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Chapter 3

 

 

Daniel stood tentatively in the doorway of the infirmary, with a small stack of magazines in his arms. He had decided to visit Jack before heading home to get ready for his night out with Sam. Sam had left earlier, most likely to prepare for the evening, and had asked Daniel to give Jack her sincerest get-well wishes. Daniel grinned inwardly as he spotted Jack lying on top of the bed with his right leg outstretched, looking bored as hell doing a crossword puzzle.

 

“Jack?”

 

Jack, appearing a bit relieved to have been pulled from the tedium of the puzzle, turned his head toward the doorway.

 

“Daniel?” he asked expectantly, raising his eyebrows.

 

Daniel entered the infirmary and walked over to Jack’s bedside.

 

“I … ah … um …” he began hesitantly.

 

Jack raised his eyebrows higher.

 

“I wanted to see how you were doing, so … how are you doing?”

 

“Oh … better. Aside from the fact that I need a fistful of Aspirin every few hours, and that I’m bored as hell … better,” he answered sarcastically.

 

“Oh,” Daniel answered, averting his eyes. “I figured that was the case. I mean, crossword puzzles aren’t exactly your speed.”

 

Jack stared at him.

 

“Excuse me?”

 

“W-well, I mean they’re more of a … intellectual activity,” Daniel finished with a slight grin on his face.

“Are you saying I’m stupid??” Jack protested.

 

“N-no …” Daniel replied, his eyes darting away from Jack. “… It’s just that you’ve never really come across as ‘book smart.’”

 

“In other words, I’m stupid,” Jack retorted.

 

Daniel rolled his eyes heavenward and sighed.

 

“No, Jack, you’re not stupid. God, I’m sorry I even brought it up,” he spat out, starting to sound annoyed.

 

Daniel’s eyes moved down to the magazines he was holding.

 

“Well, anyway, I thought you might like to read these,” he said, as he held the magazines in front of Jack. “Um … there’s some copies of National Geographic, Smithsonian …”

 

“I thought I wasn’t ‘book smart,’” Jack deadpanned.

 

“I’m just trying to help,” Daniel said impatiently.

 

Jack shrugged.

 

“Well … I appreciate your efforts,” he said weakly as he accepted the magazines.

 

Daniel’s brow wrinkled in confusion.

 

“Um … you’re welcome,” he said slowly.

 

Jack thumbed through the magazines with minimal interest until he happened upon the last two.

 

Sports Illustrated?” he asked curiously as he held them up in front of Daniel.

 

“Oh, yeah … I get that, too,” Daniel replied carefully as a faint blush crept across his cheeks.

 

Jack raised his eyebrows thoughtfully.

 

“Huh. Didn’t think you were … you know … that type of guy,” he trailed off.

 

“There are a few things you don’t know about me, Jack,” Daniel nodded.

 

Jack stared at him for a few seconds, and then merely shrugged.

 

“Well… I think I’ll hold on to these,” he said quietly, setting them on top of the small table on the other side of his bed.

 

Daniel nodded, and then his eyes widened in realization.

 

“Oh … ah … Sam said to tell you that she hopes you’re back on your feet soon”.

 

Jack blinked.

 

“Why couldn’t she tell me herself?”

 

“She left about an hour ago,” Daniel replied without missing a beat. “I guess she’s getting ready for tonight.”

 

Daniel felt his cheeks grow hot.

 

“What’s tonight?”

 

Daniel nervously scratched at the back of his neck, and then raked his hand through his hair. Jack was not usually one to pry like this, but being laid up with an injury while everyone else was on stand down must have been taking its toll on him.

 

“She’s meeting with an old friend from college and her fiancé. They’re meeting at some club downtown … and I’m going with her.”

 

Daniel winced slightly and looked away as he finished the last part of his reply. He was sure Jack would have something to say about that.

 

Jack looked at him, a bit surprised.

 

“Daniel … well, sounds like fun. Are you sure you’re up to that?”

 

Daniel furrowed his brow in confusion.

 

“Up to what?”

 

“You know … going to a club, with drinking and dancing and everything. It’s only been two weeks since that goa’uld … well, you know …”

 

Daniel sighed, annoyed.

 

“Jack, Doctor Fraiser cleared me for active duty. I can handle a little excitement.”

 

Jack shrugged, and then turned back toward Daniel.

 

“What about the other part?”

 

“What other part?” Daniel asked curiously.

 

“Well, going out with Carter on a date … Daniel, you’re still married to Sha’re. Doesn’t that bother you a bit? It’s almost as if you’re – “

 

“Cheating on her?” Daniel finished quietly, averting his eyes.

 

“Well …” Jack started, searching for words. “…Yeah?”

 

Daniel looked up at Jack as a little smile tugged at the corners of his mouth.

 

“Jack, I can’t really talk about this. I don’t think you’d understand what I’m thinking. But, let me assure you that I’m fine with this whole idea. Sam wanted some company and I’d do anything to help her out. She’s my best friend.”

 

“I thought I was your best friend,” Jack replied in a mock hurt tone.

 

Daniel shook his head and grinned.

 

“You’re both my best friends,” he conceded.

 

“You can’t have more than one best friend,” Jack snorted.

 

“Sam’s a best friend in a different way than you are,” Daniel blurted out, blushing a bit.

 

Jack’s eyebrows flew up.

 

“Oh.”

 

He took a few minutes to figure out what Daniel meant by that statement.

 

“I wish I knew what that means.”

 

“You don’t have to know what means,” Daniel assured him, still blushing.

 

Jack furrowed his brow in confusion as Daniel looked nervously down at his watch.

 

“Oh. It’s three o’clock. I better get going. Sam and I are getting something to eat at O’Malley’s before we head over to the club.”

 

“Have fun,” Jack nodded.

 

Daniel smiled and nodded as he left Jack’s side and made his way toward the door.

 

“Hey, wait a minute,” Jack called out.

 

Daniel turned back toward Jack and looked at him curiously.

 

“You’re not going like that, are you?” he asked.

 

Daniel looked down at the plaid shirt, chinos and blue ski jacket he was wearing.

“Oh … no, I’m definitely going to change before we go.”

 

Jack grinned and gave him a thumbs-up.

 

Daniel was about to head back out the door when Jack stopped him again.

 

“You wouldn’t happen to have any extra copies of the Swimsuit Issue, would you?” he asked, holding up one of the copies of Sports Illustrated.

 

“No, I don’t, Jack. And if I did, I wouldn’t let you have them,” he grinned wickedly before he made his way out of the infirmary.

 

Jack snorted and picked up one of the magazines.

 

*********************************************

 

Sam hummed to herself as she showered. Strangely enough, she was actually getting excited about meeting Meredith. Normally, she would almost dread it, but with Daniel accompanying her, things might actually turn out okay. She giggled when she thought what Meri would think when she saw Sam with Daniel.

 

She turned off the water, dried herself off and began to blow her hair dry. She checked the clock on the wall and realized it was 5:45 p.m., only forty-five minutes until she was meeting Daniel for a bite to eat at O’Malley’s before heading to the club. Sam couldn’t get rid of the wide grin plastered on her face, and it made her feel a bit silly. She hadn’t been this excited about a social event since her high school prom, which hadn’t turned out very well as her date ended up being a complete dud.

 

She had her outfit all picked out: a light salmon-colored, floral georgette dress which fell to just below her knees, with a wrap-style bodice and a sash at the waist. She had bought it a few years earlier, and it had sat in her closet the whole time. Admittedly, it was a very pretty dress, and she was glad she finally had an excuse to wear it. The material was very light, which was perfect for a warm, summer night such as this. She slipped on a pair of pink, sandal styled, sling back shoes before heading back into the bathroom to work on her hair and makeup.

 

Sam was never one to wear a lot of makeup. She often thought that anything more than lipstick and mascara was overkill. She painted her lips with a pinkish rose-colored lipstick and added some light eye makeup. Her hair was easy to do. She had had short hair since before she entered the Air Force, and it was never a hassle to style. She brushed her long, blonde bangs over to the side of her face, and held them in place with a light mist of hairspray. A couple of quick sprays of her favorite, light, floral and citrus scented perfume, and she was finished.

 

She now had about twenty minutes until she was going to meet Daniel. She sat on the couch and nervously thumbed through one of her magazines, humming a bit. For a moment, she stopped and looked down at herself, hard-pressed to remember the last time she’d gotten so dressed up.

 

She realized again how excited she seemed to be, and it was an almost childlike excitement. Sam giggled at the thought. What am I so excited about? It’s only Daniel, she thought to herself.

 

Only Daniel.

 

******************************************************

 

Meanwhile, Daniel had spent quite a bit of time getting ready himself. He’d showered and shaved, and quickly rummaged through his wardrobe. He didn’t have very much to choose from. He did have a few nice things to wear, but he’d never been to a club before and he thought he’d dress for comfort.

 

He quickly surveyed himself in the mirror, and was about to leave when the sound of an urgent knock resounded outside his apartment. Daniel rolled his eyes and snorted as he checked the peephole and saw his neighbor down the hall, Marlene Watson. He reluctantly opened the door and forced a smile.

 

“Doctor Jackson,” she smiled, holding up a couple of magazines. “These were delivered to my apartment by mistake.”

 

Daniel nodded grimly.

 

“I’ll have to have a talk with the mailman again,” he said dryly as he took the magazines from her.

 

Marlene grinned. This incident had happened more than once in the short time that he’d lived there, and Daniel couldn’t understand why the mailman couldn’t tell the difference between the numbers 401-C and 411-E. He was lucky that Marlene was nice enough to bring the magazines to him. She was 23 years old, and married to a volunteer fire fighter. She was a sweet girl, but she seemed to be a bit too overbearing for Daniel’s tastes.

 

“Thanks, Marlene,” he nodded. “I have to get going. I was just on my way out the door –“

 

“Oh? Are you going to give another lecture, professor?” she said cutely as she noticed his blue-and-white plaid shirt, khaki pants and blue tweed jacket.

 

Daniel blushed.

 

“Ah … no, I’m meeting a friend at a club downtown,” he answered stupidly, wondering why he was volunteering this information to his nosy neighbor.

 

“You mean you have a date?” she asked, her eyes widened.

 

“You might say that,” Daniel nodded as he desperately searched around the room for his keys so he could get the hell out of there.

 

“Normally, I hate to pry,” she began. Then, why are you? Daniel thought to himself.

 

“But, may I make a suggestion? Your clothes are all wrong. You’re going to a club, not to some colloquium with a bunch of old, stuffy, tenured professors!” she exclaimed.

 

Daniel shut his eyes and sighed.

 

“Okay. Whatever,” he replied. “Can we talk about this later?” Later meaning never?

 

“No,” she insisted, making her way toward his bedroom closet. “If you want to win a girl over, you have to do much better than that. Don’t you have any different clothes?”

 

Daniel rolled his eyes heavenward. He couldn’t believe he was letting this girl get away with giving him fashion tips. Maybe he was too nice. On the other hand, he wasn’t acting nearly as fast as he could to get rid of her because his mind was reeling with thoughts of meeting Sam, and how well the evening might turn out if he played his cards right.

 

Marlene flung Daniel’s closet open, and found a few nice dress shirts and pairs of pants. Once he returned to Earth after his year on Abydos, Jack had taken him in until Daniel had found his own apartment. He had felt bad that all Daniel had was a few pairs of olive green BDUs. The second night after they returned from the Chulak mission, Jack had escorted Daniel to the local mall where he had Daniel pick out some clothes that he liked, and suggested a few other things that would make Daniel look a little less geeky. The dress shirts and pants had remained on hangers in his closet since then.

 

“Where did you get these?”

 

“Oh, uh … they were a gift,” he said, blushing.

 

She pulled out a dark gray Hugo Boss shirt, and a black pair of Dockers.

 

“These would be perfect,” she grinned.

 

Daniel looked down at the shirt and pants. He was about to protest, but then he thought about what he’d actually look like in them, and what Sam might think to see him dressed like that.

 

“Okay, I’ll change into these, and then will you leave?” he nearly whined. He hated when his voice did that.

 

“We’ll see,” she replied.

 

Daniel reluctantly sauntered toward the bathroom and closed the door. A couple of minutes later, he emerged, looking sleek and sophisticated in the darker colors.

 

Marlene let out a low whistle, which made Daniel turn bright crimson.

 

“Almost perfect,” she declared.

 

“’Almost’?” Daniel asked curiously.

 

She walked right up to him.

 

“You need aftershave.”

 

Daniel furrowed his brow.

 

“Ah … I do have aftershave.”

 

Marlene sniffled.

 

“Well, I don’t smell any.”

 

She reached into her purse and produced a small bottle of Old Spice.

 

“This is my husband’s,” she muttered as she struggled to zipper her purse shut. She splashed an incredible amount of aftershave onto Daniel’s face until the overpowering fragrance made him wrinkle his nose …

 

“ACHOOOO!!”

 

“What was that?” she asked, raising an eyebrow in curiosity.

 

“Allergies,” Daniel muttered, reaching for a tissue and blowing his nose. “It happens whenever I travel, encounter a lot of flowers, or smell Old Spice.”

 

His quip only made Marlene grin as her eyes moved toward the top of his head.

 

“You really need to fix your hair,” she continued.

 

“What?” he asked, dumbfounded.

 

“I mean, look at it!” she exclaimed. “It has no style. All it does is hang limply in your face.”

 

“And…?” Daniel asked as his brow furrowed in confusion.

 

He stopped himself as he eyed Marlene fishing through her purse again, this time producing a small hairbrush.

 

“Oh, come on, Marlene, please leave my hair alone,” he sighed.

 

Daniel tried to bolt from the room, but Marlene steered him right into the bathroom and began obsessively brushing Daniel’s hair in an attempt to get it out of his face. She tried in vain to find some hairspray, but Daniel didn’t seem to have any.

 

“Hmm … do you have an elastic band?” she asked.

 

“Elastic band???” Daniel asked with a confused look on his face.

 

“Oh, never mind, I think I have one,” she muttered as she rummaged through her purse once again. She sighed in relief as she held up a small, threaded elastic band. She stretched it around her hand before she made her way back to Daniel.

 

“Oh, God, you’re not serious, are you?” he said with an air of impending dread.

 

“You look so sloppy with your hair hanging loose. If you’re not going to cut it, you should at least tie it back,” she pontificated.

 

With that, she gathered Daniel’s hair up as best she could and tied it back in a small ponytail. Daniel sighed miserably as she whisked his glasses off.

 

“There, now you look trendy and hip,” she smiled.

 

“Um, I need those,” he said, gesturing to his glasses.

 

“What? You mean you don’t have contacts?” she asked incredulously.

 

“No, and I really don’t feel like tripping over people,” he said sarcastically.

 

Marlene sighed and handed his glasses back to him.

 

“Well, I better let you go,” she said reluctantly, as it appeared that she was enjoying being his fashion consultant. “Have fun,” she grinned as she exited the apartment.

 

Daniel forced a smile and waved to her. After the door shut, he raced back into his bathroom and began splashing water on his face, trying to get as much of the aftershave off as best he could. When that didn’t seem to work, he resorted to washing his face again.

 

Satisfied that the Old Spice fragrance was all but a memory, he reached behind his head and removed the elastic band from his hair, shaking it out and running his hands through it. He checked his watch and realized that it was 6:20 p.m. He was supposed to meet Sam at her house in ten minutes. Luckily, she only lived about five minutes away. He found a light gray blazer in his closet and slipped it over his shirt before leaving the apartment.

 

Daniel shook his head slightly and grinned as he made the drive over to Sam’s house. He couldn’t believe he let Marlene try to make him over like that. He was aware that he looked extremely silly with a ponytail, almost like some bohemian type, and the amount of aftershave she had splashed on him was obscene. It made him wonder if she acted this way with her husband, or if he freely bathed in aftershave or cologne. He knew Sam would have thought he’d looked ridiculous, too, and thinking back to Marlene’s remark, he knew that he didn’t have to win Sam over. They had a special friendship, and accepted each other for who they were. Although he would have been more comfortable in the plaid shirt and khakis, he didn’t think that the dress pants and shirt was a bad choice.

 

Daniel’s thoughts came to a standstill as he reached Sam’s house and parked his Ford Explorer out front.

 

*************************************************************************

 

Sam looked up from the latest issue of TV Guide as she heard a knock on the door.

 

Daniel, she thought as her heart began to race. She threw the magazine on the coffee table, picked herself up off the couch, and crossed the room to answer the door. She grinned to herself as she pictured Daniel standing in front of her door, wearing a plaid shirt, chinos and a blue jacket, just as he had when he showed up in the locker room with Jack and Teal’c as she and Doctor Fraiser were hunting for DNA samples from Hathor.

 

As she opened the door, she felt her heart leap up into her throat. There stood Daniel, looking a lot different than she’d pictured. He was wearing a dark gray dress shirt, black pants and a lighter gray blazer. He had shaved, but there was no strong, overpowering aftershave that she could smell. On top of that, he was well-groomed.

 

“Hi, Sam,” he smiled shyly.

 

She couldn’t say a word. His smile began to fade, and his brow creased a bit.

 

“Oh … uh, sorry,” she said awkwardly, finally finding her voice.

 

He looked at her expectantly. A huge grin spread across her face.

 

“Daniel,” she said softly, sounding like a star struck, young girl, pleasantly surprised to find her idol standing before her.

 

Finally she caught herself, and realized how ridiculous she must look.

 

“Oh, geez, sorry … um… come on in,” she gestured, clearing her throat.

 

Daniel nodded.

 

“Thanks,” he replied as he stepped inside Sam’s house.

 

Sam nodded back as he made his way to the couch in the living room. She could feel her cheeks grow hot with embarrassment over the way she stared at him, moon-faced after she opened the door. She had seen Daniel numerous times in civvies, but never in clothes like this. He looked … well … sexy. She blushed even further at that thought, and suddenly she found it hard to take her eyes off of him. Damn, he looked good, even with his longish hair. Oh, boy was she blushing …

 

As for Daniel, he was reluctant to admit to himself that he’d been more than pleasantly surprised when Sam first opened her door. The floral dress accented the curves of her body, and really brought out the color in her face. She looked like she was full of life; not that she didn’t usually look like that, but the dress brought it out more. It complemented her features nicely, and made her look radiant. When she first opened the door, Daniel might have been looking at a portrait of Venus. All the times they’d been together, he only saw Sam in either BDUs or very casual civvies. Now she looked beautiful, dare he say, sexy.

 

He blushed furiously as that thought flashed in his mind. He couldn’t think that way while he was still married to Sha’re; she was the woman he still loved, although he wasn’t sure he’d ever find her despite his team members’ insistence to the contrary. It was hard to think of any woman as sexy at this point, actually, as the last one had turned out to be a goa’uld who had drugged and seduced him. He tried to push it out of his mind, and for the most part it had worked, because the number one thought in his mind at this moment was how beautiful she looked.

 

“You look great,” he finally said, a smile dancing upon his lips.

 

Sam was so flattered that she could have burst into tears.

 

“Thanks. I hope you don’t mind me saying that you look great, too,” she replied.

 

She smiled upon noticing the faint blush in Daniel’s cheeks.

 

“Thanks,” he nodded.

 

Sam nodded back and pulled him into a hug. He patted her on the back and looked at his watch.

 

“So … what time are we supposed to meet them?” he asked.

 

“Oh … um ...” Sam replied, a bit flustered as she tried to remember the details of the get-together. “Eight.”

 

Daniel nodded.

 

“I guess we should grab a quick bite to eat at O’Malley’s, then. It’s a while to eight o’clock, but I figure we can pass the time trying to come up with a good cover story for what we do and how we met, lest that friend of yours gets really nosy,” Daniel said wryly.

 

“And she will,” Sam agreed.

 

“Then we’d better come up with something good,” Daniel chuckled.

 

Sam nodded and giggled.

 

“Okay. So, your car or mine?” she asked once they’d exited the house and she had locked up.

 

Daniel held his hand out and gestured to his Explorer.

 

Sam grinned and giggled to herself as Daniel unlocked the truck and they both climbed in.

 

This should be a night to remember, Sam thought to herself as she glanced over at Daniel.

 

Chapter 4 =>