Gingerbread Houses and Sugar Plum Dreams


Daniel Jackson had almost literarily buried himself in the far corner of one of the storage rooms on base as he sorted through another box of mislabeled artifacts when he barely heard the door open. His scowl of frustration changed to an expression of curiosity when he recognized the voices of the two people who had entered.

“Thanks so much for helping me pick up these supplies, Sam,” Doctor Janet Fraiser said loudly just before the door closed.

“And you were in theater in high school?” Major Samantha Carter asked incredulously.

“Hey, you were the one who said my office was still too public a place to talk. Now, you said you broke up with Pete?”

Daniel blinked as Sam sighed. She had? When had this happened? And why hadn’t she said anything to him about it?

There was a bit of a pause as Daniel assumed Sam looked around the storage room. The archaeologist knew that between the boxes that currently surrounded him and the shelving unit between him and the door, neither woman was likely to see him. He felt guilty for eavesdropping and was about to announce his presence when Sam continued.

“I thought things could go back to the way they were before I told him about the Stargate program, but he’s been all excited about the fact that his girlfriend is what he calls a ‘superhero’ ever since. He keeps asking me a lot of questions about what I’ve really been doing at work. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to remind him that just because he got clearance to hear about the Stargate doesn’t mean I can tell him about anything that’s currently going on. He’s backed off each time but the questions just don’t stop.”

“That would be annoying,” Janet commiserated. “He seemed more intelligent than that when he was here.”

Sam released an explosive breath. “Don’t get me started on that. I thought I’d forgiven him for the stunt he pulled at Daniel’s house when we captured Osiris, but then he had to go and make a joke about being my stalker. I exploded at him. He immediately apologized, but...”

“Oh, Sam. He’s just a big kid, isn’t he?”

Sam gave a short laugh. “Yeah, that’s one way to put it. And a pushy one at that. He started insisting I clear my schedule and come spend Christmas with his family this year. We’ve been dating for about six months. I’m not comfortable with that. I mean, it’s not like we’re engaged or anything, right?”

It was Janet’s turn to sigh. “No, you’re not. But why do I get the feeling there’s something more to this than some overenthusiasm on Pete’s part?”

Daniel perked up at that insight. He had figured there was something off with Sam’s story, but hadn’t quite come to that conclusion yet. For now, his curiosity had overruled his guilt over eavesdropping.

“Oh, Janet,” Sam said in a dejected tone. “When I yelled at Pete last night about the stalker joke, it wasn’t just because of his poor taste. The comment dredged up everything I’d felt that morning when Osiris came out of Daniel’s house alone, with no one immediately following. I wasn’t sure how the guys were, and then Pete went and distracted me at a critical point. I remember thinking that if I didn’t stop her, or if she killed me, she’d be free to go back in the house and finish what she started, assuming she hadn’t already. Then I worried about her getting away. In the aftermath everything got all jumbled up and confused and I was feeling overwhelmed so I decided to focus on the closest thing - Pete.”

“And you didn’t have that distraction last night,” Janet concluded.

“No,” Sam said softly.

The doctor took a deep breath and released it. “I take it you realized you had feelings for someone else.”

Daniel strained to hear the blonde major’s response. “Yes.”

“Was it Jack?”

Daniel held his breath as he waited for the answer to the question he’d just been thinking himself. “No,” Sam said confidently, making Daniel’s eyes widen behind his wire-framed glasses in surprise. “I dealt with my feelings for the colonel while I was trapped on the Prometheus inside that anomalous cloud. He’s always been my safe bet, and I decided to let him go. Pete came along soon after. Too soon, I think.”

“How was it too soon, Sam?” Janet asked.

A short laugh suggested Sam was smiling, probably a bit ruefully. “I’d sorted out Jack, but not the other important men in my life. And I hadn’t gotten up the courage to do it yet when Mark dragged me out to meet his buddy from Denver. Then I let the way we clicked keep me from what I should have done before getting involved with anyone.” She sighed.

“And you both paid the price,” Janet concluded. “Oh, Sam. You have a hard time listening to your heart, don’t you? I take it you sorted things out about everyone else last night?”

“After I called things off with Pete, yes. I sat by my front window and stared at the Christmas lights on the house across the street while I picked apart my dilemma until it was almost unrecognizable in my head. Didn’t work, but that’s what I did.” Sam sighed again.

“I’m not surprised.”

“I finally gave up around twelve-thirty and went to bed. I’d been asleep for about an hour when I woke up with a start after a particularly graphic dream, and not the good kind either.” The blonde took a deep breath to steady her shaking voice and continued. “I dreamed about when we captured Osiris, but this time she got away because Pete distracted me. Then I ran into the house and found Teal’c and the colonel out cold in the hallway outside Daniel’s bedroom. And when I went inside...”

There was a tiny sympathetic sound from Janet. “You don’t have to tell me any more.”

Sam blew out a breath. “Daniel was sprawled across his bed on top of his covers, a blistered burn on his forehead and blood running out of his nose and ears. I checked frantically for a pulse, but... nothing. He was dead, and this time there was no coming back, no miracle waiting to happen. I couldn’t breathe. And just as I started screaming in the dream I woke up - and I knew. I knew that I couldn’t bear to lose Daniel again, ever.” There was a brief pause filled only with Sam’s harsh breathing as she got herself back under control. “God, Janet, I think I’m in love with him. He asked me if there had been anything between us when we found him on Vis Uban, and I told him we were just really, really good friends.”

“Which was the truth,” Janet said quickly.

“Well, yeah, but I think after that I forced myself to only see our relationship in those terms. You’d think after how much losing him when he ascended tore me apart, and how it made me feel when we weren’t sure what had happened to him after Anubis destroyed Abydos, that I would have clued into why.” She barked out a self-derisive laugh. “You’re right, Janet. I have an amazingly hard time listening to my heart.”

“You have time now, Sam. He came back. Osiris didn’t kill him. Tell him how you feel and take it from there.”

Sam sniffed a couple times. “I can’t do that, Janet. You should have seen how torn up he was when he finally remembered everything about Sha’re. No, he needs me as a friend, and that’s what I’ll be. As long as he’s in my life, I’ll be happy.”

“I think you’re making a mistake, but it’s your call. And don’t worry, I won’t say anything.” There was a long, silent pause. “So, um, did you find a decent recipe for gingerbread cookies yet?”

“Nothing that comes close to my mother’s recipe, and I have no idea where I can find that,” Sam said, relief apparent in her voice at the change of subject. “Mark doesn’t know either. Apparently only Dad knows now, and you and I both know how likely it is that I’ll get a chance to talk to him in time. I guess I’ll have to live without the gingerbread village this year.”

“What about the grocery... never mind. It’s not the same, I get it. So what made you decide you wanted to put together a gingerbread village this year? You’ve never done it before.”

“I read a magazine article about different Christmas decorations, and there was this picture of a dining room just covered by a gingerbread village. It reminded me of what my mom always did when I was a little girl, and, well, I just decided I wanted to do it for myself. I’ve always liked gingerbread cookies at Christmas time.”

Janet laughed. “Well, that I already knew. I remember your tirade a few years ago when you couldn’t find any at any of the grocery stores in Colorado Springs.”

Sam cleared her throat in slight embarrassment. “Shouldn’t we get back to work? I think people are going to notice how long we’ve been gone.”

The sound of a box scraping off a metal shelf mingled with another chuckle from Janet. “Okay, I’ll let you off the hook. Just...” The petite doctor sighed. “Just let me know if you ever need a shoulder to cry on or anything, okay?”

“Thanks, Janet,” Sam said quietly. The door opened and closed again shortly afterward.

Even after he’d been left alone, Daniel continued to silently blink as he stared off into space. Sam loved him. Sam was in love with him. And she had no idea that he felt the same way. Yes, it had been painful to face all of his memories of his lost wife, but he’d been able to put it all into perspective, letting him look back fondly on what had truly been a wonderful time of his life. Something had apparently happened while he’d been ascended to relieve him of the guilt and pain he’d been feeling since the fateful day Teal’c had been forced to kill her to save him. And his eyes had been opened to feelings all the baggage of the past had blinded him to.

When Daniel had come back to Earth from Vis Uban, Sam’s impassioned plea had been the deciding factor. He’d felt a connection with Jack that confused him, and the older man confused him even more with what he said, talking about death and battles on top of a simple insistence of Daniel’s identity. If Jack had been able to find better words, been able to understand how Daniel had been feeling at that point... Daniel couldn’t help but smile at the thought. Jack had been Jack. No other explanation was now necessary.

And Sam had been Sam. She listened, she tried to understand, and because she did she was able to find words that Daniel could connect with. So he came home. And after his talk with Teal’c and realization that Sha’re was dead, it was as though he purposefully put off recalling his memories of her, focusing instead on his teammates. He remembered his almost immediate connection with Sam when he met her, how she became one of his best friends very quickly. Without the shadow of his wife, he also remembered how deep those feelings ran. And even after Sha’re was once again a factor, he realized that his feelings for Sam hadn’t changed - he was in love with her. Only her original insistence that they were only really, really good friends made him hold his tongue.

But now that had changed. Sam had figured out she loved him in return, but was afraid to say anything. So Daniel would have to take the initiative. The only question was how. The next moment brought a wide smile to his features as an idea occurred to him. Yes, that would be perfect. Now to put the plan into motion.

* * * * * * * *

About a week before Christmas, Sam walked into Janet’s office carrying a large candy tin and wearing a confused expression. “I hope you can come up with better explanation for this than I can,” the blonde woman said, then frowned. “Of course, that could pretty much be anything at this point.”

Janet held back a chuckle. “So what have you got now? More gingerbread men?”

“I left those back in my lab along with the latest gingerbread house. This is something else.”

“What?” the auburn-haired woman asked again.

Sam shrugged. “I don’t know. Sweets of some kind I’m guessing, but only because I recognize the sugar they’re covered in.” She held out the tin.

Janet glanced inside and smiled. “Sugar plums!” she exclaimed. “My grandmother used to make these when I was growing up.” She pulled out one of the sugar-covered balls and took a bite out of it. “It’s a little different than what I remember, but still good,” she said with her mouth full.

The physicist blinked. “Those are real? I thought it was just something made up for that poem.” She looked down at the remaining treats then set down the tin on Janet’s desk and tried one for herself. Her eyes widened. “These are good!” She swallowed and considered it. “I can taste apricots, dates, and raisins.”

“Almonds and orange, too,” Janet added before licking the tips of her fingers clean.

“So what’s supposed to be in these?” Sam asked.

“Well, my grandmother used figs instead of dates, and pecans instead of almonds. Oh, and she added coconut.” The shorter woman grinned at her friend’s expression of distaste. “I’m guessing whoever left these for you knows what you like and don’t like. Thus, no coconut.”

Sam’s nose crinkled in frustration. “That’s the sixty-four thousand dollar question, isn’t it? Who left these for me? It’s obviously someone who knows me pretty well.” Her eyes narrowed and she stared down the good doctor. “It’s not you, is it, Janet?”

Janet nearly choked on her second sugar plum. “Of course not!”

“Just making sure.”

“Have you asked the rest of SG-1? I mean, those are the three that know you best after all.”

Sam sighed. “Yeah, I asked. The colonel denied knowing anything before eating half of the first batch of gingerbread men I got. Daniel asked too many questions about where I found them and how they got left there to have done it, and Teal’c... well, it’s just not his style. Turns out he likes gingerbread as much as I do though.”

Janet gave her an amused look. “I guess you’re just going to have to accept that you have yourself a secret admirer that knows how to make a detailed gingerbread village. What’d you get today?”

“Looks like Cassie’s first school, actually, complete with miniature chain link fence.” She frowned. “Whoever it is has put a lot of time and effort into this. I wonder why.”

“What’s the note say?” Janet couldn’t keep her intense curiosity out of her voice.

“‘This can be the future - if you want. And something new to inspire sweet dreams.’ Which is nice and all, but doesn’t get me any closer to figuring out who’s sending this stuff!”

Janet smiled. “What I wouldn’t give to have your problem. A romantic secret admirer who is willing to take the time and effort to make me an entire gingerbread village piece by piece, one a day. One who makes me extra cookies every third day or so so I have something to snack on. And who has now added a new sweet treat to his collection of talents, modified to suit my likes and dislikes.” She shook her head as Sam blushed slightly. “Have you shared these with Daniel yet?”

Sam sighed. “No. Daniel left at noon to take a couple loads to the storage shed he’ll be keeping most of his things in when he moves into that apartment next month. He’s just lucky he hadn’t gotten around to unpacking most of the things the colonel saved for him.”

Janet frowned. “It’s too bad the man Daniel was renting the house from raised such a fuss after the incident with Osiris. I liked that house.”

“Well, he lives in the house the van blew up in front of. There was no way to play down what happened. He just didn’t want to take the chance of something like that happening again, and as long as Daniel works at the mountain the chance exists.” Sam shrugged. “Daniel’s thinking about actually buying a house, but he’s going to wait until his lease is up before he makes a decision.”

“Six months or a year?” Janet asked.

“A year.” Sam’s eyebrows rose as her friend took another sugar plum. “You are going to leave me something to share with Daniel, aren’t you?”

Janet paused mid-bite, her eyes wide. “Sure,” she declared, her voice muffled by the confection.

Sam laughed and put the lid back on the tin. “I’ll just make sure of it. Besides, I told Daniel I’d stop by sometime this week to help out. It might as well be today. Could end up being my last chance to see the house. Talk to you later.” She laughed again when Janet popped the rest of the treat into her mouth and waved, grinning. Sam left to do as she’d said, closing the door behind her.

* * * * * * * *

It was snowing steadily when Sam arrived at Daniel’s house a little after six that night, and she rushed to the door, sugar plum tin and covered plate with gingerbread cookies in hand. There was no response to her knock, but she knew he was home since his car was in the driveway and the living room lights were on. “Oh, well. Guess he gets a surprise.” Sam shrugged and unlocked the door with her spare key before stepping inside.

The first thing that assaulted her senses was the overwhelming scent of gingerbread. She barely noted the lack of Daniel’s visible presence as she put down her packages then her coat on top of them before she headed for the kitchen. She’d only taken one step inside when the sight she found there made her breath catch. There, on the counter, were three gingerbread houses, the last one apparently still unfinished, just enough to last until Christmas Eve. And these were the most familiar buildings of all. Both Jack and Daniel’s houses were there, with her own being the one waiting for completion. An empty frosting tube lay next to a glass mixing bowl just to the side of the construction site.

Sam nearly stumbled back out of the kitchen, her mind reeling. It had been Daniel? Daniel had been the secret admirer who had given her the gingerbread village she’d been wanting so badly? But... why? Why would he do this? And what was with the romantically suggestive notes that had accompanied the gifts? Did... did this mean she’d been wrong about how he felt about her?

Just then Daniel came wandering into the living room from his bedroom, humming as he took a bite out of a sugar plum. He stopped in his tracks, eyes wide behind his glasses, when he saw he had a visitor. He swallowed and cleared his throat, a blush starting to spread across his features. “Um, hi, Sam. I didn’t hear you come in.”

If Sam had been less stunned by her revelation, she might have laughed at the nervousness in his tone. “You didn’t answer when I knocked,” she said softly, her gaze locking with his.

“I was in the bedroom packing up my non-essentials,” he explained somewhat needlessly.

“You’re baking gingerbread,” Sam blurted into the silence that followed his remark.

Daniel flinched slightly. “Uh, yeah,” he admitted.

“And you made the sugar plums.”


Sam pointed toward the closed door of the kitchen. “You’re making gingerbread houses.”

Daniel nodded, his gaze finally dropping to the floor. “Yes, I am.”

“Those are for me, aren’t they?”


Sam’s eyes finally softened at the barely audible whisper. “Why are you doing this, Daniel? Why did you decide to be my secret admirer?”

Daniel brought his head up at the question, searching her face for signs that she hadn’t appreciated the gesture, that she’d changed her mind about him since he’d overheard her in the storage room. He started to smile when he didn’t find anything but pure Sam Carter curiosity. “You mean you haven’t figured it out yet, Sam? I love you. I wanted to tell you in the gentlest way I could, and give you something you wanted in the process. I was going to admit to everything on Christmas Eve, but...” He shrugged helplessly.

Sam couldn’t stop the grin that spread across her face. “But I spoiled the surprise by coming over tonight.” Daniel shrugged again. “Where did you get that recipe? It’s so close to my mother’s.”

“It’s my mother’s. She only made it a few times before I lost her, but I always liked it. I got lucky that it’s so much like your mother’s recipe. That’s why I left that first batch of cookies in Janet’s office. I knew she’d share them with you, and then I could find out if you liked them.”

“You’re pretty sneaky, Daniel,” Sam said with a chuckle, then sighed. “Do you mean it, Daniel?” she asked as she walked across the room to where he stood. “Do you really love me?”

“Yes, Sam. I’d never lie to you about something like that,” he told her earnestly, his heart in his eyes.

“I know, I know,” she assured him quickly. “It’s just... I thought Sha’re...”

“There will always be part of me that loves Sha’re, Sam. But that’s in the past. My present, my future... my heart belongs to you. After I descended and started to get my memory back, I was surprised to find out just how long it already had. But it feels right, and I want you to know.” His eyes searched hers, making her shudder from the intensity of the emotions she found there.

She struggled to catch her breath for a moment before responding. “Oh, Daniel,” she whispered. “I love you, too, for longer than I realized. And when I figured it out I was so scared to say anything...” She shook her head, letting the past stay in the past. “So what do we do now?”

Daniel smiled. “I believe there’s something traditional we could be doing.” He raised an eyebrow expectantly.

She caught on quickly and grinned. “Oh, heaven forbid we ignore tradition.” She closed the distance between the two of them and gently pressed her lips against his, gasping when he immediately responded. Finally, the need for oxygen made them pull apart slightly. “You taste like sugar plums,” Sam commented, her eyes sparkling impishly.

“I wonder why,” Daniel mused, a matching light in his own eyes as he brought up the uneaten part of the candy he’d been munching as he walked into the room and placed it between his teeth in an unspoken invitation. Sam laughed and took it.

And that night, as they fell asleep in each other’s arms after a night of beautiful lovemaking, they thought of gingerbread houses and dreamed sugar plum dreams, knowing this would be a tradition they would share for a lifetime to come. 

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