It was with delight that Cam's teammates came to visit him a short while later, but surprise was the dominant emotion in Daniel and Sam when they saw the glow of happiness on his face. It was not something that one would generally see on the features of a man who'd been critically injured. The mystery was solved within a few moments when they saw the look that passed between him and Vala. No one could have missed the love shining in her eyes.
Later that afternoon, a visit to Cameron from Sam found him alone.
"Ah, she finally left, huh?" she said in amusement.
"Yeah. I made her leave when she nearly fell asleep during a conversation. She's probably sacked out in her quarters."
Sam's eyes studied him. "She told you that she loves you."
Cam smiled. "I had to drag it out of her, but, yes, she did, after I told her the same thing."
"I can just imagine how happy you are."
"They were the best words I've ever heard in my life. And to think that I almost made the huge mistake of breaking things off with her."
"So what now?"
"We'll still be taking things one day at a time, although Vala's already talking about moving in together."
"Why does that not surprise me?"
Cam smiled again. "Well, I'm not quite ready to share my apartment on a full-time basis, so she'll just have to wait, although, knowing her as I do, I have no doubt that she'll keep nagging me about it until I finally relent." His gaze sharpened. "While we're on the subject of relationships, there's a question I didn't get a chance to ask you. It's about General O'Neill moving back here. I was wondering if you were happy about that."
"Of course. Daniel, Teal'c and I have all missed having him here."
"That's not really what I meant. I was talking about the thing between the two of you."
"Oh. Everything's good between us about that. Jack is all for my relationship with Daniel, and he's getting back together with his ex-wife. He and I both know that, even if we had gotten together years ago, it probably wouldn't have lasted. Everything worked out for the best."
Cam's smile returned yet again. "Yes, it did."
It was a couple of hours later when news came that the Jaffa had obtained a healing device. Someone was sent through the gate to get it. Vala and her three able-bodied teammates were waiting in the gate room when it was brought back through, and the former Goa'uld host wasted no time taking it to the infirmary.
Minutes later, Cameron was fully healed. Carolyn told him to go home and relax for the rest of the day. When a knock came on his door not half an hour after he got there, he knew that relaxing was not something he'd be doing.
"I won't even bother asking what reason you gave to the people at the checkpoints this time," he said as he let Vala in. That's all he had the opportunity to say, for his mouth became otherwise occupied.
The foreplay started out frantic, almost desperate, Vala's fears of the past day manifesting themselves in her movements. It was Cam who slowed things down, calming her with his hands, lips and whispered words.
As they made love, Vala gave of herself with a level of completeness that she had never shown before to any man. Every kiss and touch had her love for Cam in it. He soaked it all in and gave his own love back to her.
In the stillness that followed, they held each other close.
"I love you," Cam murmured, kissing Vala's brow.
She tilted her head up and looked at him. "Say it again," she requested. He complied, this time kissing her lips. She snuggled back against him with a happy sigh. "I don't think I will ever get tired of hearing that."
"Well, I sure hope not."
"What about you? Will you ever get tired of hearing me say 'I love you'?"
There was something in the tone of Vala's voice that made Cam tilt her chin up and look into her eyes.
"Vala, are you afraid that I'm going to stop loving you? If so, then you can get that out of your head. It's not going to happen. There's something you need to know. I was wrong when I said that you're not my type. I thought it was true, but I now realize that, all these years, I was mistaken about what kind of woman was right for me. I want a woman who makes me feel alive and energized, who makes me laugh, and smile, and, sometimes, feel like pulling my hair out. I want a woman who isn't afraid to speak her own mind and will stand up and fight for what she wants. I want you, Vala, and everything that comes in the package."
Vala stared intently into his eyes, seeing there the truth of his words. It made the last of her doubt and uncertainty melt away. She pulled Cam's mouth down to hers in a long kiss.
"I love you," she whispered against his lips, then smiled, "and everything that comes in the package." She inserted her hand between them and ran her fingers down a tender part of his "package."
Cam gasped at the touch. "That's not what I meant by package, but I'm happy you like it, too."
"Oh, most definitely."
After sharing another kiss with Vala, Cam settled his head back on the pillow. "I have a confession to make. Over this past week, I was considering ending our relationship."
Upset to hear that, Vala asked why.
"Because of what you said, or, rather, what you didn't say when I asked if all I was to you was a sex partner. I was hoping you'd give me some clue that you felt at least a little bit like I did. When you didn't, I decided that I couldn't continue our relationship if you were never going to love me like I love you."
"Cameron, I am so sorry. I was an idiot for acting like I did. I should have told you that I cared for you very much, but I. . . ."
Cam looked at her. "What?"
Vala's eyes dropped from him. "I was afraid."
His studied her face. "Of loving me?"
Vala nodded, still not looking at him. For so much of her life she had been afraid to love, to completely commit herself to someone. She had been hurt too many times by people she cared about. She had come to believe that she needed to be tough, to pretend that she didn't feel things as deeply as she did. She showed a face to everyone she met that was different from the one inside.
But then she met Daniel, and, much against her will, she fell in love with him. But, again, love brought her only pain, so when she began her relationship with Cameron, she had no intention of letting it happen again. She was so determined not to fall in love with Cameron that she refused to see it when she did. Her fear had almost cost her the man who meant more to her than anyone else ever had. She would never make that mistake again.
Vala at last met his eyes. "But that is in the past," she told him.
Cam smiled. "No more fear?"
"No more fear."
"Well, in that case, there is a certain conversation that I need to have with General Landry."
"Yes, there is." Vala raised up off the bed and settled on top of Cam, a sultry smile on her face. "But that, my love, is a conversation for another day."
When Daniel answered the knock on his door that night, it was to find Sam on his doorstep.
"Hey. I'm sorry for dropping by so late," she said.
Daniel stepped aside and let her in. "No, that's fine. In fact, I was just thinking of calling you."
"Yes. It's been a few days since we shared a bed, and, well. . . ."
Sam grinned. "You were lonely for me?"
Sam wound her arms around his neck. "Then I'll have to do something about that," she said before taking his mouth with hers.
Their lovemaking that night was very slow and thorough, each of them wanting to bring as much pleasure to the other as possible. They both knew that the reason was the brush with death that their friend had suffered. They needed to feel alive, the joy of life.
Afterward, they lay quietly in each other's arms. Sam was the first one to speak.
"When we were all afraid that Cam was going to die, one of the thoughts that went through my mind was how it could have been you. If that arrow that nicked you had struck a foot further to the right. . . ."
Daniel's arm tightened around her. "Don't think about it, Sam."
"I don't know what I'd do if I lost you, Daniel. I don't think I could take it."
Daniel cupped her face. "Sam, stop. You're not going to lose me." He took her hand and pressed it over his heart. "I'm right here, and I have no intention of leaving anytime soon." He kissed her, then tucked her head beneath his chin. His arm began to gently stroke her back, the touch soothing away her bad thoughts. She let out a contented sigh, feeling like she could happily lie there in his arms like that for the rest of her life. More than that, she felt as if this was how it should have been between them all along.
All at once, something came popping into Sam's mind, the memory of the song that they danced to on their third date, the one he hummed into her ear. As the memory came so too did the name of the song and its lyrics. She replayed the first verse in her mind.
I don't know what brought us here
Something in the stars said you and me
I don't know where this feeling comes from
Surely it was meant to be
For I have known you even in my dreams
My eyes are open, my heart can see
Sam lifted her head and gazed at Daniel, whose eyes had closed. Though she did not believe in astrology, that this had all been written in the stars, in a very literal sense, it was the stars that brought them together. They met because of the Stargate and became friends while journeying among the stars. And, lying here with Daniel, she actually did feel as if this was meant to be, as if all the dreams she'd had of finding a man to spend her life with were about him.
Sam realized that she truly had been blind, not just about Jack, but also about Daniel. All those years that she loved Jack, she had failed to see what she could have with this man who lay in her arms, that, if she just opened her heart to the possibility, she could have with him all the happiness and emotional fulfillment she had believed a relationship with Jack would give to her.
There are none so blind as those who will not see. How very true that was. But that was in the past. Her eyes had been opened, and her heart could see. And now it was time to tell Daniel something very important.
"Hmm?" His eyes opened and looked at her, crystal clear and so very blue.
"I have something to tell you."
"Yes. You know how you said that, if I could never love you the way that you love me, you'd transfer to Atlantis? Well, you can just forget about going there . . . that is unless I'm coming with you."
Daniel's pulse began to rise. He stared at Sam, searching her eyes intently. Almost afraid to breathe, he whispered, "Sam?"
Sam cupped his cheek. "I have fallen in love with you, Daniel, totally, head over heels, crazy in love with you."
As unparalleled joy filled Daniel's eyes, he pulled Sam into his arms and took her mouth in a deep kiss that held all his love in it. It was quite a while before the kiss ended.
"I came here tonight to tell you that," Sam said, "but I should have told you days ago, weeks ago. I don't know why I held back, maybe because, with all the mistakes and confusion over my feelings for Jack, I wanted to be sure. It was cowardly of me, and I'm sorry. The truth is that I knew I was falling for you back when you told me that you'd revealed to Vala what Hathor did to you because it was the only way to get her to open up about the attempted rape. It was such a wonderful and selfless thing to do, and I was so proud of you. Ever since then, that's what I was thinking, that I was falling in love with you. I couldn't see that that wasn't exactly true. I wasn't falling in love, I was already in love, with my whole heart. I realize now that I already loved you when we first made love. I really think that I started falling for you when we shared our first kiss. But I failed to see the whole truth until Cam got hurt and I got to thinking about how I'd feel if you were the one lying in that bed." She brushed a finger across his cheek, her gaze running over his face. "I love you, Daniel, more than I've ever loved anyone in my life."
Daniel brought his mouth back down to Sam's. As he drew back, he smiled into her eyes, the brightest, happiest, most beautiful smile in all the world.
"I love you," he whispered. His smile then changed to a very different one. "And, as soon as this forty-two-year-old body allows me to, I will be showing you how much."
A while later, Daniel did just that, sharing with Sam the sweetest, most exquisite lovemaking that either one of them had ever experienced.
Afterwards, as Sam slept in his arms, Daniel thought about what had led up to this moment, how Sam's realization that one love had ended ultimately resulted in another love beginning. He had to wonder if things had gone differently, if Jack had not chosen to retire when he did, would his love for Sam have always remained unrequited as she continued to long for a man who couldn't be hers?
It really was funny how things worked out sometimes, how one decision could change so much. He wondered if there were other universes out there in which Sam and him were also together. He really hoped so. It made him feel good to think that other Daniels had found the same joy he had.
With that thought in mind, Daniel drifted away into sleep and dreams about Sam and their future together.
As Cam stood outside General Landry's office, he tried to recall a time when he had felt more nervous, but nothing was coming to mind. What he really wanted to do was turn around and run away, but that he could not do.
Drawing in a deep steadying breath, the lieutenant-colonel knocked on the back door and was told to come in.
"Colonel Mitchell. You're feeling well, I assume."
"Yes, sir. Those Goa'uld healing things do great work."
"Was there something you wished to talk to me about?"
"Um, yes, sir."
Landry gestured toward a chair, and Cam sat down. The moment his butt hit the seat, his brain froze, and all the words he'd practiced over and over again in front of the mirror went right out of it.
"Go ahead, Colonel. I'm waiting."
"Uh, well, you see, sir, it's something of a personal nature, but you need to be made aware of it because it also affects SG-1."
"Um, yes. The truth of it is that Vala and I are in a . . . a relationship of the . . . romantic kind." The words finally out, Cam's stiffened, braced for the human equivalent of a volcanic eruption.
General Hank Landry stared at him for five of the longest, most uncomfortable seconds of the pilot's life. He then opened his mouth and said. . . .
Cam blinked, parted his lips, then blinked again. "Y-you do?"
"I am the commander of this base, Colonel, and I like to keep my ears to the ground. So when a certain woman remains glued to the side of a certain seriously injured man, unwilling to even take time out to eat, it's only natural that news of it would reach me. I asked my daughter about it, and she refused to confirm my suspicions, which did just that. Since it was still uncertain if you were going to live, I couldn't very well get angry about it, so I had some time to get used to the idea. Once I knew that you were going to make it, I did some digging and pieced together the fact that you and Miss Mal Doran have been spending quite a bit of time together over the past several weeks, that is if all the excuses she gave for leaving the base were a bunch of malarkey, as I'm guessing they were."
"Um . . . yes, sir." Cam stared at the general. "So does this mean that you're okay with it?"
"I didn't say that, Mitchell. I still don't like it, and I am very unhappy that you took this long to tell me. I seriously considered removing Vala from SG-1, but, to be perfectly honest, yours is probably the only team that would put up with her, and she'd drive everyone nuts just hanging around here. So as long as you two can prove to me that it's not a mistake, I will allow things to remain as they are."
A couple of minutes later, Cam left the office through the door he'd entered, feeling a little numb. Vala, who had been waiting anxiously down the hall came running up to him. Normally, she would have tried to eavesdrop, but she'd been afraid of what she would hear.
"What did he say?" she asked. "I didn't hear any yelling. That is a good thing, isn't it?"
"He already knew."
Vala stared at him in surprise. "He did?"
Cam filled her in on the conversation.
"Then I don't have to leave the team?" Vala asked, a big smile coming to her face.
"Not unless we do something to make him change his mind."
"Then you and I will be perfect angels," Vala declared firmly.
Cam laughed. "Vala, he just wants us to behave, not do the impossible."
Vala pouted at him. "What does that mean? I will have you know that I can be a very good girl, when I put my mind to it."
"I will believe that, Vala, when I see it. I'm not gonna hold my breath."
Not quite two weeks had passed since Cam and Vala's relationship had been brought out in the open. Not wanting to give the general any reason for removing Vala from the team, they had been on their best behavior while on duty ever since then. Despite her earlier claims to the contrary, this had proven to be quite a challenge for Vala. The only thing that enabled her to succeed was the fact that, now, she could freely spend as many nights as she wanted to with the man she loved – which was almost every night.
Eight days ago, everyone had gotten a huge surprise when Sam was unexpectedly offered the position of the new commander of Atlantis. Daniel broke into laughter upon hearing that, thinking that if he had transferred there, his escape from the woman who was the reason for the transfer wouldn't have lasted long. Then again, if Sam had been in a relationship with Jack, she likely wouldn't have accepted the transfer. Instead, it was her relationship with Daniel that made her turn it down, although, for a while, they did consider transferring together – much to Cam's dismay. In the end, they both decided that the right place for them was here in this galaxy . . . at least for now.
Yet another surprise came from an interesting source. The plants that sprouted from the seeds planted during the wedding ceremony had grown surprisingly quickly. Within a matter of days, they were large enough that they had to be separated into individual pots. The fast growth made Daniel and Sam think about what happened when the entire base was turned into a virtual jungle within a matter of hours by another alien plant, but, thankfully, this growth rate wasn't nearly as fast.
Tiny buds soon appeared all over the plants, and everyone was dying of curiosity to see what would emerge from the buds. That curiosity was satisfied three days ago when every one of the plants bloomed with a spectacular display of flowers. There were six different colors, and Daniel explained that, in a traditional Celtic handfasting ceremony, ribbons of different colors were used, each one having its own meaning. He guessed that, somewhere along the way, the ribbons were replaced by flowers on P8F-081. He then told his team what each color represented. The red flower was for passion, fertility, strength, courage, and vigor. The blue flower stood for tranquility, patience, devotion, and sincerity. The pink one was a wish for love, romance, unity, honor and happiness, the gold one for energy, prosperity and longevity. The white flower stood for spiritual purity, truth, peace and serenity.
It turned out, though, that flowers weren't the only things growing on the plants. One of the civilian scientists had studied horticulture, and when larger buds also appeared, she determined that they were fruit and that the plants would probably become quite large. That, of course, meant that they could not be kept at the SGC and were going to be transported to Area 51, which already had an environmentally protected greenhouse set up for the study of alien plant life. Vala insisted that she and her team be the first ones to taste the fruit when it matured.
All of the teammates were now enjoying dinner together at a restaurant, discussing their plans for the future. Those plans were that the four human members of the team would be going on a vacation together. Teal'c was intending to use the time to visit his son and daughter-in-law.
"I vote for Hawaii," Vala said.
"Hawaii does sound nice," Sam agreed, thinking of long walks on the beach with Daniel.
"I've always wanted to see the Pearl Harbor Memorial," Cam commented.
"And I'd love to see the Puakõ and Pu'u Loa petroglyphs," Daniel added.
"Then it's settled," Vala stated. "We'll go to Hawaii."
Daniel took a sip of his drink. "Speaking of vacations, Jack told me that he and Sara are planning a trip together after escrow on his house closes and he gets all moved in."
Vala smiled. "Things appear to be going quite well for them. That's nice."
"Yes, it is," Sam agreed wholeheartedly.
The conversation went back to the Hawaiian vacation, Daniel, Sam, Cam and Vala chatting animatedly about all the things they'd like to see and do there. As he looked on, a secret smile curved Teal'c's lips. He witnessed Daniel smile lovingly at Sam, a smile that she returned full measure. He watched Cameron laugh about something Vala said and kiss her on the cheek, which brought a big smile to the dark-haired woman's face. They were two couples that, two and a half months ago, no one would ever have believed would come to be, least of all the participants – no one, that is, except for Teal'c. He had known that this was possible, for in his mind was the memory of another time, the fifty years onboard the Odyssey that, for everyone except him, had been undone. How would Colonel Carter, Colonel Mitchell and Vala Mal Doran feel if they knew that this was not the first time their eyes had been opened to the love they could have? How would Daniel Jackson feel if he knew that there was another time when he got the woman he had loved for so long? They were questions that would not be answered, for Teal'c had sworn that he would never reveal those events, unless he had need. Looking at the happy couples, he believed that there would not be such a need.
Then again, you never knew what the future might bring.
In the Author's Note at the beginning of the story, I said that some things in this universe's version of Unending were very different from the way events happened in the series. You now know what I meant. Daniel and Vala did not become a couple. Instead, Daniel got Sam, and Vala got Cameron.
So, how many of you were surprised by Landry's reaction to Cam and Vala's relationship? So many people were thinking that he would come totally unglued upon hearing about it that I just had to throw in a curve ball. :-D And then there's Sam, whom a lot of people believed was still totally clueless about her love for Daniel. It turned out that wasn't the case after all.
One more thing. The song verse in this chapter is from the beautiful Kennedy Rose song Born to Give My Love, which was later sung by Martina McBride under the title Born to Give my Love to You.