Category: Not exactly fluff, not exactly angst. Friendship shading into romance.
Fandom: Stargate: SG-1
Spoilers: Forever in a Day, Meridian
Disclaimer: These characters belong to a whole bunch of people who aren't me.
Author's Note: Set anywhere up to the end of season five.
It all started off-world, of course. Most of the life-altering events they'd experienced in the past few years had occurred on other planets.
The game wasn't really life-altering. However, as Daniel put it, it was "enriching". Sam preferred "fun".
Jack and Teal'c had no opinion, because Jack and Teal'c didn't know about the game. Or if they did, they didn't let on.
The beginning of the game was on "some planet with trees. And rocks."
("Artifacts, Jack. Not 'rocks'."
"He just does that to wind you up, Daniel.")
Daniel insisted on examining the ruins closely. So closely, in fact, that dusk had fallen before he could be yanked away.
So they spent the night on the tree- and rock-covered planet, planning to head for the 'Gate at sunrise.
Sam pulled second watch. She hated second watch. At least first or third meant an uninterrupted night's sleep. (Uninterrupted sleep for SG-1 was an endangered species, who quite often ended up in the clutches of some Goa'uld bent on torturing them or in the midst of a xenophobic society that wanted to get rid of them. Preferably in the fastest way possible.)
They were at the edge of an open field, camped beneath the trees that Jack hated so much. Sam... watched. The planet was completely devoid of any existing civilization, but the Colonel insisted on watches, and Carter followed orders.
Jack snorted in his sleep. Teal'c breathed evenly, deep in a state of kel'nor'eem.
Sam felt eyes on her, and she shivered. Turning slightly, she met a pair of blue eyes.
"Daniel? Shouldn't you be sleeping?"
The archaeologist shrugged and levered himself up on one arm. "Yeah, probably."
"Then... sleep. Or something."
"Gee, Sam, it's good to know you care."
Sam smirked and turned back to the clearing. A slight breeze ruffled the tall grass and caused the lake to ripple. Suddenly, movement at the opposite end of the field caught Sam's attention. She straightened and brought her P-90 to the ready.
She shushed Daniel and squinted. A flash of pure white caught in the light of the two moons.
"Uh... Daniel? Is that what I think it is?"
Rustling. A tousled brown head came up behind her and peered over her shoulder.
"Wow." That seemed to be the consensus.
The unicorn dipped its head toward the water. Sam and Daniel watched in awe as a seemingly mythical creature quenched its thirst before their eyes.
"Should we get the Colonel and Teal'c?" Sam whispered.
Daniel turned his head to check on the other two members of their team. The unicorn, sensing the movement, lifted its head. As Daniel turned back to reply, the animal bounded into the forest.
They watched it go in silence. "No point now," Daniel murmured. "Why don't I take third watch?"
The second round of what would become the game took place by a seashore--meaning Jack pretty much left Sam and Daniel to their rocks while he and Teal'c went to "secure the perimeter". Daniel assumed that he was scouting potential fishing spots.
A series of raised platforms lined the beach. They stretched for at least half a mile. Daniel approached the first one.
Half an hour later, he called out, "Hey, Sam! You gotta come see this!"
"What is it, Daniel?" She didn't sound too put out from being torn away from her samples.
Daniel pointed to a line of the text. Sam wrinkled her brow and leaned over. "I think this is some sort of... birth record, or something," Daniel explained. She gave him a strange look when he took her hand.
Tracing the alien script, he translated, "Sam... an... tha."
Sam smiled in delight, and Daniel beamed in response.
The game sustained them when little else could. When it seemed that every step through the event horizon was too much to bear. When under enemy fire, or in the middle of another impossible situation. They could look back in their minds at moments of true beauty.
A waterfall sparkling in the sunlight. A rough carven ivory statue. A field of jewel-bright butterflies taking flight. For every fallen civilization, every planet destroyed by the enemy, there was a discovery of amazement and pleasure.
And then the one bright spot in Daniel's life, the one thing that had been driving him for years, died by the hand of a friend. Sam hurt for her teammate. He became a shadow of himself, a fragment of the man she knew.
Sam was uncertain of what to do. She backed off for a while; let him mourn his loss. And then she discovered the garden.
It had obviously been abandoned for years. However, roses (or something resembling roses, at any rate) still bloomed in abundance. Petals ranging from the palest pink to the deepest purple fell and spun in the air.
Sam turned back and returned to the group. Daniel had gotten straight to work, silently taking photographs of what had once been a majestic dwelling.
"Daniel," Sam said softly, placing her hand on his shoulder. He tensed.
"Come on. I want you to see something."
He glared at her. "I'm working, Sam."
"It'll only take a moment."
Sam led the way to the ivy-covered walls. She ducked under the branches that arched above the entryway. Daniel reluctantly followed.
Sam sat on a moss-covered stone bench and watched Daniel closely. His shoulders relaxed. He craned his neck to look at the rioting roses climbing the old, rotting trellises.
He shoved his hands in his pockets and wandered over to Sam. She moved slightly, and he sat beside her.
He took a deep breath of the perfumed air, and finally said, "Thanks, Sam."
She didn't need to reply.
The one moment that stood out in Sam's mind, the memory that she revisited most often, was of a mission that took place just before the disastrous meeting with the Kelownans. She alternately tortured and soothed herself with that memory.
There was a huge temple. Daniel was in ecstasy. Colonel O'Neill wasn't quite so excited, but he grudgingly allowed Daniel time to inspect the main room. They each did what they had to do, so used to each other by now that communication was almost unnecessary.
"Sam. Sam, come look at this." Daniel's whisper echoed in the cavernous room.
"Yeah?" Daniel stood in front of a tall mirror. It was the plainest object in the room--glass framed by some kind of dark, undecorated wood. It seemed out of place in the glittering gilded temple.
"Look." He pointed at the mirror. Sam inspected it closely.
"I don't see anything."
"Look closer." Sam obeyed, searching for anything that could be important.
Finally, she sighed. She held up her hands in exasperation. "All I see is my reflection."
Daniel gave her a tiny, inscrutable smile. The expression in his eyes, however, made her shiver.