Chapter One

She hadn't meant to push Daniel away. Things had been crazy after Jack's death and they moved their relationship too soon until it was obvious it was a horrible mistake. She had pushed him away, he had backed off, they hadn't spoken a word until the night before her wedding, and even then, Colonel Samantha Carter remembered wryly, there hadn't been much talking.

But then, even when she had been deeply committed to Jack, she had never denied that she and Daniel had some pretty powerful chemistry.

Not that it mattered when you were with Jack, and not that it should matter now, Samantha reminded herself. She had been married for ten years now, had never been unfaithful, and she wasn't about the start now.

But there was something about being face to face with Daniel that made her shiver with anticipation.

She hadn't mentioned Daniel to her husband of course. John wasn't exactly the most open-minded guy when it came to his wife being attracted to other women. Not that he held himself to the same standards, of course, but he would be furious to know she was on her way to see an old flame.

Not that she was seeing his for personal reasons. He was in Washington DC to petition the government for grant money. These days, he spent most of his time in Egypt on digs. Having left the archaeological community in disgrace twenty years ago, he was now its wonder boy, in part for his innate ability to locate dig after dig of historical importance.

Samantha couldn't help but smile at that memory. You could hardly blame Daniel for utilising all the stuff he'd learned about ancient civilisations through his work on the Stargate program. And of course it didn't hurt having an former colleague (and lover) high up in the government who knew the same ultra-classified stuff you did – and who knew that every dollar Daniel asked for was merited.

It hadn't taken long for John to work out she approved of Daniel's budgets with barely a second glance. " We worked together once, I know what he's doing deserves the funding, " was all she said. It irritated John that she wouldn't tell him exactly what she and Daniel had worked on together. So what if it was classified, he was her husband. John and grown up believing it was a husband's right to know everything about his wife. Besides, he had presidential aspirations, shouldn't he know about stuff like whatever it was Samantha had worked on?

But she remained adamant. People like Senator John Richmond were exactly the kind of people you didn't want knowing about the Stargate Program – they were the ones who thought the sole purpose of such a program was to come back with weapons to blow back to the stoneage Russia, Iraq or whoever was their enemy of any given day. God, how she and Daniel had hated such people when they were part of the program. Sometimes Samantha couldn't remember why she'd dated John in the first place.

Oh, yeah. Because Jack was dead and Daniel wasn't talking to her.

To be fair, John could be incredible charismatic when he wanted to be. He wanted to be president someday, and he was a regular Jack Kennedy or Bill Clinton – the fawning press always said so. Young and charismatic with stylish, successful wives. The hidden appropriateness of such comparisons was not lost. John had some pretty broad definitions of infidelity. But only when it came to men, of course. When it came to women, he hankered for the days when women were expected to enter marriage as virgins so a man had the privilege of knowing he was her Only One.

Sometimes Samantha didn't know why she stayed married to John.

Oh, yeah. Their son, Jacob.

John had wanted him named John Jr. Samantha hated the name. She had never understood why men felt the urge to name their sons after themselves – like they were so perfect that there had to be another of them to carry on their legacy. She had wanted to name her son after her father, and it was the one thing she had stood firm on in their marriage.

She'd let it go when he demanded she sign a ridiculous pre-nuptial agreement, the gist of it being that his family fortune was his and no matter what Samantha might do to help with his career or family, or if the deterioration of their marriage was due to say, a discrete little fling (read: compulsive womanising) it was his money and she had no claim to it. The principle of their money staying their money hadn't bothered Samantha (actually, it had secretly amused her that she had plenty stashed away in secret bank accounts and had no need for his money) but it had annoyed her just the same, the pompous way he had gone about it.

She'd let it go when he demanded she stop working at NASA building spaceships with the application of her knowledge of Goa'uld and Asgaurd technology. He'd said it was because he wanted her to be a stay-at-home-mom but he hadn't objected when she accepted the rather boring job of budget approval in the current government administration. It had been quite convenient to have a wife who knew where the country's money went. It was obvious what he really objected to having a wife who's job commanded more respect then his did.

She'd let it go when she first caught John screwing around. She let herself believe him when he said it was one little slip up.

She let it go when she caught him screwing around the second time. And the third, and the fourth, and the fifth.

She wasn't sure where exactly her sense of self deteriorated to a point that she let it go the first time he beat her. And it all went downhill from there.

But there was her son to think about. Funny how she always thought of Jacob as her son – he looked so much like her, something John had always griped about. " It's not right for a man's first born to not look like him, " he'd often complained, as if that were Samantha's fault.

Of course, she'd never looked beyond the most obvious reason Jacob didn't look like John – that he'd gotten his fair features from his mother. She never allowed herself to think about it.

Not until Jacob had been in a car accident (John had been drink-driving, it had taken a lot of bribes to cover that one up) and the Doctor had confronted Samantha about an anomaly in Jacob's bloodwork had Samantha dared to think about it. And after that she'd done her damnedest to forget it.

If she thought about it, then she'd have to think about the ten years she'd wasted with John.

Besides, being the wife of Senator John Richmond wasn't all bad. He was fabulously rich, and had a lot of connection to important people.

Oh, who was she kidding. Being the wife of Senator John Richmond bored her out of her brain.

So when she thought about it, Samantha really had no idea why she stayed. She only knew she must have changed a lot to have stayed. Colonel Samantha Carter of SG-1 would never have stayed.

The woman who had been loved by Colonel Jack O'Neill and Doctor Daniel Jackson would never have stayed.

But Jack was dead, and Daniel spent most of his time in Egypt these days. Samantha kept a secret shoebox of newspaper clippings. He'd built up quite a name for himself. It had always amused her to hear the media muse about his magic touch. If only they knew, she'd often thought ruefully. Maybe she'd out his 'magic touch' on her deathbed.

It was kind of funny when she thought about it, that for all the dedication she'd taken to following Daniel's career she hadn't seen him in ten years. She'd wanted to patch things up with him but by the time she'd worked up the nerve he'd left the country. She'd received a note from him a few months after that : we all deal with loss in our own way.

She'd dealt with Jack's loss by marrying John, he'd dealt with it by going to Egypt.

But deep down, Samantha knew Jack wasn't the only loss Daniel had dealt with.

She'd treated him badly, she knew. She'd been too proud when he'd said they needed some time apart, taken that to be a catagoric rejection. She'd called Jack's name while Daniel was making love to her. No wonder he thought they needed some time apart. What man wanted to compete with a ghost?

But she'd been too proud to see that, and gone about rejecting Daniel before he could reject her. John had been an easy distraction. Good-looking, charismatic, the would-be Senator had seen in Colonel Carter the perfect First Lady.

And it would increase his feminist vote tenfold to have a retired Colonel as his wife. And increase his family vote tenfold to have a retired Colonel declare that being barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen was her true calling.

Not that she spent much time barefoot and pregnant, to John's chagrin. Things had started off well, with Jacob being conceived on their wedding night (he'd made Samantha relinquish all forms of birth control a month before their wedding, so her body had the opportunity to return to its natural hormones) and a second child being conceived a year after Jacob's birth. But she'd miscarried at four months and never conceived again.

A dozen well-respected doctors all said there was no physical reason for Samantha not being able to conceive. And the half a dozen bastard children John had scattered across the countryside was testimony to his virility. Perhaps the problem was emotional? That had particularly irked John. He held Samantha personally responsible for their lack of many children.

At least she'd had the good sense to have their firstborn a by. Although John regretted that he looked so much like his mother. Not that he wasn't a handsome young man, but still, a man's heir should look like him. More then anything John wanted a second son, one that looked like him. Except it didn't look like that was going to happen soon.

Oh well. President Clinton only had one child, and he didn't even have the good fortune to have a son to carry on his name.

At the moment, John was in New York, his constituency. More like visiting one of his mistresses, Samantha thought bitterly. John had such double standards when it came to fidelity. Not that there had been many men in the last ten years that had really interested her. In fact, there had only been two men that really made her heart race.

Colonel Jack O'Neill, United States Airforce. Killed in Action on a planet in another galaxy while trying to save not only Earth but the entire Universe from the Goa'uld threat. Samantha hadn't been with him on that mission, she had been transferred from SG-1 into SG-5 at that point. Given how many serious regulations they were breaking by being together, separate teams was the best possible outcomes. It could have ruined both their careers.

But they had loved each other and for that kind of love you didn't think about your career.

She had been devastated when she'd heard of Jack's death. She'd regretted their relationship, rationalising that if she'd been there with him, she could have saved him – or died with him. Either would have been better alternatives then life without him.

Doctor Daniel Jackson, PhD in Egyptology and Ancient History. He'd been there for her after Jack had died and her life had fallen apart. At one point, he'd sat with her and made sure she ate three square meals a day. He'd always been her best friend, but in the months following Jack's death they'd become closer and closer until the depth of their relationship was obvious to everyone but themselves.

One night they'd sat up long after everyone else had gone to bed, talking about everything and nothing the way they always did. He'd leaned over and kissed her. It had been surprising and expected at the same time. It had felt so insanely natural. He'd paused for a few seconds, giving her the opportunity to break away.

Instead, she'd kissed him back and it hadn't taken long for sweet kisses to become passionate kisses – it had felt so natural, the love and chemistry they had together. Before too long they'd been in bed together… and she'd called out Jack's name.

The memory was as clear to Samantha as if it had happened yesterday. It was clearer then most of the memories Samantha had of her marriage. Daniel had stopped dead, which Samantha had always marvelled at. It must hurt for men to stop in the middle of sex like that. Or at least be painfully frustrating.

But then, Daniel was the type of man who would take frustrating over being mistaken for a dead man.

Samantha felt tears prick her eyes and she angrily wiped them away. Get a hold of yourself, Carter, she ordered herself. She always called herself Carter, despite a decade of being addressed as Mrs. Richmond. You can't present yourself as a teary wreck in front of Daniel. But the closer she got to Daniel, the clearer the memories became.

Daniel hadn't wanted to compete with Jack for Samantha. He'd told her they needed some distance, that they should be friends for a little while longer. She'd taken that to mean he didn't want her and had pushed him away. Soon, he had stopped trying to be her friend, and they had become barely civil colleagues.

Then she had met John, and he had seemed like a dream come true. Their courtship had been brief, their engagement announced in the papers three months after their first date.

The first Daniel had heard of it was in the papers. It had broken his heart.

The night before her wedding, he'd hit the bottle, planning to drink himself into oblivion and wake up the day after the wedding. Instead, he'd ended up at Samantha's apartment at two in the morning to declare his love for her…

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Samantha hadn't known what to expect when she'd opened the door at two in the morning, but she definitely hadn't been expecting Daniel. They had barely spoken since their abortive attempt at sex months ago. He hadn't even congratulated her on her impeding marriage, not even the barely civil congratulations that she had expected from him. Daniel knew what nobody did about her fairytale relationship with John Richmond – that she didn't love him, that she was just marrying him because he doted on her and he was there, that her heart belonged to Daniel Jackson…

" Daniel, " she said weakly. " I think you should go home. " He stunk of alcohol and he had a wild look in his eyes that should have frightened Samantha – but it didn't.

Instead of leaving, Daniel barged into the apartment. " Hey! " she said indignantly. " You have no right to be here! "

He swung around angrily. " You're marrying someone you don't love and I have no right to be here? " he demanded.

She hated the way he said it. She especially hated it because he was right. " You didn't want me, Daniel. I moved on. "

" Like hell I didn't want you! I just didn't want you think about Jack while I was making love to you! "

" It doesn't matter, Daniel. I'm getting married tomorrow. It's too late. "

He closed the gap between them, and while she should have been frightened to have a drunk, angry man so close to her she wasn't. She was swept up in the closeness of his presence. She hadn't been this close to Daniel in months. She hadn't felt this thrill since he'd first kissed her…

" Like hell it's too late, " he muttered, and his lips came crashing down on hers forcefully. He was drunk, but he was still agile, and one arm snaked around her back to pin her wrists together and hold her against him as the other supported her head.

Despite herself, Samantha found herself kissing him back. John never kissed her like this. Not even Jack had kissed her like this. She groaned with animal passion, and the realised what she had done.

" Daniel, we can't, " she insisted. She fought against him but he was too strong for her. And it was hard to fight Daniel and herself at the same time. " Please, stop, " she begged, her mouth saying one thing and her body saying another.

" You don't sound too convincing, " Daniel said. " Or is this just another case of you not knowing what you want? "

The truth had hurt. It hadn't mattered to Daniel. " I swear to you, Sam, I don't care if you're stupid enough to marry this asshole tomorrow. But tonight, I will be the only one you want. "

He had ripped her clothes off and taken her on her kitchen table. And then in the shower. And then in her bed. He had made her climax over and over, violently, passionately, until she was physically exhausted. He had made her call out his name, told him she loved him, until she was emotionally exhausted. He had possessed her to every depth of her soul, until there was no way she could know herself and not know that she loved Daniel Jackson with every fibre of her being. It was why these days Samantha preferred not to analyse herself to much.

In the morning, the dawn of her wedding, he was gone. Samantha supposed he had wanted her to make the choice – him or John. But at the time it had seemed like he had abandoned her. So she'd chosen John. Or at least, she'd gone through with the wedding. On the very rare moments she chose to plumb to the depths of her soul, she had to admit that John had never been part of the equation.


Stop it, Carter. Stop it stop it stop it. Samantha stood in the foyer of her office building for a minute to collect herself. OK, you can do this, she told herself after a minute. It's just Daniel. Bracing herself, she took the elevator up to her office.

… Where Daniel had already made himself comfortable. " Hi, " he said, his blue eyes twinkling. The last ten years had been kind to him. He was a fit as ever, and obviously had gotten a tan from all that digging in Egypt. And his eyes …

Samantha swallowed hard. " How did you get in here? " she demanded a little too harshly.

Daniel was a little taken aback. " You're secretary let me in, " he said. " I was telling her about our history – well, as much as I could without spilling state secrets – and I guess she figured I was hardly a security risk. "

For a moment Samantha stared at him, processing the words I was telling her about our history. Terror swamped her body. " Hey, don't look like you've seen a ghost. I don't mean that history, " Daniel reassured her.

Samantha visibly relaxed, and she felt all of six inches tall. Of course Daniel wouldn't go blabbing about that particular chapter of their history. He had too much integrity.

Which was more then she could say for her husband.

" I'm sorry, " she said. " I'm just a bit stressed out. "

Because you're husband's in New York with one of his many mistresses? Daniel wanted to asked. He knew better. Men like Senator Richmond were the reason Daniel preferred to stay in Egypt and only deal with politicians when he absolutely had to. But Richmond particularly annoyed him. Womanising politicians were a dime a dozen, but Richmond made it personal.

Richmond was screwing around on the only woman Daniel really cared about. It infuriated him, that Richmond couldn't see what he had and that Samantha was too blind to see what he was doing.

He had tried to forget Samantha. She had made it clear when she married him she didn't care for Daniel the way he cared about her. He hadn't been exactly celibate, but nothing lasting. No-one could challenge him the way Samantha could, no-one made him feel as calm as Samantha had.

No-one had excited him sexually the way Samantha had. There were still nights when he lay awake, thinking about their one night of passion. He had left before she woke up because he didn't think he could deal with the rejection, if she chose to carry on with the wedding. And he'd been right.

So he'd moved to Egypt, becoming archaeology's wonder boy, and more or less moved on with his life. Except for the times Samantha drifted into his thoughts.

He kept a shoebox full of clipping about her. He discarded the ones about her husband. He was happy she was still working, he knew Samantha would go crazy as a stay-at-home-mother. But he knew she couldn't be as stimulated as she had been working on the Stargate program. Now that had been cutting edge.

But he sort of understood that without the four of them, it just wasn't the same.

It was funny how her relationship with Jack didn't bother him, and hadn't for a while. She had loved him, sure, but she had loved Daniel too. He realised now he should have given her more time before making the first move.

But it was too late for regrets. She was married, he had a different life now. He was only meeting her to discuss a grant.

He supposed he could have done that from Egypt, what with all the technology of modern day, but there was a part of him which had wanted to see Samantha.

She looked well. She was dressed in the most fashionable clothes money could buy, and the same went for her hair and makeup. An expensive gold band glistened from her ring finger. Daniel's heart wrenched when he saw that.

… But for all her obvious affluence, there was something not there about Samantha. She wasn't as lively as she used to be. She wasn't the same anything-you-can-do-I-can-do-better 2IC that had often driven him and Jack up the wall. She had made him want to tear his hair out sometimes, but God, what he wouldn't give to have that Samantha back.

Without thinking of the professional level of their current relationship, but rather the intimacy – physical and emotional – that they'd once shared – he blurted out, " Sam, are you OK? "

Samantha was taken aback by the concern in his voice – and touched. She couldn't remember being spoken to in such a way in years. But this was Daniel, she reminded herself harshly. The last thing she needed was to get involved with Daniel on anything more then a professional level.

She smiled tightly. " I'm fine, Dr. Jackson, " she said coolly.

Her words had the desired affect ; he was suitably chastised for his familiarity. Her heart ached and her conscience pricked. She was more aware then ever how void her life had been of anything resembling a true friend since marrying John – that was politics for you. She was more aware of her how empty her life was without Daniel.

She sighed. " Daniel, I'm sorry, " she said guiltily.

He shrugged. " I was too familiar, I get it, " he said. He physically backed away, turning his head so she couldn't read the emotion in his face.

Reason telling her it was best to leave things be, Samantha went with her instincts and closed the distance between her and Daniel, touching his softly on his cheek.

He wrenched away violently as if Samantha had burned him. " Don't touch me, " he said frostily.

His words stung. " I was only trying to be your friend, " she said.

He looked at her incredulously. " You think we could be friends after all that's happened? " he asked.

Samantha couldn't resist getting on the defensive even though she knew she should remain professional. " Oh, you mean the way you came to my apartment drunk the night before my wedding and – and – forced yourself on me? "

" Oh, because you really acted like it was such an imposition, " Daniel responded sarcastically. " Richmond must really be something in bed when if you managed to forget that little detail. That is, when he's in your bed. " It was below the belt, Daniel knew, but he couldn't resist pointing out the flaws in her marriage.

He would never cheat on her. But she hadn't given him the chance.

Samantha's anger flared. How dare he bring that up! Despite herself, she briefly thought – knew – that Daniel would never cheat on her. But she hadn't given him that chance, and now she had to stand my her choice. " My marriage is none of your business, " she hissed.

" You mean, as opposed to half the women in this city that your husband's sleeping with? " Daniel clarified hotly. He didn't know why he was getting in this argument with her. Samantha could marry whoever the hell she wanted – and if she was a fool enough to want a man who was constantly screwing around, well, he wasn't her keeper.

But he wished he was her husband.

Samantha raised her hand to slap him. He caught it, and twisted it around her back, capturing her free hand and pinning both of them behind her back. Once upon a time she could have easily broken his hold – it had driven him nuts that her military training had made her fitter, stronger and more agile then him – but ten years of picking up nothing heavier then her son (and he was beginning to resent that) had seen her physical ability deteriorate to that of – well, a housewife. Ugh, she hated the word. Especially since she felt she was little better then one.

Daniel snaked one arm around Samantha's back, forcing her against him, her chest pressed against his. His hold was tight, possessive, but she didn't feel threatened. She felt wanted… and loved. She dimly thought she had been wrong to accuse Daniel of forcing himself onto her. The only thing Daniel Jackson had ever forced her to do was face up to herself. She closed to eyes and she was transported to happier days when Daniel had been her best friend, and could have been her lover and soul mate…

She realised how close she was to breaking her marriage vows. " Daniel, please, " she begged, no real conviction in her voice.

He touched her face gently and sparks passed between them. She couldn't remember such an intimate touch – since Daniel had last touched her. She shivered involuntarily, and not because she was cold or afraid.

" I would never fool around on you, " he whispered hoarsely, and kissed her as gently as he could.

Samantha whimpered when Daniel kissed her, knowing it was wrong… and knowing nothing had ever felt so right. " Daniel… " she whispered hoarsely. She knew she should fight this but she was suddenly very tired of John's playing around, his cruelty. And being in Daniel's arms felt so right…

She kissed him back.

Daniel's hands roamed her back freely as their kiss deepened. She winced slightly to feel the pressure on her healing back from John's last assault but soon forgot about the pain, lost in their embrace.

Their kisses became hungrier, more passionate. They had been apart for ten years and had a lot to catch up on. " Sam, Sam, " Daniel grunted as his mouth planted kiss across her face and neck. He lifted her by her hips onto her desk. He pushed her skirt up to her thighs and she wrapped her legs around his waist tightly, possessively. She could feel he was getting hard and it excited her.

" Daniel… " she moaned softly as his hands wandered her body. Her name sounded so good on her tongue. His hand felt so good on her body. " Daniel… Daniel, " he voice suddenly became hard and urgent as she heard footsteps in the hall. " Daniel, stop. There's someone coming. "

With a reluctant groan, Daniel separated himself from Samantha and pulled her into a standing position. Hurriedly, they straightened themselves up as best they could – as Senator John Richmond walked into his wife's office, a disapproving look on his face.