ANs: Yes! Finally! My muse has decided to focus on this story again! Hoody hoo! As you can see, I'm just as excited as all of you to see this chapter completed - you have no idea how long it sat two-thirds finished on my computer. For all of you who have written reviews and added this story to your favorites and alerts, thank you. I don't know if I can say enough about how you inspired me to get back on track. It may have taken three years, but still... I do promise, no matter how long it takes, I will finish this fic. I know where it's going and where it should end. I just have to get there. For now, enjoy the latest chapter of A Road Not Taken - this one's for you!
* * * * * * * *
Sam sat across from Jonas at the restaurant watching him peruse the menu with a small frown. She'd enjoyed the two months since she'd met him; they'd spent a lot of their free time together and discovered they could have fun that way. Sam smiled. There might even be more to what she felt for him than that, something she needed more time to figure out. She was hoping for the opportunity.
"What are you staring at?" Jonas asked, having looked up from his menu while Sam was lost in her thoughts. "Do I have something on my face?"
"What? No, no, of course not. I was just thinking."
Jonas smiled. "And can I safely assume those thoughts starred me in some way?"
Sam chuckled. "It might be safe to think that, yes."
Jonas' smile transformed into a grin. "Well then, you'll be happy to hear that the reason I can't seem to make up my mind about what to have for dinner is that I can't stop thinking about you, either."
"Yeah, that makes me happy," Sam said with a playful little shrug.
"I thought it might." The brown-haired man's expression grew serious. "It looks like I better ask you what I wanted to ask now instead of later."
Sam straightened and stared at him confused. "What did you want to ask me?"
Jonas sighed. "I was going to wait until after your promotion ceremony tomorrow, to make it... legitimate. But since we're celebrating alone tonight... and you look so hot..." He let his eyes travel over what he could see of Sam's body, causing a slight flush to rise on her cheeks. "Sam, I'd really like to start seeing you seriously. You know, as in dating." He took a deep breath and fidgeted a bit with the napkin in his lap. Part of him noted the flabbergasted look on his companion's face. "I know you're going to be heading off to flight school and I'm going to Florida for Special Ops training, but there's just something between us I don't want to let go. I'm willing to give a long distance relationship a try if you are." He took another deep breath. "What do you say?"
Sam's jaw opened and closed a few times before she managed to find her voice. "Do you really mean it, Jonas? I mean, I've been wanting to see if there was a chance for more than friendship for a little while now, but..." Sam's words trailed off and she took a long drink from her water glass. "I'd love to go out with you, Jonas. I'd love to." She gave him a brilliant smile.
"Then it's settled," Jonas declared, thoroughly satisfied. "But we won't tell anyone until after your official promotion tomorrow, so neither of us gets into any trouble."
"Of course," Sam replied. Her smile faltered slightly. "Um, you do know my dad's going to be here tomorrow, don't you? He'll want to meet you."
Jonas blinked a few times. "General Carter's going to be here? I guess I never thought he'd make the time for it." He took a long pull from his bottle of beer while Sam's eyebrows shot up. "I mean, you said he'd try, but I didn't think he'd be able to pull it off."
Sam shook off the bad feeling his first comment had produced. "My dad and I are pretty close. It would take an emergency for him to not be here for both my promotion and my doctorate ceremonies." Her smile returned full force.
Her new boyfriend gave her a slightly condescending look. "I understand, Sam. Don't worry about it. Just... be a little clearer next time, okay? Meeting your girlfriend's dad shouldn't be a surprise."
"I didn't mean it to be. I'm sorry." Sam looked down at her plate, wondering when everything became her fault. She shook her head. Jonas couldn't have meant it that way; she was just imagining things, being a little too sensitive. He was just surprised her dad would be there, that's all.
Their waiter came to take their orders at that point, and Jacob's upcoming arrival was forgotten. They joked and teased like they normally did, their words now punctuated by the occasional tentative kiss or caress. At the end of the night, Jonas left her at her apartment door tingling from a long, lingering hold that connected everything from their lips to their intertwined legs as closely as possible without taking off their clothes. She watched him go with a bright light in her eyes, knowing she'd found someone special. She only wished he could have come in, but he'd been right when he'd said it was too dangerous. If anyone would happen to see him leaving in the morning before her official promotion, a nitpicking superior could get them both in trouble for breaking regulations. After the next day's ceremony she'd be the same rank, and there would be no problems. Sam sighed and slipped inside. She couldn't wait.
* * * * * * * *
Nothing unusual or spectacular happened at the military ceremony the next day, much to Sam's secret disappointment. She couldn't help but feel something should have since it marked her freedom to be with Jonas openly. She had talked with her superior officer earlier in the day about her intentions and had received permission and the man's personal blessing. It seemed that the man was also into motorcycles and gotten along wonderfully with First Lieutenant Hansen during his stay.
Upon catching sight of her new boyfriend, the blonde woman's face lit up with a wide smile, and she hurried over to meet him. "Hey there, hot shot," she greeted him, grabbing his hand.
He returned her grip warily. "Is it okay to do this?" he questioned, a slight look of disapproval on his face.
"I okayed everything when I got here this morning," Sam said hurriedly. "We're good to go."
"Well then," Jonas replied, his features transforming into a wicked smirk before he pulled her into his arms and kissed her deeply.
A throat being cleared behind them finally made them pull apart. "Dad!" Sam exclaimed when she opened her eyes and saw Jacob Carter standing there. "I didn't see you in the stands."
The older man shot a significant look at the lieutenant still holding his daughter. "I bet you didn't. Congratulations, sweetheart. You deserved this promotion."
Sam grinned and pulled away from Jonas, failing to see the irritated look that flickered across his face. "Thanks, Dad. I'm so glad you could be here." She gladly stepped into the hug her father offered.
"So do I get an introduction to the man I found kissing you so passionately?" Jacob asked, sharing a wary look with the subject of his inquiry. He didn't think Sam had seen the irritated, almost possessive look the younger man had gotten when she shifted away her attention, but he had. This one would bear watching.
"Of course. Dad, this is my new boyfriend, First Lieutenant Jonas Hansen. Jonas, this is my father, Brigadier General Jacob Carter." Sam looked between the two men, smiling.
"General," Jonas said as he snapped off a salute.
Jacob waited a second or two before returning it then offered his hand to shake. "A pleasure to meet you, Lieutenant. So when did the two of you start dating?"
Sam rolled her eyes. "This isn't something that's been going on behind your back, Dad. Jonas is the friend I've been telling you about for the last couple of months. We're officially together as of right now."
"Although, to be honest, I did ask her last night when we went out to dinner," Jonas added, hoping to win a few points with his candor.
"And I accepted. Oh, and before you even ask, the most we shared all night was a kiss," Sam said with an arched look at her father.
"All right, all right," Jacob replied, backing off for the moment. He wasn't about to alienate his daughter over a bad feeling about her boyfriend. "I just wanted to be sure. There could have been trouble."
"Which I cleared up even before the ceremony today. We have full permission to be together," Sam insisted.
Jacob nodded. "Then I won't raise any objections. What do you say the three of us go out for a late lunch, and then maybe give me another tour of the town?"
Jonas narrowed his eyes at the older man. He knew the old general didn't trust him and would likely start bombarding Sam with questions and suspicions as soon as they were alone. Well, he'd prove his case to General Jacob Carter. He'd be on his best behavior all afternoon, jerking the rug out from underneath any possible basis for suspicions before they could ever be voiced. He'd prove he was worthy of Samantha Carter. "That sounds like a wonderful idea, sir," he said as Sam nodded her agreement. "I've managed to find a few out-of-the-way spots that you might find quite interesting. You, too, Sam. It'll be a treat for everyone."
Sam grinned. "That sounds great. Let's do it." She linked her arm through Jonas' and the pair started off at a gesture from Jacob.
As he walked a step or two behind the couple, Jacob considered them. Jonas was trying to impress him, he could see that much; he dealt with it on a regular basis in the military, especially considering his rank. The only plus he could see to it was that it was also apparent that the need to impress centered around Sam, not the military. He still didn't have the best of feelings about the young man, and he would still be watching him carefully, but he'd give him a chance. It was the least he could do for the happiness he'd seen on his little girl's face when she'd looked at Hansen.
* * * * * * * *
Sam sighed as she listened to the dean's speech the next afternoon. The day before had gone pretty well, although she had a feeling her father still didn't trust Jonas very much. She was hoping another good experience with him would help improve his opinion. That, however, would require this ceremony to end some time before midnight. Considering how long-winded the dean was known to be, that was an optimistic goal.
The blonde lieutenant glanced around the crowd, looking for the two men she knew were there. Somehow she wasn't surprised to see they weren't sitting anywhere near each other. Her dad was sitting on the bottom bench of the bleachers, as close to the stage as he could get. Her boyfriend was four sections over, about halfway up, his navy blue dress uniform standing out amidst the light-colored summer clothes the others around him were wearing. This was a relationship that was going to take some work. She sighed again.
Fortunately enough, the commencement did finally end, and Sam milled around and waited for Jonas and her father to meet her. They'd agreed the day before that it would be easier that way. A tap on her shoulder had her spinning around to meet a pair of eyes she definitely hadn't been expecting. "Daniel!" she cried, throwing her arms around her friend and enjoying the return of the embrace. "You never said anything about being here!"
"What kind of surprise would it have been if I'd told you?" Daniel replied, giving her an extra squeeze.
"It is so wonderful to see you," Sam enthused, drawing back enough to be able to look him in the face once more, her hands still clasping his elbows.
"The same works in reverse, you know," Daniel said with a smile. "Is your dad here?"
Sam nodded. "You bet. He said it would have taken a world crisis to keep him away. He got here yesterday for my promotion ceremony."
Daniel smiled. "I would have been here for that, but I wasn't sure about the protocol for unexpected guests. Besides, I had to help Doctor Jordan finish up with a few pieces from the Reynolds collection. The rest the other assistants should be able to handle."
"Oh, you are so modest. I'm sure Doctor Jordan would be lost without you." She sprang forward and hugged him again.
The sound of a man clearing his throat next to them made the two friends separate. "And who is this?" Jonas asked, his tone and expression suspicious.
Daniel's eyes narrowed as he took note of the dark shadows in the man's gaze even as Sam grinned widely and reached out to take the newcomer's hand. "Jonas, this is my best friend, Daniel Jackson. Daniel, this is Jonas Hansen, my boyfriend." She blushed slightly at Daniel's eyebrows rising. "We officially started dating yesterday."
"Congratulations," the bespectacled man said immediately, his expression clearing. He blinked a few times before continuing. "I take it this is the same Jonas Hansen you talked about in your letters."
"This is him," Sam confirmed, giving the man in question a gentle smile.
Jonas ignored it and continued to stare at Daniel. "I don't think you've ever mentioned Mister Jackson before," he said in a deceptively calm tone.
Sam blinked. "I didn't? I could have sworn I had, especially when I didn't think he'd be here today." She frowned as she considered it.
"And that would be Doctor Jackson," a new voice added firmly. "As in holding three doctorates in archaeology, anthropology, and linguistics."
"Jacob!" Daniel greeted the older man as he offered his hand to shake.
Jacob grinned and used the hand to pull him into a tight squeeze. "It's good to see you, Daniel. It's been too long."
Daniel shrugged and blushed as he stepped back from the hug. "It's just the way life works, Jacob. We both know that. I appreciate the letters you've sent, though."
"Least I can do."
Jonas' eyes narrowed as he watched his girlfriend's father greet this new man so enthusiastically. He was obviously much more in the elder Carter's good graces than Jonas could hope to be any time soon. The guy was a skinny, four-eyed, bookworm geek; what did Sam and her dad even see in him? If Jonas wanted, he could wipe the floor with the beanpole. And what exactly was Sam doing hugging him the way she had? If he didn't know better, he'd think the two had some kind of thing going. He'd have to watch this Daniel Jackson carefully.
"So how long are you here, Daniel?" Sam asked, even as she gave Jonas' hand a squeeze.
"I'm here for the week, actually," Daniel answered. "It's been a while since I took a vacation."
Sam looked over at Jonas and frowned briefly. She saw the flash of irritation that appeared for a moment on his face. They'd have to talk later. For now she refused to let anything ruin her special day. "I'm glad to hear it. It'll be nice to spend time with you."
Daniel grinned. "I was hoping that's what you'd say. Is this the point where we all go out for an early dinner?"
Jacob and Sam laughed while Jonas scowled. "I think that's the usual tradition, yes," the elder Carter replied. He noticed the other military man's expression and hoped Sam had as well.
"Usual tradition?" Jonas asked, schooling his features into a curious mask.
"When we've attended each other's graduations, we've always gone out to dinner after the ceremony," Daniel explained. "It's an easier way to get comfortable while we catch up on old times."
Sam blinked at the deliberately cheerful tone from her friend. If she didn't know better, she would have sworn Daniel was trying to drive home his long-standing history with her to Jonas. He must have seen the lieutenant's negative looks too. "We should get to it. Didn't you say you had another restaurant in mind for tonight, Jonas?"
Jonas twitched slightly at the sound of his name then gave Sam a bright smile. "Yeah, I did. I think everyone will enjoy it." He looked back at Daniel, his eyes reassessing the man. "And I think I'm looking forward to hearing all these old stories. Maybe I'll learn something embarrassing about you, Sam."
Sam blushed. "Or maybe not." She started to drag her boyfriend off toward the parking lot. "Come on, Dad, Daniel. Wouldn't want to miss out on the best table, now would we?" Jacob and Daniel shared a long look before following the couple.
* * * * * * * *
"Just what in the hell was all that?" Jonas asked quietly in a cold fury after he'd followed Sam into her apartment at the end of the night.
"What?" Sam asked in returned, totally shocked at the attitude. She'd thought the evening had gone quite well, that everyone had gotten along just fine.
"The way you acted with Jackson," Jonas spat. "It was like you couldn't keep your hands off him. Is there something going on between you two?"
Sam's jaw dropped for a moment. "Of course not!" she exclaimed. "We're very old friends. I met him when I was eleven, for Pete's sake. And I seem to recall telling you about my best friend Daniel I don't know how many times."
Jonas nodded, his expression still dark. "Right, the guy you're writing to all the time. Any X-rated descriptions I should know about?"
Sam's jaw clenched in sudden fury. "Go to hell, Jonas. I'm your girlfriend; that doesn't mean you own me and can tell me who my friends can and can't be. And Daniel is my best friend. I won't give him up for you or anyone else. If you don't like it, there's the door." She gestured to the door behind him.
Silence fell hard and tense for a long, eternal moment while blue-grey and hazel stared intensely at one another. Finally Jonas released an explosive breath, his shoulders sagging with the sound. "Damn it, Sam, it's just hard to see you so intimate with another man, that's all. I know what a wonderful woman you are, and I don't want to lose you. That's understandable, isn't it?"
"Maybe," Sam conceded softly, not quite ready to let the man off the hook. "But that doesn't give you the right to say the things you did."
"No, it doesn't," the brown-haired man immediately agreed. "I was out of line. You just have so much history with Jackson; it was hard to see it in action, that's all."
"His name is Daniel,' Sam said with a sigh, her stance finally relaxing with the release of breath. "It might help if you think of him that way. I'm sure you'll like him if you really give him a chance."
Jonas gave her a small smile. "I'll try, Sam. I promise I'll try. Just remember it's going to take some time before I get over how jealous I am of him knowing you for so much longer than I have." The smile grew. "Just think of how much fun we could have been having with more time under our belts."
Sam rolled her eyes. "You have such a one track mind," she grumbled.
"You may be right," he admitted with a shrug. "So am I forgiven?"
"Only if you promise not to pull any more of that macho, alpha male crap. I am not property to be fought over or won." She gave him a serious glare.
He raised his hands in surrender. "I promise. No more getting territorial."
Sam reluctantly smiled at the pitiful little-boy-lost look he was giving her. "Then I suppose I can forgive you."
Jonas grinned and immediately pulled her into his arms. "I told you you were wonderful. Now let me make it up to you another way." He began to kiss the side of her neck sensuously, lingering on her pulse point until she gave an involuntary moan.
"I shouldn't let you do this," Sam said breathlessly, tilting her head to the side to give him greater access to the smooth tender flesh beneath his lips.
"Probably not," he murmured against her skin, the vibrations of his words only adding to the pulses of pleasure she was feeling.
"I should tell you to stop," she panted, releasing a sharp gasp as one of Jonas' hands came up and cupped one of her breasts.
He nodded, his mouth still dancing along her jugular. "Definitely," he whispered.
She arched her back in response to his ministrations. "So shut me up already!" she demanded.
Jonas paused and grinned widely, then proceeded to do that in the most pleasurable ways he could think of.
* * * * * * * *
As promised, Jonas was on his best behavior the rest of the time Daniel and Jacob were in Palo Alto, and actually seemed to enjoy the time spent with the two other men. Sam explained to Daniel and her father that her boyfriend's bout of jealousy had caused his surly behavior earlier, which eased the younger man's mind. Jacob wasn't as easily put off, however. He'd seen the negative, possessive looks even before Daniel had arrived. But he chose not to say anything, hoping that the transformation he had witnessed was true.
Daniel was kept quite busy upon his return to Chicago, between his work with Doctor Jordan and his own research. His attention was diverted by a letter in early October, however. He sat in his apartment the night he read the single-paged correspondence, the extra sheet that had been enclosed lying on the coffee table in front of him. His eyes were distant as he considered what had been asked of him.
Jack's commanding officer was suspicious of all the problems his teams, including Jack's, were having in the field. However, he wasn't sure who he could trust. Thus he had sent along a text for Daniel to translate, since Jack had raved about the younger man's skills on a number of occasions to his superior officer. The young linguist had looked at the second sheet of paper and done that instinctively before he had even read the words of explanation, but could only guess the odd phrases were a code of some sort after actually reading the first page in full.
It didn't bother him to do the translation; he was glad there was a way he could help his friend. The sticking point was that he wasn't to tell anyone about the request, not even Jack. Daniel understood why. He couldn't risk Colonel Pohoski or the missions his people were on anymore than they already were. But to keep such a big secret from one of his best friends... Daniel sighed. He thought he could finally relate to what Jack went through on a regular basis.
As he carefully copied down his translation and followed the colonel's instructions on addressing the return envelope, Daniel hoped that Jack and the others under Colonel Pohoski's command would end up safe.
* * * * * * * *
"This letter should get to you just in time for Christmas. I'm only sorry I couldn't send along a present to go with it. But since I just finished a long-term mission in eastern Europe, I figure you'd understand, and I promise to send something later.
"I can't go into details, but my team managed to pull off something pretty spectacular. According to Colonel Pohoski, we have a few translations to thank for that. While we were gone, it seems he and some others uncovered a few leaks in our translation team and got them plugged. Heads are rolling around here, that's for sure. The colonel thinks things might actually go higher up the chain of command, but I doubt we'll ever know for sure.
"One thing that came about because of my latest mission's success is a big ol' promotion. Yep, you guessed it. I'm now Lieutenant Colonel Jack O'Neill. I called Sara with the news and she was pretty excited. I can't wait to get home and see her and Charlie. He's starting to talk in complete sentences now, according to Sara. She still doesn't always understand what he's saying, but it sounds pretty complete. I'm looking forward to trying my hand at deciphering Charlie-speak over the holidays.
"Is Sam still dating that Jonas guy you told me about? It must be something pretty special if they're keeping it going even with her in Texas for flight school and him in Florida for Special Ops training. Long distance relationships aren't known for their longevity. If they're still together, wish Sam the best of luck.
"That reminds me. When are you going to rejoin the dating scene? It's been a long time since Mel, and you haven't even mentioned another woman other than Sam. And since you two are best friends, it makes me wonder what you're waiting for. You can't tell me there aren't any beautiful women who would like to spend time with a good-looking, intelligent man like you. I'm sure you could get a date or two if you tried. So try already!
"Okay, enough badgering. Have a good holiday, and stay safe. I'll write again as soon as I can.
* * * * * * * *
"I can't tell you how excited I am to finally be able to move off-base and into an apartment. On-base quarters are all right, I suppose, but they don't allow for a lot of privacy. I guess having graduated top in my class at the academy and being an officer has really paid off.
"The other reason I'm excited about the move is Jonas. He graduated from Special Ops training and got himself assigned to a team based out of a base here in San Antonio. Not here where I am, unfortunately, but another base outside of town. Having off-base accommodations lets us have time that's just for the two of us, and I'm really enjoying that after having been separated so long. I'm just glad we've managed to make it this far.
"I can't believe it's been a year since I graduated from Stanford. When I realized I'd reached that milestone last week, I sat down and just took a few deep breaths. Time has just flown by. I mean, it feels like just yesterday I was at the academy. Do you feel like this? It's been a year since you got your last doctorate, too. But maybe it's different since you've reached that milestone before, and you've been working in your fields for a while.
"I'm hoping you'll get this before you leave for your dig in Mexico. I can't believe how much of the world you've already seen, even before I met you. I wonder if I'll ever see as many new places as you have; it'd be even better if we could see them together. Maybe we need to take another vacation somewhere. My memories of our trip to Athens are still some of my favorites, and I know they always will be. That photo album is in a special place on one of my bookshelves.
"Flight school is going well, and still feeding my need for speed. I know I keep telling you that, but flying has really touched me more than I thought it would. I always just saw flying jets as a stepping stone to becoming an astronaut, and that was where I was going to find true fulfillment. But this has been wonderful, and I think I'll be happy being a pilot and a scientist until I get to NASA. I bet Dad will be happy to hear that.
"I suppose I should keep this a little short. Jonas will be here soon, and I want to be ready before then. He hates having to wait for me to finish up, and I just don't want to fight tonight. I have my great news to share, and we should be celebrating.
"If I don't hear from you before you leave, have a fantastic trip. I know you'll love it. Send me pictures, and keep me up to date on how you're doing. I'll be thinking of you the whole time.
* * * * * * * *
Two days before Daniel was to leave for the archaeological dig in a remote region of the Yucatan Peninsula he'd agreed to join, he found he couldn't stop staring at the phone. His leave of absence from the Oriental Institute had begun a week before, and he'd moved everything but a few essentials into a storage unit since he'd be gone for just under a year and was giving up the apartment. He was supposed to be reading one of his books to brush up on a few facets of Mayan culture and architecture, but something about the letter he'd received from Sam a couple of weeks before was bothering him. And he knew the only way he could settle his mind was to talk to her.
With a sigh, Daniel finally gave up on his book and stepped over to the kitchen counter where his phone was. There was only a slight hesitation before he dialed, one last hope that his instincts were off crossing his mind as he listened to the ringing through the receiver.
"Hello?" Sam finally answered, her voice a little breathless, like she'd rushed to the phone.
"Hey, Sam, it's Daniel," the archaeologist replied, smiling at the sound of his friend's voice. Now he knew he'd made the right decision.
"Daniel!" Sam cried joyfully. "It's been so long since we've done more than exchange letters! How are you?"
Daniel couldn't help but smile even wider. "I'm doing all right," he replied. "Just biding my time before I leave in a couple days."
"Your dig in the Yucatan, right. That sounds so exciting." Sam laughed. "I think I'm jealous. I'm still stuck in flight school."
"Oh, I think you'll have more chances than me for adventure in the long run," Daniel refuted. "That's something the military is known for."
There was a slight pause Daniel could picture Sam taking to shrug her shoulders. "I wouldn't say that too quickly. You never can tell where your education will take you." There was another pause. "That's what my mom always told me," she finished softly.
"She was right," Daniel said gently.
Sam could be heard taking a deep breath before she continued. "Well, I take it you're all ready to go."
"I only have a few things to put into my storage unit, and then yeah. It's actually kind of strange to be staying in such an empty apartment."
"So how are you and Jonas doing?" Daniel asked casually, getting to the heart of his concern.
The archaeologist duly noted the hesitation before his friend's response. "We're fine. It's nice being so close and getting to see each other regularly. Well, when he's not off on assignment," she corrected quickly.
"So he's been on more than one?" Daniel asked.
"He just got back from his second," Sam confirmed. "Neither one was very long, probably just maneuvers to solidify his team's chemistry."
"That makes sense. I think Jack did the same thing when he started in special ops."
Sam gave a short laugh. "I forgot about Jack. I guess you would know about this."
Daniel shrugged. "Well, a little. Just what Jack was able to talk to me about." He swallowed down a sudden nervous lump in his throat. "So what's it like when Jonas is home?"
"Why… why do you ask?" Sam asked, a bit of defensiveness in her tone.
"It's just something in your last letter," Daniel said soothingly. "I just wanted to be sure everything was all right."
"I'm fine," Sam said, relieved. "Jonas has a few quirks that I have to get used to, but it'll work out."
The alarm bells were still ringing in Daniel's head, but he didn't have anything solid to base them on other than a gut feeling. "You mentioned fighting over not being ready when Jonas comes over," he persisted.
Sam let out a puff of air. "Well, yeah," she conceded. "Jonas is pretty picky about being on time. Actually, he likes to be early. I'm not as much of a stickler, although I do hate being late."
"You've been that way since I met you," Daniel said. "At least when you have a schedule to worry about."
"Exactly. And Jonas is used to getting his way about things. He's an only child."
"It sounds like he can get a little forceful about things when he wants to get his way," Daniel commented, his voice neutral while his fears started to take shape in his mind.
"A little, I guess. Vocally. I'm working on getting him to lighten up."
Daniel took a deep breath. "Be careful, Sam. Just… keep an eye on things and be careful."
There was a beat of silence before Sam replied. "What do think is going on, Daniel? Why are you so worried?"
"Well… It's just… I don't want you to take this the wrong way…"
"Daniel," Sam interrupted his rambling, "you're obviously worried about me for some reason. I just want to know why."
"From what you've said, and a few things I can remember from when I met him in person, Jonas seems a little controlling, and that can lead to… bad situations. I don't want to see you go through that." Daniel's eyes closed as he thought about those situations. The idea of Sam experiencing them scared him to the core.
"What kind of situations are you talking about?" Sam asked slowly, a tone in her voice that said she had her suspicions.
"I think you know, Sam. Someone who always needs to be in control and is willing to be forceful to keep that control can end up being abusive. I do not want you to go through that." Just the thought, and the memories it brought up for him, made Daniel a little short of breath.
"Oh, Daniel. I think you're reading too much into this. Jonas would never hurt me."
Daniel swallowed down his excess emotions. "Maybe not right now, but in the future…"
"Jonas won't hurt me, Daniel," Sam said firmly. "That's not the kind of man he is."
"Sam, please listen to me," Daniel pleaded just as firmly. "I'm not saying Jonas is a monster in disguise or anything like that. I don't even know for sure that he's headed in that direction. But you have to know the signs are there. I've seen it - lived it - twice before; I know what I'm talking about."
"Twice?" Sam asked, startled out of her belligerence. "You mean it happened to you before Seaside?"
Daniel fought to find his voice. "Yes," he whispered. "About six months after I lost my parents." He wasn't about to go into any more detail than that.
"I… I never knew," Sam breathed. "You never said anything."
"But I just don't think Jonas would treat me like that," she protested after a few beats, desperate to believe it.
"You wouldn't," Daniel said quietly, although with a little more volume. "I'm not even sure I do. But you have to look at how he's acting and what it could mean. I'm not saying to break up with him or anything like that. I just want you to pay attention, to know the possibilities before they sneak up on you and hurt you in the worst possible way."
There was a long moment of silence Daniel knew Sam was using to collect her thoughts. "I don't want to believe Jonas is capable of hurting me like that," she said finally. "But you're right. I need to be aware of what could happen if this control streak gets worse. And you'd only say something like this if you really believed it."
"I care about you, Sam. I don't want to see you hurt, not by Jonas, not by me… not by anybody. And I could be totally off about Jonas. Remember that. I just want you to be careful."
"I will be, Daniel. I promise." Sam swallowed hard. "And you better be careful in the Yucatan, too. I want you coming back safe and sound."
Daniel couldn't help but smile. "I'll do my best. I want to come back safe and sound myself."
Sam laughed. "Well, that's good to hear." She took a deep breath and released it. "Now, let's talk about more happy things. I know you mentioned a few things in your letters, but what are you planning to do while you're working on the dig?"
Daniel gladly dove into the more pleasant conversation, still a touch worried about Sam's future with Jonas but willing to put it aside. The two friends reconnected one more time as they talked, and lost track of time as they did. And when they were finished, they were both left with a satisfying sense of contentment.