The Longest Night of the Year
Genre: Angst, Romance
Spoilers: Singularity, Meridian, Fallen, and a tiny reference to Fragile Balance
Season: Seven, between Orpheus and Revisions
Rating: T for non-graphic sexual situations
Disclaimer: The only thing I own that's related to Stargate is my DVD collection. I'm not making any money off of Stargate. In fact, the reverse is true.
Summary: Solstice (n) 1. Annually, the two days when the sun is at its furthest points from the celestial equator, resulting in the longest day or night of the year. 2. A culminating event; a turning point. See also: Sam and Daniel on a cold winter night.
Notes: Special thanks to Jess13 for the awesome guest-beta of this story! Yay!
Daniel pulled into Sam's driveway, shifted his car into park, and flipped off the ignition. Her porch lights were on, and he could see movement through the window of her front room.
It was the Winter Solstice, one of the most commonly celebrated events on Earth. For many cultures, the night marked a celebration of rebirth, of new beginnings. In fact, that very thought had brought him to Sam's house this evening. After all, despite Jack's joking, it wasn't every day Daniel came back from the dead. And now that Daniel was sure he knew who he was and where he was supposed to be, he was anxious to begin living his life again.
Making plans for the future wasn't something he'd ever really been very good at. The majority of Daniel's life had been spent studying the past so intently that he lost track of the present. More often than not, he even forgot to eat or sleep while studying an ancient artefact or text.
But time as an amnesiac had a tendency to give a person an appreciation of the present and future.
Now that Daniel had all of his memories back, there were a number of things he wanted to see in his future. And that was where Sam came in. Now, it was simply a matter of finding a way to talk to her about it to find out where she stood.
Picking up the canister of coffee from the passenger seat, he hopped out of his car and headed toward Sam's front door. Faint sounds of music were coming from the house. Daniel hesitated, now wondering if she had company. Maybe he should have called first.
Losing his nerve, he went back to his car. He just knew his unannounced visit would be too obvious that he was making an excuse to see her. He could give her the coffee the next day at work instead.
Suddenly, the music from Sam's house doubled in volume. "Daniel!"
He turned around and was greeted by Sam smiling at him from her open door. She looked positively stunning in blue jeans and a rather form-fitting fuzzy white sweater.
"I saw your car out the window," she said. "You're not leaving, are you?"
"Oh." Daniel shifted on his feet. "Well, I heard the music and didn't want to interrupt."
She gave him a brief incredulous look before gesturing for him to come inside. "Interrupt what? Come in, come in."
He walked up the steps, handing her the coffee. "I just wanted to drop this off. I know it's late, but..." Over a year late, to be specific.
Sam frowned at the canister for a moment before her expression cleared and she gave him a little smile. "You remembered."
"Yep. I remember it all now." Daniel tapped his forehead. "Even Jack's birthday." He had 'borrowed' the last of the coffee she kept in her office the week before the situation on Kelowna had blown up in his face. So to speak.
She nodded, chuckling. "Well, that's very good news."
Daniel followed her inside and closed the door behind him. It was definitely good to be back on Earth. Even though he hadn't known what he was missing while stuck on Vis Uban, he had never really felt like he was at home. Throughout his time with the people who had found him, he'd tried to remember his life. Something. Anything.
Soon enough though, he had started wondering if there was a reason he'd been stranded, alone and vulnerable. He'd had the distinct impression that it was some kind of punishment. He must have done something truly horrible.
When the teams from the SGC had arrived, they'd recognised him and taken him to see the others from their expedition. Daniel could still remember what it had felt like to see Sam for the first time. The beautiful blonde whose blue eyes had lit up as soon as she had seen him.
With the clarity of emotion known only to someone who knew nothing of himself, he understood then that he loved that woman. That he belonged with her. But those feelings had been beaten back by his fear of himself, and he'd pushed her away.
"Hey." Sam's voice and the gentle touch of her hand on his arm broke through his thoughts. Her face was clouded with concern. "You okay?"
Daniel tried to shake off the memories. "Yeah," he said. "I'm just glad to be back again."
Her hand gave his arm a warm squeeze. "Me too." She waved the coffee canister at him. "And I'm particularly glad that you're here right now. I was just thinking about you, actually. Can you stay? I'll put a pot on."
He smiled, relieved. "Sounds great."
Sam gave him a dazzling grin before disappearing into the kitchen. "Make yourself at home," she called over her shoulder.
Daniel hung up his coat and took off his shoes, then padded into her living room.
"Whoa." He stopped short in the doorway. "What happened in here?"
Boxes of different shapes and sizes were scattered all over the floor and furniture. From somewhere in the chaos, her stereo played a soft, jazzy holiday melody.
A large, empty, rectangular box sat in one corner near an artificial tree. The tree was covered with tiny white lights and a garland of opalescent beads hung in soft loops on the bottom half of the tree. A much smaller box sat nearby with more beads inside.
Sam came in behind him, laughing. "I'm finally getting the chance to put up my Christmas decorations."
Daniel surveyed the room. About a dozen other boxes had yet to be opened. "This is a lot of stuff."
"I just love this time of year. I'm glad it's finally getting cold, and I can't wait for it to snow. I think the weather's to blame for why I haven't been able to get into the Christmas spirit yet. Mom always had her tree up the first weekend of December at the very latest."
Sam walked over to the tree and pulled out a handful of beaded garland from the box at her feet. "You're right in time for the fun part. I finished fluffing my tree and getting the lights on just a few minutes ago."
"Fluffing your tree?"
His confusion was rewarded by a warm chuckle. "It was in a box for months at a time. It needed a little help looking full of life again." Sam looked over at her artificial pine and shrugged. "Well, relatively, anyway."
She raised her eyebrows playfully at him. "So what do you say? Want to help out?"
The true definition of impossible, Daniel decided, was for him to say no to anything Sam might ask of him. Not that he would have said no anyway. Now that he understood how he felt, he was hardly about to turn down the chance to spend some extra one-on-one time with her.
In retrospect, he probably should have realised the depth of his feelings for Sam long ago. When he looked back on it, he could see that there was a lot going on before that ill-fated mission to Kelowna that had made it difficult to see anything clearly.
At the time, it had felt like SG-1 was falling apart. The close connection the four of them had shared had been lost at some point. Whether that loss had been gradual or sudden, Daniel still didn't know. But he was sure that the feeling of losing the three closest friends he had ever known played a major role in his blindness regarding his love for Sam.
His knee-jerk reaction had been to pull away from the people who didn't seem to realise they were hurting him. To isolate himself from further pain. When Oma had presented him with the...opportunity to leave, he hadn't needed much convincing.
And then he had ended up a naked amnesiac on some random planet.
Yeah. That worked out well.
Even though Daniel had pushed her away on Vis Uban, Sam had still come to his tent to talk him into going back to Earth with her. If he hadn't spent the majority of the weeks before her arrival listening to his fear, he probably would have immediately stood up and followed her anywhere.
His self-doubt had wanted him to walk away again. To leave her and the confusing emotions she stirred in his heart behind.
But he didn't.
He'd felt a connection with her and shared his fears – something he hadn't done with any of the kind people who had found him. Listening to the wonderful things she'd said in response, he'd just known that she was a part of him.
When he'd asked her if there had been anything between them, she had said no, and it was true. He knew that now. But he was sure she'd hesitated before responding. And that hesitation still haunted him.
Replacing the coffee he had borrowed more than a year ago was more than just an excuse to see her. He was really hoping the time alone with Sam would help him to figure out if there was a reason for her hesitation. Staying to help decorate a cheerful tree was exactly the invitation he was hoping for.
"Where do I start?" he asked, smiling.
Her face lit up excitedly, and she waved her hand at the pile of boxes covering her sofa. "Somewhere in that mess are two boxes labelled 'bulbs' and two more labelled 'stars'. Think you can find them while I finish with these beads?"
After shuffling a few boxes around, he finally excavated the four that Sam had requested. In the kitchen, the coffeemaker gurgled, so he went to pour them a couple of mugs. He smiled when he saw that Sam had put a bag of his favourite chocolate walnut cookies on the counter next to a tray.
With their coffee and cookies assembled neatly on the tray, Daniel went back into the living room. Sam was making some final adjustments to the loops of beads that now spiralled all the way up to the top of the tree. She was humming softly, her hips swaying in time to the festive jazzy music coming from her stereo.
She looked so cheerful, vibrant, and alive. It was a dramatic change from the Sam who carried the stress of saving the world on her shoulders every day. It was nice to see her so relaxed.
Sam turned around to face him, but if she noticed that he had been staring at her, she didn't show it. "Oh good, you found the cookies."
Daniel held out her coffee mug. Her fingers brushed against his as she took it, and he refused to let himself believe that she made the contact linger a moment longer than was absolutely necessary.
"Thanks." Sam smiled at him over her mug and took a sip. "Next is the best part. Actual ornaments."
She opened one of the boxes he'd found and carefully pulled back the tissue paper that covered its contents. Daniel couldn't help but chuckle when he saw what lay inside. They were just so...Sam.
He pulled out a large, blue star-shaped ornament. It sparkled with the lights from the tree. "Let me guess. Blue giant?"
Sam laughed as she opened the second box of stars. "And I have a pile of red dwarfs in this one that Cassie and I made for her first Christmas. See?" She held up several cardboard stars covered in red glitter for him to see. A piece of silvery ribbon was connected to the top of each one to attach them to the tree.
They chatted and finished their coffee and cookies while they decorated Sam's tree with her collection of star ornaments. When finished, they stepped back to examine their handiwork. The white lights she had woven through the branches caught the angles of the ornaments, making the entire tree glow. It was beautiful.
"Last, but not least," said Sam, opening another small square box. She pulled out a very large, clear, three-dimensional star with an electrical plug coming out the back. "This is my very own pulsar."
She looked over at Daniel and gave him a smile that caused his pulse rate to increase. "We had a tradition at home while I was growing up. Everyone helps put the star on the top of the tree, and everyone makes a Christmas wish while they're doing it. If you've earned it, your wish comes true on Christmas Eve."
Daniel stepped closer and placed his fingers over hers on the base of the star.
"Do you have your wish?" she whispered.
Not trusting himself to speak, he just nodded. Together, they attached the star to the top of the tree. When they plugged it in, the star began to glow. The light gradually faded then returned in a slow and steady blink.
Daniel couldn't look away from Sam's face. He knew that if he did, his eyes would be drawn to her midriff, now bared as her sweater was pulled upwards by her arms stretching toward the top of the tree. And that would be the start of all kinds of trouble.
They stayed like that for what felt like a very long time, and Daniel wished that she might love him as more than a friend. That her hesitation in that tent had meant something. That he could take her into his arms and kiss her with everything he had. That this Winter Solstice could mark the beginning of their new life together.
And as he stared into her blue eyes, he could almost convince himself that she was making the same wish he was.
Then Sam blinked and looked away, making a sound somewhere between a laugh and a sigh. Was it Daniel's imagination, or was she blushing?
She cleared her throat, running a hand quickly through her hair, and then looked at him. Or rather, at his feet. "Are you getting hungry? We could order in," she said quickly.
Daniel opened his mouth to answer, but Sam continued on without stopping.
"How about pizza? My phone book's in the kitchen. Do you want to call them?"
"Okay." He nodded and moved around her sofa on his way out of the living room.
It took a lot to fluster Sam Carter, but something clearly had. Daniel paused in the doorway and looked back at her, hoping her discomfort wasn't his fault. She was rubbing her forehead with her eyes squeezed shut. A moment later, she shook her head with a heavy sigh and looked around the room. Her attention seemed to be drawn to something. Daniel followed her gaze to a box near her gas fireplace before she bent to pull something out of it.
He went into the kitchen and found the number for a pizza place that delivered. As he placed their order, he looked out the window. It was dark. The sun had set hours ago.
The problem with rebirth and new beginnings, he realised, was that something always had to die or end beforehand. The Winter Solstice was also the longest night of the year. It would prove to be the longest night of his life if he ended up jeopardising his friendship with Sam.
After being assured that their pizza would arrive in thirty minutes or it'd be free, Daniel went back into the living room. He was determined to relieve the tension he had created earlier, one way or another.
Surprisingly, he found Sam pulling a tall pillar candle out of the box at her feet. She set it on the mantle next to a number of others that she had placed there.
Daniel took a step into the room. "Um, dinner will be about half an hour."
"Good." Sam smiled warmly at him before turning back to the mantle.
He nearly sighed with relief. Maybe he had blown her apparent discomfort out of proportion. Maybe he had a chance at that new beginning after all. He walked slowly toward her as she began lighting the candles with a long wooden match. And then, before Daniel knew it, he was standing directly behind her. She blew out the match and set it on a ceramic tile on the mantle.
The glow of the candles highlighted the fuzzy weave of her sweater. It looked so soft. Without his permission, Daniel's hand reached out and lightly touched Sam's shoulder.
He realised what he had done as soon as she began to turn around. But instead of moving away like he expected, she smiled and stepped closer into his arms.
"Thanks so much for your help," Sam said softly, her eyes twinkling at him in the gentle light from her tree and candles. "It looks fantastic."
Her arms wrapped around his waist, and Daniel allowed himself to return the hug. "It was fun. I'm glad I stopped by."
Sam smiled. "Me too. I usually do this alone. It was nice to have company for a change."
The CD that had been on repeat since he arrived began the next song. A lazy saxophone played the opening bars of a very romantic version of 'I'll be Home for Christmas'.
She released a heavy sigh and rested her cheek on his shoulder. "I'm really glad you're back, Daniel."
In his arms, Sam began to sway back and forth to the music. Daniel moved with her. He wasn't sure what they were doing could be considered dancing, but it felt good. And intimate. He closed his eyes, deciding to just enjoy the moment for as long as he could.
"Mmm," murmured Sam from his shoulder. "You smell nice."
Her breath tickled his neck. Then, a warm, soft pressure on his neck made Daniel's eyes fly open. The touch vanished as quickly as it appeared, and Sam's body suddenly stiffened in his arms. She lifted her head abruptly, staring at him in obvious panic.
"Oh God. I'm sorry, Daniel. I wasn't thinking. I didn't mean to—"
The moment was ending far too soon. She was backing away, slipping from his grasp. He had to do something. So he smiled. "It's okay, Sam. It's..." He laughed softly and licked his lips. "It was nice."
Her fearful expression gradually turned to one of curious wonder. "Nice enough to maybe try again?"
Daniel took a step forward, closing the gap between them. "It could be an experiment."
"Yeah," Sam said softly. Her gaze shifted from his eyes to his lips. "I mean, if you..."
As if it had a mind of its own, Daniel's hand slipped over her hip and pulled her body closer to his. She didn't resist, and he smiled, leaning closer. Her eyelids fluttered closed as their lips barely brushed against each other. The contact sent a thrilling tingle down Daniel's spine.
He opened his eyes to see her staring at him. One corner of Sam's mouth tugged upwards, and Daniel leaned in again, this time pressing their lips more firmly against each other.
Sam's hand danced up his arm and across his shoulder until it cupped the back of his head. She pulled him down, intensifying the kiss.
Tentatively, Daniel stroked his tongue over her bottom lip. Her mouth opened in response, and her tongue touched his. She tasted like chocolate and coffee, and he felt her moan vibrate through his body. His arms tightened around her body in autonomic response. As they began an exploration of each other's mouths, his hands began an exploration of her body.
One of his hands locked its fingers into her hair while the other traced a line from the base of her neck down her spine and over the softness of her sweater. His fingers touched bare skin in the small of her back. Sam gasped into his mouth, arching her back and pressing her breasts into his chest.
Finally, their mouths parted. Daniel looked at her through his slightly fogged glasses. He nudged her nose with his, and she opened her eyes.
"Wow," said Sam breathlessly.
Feeling dazed, he returned her smile. "Yeah..."
"Looks like I got my wish early."
"Mmhmm," Daniel mumbled, pressing his lips against her temple.
"Wow," Sam said again.
He chuckled. "Yeah."
The doorbell rang, but neither of them moved. Sam's fingertips were grazing up and down the length of his neck. She kissed his throat, gently sucking at a particularly sensitive spot under his chin. The doorbell rang again.
Daniel groaned. "I'll get it." Reluctantly, he pulled away from Sam. "Just hold that thought."
She smiled at him as he turned toward the front door. After giving the pizza delivery boy a very generous tip, Daniel went back into the living room. Sam was blowing out her candles. She turned toward him, and the expression on her face made him swallow the lump that suddenly appeared in his throat.
He held up the pizza box. "Supper's here," he said needlessly.
Sam slid up next to him, taking the box from his hands. She set it on the coffee table and squeezed his hands in hers. "We can heat it up later."
And then she was kissing him again. Her fingers stroked down the back of his head and over his shoulders until they were tugging at the front of his shirt. Daniel's hands worked their way under the bottom edge of her sweater, slowly moving up her sides, caressing her skin as they went.
When his thumbs brushed the curve of her breast through the fabric of her bra, Sam's fingers released his shirt, and she reached for his hands.
She took a step backwards, a seductive smile on her lips. With a gentle tug, she urged him to follow her down the hall toward her bedroom. Once they arrived, Daniel spun her around, pressing her back against the wall with his body. His mouth seemed to be magnetically drawn to her neck.
Soon enough, her body was writhing beneath his lips, her hands clawing at his back, her moans of pleasure joining his and filling the room.
"Daniel," Sam gasped. "I need..." She cupped his chin with her hand, dragging his face up to meet hers. "I need to tell you."
This was it. The moment that would define this new beginning to his life. Either Sam would stop them before they went too far and destroyed the foundation they'd built over their many years of friendship, or she would open the door to creating something new on that foundation. Something for both of their futures.
Daniel waited, barely daring to breathe.
"This isn't— I mean, I'm not— The thing is..." Sam uttered a nervous little laugh. "I love you."
The darkest day of the year had never seemed so bright. With a smile, Daniel trailed his fingers lightly over her cheek. Then, he bent down and scooped her into his arms. After laying her gently on her bed, he leaned over and joined their lips in a long and sweet kiss.
Sam's fingers smoothed through his hair as they parted. "Does that mean..." Her voice trailed off uncertainly.
Daniel nearly laughed. "I had to lose my memory to figure out how much I loved you, Sam."
She pulled him down on top of her and rolled them over so she was straddling his waist. She smiled brilliantly down at him. "And I had to lose you to realise how much you meant to me."
That time, Daniel did laugh. "We're quite a pair, aren't we?"
"Yeah." Sam's fingers were unbuttoning his shirt. "We really are." She pushed the fabric aside and leaned down, kissing his bare chest.
"You know," Daniel said softly as he wrapped his arms around her. "Tonight's the longest night of the year." He rolled them over again so he was on top, looking down at her.
"Good." She smiled mischievously, reaching up to run her thumb over his bottom lip. "More time to keep you in my bed."
Well, that was certainly an interesting way of looking at it. And, as Sam pulled his body firmly down against hers, Daniel's last coherent thought was the hope that this night would go on forever.
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