Mixing It Up


The beach abutting the Sunset Bay Resort in the Bahamas had plenty of mid-day traffic even though it was a Monday, made up of college students on vacation, newlywed couples on their honeymoons, and other random tourists seeking the tropical get-away for one reason or another. One pair of people on that beach were distinctive by their lack of movement, however. Colonel Jack O’Neill and his friend and teammate Teal’c stood at the end of a long dock that jutted into a shark lagoon and served as a takeoff and landing platform for parasailors, as recently proven by their other teammate Doctor Daniel Jackson not a half hour previously. The final member of their team, Major Samantha Carter, had gone up to their hotel suite to check on the civilian’s condition as the only reason he’d gone parasailing in the first place was he’d accidentally gotten a mix of Vicodin and alcohol into his system and an aggressive boat driver had taken advantage of the resulting drug-induced hyperactivity.

“What are you thinking, O’Neill?” Teal’c inquired when the other man had been quiet for a long moment, especially for the normally talkative team leader.

“Those are sharks, Teal’c,” Jack murmured, his eyes never leaving the ocean predators that swam in the water below him.

A dark eyebrow rose. “Yes,” he agreed, unsure of where his friend intended to take the conversation.

“Daniel nearly landed in there.”


“I could see it coming, you know. When that boat started heading for the platform I could see that the angle of the rope was all wrong. What I wasn’t sure of was whether or not he’d end up close enough to the dock to make it out of the water before either the parasail dragged him under or the sharks decided he’d make a great lunch entre.” The greying-haired man sighed and ran a hand through his military-length locks. “When he made that mad scramble and managed to hit the platform with his feet barely getting wet... relief and the absurdity of the situation just overwhelmed me. I couldn’t help but laugh. I saw him tear the harness off out of the corner of my eye and...” He sighed again. “He was okay, Teal’c. Daniel was okay. Or would be at the very least. The next thing I know you and Carter are talking like I’m not there about checking up on him and meeting later for dinner. Daniel was gone and apparently pissed off at me.” Jack finally tore his eyes away from the water and looked the Jaffa beside him in the eye, brown meeting brown. “I know I screwed up. I owe Daniel a huge apology. I shouldn’t have laughed when he was so scared. But I was too.”

Another long silence descended on the pair, each not looking away from the other. “I was frightened for Daniel Jackson’s welfare as well, O’Neill. I saw as you did that his trajectory would not lead to his landing on the platform, and was helpless to do anything to assist him. I do not like the feeling,” the larger man said finally.

Jack smiled wryly. “Neither do I, big guy. I’ll talk to Daniel later, but for now let me apologize to you. I have a feeling by watching me make an ass out of myself you managed to make Daniel think you weren’t concerned about him, and with his shaky mind-set that would really hurt him. It’s my fault, and I’m sorry.”

“I accept your apology,” Teal’c acquitted his friend with a bow of his head. “You realize you would be wise to offer one to Major Carter as well as Daniel Jackson of course.”

“Oh, that’s just a given.” The colonel’s smile turned into a grin. “Thanks, T. I owe you one.”

“Indeed, O’Neill. And I will anticipate the repayment of that debt with great fervor.”

Jack gulped, his smile dropping off his face. If only he hadn’t been so stupid! This one could get incredibly sticky. And that was not something he was looking forward to, no matter how much he may have deserved it.

* * * * * * * *

Sam woke up from her nap a couple hours after she dropped off, her sleep-fuddled mind reveling in the warmth that surrounded her without truly identifying its source. She snuggled her face into the short, soft brown hair her cheek had been resting against as a pair of arms tightened briefly around her waist. And then it hit her: she was in bed with Daniel! Her eyes sprang completely open from their half-mast position and her breath caught as she looked down her body as best she could.

Daniel was still wound as tightly around her as he’d been when he’d cuddled close to her side to sleep off the pain medication he’d taken that morning and the alcohol he’d accidentally added to it. And she still felt like a giant plush toy. Sam smiled gently at the sleep-softened features resting against the sensitive skin of her neck. There were worse things she could feel like, she supposed.

The blonde woman lightly ran her fingers through the short brown hair that tickled her jawbone. Part of her missed the longer length he’d worn when she’d first met him, but overall she had to admit the style he wore now fit the man he’d become in the three years since then. Reminded of that first meeting, her mind’s eye replayed the memory of her first sight of the DHD in the pyramid on Abydos, then having her attention directed to the man who’d opened the Stargate, Doctor Daniel Jackson. She’d read all his work, studied his theories and how they’d influenced the remaining scientists involved with the project, tried to find a decent picture of the man somewhere in some file. And while she’d had a healthy respect for the archaeologist’s incredible intellect, nothing had prepared her for the sight of him standing amidst a group of natives, dressed as they were in flowing natural-toned robes, looking at her with bemused confusion. His ear-length brown hair was thick and full, a slight wave threatening to make the ends curl outward, and his wide eyes were the color of a clear summer sky, not hidden in the least by the cobbled-together spectacles resting on the bridge of his well-shaped nose.

Just... wow.

Sam had let her eyes close again as she let herself sink into the warm, fuzzy feelings that had first washed over her when their eyes met, the corners of her mouth twitching upward as she heard him call her “Captain-Doctor”, his way of diffusing the tension he felt between herself and Colonel O’Neill when she’d introduced herself as Doctor Samantha Carter and her superior officer had refuted it by reminding her she’d told him she preferred to be called by her rank. Her breath caught in the next moment, the feather-light touch of lips on her pulse point yanking her back into the present. A sleepy “mmm” came from just above her left shoulder, and a lazy hand began running slowly up and down her right side.

Blinking furiously, the previously-daydreaming physicist maneuvered her head to the side, not deterring the man holding her in the least, and looked down to see what in the hell was going on. Her eyes widened even further when she realized that the man nuzzling her neck and caressing her side so gently was still sound asleep. “Daniel?” she whispered, hoping to draw him out of what must be a dream or memory of his time with Sha’re before he either did something to truly embarrass himself or slipped into a nightmare about what had been the final outcome of his search for her. She didn’t think she could bear to see him go through either scenario.

“Sam,” Daniel softly moaned into her throat, still asleep. “You taste just like I always thought you would.” His kisses became longer and more drawn out.

“Oh... my,” Sam breathed, involuntarily letting her head fall back under the onslaught of feelings and emotions that washed over her, her right hand that had previously merely been resting lightly on Daniel’s left shoulder now tightly gripping it. She should stop this, she knew she should stop this. They hadn’t had an opportunity to have that talk about how they really felt about each other. She wasn’t even sure she knew how she felt.

But, oh, this felt so good. His lips were practically searing the soft flesh just under her earlobe, and the hand that had been lightly running along her side had switched to a gentle massage just shy of her breast. Sam’s passion was quickly building, eroding her determination to wake Daniel and not reply in kind. A low groan escaped the woman’s mouth instead of the name she’d intended, not that she was sure that would have been much better.

And then everything petered out. The kisses slowed and the massage stopped altogether, his hand stilling just above her diaphragm. Daniel’s head snuggled back into the crook of Sam’s shoulder, and with a deep sigh he slipped back into motionless slumber.

Sam blinked. She certainly hadn’t been expecting any of that, especially its conclusion. Her breathing slowly recovered from its hormone-induced increase, and the haze in her mind dissipated, leaving behind a startling revelation. She’d enjoyed that. She’d completely and thoroughly enjoyed everything that had been brought bubbling to the surface, and the fact that it had been Daniel who lit the fire just made it all the more intense and compelling. She’d thought she’d put aside these feelings for the man who would become her friend and teammate when it became apparent on Abydos that not only was the archaeologist taken but he was completely in love with his wife. Obviously she had been mistaken.

So what did she really feel? She knew there was a deep, abiding friendship that they shared. She couldn’t deny the physical attraction, that much was a given. But ultimately... Her eyes widened as realization struck. She... she was in love with Daniel Jackson. She’d fallen in love with him the moment she saw him, and it had only grown deeper the more she got to know him. Holy Hannah.

They still needed to talk. It was even more important now. At the same time, the last thing Sam wanted was to make Daniel feel pressured about his own emotions if he wasn’t sure - she’d think about his earlier comments when the time came - so she decided to leave things as they were until they had their promised discussion. No matter what Sam needed Daniel’s friendship; anything else was worthless if that was gone, if there could even be anything else. Everything as settled in her mind as they could be, Sam took advantage of the close proximity of the man who had won her heart without either of them realizing it and laid her cheek once more against the top of his head, her left arm draped loosely across his shoulders. Sleep reclaimed her quickly, her conscious thoughts leaving only a small smile as sign of their passing into oblivion.

* * * * * * * *

Jack paced in the lobby of the resort at six-thirty that night, waiting impatiently for the younger half of his team to come down for dinner and fighting the almost irresistible urge to check out the suite the four of them were sharing to find out what was going on. Teal’c sat on an overstuffed chair near the front desk reading one of the magazines that normally rested on a nearby coffee table for just such a purpose, studiously ignoring the restless man. “You don’t think they’re going to make me wait here all night just to spite me, do you, Teal’c? What I did wouldn’t warrant that, would it?” the Air Force colonel asked, incredulous disbelief masking an almost desperate need for reassurance. He’d really stepped in it this time, and he knew revenge was inevitable. He just wasn’t sure what form it would take.

“There are still thirty minutes before the time Major Carter arranged to meet us, O’Neill. You must be patient.” The Jaffa finally looked up from the glossy pages. “Your conscience speaks much too loudly.”

Jack couldn’t even pretend not to understand that one with Teal’c’s ominous threat of a favor hanging over his head. “I just want to get this over with and get on with our whole group vacation of fun thing. How can I apologize if they don’t show up?”

Up went the trademark eyebrow. “Your fear is unfounded, O’Neill. Our friends will arrive in time for dinner as agreed. You will have your opportunity at that time.”

Jack sighed. “I guess.” He continued to pace, and Teal’c returned to his article.

Fifteen minutes later, Sam came out of one of the elevators dressed in a light, flowing, pale blue sundress and white sandals. She smiled and joined her waiting teammates. “Hi, Teal’c, Colonel. How was your day?”

Okay, she didn’t sound like she was still angry. “We did some sight seeing, a little bit of shopping. Had to pick up a few souvenirs for the folks we left behind.”

“Cassandra Fraiser was quite insistent about bringing her presents,” Teal’c agreed, a light of amusement in his eyes. “I believe she will be pleased.”

“She better be,” Jack grumbled. “That necklace cost a pretty penny.”

“Not as much as the portrait you requested,” the Jaffa countered.

“Commissioned artwork always costs a little more,” the greying-haired man retorted haughtily. “I just hope that photograph is good enough to work from.” He looked at Sam, who was grinning at their antics. “So where’s Daniel?”

The blonde woman’s smile faltered slightly. “He’s changing. He was a little groggy when he woke up and decided to take a shower before coming down.” A hard glint came into her light blue eyes. “He’ll be here in time, sir.”

Jack held up his hands. “Never said he wouldn’t, Carter. Never even thought he wouldn’t.” He sighed. “Do you think we could talk in private for a moment? I need to tell you a few things.”

Sam took a deep breath and released it. “Of course, sir.” She gestured toward the front doors. “Be sure to let Daniel know we’ll be right back, okay, Teal’c?”

“Of course, Major Carter.”

Jack led the way to an empty bench on the manicured front lawn of the resort and sat down, Sam following suit immediately after. He looked at her out of the corner of his eye. “I want you to know that I realize I was out of line this morning, Major. Especially considering Daniel just had surgery two weeks ago, I should have made sure he really was all right. I can only tell you that my reaction came from being overwhelmingly relieved. I’d seen he wasn’t going to hit the platform, and I knew that’s where the sharks were. I also knew that parachute could easily drag Daniel under before he could make it out of the water; the driver and his two buddies certainly weren’t in any position to help, and we were pretty far away. It was... reaction.”

Sam hadn’t looked at the man next to her at all. “So that’s your excuse?”

“Not an excuse, Sam. But it is the reason behind what I did.”

Now the blonde turned her head, icy blue meeting guilt-lightened brown. “Permission to speak freely, sir.”

Jack sighed. “We’re on vacation, Carter.”

Sam blinked. “Permission to speak freely, sir.”

Okay, he wasn’t walking away from this one unscathed. If Carter was ignoring his implicit permission to say whatever was on her mind and demanding him to actually say it, whatever was on her mind was bound to be extremely painful for him. But he had asked for it. “Permission granted, Major. Hit me with your best shot.”

Now those blue eyes blazed. “Do you honestly understand how you hurt him? And not just this time, either. Sometimes when you harp on him, I can see him mentally rocking back from the blows. And I don’t mean your usual playful bickering. That’s just a game. I even find it amusing, for a while anyway. You are Daniel’s best friend. Your opinion means the world to him. I think Teal’c’s and my opinions mean a lot, too, don’t get me wrong, but you’re the one most likely to lash out, whether you mean it or not.”

“Now hold on a second. Daniel knows a lot of the time I’m just blowing off steam.”

“I’m not saying he doesn’t. But why is it Daniel is almost always the target for that? Even though he understands, I can see that it still hurts. He forgives you - he’ll always forgive you - but he still feels the pain. If you keep going on like this, no matter how much he forgives you, that pain is going to overwhelm him. And I do not ever want to see that happen.” Sam’s body shook with the effort to keep herself under control. What had happened that morning on the beach, as well as her revelation of that afternoon, made all of her issues with how the colonel treated Daniel boil over, and she wasn’t about to miss the opportunity to do something about it.

Jack blinked in surprise at his 2IC’s vehemence. “I don’t want to see that happen either, Carter, really.” He paused. “Is it really that bad?”

Sam sighed, her muscles relaxing at the sound of the man’s genuine concern. “Not completely, but ever since you went undercover to expose Makepeace and his people it’s been heading that way. I still don’t know what the two of you said to each other when he went to see you in the middle of that mess - Daniel refuses to talk about it - but whatever it was struck him to the core. When I think about it, it looks like that’s where everything started.”

“Shit.” Jack’s eyes closed and he leaned his head back against the back of the bench. “Maybourne still has a lot to answer for, doesn’t he?” Sam said nothing. “He’d bugged my house, Carter. I had to sell the conniving bastard persona I’d put on to make them believe I’d be willing to switch sides. And then came Daniel, my very concerned best friend, knowing how out of character I’d been acting and wondering what was wrong so he could help fix it. You know it was probably that conversation that convinced Maybourne I wasn’t playing with them?” He gave a short, humorless laugh.

“What did you say, Jack?” Sam breathed. She could feel the man’s pain like it was still fresh, and felt a little guilty that she’d been the one to open this particular can of worms.

“Would you believe I had the audacity to tell him our friendship had no foundation? The man who managed to reach me when I was ready to complete a suicide mission after losing my son, was willing to die for me when I’d been nothing but an asshole to him... But no, there’s no foundation there, what would make him think that?”

Sam flinched at the scathing sarcasm, the anger behind it obviously aimed inward. She wanted to reassure him, let him know Daniel understood, but that wasn’t what Jack O’Neill needed to hear. “You know, you were pretty supportive after we... lost Sha’re. But not too long after that this downward spiral started. Why? Why have you been withdrawing from Daniel? Do you realize that you’ve been more than ready to criticize him when he makes a mistake, but I can’t remember when the last time was that you gave him a compliment? And you were pretty distant with him when we got back after they finally got the replacement gate in place and ready to go. What’s going on, Jack?”

“I actually thought about that last one, believe it or not.” Jack’s eyes opened and brow creased as he considered it again. “I realized I was taking Daniel’s presence for granted. Now I’m starting to think I’ve been taking everything about Daniel for granted. But that’s not the whole problem.”

“It isn’t?”

“Can’t be.” The greying colonel let out an explosive breath and rubbed his hands over his face. “God, I think you’re right, Carter. I have been withdrawing from Daniel, and it started with the undercover assignment. I had to withdraw then, from all of you, or there was no way I was going to pull it off. I knew I’d hurt him with the act at my house, and he returned the favor with that crack about drawing the short straw. What I had done was worse, of course, but the combination of hurt and guilt...” His voice trailed off.

Blue eyes narrowed as Sam contemplated the man beside her. “It was a combination of lashing out and protecting him from yourself, wasn’t it, sir? An unconscious form of revenge for daring to lash out at you and desire to never hurt him enough to make him want to lash out at you again.”

Jack hesitated for a moment in consideration then nodded. “You just might be on to something there, Carter. I think you just might have nailed it on the head.” He sighed. “Hell, I think you can probably throw in some leftover angst from when I was stuck on Edora. It hurt to think I’d never see any of you again, especially my best friend. I don’t ever want to feel pain like that again.” He sat up straight and his eyes widened as he turned his head to look at Sam. “You really don’t remember me ever complimenting Daniel? No pats on the back, no job well done?”

“Not ever. Just not lately,” Sam clarified.

“But I have for you and Teal’c?”

“Yes, sir,” was the quiet answer.

The pair was silent for a long moment, Jack’s gaze on the grass at his feet and Sam’s on Jack. “I didn’t even realize it was happening,” the older man whispered. “What would have happened if you hadn’t said anything?”

“I’m sure you would have come to your senses eventually, sir.”

“I wouldn’t put too much money on that one, Carter. So much of my communication with Daniel is unspoken it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that some things need to be said out loud. Combine that with my normal reluctance to deal with emotional issues...”

Sam cocked her head to the side. “So what made you share this with me, sir?”

Jack gave her a rueful smirk. “You threw it in my face, Carter, made me really look at it. And then there’s the fact that you caught me at a low ebb. I’m feeling pretty guilty about this morning. Mind you, I’ll probably say you took advantage of me later.” The smile turned genuine.

The blonde woman laughed. “I’ll probably let you.”

“So are we okay? I am sorry about what happened this morning. I’m sure you took some flak for getting distracted by my stupidity, and that’s my fault.”

“Yes, it is. And I did have to deal with a pissed-off Daniel. But I suppose I can forgive you.” Her superior smirk faded into a concerned smile. “Just, please. Remember what we talked about and do something about it. You and Daniel have a very special friendship, and I don’t want to see anything happen to it. You’re both too special to me.”

“Now that’s a deal I can live with.” The two Air Force officers shook hands.

Sam’s expression turned wicked once she let go of Jack’s hand and stood up. “Mind you, that doesn’t mean there will be no revenge. Just so you understand.”

Jack groaned. “Message received, Major. Message received.”

* * * * * * * *

Daniel was in the lobby talking to Teal’c by the time Jack and Sam returned. “Hey, guys,” he greeted the returning duo. “Everything okay?”

The officers shared a look. “Yeah, everything’s fine,” Jack replied. The older man took in Daniel’s loose-fitting, muted-colored Hawaiian shirt, casual khakis, and closed-toed sandals. “I take it I should change for dinner?”

“Only if you want to. Sam and I didn’t feel like sitting around in our swim suits any more.”

“Then we’ll change, too. Come on, T. I’ll feel out of place otherwise.”

“As you wish, O’Neill.”

Jack paused before getting onto the elevator and turned back to face the younger half of his team. “Go ahead and grab a table, Daniel, wherever you want. And dinner’s on me tonight.” He grinned at his friend and entered between the doors that Teal’c had held open for him, the pair quickly disappearing from sight.

Daniel blinked at the closed elevator doors. “Someone’s feeling guilty.”

“Don’t you think he should?” Sam asked.

“Maybe a little. But it’s not like I got hurt or anything, and it wouldn’t have been Jack’s fault if I had. And if something had happened, he would have been the first person there to help.” The archaeologist couldn’t help but smile. “Tonight should be interesting.”

Sam returned the expression. “You have no idea.”

“Let’s get a table.”

“So, what did you and Teal’c talk about while you were waiting?” Sam asked after they’d been seated at a table on the far side of the room next to a wall of glass that looked out toward the ocean. The sun was beginning to set, and the sky was awash with rich reds, blues, and purples.

“Oh, he explained the scene on the beach when I came in from my drug-induced parasailing experience. Begged me to forgive him.” Daniel paused. “Well, as much as Teal’c ever begs, at any rate.”

The woman smiled. “I can imagine. What did you tell him?”

Blue eyes widened behind gold-rimmed glasses. “I forgave him, of course. Not that there was anything to forgive him for, but still...” His gaze narrowed as they focused on the blue orbs next to him. “You do realize I forgave you, too, don’t you? I wasn’t thinking clearly and I overreacted. And I took it out on you upstairs. I suppose I should be asking for your forgiveness.”

“Stop it.” Sam looked at him sternly. “Thank you for forgiving me. You have nothing to be sorry for. But if it makes you feel better, you’re forgiven, too.” She grinned. “Are we all even then?”

Daniel laughed. “Sure, Sam. There’s only one subject left for us to seriously discuss.” His gaze shifted to the entrance of the restaurant. “And it’ll have to wait until later. Hey, Jack, Teal’c,” he said as the two men sat in the remaining chairs.

“Nice view, Daniel. Did you pick out the table, or were you just randomly seated here?” Jack asked, an appreciative eye on the artists’ dream beyond the horizon.

“I had a choice between three tables and picked this one,” the archaeologist explained, eyes sparkling at the compliment. “Not only is the view great, but it’s a little quieter.”

Teal’c bowed his head respectfully. “You chose well, Daniel Jackson. Have you ordered beverages?”

Sam shook her head. “Nah, we just stuck with water. Our waitress should be here shortly now that you’ve arrived.”

“Actually, she’s the one that seated you two,” Daniel commented with a slight frown. “I wonder why she didn’t at least wait to take our drink order. Maybe I should ask for something at the bar.”

“I’ll do it, Daniel,” Jack said quickly before the younger man could do more than shift his weight in preparation to get to his feet. “You take it easy.” The colonel followed up his offer with action, and it wasn’t long before a flustered young woman had returned to get them drinks.

The rest of the meal went along the same lines, Daniel was amused to note. Anytime he had a problem, Jack practically jumped out of his skin to fix it. And he’d never received so many compliments from the usually close-lipped man - at least when it came to praise - than he had in the two hours the four members of SG-1 spent lingering over their well-made meals and desserts. Jack was obviously suffering from some serious guilt. But Daniel knew what he wanted from the man, and he’d wait until he got it.

They all wandered out onto the beach for some lazy stargazing, drifting to a shallow alcove a touch removed from the main tourist area where the resort lights didn’t affect the view quite as harshly. Jack and Sam pointed out different constellations in soft tones, and Daniel added the myths behind their creation. Teal’c asked a few questions, and shared a small number of his own stories about the stars from when he’d been a boy so very long ago. All in all, it was a quiet, reflective time, one that brought a sense of peace and unity to the team that had so recently been in the middle of chaotic crises. It had been much needed and much appreciated.

* * * * * * * *

Daniel missed the peace of the evening when Tuesday morning rolled around. Jack had once again been the first one up, and had apparently been a busy beaver. The living room of the suite - which had been left a disaster area since he and Sam had only gotten up with a half hour to spare the night before and hadn’t had time to clean - was spotless, no matter that Daniel had told the others that he’d pick up his own mess after breakfast. And thinking of breakfast, that was waiting as well - and a similar tray to the one that had made an appearance twenty-four hours previously was laden with all of Daniel’s favorites, including two carafes of hazelnut mocha coffee. It was times like these that the brown-haired linguist was reminded that Jack O’Neill had grown up Catholic. This inclination toward working off his penance advertised it more effectively than a lit-up billboard in the middle of an overpass.

The two of them were alone for a half hour before Sam and Teal’c joined them - a deliberate act, Daniel was sure - and they talked about all the things they normally talked about... and none of the things they probably should have. While arguing the finer points of why hockey should not be a mandatory SG team activity for the sake of morale was definitely fun, it left Daniel needing more from his friend. Although he was enjoying the attempt to be subtle about waiting on him hand and foot. Might have to let that one go for a while...

And he did. The four of them went swimming... and Jack volunteered to rub suntan lotion on Daniel’s back to replace what the water had washed off. They went shopping so Sam and Daniel could catch up on their souvenirs... and Jack carried Daniel’s bags. They toured one of the local museums... and Jack never complained once. They stopped at a tiny restaurant away from the usual tourist haunts for lunch... and Jack insisted on paying. By the time dinner rolled around, Daniel was relatively sure that if Jack could have pulled it off he would have carried the younger man anywhere he wanted to go.

Sam and Teal’c had watched the display with barely disguised amusement, knowing full well the reason for the slightly out-of-character behavior. When they sat down at one of the ritzier places for supper - Jack’s choice along with another offer to pay - they made sure that their two teammates were sitting across from each other. Jack’s little looks of guilt and appraisal would keep them well entertained.

The watching pair did note that Daniel had not asked for the deferential treatment. Everything that had happened that day had been Jack’s idea. Jack had offered to put Daniel’s suntan lotion on, carry his bags, and pay for his meals. Heck, he’d even been the one to point out the museum. Daniel had merely allowed it with an innocence that anyone who didn’t know him would assume meant he was oblivious. His friends knew better.

They also knew that no matter how cheerfully Daniel appeared to be letting Jack work off the penance for his sins, he wasn’t completely satisfied with his best friend’s actions. There was something missing, something he wanted. And when they watched him leave the table after dessert to take a short walk to get some fresh air, they knew his amusement and patience had run out.

Jack took a deep breath and followed the younger man. It was time to finish putting things right. He found Daniel sitting on the lip of a huge fountain in the middle of the open square in front of the restaurant, staring off into the still-large crowd that wandered from hot spot to hot spot. “Feeling better?” he asked the seated man as he stepped up next to him.

Daniel shrugged, not turning his head. “I guess so.”

“Aren’t you getting wet?”

“The breeze is keeping the mist off of me. I’m fine.”

Jack sat down and stared at his feet. “I’m sorry for laughing at you yesterday,” he murmured. “It was pretty insensitive.”

The older man never saw the wide grin his words produced. “Maybe, but you’re forgiven,” Daniel replied as he got his face back under control, although he couldn’t eliminate his smile altogether.

“That was easy,” Jack shot back, looking up at his friend with a questioning gaze.

“Yes, it was.”

“Is that what you’ve been waiting for?”

“Yes, it was.” Daniel’s smile grew wider. “But thanks for catering to my every whim today. It was kind of nice. I’m guessing you feel like you served your penance.”

Jack’s eyes narrowed. “You knew what I was doing?”

Blue orbs rolled. “Jack, today has to be the first time since I met you that you walked around a museum without whining about how bored you were or complaining that I didn’t need to explain an exhibit since that’s what the plaque next to it was for. It was kind of obvious.”

“I don’t know why I couldn’t just apologize. It was easy enough with Carter and Teal’c, but when I started talking to you this morning the words wouldn’t come. I guess I was just thoroughly thrown by the fact that I rolled around on the ground laughing while you were in trouble. I mean, I’d run over to help, and then, when you needed it, I lost it.” He ran a frustrated hand through his greying hair. “It doesn’t make sense.”

“I don’t know about that,” Daniel said thoughtfully. “You saw me coming in, right?”

“Well, yeah. That’s why we hurried over.”

“Could you tell I wasn’t going to make the platform?”

Jack cocked his head to the side in consideration. “Teal’c and I talked about this after Carter took off to calm you down. We both saw the bad angle and realized there was nothing we could do about it.”

Daniel gave him a small, brief smile. “I bet that had to drive you nuts. Scared you, didn’t I?”

Jack fought back the urge to respond with sarcasm. “Like you wouldn’t believe, Daniel,” he answered quietly, dropping his gaze downward once more.

“Must have been quite a relief to see me make it to the platform. Although I’m sure I looked like a complete idiot while I did it. Don’t ask me how, though. Between the Vicodin, alcohol, adrenaline, and sheer, overwhelming panic, I’m lucky I remember the end of that trip at all.” The brown-haired man bumped his shoulder against the colonel’s. “Reaction shows itself in a lot of different ways, Jack. And that’s just in one person. I was still recovering from my panic and overreacted to everything. It all just added up to a bad situation. You’re sorry, and I forgive you, so why don’t we put it behind us and enjoy the rest of our vacation? This place is too beautiful to waste time looking inward when we don’t have to.”

Brown met blue as Jack brought his head back up. “Are we really okay?”

“We’re really okay, Jack.” Daniel took a deep breath and released it, a smile lighting up his features. “Wow. It’s amazing what fresh air can do for you. What do you say we go get Sam and Teal’c and check out that dance club at the end of the street? Maybe that woman that was hitting on you at the museum will be there.” Mischief twinkled behind the gold-rimmed glasses.

Jack rose to his feet and yanked Daniel to his. “Keep laughing, Danny-boy. If I recall correctly, her friend hung on your every word. Your every multi-syllabic, long-winded word. And I think there was even some longing sighs thrown in for good measure.”

The archaeologist crinkled his nose with distaste as the two of them headed back toward their waiting friends. “Oh, yeah, her.” His face brightened. “I’ll just get Sam to protect me.” He grinned smugly.

“Do you have no shame, Daniel? Hiding behind a woman?” Jack’s lips twitched upward.

“Not just any woman. A well-trained, genius-level, extremely lethal Air Force major. I’d be a fool not to.”

There was a long moment of silence as they approached the bench to the left of the restaurant’s entrance where the other half of their team sat waiting. “You’ve got a point,” Jack finally conceded. “Think she’d mind two escorts?” Daniel just laughed as the four of them regrouped and headed off for the rest of the evening’s entertainment, their hearts all much lighter.

* * * * * * * *

Wednesday went as well as the day before, the four of them spending the majority of it on the water. Daniel and Teal’c rode in the boat as Sam and Jack did some water skiing, the archaeologist laughing at their failed attempts to put together a show routine while the Jaffa gave one of his rare smiles. Both skiers ended up completely drenched and breathless from their own laughter.

Their next stop was a large fishing boat after lunch, Jack and Teal’c trying their hands at deep sea fishing while Daniel and Sam sunbathed on the front deck. The colonel happily paid for multiple copies of the picture that he and Teal’c had taken with the two of them posing proudly beside their impressive catches, the swordfishes longer than either of them were tall. “Maybe I can get you guys up to my cabin for some fishing now that you’ve gotten a taste for it,” Jack said to the rest of them as he handed them their pictures. The others just shared an amused look.

They got back in time for a late dinner, and afterward Daniel slipped out to watch the sunset from the grotto the team had looked at the stars from two nights before. He’d settled himself comfortably on a rock worn smooth by the water during high tides and let his gaze grow distant as it took in the full spectrum of colors playing across the sky when another presence joined him. “It’s breathtaking,” Sam murmured, joining the daydreaming archaeologist on his rock.

“Yes, it is,” Daniel agreed just as quietly.

There was a long, comfortable moment of silence. “We should probably have that talk,” Sam said, not looking away from the horizon.

“We probably should.”

“There are worse places we could do this.”

“Definitely. So where are Jack and Teal’c?”

“I don’t know. They headed back to the suite so the colonel could change his pants.” The two of them grinned at the memory of Jack spilling his beer in his lap thanks to the last amorous attempt by the museum lady to show him some cleavage. She left quickly thereafter in an offended huff when Jack used that cleavage to plant the bottle so he could use both hands to clean up the mess. “They didn’t say where they were going after that.”

Daniel couldn’t hold back a small chuckle. “I just hope he can avoid that woman, wherever he is. She looked ready to return that bottle to a very painful place.”

Sam leaned back on her outstretched arms. “I think he can take care of himself. Besides, he has Teal’c as backup.” She sighed, bringing the atmosphere back to one of quiet contemplation. “I don’t even know where to begin.”

“How about I try to say what I did two days ago with a little more coherency?” Daniel offered, a gentle smile still lingering on his lips. Sam turned her head to look at him with wide, pale blue eyes. “I’m finding myself thinking about you, Sam. I think about you a lot. And those thoughts aren’t exclusive to memories and working together. I don’t want you to feel uncomfortable; God, that’s the last thing I want. But I think you deserve to know.”

“So what was that about wondering what it would be like to kiss me?” Sam asked with an impish twinkle in her eyes.

The brown-haired man blushed. “I believe that was covered by what I said.”

The blonde woman laughed. “I know, I know. But it was fun to make you blush.”

“What about you?” he asked, ignoring the comment.

“I thought those kinds of thoughts when I first laid eyes on you.” Daniel blinked in amazement as she continued. “But I put them aside when Sha’re... staked her claim before we left to see the cartouche.” Sam smiled. “That was some kiss, Daniel. And I got her message loud and clear: back off, he’s mine!”

“It wasn’t really like that, was it?” Daniel asked incredulously.

Sam raised a skeptical eyebrow. “Come on, Daniel. She didn’t normally kiss you like that in public, did she? Even more importantly, did she kiss you like that in front of people she’d just met?”

“Well, we had just shared a meal together. That’s a very important step toward developing good relations on Abydos.”


Daniel sighed. “I see what you’re saying.” He gave a short laugh. “I never thought she’d get that possessive I guess. Why would she see you as a threat?” He held up a hand. “Don’t answer that. I think I know why.”

Sam smiled. “I’m glad I don’t have to explain.” Her expression grew serious. “As bad as this is going to sound, I have to admit that those thoughts started coming back more and more frequently after...”

“I understand,” he said quickly, cutting her off.

She nodded her acceptance of the action. “After Monday afternoon, I really thought about it. And I figured out that I hadn’t stopped thinking about you as much as I thought I had. We’ve got something very special here, Daniel.”

“I know we do. But what do we do about it?”

“You said you didn’t think you had completely dealt with Sha’re’s death. Is that true?”

“Yeah, it is. As much as I think I’d like to see where we can go together - as long as that’s what you want - it wouldn’t be fair to you until I had that settled.” He smiled at the quickly smothered distress that flashed across Sam’s features. “I don’t mean until I’m over it, Sam. I’m not sure I’ll ever be completely over losing Sha’re the way I did. But I know I’ll be able to reach a point where I can move on and find happiness. That’s the way grief works.”

His statement reminded Sam that this was not the first time he had lost someone that he had loved very much, that had been the center of his world. She understood that point from her own experience with losing her mother. But there was still something... “How will you know when you reach that point, Daniel?” she asked in a nervous whisper.

Daniel reached out a hand and gently caressed her cheek, his eyes greedily absorbing the details of her features like he had never seen them before. “I won’t make you wait forever. I promise you that. When I can look at you and really see your beauty; when I can think of you and how much I enjoy being with you; when I can touch you and marvel at how soft your skin is; when I can hear your voice, hear you say my name and revel in the warm feelings it produces... When I can do all that without guilt being my first reaction, then I’ll be ready to try to move on.” He locked his gaze with Sam’s as his hand dropped back to his side. “I’m not there yet. And I have to admit that I just might feel that guilt in some form or another for a long time to come. But it will fade to the back of my mind, letting me think of you, first and foremost. And it’s not fair to you to move ahead in our relationship, wherever it may end up, until I can honestly say that you come first. You deserve that, Sam. You are far too special to have guilt and grief rank above you in anyone’s thoughts.”

Sam’s breath caught. “Oh, Daniel,” she barely got out. Her lips twitched upward in a shaky smile.

It was returned in a steady, gentle reflection. “I care about you very much, Sam. I’m not sure I can say just how much, and I’m almost completely sure it’s growing deeper every day. You aren’t the only one who’s been thinking about things since Monday afternoon; I’ve realized I really want the chance to find out what could happen between us. I want to know how deep my feelings for you really run. Do you want that, Sam?”

“Yes,” Sam said quickly, her eyes brightening with sudden, unshed tears as her smile solidified and widened. “Yes, I want that very much.”

“Can you wait for me? Can you wait for my heart to speak clearly?” A flash of fear came and went through his summer blue eyes.

Sam’s smile became a grin. “I can wait as long as you need me to, Daniel. That, I promise.” She could wait to tell him the true depth of her feelings for him. Her eyes flared with a wicked glint. “But I think I’m going to ask for something to make the wait a little easier.”

Daniel’s brows creased in confusion. “What do you need, Sam? If I can get it for you, I will. Anything it’s in my power to give.”

“You’ll appreciate this, too.”

Humor joined the bewilderment in the linguist’s expression. “What is it, Sam?” he asked with a little laugh.

“Just a little something to tide me over until you’re ready for me.” The blonde woman closed the slight distance between them and pressed her lips against his, letting her hand drift up to lightly cup the back of his head while her fingers tangled themselves in the short, brown locks.

After a moment of shock, Daniel responded. He quickly wrapped his arms around her waist and pulled her close, angling his head and opening his mouth to allow her access. The shared taste was dizzying for both of them, and it was only the need for oxygen that made them separate, blue searching blue with an intensity that hadn’t been there before.

“That should do nicely, thank you,” Sam said breathlessly, her hand falling away from Daniel to help support her suddenly shaky balance. Daniel just started laughing, resting her head against his shoulder and laying his head on top of it.

From the top of the tall rocks that made the grotto as secluded as it was, Jack and Teal’c continued to look down upon their younger teammates. The colonel turned to the Jaffa and smiled. “I have to admit I didn’t see that one coming,” he said quietly, shaking his head.

“I have always observed an unusual closeness between Daniel Jackson and Major Carter,” Teal’c returned just as softly.

“Yeah, I know where you’re coming from, T, but I never expected it to go in this direction.”

“Is this then a cause for concern? Do you believe it will jeopardize Major Carter and Daniel Jackson’s effectiveness with the team?” the big man asked, his brow furrowed with worry.

Jack considered it. “From what they’ve said they’ll take it slow. They know the importance of what we’re doing. I don’t think they’ll do anything that will mess with that.” He grinned. “And if they can find some happiness with each other in the process, who am I to stand in their way?” He paused. “There is one thing though,” he finally said thoughtfully, his expression changing to match his tone.

Teal’c raised an eyebrow. “What is that, O’Neill?”

Jack could tell by the glint in the Jaffa’s eyes that he knew he’d just played the straight man to his team leader and was waiting for the punch line. He couldn’t help but smile. “Do you know how much havoc it’s going to cause on base when it gets out those two are taken? Two of the most desirable, eligible personnel the SGC has to offer, taken off the list by pairing off together. The lamentation of the entirety of Fraiser’s nursing staff alone is going to cause a set back of monumental proportions. There’ll be a riot.” The smile widened into a full-fledged grin.

A change in the glint of his eyes told of Teal’c’s appreciation of the joke. “Then we will have to face it as we face all things, O’Neill. As a team.”

“Damn right, Teal’c. Damn right.” With one last look at the contented, star-gazing couple, Jack led his friend back down to the resort, knowing that no matter where Carter and Daniel’s relation ended up, one truth would remain constant: they were a team, a family, and that’s the way it would always be. 

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