Chapter Five

" Colonel Carter? Colonel Carter, can you hear me? "

Samantha became gradually aware that someone was calling her – and that someone definitely did not sound like God. At least it didn't sound much like Satan, either.

She groaned. Her body ached, especially her stomach. He head didn't feel that great, either.

Reluctantly, she opened her eyes. Her surroundings looked suspiciously like the infirmary at the Stargate Command. She groaned again when the familiar face of one of the Command's doctor's came into view. She was in the infirmary.

She was still alive.

She immediately started to cry. " Why couldn't you just let me go, " she sobbed to the poor doctor, who wasn't used to patients being so ungrateful about their lives being saved. But then, this one was different. This ones heart had been broken over and over, first by the loss of her child, then by the loss of its father – and the continued loss she had felt every time she saw him. Her note had made that pretty clear.

She had been found barely alive two hours after taking the pills. It was a miracle she was alive, given how much she had taken and how strong the pills were. She had definitely been making a serious attempt to die, this wasn't seeking attention. He must have broken her heart pretty thoroughly, the Doctor thought, although who could really have told, she had gone to such lengths to convince everyone she was happy.

For a while it looked like it was touch and go, but General Hammond had insisted they keep working at her until they brought her back to life. Samantha was like a daughter to him, aside from the practical side of Samantha being the best damned scientist the Stargate Command had.

Once it became apparent that Samantha would live, Hammond really had a go at Daniel. " This has gone too far, son, " Hammond roared with all the fury of a vengeful God. Or at least a vengeful father. He loved Daniel like a son, same as he loved Samantha, but he was really sick of the two of them fucking around. Why couldn't they see they were made for each other? The General had thought eventually they'd just get their act together, but things had spiralled out of control. Samantha could have died. The thought chilled the General to the bone.

If it had chilled the General to the bone, it had shaken Daniel to the very core of his being. In the eight years he and Samantha had known each other, he had always been assured that she would be there – as his friend, and later, even when their relationship turned sour, as his colleague of sorts. The point was, she would always be around.

Or so he thought, until he'd received a call at home saying Colonel Carter had attempted to kill herself, done a thorough job in fact, almost succeeded, he might want to come in, especially in light of the note she'd written before she went to sleep.

The note… God, the note. An honest, tragic confession of her feelings for Daniel. If only she'd been honest with him! It had reduced Daniel to tears to think about how badly they'd crossed their wires – the time they had wasted, each thinking the other didn't care, each being determined to go along with that indifference so they wouldn't look like they were begging.

If only she hadn't rebuffed him so brutally after their night together. If only he hadn't reacted so badly to the news of her pregnancy. If only she hadn't pushed him away after the miscarriage. If only he hadn't let her. If only – if only – a dozen different scenarios were playing out in Daniel's head, a dozen different opportunities when they could have responded to each other with more openness, more care, and things would have turned out so much differently. If only – and now it could be too late. Even after she'd been stabilised, there was no guarantee she'd pull through, let alone be the same Samantha Carter she had been before the overdose. That kind of concentration of drugs could have caused permanent damage. And that didn't even include the emotional damage she must be feeling. Daniel was racked with guilt. Of only.

Hammond had ended up sending him home for the night. " I want you to think long and hard about what you want, " he ordered Daniel. " If you want to be with – well, that's your decision, although I don't know what you see in her. But if Carter pulls through this, she'll need the support of everyone around her – so you either support her or you get out. "

As if it was a real decision to make. But Hammond wanted him off the base, so Daniel went back to his apartment, which now felt very cold. Everything about the world felt cold with the possibility of life without Samantha looming over him.

After an hour of moping at home, frightened to the core that Samantha would die, Mandie dropped by. She was the last person he wanted to see, but he let her in anyway. It wasn't her fault Samantha had overdosed, he had no right to treat her badly because of it.

Mandie had been receptive to Daniel's mood and subtly set about seducing him. She had a finely tuned antennae when it came to competition, and she had known instinctively when he had picked up the phone yesterday, the 'Sam' he spoke about with loving concern in his voice had been a Samantha, not a Samuel. She imagined Samantha to be reasonably attractive (not as attractive as her, of course, and she would be old, the same age as Daniel – Mandie considered over-thirty old for women, though not for men, if they were as hunky as Daniel was) and super-intelligent, working with Daniel in their Classified Secret Agent stuff. Mandie was immediately wary, and determined to defend her turf.

Sure, she was sorry this woman was in whatever trouble she was for Daniel to be concerned about her, but that didn't mean she was letting her man go without a fight. Daniel was gorgeous, and smart, and made decent money. Like hell she was giving him up.

Despite himself, Daniel found himself responding to Mandie's touch, just like she had planned. She kissed him softly, and encouraged him to let go of whatever he was bothering him and indulge in a physical release. Once she had him in bed, he was all hers. Mandie bet that Samantha didn't know any of the tricks she knew.

After a few minutes of skilful caresses, Daniel was showing his arousal and Mandie let him to the bedroom where she slowly took his clothes off and hers, until he was well and truly hard. She slipped a condom on him (it was a constant irritation that he insisted on it, like he thought she was unclean or something) and climbed on top of him. He released a shudder of delight when he slipped inside of her, and she smiled with triumph.

She began rocking him, slowly at first, then harder and faster as he became more involved, grabbing her hips and grunting in time to his trusts. He was going to come quickly, but she didn't care. He was focused on her, and that was what mattered.

Daniel was removed from the situation, removed from his bedroom, from Mandie, to a night nine months ago when he'd confessed his feelings for Samantha… taken her in his arms… taken her as hungrily as an animal in the jungle… only he'd loved her at the same time, loved her more then any other woman, including Sha're. He'd experienced more in that one frantic night with her then he had in his whole life. Who was he kidding that he could do without Samantha? He loved her more then life itself. He'd been a fool to let things turn out as they had.

" Sam! " he cried out loud as he came, his fingers digging into Mandie's hips and holding her tightly against him as the physical release came to him. For a moment, he was with Samantha, having made love to her, and he didn't have to worry about stupid condoms because they loved each other and they wanted a family together.

And then he became aware that he wasn't with Samantha, he was with Mandie – a twenty-four-year-old waitress who had a great body and an empty head, who knew how to fuck but not how to make love. Mandie, who was looking at him with an expression of hate.

She climbed off him, furious that her lover should be thinking about another woman while he was with her, furious that her powers of distraction weren't as powerful as she'd thought they were, furious at this woman who probably had good-looking, hunky men crawling all over her and didn't need Mandie's.

" Bastard, " she hissed at him.

He didn't bother to refute the charge. He was a bastard, for neglecting Samantha, and dating – or was it just screwing? – Mandie because it was convenient. " I'm sorry, " he said lamely.

" Sorry you were thinking about someone else, or sorry you got caught? " Mandie countered. He owed her some serious grovelling before she'd forgive him. There was an expensive restaurant she wanted to try out but couldn't afford on her wage. And a gorgeous necklace she'd seen in the window of an upmarket jewellers…

" Sorry I got you involved in this, " Daniel said gravely. " I'm sorry, Mandie, I should never have taken things this far with you. "

Mandie's petty resentment turned to real fear and resentment. " What do you mean, you should never have taken things this far? You're saying you didn't mean to sleep with me all those times? You didn't mean to act like my boyfriend? You didn't mean to make me fall in love with you? "

Daniel looked pained. " Be reasonable, Mandie. I'm sixteen years older then you. You're barely out of high school. You can't possibly be in love with me. "

" I am, " Mandie sobbed, seeing her the pleasant reality of having a hunky older boyfriend disintegrate in front of eyes.

Daniel wasn't going to engage in a game of are-not-am-too with Mandie. He was sorry things had ended up like this but what was he supposed to do, let things stay the way they were? " I think you should go, " Daniel said quietly.

Mandie saw Daniel was serious. He was leaving her to be with some butch airforce hag who couldn't possible be as pretty or talented as she was. Well, he'd be sorry when the sex was boring. Then he'd come crawling back, and she might take him back. It soothed her ego to think such things.

She spat in his face, glaring hatefully at him. " Bastard, " she hissed. " I hope you get everything you deserve. You and that stupid whore of yours. "

Daniel wasn't going to dignify that with an answer. He pointed to the door. " Leave, " he ordered.

Mandie rolled her eyes. " Fine, I'm going, I'm going. Just don't expect me to be nice about it when you come crawling back because some airforce hag is too boring for you. "

It was tempting to point out that only someone as shallow as Mandie would find what he did boring (or maybe he and Samantha were just two geeky peas in a pod) but he resisted the urge. It was childish and stupid, and he'd done enough stupid things in the last year to add another one to the list.

With Mandie gone, Daniel was on his own again. Strange how he felt less alone then when she'd been here. He'd made up his mind that Samantha was the one for him, and tomorrow he would be at the base, waiting for her to wake up. And when she did, he would be at her side until he convinced her of his feelings.

The doctor left her alone for a little while – well, under supervision via the security camera – until she realised there was someone in the infirmary. " Jack, " she said, assuming her visitor was her commanding officer. She had requested no visitors, but she figured Jack would go to great lengths to defy that request. She had to smile to herself. With all that had gone wrong in her life, it was a small comfort that she had a friend like that there for her.

Daniel felt a pain in his heart when Samantha assumed he was Jack, but forced himself to get over it. After all, it was natural that she'd expect one of her oldest friends to be there during her convalescence. And what had he done in the last year to show he was reliable?

" It's not Jack, Sam, it's me, Daniel, " Daniel said nervously.

Samantha's heart fell. She bet he was here out of guilt. She imagined he had read her note, and was here to say something along the lines of 'I'm sorry but I can't'. After all, why would any man want to be with her when they could have a perky twentysomething? She turned her body away from him.

The meaning of the gesture wasn't lost on Daniel. Well, damned if he was going to let her push him away this time. A few strides across the infirmary, and he was by her side, pulling up a chair beside her, his hand searching under the blanket for her hand, which he curled tightly inside his. She couldn't pull away from him without making a scene.

Besides, she kind of liked the pressure of his hand over hers.

" You gave me quite a scare, " he started. " I thought I'd lost you. " He could feel his voice breaking with emotion, but he didn't care. His mistake in the last year had been masking his feelings from her.

Was he upset at the thought of losing her, or the thought of being responsible for her death, Samantha asked herself. " I'm sure you would have consoled yourself with your little cheerleader, " she said.

Daniel leaned into her, and she felt lost being so close to him – and without the antagonism or distance that had existed between them in the last year. " Mandie meant nothing to me, " he assured her. " She was just a distraction… because I couldn't have you. "

" You're using the past tense, " Samantha noted, not meaning to speak out loud.

Daniel smirked. " I always knew a doctorate must have taught you some quick-thinking skills, " he mused, and she could hear laughter in his voice. " We split up yesterday. Well, we weren't really together in the first place, but I told her yesterday I didn't want to see her again. "

" Why would you do a stupid thing like that? " Samantha asked crossly. " According to the men on the base, she was the perfect woman. Good-looking, good in bed – "

" Dull as dishwater everywhere else, " Daniel interjected. " I never thought I'd say this, Sam, but I actually missed having you make me feel dumb. " The way he stroked her hair while he said it made Samantha feel he quite liked it when she made him feel dumb – although she had never considered Daniel to be dumb.

He noticed she was more receptive to his touch then she had been a few minutes ago. She pushed her head against his hand ever-so-slightly and splayed her fingers so Daniel could laced his through hers. " You challenge me, Sam, you always have, " he said ruefully. " I've loved you for as long as I can remember, I was just always afraid. "

His voice was tinged with regret, something Samantha understood. She had made him believe she was in love with Jack, she had pushed him away at every opportunity. She felt tears spring to her eyes when she thought about what could have been.

" Hey… " Sensing her distress, gently Daniel turned Samantha onto her back so he was looking down at her. " It's OK. I love you and I'm here now. "

This only made Samantha cry harder from a combination of regret and relief. Regret that so much had been lost, so much time had been wasted for them to be here and relief that they were here.

Daniel climbed onto the narrow infirmary bed and pulled Samantha into his arms, letting her cry into his chest. He stroked her hair and he back and whispered soothing words into her ear until her sobs gradually subsided. " I love you, I love you, " he said over and over.

Finally she lay in his arms, quiet, and he tilted her head up so blue eyes met blue eyes. " I'm never going to leave you, no matter how hard you try to get rid of me, " he promised, and he lowered his mouth to hers.

It was only the second time they'd kissed, and this time couldn't be more different to the first time. Where Daniel had kissed her before with animal hunger, his kiss now was gently, tender. His mouth barely brushed hers but they experienced plenty from it.

For a moment after the kiss they looked at each other, then kissed again. It was easy to get carried away in the heat of the moment. Samantha pulled Daniel down on the bed, his body over hers, their legs tangled together, and they began making out. His mouth travelled her face and neck, his hands roamed her body.

After a few minutes his arousal became apparent, and Samantha reached for the buckle on Daniel's belt. He withdrew slightly, pulling her hands away. When he saw the look of disappointment on her face he said, " Sam there's nothing more I wanna do then make love to you. But not like this. As I recall, it was rushing like this that got us into all this trouble. "

Samantha had to admit Daniel had a point. " That's not to say I don't want to spend every waking moment with you though, " Daniel added. " And most of the sleeping ones, too. " He wondered how the General would feel about Samantha moving in with him, after all the headaches they'd caused him.

Samantha smiled happily, for the first time confident that Daniel was with her to stay. " I love you, Daniel, " she said.

" I love you too, Sam. " And he lowered his mouth for another soul-searching kiss.

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Two Years Later

" How's Doctor Jackson holding up? " General Hammond asked the doctor in charge of his most favourite team-member – or at least the one that was most occupying his thoughts at the moment, given the situation they were in.

The doctor smiled reassuringly. Hammond tried hard not to show it, and failed miserably, that he had a few distinct favourites among the Stargate Command. " Doctor Jackson is doing well, sir. Taking things very easy because of what happened last time, but doing well – everything's going according to plan. You have nothing to worry about. "

Hammond nodded, trying to look like he had absolute faith in this very competent doctor. But like an overprotective father, he just wouldn't be properly reassured until Doctor Jackson gave birth to a healthy baby.

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Daniel entered his and Samantha's new apartment, which had seemed incredibly spacious when the first moved in and was becoming more and more cramped with all the stuff Samantha bought/the Stargate Command saw fit to give them. Babies 'R' Us must be having a field day, he thought. But he couldn't begrudge the clutter. Not given what it meant.

He prowled through the apartment, looking for his wife. He found her stretched out on the couch, watching TV and looking like the cat that got the cream. He would have thought Samantha would be the last person who would be content with sitting at home all day for nine months, but then, he had witnessed what Samantha was prepared to do for something she truly wanted. And she wanted this baby more then anything else she had wanted. Except maybe Daniel, and she had him well and truly.

Daniel sat down next to her and eased her onto his lap, his hands resting on her convex belly. She was only six months along so far, and he never really stopped worrying, but things were going as well as they could. " How is Doctor Jackson doing? " he asked, nuzzling her neck the way she liked it. Eighteen months of marriage and he wasn't sick of calling his wife Doctor Jackson. It had become something of a running joke within the Stargate Command, with the former Doctors Jackson and Carter refusing to call each other by pet names in their workplace. It had caused more then a few misunderstandings when someone referred to 'Doctor Jackson'.

Samantha smiled in contentment. " Doctor Jackson is fine, " she said. Daniel knew what 'fine' meant. Fine meant deliriously happily and eagerly awaiting the arrival of their baby. She never knew she could be so happy. He turned her head so she could look into his eyes. She never failed to get a jolt when she looked at him. She loved him so much. She couldn't believe it had taken them so long to get together. But they were together now, and very happy, and that was what really counted.

Daniel caught her look, the secret look saved only for a lover, and he asked, " What? " As if he didn't know.

She smiled and kissed him. " I love you, Doctor Jackson, " she said.

He smiled and kissed her back. " I love you too, Doctor Jackson. "

THE END