Summary: Something very important is bothering Sam. Daniel notices and attempts to get to the bottom of it.
Subjects: Angst, Friendship (possibly more – your choice!), Smarm
Spoilers: Singularity, In the Line of Duty, Secrets, Heroes Part 2, Threads, The Pegasus Project, Counterstrike, In the Company of Thieves, The Quest Part 2, The Shroud, Talion, and Family Ties. Takes place in Season 10 after Family Ties.
Disclaimer: Stargate SG-1 and its characters do not belong to me; they belong to MGM/Showtime/SciFi Channel, Double Secret Productions, and Gekko Film Corporation. This story is copyrighted 2007 and may not be used or altered without the express permission of the author.
Daniel wasn't exactly sure when it started happening. Perhaps it was not long after their journey to Atlantis, before he started looking for Merlin's weapon.
Sam was going out of her way to avoid him.
At first it was mostly in the commissary. He'd enter the room, sometimes with Vala tagging along, sometimes alone, and join the table occupied by his team. At first sight of him, Sam would clam up and become almost sullen. She'd excuse herself to get back to work or just leave without saying a word. Half the time, Daniel wondered if it'd been his breath or if he'd splashed on too much cologne ... before reminding himself that he hardly wore cologne at all.
Then she declined participating in their off base activities. She attended the first few “team movie nights” that Mitchell had put together, but was far from her usual self, preferring to sit in a corner alone and be very quiet. Daniel had wanted to question her later but she'd take off before he'd had the chance.
Finally her behavior extended to briefings and even missions. When Landry would dismiss them, Daniel would notice Sam quickly making a beeline for the door, hardly giving anyone a chance to talk to her. Sometimes during the briefings themselves, he'd notice her sneaking a glance at him, but before he could meet her eyes, she'd look away. The few times he did catch her gaze, she appeared almost sad. He didn't know what that was about, and she never gave him a chance to question her.
Then there were the missions. He noticed she was unusually quiet and keeping to herself on the journey back to Earth from Atlantis. At first she seemed happy about scoring a partial victory against the Ori. He'd seen her in the Odyssey's commissary with Teal'c and Mitchell, smiling and talking somewhat animatedly about what happened. He'd gone there just to hear some good news himself. He was still depressed over the fact they were all alone in this fight, despite Vala's attempts to cheer him up.
He'd stood in the doorway, watching his three teammates talk. The sight of Sam's face lit up in a content smile and her eyes nearly sparkling caused a smile to grow on his face.
Everything changed when he decided to make an appearance. She hushed up again and her smile immediately left her face. She'd known he'd been depressed and he wondered if his being there was dampening the mood. He'd heard footsteps in back of him and found Vala also watching curiously from the doorway. He doubted her appearance had anything to do with it. Whatever the case, Sam had mumbled she had to leave and hastily left the table, not saying a word or looking at him as she brushed past him.
Daniel never had the chance to ask her what was wrong. Her behavior during subsequent missions was more or less the same. Daniel had chalked it up to her being depressed over the loss of Dakara for the first mission, and being upset over being taken hostage and watching Col. Emerson get killed during the second mission. After the latter, Daniel had thought about talking to her, helping her vent and get things off her chest regarding that ordeal. She hadn't given him an opportunity to do so, and in the end he decided perhaps she'd be best off dealing with her emotions herself.
Reviewing each of these instances in his mind, Daniel concluded something was wrong with Sam. He just had to talk to her. He hadn't talked to her, really talked to her, for quite some time. It was something he regretted.
He entertained the notion that she wouldn't want to talk to him. However, he had to get to the bottom of what was bothering her; if not for herself, then for him. He cared about her too much to let it just go by unanswered.
After searching her lab and the commissary and coming up with nothing, he headed for her office. Finding the door partly open, he decided against knocking and peered inside. He picked out her still form amidst the darkness, hunched over her desk and holding her head in her hands. She appeared deep in thought.
“Sam?” he asked quietly, tentatively making his way inside.
“Oh, geez,” she started.
He held up his hands in apology. “Sorry if I startled you. I guess you aren't very busy now?”
Even in the darkness he could make out the blush in her cheeks. “Um, actually, I am,” she stammered, as if still caught unawares.
Moving to the switch plate on the wall adjacent to him, Daniel flipped the light on. “You don't look all that busy,” he replied with a little grin, hoping to inject the atmosphere with some levity.
Neglecting a challenge to his statement she sighed, her expression becoming rueful.
“We need to talk,” he told her bluntly, keeping his gaze trained on her.
For a moment, Sam appeared utterly thrown, as if this was something she hadn't been expecting. Recovering quickly, her expression hardened and she shook her head. “I really don't think so.” Rising from her desk, she moved to hurry past him.
“Yes, we do,” he countered pointedly, grabbing her shoulders and effectively stopping her. Gazing at her, his deep blue eyes pierced her blue-gray ones. “Sam, it's important. I'm not letting this go any longer.”
Looking away in defeat, she gave a barely visible nod as Daniel eased his grip on her shoulders. “Okay,” she sighed, gesturing to the chair next to her desk, “have a seat.”
“No, not here,” he decided, offering her a hand. “Let's go somewhere else.” He nodded as she regarded it tentatively before slipping her own hand into his.
Having reached the mountain's surface, Daniel led Sam down a fairly narrow, shady path; a path he'd not traveled very recently, but one that was still all too familiar. He knew it was familiar to Sam also, her lax grip on his hand tightening shortly after beginning their journey. A short time later, they reached their destination.
The late afternoon sun shone through a break in the trees, causing the water pooling beneath the small waterfall to sparkle. Taking a seat on a boulder by the water's edge, Daniel gestured for Sam to join him. Appearing a little hesitant at first, she carefully sat on the large, cold stone, seeming afraid to sit too close to Daniel and keeping a bit of distance.
For a few minutes, they gazed at the tableau of serenity before them. Sighing, Daniel noted how the gentle sound of water spilling over the falls, as well as the sweet songs of various birds calling this wooded area home, were enough to melt any cares away. It was almost a half a mile hike from the mountain, but it was indeed worth it.
Turning to Sam, he smiled faintly. “It's our place,” he said, a hint of fondness in his voice. Actually, it had started off as her place. When they had first joined SG-1, this little spot had quickly become her preferred sanctuary whenever she wanted to be alone to collect her thoughts, especially in times of distress. It was something Daniel had quickly learned. She'd gone there when she was worried about Cassie, after she was deemed a threat to Earth and before they'd prepared to send her back through the 'gate to her home planet. She'd gone there when she started to recover from the physical and emotional effects of having been blended with Jolinar. She'd gone there not long after she discovered her father had cancer, and she'd also gone there after he died. She'd gone there after Janet's death as well.
Daniel knew this, because this is where he'd found her each time. The first time, after Cassie, he'd sensed her pain and followed her. After that, any time they'd been through a major crisis and she turned up missing - he'd known where to look. And he'd stayed with her each time. He wouldn't say a word, just come out of the forest and sit down beside her - offering his silent presence, a willing ear or sometimes a shoulder to cry on if that's what she needed - and then he'd walk back with her to the mountain when she was ready to face the world once more. It had been a long time since either of them had been here ... probably too long.
Sam gave him a slight smile in return. Turning to face the waterfall, her smile faltered and she sighed.
“I noticed you've been avoiding me, Sam,” Daniel said after a moment of silence.
Her short, bitter laugh came as a bit of a surprise. "You noticed," she said, her tone one of mock disbelief even as she glared at the pond, refusing to look at him. He frowned slightly but didn't take offense. Something was definitely bothering her, and he intended to find out what.
Gently touching her shoulder so she'd face him, he nodded. “Yes.”
The gesture worked and Sam turned to look at him. “That's funny ... I thought it was the other way around,” she replied, still not budging an inch.
Gazing at her in confusion, he pursed his lips and furrowed his brow. “What are you talking about?” he asked quietly.
Sighing, she shook her head. “We don't spend time together anymore. I used to ask you if you wanted to get lunch or dinner, or do something off base and you always had some excuse. I finally stopped asking and you didn't even notice.”
“I know; I'm sorry. I've just been so preoccupied with everything.” Her questioning gaze prompted him to continue, “The fight against the Ori, losing Dakara, finding Merlin's weapon, being Adria's prisoner, Teal'c and his 'crusade' against Arkad, this whole predicament with Vala's father ...” He frowned in confusion as she suddenly tensed up, her posture becoming rigid as he finished his recitation.
“You've always had time for Vala,” she said morosely. Wincing slightly, as if realizing she shouldn't have gone there, she turned back to the water and flung a stone into the pool. It's loud 'plook' shattered the serenity of their surroundings, causing the bird song to suddenly fall silent.
He bent slightly at the waist so as to be gazing up at her lowered face, forcing her to see him and offering her a confused and expectant expression. She couldn't offer something like that without explaining it! She sighed irritably. "She's everywhere you go, Daniel! Hanging out in your office, stealing your food at lunch, and following you through the halls. She's always there; talking, badgering, bringing you coffee...." A suddenly wistful expression touched her face before being hastily dismissed. "All the things I used to do," she whispered and shrugged before glancing at him again. "I miss you, Daniel," she admitted quietly.
The guilt was really eating away at his subconscious now. She was right – and he knew it.
Sighing, he scrubbed a hand through his hair. “Look, Sam,” he began gently. “I know I haven't been spending as much time with you as I should. The thing is, though, whether I like it or not, I'm responsible for Vala.”
Uh oh. He noticed how she seemed to take offense to his last comment, her frown deepening.
"Yes, I know that, Daniel," she began reluctantly, "but that doesn't mean you have to babysit her every moment of every day. You do have a life of your own and other friends who need you. So much has happened over the last year and a half. So many things have changed. Our friendship was that one constant I'd always thought I could count on – but now, I'm not so sure anymore. I hardly even get a 'hi' or 'how are you doing?' from you now."
No, it couldn't be that bad ... could it? Damn. Daniel couldn't even remember the last time he'd really talked to her or offered to have lunch, dinner, or do much else with her. What had he done? And, more importantly, what could he do to fix it? Doing the only thing he could think of, he slipped his arm around her shoulder and drew her close.
He sighed deeply, lowering his head to rest against hers even as he struggled to organize his thoughts. God, the last thing he wanted to do was lose Sam's friendship! "It works both ways, Sam," he told her quietly. "I'm sorry if it looked like I was ignoring you – and maybe I was but.... I still consider you a really good friend – hell, my best friend! But the few times I have wanted to reach out to you, you weren't there." She appeared ready to protest but he continued before she could. "Whenever I'd enter a room or had half a chance to say something to you, you'd just leave. I'd look up, wanting to say something to you, and you'd be gone. At first, I just thought you wanted to be alone, that it was just your way of dealing with all the stress we've been under – but it's been getting worse lately and that's why I chased you down today. I knew we had to talk."
Her gaze immediately dropping to the ground, Daniel knew he'd either said something she didn't like, or something that was right on the money. Whichever it had been, she now seemed to want to avoid the subject, keeping her gaze on the ground as she absentmindedly shuffled the dead leaves with her feet.
Sighing, she stopped swinging her legs and finally met his gaze. "You're right," she said simply. "I didn't think you cared anymore. I thought the sooner I got away, the less chance I'd notice the pain – but it only made everything worse, didn't it?"
“Sam, I've always been your friend and I always will be. I will always care. Our friendship is something that can never be broken.” He hoped his words were getting through to her.
“I really want to believe that,” Sam replied softly, searching his eyes. “But I haven't seen much evidence of it lately.”
Gazing into her eyes, Daniel saw the turmoil that was eating her up inside as surely as it was him. Shaking his head at both their follies, he leaned forward and planted a soft kiss on on her forehead before leaning his own head against hers again and speaking softly from his heart. "Given our crazy, often times dangerous lives, friendships are probably the one thing we tend to take for granted the most – and the one thing we can't afford to. I love you, Sam. I don't want to lose that."
He'd briefly stunned her and her emotions seemed to be getting the better of her as a tear worked it's way down her cheek. Sniffling, she replied, “I love you, too.”
Moving back slightly, he waited in silence as she got her emotions back under control. After a few moments, a grateful smile appeared on her face. Returning the smile, he pulled her close to his side again and wrapped her in a warm hug.
He wasn't sure how long they remained that way; time seemed to stop as he held her close. His only desire to comfort her, he continued to hold her and stroked her hair. Finally pulling slightly out of the hug, he gave her another kiss on her forehead. “Feeling better?” he asked warmly.
Seeing her smile warmed his heart. She appeared to have forgiven him. “Some,” she replied, nodding. “But I'd feel a lot better if we could spend some more time together - kind of a new beginning?” Her smile quirked into a grin as she lifted a questioning brow.
Chuckling softly, Daniel found her expression endearing, even as he knew the truth behind her comment. “I think I'd feel a lot better too. Why don't we start now?”
“Okay,” Sam answered, still grinning. “What do you have in mind?”
Thinking for a moment, Daniel's gaze shifted upward to the rays of the late afternoon sun that were leaking through the canopy of trees. “Oh, how about dinner and a movie?”
“Sounds perfect,” she replied, standing and joining him as they started heading back. “Any suggestions?”
“Well, we could either rent a few DVD's from Blockbuster and get some take out from The Szechuan Village ...”
“How very unromantic,” Sam teased. “Eggrolls and lo mein and Indiana Jones movies.” She was teasing him, and he loved it. There was the Sam he knew and loved.
“Hey, you never seemed to mind it before,” he chuckled. Smiling at her fondly, Daniel paused in their sojourn to hold a branch out of her way – one they were both well familiar with during previous trips.
Despite her fatigues, Sam gave him a curtsy and a “why, thank you, kind sir” worthy of a southern belle before proceeding ahead of him down a narrow part of the trail requiring them to travel single file.
Following her, Daniel continued, “Or we could go the more sophisticated route by dining in a cozy little Italian restaurant and then see what's playing over at the multiplex in town. We can even get some dessert later if you're up for it.”
For a moment, Sam was silent, and then ...
“Daniel Jackson, you'd better not be checking me out from behind!”
Daniel blushed and then laughed in response to her southern accent's sassier incarnation. "No, ma'am," he replied in his best Rhett Butler imitation, "I wouldn't do that, but I have to admit it's a mite hard when you provide such a tempting view.... " Clark Gable was rolling over in his grave!
He grinned as she answered with a playful, melodramatic sigh, throwing her arms up in mock exasperation. Apparently she couldn't keep up the act for long, as he heard her dissolve into quiet laughter – laughter that sounded almost giddy.
at his best friend once more, Daniel sighed contentedly in the
knowledge that things were going to be all right.
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