There is a small cabin, too haphazardly and poorly constructed to ever grace a postcard, sitting half way up the slope of a mountain in the Colorado Rockies. The area immediately around it was clear cut sometime in the past decade. The cabin sits in something more resembling thicket than woods, although oppressively dense forest is visible surrounding the scrubby first growth trees and bushes. The horizon is blessed with stark peaks visible through the small window over the galvanized tin sink. The cabin doesn't have electricity and the indoor plumbing is of the pull chain variety. The three bears would approve of the furniture, but most others would find it sparse, heavy, and primitive. At the time of purchase, it had been standing empty for over a decade. Bats had stirred, affronted, in the rafters when the real estate agent opened the door to show it to them. The handsome man with a vaguely academic air and his lovely blonde wife snapped the property up for virtually nothing.
The cabin's owners are known as Dan and Samantha Gates in the little town a teeth rattling one hour drive away, over the cabin's long dirt road and then indifferently maintained back roads the rest of the way. From the time they purchased the cabin up until December of that year, they had only spent a little more than a week there. The nearest neighbor monitors their presence, noting when they arrive and when they leave, either by small plane or driving up the rugged road that runs past his long driveway first. They are amazingly well-known and discussed in the little town, considering that they have only been there to finalize the shack's purchase and for one supply run since then.
On December 21st, there was snow on the ground and their neighbor was surprised to hear the sound of a car down on the road. He kept an eye on the horizon for smoke from the direction of the Gates' cabin. He rested on his ax for a moment when he first saw it curl up to meld with the low, fluffy clouds. The Gates were back again for Christmas, it seemed. He paused to consider what circumstances would compel the couple to chose to spend their Christmas in an uncomfortable, barebones cabin. He had his pet theory about them that differed from that espoused passionately by the owner of the hardware store-so much storm and fury in pursuit of total wrong headedness on both their parts. In ignorant bliss, he returned to cutting wood and didn't think any further about the Gates until he spent New Year's Eve in town, long after they had driven away again.
Shortly after arriving on P4T890, Colonel Sam Carter had sent Teal'c off in one direction while she and Dr. Daniel Jackson had gone off in another on what seemed like a simple reconnoiter. They had encountered some locals and in the space of a bewildering hour had found themselves, to their complete surprise, apparently considered married by local custom. As they walked back to meet Teal'c, Sam asked, "You're not completely sure we're married?"
"No. Their language was only partly comprehensible to me. I have the audiotape I made and the document they gave us. I need to study the data. I'm like 75 percent sure."
"Then do me a favor. Let's not say anything right now. Pete will go ballistic and it might make trouble with you staying on the team while things were sorted out. Why borrow trouble?"
"Isn't it going to look bad if we bring it out later?" Daniel asked, concerned for her career. It wouldn't matter that much to him, although on some level he didn't mind the thought of her fiancé getting a little shaken up.
"Maybe a little. I can say something in the mission report about a ceremony we didn't really understand and that you are investigating further."
"You will have to act on this before you and Pete stand in front of a priest."
"Let's worry about that if it actually happens. I've got my doubts."
They returned to Earth and carried on as if nothing had happened except that Daniel found himself covertly studying her in a way he never had before. He thought he had caught some sidewise glances from her that might hint she was doing the same. The idea that she was perhaps his wife and maybe they had permission in some sense to get physical had gotten stuck in his head. He studied all the artifacts and became totally convinced they were married. Sam manufactured an excuse to return to the planet and Daniel got confirmation.
"So what are you putting in the mission report?"
Sam said, "You have more evidence. You know what it means, but you ought to still go through it one more time. Let's wait." Daniel knew that with the fresh wounds of her break up with Pete and her father's death, she just didn't want to deal with it.
Shortly thereafter, Sam left SG-1 and the dreams started, intense feel good dreams in which he was kissing Sam, holding her close in his arms. The details he had noticed in his recent study of her fleshed out the dream experience. He could smell her shampoo and the ginger scented body lotion she used. He knew what her curves would be like when he trailed his hand down her body. The way she tasted was where fiction came in. He kept waking up with a smile to be dashed to earth a moment later when he looked over at the empty pillow. He told himself he was crazy. She was his friend, not his lover. He had never considered her that way and he was quite sure she was too busy fantasizing about Jack to waste any time imaging sex with him. Still the permission they had somehow been granted to experiment left him, the scientist above all else, thinking about the experiment.
Daniel went to see Sam and Cassie onthe spur of the moment, one weekend after he had been cleared for Atlantis, tosay good-bye.He was surprised by how much time he had spent thinking about Sam since she had taken her new assignment. There was a very large gentleman in the aisle seat, spilling over into Daniel's already cramped space on the plane. The man looked like he wanted to talk with Daniel if he received any encouragement at all. Daniel retreated deep into himself and focused on what he thought was going to happen when he saw Sam. Unfortunately, when he walked stiffly off the plane, his muscles protesting the discomfort of the flight, he still didn't know what that was.
All through dinner with Sam and Cassie, he found his eyes coming back to Sam's mouth. It was a lovely shape and, he thought, a perfect match for his own. He had been surprised to learn early in his exploration of kissing that if the girl's mouth was noticeably smaller than his or too much more generous, somebody got swallowed up in somebody's else's mouth. It was a slight handicap to have to compensate for it. "Daniel, what do you think about my picking up a second minor?" Cassie's voice was asking.
He swam out of his fog, shook his head, and said, hoping his complete lack of attention wasn't too obvious, "Why don't you recap the pros and cons as you see them for me one more time?"
After they dropped Cassie at her dorm, he went back to Sam's with her. She'd insisted that he take her spare bedroom rather than stay in a hotel. They settled at either end of the sofa for a chat before bed. He asked, "Are you sure you don't want to bring our marriage out in the open and get an annulment process going? I'm going to Atlantis and it could be awkward to take care of it while I'm in the Pegasus galaxy."
Sam said, "Jack's sleeping with Kerri again. I don't really see myself getting involved with anyone for quite awhile."
Her words hung in the air. Daniel said, "I'm sorry, Sam. I know you had hopes after Jack was promoted."
"Whatever. Also, with this new position, I'm having a little trouble getting some people to recognize my authority. I don't need a hint of impropriety right now."
He nodded and they sat in silence for awhile. Then she asked, "You seemed a million miles away. When Cassie asked you about her minor, I really don't think you had any idea what she was talking about. What was on your mind?"
He reddened slightly. The lists of pros and cons for being honest with her had been meticulously constructed and reviewed countless times. It was an easy matter to run them through his mind once again. He decided to go part way with it and try to gauge the reaction before going further. "It's sort of strange that we're married, by some definition anyway, yet never have even kissed."
She picked up a throw pillow and seemed to become quite interested in the fringe. "I thought of that once or twice," she said. Sam darted a quick look at him.
"Really?" he asked. "Us being married got me thinking about it. I mean curious about what it would be like to kiss you. Just because I hadn't. Does that make sense?" He was cringing mentally, afraid of the likely putdown. No matter how tactfully Sam delivered it, it would still be awkward.
She tossed the throw pillow on the floor and moved across the couch to sit right next to him. "I think we should try it." She shrugged. "I mean, I'm curious too. We're 'married' so what's to stop us?"
Sam leaned over him and he thought, "This is one area where I want to take the lead. She's been my commanding officer and might be again, but I want to be the leader here."
He lifted a hand and cupped her cheek, stopped her slow movement toward his mouth. He ran his thumb over her lower lip. With his other hand, he ran his hand through her hair and settled it to the back of her head. Then he brought his mouth to hers, brushing her lips with his, then paying attention to her lower lip. Only then, did he firmly connect with her mouth and accept the invitation her open lips offered to his tongue. It was feeling very fine up to that point. When his tongue slid over hers, he felt white heat course through him. Suddenly he was consumed with a ravening desire. To his wonder, he heard her moan into his mouth and her hands took fistfuls of his sweater. They held the kiss for a long time, it proving to be an amazing revelation. When they broke apart, her blue eyes were wide looking into his. "Daniel," she said in a husky voice. Just the word "Daniel" but it seemed like some sort of a perfect love sonnet to him.
"What do you want?" he asked her.
"The bedroom," she said. She seemed to be having problems with complete sentences. Her eyes were hot and they roamed over his body. He stood and she followed suit quickly. He smiled at her and then he scooped her up in his arms and carried her up the stairs and to the bed, devoutly grateful for the increased time in the gym his recent sexual frustration had provoked.
They undressed each other, doing it slowly. Mixed in with lust, Daniel felt the same emotions of wonder he always felt when uncovering some priceless and unexpected treasure on a dig. Her sweater came off and her slacks. When he removed her bra, his breath caught at how beautiful her breasts were. He couldn't help but worship them for a while before removing her lacy bikinis. Part of him wanted to go slow and savor everything in what was likely a one time experience, but there was another voice that was urging, "Take her. Mark her as yours. Do it now." The wonder of their coming together was the balance he found between the two.
Afterwards they agreed it had been very interesting, but, none the less, it would be foolish to ever repeat it again. Then he came to see her with a housewarming gift after she rejoined SG-1 and Vala was out of the picture. He handed her the package. She set it down on the table to her left without looking at it and made eye contact. "Here we are alone," she observed and he got the message.
Daniel took her in his arms and kissed her hard. He turned her to take two steps forward and back her against the wall. They tore at each other's clothes to get the connection they craved. It was all over in a matter of minutes and it left them both still excited and wanting more. They only got as far as the couch in the living room. They toppled there together and made love again. As they lay in each other's arms, very satisfied, he said, "This has to be the last time. We won't be able to stay on the team together."
"Of course. We have to stop." They really intended to. No one had said, "I love you," and Daniel really believed that he felt the same way about her, his dear friend, as he always had, yet his wife was the most exciting sexual partner he had ever had.
He'd find himself looking at her mouth, remembering how it felt on him, or at her hands as she smoothed them across a piece of paper, remembering them sliding across his chest. They'd find themselves alone in a conference room or in each other's offices and yield to the temptation of just one kiss, just one touch. There were a few evenings at her house or his, but they limited them, afraid that someone would find them out. They were very proud that they never yielded to temptation on a mission, but Daniel wondered what sort of risk he had brought to SG-1 all the times he had been thinking about what he wanted to do to her when they were off world.
"It's sex addiction," she told him at last. "We have some sort of strange, uncontrollable urge for each other. Maybe if we went somewhere for a week where we could indulge, uninterrupted, we would get it out of our system." Daniel thought that highly unlikely and merely a self-rationalization to do what she wanted to do, but he wasn't about to argue.
They needed absolute privacy and discretion. Sam suggested they take a car that weekend and just drive into the mountains until they found something likely for a week long vacation later in the month. When they stopped in the little town of Lament and decided this should be their base of operations, the rental agent conned them into looking at the shack as they were returning to town from inspecting the cabin she was offering them for rent. A day later, they had the deed in their possession to what Sam called their "Love Shack." Her assertion was followed by an off-key rendition of the B-52's song with several huge gaps in the lyrics. Since Daniel had been totally unaware of the very existence of the song, he had no basis by which to critique her performance and just thought it was cute.
They hired some local people to clean up the cabin and put a decent bed in it. When they returned, they only got out of the bed to eat and bathe. They learned every inch of each other's bodies. By the end of the week, Daniel understood how the fine instrument that was Sam's body was tuned and he knew exactly how to play it.
The next six months were torture. They made up all sorts of rules to limit their encounters, to keep themselves in bounds so that no one would learn the truth. There still had been no "I love you," but they had admitted to each other that the uncertainty of either one going through the gate without the other was something they could not handle.
Sam visited Mark at Thanksgiving to give herself a clear conscience about Christmas being devoted strictly to Daniel in the Love Shack. At last it came, the long drive into the mountains for Christmas. They spoke little and the tension in the car was thick. Daniel drove and halfway there, he suddenly turned onto a little side road and pulled off the road. "I can't wait," he said to her. She nodded and they came together like furtive teenagers.
When they reached the shack, Sam immediately went to work on the fire and Daniel brought the rest of their things in from the SUV. As soon as the fire was blazingly brightly, she went to work on the bed. A queen-sized four poster, it was the only quality piece of furniture in the cabin. She put fresh sheets on the bed and fluffed the pillows and aired the covers, a luxurious goose down comforter. By the time the bed was ready, Daniel had squared everything else away and unrolled a thick rug in front of the fire. Daniel pulled some mistletoe out of a pocket with a flourish, stood on a chair, and hung in from the rafters over the bed. Sam chuckled, "Like we need that." He just laughed.
They met in the middle of the cabin and went into each other's arms, exchanging a long, intimate kiss. He led her to the rug where they peeled clothing away and reveled in each other in the firelight. Each day was more perfect than the day before. They talked, as they always had, excited by the ideas and quickly understanding each other's insights. Once a day they chopped firewood together, sometimes making a contest out of it. They took short walks in the frozen, quiet woods, diving into the warm bed afterwards to drive the cold away that had permutated every inch of their bodies.
On Christmas Eve, they cut a small fir and took it back to the cabin where they propped it up in the corner. Christmas morning, they put breakfast off, reluctant to get out of bed, although Daniel got up long enough to add wood to the fire. Sam looked over at the tree and the presents they had toted to the cabin that rested under it. "If you were willing to go get the presents and bring them over here, I could be really appreciative," she said, looking at Daniel.
Sam, never a morning person, was even more loath to get out of their soft, warm bed in a cabin whose fire was always fighting a losing battle against the drafts coming in under the ill fitting doors and windows. "Really appreciative?" Daniel asked.
"Really, really," she said and gave him a special kiss to demonstrate. He leapt out of the bed and came back with a precarious stack that he dumped on top of the comforter.
She looked through the packages from him, there were three, and picked up a small box. "Why don't you open that last?" he asked.
She looked at him, a gleam of mischief in her eye. "Now I have to open it first." She tore at the wrappings and found there was a little action figure in a BDU in the box. With what must have been great difficulty considering the small size, a tiny bandana had been added and glasses. He had a little sack over his shoulder. "Daniel, is this supposed to be you?" she asked. She thought it was sweet, but she was a little puzzled.
Daniel gazed into her beautiful eyes. Sometime during the past few months, while watching her sleep, he had finally admitted to himself that he had fallen in love with her.
With his heart in his throat, he swallowed and said, "I love you, Sam. In my heart, I've thought of you as my wife in every way for months. The little figure means I'm offering you all of me, if you want me, forever."
Then he waited, his breath caught, for her response. "I love you too Daniel. I want us to be married in every sense of the word, not just according to some really weird tribesmen back on P4T890."
"You're okay with everything we'll have to sort out with SG-1, with our careers?"
"It's all about priorities, Daniel. There isn't anything worth more to me any more than you. We'll try to work it out, but if something has to go, it isn't you. It never will be."
"Then open mini-Daniel's sack," he directed softly.
She pulled out a beautiful sapphire engagement ring and a wedding ring with trembling fingers. She looked up at him with tears in her eyes. "Do you have one for yourself? I want everyone to know you're a married man." She pulled him over and kissed him fiercely. He produced the wedding ring that was the mate to hers later that day. They left the cabin two days early and went to Las Vegas for their marriage of record, easier than resurrecting the records of the mission to P4T890.
Daniel and Sam never sold the Love Shack or told anyone else about it. Their children never came there. Once a year, they found a way to leave everyone else behind, sometimes only for just a day, to come back to their mountainside. They never failed to recapture the wonder of the beginning of their journey until they came to the end of it.