Daniel was standing stiff as a board on the porch, still staring at the road down which the car had disappeared. He was painfully aware of Sam standing behind him.
"I'm so sorry, Sam," he suddenly blurted out. "God, I can't tell you how sorry. What I did was unforgivable. I-I-I can't believe I could stoop that low. To take advantage of you like that, to let myself lose control in that way. . . ." He was now almost in tears. "I don't know how you can stand to be near me."
Sam took a step forward. "Daniel, please stop. You're not the one who should be apologizing. You think that you're the one who betrayed our friendship, but you're wrong! It's me! I'm the one who took advantage of you, and I am so sorry."
Daniel turned around to face her. "I don't understand."
"I knew that you were having a dream about Sha're. When you . . . when you began touching me, I should have stopped it immediately, but it felt so good. Then, when you woke up and started to. . . . I knew that it was happening only because of your emotions over Sha're. You were vulnerable and not thinking rationally, and I took advantage of that." Sam spun around, no longer able to face him, feeling so utterly ashamed that she wanted to sink down into the ground and disappear forever.
Daniel was stunned speechless, unable to believe what he was hearing.
"Sam, what are you saying?" he finally managed to ask.
Throwing her pride away, Sam turned back around. "I'm saying that I wanted it, Daniel. I wanted you to make love to me."
Daniel gasped, totally blown away. Sam was attracted to him? "I-I never knew. You never said or did anything that. . . ."
"I know. I tried my best to hide it. I didn't want you to know because of Sha're and because I knew that you would never feel the same way." Sam met Daniel's eyes. "What happened between us that night was a moment of weakness between friends. What we do about it now is accept that and move on."
Feeling terribly sad all of a sudden, Sam hurried down the steps. Daniel watched her vanish into the woods. He all but collapsed against the porch railing. He was having a hard time wrapping his brain around this. The discovery that she desired him was hitting him with stunning force. Yet, strangely enough, it didn't make him feel uncomfortable. In fact, what he was experiencing right now was far from discomfort. He thought about the feelings that had been plaguing him these past few days, his desire to experience again what they shared that night. Knowing that Sam would be more than willing to do so made him want it all the more. But Sam deserved a hell of a lot more than that. She deserved a man who loved her, and he couldn't give her that.
Regardless, he had to say something to her. He couldn't leave things as they were.
Daniel took off into the woods after Sam. It took him only a few minutes to find her. She was sitting at the edge of the lake in a tiny open area where the lack of trees had encouraged the growth of some kind of wild grass. Daniel stopped and watched her for a moment. When he realized that she was crying, it made him feel terrible.
As soon as Sam became aware of Daniel's presence, she hastily wiped the tears from her face. He sat down beside her, rested his forearms on his bent knees, and stared at the grass between his feet.
"As you could probably tell, your confession really knocked me for a loop." He looked at her profile. "But, Sam, you need to know that it doesn't make me feel uncomfortable or ill-at-ease."
Sam relaxed. "Good. That's a big relief to me."
Daniel fell silent, his gaze back on the grass. Could he leave it at that? Sam deserved to know the whole truth, but he didn't know if could tell her. Besides, it would probably be better if she didn't know. It would just complicate the whole situation.
"But I'm still sorry," Sam said, interrupting his thoughts. "I should have left the bed as soon as you started . . . acting out your dream."
"And I should have left it as soon as I woke up and realized what I had been doing. We both made a mistake, Sam, and, like you said, it's time to move past it."
Daniel stared out at the water, feeling like a coward. But there was another emotion as well, one that he shouldn't have. That emotion was sorrow. Moving past it meant that it would never happen again. He would never again experience the sensation of Sam in his arms, the rapture of making love to her. But it would never have happened again anyway, so what difference did it make?
Suddenly feeling like he needed to be alone, Daniel got to his feet. "I'm going to go take a walk," he said. "I'll see you later."
As he began to turn away, Sam called to him. She got to her feet.
"Daniel, are you okay?"
The archeologist forced a smile to his lips. "Yes, I'm all right, Sam. Don't worry. Everything's good between us."
Sam tried to read his expression and failed. "Is it?"
"Yeah. I promise."
Sam watched him leave. Even though he'd said that he was all right, she had a feeling that he really wasn't. Was it that he was still feeling guilty about what happened? Though he now knew that he hadn't taken advantage of her, that didn't change the fact that he'd had sex with another woman just days after the death of the woman he loved. Daniel being the kind of man that he was, he probably felt guilty about that. Sam didn't know what she could say to him that would ease that guilt.
Sam went back to the cabin and wandered around the place, looking at the decorations, browsing through the reading material. She found a tackle box and spent some time studying the flies. When she glanced at her watch, she saw that Daniel had been gone for almost an hour.
Another ten minutes had passed when he came in the door.
Sam opened her mouth to say hi. What came out instead was, "You're still feeling guilty about it."
Daniel came to an abrupt halt, his eyes widening slightly.
Sam continued. "You're feeling guilty because something like that happened so soon after Sha're's death."
Daniel quickly turned away and headed into the kitchen. He was relieved that Sam hadn't somehow guessed his secret, but her words had also struck a nerve. She was right. He did feel guilty about that. The last thing he should have wanted was to be with another woman like that. And yet, not only had he wanted it that first time, he'd compounded his betrayal of Sha're's memory by wanting it again, by still wanting it.
Sam came up to him. "Daniel, things happen, and, sometimes, our emotions get the better of us. Do you think that there aren't any other guys who would have done the same thing in that situation? If you do, then think again. I know that Sha're would have understood. She wouldn't have seen it as a betrayal."
"You don't understand," Daniel said in a barely audible voice.
"What don't I understand?"
Daniel shook his head. "Never mind." He took a deep breath. "I know that I'm not perfect, Sam. I know that we sometimes feel things we can't control. I just don't. . . ." He shook his head again. "Let's not talk about it anymore, okay?"
Sam paused before nodding. Daniel walked past her and out onto the back deck. He went to the railing and stared down at the water lapping at the bank. Sam joined him after a couple of minutes.
"So, has General Hammond picked my replacement yet?" he asked. "Or will it be Jack who does that?"
Sam didn't answer right away, the lump forming in her throat making it tough to speak.
"It will be up to the colonel," she said at last.
Daniel made a guess. "He's still hoping I'll change my mind."
"We all are, Daniel." Sam stared at his profile. "But that's not going to happen, is it."
Daniel closed his eyes. If that night with Sam had never happened, maybe someday he would have considered coming back to the program, but he couldn't possibly do so now.
"I'm sorry," he said.
Tears filled Sam's eyes, but she did not let them fall. She left the railing and went to one of the deck chairs. Would Daniel have ever changed his mind if that night never happened? She didn't want to think that her actions cemented his decision to never return to the SGC, but she couldn't help but do so.
Deciding that he should try to lighten the mood, Daniel went to the other deck chair and asked Sam what projects she'd been working on. Recognizing what he was trying to do, she answered. They were still talking about it when Jack and Teal'c returned.
The colonel studied them and was glad to see that the tension and awkwardness appeared to be gone. He was very tempted to ask what the whole thing was about, but he suspected that neither of them would tell him. So, instead, he gave each of them a beer from the six-pack he'd purchased. He then brought two more chairs out onto the deck, settling into one and motioning for Teal'c to do likewise in the other. He popped open a beer for himself. Teal'c had a bottle of iced tea.
"So, Daniel," the colonel drawled. "About your fish tank . . . or should I say the lack thereof. Care to explain that?"
"Oh." Daniel had been hoping that they hadn't gone into his apartment. "I've, uh, decided to leave Colorado. I was going to tell you after I got back. I knew that the fish probably wouldn't survive the move, so I decided to give everything to the neighbors across the hall. Their son has been wanting a fish tank for a while. I saw no point in waiting until I got back from this trip."
Silence followed Daniel's announcement, all of his ex-teammates dismayed that their suspicions about his plans being more permanent than just a few days away had proven to be accurate.
"Well, I don't have to tell you how I feel about this," Jack said.
Daniel sighed. "No, I'd already guessed what you'd think about it. I just feel like I need to get a fresh start, Jack. As long as I'm there, I don't know if I'll ever be able to put everything behind me."
Sam was getting more upset by the second. Had Daniel made this decision partly because of what happened between them? The timing made her suspect that he did.
"To where will you go, Daniel Jackson?" Teal'c asked.
"I haven't completely made up my mind, though I have been considering California. I still have some friends at UCLA, and I thought that one of them might be able to get me a job."
"Yeah, about that," Jack said. "You might want to call a couple of those friends and let them know that you're all right."
Daniel frowned. "Why?"
Sam and Jack explained what they did.
"You know, you guys really wouldn't have had to worry about me," the archeologist said.
"We were concerned for your emotional well-being," Teal'c responded.
"And when we saw that the fish tank was missing, we were even more concerned," Jack added.
"When are you leaving?" Sam asked, keeping her voice steady with an effort.
"I was going to start making preparations right after I got back. I might give myself a little more time now, though, look into my options for a job first."
Jack had more to say, but he decided it was something that needed to be spoken in private.
The silence that followed was broken by Daniel. "There's something you should know. I now remember what happened."
That surprised everyone.
"All of it?" Jack asked.
"Yes." He told them the whole story. "You were right," he said at the end. "I didn't shoot her on purpose. I had my chance before she used the ribbon device, and I chose not to take it. If my body hadn't taken the decision out of my hands, I'd have stood there and died rather than kill her."
Sam stared at him intently. "You need to think about what Sha're would have wanted, Daniel."
The archeologist did not respond aloud to her statement, only nodding slightly.
Though, technically, they were all on vacation, the mood for the remainder of the day was not exactly festive. Over dinner, they made small talk, but no discussion lasted for long.
Neither Daniel nor Jack slept well that night. Sam barely slept at all. She was positive that Daniel's decision to move away was based in part on what happened between them, and her guilt over the whole thing had returned full force.
Everyone got up quite early the next morning. It was over breakfast that Daniel made an announcement.
"I'm going to head on back home."
The others looked at him.
"Today?" Jack asked.
"Yeah. I just don't see a point in staying here any longer. I'd probably have left in another day or two anyway. There's no reason why you guys can't stay, though. You came all this way, and you must have taken some leave time." Daniel looked at Jack. "I should imagine that you're dying to do some fishing in that lake with no fish."
"No, not so much," the colonel responded somberly.
Daniel stared down at his half-eaten breakfast. "Well, at the very least, you can stay another few hours. You're flying, but it'll take me over a day to get back, unless I drive straight through."
"I will accompany you, Daniel Jackson," Teal'c said, "so that I may share the burden of driving."
"I appreciate the offer, Teal'c, but I think I'd rather go back alone. I wouldn't be very good company anyway."
"I do not require company."
Daniel almost smiled at the remark. Instead, he repeated that he'd rather go alone. He got up from the table.
"I need to go pack."
As Daniel disappeared into the bedroom, Jack let out a low curse.
"This really stinks," he muttered.
"I wish we could make him change his mind," Sam said.
"Daniel Jackson believes that he needs to start his life anew in order to heal," Teal'c stated.
"What he needs is to be around his friends, Teal'c," Jack responded. "Instead, he's going to try to get through this alone, the last thing he should be doing."
Suddenly deciding that his talk with Daniel couldn't wait, Jack rose to his feet and strode to the bedroom.
Upon hearing Jack's voice and its tone, Daniel paused in the act of placing a shirt in his suitcase.
"Jack, please don't say it. I know you think I'm making another mistake."
"You're damn right I do." Jack shut the door, then walked up to the younger man. "When Charlie died, I cut myself off from everyone, my friends, my family . . . Sara. It didn't help. It didn't make me feel better. All it did was destroy my marriage and make the grief and guilt worse. Now, you're doing the same thing. And don't say you're not. You think that moving away, getting a 'fresh start', is going to help, but all it's going to do is make you alone. Is that what you want, Daniel, to be alone for the rest of your life?"
Daniel stared down at the shirt in his hands, saying nothing.
Jack took another step toward him. "I'm going to ask you to do something, Daniel. I'm asking this as your friend. Just . . . wait. Don't do this now. It's only been two weeks since Sha're died. Give it another two, okay? That's all I'm asking, just two more weeks to think on this. If, at the end of those two weeks, you still believe that you need to go, then I'll accept it. I won't like it, but I'll accept it."
Daniel let out a long, soft sigh. He nodded slightly. "All right."
Jack left the bedroom and joined the others.
"Well?" Sam asked.
"I convinced him to think about it for another couple of weeks."
"Well, at least that's something."
"Yeah. It gives us a little more time to figure out a way to make him stay."
Daniel came out a few minutes later, carrying his suitcase. The others helped him load it and his other stuff into his car.
"Don't try driving straight through," Jack said. "I tried that once and nearly fell asleep behind the wheel. Just take your time and be safe."
"Call when you get home, okay?" Sam requested.
Daniel nodded. "I will. When are you guys going to leave?"
"Probably in a couple of hours," Jack replied.
Just then, they all heard the same cry that Daniel had the day before yesterday. Recognizing it as the call of a loon, Sam decided that the sad, haunting sound perfectly fit her mood.
She watched as Daniel got in his car and drove away down the street, hoping that, somehow, someway, she and her teammates could prevent him from walking out of their lives.
Daniel set the last of his stuff on the floor. He stretched, hearing a few joints pop. He then headed straight to the coffeemaker and got it started. Last night had been another night with little sleep, and the only thing that kept him alert on the drive home was about a gallon of coffee. He'd need more to make it through the rest of the day.
As the coffee brewed, Daniel dialed the number of Sam's lab. She answered on the third ring.
"Hi. I just got home," he told her.
"Good. Thanks for calling. I'll let Teal'c and the colonel know that you got home safe. So everything went okay?"
"Yeah. Long drive, though. You know, I used to drive all over the place, not just in this country, but others as well. I'd be on the road for days, and it never really bothered me all that much." He smiled. "I guess I'm getting old."
"Don't you dare say that, Daniel. If you're getting old, then so am I, and I refuse to accept that."
"Okay, I take it back. I'm just older than I was back then, and I've had a whole lot more miles put on my body."
This time it was Sam who smiled. It didn't last long, though. For that brief moment, it had felt like old times. But those old times were gone now, possibly forever.
Feeling herself starting to get depressed again, Sam asked Daniel if he'd like to get together for dinner. The moment of silence that followed her question made her feel even worse.
"Um . . . okay," Daniel finally said. "Would you like to meet somewhere?"
"Actually, I was thinking that you could come to my place. I found this recipe that I've been wanting to try out, but I seldom feel like cooking just for myself."
"Oh. Uh, all right. What time?"
"Good. See you tonight, then."
"Okay. Bye, Sam."
Daniel hung up the phone and stared at it. Dinner at Sam's. Just the two of them . . . alone. That really shouldn't be a problem. Not so very long ago, it wouldn't have been. How very much things had changed.
On the entire trip back home, his mind had been filled with thoughts about all the things that had happened and all the things he'd learned, most of all, Sam's revelation of her feelings for him. He still found it hard to believe that she felt that way. He just wished that the knowledge didn't make his own desire for her even stronger. He'd lost track of how many times he'd told himself that he shouldn't feel this way, but it had done no good. But he could ignore it. That's really all he could do. In time, it was sure to go away.
After unpacking, Daniel listened to the messages on his answering machine and cell's voice mail, then went through his email. The rest of the afternoon was spent doing household chores.
It was a couple of minutes after seven when Daniel knocked on Sam's door. When she opened it to reveal that she was wearing a light yellow sleeveless dress, he couldn't stop himself from thinking how beautiful she looked.
"Hi," he said nervously.
"Hi. Come on in."
Daniel stepped into the living room. "Something smells good."
"I just hope it tastes as good as it smells. The entree and veggies are done. I've got rolls in the oven, and they'll be done in a couple of minutes."
Daniel went to the dining room table and saw that the places had already been set. The wine glasses told him that there would be wine with dinner.
"I thought about stopping to get a bottle of wine," he said, "but I didn't know if it should be white or red."
"That's okay. I picked up some on the way home." Sam didn't tell him that she'd agonized over the decision of whether or not to include wine with the dinner, worried that it would make the meal feel more like a date, which, of course, it wasn't. She'd also agonized over whether or not to wear a dress. In the end, she'd decided that, since she sometimes wore dresses as casual wear, doing so for this dinner was okay. And it's not like the one she picked was anything special. It was just an ordinary sundress that she'd worn many times before.
The oven timer went off, and Sam went into the kitchen to pull the rolls out. Daniel followed her.
"Can I help put stuff on the table?" he asked.
A short while later, the food was on the table, and they were helping themselves to it. Daniel took a bite of the casserole.
"This is good."
Sam took a bite as well. "Mmm. Not bad. I'm glad I didn't screw it up."
Daniel smiled at the comment. "Cooking's not one of your many talents?"
"Not really. How about you?"
"Oh, I get by, but cooking is not one of my skills either."
The conversation moved on to other topics. Daniel gradually relaxed, letting himself just enjoy the time with Sam. He was able to completely put out of his mind the feelings that had been plaguing him for so many days.
All that changed, however, when he and Sam were clearing off the table. As they were putting the dishes in the sink, their bodies were just inches apart, and Daniel could smell the scent of Sam's hair and skin. The sudden urge to kiss her hit him full force. He quickly moved away, going back to the table to get the glasses. As he placed them beside the sink, he avoided looking at Sam.
"I should probably go," he said.
Surprised, Sam stared at him. "Don't you want any dessert?" She'd told him earlier about the apple pie she'd purchased.
Daniel had forgotten about the pie. "Oh. Um, I think I'll pass. It's been a long day, and I'm kind of tired." He hated lying to her, but he really needed to get out of there.
Sam kept staring at Daniel. During their meal, she had come to hope that the two of them could move on from what happened, but now, all of a sudden, Daniel was tense and avoiding eye contact. She watched as he went out into the living room.
Words that she had not intended to speak suddenly came out of her mouth. "It's because of what happened, isn't it."
Daniel turned to her with a puzzled frown. "What are you talking about?"
"The reason you're moving away. It's because of what happened between us. Or at least that's part of it."
Daniel's gaze dropped to the floor. He wanted to lie and say no, but he couldn't.
Sam began to cry. "I'm so sorry, Daniel. I wish it never happened. I wish that I'd been strong enough to stop it from happening. I've ruined everything."
Unable to remain there a moment longer, Sam hurried away to the bedroom, shutting the door behind her. She had no idea how long she'd been there when the door slowly opened. Daniel hesitantly came in and sat on the bed beside her.
"It isn't you, Sam. This isn't because of you or what you did. It's . . . it's because of me."
Sam lifted her eyes to Daniel. He was staring at his hands, which were in his lap.
"What do you mean?" she asked.
Daniel closed his eyes for a moment. He needed to tell her. He couldn't let her continue blaming herself.
"The truth is that, ever since that night, I've been feeling . . . things. At first, all I felt was shame, but then I . . . began thinking about how incredible it was, and I started to . . . I started wanting it to happen again." He heard Sam gasp sharply. "I know that's wrong, and it made me even more ashamed. I shouldn't want that, but I couldn't stop myself from feeling that way. I . . . I can't stop myself from still feeling that way."
Sam stared at Daniel in astonishment, hardly able to believe what she'd just heard. But that was not the only emotion she was experiencing. Daniel wanted to make love with her again. It was something she would not have dared hoped for. So what was she going to do about it? Her brain was telling her that she needed to ignore it, but her heart was saying something else entirely. So many times she had listened to her brain over her heart. That night in Daniel's bed was one of the few times she let her heart win, and she had feared that it cost her Daniel's friendship. What would happen if she let it win this time? Did she dare to do so?
Feeling excruciatingly uncomfortable, Daniel kept his gaze glued to his lap. "I'm sorry. Maybe I shouldn't have told you. I just didn't want you to keep thinking that you were to blame for what's going on." He stood up. "I'm, uh, going to go now. I'll see you later, okay?"
Daniel hurried out of the bedroom and out of the house. Back at his apartment, he all but collapsed onto his sofa.
"Crap," he cursed under his breath. He was really beginning to regret that he'd told Sam how he felt. But no. He had to tell her. He couldn't have allowed her to keep blaming herself for everything. He would just have to deal with the fact that Sam now knew the truth. He wasn't looking forward to the next time he saw her, though.
Daniel went into the bedroom and began to get dressed for bed. He was shirtless, barefoot, and had just removed his belt when there was a knock on the door. Wondering who it could be at that time of night, Daniel slipped on the T-shirt he was intending to wear to bed and went to the door. His heart did a crazy little jump in his chest when he opened the door and saw who his caller was.
"S-Sam?" he stammered.
The major, who was looking anything but calm and collected, said, "Can . . . can we talk?"
"Sam, I really don't think—"
Daniel hesitated, then gave into the request. He stepped aside for her to enter. She did so and went into the living room, where she stood gripping her car keys so tightly that they were digging into the skin of her hand.
"What you told me is . . . is, um. . . ." Sam's voice trailed off. "Dammit. I come here to talk, and I don't even know what to say."
"Sam, you don't have to say anything. What I feel doesn't matter. It doesn't change anything."
"But it does, and that's the problem! You have no idea how hard this is for me."
Suddenly understanding the struggle she was going through and seeing in it a similarity to his own, Daniel walked up to her and said, "Yes, Sam, I do. Believe me."
Sam stared into Daniel's eyes and saw that he did understand. "What are we going to do?"
"What we said we were, put all of this behind us and move on."
Sam kept staring at Daniel. Logic was telling her that he was right. The problem was that she didn't want to be logical, not this time.
Daniel was just starting to turn away when Sam abruptly grabbed his face and crushed her lips against his. The archeologist was hit by surprise, which was followed by another feeling entirely, one that very quickly took over. He plunged into Sam's mouth, his arms pressing her tight against him, his body on fire with all the passion and desire he'd been fighting against.
After long seconds, their mouths separated, panting breaths brushing across each other's faces.
"Sam, we can't do this," Daniel said.
"It's something we both want, Daniel, so why can't we?"
"Because it would be a lie. I love Sha're, Sam. She may be dead, but I still love her. I can't pretend that I don't."
Sam caught his eyes. Her brain was yet again telling her that this was a mistake, but her heart was now firmly in control, and it didn't give a damn. She wanted this, so badly that nothing else mattered.
"I know, Daniel. I'm not asking you to pretend something that isn't true. But I can't pretend either. I can't walk away from this. I thought I could, but I just can't."
Daniel searched Sam's eyes, the turmoil he was feeling evident in his own. "I don't want to make a mistake, Sam. I've already made too many mistakes that hurt people I care about."
Sam stared right back at him. "I'm willing to take the risk."
Intense seconds passed, then Daniel quite suddenly gave up the fight. His mouth came crashing back down upon hers. He lifted her up, her legs encircling his waist as he carried her to the bedroom. They fell upon the bed, Daniel on top of Sam, his desire for her now in complete control. One of his hands found its way under the skirt of her dress and up to her panties. He grabbed hold of the waistband and pulled it down, his hand then grasping her bottom. Sam let out a sound that was halfway between a moan and a cry. She got his pants unfastened and pushed them and his boxers down far enough to release his rapidly hardening erection. She then began yanking down her panties in a frantic effort to get them off. With Daniel's help, they were soon gone. He all but ripped his T-shirt off, then took hold of the straps of Sam's dress and bra and pulled them down. The dress and bra were soon bunched around her waist.
Daniel's hands and lips fell upon Sam's breasts. Soon, one of the nipples was deep inside his mouth. Sam clutched at him, her head tilting up, back arching as he sucked harder still, her flavor filling his mouth.
After several more exquisite seconds, Daniel's mouth left Sam's breasts. He rose back up, his erection sliding across her center. He could feel her need for him, and it was matched by his own for her. Unable to wait a moment longer, he found Sam's opening, and, with a hard, quick thrust, buried himself all the way inside her. She cried out, her arms and legs tightening around him. The feeling of being inside the heat of her core encompassed Daniel. He withdrew nearly all the way, then plunged back in, wrenching another cry from her. The sound of that cry made his desire burn even hotter. He launched into a hard, fast tempo that soon had him soaring upward toward climax. He held it off, wanting, needing Sam to come with him. His gaze went to her face, and he found himself transfixed by the look of rapture on it.
At that moment, Sam's eyes opened and locked upon his. The wild light of ecstasy within them broke his control, and, suddenly, he was coming, his hips jerking spasmodically as he emptied into her. Two seconds later, Sam cried out his name and followed him into the bright abyss.
Long seconds passed before they emerged, thundering hearts gradually slowing. Their eyes met again, each of them seeing in the other a matching wonder over the power of what they'd just felt. Daniel lowered his mouth to Sam's, and she took it eagerly. It wasn't until the kiss ended that they became fully aware that they hadn't even managed to get completely undressed. Neither of them really cared, and they had no desire to move any time soon.
Daniel kissed Sam's cheek and jaw, then moved down to her neck and shoulder. One of his hands slipped between them and went to her breast, his thumb stroking the nipple. He felt the reaction in Sam's body and realized that, though it would be a while before he'd be ready again, the same was not true for Sam.
A sudden desire took hold of Daniel. Every time he made love with his wife, he had wanted her to experience as much pleasure as it was possible for him to give, and, now, he wanted to give that to Sam.
With that thought in mind, he lifted off her and got out of the bed, quickly dispensing with his pants and boxers. He took hold of her dress and the bra beneath it and pulled them down her hips and off. For a moment, he just looked at her, his gaze traveling over her body as she did the same to his. He then held his hand out to her, and she took it. He pulled her off the bed and led her to the bathroom, where he started the shower running.
As they stepped into the warm spray, Daniel moved around behind Sam and angled the shower head so that the water was spraying down on her body. His hands slowly slid up her sides from her thighs to her breasts. They curved over the soft mounts, cupping them fully, then sliding down to gently hold their weight. He noticed how his lightly tanned hands looked dark compared to the creamy whiteness of her breasts.
Sam's head had fallen back onto his shoulder, her eyes fluttering shut as Daniel's thumbs skimmed across the hardening peaks, the feather-light touch making her gasp, aching for more. He granted her unspoken wish by running the edges of his fingernails across the tips of the nipples, which brought a moan to Sam's lips.
By the time Daniel's hands left Sam's breasts, she was fully aroused and aching for him to be inside her. His hands slowly traveled downward, finger skimming her skin until he reached her lower belly. Just as he had with her nipples, he teased the soft skin with his fingernails, the sensation making Sam's pelvis thrust slightly forward, the ache there growing even stronger.
When Daniel's fingers went lower still, to the place that was aching for him, Sam let out a soft cry. She moaned his name and bucked up into his hand, spreading her legs farther apart to give him better access. His fingers found their way inside her, then back out again to focus on the spot that sent lightning bolts of pleasure through her body. Back in they went, pushing as far inside as possible. As they started to slide in and out, his other hand went down to her juncture, its fingers finding the little bundle of nerves that the other hand had abandoned.
"Oh, God. Daniel!" Sam cried out. She began thrusting against his hand, her own hands clutching his thighs. And then Daniel's fingers curled forward, seeking and finding that special place inside her. At that touch, Sam's orgasm struck her with stunning swiftness, her hips jerking forward as her whole body shuddered. Daniel watched as she came, the sight filling his heart.
He kept holding her as she came down from the high, her body trembling in reaction. He turned her around in his arms and lowered his lips to hers in a long, slow kiss. That's when she felt the first stirring of his arousal. As a corner of her brain admired the fact that it was happening this soon, she reached between them and wrapped her hand around him. Daniel's breath hitched, and he began to harden in her grasp. She hurried the process along by slowly stroking him. She scraped her fingernails down his length, driving a groan from his lips.
In an amazingly short period of time, Daniel was fully erect. He lifted Sam up, turned around, and pressed her against the shower wall, her legs going around him. His mouth met hers in a deep kiss as he slowly sank into her. Sam moaned softly, loving the feeling of him again filling her to capacity.
Slowly and gently Daniel began to move, each long slide in and out of Sam enabling both of them to feel every part of the sensation. Sam closed her eyes and let herself get lost in the glorious feeling, the fact that it was Daniel she was with making it feel so much better than any other man ever had.
As for Daniel, he could not believe how wonderful this felt. Their first two times had been spectacular, the most intense, wildly passionate sex he'd ever had, but, this time, making love to Sam slowly and giving himself the time to really feel every exquisite second of it, was, in some ways, far better. He had believed that making love to any other woman wouldn't make him feel as good as Sha're did, but he now knew that he'd been wrong.
At last, Daniel's body reached the stage where it was demanding more. His pace quickened and intensified, the slow fire flaring brightly as his climax rushed toward him. In Daniel's mind was the thought of making this last long enough for Sam to come again, but he didn't know if he could hold out. As it turned out, he didn't have to worry, for Sam was right there with him. Her cries grew in volume, the pressure in her core building until it suddenly detonated, sending wave after wave of rapture crashing through her body. Daniel managed two more thrusts before his orgasm slammed into him.
"Daniel, I love you! " Sam cried out. "I love you!"
Daniel was too immersed in the wildfire blazing through him for the words to impact immediately upon his brain. He shuddered out the end of his release, then slumped forward, his head resting against the shower wall, chest heaving.
The seconds ticked by as they remained unmoving. It was when Daniel's respiration had almost gone back to normal that he lifted his head and stared at Sam, surprise, wonder, amazement, and a million other things in his eyes.
"Sam?" he said questioningly. She knew what the question was.
"It's true, Daniel," she admitted. "I love you. I don't know when it happened. Maybe it started from the day I met you. I just know that I love you more than I've ever loved anyone in my life."
Daniel could not name the emotion that filled him upon hearing those words. Sam didn't just want him; she was in love with him. Another beautiful, spectacular woman had fallen in love with him. It was amazing and utterly incomprehensible. What could a fantastic woman like Sam possibly see in him?
Silently, they left the shower and dried off. Sam glanced at Daniel several times, feeling very nervous and concerned about how he was taking the news. When he looked at her and saw the expression in her eyes, he pulled her into his arms and kissed her.
"It's okay, Sam. I'm not upset, although, to be honest, I don't know how you could feel that way about me. I'm not even close to being in your league."
"That's not true at all! How could you think that? You are a wonderful, amazing person, Daniel. One of the reasons I fell in love with you is the kind of man you are. I am most definitely not out of your league."
"Thank you. I don't agree, but thank you anyway." Daniel smiled. "You are good for my ego."
They returned to the bed and got under the covers. Daniel held an arm out to Sam.
With a smile, Sam closed the distance between them and rested her head on his chest. She wrapped an arm around his waist and felt his arm go around her. It felt so good to be like this with him, two lovers who had just made the most amazing love together. But was that what they really were? Daniel had wanted this, but that didn't mean that it would happen again after tonight.
Daniel's thoughts were also on what just happened, specifically on what had been revealed to him. Sam being in love with him should make him feel some trepidation since he did not feel the same, yet, for some reason, it didn't. So what did it make him feel? He tried to pin it down, and it suddenly came to him. It was something that he lost the moment he found out that Sha're was dead and never coming back: hope, a hope for happiness, a hope that he could have someone in his life who would fill the void in his heart.
Daniel did not understand how he could feel that way. Whenever he thought about Sha're, he longed for her, ached for her. The sorrow over her death was still like a weight upon his heart. And yet, whenever he thought about Sam, his spirit lightened, a warm glow spreading within that same heart. The wonder and power of their lovemaking filled him so full, pushing out everything else. Even just holding and kissing her made him feel really good, as did the rapture on her face when they made love. How was it possible for him to feel both things? How could he be so in love with Sha're, yet feel so much when he was with Sam?
The thing was that, taking Sha're out of the picture, he knew that he and Sam could really have something together. Their personalities and intellects were very compatible, despite the differences in their fields of expertise. In fact, he felt a bond with her the likes of which he had never felt with anyone else. Most important of all was that he loved her. It was the love of a friend, but it was strong and deep.
But could he really do this? Wouldn't it be a betrayal of Sha're's memory to jump right into a relationship with another woman? He had believed that the act of making love to another woman so soon after her death was a betrayal, so how much more would this be one? What would Sha're think? He knew the answer even as he asked the question. With her generous and giving heart, she would want him to find whatever happiness he could. But that didn't mean it was the right thing to do.
'I don't know what to do, Sha're,' he said in his mind, as if speaking to his dead wife. 'I miss you so much. I would do anything to get you back. But when I think about Sam and being with her like this, it makes me feel alive again. I think about ending it here and now and going back to just being friends, and it actually hurts. I just don't understand how I can feel that way.'
Daniel looked at Sam. Her eyes were closed, and she looked so utterly content that it made him smile. It made him want to kiss her. Instead, he just kept holding her. In time, her breathing deepened in sleep.
With Sam's warm, soft body in his arms, Daniel lay staring at nothing as a war battled inside his mind between what it was telling him he should want to do and what his heart was telling him he did want to do. The minutes passed into hours as the war continued without a winner. Tiredness crept over Daniel, making his thoughts drift. The last one that passed through his mind before sleep claimed him was that perhaps the morning would bring an answer.