He hears the coffee cup whistle next to his ear seconds before it crashes into the wall next to his head, splashing scalding coffee across his arm and hand. He glances sideways at the airman who stands across the corridor, almost smiles at the way his mouth hangs slightly open. "If I were you, I'd run."

"You bastard." He doesn't turn to face the speaker, although he can feel the anger rolling off her in waves. "You absolute fucking bastard. How dare you?" The airman takes off at double-time. "It's the truth."

"You're full of shit."

"Not this time." He can feel his own temper beginning to rise, tries to control it. Two people screaming will not help. "I love you, Sam."

"No."

"Don't try and tell me what I feel." Whirling around to face her.

"Fine. Love, Daniel? You want to talk about love? Let's talk about it." She pushes his shoulder, stabbing him as she talks. "You told me once that I didn't know what love was. Well, thanks to you I learnt. I learnt that love is pain. Love is betrayal."

"No."

"Love is crying in the dark at three 'o clock in the morning. Love is forgetting. Each day just before you wake up, and just for a second everything's fine. And then you remember and it happens all over again. I had to feel you die everyday, Daniel. Everyday for three fucking years, so don't you dare come back here and tell me that you love me."

"You think you're the only one that hurt?"

"I think I'm the only one that didn't have a choice. I trusted you and you threw it back in my face."

"That's not true."

"I was so stupid. I would have given you anything."

"And now you'd give it all to Jonas?" Jealousy, pain, hurt, making him lash out.

"You selfish bastard." Her hand is clenched into a fist. He braces himself for the impact, knowing that he deserves it. It never comes.

"You know what I hate most? The fact that after three years you still have the power to hurt me."

He sees the glint of tears in her eyes, and then she's gone.



"You can be a bastard sometimes, you know that?"

"Yeah. Is she okay?"

"She hasn't been okay since you left." Janet settles herself into the chair opposite him, reproach in her voice, in her eyes.

"I'm sorry."

"Sorry doesn't solve everything. So, what are you going to do about it?"

"I don't know what I can do."

"That's bullshit, Daniel." He starts to rise, pushing back in his chair. She surprises them both by reaching over and grabbing his arm, holding him in place. "What? Are you going to run again? Back out the minute things get tough?"

"She wants me to go."

"And if you're just going to settle for that then you're weaker than I thought."

"I hurt her." His throat constricting. "I love her so much, and I hurt her."

"I know you love her, Daniel. Trust me, that's the only reason you're still breathing right now. As it was I had to physically restrain the Colonel from coming in here and busting your ass."

"I deserve it."

"Yes, you do. You made her cry."

"I'm so lost, Janet." Sinking back down, despair evident in his voice. "I can't make her understand."

"Because she's hurt. She's afraid." Her voice gentler. Understanding. "You've been gone three years. Things have changed."

"She's moved on." Bitter.

"To who, Jonas?" A half smile. "Daniel, Sam's been in love with you from the moment she first saw you. That kind of love doesn't just disappear. Under all the hurt, under all the confusion, she still loves you. She never stopped."

"But she doesn't trust me."

"You haven't given her reason to. You can't expect to fix three years of damage in three days."

"I just hoped…"

"What? You expected to come back here and have Sam fall into your arms like you'd never been away?"

"It sounds so stupid when you say it." A wry smile.

"Daniel, if you want her to trust you again, it's going to take time. It's going to be slow and it's going to hurt sometimes. But all you can do is take it day by day."

"If she'll let me near her in the first place."

"She will. After she's stopped throwing things." He winces at the reminder of the coffee cup. "Now, go crawl. She's in her quarters."

He starts to rise, pauses mid-motion. Leans over and kisses her cheek. "When in the last three years did you get so wise?"

"I was always wise. You just didn't listen."

"I missed you as well, you know."

"And I missed you."

A final squeeze of the hands, her voice stopping him as he reaches the doorway. "Daniel? Do it right this time. Or I have a large selection of needles in the infirmary with your name on them."

He turns and smiles. She's not laughing.

************

He knocks at the door. "Sam, open up." No response. "I know you're in there." Silence. He eyes the door doubtfully. Military door vs. newly resurrected archaeologist. He'd lay odds on the door.

He settles for leaning his head against it. "Sam, please. I just want to talk to you." He turns around, catches the eye of one of the infirmary nurses who is non-to-subtly hanging on every word. "Preferably without an audience." No reply.

"Okay, then I guess I'll have to do this the hard way." A deep breath. "Samantha Carter, I love you. I know that's not what you want to hear, and I can understand that, but it's the truth. I've never lied to you Sam, not then, not now." A pause. "I'm sorry I left without saying anything. I'm sorry that I hurt you. But I'm not sorry that I went. I can't be sorry for that because I needed to go. I needed to go for me. And the reason I didn't say goodbye was because I knew that if you'd asked me to stay, I would have." He closes his eyes against the wood.

"So I went. And I knew that you were hurting, because I saw it. You don't know how many times I just watched you. Saw you cry, saw you laugh. And not touching you, not being able to comfort you was the hardest thing I've ever done in my life. So I left you alone. I saw the universe, Sam. I saw miracles. But then I realised that it all counted for shit if you weren't there to see it with me." He hears something, a slight movement behind the door. Barely daring to hope, he carries on.

"I need you Sam. I need you. You're my best friend. It's all the little things. I love the way you drink your coffee. I love the way we can speak without saying anything. I love the way you roll your eyes when Jack tells a joke. I love the smell of your hair." His voice lowering, almost to a whisper. "I can't promise that I can make everything better. I don't know whether you'll be able to trust me again. But I can promise you that I'll try. I'll try with everything I've got, because what we had, what we've got, is worth fighting for, it's worth everything. You are my everything, Sam. But no matter how much I love you, I can't do this alone. I need you now, more than I've never needed anything, anyone. I need you to fight with me. Please, Sam. Please fight with me."

The sound of the door handle twisting.

As the door swings open, the crowd behind him, the world fades away to a single pair of blue eyes.

And after a moment, he smiles.