Daniel knocked at the door to her room, glancing back briefly to the anxious figure waiting impatiently at the end of the corridor. When she called for him to come in, he slipped in, smiling what he hoped was a reassuring smile.
"Daniel." she said. She smiled back, but he could tell she was a little disappointed, and perhaps a touch relieved.
"I came to check you're alright." he told her.
"I'm fine." she reassured him. "I was shaken, and upset, but I'm alright now."
"You're sure?" Daniel insisted. "Because, um...Jack told me not to leave unless I was sure you were okay."
"Jack?" she questioned. "The colonel sent you in here?"
"Well, yes." he admitted. "Not that I wouldn't have come anyway. It's just he was getting a touch...frantic."
"Yeah, you know how he gets, pacing up and down, fiddling with anything within reach, sarcasm level rising ten or twelve notches. To be honest, he was beginning to annoy me. I don't why he didn't come himself."
She sighed, pushing her fingers through her already unruly hair.
"I know why."
"Oh?" said Daniel, trying -unsuccessfully- to appear disinterested.
She sat down heavily on the edge of the bed.
"Did he tell you what happened when Anise retested us?"
She took a deep breath and said,
"Well, the machine was right. We were hiding ... something. Just not that we were Zatars. Apparently we ... I mean the Colonel, only I suppose I was hiding it too, ... was hiding the fact that he has feelings for me, far stronger feelings than he should have."
"Well, d'uh." Daniel said. She looked at him in surprise.
"No, you don't understand." Sam insisted. "He practically said that he ..."
"Loves you. I know." Daniel said calmly. "I've known for ages."
"I didn't say he LOVED me ... what do you mean, you've known for ages?"
"Well, maybe not for ages. For a good long while. Teal'c and I both knew."he said, a little taken aback.
"Since when?" she practically yelled.
"Well, for me, it was that time he had the Ancient's language stuck in his head. He hated it, really didn't want to use it at all. Then I told him you were in trouble, and it was suddenly like everything he could do to save you was like a gift from the gods. Which I suppose, in a way, it was.... "
"Shut up, Daniel." Sam said,not unkindly, as he threatened to ramble on. "TEAL'C knew?"
"Since Jolinar possessed you apparently. He told me Jack had tears in his eyes when he took you to the infirmary after the Ashrak attacked you."
"So, wait, the two of you discussed this?"
"Well, yes." Daniel said innocently. "I mean, it was fairly obvious."
"Not to me it wasn't!"
Daniel looked at her disbelievingly.
"Well, I suspected." she admitted. "And, after a while, I sort of ...fell for him too. But then Little Miss Planet Iowa came along, and that sort of .... you know."
"Yeah, I know." Daniel said softly, remembering a pale, shaken, oddly quiet Sam, avoiding any contact with Jack, hiding almost literally behind Daniel. It had almost broken his heart to see his friend so devastated. "Don't worry." he told her. "He got his just punishment for that."
She glanced up at him, her eyes dark and haunted as she remembered that time.
"What did you do?"
"Didn't really do much. Just pointed out what you'd done, and what it cost you, and how stupidly ungrateful he'd been, and he felt guilty, I promise you."
Memories of an almost broken Jack, sitting forlornly in his room, his head in his hands, murmuring,
"God, Danny, what have I done? I swear to you, if I thought, for just a second, that she felt that way..."
"Well, she probably doesn't any more."
"How can I put it right?"
"I can't. There's something about to happen.. I can't."
"If you don't, she may never forgive you."
Jack's eyes, so intense, meeting Daniel's.
"But if I tell her, then she'll never believe... I can't, Daniel. Don't ask me to explain why. I can't. I just can't run the slightest chance that she might ... she might end up in danger. I have to protect her."
"There's more ways than physical to get hurt, Jack."
"I know. Believe me, I know."
At least that all made sense now. Although God knows what agony Jack had been through, seeing an already hurt Sam flinching away from him, pain and betrayal written plainly across her face. They'd been that one moment in the briefing room, when Jack was showing Hammond what he stole, when he'd glanced at her pale, shocked face, and Daniel had seen, only for a fleeting second, regret flickering in his eyes.
"Sam." Daniel said gently. "I know Jack hurt you. Believe this, if you believe nothing else. You've made him a better man."
Outside, in the corridor, Jack paced up and down.
"C'mon Danny." he muttered. "What'cha doing in there?"
"Colonel O'Neill." Teal'c intoned from behind him, almost making Jack jump out of his skin.
"For cryin' out loud Teal'c, what are you doing, sneaking up on me like that?"
"What are you doing pacing the corridor outside Major Carter's room?"
"I sent Daniel in to check she was okay after the whole Martouf thing. He's been in there forever."
"Why did you not go yourself?"
"C'mom Teal'c, you know I'm no good at this sort of thing. And well, anyway, after earlier..."
"You feel awkward because you admitted you have feelings for Major Carter." Teal'c said, lowering the tone of his voice not at all. Jack glanced round the corridor.
"Jeez, Teal'c, tell the whole world, why don't you? That was a joke!" he said hurriedly, knowing Teal'c's propensity for taking his jokes seriously.
"I am aware of that. However, it is no secret that you love Major Carter."
"I didn't actually SAY love...."
"And you are not the only one."
Jack stopped suddenly.
"I'm not?"he asked.
"Daniel Jackson also cares deeply for her."
"He does, does he?" Jack said, trying to stem the rising tide of jealousy.
"As do I."
"Yes. However, our feelings are not as strong as yours. If she were to die, our worlds would not, ultimately stop. Yours, I suspect, would."
"Yeah, it would." he said simply. He crouched down against the wall. "You know, I didn't really repress the memory. I just didn't want to remember. Seeing her there, inches away, but on the other side of a wall, and knowing I couldn't get to her, and she's telling me to go, and I won't, and the Jaffa coming, and the bombs counting down, and there's no way to get her out ... it just tore me up,inside. I couldn't go. I knew, what happened to her, had to happen to me too."
"You love her." Teal'c said simply, crouching down beside him.
"Yeah, I guess I do." Jack said softly.
"Are you not glad she knows?"
"I guess. I just wish she hadn't found out like that."
"How would you have liked to have told her?"
"I think, " Jack said slowly, "I would like to have come down to the control room one day, and just handed in my resignation, and she'd ask mw why I was resigning, and I'd say 'so I can do this' and sweep her into the most romantic, best kiss of her entire life. Of course, chances are she'd slap me.."
"She would not do so."
"You think?" he asked, hopeful, not sarcastic, for once.
"You think she really .... you sure?" Jack stammered incredulously.
"Indeed. While you were on Edora..."
"I don't want to remember that." Jack said quickly.
"But you should."
"Uh-uh. No way. Believe me, I feel bad enough about the whole thing."
"Good. As you should. If you ever feel the need to do something similar, be warned. Daniel Jackson and I will hurt you."
"We may look upon you as our brother, but Samantha Carter is our sister. We will not stand by and see you hurt her again."
Jack turned to face Teal'c, and smiled slowly.
"Good." he said.
"You know what the worst thing is?" Sam told Daniel.
"The fact Anise was there when he finally told you?"
"No. Although she does annoy me. I mean, don't they have enough clothes on her planet, that she always has to come here in her underwear?"
"Mmm. And she made a pass at Jack." Daniel added.
"She did what!"
Outside, Jack turned to Teal'c.
"I guess he told her."
"It would seem so."
Inside, Daniel quickly calmed Sam down.
"He did nothing! He threw her out!"
"Oh. Good. No, the worst thing is, we can't do anything about it. We'll just have to go on like it never happened. We'll go out, day after day, never knowing if we'll both come back, watching each other risk our lives, and never be able to say, just before the Jaffa come over the hill, or the bombs blow, or Apophis shoots, 'I love you.' to each other. At least before, I could tell myself that if I died, he'd be okay, that I didn't mean that much to him. But there, in that corridor, when he refused to leave, and he just stood there, staring at me, and he didn't have to say a thing, it was all there, in his eyes. I was so desperate to make him leave, and I saw he wouldn't, not ever, and a small part of me was so glad."
"So you do love him."
She smiled gently.
"How could I not love him?"
"You could resign." Teal'c said.
"You could do as you imagined."
"I could. It'd be almost worth it. But then I'd have to leave her. She'd go off into the universe with some other guy, no doubt younger and more charming. And I'd have to live with someone else trying to puzzle out those explanations of hers, making her laugh.. protecting her. At least this way, I'm close."
"But you will still send her into danger?"
"Yes. Because she still wants to go. And because I still want to be out there."
"It will be difficult."
"It'll be hell. But at least I'll be there to keep an eye on her."
A door opened, and Sam and Daniel stepped out, Sam smiling when she saw Jack. He scrambled up to meet, and they barely noticed Daniel and Teal'c nod at each other, and wander off together.
"Listen, " he said softly, "I just want to say how sorry I am about Marty ... I mean Martouf. He was a decent guy. And I know he cared for you."
"Thanks." she replied.
"You going to be okay?"
"I will be."
They stood like that, for a second, then, just as Jack said,
"I could really go for a beer, Sir. How about you?"
"Steak too?" he said, smiling.
"Sounds good. Hey,guys, wait up, we're going to O'Malley's!" she called,as they walked past Hammonds office.
Anise sat in there, talking to Hammond.
"I thought you should know." she told him. "It could compromise the integrity of SG1."
"I doubt it." Hammond told her. "Hell, I knew this would happen the minute they set eyes on each other."
"But surely nothing. They're a damn good team, who deal with a lot of crap, and deal with it well.... including the crap you've sent them into. They all work well together, and I'm not about to split that up."
"No you don't." Hammond told her. "But I do. They will never do a thing to compromise us, even if it means burying their feelings deeper than the SGC. This was all going on long before you got here, and it'll keep going on, and I, for one, am not about to rob them of what little happiness they can snatch. God knows, they deserve it."