Over the course of the next three days, Sam slowly came to terms with the events that had transpired in her lab. With the alleviation of her neck pain she had been able to acquire some quality sleep, and for this she was rewarded with a refreshed mind.
The emotions that had confronted her were not new. They had always been present, buried deep within her, and Daniel's touch had inadvertently unearthed them. Years ago it had dawned on her that she was harbouring feelings for him, but was forced to ignore them out of necessity. Their timing and situation had never seemed right. His death following Kelowna had shattered her heart: she had waited too long; left things too late. From that point on she decided never to investigate those feelings again, and over time this behaviour grew into an irrational form of coping.
Unbeknownst to her, those original sentiments that she had forced to lie dormant had evolved. Through the years they had taken their natural course. The feelings, when unleashed upon her on Monday, had progressed to love.
Yes, I love him, Sam asserted. This was the only natural explanation for the way she had reacted back in her lab. Love: for the man who had cared for her so much, without asking for anything in return. If she were completely honest with herself, there were other instances where she had acted less than rationally. Only now could she freely admit that the reason she never spoke to him about Pete's proposal was because she had feared that her true sentiments would be revealed. Only now did she fully comprehend her motive for telling the descended Daniel that they had only been good friends: it was easier to lie to him when he thought of her as a complete stranger.
These enlightenments forced her into action. She couldn't keep lying to herself. She couldn't keep lying to him. That single prerogative was why she was currently parked opposite Daniel's apartment.
Sam reached for the door, but was suddenly anxious. It was one thing to acknowledge the truth, but another to be acting rashly upon it. She had simply left work, entered her car, and instinct had supplied the rest. She chewed her lip. She heard thunder, and wandered whether it was a metaphor of things to come. What if Daniel didn't believe her? What if he didn't return her feelings? She felt a great inclination to drive away. One side of her should not always be so much wiser than the other side, or always suspecting the other of being worse than it was. She would leave.
Sam twisted the ignition. Nothing happened. She tried again; the engine coughed, but the car didn't start.
"Damn it," she frowned at the healthy petrol gauge, before stepping out of the car to investigate the engine. Without the moon it was a dark night, and Sam silently admonished herself for not having her flashlight on her.
There was another bout of thunder, and almost simultaneously it began to rain.
"Damn," she cried.
"Daniel!" she spotted him standing outside with his porch light on. "Do you have a flashlight?"
She slammed the bonnet shut. "Do you have a flashlight?" she yelled, running across the street over to him. "I could really use one!"
"I, ah, heard you the first time,"
"What?" she demanded.
"I had to get you out of the rain," Daniel explained sheepishly, shrugging.
"Look, if you'll just lend me a torch, then I can go and fix my car – then I can leave" –
"Sam, it's pouring down out there," he remarked. "Your car will still be there if you wait a little while."
Sam paused, looking over at her car. The vehicle, along with the rest of the street, was being pelted by the rain. Even if she utilised an umbrella while she worked, she knew it would be impossible to keep the engine dry.
"Come wait inside – do you need a towel?"
"No, thanks, I'm only a little damp…" she trailed off, weighing up her options. She could neither stay, nor leave. At the one extreme she felt like sitting Daniel down and letting everything off her chest, regardless of whether he felt the same way about her; at the other she wanted to run away into the darkness, back to the familiar suppression she knew so well.
"Um, Sam, if you're really desperate to go, I can call you a cab," he offered.
"That's not necessary, Daniel," she spoke firmly, following him inside. She needed to take this chance.
He shut the door behind her. "Did you want some coffee?"
"Just water will do, thanks," she peeled off her jacket, surveying the room. "I'm not planning on being awake all night."
"There's a thunderstorm outside, and Sam only wants some water?" Daniel chuckled.
"Well, hand me a glass and I can collect it myself," she lightly retorted.
"That would be cruel of me," he gave her the drink.
Silence fell upon the room. Outside, the tempest howled. Sam's chest felt constricted with anxiousness as she drank. Where was she to begin? How was she to broach the subject?
She noticed the papers strewn on the sitting room table, "I hope I didn't interrupt your work."
"Hardly," Daniel observed her thoughtfully. "I suppose I was much more interested in trying to figure out why you were parked outside my house for twenty minutes."
"I was trying to decide – whether or not to come in,"
"And…did you make the right choice?"
Sam blinked at the layered question. "I'm not sure…I don't have an answer yet."
Daniel watched her, waiting for her to elaborate. She put the cup down and glanced away to collect her thoughts.
"Daniel," she quietly tried again, "I came to th" –
She was cut off by a crackle of lightning that plunged the apartment into darkness.
"Okay – that's not good," Daniel commented.
Sam heard his footsteps rustling on the carpet. Moments later there was a loud thump.
"Daniel?" her military training kicked in. "Are you hurt?"
"I'm – fine," he grunted back.
"Just stay put; I'll find you," she raised her arms in front of her, carefully stepping forward through the pitch black. Her left hand met with a wall. She slowly followed it with her body, inching along, until her other hand suddenly touched flesh.
She grasped at him. "Daniel, I've got you. Now, do you have a torch somewhere?"
"I've only got candles,"
"Right – and where do you keep them?"
"In the kitchen: top cabinet,"
"Do you think we're near the kitchen?"
"We should be; that's where I was heading,"
Sam quickly assessed the situation. "Stay close to me, and use your right hand as a guide," she instructed, gripping him. "We'll find those candles."
Moving as one, they steadily felt their way around the darkness, going from corner to corner, covering each wall, and stopping to amend their direction whenever they were met with a piece of furniture.
"We're definitely in my kitchen," Daniel soon confirmed.
"You mentioned the top cabinet?"
"Yes; search above your head,"
They touched around, waving about. Sam heard a door creak open.
"Found them, Sam," he announced. "Though I'll need two hands to light them,"
She gently let go of him. "Be careful,"
Half a minute later, warm light flickered amidst the darkness. Sam squinted as she adjusted to the bright orange flame. Soon they had four candles alight.
"Back to the sitting room?" he asked, lifting two candleholders.
Sam nodded. She took up the remaining ones, her mind racing. The rush of adrenaline had led her to temporarily forget why she was really here. Action was simple; it was second nature to her. Emotions were much more complex. While she was gathering her thoughts, Daniel had placed his candles on the table adjoining the sofas.
"Thanks, Sam, have a seat." he then took her candles, putting one by the piano, and the other next to a vase just before the hall juncture.
"Some storm," he muttered, sitting down to rest.
Sam studied him through the flames. He looked languid, but not unapproachable. She was well aware that it was now or never.
"Daniel, before the power outage…" she cleared her throat; once again the conversation dynamics had changed. "I wanted to thank you for helping me on Monday."
"You're welcome," he said wryly.
She took a deep breath. "It's more than that – you made me realise something; something very important." the adrenaline from before was giving her courage some liberty, even as his intense stare penetrated her. "I'm in love with you, Daniel. I've felt this way for many years, and I'm sorry that I've left it so late to tell you" –
"Sam, please," he interjected, ripping his eyes from her. "I think you're mistaken – I think you mean Jack."
Sam's breath hitched in her throat. She was so surprised she couldn't speak.
Daniel interpreted her silence as vindication. He looked incredibly downcast. "Sam, I know you, and I know Jack…ever since that armband mission, it's always been the regulations that have been in your way."
She gaped. "Daniel, how" –
"For heaven's sake, Sam: you just spent a whole weekend in Washington," he cried, bursting from his seat.
She followed suit, shaking her head vehemently. "For meetings and paperwork, Daniel – that's how I got such a stiff neck," seeing him freeze at her tone, she bit back tears and continued, "it was never about the regulations. After the Colonel's (as he was then) admission during the Za'tarc testing, he had unknowingly pushed me into a corner. The two of you were best friends, Daniel, and I couldn't – wouldn't – break that connection."
"Hang on – I'm sorry, but Teal'c told me that" –
"I had to save the Colonel's life, Daniel, and it was the only way that I could make him agree to a retest. It was never about my feelings. Teal'c might have heard my words, but he couldn't hear my heart," she sighed, stepping closer to clasp his hand. "During my retesting – I was thinking of you the whole time."
Daniel stared at her hand, before gingerly gazing up to meet her eyes. He was the picture of a lost man. Sam was distraught for unloading so much on him. Just as she opened her mouth to apologise, he kissed her.
Time stopped for Sam. Her heart swelled. His kiss was warm, soft, welcoming; her lips were kneaded tenderly. Nothing was said, yet the kissed said it all. It felt so new, but it felt so right. She blushed when he pulled away, feeling strangely exposed; a something between delight and misery.
"Sam…" his face was red, although his expression was gentle. "You – I…I'm not making any sense, am I?"
"The kiss made sense," she whispered.
He dipped his head shyly. "I can't seem to find the right words – I need to explain myself –," he thought out loud. "After I descended, when I was regaining my memories...it became apparent to me that something was being left out – but I couldn't place it, because I didn't know what it was in the first place. Later on, I learned that Oma had kept from me what I had once felt about you."
"Why did she do that?"
"Because I needed to learn the truth for myself…when I thought I'd lost you on the Prometheus, Sam, that was when I knew – it was when everything came back. I realised that I loved you," he caressed her arm soothingly. "Oma was right; it was only then that I found what I'd once felt before. I just couldn't find a proper way to tell you, and then Monday happened…"
"God, Daniel – I can't believe I took this long," she lamented, hugging him.
"The regret's mutual, believe me," he kissed her hair and enveloped her securely in his arms.
Sam never wanted to let go. Daniel's embrace felt like home to her. They stood as one, feeling each other's pounding hearts.
Some time later, Daniel murmured, "The rain's stopped,"
She merely nodded into his shoulder and pulled him closer.
She looked up at that. "I'll fix it in the morning,"
Daniel's expression turned serious. "Sam, I'd love for you to stay, but morally speaking, I don't think it's right for me to be taking you to bed before we've even had a first date."
Sam paused to consider his words, before breaking into a smile. "Oh, I don't know – this seems rather like a first date to me," noticing his quizzical look, she turned around to gesticulate. "You see: here are candles, a piano, the man I'm in love with…"
She trailed off when he stroked her cheek. Their eyes locked: blue upon blue. She felt his gaze pierce her soul. She knew that their past was written; now she needed to discover their future.
Her hopes were confirmed when Daniel reached for her hand. He softly rubbed her palm.
"Sam," he whispered, his tone heavy with meaning, "may I keep your hands?"
She nodded, her spirits soaring. "Yes – you can keep all of me," she promised, pressing his hand to her heart.
They leaned in for another kiss, and Sam never looked back.