The Best Gift of All

Author: Jess

Rating: G

Archive: Anywhere – just let me know where it’s going and keep my name on it.

Summary: It is SG-1’s first Christmas together and Daniel’s first without Sha’re. Sam gives him a special gift.

Subjects: Start with a helping of S/D friendship. Add some hurt/comfort, a large dollop of smarm, and just a pinch of humor. Mix and serve with some holiday cheer.

Spoilers: Children of the Gods, The Enemy Within, Cold Lazarus, Singularity, and Tin Man. Set in Season One soon after Tin Man and before There but for the Grace of God.

Disclaimer: I am not making any money off of this. The characters belong to MGM/Showtime/SciFi/Sony Pictures, Double Secret Productions and Gekko Film Corporation. This story is copyrighted December 2005 and may not be used or altered without the express permission of the author.


A chilly night had descended upon Colorado Springs on Christmas Eve, 1997. The ground was covered with several inches of snow and more was expected. It flocked the large evergreens that flanked the sides of Colonel Jack O’Neill’s house and nearly covered the different-colored lights with which he’d strung them. They were a lovely compliment to the lights that adorned the plants at the front of his house as well as the “icicle lights” that hung above the windows. The night was still except for an occasional, brisk wind that blew past, causing the latter to flutter slightly.

In stark contrast, the interior of the house was warm, bright, and lively. SGC members had gathered for their first informal Christmas party consisting of eating, drinking, and exchanging presents. The sounds of friendly, animated conversation mingled with Christmas music courtesy of Jack’s stereo.

Captain Samantha Carter sipped her mug of hot, spiced apple cider and smiled fondly at the tableau in front of her. There was a mess of shredded wrapping paper littered around Jack’s Christmas tree. People were standing around with mugs of cider or eggnog and chatting amiably. Sergeant Walter Davis was thanking General Hammond for the lovely tin of cookies. Teal’c was trying to negotiate a trade with Dr. Janet Fraiser: the Manheim Steamroller CD Sergeant Siler had given her for the talking Homer Simpson doll that Jack gave him. He was certain that Jack had meant well in giving him such an item, but frankly he found its singing of variations on Christmas tunes such as, “Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, something something way/Oh what something something something something something sleigh” a bit mystifying and even annoying. Earlier Jack had played another Manheim Steamroller Christmas CD (he’d since moved on to the Trans-Siberian Orchestra) and Teal’c had found it pleasing. Cassandra seemed to like the Homer doll, so the trade seemed reasonable.

Sam’s eyes shifted to the left where she found Jack stopping in the middle of picking up some wrapping paper and scowling in Teal’c’s direction as if he was insulted. Sam snickered and shook her head.

Her gaze fell upon an empty spot on the couch that had recently been occupied by her fellow teammate, scientist, and best friend. Where had Daniel gone? Just a few short minutes ago, she’d been sitting next to him, sharing amused looks and a little laugh over Jack’s present to Teal’c. She’d gotten up to refill her mug and at some point in between, he’d left.

A few other people seemed to notice his absence for a brief moment as well, but they shrugged and instantly went back to what they were doing previously. At first, Sam wondered if he’d been in the bathroom, but her suspicions were dismissed when she caught sight of Major Ferretti emerging from that direction and making his way back to the living room.

Her brow furrowed in confusion as she tried to think of where he could have gone. Coming up empty, she decided to ask her CO. “Sir, do you know where Daniel went?”

Jack cast a fleeting glance at the couch and appeared perplexed. “Wasn’t he just sitting there with you?”

Sam nodded. “Yes, he was. You didn’t see him get up or leave?”

Jack shook his head. He was about to look out the front window to make sure Daniel’s car was still there when he remembered that the vehicle in question was being serviced, and Daniel had ridden with Teal’c to Jack’s house.

Sam sighed in frustration and was about to ask someone else when Jack spoke up, “Carter?”

She turned around and looked at him curiously. “Sir?”

“Did you notice that Daniel’s been a little … well … down in the dumps?”

Sam’s expression turned thoughtful and she shook her head. “He was just sitting here laughing with me a few minutes ago.”

“I’m not talking about now; I’m talking about the past few days at least. Heck, ever since we returned from P3X-niner-eight-niner almost a week ago, he’s been quieter than usual. It’s a little worrisome when you expect him to be babbling away about some piece of rock that one of the other teams brought back, about how it could be the key to learning something important about our own existence, yadda yadda yadda.”

A fond smile tugged at the corners of Sam’s mouth. A faraway look then appeared in her eyes when she realized the likely cause of Daniel’s change in behavior. She turned to Jack. “Sir, this is Daniel’s first Christmas …” She trailed off.

“… Without Sha’re,” Jack finished for her, a look of grave understanding etched on his face.

Sam nodded. At a loss for words, Jack finally turned and resumed picking up the remnants of wrapping paper and depositing them in a trash bag. Sam made her way back to the couch but her intuition suddenly clued her in on where Daniel might be. Ignoring a few curious looks, she filled a second mug with hot cider, then bypassed the couch and headed for the door out to Jack’s deck.

Her intuition was right on the money; she found the archaeologist sitting on a bench out on the deck, appearing a little lost as he gazed up at the sky. She carefully made her way around the bench and sat next to him.

“Hey,” she said softly.

Daniel turned to her and smiled faintly. “Hey,” he returned.

She offered the mug of cider to him. Accepting it, he began to sip the hot drink thoughtfully.

Sam watched him for a few moments as she searched her mind for what she could say to him. She gave up and decided to rely on her heart. “What are you doing out here?” she asked gently.

Daniel gave her a long look and sighed. “I just wanted to be somewhere quiet.” Noticing Sam’s curious expression, he continued with a slight grin, “the music Jack had on wasn’t exactly what I envisioned when he said he would be playing Christmas music.”

Sam chuckled briefly before gazing intently at Daniel. She knew that wasn’t the real reason he’d escaped into the quiet – though chilly – solitude.

Daniel read Sam’s expression perfectly and sighed again, shutting his eyes. “Okay, that’s not the only reason why. I just … I just needed a little time alone,” he said in a voice thick with emotion.

Sam regarded him sympathetically. “You’ve been looking at the stars?”

Daniel nodded and turned his gaze back up at the sky. It was mostly overcast, but a few stars still dotted the night sky. “She’s out there somewhere,” he said, gesturing toward them. “I know it’s light years and light years away, but tonight, just looking at those few bright stars standing out from the thick clouds, it seems closer. I can’t really describe it but … it does.”

Sam felt a lump forming in her throat as she nodded. “We’ll find her, Daniel. No matter what happens, she will always be with you.” She suddenly remembered what the dying unity crystal that assumed the form of Charlie O’Neill told Jack. “She’s there inside of you.”

Tears began to sting Daniel’s eyes as he stared intently at Sam. She had been such a comforting presence to him since Sha’re had been taken. More than that, she had become his best friend. She understood him perhaps better than anyone else. As a fellow scientist, she knew what it felt like to have Jack regarding someone oddly or zoning out while they were explaining anything that was science-related. Her level of understanding went far beyond that, however. She also knew him deep inside. She knew when he was happy, sad, or just in need of a good friend. He valued that deep friendship more than he could ever tell her.

He shook himself out of his deep reflection when he noticed that Sam was hugging her arms tightly against her body and rubbing her hands together. He looked at the thin, white cotton sweater with a festive Christmas design that she was wearing and then down at his own attire. He shrugged out of his blue ski jacket and gently draped it over Sam’s shoulders.

She began to shake her head in protest, but he held his hand up, insisting that she leave it on. He noted his plaid, flannel shirt and insisted that he was fine. Sam studied his face and was reminded once again how valuable his friendship was to her. A realization came to her and she pulled a small, brown paper bag out of the pocket of her black suede pants. Daniel watched her curiously.

“Daniel, I’ve been meaning to give you this,” she said.

Daniel raised his eyebrows expectantly. She had another gift for him? He thought that the coffee maker to replace the one that sat broken in his office was enough. Still, his eyes begged her to continue.

“I didn’t give it to you before because,” she paused as she cast a quick glance back toward the door and inside the house, “I didn’t want anyone to get the wrong idea.”

Daniel lifted a curious eyebrow as Sam handed the bag to him. Inside was a Christmas ornament – more correctly, two turtle doves as white as snow. They were entwined closely together as if nothing could separate them. Daniel’s eyes widened as he realized their significance.

“They’re supposed to be a symbol of a couple’s devoted love, but they can also represent a special friendship,” Sam continued, echoing his thoughts out loud. “Daniel, we’ve known each other not even a whole year, but in that time we’ve become such close friends. You were there to comfort me when I feared the worst about Cassandra after we first found her. You showed how concerned you were for me after the colonel and I were rescued from the Antarctic. You stayed in the infirmary with me practically every minute of the day until Janet threw you out.” She chuckled affectionately before becoming serious again. “Your friendship means so much to me, Daniel, and I sometimes forget to tell you that. I was hoping I could tell you with this,” she finished, gesturing to the turtle doves.

Daniel’s lips lifted into a warm smile. “I was just thinking about when we first met. Even though I didn’t say so at the time, I really appreciated how you were there for me when Sha’re was taken. I remember when Kawalsky was infested with that goa’uld, how concerned you were that I’d hardly gotten any sleep. You’ve been there for me countless other times and showed me how much you cared. You’ve touched my heart, Sam. I don’t tell you often enough how much your friendship means to me. I look back on all the gifts I was given, not just today but throughout the whole year. Your friendship is the best gift of all. Thank you.”

A grateful smile lit up Sam’s face before he pulled her into a big hug. “You’re welcome,” she replied, her voice a bit shaky and muffled by Daniel’s shoulder.

Several moments later they pulled apart and noticed that it had begun to snow. They sat up against each other and watched the snowflakes fall gently until they’d finished their mugs of cider and found that they could no longer stand the cold dressed as they were. Sam took notice of the snowflakes dotting Daniel’s glasses and his long, shaggy hair and smiled faintly. “Let’s go back inside, okay?”

Daniel nodded. “Yeah, I guess they might be wondering where we went. We can’t give them any ideas, can we?”

Sam grinned mischievously. “Who’s to say that we can’t?” she winked.

Daniel merely blinked at her, causing a faint blush to stain her cheeks. “No, you’re right. It wouldn’t make any sense,” she relented.

Daniel understood what she meant and chuckled fondly at her, giving her arm a tiny squeeze.

Upon reentering the house, they found that most of the guests had left. The only ones there were Jack, Teal’c, and General Hammond. General Hammond chuckled to himself as he helped Jack straighten up the living room. Jack was trying to explain to Teal’c the significance of twelve drummers drumming, eleven pipers piping, ten lords a-leaping, nine ladies dancing, eight maids a-milking, seven swans a-swimming, six geese a-laying, five gold rings, four calling birds (which Teal’c kept mistakenly referring to as “four culling birds – what is ‘cull’, O’Neill?”), three French hens, two turtle doves, and a partridge in a pear tree … without much success.

Jack noticed Sam and Daniel’s reemergence and he raised his eyebrows. “Hey, kids, where have you been?” he asked lightly. “You missed nearly the whole shindig!”

Sam appeared slightly chastened. “Sorry, Sir. We were just … looking up at the stars and then watching the snow fall.”

Jack stared at them for a moment. “Oh. Sweet.”

Daniel and Sam shared a little smile before Sam glanced down at her watch. “I think we’re going to call it a night,” she told Jack. “It’s getting late and the snow is supposed to get heavier.”

Jack nodded and watched as Sam made her way up to Hammond and gave him a hug. “Thanks for the book, Sir. I’m going to enjoy reading it,” she told him.

“You’re quite welcome, Sam,” Hammond returned fondly. “Be careful out there on the roads, okay? Do you have someone to take you home, Dr. Jackson?”

“Oh, ah … Sam said she would drive me,” Daniel replied, glancing quickly at Sam who nodded. “But, thanks anyway, General. And thanks for the journal.” He held up a small book with a handsome brown leather cover.

“Anytime, Son,” Hammond smiled. “Merry Christmas to both of you.”

“Thanks, Sir,” Sam replied. Next she gave Jack a hug. “Thanks for your gift, too, Sir. Merry Christmas.”

“The pleasure’s all mine, Carter,” Jack replied, gesturing to one of the small gifts he’d given Sam. Actually, he’d given her and Daniel the same Simpsons Christmas ornament – the nerdy scientist character Professor Frink. Earlier on, Sam and Daniel shared a wry grin, wondering if Jack was trying to tell them something.

“Merry Christmas, Jack,” Daniel smiled. Jack hugged him and gave him a hearty slap on the back. “You kids be careful out there, okay?” he said in a tone not unlike a concerned dad to his son and daughter.

“We will, Sir. ‘Night,” Sam called as she and Daniel made their way out Jack’s front door and braced themselves against the snowflakes that were beginning to fall more rapidly.

Jack waved to them one last time and then shut the door. The expression on Daniel’s face just moments ago stuck in the older man’s mind. He was actually in high spirits. Jack recalled how he’d been outside a while with Sam and thought it was possible that she’d had something to do with it. He turned back and looked at the gifts he’d placed underneath his tree. He had received some nice ones from his fellow coworkers and friends, but he couldn’t deny that seeing Daniel in high spirits was the best gift of all.


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