A Tale of Spilled Coffee

Author: Jess

Rating: PG-13, just to be safe

Archive: anywhere, just let me know where it's going and keep my name on it.

Summary: Sam and Daniel meet accidentally in an alternate universe, where neither of them has heard of the Stargate program.

Subjects: S/D friendship, possibly romance, angst, smarm, alternate universe

Spoilers: none that I can think of.

Season: none specific really, though takes place around the same timeframe as S1 in "our" reality.

Disclaimer: I'm not making any money off of this. None of the characters belong to me; they belong to MGM/Showtime, Double Secret Productions, and Gekko Film Corp. This story is copyrighted April 2005 and may not be used or altered without the express permission of the author.

A/N: Thanks to Beth for the beta!

Chapter 1

"Mochaccino Grande with skim milk?"

"Uh, that's me."

The young man nodded and handed the cup of hot, steaming, something-resembling-coffee to the slim blonde in her thirties.

"Thanks," she nodded as she took the cup and collected some napkins with her free hand.

"Can I help the next person?" the man called out, his voice sailing above her as she spotted a booth in a sunny spot against the window.

Samantha Carter eased herself down into the seat, removing her purse from her shoulder and placing her hardcover book on the far end of the table. She took a small sip of the drink and grimaced, as it was still a bit too hot.

She placed it back down on the table, picked up her book and opened it to the page she'd last left off. It was a somewhat thick book, bearing the boring title "Astrophysics and Space Science." Sam had a PhD in Astrophysics, and worked as an assistant professor at Colorado State University in Colorado Springs. She hadn't been at the job very long, at least not here. She had earned her PhD from GWU in Maryland, and had been an adjunct faculty member for about two years. Her salary wasn't all that great, as an adjunct professor, and before she had given any thought to resigning and finding work elsewhere, word came that she would be transferred over to CSU. She hoped it would lead to a better position, and luckily the odds were on her side, although "assistant professor" wasn't much higher up the ladder from "adjunct professor."

She sighed heavily as she recalled the move she made. She wasn't entirely happy about it, as her family was still in the D.C. area, especially her father, who was an Air Force General. Her mother had died in an accident when Samantha was young. At first, she blamed her father, but after time they grew closer, and she began to respect him for the new role he was now playing in her life. She had an older brother who always seemed a bit aloof, especially when he was a teenager. Once he moved away, married and had a family, however, they became close again, sharing long phone conversations if they weren't able to visit. Her life was almost perfect there, and she wasn't happy about leaving it.

Almost perfect, except for one thing: her love life. She'd always been very bookish, graduating in the top 5 of her class in both junior high and high school. She didn't socialize nearly as much as the other girls, and didn't get to meet many people outside school, especially of the opposite sex. Sure, she had friends – close friends, but no one really outside that small, elite circle. One of them, Sara Wilson, had been her friend since freshman year of high school. The two were very close, but drifted apart after graduation. Sara ended up going to college in Colorado, met a very nice man and married him. Sam would feel quite bitter as Sara would mention her boyfriend – later, husband – in countless letters and phone calls. Sara was so lucky. What was Sam doing wrong? Was it the way she looked?

She absent-mindedly tugged on a strand of her short, blonde hair, and tucked it behind her ear. She didn't think she was exactly beautiful. Sure, she looked neat, wore makeup and nice clothes, but having a man fall in love with her physical appearance wasn't necessarily her goal. She wanted someone who would fall in love with her mind, her personality … her whole person. She was looking for someone who would complete her.

Not long after she moved here, Sara managed to look her up through one of her other old friends, and invited Sam over to her house a few times. Sam never accepted, afraid that her envy of Sara's seemingly perfect life would cause her to do something foolish in her presence. She'd give Sara various excuses – too much work to do, not feeling well, etc. The last time Sara had invited her over; there was a suspicious lilt in her voice. Sam knew she wouldn't be able to keep this up and would have to give in eventually.

Sam made acquaintances with the various other faculty members she encountered in the Earth and Space Sciences department. Once in a while, she would join them for social engagements, even for drinks at a local pub. She always dressed nicely and kept a positive attitude. She would appear unassuming, even though deep down her secret desire was to meet someone. Of late, she was unsuccessful.

She finally gave in and decided to sign up for a dating service. She filled out a questionnaire and waited to hear any responses. She'd gotten a few from time to time, but the men never seemed to be what she was looking for. One man seemed much too bold for her tastes; adding to that, the many cats he shared his house with made her allergies flare up to a dangerous degree.

After three prospective boyfriends, she gave up for the time being and un-subscribed from the service. Maybe she wasn't meant to love or be loved, family notwithstanding. Maybe a soul mate just wasn't in the cards for her. She should stop trying and just concentrate on her work.

With a sharp sigh, she cleared her mind of these worrying thoughts and concentrated once again on the book, sipping from her cup of coffee every now and then.

She was suddenly jerked from the book when she felt an impact against the side of the booth and felt steaming hot liquid hit her blouse, nearly going through and burning her chest. This was followed by an utterance of surprise.

She gasped and immediately reached for a napkin, before she heard the voice again…

"Oh, God, I'm sorry," a man's flustered voice spoke.

Her eyes narrowed and she was planning to give the culprit both barrels. She lifted her gaze, and her brow furrowed slightly on the sight in front of her. The man was blushing a deep shade of crimson. His clear, blue eyes were deep and intensely apologetic. The somewhat large, brown wire-framed glasses, the long-ish, shaggy, light brown hair, and the plaid shirt under the periwinkle blue blazer, gave him the appearance of a professor … just like her.

She looked somewhat angry, and his eyes became even more apologetic. He set his coffee cup, which was even larger than hers, down on the table and pulled out a couple of his own napkins.

"I'm so sorry," he intoned once again as he sopped up the coffee that had spilled onto the table, before taking another clean napkin and aiming for her blouse. His cheeks seemed to become rosier and he hesitated, not wanting to actually touch her chest. She lifted her hand and he awkwardly handed the napkin to her. She began dabbing at her blouse, not taking her eyes off of him.

"Sorry," he muttered. She looked at him intently, not too happy over him spilling his coffee on her, but then again, not too angry either.

"It didn't burn you, did it?" he asked worriedly.

Dumbfounded, she looked down at her chest. She fingered her light blue blouse and took hold of it. Instinctively he turned his gaze away from her, as if he was expecting her to pull her blouse away from her skin to look down her chest. It was as if he was embarrassed and didn't want her to think he'd be looking down her chest as well.

For a moment, she looked at him and seemed amused. He didn't seem to be like any of the other guys she'd met before. There was something… childlike – boyish – about him, even though she doubted that he was younger than his early thirties. She quickly lifted her blouse away and inspected her chest. Apart from being slightly pinker than the rest of the skin, she was fine. She certainly didn't feel as if she'd been burned.

She cleared her throat softly as a signal that he could turn back around and face her. He whipped his head around, and looked at her with wide, curious eyes.

"No, I'm fine," she said, a faint smile on her lips.

She was about to invite him to sit down when he saved her the trouble.

"I really am sorry about that," he repeated as he took the seat across from her. "I suppose I ruined your morning, huh?"

She looked at him thoughtfully. No, he didn't seem to be like any of the guys she'd met before. He seemed genuinely sweet, soft-spoken, and considerate.

"No, you didn't," she said solemnly.

He seemed to relax visibly upon this assertion. He stared down at his cup of coffee, still quite shamefaced.

"I-I didn't mean to spill it on you," he continued, intentionally avoiding her gaze. "It's just that this big, burly guy raced past me and caused me to … ah … hit the …" The words tumbled from his lips as he gestured toward the end of the booth.

"Please, you don't have to explain. It's okay," Sam insisted gently. "To be quite frank, I'm actually glad this happened." She finished with a slightly awkward smile.

His brow knitted in confusion and he frowned. It only caused her smile to widen.

"I was really in need of some company," she elaborated, sounding a bit sheepish.

His eyes widened momentarily, and his slightly surprised look was replaced by an awkward smile of his own. His cheeks turned rosy once again.

She looked at him quizzically, wondering just who her new acquaintance was.

"Oh … ah, Daniel Jackson," he supplied as he leaned forward slightly and proffered his hand to her.

"Samantha Carter," she returned, accepting his hand and shaking it. She tried to ignore the slight tingling sensation that shot through her hand and up her arm as she shook his hand. It was a warmth that seemed new to her, even after all the hands of colleagues she'd shaken over the course of her career. As odd as it seemed, it made her feel safe.

"Doctor Samantha Carter," she added.

Daniel's eyebrows shot up for a split second. "Oh … ah … me too! PhD in archaeology and linguistics…"

"Wow, two PhD's? Impressive," she explained, nodding her head thoughtfully.

Daniel shifted a bit in his seat, leaned back and cocked his head.

"Ah … yeah, and a few masters degrees, too … it's really not a big deal," he said dismissively, waving his hand in front of his face.

"Are you kidding?" she gushed incredulously. "It's phenomenal! You must be some fountain of knowledge!"

"I really wish you wouldn't say that," he answered, his deepening blush and his tone revealing that he was a bit embarrassed. "I just … I've always been studious, ever since I was young. My parents played a big role in my education; they taught me a lot." His voice trailed off wistfully.

Sam nodded thoughtfully. "That's great. My dad was the same way, thought my education and upbringing was the most important thing. Sometimes his job prevented him from spending a lot of time with me, so I learned to hit the books myself."

Daniel looked at her curiously.

"He was – is – a General in the Air Force," she clarified.

A look of surprise briefly passed over Daniel's face. "Wow, that's certainly … different," he said awkwardly.

Sam looked at him and blinked.

"Ah … no offense," he immediately amended his statement.

Her broad smile returned and she shook her head. "It's okay. I've gotten that reaction before, especially from my fellow faculty members. So, what about your parents?"

The curious, knitted brow returned.

"What do they do?" she continued, suddenly realizing she may have pried too much.

"They're archaeologists," he answered tersely, the question appearing to bother him somewhat.

"Oh," she nodded, raising her eyebrows. "Well, I'm sure they're proud of you, then … seeing as how you have the PhD, and –"

"I haven't spoken to them for a long time," he interrupted grimly as his gaze returned to the tabletop. He looked quickly back up at her and noticed her eyes begging him to continue. He sighed heavily.

"Ah, they weren't too pleased when they found out I was going to be teaching," he continued. "They thought I should spend more time out in the field, out on digs – not teaching introductory archaeology to a hundred some-odd college kids. I suppose you could say I had a bit of a falling out with them." He shrugged.

"I'm sorry," she intoned. "My mom was killed in an accident when I was a little girl, and I blamed my father for it at first. I learned to forgive him as the years went by, though, and we became close, almost as close as a father and daughter should be. It was hard to leave Washington to come here, and I still miss him." She glanced out the window and blinked away a few tears.

"You okay?" he asked quietly, touching her arm.

She returned her gaze to him, looked at him for a fleeting moment and nodded. "Yeah. Sorry about that," she said softly.

Something vaguely resembling a smile formed on his face and he shook his head. "No worries."

Her face seemed to light up as she smiled broadly. She was pleasantly surprised by this man, who only minutes earlier had spilled hot coffee on her, and was now sharing aspects of his life story with her.

She absent-mindedly looked down at her watch and her eyes widened.

"Oh geez, I have my advanced astrophysics lecture in twenty minutes!" she said, flustered as she looked back up at him with apologetic eyes.

"Oh, I didn't even realize the time," he answered back, almost as flustered. "I better get going, too. I have to prepare my lecture for this afternoon."

She looked at him with pleading eyes, not wanting to say goodbye to him just yet. "CSU?" she blurted out, almost desperately.

He cocked his head to the side, his brow furrowed in confusion. "Ah…." He trailed off, trying to figure out what she meant.

"Are you at CSU?" she tried again.

"Oh … yeah, yeah, Anthropological Sciences department," he said briskly.

He looked at her thoughtfully, a small smile gracing his lips. "PhD in astrophysics?" he guessed.

Sam grinned and nodded. "Yeah, I'm over in the Earth and Space Sciences department. I'm, uh, an assistant professor," she said, blushing slightly as she finished that last sentence.

Daniel nodded. "Are you there five days a week, or …?"

She interrupted with a nod.

"Do you always come here for coffee?" he asked hopefully.

Sam grinned amusedly. "When the coffee maker in our faculty lounge isn't working," she said.

Daniel flashed a grin at her. She was a woman after his own heart. "Do you have any paper?" he suddenly asked.

Sam fished inside her purse, and grabbed a hold of a small post-it pad. She handed it to him, and he began writing fervently. "Here are my email address, office room number and phone. If you ever want to come by and talk sometime …" he trailed off as he handed the post-it to her.

"I'd love to," she smiled, her face lighting up. She took the post-it from him, and stuck it on the most convenient thing at the time: the astrophysics textbook. She quickly scribbled down her email address and office phone for him on another post-it. He accepted it from her and buried it safely inside the pocket of his blazer.

"Well, I better go," she said as she looked at him. "It was really nice meeting you."

"Likewise," he nodded, smiling kindly. "Hope to see you again soon."

"I'll remember that," she smiled. She took one last look at him before making her way out of the coffee shop.

As she stepped out into the bright, early morning sunlight, she hummed to herself. As she walked down the street, she had a slight spring in her step and a large, infectious grin on her face whenever she thought of the sweet, bumbling archaeologist, Doctor Daniel Jackson.

Chapter 2 coming soon!