Falling Past Friendship: Twelve Days at Christmas
Disclaimer: Not mine.
What is a friend? A single soul dwelling in two bodies.
"Hey, Daniel! Wait up!" Instinctively Daniel turned in the direction of the voice and smiled. Sam was hustling down the corridor a chagrined smile on her face. Smiling at her in return he reached out and held the elevator door open for her.
"Thanks," she exhaled getting into the elevator beside him.
"Hot date?" he asked with an impish grin. He noticed that she had changed into her civvies. Apparently she would not be spending another all-nighter under the mountain.
"As if. No, just me, the mall and half of Colorado Springs. Teach me to leave my Christmas shopping to the last minute," she grumbled, although the bright smile on her face indicated she wasn't nearly as upset as she was pretending to be.
"Christmas shopping," Daniel repeated absently a small frown marring his face.
"Don't tell me you haven't started either."
Daniel looked slightly sheepish, "Well, with everything going on around here lately I guess it just slipped my mind." A small mischievous grin spread across his face, "I guess I could just claim 'memory loss'." Sam laughed at the joke.
"I don't think anyone's going to buy that one anymore." Sam paused for a moment, "Why don't you come with me?"
"Go with you?" Daniel responded with mock horror, "To the Mall? Three days before Christmas? Crowds, lines, the ever elusive perfect gift. Give me Baal or Anubis any day."
"You've been spending too much time with Jack." Sam shifted impatiently from foot to foot, watching the numbers on the elevator slowly count down. She was full of pent up energy tonight. Daniel guessed spending the last ten days stuck in a swamp could do that to you. He was feeling a little restless himself. Still, after the events of the last five months, since his 'reappearance' in the material world, he was still a little reluctant to leave the safety of the SGC. His little vacation to Honduras hadn't exactly reconfirmed his faith that all was right in the world. It wasn't the first time he had come back from the dead, but it was still disconcerting to return to the world and have missed an entire year. He looked over at Sam, her blue eyes sparkling brightly her cheeks slightly flushed from excitement.
"Besides, you forgot to mention food that doesn't taste like MREs."
"Good point," Daniel grinned at her in return, giving in to her infectious mood. "You drive. I'll pay." Sam glanced over and took note of Daniel's BDU's and the stack of papers he was holding.
"You might want to stop by your office first and change." Daniel looked down at his drab military issue clothing.
"You mean this isn't what's 'in' this season?" he asked deadpan. The doors to the elevator opened. Sam laughed, and shook her head giving him a playful shove out the door.
"Meet you topside in 15."
Sam was waiting for him when he reached the security checkpoint. The guards on duty were trying hard to suppress a smile at the sight of Major Carter leaning casually against the wall humming "Jingle Bell Rock" and bobbing her head in time to the music. She was staring absently at the wall lost in thought when Daniel arrived. He presented his ID to the guards to be signed out and turned to watch her.
Sam was happier than he'd seen her in a long time. When she had come back from the Prometheus, she had withdrawn a bit from the team, seemingly preoccupied with her experiences there. Daniel suspected that she hadn't shared everything during the debriefing. It wouldn't be the first time a member of SG-1 had left some more unpleasant details out of a mission report. Today she seemed to be caught up in the spirit of the holidays. Perhaps it was the news of ten days of downtime that had her spirits up. Hammond had surprised them all at the briefing this morning with that holiday surprise. It seems that in his opinion SG-1 had earned it. He wondered absently if there was a point system on how many alien possessions, clones, kidnapings, near death experiences, and catastrophic computer viruses it took to earn a week's down time.
"Dr. Jackson," the guard handed him back his ID. "Happy holidays, sir." Wishing the guards a 'happy holiday' as well, Daniel headed over to Sam who had stepped away from the wall at the sound of his voice.
"Ready?" Daniel nodded and headed out the door.
A thin dusting of snow coating the cars. The skies were heavy with the promise of more snow before long. "Looks like a white Christmas is probable this year," Daniel observed as he reached into Sam's car for the snow brush.
"Well, technically it's not a white Christmas unless it actually snows on Christmas Day," Sam countered as she finished dusting snow from the driver's side. She settled herself into the driver's seat and fiddled with the radio. Daniel slipped into the passenger's side a moment later and Sam turned the car toward town. "I remember one white Christmas we had growing up when 18 inches of snow was dumped on us Christmas Eve. The whole family ended up outside having a giant snowball fight. Even Dad, who was very straight-laced back then got in on the action, breaking us into teams and ordering us to 'take that snowbank' and other nonsense. I was like six or seven at the time." Sam smiled fondly at the memory.
"I think I would have liked to have seen that," Daniel stared absently out the window as they drove. "We were usually on digs at Christmas time. Most of the people there didn't celebrate Christmas, but my mom always made it a point to do something special. I remember one year I had been deeply troubled about how Santa was going to land his sleigh on the roof of our tent. After all it wouldn't be able to hold the weight of the sleigh. Christmas morning came and my parents called me outside and there in the sand were hoof prints, eight sets in all and a 'sleigh' impression. I never questioned Santa's ability to travel again." Sam smiled inwardly at the picture of a young Daniel questioning his parents about where the sleigh would go. It was so -him-. They traveled along in silence until they reached the mall parking lot. "So what's the plan of attack?"
Sam sighed as she scoured the parking lot for a space, "I guess where we can park will determine where we start."
"Should have requisitioned a Zat. Three shots and any space is yours," Daniel wiggled his eyebrows. "Could come in handy in long lines, too."
"We should have thought of that before we left the base." She rounded the next corner, "Oh! Here's one. Looks like shopping first."
Two hours later they found themselves seated at a table at Applebee's, a mound of bags occupying the floor space beneath the table. They had spent the last two hours hunting for that ever elusive perfect gift for everyone on their list and had met with relative success. Instead of being a stressful experience fighting hoards of angry shoppers they had laughed their way through the stores, seeing who could suggest the more outrageous gift for their co-workers. Caught up in the spirit of the holidays, Sam had even stopped to help a couple pick out a chemistry set at the Discovery store for their son who was crazy about science. Daniel had amused himself translating the hieroglyphics on a puzzle that they were selling and the resulting statements had reduced them to a sorry case of the giggles. The two were still laughing over one of the more absurd phrases when their drinks arrived.
"I can't believe you actually bought that, " Sam exclaimed referring to the poorly translated puzzle.
"It's a gift for Nyan. He'll probably find it just as funny. Maybe we should frame it when it's done and hang it on the wall." Daniel laughed and shook his head, "Probably be too distracting during department meetings."
"Does it really say "He who has the hungry table will sail upon the golden hamster of love?"
"More or less. A lot of times artists select hieroglyphs because of their appearance, not because of their meaning. Makes for all sorts of fun." Sam absently swirled her drink and a companionable silence fell over them.
It had been a long time since the two of them had spent time together outside of work, before he had ascended. Ever since their meeting in the map room on Abydos, which was more than just a meeting of minds in her opinion, they had been close. Daniel understood her on levels that no one ever had before. He shared the same passion for learning, the same excitement over a new discovery, why staying up all night working on a solution to a new puzzle was more stimulating than a good night's sleep. More importantly he understood it was okay to have feelings that sometimes the greatest insight comes from the heart, not from facts and figures, or even rules and regulations. Sam would always remember the time with Cassandra and how Daniel had told her that she didn't have to go through that alone. Daniel was true to his word. The years they spent together his was the shoulder she would cry on, the one to come to for comfort or advice, the one to go to at 4:00 A.M. when she was stumped. Somehow the world always seemed a little brighter. After the events on Kelowna she felt that a part of her was missing. Her best friend was gone, her confidant, the other half of her soul. Part of her was lost.
Then came the mission to Vis Uban in search of the Lost City. Daniel flesh and blood, but no idea of who he was, no spark of recognition in his eyes as he was led back into town. Then there was the Question, one, when she allowed herself to think of it haunted her-. Was there ever anything between us?
Was there ever anything between us?
"Penny for them . . . " Daniel's blue eyes were gazing at her with curiosity and a hint of concern. She glanced down at the table. Daniel's hand was resting lightly on hers. 'I must have been really lost in thought.'
"I was just thinking." Daniel didn't avert his gaze, the unspoken 'about what' hanging in the air between them. She took his hand in hers and squeezed it tightly, "I missed this. I missed you." He looked down at the table, his menu suddenly the most intriguing thing in the world. A slight pink stained his cheeks.
"I don't remember much from when I was Ascended. All I remember is waking up in the forest and wondering who I was. Nothing was familiar. It just felt wrong. Then you came," he glanced up at her, a bit bashful, "and I knew."
"That it was time to go home." He studied her for a long moment, eyes meeting hers. For a moment Sam thought he might say more, but he abruptly cleared his throat and glanced to look at the other diners. "So, what are your plans for Christmas?" he asked abruptly changing the topic.
Sam hesitated for a moment, then leaned back into her seat. The moment for confidences was over. "I'm headed down to San Diego to spend Christmas with Mark and his family. Hopefully Dad will be able to get some time off from the Tok'ra and be able to join us. And you? How are you going to spend your down time?"
"Me?" he looked a bit unsure as if he hadn't really thought about. He shrugged. "Don't really have plans. Jack invited me to his cabin with Teal'c, Bretac and Ryac but I can't say the invitation holds that much appeal." He wrinkled his nose at the thought of spending the holidays with four warriors, fishing, and beer. "I guess I'll catch up on some work on base."
Sam laughed at the thought of Jack teaching the Jaffa master the finer points of fishing and shook her head. "No, I can't say that it sounds tempting." She paused for a second, "Why don't you come with me to San Diego?" Daniel looked surprised. Rushing on before Daniel had a chance to protest she continued, "Allison loves to entertain. They have this great big Christmas tree, and the best apple cider, and I promised my niece and nephew I'd take them to the Zoo. No snakes though." She grinned impishly at the mention of snakes. Daniel opened his mouth starting to decline her offer. He didn't want her to feel obligated to invite him simply because he had no family to go to for the holidays. In years past the team had always had a get together on Christmas Eve and then went their respective ways for the actual day. Daniel usually ended up at Jack's place with Teal'c. "Sam, I don't think . . . " her eyes clouded slightly as she anticipated his refusal. She glanced down at the table again, her coaster suddenly a rare and unusual treasure to study. Her disappointment was obvious and he was the cause. After seeing Sam in such a festive a merry mood, so genuinely happy, it was hard to be the one to bring her back to earth. Gently he took both her hands in his, the gesture causing her to meet his eyes again.
"I don't think there is anything I'd like more."