Daniel didn’t want to wake up. As long as he kept his eyes closed, he could imagine that the pile of furs beneath him was the one he’d shared with Sha’re. That she was only up with the dawn, not dead and buried beneath the sands of her home. But reality didn’t like being ignored, and quickly intruded in the form of Jack and Teal’c beginning to stir.
God, there was irony for you. Instead of his wife, he was sharing a tent with his wife’s killer. Not that he’d had much choice–Jack had bluntly informed him not long after the incident with Kawalsky that Teal’c was definitely joining the team, and if Daniel had a problem with that he’d better work on getting over it because Jack needed them both.
The Fates seemed to get no end of pleasure out of making his life miserable–it almost made him wonder if Clotho, Lachesis and Atropos were Goa’uld.
There was a light kick to his side, delivered by a familiar foot. “Daniel. Up and at ’em.”
He rolled over with a groan. How on earth had Jack O’Neill managed to become a Colonel in the Air Force when he lacked anything even slightly resembling tact? “I’m up, I’m up,” the archaeologist muttered grumpily.
He peeled his eyes open to discover the usually expressionless Teal’c looking mildly disgusted. “What manner of creature is a ‘yak’?”
“Ah…” Daniel exchanged a puzzled glance with Jack before forcing himself to ask, politely; “Why do you want to know?”
“I am endeavoring to determine if Captain Carter’s description of the smell is accurate.”
Jack snorted. “Speaking of Carter…Daniel, go check and see if she’s up and ready to get on the road.”
That woke him up. “Wh-what?” he stammered, voice rising slightly in panic. “Can’t you do it? Or Teal’c?”
The colonel looked at him sideways. “Is there a problem, Daniel?”
Yes, there was a problem. There was a very big problem, bigger even than sharing a tent with the Jaffa. Against his will, Daniel’s thoughts lurched back to the day before…
“Dr. Jackson, find me an anthropologist that dresses like this and I will eat this headdress.” Captain Carter didn’t look happy. In fact, she looked about ready to shoot someone. But she also looked…stunning.
He should’ve made a joke about frying up the headdress for her, because he had known anthropologists who’d adopted very similar attire while living in remote regions of Tibet or Peru. He should’ve said or done anything other than just standing there with his mouth hanging open like a landed fish.
But…Sam was beautiful. And the way the cut of the dress accentuated her figure, particularly her bustline, not to mention how the color intensified the blue of her eyes, all made it pretty much impossible not to notice.
Daniel buried his face in his hands for a moment. “Yes, Jack, there’s a problem.”
God, what kind of man was he? Sha’re was only a few weeks gone–how could he notice another woman, even for an instant, so soon after losing his wife? Especially a woman he had to spend almost every day with–how would he ever be able to look at Sam again without being brutally reminded of that moment?
“What problem?” Jack sounded incredulous. “You didn’t have a problem with Carter yesterday, except for…” His eyes widened for a moment. “Oh!”
“Yes, ‘Oh,'” Daniel shot back bitterly.
The look Jack shot him was insufferably patient: the kind of condescending patience that made you want to rip someone’s hair out. “Look, Daniel…it’s not as if Sha’re was the only beautiful woman on Abydos…”
“No, of course not,” Daniel admitted. “But that’s different.”
“Is it?” The Colonel raised his eyebrows.
“I too noticed Captain Carter’s beauty,” Teal’c contributed.
“Yeah, well, you didn’t just lose your wife,” Daniel snapped back, irritable that Teal’c should even be included in this conversation at all. If it weren’t for him…
Teal’c conceded the point with a slight nod.
Jack, on the other hand, let out a sigh. “Look, Daniel. If Sha’re had lived–”
“I wouldn’t be here.”
“But would you feel guilty for noticing that another woman was attractive?”
“No, of course not,” he argued impatiently, “because none of them could ever compare to her.”
“So how is this any different? Are you suddenly in love with Carter? Have you forgotten Sha’re?”
The archaologist didn’t quite know how to answer that. He felt a connection to her, a spiritual kinship, and had almost since the moment they met. But love? No, thank God–he wasn’t quite that much of a failure as a husband…widower. “N-no…” he stammered.
Jack patted him on the back. “So no big deal. But if you spend the rest of your life avoiding Carter because she’s a beautiful woman, it’ll become a big deal. And you don’t want that, right?”
Slowly, uncertainly, Daniel shook his head. God, he hoped Jack was right. Nevertheless, he closed his eyes briefly and whispered a silent prayer for forgiveness to his wife.
“Great. So go tell Carter it’s time to get going.”