Words I'll Never Say

by Audrey Lynne

I hate feeling helpless. But, let me tell you, I feel pretty damned helpless right now. The woman I've fallen in love with, I can't have, and worse yet, she's going to die if something doesn't happen quickly. If this were a fairy tale, I'd be her white knight. I'd ride in on my steed and save her. But, no, this is reality, with us stuck in a Goa'uld mothership at the bottom of the ocean. It's filling with water at an alarming rate. And she's going to die. Worse yet, she's never going to know how I feel about her, because I can't tell her.

Being a guy, I never believed in fairy tale romances, and it's probably a good thing, because this fairy tale is pretty screwed up. The dragons to be slain? Parasitic aliens that take over your mind. The good guys? Hard to tell who they are sometimes. The princess? Pretty damned capable of saving herself, thank you very much. Except this time. And her knight in shining armor? Not me. We work together, and we've gotten to know each other pretty well, and I've always harbored this tiny bit of hope that one day, I'll get her off the base, out of olive drab, and show her the time of her life. But, no. There are always things to do, people to see, crises to solve, planets to save.

Samantha Elizabeth Carter-yes, I know her middle name; I've read her personnel file-could easily be every man's dream. She's beautiful, brilliant, passionate, brilliant...did I mention brilliant? I feel like my IQ goes up just being around her. Better yet, she doesn't need a man. She's tough as nails when she has to be, and she can get by on her own. But Sam's the kind of woman who wants a man-to complement her, not complete her. And I've always kind of hoped I could be that man. Fat chance now.

God, I can't take this. She's going to die. She's going to drown in ice-cold water, fighting every step of the way, and I can't do a damned thing about it. Her dad's trying desperately to open that door, but he's going to be too late. I know it.

Jacob taps his radio and pauses, like he's forcing himself to speak. "Sam," he says, his voice almost cracking, "I'm sorry."

My heart breaks, shattering into a million tiny pieces. I close my eyes, feeling myself begin to mourn, not just for Sam, whom I've fallen madly in love with against my better judgment, but for Jack, who's a good friend too. For all the lost chances.

Jacob's control panel beeps. I look up. "What is that, Jacob?" Not that I care, but it's distraction.

He looks amazed. "The security protocol's been erased..." His display screen says the door's opening. Is that right? Could we be that lucky? Was it in time?

Yes, yes, and yes. Jacob calls for Sam on the radio, and after a heart-pounding moment she responds. "Dad, this is Sam. We're okay."

Excitement overwhelms me, and I slap Jacob on the shoulder...before remembering that he's hurt. Oh, damn, I'm sorry. I try to apologize, but he doesn't seem to be too bothered, happy instead to talk to his daughter. His beautiful daughter. God, I can't go down that road again. There's work to do. Another day, I'll let myself think of it again. Another day, when I'm not at the Pentagon, she's not in Colorado, and maybe, just maybe, we can have time to get to know each other out of work, where it's not Major Davis and Major Carter. Just Paul and Sam.

I know some people think I go home, change out of my uniform, and dream of going back to work, because they think I have no life. But Sam's confessed that people think the same about her. There's common ground, something to start from. Something to talk about, like growing up on military bases, what drove us both to join the military ourselves. Was it really to please our fathers? Or some inner drive that our fathers' careers sparked? Whatever it was that inspired us, I'm glad we both made that choice. Otherwise, I'd never have met her. After a failed marriage, I swore I'd never fall in love again, and until Sam, I'd kept that promise. She broke through my defenses, slipping under the radar before I had a chance to realize what had happened.

She's alive. And that's what matters. We've got the rest of our lives to work on the details, for me to get to courage to just friggin' tell her how I feel already. For now, we've got to get off this ship, all of us. Then we can figure out tomorrow.

Tomorrow, I can go on making excuses to myself, because I'm no knight and there's no steed. And that's what she deserves, dammit. But tomorrow's another day, with more time. Maybe I can take jousting lessons.