Title: Other Than Soulmates

Author: Shannon/Raindrops on Roses

Rating: K+
Category: Romance, Angst
Pairing: Sam/Daniel

Spoilers: In the Line of Duty, Forever in a Day, The Light, Meridian, Fallen, Reckoning Part 2

Disclaimer: I don't own these characters; I just like 'em too much to leave them alone.

The first time, he was choked with grief and she didn't know what to do. Alcohol had nothing to do with it, though chocolate walnut cookies might have.

There was fumbling and falling and desperation, and a sweet sense of safety that was lacking in their day-to-day lives.

Of course, their day-to-day lives were a bit different from the rest of the world's.

Afterward, he left and she curled up in bed, laying her hand on his pillow and not thinking until the sun broke the horizon.

The second time, she tried to push him away. She didn't want him so near something he hated. She didn't want him so near something she hated.

Gray eyes and blue clashed in her mind, warring for supremacy, as Jolinar's consciousness had with hers.

She had given in then. She didn't now. She couldn't now.

Blue eyes looked into hers, pulling the truth from them gently but inexorably, like a surgeon's scalpel. Warm, full lips pressed a kiss to her forehead and pulled away.

The third time, he cried. He had said he wasn't mourning for his lost love; that he'd done that long ago.

Perhaps that was so. But he was mourning the loss of his hope.

She didn't shush him. She didn't kiss his tears away, like in all the romance novels she'd never admit to reading. She held him, her chest pressed to his, while his body shook in silent shudders.

And when he was finished, he made her body shake in a different way.

For two weeks, they did nothing but talk. Well, they screamed, they fought, they ran, and they apologized - and then they repeated the cycle. Since they did the same with Jack, he didn't suspect anything. She thought maybe Teal'c did, but the Jaffa acted no differently around them, so she didn't worry.

But Daniel wouldn't let her near him. She tried to help him up when he fell, and he scrambled away.

She tried to be patient. But by the time they escaped from that planet, she was so tired of her teammates' company that she went home, locked the door, and reveled in the silence.

Someone knocked at her door after a time. She didn't answer.

Technically, he wasn't dead. She knew that. She'd met Orlin; she knew what ascension was. He wasn't dead. So why did it feel that way?

She'd tried to talk to the colonel. He refused to listen. Teal'c listened eventually, but he was unaccustomed to displays of affection. Janet was angry that she couldn't save him. Jonas... he tried to understand, but he hadn't lived, worked, fought, loved, died with him for five years.

She wept into his pillow at night. During the day, she stole into his office, the one Jonas now used.

She felt nothing. He was gone.

He was back.

Joy swept through her when they found him. It turned to confusion, then despair, when he pushed her hand away.

He was different. Even after he regained his memory, he was different. He was... harder, somehow. Those bright blue eyes, before so soft and kind, now retained a harsh sheen. It was like a pane of glass, keeping him separate.

She didn't know how to break through.

He looked at her differently. Like he didn't know whether she repulsed him or attracted him.

She tried to avoid him. She knew he associated her with... the other one. The one who had trapped him. Tortured him. Raped his mind for memories that could help her conquer the universe.

Killed him.

When she thought about her replica, she wanted to vomit. To crawl out of her skin. She didn't exist anymore, but the memories were still there.

She was surprised when he cornered her, in her lab, at one in the morning.

She wasn't certain of what she had expected, but it wasn't forgiveness. Or acceptance. It wasn't a momentary appearance of his former self, kind and weary and wanting. Needing to erase the memory of metallic eyes and skin and voice with something warm; something real.

She couldn't refuse.

It wasn't love. She repeated it to herself. It wasn't love. It was lust and desire and friendship and understanding and need, but not love.

She wasn't naïve. She wasn't foolish. She didn't believe in soulmates, that there existed a perfect partner for everyone in the universe.

It wasn't love. After all, she loved the general.

Didn't she?

She watched his long fingers as he cleaned his weapon. There was a time in the distant past when he would have balked at such a task. Now, he took to it with... not pleasure, but a certain grim acceptance that this was his fate.

She asked if he believed in fate. He laughed.

She remembered that this was a man who had died - many times.

She asked if he believed in soulmates.

He fell silent.