"This was a brilliant idea of mine." Vala said, rearranging the shopping bags in her hands as they squeezed out of the shop door at the same time, the dark haired woman not giving Sam time to get out of the way.
"Yours?" She said, raising an eyebrow.
"Okay, Daniel's, but I was the one to talk you into it."
It had been a brilliant idea of Daniel's. She had to admit, the five of them going to Denver for one last little team bonding session before she went to Atlantis. Dinner, drinking and shopping; which she and Vala were currently engaged in. Though, considering she was going to another galaxy, Vala had a lot more shopping bags than she did. They had left the boys behind at the hotel, still arguing over how they wanted to spend their morning.
"Where next?" Vala asked, stopping suddenly in the street, forcing the people around them to stop too and a couple to almost loose their balance. Sam smiled.
"I don't mind, want to stop for coffee?"
"Starbucks?" The blonde frowned, but Vala pouted and she caved without bothering to argue with her. Anything for a quiet life, she thought.
"I think we passed one earlier." She said, Vala whirled around, swinging her bags out to the sides, missing someone by a mere inch, "Vala!"
"Oops!" She grinned at Sam, linked their arms, with some twisting and tangling of bags, and led her back the way they came.
Vala refused to let go of her arm as they approached Starbucks, trying to pull her through the door, bags and all, laughing as she did so.
"It's not funny, Vala." She told her.
"It's pretty funny," a voice said. Once Sam was through the door, and she was able to look up and see who had spoken.
"Pete." She stared at him; he was smiling at her, holding two cups and a paper bag under his arm
"Hey, Sam." She couldn't speak, or move, or smile. She just stared at him.
"Wow, someone finally broke Samantha's brain." Vala said as she smiled at Pete who managed to drag his eyes away from Sam to see Vala grinning at him.
"Hi," he went to shake her hand before remembering he was holding the coffees."
"Hi, I'm Vala."
"Nice to meet you, Vala," he said, "Pete."
"I know." She turned to Sam, "this is Sam, she's usually more responsive."
"I know." He laughed.
"Sorry," Sam said finally, she glanced at Vala for a moment, and then turned her attentions back to Pete, who was still smiling at her. She hadn't seen him once, not once, since she'd walked away from the house and damn was he as handsome as ever.
And a little tanned.
"It's good to see you." He said. It was clichéd but one of them had to say it, had to say something.
"I have to go, my partners waiting for me." She smiled, the embarrassment swirling around her stomach and anxiety snapping at her heart.
"Okay." She tried to smiled, but instead stepped aside to let him pass. She watched him leave, Vala opening the door for him and once it closed behind him, she stared at it until her friend got bored and pulled her towards a table.
"You sit, I'll get the coffee." She said dropping her bags on the floor. Sam did as she was told, dropping her own bag with Vala's, before sitting in the chair facing the door. She was staring so intently that she didn't see Pete hurry back through it until he was standing right in front of her.
"Is your cell number still the same?" He asked. She nodded. He slid a card onto the table, "Have dinner with me tonight?"
"Good." He smiled, from ear to ear and she smiled back finally, "I'll call you later."
"Okay." She had the urge to kiss him on the cheek, but he wad gone before she could make a decision and Vala was back with coffee and muffins.
"What did cutie want?" She asked, sitting down. Sam frowned.
"To have dinner with me tonight."
"You can't! We're going to that restaurant tonight, the five of us." Vala pouted again.
"I know." She said, sighing, "We didn't make any plans, he just said he'd call."
"Good, then you can tell him no." Sam didn't answer, instead breaking off a piece of her muffin. "You left him, didn't you." Vala asked.
"Then why do you have that miserable look on your face?"
It was the shock more than anything she supposed, she hadn't even thought about Pete for months and to see him smiling at her, looking as handsome as ever in jeans and a black sweater, just bowled her over a little.
There was a reason she'd fallen for him in the first place.
When he called, an hour later, while she was sitting outside a changing room, listening to Vala's valuable advice on dealing with ex's. Good, bad and the ones she'd forgotten about, interspersing it with reminders that the five of them were going to dinner. He talked her into a drink afterwards instead, laughing when she put her hand over the receiver to check that it was okay with Vala.
Now, she was sitting at the bar in their hotel, surrounded by the chatter of her friends, eyes on the door, just waiting.
She was starting to wish she'd had another glass of wine with dinner. Another couple of glasses, she couldn't quite figure out why she felt so nervous about sitting down with a man she was over. A man she had moved on from.
When Cameron put his hand on her shoulder, she looked up at him and noticed the others had drifted away to sit at a table on the other side of the bar. Cam looked over and saw what she was looking at.
"They wanted to give you some space." He explained.
"I didn't want you to be sitting alone."
"This guy really knocked you didn't he?"
"I left him, Cam."
"Really?" She nodded.
"Daniel will tell you all about it I'm sure."
"I'd rather hear it from you."
"I know, but not right now..." He followed her eyes again, to where they were fixed on a blonde guy looking around.
"Yeah." He squeezed her shoulder and walked away as Pete spotted her and approached, watching Cam.
"Hey, Sam," he kissed her on the cheek and she realised it was an almost involuntary reaction, the hesitation of his lips actually touching her cheek screamed at her and when he pulled away, his smile was awkward.
"Want to get a table?" She nodded and slipped from her stool. Pete ordered a beer and when it came he led her over to the nearest table.
They were silent after they sat down, sipping their drinks and looking each other over, measuring each other up.
"I like the hair." He said quietly.
"Thanks. You have a tan."
"I know," he grinned, "I took a vacation. Florida."
"It was great," he said, "a lot of fun." She smiled. "That guy, he your..." he trailed off and she shook her head.
"He's part of my team." She said.
"And, Vala, is it?"
"Yes," she smiled at him, the nerves starting to slowly wash away.
They caught up on the past two years, two years of everything, like they were talking about their days at work and it was easy to fall into the same old banter. His jokes still made her laugh and her stories still shocked him. It was like it had always been between them, easy and cheerful and sweet. Despite it being clichéd to think it, Sam knew it had never been totally about him but more about what her heart had told her, about the house and the dog and the marriage. He had never hurt her, or suddenly became a horrible person to be with. He was Pete, he was as wonderful as ever and his compliments and attention still made her blush, even though she wanted to blame it on the wine.
She wanted to blame the weird, familiar, flutter in her chest on the wine too.
"I missed you." The words weren't blurted out, but spoken softly, his eyes not daring to meet hers as he said it. "I still miss you."
"It's been two years, Pete."
"I know." He sighed, looking away again, eyes scanning the bar. "There's just no getting over you, I guess." He looked back at her and she saw a terrible desperation in his eyes, "no one moves on from you, Sam."
She thought about that, thought about her high school boyfriend, the quarter back who had cried when she had left him. The way Jonas Hanson had snapped, and how Martouf had kissed her so deeply even though he was from another reality, her name the last words on Narim's lips and Malcolm Barrett asking her out every time they worked together.
"I'd better go." Pete said, she looked up and found he had been watching her as she'd been turning over his statement in her head. "Early start tomorrow and you know how Stevie gets. When I run late on him." She smiled, she did, Pete's partner had once given her a barrage of abuse, not realising she had answered Pete's cell phone, and then apologised for a solid five minutes when he did, telling her he could Pete late any time. He'd told Pete a minute later that a pretty girl in his bed wasn't gonna fly with their chief.
Pete had been late every day that week.
When he stood up, Sam reached out, her hand flying to grab his arm to stop him.
"Just one more drink?" She asked, trying to keep her own desperation out of her voice.
"One more drink." She let go of his arm and watched him go to the bar, trying to get her head straight while he was gone.
What was she doing and where was this going? And why was her skin tingling from contact with him? Why did his smiling still make her blush?
But then, it wasn't like she'd stopped being attracted to him. The night before she'd called off their wedding, their engagement and their relationship, she'd laid next to him in their bed, flushed and satisfied, and had run her fingertips over his skin for half an hour with a breaking heart, tracing the dips and lines of his body.
She hadn't forgotten that he was one of the most beautiful men she had ever met.
When he sat down again he was smiling that sad smile that hurt her heart and she closed her eyes for a moment, trying to regain herself.
"I've missed you too." She told him. Which was the truth, even if she hadn't thought about him much, sitting opposite him now she just wanted to feel his hand on her cheek, his lips on hers. She just wanted to wrap her arms around him and feel his hand on her ass in that irresistibly cheeky way of his.
Which was ridiculous because i she /i had left i him /i , because she wasn't in love with him. She hadn't thought about him, though, until just recently she hadn't thought about much other that the Ori.
"Did I move too fast?" He asked.
"Yes," she paused, "but, I realised I'm not the marrying type of person. I can't do normal any more. If I ever could..."
"It took me another three months after we broke up to figure all of that out."
"That long!" He said grinning, "You?" She laughed; he always made it so damn easy for her. "We could've just slowed down."
There was silence between them again, the chatter of the drinkers, and the soft music piped into the bar becoming louder and Pete reached out to twirl a finger round a loose strand of Sam's long blonde hair, his palm brushing her cheek ever so lightly and she leaned into the touch, a deep sigh escaping her.
"I really missed you." She murmured.
"I really like the hair." She smiled, and pulled out of his touch.
"I'm going away." She had to tell him before he kissed her. Or before she kissed him. "New assignment, command of a base."
"Wow, that's great, Sam, where is it?"
"Pretty far away." He grinned at that, lowering his head towards her.
"Another planet?" He whispered.
"Another galaxy." She whispered back.
"Wow." She smiled and sat up straight again.
"That's why we're here actually, a bit of a bonding ritual before I go." He nodded, "That's why Vala wouldn't let me have dinner with you."
"I understand." He smiled, looking around at the table her team was sat at, "She really doesn't strike me as the kind of woman who you can say no to."
"She's really not." She laughed, and his expression changed, softened and she realised that he was relaxing, finally, for the first time since he had sat down with her and she hadn't even noticed.
It had been two years.
"I really should go." Pete said, putting his empty wine glass down and pushing it away from him, "and it looks like your team is getting antsy." She looked past him to see Vala and Daniel watching them, Cam and Teal'c just sitting.
"It doesn't take much," she said, as he stood, she looked back at him and stood too.
Without a word they left the bar, Sam walking Pete out of the hotel and onto the street. They stood opposite each other in the warm night air and Sam saw him tense up again, the moment quickly becoming awkward. She wanted to kiss him, but couldn't quite work out what she felt now, two years after walking away from him because she had been so sure she wasn't in love with him, didn't want to marry him. Didn't want his house, his dog.
Though, she still wanted him.
He made it easy for her again, just as he always did, taking a step toward her and looping her hair in his fingers again. He slowly leaned into her personal space, his movements careful, inching forward in torturous fractions, his body against hers, their clothes brushing together before he kissed her with touches as light as his movements.
Sam couldn't do anything but let him kiss her. She wanted to deepen the kiss, pull him into her embrace, pull him tight against her body, the sense of familiarity as strong as any other feeling she had but she didn't move, daren't make more of this one perfect kiss.
Tomorrow he would go to the station, and next week she would go on to Atlantis.
It was all so very ridiculous and without letting herself, or him, fall too deeply into each other, she stepped away.
A kiss for old time's sake? She didn't want to believe it was something so clichéd but couldn't allow herself any more than that. Not tonight. He smiled at her and let go of the strands of her hair, stepping back as well.
"It was good to see you, Sam." She nodded, smiling, and imagined it looked as forced as his did, her face as hard with tension as his.
"Good luck." He told her, "Come back in one piece, yeah?"
He gave her one last smile, hesitated in his decision to walk away.
"And don't cut your hair." He added.
"Okay." She said, nothing more, no goodbye, no 'I love you', no 'don't go, stay the night with me. When he was out of her sight she turned around to see her friends waiting for her in the lobby, watching, and waiting, but she had little to say to them.
She spent the rest of the trip wondering if he would wait for her to return, knowing she could never ask that of him. Knowing deep down he probably would if she did ask. If she wanted him to wait...
And standing in her empty lab, in full dress blues, and pulling the loose strand of hair back into place, she was pretty sure that she did.