Despite the fact that he had gone to bed early, Daniel still did not get a full night's sleep. He had lain awake for hours thinking about what happened in his office three days ago. The accidental destruction he caused had really scared him, showing him how easily he could inadvertently kill someone if he did not maintain complete control of his abilities. How could he keep something like that from happening again? Normally, he was not the kind of man who let his temper get the better of him. He could usually keep a rein on it, at least mostly. It was just that, this time, it escaped his control. There really wasn't anything he could do except try to prevent that from happening again.
Daniel entered the infirmary and went over to Sam. Seeing that she was asleep, he decided to talk with Janet.
"Good morning, Daniel," the doctor greeted. "Did you sleep well?"
Daniel hesitated. "Well enough," he replied.
Janet frowned. "Daniel, what time to did go to bed?"
"Early. I just had a little trouble getting to sleep."
"Do you want another sleeping tablet for tonight?" Janet asked in concern.
"No, definitely not. I hate the way those things make me feel in the morning. I'll be fine."
Janet put down the chart she'd been studying. "Could you come into my office, Daniel? I'd like to discuss something with you."
Wondering what this was about and suspecting that he wasn't going to like it, Daniel followed the doctor to her office.
"How's Sam doing?" he asked as he sat down, hoping to keep the conversation off him.
"Much better. She is very lucky that she didn't suffer a more severe head injury, especially with the lengthy delay in treatment." Janet's rich brown eyes pierced into Daniel. "How are you doing?"
"Are you sure?"
"Well, I have a lot of things on my mind, but, yeah, I'm doing all right."
Janet gave him a sympathetic look. "Daniel, I can't even begin to know what you're going through. It is so far beyond my experience as a doctor, as a human being, that I'd be insulting you if I said that I understood what all this is like for you. However, I think I have an idea how I'd feel if it was happening to me. I'd be terrified, full of self-doubts, wondering if I was strong enough to handle that kind of power. The responsibilities that came with it would weigh pretty heavily on my mind. In fact, I'm pretty certain that I wouldn't want such a power. It would simply be too much."
Daniel's eyes had dropped to the hands he held in his lap. His body language was telling Janet that she was hitting very close to the mark, perhaps even dead on.
"What I'm trying to say, Daniel, is that I'm here for you if you want to talk about it, and so are your teammates. We all care about you and want you to feel that you can come to us with your problems."
Daniel lifted his eyes to hers. "Thank you, Janet. I appreciate that a lot. But I need to deal with this myself."
"Daniel, talking to your friends about how you feel doesn't make you weak."
"I know that, Janet. I've talked a little bit with Sam and Jack. But some things are just too . . . difficult to talk about. And, in the end, talking about this wouldn't change anything. This is something that I need to be able to handle on my own. Like you said, it's something that's beyond your experience, beyond the experience of anyone on this planet. No psychologist has done a study on how possessing this kind of power can affect a person. There haven't been any seminars given, or papers published, or-or support groups formed. I'm alone, Janet, so I need to be able to handle this alone." He stood up. "I want to visit with Sam a bit before getting to work."
Daniel left the office and went over to Sam's bed. He could see that her eyes were now open.
"Hi," he greeted.
"Hey," she said with a sleepy smile. "What time is it?"
Daniel glanced at his watch. "Almost 7:30, that's 0730 to you."
"Did you go home last night and get some sleep like Janet wanted you to?"
"Yes, I got some sleep. But I'm not here to talk about me. I'm not the one in the infirmary this time. How are you feeling?"
"Okay. Better. Not having that massive headache anymore is a relief."
Daniel smiled. "I know what you mean. Mine wasn't quite as severe as yours, but I do know what a bad concussion feels like. My head wasn't feeling too good after Teal'c and I got blasted out of the wormhole back when you and Jack took your unscheduled trip to Antarctica."
"Yeah, that's right. I forgot about that. So, how long did Janet make you stay in the infirmary?"
"You mean after I finally regained consciousness? Well, first of all, it was Doctor Warner on duty, not Janet, which was a lucky break for me. He wanted to keep me here for another full day, but I was, um, anxious to help find you guys, so I made myself as big a pain in the ass as I could to get him to release me in time to be there when they got the Stargate back up and running."
Sam laughed. "I don't think that would work with me, especially since it's Janet who's on duty."
Daniel grinned. "So, you'll just have to stay here and relax until she agrees to let you leave."
"Come on, Sam. You were stranded alone on the Prometheus for four days, trying to survive. I'd think that you would welcome the chance to just relax for a while."
Sam stared at him. "Would you?"
Daniel paused, thinking about that. "No, I guess not." He smiled again. "Sometimes it's scary how much alike we are."
Daniel's words made Sam recall the letter he had written to her, and she realized that she never thanked him for it. It was about time that she did. It was also way past time that she let him know face to face how much he meant to her. "Yes, we are alike in a lot of ways, aren't we. I just realized that I never thanked you for the letter you wrote to me before you and Teal'c left Earth."
Daniel's eyes immediately dropped from hers.
"What you said meant a lot to me," Sam continued. She reached for his hand. "I want you to know that I feel the same way. Not many people really understand me, all of me. They see certain facets, understand certain things. But you always saw more. Even way back when we first met Cassie, you saw all of me as a person, not just what the uniform showed me to be. Through all these years, that never changed." She smiled. "A few months ago, when Warrick asked me to help him in that race, you knew exactly what I was feeling. Nobody else spotted that."
Daniel got a big smile. "Ah, yes. The whole gung ho, 'This is going to be fun,' thing."
Sam's smile equaled Daniel's. "Exactly. And you could tell right off that I was unhappy about us losing the race." Her smile was replaced by a tender yet earnest expression. "You mean a lot to me, Daniel. You are my best friend, and I love you. No matter what, that will never change."
Daniel's hand tightened around hers. "I love you, too, Sam."
They leaned toward each other at the same time and shared a tight hug.
As they drew apart, Daniel gave her a gentle smile. "Well, I guess I'd better get to work and earn all that money they pay me."
Sam almost laughed at the comment. "Daniel, only you would think that there's some doubt about you earning the money you get paid. Whatever it is, it could be twice as much and still not come close to repaying you for everything you do."
Embarrassed, Daniel looked down. "Well, if Jack knew how much more I get paid than him, he probably wouldn't agree."
"Oh, I think he has a pretty good idea what you make, Daniel. He was the one who took care of making sure that the money you had in the bank didn't go anywhere after you ascended."
"Yeah, I was always meaning to ask him about that. In my will, I gave everything to you guys, Janet, Cassie, and a few other people, yet you didn't take much of anything. You kept a lot of my stuff, and all my money was left in the bank. Why?"
Sam's expression turned sad. "Because we didn't want to give up on the hope that you'd come back someday."
Hearing Sam's words made a question come to his mind. "How long?"
"How long what?"
"How long would you have kept hoping?"
"I . . . I don't know. I would never have wanted to give up on that hope, but . . . but I guess that, eventually, I'd have had to." The thought that years might have passed before she finally gave up hope made Sam feel terribly sad. She shook herself out of the sadness immediately. Daniel was right here with them. He had come back, fulfilling their hopes that he would. She put on a smile. "But it doesn't matter now. You're back here with us, right where you belong."
Daniel smiled at her. "Yes, I am." He gave her hand a last little squeeze, then released it. "I'll come visit you later. Try not to pester Janet too much about letting you out of here."
"I make no promises."
Janet came over after Daniel had left. "Did you get him to talk?" she asked.
"About what?" Sam asked. Then she realized what Janet meant. "Oh. Um, no. We didn't talk about that. It was about something else."
"Too bad. I tried to encourage Daniel to talk about it, but he refused. He said that it was something he needed to deal with by himself. I couldn't hear what you were both talking about just now, but I could tell that it was something serious. I was hoping that you got him to open up to you." Janet gave a sad little sigh. "He feels alone, Sam, and, in this way, he is. There isn't another soul on this entire planet who can identify with what he's going through, not even Cassie, even though she had that incident happen to her. I seriously doubt that there's another human being in this whole galaxy that has been in Daniel's shoes."
"I know what you mean. Some of the people that Nirrti experimented on developed psychic abilities, but none of them to the extent that Daniel has. And I'm pretty sure they all thought that their abilities were part of Nirrti's blessings upon them. They certainly had no qualms about using them."
Janet shook her head. "Sometimes, I find myself wishing heartily that this had never happened. But then I think about the lives that Daniel has already saved, people who would now be dead if it wasn't for him and these abilities of his."
"I know what you mean. It's both a curse and a blessing."
"We need to find a way to make him see it as more of a blessing than a curse."
"How?" Sam asked.
"I don't know. The problem is that, so far, virtually every time he's used his abilities, it's been either in a destructive manner or because of some kind of disaster. On top of that, it causes him physical pain. It would be pretty difficult to develop a positive attitude under those conditions."
"Yes, it would."
"Hopefully, things will get better in time."
When Daniel told Sam that they were throwing a party, he wasn't kidding. SG-1, Janet, Cassie, General Hammond, several members of the Prometheus crew and some others from the SGC were all at Jack's house, eating, drinking and enjoying themselves. Not only was there the promised cake, but also a myriad of finger foods and snacks.
"Sir, this is quite the party you, Daniel and Teal'c put together," Sam commented.
"Why thank you, Carter. And how many times do I have to tell you not to call me 'sir' when we're off-duty?"
Sam recalled the words of the hallucination of Jack. "Sorry, sir, um . . . Jack."
Jack grinned and patted her on the shoulder. "Better. Much better." He glanced about. "Where'd Daniel get off to? He was here just a second ago."
"I think he went outside."
"Well, I'd better go drag him back in here. Wouldn't want him to miss something."
Sam gave her C.O. a perplexed look. "Miss something?"
Not responding to her query, Jack headed off in search of the absent archeologist. He found the man out front, leaning back against the trunk of a car and staring up at the sky.
"Going somewhere?" Jack asked.
Daniel glanced at him. "No, I was just getting some fresh air."
"There are lots of people out in the yard getting fresh air. How come you're doing it all by yourself?"
Daniel gave a little sigh. "I was just thinking about some things, that's all."
Jack looked at him more closely. "You okay?"
"Yes, I'm fine."
"Well, come on. You need to come back inside."
Daniel stared at Jack suspiciously. "Why?"
"Because Hammond's going to be making a little speech about Carter and what she did on the Prometheus."
Daniel smiled. "Really? That's great."
"Come on, then. You don't want to miss it."
The two men went back to the house. Jack gathered all of the other people who were outside and ushered them indoors.
Hammond made his way to the center of the room. "Ladies and gentleman, may I have your attention?" The room grew quiet, all eyes on the general. "I'd like to take this moment to say a few words. Because of her perseverance, courage and skills, Major Samantha Carter singlehandedly saved the Prometheus and the lives of all her crew. There are several people here today who very likely owe their lives or, at the very least, their freedom to her."
Everyone in the room applauded, Sam's teammates and the crew of the Prometheus clapping the loudest. Embarrassed, Sam blushed. She felt a hand on her arm and turned to see Daniel smiling proudly at her.
"I have every intention of making sure that Major Carter receives a commendation for her actions," Hammond continued. There was more applause. Hammond held up his hands to silence everyone. "There is something else I wish to say as well." His eyes went to Daniel. "Doctor Jackson, through some miracle that I am not going to question, you have been given a great power. Just in the few short weeks that you've had it, you have already saved the lives of hundreds of people, including your own teammates and every member of SG-3."
Colonel Reynolds and his teammates all nodded, smiling at Daniel, who was presently staring at the carpet, surprised and embarrassed by the unexpected words.
"And you have done so in spite of the fact that it caused you great pain and could have resulted in severe injury to you," Hammond continued. "I don't know what the future is going to bring, but I have every confidence that your abilities will continue to save lives and may even bring us a few steps closer to our goal of defeating the Goa'uld. We almost lost you because of these abilities, and I want to say now that we are all grateful that you are back with us and a part of the SGC and SG-1."
Loud applause followed Hammond's words, along with more than one whistle. Even more embarrassed, Daniel continued staring at the floor. He felt a nudge in the ribs and knew it was Jack. Finally, he lifted his gaze.
"Thank you, sir," he said. "I hope that I can live up to your confidence in me. I'm also glad that I'm here, back on Earth and back with the SGC and SG-1." He looked at his teammates, who were all smiling at him. "There isn't anywhere else in the galaxy," his gaze intensified, "on this plane of existence or any other, that I'd rather be."
Jack and Sam's smiles turned into full-blown grins, and Teal'c adopted a very pleased look.
Speeches over, everyone resumed what they had been doing. All the members of SG-1 went outside to enjoy the sunshine. Someone had set up a boom box and was playing CDs. Several people were dancing. Just then, a slow song came on. Not quite knowing what possessed him to do so, Daniel asked Sam to dance. Surprised but pleased, she let him lead her out onto the 'dance floor', which was actually a section of well-trodden grass.
As Daniel took Sam into his arms and began to dance with her, he felt a little shiver of excitement run through him. Ignoring it, he smiled into her eyes. She smiled back.
"Did you know that the general was going to make a speech?" she asked.
"Not until Jack came and got me. He told me the speech was going to be about you."
Sam's smile broadened. "But neglected to mention that it was going to be about you, too."
"Yep. He probably knew that I'd run and hide if I found out."
"Why hide, Daniel? You deserve everything the general said and more."
Daniel shrugged. "I was just never all that comfortable with people showering me with praise."
"Why not?" When Daniel didn't answer, Sam asked again.
"I just . . . didn't hear a whole lot of it growing up in foster care."
"Oh, Daniel," Sam murmured sadly, she dropped her eyes to hide the sorrow in them.
"Hey." Daniel lifted Sam's chin and looked into her eyes. "Don't be sad, Sam. It's just the way it was. I've never been bitter about it. I learned to accept it a very, very long time ago. It could have been a whole lot worse. Believe me."
Sam drew him tighter against her. "Well, things are different now, Daniel. We all appreciate who you are and the things you can do, and, if I have anything to say about it, you'll be hearing a whole lot more praise in the future."
Daniel grinned. "Be careful, Sam. You'll end up making me get a swelled head."
Sam laughed. "Yeah, right. Like I believe that. Your ego could never get too big for you. I sometimes wonder if you even have an ego."
"Yes, I do. Compared to that of certain other people, it's pretty sickly, but it does exist."
"Then I will consider it my job to bring it back to a healthy condition."
Daniel chuckled. "I'm dancing with the prettiest girl at the party, Sam. That alone is great for my ego."
Surprised by his words, Sam stared up at him to see that he was blushing again. "Thank you, Daniel. That was a really lovely thing to say."
Daniel licked his lips. "You're welcome. Just because I'm your teammate doesn't mean that I don't notice how you look."
Sam's eyes dropped to the buttons of Daniel's shirt. When Daniel licked his lips just then, she had been hit with the urge to kiss him. Ever since he gave her that kiss in her lab, she had wanted to know what it would be like to really kiss him, a passionate, deep kiss with lots of tongue. Would he be a good kisser, the kind of guy who could make your bones melt? Would his kisses be slow and thorough, or hot and wild, or maybe something in between? These thoughts had annoyed the heck out of her. She wasn't supposed to be thinking things like that about Daniel. For the most part, she had been able to avoid such thoughts, but every once in a while, like right now. . . .
Something that the hallucination of Daniel said to Sam suddenly made sense. This was the reason why her mind had conjured a Daniel with an annoying streak. This is what that Daniel was getting at when he asked her why her subconscious was portraying him like that. She was irritated and annoyed by the inappropriate thoughts she'd been having about Daniel, and that annoyance was reflected in the hallucination of him. Of course knowing that didn't help her one little bit. All she could really do was ignore it. If she ignored it, it would eventually go away, although ignoring it right now, here in Daniel's arms, was pretty much impossible. She really should excuse herself.
Sam glanced furtively up at Daniel and saw the happy look on his face, and she knew that she couldn't stop this dance. Besides, she really didn't want to stop it. She was enjoying it too much.
Deciding just to set aside what she was feeling, Sam rested her head on Daniel's shoulder and let herself enjoy dancing with him.
As Sam put her head on his shoulder, Daniel closed his eyes for a moment. This felt really, really good. For the first time in a very long time, he felt happy and totally content. He chose not to analyze these feelings, though a small voice inside said that he should. All he wanted to do right now was enjoy them.
Jack watched his two teammates dancing, studying the expressions that were on their faces. Sam definitely looked like she was enjoying the dance, and Daniel looked. . . . When had he seen that look before, that content, peaceful, happy-with-the-world expression? Jack turned his mind to the question. A moment later, it came to him. Actually, it hit him right smack between the eyes. He had seen that same look on Daniel's face when the archeologist was gazing at Sha're.
That revelation was followed by another memory, that of words shouted by an angry Daniel a few days ago. "Dammit, Jack! Don't you dare take away my ability to save someone that I love!"
"Well, I'll be damned," Jack murmured. Daniel was in love with Sam. How long had this been going on? Why had he never noticed it before? He'd known for many years that the two scientists were very close friends, but this. . . . Did Sam share Daniel's feelings? It was pretty obvious that she was having a good time dancing with him, but Jack couldn't tell anything beyond that.
Jack was absolutely positive that nothing was going on between them, which probably meant that either Daniel had never told Sam how he felt about her or he had told her, and she didn't share his feelings. So, which did Jack want it to be?
Years ago, he had admitted to himself that he had deep feelings for Sam, feelings that a man in the military was not supposed to have for someone under his command. At the same time that he admitted that, he also made the decision that he would do nothing about it. He was not willing to give up his career, and he would never ask Sam to do so, even if he'd wanted her to, which he didn't. He liked having her on his team.
As the years passed, Jack came to realize that a relationship with Sam would very likely be doomed to failure. They were too different. Other than the SGC and an interest in astronomy, they had virtually nothing in common. He and Sara had been well suited for each other. They both enjoyed sports, Sara being as avid a hockey fan as Jack was. They could talk about things and not bore each other. Oh, there were some rough spots, but, all in all, it had been a good marriage until Charlie died. Try as he might, Jack had never been able to picture having that kind of relationship with Sam. That knowledge had tempered his feelings for her. The feelings were still there, but they had weakened with age and with the cold, hard facts that could not be ignored.
Jack returned his gaze to Daniel and Sam, who were still dancing. Why wasn't he jealous? His best friend was in love with the same woman he loved. Shouldn't he be jealous, at least a little bit?
At that moment, Jack realized that his feelings for Sam were no longer what they used to be. Oh, if, by some miracle, they could be together and could actually have a happy life as a couple, he'd still jump at the chance, but it was no longer something that he longed for like he did in the beginning.
But what about Sam? Since the Zatarc detector incident, neither one of them had talked about what was between them. Jack honestly didn't know if she still felt something for him. Had her feelings for him faded as his did for her?
Jack turned his attention back to his two youngest teammates, seeing how good they looked together. He knew that, unlike him and Sam, Daniel and Sam could have a good life together. They could be truly happy. And, more than anything else, that's what he wanted, for both Sam and Daniel.
With the smallest hint of a smile, Jack continued watching his "kids," thinking that this really was turning out to be a great day.
Daniel sat on the couch, a pile of photographs on the coffee table and an open photo album on his lap. Back when he was going through the stuff that was put in storage after he ascended, he found a small box full of photos. He'd almost forgotten about the box, it having been put up on a shelf in his closet. During these months that he'd been human again, Daniel had been intending to do something about the photos, but he never got around to it. All the things that had happened lately, especially the way that his friendship with his teammates was deepening, had made him decide to finally put the pictures in an album.
Daniel gazed at the photos of his parents and himself as a child. The originals of most of these photos had been among Nick's personal possessions and given to him by the psychiatric facility where the man had spent so many years of his life. After Nick chose to stay on P7X-377, Daniel went to the facility and told them that his grandfather wouldn't be coming back, that he had decided to leave the country. It had taken a bit of doing and some help from the government, but Daniel finally gained custody of Nick's belongings. Most of the stuff was still sitting in a storage unit, waiting for him to go through, but the photos had been separate from the rest. Figuring that Nick wouldn't mind, Daniel had copies made of them.
Looking at the pictures, Daniel had to wonder what his parents would think of him now. He had no doubt that they'd be shocked at the way his life had turned out. But would they be proud of him? He hoped so.
Daniel carefully placed the pictures on the first page of the album. Next came a few pictures taken with various foster families. There weren't many of those. Not many of his foster parents took the time to have a photo taken with him.
After that came some pictures of school friends, which led up to photos of him with Doctor Jordan, Steven Raynor and Sarah Gardner. The pictures of Sarah were difficult for Daniel to look at, and he quickly placed them in the album and moved on.
Next came photos from digs around the world, of friends he had made on those digs and pictures of himself with various archeological discoveries. There was a copy of the picture of him on the camel, which made Daniel smile. God, that was so long ago. If he had only known then what he knew now.
At last, Daniel came to the photos of his team. The very first was one was taken at the party Jack had thrown after Daniel came back alive and relatively well from Oannes. Jack had explained that, since they had a wake for him, the least they could do was also have a "welcome back from the dead" party.
The second picture was one taken at the "saved the world" party, which was held at the SGC shortly after SG-1 returned from destroying Apophis' ships. After that, there were various pictures taken at holiday celebrations, birthday parties and get-togethers. Among these was one of Daniel's favorites, the picture taken at the dinner he and his teammates had at Jack's house shortly after Daniel's return from ascension. He was still recovering his memories at the time and could only recall bits and pieces of his years on SG-1, but when Sam insisted that they needed a photo to commemorate the day, it had made him feel good. Standing there, with Sam's arm around his waist and Jack's hand on his shoulder, he had truly felt their friendship.
Daniel smiled down at the photo. It was a copy of the one that had been on his desk, the one that was damaged by his psychic outburst. Jack had two new copies printed from the negatives, one of which was back on Daniel's desk.
The archeologist put the photo in the album, plus a few others. Several pages remained empty, and Daniel wondered what would end up filling them. He hoped that he'd be able to fill this album and more in the years to come.
Daniel flipped back through the pages, rearranging some of the pictures. This time, when he got to the ones of Sarah, he did not hurry by. He had a whole lot of regrets in his life, and what happened to Sarah was one of the biggest. Remembering the way she was back when they were friends and lovers and then thinking about her present fate hurt a lot.
Daniel touched a picture that was just of Sarah. "I'm sorry, Sarah," he murmured. "I wish that there was some way I could save you."
Without warning, an image flashed through Daniel's mind of the woman who was now possessed by Osiris.
"You have something that I want, Doctor Jackson, and I will have it from you," she murmured. Then his vision was filled by the harsh golden light of a ribbon device.
With a gasp, Daniel jerked back, the photo album falling to the floor. He sat still on the couch, recovering from the vision. There was no doubt of what it meant. Sometime in the not too distant future, Daniel would be meeting Osiris again.
Sam parked in the restaurant parking lot. She was there to meet her brother and his wife. They and the children were going to be visiting with her for a couple of days, and Sam was looking forward to the time she'd be spending with them. Her one regret was that Dad couldn't be there, too.
Entering the restaurant, Sam looked around for her brother and spied him at the same time as he saw her. He got up from the booth and came forward with a smile. He gave her a warm hug.
"Hey, Sam. It's great to see you."
"It's great to see you, too, Mark. How have you and everyone else been?"
"Good, good. But we'll have plenty of time to talk about all that later. Come on over to the table. Um, I hope you don't mind, but I invited a friend of mine to join us. He lives in Denver, and it's been years since we've seen each other. I think you'll like him."
As they came up to the table, an attractive man with blond hair and brown eyes rose to his feet.
"Pete, this is my sister, Samantha," Mark introduced. "Sam, this is Detective Pete Shanahan."
Sam smiled and took the man's outstretched hand. "It's very nice to meet you, Pete."
To be continued.
I'd like to thank everyone who has given reviews on this story. It is greatly appreciated.