Quid Pro Quo
Category: Daniel/Sam Friendship, New Romance
Spoilers: Season 8, Reckoning Parts 1 and 2 (the timeframe jumps about a bit, and skips Threads altogether, landing Daniel back at SGC with no mention of that ep.)
Disclaimer: Stargate SG-1 and its characters are the property of Showtime/Viacom, MGM/UA, Double Secret Productions, and Gekko Productions.
Summary: Daniel does battle with his feelings and RepliCarter.
Author's Note: I haven't actually seen Reckoning myself yet... that's next week for us here in the US. What I'm using to build this vignette are clues I've found in photos and spoilers, and as such, I'm tweaking them to suit my needs.
'What do you say to someone when you've been inside her head?'
What do you say to that someone if she's the best friend you've ever had, in this world or any other, so much a part of you already that she's more than family, more than friend, a visceral part of your being--and you're the same for her, only you've never told her that and she's never told you... and you're not supposed to know?
What do you say when you know every secret she never told you, every wish, every longing, every nightmare, every doubt and anxiety that walks around in her head like endless skeletal insomniacs?
What do you say when you've been privy to every fantasy you know she'd never tell you no matter how close you were, or are... every desire that she doesn't even know she has because she's so smart, so damned smart, so damned smart and strong and fragile and torn and mended and soul-deep beautiful (but she doesn't know it, and that's the kicker, isn't it?) that she's tucked things away so deep that even she doesn't know that they exist... or does she?
What do you, would you, can you say when you didn't choose to know... but you do, and it's eating away at you by the second because there she is, not three feet from you, those eyes so blue you could drown in them?
'Daniel, you're going to have to tell her eventually. Somehow.'
"You're quiet," Samantha Carter ventured, jarring her companion out of his own thoughts.
"Blue jello," Daniel replied, a non sequitur that wasn't, and Sam smiled.
"My lucky day," she said, and regarded her lunch, the aforementioned dessert and something resembling his own fare. Around them, the bustle of the SGC mess hall seemed somehow distant... it always did, Daniel reflected, on those too-rare occasions these days when he and Sam could find a moment alone together.
He stirred the contents of his plate around. He wasn't hungry, but he'd come with Sam for the sake of being there. Being with her. It had been important, more than it should be, being there with her... since he'd come back from... from...
'From whereverthehell I was...' He should be used to those gaps in his mind by now, but dammit if they weren't annoying. The last thing he remembered was the ship, the fear...
THE replicator. The one who had taken Sam's face, taken her identity, taken him...
He was in the tent, suddenly, back in that tent that wasn't a tent in a desert that wasn't a desert but a framework of his
consciousness, with the Sam-who-wasn't-Sam in front of him, their hands locked about one another's wrists, fingers white at the knuckles...
She hadn't pretended to BE Sam, hadn't even tried, he could give her that much credit... she wouldn't have been able to fool him for a moment, because no matter how much she looked and acted and sounded like Sam, HIS Sam, she could never FEEL like Samantha Carter.
"...her thoughts, her memories, even her emotions--they are not meaningless to me." Her eyes had bored into him, and he'd
looked away, masking his discomfort by rolling his eyes. It was all a game, a logic game she was playing--machine mind hacking the human mind, searching for a way in, try this code, try that one... he had information she wanted, and one way or another, she would get it.
And when he wouldn't give her what she wanted easily, she went looking for it in the corners and protected rooms of his mind, entering it too easily – but at the same time giving him access to Sam's mind, to her thoughts and memories and emotions...
He hadn't wanted to invade her privacy, Sam's privacy, her mind--but when the truth was out and they locked in combat, mind-to-mind, he'd found himself in the center of a whirlwind...
He blinked, coming back to the table, to Sam, his Sam, who was still looking at him.
"Daniel?" She tilted her head slightly.
"Yeah?" He straightened, returned the head-tilt, tried to smile. "Sorry. I'm still feeling a bit... out there."
"Ya think?" She shook her head. "Daniel, you're not even three feet from me, and you might as well be on the other end of a wormhole. And... you haven't touched your lunch."
"I'm not... really hungry," he said, regarding the plate guiltily, pushing it away. Sam frowned, brows drawing together in that way she had, and leaned slightly forward.
"Are you okay? Do you need to go down to the infirmary?" He shook his head, waving the suggestion off.
"No, no... I'm sorry, Sam. I'm not great company right now."
You can't invade someone's mind without leaving the door to your own open wide. Like a computer upload, it's a pathway two can walk, and when the replicator Sam had stormed his fortress, he'd known what to expect...
Sam had told him what to expect. Told the whole team, just in case. Pre-mission briefing.
'Thank you, Sam... I owe you one...'
He'd taken the opportunity presented to do the only thing he could do: he'd ducked into his adversary's mind, looking for
something, anything, that would give him the advantage over her... lock her out or defeat her.
The replicator fought back, and she was on familiar ground... the mind was just one more computer system for her. She pummeled him with random information, counting on his novice standing in mental battles to slow him.
The emotions, the thoughts, the memories whirled around him--she hadn't been lying, the replicator Sam, when she'd said that those were all part of this new, mechanical self. Digging through his own mind, his own thoughts, accessing data about him, she knew that her best defense against him was to use Sam's own ammunition... flinging a miasma of personality and essence at him to fend him off, keep him from the replicator part of what she was... and the thoughts, the memories, the emotions clung to him, sticking like burrs or Napalm and burning into him...
He knew much of it already... the advantage of friendship, of being sibling-close for so many years. But so much of it was new, without context, information, sensory, emotional overload. The replicator had flung them at him carelessly, just staving him off as she bought herself more time...
But she couldn't divert him, keep him from his own assault on her mind... he might be a novice to neural combat, but he was a quick study. She'd had to multitask--search and defend, seek and hold the fort. When he'd adapted, side-stepping through the information slipstream, she'd come across that hidden file of his own, that tucked-away part of himself that he'd tried so hard to shield from her.
"Something on your mind?" She reached out, touched his hand lightly, and the contact sent electricity through him as it never had before. It was a friendly touch, nothing more... but his mind seethed with other tactile memories, hers, of skin to skin contact... "You've been... off... since you got back. And..." She bit her lip, pulling her hand back. "Well, it kinda seemed like you were avoiding me."
"Sam, no..." And he reached out to her now, taking her hand in his. It was warm... the replicator Sam, machine, hadn't been. Couldn't be. He shook himself back to the present. He squeezed her hand, caressing the back of it with his thumb... an unfamiliar motion, and she looked at his hand, then at him curiously. He didn't release the hand, but ducked his head slightly, moistened his lips. "At least... I didn't mean to. It's just... well..."
"You love her?" It was Sam's voice, but with an edge to it--triumphant, almost, but metallic as well, though that could have been his imagination. "You DO. You love her, and you've never told her..."
He'd reeled from the voice--it surrounded him, not in his ears but in his head--and from the statement itself.
It was then she'd refined the stream of Samantha Carter to hit him harder, strike him where she knew now that it would hurt the most...
"Hey, kids. S'up?" Jack O'Neill was there, suddenly, breezing through and pausing as he so often did... they looked up, startled, and he looked down, noticing their hands, and his eyebrows arched, glancing first to Daniel, then Sam, then back...
"Hooo-kay, not much with me either, gotta meeting in five, catchalaterthen..." Two fingers, twin guns in digit form, pointing at Daniel with a silent "bang" and wink as Jack continued on as though he hadn't intended to stop at all. Daniel blinked. Sam blinked.
Their eyes met, their hands parted, cue awkward moment music...
"You want to go somewhere and talk?" Sam asked. He nodded.
"Talk." A shadow of a smile flickered across his face. Yes.
Talk. "Talking would be good."
Sam's most private emotions streamed at him now, flooding his senses, staggering him. He knew now about Jack, about the years of guilt-tinged desires and longings and wishful thinking and...
Well, he'd suspected that, at least... did the replicator think that it would hurt him, sting him, to have the suspicions confirmed? Would she be surprised to find that instead he ached for her--for his Sam--because that's what love is, really is, when you love someone so much that you want them to have whatever it is they most want...
Even if it isn't you...
He knew about Pete, about the doubts, the anxieties, the pleasures... and the wall, the wall that was behind that, slamming him as if physical.
All the men Sam had ever known, ever loved, ever been with--every thought of them, memory, emotional shadow--they assailed him, one by one and in tandem, circling around and coming back at him again and again, tactile and emotional memory, voices, emotions, a driving hail of love and regret and hate and fear... Martouf and Narim and Bobby from high school chemistry class...
Her passions were new to him. It was a side of Sam, his Sam, that he hadn't even tried to know... couldn't know, not the way things were... and when he'd stumbled into them, it was a raging flood that threatened to swamp him...
Dark rooms and ragged breathing, hot rushes of passion and embarrassment, bedrooms and sofas and back seats and, once, in a broom closet (people still kept brooms in closets?)... he'd thrown up what defenses he had, trying to filter the information, knowing Sam wouldn't want this, wouldn't want him here, anger growing and helping him channel his attention--knowing full well that this was intentional, this was the replicator exploiting what it had identified as fragile human weakness...
'Well, it's not going to work...'
It was as he struggled to push himself free of the clinging mental threads, managing once more to gain some headway, that the replicator had broadsided him completely.
They walked in the sunlight by the side of the river, too silent now that the talking was done.
He'd had to tell her. It had been a compulsion rather than a desire.
She had a right to know.
Had to tell her everything. Everything except those bits that he knew--and who would know better than he did--she wouldn't want him to say that he knew.
And she'd listened just like she always did, not speaking, not even a murmur of acknowlegement, just listening.
And now, when he stopped, gazing out over the bend in the river, she stopped as well, gazing up at him--and for once, he wasn't been able to meet her probing gaze.
"So... I guess it would feel like I was avoiding you," he finally murmured. "Maybe I was... but I didn't want to. I wanted
to tell you... you needed to know... I just didn't know how."
"Well..." she sought for the words, then smiled. "It's like seeing your best friend stark naked, isn't it?"
'Thanks EVER so much for that mental image, Sam... really.'
She took his hands, first one, then the other, stepping in front of him. She squeezed his hands, caressing the backs of his hands with her thumbs as he'd done to her, stepping into his innermost circle. He trembled, a convulsive shudder, and she laughed softly, releasing his eyes but not his hands.
"It's okay, Daniel. Really. It's okay." Blue eyes met his again, and he could feel the warmth of her body. His senses pulsed, as though absorbing too much...and his body responded in a way he only hoped she couldn't feel... "You're my best friend. If there ever was anyone... anyone... I could trust with being inside my mind, with knowing me that way, it's you." She rose on tiptoe, kissed him quickly on the cheek, dropping back down before he could react. "But... still..."
"Still?" His voice rasped slightly, and the look she threw him was pure mischief.
"Well, if you know all my secrets, what are we going to have to talk about now?" She stepped away slightly, cocking her head to the side. "Unless there are some secrets you've been keeping locked up... seems only fair. Quid pro quo, Dr. Jackson?"
When he didn't answer, she smiled, releasing her grip on his hands... but he missed that pressure instantly, and tightened his hold on hers. For a moment, she hesitated, confusion passing like the shadow of a bird across her face. Her playful smile faded.
Trying to steady his trembling fingers, he released one hand and reached up, letting fingers play across her cheek, sliding down to cup behind the nape of her neck, an intimate touch that he knew she'd respond to... her eyes widened for a moment, surprised, and then she yielded to his caress.
"Quid pro quo." His whisper was husky, but it, too, trembled. "Well... it does seem only fair. And there are some secrets, Sam, that I've been keeping...if you want to know."
She nodded once, slowly, and he did not need to draw her closer. She moved into him, folding into his arms as though she'd always belonged there, and surely she must feel the hammering of his heart though his shirt... her warmth blended with his own, and once more, he was swamped by the memory of emotion and tactile sensation. As he brought her to him and brushed his lips over hers, the memory of that one fragment of information, the one that had surprised him so violently, exploded through him as he remembered and realized...
'She wants this as much as you do. She just never knew it... until you helped her.'
And as her arms encircled him, tightening and pressing their bodies together in growing realization, Daniel realized that it was the truth... and he surrendered to the kiss, to the joy and surprise and relief and promise, he felt it mirrored and magnified in the person of the one person he thought he'd known so well...
Daniel Jackson's mental eyes snapped open wide, then narrowed.
He was in the tent.
The tent that was not a tent, in the desert of his mind... his mental fingers still locked about the wrist...
...of a replicator that had stolen the face of his best friend. The face that was not, and could never be, the woman he loved.
She had almost, almost had him... almost, by lying to him so skillfully, so tenderly...
... with the truth.
The truth that Samantha Carter would not, could not, ever tell him...
Because she didn't know it, and he couldn't tell her.
"You bitch," he breathed, and his voice rasped with the memory of the river that had never been...
The replicator smiled... and it was not Sam's smile.
"You cannot defeat me," she said.
"Watch me," he replied... and tightened his grip on her wrist. "Quid pro quo..."