Powerful hands gripped her shoulders, pulling Sam away from the cliff she was walking toward.
"Get off me! What do you want?" Sam yelled, swinging around to face Daniel.
"I was leaving you so you could think things over, not so that you could follow me everywhere!" Sam exploded, as Daniel stood petrified and speechless.
"Cliff." Daniel managed to get out as he pointed behind her. Turning, Sam saw what he was indicating.
Not more than two feet was where the path she had been blazing abruptly stopped crashing into a small pool thousands of feet below.
Turning to where Daniel had stood, she found herself alone. She was surprised that her first feeling was not of relief, but rather crushed silence.
Eying the path around her, Sam wondered if she would have noticed the dirt trail stopping. She would probably have stepped out on air, waiting for her foot to make contact with solid ground � 2000 feet below.
"Thank you," Sam whispered.
For weeks Sam had felt irritated, short and not so comfortable in her skin. At first she had brushed it off as getting used to her new rank � Colonel Carter, no Major for you. But lately she wondered if it was not more like a mixture of Pete, and him proposing, and her unresolved issues with Jack.
She was deciding.
"Gawd," Sam muttered, throwing the broken path behind her another glance and started toward the ruins where Daniel and Teal'c were no doubt waiting.
As she neared the camp, she heard Teal'c and Daniel finishing a conversation.
"...I'm just saying she should not feel like she needs to protect us. Jack did a fine job."
"Indeed, DanielJackson. I fear ColonelCarter has more on her mind these days than just us," Teal'c responded.
"I suppose, but you were there when she exploded when I picked up the stones. She chastised me for touching things. I do that all the time." Daniel tried to keep a whine out of his voice. "All I'm saying is that she does not need to take Jack's place. We need a leader? Fine, but I want the cool-headed Sam, not the over-protective mother hen."
"I concur. Her actions do seem out of character."
Sam swallowed and both kicked herself and was glad to have heard the private confessions of the two men she trusted, and who trusted her.
She knew she had a choice to make: say yes to Pete, step out of the life she loved; say yes, keep her job but be constantly worried how it would effect them; or say no, give the ring back and walk away from Pete �
And walk toward... what? Another 30 some odd years alone? The cold nights and hot summers with no one keeping her warm or cool? Maybe she should have thought more about talking to Jack about her experiences on the Prometheus. Maybe her father was right, she should be happy. But at what cost?
That was what kept her up pacing, not wanting to go home, not wanting to be in the same base as HE was. It was still there, the little looks, the brief touches and shock she felt. But it was different since she had Pete. He still tried, always would, Sam knew, but there was a bit more strength in his trying. As if he could make the decision for him, make all the worry go away.
Sam needed a vacation, away from everything. Her need to be alone, yet with someone, tore at her, making it even more confusing. Jack watched, she knew. He seemed to take a small delight in her indecision. After all, if she did not say yes to Pete and give the ring back, wouldn't that mean he had a chance?
To break the regs? In the name of 'love' she was not sure and, as the days passed, almost certain that it did not existed in the same way his did. Neither was willing to walk away - from each other or their jobs. That bothered her more than the decision to say 'yes' or 'no' to Pete. After all she could find a way to cope with Jack's sometimes childish behavior, and the lack of interests, right? Who else would there be who could quote entire episodes of useless lines of "The Simpsons" slowly driving every one around him insane and sleepy?
Pete had his down sides too. He was kind and would make sure the doors were opened for her, but there were the late night talks of her leaving her job, maybe even retiring from the service. When she turned it around Pete would have a shocked look on his face and say it was his job to provide for the family. She let it drop that she made more than he did. She was sure she loved Pete; after all he was more fun, outgoing and definitely a better kisser.
She needed answers and the two sources were not available. Janet was dead and Daniel seemed a bit distant since the whole Osiris/Sara incident. The fact that he was kidnapped with Teal'c's neighbor did not help. She kicked herself every time she remembered where she was while Daniel needed help. She had let her emotions run away.
She would bring coffee to his lab late at night, only to find him not there or already surrounded by paper cups, ceramic mugs and his coffee maker whirring with activity. She would stand there and smile, make a comment on how he did not need another cup of coffee, and be crushed every time he just grunted or barely looked up.
It was the rejection of him that left a hole bigger than her heart in her chest. Pete could not patch it up; God knows he tried. She did not trust herself with Jack anymore and would try to be as civil as possible. Daniel would avoid her gaze and Teal'c would try in his way to understand the pulling apart of the team.
Sam needed an answer. Something to tell everyone. Say 'yes,' say 'no,' go for the 'safe guy' or try to find one who would make her happy. It pulled at her. Choked her.
She had her letter of resignation typed and printed, sitting under a pile of folders in a drawer. She could easily walk in and hand it in, taking Pete's advice and trying to find her way in the private sector. She could do it � if she practiced the line a few more times it may actually be true. But would she be gaining more than she would lose?
Gain: Pete - husband, lover, friend and someone who would keep her warm.
Lose: SG-1. Stargate Project. Jack's odd comments and way of looking at things, Teal'c's strong confidence in her and what as a team they did. And Daniel - she would loose him again. Oh, he would be alive, but the late nights and early morning runs to the donut store would not be the same. It would not feel right.
Pete vs. SG-1. A life she had dreamed of vs. a life she could never imagine having in a hundred years. Dreams she wanted fulfilled vs. dreams of saving others to see their dreams fulfilled.
It ate at her every time she walked out of the SGC - would there be a day she would do that for the last time? Sure, but was she ready to have that day come so soon? It crossed her mind ever time she stepped onto a new planet - would there be a new enemy and she would die, alone? But would she really die alone?
Closing her eyes she let the questions whirl around, making her want to scream and run back toward the cliff, but the two men before her kept her firmly planted. They would not leave her alone. They would be there should she die on a planet. And suddenly the choice was very clear. As clear as the blue eyes that she wanted to look into if she ever faced death.
Why do we wait so long to tell someone how we feel? Why indeed?
Sam stopped the fox trails she was running as she stood behind the leafy green tree, looking on at Teal'c and Daniel. Taking a deep breath she still wrestled with the decision, wondering how Pete and Jack, well more importantly how he would react. After all, she did not make a habit of telling her best friend of all the things she had been struggling with and then dump a confession on him. All the things he should have known a long time ago.
Stepping around the tree and back on to the small path, Sam paced two-steps and was glad to feel her resolve bounce back and be real once more. Daniel needed to know; she needed to know. The only real question would be what they had missed out on all these years if she had not been so focused on the safe bet. Smiling, Sam walked confidently into the clearing, ready to claim the dangerous side once more.
"Ok are we finding anything that glows? Cause that can go, and of course our gear as well," Sam said, pushed past the trees.
"No glowing objects. I think we are ready," Daniel said, eyeing her. The small gleam of concern sent shivers down Sam's back, letting her know he had not given up on her.
"Wonderful. I'll take point, Teal'c you watch our six, Daniel..." she looked into his blue eyes, "Thank you."
A small smile edged its way up on his lips, making him wonder what those two simple words really meant. He nodded and followed her, a small flame building inside him for their reconciliation.