"How so?"

"Well, because I just had to deal with the same thing barely more than an hour ago."

"You got dumped by a guy who was never really yours in the first place?"

Daniel stared at her, eyebrows raised.

Sam gave him an embarrassed smile and quickly said, "Sorry.  I mean dumped by a girl."

"No, I was the one who did the dumping, so to speak."

Sam's eyes widened.  "Vala?"


"What happened?"

"She asked about going on a date, and I had to tell her that I didn't feel that way about her and never could.  I said pretty much the same things to her that Jack did to you, that it would never work out, we're too different, etcetera, etcetera."

"Daniel, I'm sorry.  How did she take it?"

"She pretended that she was fine with it, but I know it hurt her."  Daniel sighed.  "I wish that I could have given her what she wants, but I couldn't pretend that we'd have a chance when I know that we wouldn't."

Sam gave another sigh.  "Unrequited loves a bitch, isn't it?"

Surprised, Daniel looked at Sam, letting out a little laugh.  He then gave her a tender smile.  Holding out his arms, he said, "Come here."

Sam went willingly into his arms.  She held him close to her, feeling him rub a hand soothingly up and down her back.  It felt good.  How long had it been since she and Daniel hugged?  Too long.  How long had it been since she poured her heart out to him about something.  Also way too long.  She always used to feel better after confiding in Daniel.  He'd truly listen to her in that special way that showed how much he cared.

Giving Daniel a last squeeze, Sam pulled away with a smile of thanks.

Feeling the need to lighten the mood, she teasingly said,  "But then, I doubt that you know how unrequited loves feels personally.  Any lady you loved would be crazy not to love you back."  She was surprised to see Daniel's smile slip from his face.  He looked away, his gaze dropping to the floor.  "Daniel?" she inquired.  Then it dawned on her.  "Oh, Daniel, I'm so sorry.  That was really thoughtless of me.  I know it wasn't unrequited love, but you went through those years of loving Sha're when she was a host."

"No, I wasn't thinking of Sha're," Daniel said very softly.

Now puzzled and more than a little curious, Sam asked, "Who, then?"

Daniel shook his head.  "It doesn't matter."

Sam laid her hand on Daniel's.  "Yes, it does.  It matters that it's obviously hurting you."  She thought of something.  "Oh, no.  Daniel, it wasn't Janet, was it?  I know that you were close friends, and—"

"No, it wasn't Janet."

"Then who?"

Daniel didn't reply.  He drew in a deep breath, lifted his head, and looked into her eyes.  In that instant, Sam saw something she never had before.

"Oh," she breathed, stunned by the unspoken revelation.  "Oh."

Daniel looked away again, now feeling very uncomfortable.  "I'm sorry.  I didn't intend for you to know."

Sam was still trying to comes to grips with the knowledge that Daniel loved her.  "How . . . how long?"

"A long time, since I came back."

Sam remembered something.  "That question you asked me in your tent on Vis Uban."

Daniel nodded.  "That was the beginning, when I first consciously felt something.  For months, I tried to ignore it, but. . . ."  He gave a tiny shrug.

"Oh, Daniel.  I had no idea."

"I know.  That's the way I wanted it.  I knew that you could never feel the same."

Sam felt tears prick at her eyes.  "I'm so sorry."

Daniel closed his eyes.  "Please don't, Sam.  I don't want your pity."

"It's not pity, Daniel.  I just feel so bad.  All this time, you've felt like that, and I had no clue.  If I'd known. . . ."

"What?  You'd have given me a date just to make me feel better?" Daniel asked, a note of bitterness in his voice.  He instantly regretted the outburst.  "I'm sorry, Sam.  You didn't deserve that."  He got to his feet.  "I shouldn't have said anything.  Let's just . . . let's just forget it, okay?"  He headed for the door, but Sam hurried after him and caught his arm.

"Daniel, please.  Don't leave like this."

Slowly, Daniel turned around and locked eyes with hers.  Then, suddenly, he pulled her into his arms and kissed her.  For a few seconds, shock made Sam stiffen against him.  And then she felt a wave of heat wash through her entire body.  She melted against him, wrapping her arms around his neck.

The kiss was not a typical first kiss.  It was smoldering with deep-burning heat, and when Sam's lips opened to let Daniel inside, the temperature grew even hotter.  He searched her mouth with passionate thoroughness, his tongue setting her senses on fire.

By the time he drew back, Sam was actually feeling dizzy.  She swallowed, staring at him dazedly.  Holy Hannah!  Could the man ever kiss!

"That's what I feel for you, Sam," he told her in a low, rough voice.  "That's what I'll always feel.  I wouldn't have wanted just one date.  It would never have been enough.  I'd have wanted it all."  He dropped his arms from her and took a step back.  "I'm sorry.  I shouldn't have done that.  I'm going to go now."

Before Daniel could take another step, Sam was spinning him around.  And then her lips were on his, and he was the one to stiffen in shock.  He recovered much more quickly and crushed her to him, consuming her mouth hungrily.  And she was right there with him all the way.

They were both gasping for air by the time they parted.  Daniel searched Sam's eyes intently.

"Sam?" he whispered questioningly.

She smiled at him.  "I'm thinking that a date would be a very good idea, Daniel."  She brushed a thumb across his lower lip, which made hs arms tightened around her, his eyes darkening with desire.  "Perhaps we'll come to find out that there are some feelings that don't have to stay unrequited."

A smile slowly grew on Daniel's face.  "I'd like that very much Samantha Carter."

Vala poked at the chocolate pudding sitting before her.  Okay, so Daniel didn't love her.  She'd already known that even though her heart had been hoping she was wrong.  And she now also knew that there would never be any of that mind-blowing sex she'd fantasized about many times.  But then, would she really have wanted that?  One of the things she admired most about Daniel was that he was an honorable man of strong principles.  He wasn't the type to go for a quick "roll in the hay" with a woman just for pleasure, which was a marked difference from most of the previous men in Vala's life.  And he honestly cared about her.  There were no ulterior motives for the times he was nice to her.  If he'd been willing to have sex with her just to satiate biological urges, then he wouldn't be the man she cared about so much.

Not that it wouldn't still have been fantastic.

This was not the first time that she'd felt something for a man who didn't share her feelings, and she'd always made it through just fine.  Besides, Daniel probably was right about them.  It would never have worked out.  They were nothing alike.  She knew that she drove him nuts, and he'd made her feel the same way more than once when he wouldn't do things her way or refused to listen to her ideas.

Yes, the more she thought about it, the more she came to the conclusion that it would have been a disaster.  They were better off just staying friends.

Giving a little nod, Vala dug into her pudding.

"This seat taken?"

Vala looked up to see General O'Neill standing beside her with a tray.  She smiled at him.

"Not at all.  Please do join me."

As he sat down, she studied him.  With that silver hair and rugged features, he really was quite an attractive man.  She'd read some of the older mission reports of SG-1 and had definitely come to admire his style.  He had an acerbically sarcastic sense of humor that she appreciated, and he had no fear of insulting the Goa'uld to their face.  She'd heard about the conversation he once had with Ba'al.  His "Ba'al, come on.  You should know.  Of course I dare mock you," had made Vala laugh in delight.  This was a man who wasn't afraid to say exactly how he felt about someone he detested.

"So, how's life at the SGC been treating you?" Jack asked as he forked a bite of pie into his mouth.

"Very well, actually.  It's been quite fun on occasion.  Of course, that hasn't always been so."

"Never is around here.  It's rarely ever dull, though.  That's a plus."

"I hear that you're retiring."

"Yep.  I got tired of the paperwork and politicking in Washington.  That never was my style.  I'd rather have a P-90 in my hands any day of the week.  Should never have accepted that promotion.  Colonels are allowed to have so much more fun than generals.  They don't have to keep up appearance, not that I ever tried really hard to do that anyway."

Vala grinned.  Yes, she was definitely starting to like this man.  "So, what are you going to do now?"

"Oh, a little fishing, maybe a little traveling.  There are lots of places I've always wanted to see."

"I've never been fishing.  It sounds very interesting."

Jack looked at her.  "You haven't lived until you've been fishing at least once."

"Well, perhaps someday, you can show me how it's done."  She smiled at him.  "I always enjoy learning new things."

Jack gazed at her with interest.  "Well, as it so happens, I have a cabin up in Minnesota with this sweet little pond.  Apparently, there used to be no fish in it, but then we went back in time and made it so we didn't have to go back in time, and, poof, suddenly, there were fish.  I'm still trying to figure that one out.  Anyway, maybe one of these days, you can come on up, and I'll teach you the wonders of fishing."

Vala smiled brightly.  "I'd like that."

They resumed eating their desserts.

"So . . . do you have any plans for tonight?" Jack asked.  "I won't be heading back to D.C. until morning."

Vala's smile was even more dazzling.  "As it so happens, my evening is completely free."

"Well, then, how would you like to go get some dinner?  I'll buy."

"I would love to."

Jack was heading toward Daniel's office and noticed the archeologist coming from the other direction.  There was a lightness to his step that Jack couldn't recall ever seeing, a smile hovering on his lips.

"Well, you look pleased about something," Jack said.

Startled, Daniel looked up at him.   "Oh.  Jack.  I didn't see you."

"So, what's got you so happy?"

"Oh, nothing."

"Nothing, huh?  Well, whatever that 'nothing' is, it's nice to see a smile on your face.  Don't get to see that very often."

Daniel did not respond, only smiling a bit more.  "Um, Jack, about dinner tonight. . . ."

"Yes, that's actually what I came to talk to you about.  Other plans have come up, so we'll have to take a rain check."

Daniel studied the man's face.  "You're looking rather happy about something yourself, Jack.  What's up?"

"I really shouldn't tell you since you won't tell me what's going on with you, but, okay, I'll be the one to share.  I've got a date."

Daniel's eyes widened.  "A date?  As in dinner with a woman?"

Jack glared at him.  "Yes, Daniel, with a woman.  You should know that my interests don't lie in the other direction."

"Right.  Sorry.  So, who's the date with?"

"Vala Mal Doran."

Daniel's eyes got even bigger.  "Vala?  You're going on a date with Vala?"

"Yes.  Why shouldn't I?  She's a very interesting woman.  She's got spunk.  I like spunk."

Daniel blinked.  "Wow.  I didn't see that coming.  Um . . . that's great, Jack.  I hope you two have fun."

"Thanks.  So, what were you going to say before about dinner?"

"Oh, I was going to break it off, too.  I also have other plans."

"Oh?"  Jack's lips curved into a little smile.  "Don't tell me.  You have a date, too."

"Um, yes, actually."

Jack's smile grew.  "Well, it's about time.  I was beginning to think you were going to be a monk for the rest of your life.  So, who's it with?"

"Uh, no, I think I'm going to keep that to myself, Jack, at least for now, until after she and I see how things work out."

"Fair enough.  Well, I need to get going.  Gotta go make some dinner reservations."

"Yes, me too."

The two men turned and headed off in opposite directions.

"Oh, and Daniel?" Jack called.  "Have fun with Carter tonight."

Daniel froze in his tracks and spun around, mouth hanging open.  Jack hadn't turned around and soon disappeared around the corner.

Jack knew?  How could he have known?  Daniel had been certain that he'd successfully kept his feelings for Sam a secret from everyone.

Daniel then shook his head, thinking that maybe he shouldn't be so surprised.  Jack had never been nearly as dumb as he always pretended to be.

With a smile on his face, Daniel headed for his office.  He had a very important reservation to make, a reservation that might ultimately lead to his unrequited love not being unrequited anymore.


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