Disclaimer: The usual stuff; I own nothing you recognise, and all that.
Feedback: Much appreciated, believe me
Death, Love and Time
A few hours later, Sam sat silently in her laboratory, staring at the computer screen before her as she tried to write up her report on the recent events that had led to the conference being cancelled.
After Adria's appearance at the building, it had been decided by all concerned parties that the conference was to be temporarily called off until not only could an alternative venue for the conference to take place in be located, but also until they were certain that none of the delegates had been manipulated by Adria or the Priors. After her display of power when she had attempted to murder Sam, many of the delegates had felt that it would only be sensible to hold off negotiations with the remaining Priors until they were all certain that the Priors had lost all trace of their former powers and could in no way influence the final outcome of the conference. Contact would still be maintained between the former Ori worshippers and other groups to determine when would be the appropriate time to open up the matter of negotiations once again, but until they were certain that the Ori's potential influence had been totally ended contact would be limited, and all visitors to Ori ships would undergo intensive pysical and psychological evaluation afterwards to ensure that they weren't being influenced in any way.
It wasn't the most peaceful solution to the dilemma, true, but it had to be done if they were going to prevent the rise of the Ori in the future. If the Ori's remaining loyal followers were given an opportunity to start trying to convert people, this whole nightmarish situation could start up again; at least this way, they had a chance to encourage that faith to die out as the Ori continued to do nothing to help them.
A knock at her door brought Sam out of her thoughts, prompting her to glance up to see who had come to talk to her.
"Come in," she said briefly.
As the door opened, she wasn't surprised to see Daniel standing outside her office, looking at her in a slightly awkward manner as he uncomfortably rubbed at the back of his neck.
Not that Sam could blame him for his discomfort, of course; she still wasn't entirely sure how to react to what she'd learned from Daniel's future self, to say nothing of how to deal with what had happened at the end of his presence in their lives.
How often could you say that someone had not only died for you, but given up their very existence just on the chance of saving your life?
"Are… are you OK?" Daniel finally asked after a moment's awkward silence as the two old friends stared at each other, neither of them certain what could be said in this situation.
Sam could only shrug slightly.
"About what you'd expect, really," she said simply, before looking back at her friend. "How about you? I mean, seeing yourself die…"
Daniel responded with a slight shrug of his own as he walked into the office, shutting the door behind him as he did so.
"Jack would probably say that, after all the times I've died already, seeing myself die wouldn't be that big a deal," he said in a manner that most people would have taken as being relatively casual.
Sam, however, was not one of them; she only had to look at Daniel to know that he found it difficult to think of the final fate that he would have met in at least one timeline if she had gone.
He may have died so often that he'd practically turned coming back from the dead into a hobby, but Sam doubted he would ever get used to it.
"It was… hard, wasn't it?" she said, looking back at him with a slightly sympathetic smile. "I mean, I remember what it was like when my alternate self collapsed from entropic cascade failure, and even then I knew that she'd never really been me; we must have diverged so far back in the past for her to not be able to imagine joining the military that we'd have had practically nothing in common by that point. Having to witness what you could have been die…"
After a brief pause, she looked inquiringly at Daniel. "What… what are you doing with his body?"
"It wasn't an easy decision," he said in response. "I'd thought once or twice- if I'd thought about it at all- of asking to be cremated and my ashes scattered over the Great Pyramid, or at least be buried in Egypt, but… well, he'd been through so much since he was me… I didn't really think that would be what he'd want any more; I got the impression that, in many ways, the Program had become more of a home to him than Egypt had ever been, even when I'd been there with my parents."
Shaking his head briefly at the long-ago memories of his childhood, Daniel paused for a moment to gather his thoughts before he continued. "In the end, I decided that we'll scatter his ashes through the Stargate, after activating the multiple dialling program to dial every Stargate in the galaxy at once. I talked it over with the others, and they thought it would be… right… for me to do that."
Despite the tragedy of what they were discussing, Sam smiled slightly at that thought.
"The only way to be sure that you'll witness every world we can access by using the Stargate that you opened up for us, huh?" she said, smiling in approval at Daniel's decision. "I agree with the others; that sounds like… it sounds like the right thing to do. He sacrificed everything to save the galaxy; it's only right that, in some way, he gets to see all of it."
For a moment, the two of them simply stared silently at each other, until Daniel finally broke the silence.
"I'm… I'm sorry," he said finally, as he looked awkwardly at her. Noting Sam's confusion, he swallowed anxiously before he continued. "I'm sorry he came back here."
"You're sorry for that?" she asked, looking in confusion at her friend. "Daniel, you- he, whatever you want to refer to him as- saved my life-"
"And ended our friendship," Daniel interrupted, looking away from her as he said, the faint trace of tears in his eyes as he spoke.
Sam's eyes widened in shock.
"What?" she said again, wishing she could say something more intelligent- where was that genius IQ that she was so valued for here when it came to dealing with her personal affairs?- but unable to get past her confusion at what Daniel was saying. "Daniel, we'll always be friends-"
"When you know how I feel about you and don't feel the same way?" Daniel interrupted, looking at her like he was torn between wanting to yell at her and wanting to run for his life. "Sam, all this is going to do is change everything, can't you see that? I mean, I'm grateful you're alive, but from now on, can you honestly tell me that you'll ever feel at ease confiding in me about anything again? That you'll ever feel comfortable being alone with me? You'll always be wondering if I mean anything I do as just a friendly gesture, or if I do it because I want to… to be with you."
Even as he spoke, Daniel turned away, trying to stop himself from looking at Sam, knowing that he would only feel even worse if she saw her looking back at him, trying to appear sympathetic even as she attempted to work out the best way to tell him that she didn't return his feelings.
"Just… just don't say anything, please," he said finally, feeling like his heart was going to explode from the pain. "I know I don't deserve you, Sam, and I can…" his voice briefly croaked as he fought to hold back his tears, but he quickly recovered and continued, "I can learn to live with that; I just… just can't…"
"Can't what?" Sam retorted, standing up from behind her desk and walking over to stand in front of Daniel. "Can't let yourself be happy if your future self wasn't happy? Can't let yourself have what you want because you failed in one future? Daniel, you can't just cut yourself off from me just because you failed once-"
"Sam…" Daniel sighed, raising a hand as he looked at her, looking like he was about to cry. "Please… just let me go."
He looked so heartbroken as he stood there that Sam didn't even stop to think about what she was about to do. Grabbing Daniel's chin in her hand, Sam pulled his face towards her and pressed her lips against his, simultaneously wrapping her arms around him to prevent him from even trying to get away.
For a moment, Daniel's eyes widened in shock at the feel of her lips- somehow, even just the taste of them was better than he could have ever imagined-, but then he forced his emotions aside to try and enjoy the moment.
He may have been confused about what had just taken place, it may have been the most selfish thing he'd ever done, Sam may just have been trying to comfort him…
But, right now, as far as he was concerned, he just wanted to enjoy the moment that he thought he would never have the chance to experience; he could deal with the potential consequences of that action once it was over. For a few brief, undefinable moments- he could have done it for seconds or even days, it wouldn't have mattered-, he wrapped his arms around Sam, returning her kiss with everything he had within him, until lack of oxygen forced them to part, leaving Daniel staring in confusion at his friend as the full implications of what had just taken place began to sink in.
Sam had kissed him?
"But-" he began weakly, clearly uncertain about why Sam had just done what she'd done.
"Daniel," Sam interrupted, placing a finger on his lips as she stared at him with a slight grin evident on her face, "firstly, you need to learn that not everything that goes wrong is automatically your fault; I'm sure that, in the future he came from, he tried everything he could to save me, and he doubtless has already spent enough time beating himself up about his 'failure' for you to start doing it now. Secondly, I moved on from Jack shortly after I was transferred to Area 51; we tried to have something then and it just… well, to say it didn't work out is an understatement, trust me. And thirdly…"
Removing her finger, she replaced it with her lips once again, tenderly kissing him for a few seconds before she pulled back to smile at him once again.
"Trust me," she said as she looked resolutely at Daniel, "whatever you might think, I definitely feel the same way that you do."
For a moment there was only silence as Daniel stared uncertainly at her, clearly trying to decide whether she was telling him the truth or simply playing a joke for reasons he couldn't be sure of, before he finally smiled at her.
"Actually, I hope you feel a bit less serious about me than I do about you," he said, a slightly teasing tone in his voice as he spoke.
"Really?" Sam asked, pulling back and looking at Daniel inquiringly. "Why?"
"Because," Daniel replied, smiling as he leaned in to plant brief kisses on her lips as he spoke, "if we were both that serious, we might very well be tempted to forget about the security cameras…"
Despite her earlier bleak mood, Sam couldn't help but smile at that.
"Well," she retorted, pulling back slightly to look at Daniel with a seductive grin on her face, "we could always see about snatching a few hours from our now-clear schedules to remedy that particular little problem…"
Once again, Daniel found himself smiling broadly despite his formerly bleak manner.
"I like the way you think, Colonel Doctor," he said casually.
"Any time," Sam replied, before she indicated the door to the lab. "Shall we go?"
As the two new lovers ran towards the lift that would take them out of the SGC, up in some higher dimension that even the Ascended would never be fully aware of, a figure sat and watched them both, a soft smile on his face as he studied them.
He'd done it.
He'd saved her, and, by extension, the rest of the galaxy with her.
And, most importantly of all, the man he might have been now had a chance with her that he himself had never been able to experience.
Good luck, the man known in a future that would now never exist as Doctor Daniel Jackson 'said' to the woman he loved and his younger self.
I wish you only the best.
It was true, after all; even after all that Doctor Jackson had lost himself, he still hoped that the man who remained would have the opportunity to live the life that he himself had been denied.
The universe had taken so much from him in one lifetime; it was comforting to know that another him still had a chance at happiness
And with that last thought, the consciousness that had once been Daniel Jackson turned his back on the world that he had known in life, and moved on to whatever awaited him in this new realm.
He had to admit, after spending so long just glimpsing it during his momentary demises, a part of him was rather interested to see what was actually there at the end of it all…