Chapter Four

Grunting, Daniel slipped a hand under Samantha's shirt to feel her slightly swollen stomach. It had an instantly sobering effect, not that he was the one blind drunk. He scrambled to his feet. "Get up," he ordered Samantha in a cold voice.

She looked at him wide-eyed, barely comprehending his sudden change in demeanour. Thirty seconds ago, he'd been all over her. Now he'd lost all interest. Not just lost interest – was looking at her in contempt. "Get back down here," she ordered, raising her head for a few seconds behind light-headedness got the better of her and she dropped it back down to the floor with a force that would have been painful, had she not been so drunk.

He was furious with her and disgusted with himself. Kneeling down, he slipped one arm around her back, under her shoulders and yanked her to her feet roughly. "Didn't realise you liked it so rough, Danny-boy," Samantha slurred.

"Shut up," he growled. He thought he'd been angry with her after she'd called him Jack. That had been nothing compared to now. He hauled her into the bathroom.

"This isn't the bedroom," she pointed out the obvious.

"Clever girl." He forced her onto her knees in front of the toilet bowl. "Throw up," he ordered.

"Make me," Samantha challenged. "You know, while I'm on my knees…" she propositioned him.

Sighing, Daniel dropped to his knees behind her. She was going to make him do this the hard way. Securing her against him with one arm, he used his free hand to force his fingers down her throat. Gagging, she threw up over him and the toilet bowl.

The first wave brought on more as her body finally rejected the vast amounts of alcohol she'd consumed that night and for a good ten minutes she threw up while Daniel cleaned himself up. Finally, her stomach felt empty and she slumped against the tiles. She suddenly felt very sick. "Wanna go to bed," she whispered, and she wasn't talking about sex.

"I'm taking you to hospital," Daniel said firmly. He wet a hand towel and wiped her mouth.

"No. Bed." Samantha struggled to sit up.

Daniel heaved her into his arms, not bothering to be gentle. Samantha yelped at the brutish treatment. Daniel didn't care. He couldn't believe she could be so stupid, so selfish. "Like hell I'm letting you go to sleep with a bottle of bourbon and God knows what else in you system," he said harshly. "What else have you taken?"

"Nothing." Daniel didn't believe her, and even if it had just been the bourbon, that was a hell of a lot of alcohol for anyone to drink, let alone a pregnant woman. He carried her out of the bathroom while she struggled. This was definitely not turning out as she'd wanted. It had all been going so well, the kiss and then the floor and then this. He was holding her like he would hold a crate of books, not at all loverly. "Either fuck me or fuck off," Samantha growled, thinking her choice of words was rather witty.

Daniel winced. He had always hated that particularly euphemism. He knew all the pressure points; He was very tempted to knock her out. It would make his job a whole lot easier, but he didn't want her losing consciousness.

He wished he didn't care so much. Well, after tonight, he wouldn't be making that mistake again. He couldn't believe he'd bailed out of a perfectly good relationship for someone who thought it was a good idea to drink herself into oblivion. He realised that maybe it had been a good thing he'd bailed on Miranda. Who knew what state Samantha would have ended up in if she'd been left to her own devices for the rest of the night? His heart churned at the thought and he hated himself for it. Samantha had clearly demonstrated she wasn't worth it.

Well, that was something he would deal with in the morning. Right now he had a more urgent issue to deal with. Awkwardly, because he was used to carrying inanimate objects, not fully grown women who were determined to escape his hold, he got Samantha out of the house and into her car. He decided to take her car because if she threw up, it would be her cleaning bill.

He made the right choice. Without warning, she threw up another three times on the way to hospital. He was glad it wasn't his car, although he would have to drive this one back to her house. At least he could take consolation from the fact she must have rid her body of a fair amount of alcohol by now.

He got her to the hospital and half-carried, half-dragged her into the emergency ward. Fortunately, a pregnant woman with suspected alcohol poisoning ranked a high priority so she was seen quickly.

After seeing her and running some tests, the doctor – a woman named Charlotte Beaumont – diagnosed Samantha with alcohol poisoning – not as bad as it could have been, thanks to Daniel's quick thinking – but a cause for concern nonetheless. She ordered for Samantha's stomach to be pumped, for her blood to be tested for any other drugs, and then for an ultrasound. While that was being done, she spoke with Daniel.

"You found her like that?" Dr. Beaumont asked.

Daniel nodded. "I was out – we're not together," he added absently. "I hadn't meant to go over at all but I did – oh, God," he said. "Is the baby going to be OK?"

Beaumont noticed Daniel didn't ask about Samantha. It was a very angry man she was speaking to. "We'll see when we do the ultrasound, but it's most likely," she reassured Daniel. "There isn't usually damage done from one single event – unless she's done this before?" Beaumont asked.

Daniel shook his head. "At least, not that I know of," he added. He didn't think it was in Samantha's character to be drinking every night – let alone drinking heavily – while she was pregnant, but he hadn't thought it was in her character to get blind drunk at all while she was pregnant.

The poor man, he looked half out of his mind with worry. Beaumont wondered what had possessed Samantha to drink so much. But then, as a doctor, she'd never understood what possessed anyone to drink so much, pregnant or not. Wasn't there a point when you thought, enough was enough? With some people, apparently not.

After Samantha's stomach was pumped for the remaining alcohol in her body and a blood test taken that showed she had taken nothing but lots of bourbon, Beaumont had an ultrasound done on an unconscious Samantha which showed the baby was fine. Daniel almost cried with relief. Now that he knew his child was OK, he started to shake as a result of being so tightly wound up for the past few hours. "Would you like to stay with Doctor Carter, Doctor Jackson?" Beaumont offered kindly.

Daniel shook his head. Now that he knew his child was alright, he couldn't stand to be in the same room as Samantha. He was seriously wondering what kinds of pain he could inflict on her without hurting the baby and that meant it was time to leave. "I'm going home," he said. "You can tell her I'll see her sometime tomorrow."

He left the hospital and drove back to Samantha's house. He couldn't even bear to enter the house, be in the kitchen where she could have drunk herself to death, the living room where he'd nearly taken her like an animal, the bathroom where he'd forced her to throw up. He left Samantha's car in the driveway and drove his own home.

A few hours before, and he'd been with Miranda. What a stupid decision that had been, to call things off with Miranda so he could sort things out with Samantha. He wished he could have fallen in love with Miranda. It would have made things so much easier. He hated himself for being such a glutton for punishment.

He was exhausted, but he couldn't sleep. He lay awake all night, thinking about what Samantha had done. It scared him deeply that a few more hours and it might have been too late. It had been sheer luck that he'd dropped by. Which brought him back to his main thought – why had she done it?

Because she's a selfish bitch, came the inevitable answer. He didn't doubt that she wanted this baby, but whether she was prepared to do what it took – well, clearly not, given her actions tonight. Women who wanted children did not get blind drunk. There had been so much research and education done to that effect in the last ten years, how could Samantha not have known? How could she have been so stupid, so selfish?

Clearly, she wasn't the woman he knew, or had thought he loved.

The next morning, having had no sleep, Daniel returned to the hospital, none of his anger dissipated, although he was relieved when Beaumont informed him that Samantha, and their baby, were going to be fine. "No harm done," the doctor said, although she didn't entirely believe it, and she could tell Daniel didn't. There had been no harm done because Daniel had gotten there in time, not because Samantha had acted responsibly or selflessly.

Samantha woke up to find that everything hurt. Her stomach, her head, her entire body made her wish she could crawl into a dark space and die. Things could not get worse then this.

And then Daniel entered her room an hour later and her heart fell. He looked furious. She couldn't remember much of last night, only that she'd drunk a hell of a lot and Daniel had come over. Beaumont had informed her Daniel had brought her in with alcohol poisoning; her heart fell a little more. If she'd drunk as much as she remembered, she would have given herself alcohol poisoning. She knew it was a minor miracle that nothing had happened to the baby. She vaguely remembered Daniel forcing her to throw up last night. She had thrown up a lot. She was grateful he had thought so quickly, although Daniel didn't look very receptive to any gratitude right now.

"I've signed you out, I'll take you home," Daniel said coolly. His blue eyes flashed with anger – and betrayal. A thousand bitter words were on the tip of his tongue, all of which he chocked back. He didn't want to get into an argument with Samantha right now, he was afraid he'd lose it and either hit her or start crying.

"Daniel, I –" she began.

He cut her off. "Get dressed and I'll take you home. Five minutes or you can find your own way home."

His voice was cold. She contemplating telling him what he could do with his lift if he was going to be so mean about it, but she knew he had a right to be mean and besides, she didn't want to call anyone else for a lift, it would involve explaining why she was in hospital. She was getting enough bad vibes from the hospital stuff, who were trained to be open-minded about whatever their patients did to get into hospital. She didn't want the judgement of her friends and colleagues.

She got dressed under his caustic look. She felt terrible and Daniel's bad vibes weren't helping. After having a talk with Doctor Beaumont – who couldn't stress enough the stupidity of her actions and warn her against doing anything like it again – Daniel led her through the hospital to the parking lot. Or, rather, Daniel strode along quickly and Samantha was forced to almost run just to keep up.

For ten minutes there was complete silence in the car. Daniel wasn't going to start a conversation, so Samantha ventured, "Last night –"

"Last night you got trashed out of your mind," Daniel cut in. "You could have killed yourself. You could have killed our baby. Goddamit, Sam, if you didn't want it, you should have said so when you had the option of having an abortion."

His words cut deeply. Abortion? "That wasn't my intention," she said.

Daniel laughed bitterly. Could have fooled me. "Then what was?" he asked. "What makes a pregnant woman think, oh, drinking an entire bottle of bourbon is a good idea?"

"I thought you were with Captain Jacobs," Samantha said in a small voice, knowing what a lame excuse that was.

"So?" Daniel asked incredibly. "The fact I was spending the night with my girlfriend is such a big deal? It wasn't like I was cheating on you," he reminded her.

"If you were spending the night with her, why did you come over?" Samantha couldn't help but ask.

"Not that it's any of your business, but I couldn't go through with it. I couldn't use her like that. Unlike some people, I actually care about hurting the people I sleep with."

"Is that why you came over?" Samantha asked. "To see me?" Daniel didn't answer, but she took his stony silence for an answer. If he hadn't come over to declare his love for her, then he wouldn't be denying it. He was in love with her!

Then she realised that if he had been in love with her last night, he certainly wasn't now. He had come to tell her he was in love with her, and found her trashed out of her mind. And he was angry. He was right, she could have died, or miscarried. It had been an insanely stupid thing to do. Her remorse was heightened by the fact that she had been drowning sorrows that didn't need to be drowned. If she hadn't been such an idiot, she and Daniel could be making out right now.

"I'm sorry," she said for the umpteenth time. She really hadn't meant to drink as much as she had. But one drink had become two, which had become three, and no matter how much she drank, she couldn't get the image out of her head of Daniel with Captain Jacobs, so she had drunk some more.

He glared at her – the first time he'd looked her directly in the eye. "Don't you dare think you can get out of this by apologising," he snapped. "I don't want to hear it. I don't want anything to do with you right now. You were stupid, irresponsible, selfish – what you did to me, calling me Jack, that was bad enough. I'm an adult and I can get over a few words. But what you did last night – you could have killed our child, Sam! How could you have been so goddamn irresponsible?"

She stared out the window. She had no answer for Daniel's question. She had been irresponsible. Oh, God, how could she have been so irresponsible? She felt sick just thinking about it and she didn't think it was because of all the alcohol she'd consumed. She felt deep remorse for her actions, and guilt about what could have happened.

Daniel stopped the car outside Samantha's house but didn't bother to kill the engine. He had no intention of staying. "Out," he ordered in a low growl.

"Don't you want to come in?" she asked in a small voice. "We can talk."

"There's nothing to talk about," Daniel said coolly. "I can trust you not to hit the liquor cabinet, can't it?" he asked sarcastically.

Tears pricked her eyes. She should be used to it. The last three months had taught her how mean Daniel could be when he was hurt, but everytime he gave her the sharp side of his tongue, it made her want to cry. "We're married, Daniel," she reminded him desperately. "I'm carrying your child."

"I can rectify that, you just have to sign the papers," Daniel snapped. "And if you'd had your way, you wouldn't be pregnant. Out. Now. Do you really want your neighbours saying how I dragged you out and dumped you on the lawn?"

There was a dangerous glint in his eyes that told Samantha he wouldn't hesitate in doing just that. Reluctantly, she got out of the car. The door had barely shut when Daniel took off, leaving a very sorry Samantha watching his retreating car, feeling like the world had come to an end, and it was all her fault.


The next day, Daniel found Miranda in her office. She was lost in a manuscript she was translating. For a few seconds, he watched her. He'd always loved the way she was so involved in her work, especially since her work was something he was passionate about. It used to be the biggest turn on to watch his pretty girlfriend lost in the joys of language. He regretted deeply that he hadn't been able to commit to her. It would have made things so much easier.

He knocked softly on the door and she looked up, startled out of her reverie. "You willing to speak to me or do you want me to go away?" he asked sheepishly. He knew he'd hurt her and if she told him to go to hell, it was no more then he deserved.

She had thought long and hard about the way things had ended and she decided that she couldn't hold his feelings against him. She believed that he had never lied to her. He had just been confused about his emotions when it came to Major Carter – and if she had been honest with herself, Miranda would have seen that.

And to his credit, he had bailed before they had slept together. That said a lot to Miranda. That, and he looked pretty rattled, and she didn't have it in her to turn a friend away when he needed her. "Things not go so well with Major Carter?" she asked.

Relieved that Miranda wasn't going to throw him out, Daniel shut the door behind him. "I don't want to talk about that," he said stiffly, when it was obvious that he did. "I just wanted to see if you're all right."

"You mean to see if I'm still jacked off that you dumped me?" Miranda offered bluntly. Daniel looked sheepish. "It's OK, Daniel. I mean… I had a feeling you had feelings for her, and I chose to ignore that. So… I kinda got what I deserved."

Daniel dropped into the chair opposite Miranda's. "It was my fault," he said. "I really did – do – like you, Miranda. I just…" he sighed and put his head in his hands. "It's always been my problem that I can be in love with two women at the same time."

"But you love her more," Miranda added astutely.

"I wish I didn't."

"What did she do?" Miranda asked.

Daniel looked up and there were tears welling in his eyes. Miranda realised this was about more then just her calling him Jack. He had more or less gotten over that, enough that he was willing to give it another go. No, this was something new. "She was drunk, Miranda, trashed out of her mind," Daniel said. "She had a whole bottle of bourbon."

Miranda looked aghast. "Are you joking?" she asked. It seemed like a pretty obscure joke, but the alternative was that he was telling the truth and that was selfish, even for Major Carter.

Daniel shook his head morosely. "Wish I was," he muttered.

"How is the baby? How is she?" Miranda asked.

"They're both fine," Daniel said dully. For the last day he'd been thinking about it,and his anger towards Samantha had not dissipated. How could he have been so wrong about her? How could he have been so stupid? Sleeping with her in the first place, then letting himself believe they could be happy together, that she was capable of being selfless and supportive.

He was a first-class chump. He had been naive, a fool… he started to cry in earnest. If Miranda had had any ill-feeling towards Daniel before, it was completely gone now. It was hard to hate someone who looked so unhappy. She walked around her desk and sat next to Daniel, pulling him gently into her arms. He didn't resist and he seemed to take comfort out of her embrace.

For a few minutes she held him while he cried and then he drew away. "Thanks," he said, sniffling. "You've been really good about this."

She smiled ruefully. "No problem. Do you have any idea what you're going to do?"

Daniel's eyes looked distant. "I don't know," he admitted. "I love her, but –"

"I know," Miranda said. She felt a little about Daniel the way he did about Samantha, so she could relate to wanting to be in a relationship with someone, but not at any cost. "I guess that's up to you. I'm here if you want to talk… as a friend," she offered.

Daniel smiled wanly. God, how he wished he could love Miranda the way he loved Samantha. If he could physically will his heart into changing, he would. "Thanks," he said. "I think I'll go and… do some paperwork."

"Paperwork is mind-numbing," Miranda said, although she had a feeling that was Daniel's intention.


It took another four days for Daniel to feel sufficiently calmed down that he could talk to Samantha without wanting to hit her. That she was pregnant helped curb his violent urges – although it was her pregnancy that had him so angry in the first place.

"Tell me honestly, Sam," he said when he walked into her office unannounced. He wasn't in the mood for being polite. "Do you want this baby? Because there might still be options, but not for much longer."

Samantha stared at him. It was quite clear was he was talking about, even if he didn't use the word. When he'd mentioned abortion in the car the other day, she'd thought it was something he'd said in the heat of the moment. She hadn't realised he was serious. "I'm not having an abortion!" she said indignantly. "I want this baby, Daniel."

He stared at her. "Then why did you drink a bottle of bourbon?" he asked. "I'm not going to yell at you, Sam, I don't want to fight. I just think your values are pretty screwed up if you could do something like that."

"I told you, I –" she started.

"Yeah, yeah, you were jealous about Miranda and I," he cut in. "I got that. That doesn't change how stupid and irresponsible you were."

She stared silently at the floor, chafing under his words. And she couldn't argue with them, either, because he was telling the truth. Jealousy had been a stupid reason to drink, especially when she'd had no claim to Daniel and endangering her life, and the life of her child, had been stupid and irresponsible. "I'm not going to do that again," she said. "You need to believe that."

"I didn't think you were capable of doing such a thing in the first place, Sam," Daniel said softly. "I don't know what to believe when it comes to you anymore. You said you wanted to be with me. You said you wanted our baby – what the hell do you really want, Sam?"

"I want you. I want this baby," she said, and she meant it, although it was clear Daniel didn't believe her.

"I really want to believe you, Sam, but I can't," Daniel said. "These last three months, you've done nothing to convince me there's any chance for us and everything to convince me there's not. Do you think I'm going to risk my heart a third time?"

Of course he wouldn't. Daniel was a romantic, but not stupid. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Daniel must be feeling very angry at himself right now. "Then what do you want to do?" she asked.

"I don't know. I can't make myself care about you – or this baby. I keep thinking the moment I do, you'll do something to prove I was naive to care."

"I won't!" Samantha cried, although she knew how empty a promise that sounded.

"Then we're at something of an impasse." Daniel's face was emotionless, although his mind was a tumult of emotion. Love. Hate. Anger, Disappointment. Desire. He remembered kissing her in her house and how badly he'd wanted to take her there and then. He steeled himself. He would not give into temptation. Not when he was feeling the way he was feeling, a big confusing mess of conflicting thoughts and feelings. "Sam, I can't do this right now. If you wanna keep the baby – that's great. I'll be at the next class. But I can't… deal right now." And with that he bolted from her office.

Samantha felt suddenly void of energy. Fighting with Daniel tended to do that to her. She leaned back in her chair to let Daniel's words soak in.

He didn't trust her. He had trusted her twice, and twice she had proven she deserved that trust. It was so unfair – he had got her at her lowest both times and he had nothing else to judge her on so he took those two times as the absolute truth. And now it was harder then ever to convince him that what he thought of her was nothing like what she was. She loved him, she loved their child, and she was going to see this pregnancy through as best as she could. What had happened that night had been a terrible lapse of judgement made at a low ebb, but only a lapse of judgement and not a sign of a greater flawed personality.

But could she ever convince Daniel of that?


A week went by and it was obvious to Miranda that Daniel was miserable. He was anxious because he didn't know what Samantha was going to do next and heartsick because he hated being so distrustful of someone who he couldn't help but love. More then once, Miranda had wondered to herself how Daniel could have such appalling taste in women and be such a glutton for punishment, but after a week, she decided it was a moot point. Daniel loved Samantha and, as distasteful a task as it was, knowing Daniel as she did, Miranda was probably the best person to offer Samantha a few insights.

Samantha's face drew into a frown when she saw Captain Jacobs standing in her doorway. She really needed to think about getting a lock and shades on the windows,. Too many people thought they could just barge in. "Whatever's up with you and Daniel, it's not my fault. I haven't spoken to him in a week," she said without looking up. She didn't know what the status of Daniel and Captain Jacob's relationship was, but if Jacobs was here to be the jealous girlfriend, Samantha had no time for her. She was feeling too heartsick over his aloof behaviour. He had come to a prenatal class with her, but held her at arm's length – sometimes literally. She had ended up snapping that he may as well have not come at all, which, of course, just made the situation worse. She had no idea what to do about Daniel and she doubted anything Jacobs had to say would make things better.

"I know it's not your fault. Daniel's been in love with you pretty much from day one and you couldn't help that," Miranda said, as charitably as she could manage, although mentally she tacked on, you could certainly have been more appreciative. She hadn't come here to fight with Samantha, as tempting as that was. "I came to tell you you're making him miserable."

"I'm making him miserable?" Samantha asked incredulously. "He's the one acting like he's doing me a great service having anything to do with me."

"That's 'coz he is," Miranda said bluntly. "You haven't exactly made him feel like you want him – or your baby. That's why I came here. Do you want to make him come back to you?"

Samantha looked at Miranda curiously. Was she offering her help? Or was she just setting Samantha up to be the butt of a cruel joke? Samantha decided to take her chance. She nodded slowly.

It was the response Miranda had been expecting. Although she thought Samantha didn't deserve Daniel, she thought there was something there, feelings of love that the Major, however selfish she might be, had for Daniel. Samantha was in love with Daniel and sorry things had ended up the way they had. She wanted help getting herself out of this deep hole she'd dug. "Then you have to give him time. You can't apologise and expect he'll come running back. You humiliated him when you called him Jack and if that wasn't bad enough, just when he was ready to forgive you for that, you nearly kill yourself – and Daniel's child – by getting blind drunk. No, apologising isn't going to achieve anything. Talk is cheap. You have to show him you're serious about him and your child. Your behaviour has to be unimpeachable. You have to be a model mother-to-be – if you achieve that, he might give you the chance to be a model friend and if you achieve that, then maybe – maybe – he'll give you the chance to be a model wife. Eat right, keep healthy, and don't stress yourself with too much work. If you're tired, tell him, I'm sure he'll be happy to take on some of your workload. Swallow your goddamn pride. Ask for his help. If he wants to be friends, then be friends. Don't push the relationship; you'll scare him off. If your marriage with Daniel is ever going to work, at this point, you have to let him set the agenda. Maybe you'll only ever get to friends, or parents and if that happens, you've got no-one to blame but yourself. But if he comes back to you, it'll be because you gave him space and proved that you could be trusted. Anything else will achieve nothing. It will probably only serve to drive him further away."

Miranda took a deep breath. It had taken her several minutes to get through that little rant, during which time Samantha hadn't said anything. She would never admit it to the Captain, of course, but what she was saying made sense. Pursuing Daniel would achieve nothing but push him away. The only chance she had of getting him back was proving, without asking for anything in return, that she could be a good mother, a good friend, a good wife.

To Captain Jacobs she simply said, in her most professional voice, "Thank you. I'll take that into consideration. You may go now." She hadn't meant to come across so rude, but she didn't want to deal with Daniel's ex – no matter how helpful her words were. If she and Daniel ever got back together, she'd thank the woman then, but for now, she wanted to be alone.

Miranda left Samantha's office wondering if she'd made any impact. Well, if she hadn't, she was going to learn the hard way that trying to force a reconciliation wouldn't achieve anything. Miranda had done the best she could. The rest was up to Samantha.


Over the next month, bringing her pregnancy to four months – she was starting to show quite obviously – Samantha took Miranda's advice. She requested even her paperwork load to be cut back so she would have more time for rest and relaxation. She knew the little amount of work she was doing would mean a nightmare of a catchup down the track, but she knew it would be worth it. She spent a lot of time just pottering around the house – if she wasn't sleeping – and catching up on all the books she'd meant to read over the course of her life. She couldn't believe how intellectually stimulating doing nothing could be. She even started on some of the classics that Daniel loved so much. He had a particular affinity for Tolstoy, which Samantha thought was unfair, because she was sure something had been lost in the translation and she just knew he'd read it in the original Russian. found herself getting into War and Peace, which, as a bonus, gave her something to talk about with Daniel. She liked the way he looked at her with new respect that she was broadening her intellectual horizons.

She got tired easily these days, nothing unusual given she was pregnant, and pregnant at forty, and she found given the slightest encouragement, Daniel was there to put her to bed or do household chores for her. When he saw she was serious about the pregnancy, he spoke to her with more warmth and held her a little more intimately in the prenatal classes.

She had attempted to learn how to cook in a bid to eat healthily, although she wasn't making much headway. She and cooking were just mutually exclusive. One night Daniel dropped by to see her forcing her way through overcooked rice, dried-out fish (what, exactly, was the difference between bake and fan-bake?) and some chopped-up vegetables that he assumed was supposed to pass for a salad. She looked absolutely miserable as she shovelled food into her mouth.

Daniel gently took the fork from her and tasted it and had trouble swallowing even a mouthful. He supposed he should give Samantha credit for trying to eat healthily (he had his doubts that airforce rations were nutritious even for a healthy adult, let alone an unborn feutus) but he didn't realise someone could wreck such a simple meal so badly.

"Do not take another bite, I do not want my child thinking such muck is food," he said, but his tone was playful. So what if cooking wasn't Samantha's forte? She was good at plenty of other things. "You just sit back and I'll see what I can do."

See what he could do, indeed. He couldn't believe how empty Samantha's cupboard was of all but the most basic spices – "What's saffron?" she had asked. He made a mental note to educate her on such things. But in the meantime, he put together something that was a vast improvement on the nutritious, tasteless pap Samantha had made for herself.

She took one bite and her eyes went round. She made a few sounds which were incomprehensible because her mouth was full, but Daniel took it to be gratitude. She started out trying to take small bites, but ended up shovelling food into her mouth. "Glad to know you like it," he said, a smirk playing on his face.

She paused from shovelling food into her mouth. "It's terrific!" she said enthusiastically, although, in all fairness, it wasn't that hard to improve on her cooking.

"I'll come over tomorrow with real ingredients, then," he said, "if you'd like." That Samantha had made the effort, however disastrous, to eat properly meant a lot to him. He was only too happy to improve on the results when the effort was already there.

She smiled in delight. "Really?" she asked, her eyes dreamy at the thought of an end to her miserable attempts to cook.

His eyes sparkled. It was good to be appreciated. It had been a while since he'd felt that from Samantha. "Yeah, really," he said, and already he was thinking of all the things he could make.

She followed Miranda's advice, first proving to Daniel that she could be a perfectly good mother, and he responded exactly as Miranda had predicted. He took care of her. He kept her company, he did her chores and her paperwork when she felt tired, and he cooked exquisite meals for her once he'd been given the slightest encouragement. In the process, she proved she could be a perfectly good friend – no, not proved, but reminded. They became closer then they had in several years, since before she had become infatuated with Jack.

Jack. What a laugh that was. Once Jack had cottoned onto the convoluted mess that was Samantha and Daniel's relationship – he'd been insightful enough to realise Samantha was pining for Daniel – he'd switched off completely. Because she was grounded for at least the duration of her pregnancy, she saw very little of him and what she did see of him was strictly professional and a little distant. Samantha was a little apprehensive about returning to SG1 because it was unlikely she and Jack could ever re-establish their early rapport. Maybe, like Daniel, she would have to transfer.

No mention of Jack was made between Samantha and Daniel, except when talk of the Stargate program came up. Neither of them were interested in talking about it. Until one day, completely out of the blue, Daniel asked, "Why did you do it, Sam? Sleep with me when you really wanted Jack?"

Samantha thought carefully, aware that this could be make-or-break. If she couldn't get her feelings across, couldn't convince Daniel that Jack had been nothing but an infatuation, then all could be lost. Daniel would retreat to being a friend and the father of her child – but not her husband. She grimly reminded herself that she had maybe eight months until Daniel saw fit to ask for divorce. The only reason they had remained married was that it didn't seem right to bring their child into the world out of wedlock when they were already married. She figured she had the remaining five months of her pregnancy, then two of three after that. If she couldn't make him her husband at heart as well as on paper then when that eight months was up, that was it. He would leave.

"I worshipped Jack," she admitted. "I think it was that he was so unattainable – we were both military, and he was my CO. I guess that's why I never noticed you, because you were attainable and that was kind of scary."

"I don't understand," Daniel said. "I don't get how you could be so reluctant to fall in love with someone."

"That's 'coz you're not a woman in the military," Samantha pointed out gently. "If I had gotten involved with you, it would have been like a work relationship, with everyone talking about us all the time, only much worse."

Daniel nodded. That he understood. The military was such a patriarchal system. Women had to prove themselves twice as much to get something resembling the same amount of respect. The few women at Cheyenne Mountain who had gotten involved with men had become a constant source of gossip, much more then their boyfriends. He couldn't really blame Samantha for wanting to avoid that and thinking along those lines, he kind of understood her infatuation with Jack. It didn't take away from his humiliation, nothing ever would, but it made it easier to forgive her.

"… It really was some warped force of habit, a reflex" Samantha said sincerely, hoping Daniel accepted as the truth what she conceded sounded like a really dumb excuse. "I know nothing will take away from how you must have felt – and I am sorry about that – but for what it's worth, until that point, I was only thinking about you. It was never about Jack."

For some reason, he believed her. The last month, she had reminded him of what a great friendship they had had – and still had. He realised her getting drunk, as disastrous as it could have been, had been a one-of, her acting out because, of all things, she had been jealous of Miranda. He couldn't help but feeling a little flattered about that.

The last month had reminded him of a lot of things, namely, how deeply in love with Samantha he was. As fond of Miranda and as attracted to her as he had been, he had been fooling himself to think things could work between them. Not when Samantha was there. And Miranda must have known that, or else she wouldn't have let him go so easily. Christ, he was so glad they had never slept together. He would never have been able to forgive himself for that.

The truth was, he loved Samantha to distraction. There was no way around that. After the drinking episode, he had hated her for her selfishness and irresponsibility and had been too prideful to consider a relationship with her, but this last month – this last month had been paradise. It was everything he had ever wanted from Samantha, minus the romantic relationship and despite himself, he couldn't help thinking how easy that would be to rectify.

"What are you thinking about?" Samantha asked shyly, aware that Daniel had retreated into some deep thought. He did that a lot, she had noticed. She hoped it was a good sign.

"It doesn't matter," he said, trying not to be distracted by her mouth. God, he wanted to kiss her.

"I'm not going to push you," she said, remembering Miranda's words. It occurred to her that the Captain must really have cared for Daniel to offer such sound advice to someone she didn't like much. "But I like to think we're friends, so if you want to talk…"

"You broke my heart, you know," Daniel said quietly. He hadn't meant to bring that up, didn't think he was ready to talk about it, but it had just… come out. "I knew what they gave us was screwing with our inhibitions, I knew you wouldn't just jump into bed with me if it wasn't for that, but… I never thought you could be so screwed up about your feelings, that you didn't know who you wanted to be with, me or Jack. At least not while you were in bed with me."

"I'm sorry," she said quietly. How many times had she apologised in the last four months? Not enough, it would never be enough. She could never take Daniel's humiliation away from him. But maybe, if he gave her a chance, she could start to make it up to him. "It's up to you weather you believe me or not, but for what it's worth, I do love you and if I could do all this over – well, for starter's, I wouldn't have complained so much about marrying you and I certainly wouldn't have needed anything to go to bed with you."

Daniel sighed. "I really want to believe you, Sam," he said "but I don't know if I can trust you again."

Samantha wasn't sure what possessed her, but she went over to where Daniel was sitting and sat in his lap. Automatically his arms went around her swollen waist to secure her. "Then trust this," she said, and kissed him.

She knew she hadn't imagined the chemistry between them, and her boldness was rewarded when Daniel kissed her back. And not just for a few seconds, either. For the better part of a minute, their mouths were locked together as they kissed hungrily. "Sam, Sam," Daniel murmured throatily as he ran his lips across her jawbone and down her neck.

Eventually they parted. "This just means I'm attracted to you," he said gruffly, like he could lie about the magnitude of his feelings.

Now that Samantha was more confident about how Daniel felt about her, she could afford to call him on his lies. "Crap," she told him. "You love me."

"I'm scared," was all she could get out of Daniel. "I don't think I can go through what you put me through again."

I'm scared was good enough for Samantha. If he didn't love her, then he wouldn't be afraid of anything and she noticed that he was making no effort to remove her from his lap. If anything, he wrapped his arms around her a little tighter. She locked her arms around his neck. Now that she knew how Daniel felt about her, she could afford to take things slow. "How about we just see how it goes?" she suggested innocently, confident he just needed a little more time to realise he loved her – and trust that she loved him, and wasn't going to break his heart again. In fact, she'd spent the rest of their life together making up for it.

How about we see how it goes? sounded like code for I'll give you a little more time to come to the obvious conclusion. But at least she was giving him that time. If there had ever been a point in the last month when she'd pushed him for commitment, it would have made him run for the hills. But the way she'd gone about it, quietly proving that she was trustworthy – he wondered if she'd planned it this way. "I'd like that," he admitted softly, and he leaned in to kiss her.

Kissing him back, something told her divorce wouldn't be on the cards.