Thanks to my terrific betas, Jess and Monica.
Update shortly after posting was just to fix a couple of editorial things. No need to reread if you've already read.
"Oh, Sam," Daniel breathed. He was infamous for his ability to run on, but his wife's name was all he could get past a throat tightened with awe, desire, and overwhelming love. She stood halfway down the stairs from the landing. A wall sconce glowed softly behind her and showcased her slender body in something gossamer and blue. At the moment, Sam looked to Daniel like every erotic fantasy he had ever had which was no surprise. He had speculated idly a few days before as to what Sam COULD wear that would make her anything but ultimately erotic for him and had come up blank.
"So you approve?" she asked, practicing her come hither look. She knew the answer, of course. A coy Colonel Samantha Carter-Jackson, acting the seductress, was something he was still getting used to, but definitely not complaining about.
He answered by standing up, ignoring the pile of papers that went in six different directions and his book sliding off his lap and landing at peril to its spine. Daniel made straight for his wife, crumbling several of the pages heedlessly underfoot, and reached out to embrace her. That was when they discovered that he was still holding a pen in one hand. He threw it aside and neither of them cared that an ink spot began to spread on the carpet. In their soberer moments, they had noticed that their passion was lowering the resale value of their home, but there weren't many sober moments.
Daniel picked her up and carried her back up the stairs to their bedroom. They had last been in the bed not four hours before. The comforter and two of the four pillows were on the floor and the sheets were tangled. Sam's military training and natural sense of order would normally have manifested itself in a bed with covers smooth enough to pass inspection in a barracks, but, these days, bed making sometimes seemed pointless.
"Can I undress you?" she asked.
He nodded, bemused. He was still learning what she liked best, but he already knew that two things that lit her up were wrestling half seriously and eventually letting him win and for him to allow her to undress him while he did nothing. She made a game of removing his clothes in such a way that it took great force of will to remain passive. It was a contest to see how long he could go before he shifted into taking control. This evening was not a personal best for him. He was only minus his shirt and shoes when he grabbed her hands and began kissing her breathless.
He needed those memories the next day to shore up his courage. Walter mentioned to him in passing, when he ran into him getting coffee, that Jack was on the base and in Landry's office. Daniel hadn't spoken to Jack in person since he married Sam. He told himself Jack had to have cooled down by now and realized that the marriage had just happened, out of his control or Sam's. If they hadn't been forced to stay together for awhile for complicated diplomatic reasons, it would never have become real. He had called Jack, determined not to lose a friendship with years behind it. More accurately put, he had tried to call him. The General was always unavailable to Dr. Jackson. His admin assured Daniel that his call would be returned as soon as the General finished his meeting or whatever else he was supposedly doing. Sure he would.
"All right, Daniel, just take yourself down there, lurk around and catch him when he finishes with Landry. There's only one door out of that office. He won't be able to escape you," he told himself.
Standing in the hall outside the office, he felt like an idiot. He nodded politely to the various personnel who occasionally strolled by. Mostly he just stood there. The corridor wasn't heavily traveled at this time of day. He began to wonder if Jack was really there any more. Maybe he could listen just enough to make sure he hadn't already left. He stepped up close to the door after he reassured himself that there wasn't anyone coming. He knew it was going to look like he was eavesdropping.
One of the voices was definitely Jack's and the volume was rising. He didn't have to press his ear against the door to make out what was being said. Jack sounded really angry, too angry to exercise his typical modicum of discretion. "How the hell could a woman like Samantha Carter settle for a … a metrosexual, airy fairy, arty farty, bleeding heart like Danny Boy Jackson?"
He couldn't make out what Landry actually said but his tones were soothing. He undoubtedly was trying to calm Jack down. The next blast proved that it hadn't worked. "The only explanation that I can come up with is that she wants someone who won't mind letting her be the boss. She's been his commanding officer. He's used to taking orders from her."
There was one more attempt by Landry to cool things down and then Jack really tore it for Daniel. Invective directed at him and only indirectly at Sam was one thing, but next Jack said, "Hank, face it. She's not really comfortable with being a woman. She married a girl so she could be the man."
Eavesdroppers never hear good about themselves, but this was beyond anything he could have imagined. Even when he first went to Abydos and couldn't fight his way out of a paper bag, the characterization would have been inaccurate. He looked up and down the corridor again, now not only grateful that no one had seen him at the door, but even more grateful that no one had heard Jack.
He turned and walked off, not sure he could manage to talk to Jack blowing up. Unfortunately, the elevator took its sweet time coming and just as the doors were shutting, a uniformed arm was inserted followed by Jack himself. Jack hesitated as if he was going to get out again, but the doors had already shut while they stared at each other.
"Jack," Daniel said curtly, "here on official business?"
"Yeah, uh, some detail I needed to chat with Landry about. One of those things better in person. You know."
Daniel was gratified that Jack looked very uncomfortable and was having trouble meeting his eyes. Some imp made him push it. "Be sure to drop by Sam's office and tell her hello. Say, why don't you come out to the house for dinner tonight? We can get caught up."
Jack just stared at him. The doors were starting to open. Jack reached over and pushed the door close button and held it. "Cut the crap, Daniel," he said brusquely. "There's no way SHE hasn't told you that we were having a thing when she married you. I was never a gracious loser and I don't forgive very easily either. You obviously didn't think much of our friendship when you went after my woman." He released the button, fixed Daniel with one of his patented glares for a moment, and got out of the elevator.
Considerably unsettled, Daniel went back to his office where he sat, trying to process the conversation. This just wasn't Jack. Jack was a really good guy. He wasn't mean and he wasn't petty and he'd been both today. Something else as going on but the more he circled around it, the murkier it got.
There was a token rap on his door jamb and he looked up to see Cam Mitchell. "Got a moment?" he asked.
"Sure." Daniel hurriedly removed a stack of papers from his visitor's chair and invited Cam to sit down.
"Things okay?" Cam asked, scrutinizing Daniel's face.
Most of the time the fact that Cam was a lot better with people than Jack was a plus for Daniel but at the moment, he would have preferred some Jack style obliviousness. "Sure. Why wouldn't they be?"
"Don't know. Just ever since you broke up my band – I'm not sure whether it was you or Carter that gets cast as Yoko Ono," Cam looked at him in mostly feigned irritation over the fact that Sam had to leave SG1 after she and Daniel decided to have a real marriage, "ever since then you've been one happy man. The only sign of any strain I've seen in weeks is you missing her fiercely the whole time we're off world, but the rest of the time, you're walking around like a poster child for satisfaction."
Daniel shook his head. "Thanks for the concern, Mitchell, but whatever's going on with me would be a personal problem. It won't interfere with my performance."
Cam looked unconvinced but apparently decided to move on. He slid a sheet of paper in front of Daniel. "This is everything Dr. Lam and I can remember Hanna told us about a legend her people have." Hanna had been on Earth as an observer in the service of the P4D92, ridiculously known to its people as Poopoo, to verify that the appropriate protocols were observed surrounding Sam and Daniel's marriage. Sam's adoption into Poopoo's royal family to allow negotiations with Earth had backfired and placed obligations on Sam with respect to her marriage to Daniel that were not a pleasant surprise, at least not at first.
"A Poopoo legend?" Daniel asked and neither man could resist a silly grin. The name just did it for both of them.
"She's not really one of them. Her people are apparently sort of a nomadic group who wander around, hiring out as empaths. Of course, on Poopoo they have to be related to you before they'll conduct any kind of business, so they adopted her. Anyway, it's one of their legends."
"I can't understand how I missed that," Daniel said.
"That would be because when someone's got your attention, you're a really good listener, but you're in a fog most of the rest of the time. You didn't chat with her the way we did." He tapped the paper. "I'm thinking it describes a world somewhere in the gate system. According to the legend, there's something there that helps to create empaths."
"I'll see what I can do," Daniel said, absently, already lost in what he was reading.
"Great!" Cam stood. "We've got a routine mission tomorrow and then I've scheduled us to go to Hanna's world on Friday."
"Friday? I'm supposed to figure this out by Friday? Do you know how many worlds there are in the gate system?"
"Hey. I didn't mean to insult you. If you think you can figure out it by Thursday, I can move it up." Daniel just gave him a dirty look and waved him off.
That evening, Sam was sitting in bed, frowning at her laptop when Daniel got in beside her. She immediately looked up from the screen and smiled at him. He leaned over and kissed her softly, then slipped his hand under the front of her robe and his tongue in her mouth at the same time. She moaned, grabbed a fistful of his hair at the back of his head, and pulled him closer. Suddenly the hard surfaces of the laptop were jammed into both of them. They broke apart and Sam laughed. "Time out to close up the laptop."
"It's a good thing we stopped anyway. I wanted to talk to you about the security system."
"What security system?" she asked.
"Exactly. We should really have something Sam, don't you think?"
"I never missed it but if you're afraid, Daniel, we should do it."
Daniel gave her a sad look. "You think I'm saying this because I'm scared? You really don't think much of me in the traditional masculine sense do you?"
She was flabbergasted and pantomimed reacting to an incoming missile. "Where did that come from. I meant like afraid we'd be robbed. What the hell are you talking about?"
"When you and Jack were together, I bet you just roamed around bad neighborhoods daring each other to take on muggers," Daniel said, his improbable scenario failing to make his point. He knew he sounded like an idiot as soon as it was out of his mouth.
"Jack and I were together for, oh, two weeks tops, even though he refuses to acknowledge the fact that I had already broken it off when I came back here. During that time he put himself at risk from nothing more threatening than a paper cut or maybe dislocating his jaw by yawning too vigorously during one of those interminable meetings he sits through. Get a grip." She had gone from bewilderment to belligerence. "What's with throwing Jack in my face by the way? You never did that before."
Daniel deflated. "I'm sorry. That was out of line. It's just, well, I've kind of got Jack, Macho Man on the brain at the moment. I was trying to find the opportunity to tell you. Jack's in town and he was out at Cheyenne Mountain today."
"How could I not know about this?"
"You were off-world all day, remember and then we came straight home." Daniel reached down and snagged the blanket, pulling it up over both of them. He pleated it and plucked at fuzz. Sam watched him, fascinated.
"Are you going to tell me the rest of the story or are you going to pick lint all night?" She took the sting out of her words by leaning over and capturing his hands. She lifted one to her lips and pressed a kiss on his palm. "Please tell me, Danny."
"I didn't actually see him. I heard he was in Landry's office and went to try to talk with him. I've had no contact with him since before we got married. I wanted to make peace. I sort of eavesdropped and I learned my lesson about that for the rest of my life. He told Landry that he couldn't understand how a woman like you could possibly marry someone so metrosexual and a bunch of other similar things – mostly insults only in Jack's mind." Daniel winced. "Metrosexual. I'm not, not the whole stereotype. I mean, I sure don't dress well. So okay, I like art, I'm a gourmet cook, and I'm not into sports, none of which are things of which I am ashamed. I'm not mad at being described that way. I'm mad at his dismissiveness of men who haven't been in dozens of bar fights and care whether their shirt color coordinates with their pants. I've heard those narrow definitions of masculinity all my life and they piss me off." He sat fuming, furious all over again.
"That's not all he said or all you're mad about, is it?" she prodded gently.
"He said something to the effect that you wanted someone you could boss around. Someone who would meekly do whatever you told them to. He said you wanted a marriage where you could be the man."
"Because I was having trouble with being a woman," she finished grimly.
"How did… I mean I didn't…" Daniel floundered. "Oh, you're guessing." He drew her against him and dropped a kiss on her forehead. "Of course it isn't true, none of it, and Jack knows it."
"Exactly. That's how much I hurt him. He's not like that. Not mean. We both know it. He has to explain my rejection of him in favor of you in some way that doesn't make him look bad to himself. It was really working for him that they forced us to get married on Poopoo after we unintentionally scandalized local custom." She didn't bat an eye at the name. It had become too familiar to amuse her any more. "It's a rude shock to him that we discovered that we really liked being married to each other."
Sam looked up into Daniel's eyes. "Somehow, we've got to heal things with him, as much for our own sakes as his. Maybe when we have the reaffirming of our vows and the belated wedding reception we've been talking about, we could make something happen."
"Oh yeah. Like a scene of mammoth proportions. I can just see the part where they say 'If anyone knows why this man and this woman should not be joined together.'"
"They don't do that any more. I studied up on it when Pete and I, that is, you know," she finished lamely. "I'm sorry for bringing him up."
"Sam, I have you. Pete doesn't. He has no power to bother me." Daniel brought that statement home by kissing her deeply.
Later, much later, they settled back into a comfortable position for extended cuddling and Sam said, "The funny part is you've freed me somehow to be more feminine than I've ever been with anyone in my life, but I'll kick your ass," she laughed, "if you tell anyone."
"This is going to tear it," Daniel said to Cam the next day as they crouched behind the inadequate shelter of the DHD and returned hostile fire.
"Teal'c and Surat should be circled around them in just another moment," Cam said, clapping Daniel on the back and firing several more rounds.
"I'm not worried about them!" Daniel said, first gesturing with his weapon and then firing.
"Ah, yes," Cam said. "I'm rather worried about that too."
"Does she hold out on you after or get weepy, I mean if she thinks you took too many risks?" Daniel asked curiously. He immediately blushed and said, "I'm sorry. That was way out of line."
"I'll tell if you'll tell."
"Weepy. Trying not to cry but on the verge. God, she'd kill me if she knew I told you that," Daniel said, appalled at the compulsion to share that had overwhelmed him. "Okay, don't leave me hanging here."
"Neither. If it's just we were attacked, she's fine – hell, I'm a soldier and it's my job. BUT if she thinks I've been a glory hound, stuck my neck out, she gets really, really mad, chews me out for a long time using some interesting medical terms, and then kisses me like she's afraid she'll never see me again."
Daniel looked at the younger man speculatively. "That sounds quite interesting," he said a little wistfully.
Just then firing erupted and their attackers began shooting randomly at the unseen Teal'c and Surat. It was but a matter of moments after that until the other team members joined them and they were able to dial home.
They came down the ramp to find Dr. Carolyn Lam and Colonel Samantha Carter-Jackson shoulder to shoulder with General Landry. No one looked happy, although Daniel expected that Landry's unease was connected more with fearing that his daughter on his left would explode inappropriately at Cam if she heard anything at all to indicate he took fire unnecessarily and that one of his best officers on his right would get weepy when she noticed, as he had, that there was a hole from some sort of projectile weapon in her husband's hat. "Run into some problems, Mitchell?"
"Opportunities to hone our fighting skills, sir," Cam responded.
"Uh, huh. Let's adjourn to the briefing room for to discuss the details. Mitchell, Jackson, Teal'c, Surat, let's go. We'll see you later, Doctor, Colonel."
That evening, Sam lay against Daniel, her cheek to his chest. He stroked her hair without it requiring thought, slipping into sleep, when he felt something wet on his chest. He looked down and saw the tears running faster and faster. The silent crying segued into loud, gulping sobs.
"Sam, honey, whatever is the matter?"
The sobbing grew even louder and she jerked against him.
"You have to tell me. Are you in pain? Is it something I did? Please, honey, please."
"You can't go," she wailed. "I can't take it again."
"You're talking about the mission Friday?" He was quite honestly surprised. She'd gotten weepy when he had near misses in the past but nothing like this. She was military. This is what the military did, go on missions, sometimes into hostile territory. They'd done it together for years.
"Yeah. You can't do it any more. You… just… can't."
"It's my job, Sam. You go on missions. I don't like it but I have faith in your ability to handle whatever is out there." He stiffened and sat up.
She answered him quickly, concerned at his reaction. "I'm sorry for crying all over you, but Daniel, I go crazy when you're off planet without me. It's not that I don't respect your fighting skills or think you're some sort of, oh what did they used to say, 90 pound weakling." She ran her hand lightly down his well muscled chest and over his near washboard abs and then back up his biceps. "You are so not. It's just that I'm afraid that something will happen and I'll lose you. If you go, I want to go too." She sniffed and dashed tears away. "Damn, I don't want to start crying again."
"Do you want me to see if I can just work on the base? I'm sure there'd be plenty for me to do."
"You'd miss it too much. What I want is a miracle that allows us to go out as a team." She looked determinedly ahead. "I've been thinking about resigning my commission. Husband and wife teams are not unknown. Your parents worked together, right? If we were on one of the follow up teams that don't expect combat, surely…"
"Sam, you will not resign your commission." He lifted her chin up so she was looking him in the eyes again. "Look, let me do this mission. It's a little late to back out and it could really be important. Then, we'll look at it. We're pretty damn brilliant. We both know it. Modesty isn't really appropriate here. Surely, if there's a way, we'll figure it out."