A/N: Here's another fic I found shoved under the bed (because I put everything under my bed. My room looks neater that way!). There's some S/D and D/J friendship, plus some good ol' S/J (but no more than was hinted at in "Threads". Sorry to all you hardcore shippers out there!). There's a second part that I'm in the process of rewriting and I will hopefully get around to posting it by the middle of the week. In the meantime, if anyone has any suggestions for part two, I'm more than happy to hear them!
Daniel rounded the corner casually, his slow pace a welcome change from the frantic running they usually did around the base. Reaching his destination, he opened his mouth to vocalize a greeting but stopped short upon seeing the room's occupant.
Unnoticed, Daniel stood in the doorway for a few moments simply watching her. He had seen her look bad, terrible even. He'd seen her covered in mud and blood, after going ten days without showering, he'd even seen her in hell, but none of those times prepared him for seeing her like this. She looked defeated and that, Daniel thought, was scarier than anything else.
Even with everything she'd been through in the last eight years, Sam Carter never looked defeated.
"Sam?" Daniel questioned softly, stepping into the room. When he got no response, he moved closer to her position, hunched dejectedly over her laptop, not working, just staring at it. "Sam?" he tried again, lightly resting a hand on her shoulder.
Jumping slightly at the unexpected intrusion, Sam turned to face the source of the interruption. Instantly, she realized it was Daniel standing beside her, having caught her in the middle of a bad moment. She turned her head away from him and tried to compose herself, foolishly hoping he hadn't noticed her obvious distress.
Startled by the red rims around her eyes and the tear tracks streaking their way down her cheeks, Daniel felt his concern grow. Sam Carter never looked defeated; she cried even less.
"Sam," Daniel said softly, squatting down beside her stool so he would be at eye level with her when she finally stopped avoiding his gaze. "Look at me," he instructed, the hand still on her shoulder moving down her back to rub small, soothing circles over the thin material of her black t-shirt. "Are you okay?"
"I'm fine," she whispered hoarsely as she turned to face him again, this time with a large, obviously fake smile plastered on her face. "What's up?" she asked, false brightness laced through her words.
"What happened?" he asked patiently, refusing to let her downplay how upset she was. "Talk to me," he urged when it became clear that no answer was forthcoming.
"Pete and I broke up," she finally whispered, a fresh wave of tears threatening to fall.
"I'm sorry," Daniel soothed, standing up so he could wrap his arms around her properly.
"No, you don't understand," she tried to explain tearfully, even as she leaned into his warm, reassuring embrace.
This I can handle, she thought to herself. This is Daniel; he's safe and his arms are always a good place to be when things get really bad.
"Don't talk Sam, just let it out," Daniel soothed in calming tones as he held her tight. Bringing his head down so he could rest his cheek on top of her head, his exterior calm belied the anger boiling in his veins.
I knew it, he thought, I knew he'd hurt her in the end, that son of a…
"I broke up with him," Sam blurted out. She hated herself for it the instant the words left her lips, but Daniel was being so supportive and she felt so undeserving of the comfort he was offering.
"Oh," Daniel replied uncertainly, keeping both arms firmly wrapped around her to stop her from pulling away. "Well now I'm confused."
"I couldn't keep pretending," she confessed, wriggling until she managed to pull out of his grasp despite his obvious reluctance to release her. "Pete's a fantastic guy, but he doesn't deserve to be someone's second best," Sam explained, blinking back more tears.
"Does he know yet?" Daniel interrupted any further explanation, bending down once more to look her in the eye. He didn't need to elaborate; they both knew who "he" was.
"No," Sam shook her head violently. "He's got her now and I don't want to…"
"He deserves to know, Sam," Daniel chastised, reaching out to gently wipe at her tears.
"He deserves to be happy," she corrected, breathing deeply through a stab of pain at the realization that she had missed out on the chance to one day be the woman to make the man in question feel that way.
"You don't have to march in there and tell him that, since you're available again, he can ditch Kerry," Daniel sighed in frustration. He was determined to make her see some sense; apparently she was just as determined not to.
"He should do whatever will make him happiest. He supported my decision to marry Pete and I'll support his decisions about Kerry, whatever they might be. I won't meddle in their relationship."
"Long-term happiness is worth more than happiness in the here and now," Daniel retorted. He knew her decision was already made, but he'd convinced her to change her mind a time or two in the past and he was hoping he'd manage to do it again.
"We can't do anything about it, Daniel! At most, telling him would just throw the both of us back into limbo," Sam sighed, resignation clear in her voice.
"At least in limbo you two still had hope," he reasoned. "Neither one of you has really been happy lately. You've put up a good show of it, but Teal'c and I know you both too well to be fooled."
"It was so hard waiting for the day it could happen, knowing that everyday we'd be risking our lives. I think it'd be harder to say goodbye to him if I lost him now after waiting so long and hoping so hard and giving up so much" she confessed, tears welling up again but kept from falling through sheer stubbornness.
"Tell him," Daniel repeated, sensing he was finally talking some sense into her. "Don't ask for anything, just go to his office and let him know."
"Fine," Sam grudgingly acquiesced. "But I don't know what to say to him."
"Tell him what you told me," he suggested. Upon seeing her right eyebrow creep up her forehead, he elaborated, "Only the first sentence or two."
"He'll probably get angry."
"At Pete, not at you."
"It wasn't Pete's fault."
"Jack won't care," Daniel reminded with a smirk, knowing full well that Jack would be downright pissed to learn that her ex-fiance had caused her to cry even one tear, circumstances surrounding the break-up be damned.
With a glare that was only half-playful, Sam rose from her stool and hesitantly moved to the door.
"Want me to walk you down there?" Daniel asked. He may have convinced her to speak to their friend about her broken engagement, but he knew that actually getting her into Jack's office would be an entirely different matter requiring a great deal of additional cajoling.
"Do you mind?" she asked nervously. She knew herself well enough to know that, if left to make her way up to Jack's office alone, she'd talk herself out of speaking with him along the way.
"Not at all," he replied, slipping a comforting arm around her shoulders and guiding her into the hallway.
"Thanks," she murmured, tilting her head to one side so it could rest on his shoulder.
"Anytime," he replied, squeezing her gently as they made their way through the mostly deserted halls of the SGC, the early hour ensuring that they would encounter only a handful of other personnel along the way.