Sam made her choice, really the only choice that had even a prayer of success. Now she needed her oft lauded brilliance to convince her choice to choose her back. At the moment, the Nobel Prize, for which she had been whispered to once have been nominated, seemed easier. As she had so many years ago when she had won her life back from self-loathing, she wrote out a plan and critiqued it from every direction. Then one sunny morning, she executed the opening gambit.
Jack was perfectly willing to go for a walk with her, no questions asked. Sam had been very careful to time her invitation and their stroll away from the house for a window of time when she thought Daniel wouldn't see them. It was not an auspicious sign when, in fact, Daniel appeared when she didn't expect him to and saw her walk away with Jack. She told herself that it was her fears that caused her to see hurt or bitterness briefly flash across his face.
They walked through the beautiful day, still early enough for things to have a fresh look to them. A tiny breeze tugged at them in occasional little bites, fluttering the loose shirts they each wore over t-shirts. One or the other occasionally commented on the beauties of nature that came up very close to Jack's home. They didn't really try to have a conversation, just to share the morning.
Sam stole a look at the handsome, oh so handsome, man walking beside her. Dear Jack. He might still not be an old man physically but she could see the old soul in his eyes. Sam was positive he had entered the phase of life when more than anything he wanted peace. He wanted to see his son and, someday, his grandchildren take over the doing while he offered support and advice instead. If he ever married again, he would want quiet companionship. With the ever present company provided by his memories of Sara, Sam doubted that he actually needed a flesh and blood woman in the role.
Sam wasn't at the peaceful stage yet. She still wanted passion and challenge and increasingly, while she always felt a surge of affection when she looked at Jack, she felt a surge of something else when she looked at Daniel. The problem was that the only chance she had with Daniel was to make him believe that she didn't love Jack at all. She couldn't do it.
They reached the point, walked to the edge of the water, and sat down. Each removed their shoes and they dangled their feet in the cool water. Abruptly, without preamble, she blurted out, "I need your help, Jack, with Daniel." So much for her plan. Once again, life didn't follow its script.
"Ya think?" he asked. He picked up a handful of pebbles and sorted through them for flat ones, not making eye contact with her. "You and Daniel have had something ugly going on for a while. Is it my boy's doing?"
"Johnny?" It wasn't the way she saw it and for a moment she was puzzled.
"Yeah, Johnny. Daniel said that Johnny wants you and me together and has been busy warning Daniel off." Jack still hadn't found a stone that satisfied him. "Don't tell me that you're not aware of it?"
Sam sighed. "I almost wish I was. I was present for one unpleasant incident.
"Sam," Jack said slowly. "You know how much I care about you and there was a time, when it was white hot, but I'm tired. My life has been on the balance, very good, but I've had enough drama. I'm not arrogant enough to assume you agree with Johnny but if there's any chance that you might have …, be thinking. I don't want to hurt you, ever."
"Oh, Jack," she said softly. "I could be happy with you I think but I agree that our time has passed. Thanks for caring about how I might be feeling."
He didn't answer but chose to instead say irritably, "How hard can it be for there to be a decent flat rock. That kid of ours must have thrown them all in the water over the years. He used to do that for hours sometimes when he visited me here."
Sam laughed a little. "I don't think I ever saw him do that, even once. There's got to be some." She began to pick through those on her other side from Jack.
After a bit and an amazing continued dearth of flat stones, Jack said, "It must be very aggravating to have Johnny warning the two of you not to do something that you weren't doing." Sam watched his face during the comment and she knew, all of a sudden, she knew that he knew.
He grinned. "There are two ways to take that. Maybe you're here talking to me because the really annoying part is that you AREN'T doing anything?"
Sam nodded grateful that she wasn't going to have to say it. They brainstormed for over an hour. Sam went over her plan and Jack threw it out summarily, pointing out a number of elements he said were too elaborate. What they finally came up with was crazy but they both rather liked it.
Johnny, Jake, Chiona, and Seline were doing concerts. Jonas was off, doing personal appearances for his show and sneaking in as much anti-Manifest Destiny arguments as he could in the process, and the children were asleep. Mayborne lay, twitching occasionally, but quiet on the mat at the back door. The only sound was the creak of the porch swing where Jack and Daniel sat with Sam between them. The swing wasn't that big and they were definitely sharing the space. Each held a beer and there was a cooler at their feet.
It was a beautiful night and the memories of decades before had been flowing freely. People they had met light years away, jokes they had shared, close brushes with death, had all ebbed and flowed in their memories as one and then the other took up the narrative. They sat now in a lull, each sunk in a particular memory, savoring their own special image. Sam put her now empty bottle down, shook her head, and asked, "Can you imagine how stunned we would have been if we could have seen into the future, any time during those years, to this moment?"
"What's stunning? We're sitting together drinking beer." Jack said. "We might have thought it was stunning that we never came up with anything else to do."
Sam rolled her eyes. She definitely seemed little tipsy. She put an arm around each of them. "Not what I meant. Pay attention boys. We're sitting here NOW but we are sitting here with a history. I mean, we wouldn't ever have considered this." Without any more preamble, she leaned over and kissed Daniel full on the mouth. It started out as a quick kiss, but it seemed like she got trapped in it. Daniel forgot for a moment – he had had a few beers too -- that they had an audience and that he WASN'T going to ever be with Sam again and went to the DEFCON 5 of kisses. She looked a little dizzy when they broke it off. "Wow," she said. "Wow." But then she seemed to shake herself, realize where she was, and the need for equal time.
"Or this," she said resuming her early teasing tone, and turned to Jack. He raised his hands to fend her off but she blew past his protest and kissed him on the mouth in turn. It didn't last very long. Jack and Sam looked at each other in a sort of mutual amazement. "It used to be a lot better than that, didn't it?" Sam asked?
"Kind of like kissing your sister," Jack agreed.
"Maybe you were just off your game," Sam said.
"Or you were," Jack said a little testily. Daniel was watching bemused. Did either of them remember that he was there?
"Scientifically, I would say we should try to reproduce the experimental results," Sam said, trying to sound professional but only succeeding in sounding a little pie eyed.
They leaned toward each other warily, rather as if they were expected to get a strong static electricity discharge from each other. They both seemed to put a little more effort into the kiss than the previous time but broke apart with the same unmoved expressions. "No point in beating that horse any more," Jack said. "I think he got sent to the glue factory." He stood up. "I feel about 200 years old now. I think I'll go to bed."
Sam reached up to him. "Hey, Jack, we were both there. It's doesn't mean you've lost your touch. It's just…"
"Right. Enjoy the evening, kiddies," Jack said, gesturing toward the moon and its gleaming reflection on the water. He went in the house and closed the door firmly behind him.
"Sam," Daniel asked, not really expecting to get a helpful answer, "What just went on there?"
"I guess I just got a sort of an answer, if I was still even asking the question." She stood up and held out her hands. "Come here."
"Why?" Daniel didn't know what game she was playing but warning bells were going off somewhere deep in his brain.
"Damn it, for once in your life, do something without trying to understand it," she said, her seductive tone totally inconsistent with her faintly waspish words.
She leaned down then and picked up the hands he hadn't offered and tugged. Daniel let himself be drawn to a standing position. Only then did he realize that her legs had been braced far apart and he had managed to stand up so that she was almost straddling him with her thighs. She let go of his hands and put one arm around his neck. The other she dropped to his waist and then she slipped a slender finger in the waistband of his jeans and ran it around to the front. At that point, he captured her hand and pulled it around behind her back. He found himself then using that leverage point to pull her into him. Hadn't he originally taken her hand away from his jeans to cool things down? He was aware that he was not really on top of things but mostly didn't care. She was so seductively curved, so deliciously scented, so perfect for the ache that threatened to consume him. And then she moved her other hand down from his neck and ran it up under his shirt. He had to stop her, didn't he? While he was trying to ponder the question, he found he was fixating on her mouth. She licked her lips and then she eased into him and ran the same tongue over his. He managed to keep his mouth firmly closed. Somehow that seemed like the Maginot Line now. Breech that and all would be lost. She whispered against his mouth, "Let me in, Daniel, let me in."
"Uhuh," he moaned through his closed lips.
"Please, please, let me in," she pleaded. She pulled the hand he had behind her back free and reached around and grabbed his backside hard. "Let me in."
Daniel finally couldn't resist any longer but his last coherent thought was, "This time I'm not going to be needy. This time I'm going to take the lead, at least sometimes." He dropped his glasses on the swing, slid his hands under her thighs and her backside and lifted her. He took a few steps to back her against one of the columns that held up the porch as she wrapped her legs around him. He trailed one hand up her body to thread his hand into her hair. He kissed her eyes and neck and brushed his mouth teasingly across hers.
"Please," she gasped.
He said very, very softly, "Say it first."
"I love you, Danny. I love you." He smiled brilliantly and she was lost in it when his mouth finally came down on hers.
"We Die Free's" music shaped hearts and minds in the same way that "Uncle Tom's Cabin" made people sit up and take notice, at last, that slaves were real people who felt the same pain as everyone else. Ugly rumors appeared immediately, encouraged by the Manifest Destiny cabal. The most popular ones were that Danny was Daniel's child and that the two brothers were sharing the two stepsisters. The vast majority of people either didn't believe the rumors or were, secretly, titillated by them. No one stopped buying the music. When Jake, Seline, Johnny, and Chiona came home from their week's worth of concert dates, everything seemed to be coming together to say the battle has been won, at least for now.
Chiona and Johnny had not said anything to anyone. Jake and Seline were so wrapped up in each other and Danny that they hadn't noticed either. The drummer and the bassist were just glad Johnny was easing off on his usual perfectionist, pain in the ass, bullshit and didn't care why. Chiona wasn't surprised by this obliviousness but fully expected her father to immediately smell something. His protectiveness of his children had been a constant for her entire life.
When they arrived, she found her father working with her three youngest siblings on their lessons. They were actually sitting at the kitchen table which struck her a little funny. It seemed they picked up Tauri ways just about when they were going to not need them any more. The return to Lisseth nagged at the back of her mind and she actively feared the decision she and Johnny would have to make.
Danil looked up and smiled so wide and with so much joy at seeing Chiona that, for a moment, she was a little girl again and Dei could fix all her problems. Briefly, she wondered whether she could really be happy with someone so unlike her father, so unlike the man she had admired above all others her whole life. He quickly stood and hugged her and then, continuing to hold her in his arms, he looked into her face after looking quickly at Johnny behind her. "Are you happy, honey?" he asked her in Blue. "Was everyone good to you?" He searched her face a little anxiously.
"Oh, Dei," she said laughing a little. "Very good." Switching to English, she asked, "Is Jack around?"
"Why do you need Jack," Jak asked, joining the conversation with keen interest.
"None of your business, little one," Chiona said, dismissively.
"Why do you need Jack?" her father asked and he couldn't be dismissed.
"Johnny and I need to talk with you and Jack," Chiona admittedly slowly, knowing that her father would immediately put two and two together.
Danil actually gasped and dropped in a chair. Tealk and Jak were fascinated by Danil's uncharacteristic behavior. Tealk asked, "Are you okay, Dei?"
By then, Jak had figured it out and said, condescendingly, to his younger brother, "Chiona and Johnny are getting married and they have to ask for permission." He looked at his big sister and tacked on, triumphantly, "Right?"
Danil had found his voice and asked, rather hoarsely, "Are you sure?"
"Dei, we have to find Jack first," Chiona said insisting on tradition but mainly nervous and wanting to buy a little time.
Danil becoming more composed, said, "We really should find Sam too." This wasn't required of course but a nice gesture. Chiona was mildly surprised, given what she had last seen going on between Sam and Danil. Tealk popped up and volunteered to find Sam. Jak accepted the mission for locating Jack.
In a manner of moments everyone was assembled. They took over the kitchen and the children were sent outside under Jake and Seline's watchful eye to prevent peeking in windows. Chiona noticed that when Sam came in, she went immediately to Danil's side and they stood very close together but there was no time to think about that now. Johnny put his arm around Chiona and looked, rather helplessly at her. "I have absolutely no idea what we're supposed to do, you know."
Chiona nodded and said, "Dei, Jack, Johnny and I want to get married and we would like your permission." Then she looked at Johnny as if to say, "How hard was that?"
Danil switched to their language again. "Chiona, you have to be very sure. He's got walls."
"I know Dei, I know. You said once that the way to tell if you loved someone was whether you could imagine your life without them. I can't. Please say yes." She looked at him pleadingly.
He cupped her cheek in his hand and looked very sad for a moment but then he nodded and said in English, "I give my permission."
It was Jack and Sam's turn now. Jack wished that he and Johnny had a common language that the others didn't know. Of course they didn't so he plunged ahead in English. "Marrying someone means you are willing to choose them over absolutely everything else." He looked levelly at Johnny, "You lived what happens to the children if the parents aren't willing to do that," he said without any rancor, very matter of factly.
Sam said, softly, "He's right Johnny. It needs to be for keeps. You have only to look around to see the harm otherwise."
Jack smiled slightly at Sam and the focused back on Johnny. "Can you do that? Is she that important to you?"
Johnny looked down at Chiona and the expression on his face answered his father's question but he confirmed it by saying, "She is the most important thing in my life."
Jack looked at Sam then and she nodded. "Your mother and I give our permission."
There then ensued a mammoth group hug. When it broke apart Johnny kissed Chiona, now his right. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Danil pull Sam closer and kiss her. She heard Jack laughing, the first time since Sara died. It was the strangest and most wonderful moment of her life.
That evening, Daniel and Sam were on the back porch. She was leaning back against him and his arms were wrapped around her. They had noticed Jake and Seline, Seline holding a drowsy Danny, and Johnny and Chiona sitting together in the kitchen talking quietly. Jack had been teaching the children croquet on the front lawn and but the loud shrieks of merriment had stopped a few minutes ago. It was so peaceful out here in the quiet, cool night with the moon frosting the water silver and a gentle breeze making it feel really good to have Sam snuggled against him. Daniel couldn't let himself be really happy because he knew that at least tomorrow he would have to start the discussions about who was going and who was staying and he didn't even know what the woman nestled against him would decide.
Suddenly there they heard Jack's voice coming from the living room. At first it was curses and then he must have realized who his audience was and switched to something more acceptable. Suddenly Tealk ran into the kitchen and said urgently, "Jack says you got come into the living room now and see what the television is saying about the massahcree."
As they exploded with questions, Tealk ran through the back door to his father. "Dei, you got to," he started out but Daniel stopped him, his blood running cold.
"We heard. Thanks Tealk. We're coming." They hustled back in behind the little boy to find everyone gaping at the television.
The horrific news ran almost without interruption, not only on the all news channels but also on major networks for days. On P5H793, the entire SG1 negotiating team had been massacred and, apparently, eaten. The locals who had traded for cameras with developing capabilities early on had proudly taken pictures. The desire to negotiate had particularly strong because there appeared to be a drug on P5H793 that could cure AIDs, still defeating medical investigators after all these years. It was the textbook argument for Manifest Destiny, similar to the pro-choice argument of the teenage girl who is raped by her brother.
When the firestorm quieted, the public got behind the "Stargate Doctrine" which stated two criteria that must be present to justify intervention and conquest of another planet, 1) a compelling Tauri need and 2) "conduct sufficiently below a civilized standard of behavior."
Daniel pulled everyone together from his family and Sam's as well as Jack, and stated the situation. "This doctrine means that there will be a way to permit subduing Lisseth when they have the resources to do it. There'll always be a way to manufacture something, if it doesn't exist, to meet the criteria. I am not at all sure that the incident on P5H7993 wasn't provoked or even staged by those with interests in the outcome we now have."
Jack shook his head. "Daniel, I have trouble with that."
"I respect your opinion, Jack, but I have an obligation to the Blue People, MY people. I am returning immediately to Lisseth and I am burying the gate. They can send a ship eventually but they don't have that many. If we hide the gate, they will eventually have to leave."
Sam and her sons and Jack were stunned. Daniel's children were surprised in varying degrees but not that strongly. Johnny was the first to speak. "Think of the cost to your family, to Chiona!" He took a couple of steps forward but she was holding his hand and pulled him back towards her.
"There is going to a terrible cost for all of us. Those that go to Lisseth will never see those that stay there again. Tealk and Jak will come back with me." He looked at his boys who didn't seem disposed to argue. "The rest of you are old enough to make up your own minds." He turned to Sam who was standing, white faced, next to him. "My love, I wish you would come with me but I will understand if you can't give up your work or be separated from your sons. I don't want to lose you or any of my children," and he looked then at Jake, "but there are thousands of lives for which I am also responsible."
Absolute silence reigned. Daniel looked at each one. "Talk to each other. Think about it. Talk to me if that will help. But I can't believe that any of you would betray me to the government, prevent me from going back."
Jonas said, "You know I'm staying here, right?"
"Of course, Jonas, but you know we love you. You'd be welcome." Jonas hugged him and went outside to walk along the water's edge.
The rest of the group dispersed then, Trina the only one staying behind to talk to Daniel. "Honey, you are the most brilliant person I've ever met," her father told her. "If you want to stay here to study, to do research, I think we can find people to look out for you. You will never be able to realize that potential on Lisseth."
Trina said, in a very small voice, "I love you Dei and my brothers and Seline and Danny but I was always out of place on Lisseth. I knew this question was going to come up and I have been thinking about it a lot. If you think there would be someone I could stay with, that I wouldn't be completely alone, I want to stay here."
He nodded, tears starting to run down his cheeks and held her to him for a long time as she began to cry herself.
Daniel wasn't surprised when Johnny and Chiona came within an hour to announce, "We've decided to stay here. Trina's staying, right, and Jonas?" Daniel nodded. Chiona said, "They need family and Johnny needs a broad canvas for his music."
"What about what you need, Chiona?" he asked sadly.
"I need Johnny. And," she laughed, "I have to admit, I have really enjoyed being a rock star myself, so far. But it does mean that we need to get married right away because we want you at the wedding."
After they left to talk about the details of the ceremony, Daniel leaned back and closed his eyes. He had expected the decisions so far. Although he hadn't talked with Jack yet, he figured that was also a done deal. Why would Jack do anything but stay here with his son and his memories of Sara in the place they had shared?
Now he waited for the wildcards that had to be played out. Jack and Seline came to talk to him without Danny. When he looked a question at Seline's empty arms, she said, "Chiona's got him."
It was Seline who told them their decision, "Dei, we want to come with you."
Daniel sternly suppressed the joy in his heart. This had to be right for them. He looked intently at his beloved son. "Jake, you won't be able to make a living with music or acting. You'll have to start from scratch, a new language and everything. Your brothers will be here. Are you sure?"
Jake said, slowly, "I won't pretend it was an easy decision. There is enormous pain, no matter what I do, but I think this is best."
Daniel waited for hours but Sam never came. He went looking for her finally and found her as far from the house as you could get on the little island. "Sam," he said quietly. She was so lost in her thoughts. He didn't want to startle her.
She turned toward him and looked at him sadly but lovingly. "Daniel, darling, I guess I've been out here a long time. I hope you weren't worried."
He went forward then and sat down next to her, putting his arm around her and taking her hand. "I've created a hideous situation for you and it's killing me."
"You're doing this because you are Daniel," she said, tracing designs on the back of his hand. "I can't blame you for that."
"You've talked to your sons. You know their decisions?"
"Yes. No matter what I do I lose at least one of them. They're grown, Daniel. Jacob may only be 18 but he's least as mature as Johnny. And they'll have each other and Chiona and Trina and Jack."
Daniel began to hope then but he couldn't rush her. He had to let her say it. His patience was rewarded when she turned and looked full into his face. "I have to be with you my Daniel. I'm going."
They organized a double wedding for Jake and Seline and Johnny and Chiona. By using a judge Jack knew to get the licenses and a minister Sam knew to perform the ceremony, they kept the media out of it completely. The ceremony was held outside on Jack's island. There were a few guests other than the family and none suspected the sorrow going hand in hand with the joy all throughout the day.
After all the guests and the minister had left, they held a Lisseth wake. When Tealk, Jak, Daniel, Sam, Jake, Seline, and Danny left, it would be a form of death to those they left behind and for those leaving, Trina, Jonas, Jack, Johnny, and Chiona were lost. The symbolism had no real meaning to Jack or Sam and her sons but the feeling was palpable and drew them all in.
Daniel and the party for Lisseth left at dawn the next day and went straight to Colorado. The fact that two of Daniel's daughters had stayed behind lulled any suspicions of Daniel's true intentions. He had also arranged for a letter to be sent to the New York Times one week later that would present a scenario in which he had arbitrarily decided who was going and left those staying behind in ignorance of his decision.
Johnny, Chiona, Trina, Jonas, and Jack were able to ride out the acrimony after Daniel buried the gate. "Freedom" had left too many people convinced that Lisseth was not a world that merited conquest and Daniel's act was seen by many as heroism rather than treason. Jack lived to see Johnny, Chiona, Jonas, and Trina grow old with a history of significant accomplishments in everything they had turned their hand to. He died in peace, surrounded by those who loved him.
On Lisseth, the years flowed by without the strong delimiters of hours, days, and months so important to the Tauri. Jak's, Tealk's, Danny's, and Jake and Seline's children were numerous and their children even more so. Sam and Daniel lived over 150 years, long enough to bury Jake, Tealk, Jak, and Seline which, as Daniel said, was, by definition, too long. They died within hours of each other and there was a common wake. At its end, their 149 living descendants looked up to the heavens and the youngest child of those old enough to talk gave spoke the final words as was the custom. He pointed to the heavens and proclaimed for all of them, "There is the star of Samantha and Daniel. May we always honor them."