A Single Thread by devra

Sometimes I wonder if ascension steals your soul like the sarcophagus does.

There's no rhyme or reason to that thought, but it's the first thing that pops into my mind when I hear Daniel approach. I'm sitting in darkness, at the end of the dock staring into the shroud-covered lake. How do I know it's Daniel? Easy. You don't exist in peoples' lives like we have for the past eight years and *not* know someone's walk. Or how they breathe during a nightmare, or how their face screws up when they try to hold back tears, or how they bite their lip just before they get angry. Or flash you an unexpected smile. Or how they steal a glance when they think no one is looking, or the glance they receive in return. Yup, that's right. I know. I think I've known about them from the beginning.

Daniel sits next to me, then drops his bare feet into the water, hissing at the cold. "You're nuts."

I move my feet up and down, splashing water onto his bare legs. I inch over until I'm close enough to rest my head on his shoulder and stick my hand under his sweatshirt just to feel his warm presence. Then I giggle. There are very few people in this world I can giggle with, and Daniel is one of them. Janet was one, and Peter was the other. Tollans and Tok'ra don't giggle, so that leaves out Narim, my dad and Martouf. Their loss, I think as I giggle again, but then again, all three are dead, so maybe it's my loss, and I allow myself the luxury of a few tears under cover of darkness.

Daniel plants a brotherly kiss on my head then drapes his arm around my shoulder. "Been drinking?"

I count to five, hoping to hide the thickness of tears. "Why? A girl can't giggle unless she's drunk?"

My head bounces up and down with his laugher. "Sorry, Sam, but *you* don't giggle unless you're drunk," he pauses, then scissors his feet in the water, "or high."

Then we both laugh as we remember PX8654, very friendly inhabitants, a peace pipe filled with extremely potent tobacco - and I use that word lightly - and General Hammond's face as we exited the wormhole. "Those were the days," I sigh.

"Yes, they were."

"We were young."



"In our defense, we didn't know what was out there, Sam."

"Maybe ignorance is bliss."

"Curiosity killed the cat."

"Where angels fear to tread." I sigh again, reminiscing can do that. "SG-1 was both ignorant *and* stupid."

"Our stupidity and ignorance saved the Earth on a number of occasions," Daniel admits with a rare hint of pride in his voice.

I burst forth with a very unladylike snort. "And got us killed as well."

"In case you haven't noticed, Sam, we all survived."

"At what cost?" I'm suddenly angry. Nope, I'm not *just* angry, I'm furious. Furious at Daniel for having died one more time, at the SGC, SG-1, Pete for not being strong enough to come after me and definitely, definitely furious at my dad for giving up and dying. "We may have survived but what about the *others*?"

Damn Daniel for pulling me even closer. How dare he offer me comfort by saying what he says. "I miss him, too." Not 'I'm sorry'. He doesn't acknowledge what a good man Jacob Carter was. Or that he was a dedicated, decorated, military man. Nope, Daniel goes right for my emotional jugular. I cry for the orphan I now am, for the dad I learned to love, and amazingly enough, for the symbiote who returned my father to me; both of whom are now lost forever.

"Pete loves you, Sam."

I nod. I know he does, but he can't love me like the general and Daniel love each other. There's that extra something—and it's not a spark or a glance across a crowded room, it's the whole, as corny as it sounds, soul mate scenario. They have it. Even without *knowing* about them, it's obvious they have *it*. Lantash and Jolinar had it and to some degree, I had it with Orlin. Pete is just, well, Pete. There's sparkage and fun, the sex is great, and there is love, but not the depth of love *I* need. I'm not sure if what we had would be considered *it* and call me romantic, but I felt it wouldn't be fair to either of us to just settle. My dad saw through my subterfuge and made sure I was aware of his opinion of Pete without so many words. He communicated enough in his expressive face, the tone of the few words he *did* use was sufficient enough to sway my decision. The straw that broke the camel's back, the one that tipped the scales, Pete *let* me leave. He accepted it without question. No argument. No hesitation just a 'goodbye'.

"Give him a chance."

I tried, I want to say to Daniel. I really did.

"I bet you giggle with him, *even without* being drunk."

"Or high," I add. "But I'm afraid that's not enough, Daniel."

"I would think that it would be." Daniel kicks the water.

"He bought us a house."

"That's a bad thing?"

I shrug. I thought it was.

"He's scared, Sam. Every time you walk through the 'gate, he's afraid you're not going to come back. Don't blame the poor guy for wanting permanence."

"A house isn't going to guarantee my safety. Neither is a wedding band, a joint bank account or a marriage license. Hell, he's a cop, there's no promise of safety with his job either."

"No, of course there isn't. But police work is different, you know. It's like comparing apples and oranges."

"They're both fruit."

He harrumphs in obvious frustration over my thick headedness. "Do you love him?"

Bing. Bing. Bing. Bing. Now *there's* the sixty four thousand dollar question. Do I love him? "I don't want to rush into anything because he's afraid I'm going to die."

He nods at the truthfulness of my statement, but Daniel's not done with me yet. "You're right, but what about you? What would happen if Pete dies?"

"Excuse me?"

"He's a cop, his job is dangerous, so how would you feel right now if you got a call that he had been killed in the line of duty?"

I can't breathe. It hurts too much to think of that, I'm momentarily blindsided by the pain, but Daniel doesn't let me revel in my anguish for even a second. He just keeps right on being Daniel, forcing me to bang my head against the brick wall until he hammers the point home.

"You do know, in your dad's eyes, no one would have been good enough for you. It has nothing to do with Pete being who he is. You were just his little girl."

"You would have been."


"My dad would have accepted you."

Daniel goes quiet and under the pretense of rubbing an invisible spot on my leg, I glance sideways at him, taking comfort in the sheen of wetness in his eyes, cause I guess misery does love company. I don't make a comment and the two of us sit there, surrounded by memories.

"Your dad accepted me because I wasn't a threat."

"He loved you."

Daniel's laugh is loud and echoes in the still of the night. "He loved me like a surrogate son, not someone who should sleep with his daughter."

His words hit me like a splash of cold water. My father's feelings towards Pete had nothing to do with Pete's personality and everything to do with Pete's feelings towards me. "You're very smart for a genius, has anyone ever told you that?"

He preens silently. "Can I give you a word of advice?"

"You have to ask? Isn't that what you've been doing?"

"I know but, this may be considered stepping on toes time, and I don't want—"

"Just go ahead, Daniel."

"Don't lose Pete."

"I think I already did." I lost Pete and my father, and sitting next to Daniel under the night sky, I feel small and insignificant in my inability to hold onto those I love.

"You didn't, believe me. I think he sorta expected you to turn tail and run."

"I'm not a coward," I reply indignantly.

"No, you're not," he hurriedly agrees. "As Colonel Samantha Carter, you are *not* a coward - hell I trust you with my life - but as Sam Carter, yeah, you are."

I want to disagree with him, locate my anger and use it as a shield against his words, but I can't, because Daniel is being truthful. He's doing what Janet would have done if she would have been here. My best friend would have gotten me drunk, let me rant and rave, then given me an earful. Daniel's doing the best he can, and while he's not Janet, and I'm not drunk, the point has been driven home. "Do you think it's too late to call him?"

"I don't think the time makes a bit of difference, Sam."

I surprise him with a kiss to the cheek before I stand. "I love you."

He pats my leg. "I know you do. Now go." Daniel pushes me towards the house. "Call. Tell him you love him. Pete will understand the rest."

* * *

Daniel was right. Pete understood. Understood it all, as a matter of fact, without me going into too much detail. We skirted around the issue of marriage and the house and just talked about us, but that's okay, we have plenty of time for that.

The phone call was long and even though this place is beautiful, the reception sucks, so I spent the last couple of hours outside alternating between the porch and the clearing in front of the general's house. The sun is coming up, rising over the mountain but I'm stunned that I'm not even tired. As a matter of fact I'm energized with a feeling of contentment that I haven't felt in a long time.

I'm sorry that my dad will never get to know Pete. He would have liked him, and I have to admit, with a tinge of anger, that he didn't trust my judgment enough to give Pete a chance. Another loss all the way around.

Daniel had gone into the house a while ago, and I'm sure I'll be greeted by the smell of fresh coffee the minute my foot steps over the threshold. There's comfort knowing my place in *this* family. Familiarity filled with surprises. It's strange how secure those two conflicting emotions can make me feel.

The general and Daniel are sitting on the couch, like two expectant parents waiting for their child to come home from a date. Actually, the general is waiting, Daniel is sleeping, his elbow resting on the arm of the couch, his chin resting in the cup of his hand, and his glasses are balanced precariously on the tip of his nose.

"There's coffee and a plate of waffles in the kitchen with your name on it." The general uses his chin to point to Daniel. "Both he and Teal'c have already eaten. I would advise you to hurry, because while I could save you waffles the first time around, I'm not guaranteeing their safety once Teal'c is out of the shower."

"I understand, sir. Thank you."

* * *

I carry the plate of waffles and coffee into the living room and sit on the floor, opposite General O'Neill and Daniel. The waffles are room temperature, but I cheated and heated up the fresh maple syrup to make up for it. The banana I added gets a raised eyebrow from the general.

"I wish I had thought of that," he admits quite mournfully.

"Don't worry, when you make breakfast tomorrow—"

"When's Pete arriving?"

I sputter, nearly spewing out a mouthful of coffee. "How did you know Pete was—oh." I glance over at Daniel.

The general follows my gaze, then shakes his head. "Nope, Daniel didn't say anything."

"Sir. If Daniel didn't mention that I was going to—"

"Carter, I didn't raise no stupid 2IC."

I can't help but smile at his knowing abuse of the English language.

"See, Carter, I *knew* you were going to call him once you sat and thought about it. You're a smart woman."

"Why thank you."

"And Pete being the smart man that he is, told you that he would be arriving..."

"As soon as possible."

"Does he like to fish?"

"It does not matter, O'Neill, there are no fish in the lake." I look up at a freshly showered Teal'c who is glowering at my breakfast plate.

As strange as it sounds, I guess if I had to give someone a defining moment in my life it would be this one. Okay, maybe this would come in second in relation to my stepping into the event horizon for the first time. Or maybe they are really both the same. The feeling of this is what I've been searching for my whole life. I mean this *is* my family. The general, the archaeologist, the Jaffa, soon to be joined by the man I love. Strange, but hell, in the scheme of my life, it's so very, very right.

The End!

Author's Comments:

August cannot arrive soon enough. Thank you jo for your insight, words of wisdom and patience. The check is in the mail. Any and all mistakes are mine and mine alone




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