Daniel let Sam warm up to the idea of them having to prove their "marriage" was real. He knew it was a big thing for him to offer and, no matter what she thought as she stared into the night, he would never offer to do that with just anyone. Deep down he was sure she wished there were other options, but two days after fighting with Din, a guard brought a letter from Din, setting a time and place for the "public pronouncement of marriage."

Sam had looked away as he read the words. He admitted he felt himself blush like mad. Words would not be accepted; the act had to be done. As they trudged through the snow, hands buried deep inside their own coats, hardly touching except when the lost their footing, Sam silently steeled herself for the very real possibility that she would have to be put on display and prove she could let herself be touched by Daniel. More than just touched, sleep with him.

"What rhymes with froze?" Daniel asked, suddenly breaking into her thoughts.

"Toes," Sam said after a beat. "Like my toes are frozen. Well, more like froze a long time ago."

"Nose. I think it's on my face," Daniel said, turning toward Sam. "Is it still there?"

"Yes."

"Good. I don't want to walk around with a nose that froze along with your toes, while we doze."

Sam gave a soft smile. Stopping as they came to where their station was, they picked up the buckets that they hauled dirt with. Daniel let the silence settle between them like the fresh snow around them.

She had tended to him the previous night, as she did for the past two nights, but had hesitated a bit as she pressed the cloth to his side. They had always been close, hugging, giving small reassuring touches, Daniel brushing them all away as friendship, normal. But the way she reacted when she pressed the cloth to his side the second time was a bit more... he could not figure it out. It was still gentle, he still hurt and a bruise was forming, but her left had had slid across his abs, almost appreciating the six-pack he had worked on for years to maintain.

"Is that Seth up there?" Sam said quietly.

"Yes. The MALP. It must be near," Daniel said, excited. It was the first day he felt well enough to do heavy lifting, having convinced the guards Sam needed to tend to him for the past three days as well.

"Dan-iel, Sam-anth-a. Come this way," Seth said as they came closer. "It is over this hill, Bis is uncovering it now."

The three of them walked quickly to where Bis was standing beside a large object. Brushing off snow, Bis pointed to the SGC logo, raising Sam and Daniel's spirits high. "Is this the object you know?"

"Yes, it's equipment that came with us when we came to trade with Din and your people," Daniel said, hands quickly brushing the snow away from the control panel.

"Din does not represent all of us," Seth said quietly. "We in the camp are loyal to our hearts or some have been pressed into service for crimes. Bis and I, as I have said before, were wanting to leave and go to the other tribe across the mountain."

Sam nodded and watched anxiously as Daniel pried the control panel door off. "Frozen," she muttered, moving beside Daniel. "The wires, the equipment. It's all frozen. I know I should not be surprised, but..."

"I know. Part of me was hoping it would be easy too." Daniel ran a hand over the wires, and looked at Sam. "Can it be repaired?"

"How would we contact anyone? The Gate is not close by is it?"

Daniel looked expectantly up at Bis and Seth. "The Gate, the, the Stone of Light. Is it near here?"

The two exchanged a glance and shook their heads. "It is beyond here. Over a few hills at least."

"Then how did it get all the way here?" Daniel thought out loud.

"Maybe it was not by accident. Maybe someone controlled it here," Sam answered. "Maybe Colonel Mitchell and General Landry are looking for us."

"Its been at least two months, Sam," Daniel said. "I know they may not have believed that we were killed by a warring tribe that does not seem to exist, but..." Daniel swept a hand toward the MALP, "to have driven the MALP around to look for us? Why not just come back themselves?"

"Maybe someone told them it was too dangerous for them to come physically through the gate. Maybe the only option was to maneuver the MALP to explore the land," Sam countered.

Daniel looked at her and thought about it. Turning to Bis, he asked if the "cart" had been here long.

"It appeared last week. We found it further up on the hill last week when we were still at the mill, but it was gone and then we found it here."

"It moved? Did you move it?"

"No. We don�t know what it is, I put a cover on it - the one it came with - and then let the snow bury it when we worked. During the night I would leave it where I found it."

"If the wires are frozen now and it may have moved last week," Sam said as her eyes lit up. "That could mean the wires are just a bit cold, but not hurt by the cold. After all it is shielded from the heat, why not the cold?"

"So you think it could be turned on?" Daniel asked. He watched as Sam thought about it, a part of his heart breaking. Home was suddenly closer, but he felt with home being so near he would never be able to tell Sam about his deepest longings. His offering to sleep with her was more than protection, it was a way he could comfortably talk to her, explore her feelings. Now that the MALP stood before him, he knew it would never happen.

"It will take a few days to look at this. And we can't just work on this; I really don't feel like living in pain while we are here," Sam said standing beside him. "Oh," she said softly.

"What?"

"We have... our thing... at the end of the week."

"Well, we'll just work on both, and just because we get the MALP up, does not mean we can get to the Gate. I don't want to be the rain on the parade, but we have to look at it as if it may not work."

Sam nodded, taking her bucket and turned to walk back down the path to where they were stationed. "I know. I just, I just don't want to face the... public. That's all."

Daniel sighed and gave her a small smile.
At least it was not a rejection of you, Jackson, he said to himself as they trudged back to the dirt pile.

~*~*~*~

Sam was silent for the rest of the time. She felt badly for defusing Daniel's attempts at a conversation, but the quietness also seemed to distract her. Her mind raced - the MALP was found, there was a possibility of escape, and then there was Daniel. Daniel's offer. Her heart leapt, plummeted and felt like someone had put it to the blender when she though about it. It was natural to be on the same team as three rather good looking men - the whole SGC female population agreed - and notice how handsome they were.

Teal'c was strong and a warrior. He could lift small trees, Sam was sure, without breaking much of a sweat. He had the courage of a lion and the resolve of a predator with its prey in site. Freedom was his goal: personal freedom, his family's freedom, and his people's freedom. Each had been tested, and in all he had prevailed, stood fast to his convictions.

Jack O'Neill was the unwavering commitment that Sam identified with. He had lost his son; Sam lost her mother. He was committed to his new family, even if at first he had his reservations with Sam and Daniel. He never left them behind, never went far enough for him to loose them for long, and would never except that the Gou'ald were more powerful then his weapons. His quick wit and his self-doubting intelligence belied his real deep humor and brilliance.

Cameron Mitchell had proven to be a mix of the men. He had the humor and the brilliance to get them into situations, and the strength to have them waltz out of them again. He smiled easily, laughed heartily and was not afraid to grab a gun and talk things out. Sam had seen a resemblance in him and Daniel as they worked together, making her a bit hesitant to accept the position back on SG-1.

Daniel. Daniel had the "complete package" as her father once commented. He was brilliant and could keep up with her at any thought that came they explored, he gladly came along for the ride through cracking any problem and he lit up every time there was a new something placed in front of him. Sam knew it was the same look she got; her father and Jack had commented numerous times. Even Cam had noticed. Daniel had been the shy geek, awkward to be in military clothing that he was issued, but had transformed himself into the confident man who knew his place in the SGC, even if he was still a bit unsure where he fit in the Universe.

Sam had noticed the physical a bit more the previously night. She had let herself brush his abs which had suddenly looked very prominent beside the cream cloth and cold air. She had thoughts of him, thoughts about them being physical, falling in love, having a future. Somehow all that had made its way into her hand as she brushed him. It sent a shiver down her spine, and Daniel must have felt the same since he lightly too hold f her wrist and had looked into her eyes.

Pushing the bucket back onto the cart, Sam paused and wiped a sleeve across her forehead. How it could be so cold that the snow was still on the ground and her being so hot, still amazed her. She closed her eyes and breathed in the cold air, burning her hot lungs. She opened them to see Daniel untie his unisex wraparound top the Tynir people had given them when they set out to negotiate. He sat down on part of the stone that was not covered with snow and leaned his arms on his legs, pushing his fingers through his shaggy hair and brushed them down the beard he had. Sam found herself almost longing to run her fingers through his hair, and before she could stop her own feet, she was standing before him.

"Daniel?" she asked, clearing her throat.

"Yes?" He still had his head in his hands, but quickly looked up when he felt Sam's finger run through his tangled hair. "Sam?"

"Shh," Sam soothed. "We have a few days before we have to be on the stage, we may as well get used to this." She knelt before him and pushed his hair back, looking into his eyes. "You have given me time to think, but I can't deny that the end of the week is coming and it does not look like I will be able to get the MALP fixed. Even if we get it fixed, it is not guaranteed that we can find the Gate, or that we can go home soon." She looked away before continuing. "Besides I can't think of anyone else I would want to be facing such a predicament with."

Daniel turned her face and looked at her face. Brushing some of the dirt away from her cheek, lightly brushing over the cuts that were healing, he smiled. "I don't know; I wake up cranky most mornings when I am not in pain."

"Oh, well, that's most days, right?" she joked, feeling tears spring to her eyes. "I wanted it to be perfect," she whispered.

"Wanted what perfect?"

She felt a hot tear trail down her cheek. "Us."

Daniel felt his heart explode, and wanted to pull her into his heart and roll in the snow, shout for joy and just quietly love her. "Us?" he asked shakily.

Sam pulled him to his feet with her and wrapped her arms around Daniel, her hands roaming his back. On her tiptoes she pulled him closer, leaning into his side she whispered into his ear. A small smile graced her lips as he took her into his arms and lightly placed his chin into her hair. He felt her tears trickle down her cheek that was firmly placed on his chest. "Me too," he whispered as the winter air stirred. "Me too."